Welcome back to our 'Milkbar Mamas' series where we speak to women all over Australia about how breastfeeding unfolded for them because nothing #normalisesbreastfeeding more than writing, speaking and sharing all things boobin' related.
From first time mamas to exclusive pumpers, those battling over and under supply, tongue ties, mastitis and everything in between, we are SO excited to share their words and experiences with you. We hope these stories will inspire, give you some tips for your own breastfeeding experience and help those walking a similar path to feel less alone.
In this Milkbar Mama interview I speak with Courtney about her different experience feeding her 2 sons, and the importance of support and normalising breastfeeding.
Hey Courtney, tell us a little about yourself.
Hey there! My name is Courtney, I'm a 29 year old stay at home mum to 2 gorgeous, spirited, loving boys (Maxwell, 3, and Harrison, 17 months) and wife to my loving and supportive hubby Daniel. I love being a mum and definitely count my blessings (even on those really tough days...they happen lol) to be surrounded by my beautiful boys.
How would you summarize your breastfeeding journey so far?
A whirlwind of challenges, persistence, determination and love.
What surprised you most about breastfeeding?
I think I was surprised about the assumption, (my own and that of others) that it is something that comes easy to you and your baby. That it's natural and our bodies and babies SHOULD be able to breast feed.
That was until I had my 1st born Maxwell. Who was born with a tongue tie and that's where I realised it's not that easy. I ended up pumping for him for 13 months.
Has your experience of breastfeeding differed much between your children?
Oh most definitely. Two completely different feeding journeys. I exclusively pumped for Maxwell for 13 months. I started off as an over supplier but as he got older, and diet had to change due to his allergies, my milk supply dropped. I really enjoyed pumping for him, but it was often stressful and tiring.
With my second born son, Harrison, he was pulled out and looked for the boob instantly. He latched about an hour after our c-section...and feels like he's never unlatched haha 17 months on and still Breastfeeding. Very proud of both my boys and our breastfeeding journeys.
Were the things that you learned or experienced the first time round that influenced your second experience?
I learnt that they are your breasts and your baby. You handle them both with TLC. Try your best, and don't let anyone get in your head.
A midwife told me I wasn't trying hard enough with my first born Maxwell. That was before we knew about his tongue tie. But the words that came out of her mouth broke me. I was devastated that my absolute best wasn't enough...well to her anyway. I tried my hardest for 13 months and I'm damn proud of it.
When I gave birth to Harrison, I felt this overwhelming sense of ownership over my breast and my baby. We started our breastfeeding journey with no assistance, no shaming...just natural and personal. I remember when Harrison latched for the 1st time, I burst into happy tears.
Also I learnt that your supply doesn't define you as a mother.
You were recently part of a beautiful photoshoot for 'The Australian Breastfeeding Project: Feeding the Change'. How did you come to be involved in the photoshoot and the Project?
I have been following The Australian Breastfeeding Project for some time now and fully support and love the project. I have been subjected to remarks and looks of 'disgust' or 'shame' when breast feeding in public and I believe that the more knowledge and awareness people have of the benefits of breastfeeding as well as seeing more women unite and feed in public...I hope starts to change people's views.
When I saw I could be part of the photoshoot for ABP - I jumped at the opportunity. I adore the photos and have such a beautiful memory to look back on as well as spreading awareness.
What do you believe are the key ways that we can help normalise and de-stigmatise breastfeeding?
The more society sees something, the more they get to use it and hopefully comfortable with it.
Mothers shouldn't be forced to feed or pump on dirty toilets, or made to feel like they have to run to the parent's room at the other end of the shopping centre with a screaming hungry babe. Or better yet, be told to cover up.
The last few years society as a whole has had to mask up. but we have always been allowed to unmask to eat. Why should babies be covered when feeding? It's not right.
If breastfeeding women feel supported to feed in public, the more society sees it, the more it gets accepted.
What was the most valuable source of knowledge that helped and supported you on your feeding journey so far?
Other breastfeeding women. Whether it was me asking my mum 100 questions from her breast feeding journeys, talking to my local lactation consultant, or the members of the mothers groups on facebook. We have all had different experiences and support for each other. Don't be afraid to ask questions or share experiences as you don't know who you could help too.
What would be your number 1 tip / words of wisdom for other breastfeeding mamas / mamas-to-be?
It gets easier. The 1st few weeks are tough. Really rough. Sore and bleeding nipples, sleep deprivation from cluster feeding, leaking through all your shirts. But it gets easier.
And it's all worth it when you see your baby thrive and it's because of your perseverance and liquid gold.
Thank you, Courtney!