Advocating for Moms Did Not Come From My Personal Experience
Let me start off by saying that my love for breastfeeding certainly did not come from my own personal experience with it. When I had my son a little over 4 years ago I did not have far as much knowledge for breastfeeding and many other parenting related things that I have now. I hadn’t even created my breastfeeding support page on Facebook until about 2 years in to motherhood.
At first I hadn’t even really planned to breastfeed I didn’t know what the point of it was. I figured it would just be easier to formula feed and I didn’t have confidence that I would or could even make milk. Fortunately, in order to be qualified for WIC they make you attend classes and they will not provide formula for the first 30 days after you have your baby because their hope is that you choose to breastfeed. Well it just so happened they had one of the classes on the benefits of breastfeeding. Once I learned the comparison between formula and breast milk and how much more benefits breast milk had I thought, “how could I not at least try to breastfeed” because I wanted to give my baby the best possible start in life.
I went into breastfeeding with no advice, no knowledge, and my biggest regret, no support. I never realized just how demanding breastfeeding was. I also had postpartum depression , but didn’t realize it until it was too late. I loved and love my son with every inch of my being and I wouldn’t have traded anything to not have had him, but I will be honest I had many nights where I cried in the bathroom thinking, “What did I get myself into?” My Husband worked the graveyard shift back then so he was either working or sleeping so as far as Zander’s care it was all on me. I also do not live near any of my family. In fact my mom hadn’t even met him for the first time until he was 3 months old. Waking up every 1-2 hours to breastfeed him felt so draining, but that is the usual feeling most new moms have. I had a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding. I loved that I was able to provide my sons nutrition with my body, but it would have been nice to have been able to get a solid 4 to 6 hours rest when my husband was available to help. I was advised not to pump at all for risk of it causing nipple confusion for my baby so he was strictly boob for almost three months. I was uninformed on the benefits of bed-sharing as a breastfeeding mom and I think that would have made things go a little smoother for us. He absolutely did not like to sleep in his crib and I should have listened to him.
I don’t have all those beautiful breastfeeding pictures that I post for moms everyday on my support page. In fact, I have just one photo of me breastfeeding my son and thinking about that makes me very sad and even a tad regretful. As for breastfeeding in public, I didn’t. I felt scared to and had zero confidence. So the most public I got was in my car and a bathroom stall. Yep you heard that right I breastfed my brand new baby in a bathroom stall because of a dirty look I got when I attempted to breastfeed on the bench. I was that scared, vulnerable, mother lacking confidence in myself and questioning every parenting decision I made.
How My Struggles with breastfeeding Led To My Activism
When I joined the wonderful world of mommy pages on Facebook that is where I learned how controversial breastfeeding in public was. When I started reading about all the breastfeeding discrimination stories and moms who thought formula offered the exact same benefits breast milk could, a little spark ignited. I thought, “Wow so I wasn’t the only one who struggled with breastfeeding?!” I thought to myself, “How can I get through to these mamas the way I wished someone would have gotten through to me when I was breastfeeding?” So then on September 14th, 2012 I created, Breastfeeding Mama Talk. I wanted a place to discuss all aspects of breastfeeding, a place for breastfeeding moms to go to for support in their journey, a place to empower moms to trust their body’s ability to produce the best possible nutrition for their babies, a support group to reassure them that every single drop they gave counted and to be proud of the fact they breastfed and not obsess over how long they breastfed. Most of all, I wanted to create an atmosphere where moms felt empowered to breastfeed – however, wherever, & for however long they choose to.
About 3 months into starting the page I realized how important breastfeeding support really is for these moms. I will be honest, I was not planning on having one of the biggest breastfeeding support pages on Facebook, I was not expecting for my page to have such deep positive life changing impacts on people’s lives. When the testimonials started to roll in on different ways Breastfeeding Mama Talk had impacted their lives for the better is when I really started taking my new role as a breastfeeding advocate seriously. I’m not a big person of prayer, but something I had prayed for all my life was to feel like I had a purpose in this world, feel like I could make a true difference, and feel like if I died tomorrow I would be missed. So what the mamas I support every single day for the past two years do not know, is that they are just as important in my life as BFMT is in theirs.
So no, I’m not your average breastfeeding advocate as I’m not currently breastfeeding and I only breastfed for 3 months. I can’t post breastfeeding selfies of myself every other day and I can’t breastfeed in public to do my part in normalizing breastfeeding, but what I can do is be a strong support system for mothers who are currently breastfeeding and help give them the courage I wish I had when I was breastfeeding. There are also admins I put on who are qualified to help with all those breastfeeding questions! I can also relate and empathize with the moms who share the struggles and frustrations I had. I come from a non bias perspective and would never dare give someone a hard time for not loving every single moment of breastfeeding. I also come from a non-judgmental perspective because really, who am I to judge?
My passion for breastfeeding and getting moms support grows stronger and stronger every single day. Every time I get a message explaining how Breastfeeding Mama Talk helped them, be it with giving them the confidence to breastfeed in public how they were the most comfortable, deciding to breastfeed longer when they felt like quitting, or giving them the confidence to stick up for themselves when they get discriminated against makes me realize just how important my role as an advocate really is. I’m not perfect and have made mistakes along the way with parenting and as a blogger/site owner, but I choose to learn from the mistakes and better myself as a parent and advocate.