August marks National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and all too often we forget the harsh real-life challenges women face daily with the (what seems so simple) act of breastfeeding their children. We wanted to take this opportunity to shine a light on real mothers in New York City and their breastfeeding journeys. All of these moms work within the pregnancy sphere, from doulas to pre- and post-natal trainers, and while each of their stories differ—from the issues they have faced to the positives—it’s refreshing and eye-opening for other breastfeeding mothers to see that no, you’re not alone.
Alicia Hudson, Mama Glow doula
“I personally didn’t know anyone in my family who had breastfed when I had my son 12 years ago. My midwife placed him on my breast shortly after he was born and he immediately latched on. The days that followed were a bit more challenging because I had a lot of questions but no one to ask; not even my mother or grandmother knew what to do.
My midwife sent a consultant from the La Leche League to my home and she was very helpful. I learned how to properly pump and store my milk and what foods to avoid that were causing my son to be colicky.
Now as a Mama Glow doula, I look forward to helping expecting mothers prepare for nursing so that they can experience less stress and focus more on bonding with their baby.
I created boober because my years in the field of birth, breastfeeding, and postpartum made it clear to me that early lactation support makes a huge difference in whether or not someone will be able to meet their breastfeeding goals.
To me, working with a lactation consultant in the early days of breastfeeding can truly change the outlook of a new parent from struggle to hope, and can also transform the breastfeeding process so that there is less pain and therefore more efficiency in each feed and more milk! As we always say, #ifithurtsgethelp. “No pain, no gain” does not apply to lactation!
Personally, I know I was lucky to have learned so much about breastfeeding before giving birth to my daughter. I believe because I was so educated about how lactation works, I was able to breastfeed more easily. So, I’m a big fan of prenatal breastfeeding education. The more you know, the more empowered you are and the more quickly you will recognize when breastfeeding needs to be adjusted or when you’re actually doing fine!
Jamie Jones, pre- post-natal trainer
I alternated between pumping and nursing for much of my first postpartum journey. I hated pumping, and suffered from postpartum depression, so I really needed the feeding assistance at times. I became slightly obsessed with having a freezer full of milk instead of just embracing nursing when I could, and pumping when I needed to. I didn’t feel the bonding attachment in the way I had hoped, which I know was large in part due to my depression. While I struggled as a new mom, breastfeeding came fairly easily.
However, my second time around was a totally different experience. I did feel all of the bonding this time, but I also did not have the postpartum depression to battle. I breastfed him until he was 10 months and then started to supplement/wean since I was working more (also, being a mom of a toddler and breastfeeding a baby was definitely more challenging than I expected!). We had a harder time transitioning to a bottle, because he was so comfortable curling up to feed with me, but he also wasn’t getting full from my supply. After trying Comotomo bottles (softer nipple and bottle) we finally had success!
I miss breastfeeding. I miss the attachment, I miss knowing they were getting all the nutrients they needed from me, I miss looking down at their little faces knowing I was still their main life source! But there’s also a sense of freedom once you’ve finished your breastfeeding journey. After discussing the benefits during Latham Thomas’s Mama Glow doula immersion, I was reminded of what an important role I was playing in their growth, development, and health! Every time they latched, my body would create anything they needed to thrive at that time! Fighting fevers, vitamin and mineral needs, whatever it was! There is no better feeling than knowing you can provide that.
Deb Flashenberg, Prenatal Yoga Center
I decided to breastfeed both my children and aimed to go at least 18 months. I made it that far with my son but my daughter self-weaned at 14 months. It was actually rather heartbreaking to me when she started to refuse my breast. I found myself facing the massive challenge around 12 months that my supply was starting to drop. I did everything I could think of—lactation teas, extra pumping, and even hand-expressing to try to get the most of my supply. I kept it going for another two months until it became clear this was not working for us anymore.
I did cherish my time breastfeeding both my children. For the most part, it was a very positive, empowering experience to be able to support my babies from the nourishment of my breast milk. And once I got into the swing of things (which took a bit of time and several frantic calls to a lactation consultant), it became convenient to be able to feed my baby wherever we were. I think my favorite part of breastfeeding was that it required me to slow down, pause, and get quiet time with my baby. I miss those moments.
While it may not be the right choice for all families, it was the perfect choice for my little tribe.