Dear Diary,

I like my breasts. Sure, they aren’t what they use to be because, frankly, having and breastfeeding babies changes things—a lot. But despite the changes, I still like my breasts. They’ve served my children and me well. These girls deserve to be celebrated.  They’ve done a lot for us.

I had my first child four years ago.  I was thrilled when I found out I was pregnant and holding my son in my arms for the first time was one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced. I was eager to hold him and kiss him and love him—and feed him.  As I embraced him in my hospital room, I had a breast pump, breast pads and plenty of lanolin waiting for me at home.  I was ready.

Imagine my disappointment when my little boy would not latch on. It just wasn’t working. The lactation specialist visited, the nurse talked me through it, but nothing seemed to work.  My son was not having it. We took our newborn home and I kept trying. I felt like something was wrong with me and my breasts, but I still kept trying.  Finally, three whole days after he was born, he latched on. Finally, I was able to nourish my son.

I breastfed him exclusively until he was one. I’m so grateful that I was able to do so, not only because we were able to bond, but also because my son suffered a milk allergy that made milk-based formula the devil. He also had sensitivity to soy. Thank goodness my breasts were able to sustain him without him getting sick. Luckily, at the age of one he outgrew his soy sensitivity and drank soy and coconut milk.

Two and a half years after his birth, I delivered a beautiful little girl. It was an entirely new experience this time around.  She latched on within 10 minutes of being born, but unfortunately she didn’t latch on properly, and I had breastfeeding pains.  I developed cracked nipples and because of the pain that came with feeding her I spent two weeks exclusively pumping so my nipples could heal.

I was also only able to exclusively breastfeed her for four months. Once she started childcare, my breasts could not keep up with the demand and I had to supplement with formula.  Eight months in, she was on formula only, and boy did I feel guilty!

What will I tell her when she gets older? Will she think I loved her brother more?  What if I don’t bond enough with her?  I was driving myself nuts.

Finally, I realized that all of my fears were unreasonable. I love them both the same.  I did the best I could with each of them based on the circumstances that existed when they were born.

Breastfeeding is an incredible experience that can come with many challenges. The issues vary, and every mom’s ability to manage those issues is different. We can’t expect a mother struggling with post-partum depression to manage a challenging breastfeeding experience the same way a mother without that particular difficulty would. It doesn’t work that way.

To encourage more mothers to breastfeed their kids, we need to have more conversations about the challenges they might face, how they can overcome those obstacles, and how they are still wonderful moms if things don’t work out despite their best effort.

Guilt as a way to convince anyone to do anything rarely works out well. From my experience, encouragement and praise are far more effective and far more appreciated.

If there is anything I can do to help another mom realize that no matter what happens, she’s a great mom simply for doing her best, I will do it.  As moms I think we, including our breasts, of course, could all use a little more support and a lot more celebrating.  Don’t you agree?

Martine Foreman is a mom of two who breastfed her first born exclusively for a year and was also able to breastfeed her second child for almost eight months.  On her lifestyle blog, CandidBelle, Martine shares the ups and downs of her crazy journey as a busy mom of two, wife, and so much more.  A contributor to Black and Married With Kids, Disney Baby and MommyNoire, Martine resides in Maryland with her husband, kids and crazy cat Pepper. Follow Martine on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.

About The Author

#Chocolate Milk

Throughout August, in celebration of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, Diary of a First Time Mom will publish a new nursing story each day, written by 31+ black mom bloggers. DFTM Creator Heather Hopson asked each blogger to submit a personal breastfeeding story, and they immediately emailed their experiences—both good and bad. They wrote about everything from allergies and ignorance to pumping and working. Heather curated this collection to educate other African-American women about breastfeeding. That way, they will be armed with information to make a decision. Heather hopes you will join the movement on Twitter. Follow @dearmomdiary and the participants. You can check the #ChocolateMilk blogger ambassador list! Be sure to tweet using #ChocolateMilk. And don’t forget to share your story by clicking on Breastfeeding→ Lactation Nation on the menu bar above. Meanwhile, let us know in the comment box below why you nursed—or didn’t.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.