Many may know or may not know, but August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month! Ohhh how beautiful Mother Nature can be, right? Breastfeeding/nursing definitely deserves to be an ongoing hot topic. Overtime, nursing has been filled with so many "underserved" social stigmas and barriers, for example: public nursing and being shamed for it! Society seems to have an uneducated handbook on Motherhood, but let me tell you something, you can't please everybody! But I don't want to get too deep right now. I had to get my little vent session out of my system. Why? Well, I'm a mother of three children (currently all teens). And I breastfed each of my beautiful darlings. But the challenges I faced as a nursing mother were nowhere close to being easy, but overall, still a beautiful experience. So I'm taking this opportunity to share my story with you.
I recall breastfeeding my daughters, who are eighteen months apart. My original goal was to combine nursing and bottle feeding but that ended up not being on the agenda of my infant daughters. They definitely ruled my world. Yes, they ruled it LITERALLY! I ended up breastfeeding my girls FULL TIME! Currently, I joke with my children about it saying " I'm the reason you are healthy and ALIVE!!!", and we always laugh because they know how humorous I can get. But nursing my girls was a huge sacrifice on my part. They both stopped taking the bottle all together! Their father and I even tried purchasing different types of bottle nipples (searching for the most natural kinds). But my girls were way too smart! I guess it was my breastmilk that made them brainiacs because hunnayyyyy, they would lose all of their cool when I or their dad tried to give them the bottle. I mean, I only wanted to go to a movie and let my mother babysit for an hour or two! I wasn't asking for much. Each time I tried to have a little me time, my mother would call and tell me "Tulina, Miracle/ or Harmony want their momma's titty...she won't take the bottle", and here I go, having to make a u-turn. Due to that, I had to be a stay-at-home mother for quite a while.
Oh!!! That's not all of it! Don't go out in public or to a doctor's appointment with your shirt drenching from leaking breast milk! Can I say "Oh noooooo!!" ??? I'm not done though....don't let the boobies get engorged or your nipples become super sore! I was truly challenged! I would have to squint my face when I would breastfeed due to my nipples being so sore. But here's the thing about my story, I didn't really have a tribe to teach me or make me aware of what I can do to avoid certain scenarios that I may not have had to experience. Plus, I wasn't nursed by my mother because her life was at risk due to birthing me and had to stay in the hospital for three weeks before she could leave the hospital and carry her new baby girl home. And she truly wanted to be able to nurse me. It was one of her dreams to be a nursing mother! Therefore, I was very committed to doing it for my children and fulfilling what my mother believed in, as well as I believing in nursing too! Nothing was going to change my mind about that, no matter what.
Please don't misperceive my story as something to scare you. I promise I had many hilarious moments as well, for example, I didn't know that your boobs can shoot out milk like a sprinkler system, spraying your infant in the face! Talk about being AMAZED!!! But each mother has their own experience. My story isn't every mother's nursing story. I say that because my intention with sharing my experience is to make aware that being educated about nursing can contribute to having increased knowledge and skills, in which you will be much more prepared than I was. Don't get me wrong, I am so extremely proud of myself and I can look at my beautiful children and tell myself "I DID THAT! YOU GO GIRL!!!". I can add this conclusion to my story, with my son (the youngest of the three), that I was much more expert and it was much smoother! Yay me!!! My daughters definitely prepared me for my baby boy! Trial and error perhaps???
Now, TODAY, I'm a part of a tribe called "Life After Birth Midlands". I'm a part of something that wasn't available to me as a new mother. We can go out into our communities and educate, advocate, while supporting black mothers. Spreading education about breastfeeding is definitely on the list!
Author: Tulina Hall-Chatman
Life After Birth Midlands Vice President