It’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and nothing gets me more passionate than making sure babies eat.
I know that not every momma can breastfeed successfully. I also know what it’s like to have a preemie in the NICU and pump GALLONS of milk and then struggle for months afterward keeping up supply, getting a baby to latch and worrying about it the entire time.
Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt.
A couple of years ago, I wrote this post for Dianna on my best tips for breastfeeding. It’s good stuff, but now that I’m back in the trenches again, I think I’m better equipped to share how I went from the mom who used to nurse in the bathroom, sitting on a toilet, to abandoning the cover and just nursing anywhere and everywhere.
Truth be told, I never thought I’d be that mom. Yet, here I am. And here’s how I do it.
Photo courtesy of Leilani Rogers
It took me six kids to get over myself. SIX. It might only take you two. What can I say? Slow learner. I had to move past the “I hope no one is staring at me” phase and just say to myself, “Let them look. This is normal.” It is soooo normal. The best part about living in Austin is that I rarely get a comment when breastfeeding. I usually get a kind smile or a pat on the shoulder, literally. At some point, you just have to realize that when your baby needs to eat, it’s time to get past your inhibitions and enjoy that moment.
Get yourself a decent nursing tank, nursing bra or Blanqi. For me, I wasn’t comfortable flashing my post-partum belly (enter the genius of the tank and the Blanqi) nor did I want to flash the world. The tanks have changed my nursing experience ten-fold this time around. Just this weekend I nursed my two-month-old in church. The fun caveat? Her brother decided at that moment he had to pee. And I was the only parent there. So, I stood up, continued nursing and took him to the bathroom. Nothing like taking Pope Francis’ words to heart: feed the babies! Just in the last month, I’ve nursed at church, paying for dinner at a restaurant, at A&M Coaches’ Night sitting next to our mascot Reveille, the park, the pool, a women’s conference, shopping and at a toy store.
Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not plan your day around nursing your child. Did I used to do that? Yes, yes I did. And I was horribly miserable. You should’ve seen me clocking my day around nursing at home before the next event then rushing home for the next feeding, or heading out to the van. I actually tear up thinking about that stupidity. We have no problem showing off boobs in the mall at Victoria’s Secret, yet I felt shamed enough to hide when feeding my baby? Y’all. Please don’t be me thirteen years ago. There is freedom in doing what your body was made to do. Nurture your child. Own it and love every flipping second.
Practice. Obviously with six years, plus, of nursing experience I’ve done a tiny bit of that. But, it took some fine-tuning of the whole unlatch the bra, get the baby latched on all without flashing the world, before I felt comfortable enough to practice those mad skillz in public. You’ll get there. Be patient with yourself. And, if a bit of your cleavage or soft postpartum belly gets seen, it’s no big shake. Really.
Surround yourself with supportive moms. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I’ve learned from my fellow breastfeeding mommas. Dawn showed me how to nurse with confidence. Janet reminded me of its beauty. Amanda was an example of nursing without fear. Sharon reminded me that sometimes nursing doesn’t come easily (or at all) but I was not a failure. Leilani captured it on film. And countless others were a beacon of love and laughter on the hard days and rejoiced with me on the kick ass ones.
Know when to ask for help. Whether you’re having trouble with latching, milk supply, modesty in public, mastitis, guilt over weaning – whatever – find someone who can help you navigate the unknown. Shoot, if you can’t find someone, email me! Nursing is a journey. Long for some, short for others. There is no shame in the length of yours. Only joy. Never forget that.
It was my honor to participate in the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project, the dream of Leilani Rogers (you might remember her from my birth photos). Quite honestly, it was at her urging with the project that I began to nurse so openly. So freely. It’s my desire that her passion for breastfeeding encourages another mom out there like me to just get out there and nurse. Truly, many of my most cherished moments of motherhood have been while a babe has been at my breast, sucking away. There is such beauty in that moment. And the world deserves to see that love.