This is a guest post by Jessica who blogs at Baby’s Nest. I’m thankful she has shared her breastfeeding journey with us for the Milk Makin’ Mamas Event to celebrate National Breastfeeding Month. I love how Jessica persevered through latch problems and overcame her fear of nursing in public. I hope that you find her story inspirational!
Bee is our first living child. Breastfeeding her was incredibly important to me, not only do I believe in the benefits it provides but having had two previous losses I needed the connection, I needed the closeness. I needed to do it because I had wanted to for so long. I took a breastfeeding class during my first pregnancy but there was a 3 year lapse between that pregnancy and Bees arrival. I didn’t want to take a refresher course so I winged it. I met with a lactation consultant the day Bee was born and we went over everything I thought I needed to know, but Bee wouldn’t latch. She was a few weeks early and I was warned that this may be the case but I would not give up. I tried all day and night but she would not latch so I supplemented. I was not happy with the choice but I knew it had to be done. Everyone kept telling me she would never latch, she would only prefer bottles, that we would lose our bond. All I ever heard was negativity.
I was determined to make it work despite having little support. My husband was very patient and encouraging but he just didn’t have boobs like I did, he didn’t know how to make them work. We debated contacting a consultant but I wanted to give it my all before I caved. I felt embarrassed by the fact that we couldn’t get it. I felt guilty that I was having to supplement when all I had ever wanted was to feed my child from my breasts.
We both worked diligently over the next couple of weeks. We tried many times a day and gave up when we both reached frustration. It was one day while doing skin to skin that she finally latched on, by herself. It was all peachy keen from then on. At first I was scared to breastfeed anywhere but in her room by ourselves. I secluded myself from everyone whenever we had to feed. I refused to breastfeed while we were in public, I always brought a bottle to supplement.
It got to the point that I was so afraid of breastfeeding in public that I was sitting in my own chair, in my own living room in my own house and I felt the need to cover up because I felt all hell would break loose if someone walking by my house happened to look in and see my boobs. This is what society had brought me to. It instilled a fear in me that my boobs, while providing food and nourishing my small baby, would cause some kind of catastrophic event to end the world. All I ever heard was negativity. I heard about women being shamed for public breastfeeding and I heard about women being abused verbally for public breastfeeding. I was scared.
I was scared of doing what women have done for thousands of years. I was scared of doing something so very natural and beautiful. I was scared of providing my daughter with food, food that was vital to her growth and development because I was scared about being judged. I was scared about someone saying something to me.
I never wanted to stop breastfeeding because I knew how beneficial it was to me but even more importantly, to Bee. So I continued to cover up and seclude myself. It wasn’t until one day I saw another woman breastfeeding in public that my mind about breastfeeding started to change. Here was this woman, no cover up, right there in front of everyone and I thought, way to go! I wanted to tell her how glad I was that she had the guts to do it. I stopped covering up in my living room, I mean after all, it was my house and I was silly for covering up in case someone outside quickly glanced in and saw my boob.
Then it happened. One day we were out running errands and they took a few hours longer than normal. Bee had gone through her supplement bottle and was hungry. What was I to do? So, out came the boob, out came the cover and I let her go to it. From then on, we breastfed in public with a cover. It was a huge bulky cover and once Bee could move her hands, it was pretty pointless as she would push it out of the way. I bought a very lightweight blanket to cover up the top part of my boob while we were out and that’s still how we role. I only use a cover because that is what I feel comfortable with. Bee also loves to rub her fingers across the blanket as she nurses, I think it comforts her. I do not by any means think you should cover up, I think it’s a very personal decision and no cover is perfectly acceptable as well.
These days, at 18 months old, Bee still loves her milk and I love being able to still provide that for her. She has yet to be truly sick (I attribute that to the breast milk) she is incredibly smart, kind, amazing and wonderful. It is tricky sometimes to feed her because her little toddler mind is set on so many things that she gets quite distracted so it may only be a few seconds here and there to fill up before she is on her way but we still feed on demand (most of the time). We breastfeed in public and don’t generally care what others say. I no longer feel embarrassed, guilty or shameful at breastfeeding and I have been able to provide lots of support to other mothers who are struggling. I just want to let them know how hard it can be and how wonderful it can be all at the same time. I only heard negativity when I was starting to breastfeed and if I wasn’t so hell bent on making it work, I probably would have given up quite easily. I’m thankful I didn’t and I’m pretty sure Bee is as well.
18 months and no end in sight (I will let her determine when she is ready)