All women who have breastfed knows that it's not always a walk in the park. It's not at all as easy as most nursing photos suggest, especially if you're a first-time mom. Heck, even doctors admit that they have difficulty getting their groove in breastfeeding. Sometimes it helps to get one's frustrations about breastfeeding out in the open. Just saying it can validate one’s feelings and help her strive to overcome the challenges.
The mom behind Instagram's The Nashville Bump, Leah Beyer, had just given birth to her first child, a daughter named Penelope, when she posted an honest but passionate post about breastfeeding. In her message, she candidly spoke about what possibly every new mom feels about nursing.
"Breastfeeding is hard. It's really, really hard. Sometimes I can't even explain what makes it so difficult,” Leah began. "The uncertainty, second guessing, responsibility, commitment, discomfort, just to name a few. We trusted our bodies to grow our babies for nine months, and now we have to trust our body to supply the nourishment for our babe's growth and development. Talk about pressure."
The personal fitness instructor went on to list the things that crossed her mind while nursing: Is her baby getting too much or too little milk? Is she having a plugged duct or even mastitis (a painful condition wherein a woman's breast tissue becomes inflamed)? Her daily anxieties resonated with many moms.
Here are a few edited excerpts from the comments on Leah's Instagram post:
@victoriacooper83: "I'm so pleased I'm not alone in this, thank you for being so honest, @thenashvillebump. I'm breastfeeding, and the second guessing, if my baby boy is getting enough [breast milk], has me worried sick."
@rhocsl: "[Breastfeeding] is so difficult sometimes. And saying it makes me feel guilty. Your message was very helpful; I am not alone or a bad mom."
@lostgreencat: "With my fourth child (8 weeks old), I have only just gotten the hang of breastfeeding...well mostly. We need to be supportive of moms. Breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be learned, I think, like reading or math. Some people learn it easier than others. And some people just can't. As long as your child has milk in their belly, formula or breast, be kind to your fellow mom. We are all doing our best."
"In the end, [breast]fed is best. That's what matters," Leah reminds all mothers. The new mom ends her post with a shout-out of support to all breastfeeding moms: “So mama, you're hearing it from me, you're not going crazy, it is hard, but you're doing good. Keep going!”
Leah said that seeing photos of mothers blissfully breastfeeding their babies on social media prompted her to write her message. She thought it was going to be easy for her as well. "It seemed so easy and natural for them, but even things that are easy and natural can be a learning experience for many people," Leah told The Huffington Post. "It takes more than a breast to feed a baby! It takes time, patience, support, proper nutrition, confidence and sometimes professional help to overcome your breastfeeding struggles."
Leah, who struggled with infertility for more than two years before Penelope came along, started her Instagram page when she was just 13 weeks pregnant to document her journey to motherhood. "Documenting my pregnancy and postpartum journey online began as a fun activity and morphed into an amazing way to connect with and support mothers all over the world," she told The Daily Mail. She's thankful for the support, love, and encouragement from the "Instagram village."
While Leah is committed to breastfeeding -- in fact, she has sought help from a lactation consultant -- she has nothing but support for moms who opt for alternative feeding options for their baby. "Mothers know what the best decision for themselves, baby and family are. Those who-who choose to exclusively pump, bottle-feed, supplement, formula feed or breastfeed all need a lot of support," she says.