Breastfeeding Week – Part 4: No Judgement Zone

Shaming, judgement, that feeling that you are doing something wrong (but know you aren’t) – this is what we are trying to fight against.

The sadness that comes with not being able to breastfeed, the questions that pop into your mind on whether you should be breastfeeding your child when they are older and nursing in public. These are all things that moms think about and almost wonder if they will be judged for their choices.

These three moms decided to do what’s best for them. There is no shame in that. Moms deciding to do what is right for their family are moms we want to be friends with.

Mom to Finn who is 4 years old and was breastfed for 3 weeks

When Finn was born I was completely dedicated to breastfeeding. I had taken classes and read books and got a top-of-the-line pump. I was aware of the possibility that he could have trouble latching so my backup plan was to pump and bottle feed him breast milk which is what some of my friends had to do. I had no idea that it was possible my body could just not produce milk. But that is what happened. After three weeks of round-the-clock nursing and pumping, my milk had not “come in” as they say. I tried all the drinks, cookies, supplements, etc. I went to see two lactation specialists. Meanwhile, Finn was born at 9 lbs (41 weeks) and was always hungry. He ate way more than they taught us in the breastfeeding class. It was so hard on me to spend half an hour “nursing” only for him to scream and cry because he was hungry.DSC_6128

I say we “supplemented” with formula but honestly he was formula fed from the start because he wasn’t getting anything from me. I’m sad to say that I gave up after three weeks of “nurse, pump, cry, repeat”. In retrospect I look back and say, “What if I had tried for just one more week and my milk came in??” But from what I have read and learned since, that wasn’t likely. Those first weeks were miserable not because he was a newborn, not because of sleep deprivation or postpartum depression… but because I was devastated that my body wasn’t producing milk. Once I let it go I felt like a huge weight was lifted and everything became 100 time easier and in the long run I was happier.

Finn turned 3 in March and I still get sad about it. Every time I see a mom nursing or read about how amazing breast milk is I get a pang of jealousy. I am my own worst critic and think I gave up too easily… but in the end you have to feed your child, keep them safe and healthy, and for me my only option was formula. I will never, ever judge a mother who keeps her child fed in any way she is able.

Mom to Evelyn who is 4 years old and was breastfed for 13 months,
and Lizzie who is 3 years old is still breastfed 

I have spent the majority of the past 4.5 years breastfeeding. In fact, I just finished putting my 3 year old daughter to bed and I nursed her to sleep. Breastfeeding is something I’m very passionate about and when I was pregnant with my oldest, I did all of the research. Google was my best friend and I read EVERYTHING. Still nothing really prepared me for those first few months; the cluster feeding, cracked and bleeding nipples, and I never knew what a nipple shield was until then. Though it was challenging at first, my oldest and I found our groove and I loved the bond we shared. At times, it was exhausting because she refused a bottle (she NEVER took one) so I was it for her. When I became pregnant when she was 7.5 months, we had to push food and formula but she still would nurse for comfort. I heard all kinds of comments from people (even my doctor) about nursing while pregnant and felt judged for it. I nursed her until I literally had nothing left and we were both ok with it (13 months was it for her and I and it made me sad that we didn’t make it longer).

37250279_10102922736948906_3267540208886743040_nWhen my second was born, breastfeeding was easier for me because I knew what I was doing and what to expect. She was also completely different than my first; she latched right away and we fell into a routine a lot quicker. In my research, I decided again that I would let her self-wean. This is what has been the hardest for me because she turned 3 in MAY and she still wants to nurse before bed and in the morning. We just stopped middle of the night nursing a few months ago. When people (even other moms) find this out, I definitely get judged and it bothers me even though I act like it doesn’t. I’ve heard that I’m doing it for me which is not true. At all. I’ve heard that she’s too old for it especially since she has teeth, can talk, and can ask for it.

Again, I’ve done the research and I know that breast milk is still beneficial for her and that children all over the world sometimes don’t wean until 7. She can spend the night at other peoples houses without me, is smart, independent, and doesn’t “need” it, but I’m her comfort and that’s ok right now. She will only be little once. The bond I have with her because of breastfeeding is amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I don’t plan on breastfeeding until she is 7 and I would be ok if she was done with it tomorrow. But until *she* decides she is done, I’ll continue doing what I feel is best despite what society says and despite what our “norm” is.

Mom to Nora who is 1.5 years old and was breastfed for 17 months

While I think of my BF journey as boring, looking back that in itself is encouraging! I never had any issues with acceptance or negativity at work or in public, which was one of those things I braced myself for when I was a new Mom. You read so many stories of women being asked to leave when feeding I think I had it in my mind I needed to be prepared to stand my ground but it never really came up for me.img_2352

I think the thing that surprised me most is that I had bought the nursing scarf, a nursing apron, all the “gear” to feed more privately in public but my daughter would never latch when covered; she HATED it! I realized I was a lot more concerned about getting her fed than keeping it under wraps so I went forward mostly nursing without a cover. I would try to be as discreet as possible but I’m sure I’ve startled a passerby in public a time or two!  I also used a pump when I couldn’t be with my daughter so I’ve pumped at work, in airports, in bathrooms, and a ton of times in the car. The car adapter and a hands free pump bra were easily two of my top “must have” baby items. And Soothies gel pads, those are key in the early days!!

I was lucky I was able to exclusively BF for 6 months, and then continue feeding as my daughter started solids. Around 11 months we had to supplement my supply with formula at Daycare until she started drinking cow’s milk, but I was able to keep up a bedtime feed until 17 months. I loved that quiet time to bond at the end of the day!

Breastfeeding Week – Part 3: You Have to Find the Humor

What’s the saying, “if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry”? That’s what these moms decided to do when it came to breastfeeding. We all know that breastfeeding isn’t easy, and these moms chose to find the humor instead of getting frustrated.

They all had different experiences; one with exclusive pumping, another with breastfeeding in public and the last with engorgement, but they chose to handle them similarly. Their stories weren’t funny at the time, but looking back they couldn’t help but laugh.

All three of these moms are amazing and they did what they needed to for their babies. We hope you enjoy their stories as much as we did and that it helps you to laugh a little at yourself and your experiences (especially when it comes to breastfeeding)!

Mom to a 6 year old boy who she pumped for for 12 months,

a 3 year old girl who she pumped for for 12.5 months (383 days),
and a 15 month old girl who she pumped for for 11.5 months

Wacko, Wacko, Wacko

No, I’m not crazy, well relatively speaking, that’s the sound I hear repeating in my head every time I think about my time as an exclusive pumper.

Seven years ago I was pregnant with my first child, a boy. I had no clue what I was doing, all I knew was I could not drink wine or eat sushi until March when he was set to make his arrival. My girlfriends and I were all pregnant the same time with our firsts and in November when the first was born and I went to meet the new arrival I also learned about exclusively pumping.

What! That’s a thing? Ok, I’m going to do that! With all the horror stories I heard of nipple confusion, babies not taking a bottle, not being able to separate from a baby because of nursing, all these things ran through my mind because at that time I had a demanding job that I was going back to work five weeks after baby was born, I couldn’t have any of those scenarios holding me back. So there it was, I was set to become an EP’er. I had my heart set on giving the baby Breast milk, but really didn’t want to nurse. Problem solved. I always knew nursing wasn’t for me, but to do this and provide Breast milk in this way, sold.img_2351

March 10, 2012 a healthy baby boy was born and that started my journey of pumping. Through the last six years I have also given birth to two little girls and I also exclusively pumped for them as well.

I made it 10 months with my son, and had a freezer supply that got him to a year. My first daughter, I pumped for 383 days, damn right I counted. She had a fresh supply the entire time and I donated over 3,000 ounces to other mothers in need. My last daughter I made it 11.5 months (that .5 counts, let me tell you!) and I was also able to donate 2,000 ounces to other moms.

In the last six years of my life, almost half that time has been hooked up to a machine like a dairy cow; just call me Elsie! I will say, it’s one of the hardest jobs anyone can have, but worth every minute. It takes discipline, a routine, probably a little bit of crazy built into the genes and most importantly heart!

I have pumped driving, on cruise control, while in traffic on the expressway. I have pumped in an airport in the coffee bar. On the floor of a minivan while my father was driving, at dance competitions under makeup tables while my old students fixed their hair. Basically you lose all self-dignity and do what you have to do so you keep that supply up and so you don’t explode! That one time outside a church in the parking lot in the wedding planner’s car before my sisters wedding. Me, my pump, the battery pack and a quick 10 minutes, then I dumped it in the lawn all while repeating “I’m sorry God, I’m so sorry!”

I have fallen asleep while pumping only to wake up an hour, yes, AN HOUR later, soaked in overflowing bottles of breast milk with the sorest most raw set of boobs you could ever imagine, but need to hook right back up a few hours later, that was a bad day!

Wacko, Wacko, Wacko…. maybe it isn’t just the sound of my pump and I really am a little crazy.

However any mother knows there is no sacrifice too great for their children and the time and energy, not to mention destroyed nails from washing all the parts on a daily basis, never hindered my goal to provide the nourishment I could for my children in this way.
I will always be grateful to have been able to pump like I could. Many dear friends and family never could and many always felt bad about themselves because they couldn’t. That’s crazy to me, if your body doesn’t allow you to, that is why formula is there and all three of my children have had some formula in their lives. There is nothing wrong with it, at all!

My youngest is 15 months old, she is my last and this past March I put away all the supplies and all four pumps. I don’t miss them, but am grateful for the journey we took. However, the freedom away from them after all that time…. heaven.

Mom to a 10 year old boy who she breastfed for 8 months
and pumped for for 4 months


My son was 8 weeks old and the two of us had to fly. My husband was in the military and the flight we were on was mostly military men. I forgot my pumped milk in security and when we went to take off he wouldn’t stop crying. I tried everything I could but realized he wouldn’t stop unless I fed him so I tried to cover us the best I could so I could breastfeed him. He hated being covered and soon he threw his blanket onto the random man in uniform next to us while I was fully exposed. He kindly smiled (without making eye contact) and gave the blanket back and said “it’s ok, I have kids”.  I soon realized that modesty was a thing of the past.

Mom to a 4.5 year old girl who she breastfed for 14 months
and a 2 year old girl who she breastfed for 11 months

So, breastfeeding is supposed to be this maternal, natural, beautiful thing with a cooing baby and an angelic mother, soft music plays in the background and even a warm filter takes over the picture.  You got that right?  Yeah, me neither.  My story doesn’t go so much like that…

Let me set the stage, we begin with an emergency c-section due to a breech, caused by a tilted uterus and a uterine septum.  All undiagnosed.  During my stay in the hospital I had to get real comfortable with perfect strangers poking and prodding me and looking at and in parts of me that my husband hadn’t even seen.

Breastfeeding took the form of nurses propping me up with pillows and placing the baby IMG_0407on my bloated, flabby, stapled stomach.  I was so doped up the first couple days I laid there like a human experiment that aliens had taken over.  Immediately, the worry began of “your baby is dropping weight”. She was already early and small to begin with, so they wanted to supplement.  I pushed against this so the “hospital grade” pump came out and we celebrated when after 15 minutes of pumping, a millimeter of yellow fluid filled the vial.  In between nursing the baby was fed with a tiny spoon.  By the last day of our hospital stay we were doing better and were on our way home.  I thought my nursing was going great, and then my milk came in…

Flash forward to several hours later in our home.  I woke up after falling asleep in our bedroom with the baby and literally felt like I had 20 pound boulders attached to my chest.  I couldn’t even sit up, which was difficult to begin with given the c-section, but the chest pain…I had to roll out of bed and was on my hands and knees on the floor struggling to get up like Leo in the Wolf of Wall Street “lemon” scene.  I called to my husband and when he came in the room I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head.  There I was topless with MASSIVE, engorged, completely rock-hard boobs.  They had doubled in size (I was a 32G before pregnancy), and their sheer magnitude caused my husband to revert to his teenage years.  Giant blue and purple veins covered my chest and looked like they might burst open.  They hurt to touch, to breathe, even look at.  It was then I knew what all the crazy moms before me talked about… the milk “came in”!

Not knowing what to do, my husband left the room, and went to the only person he thought could help; his mother.  While I might have been used to strangers seeing me at my most vulnerable, I wasn’t comfortable with family witnessing such events. Humiliated, I was crying, sore, and had no idea what to do.  The thought of “squeezing” the milk out made me want to run into oncoming traffic.  Pumping sounded like a Gitmo torture and I was afraid to nurse for fear I would literally drop the baby in pain.  My mother in law left the room to call the La Leche League 800 number and returned a few minutes later with bags of vegetables from our fridge.

Apparently, one of the best remedies for engorgement is cold cabbage leaves, purple or green doesn’t matter.  Of course, neither were present in our home so the produce aisle found its way into the bedroom and we looked for the next best thing… enter the strong and mighty Romaine Lettuce Heart.  As I laid on the bed my husband and mother arranged the leafy greens around chest like they were creating a work of art.

When they were done they stepped back, admired their work and joked about how “I guess we won’t be having salad tonight”.  I didn’t laugh, it would have hurt too much.  Instead I laid there, the artistic creation, lettuce on the top, frozen diapers along my stomach to numb the staples, and my padded underwear – a very angelic, beautiful, picture indeed.  From that day on, though, we have always managed to have a head of cabbage in the house.

Breastfeeding Week – Part 2: Not My First Rodeo

Breastfeeding is rough the first go around. You don’t know what to expect and you can’t understand how hard it will be. The sleepless nights, the time commitment and the tears. It’s enough to break any mom down in the beginning.

Breastfeeding the second? Knowing how hard it is?! These moms are our heros. These three moms make it seem effortless and we all know it isn’t. To make the choice to breastfeed after knowing the commitment is truly a selfless act.

It’s time to give moms credit when credit is due. We are so excited to introduce these three awesome moms and share their stories. Again, we hope that you can find a little of yourself in each of them.

Mom to Lois, who is 4 and was breastfed for 13 months,
and Sadie who is 2.5 and was breastfed for 22 months.

Do the best you can for as long as breastfeeding makes sense for you and your baby. I breastfed for nine months longer with my second baby than I did with my first but I am equally proud of both experiences.
Lois is our oldest and when she was born everything was new to me—parenthood, being a working mom, breastfeeding, etc. I also had a long commute to work, which meant my days often revolved around breastfeeding and pumping. It was hard and exhausting (especially the last few months when I was early in my second pregnancy) but we were determined—and by month 13, we were equally over it.

With Sadie, I had the knowledge I lacked the first time around and, after moving closer to work, I was much more accessible to her for the 22 months I breastfed her. Each experience was reflective of what works best and what could be managed at the time. You will know what is right for you and/or your baby. You might be over it after a little while…or not for a long while. Either works! Each breastfeeding experience might be vastly different than the last, but be proud of your effort regardless. You can do it!

Mom to two girls aged 7 and 4 year who were breastfed for a combined 38 months (over 3 years!)

Breastfeeding was one of the most challenging parts of motherhood to adapt to but also one of the most rewarding.  Between the cracked nipples, engorgement, clogged ducks, supply issues, my daughter being tongue-tied (yep it’s a real condition) and everything else that goes along with being a new mom, I thought I wasn’t going to make it.  But I looked down at that little face and felt that feeling only a mother can while she is nursing her baby and it gave me the strength to push through.

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Breastfeeding youngest while oldest breastfeeds her baby doll.  Proud momma moment!

Solidarity also helped me push through tough times.  I reached out to friends, nursing groups both online and in-person and we shared stories and learned from each other.  When my first daughter was about three months old, I attended the Big Latch On, which is an event where nursing moms get together and attempt to break the world record for most nursing babies at the same time.  We didn’t break the world record but I felt like we had won.  Knowing at that very moment that there were women all over the world experiencing the same things I was, and standing up for a cause we believe in was very empowering.  One day I will be able to tell my daughters this experience in hopes that it will give them strength as well.

Mom to Stella, who is 5 and was breastfed for 15 months,
and Margot who is 18 months and was breastfed for 15 months.

When I had my first daughter Stella, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I made sure to buy nursing tanks and included a Boppy and pump on my baby registry. In the hour or so after Stella was born, the nurse helped guide me in my first attempt at feeding her; miraculously, she latched on right away. I felt so lucky. Within the next 24 sleepless hours at the hospital though, I cursed my decision. Every latch was like a dagger, and I felt like a human pacifier. How could I make it to my goal of one year of breastfeeding? I remember the first night we were home from the hospital. I was hormonal and exhausted and my body was in agony. I cried and cried to my husband, who did what he could by changing her diapers and cradling her in between feedings while I tried to sleep.

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Breastfeeding on the go the second time around!

It took a couple of weeks, but soon I got the hang of it. My breasts weren’t as sore (unless Stella slept for a few hours and I needed her to eat to get some relief), and breastfeeding became a part of the daily routine. At times it was relaxing and beautiful, and other times it was isolating and a drag.

Much of the isolation came from being embarrassed about breastfeeding in front of others. I remember going to an anniversary party for my in laws when Stella was still very little. I wasn’t comfortable sitting at the table and nursing her in public, even with a cover, so I took her into a bathroom stall and nursed her while standing. I did the same thing at my mom’s birthday party, sitting in a chair in a hotel bathroom and nursing while I missed watching the band perform. Looking back at those moments, I feel pretty silly about them. But I was such a new mom, with so much to learn, and it was so early on in my breastfeeding journeys.

By the time my second daughter Margot came around, it felt like old hat. I knew to expect the tender nipples and the uterine contractions after those early days of feedings. I had a Milk Snob nursing cover, which made it especially easy for me to breastfeed in public and feel comfortable about it. I even nursed Margot during her baptism ceremony, my Milk Snob cover perfumed by the chrism from her forehead.

Even though new and unexpected surprises popped up the second time around (blebs, clogged ducts, a baby who wouldn’t take bottles of pumped milk), I had much more confidence in my ability to push through the early struggles of breastfeeding and make it out to the other side. It’s wild to me that I spent 30 months of my life breastfeeding my girls, wearing nursing tops or dresses with wide neck openings, stuffing nursing pads inside my bras to protect from leaking.

Breastfeeding is an experience that feels like forever in the trenches, but looking back, was such a brief moment in the girls’ lives and mine. I remember feeling sadness when it was over, but it was also a sense of accomplishment. And relief. And it was worth it.

Breastfeeding Week — Part 1: Our Stories

Breastfeeding Week is August 1st through 7th. In order to celebrate this (because breastfeeding is definitely something worth celebrating) we asked our loyal readers to send us their best breastfeeding stories. And boy did you all deliver! We had so many amazing stories that we decided to break them up into 4 different blogs including:

* Not My First Rodeo – Stories from moms that have breastfed more than one child

* You Have to Find the Humor – Stories from moms who tell their stories in humorous ways (even if it wasn’t funny at the time)

* No Judgement Zone – Stories from moms who made decisions based on what was best for their child(ren) even if it meant they might be judged by others

Breastfeeding looks different for every mom. Some moms are super successful and are able to breastfeed for a long time, some moms do everything they can to breastfeed for a few weeks, and other moms decide that pumping and bottlefeeding works best for them. We have tried to find stories that highlight all of these different kinds of breastfeeding journeys and we hope that you can find at least a piece of yours in one of them.

In order to start this off we thought it was only fair to share our own breastfeeding experiences. Enjoy getting to know us a little better and let us know if your experience  was similar to ours or totally different!

Mom to Ben who is 2.5 years old and was breastfed for 15 months

I never once thought that I wouldn’t breastfeed. In my mind this was a way to save my family money and bond with my baby. I prayed that it would go smoothly, but what I have learned, is nothing is smooth. Everyone’s breastfeeding journey is completely different.

This is what life looked like. Nursing bra and milk coma baby.

When Ben was born I had a pretty hard time. He just wouldn’t latch in the hospital. For the first two weeks of his life I had to finger feed him (think taping a small tube to your finger while pressing down so he would get the milk). I stuck with it and around three weeks little Benny got it. It seemed like that’s the amount of time it really took for my milk to actually come in.

Going back to work and breastfeeding was the hardest. It was a very stressful situation in which I was just pumping enough milk for the next day (it went on like that for another nine months). I should have tried and built up a supply before work, but with breastfeeding him constantly I just didn’t want to take the time to also pump. At work, I am lucky enough to have my own office so all I had to do was close the door when I needed to pump (although – that sound!). That didn’t stop people from walking in. Oh, well. After you have a baby you quickly have to throw modesty out the window.

Breastfeeding literally takes over your life for the time that you decide to do it. When I went back to work it went like this: breastfeed him before I left, pump four times at work, breastfeed two more times at home before he went to bed and do at least 1-2 nightly feedings. It’s not for the weak. It takes a lot of your time and dedication. I am sure glad I did it, but looking back I don’t know how I made it through!

Mom to Ryan who is 9 months old and was breastfed for 9 months

I just finished breastfeeding Ryan a few weeks ago and it was definitely bittersweet. Our breastfeeding journey was full of ups and downs but I am so glad that I went through it. At the beginning Ryan wouldn’t latch. Then when he started to latch (with a nipple shield) it would take him FOREVER to eat. Like, 45 minutes on one boob and I would still have to pump the other boob so that it didn’t explode. Which meant that it was taking me over an hour at each feeding! That just wasn’t working for me so I started to pump and bottle feed. That took a long time too, so I decided to pump a few times a day (and bottle feed) and breastfeed a few times a day.

Patiently waiting for Mom to finish pumping

When we went to the pediatrician for Ryan’s 2 month checkup the doctor asked how breastfeeding was going. I told her what I was doing and she said, “don’t you feel like you’re missing out because you’re not breastfeeding him? There’s nothing better than a baby looking up and smiling at you while they’re nursing!” Was I seriously being shamed by the pediatrician!? First of all, I WAS breastfeeding him (just not for every feeding) and second of all, he was getting fed in a way that was working for US. I was not thrilled and luckily our practice has several doctors and I haven’t had to see that one again (we had other reasons for choosing the doctor we did, but that’s for another post!)

Ryan and I finally hit our breastfeeding stride around 4 months where he would latch perfectly (without a nipple shield) and drink in a timely manner. I would still pump first thing in the morning and the last thing before I went to bed, though. This helped so that his last feeding would be a bottle (which helped him to sleep longer) and I would get some extra milk so that I could have bottles if we were out and about. Along with breastfeeding I also gave him one bottle of formula a day so that I knew he was getting enough calories (he was in the 3rd percentile for weight and we were trying to plump him up a little bit). When Ryan turned 9 months old I unfortunately lost most of my supply so we decided to just use formula for all of his feedings.

Like I said, ending breastfeeding was bittersweet. I was very excited to pack up the pump and nursing bras, but I do miss that time to bond with him. Our breastfeeding journey was pretty complicated and we had to try a lot of different things before it really worked, but we figured it out in the end!