To say I have been busy this month would be an understatement. This month challenged me to balance family, personal and work more than usual and I have to say I am super happy about it! I was honored to participate in the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project again this year. Breastfeeding is something that I am pretty passionate about and I have loved being able to support this wonderful cause, to normalize breastfeeding!
My first session was in the heart of Downtown Lancaster at Prince St. Cafe! They did not even hesitate to allow us in for a coffee break. I had 4 mama’s come out and show their support, not surprisingly they all are as passionate about this topic as I am.
Breastfeeding. It’s only natural. It’s a bonding experience. It’s peaceful. It’s a connection that is so special between mother and baby…. At least that’s what I was told and believed. My first baby and I had no idea what we were doing. The lactation consultant didn’t come to my room until 6 hours after he was born. She said everything looked great so we just kept doing what we were doing. 24 hours later, we were transferred to a different hospital due to a temporary blockage in his urethra. Thankfully the NICU was all for breastfeeding, but with the stress and anxiety over the transfer, a long and stressful birth, my milk didn’t come in until 4 or 5 days later. I was pumping like crazy to get my milk in. I would get a few drops… Not enough for the nurses to give my baby a bottle if I couldn’t get back to the NICU in time for the next 2 hour cycle for feeding. Thankfully the stay was only a few days there and we were able to come home. I nursed as much as I could.
After the first week home, he started getting REALLY colicky. He would fuss at my breast, fuss after, fuss All. The. Time. I was getting really stressed out because it seemed like nothing I did would comfort him. And then came the pain… The toe curling, mouth full of razor blades feeling on my nipples… Oh. My. Gosh. Did I dread it. I went to several LC’s, my OB, his pediatrician, doula, seasoned moms… Everyone said the latch looked fine, he may be slightly tongue tied, but not enough to snip, and he was getting enough milk, maybe it was thrush… So I started meds for thrush… The pain continued… The colic continued… Add to it, projectile vomiting and bloody stools… Ok, what the heck is wrong with me and why can’t I breastfeed my baby???? It shouldn’t be this miserable!!! After begging my pediatrician to get us in to the pediatric GI doctor (after a bout of 8 hours non stop screaming from the baby), we finally were attempting to figure out what was going on with this poor 1.5 month old baby! Apparently blood in stools is usually a sure sign there is dairy sensitivity. So, on comes the elimination diet for mama. I was so so so determined to stick this breastfeeding thing out. After several weeks of eliminating foods, I was literally down to eating plain chicken and plain rice for 3 square meals… I know, you need calories to make milk… Well, what did I know? I was a first time mom. I was trying to do right by my baby! At 3.5 months old, and still not knowing what he was “sensitive” or allergic to, I threw in the towel. I couldn’t handle it anymore.
Three years later we had our 2nd baby boy. This time, I was going to figure this thing out. I had gone to many La Leche League meetings and was reassured every baby was different. I at least had that going for me! And, you know what? They were right! 13 months later and we are still going strong! He did also have a dairy sensitivity, but with experience comes wisdom… We knew right away to start eliminating foods. Cutting out dairy worked! And this time there is no pain. This time I was comfortable with unlatching and relatching until the latch WAS correct and felt ok for me! I am enjoying every second of this breastfeeding journey. Even though I still to this day have some mommy guilt for giving breastfeeding up, my boys love me for what I have done for them and will always continue to do for them.-Rachael, mother of 2
After an empowering birth experience, I was surprised by how difficult breastfeeding was in the first few days. My son struggled to effectively latch, had high bilirubin and was rehospitalized at 3 days old. With the support of a lactation consultant and a nipple shield we eventually figured it out together. We have struggled through all of these things as well as mastitis and food sensitivities and intolerances.
I breastfeed in public to help normalize breastfeeding so that other mothers will feel comfortable feeding their baby wherever and whenever they need to eat. Breastfeeding is biologically normal, natural, and beneficial for babies. Breastfeeding is not obscene and not something to be ashamed of. I am so thankful for the opportunity to breastfeed my son. It has been a journey with ups and downs but has been so worthwhile. – Amber, mother of 1
I participated in this project because breastfeeding awareness and support is an issue that has become near and dear to my heart. With my first daughter I didn’t know there was such a debate going on about nursing in public.
When Breastfeeding Week rolled around, my daughter was 13 months. I asked my husband if he could take a picture of me nursing her and if he was OK with it being posted online. He was SO supportive, and from that moment on it became my mission to make this more of a normal thing. I want all women to feel supported when they take on the amazing mission to breastfeed their babies and this is another great way to do it!
My daughter self-weaned at 20 months and have reached my first goal with my second daughter of 6 months nursing. Keep rocking mamas! -Ronice, mother of 2
We then went over to the square. I wanted to capture a place that I knew most of Lancaster would recognize.
We then moved to Steinman Park. As we were getting settled in an older woman walked by congratulating moms, it felt great hearing support while doing this session.
As we were leaving we saw some women through the windows and we had joked that they were probably talking about us. An hour or so later this picture made it’s way back to me.
It is a picture of the moms that were participating in the shoot downtown. The picture was posted to facebook with some not so supportive hashtags by an employee. I formulated an email explaining the project and why I am doing it and sent it to the business owner and I heard nothing back, which is what lead me to contact the paper, which unfortunately missed an opportunity to share it as an example. How is it that a woman centered business posted this picture to facebook without the moms’ permission and publicly bashed them for simply feeding their babies? It showed me that I still have a lot of work left to do in Lancaster, and I hope others will join me!
My purpose for joining this project is ultimately to normalize breastfeeding. There is absolutely no reason why a mother should feel uncomfortable doing something that is so natural. Breastfeeding is hard enough, many have struggles, the last thing they need to hear is some stranger who is uncomfortable about them simply feeding their babies giving looks of disgust and/or saying something negative. I would love to see the community come together as a whole, stop judgment and start supporting each other no matter how they feed their baby. This isn’t a breast is best argument, I am here to support you no matter how you choose to feed your baby. I know the struggles of wanting to breastfeed, I also know the benefits of having a breastfed baby.
If you are interested in participating in this project please contact me! Belliestobabiesbirthservices@gmail.com