my Poe, 12 hours old and dawning his little milk mustache
A few short weeks after Andrew and I welcomed our Poe, dear friends brought home their Anna Magnolia. A family name dreamily embellished with a flower crown, crossing their threshold with celebratory pie and meal in hand, was the evening I landed on motherhood. Blouse loosely unbuttoned, baby nestled and nursing, welcoming us into the reality she was meant to manifest, was the floating mama bird. Effortlessly uncovered and effortlessly cool in her being. Kiko’s abandon, in her home and in future, more public gatherings, framed an aspiration – to not only feel comfortable and easy feeding my child in public, but have it feel so inherently natural that the practice became an afterthought. To unapologetically mother, to let intuition guide.
hundreds of hours with Poe on my chest and i wouldn’t change a single minute • continuing to count myself as one of the luckiest, but would also love to hear your stories. mama birds – what was your experience with breastfeeding? did you decide not to? what surprised you? 🙏🏼 • there is no wrong, intuition is the only right artist: @stellamariabaer #nationalbreastfeedingweek
Eleven and half months in, with now hundreds of hours of exclusively breastfeeding Poe, I continue to count our fostered ease as a gift. For me, feeling comfortable nursing uncovered was both an emotional trial and conquest – a constant rollercoaster of vulnerability and empowerment. And while it may seem relatively minute, it unearths the insecure and turbulent relationship I think many women experience with some, if not every facet of the practice. In light of National Breastfeeding Week, yesterday I turned the conversation to you, cultivating a safe floor to note your stories, laments, surprises. In tears throughout, I can’t thank you enough for your openness, your candidness. If we take one thing away from this conversation it’s that like any facet of life, there is no one right way to be, that there is no wrong, there is only intuition, and that as a community of women and humans, we need to build each other up. In a world where we all only want to do what’s right and best for our children, there shouldn’t be place for guilt, discouragement, or judgement. Below you’ll find your words, ringing with bone deep truths for us all to hold close. I’ve chosen to keep them anonymous, but hope we can all extract wisdom from candidacy and experience, from one woman to all. I’d love to continue the conversation – what was your experience with breastfeeding? Did you decide not to? What surprised you?
by women, for women
‘I feel like some kind of warrior queen for being able to feed my baby with my milk’.
‘[Breastfeeding is the] hardest thing I’ve ever done. Harder than childbirth because there is a constant struggle (and not just a day or even a month)’.
‘I remember the lactation consultant helping to squeeze drops from my nipples. 3 months in of doing everything to increase my supply, a panic attack and supplementing with formula I decided to stop and exclusively formula feed. For me, it was the best decision I made as a mom. Things might be different for future babies. But if not, I’m okay with that too’.
‘I’ll never look at bodies or breasts the same after nurturing my Poppy for 8 sweet months so far [..] I now love to whip out a boobie & feed my daughter whenever & wherever no matter who is around! It’s liberating’.
‘I wish someone told me fed is best with my first baby. I’ve never told anyone but I look back at his baby pictures with a lot of guilt. [..] I finally started supplementing with formula and it was like the clouds parted. He filled out in weight he was still sweet but he was so much more lively. My stress went down even though I still felt like a failure I was just so relieved to see him really thriving. I just wish someone told me fed is best… not “Breast feeding is the most natural thing in the world, you’ll get it!” Because while you’re not “getting it” your baby is struggling and so are you’.
‘I breastfed my daughter for 13 months..even after 3 spouts of mastitis and endless amounts of leakage. She decided she wanted to stop so I listened’.
‘Regardless of time, nursing and two natural home births have been my two greatest accomplishments!’
‘While I’m proud to say that my daughter is getting breastmilk [through pumping], it is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I honestly feel like a cow, being attached to a machine for 20 minutes every 3 hours. But I’m sticking with it because its the only thing that I’ve been able to control about my daughters life so far: what I feed her’.
‘My breastfeeding journey has been full of ups and downs. It was exhausting at first and in those early weeks I could never imagine breastfeeding in public without my entire nursing station, a jillion burp cloths, and my boppy, but as she improved at nursing, so did I. The first time I breastfed in public I felt like a super hero’.
‘I was out in a food truck area breastfeeding and this big huge dude walked up to me and tapped my shoulder. I instantly sprang into mama bear mode and got ready to defend my right to be there and feed Elena when he said, “I just wanted to tell you your baby made my day. She just made me smile and is so precious.” It really made me reevaluate my anxiety about certain things in motherhood and how they are perceived to anyone else’.
‘Breastfeeding Ivy has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life so far, but it hasn’t come without dedication, countless sacrifices, anxiety and panic attacks’.
‘It’s been a struggle from day one. He was tongue and lip tied so at 4 days old we took a 3 hour trip to have it revered. Those 4 days where torture for us. The next hurdle has been food sensitivities. I removed dairy from my diet because that’s the typical culprit, things where great for a while until they weren’t. I’m currently dairy, wheat, corn, soy, & egg free. So far so good’.
‘All that matters is that he is fed and healthy, but it is a disappointment that I can’t make enough to EBF. I feel defeated most of the time because of one reason or another’.
‘It worked out for me but whatever you choose or have to do: whether it is to breastfeed, supplement or formula, it’s all beautiful. I wish someone would have just told me you are doing the best you can and don’t forget how this little being is constantly changing’.