Monday, August 1, 2016

World Breastfeeding Week: My Breastfeeding Journey


Many may not know this, but this week is World Breastfeeding Week! As the daughter of a lactation consultant and a new mom, breastfeeding and breastfeeding education has become a passion of mine. When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I mean, I didn't feed my baby dolls bottles when I was younger; I literally stuck them under my shirt to feed them. That's what my mom did with all my siblings after all! My ultimate goal was to breastfeed until Chloe self weaned at a year plus, but knowing that breastfeeding isn't always easy for everyone, I set mini goals along the way. Two months, six months, nine months, one year, so on and so forth. I'm proud to say that we've had a few struggles along the way, but we've made it one year! Now I want to share my breastfeeding journey with y'all!


**Warning: There are photos of me breastfeeding going forward. I am very proud of these pictures and have no problem showing them. If they may offend you, you have been warned!**


It all started a year and 3 days ago at Methodist Hospital in the Medical Center the day Chloe was born. As soon as she came out, we shared our precious skin to skin moment, and we immediately started breastfeeding. It was the most beautiful and magical moment. One I will never forget.


Again, my mother is a lactation consultant. She was there to help me immediately which was one of the biggest blessings. I was lucky that Chloe latched on right away and was breastfeeding like a champ. I guess she appreciates food just like her momma! Not all babies take to breastfeeding easily, so the fact that Chloe was a natural helped us immensely. After all, I had no idea what I was getting myself into!


From those first moments, I knew I wanted breastfeeding to be normalized around my family. While I was feeding her the first time, all of our family came in to see her. Brothers, sisters,, moms, dads, girlfriends, everyone. Having a support system while breastfeeding is essential! The more support you have from family and friends, the more likely you'll be able to continue feeding and reach your goals.

I took the same approach with our friends. Instead of hiding or tucking myself away in a corner, I showed them I was comfortable with feeding in front of them. In turn, made them comfortable as well. It started with them visiting at the hospital. Then when they would come visit at our house, I would sit on the couch and feed her. Eventually, I was able to go over to their houses and feed them comfortably without anyone thinking twice about what I was doing. It became normal and expected. I have the most amazing and supportive friends. They may not realize it, but they helped me through this journey!


After having Chloe to me, my breasts were simply a means to feed my baby. Not something sexual. Not something to flaunt. I have breastfed in many public settings. I fed Chloe while waiting in line at Disney World. I fed Chloe while sitting on a bench at Epcot. I fed Chloe at countless restaurants. And I've never been afraid to ask for a dressing room or somewhere to feed Chloe while out and about. I'm proud to say that not once has anyone said something negative to me. I've never had people make rude remarks or even give me funny stares. In fact, most of the time people are so supportive! In line at Disney, the women behind me were encouraging me to feed Chloe. They told me not to worry about it and wished they were as brave as I was when their kids were babies. When shopping, I found that several stores have mother's rooms specifically for breastfeeding moms! {Shout out to Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack!} Not once at a restaurant did anyone say that what I was doing was gross or offensive. For that, I am so thankful. Now people may say something under their breath as they're passing me or made a face once I could no longer seem them. I'll never know, and I'm okay with that.


Now breastfeeding for a year hasn't always been the easiest. There were time that I've cried and struggled. It is one of the most beautiful and frustrating things I've ever done. Here's a funny story for y'all. When Chloe was about 5-6 weeks old, we went to our friends' house for Tyler's 30th birthday party and first Aggie football game. It was our first extended outing around a lot of people, and I wasn't sure how Chloe would react. She struggled a bit. Even though we went into a quiet room to feed, she was struggling with overstimulation and didn't eat much. After a few hours of her not eating much, this caused me to become engorged. I didn't have a hand pump with me, so in tears I went into the bathroom to hand express. A few minutes later, Alison came in to check on me. Now you know someone is your best friend when they will help you hand express your rock hard, engorged boob. We managed to get 2oz out and it felt so much better. Needless to say, it is a memory that I will never forget. It shows how awesome my friends are and that it isn't always easy!


As Chloe got older, it also became harder. Some days she just wouldn't stay still or focus on eating for long enough! Nine months is when some days I realized why people couldn't make it to the one year mark. It was so frustrating some days! Breastfeeding became gymnurstics. Chloe would get into the weirdest, most uncomfortable positions. Sometimes it would just plain hurt! I was lucky enough not to get cracked nipples in the early days, but I did get one at 10 months. Oh my goodness. Again, I understood how moms quit in the first few weeks if that was something they experienced early on. It was excruciating! But like always, we made it through each hurdle that was thrown our way.


Now here we are at the one year mark. We're still breastfeeding and will probably continue to go strong for a while. I have what I like to call a "Boobie Baby." This girl loves to nurse. Luckily we don't have to nurse as often or as long. It's still a comfort thing for Chloe. I nurse her in the morning when she wake up, before she goes down for her first nap, in the afternoon and again before bed. Four times a day has become our normal lately. Eventually we'll taper off to in the morning and before bed. I'm not in any rush though. I know I'll miss it when I'm done!


Tips for a successful breastfeeding journey:
  • Take the breastfeeding class your hospital offers! Having some knowledge of breastfeeding going into it helps so much. It's also important for your significant other or support person to join you!
  • Get your significant other on board. You need their support and encouragement 100%! You need someone who will push you through the hard times and encourage you to continue.
  • Find ways that make you comfortable feeding in front of others. You may want a cover, a scarf, a special breastfeeding shirt, whatever it takes to allow you to feed near others. Breastfeeding can be isolating. If you can still be surrounded by your friends and not miss out, it will help! 
  • Reach out to a lactation consultant. If you have questions or issues, don't be afraid to seek help. Lactation consultants are here for a reason and they want to help you! They are passionate about breastfeeding and want you to succeed!
  • Join breastfeeding support groups. Milk Maids. La Leche League. Just to name a few. You can join support groups on Facebook, baby boards or even local groups. This provides a place for you to ask questions and seek support and advice.
  • No matter how long you're able to breastfeed, just remember that whatever you're able to give your baby is AMAZING!

This is just my journey. Every journey is different. Since I only work two days a week, it helped me so much! I didn't have to pump every day and I was home in the early afternoon. I  believe that being physically with Chloe helped our journey. I proud of how far we've come and look forward to continuing on until she's ready.

I'd love to answer any questions y'all have about breastfeeding in general or my journey specifically. I've been blessed with abundant resources. It's something I'm passionate about and I am contemplating starting a career in. We'll see! My goal with all of this is to celebrate and normalize breastfeeding. It's a beautiful part of life and every journey is different!

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