Last year, under the community engagement pillar of our mission, Nurture participated in #RVAbreastfeeds, a collaborative social media campaign launched to raise public support for breastfeeding and celebrate breastfeeding mothers. As part of that campaign, Nurture oversaw a photo shoot of local breastfeeding mothers and families that provided the life-sized cutouts that were strategically placed throughout the city. Many of these images will be used again in this year’s campaign.
As we prepare to launch this year’s campaign, we reached out to the mothers who participated in the original photo shoot to see what their breastfeeding experiences have been like over the last year. These are their stories:
My breastfeeding journey has been one roller-coaster ride. Exciting, anxious, scary and downright FUN. I went back to work soon after the campaign photo-shoot and noticed a major drop in my supply. I wanted to be productive after returning from maternity leave and provide my new baby with the best nutrition, but instead I ended up stressed out. I went from pumping six ounces every two hours to barely getting two ounces in a work day. I remember spending most days in the lactation room crying and wanting to just give up.
It wasn’t until one day I decided to reach out to a breastfeeding buddy for some comfort and she asked me a very important question. Is Josiah getting enough? I stopped. She provided examples “is he crying after feedings? Still rooting? Peeing less?” I sat there and thought . . . NO. She replied, “Then you are just fine.” And I smiled and realized I am enough. I always was. And I needed to trust my body to do what it was designed to do. Nourish my baby boy. And I am happy to say at sixteen months old we are still on this awesome journey with no end in sight. Being a part of this conversation has been amazing. I love the conversations it has started and the confidence it has placed in me to normalize breastfeeding.
KARI TEAGNO HYMAN
Jett and I were fortunate that our breastfeeding journey for the last 18 months has been relatively easy. Being able to nurse Jett has nurtured our bond and also been a wonderful way to soothe Jett whether he was under the weather, flying across country or had a tumble. Participating in the #RVAbreastfeeds Campaign has allowed me to share on a local level my passion for breastfeeding and also share with others via photo Jett and I’s forever bond. My hope is that we can continue our relationship till Jett decides to wean.
Marcelo has been a great nurser. The time we spend nursing seems to be a true bonding time for us. I have had a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder with him and had a difficult time bonding with him. Breastfeeding has at times felt like a blessing and a curse. However, at 15 months we are still nursing and actually starting to enjoy it more every day because we know that it will end before we know it.
I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed. My family wasn’t very familiar or comfortable with breastfeeding. My mom especially. She would call it “my breastfeeding thing.” Whenever I told people that I breastfed, I was met with negative comments. I always thought it was funny how people immediately became uncomfortable when I began to breastfeed in public. It even took time for my husband to adjust to breastfeeding in public. He thought that people would stare and always wanted me to cover up.
I found great support from a friend that breastfed her children. She taught me how to focus on my baby and not the people staring in disgust. “Who cares what they think,” she would tell me. My friend Stephanie really taught me how to breastfeed with confidence and make it the norm. She told me all about the breastfeeding campaign.The campaign helped my family and husband become more comfortable with the concept of breastfeeding and they were very proud that I was part of this great campaign. Thanks to breastfeeding, my son had no sick visits for a year, we saved money, and best of all, I lost all of my pregnancy weight quickly. Breastfeeding is definitely a win-win-win!!
When we did the shoot last year my daughter, Seneca, was two months old. We had gotten our breastfeeding rhythms down during a generous maternity leave and we were both doing great. We feel so fortunate that, aside from some soreness and the general exhaustion, all of the components of breastfeeding worked out smoothly for us and we had a truly beautiful experience. When Seneca was about three months old, I had to return to my job where I work full time and commute almost two hours each way for work. I am an area manager so I also work in seven different locations that vary day to day. I had set a goal for myself and her to make it to at least six months old breastfeeding. Through car trips, and less than desirable pumping areas, we were both able to hold up our ends of the deal and made it to six months!
It was one of the most challenging experiences I have gone through but I pressed on because I knew how great the rewards of even those six months could be. Even though there were challenges, I think the most important thing is that we did what worked best for our family. I couldn’t possibly have stayed as motivated without amazing support from my husband and the village around us.
My breastfeeding journey has been an incredible one, especially because we are still nursing strong at 21 months! Lydia and I had trouble early on due to low supply problems. I had a breast reduction at 20, so my glandular tissue has been significantly diminished. We had to supplement for a few months with homemade goat’s milk formula, but Lydia continued nursing from me through that entire period, and has continued to nurse eagerly past the point when we stopped using formula and moved into solid foods. She will be two in September, and I anticipate she will still be nursing then too!
In May of 2015 our second son was born and thankfully we have had a wonderful breast feeding journey. That was not the case with our first son, the biggest difference for me was gaining bf education and confidence. What constantly amazes me about breastfeeding is how our bodies can provide for our children, nutritionally and emotionally. Figuring out my baby’s preferences along with understanding how my body works took me and effort but it has paid off everyday and I am so grateful for the support we have and the relationship we’re forming.