World Breastfeeding Week | Alaska Mommas
The first week of August is celebrated around the world as World Breastfeeding Week, and the United States Breastfeeding Committee has declared the month of August National Breastfeeding Month. Over the course of the last week I have been approached one question about these campaigns. Why do we need a breastfeeding month or week anyway? Haven’t we made a lot of progress already? Good questions. At first look it may seam like everything is going well in the world of motherhood in regards to nursing. I can validate that the amount of support I received grew immensely between my first child and second child. However, I still hear so many stories of difficulty among mommy groups and the local La Leche League. It isn’t always easy to nurse a baby, and when the support isn’t there to help you it can be frustrating. When you’re struggling for a good latch and feel pressured to wear a cover at the park, it can make achieving that latch even more difficult. So we have a World Breastfeeding Week and a National Breastfeeding Month, because moms just need support.
I had the honor of celebrating Breastfeeding Week with a group of Alaskan moms, who are all at different stages of breastfeeding their babies. There were first time moms and veteran moms, moms of singletons and moms of twins, moms of infants and moms of toddlers, all feeding their babies and sharing support. Here are their stories:
Lilyana is 4.5 months old and was only 5 lbs 3oz at birth. Our breastfeeding journey has been difficult with many complications. Lilyana was very weak in the beginning and would fall asleep while nursing. We had to struggle to get her to eat enough as nursing is more work than a bottle. I’ve had mastitis twice from her being too tired to empty my breast. At 4 months Lilyana became dehydrated and we began supplementing with my pumped milk in the freezer. Lilyana refused to take it and we learned about high lipase. My friend, Amanda, has been amazing and given us 100’s of ounces of breast milk to supplement with. We are still trying to up my supply but am feeling like our breastfeeding journey is coming to an end. It has been heart breaking for me. My husband and friend have been so supportive and understanding. My favorite part about breastfeeding is the bond. Looking down and seeing myself in my daughter’s eyes. The picture you took brings me to tears as that is exactly what I will miss the most when this is all over. ~ Michaella
My twin boys are six weeks old. It has been very challenging being able to breastfeed both of them. My older twin, Lincoln, had a defect and was not able to latch or have a strong reflex when he was born. He was bottle fed until he had a procedure done to correct it and now is able to breastfeed. My pregnancy with them was very challenging, and their delivery left me with a fractured spine that I’m still waiting to have surgery for. Going to see a lactation consultant at the maternity center to help with feeding advice helped us a lot, even though I breastfed my older two boys as well. My favorite thing about still being able to breastfeed them is the bonding time we have together and watching each baby develop and grow in their own way. Having multiples has been an incredible experience we were definitely not prepared for. Being able to meet with groups of other moms has been the biggest blessing for us with all of their parenting experiences to learn from. ~ Anna
Emily is 9 months and not so much any challenges for the two of us. However, I have had 3 children in 4 years so I have been breastfeeding non stop. At one time I was breastfeeding 2 babies. I absolutely love nursing her because of how excited she gets when she knows it’s time!!! ~ Angela
I’ve had a very easy time Breastfeeding Reid the past 16+ months! We never had any medical issues and he learned to latch comfortably right from the start. I DESPISE pumping so I didn’t do it much and was never away from him long enough for him to need someone else to bottle feed him. I think he had formula 3-4 times, but other than that he’s been 100% boobie baby. I love the cuddle time and the quiet moments where I can sit and kiss and smell him. It’s especially meaningful now that he’s super mobile and into all his toddler shenanigans. I don’t want to stop! Reid didn’t get his first teeth until 10 months. He still only has 6 teeth and no molars so he doesn’t eat that much real food. I’m feeling guilty wanting to wean so we can have another crack at fertility treatments when he is getting a lot of his nutritional needs from me still. I’m also kinda lazy so it’s easier to nurse him than fight with him to eat something! I pull down my top and dinner is served! Anytime, anyplace! ~ Ashley
Kyla is 10 months old. She has always taken to the breast easily. Early on we did have some issues with her latch because my let down was really strong and she would drown herself while trying to eat. Luckily after a couple months my let down got a little lighter and things got easier. I have considered myself lucky in the fact that both of my kids were naturals at breast-feeding and they LOVE to eat. My favorite part of breastfeeding is that special quiet time with your little one that goes by way too fast! ~ Jillian
This shoot was so special to me. My own little one is weaning, and it hasn’t been easy to always say no to those gentle toddler cuddles. While I never expected to be nursing a toddler, my first child having self weaned at 11-months, it’s been a really great blessing in our hectic life with two kids. I wouldn’t change the path for anything. Getting together with these women showed me that it’s really okay to hold onto this stage. It’s okay to not let go until they’re ready. It’s also okay to not give up the midday feed just yet, so we don’t drop nap time too soon. Amen, amen, amen to quiet time! Thank you ladies, for celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with me and sharing this beautiful bond. No matter how long your baby nurses or how many hurdles you jump over for them, you are doing an amazing job as their mothers.
Sarah Beth Chamberlain
Baby Photographer | Eagle River, Alaska