When I started Mighty Milk, I *knew* from the very beginning I wanted to debunk some of those breastfeeding myths that seem pervasive on Instagram. That breastfeeding is perfect. That it’s always serene. That it happens in perfect living rooms or nurseries that look like nobody has ever stepped foot in them. Yes, it can be fun to stage photos, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But what happens when you get rid of the stage, and get rid of the filters? Because that’s when real conversations can start. About the joys and challenges of breastfeeding and, even more so, parenthood. And it’s how all of us can connect with each other without sugarcoating anything. Because I don’t know about you, but my living room is a disaster and my baby has peed so.many.times on the beautiful carpet I got him in his nursery (#boymom). That’s why I knew whenever possible I wanted to feature REAL parents on the Mighty Milk website. Because why should we hide behind our stretch marks, our veins, a little bit of extra weight? Why should we airbrush reality away? That’s why I sent the amazing photographer Colleen Adams out to take photos of some incredible moms and dads. So, please meet some of the models shown on the Mighty Milk website. Here are their stories.
Kendra, Phoenix, AZ
Baby: Jeremiah, 9 months
Profession: Marriage Therapist
Tell me about your breastfeeding journey.
I wanted to breastfeed as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I am the first in my family to breastfeed‒neither my mom nor my grandma did it. But I did a lot of research and spoke to a doula. And my family has been really supportive of me.
What challenges have you experienced?
Breastfeeding is certainly not easy. I didn’t realize how challenging and painful it can be. I got mastitis in the first month. I spoke with a Lactation Consultant who said breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, and so early on, I felt like something must be wrong. The more I talked to other moms and I came to realize it shouldn’t be painful, but there is often some discomfort at the beginning. So there’s definitely a learning curve. I also had a challenge because my little one wouldn’t take a bottle. Nobody else could feed him, so I couldn’t really be away from him at all.
What about the good stuff?
Everything aside, I love breastfeeding and with all of the health benefits, it’s totally worth it. I honestly feel like it’s helped my health, too‒I have some medical conditions, a lot of which seem to be at bay right now. Yes, it can be hard in the early months, but even in those moments there’s something really beautiful about knowing that your little one needs you. It’s amazing to build that bond. I love it and I’m going to keep doing it as long as my son is willing and my supply stays.
Bonnie, San Diego, CA
Baby: Lily, 7 months
Why did you choose to breastfeed?
I am more naturally minded, so it wasn’t really a question of whether I was going to. I knew I needed to.
Tell me about your journey.
I set a goal for three months. I wanted to make sure I had realistic expectations for myself. I had a friend who got mastitis three or four times and she got really sick. And my family members who didn’t breastfeed and warned me it was tough. So in the back of my mind a was a little bit afraid- I had this idea in my head that it was really challenging. But it actually went pretty smoothly. I did see a lactation consultant to deal with some pain, and she helped us overcome a shallow latch. I also joined a local online breastfeeding support group, which was helpful. Now Lily is almost 8 months and she’s almost exclusively breastfeeding–I pump while I’m at work. I’m planning on breastfeeding her for the rest of the year, and I’ll continue beyond that at night or if she’s upset. My breastfeeding relationship also feels different for me because I struggled with infertility. Before Lily arrived, I did six rounds of IVF, paying out of pocket, and suffered a miscarriage. So both breastfeeding and taking maternity leave felt especially important and special.
Ashley D, South Phoenix, AZ
Kids: Evan, 12; Caden, 9; Jaren, 7; Kieran, 4; Ardyn, 7 months
Profession: Stay at Home Mom
Tell me about your breastfeeding journey.
I’ve exclusively breastfed my now four year old and my seven month old. When I gave birth to my first son, although I did try to breastfeed, I felt like there wasn’t a lot of information or helpful resources like there are today. I felt defeated and frustrated, like I didn’t know what I was doing. I wondered if my baby was getting enough, and I didn’t know where to turn when I was struggling. Bottles felt easier because I could see the measurement. It was similar with my next son. With my third son, I tried really hard and I made it a month, but it was so tough trying to breastfeed and also having to take care of my two older boys, one of whom was only one. But when I was pregnant with my fourth son, my kids were older. So when he came around the setting was different–it was so much easier to stick with breastfeeding. He did great at it and we didn’t have trouble. So when I was pregnant with my daughter it made sense to continue. And now I feel like a pro. But I don’t think anyone prepares for how difficult breastfeeding can be. It can be tough physically and emotionally, and it’s a lot of work. After the first two months, it gets so much easier. So when I have friends who are expecting, I try to be honest with them. I tell them that if they can’t make it work, you’ll be okay and your baby will be okay. But if you can, it’s so great.