Inevitably, motherhood leaks into every nook and cranny of your life.
Toys spill out from under the sofa, your once fashionable handbag is now filled with suspiciously hairy raisins, and the clothes you wear are always smeared with traces of motherly love (snot).
No area of your life is safe from the grubby handprints of motherhood, and that includes your bra.
In those pre-motherhood days, that once-lacy lingerie that was solely responsible for making your cleavage look good.
Now you’re busy trying to convince yourself (and your partner) that nursing bras are sexy whilst shopping for bras in sizes about 10 times bigger than ever before.
And yes, I know they do make sexy nursing lingerie these days, but I bet most women still find themselves buying the value pack of monochrome nursing bras (no? Just me then).
It’s only once you become a mother that you realise how close you really are to becoming a bag lady. Those carefree days of simply grabbing your phone, bank card and lip gloss are long behind you. These days, there is a list of things that simply must be taken out on all outings. Nappies, snacks, wipes, spare clothes, toys, sunscreen and everything else you own gets jammed into your nappy bag, hand bag and pockets. You carry so much junk that you get wedged into doorways and have be shoved free by helpful passers-by. And that’s when the potential of your bra is realised. It’s a breast bag. Sure, there isn’t much room in there a lot of the time, but after a big feed, you could easily squish the contents of your handbag into one cup.
Here are just 10 of the things I’ve found down my bra since becoming a mama:
Bra Surprise #1: Raisins
For that first year of motherhood, I didn’t feel quite myself. My body took a while to shrink back down, and I just felt that I didn’t look quite like myself when I looked in the mirror. Nothing hammers this point home better than removing your bra at the end of a long day and hearing the pitter-patter of raisins dropping on the floor around you. One of the lesser known pitfalls of babywearing is that as soon as your baby starts eating solid food a lot of it will end up in your bra.
Bra Surprise #2: Crumbs
It’s not just raisins either, I’ve found all kinds of food items in there. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I can really blame the baby for all of them. After all, she didn’t really eat ginger nuts, bourbons or crisps at the time. In my defence, I’m really not used to having such a sizable cleavage. I’d gone through life without ever having to worry about food landing in my cleavage. There’s nothing quite like picking toast crumbs off yourself at the end of the day to make you feel more than a little neglected.
Bra Surprise #3: Toys
This is really where the breast bag idea came from, and it certainly wasn’t my idea. I’d been out for a long walk by the canal with my baby in the sling. She was about eight months old at the time, and it was a beautiful summer’s day. When we returned home, I took my daughter out of the carrier and went to make some food. Half an hour later (yes, a whole thirty minutes), I noticed that there was a rubber duck in my bra. Tucked there, I suspect, by my baby who had tired of carrying it. This was not the only time I discovered a toy in my bra, but it was the only time that toy was a rubber duck.
Bra Surprise #4: Puddles
When I first started breastfeeding, my breasts seemed to take their new role very seriously. It was almost as though they were going for employee of the month. Each time my baby cried they would start producing milk, which is great if you’re about to feed and it is your baby crying. Not so great when it was actually someone else’s baby crying with hunger. My poor breasts just couldn’t tell the difference (I’ve given this a lot of thought and decided it’s probably down to the fact that breasts don’t have ears. Major design flaw), so every time I was near a screaming baby (which was a lot), I would end up with puddles in my bra. And sometimes these puddles would leak through onto my top. Oh joy.
Bra Surprise #5: Breast Pads
Ok, I put these there so it wasn’t a huge surprise to discover these in my bra. I used reusable ones and loved them, but had two different designs. One design would stay firmly in place, but the others would go rogue. They would go as far away from my nipples as possible, leading to the sorts of Puddle Gate incidents mentioned above. Once, one of the rogue pads climbed all the way up and peeked over the top of my bra whilst I was wearing just a vest top. This was in public. And as parents of young babies will know, you are never away from prying eyes when you have a newborn with you in public. Pro tip: if you don’t like being centre of attention, position a breast pad so it is poking out of your vest top, everyone will be too embarrassed to stare at you.
Bra Surprise #6: Hands
Ah yes, with breastfeeding comes the unwelcome hands pulling your top down in public. Babies just aren’t really very subtle, are they? And far from politely waiting their turn, they will gladly whip out your boob when you’re half way through a conversation with a supermarket cashier. One minute you’re happily chatting away, and the next you feel a breeze on your right nipple.
Bra Surprise #7: Bite Marks
Babies love gumming down on teething toys because it relieves the discomfort of teething. Babies are not very understanding of the fact that breasts are not teething toys. And if you think the gumming down stage is bad, just wait until those sharp little teeth finally make an appearance. Get ready to see those pearly whites imprinted on your nipple. Ouch.
Bra Surprise #8: Bruises
It’s a rare treat to be cooked for these days, but it’s something I really enjoy. A break from the everyday monotony of cooking, and the chance to try out some new food. I always thank the chef by nipping him really hard in the chest, because that’s just polite, right? Newborn babies are lovely because they don’t have much in the way of fine motor control. As soon as my daughter had developed a little bit of strength in her hands, I acquired a pair of Dalmatian boobs. These are much like normal boobs, except they’re covered in teeny tiny bruises that can only be obtained by hundreds of tiny yet forceful nips.
Bra Surprise #9: Confidence
This might sound a little strange, but I found my parenting confidence tucked away inside my nursing bra. Those first few days of breastfeeding were scary and difficult, but it didn’t take long to master it. Breastfeeding gave me confidence in my mothering abilities. I was feeding my baby, and providing her with everything she needed all by myself. I began to notice her feeding cues, the lip smacks and rooting that meant she was hungry, so she didn’t often need to cry with hunger. I knew her, and I knew how to soothe her. Breastfeeding helped me to realise I knew what I was doing, and I was going to be ok at this whole mothering thing.
Bra Surprise #10: Freedom
The day I took off my nursing bra for the last time and re-welcomed the underwire back into my life, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of freedom. I love breastfeeding, and had a really positive experience. I’m so glad I did it for as long as I did, and proud that I managed to. But, that said, I was excited to get my freedom back when my breastfeeding journey came to an end. So packing away that nursing bra felt good, even if it did mean my baby was growing up. Sob.