After 9 months of growing a little human inside you, your baby is now earth side and it’s time for the next part of your journey to start, feeding.
This can be one of the most challenging activities you will go through with your baby. You are learning to be a mum and trying to feed, and your baby is learning about being outside the womb and how to be your baby. Your bundle of joy has never experienced hunger before and now all of a sudden, it does. This new experience is daunting and the only way your baby can communicate is through crying.
Your breasts are working overtime and it takes a couple of days for them to start producing milk and during this time, you feel like your baby is getting barely anything from you because they are constantly on the boob. You feel like all your baby does is feed and sleep!
It was at this stage of my journey that I felt I was doing something wrong, that I wasn’t giving my son enough nutrients and it was my fault he was losing weight. But I was rest assured, this was all normal. After many visits from the lactation consultant in the first couple of days after becoming a brand new mother, we started to learn together how to latch and how to feed. My sore and cracked nipples ached every time he fed and tears streamed down my face with the pain I was experiencing. He was so hungry and my milk was delayed because of the emergency C section we had. I did everything to try and get my milk to come in quickly – pumping, drinking lots of water, eating good foods etc. but in the end, we both just needed to be patient. Leaving hospital, it was suggested that we do supplement feeding with formula due to his weight loss. We arranged another appointment with the lactation consultant for a couple of days’ time, so I thought, let’s give this breastfeeding thing a go first and we’ll see what happens.
Days later, hallelujah… the milk has arrived! Your hard and uncomfortable breasts now work to satisfy the hunger of your little baby. Now the fun beings as you start to juggle breastfeeding with everything else you have going on around you. Remembering which side to feed off? Is your baby getting enough? And how do I stop these leaky boobs?, are thoughts that constantly go through your head.
Babies and breasts are amazing things you know! I often thought that my baby’s feeding sessions where so long because he wasn’t getting enough, but actually he was telling my breasts to keep the milk orders coming.
As the newborn phase starts to pass and you and your baby start to get into the rhythm together, you start thinking to yourself about how long you can breastfeed for? I said to myself, that if I can get to 3 months great and anything pass that, would be a bonus. At 2 months we had a setback in our feeding as we found out my son was dairy sensitive. Every feed I was giving him was poison to his little body. I felt so guilty and this was a very hard time for us. To continue my breastfeeding journey, I needed to eliminate all dairy from my diet and for my milk to be clean from dairy; this was going to take at least 6 long weeks. But he still needed to be fed and with every feed, he would scream in pain! We past our 3 month goal without even knowing it as we were so focused on getting the dairy removed from my milk. And once this happened, everything seemed to change for us. It started to get better, easier and I even become a little more confident breastfeeding in public, even though I looked so awkward doing it.
So the 6 month breastfeeding goal was set. Half a year of breastfeeding is an incredible achievement and according to the boob status trends, this is when you can claim your Silver boobs. This reward system has swamped the internet and retailers through offering mothers incentives, milestone cards or gifts for achieving these moments.
And yes, you should be proud of these achievements, but for me it was more than just that. It was a point that my baby and I got to, despite all the challenges we had faced. It was a point to symbolise the moment and hold onto the past. Without the past events, we might not have made it to the 6 month breastfeeding milestone. This was an acknowledgement of our journey and I wanted something to symbolise this. That’s when I came across breastmilk jewellery. A tangible way for me to put all of these feelings, emotions and experiences into a piece of jewellery I could look at forever. This is when I made my Halo ring.
With the trend of breastfeeding awards, and if you’re a mother like me, every 6 month was a new goal to achieve and a new point in our journey to celebrate. Just before our 12 month milestone, I had the opportunity to be a part of a breastfeeding photo shoot with a number of other ladies celebrating this part of motherhood. Proudly wearing my breastmilk ring, we all dressed in white and fed our little ones in front of the camera to capture this moment. This is how we celebrated our 12 month milestone.
A gorgeous mama that I worked with around Christmas time was celebrating her 12 month milestone of breastfeeding. She suggested to her husband that she would like a set of earrings for Christmas to help her celebrate this moment in her motherhood journey. Not only did she want to celebrate this milestone, she wanted to celebrate the bond she had with her little girl and reward herself for her commitment she made to pumping while returning to the work force. Her husband was so proud of her that he did not hesitate to place the order for the breastmilk earrings. Being able to create this truly special pair of earrings as a gift for this mama was very touching.
For my 18 month milestone, I just ate cake! A piece of delicious dairy free cake that I had been eyeing off for a while and knew this was how I wanted to reward this moment. I also decided a little shopping trip was in order and brought myself some new breastfeeding bras to support my amazing boobs that had done this incredible job.
Unfortunately, we didn’t reach the “diamond boob” status as my son naturally weaned a month shy of this point. My doctor did warn me this could happen because my milk would taste different as I was pregnant again. I am happy that he was able to wean naturally as this is the way I wanted it from the start. We started our breastfeeding journey naturally and this is the way we would end it as well.
Just before Christmas I had the pleasure of working with another mother that had made it to her 2 year breastfeeding milestone and had continued to breastfeed through her pregnancy. She wanted to hold onto this moment with her son, before the twins came along. The bond that she had created was very precious and this was something she wanted to cherish in a European bead for her Pandora bracelet. Using her own breastmilk and a lock of his hair, I hand made her a smooth bead showcasing the true colours of each inclusion.
Everybody celebrates breastfeeding and breastfeeding milestones in different ways and for most mothers, this part of our journey can be challenging but also very rewarding. Babies do get more efficient at breastfeeding as they get older and we get more confident in our abilities as time passes. We are continuing to learn together and through this process, a beautiful bond is created. I see a lot of mothers asking on forums how long they should feed their little ones and how often should the feed? I think that if you are feeding on demand and if you are happy and your baby is happy, feed for as long as you like. Those decisions are yours to make and nobody else’s. But can I encourage you to do one thing? Celebrate each milestone you set for yourself! Be proud of yourself and your abilities and cherish the moment because it only happens once with your baby. You don’t need to reward yourself with a gift, a shopping trip, a photo session or piece of jewellery, maybe eating cake is the perfect solution for you, but whatever you choose to do, celebrate this moment just for you.
I’m the memory preserver and breastmilk artisan at Your Journey Keepsakes. I am a mum of a toddler boy and have another on the way very shortly. I cherish family life, am a coffee lover, enjoy exploring this beautiful world of ours and am a creative soul.