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The Mother Love

Hanging Out with The Girls

Getty

Getty

Today's post is written by our resident Women's Health Therapist, Meredith Larrabee, PsyD. 

After I posted a picture of a card from LMH on Insta the other week, she texted right away, "I wanna see more pics of boobs after nursing- to normalize it. Great we see nursing moms. Now? Show the after effects. Trust me: there is likely a direct correlation for many women between sagging tits and depression."

So we are, today. She wrote the words. I collected the images from mother lovers around all over. 

The comments are turned off to protect the vulnerability and integrity of the moms who were willing to expose themselves fully. We LOVE their hearts and having the ability to take such a brave leap (and share) deserves deep respect. 

xo,
Rebecca

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“Your breasts may or may not return to their pre-breastfeeding size or shape.Some women's breasts stay large, and others shrink. But sagging or staying full can be as much a result of genetics, weight gain during pregnancy, and age as a result of breastfeeding.”
                                                                     –babycenter.com

Maybe you have read about how women’s breasts can change during pregnancy, nursing and childbirth; but, like most things with pregnancy, you don’t know what is going to happen to you… and what won't.

For example, some women really like their breasts during pregnancy because they are “fuller”, while others hate how large they become because lets face it, there is a point where they get so sensitive you cant run or exercise without pain, your bras don’t fit, and they are just…enormous.

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And then there is the after.

The after of nursing and pregnancy can mean a number of things for boobs, but for some, its shocking. I remember a close friend of mine who kept commenting on her horrific “post nursing breasts." 

Honestly, she has always been prone to exaggeration, and is often dramatic and self-aggrandizing in service of making me laugh so I assumed that was the case. I mean I knew that most people experienced a “loss of fullness,” or stretch marks, but whatever, right?

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How bad could it be? 

You should know that while she was nursing her boobs were truly glorious. She is a petite, athletic gal and usually an A cup so when they ballooned to a DD she thought it was fun! And they looked unreal…almost. prosthetic. She had huge, perfectly round ta-ta’s. 

 

So one day, while drinking endless cups of coffee and hanging with our 1 year olds I challenged her. She kept referring to “bags of skin” and I said, “I don’t believe you. I wanna see ‘em. They can’t be THAT BAD.” 

So she set her coffee down, and flashed me.

 

Look I’m not gonna lie to you, and I didn’t to her. They were exactly what she had been saying, “Two empty deflated bags of skin.” I was stunned. The point is that going from small chested to Pamela Anderson , andthen to this, was truly disfiguring.

It had psychological and emotional consequences for her; and no, she didn’t get implants or anything. I know she considered it for a hot minute, but she felt alot of shame about it. She didn’t want her husband to see her boobs and it took her awhile to grieve the loss of what they once were (not the Pamela Anderson's, but the little A’s).

When you hear women say their boobs are "messed up" from nursing, you should know what it might mean. And know, that like other parts of our body that transform in pregnancy, these can really change dramatically, too.

And lastly, what you do with your boobs is up to you, wholeheartedly up to you as long as you feel good and confident hanging out with your girls. 

 

 

10 protective factors that contribute to Resiliency (that whole bouncing back thing)...

Right after we wrapped up Kickstarter, I learned my work would be featured on People Magazine

A few days after the post came out, I received an email from a mom of two young children, who said she still felt like she was struggling-4 years later.

She wanted to know if I had any tips for her. Immediately, my brain went to my friend Meredith - mother, editor of the "mind" portion of LMH, PsyD and maternal mental health specialist with grit and a BIG heart. I asked her if she'd answer this mom's question, since it's her arena much more than mine. 

Here's Mere's response...

No matter how easy your pregnancy and birth are, pregnancy and birth are stressors. Sometimes the stressors are psychological, and sometimes they are physical. Most often, both are happening simultaneously. 

How does pregnancy stress your body and life? More like how doesn’t it! Name a system. It’s probably in there. 

On top of it, you might have risk factors in your history for developing mental health problems. Do you have a first-degree family member with depression? Have you had it before? Chances are, if you have experienced challenges with metal health before, there is an increased risk it will happen again

I can’t tell you how it will look for you. But I do know the more you try to control it or stuff it down, the more likely it will be to come out after baby comes (because that’s when the real party begins).

You see, I've always believed (and recent research supports) that the signs, symptoms and indicators of depression and anxiety in the postpartum period actually begin before the birth of that baby in fact, “Fifty percent of “postpartum” major depressive episodes actually begin prior to delivery."

In mental health we look at stressors in relationship to protective factors. That is, what protects us from the severity of stressors in our life.

Protective factors contribute to resiliency (that whole bouncing back thing) and include: 

  • Close relationships with family and friends
  • A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities
  • The ability to manage strong feelings and impulses
  • Good problem-solving and communication skills
  • Feeling in control
  • Seeking help and resources
  • Seeing yourself as resilient (rather than as a victim)
  • Coping with stress in healthy ways and avoiding harmful coping strategies, such as substance abuse
  • Helping others
  • Finding positive meaning in your life despite difficult or traumatic events

Chances are, pregnancy will require you to lean harder than ever have before on your protective factors.  So women need to be aware that pregnancy is a time when your “weaknesses” or your “stuff” will probably bubble up.

So, while you are celebrating that baby, looking at strollers, deciding whether or not to get married, PLEASE: Spend as much time (or more) taking a look at your “stuff”.  It will help you in the long run. 

And find someone to help you if you are struggling (who isn’t?) to help you increase your resiliency.

Tell us, have you struggled longer after having your baby than you imagined or were ever told? If you have a tool that really helped you get through your struggle that will help a momma out, please tell us in the comments below.

We're listening! 

I want to acknowledge the courage it took for this woman to step up and ask for help. I believe there's a lot more silent struggle than women lead onto in the early years of motherhood. I want you to know we've got your back. 

May you walk bravely into this week, exactly as you are! 

XO,
Rebecca