Woman Exposes Reality Of "Selfish" Breastfeeding Taboo

July 17th 2016

Almie Rose

There are a lot of taboos associated with breastfeeding, like where to breastfeed, how to breastfeed, and whether or not to even breastfeed.


A photo posted by Natalia Deriabina (@chiosun) on

But there's one taboo in particular that no one talks about, and it's this taboo that one writer wants to bring into the open.

Writing for Harper's Bazaar, Jena Murphy details bluntly "How Breastfeeding Ruined My Body" in an essay published in May that's gained recent social media attention — most of it negative.

Harper's Bazaar

Murphy says she was "one of those lucky women..."

She describes herself as being lucky in a few ways. She was pleased to be born with "perfectly round" breasts. And her breasts were perfect in another way, in that they functioned in feeding her baby.

"I was one of those lucky women: my boobs worked. The milk came. The baby latched. The hormones hit. The weight vanished. I found every single other part of being a mom impossibly difficult. But biologically, I nailed it."

Then, she feels her luck ran out.

"[My breasts] looked as sad as I felt."

"And then I stopped breastfeeding and the magic disappeared—deflated. My perfectly round, perfectly perky breasts dropped, and then drooped, and then settled into a U-shape. They looked as sad as I felt. Perhaps I was naive, but I really thought they'd reshape. I kept waiting for them to tighten back up. It has been four years."

The writer knows what she should have felt in these early stages of motherhood, "according to the internet":

"joy, love, appreciation of my body and all the many gifts it has given me. Pride that I fed and nursed and nourished my mewling infant into a healthy boy. Respect and admiration for the strength and wonder of the female form."


A photo posted by The Kuu Mom (@thekuumom) on

But what she actually felt was "fucking pissed."

"Is that vain, selfish, and narcissistic? Sure. But it's also true."

She's well aware that her feelings could be easily deemed "selfish," but she's speaking her truth, a truth that isn't often highlighted (though Google search results show it is discussed in certain corners of the internet). "If I had any idea that breastfeeding would ruin my breasts," she writes "I doubt I would have done it."

breastfeeding google results

It's a stance that would shock and surprise many, but the writer is clear that it's not just about mourning a pair of "perfect breasts" but about mourning a lost identity as well.

"My breasts were part of my identity, my confidence, my style, my beauty, my sexuality. And they changed so suddenly, so drastically, in a time when my whole identity changed—from person to mother. I connect my beautiful breasts to my old self, and these new imposters to the mom-me."

" one ever talks about this particular sacrifice."

"My body is my body and I loved it. Yet for the many conversations around breastfeeding—the difficulty, the complications of pumping at work, the impossibility of procuring breast milk for those who want it, the cultural pressure, the health benefits, the logistics, the commitment—no one ever talks about this particular sacrifice."

Harper's Bazaar

Whether or not breastfeeding in and of itself actually changes a woman's body, or of it's the entire pregnancy process that affects how her body changes isn't the point. The point is that moms feel they aren't allowed to talk about the bodily sacrifices they make, and that sometimes, those sacrifices make them feel like entirely different people. As though their new identities are simply "Moms."

"I'm sad my breasts are no longer beautiful," the writer admits. But it's more than that. "I'm sad my body won't ever be fully mine again. And that's a real loss."

You can read the entire essay at Harper's Bazaar.