• Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    while shopping.

    "I thought it was okay, I could understand the reasons

    They said, “There might be a man or a nervous child seeing this small piece of flesh that they weren’t quite expecting.”

    So I whispered and tip-toed with nervous discretion But after six months of her life sat sitting on lids, sipping on milk, nostrils sniffing on piss

    Trying not to bang her head on toilet roll dispensers I wonder whether these public loo feeds offend HER...

    So no more will I sit on these cold toilet lids

    No matter how embarrassed I feel as she sips

    Because in this country of billboards, covered in tits I think we should try to get used to this" -excerpt from Hollie McNish's poem 'Embarrassed'

    (Full spoken word poem here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KiS8q_fifa0)

    "This poem sums up the Normalize Breastfeeding movement to me. It puts into words what I wasn't brave enough to say nor tough enough to defend as a new mom. It validates and supports my choice to breastfeed in a culture that says breasts are for show.

    This poem gives me the confidence to go out in the world and feed my baby like I was born to do. I have breastfed two different babies, for 25 out of the last 35 months, and oh my, it is so hard. Improper latch, plugged ducts, cracked nipples, engorgement, oversupply, undersupply, tongue/lip ties, building my freezer stash, and pumping at work are just a few of the struggles we've overcome. Working through all of that, plus the never-ending insecurities that new moms face, I felt unprepared adding breastfeeding in public to the list of hardships.

    I was aware upon having my first baby that WI law states that wherever a woman is allowed to be, she is allowed to breastfeed. But I was also aware that our society doesn't support that law, and that I may not get the high-fives I felt I deserved.

    Living in a city, I breastfeed in public a lot; with a cover, without a cover, on walks, at the dog park, at playgrounds, on the beach, at farmer's markets, in coffeeshops, in grocery stores, in restaurants, and the list goes on. But this took time. I started out breastfeeding in the car, behind buildings, and on so many public toilet seats. (I am ashamed to even admit this. Yuck. Oh, the guilt for putting my baby through that.) When my confidence in my new role as a mom grew, I became braver and braver, and started nursing wherever I was, and in front of whomever was around. I realized quickly that I didn't care what anyone else thought. If my baby is hungry, I need to feed her at OUR convenience, not anybody else's.

    One day, my breastfeeding journey will come to an end, and this will all seem like a tiny blip in time. I want to set a good example for my kids, my sisters, my friends, and my neighbors. So many women struggle to breastfeed their babies at all, and we need not make it any harder on them. It is a shame that our culture doesn't see breastfeeding as publicly appropriate, and it is time to change. It is time to grow up, society. It is time to normalize breastfeeding." - Emily

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    at a beer garden. 

      "From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I was sure of a few things. I knew I wanted to stay home with my little one and was determined to nurse and cloth diaper. I had spent years as a teacher; teaching and taking care of other people's children and I wasn't interested in trying to split my time, love & energy between 18 first graders and one tiny baby.


         As with most momma's, the first few weeks of taking care of a newborn were quite an adjustment.  Kieran, my little dark haired one, arrived a week late. He was very jaundice and required constant feedings. I was instructed to wake him up every hour and a half to nurse, day and night. Some days I feel like I haven't slept more then a few hours since!


       Kieran has never been what you would call a "sleeper." I usually blame nursing for that. I also blame nursing for a baby who is never sick, rarely cries and loves to cuddle his family and his pets. Now that he is 20 months I am frequently asked when will I stop nursing. Honestly, I don't know.  I have worked hard to night-wean so that I can get more than 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep, but 5-7 am is still a nurseathon for my squirmy toddler. We naturally nurse a little less each month, but neither of us are ready to call it quits.


      A cup of coffee & a beer or two are some of my guilty pleasures as a mom. I'm
      pretty sure they put beer garden next to all of our favorite parks for a reason and I am proud to be publicly nursing my little guy while "nursing" my Hoegaarden." - Anna

     

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    at the mall. 

    "My first child was born by c-section four years ago. It was probably a totally unnecessary surgery, and I was very disappointed that I didn't get to immediately bond with my baby. Maybe that's why I fought so hard to breastfeed him.

    He didn't latch at birth, and when I did sometimes get him latched, he couldn't seem to transfer milk. So I pumped and desperately sought help. I pumped through a terrible infection and abscesses from the c-section, and I researched any possible reason why my baby couldn't breastfeed. When he was around 2 months, I took him to the pediatrician and asked if he could have a tongue tie. The old-school pediatrician took a piece of gauze and pressed under my son's tongue until he bled. He refused to latch for a week, and then suddenly started nursing. With some oral motor therapy, he started nursing well, and then rejected bottles. I stopped pumping, and we just nursed.

    I couldn't imagine giving up nursing at a year. I worked so hard for it, and it was my son's best source of both nutrition and comfort. So we continued. We nursed everywhere and anywhere, because that's what my child needed. I gave up using a cover early on. My son screamed under the cover, and trying to latch a baby with a tent over us was nearly impossible. I was confident and had never faced anything more than a dirty look or two when nursing in public.

    That changed on father's day, when my son was 22 months old. We were out for brunch in a packed restaurant, and our food was understandably slow to arrive. My toddler was bored, hungry and fussy. So I nursed him like always. Halfway through the second breast, I was told by a server and the manager to cover up or leave. I stood up for myself, cited Wisconsin law, and was told I was banned from the restaurant.

    The breastfeeding community on the internet was very supportive, but there were hurtful lies told about me too. I will probably never know who complained. The incident was intensely painful. It shredded my confidence. I continued to care for my child as I needed to, but I felt like I was constantly on the lookout for an attack. Shortly after he turned 2, I mostly stopped nursing outside of my home. My son continued to nurse, slowly reducing to once a day around the time he turned 3. He weaned a little after 3.5, when I was 13 weeks pregnant with my daughter.

    My daughter was born by VBAC a little over 3 weeks ago. Although she also had a tongue tie (which we had lasered at 3 days old), she latched perfectly in the delivery room and at every possible opportunity ever since. She is a voracious nurser. We call her a boob shark. If she's awake, she's nursing. The only way I can avoid being a prisoner in my own house is to nurse in public.

    I need to regain my confidence. I need to not let that terrible incident turn me into a shut-in, or deter me from attending to my infant's needs. That is my goal, to just keep going and fake confidence until I really feel it." - Betsy

     

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    at the local blacksmith shop. 

    "I was 19 when I got pregnant with my first child. I was shocked but really calm about the whole thing. I come from a large family, babies didn't frighten me at all. I fought for that baby from day one against everyone who thinks its a bad idea for young women to have them. I had watched my mom nurse her babies but we didn't talk about it. I had no idea what to expect. My friends who were having babies all went straight to formula and took pills to dry up their milk.

    In the hospital I brought that baby to my breast. The book said "get as much of your areola into her mouth as possible." My areola was larger than her tiny little face. How was that supposed to work? 3 days later my milk came in with a vengeance. My breasts were triple the size. Over the next couple of weeks, my nipples cracked and bled. I had to lay in a hot tub to express enough for her to even try to latch. I had no pump and wouldn't have known how to use it if I did.

    I think women don't tell you those things because they don't want to scare anyone off of trying....but if I had heard those things from others, I wouldn't have felt so alone.

    I wouldn't have felt like a failure. I would have tried harder and longer than I did. My daughter was born during the cryptosporidium breakout in Milwaukee... so my mother in law sent "ready to use" formula. Having that on hand, knowing the alternative was the stabbing seering pain of unsuccessfully trying to latch... it was just too easy to give up. My second baby came 18 months later. Same issues. I went to La Leche League meetings, in my pajamas because it was too painful to dress. T

    here I learned about the blessing of cabbage leaves. Wrapping your engorged breasts in them, reduces fever and swelling as well as providing instant relief.

    My son and I nursed well for over 6 months. I was shy and always hid to feed him but was happy I was feeding my baby this way.

    Over the next 20+ years I had 4 more babies. Each story is unique. Each breastfeeding journey has lasted a different amount of time. Every one longer than the last, less trouble in the beginning. As with all things, the more practice you get, the more comfortable you get. I nursed number #5 for 18 months... and only gently weaned her so that we could get pregnant with number #6.

    What I say to women now is... forget everything else in your life for the first 2 weeks. Don't worry about hair and makeup, visitors or going anywhere. Sleep, eat, rest, nurse. Don't even bother with a shirt. Wear a light sweater and have it open most of the time. If you are not actively nursing, lay back and read a book with your baby on your skin. Don't dress your baby either. Skin to skin on your chest, a blanket over baby. This is how you trigger all of the bodies natural responses to nourishing your baby. The smells, the touch, the sounds. We have physiological responses to each other. Your baby is calmer, sleeps better and establishes your milk if you use these techniques because we are connected. Your heart rate and breathing, regulates to hers until they establish themselves... so staying close is such a gift.

    I nurse my baby wherever I am. I don't cover because eating with a blanket over your head is uncomfortable. There is such a quiet security in knowing her food is with me always. I take better care of myself because I am feeding her. I drink more water, make better food choices. My life is crazy, I am always on the run. Not having to pack a bag, remember formula, find hot water... those are the greatest superficial reasons to nurse. Building her immune system and sharing this bonding with her are the significant reasons I do. Breastmilk is used to heal all ailments in this house and feed everyone. When I had my 3 year old, just before cold season... I was panicked. I thought certainly all my teenagers, who went out to school and jobs were going to bring my newborn every illness. So, I pumped and put breastmilk in their almond milk container for the first 6 months of her life, to keep them all healthy. The irony there is I was the only one who got sick that season.

    I am so proud to be involved in this project. I hope that women see these photos and realize that America is just a tiny part of a very big world and our ideas of breasts and feeding our children are so small minded here. Don't look around when you're nursing. Don't let anyone else's eye contact or reaction get into your head. Nothing matters but you and your baby. What you are doing is amazing and experiencing it fully is all that matters. If you struggle, ask for help. It's everywhere." - Shannon

     

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    in a community garden. 

    "I am a proud mama to 2 little boys. When my oldest, who turned 3 in July was born, I was bound and determined to breastfeed. I had read about the health benefits and knew I wanted him to have the healthiest start possible. My initial goal was 1 year.

    What a rough beginning we had! At the 3 month mark, I was ready to give up but as a last ditch effort, I enlisted the help of a wonderful lactation consultant, Beth Eddy. With Beth's help and my husbands support we persevered! The nursing cover came off! I invested in some nursing tanks for easier access and finally started enjoying the experience; gazing into my sons eyes, studying his every feature.

    When I became pregnant, my oldest and I nursed through it. Though my milk had "dried up", the comfort nursing provided my son could not be matched. I was really excited to have the experience of tandem nursing, knowing my body could nourish two little ones. In the beginning my oldest said the milk was for the baby. I was convinced he had weaned but no less than a week later, he was back at it. The two have a bond as they nurse, holding hands and lovingly looking at each other.

    When we're out in public, I nurse my 9 month old without any qualms. If asked, I'll proudly tell anyone that I nurse my 3 year old however, when he asks to nurse in public, often times, I tell him at home, or later depending on where we are. It makes me feel sad that there are still so many judgmental individuals when it comes to breastfeeding an older child.

    Tandem nursing is the calm that keeps all of us going! Normalizing breastfeeding has become very important to me and I try to educate anyone who asks or appears interested. Nurse on mamas!" - Natalie

    Please show this momma support in the comments section and keep in mind that a healthy debate on public nursing is okay - but I ask that you keep the comments respectful or they will be removed. - Azure

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    at an outdoor concert. 

    "What growth I've experienced from four years ago...

    My older daughter, Ava, was born three weeks early by c-section after finding out just before my water broke that she had flipped to a transverse breech position. Without knowing any other options, we went ahead with the c-section after planning for an unmedicated, vaginal birth.

    Breastfeeding was difficult and she took weeks to return to birth weight. We were sent to a lactation consultant for weighed feedings and advice on latch. Her latch continued to be painful for many weeks, but we persevered.

    I remember speaking with a coworker who assured me it took until almost three months for her to find her groove with nursing - this was great to hear after thinking we were doing something wrong.

    I returned to work when Ava was 10 weeks old and had two times a day to pump. Thankfully, I worked with a great teaching partner who allowed me to sneak in an extra pumping session, or I fear our journey would have ended much sooner. At Ava's 6 month checkup, we were told she had not gained any weight since her four month visit.

    My heart sank; I felt like I had been starving my sweet baby.

    The pediatrician recommended we switch to formula and continue nursing morning and night if we chose. I left feeling like such a failure. Once we made the switch to formula, there was a weight lifted. Weaning was very easy for both of us which seemed to solidify the fact that I wasn't producing much.

    Fast-forward three years...

    When I found out I was pregnant with our second child, I planned and prepared for a VBAC. We secured a doula who would also do placenta encapsulation and made sure the midwives were on board with this plan. I read all the birth stories I could on Birth Without Fear, as well as Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. I had visits to the chiropractor and acupuncturist lined up to ensure our daughter would be head down for delivery.

    Around 20 weeks, I was diagnosed with Pubic Symphysis Disorder which made walking and running very painful at times. I was able to see physical therapists two times a week to help keep my hips and pubic bones aligned. I spoke with them about keeping my pelvis in position, as well. I went into labor with Zoey in the evening as I was getting ready for bed. She was born only four hours after my water broke in an amazingly fast, powerful vaginal birth.

    She immediately latched after birth and nursed like a champ. My second birth was so different than my first.

    However, this did not mean that our nursing relationship was without issues. Zoey struggled with low bilirubin levels and we were sent home with a bili blanket. She was also slow to regain weight and took almost a month to return to birth weight, but thankfully our pediatrician recognized we had the same struggles with Ava. We were sent for a weighed feeding at the lactation consultant again, but this time, we were sent off feeling confident she was getting enough milk. The main difference between nursing Zoey and Ava was my mindset.

    With Zoey, I made sure to surround myself with others on the same mission. I was invited by a friend to join the local La Leche League group, which was also accompanied by a Facebook group. I also joined several other breastfeeding groups, one of which I became especially active in. These groups were a great sounding board for any complications that arose as well as to share celebrations. The groups were filled with women from all different backgrounds - some working like me, some stay-at-home mothers, some with legitimate low-supply and some with oversupply.

    I returned to work when Zoey was ten weeks old. I had planned with my teaching partner (a different one by this time who thankfully is one of my best friends) that I would pump during morning recess, lunch, and again in the afternoon during specials. This meant my teaching partner would need to cover all recess duties which is normally a shared responsibility. Thankfully, she was willing to help in any way she could.

    As time went on, I started feeling guilty about my needs and work pressures pushed me into dropping a pumping session.

    By this point, we had already encountered some issues with our daycare provider claiming we weren't sending enough milk (they sent home references from the state with recommended ounces - thankfully, I had the support of the Facebook groups to point out that this referenced formula which is completely different than breastmilk.) As we continued, Zoey moved to an in-home provider who stood by our decision to breastfeed and helped by pacing feedings and making sure that milk was never thrown away.

    By spring break, I was struggling to pump enough and had depleted my very small freezer supply trying to keep up with Zoey's needs. I was nursing morning and nights (overnight several times, too!) I planned to feed on demand over my spring break in hopes to boost my supply for the last two months of school. Unfortunately, this was not enough as my pumping output did not increase. Even with a middle-of-the-night pumping session, I could not keep up. Thankfully, I reached out for support and was met with offers of donor milk.

    I received small donations at first from two close friends. This was such a relief since I was constantly counting ounces and worrying. Then, one day I was talking with a coworker about her huge oversupply and I joked with her that she could send some of that my way. She happily offered milk and ended up donating hundreds of ounces over the next two months. Her donation helped me make it to summer break without worrying about every ounce.

    Summer break was such a great nursing experience. I exclusively nursed and was able to ditch the pump. No more counting ounces or worrying!

    Zoey also loved food which meant nursing was mostly before and after naps and bedtime. As Zoey's first birthday neared, as well as my return to work, I was determined to ditch the pump and only continue nursing morning and night. However, we had actually built my supply back up enough that I was uncomfortable at work without pumping. I added one pumping session in per day at work during the busiest time of my school year - those first weeks of school with Kindergartners are tough! I have recently cut this pumping session out, but thankfully my coworker offered another large donation to ensure Zoey is able to receive breastmilk during the day for another few weeks! Thankfully, Zoey loves all food as well as cow's milk so when the time comes to stop offering breastmilk during the day, I know she will be okay.

    We are almost to 13 months of breastmilk and I couldn't be prouder of this accomplishment. I'm so grateful for all the differences since Ava was born. I have grown so much as a person in those four years.

    With Ava I would worry about people seeing me nurse which was very isolating. With Zoey, I nursed anywhere and everywhere, covered and uncovered. I think the shift towards public breastfeeding awareness and laws has helped me grow in this regard. I also became more comfortable with my postpartum body as well as public nursing through exposure via the Facebook groups, Fourth Trimester Body Project, Birth Without Fear, and even here on Azure's webpage. I hope this shift towards public breastfeeding normalcy continues so some day our children can nurse in public without thinking twice. Keep on keeping on, mamas." - Amanda

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    after a family hike. 

    "My son was born 3.5 weeks early with a recessed chin and had a difficult time latching. While in the hospital, we were told we needed to supplement with formula because he had jaundice. Not knowing any better, we listened to the doctors and nurses. While I have no issues with formula, I wanted to breastfeed. This was something I knew from the time I found out I was pregnant. The only problem I had was that I was not properly informed and led to believe that formula was my only option to help my son break down the bilirubin.

    We were sent home from the hospital with a bili-blanket and a SNS (supplemental nursing system). The bilirubin made Drake sleepy, added to a recessed chin and terrible latch; we were nursing around the clock, literally. Those early days, I was camped out in a chair or on the couch nearly 24/7 with Drake at the breast constantly.

    As a first time mom, I never imagined that the sexual trauma I endured for years in my childhood would lead to feelings of insecurity and an aversion to nursing. Once I realized what was causing it, I started to notice certain aspects of nursing that were particular triggers for me. I began to work on each of these triggers one by one.

    I began to have a strong aversion to nursing. I started out feeling insecure and blaming myself for our issues with breastfeeding. My body no longer felt like it was mine. I was a prisoner to feeding Drake. While I loved aspects of nursing him, I also hated it. I couldn’t figure out why I hated something that nourishes and bonds a mother to her child until someone else pointed it out.

    Some of my particular triggers were being touched constantly, feeling like I had no time for me, and not having a distraction. To counter touch issues, I began to hold Drake’s hand. He wasn’t able to reach out and grab my other breast. Surprisingly, this also helped ground me. His little hand wrapped around my thumb reminded me that I was nourishing his tiny little body and he was completely dependent on me.

    Due to Drake’s latch issues, recessed chin and lazy suck, we were nursing nearly 24/7 for the first 4 weeks. I vividly remember one day when my Dad walked in the room to see if I needed any help and it was like the dam broke. I balled for what seemed like hours. When my significant other came home that night, I broke down in tears again when he asked how I was doing. I felt like a prisoner to nursing. Drake fed constantly and that required me. I began to pump so that someone else could feed him while I had some time for myself. I pumped once a day to allow one bottle-feeding a day. When we started this, Drake still fed nearly all the time, but then one day, he started sleeping 3-4 hours after the bottle and that time was amazing for me.

    The worst trigger for me was nursing Drake seemed to require all of my concentration. I began to read or watch a show while nursing and that distraction not only helped time pass faster, but it allowed me to relax. The more relaxed I was, the less breastfeeding bothered me.

    Drake is now nearly 9 months old. I never really set a goal for how long we would breastfeed, but I always imagined a year. At first, with the difficult feelings I was juggling, this seemed impossible. I decided to take things day by day. Somewhere around 5 weeks, I was ready to give up. Exhaustion had set in and my nipples were incredibly sore. Luckily, I had the support of my family, several wonderful women, and most of all, my SO. I stuck with nursing and am so glad that I did.

    My journey hasn’t been the easiest, but I am very glad that I didn’t give up. Nursing has become empowering. It has allowed me to become comfortable with the new person I have become as a mother. It has also allowed me to help other mothers and babies through milk donation.

    When I realized I had an oversupply issue and a quickly growing freezer stash, I decided I didn’t want to waste milk. Once I was comfortable with my stash, I decided that donating was something I wanted to do. Without knowing much about the process and how much milk I would be able to donate, I conservatively posted about 100 ounces up for grabs in a local group. I decided my milk wasn’t just going to go to the first person to respond; It was important to me that we find a recipient that was compatible with us.

    Luckily, the process was quick and easy for us. I found a compatible family with Tiffany, Evander, and their son John. Once in contact, I disclosed information about my diet and answered any questions they had. We decided to go forward with donating. I have been donating now for 5 months." - Anne

     

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    at the public flower gardens.

    Dear Mamas,

    I’m still very new to this motherhood thing.  My little one, Charlotte, is only seven months old.  The journey into parenthood has been amazing, humbling, and a wild ride. We’ve been breastfeeding these last seven months and I hope to continue well into and past her first year, but each day is a new adventure and I have no idea what tomorrow will bring.  My approach to parenthood and breastfeeding is to take each day as it comes and do my best to care and nurture my darling baby.

    The last seven months have gone by in a flash, and there have been thousands of intense moments and learning experiences.  We’re still in the throes of figuring this out, but here is some combination of what I’ve learned, what I wish someone would have told me, and what I really need to remind myself every day:

    1. First and foremost, take comfort in knowing that you have what it takes to feed your baby and I support you in your journey to feed your baby in the way that works best for your family.

    2. Breastfeeding is a powerful experience, but sometimes it is a very hard one.  Ask for help, early, often, and from different sources.  There is a lot of outdated guidance out there that is meant to scare and shame mothers.

    3. There will be lots of opinions and advice about breastfeeding and caring for your baby, take what you need and try to let the rest fall away.  

    4. Take time to enjoy your baby while nursing.  When you can, put your phone down and take your baby in. The loving gaze, the sticky hand petting me, the little legs wrapped around me, the smile, and coos are each an amazing gift.

    5. Feed your baby, in the way that is best for your family and your needs.   There is so much pressure to do things because someone else tells you too.  Try to peel back those layers and figure out what is right for you and your baby.

    From one new mama to another, I wish you strength and courage on your journey to nurse your baby.

    All my love,

    Jennie

     

     

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    at a photo shoot. 

    "When I was 13 years old I was diagnosed with PCOS and insulin resistance. As a 13 year old, I didn't care that 10-12% of women had PCOS and 1/3 of them would have low supply.

    During my pregnancy, there were signs that indicated that I would have a harder time breastfeeding like lack of breast changes and gestational diabetes later in pregnancy. During my pregnancy, I just assumed that I would have enough milk for my baby because everyone has enough milk for their baby. Boy was I wrong!

    I had an unmedicated vaginal delivery. Catherine was placed immediately on my chest and she crawled to the breast, looked in my eyes, and latched on perfectly. At the hospital, Catherine was pooping and peeing according and hardly lost any weight. When we got home from the hospital, I kept waiting for my milk to come in. I spoke with several lactation consultants who said that it may be a while for your milk to come in but it will and that I could supplement with formula, I should drink water and tea, try different herbs, order dom, nurse your baby round the clock, pump after every feeding, etc. Believe me I heard everything and tried everything.

    By day 5 she stopped having any wet diapers and was losing so much weight. She was starting to become lethargic. I held my baby and cried and cried and then cried some more. What was I going to do? There was absolutely no way that I was going to feed my baby formula. I had plans to breastfeed her until she was 3 so formula wasn't an option. My milk still wasn't coming in even though I nursed her around the clock. My mom called my mother-in-law and miraculously my niece was weaning and my sister-in-law had a large donation of milk. Thus began my obsession with finding donor milk.

    If I couldn't exclusively breastfeed my baby, I would make sure that she was on donor milk for 1 year. I called my friends and family, really anyone that was nursing or knew anyone that was nursing, to see if anyone had any extra milk for baby Catherine.

    Within a week, we had 1000 oz of breastmilk by 6 different women.

    And we met our long term donor Leslie who was a savior. At this point I still thought that by some miracle I could exclusively breastfeed her so we syringe fed her. We still nursed, supplemented, and pumped around the clock. She slowly gained weight. I saw more LC who specialized in low supply that disregardied my medical history. Supplement less, nurse more. It was until I read the book finding sufficiency and learning about a low supply group on FB to know how insulin levels were responsible for my low supply. Truly, there was nothing that I could do.

    I started learning that breastfeeding isn't just about feeding your baby but the relationship. Donor milk has saved our breastfeeding relationship. We have had over 20 milk mommies donate to Catherine since she was 5 days old and has been exclusively on breastmilk. Thanks to our milk mommies. And inclusively on my milk.

    We think about the donor and her baby during every feeding. I have made such strong bonds with our donors. We consider each donor part of our family.

    I wish my story was unique but it is not.

    I personally know 10 women who had the same story but choose formula over donor milk because they didn't know that there were options. Every baby deserves breastmilk whether it be from their mommy or from donors. And I'm proud to say that Catherine still loves to nurse and there is no end in sight to our breastfeeding relationship. We are still going strong at 15 months." - Anne

  • Public Breastfeeding...

    Public Breastfeeding...

    at the beach. 

    "Breastfeeding has been a wonderful journey for me, but not without some ups and downs along the way.

    My first child, a son, will be four this fall and he nursed until two weeks before he turned two and a half and three weeks before his baby sister was born, at which time he weaned himself. Phew! I didn't have the heart to do it myself. While I was open to tandem nursing, things seemed to have worked out just right for us.

    With my son, I took the standard hospital breastfeeding class and all the information made sense to me. I went into labor eight days early and had a fast and relatively easy labor and delivery, nursed my son minutes after birth, and, during that first week at home, I thought everything was working out great.

    By the end of the week, while at the pediatrician's office, I was in tears as I was told that my son had lost too much weight and needed to be supplemented. It didn't bother me so much that I was going to start supplementing him with formula, I was most devastated that I had seemingly been starving my son without realizing it.

    Looking back on that and knowing what I know now through so many learning experiences, I know I wasn't really starving my baby. Perhaps things would have been different had I more aggressively sought out help from a lactation consultant. I actually got a "prescription" to meet with someone, but when I contacted her, she recommended simply talking it through on the phone to save the insurance expense of meeting in person. I took her advice and still do wish we had met in person for an evaluation.

    Nevertheless, I do not regret the way things turned out and the fact that I needed to supplement my son in addition to breastfeeding him. He took to the bottle and supplementing very well and I know, at that point, I could have easily given up on breastfeeding as I didn't have a huge support system either, but, in hindsight, I think the whole situation drove me to keep going. It didn't matter that his nourishment wasn't only coming from me. He was still getting as much breast milk as I could possibly give him, and, more than that, we were both benefiting from the amazing bond that comes with nursing a child.

    Breastfeeding in public was a learning curve, too. I remember one of the first places I took my son was to a new parent group at a hospital when he was about two weeks old. The group was an informal place to talk about what to expect with a new baby and offered breastfeeding support, too.

    My son slept away most of that first visit and I remember telling another mom that I should leave for home soon, because my son would be waking up and wanting to breastfeed. Considering that this first public place I was at was basically filled with new moms, new babies, and lots and lots of boobs, nursing bras, and the like, I cannot believe I had that train of thought.

    Breastfeeding at weekly group moving forward was, obviously, no big deal, and I gradually became more comfortable most everywhere else, although, I always had a nursing cover and a just a little bit of fear on my shoulders. But I persevered.

    The older he got, my nerves would return  a little bit when out in public, but I really loosened up over time and feel so incredibly grateful that I was able to nurse him as long as did.

    My second child, a daughter, now 15 months, was born in springtime and the day after we got home from the hospital, the weather was warm and gorgeous, and I promptly walked to the park, sat on a bench, and nursed her without a care in the world that I had left my nursing cover at home.

    Summertime was around the corner, I was outside every day, and I had no qualms about nursing my daughter anywhere and everywhere. I definitely had more confidence this second time around, too.

    And by accident, I got really good at nursing her in the Moby, the Ergo, and even in the Bjorn while out and about at the park, the pool, the beach, restaurants, the mall, wherever. Half the time I don't think people even realized I was nursing her. The idea of worrying about a location or someone's reaction or whether or not I had a cover or blanket with me seemed silly.

    I never forget my boobs at home either, so the convenience of breastfeeding in public isn't lost on me.

    At 3 months of age, my daughter fell into  a period of slow weight gain, and I did start supplementing her as well, but, just like with my son, that situation only strengthened my desire to continue breastfeeding. And, unlike my son, she didn't take to the bottle very easily. And she never took a pacifier. Just me. She'll be 16 months old in September, and we are both still enjoying the breastfeeding relationship so much.

    With my daughter now essentially a toddler and more prone to meltdowns, I know breastfeeding also becomes a very powerful tool. With just a few seconds on the boob, you can stop a tantrum, soothe a scraped knee, or get an overtired child to sleep in minutes. Toddler meltdown in a restaurant? Who wouldn't want a mom to pull out their boob for a few minutes?

    Despite some bumps along the way, I'm so thankful for being able to breastfeed as long as I have and so grateful at how far I've come in realizing the normalcy of breastfeeding your child wherever you may be." - Allison