Where are my pregnant breasts?

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What's Happening to My Body Book for Girls was very clear about the stages of breast development. There are five, and the last one, in the illustrations, is full and complete-looking.

I was pretty excited about getting there. When I read the book, I was 12, and my body was full of secret promise. I might grow up to be a supermodel! I sometimes sketched myself as the adult I imagined I'd be. In these sketches, I had long, straight pale hair, even though my current hair was tangled and dark. It just seemed like things would be really different then.

But after I went through puberty, things … weren't. Where were my breasts? I had been promised some breasts! God clearly owed me a couple, in exchange for the raging period that menaced my favourite white pants and the horrifyingly uncool world of extra-thick sanitary pads.

Instead, God, or perhaps it was the boob fairy, passed me by and awarded a magnificently extravagant pair to my best friend, who had until then resembled a delicate blonde pixie. Now she was alluring and irresistible to boys.

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"So," said a boy I had a crush on at camp, after we'd escaped together into the night to sit by the moonlit river and bare our teenaged souls, "are your boobs, like, really little? They look kinda little."

Well, then.

But I'll have you know that despite all this, I managed to marry, and as I twirled in romantic slow-motion in front of the fitting mirror in my billowing wedding gown, the saleswoman remarked, "We're going to need to do something about the chest." She stopped me mid-twirl and gave it a poke. "Are you actually wearing a bra right now?" she said, in disbelief. I was.

One bra, as it turned out, was not nearly enough. Two sets of cloth chicken cutlets were inserted into the bodice, and by the time the seamstress was done, my dress, when I stepped out of it, had a truly impressive figure. Sort of a Marilyn Monroe va-va-voom! We looked nothing alike, actually, my gown and I, and I felt a little self-conscious in its presence, as though it might be eying me sceptically, as I shivered in my underwear, and feeling that it deserved better.

"What should happen," said the saleswoman, making a little joke and looking at my maid of honour (that same best friend from childhood), "is she should give you some of her breasts! Right?! She doesn't need all of that, and you sure do!"

It is maybe interesting (if you're interested in stories about other people's boobs, or lack thereof) that I didn't develop some sort of complex, based on all of this. I attribute the fact that I didn't almost entirely to my big Jewish nose, which I spent most of my body-image energy worrying about.

I didn't agonise over the size of my breasts, but I was always vaguely disappointed about them: this didn't work out optimally, I thought. I always sort-of hoped that things would improve. I gained some weight, and my breasts made a valiant effort to fill a B cup, without success.

And then I got pregnant. And of course, I wasn't thinking about my breasts, I was thinking about the fact that my entire life was going to change. But then, in the midst of all the existential inquiry, as I started reading about the changes my body would experience, my heart soared. I was slated to gain two whole pounds of boob weight! This was going to be epic!

On the pregnancy messageboards, women were already complaining, midway into the first trimester, about how huge their breasts were getting. "Ugghhh … I had to buy ANOTHER bra! They are SO GIANT now. My cleavage is out of control!!”

I had never been fortunate enough to experience cleavage of any kind, let alone the kind that had gone wild. I couldn't wait.

"Your breasts are definitely bigger," said my husband, who knew this was how pregnancy worked and was dutifully watching my body change, with maybe a hint of gentle eagerness when it came to the breast situation. But his comment had that tone people use when they say to each other, "It looks like you've lost weight!" when, really, you can't even tell and they probably haven't.

I barfed my way through the first trimester and emerged into the second full of hope. Onward! The months flew by as I hurried to assemble a nursery and get my career in shape. My belly expanded enormously, and suddenly, I desperately needed maternity clothing. I needed pants with those extremely high secret waistbands that reminded me of old Jewish grandfathers who have moved to Florida and now belt their sporty white pants just below their nipples.

What I didn't need was maternity bras. Nope. My old, ratty, padded ones fit just fine. Well, not just fine. There was still a gap there, where my boobs could not fill the whole cup. My cup STILL did not runneth over. It ranneth significantly under.

I'm in the third trimester now. My belly is bold and proud and round. Inside it is a little girl who will probably experience some disappointment when she hits puberty one day. The women on the pregnancy messageboards are very upset about how colossal their boobs have become. And I am thinking that it's probably about time for me to get over these little boobs of mine.

They seem to like being the way they are, and honestly, I have to give them some credit for that. There are many advantages, of course, to having small breasts. I know, I know, I've written before about the perks, shall we say, to remind myself and everyone else.

But I'm not going to sit here and give myself a stern lecture about gratitude and the subtle joys of small-breastedness. Instead, I'm going to throw in the towel and simply acknowledge that my boobs have won. Their will is stronger than mine. Not even pregnancy can shake their persistent commitment to being exactly who they are. And come on, that's pretty impressive.

So I'm willing to call it quits, on the condition that I can feed my daughter, which, I hear, is the point of having breasts in the first place.

Still, I hear that when the milk comes in they get suddenly very large … No. I'm not going to think about it. It's about time I stopped.

 

Kate Fridkis blogs about body image issues at her blog, Eat the Damn Cake

18 comments

  • Well, I'm with you in the not-quite-a-B-cup club.
    I kinda always thought pregnancy would give me boobs, now I'll just hope it does.

    Oh well, remember when everybody is old, your boobs will be fantastic because their not as saggy and as heavy and as awful as all those women who the boob fairy gave Double Ds :)

    Commenter
    Ellie
    Date and time
    May 13, 2013, 8:24AM
    • Ha, I can relate! I haven't been pregnant but I did spend my teenage years feeling jealous of girls that had breasts. I was a chubby teenager too, and one girl was nice enough to point out that the little ones I did have were 'just puppy fat'. Despite women in my family having ample breasts, mine are still not big, but now a good 10 years on I'm thankfully just fine with them. I'm looking forward to not having saggy, floppy ones post-menopause.

      Commenter
      Shelley
      Date and time
      May 13, 2013, 8:50AM
      • My sister and a good friend were fully paid up members of the "itty bitty titty committee", but after a pregnancy or two and some breastfeeding and a few years on and they both now have more to fill out a bra with. Not an over abundance, but certainly more than they had before. As long as they do they do the job they were designed for (breastfeeding - not filling out wedding dresses !) who cares. We are all individuals with bodies that haven't necessarily read the instruction manuals.
        And yes, I was as flat as a tack until puberty got carried away and I got 10DD's that went to 12F when pregnant and breastfeeding. More than my sister and more than my Mum - genetics is no guide.

        Commenter
        10DD (sorry)
        Location
        NSW
        Date and time
        May 13, 2013, 9:06AM
        • I have ample breasts, but am in my second pregnancy, and am still able to wear the same pre pre pregnancy bras. They only ever got bigger when the milk came in, and only for a few days. Not everyone changes bra size!

          Commenter
          Baby2
          Date and time
          May 13, 2013, 9:25AM
          • That is a bummer, but don't worry - so many woman would love to have the 'perks' of smaller boobs! I try to be thankful for my mammaries, but I dream about filling an almost B-cup. The alternative is massive boulder-holder bras, lots of wardrobe restrictions and a long-standing appointment at my osteo for neck and shoulder problems. When a bubba comes along, I can't imagine what's going to happen to 'the girls'. Well, actually, I can, and it scares me silly :)

            Commenter
            Rachel @ Reality Chick
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            May 13, 2013, 9:53AM
            • I'm 32 and I can't even fill an A cup, even with padded bras! I hate going shopping as everything gapes at the front. I keep getting told "wait until you're pregnant" and my hubby often says "more than a mouthful's a waste". I try to remind myself that my small girls stop me from having neck and back issues, it's so easy for me to exercise as they don't move far and don't get in the way, and they'll be perky long after everyone else has sagged... but it still sux.

              Commenter
              Chantelle
              Location
              Sydney
              Date and time
              May 13, 2013, 10:19AM
              • Yes, it's true. Wait until the milk comes in. Except they will be leaky then. A baby (any baby, not necessarily your own) will cry in the shopping centre and suddenly your breasts will start to leak milk as if they had a mind of their own! Oh well, the leaking is less frequent after a couple of months. :)

                Commenter
                mum of four
                Date and time
                May 13, 2013, 10:32AM
                • I hate when my husband and I talk about what it will be like when I'm pregnant and he says with far too much enthusiasm, "your breasts will get bigger!". I wonder how he would feel if I said of his new-found exercise routine that his biceps will get bigger. Don't think he would like it.

                  I honestly don't think I've ever met a man who genuinely likes small breasts, sad but true.

                  Commenter
                  Mellah
                  Date and time
                  May 13, 2013, 11:41AM
                  • Thankfully, the Europeans aren't so tit obsessed. That DD Barbie look is ghastly. The French love petite women - think Moulin Rouge and impressionist nudes. So I will be thankful my man (a Kiwi) is content with small and nearly perfectly formed (nobody is symmetrical, as you will agree).

                    Commenter
                    jb
                    Location
                    gc
                    Date and time
                    May 13, 2013, 1:34PM
                • Barely filled an A cup my entire life, even in pregnancy.
                  Was worried my child would starve!
                  Day 3 after the birth and in 24 hours I went from an A cup to an (incredibly painful and firm) F cup, and I stayed around a DD for 12 months until she weaned.
                  She slept through the night before I could (had to express). I had enough milk in the early stages for quads.
                  Then back to the A cup, although lots of loose skin and stretch marks! At least I could fill the A cup now :-)
                  The concern was then when I was told that you get even more milk for subsequent babies!!
                  Life's a funny old thing!!

                  Commenter
                  mish
                  Location
                  melbourne
                  Date and time
                  May 13, 2013, 12:27PM

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