Breastfeeding is a deeply personal experience, as these new moms can attest.

By Claire Gillespie
August 06, 2020
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August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week (WBW): a global initiative to raise awareness about the physical and emotional benefits of breastfeeding. This year, WBW also addresses the inequities in health care and the workplace that can make it more difficult for a new mom to nurse. 

The campaign is designed to reach women across the world, but as every new mom knows, breastfeeding is a deeply personal experience that affects every woman a different way. To share what it means to them, thousands of women have taken to social media to tell their own unique stories. 

For some women, like Langelihle Buthelezi, from Rustenburg, South Africa, breastfeeding proved to be an easy and fulfilling road. “Zazi was a few minutes old here and I was amazed at how smoothly he latched on and how he knew what to do,” she wrote. “We’ve been on this journey for 9 months now and I love it and I feel blessed that we still can do it.”

For others, nursing hasn’t been quite as straightforward. Paola Mitchell, from Melbourne, Australia, didn’t carry or birth her son Parker, but she spent months taking medication and pumping to induce lactation. She and her wife, Jess, can now both breastfeed their baby boy, as Jess explains in her post.

“This snap was taken the first time he managed to latch on to her,” she wrote. “It’s still not easy. She still pumps multiple times a day, and as Parker gets bigger and stronger, hopefully it becomes easier. The bond this forms between them is amazing. We are both so happy that we can both share the bond with our son.”

Breastfeeding doesn’t come easy to all babies, either. Expectant mom Abby Green, from Madison, Wisconsin, shared a throwback brelfie as she recalled what it was like to back nursing her first two children, wondering how it will go the third time around with her third child, who has Down syndrome.

“I breastfed both kiddos for 14 months. And I just assumed that our third baby would be the same. But with lower muscle tone and possible tubes and wires, nursing doesn’t always come easily to babies with Down syndrome,” she shared.

“Sometimes it works out just fine, but there may be some challenges. There may be some therapy....There may be hours hooked up to a pump in hopes that one day baby will latch. So with all the changes and uncertainties this pregnancy and our future holds, I know I don’t need to have all the answers. But I know I can have all the hope that this part of our journey will look the same.” 

Amy’s breastfeeding journey was full of highs and lows. She exclusively pumped for several months to feed her twin boys, Riley and Oliver, who were born 10 weeks early. The babies were unable to latch, and they weren't growing as quickly as expected. So Amy, from Victoria, Australia, was told by her pediatrician to switch to formula. 

“I wish I had more support to be able to successfully breastfeed,” she wrote, adding that it’s “so important to normalize these ‘not to normal’ journeys too.” 

Ashley, from New York, paid tribute to one of her favorite breastfeeding moments: when she had the opportunity to nurse her adopted newborn niece, who is six weeks younger than Ashley’s son.  

“A humbling and empowering experience for me both as a woman and a new mother,” she wrote. “Additionally, I was able to see the rally of support from other moms who provided my sister with breastmilk for Frankie during those first few months. Women really are incredible creatures.” 

“Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have ever done,” wrote mom-of-two Katey McFarlan Hellman, from Fort Worth, Texas. “It’s leaving a dinner table at a holiday to go nurse by yourself because you have a fussy baby. It’s waking up all night long to nurse. It’s knowing you can’t really make a schedule because nursing is supply/demand. It’s mastitis."

"It’s hard, but it is something I am so darn proud of. It’s something I will always treasure. It’s something that I feel lucky to do. It’s something I love," she says. Hellman also points out what all moms know to be true: However you feed your baby (breast, bottle, or formula), “ they all turn out to be three-year-olds that only want chicken nuggets, anyways.”

Breastfeeding mom Jamie DePhilippe, from Galena, Maryland, describes nursing her three children for three-plus years each as “one of my biggest accomplishments in this life.” However, she also has a message for all mamas, no matter how long they nursed or if they did it at all: “How we choose to feed our babies may be different, but we’re all doing the same thing, protecting and nourishing them.” 

Shekinah Holiday, from Noblesville, Indiana, paid tribute to her own mother in her touching post. Revealing that she has nursed her daughter Nova for nearly four months and breastfed her first daughter Selah for 15 months, she wrote, “I attribute so much of my personal breastfeeding normalization to my momma. She breastfed 6 kids over the course of 10 years and it always seemed so natural and peaceful from my childlike eyes. I feel like that’s why I was so determined to continue regardless of the sacrifice and hard days that come with the commitment.”

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