Every time I see an article about breastfeeding, I see the following statement (or something similar), “Breastfeeding is hard.” Every article seems to bemoan all the challenges of breastfeeding and make it seem like all women struggle.

I feel strangely guilty and confused when I read these articles. Why? Because I found breastfeeding natural and fairly easy.

Before I started breastfeeding, I read all these articles. I knew it was going to be hard. I knew it would be a struggle because my mom and sister struggled. Neither one of them were able to breastfeed longer than three months. Their experience mirrored many of the problems described in articles I had read.

To make sure I had all the information available, and, therefore, had the best shot at being successful, I read everything I could find. I attended a breastfeeding class held at my local hospital and asked lots of questions. By the time Ginny was born, I knew what to expect.

The moment that Ginny first latched on to me, I realized it wasn’t what I expected. I thought it would feel odd. Instead, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. I was amazed!

Even more amazing, I didn’t struggle with nursing like my mom did or my sister. I didn’t struggle with it like every article I read suggested I would. In some ways, it was the easiest thing I had ever done.

Breastfeeding did not go perfectly, at first. Ginny lost a lot of weight. All babies lose weight, but she lost more than doctors and nurses consider acceptable. There were concerns about my milk production. I was confident though. My milk took a bit longer to come in than expected. All that preparation ahead of time let me know she would be okay. Naturally, I worried as the nurse would arrived at our home the day after we did to check her weight and again the next day. However, Ginny had plenty of wet and dirty diapers.

At the two-week check, Ginny hadn’t reached her birth weight yet, although she was close. My doctor encouraged me to supplement with formula. I felt torn and confused. I didn’t want to sabotage our attempts at nursing by giving my baby a bottle. My instincts told me that my milk was enough. After all, she still had plenty of wet and dirty diapers. We tried the bottle once, but it felt wrong so I refused to try it again. Instead, I made sure to nurse my daughter at least every two hours.

It didn’t help that I went to a breastfeeding group at the hospital only a week later. I had never been and didn’t know what to expect, so I nursed Ginny before we left. When we got there, I discovered I could weigh Ginny. The expectation was to nurse the baby while you were there then weigh her afterward to make sure she was getting enough milk. I knew it wouldn’t go well because I had recently nursed her. I tried though. Then after the second weigh-in, I got a lecture from the lactation-consultant nurse encouraging me to supplement. That suggestion made me angry, and I never returned.

My instincts proved me right. Ginny gained weight and thrived. The doctor never knew that I ignored his suggestion. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that our baby was healthy and growing.

When it came to nursing, I didn’t really have sore nipples beyond a week. If they got dry, I would express a little milk and rub that on the nipple. It worked. The only time nursing became painful and a challenge was during my pregnancy with my youngest, Grace. Pregnancy will make your breasts hurt. Nursing with sore breasts is not fun. Okay, it sucked! I tried to power through, but couldn’t do it and planned to wean Ginny. Ginny ended up weaning herself once I made that decision. My milk changed. She didn’t like it and was no longer interested. She was 12 months old.

When I had Grace, I was more prepared and more determined than ever that she wouldn’t lose as much weight as her sister did. Luckily, my milk came in faster so I thought I would do well. The problem was that Grace was more interested in sleep than nursing. It turned out that she had jaundice. The jaundice wasn’t caused by lack of milk. Grace and I simply have different blood types. It would take a while for her body to adapt to the milk I was giving her.

It took about 6 weeks for the jaundice to go away, but during that time she gained weight and grew. She thrived. We worried about the jaundice. We hated taking her to have her blood tested every week, but it was necessary. Eventually, her body did adjust to my antibodies and the yellow appearance of my daughter disappeared.

I was able to breastfeed Grace longer than Ginny. We stopped nursing three months ago when she was 18 months old. I didn’t want to stop, but I was pregnant and the pain was too much for me to handle. So, I forced her to wean. She still misses it, and honestly, I do too. In some ways I miss it more because we miscarried. Not only did I lose a baby, I lost the ability to nurse my youngest.

I feel bad for the women who do struggle with breastfeeding. I think some struggle because they don’t know what to expect. I believe others struggle due to legitimate milk supply issues and others because their doctors and nurses encourage them to supplement. And, I’m sure there are even more reasons beyond those.

This post was originally featured on Denise’s blog, Jayhawk Mommy. Photo via.

Aside from the exciting news that you’re expecting, in those first few weeks of pregnancy, there’s one other big benefit to being knocked up—or should I say two big benefits: Your boobs look great. Damn great. 

Victoria’s Secret would be lucky to have you, and your husband keeps checking you out like a teenager in heat. Even you can’t help but getting all Joey Tribbiani on yourself and thinking, “How you doin’?” every time you catch a glimpse of the girls.

Sadly, none of this will last long. Now that I’m in the home stretch of my pregnancy, I am lamenting the fact that I didn’t enjoy this stage more. So, my advice to you? Flaunt those Kate Upton curves while you’ve got ’em, because before you know it…

1. They hurt so damn much.

You can’t get felt up properly, and a strong gust of wind can actually bring tears to your eyes. Remember, the mantra here is: Look, don’t touch. 

2. Your belly exceeds your newly expanded bra size.

Yes, your boobs are still huge, but they seem significantly less huge when your belly is also massive. Sadly, everything in life is relative, including this.

3. You have to buy new bras.

Anything with decent support isn’t cheap, especially if you’re a weird size to begin with, and you have no idea what your post-baby size will be. (Hint: It will be different than this and different than your pre-pregnancy one. More new bras to come! Awesome.)

4. The underwire becomes your nemesis.

You think an underwire has been uncomfortable before? Hahahahaha. Yeah, no. Mine hurts so much that the spot where it hits the breastbone literally becomes numb. It is seriously like some medieval torture device. Ye olde underwyre! Trust me when I say that taking your bra off at night will never feel as good as it does while you’re pregnant.

5. They start resting on your belly and cause extreme underboob sweat.

This gets worse when your bra is off, or maybe it’s just more noticeable. Either way, you’re definitely sweating profusely (not glistening) through your shirt, and it’s gross.

6. They start leaking…before baby is born.

Well, this is a delightful surprise! At some point, you might start lactating while your baby is still in utero. It might not be a lot—or it might—but either way, now you’re wet and it’s kind of freaky. I’m not there yet, thankfully, but I have the feeling that I might be jinxing myself by writing that.

7. They’re itchy, so you’re scratchy.

Cracked, dry nipples need cocoa butter just as much as your ever-expanding belly. It may be for a different reason, but wow, are they also ridiculously itchy. I’ve found myself wanting to stick my hand down my bra to get a little relief…while walking down the street. I’ve (mostly) restrained myself.

This post was originally featured on Dawn’s blog, Momsanity. Photo via HuffPost.

I’ve hated my boobs since 5th grade, when they made a most unwelcome appearance. Backyard football with the boys became awkward. So did locker room changes. As they became a focal point of my high school figure, I despised them even more. My back hurt when I ran. Forget horsing around in a bathing suit. Rude and humiliating jokes from teenage boys.

Hated. Them.

So when I became pregnant and started to learn about breastfeeding, I dreaded the constant attention they would receive. Schedules would revolve around my boobies. Goody.

“Breast is best!” My family and health care providers would repeat. I knew it was true, but that didn’t change my feelings about it. And when Ben was born and the lactation consultant appeared by my hospital bed, I felt anxious.

There were discussions about his latch and my anatomy. Combined, they were a formula for failure. We tried gadgets and gizmos aplenty. Whoseits and whatsits galore. We spent $125 on a home visit from my third and final lactation consultant. Yet, at the end of of our efforts, my son had lost too much weight. It was time to consider other options.

I would have handled the whole thing fine but I was completely unprepared for the onslaught of shaming I received—from none other than fellow moms.

Some comments were passive enough: “Oh, no–you should call Mrs. Expensive Consultant! Don’t GIVE UP!”

Some were blatant. “Well, if you quit now your son is going to miss out on the most essential benefits. Doesn’t your baby deserve that?”

The judgement was clear: I was failing my son if I didn’t breastfeed.

So I became frenemies with a girl named Medela. At first, our dates were unbearable. Pumping every 2-3 hours, and feeding and pouring and storing. I grew weary. I had clogged ducts and mastitis. I bled and chaffed. I had fevers and was in constant pain but by God my son was being fed breast milk.

But for some mommies, even that wasn’t enough. Making bottles in public, I was frequently questioned.

“Oh…You stopped Breastfeeding?” Asked Deeply Sympathetic Wife of a Friend.

“I didn’t know you were already using formula,” remarked Granola Facebook Friend. (As if formula was equivalent to pickled dog turds.)

I would ramble off my explanation about flat anatomy and exclusive pumping and occasional supplementation. Sometimes I would use percentages–“He’s on 85% breast milk!”

Somehow, I hoped, that made me 85% okay as a mother.

These women were so sad for me. Because I missed that special bonding. Because they just loved breast feeding…and it wasn’t really that hard!

Well, you know what?

Good for them. I sincerely mean that. I am aware that breast is best. It’s impossible NOT to be aware with all of the blogs and nurse-ins and advice going around. I know about immunity and nutrients and the constantly adapting sustenance that our bodies create.

But awareness, for me, did not equal success. And I didn’t want pity. And I didn’t want advice. What I wanted–what I NEEDED more than anything–was support.

There are so many reasons that women can’t–or choose not to–breastfeed their children. I’ve spoken with friends who formula-fed because of health problems, prior surgeries, and even past sexual trauma.

Is that anybody else’s business?

If you actually require an answer: No.

And ladies…is it really so hard to remember the fragile state we were in as new mamas? Instead of asking “How’s breastfeeding”–why not “How are YOU?”

Instead of “Oh, you should try this” why not “Can I help you in any way?”

There is a time and a place for education. Lots of times and places, actually. But once that little baby arrives and your wide-eyed friend is fearfully discovering life as a parent—how about you show interest in the MOM. Not her milk.

Community is a wonderful thing. It provides awareness and education and support. But guilt and judgement doesn’t belong in this community, mamas.

Please. Don’t get me wrong. I am 100% supportive of the breastfeeding awareness movement. But unless you are asked, I believe there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed with new mothers.

And I draw that line at the boob.

It almost goes without saying here that you get what you pay for, and buying a breast pump is no exception to the rule. Quality is everything when it comes to a breast pump.

When I was pregnant and knew that I wanted to nurse my child, I researched what I thought would be the best pump and would go the distance. For me, that was a Medela Pump In Style Advanced Backpack, with a lovely price tag at the time of $299.

Now, if you are lucky like I was, my parents gifted that to me as one of my baby shower gifts. Talk about a sigh of relief. If you are not as lucky, and have to foot the bill yourself but are hesitant because of the price tag, you have a few options here:

1.Look into your health insurance providers’ breastfeeding coverage policy on paying for a new breast pump.

One of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, according to Healthcare.gov, is that most“Health insurance plans must provide breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding”.

2.If your health insurance does not cover this cost, your doctor can write you a “prescription” for a hospital grade breast pump.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Well I got a first hand look at how much those rental prices were after my sister had her son, and let me tell you, it ranged anywhere from $25-$75 monthly! In less than three months you could save up enough money to buy your very own hospital grade pump brand spanking new. Those prices are what eventually led me to the last option.

3.Search eBay! 

Now, I know that some may frown upon this because if it’s not new in a sealed box it can’t be guaranteed right? Well, that is true. Buying a used pump in most cases means losing any claim to a warranty on the product, Medela will be the first to tell you that. But, if you are searching eBay for something, chances are you already knew that caveat in the first place.

In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a “gently” used pump from another Mom on the Internet who is willing to sell it to me. I bought my sister the same exact pump that I have through a seller on eBay who only used her pump for six months.

Not only did she include all of the attachments, she included many extra’s like bottles, nipple creams, storage bags, and guess what, she even gift-wrapped it all! How much did it cost you ask? $100, yes, you read that right. My nephew is now 8 months old and that pump is still going strong.

For those of you who might think that buying a used breast pump is “gross”. Remember this, the money is in the motor of the pump, not the parts. You can buy brand new tubing and shields and never have to worry about using parts that touched another mothers tatas.

If you are still hesitant to buy a quality pump even after all that I have shared, remember this little tidbit of info: you can claim breastfeeding supplies on your tax return! Read this awesome article on whattoexpect.com for more info on that.

Good luck on your breast pump search!

This post was originally featured on Stephanie’s blog, A Navy Wife’s Life. Photo via

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There has been some recent talk about breast vs. bottle when it comes to feeding our babies. Here’s my two cents, for what it’s worth.

Who cares, and really whose business is it anyways what you choose to do?

It is your body, your baby. You have to do what feels best.

Sometimes that is the bottle.

For some people, they don’t even get a choice.

Who are we to judge? Being a mom is hard enough as it is, we should be supporting one another, not tearing someone down for their personal choice. Honestly it should not take someone having had breast cancer to make it okay that they are choosing to bottle-feed.

I applaud Emily Wax-Thibodeaux for bringing the conversation to the front of everyone’s minds. She has allowed mom’s everywhere to breathe and know, you are doing the best you can, way to go. Raising another human being is not easy and we should all be working together to take care of each other.

This post was originally featured on Melissa’s blog, Los Angeles Mom

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Sigh…the topic of Breastfeeding….if you know me, then you know this topic was going to come up sooner or later. I am pretty irritated right now. Here’s why:

Today, a friend of mine, JoJo, a former Navy spouse as well, had a little Facebook incident. She just had the most beautiful son a couple of days ago, and was proud to show off her success at breastfeeding while in the hospital. She posted a picture, knowing as most of us breastfeeding mums who post pictures to Facebook know, that it could be reported by someone who thinks the natural act of breastfeeding an infant is somehow less appropriate to publicize on Facebook then a boob-laden “selfie” photo in a dirty nightclub bathroom.

So–what happened?…drumroll please..she got REPORTED to Facebook–as I am sure you have already deduced.

Here is the thing people–it’s been said a million times, but forgive me (or not) for saying it again. It’s breastfeeding–GET OVER YOURSELVES. These pictures are not shared, posted, or taken because we think we are sexy, because we want people to ogle over us, or any other conspicuous, promiscuous, narcissistic reason. We take them because we are beyond amazed at our little creation. We are in love with this life who needs us to nourish them. We are astounded that our bodies are naturally capable to produce this nourishment and that we have the privilege of being able to do this for them. Furthermore, what amazes us even more is that our babies know this before we do. They come out of the womb, take in their first breath of air, and inherently know that we, their mother, are biologically built to nourish them- so they root for us (both literally and physically). ‘Rooting’ is their instinctual nature to find their mother’s breast. As a first time mother, you are grateful that your baby knows what to do even when you, yourself have no (freaking) clue.

What you should take away from it is–HIP HIP HOORAY, SUCCESS! She has planned her entire pregnancy to breastfeed her child and the thing is, you never really know it is going to happen, until it actually does. For many reasons, a mother may not be able to breastfeed their child successfully. It is a fear that is in the back of every mother’s mind who intends to breastfeed. Will they latch? Will my milk come in? Is it going to hurt? WHAT IF I JUST CAN’T DO IT!!?? AHH!!! and so on and so forth.

My point—for the last century (give or take), western civilization and other developed countries have demonized breastfeeding. Giving it this image that it should be this secret, kept away thing, that everyone knows happens, but no one wants to see. (Like girls pooping). But why? Our culture isn’t ashamed to post lingerie adverts in Times Square, on the side of highways–or on T.V. commercials that our kids watch. No one raises a stink about that….but my friend posts a picture of feeding HER child on HER Facebook page and somehow that is just unimaginably inappropriate to show up in a news feed?

I know this post isn’t going to change anything…people are still going to choose ignorance and claim modesty over hypocrisy–but, at least I got to get this off my chest…and because this is my blog, I can do that!

To my friend, JoJo–I am SO proud of you. You are doing awesome and even though you’ve received your first taste of negativity in regards to breastfeeding-LET IT NOT DETER YOU. Stay strong, stay determined, and remember, it’s all for him.

END RANT.

Originally featured on Stephanie’s blog, A Navy Wife’s Life