The Milk Machines and what they mean to me and Hot Mama Gowns (and why I’m putting my wallet where my boobs are)
So, I’m going to dedicate this first paragraph or two to clearing the air on my feelings about formula feeders; yeah, I’m talking to you, and no I didn’t just call you a bad word!
Do I support breastfeeding, hellz yeah, with all my heart, soul and breasts; do I think that breast milk is what’s best for babies, yup; do I judge those who formula feed for whatever reason, NOPE! Here’s my angle, my non-Lactation Consultant, non-medically educated, Hot Mama opinion. Ha, here’s the best part, I’m nursing my 2 year old son as I attempt to get this blog post up!! Feel free to insert a gasp if you think that’s “too old”, no offense will be taken
I have met women, mothers, throughout my entire life whom had various points of view on not breastfeeding. Some thought it was gross and never gave it a chance, some felt it was unnatural, especially if they had a son, some thought it made them appear in a less socio-economic status than they were in (in other words, none of their other rich friends breastfed), some felt it was too time consuming, some felt it wasn’t fair for their husbands/partners or didn’t want to take on the responsibility of feeding primarily by themselves, some honestly confided it was for vanity reasons (thought it would make their boobs look like flap jacks when all was said and done or feared larger nipples, etc) and some flat out confessed it was for selfish reasons; so, I get it, I really have heard it all. And of course I could go on, but I’m sure you get the gist, but what I had to remind myself very early on was every woman is different, loves differently, mothers differently, and has different priorities than me, and who am I to judge?
I was not so pro-breastfeeding before I gave birth, I knew I wanted to do it but I certainly wasn’t fanatical about it, my husband also agreed he’d like his children to be breastfed and committed to supporting my efforts however he could. I was able to exclusively breastfeed our first born, our daughter for 15 months, no supplementation, no formula, all me (pats self on back). But I’ll be completely honest, it was simple for us, she was a great latcher and I never had any issues, no pain, no infections, no cracks (go ahead, hate me now!) the worst of any “problem” was the engorgement that came from waiting too long to feed her or pump, so I know now how fortunate I was, at that time I didn’t even know who or what a Lactation Consultant was, probably because I didn’t need one (nor did any visit me while in the hospital). So, enter child #2 (had to wean our daughter at 15 months in order to conceive), our son, I had the same expectations with breastfeeding, why wouldn’t I. I was working full time, pumping 4-6 times a day and then breastfeeding at night and in the morning and of course on weekends exclusively, but around month 6 I wasn’t able to keep up :( It was the stress of work, it was stress of being the only one taking care of 2 kids Mon-Fri since my husband travels, it was exhaustion, it was a lot of things. But I had to buy formula; I cried, and cried and cried, because this meant I was a failure, well that’s what I had been taught, or at least that was the message I was taking away from pro-breastfeeders at the time. I was EXTREMELY sensitive about it, so reading “Breast is Best” or any of the other various breastfeeding campaigns in magazines or on boards and forums only made me feel more guilty, more of a failure, more of a bad mother. You think I was an exception for feeling this way about formula, I would harshly disagree. Coming from where I was; an exclusive breastfeeder to a part-time formula feeder, really enabled me to see both “sides” if you will. It is a VERY fine line between being supportive and making a mother feel inadequate. And it may have nothing to do with the words you are speaking to her but her mental state at the time.
My mantra is: Support and lead by example. Support because we ALL need it, whether we ask for it or not (I’m a non-asker). And support can be as simple as a note card you drop in the mail once a week to let a friend know you are there for her and cheering her on and supporting her without judgment or a quick text, or an email, or a phone call, or sending her a batch of lactation cookies, or even researching lactation consultants in her area and finding out how much her insurance covers, however you can; SUPPORT. And lead by example, I’m not the preachy type, I was always (and still am) turned off by people who feel they need to cram a message down my throat and do so in an abrasive, harsh, direct way. I learn the most, and listen the closest, when the person has first understood where I’m coming from and what I need and then tailors their message accordingly. So I “do me”, I breastfeed, I talk about it, I share stories and resources, but I don’t push any of it. And you know what, you know what’s amazing to me, when friends/acquaintances/relatives/neighbors have questions or need help or want an opinion, they come to me. It’s like I’ve left my proverbial door open, and they know it, so when they are ready, and when they are in a good and accepting mental state, they come.
So I mention this to say, YES, I am extremely pro-breastfeeding and I would love EVERY mother to at least get the chance to breastfeed her child to feel the connection and marvel at the wonder of nourishment that is precisely formulated for her baby, but I also see, understand, and empathize with the “other” side.
As you know, the one AMAZING (if I do say so myself) feature of Hot Mama Gowns are the breastfeeding panels. They are truly unique and amazing, and not just because I designed them (okay, maybe 80% awesome because I designed them) but they give EVERY mother a chance to have that first latch in the hospital. And do so easily and discreetly, as some women are extremely fearful of “flashing” one of their family/guests in the room. And I designed the gowns to not be a one-time use only garment; they are sized, so they WILL fit Mom before, during AND after birth. Once the baby bump is gone Mom simply cinches in the ribbon-tied panels and now the gown is a cute, empire waisted nursing nightgown!
So now the part about putting my wallet where my boobs are! I have become infatuated with a non-profit organization; Best for Babes. They have coined phrases such as “Booby Traps”; meaning all the things that interfere with a Mom’s desire to breastfeed and also “Giving Breastfeeding a Makeover” which is literally bringing breastfeeding to the 21st century and campaigning FOR breastfeeding! I approached one of their co-founders Bettina Forbes and asked if I could support their cause. I hope to grow with them, and help to be a catalyst of support and leading by example (if I’m quoting myself) and as Hot Mama Gowns grows and conquers the Expecting Mama world I will grow our contribution to their amazing efforts. It is with excitement that I am committed to donating 5% of all our online sales of Hot Mama Gowns to Best for Babes!