What does the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project mean to me? Click here for a short video about why this is so important to me, and one of my favorite moments captured ever.
This is my 5th year participating in the PBAP and I’m excited to show you what we’ve been working on! Here are my favorites from this year, along with the powerful words from each mama. Take a moment to connect with them. I would love it if you shared your own breastfeeding story in the comments.
“PBAP is important to me because the normalization of breastfeeding in society is important. Women should not feel fear, shame, or the need to hide when giving their babies the best food and nutrients possible. Such a natural act of love should be celebrated.
When I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to nurse. My son was born 4 weeks premature (on New Year’s Day!) and I feared I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed him, but with help from the hospital lactation coach, I was able to produce milk and did not need to supplement with formula when we got home. It was very challenging nursing my son so frequently and without much sleep in the beginning. I also fought through two bouts of low supply due to illness and to a reaction to hormonal birth control, which I promptly ceased taking. We pushed through, I got my supply back, and my son has been growing and thriving ever since. I’m so happy that I can nurse my son and hope to keep nursing him for at least his first year.” – Nasstassja A.
“It has been a great journey overall. We started off with a tongue tie so I had a lot of pain in the beginning but pushed through. I’m also a working mom and pump, in my car, to maintain our breastfeeding relationship.” – Joy W.
“I was unable to breastfeed my first daughter but I have been fortunate enough that I can breastfeed my youngest daughter. Because of this, I want the most natural thing a mother can do for her child to be seen as a normal social image. I want all women to feel comfortable feeding their children in public. Women should not feel like they have to hide in a restroom or dressing room while feeding a child. They also should not feel obligated to use a cover. Most adults wouldn’t like eating with their heads covered and neither does my daughter.
Due to excess fluid from IVs settling in my breasts after delivery, I was unable to nurse my oldest daughter right away. This resulted in her early exposure to breastmilk in a bottle which, let’s face it, is much easier for a baby to drink. Even after many visits to see lactation counselors, she refused to nurse and so I pumped for 7 months. With my youngest daughter, I had no issues after delivery and was able to nurse her right away. She has taken to breastfeeding with ease. Since returning to work, I pump during work hours and I nurse her before and after work.” – Kelly W.
“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Despite all odds, I was able to successfully nurse our 10-month-old baby, in addition to supplying 90 ounces per week for her father to feed during their visits. Attorneys, judges, friends and family all urged me to supplement. They begged for me to “just stop stressing over breastmilk.” I ate enough oatmeal to feed an army, drank bottled water by the case, attended La Leche support groups and sacrificed on an hourly basis to provide our daughter with the nourishment she needed. Although both parents had rights to spend time with her I gave a herculean effort to ensure our daughter would enjoy her right to breastfeed. I hope at least one mom can benefit from our story and have faith and hope that all things are made possible with a mothers unconditional love.” – Jamie W.
“As a breastfeeding mom it baffles me how challenging it is to find comfortable places to feed my baby when we are out. I’ve resorted to my car, a toilet, dressing rooms, even an alleyway. I’ve gotten stares from men in suits when nursing my son at lunch, while covered up. It shouldn’t be uncomfortable to feed your baby!
It started off rough. Like, callused, bleeding, cringing it hurt so bad. I saw a lactation consultant who corrected his latch and it’s been smooth sailing ever since! I am proud that I powered through and didn’t give up. I love being able to provide for my son in such a natural way.” – Alicia T.
“This is my second little. My first I had to exclusively pump for because no one found her lip tie until 4 months and she couldn’t latch. I pumped for 13 months and it was the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. This time around I knew what to look for and was able to get the breastfeeding experience I was hoping for and I want to celebrate that and show how beautiful it is.
This time around it has been fantastic and makes me feel so blessed. When you have a hard experience the first time around you are humbled and truly find the joy in it when it works right the second time around.” – Amber M.
“Breastfeeding wasn’t a “beautiful” journey for us – in fact, there were times where it was horrible. My son had latch issues, he didn’t transfer well, had tongue ties, reflux, and food allergies. But it was also one of my favorite things about being a new mom and I was determined to make it work. Because of all of these complications, my breastfeeding journey has required a LOT of pumping. While that was sometimes difficult, it’s been amazing too. It allows my husband (who has been paramount to our breastfeeding journey!) to play a huge role. Also, I am lucky enough to be able to pump enough for my son, as well as to donate, and at 13 months, we are still going strong with our morning nursing sessions AND my son gets breastmilk all day and will for quite some time! As I’ve weaned off of the pump, I have 800 oz in my freezer that will help us navigate the world of allergies for a few more months and continue to help feed other local babies too. While our journey hasn’t been picture perfect, it was ours and I wouldn’t change it for anything!” – Stevie M.
“Motherhood and breastfeeding is a beautiful experience but sometimes I feel like people don’t support motherhood and especially not breastfeeding mothers. I have known many mothers who secretly confide in me that they were still breastfeeding, as if it was something to be ashamed of. Science even supports breastfeeding; the World Health Organization says breastfeeding should be a part of a child’s life for “up to 2 years and beyond.” I want to normalize breastfeeding so that women don’t have to be ashamed of their breastfeeding journey no matter how short or long it is. I still remember the first time I saw someone breastfeed in public, I was a teen, I was SOOO uncomfortable and I thought, “why is she in public doing that.” Motherhood is hard enough without people expressing verbally or non verbally these ideas. I hope we will have normalized breastfeeding by the time my nieces and my daughter become a mother.
Both my first and second child had trouble gaining weight the first few days of life. It was stressful! The doctors kept suggesting supplementing but I was worried it was a slippery slope to me not successfully breastfeeding. But once I got the hang of it, it was sooo easy. Remembering to bring all the stuff you need for a baby and then a toddler, IS hard. It is hard to know how long outings will take. But it is nice that I can always offer a snack to my child. because I still breastfeed, I can never forget to bring a snack that he always enjoys. ” – Lisa W.
“I want people to see breastfeeding as normal, as normal as an adult with a water bottle or cup of coffee. I want people to see it’s beauty, to see a goal achieved, to see confidence. Breastfeeding is not always beautiful. My lovely breastfeeding journey turned almost bitter after my second was born. Tandem isn’t always easy and hormones don’t work in your favor; not all the time. I want other women to know that’s okay and that there’s support out there.
Before I had my children, I knew my sister had fed and pumped for hers but, I don’t recall ever seeing another woman breastfeed. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s just not that big of a deal and I never noticed or, if I really never saw it.” – Katie K.
“I’d like to say I knew from the beginning that I would breastfeed my kids, but that wasn’t the case, at least not the first time. In fact, I hadn’t really given much thought about how I would feed my children. After having my first child and placing him for adoption, whatever idea I had would be changed. I pumped milk for him initially, but my c-section ended up infected. Due to the medication I was taking, I was told I would have to “pump and dump”. While I did that for a period of time, it wasn’t working out. Whether the stress from the adoption, full-time college student, full-time employee, whatever reason …my body wasn’t producing enough. I stopped.
Years later when I started dreaming about my hypothetical children, I knew I didn’t want a repeat of before. It was going to be formula from the start. And I don’t regret that decision. However, two years later when my third child was born I felt that I missed out on this amazing thing – breastfeeding. I heard these amazing experiences, this sense of bonding, a connection, a moment between mother and child. But there’s the other stories that people share – bloody nipples, the pain, the horror! I said I would give it one day at a time. I never set a goal for how long. Just day by day, I woke up and nursed.
However, my daughter had medical complications. At 12 weeks gestation, we were told she would be born with a congenital heart defect and require a series of three open heart surgeries. At four months old my daughter had her first heart surgery. Complications came from the surgery. She was diagnosed with chylothorax. She was leaking from a lymphoid. This caused her to not gain weight. She was literally leaking all the day/calories from my milk. While she was inpatient at the hospital for almost four months, doctors tried a series of non-fat formulas, skimming my breastmilk, and TPN (IV nutrients only). I was hopeful that one day she would return to a full-fat diet or better yet, my breast.
We met with lactation specialists, feeding specialists, and occupational therapists (to rule out oral aversions). My daughter refused my breast, the bottle, the spoon, syringes…anything that got near her mouth. Sadly, she never returned to my breast. However, over the course of our four month hospital stay, I was able to pump over 5,000 ounces!! Each day brought a new struggle, a new fear, a new-could be normal; oxygen levels dropping, blood clots – talk of amputating her leg, another open heart surgery, cardiac catheterizations, seizures, brain bleeds, heart transplant, and developmental delays – pumping was my way of helping, while feeling so helpless.
I was able to provide expressed milk to her through her g-tube until she was 3.5 years old. However, I couldn’t help but feel the sting that I missed out on actually “breast” feeding. I struggled to let go and know that I did the best I could with the situation before me.
So when I found out I was expecting again, I knew I was going to breast feed. I felt like I had a second (third?) chance to breast feed my child. This experience has been different than the other children – just like every child is different.
My youngest is just over 9 months old. I don’t hold the record for the longest breast fed child, or nursing tandem (WTG, mamas!), or nursing in public the most…that’s not my goal. But I do want what’s best for me, my child, and my family. And right now that’s taking things day by day and breast feeding along the way.” – Carly K.
“Sharing love and support for other families. I don’t know how to mother with out “mothering at the breast”.” – Rachel B.
It’s never “too late” to join in on the PBAP. I book these shoots year round and would love to meet you and tell your story.
Want to see more from the 2018 PBAP? Please click here to take a look at Caitlin’s work from Earth Mother Photography in Jersey Shore.