New Orleans, LA – Normalize Breastfeeding Tour
Normally, I fly in on a Thursday so that I have time to get settled. For this particular location, I felt that it was important to consider the needs of my family first. I made arrangements to change my flight to leave on Friday morning instead because on Thursday, July 27th, was the first day of (year round) school for my first and third graders! I am glad that I prioritized this day because the first day of school was a MESS. I ended up waiting almost two hours to get my kids into a classroom. I was able to fly out the following day with complete peace of mind. 🙂
I arrived in New Orleans on Friday afternoon. My flight landed an hour late and it completely threw off our schedule. I headed to baggage claim to gather my things. When I contacted my host, she was in transit, but stuck in Friday-night traffic. That was about three hours away! I made myself comfortable in the airport restroom! I painted my toenails, styled my locs, freshened up, and even put on a pretty dress – all the things I NEVER have time to do when I am home with my kids. I really needed that. Every mom deserves that time to pamper herself and, unfortunately, not many of us ever get that time alone.
Due to the change in schedules we had to cancel dinner that we planned some local breastfeeding advocates in Baton Rouge. It was unfortunate and I was definitely looking forward to connecting with them, but these kinds of things happen on tour. My host Adrienne is the Chairperson of Community Outreach for the Capital Area Breastfeeding Alliance. When she arrived with her three children, I was so excited to finally meet her in person. She is also the administrator for the Baton Rouge chapter of NormalizeBreastfeeding.org. This location was in planning for quite some time!
We spent the time during the drive back to her house talking about the state of breastfeeding in Louisiana, which ranked 50th state by state in regards to breastfeeding rates past six months of age, according to the CDC Breastfeeding Report Card from 2011. We made it home, had a lovely dinner, and settled in for the night. I received word, soon afterwards, that one of our participants was unable to attend because he baby was under the weather. Sadly, it was too short of notice to find another family to fill her spot.
We had a delicious breakfast the next morning. There was a lot of event preparation in the morning while we waited for #NBFshirt shipment to come in. Then it was about an hour drive into New Orleans. About ten minutes into our ride, Adrienne’s youngest was upset because she was tired. Adrienne had pumped some milk that morning just in case her daughter didn’t nap before we got into the car. I had the opportunity to document her daughter from the back seat. It was so interesting to watch her transition from upset to ecstatic when mama passed the fresh milk to her in the midst of her breakdown. Sometimes, breastfeeding looks like this!
Although the time was on our side, the weather was not! The humidity alone was enough to make me want to go straight back to the airport! Shortly after arriving at the meeting place, The Morning Call Coffee Stand, we all started to feel the extreme heat. We walked to our first location and unfortunately we were all covered in sweat after only five minutes of walking. One of the participants decided to leave before we got started because her daughter was over stimulated by the heat. It was a small, intimate, setting in New Orleans with classic view of moss hanging from the tree. Louisiana mamas ARE breastfeeding!
“I gave birth to my third baby, my beautiful baby Nylah Lorenza, after 17 hours of labor. I was exhausted, but breastfeeding my little girl for the first time energized my spirit and brought me so much joy. Unfortunately the days that followed brought nothing but pain. Nylah’s had a shallow latch. I am a nurse practitioner and certified lactation counselor so I tried every trick I knew but nothing took the pain away. It wasn’t until I asked for help from a colleague that I nursed Nylah without pain. We are still nursing 7 weeks later. Even though this is my third nursing experience, I learned something new: never be afraid to ask for help.” -Nikki
“When the breastfeeding relationship with my first born did not go as smoothly as I thought it was suppose to go, I was fearful of starting a new one with 2nd born. Thankfully, despite a few setback, I was able to nurse him for 15 months. When I became pregnant with my current nursling, all I could think about was breastfeeding again. I was so excited to have that bond and attachment with this little one. Right after she was born, she was just as eager to start nursing. We have had a wonderful 7 months of breastfeeding with no end in sight!
I was sponsored to participate by GNOBAC.” -Brittany
“I have been truly blessed to have had an amazing breastfeeding journey so far. My labor was 58 hours, everything that could have gone wrong did. The most important things went right, my beautiful Charlie Willow made it here safely and breastfeeding came second nature to both of us. The first 2 weeks was a bit trying because Charlie had a tongue tie. Once that was resolved we were both more comfortable. It is an amazing feeling to be able to do something for her that only I (her mother) can do. I eat right so she can have the best milk possible. I am grateful for all of the amazing support around me, female and male. I feed my daughter on demand where ever we are. God made our bodies to do this!! We just made one year breastfeeding and plan to continue until we are both ready to stop.
I was sponsored to participate by Nurse Nikki, LLC” -Deryl
When we finished up with the first round of photographs, we went back to Morning Call (as our rest stop) for cold water and to rest in the air conditioning for a bit. Then we headed over to a nearby streetcar stop to finish up the photos on the walk. Another mama left because her baby started throwing up her milk because of the heat. While finishing up on the walk another mama decided to head back to the Morning Call to wait for her chance to be photographed indoors. The heat was absolutely unbearable!
“Before I gave birth I knew so little about nursing that my first goal was simply to see if I was even able to produce milk. My journey began surrounded by many critics of breastfeeding with only a few knowledgeable supporters in my life. My husband being the biggest supporter of them all. Every challenge was met with more criticisms, calls to “quit and finally put him on the bottle (formula)”, and warnings of disapproval if we continued to an age when he was able to ask for it. “If they are old enough to ask for it they are too old to do it.” Well, here we are at 19 months with no end in sight! This has turned out to truly be the most beautiful and empowering journey I have ever taken.” -Jamie
“Six years ago I met Issie, the non-latcher and from day one we embarked on a very long exclusively pumping journey for 13 months while at a job with a boss that said I had no time to pump (I honestly did not know my rights then).We survived, but man, EPing is a lonely life. This year the month if April brought me a new bundle we named Luna. The journey started the same, pain, no latch, shallow latch, toe curling pain and I was thinking I would be in the same boat again. We started getting better at the breast feeding thing with a shield, but she showed no signs of weening or getting her latch better. A good friend, and SLP, noticed a picture I posted on a mama group page and told me to check for tongue and lip tie…from a picture of me nursing she noticed! Then came the most recent piece of our breastfeeding puzzle, a tongue and lip tie revision, IBLC help, SLP appointments, tongue and lip stretches, tongue and lip exercises multiple times a day with a screaming infant….it has been steps forward but are currently seeing a few more steps back. Slow weight gain, a concerned pediatrician that wants me to supplement a husband that says whenever I need to throw in the towel he will understand, daily weight gain checks before and after feedings, lots and lots of crying and a six year old giving me her stuffed pig to make me feel better. These few months have been a rollercoaster and the journey has only just started for me and my Lunabug, I hope I continue to have the strength to keep on going and that my support from others does not waiver, it is just the beginning of our story.”
Sunday, we woke up and hit the ground running with Adrienne’s mini session right in front of her house. Light was gorgeous! We could not have picked a better time for her mini session.
“After formula feeding my 2 older children, breastfeeding my 3rd child wasn’t something I ever wanted to do. Little did I know, I’d love it. Over the last 18 months, we’ve dealt with lip and tongue ties, pumping issues, and grief from a local hospital. I never thought I’d be so pro-breastfeeding or that I’d even be as involved with breastfeeding education. But I am and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” -Adrienne
A family private session immediately followed our morning mini session and it was about an hour drive away. This mama’s tire went out on her way to our meeting place and it needed to be switched to the spare! Luckily, her husband got them back on the road in no time. We met at the Southeastern Louisiana University as the temperatures began to rise to capture her family at the Friendship Oak. Afterwards we went to get the tire replaced, grabbed lunch, and headed to the airport! It was such a lovely time, especially getting to know this beautiful family.
“My breastfeeding journey starts with disappointment and feelings of failure 8 years ago before I had my oldest child. At 36 weeks pregnant I was diagnosed with Shingles. After spending 9 days in isolation at the hospital on IV medications, the doctor decided it was best to take my daughter via C-section. I was unable to nurse her or even try to pump because the shingle virus attacked the nerves of my breast tissue. I was broken hearted and unfortunately did not know I could have made myself relactate. Fast forward 3 years and we were now ready to deliver our 2nd child. A boy!! We were so excited to have our little bouncing baby boy! We were latched on and were nursing decently.
After about 2 weeks at home, we had our follow up appointment (after several weight checks and other appointments) it was recommended to supplement with formula due to his higher bilirubin results. Unfortunately, within a few days of supplementing, our little boy stopped latching to the breast and our breastfeeding journey was over. I wanted to cry my eyes out. The only thing I wanted to do was be the source of nutrition for my little boy that we were so blessed to have. After almost 2 1/2 years had passed and I had almost finished nursing school, we found out we were expecting again! My chance to do things my way!! I begged for a trial of labor, to be able to try for a natural birth. That was quickly denied due to complications during pregnancy. If I couldn’t have that I then I had nothing was my mindset. We packed our bags and went to the hospital for our scheduled c-section.
I never even gave thought of breastfeeding because of everything that had been said with my older child. I was instructing the nurse to take a bottle with them for the nursery when the sweetest lady asked if I had thought about breastfeeding. She asked me to just give it another chance. I decided I would. The nurses brought our new little one to us while I was still in recovery! Less than 3 hrs after surgery and I was able to feed my baby!! Lots of latch time and skin to skin! So different than my other two births, finally I felt accomplished! We nursed exclusively for almost 11 months, she never wanted a bottle or a pacifier… ever!! My supply dropped to almost nonexistent when I returned to work when she was 10.5 mths old. I can remember thinking that I wasn’t ready for our journey to be over, unfortunately it was.
Fast-forward a year and 3 months later… we are pregnant with our 4th and now last child. I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding! We had our youngest son in May of 2015. Unfortunately, he had a few problems with breathing when he was born so he was sent to NICU. My heart sank. I begged no pacifier and no bottle what so ever. Yeah, that didn’t last. I wasn’t allowed to see my youngest for almost 12 hours and couldn’t attempt to feed him at the breast for 3.5 days!! I set alarms on my phone for 2 hour intervals and pumped like there was no tomorrow for the 1st 4 days. Finally we were able to attempt a feeding at the breast. He latched better than either of my children who were breastfed for any amount of time. He knew what he wanted! We have been nursing for 19 months now!! He doesn’t look like he is ready to wean anytime soon either, and you know what?… That is just fine by me!!! So thankful that I was able to be part of the normalize breastfeeding tour across the USA!!! I love all of my children and family for being so supportive in our journey!!” -Leighann
Thank you NOLA mamas for nursing in public and helping to normalize breastfeeding!
Special thanks to all of the #NBFtour collaborators for helping to make this tour great!
Sarah Carp, 1st grade Teacher (3)
Kristyna Cleek, Studying for IBLCE (1)
Greater New Orleans Breastfeeding Awareness Coalition (1)
Nurse Nikki, LLC (1)
The Badass Breastfeeder (2)
Human Milk News (1)