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Breastfeeding Awareness Month – Inspire, Encourage + Normalize

 

 BREASTFEEDING + AWARENESS  + MAMAS + FAMILY + CHILDREN + SELF-LOVE + SELF-CARE + POST-PREGNANCY 

 

Breastfeeding Awareness Month | Inspire, Encourage, Normalize

 
13 August 2020

 

 

Did you know August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month?  Hence the photo of me breastfeeding my son, Bairre. 

One thing is for sure, breastfeeding a toddler is never dull! It’s often comparable to a gymnastic event! Bairre always finds a way to nurse, even if it means exposing me, tearing my clothes off or making deals for more “Bobbie” too!

Breastfeeding. Where do I begin? I have so much to say. It is such a gift that I am so grateful to be able to give my son. I know for many, it may not be an option or some have struggled. I have debated about putting this out there, but then I remembered it’s not about me. I found it important to take ME out of it and write for all those Mamas that might be struggling along their journey, by sharing my story and words of encouragement to all Mamas. Breastfeeding is my greatest accomplishment to date, aside from Bairre and I wanted to share in hopes of inspiring, uplifting,  encouraging others and to help #normalizebreastfeeding.

For me, it was a mission. Something I knew I wanted for my son and something I knew I wanted to share with my sweet babe. A gift I had to give. A feeling of connecting and bonding. That’s not to say I don’t support Mama’s who choose otherwise, but for me, it was what I so wanted to give my son and I still do (yes, he is 3 and still nursing). 

What many don’t know is… We had a rough start. His latch was off and I had to wear a nipple guard in the beginning (something I didn’t even know existed until that moment). I made myself crazy and cried my eyes out for the first week of his life, thanks to the help of a pediatrician we no longer see, because I was made to believe I was starving my son. I was so grateful to find the lactation specialists at Henry Mayo and find out that was in fact the opposite, my flow was great and abundant (especially once we got the hang of it), we just had to master his latch. I had also been afraid to hydrate too much because well… vaginal delivery and going pee, so I think I dehydrated myself. If I had any words of advice on breastfeeding it would be… if you are struggling, ask for help, surround yourself with support and community. It’s normal to struggle when you are first learning to do something, but you are not alone and there is support out there. These women specialize in helping you breastfeed and they are AMAZING. They changed everything for me. My flow has been crazy strong and abundant since. I would also tell you, you are doing great and encourage you to know the amazing mama goddess you are. 

I debated for a while if I should share this photo. Breasts have become so sexualized in our culture, but we were given breasts to be able to feed our young. That is literally why they were created. For a while I struggled with covering up and being appropriate and not making anyone else feel uncomfortable. I remember my first outing with Bairre and being so nervous to be able to feed him in public and how frazzled I felt trying to soothe him, cover up, put the nipple cover on, balance the nursing pillow, eat (before my food got cold, which I still haven’t mastered) and pray no one was staring. I am still respectful of others feelings, but I have lost that fear of a nip slip or a moment where my son wanted to be fed and I was more concerned with covering up and hiding, in fear of judgement or staring. It is a natural and beautiful thing and my little guy always comes first.

Once Bairre and I caught the hang of things, breastfeeding came easily and I so enjoy being able to nurse and nourish him, build his immune system and give him what I feel is best, for us. Breastfeeding is something I was committed to learning and something I have worked hard at and still do in many ways. Toddler nursing is a whole new level of breastfeeding, let me tell you!  

I took this photo in my car, we were on the way to celebrate Bairre for his birthday and we had just finished a Target run, we were running just on time (which is a rarity for us), but he wanted to nurse. I went back and forth in my head and then realized I was in my own car and whoever takes the time to look in my car while I’m nursing, well… it’s on them. 

Here’s the thing… As I stated, I debated posting this photo, but then realized how many I might help who have struggled with nursing or nursing in public or who have felt afraid. If I can help to normalize breastfeeding, then so be it. The fact that women are sexualized and sexualize themselves on a daily basis, but nursing your child is offensive is pretty mind boggling to me. No judgement for women who like to show off their bodies, but then it should be ok for women who are using what God gave them to nourish their babe. The double-standard part is what I don’t agree with. I truly wish there was more education around breastfeeding and it’s importance. I also wish there were more resources available to women who are struggling and want to nurse, but are afraid or don’t know how or know something isn’t right. 

When they sent Bairre and I home from the hospital, he had not nursed, my milk supply was great, but he had not nursed and I was terrified. They were very encouraging and told me this was normal. It was 2 days. 2!!! I literally thought that unicorns and rainbows would appear when I nursed Bairre for the first time, but that’s the part they don’t tell you. There are so many parts they don’t tell you, but that’s a story for another time. The lactation specialist at the hospital was so supportive and sweet and was the one who soothed me and told me to reach out and look for lactation specialists in my area. Best advice EVER. 

I am a pretty private person (even though I am an open book to talk to) and I cover up and try to dress appropriately (whatever that is to you), but the idea that if you need to nurse and would like to alleviate stress and wait time for you and baby, but can’t is inappropriate and pretty crazy. Mamas should be able to make the best choices for them and their babes without being shamed, judged and ridiculed. 

To the Mama struggling right now, you are stronger than you know. God chose you for your babe. You know what’s best for your little one and please always trust your gut. You’ve got this, keep going, surround yourself with love and support and don’t forget to cherish these fleeting moments with your precious gift. 

 

Wishing you so much love and support,

                                                                                                     Erin XO

 

ABOUT ERIN

I graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I learned innovative coaching methods, practical lifestyle management techniques, and over 100 dietary theories – Ayurveda, gluten-free, Paleo, raw, vegan, macrobiotics, and everything in between. My specialty is vegan and gluten-free options and alternatives! 

I studied with the world’s top health and wellness experts including:

  • Joshua Rosenthal, founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition
  • Walter Willett, MD, DrPH, chair of nutrition at Harvard University
  • Andrew Weil, MD, director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine
  • Gabrielle Bernstein, bestselling author and life coach
  • Susan Blum, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine
  • Mark Hyman, MD, founder of The UltraWellness Center
  • Geneen Roth, bestselling author and expert on emotional eating
  • David Wolfe, raw food leader and nutrition expert
  • Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, professor at New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health
  • Mark Bittman, food writer for The New York Times and bestselling author
  • Joel Fuhrman, MD, family physician and leading expert on nutritional healing

I practice a holistic approach to health and wellness, which means that I look at how all areas of your life are connected. Does stress at your job or in your relationship(s) cause you to overeat? Does lack of sleep or low energy prevent you from exercising? As we work together, we will look at how all parts of your life affect your health as a whole.

I work with my clients to get in touch with their body’s needs because I understand that life happens and your needs will change. I want to equip you with the self-awareness to make the best decisions for yourself in any given circumstance. I believe each person is fully capable of making well-informed decisions as their own expert, not the latest magazine article or fad diet book.

Let’s define what you value most from your well-being. We’ll use these visions to motivate specific goals that bring you closer to where you want to be. As your coach, I will not dictate a diet for you, but together we will explore why some foods make you feel better than others and how to strategically use that feedback. Together we’ll co-create your health goals within reasonable time frames and actionable objectives so you know exactly what you’re working toward.