Kelly Holmes knows the value of perseverance and a solid support system. She joined the Breastfeed Chicago Facebook page after the birth of her son Kellan in April of 2013. She and her husband Montez were already parenting her older stepson Jaren, but breastfeeding was new to Kelly.
Kelly often experienced back pain due to the size of her breasts. She chose not to have breast reduction surgery before having children because she was determined to breastfeed and knew that a reduction surgery could put her milk supply in jeopardy. Kelly nursed Kellan from the very beginning.
“And boy, was it hard!” she recalled. “He was latching, but my milk had not come in yet, and I was forced to supplement in the hospital after he lost too much weight,” Kelly said.
Kelly continued to supplement for the first month while she worked with the support of a lactation consultant to boost her supply. By the second month of Kellan’s life, Kelly was exclusively breastfeeding. She discovered he had acid reflux, so she removed dairy from her diet and saw a huge improvement in his symptoms. But like all breastfeeding parents know, every person’s journey has its ongoing share of triumphs and challenges!
Pumping at work was a struggle, but with dedication, Kelly made it past her goal of nursing for six months with “an output that literally had me pumping just enough to feed him at daycare the next day.” Kelly and Kellan continued their breastfeeding journey through lots of new teeth and three more birthdays! Kelly also experienced two miscarriages before becoming pregnant with her last child, Lincoln. “I literally nursed Kellan until the night before I went into labor with Lincoln. Kellan was just shy of three years and five months old when we ended our journey.”
“We applaud Kelly’s determination and perseverance to breastfeed,” said Christel Diamond, a moderator of the Breastfeed Chicago Facebook group and an international board certified lactation consultant. “Kelly’s story is such a great reminder that many of us have a hurdle (or two or three), but that with support from loved ones, other breastfeeding moms, and a lactation professional, you can do it!” Diamond said.
Her experience nursing Lincoln was very different than her journey with Kellan. “I felt like a pro, but faced different issues. Instead of struggling with supply, I had an oversupply,” Kelly said. She felt stuck in a “vicious cycle” of pumping just enough to relieve the pressure from constant engorgement, but not enough to create a demand for more milk. “My son had issues dealing with the flow, on top of his acid reflux, but we were able to manage,” she said.
I chose to give to Breastfeed Chicago because I think the support they offer women is priceless.
I chose to give to Breastfeed Chicago because I think the support they offer women is priceless.— Kelly Holmes
“I chose to give to Breastfeed Chicago because I think the support they offer is women is priceless,” Kelly said. “I probably would have given up with my older son had it not been for support I received from other breastfeeding moms. Everyone is so helpful and supportive,” Kelly said.
“When members of the group give back through a donation like Kelly has, it tells us that the group is working, that we have value. It makes everything we do worth it,” says Katrina Pavlik, founder and board chair of Breastfeed Chicago.
Support and generosity aren’t new to Kelly. The silver lining of Kelly’s oversupply with her youngest son was her ability to milk-share. “My nephew was born five weeks after Lincoln, and I was able to provide some breast milk for him, as my sister struggles with production and was supplementing.”
“Motherhood has always included giving forward, making sure the next mom down the line has a slightly easier time,” shared Pavlik. “When members give to Breastfeed Chicago, they are helping both strangers and neighbors—parents who just want to feed their babies and need a little extra boost.”
Kelly continues to offer words of wisdom to other breastfeeding parents, and her experience nursing two children has given her insight into the kinds of support that other parents deserve.
“Everyone has their own journey,” Kelly said about breastfeeding. “The experience of another mom could be completely different than your own. Your breastfeeding journey with one child could be completely different than another child you have. Surround yourself with people who support you, including your medical providers, and try to block out the negative, especially if they are loved ones,” Kelly suggested.
“Take in the information and use what works best for you,” Kelly said. “Do what works for you and your child.”
Motherhood has always included giving forward [so] the next mom down the line has a slightly easier time.— Katrina Pavlik
Breastfeed Chicago envisions a Chicago where all parents know the benefits of breastfeeding and get the support they need to successfully breastfeed their children for as long as they wish. We do this by connecting people with the information and resources they need, by advocating for breastfeeding-friendly practices by businesses, employers, hospitals and health care providers, and by using our influence as breastfeeding parents to normalize breastfeeding in our communities.
With the continued support of individuals, partners, and businesses throughout Chicago, Breastfeed Chicago will move forward supporting even more breastfeeding parents and building a truly breastfeeding-friendly Chicago.
Donate here to help us achieve our goals – and be sure to share your support with others to help grow our community!