For those of you who don't know, this month is National Breastfeeding (awareness) Month!
This week, I was fortunate enough to be in LA and take part of a Fashion Mamas normalize breastfeeding photo shoot. I got together with a group of wonderful, strong mamas, with babies of all ages, newborn to toddler, and we fed our children. We got to hang out, get some AMAZING baby/nursing-safe products from True Botanicals, have some cool photos taken; you know, just a typical LA day. Haha!
Breastfeeding is something that I rarely talk about on social media, which is interesting, because if you know me personally, you will know that I am a huge breastfeeding advocate. I honestly believe that more women should share their stories, no matter if they are good or bad, successful or not, because there is still (unfortunately) a stigma around breastfeeding. Pregnant women are pushed by our doctors to nurse our babies, shamed if we don't (or can't, in the case of so many women,) and shamed and judged if we do for how we do it, how long we do it, where we do it, etc.
When it really comes down to it, I believe that choosing whether or not to nurse is something that women need to do on their own, with the support of their partners (or not, in some cases,) because it is such a huge decision and it needs to be right for your family. I have a girlfriend who is my go-to mom encyclopedia for any and all of my parenting related questions, and she never nursed. Had no interest in it, and knew that it would not work for her and her family, her career, etc. And that is absolutely fine. Her baby is the most loved, healthy little one I've ever seen.
I personally knew that nursing my son was the best choice for us.
Long before Roman was even a twinkle in my eye, I knew that when I had children, I wanted to breastfeed them. When my best friend became pregnant with her son, she declared to the world that she would nurse him proudly until he chose to stop. If that was when he a toddler, then so be it, and be damned anyone who looked twice or turned their nose at her decision. When her son was born, she nursed him around the clock, but something wasn’t right. After several months of struggle, she was told by her pediatrician that her son had tongue tie, and he wasn’t getting enough milk. This led to formula supplementing, and her milk drying up, despite all her efforts to prevent it from happening, to the point of no return.
This chain of events replayed in my mind over and over throughout my pregnancy. I made damn sure that nothing like that would happen to us. I took classes when I was pregnant, read books, and mentally prepared Alec for what I assumed would be the most trying experience of my life. The 4 days I spent in the hospital, I had a lactation nurse come in to our room each time I fed Roman. That is not an exaggeration. My nurses told me that Roman had zero problems latching on, and that was confirmed when my milk came in while we were still in the hospital. Roman actually gained weight back before we left, and the nurses told us that was unheard of. Even still, when Roman was 2 weeks old, I had a lactation specialist come to my house and evaluate us, just to make sure that if there was something wrong, we could fix it early on. Nothing was wrong. Roman’s latch was perfect, he was a proficient eater.
My nipples never cracked or bled, nursing never hurt me, Roman never struggled to latch on, and he was gaining weight splendidly at every doctor’s appointment. He is 7 months old, and we are really good at this.
And that is so amazing, I am so lucky to be able to say that. But now I face a new demon, and that is judgement.
My son does not like to nurse with a cover. He cries, and fusses, and inevitably pulls it off. When I was pregnant I assumed that I wouldn’t care about public nursing, that I would do it when I wanted, how I wanted. When Roman was little, I was so nervous to nurse him in public. It was so out of character for me, but I usually would feed him hiding in my car. But as he’s gotten older and better at feeding (he could latch on from a mile away,) my fears have gone away, and now I have no problems. But other people do. I am fortunate to have a partner who is so supportive, but many women don’t. I have family members constantly asking me “how much longer do you plan on doing this?” Like it’s an inconvenience. Like it’s gross. And I honestly don’t know how long I will do this. My original plan was 1-2 years. Roman seems to be more and more interested in solid foods, and less interested in nursing. So maybe at 1 year he will wean himself. Or maybe I will nurse him into his toddler years. Whatever happens, it will be my decision, and what I think is best for my family.
I hope that sharing my story makes other women do the same thing.
We need to break the stigma.
Nursing moms are being shamed by people on the street, people who they love. Women who don’t nurse are being judged, and called selfish.
We are all humans, and our children need to be fed, one way or the other.
I am proud to be part of the Normalize Breastfeeding and Free the Nipple movements!