For the third year in a row, we’ve gathered together breastfeeding mothers to document their journey for World Breastfeeding Week. This year, Ashley Short Photography branched out and decided to photograph in two locations- Wapakoneta, Ohio, as well as Northwest Ohio. These groups were comprised of mommas with varying breastfeeding stories, many of which have been shared on our Facebook page. (Make sure you check it out and show your love!) In the past, there have been several mothers who have come to me to express their gratitude about helping them face their fears regarding breastfeeding their baby in public. Sometimes, all it takes is someone to sit beside you show your support. This year was no different, and I thought it was really special that our mothers ranged from having never nursed in public before, to being professionals in the breastfeeding field!
Each year, I’m overwhelmed by the stories these mothers share with me and I was inspired to ask them if they’d like to share their stories with you, too. So here are a few… unfortunately, I have just too many to include them all here, but they are all being posted throughout the week on my FB page, so please head over there and show them some love! <3
“I have two kids, a 4yo and 7mo. I nursed my 4yo until 15 months but due to being with an unsupportive partner and not having a mama tribe at that time, I never nursed in public. I would go in a bathroom or wait until I got to my car so that I wouldn’t offend anyone. I didn’t wean her very gently because I didn’t have the knowledge of doing otherwise. This time around I had already had my mama tribe established and am much more educated. I didn’t question my body or worry that I wasn’t producing enough. I plan to nurse him until he self-weans and I feed him whenever and wherever he is hungry. Long story short: research up, find that mama tribe, and ditch the unsupportive partner (or at least ignore them.)” ~Haley, mother of 2
“My breastfeeding journey ended sooner than I wanted but she received breast milk and all the amazing benefits of breast milk until she was 13 months old. This is my third baby and I thought I am going to do it this time, I am not giving up, I am making it to a year! Well I can say there was no giving up and tried absolutely everything and at 3 months I found our first donor mom. I started supplementing with our donor milk and by 5 months it was time for me to hang up my pride l, I didn’t give up but I was exhausted and getting no where trying everything so I relied on other moms to help us and that became our breast feeding journey. I met many many moms who donated their Milkies to my baby and I became friends with a lot of the donors. I drove and drove, I searched and searched online, I asked and asked questions, to find our donors, it still was not easy. These mom’s work hard to pump and pump and feed their babies and it is so selfless to donate that hard work to other babies. I am forever grateful for each and every one of my donors and will never take for granted the 9 months she was fed by those selfless momma’s! Sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to but in the end you make the best of it and find the best option and go with it!” ~Risie, mother of 3
“I have to work, so pumping milk on my breaks makes me feel like a part of me is still with them always. Breastfeeding the twins has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done & our breastfeeding journey looks different from others but it works for us! I wouldn’t change it for the world!” ~Tara, mother of 3 (including a set of twins)
“It seems with each child I learned more about breastfeeding, had more support, and was able to nurse longer. I’m currently nursing my twins for 18 months and counting. I’m very proud of that because I know it was one of the hardest things I’ve done as a mother, and I would urge every expecting twin-mom to try because it IS possible. People seem to assume that if you have twins you won’t want to or be able to nurse them. I received a lot of comments like, “Are you sure you can do that?” and “Will you have enough milk?” but there were also people that were really encouraging and supportive who didn’t mind waiting to hold the babies until they nursed or that they couldn’t feed the twins bottles, and they weren’t put off by my breastfeeding around them and would help by being an extra hand while I was busy. I’m grateful for them and we need many more supportive people like that!” ~Casie, mother of 5
“Before I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I was determined to do whatever it took to breastfeed. I had my son via c-section, and when I had him, I had some slight issues at first. I had inverted nipples, so I had to use a shield for a while. Again, I was going to do whatever it took. The lactation consultant came in with a bottle of formula and I got scared. I asked what that was for and she only used a couple drops to get his attention to the shield to nurse. By the time I left the hospital, all was well and he was a nursing champ. I did continue to use the shield to help. My son continued to nurse until he was 22 months old. By the time my daughter came along, I didn’t need the shield, as I had one child who nursed. My daughter latched on right away and was a nursing champ. After a month or so, she seemed to have some belly sensitivity, so I ended up cutting out dairy for 4 months. That was difficult, but again worth it. With her, later on in our nursing journey, I developed mastitis. That was hard, very hard, but I wasn’t giving up. Breastfeeding was something I was determined to do with all my children. I worked through that and continued nursing her until 24 months. Fast forward to today, I’m currently breastfeeding my daughter, she will be 7 months old in a few weeks. We haven’t had any issues, Praise God and I’m thankful for that. I am so very thankful for the ability to breastfeed. It’s such a bonding experience and so neat. I’ve gotten looks in public and people with their opinions on me nursing my kids until 2 years, but I haven’t let that get to me. They aren’t children and I will do what I need to do for them. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy and I’ve definitely had times where I’ve wanted to just stop. But I don’t and I’ve never regretted it. Whenever I see a momma nursing a little one, I always try to say something to them, to encourage, and to let them know they are not alone. So don’t give up! If you’ve hit a struggle, seek guidance, seek someone who’s been there, and keep up the great work!” ~Renae, mother of 3
I already shared my “why I’m normalizing breastfeeding” story on fb, so I’m going to leave you with this one, which most closely resonates with my personal feelings:
“I had my heart and mind absolutely set on breastfeeding when I was pregnant with my first. We had a very tough start, so it was only through the support around me, as well as my commitment to making it work, that I was able to nurse her. My husband was a huge support. He knew I was dedicated ton breastfeeding, and he was committed to helping me in any way he could. There were days he’d literally feed me while I used two hands to cluster feed a newborn with a bad latch. Thankfully, my mom had nursed my youngest sister into toddlerhood while I was a teen, so I had a great role model and example of natural term nursing given to me at an impressionable age. Though I did receive some support from area lactation consultants to power through some of our early issues, the other most impactful person was a dentist, an expert in lip and tongue ties, I sought out myself. Because of his skilled revision and support and knowledge of breastfeeding, I was able to not only continue nursing my daughter through pregnancy, but tandem nurse her and my (also lip and tongue tied) son. For me, breastfeeding really took a village, and I am so grateful to have had one. Some of my life’s greatest blessings have been carrying, nursing, and gently nurturing my babies, and none of that belongs hidden away. Though I’m comfortable nursing in public and without a cover, my heart aches for a world where all families and society have that same comfort, and I believe we do that through normalizing it to our children. I need other mamas to feed their babies in front of my, and other, children. I need my daughter to see what a wonderful thing her body is capable of doing. I need my son to see that breasts are primarily for nourishing babies. We get to raise the next generation. The future. We have the chance to change things for our children, but we have to be bold enough to do it. Breastfeed your babies (and toddlers, and preschoolers), mamas. Anytime. Anywhere.” ~Kasey, mother of 2
Ashley Short Photography offers custom breastfeeding portrait sessions year-round. Call today to schedule your pre-design consultation. 419-231-1174. Photographing in NW Ohio, SW Michigan, and NE Indiana, including but not limited to Toledo, Lima, Wauseon, Defiance, Fort Wayne, Bryan, Napoleon and the surrounding areas.