Each week, we feature a different Colorado mom and her nursling. By showing these images, we hope to celebrate and normalize breastfeeding. By sharing the words of real mothers with real struggles, we hope to encourage other women who want to breastfeed their children.
Name and age of your nursling?
Gus- 18 months
What does breastfeeding mean to you?
Breastfeeding to me is comfort, connection, a moment where me and my active toddler slow down and enjoy time together.
What has been your biggest breastfeeding challenge?
Gus and I have a hurdle that I am so proud that we were able to clear. Gus was hospitalized when he was 6 months old with infant botulism, a rare and life-threatening disease that attacks the muscles of the body. The first signs we had were constipation, a decreased suck and lack of facial expression. My supply was very low after several days of Gus attempting to nurse and transferring very little breastmilk. Over the two week course of his hospitalization, he was fed by NG (feeding) tube and received my breastmilk, as well as the milk of some very dear friends when I could not pump more than a half ounce at a time. I was told by a very kind pediatrician that it was okay if I didn’t exclusively breastfeed, that maybe I was working too hard and causing myself too much stress as I tried to bring my milk supply up. I’m proud to say that with the support of lactation consultant Cathy Janoka, I used herbs and the pump to rebuild my milk supply in the hospital and in the months afterward. I was able to get back to exclusive breastfeeding by 8 months, which is when Gus had regained his strength and we were able to start solid foods.
What do you love most about breastfeeding?
I love the ease and portability of breastfeeding. Those first few weeks can be very taxing and difficult, with latching and engorgement making things tricky for many moms, but after that it is just so very easy. It never ceases to amaze me that my body makes food that is the perfect temperature and nutritional composition for my baby.
Who (or what) has offered you support in your journey?
My husband has always supported me and encouraged me to meet my children’s needs as I breastfed my 5 year old daughter and Gus. I had friends who brought me BAGS of delicious, nourishing food, who encouraged me and came to sat with me in Gus's hospital room when I was pumping around the clock. My La Leche League leader and friend Laura Tefertiller encouraged me to remember that pumping was a learned skill, and that my body had to learn to respond well to it. Cathy Janoka told me that I WOULD be able to continue breastfeeding, even when I was at my lowest levels of despair over my supply. I am forever grateful to my dear friends who smuggled their breastmilk to me in the hospital, and those who continued to generously supply me with pumped milk when we had returned home from the hospital.
Any other advice for moms who want to breastfeed?
Your body can do this! Breastfeeding is an amazing act of love and nourishment to your child. Whether you breastfeed for 1 week or 4 years, you are giving your baby, and yourself, an incredible gift.