Black Women Breastfeeding – Ashley’s Story

The interview below is with Ashley, and holy moly is she amazing. I love how she has surrounded herself with such an incredible support system. Check out her story below! 

What has your breastfeeding journey been like?

My breastfeeding journey has been both the hardest and best thing in my life! It didn’t come naturally – it was hard and required learning and I almost gave up, but I’m so thankful that I have a supportive husband, cooperative baby, and amazing LC that kept encouraging me. The bond I have with my son because of it is…completely priceless. I truly believe that through breastfeeding I learned my role as a mother – I recognize it as our unique bond.

Did the women in your family breastfeed?

My mom did not breastfeed me (in the 80s) and I don’t know that other women in my family did or did not. Given that I don’t know, I’m guessing not – or at least it certainly wasn’t a source for my learning about breastfeeding. I really hadn’t seen anyone breastfeed before I became a mother. I’m not sure the classes/books even adequately prepared me!

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What made you want to breastfeed?

I wanted to breastfeed because everything I read told me it was best for my baby. I was provided a lot of resources for information about breastfeeding – I just didn’t question it!

What is the biggest bf challenge you’ve overcome?

We had several challenges at the very beginning of our breastfeeding journey. My milk took quite a few days to come in and because of a tongue tie, baby could not latch and was very difficult to feed in his first week. I also have really large breasts that made it so hard to find a comfortable position that worked for my very small baby.

We relied on donor milk at the hospital and even had to supplement with formula for about 6-8 weeks. We met with my LC once a week for the first 8 weeks – established feeding/pumping plans, worked on positions for feeding, and introduced a shield. We did correct baby’s tongue tie too. I went through ups and downs in my confidence which was mostly centered around doubting my milk supply. Finally, at 2 months old, baby got off the shield and we never looked back!

Armed with a miracle custom nursing pillow, we hit a stride and breastfeeding became second nature – I still can’t walk around and breastfeed but we just find a comfy spot wherever we are and make it happen. Also, I’m a ‘just-enougher’ – my freezer stash was built purely from baby refusing some bottles during his transition to daycare. (That was another challenge!)

Who are your biggest supporters?

My biggest supporters are my husband and my LC – without them I would have certainly quit. I also couldn’t have done this without a supportive daycare and a supportive employer. I benefited a lot from many of the MM FB posts! I also had a friend’s mom – former La Leche League – who checked on me regularly throughout my maternity leave and encouraged me; and a breastfeeding friend who was always a text away for talking while feeding or pumping! I’m just lucky that I’m in a very supportive/open community!

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Tell us your favorite story about an experience with breastfeeding.

My favorite memories during my breastfeeding journey are how accomplished baby and I felt when we didn’t need the shield anymore! And really, every time baby latches on – it melts my heart every. Single. Time.

Is there anything else you’d like to share or encourage other moms?

My biggest advice to mommas is to not give up if breastfeeding is a struggle – the bond between momma and baby is worth the fight; and also to be PROUD – it’s quite an amazing thing you’re doing!

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