World Breastfeeding Week: My Journey So Far

Disclaimer:

This article discusses the benefits and importance of breastfeeding. If you are a parent who cannot nurse for whatever reason (mental/physical health, adoption, biologically unable, etc.), please know that YOU ARE ENOUGH! You’re doing amazing, sweetie. Keep going!

My Breastfeeding Journey

No one told me that breastfeeding would be just as much (if not more) of an odyssey as pregnancy and childbirth. It was such a monumental part of my postpartum recovery, adjustment, and growth. Between extremely painful latching, misinformed hospital lactation consultants, and multiple cases of excruciating mastitis—I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. But here we are, more than two years later, and I am still breastfeeding my toddler.

Photo Credit: On The Vine Photography

I’ve heard it all:

Breast is best.”
Fed is best.”

“When are you going to wean him?”
“I wish I could have breastfed for two years!”

“Cover up!”
“Don’t worry, this is a safe place to nurse your little one.”

Despite all the conflicting commentary thrown my way, fellow Collin County Moms contributor Jennifer Copeland gave me the best advice of all:

“Only YOU know what’s best for you and your baby!” 

This nugget of motherly wisdom, along with the support of La Leche League, and the professional advice of Vicki Gettel (an IBCLC who later came highly recommended by a neighbor) were all I needed to get through that initial bump (or two!…boob jokes, anyone?)

A Breastfeeding Bucket List

A bucket list is not something I imagined when I thought about breastfeeding. However, when my inconsolable son continuously cried out for “nur-nur” (yet another shoutout to the influential Jennifer Copeland), I found myself nursing in some pretty interesting situations:

  • In line for a ride at Disney World
  • While Dad changed a blow-out diaper
  • Planking over my baby, to let gravity unclog my milk duct
  • As my toddler does acrobatics, regularly kicking me in the face
  • While going “pee-pee on the potty” (Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures!)

World Breastfeeding Week

According to World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), World Breastfeeding Week marks the anniversary of the Innocenti Declaration, which was signed by government policymakers, the World Health Organization (WHO), and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to “protect, support, and promote breastfeeding all over the world.”

WorldBreastfeedingWeek.org states that its goal is to:

  • Inform people about their role in strengthening the “warm chain of support for breastfeeding
  • Anchor breastfeeding as part of good nutrition, food security, and reduction of inequalities
  • Engage with individuals and organizations along the warm chain of support for breastfeeding
  • Galvanize action on strengthening capacity of “actors” and “systems” for transformational change

Benefits of Breastfeeding

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some benefits of breastfeeding include:

  • It’s the best source of nutrition for most babies.
  • It helps shield babies from diseases and illnesses.
  • It provides antibodies from the mother.
  • It’s convenient to feed anytime, anywhere.
  • It can reduce the mother’s risk of certain cancers and illnesses.

Why do we quit breastfeeding?

According to the CDC:

60% of mothers wean their babies sooner than they originally planned.

Common reasons for early weaning include:

  • Lactation and latching problems
  • Infant weight and nutrition concerns
  • Medications moms are concerned will pass through milk and affect baby
  • Lack of support from employer
  • Insufficient parental leave
  • Judgment from others
  • Unsupportive family
  • Hospital policies/practices that do not accommodate breastfeeding

How We Can Support Nursing Mothers

  • Compensate your employees with comfortable nursing and pumping areas, paid parental leave, and adequate time off.
  • Don’t stare at moms who are breastfeeding in public.
  • Don’t discourage moms by making comments like, “You’re still nursing?!”
  • Vote! Support paid parental leave, quality healthcare, and lactation support for nursing parents.
  • Ask how you can help! As a breastfeeding mama, I know how valuable an extra pair of hands can be. I may have gotten a little too comfortable asking my husband for some water or the remote while I feed my little one.
  • Educate yourself and your loved ones on the importance of breastfeeding. You may be just as shocked at some of the statistics as I was!

I didn’t think I’d meet my goal of breastfeeding for one year. Then, to my surprise, it got much easier for both my son and me. Today, I am breastfeeding my 25-month-old, something I never would have seen myself doing.

No matter how many times I wanted to quit, I’m grateful I am able to breastfeed. I could not have done it without the support of my husband, family, and friends.

Share your breastfeeding stories, experiences, or advice (nip tips, as I like to call them) in the comments below!

Lauren was born and raised on Long Island, New York. In 2007, she and her family moved to DFW, where Lauren earned her BA at the University of North Texas. She went on to work for her favorite tech company, and later put her Social Science degree to use in HR. Lauren met her now husband in 2016, and they welcomed their first child (and bought their first home) in 2020. On any given day, you will find her working as a full-time mom, cooking, practicing yoga or crafting with her Cricut. Lauren hopes to support, encourage and lift up other moms, as her closest friends have done for her.

1 COMMENT

  1. First, Lauren you doing this is super cool!

    Here’s my story:
    I only got to breast fed until 6 months. If I’m honest I shouldn’t have gone that long, but wanted to give my daughter the best start. I had to go back to work at 6 wks and the pumping, and nightly feds were extremely difficult. I was also extremely sick from bronchitis and not getting better. Finally, I hit a wall when I relapsed from my illness: I have MS. This is most likely the reason I wasn’t getting better. My immune system was to busy attacking my nervous system to care about bronchitis. First it was the vision in my left eye that went, then my left arm, vertigo started and finally my bladder stopped work properly. It was so bad I ended up having to give my baby to my mother-in-law for about a month because I couldn’t pick her up or really stand straight. I remember buying formula and falling into a candy stand at the grocery store from vertigo. It was humiliating. It was also at this time I figured out I was bipolar. This too, was humiliating and I did some off the wall things. I was on high dose steroids and it triggered a manic episode. I was extremely upset all the time. Yelling, demanding and overall being a nut. People think mania is just euphoria, but it can also be anger and irritability. I stopped breastfeeding at this point. Steroids, MS medication and medication for bipolar meant no more breastfeeding. The one thing I did I’m so grateful for is I produced a huge amount of milk. That milk I froze and stored. I was able to use my frozen milk until my daughter was 9 months. Perhaps in another life I might of been a wet nurse. Because of everything that happened I realize having another child wasn’t in the cards. Autoimmune diseases sometimes get much better during pregnancy, but come back after with vengeance. Although I was able to regain most of the function I lost nothing is ever 100%. To this day I still suffer the consequences of those relapses. So the best year of my life also became my worst. I think about why I didn’t stop sooner, and I realize I loved my daughter so much I’d have sacrificed anything for her. Perhaps, I was a tad delusional from lack as sleep as well. That being said the “breast is best” was pushed so hard in my face both during pregnancy and after. I thought it was the only way to give my daughter what she needed. Nurses, and friends all said don’t give up. So I said this in my head. The only person to beg me to think of myself was my mom, and she was right. I’m here to say you can’t take care of your child unless your ok too. That it’s ok to look at yourself and say I can’t handle it. This might seem like an obvious thing to do. but for me it wasn’t and I’m willing to bet it’s the same for some other moms too.

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