Talking Breastfeeding with Some Mom Friends

Tell us a little about yourself :

My name is Carolina, and I live in Piedmont, SC near Greenville. I have a two year old son named Richard and am expecting a baby girl in September. I breastfed Richard until he was 22 months old, 4 months into my pregnancy. 

Hi, my name is Ashley Kirby. I’m a mom of 3: Ben 7, Keylee 4, and Lucy 2. They are my world. I’m from Boiling Springs, SC and I enjoy photography, fitness and coffee. I breastfed each of my babies. Ben was breastfed until he was 18 months, Keylee until she was 2. and Lucy until right before her first birthday.

My name is Lora. I live in Simpsonville, SC. I have an 11 month old.

My name is Jennie. I am mom to Brooks and live in Mooresville, NC. I enjoy being outdoors, coffee, and going on adventures! I am still currently breastfeeding Brooks!

I’m Chloe, mom to Lucian. We live in upstate SC. He is one and still breastfeeding.

Tells us a bit about your breastfeeding journey:

It’s really hard to keep this brief because breastfeeding has meant so much to me. It took us a little over 2 months to figure out and establish a good supply and latch. When it came time to introduce solids, Richard was unable to progress and didn’t have the mechanics to swallow food. It took him being classified multiple times as failure to thrive, countless specialist visits, early intervention, occupational therapy, and EIGHT MONTHS for us to finally get a diagnosis of silent reflux. Because of damage to his esophagus and enlargement of his adenoids, Richard was having to choose between eating or breathing. Luckily, we were able to maintain an incredible breastfeeding relationship throughout all of this and avoid serious interventions like feeding tubes. 

Breastfeeding came natural for me. Well, truth be told, it came natural for Ben. It was painful the first few weeks but Ben came out ready to eat and latched on without any help the first time he was placed in my arms. He refused a bottle and ate every 2 hours for many months. At one point, I feared my milk was drying out but we stuck around the house and nursed around the clock for 2 days and it came back. Keylee needed a little coaching to latch on the first time but she got it. She nursed for 2 years without any trouble or problems.Lucy also would not take a bottle or a pacifier. I was her pacifier which sometimes became painful. I experienced mastitis and clogged milk ducts with her around a year old. We got through it and continued to nurse for another year!

I have been breastfeeding for almost 9 months, it has been an awesome experience. I never thought of myself as someone who would breastfeed when I thought about having kids but after researching and seeing all the amazing benefits for both him and myself it was a no brainer for me as long as we were able to successfully breastfeed. He latched so well without help when he was born and we have been going strong since!

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, people started asking if I would breastfeed. I always said “I would love to, if I am able to.” And I feel so lucky to have been able to not only breast feed but meet (and now pass) my one year goal! It was not always easy, but I am so glad I stuck with it!

What did you find most difficult part of your breastfeeding journey?

Off and on supply issues were so difficult to get through, but I’m so glad I never gave up. 

The hardest part for me was when Ben was forced to stop. He did not want to give it up. When he stopped breastfeeding I became painfully engorged. It hurt to take a shower or even lift my arm above my head.

Baby boy would get SO easily distracted to the point he wouldn’t eat, so I would have to literally drop everything I was doing (socializing or even just watching tv) to step away and seclude myself. I am SO thankful that I was/am able to BF, but I also feel like I did miss out on that time with friends/family or just relaxation time for myself.

The most difficult part for me was the first 2-3 weeks. I can remember crying to my husband (I do not do well asking for help) telling him I had to find and go to a support group because I was in so much pain. The day I went to support group was a holiday and they did not have it. Luckily for me that was the worse of it, I had great friends that had gone before me that were able to give me pointers to help and it began to get better!

About a week or two in, my nipples started cracking and bleeding. I thought for sure I would quit! But, the local Lactation Hotline quickly became my “breast friend” and got me through it! I also had a lanolin allergy. Also, I really did not enjoy pumping! I did it, but I always dreaded it!

What was your favorite thing about breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding saved my son’s life in so many ways. Multiple doctors and specialists said if it hadn’t been for breastfeeding, they would have had to put Richard on a feeding tube. 

My favorite part about breastfeeding was bonding with my little ones. That one on one time with them, rocking them , and loving on them while they nursed created a stronger bond in my opinion.

Baby snuggles and close ups of the little smiles and giggles! Also, just knowing I am giving him some of the best nutrients he can get. We are so grateful to be able to BF because of this.

My favorite part has been those sleepy smiles that come in the hard moments that can feel like you are alone on this journey in the middle of the night.

Hands down, the bond! I really appreciate the sweet time I get to spend looking down at my little guy.

Advice for first time moms?

Find a good support system and give yourself time and grace. I loved being able to attend a breastfeeding support group led by RN IBCLCs and the resource Legendairy Milk. 

Don’t give up in the first month. It may be hard work at first but it quickly becomes the easy method.

Let baby tell you what he/she needs. They self regulate better than you think! I needed to remind myself of this so I wouldn’t stress so much over following a strict schedule.

When the going gets tough and you hit a wall, keep going! Do not give up! It will get better!

Do not be afraid or embarrassed to lean hard on your local lactation specialists. I literally called every day one week. There was even a time when they called to check on me! They are there because they are passionate about helping you to be successful! And because they know it is not always easy! Also, I never stored an ounce of milk. I felt a lot of pressure at the beginning to have the kind of stash where I needed to buy a second freezer. But I could never get ahead and felt really discouraged. Then one day I woke up and realized, my body is giving my son exactly what he needs and I should trust it to do that instead of being upset. So, I never froze and ounce. And, luckily, I never needed an ounce.

Must haves for breastfeeding?

I wish I had the Haaka from the beginning, but I didn’t discover it until a couple months in! 

I suggest a hand pump just in case you need it to unclog or if you get engorged.

Boppy pillow was very helpful for me, though some prefer just to use pillows that already have lying around. When feeding in bed, I liked having the Boppy so I could still have my pillows as I like them for comfort. 

Nursing Bras and/or tanks, it makes breastfeeding especially when out and about much easier and more discreet.

Coconut oil, hands free pumping bra and Gatorade or Body Armor!

What did weaning look like for you?

It’s funny because I wasn’t planning to wean at all. Richard just decided one day that he was finished breastfeeding! 

With Ben, painful. It was an abrupt ending. I remember his last time breastfeeding. He was getting older and I had allowed other people’s opinions of when a child needed to stop breastfeeding to bother me. He was just over 18 months and he was smart enough to understand me saying this is the last time you will get mommy milk. He spent about a week asking for it but he quickly moved on to normal milk. He would get a big cup every night and still crawled into my lap and drank it while I rocked and read to him. I remember being so worried that he wouldn’t want to snuggle with me after the milk was gone. I was wrong. My sweet boy still cuddled with me every night!

With Keylee it was different. She had just turned 2 and she was slowly giving it up on her own when I became pregnant with Lucy. The morning sickness became all day sickness and I don’t think she was getting much of anything. One night when I was so sick and just out of energy, I explained to Keylee that her baby sister needed the mommy milk on the inside. I was referring to nutrition but of course milk was the only way she was going to understand what I was saying. She responded by kissing my tummy and saying “Ok! She can have it.” Then she bounced on out of the room happily. There was never any pain or discomfort.

With my sweet little Lucy it was painful, once again. Lucy was slowing giving it up before the quarantine. She would spend the night at her grandparents house and not need the milk. When she saw me she would demand it. It became a pacifier for her. She would fall asleep nursing and never let it go. She recently started Chewing on it after she was asleep. A while back she caused me to bleed when she fell asleep and started chewing then pulled her head back while doing so. It was painful. She woke up to me checking it and putting a bandaid on it. I explained to her that it may be time to give up the mommy milk since she chews/ grinds her teeth in her sleep. I showed her my booboo and told her that I love her very much but it hurts. She was sad. She wanted to give kisses and find more bandaids to help make it feel better.This was extremely emotional for me. I knew that it meant all the nursing snuggles would be over and I was closing that chapter of our life. Lucy is our last baby for sure. It was also emotional for her. It was clear that she was sad she hurt me. She was already starting to give it up on her own but she did not want to give up that bedtime nursing. It took 3 rough nights of her asking for it at bed time and 2 weeks of being uncomfortably engorged before we were better.Now she plays with my hair at bedtime while I read to her. She also still cuddles and loves on me. She has told several family members and friends that her mommy milk went bye bye because it got a booboo. 🤣

I will find out soon! It is so bittersweet to think about, and I will miss it, but I am also excited.

We have started our journey to solid foods but are still breastfeeding and hoping to make it at least to 1 year and possibly further it depends on how our journey continues. 

We planned to begin to wean at one. However, after quitting my job and with self-quarantining, we have decided to continue for now. Maybe he will wean himself when he is ready? Or I think I will just know when it feels like time?

Did you run into any hurdles while breastfeeding?

So many! Low supply, latch issues, baby weight gain issues, baby refusing to take a bottle after a certain point and having to be brought to me at work to breastfeed! It was just so important to me to succeed in my breastfeeding journey and I really hope I can encourage people with my story. 

Yes, clogged milk ducts several times with Lucy and mastitis once with Lucy. The clogged milk ducts were sore but it felt better as soon as it was unclogged. I used a hand pump for hours till it unclogged. The mastitis was awful. I knew I had a clogged milk duct. I pumped it and some of it came out. The rest did not but I was unaware because the knot moved closer to the nipple and got stuck again. It quickly turned into mastitis. I spent the nights at the ER in pain and trying to get help getting it out. An antibiotic and draining it solved the problem. It was painful but the doctor was amazing. She understood that I didn’t want to wean my baby yet and she didn’t push me to. She found an antibiotic that wouldn’t hurt Lucy and sent me on my way.

Along with having to step away from anything and everyone, also getting those around me to understand that when he would eat without me having to step away, that we couldn’t have things be as loud/active as normal. I can’t ask people to quiet down just so my baby could eat. That’s not fair. It was just hard not having people understand how much I appreciated/needed the time to still be included while feeding my baby when he would let it happen.

Another thing was being talked down to for being late to things because I was feeding my baby before going. Since I appreciated the time we get to go out/be with friends and family, it was more logical for me to feed him ahead of time. Then I wouldn’t worry about it when we got there, and I could actually participate in whatever it is we were going to do with friends and family. I could never fully communicate this because I could never find the right words, so it would end up being a disagreement for no good reason. Don’t get me wrong, my significant other is AMAZING, just one of the hurdles we had to get around.

The beginning of our journey as we were both learning (me mostly) and the pain early on.

The cracked, bleeding nipples, and we both had thrush at one point.

Who was most helpful on your breastfeeding journey?

The IBCLC’s (especially Lauren Van Pelt) through Prisma Health in Greenville were amazing. I don’t think I could’ve done it without their weekly support group. 

My husband was extremely supportive and I had supportive friends that also breastfed. It was nice having them to turn to when there was trouble and when I had questions. Also, a lady I do photos for was extremely helpful. She is a lactation consultant and nursed all of her babies. When I couldn’t find the help I needed or knowledge about things like clogged milk ducts, she was there with answers.

My significant other, who would burp/change after feeds when he could so I could relax or get ready for the day.

My husband for sure. He helped early on making sure I had water, protein shakes, snacks, whatever I needed. He was also very supportive and encouraging especially during those difficult times.

LACTATION HOTLINE!! I seriously cannot say it enough. I absolutely would not have succeeded in my breastfeeding journey if it were not for the local lactation specialists. Please, use the resources offered to you!! Of course, my husband is a rockstar and always brought me my drinks, cut my food and encouraged me when I needed him to!

What was your comfort level with breastfeeding in public? Did it change over time?

I was very comfortable breastfeeding in public and never got a single negative comment from anyone in almost two years! I know this isn’t the same for everyone. My motto (and planned snarky comeback just in case) was, “I wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about what breasts are for.” 

With my first born I was out of my comfort level with breastfeeding in public. I would do it in the car or bathroom. At home I didn’t mind breastfeeding in front of my husband or female friends. With my 2nd, I wouldn’t breastfeed out in public unless I had to. I would use a cover if I was forced to feed out in public. I usually went to the car. I refused to ever feed her in a bathroom. With age comes wisdom. No one should feel like that is the place to feed their baby. With my 3rd baby I would nurse anywhere with a cover and in front of whoever was around. A few times I nursed her without it because I didn’t have one with me at the time. I learned to be discreet. I fed her several times in the wrap and people didn’t know with the help of nursing shirts. I would never want to make someone uncomfortable but I also refused to feel bad or ashamed for it.

Totally comfortable. I would cover up in certain places just to help baby not be so distracted, so he would actually eat. But otherwise, we just go for it because it’s much more comfortable. He hates being covered, and it just gets too hot for both of us!

I did not think I would be comfortable at all before having Brooks but once he was here and we were on our way with breastfeeding, I began to see it as he has to eat. I used a cover early on most of the time but now will pretty much breastfeed him anywhere without a cover I have learned how to be much more discreet.

I am not easily embarrassed or overly modest. I had always planned to cover up to make everyone else more comfortable. And, I did try to read the room and decide if a cover was necessary. I have never felt uncomfortable. I did use a cover more early on, and now rarely will.

Can you share a breastfeeding story that stands out to you?

When Richard was about 9 months old, he started pounding on his chest and making Tarzan noises to show he wanted to breastfeed. It was so funny! Also very cute when he started saying “booby.” 

We were at a tailgate (outside, under a tent, behind a truck, surrounded by thousands others with the same set up, the whole shabang), and I went to feed my baby. I wasn’t covered for many reasons, but mostly for comfort (too hot otherwise, and because I am just open to publicly breastfeeding). I fully believe in public breastfeeding, but if that is not what you are comfortable with, then by all means, don’t do it! Anyway, my mom was with us, visiting from out of state. I noticed whenever people would walk by the tent, she would shift herself as if to block their view of us, but specifically with younger kids. I asked her what she was doing, and her response was along the lines of “trying to keep kids from seeing your breasts.” Part of me was annoyed, part of me just wanted to laugh. My significant other had the same response. My mom did not breastfeed, so I understand her being hesitant about my breasts being out. We just had to explain our stance on it, that I am just feeding my child, not having my breast out for no reason, and that if I was worried about people seeing, that I would cover myself up. If kids see, if adults see, then they’re seeing a mother nurturing her child, and that’s it. And if someone dares say something, it’s a moment to educate someone. 

One of the first times we went out to eat after Brooks was born I was feeding him under the cover and a waitress came and placed her hand on my shoulder. Immediately all I could think was Oh NO! I am exposed and my husband did not tell me! She was only telling me how proud she was of me for breastfeeding in public because she was not comfortable with her little one to do that. I told her thank you so much and after she walked away told my husband what I thought was happening we both busted out laughing!

Lucian was born early and I lost a lot of blood during labor. So, the lactation specialists thought my supply may be late coming in. I began pumping as soon as I got to the mom and baby room. I was nervous at first, but looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. My husband got to help teach our teeny tiny boy to eat using the smallest syringe full of colostrum and his finger. I loved getting to share the bond with him in those early days!

2 thoughts on “Talking Breastfeeding with Some Mom Friends

    1. Not specifically in the journey section. Neither we nor our guest writers used pumping as a majority of their feeding experience, but we are impressed with and supportive of people who do! Pumping is mentioned as it applies throughout the post to us as individuals. We appreciate the feedback and we will be sure to find that perspective for future Breastfeeding posts?

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