Encouraging Support & Normalizing Breastfeeding

Things are changing here at Nashville Childbirth Classes & Doula Services. Honestly, we are so excited about it. We want to provide the families of Nashville quality, professional services — but we would be lying if we said it’s all business around here. We are truly passionate about providing support for families. We feel proud while we watch families grow, watch them educate themselves, use that information to make informed decisions. We feel honored to be invited into their births and to hold space with them during their most vulnerable moments. It is not something we take lightly, we know the families we serve value what we do, and we value them as well.

So this little blog space is going to a place where we share information, stories, ideas, and lessons that have been learned along the way from not only our doulas and childbirth educators, but fellow moms who we have served. If you would like to contribute a story, we’d love for you to get in touchWe hope you enjoy reading as much as we enjoy sharing.

Birth Journey and Lactation Support

Our first post is by a local mama who shares her journey and thoughts about breastfeeding and why normalizing breastfeeding in public is important. We feel so strongly about having adequate support during the first few weeks of breastfeeding, which is why we offer lactation support by a certified lactation counselor and have included it doula packages, make sure all of our postpartum doulas are trained in breastfeeding basics and why we cover it extensively in our childbirth education courses.

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Dear nursing moms,

I ask of you, please don’t cover up. I understand that you might not feel comfortable to nurse openly in public yet. That’s okay. It will come to you. You’ll get the hang of it. Becoming a new mom is filled with lots of anxiety, and I can only imagine how it must feel trying to get a shirt up, baby latched, not expose too much, all in one seamless motion. But I am asking you, not to cover up, because I need to look and there are so many other women out there who need to look.

I don’t need to look the way you might think – I am not ogling you or trying to make you feel uncomfortable. I am not disgusted by you feeding your child out in the open. I need to look because this is the only time I’ve seen nursing. This is the only chance that I will be exposed to a mother nourishing her child with her own body.

You see, I am one of the MANY who grew up without anyone around them nursing. Nursing was NOT normal for me. It was not part of my life when it came to babies. Making a bottle was. And I’ll tell you what: I can make an 8 ounce bottle with one hand in under 45 seconds. I am THAT good, but I do not know first hand how to latch a baby onto my breast, or how to even out over supply. It’s just not something I was ever exposed to. It was not something that was talked about in my little circle of “what to expect when you’re expecting”. The VERY few I “saw nursing” growing up always did it in another room, or under a nursing cover and I never heard a positive word about it. I heard only bad things: How much it hurt. How it ruined your boobs. How you get no help at night. How you can’t even have A GLASS OF WINE! The horrors! Breastfeeding, it’s for the birds. So when it came to the decision of breast of bottle for my own two sons, the answer was easy! Give me a bottle for a baby any day over that awfulness that was breastfeeding.

My family’s move to Europe helped change my ideas: I saw more nursing mamas than formula feeding ones, and it was done without the shame I felt that surrounded nursing moms in the states. No one batted an eye when a mother fed her baby at the table in a restaurant. I was exposed to it so much more, not only by strangers, but for the first time I had friends now that breastfed. It was now a normal occurrence for me to sit across from a woman while she fed her baby and for the time in my life, the topic was a part of our conversation. I realized how much I didn’t know about breastfeeding. And then suddenly, how much I was missing out.

One day, I watched a friend nurse her new baby, and my heart hurt. I longed for a baby at my breast. I was sad that I had missed out on this experience of motherhood. I was sad that I never even tried. It was then that I started reading and researching everything I could about breastfeeding and my views totally changed. I educated myself in every way possible about the amazingness that IS breastfeeding. Around the same time I began becoming involved in the birth community and for the first time, I saw new fresh babies at the breast for the first time – some with a perfect latch and some who’s mamas had to work hard to get it right. I saw toddlers who thought it was more entertaining to see what fun positions they could still get themselves into while nursing. Suddenly, nursing didn’t seem so strange, it was the new norm.

I do not think breastfeeding makes me a better mother. 

I don’t believe in guilt or shame when it comes to feeding your child. You do what’s right for you. I lovingly fed bother of my boys with formula. I brushed their sweet, soft, new skin with my fingertips every night as I rocked them to sleep with a bottle in the other hand. I watched them grow into strong, smart, healthy boys. Motherhood is hard enough, no new mom needs the added stress of wondering if she’s being judged on how she’s feeding her child. Maybe they never tried breastfeeding, maybe they attempted breastfeeding but because of lack of support, or knowledge had to quit because it just got TOO hard. Did anyone ever stop to think: They are doing the absolute best that they can.

It’s because of these reasons I have become passionate about normalizing breastfeeding. I truly feel like it’s something that NEEDS to be seen and that will make a difference in our world. Whether through nursing in public, breastfeeding portraits, or taking a photo yourself and throwing it up on Instagram to share. Women need to support and empower each other instead of judge. There needs to be an open dialogue about the joys and the struggles of breastfeeding. Especially with younger moms who often worry about what pregnancy will do to their bodies because our media has shown a false reality of the postpartum period.

I often wonder “if I had been exposed to breastfeeding, would I have chosen to try it?”. I really believe the answer is yes. I wish so much that someone could have said to me, without sounding pushy or like they were “better” than a bottle mom, It’s so hard sometimes, but it is so worth it. Not just for the baby, but for you” – I think so many more women would.

As I type this my baby girl is kicking away inside of me, she’ll be here in 10 short weeks and I know for a fact I will be breastfeeding her. And although I don’t think it will be easy, I know that I have the help to get over whatever obstacles we face, because of the community of woman I have surrounded myself with.

So next time you’re out in public, if you’re a new mom or a well seasoned one: take a deep breath, take the cover off and proudly nurse your baby. And if you get a look from someone, just smile at them. They might not be looking at you for the wrong reasons, but for all the right ones.

 

(This story was originally shared on photographer Sarah Cambio’s blog for World Breastfeeding Week, Thank you for sharing with us Sarah & Angela! Angela will be doing a follow up to talk about how her breastfeeding journey went once her baby arrived)

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Hi there, I’m Jeannie

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I am a CLC Certified Lactation Counselor. I’ve become a certified instructor in the Bradley Method of Husband-Coached Natural Childbirth(AAHCC), a labor doula certified by Doulas of North America (DONA), certified by the National Association of Childbirth Assistants (NACA), Dad Certified™ by Empowered Papa and a certified instructor in the Gena Kirby Rebozo Technique  for professionals. Since 1989, I have attended 800+ births as a doula. In 2014, I completed the Skills Training with Stacy Hunt, CPM, at The Farm.

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