As a mother of 3 children, I can tell you that my breastfeeding experiences were more similar than they were different. I believe that mindset has a huge part to play in my journey with breastfeeding, despite my babies and life situations being different each time around.
As a baby, I was only breastfed for 2 weeks due to my mother having an infection with her Csection scar and needing to be on meds that didn’t support breastfeeding. I didn’t know what to expect regarding feeding my first because breastfeeding wasn’t a conversation I had at all. With anyone. I didn’t see anyone besides one aunt do it and even then, it wasn’t discussed so I assumed I would feed my baby from my breast for 6 months before moving on to formula.
After giving birth, I discovered that the recommended time frame for a baby to receive breastmilk was 1-year minimum. I decided that’s what I would do. Once I learned that, I made an effort to make my milk the only thing I would give my daughter.
I don’t recall having any challenges with her feeding. I breastfed for 20 months.
Fast forward less than 3 years later and I now had my second baby, born early and underweight. It was recommended that I supplement to help him gain weight. I wanted to ensure he had the absolute best start at building an immune system that worked and so I decided that no matter what it took, I was going to supplement him with my milk only. I would breastfeed him and set a phone timer to ensure I wasn’t missing feedings. I would then pump my milk and store it, and when I was supplementing, I would feed him from a spoon so that his latch wouldn’t be confused. I would feed him without clothes and practiced skin to skin with many feedings and ensure he wasn’t falling asleep.
Gratefully, he doubled his birth weight within weeks versus the few months the doctor and midwife had expected it to take. I breastfed him for 27 months.
My 3rd came even earlier than my 2nd child – 5.5 weeks early. I remember right before he was born, I had a cousin who suggested I buy formula “just in case.” I strongly let her know that my body wasn’t broken and that breast milk is created when the body senses it is needed, like a supply and demand situation. I was not going to buy formula because I wasn’t planning for a plan B feeding situation.
This breastfeeding journey was such a challenge because I was a newly single mother of 3, this baby was early and I was alone. He was colic and always wanted to be held for comfort. I breastfed him for 27 months.
Did I feel supported? Not exactly. Not at all, actually. Again I was the only one in my circle who openly breastfed regardless of where I was and I also never hid the fact that I breastfed way beyond 12 months. I had the odd comment and people saying negative things. Not once did I think to stop or hide our journey, because I was confident in myself. I was confident in my body. I knew it wasn’t broken. My body created life, carried life, birthed life. It wouldn’t now stop functioning when it came to feeding that life it cared for in utero. Aside from that, I knew that I was giving the very best to my children. The ignorance of others did not and will not become my reality or my truth. Ever. What I say and believe matters more than anyone who refuses to educate themselves on the unmatched benefits of breastmilk.
What I wish I knew then was the number of things I could do with my stored frozen milk versus toss it down the sink. Things like adding it to my baby’s bath, making breastmilk lotion for skin ailments and for moisturizing the skin or healing diaper rash and eye infections, bug bites like mosquitoes, treat sunburns, making teething freeze pops, and planting fertilizer, just to name a few.
Had I know these things then, I wouldn’t have tossed all that pumped and frozen liquid gold down the drain.
Tara Watts is a mother of 3 children with 3 amazing birth experiences. She was called to walk in her higher self once realizing that in this day and time, having positive experiences about body, birth and breastfeeding was a privilege. She believes in natural and holistic living and is now a holistic doula and placenta encapsulator. She has begun her studies to become a fertility coach, as well as an herbalist and breastfeeding specialist. Aside from talking about birth and holistic living, she enjoys reading, eating, nature, and playing cards and board games.