Editor’s Note: This post is the first in a series we’re calling “No More Failure Stories.” We know that mom-to-mom support is one of the most important ways we can ensure that other moms continue to breastfeed, despite setbacks and difficulties. We hope that Karaleigh’s story will help you to remember a time when someone helped you get over a hurdle. Whether or not we know it at the time, words of encouragement and support can make the difference between “breastfeeding didn’t work out for us” and “yup, we’re still breastfeeding.” Share your story with us! [email protected]
I knew I wanted to breastfeed from the moment I got pregnant. After all it’s free, it’s an easy postpartum weight loss program, and the benefits for both me and baby are fantastic! But then I began to worry. Would it be easy? Would it hurt? Would I know how to do it? Could my baby really survive on “just” my milk?
These thoughts intensified when I gave birth to a premature baby who was too small and weak to latch on. So I did what I could; I tried and tried again to get her to latch and suck. In the meantime, I spent endless hours with my breast pump. I called lactation consultants, but they were all too busy to return my calls or too booked to see me. It took five weeks of trying before I was able to get my daughter to exclusively breastfeed, but I did it.
Through my experience of breastfeeding I felt that it was very important to encourage and support those who wanted to breastfeed. After my friends delivered their babies, I would always check in to see how they were doing and ask if they had any breastfeeding questions. I periodically sent encouraging emails and fun facts about breastfeeding like how breastfed babies have higher IQ’s!
The first friend I told that I would be her breastfeeding cheerleader was overjoyed. She was very much wanting to breastfeed for at least the first year. Within the first week her pediatrician was encouraging her to supplement with formula. She resisted. I got a frantic email a few days later. She emailed with a screaming baby in her lap saying, “I think I need to use formula, he is hungry and there is nothing left!” Together we problem-solved. First step, deep breath. A screaming baby can rock even the strongest woman’s confidence in her ability to be a mommy.
With formula advertising everywhere, and coupons, samples, doctors, nurses and friends suggesting formula. How do we gain confidence that we CAN feed our babies with breastmilk? We need to team together! We need to call our fellow sisters, aunts, cousins, sorority sisters and friends and make sure they have the support and encouragement that they need to breastfeed. We need to talk openly about our journeys with breastfeeding, our trials, our errors, our successes, and our sleepless nights so that other women know that they are not alone. No women should have to struggle in private to feed their child. No woman should have a breastfeeding question go unanswered. It is our duty as successful breastfeeding mommies to be cheerleaders for our tribe.
Karaleigh Salmi is mother to Ellie (10 months old) and 3 dogs. She has a wonderful, supportive husband who encouraged her through all the challenges of breastfeeding. Ellie and Karaleigh overcame the challenge of Ellie’s premature birth and stay in the NICU, and have been successful at breastfeeding. Karaleigh is a Ph.D. candidate in the field of clinical psychology and a stay at home mom.