Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Breastfeeding Project + Coupon Code + Giveaway

We've all seen the #normalizebreastfeeding movement and whether you are passionately involved or totally sick of hearing about it, it is everywhere.  We've also all seen the phrase "breast is best" and it seems that breastfeeding and nursing are at the top of everyone's conversations these days.  I happen to be one of those insanely passionate about breastfeeding people (yea... sorry to all my facebook friends who get the grunt of that) but here's the thing:  I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  I don't want to make you feel bad or put stress on you because mama, you have enough stress from everywhere else in society.  Here's the other thing, almost everyone can successfully breastfeed and I want YOU to succeed.

That can't be true, right?  We know so many people who weren't able to breastfeed.  Well, that is true but not for the reasons you think.  My favorite example to explain what I mean is this:  I have come across several women who have mentioned having trouble keeping their supply up, that they suddenly started to dry up, etc.  In talking with them I ask if they are eating peppermint.  Peppermint is used to dry up your milk supply.  On multiple occasions these mothers have said "oh my gosh, yes!  I didn't know that!"  The only reason I know is because I was blessed with a brilliant lactation consultant who was a wealth of knowledge and I wanted to be a sponge for the information.  Most nursing mothers don't know this because no one has bothered to tell them  (There are other foods to avoid as well, such as sage)  There are also "tips and tricks" to help with latch, letdown and supply that your local lactation consultant could help you with.  Please know that if you were unable to nurse before, it's not your fault and (except in a few cases) it's not your body's fault.  YOU ARE ENOUGH and your body is AMAZING.  That being said, there are situations where you have to adapt (pump instead of nurse, etc) or sometimes it really just doesn't work (I knew a woman that tried everything and wanted it so badly and just couldn't even though she had no trouble with her other children).  That's just bad luck of the draw.  Most of you reading this are not in that category though so please reach out if you want to succeed.  It takes work sometimes but it's worth it.

There are also foods that will increase your supply like water, oats (old fashioned is best- try to steer clear from instant) brewer's yeast, fenugreek and "mothers tea" just to name a few.

{Photo via www.gluten.org}

Sorry, I'll get to my point here...
Because I am so passionate about breastfeeding I jumped at the chance to participate in a project that was being done to really normalize the everyday aspects of breastfeeding.  I'll let you in on a secret.  We don't all look like beautiful models while we nurse.  No, I've never stood nursing in the middle of a sun glistened woods, holding my perfectly content baby while a baby deer brought me a burp cloth.  (Although I will admit, those nursing photos in the woods are pretty cool!)  Usually I haven't showered, my hair is every which direction and my toddler is stretching out my favorite v-neck top while crying "mommy moo, MOMMY MOOOOOO!" (that's what we call it in our house, don't judge)

For this project, Erica from Capturing Memories With Erica teamed up with the North Central Indiana Breastfeeding Coalition to present a photo book to anyone who was interested but also to set in places like doctor's offices, lactation offices or the local WIC office.  Here's what Erica had to say about the project:

Whether you are currently pregnant, plan to be pregnant at some point, nursing with difficulty or successfully nursing, this post is for you.  I want you to hear a few real stories from real people about breastfeeding because every mama is different, every baby is different and every story is different.  The women in this post were others who participated in the project and gave me permission to share their story.

This mama is a makeup artist and mother to three sweet kiddos (two girls and a boy).

{This is one of my favorite photos from the project.  The three of them are so beautiful!}

Samantha's Story:
"My breastfeeding journey started about seven and a half years ago when I had my son. I had known my whole life that my mom had breastfed both myself and my younger sister. In fact, neither of us had food until we were 1. I never really made the decision to breastfeed, it was just ingrained in me that when you have a baby that's how you feed it. With the support of my mother, we made it almost an entire year of breastfeeding while I worked a full time job. We had our struggles -I got mastitis 1 month in- but it was totally worth it. It was incredibly satisfying to see a baby grow and thrive on something my body was making! Five years ago I had my beautiful daughter. The "breast is best" movement was dying down and people were staging nurse-ins all over our state (FL). Stores were shaming breastfeeding mothers everywhere and it was worse the older your baby was. We made our own decisions about what was right for us and she breastfed till the age of 2. We are now 6 months into our breastfeeding journey with our third and final baby. We participate in all we can to help #normalizebreastfeeding. Even with all the experience I've had feeding my other 2, we still have struggles. I've had mastitis and thrush to add a few bumps in the road, but I couldn't imagine life any other way. Knowing I have provided food for 3 sweet babies has been amazing and something I'm really proud of! Things can be difficult sometimes, but we keep trying!" 

This mama is a dance & yoga instructor who had two very different experiences nursing her children.

Okay y'all, don't be fooled by the first sentence of Brittani's story, this mama had some serious struggled in her breastfeeding journey.  Trust me, it's worth the read...

Brittani's Story:
"I had the perfect breastfeeding experience with my son. From day one, he was an absolute textbook nurser. He latched perfectly, ate well, did everything right. I never once experienced pain, chaffing, bleeding, or even had sore nipples. He went from breast to paci to bottle and back with no issues. We nursed for 15 months, when he weaned himself. It was wonderful. I loved every minute of it. It was a beautiful bond. 

Since we had such a great first experience, I had mixed feelings about what to expect with our second. I went back and forth between, 'omg, he was so great, what if the next one isn't as easy?' And 'oh, I'm a nursing pro! We've got this, I'm not worried at all!' Wellllll, it was not AT ALL like the first experience. My beautiful, STUBBORN little daughter came out and became a lazy eater. Not at first! Our first feeding went well! She latched fine and all was well. Now my first few days are kind of blurry due to pain meds from the c-section, so I don't remember when night the nurse came in and told me she had lost more than 10% of her weight and wanted to know if they wanted me to just give her formula in a bottle. It would be ok since she took a paci. ???? I wasn't aware she took a paci.... Ok...it's 2am, I'm so tired and hopped up on pain meds....sure I said. Well there is when it all went downhill!! She started to have trouble at the breast. The nurses would come in and shove her head on it, which is normal, but I could tell even then, that wasn't going to work for her. She would lunge back and scream! We would both cry and cry at ever feeding. She hated, and still hates to be contained and held down. Later, a few different LCs told me she was basically traumatized at the breast. She started to refuse it completely. Even before I tried to get her to latch, just the general motion of getting her close would set her off. She started loving bottles and became a lazy eater and refused to work for it. She started losing more weight. She got re-admitted to the hospital at 6 days old for failure to thrive. While there, she had blood drawn and an upper GI done. Through all of these issues, she was also spitting up profusely. Normally, reflux doesn't show up until about 2 weeks, so we were worried. I cannot even begin to describe to you how badly she would throw up. It would shoot halfway across the room. We would use a full size beach towel at every feeding. She ended up having her blood drawn 5 times, an upper GI, a liver ultrasound and a lower abdomen X-ray, all before she was 2.5 months old. She was sent to Riley for it and they put her in reglan and Zantac. Since she would latch anymore, I had to start pumping after every feeding, to supply milk for the next feeding. I still offered the breast at every feeding, which she would refuse. So my husband would take my pumped milk in a syringe with active at the end. He would hold the syringe at my nipple and I would put her to it. He would squirt done milk as I would try to latch her, to entice her to latch. It would take us 45 minutes-1.5 hours to do one feeding together. We did this for about 7 weeks before she finally started to latch on her own. She still hated it and would not latch every time. We struggled for about 3 months before we were finally exclusively breastfeeding with no bottles. She finally grew out of her relax at around 6 months. Now, she is a cluster feeder who will not take a bottle or a sippy cup! All breast all the way! This second round of breastfeeding was literally the HARDEST thing I have ever done in my life. There were so many tears. On top of everything else, she would literally cry for 8 hours on end. Nothing would stop her. So many times I wanted to give up. So many people would say, just pump and give her a bottle. But it wasnt the same. I had a primal need to nurse her. And with the support of my husband, we got through it! She is now almost 11 months and I love nursing her. I'm so proud of myself for overcoming that. It was the roughest few months of my life."

{Because doing the splits isn't hard enough, she added nursing!  Love it!}

This mama not only cherishes the bond that nursing her daughter creates but even views breastfeeding as an act of worship!  That might be my favorite response ever!  I love this mamas perspective and love!

Maria answered a few specific questions I had, read on to see her responses!

1. How long did you nurse your child(ren)? Sarina is 16 months old and still nursing with no end in sight. Being a full-time working mom, I do enjoy snuggling close with her after work. I do plan on going until she wants to stop or if I get pregnant again... not that it seems like Sarina wants that to happen anytime soon haha. 

2. What is your favorite thing about breastfeeding? I like the snuggles but I really like the feeling of being able to help her feel better through nursing when she feels sick, and knowing that it is helping her in the long run, and myself. My grandmother passed away from breast cancer before I was even born, and I hope by breastfeeding, I am cutting my chances of getting cancer. Breastfeeding is also a recommended act in my religion, Islam, which encourages mothers to breastfeed kids until they are about 2.5 years old, so it is also nice to know that while I may not have as much time to devout to  traditional worship bc of baby business, this act of nurturing also counts as worship for me. 

3. What is your least favorite thing about breastfeeding? I don't know if it is because I am away from Sarina all day, but she makes up for by waking up to nurse pretty much all night. I don't mind it too much but it would be nice to be able to take a nice warm bath without having to hear for her waking up throughout the night! 

4. Any nursing advice for moms just starting out? It gets easier! At week three I was ready to give up because it was hurting and I thought it was normal to hurt. One I got the latch right, it was magic and became no big deal. But it couldn't have happened without my husband's support, and my cousin who is a super breastfeeding advocate and educator. I was able to text her and call her anytime with any questions or concerns and she helped out. That kind of help is what can help everyone be more successful with breastfeeding because it isn't as easy it looks in the beginning.

{This is my other favorite photo of her because it includes dad too!  There is nothing better than when the whole family is supportive.}

This mama knows that babies don't always get hungry when you are at home sitting down and proves that the words "mom" and "hard work" go hand in hand!

Renell's Story:
"Being in the barn around animals has always been a place of comfort for me. I grew up the youngest of five on a grain and livestock farm. Now that I have children I wanted to be provide them with the same comfort that I had growing up. Even though it is our older children that own and show the livestock, it is truly a family affair. We spend hours in the barn, feeding, washing, and working with the animals. Deacon is extremely comfortable and used to being in the barn and being around animals. It only seemed natural that we incorporate that into the photo shoot. It is my hope that it empowers other moms to nurse their babies anywhere they are. Additionally, it is so nice to not have to deal with the hassle of worrying about a bottle. The inconvenience of stopping what I'm doing to mix a bottle or warm up a bottle is something that just doesn't fit into the show day schedule. It truly is a meal on the go! We also don't have to worry about bottle sanitation when we're in the barn or at a show. Both of those places can be dusty and dirty; no need to worry about whether the bottle that would be going into Deacons mouth is clean or not. We are so fortunate to have this opportunity, and we wouldn't have it any other way!"

{This photo makes me exceptionally happy because my own babe likes to play with my hair too!}

{My Story}

I know this post is getting long, so I will keep my story as brief as I can.  I went into breastfeeding with the perspective that it was not about "trying" but that I was going to breastfeed by any means necessary.  I know the amazing powers of human milk and I wasn't about to miss that opportunity.  I will admit, my baby was and is the ideal nursing child (so this goal was not difficult for me to achieve).  I realize that I am lucky in that he immediately latched on within minutes of birth, that he ate well (as a matter of fact, he was a gulper!  I had a fast letdown and he was up for the challenge.  I actually had to figure out ways to slow it a little).  However, I have also worked hard to keep up with nursing a now 19 month old.  I have cut out foods that will harm my milk supply.  I haven't eaten peppermint in a year and a half (and it's my FAVORITE Christmas ice-cream!) and have altered my diet on numerous occasions trying to figure out the cause of my son's skin sensitivity (milk protein is not as easy thing to avoid!)  I've also worked hard to pump more than my son needs so that I could donate to premature babies in need.  I could have had less time attached to the pump (which is the devil, really) but over a year later I have been blessed to be able to donate over 18 gallons of milk (and yes, I am proud that we were able to do this!)

{Little man is really the ones who donates it... it is his milk after all}

Sometimes I really just want to finish my own meal before my toddler rips down my shirt for a drink.  Sometimes I think it would be easier now that he's a toddler to be able to just give him another snack instead of when he desires breastmilk.  Sometimes I would like to go an entire day (when away from him) without having to pump because I'll either (A) get too full and need to pump and/or (B) feel like I need to pump so my supply doesn't dry up.  Sometimes he accidentally bites and that seemingly tiny cut makes me grit my teeth to keep from screaming out every time he nurses until it heals.  But more often that those "sometimes" I still feel my heart both melting and expanding while I cuddle my sweet baby while he nurses.  I am still amazed at the power of breastmilk in keeping my baby healthy and in bringing him comfort through nursing when he feels sick.  I love that my body not only created this tiny human but continues to nourish him as he grows into a curious, fearless and absolutely joyful toddler.  All the times I am tired, feeling "touched-out" or just want a minute to myself melt away the moment my son latches on and looks up at me with those big brown eyes.  At that moment, it's worth every single minute of it.  I will continue to let him nurse until he is ready to stop and no one can tell me otherwise.

{About Manny & the Breastfeeding Coalition}
Manny is not only one of the moms in the book, but she is involved in running the online portion of the North Central Indiana Breastfeeding Coalition and works for the local WIC program. She became involved a little over a year ago and realized that people don't know it exists because there was little to no online presence. She thought this was important and began thinking up this project. "I noticed online that images of breastfeeding evoked a conversation, it wasn’t always what we breastfeeding moms wanted to hear, but it was definitely a conversation starter. I also knew how powerful those images could be in influencing the minds of young mothers. I knew that if other photographers were able to start a conversation, that we could at least draw attention to the coalition with one."

Manny realizes the implications a book like this could have on other mothers:
"I see the difference that the images can make for mother’s deciding how they want to feed their babies. Many often don’t know the laws and assume they have to cover up, or there are restrictions on where they can feed their babies. Seeing the images of other mothers breastfeeding everywhere, can help them realize that they can too. Other mothers, just like them can breastfeed and work, can breastfeed and shop, can breastfeed and farm and more. We wanted the book to show the public that the coalition existed and hopefully that any mother can breastfeed anywhere."

{That's Manny nursing her own daughter! How precious!}

Interested in helping?

I'll be honest- I didn't realize there was a "Go Fund Me" page for this project (I must have been chasing down my little guy when they talked about it at the Mother's Day tea!) However, I love the idea of raising money to help put these books in local OB offices where mothers and soon-to-be moms will see them. Check out the Go Fund Me page to read more about their goals and donate. Whether you had an awesome breastfeeding experience, wished you had more support and encouragement on your journey or are thinking of breastfeeding in the future, if you have the extra funds and are looking for a good cause, this is it.

 {My son LOVES looking through the book from this project!}

Okay, here's a little something for you too!

As you may have seen in my photos above, I looooove wearing teething necklaces while nursing. They give babe something else to grab while nursing (instead of your hair... or mouth... or whatever!) My favorite teething necklace shop Sugarplum Collection has offered EVERY ONE OF YOU 15% off your purchase when you use my code. Check out my review on them and get the online code here!

Want more?

My mom and I run our own small business Chubby Bunny, Happy Home that creates items for your little ones and home. Our focus is primarily on babies and toddlers. Although we don't usually make reusable nursing pads, we do have a lot of "spare" fabric from our other projects and are always looking for ways to help mamas and encourage breastfeeding. Because of this, we want to offer a pack of 12 reusable nursing pads (6 pairs) to one lucky winner. Prize will include 6 different patterns and will be shipped free to the winner. Open to US residents. Just enter using the widget below (Hint: the instagram option is worth 5 entries, so make sure to do that one!)

Happy Crafting Nursing,
Kelsie Ann


  1. I LOVE it! Beautifully written! Entertaining as well! I am sharing this with every mama I know!

  2. I love the book! I am so overjoyed at all the work that has gone into this and into the Mother's Tea (both years). We at WIC struggle, because as we teach about breastfeeding, participants often assume we promote it because we are "paid to do so". Not true as we are truly passionate about it but the point I wanted to make is ....other mothers talking about it, promoting it, being a true unpaid peer of the person, well your voice is louder! Your showing other mothers how it can be done and why it should be done and how wonderful it is when done....they hear you more than they hear us! I thank all of you for participating in the project, and to all you moms doing the best for your babies, thanks for making the leaders of tomorrow smarter, stronger, and healthier! They have to take care of me when I am old...oh wait...I already got old!

  3. I love teething necklaces, too. :) Thanks for encouraging breastfeeding!

  4. This will be my 4th child and we are really hoping to be as close to exclusively breastfeeding as possible!

  5. I love breastfeeding. I got to almost 2 years with my first son, 1 year with my daughter, and hoping for longer than 2 years with my youngest. My sister is due with her first July 4th and I'm so sad that she isn't going to breastfeed.

  6. I love breastfeeding. I got to almost 2 years with my first son, 1 year with my daughter, and hoping for longer than 2 years with my youngest. My sister is due with her first July 4th and I'm so sad that she isn't going to breastfeed.