In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2018, I figured I'd share my breastfeeding journey with y'all!
Nursing has been something SO near and dear to my heart, and I'm glad I get to share my story occasionally with friends and clients when it comes up in conversation. I do want to preface by saying I pass zero judgement on anyone who can't, or chooses not to breastfeed. Babies gotta eat, and we have this wonderful thing called formula for those situations. That's not my business :) This is just MY personal journey. Scroll down to see lots of pretty nursing photos my talented friends have taken of me over the last 18 months!
I got pregnant with my oldest when I was 20, and let's just say that I didn't really give two thoughts to ANYTHING during my pregnancy, other than trying to eat semi healthy and take a lot of baths for lower back pain. When the topic of breast or bottle came up, everyone was adamant that it was hard, I would resent it and feel like a dairy cow, I wouldn't be able to go back to work if I was nursing, etc etc etc. I felt a little guilty not even trying, but without any support (or someone telling me I needed to do it, basically) it was easier to just go with the flow. And she was a happy, healthy little chunker! Formula was fine for her, she rarely spit up and was a super chill little thing.
With my middle, my now husband felt completely opposite. He INSISTED that I would at least try to breastfeed this baby, amidst my protests that I didn't with Nora and I felt weird doing it now. I had it in my head that I would hate it, it would be a pain in the ass, and basically it wasn't fair. Charlie won the battle, and my sweet 9 pound little man loved the boob. I suspect he had a lip tie, but in 2011 I had never even heard of such a thing and just sucked it up for the 2-3 weeks of extremely painful nursing while we figured each other out. After that, things were great and we did a combination of formula and breast once I went back to work. Around 9 months Nathan seemed to be losing interest in breastfeeding (and was beginning to bite!) so we mutually agreed to end that part of our relationship (lol).
Five years later my husband finally convinced me to have one more baby. And over those five years, I met a lot of people from many walks of life and found a homebirth-nursing-crunchy community. A lot of things I had always felt strongly about apparently weren't just me being a weird hippie! Being around mamas who would whip a boob out in an instant no matter where we were was so empowering. Since I was no longer working a hourly job, there wasn't a need to pump or supplement so Maddie had free access to my breast whenever she wanted - which was basically all the time. She's my little mama's girl, very spirited and stubborn and requires a lot of love. I'm proud to say that in 14 days, we will have made it to our goal of 18 months. She also had a small lip tie, and we went through a few weeks of painful latching but since then it's been a great experience for both of us. Of course, my husband loved the fact he never had to get up in the middle of the night to make a bottle- LOL. I've occasionally grumbled at him when she was younger and up all night nursing, while he slept peacefully with his worthless nipples. :P
Photos Above, Dannielle Hale. First two photos were taken almost exactly one year before the second two. (2017/2018) https://www.danniellehale.com/
Photos above: Photo: Arial Barnes, Everlasting Imagery 2017 https://www.facebook.com/arieleverlastingimagery/
I made waves last year (pun intended) when I was told to cover up at a local swimming pool. I was honestly so embarrassed and caught off guard instead of standing my ground and reminding them that I'm protected by the law to nurse in public, I just asked for my money back. I haven't heard of anyone else being harassed since, so hopefully they now train their employees that breasts are for babies, and the skimpy bikinis other patrons were wearing showed WAY more than what you might have seen if you stared really hard at my chest, haha.
I'm so thankful and lucky that my babies have been able to nurse without any major issues, because no matter what I try, I've never responded to a pump. Even to this day, if I pump I get a max of 2oz between both breasts. I have MAD RESPECT for exclusively pumping mamas.
Photos above: Jerrica Russell with Life Unscripted Photography 2017 https://lifeunscriptedphotos.com/
Do you have a breastfeeding story? I'd love to hear it!