It’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and nothing gets me more passionate than making sure babies eat.

I know that not every momma can breastfeed successfully. I also know what it’s like to have a preemie in the NICU and pump GALLONS of milk and then struggle for months afterward keeping up supply, getting a baby to latch and worrying about it the entire time.

Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt.

A couple of years ago, I wrote this post for Dianna on my best tips for breastfeeding. It’s good stuff, but now that I’m back in the trenches again, I think I’m better equipped to share how I went from the mom who used to nurse in the bathroom, sitting on a toilet, to abandoning the cover and just nursing anywhere and everywhere.

Truth be told, I never thought I’d be that mom. Yet, here I am. And here’s how I do it.

Become a Confident Breastfeeding Mamma

 Photo courtesy of Leilani Rogers

It took me six kids to get over myself. SIX. It might only take you two. What can I say? Slow learner. I had to move past the “I hope no one is staring at me” phase and just say to myself, “Let them look. This is normal.” It is soooo normal. The best part about living in Austin is that I rarely get a comment when breastfeeding. I usually get a kind smile or a pat on the shoulder, literally. At some point, you just have to realize that when your baby needs to eat, it’s time to get past your inhibitions and enjoy that moment.

Get yourself a decent nursing tank, nursing bra or Blanqi. For me, I wasn’t comfortable flashing my post-partum belly (enter the genius of the tank and the Blanqi) nor did I want to flash the world. The tanks have changed my nursing experience ten-fold this time around. Just this weekend I nursed my two-month-old in church. The fun caveat? Her brother decided at that moment he had to pee. And I was the only parent there. So, I stood up, continued nursing and took him to the bathroom. Nothing like taking Pope Francis’ words to heart: feed the babies! Just in the last month, I’ve nursed at church, paying for dinner at a restaurant, at A&M Coaches’ Night sitting next to our mascot Reveille, the park, the pool, a women’s conference, shopping and at a toy store.

Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not plan your day around nursing your child. Did I used to do that? Yes, yes I did. And I was horribly miserable. You should’ve seen me clocking my day around nursing at home before the next event then rushing home for the next feeding, or heading out to the van. I actually tear up thinking about that stupidity. We have no problem showing off boobs in the mall at Victoria’s Secret, yet I felt shamed enough to hide when feeding my baby? Y’all. Please don’t be me thirteen years ago. There is freedom in doing what your body was made to do. Nurture your child. Own it and love every flipping second.

Breastfeeding

Practice. Obviously with six years, plus, of nursing experience I’ve done a tiny bit of that. But, it took some fine-tuning of the whole unlatch the bra, get the baby latched on all without flashing the world, before I felt comfortable enough to practice those mad skillz in public. You’ll get there. Be patient with yourself. And, if a bit of your cleavage or soft postpartum belly gets seen, it’s no big shake. Really.

Surround yourself with supportive moms. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I’ve learned from my fellow breastfeeding mommas. Dawn showed me how to nurse with confidence. Janet reminded me of its beauty. Amanda was an example of nursing without fear. Sharon reminded me that sometimes nursing doesn’t come easily (or at all) but I was not a failure. Leilani captured it on film. And countless others were a beacon of love and laughter on the hard days and rejoiced with me on the kick ass ones.

Know when to ask for help. Whether you’re having trouble with latching, milk supply, modesty in public, mastitis, guilt over weaning – whatever – find someone who can help you navigate the unknown. Shoot, if you can’t find someone, email me! Nursing is a journey. Long for some, short for others. There is no shame in the length of yours. Only joy. Never forget that.

It was my honor to participate in the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project, the dream of Leilani Rogers (you might remember her from my birth photos). Quite honestly, it was at her urging with the project that I began to nurse so openly. So freely. It’s my desire that her passion for breastfeeding encourages another mom out there like me to just get out there and nurse. Truly, many of my most cherished moments of motherhood have been while a babe has been at my breast, sucking away. There is such beauty in that moment. And the world deserves to see that love.

If you’d like to read more about the project, you can check out BabyCenter.com, the Huffington Post or Leilani’s Facebook page.

27 Comments

  1. Dianna @ The Kennedy Adventures on August 6, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Standing up and applauding ….. I love you!

    I had a trial by fire of nursing in public with Rachel (#2) — Good Friday, at a church in our neighborhood, we went to outdoor Stations of the Cross. Rachel needed to eat, so we went inside the church …. all glass. I was a wee nervous, but my mother in law reminded my husband …”You just tell her it’s not illegal to breastfeed that baby in public.”

    I laughed, and nursed her there in church, marveling at the beauty of the sanctuary, the tiny life in my arms, and the amazing way God created mother’s bodies.

    My children have always been ones to throw off a cover, so I don’t even bother with those. Like you, nursing tanks are my close friend.

    And, hey ….. I’m PROUD OF YOU!!!

  2. Nicole on August 6, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Breastfeeding is 100% natural. I have 3 years under my belt, and even at the end I was still a shy one about the process. I was not shy, however, in telling people that I needed to do what I need to do. I hear moms that sound completely embarassed by even mentioning the term breastfeeding! Most of my “public” breastfeeding was done under a cover.

    I have nursed in restaurants, church, middle of birthday parties, park bench, airplanes, etc. Funny story about nursing on an airplane? I was in the aisle seat. Across the aisle from me was a man in his mid-late 20’s. I pulled out a cover and started nursing my son at take-off. The man across the aisle was SO embarrassed, that he held his magazine (Maxim of all things) up to his face until he was sure we were finished. Hilarious! I wanted to lean over and tell him the women in that magazine whose cleavage he’s looking at may be used for the same thing one day.

    Good for you for promoting such an important cause. I think ALL of your advice is spot on!

    • Dianna @ The Kennedy Adventures on August 6, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      I’m laughing so hard (while I’m pumping,mind you!) ….. of all the magazines, of course it was Maxim. What irony!

  3. Audrey on August 6, 2014 at 9:38 am

    I bottle fed all 4 of my boys, though I tried with my last to give breastfeeding a go. He and I couldn’t make it work and I’m ok with that (with some sadness). No matter how we feed our babies, we should feel free to do so when they need it no matter where we are. I gave my babies bottles at the mall, the beach, during siblings’ therapy appts. Why shouldn’t a breastfeeding momma also?

    I applaud you for taking this journey for the 6th time when there are so many more demands on your time and attention and handing the baby and a bottle to someone else would sometimes seem easier. My boys sometimes ask what a baby is doing when they seeing a baby breastfeeding. I always give them a truthful and simple answer: that baby is getting his milk from his mommy. Applause to you for sharing your experience with us!

  4. Teresa on August 6, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Thank you Kathryn!! I’ve nursed all 4 of our boys over the course of 12 years….each baby nursed 12-15 months. Sadly, we’ve come to the point where our littlest one (also our last baby) is coming up on weaning. It’s going to be quite a bittersweet feeling and will miss nursing very much but knowing that I have given them the best possible nourishment for the first year of their life makes me very happy and would do it all over again! 🙂

  5. Haley @ Carrots for Michaelmas on August 6, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    So good! The photos are gorgeous, too!

  6. Nicole on August 6, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Hey lady! Thanks for being there to help me all of those times I needed advice! I still can’t believe I nursed one of ours for 14 months when I almost never even started… I never was that ‘open’ – or able to nurse in public or even in front of other people. you are doing so awesome!

  7. Rachael Bailey on August 6, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Good for you! It took me a few years to settle into this too. I remember nursing my first baby under–I kid you not–a king-size quilt because I was so nervous about accidentally flashing people at a family reunion! Oh man. Fast forward a few years and I was able to nonchalantly nurse my fourth while walking up a flight of stairs in Chicago (my fifth was another story, as he required complete and total silence/darkness to even have a whisper of a prayer’s chance of getting him to nurse).

  8. Mary Helen (A Helping of Home) on August 6, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    These are beautiful pictures! I must testify to how important having supportive moms/people are really is! I’m definitely a more ‘self-conscious’ type, and even though my baby is my second, she’s my first really breastfed one. (My first was a NICU/pump all the time one! I feel your pain there!!) ANYWAY, without the support of so many other moms, I would’ve never been as comfortable as I am nursing in public. Having a 3 year old around who can’t stand being stuck in the house, it would have made life so much more difficult.

  9. Laura on August 6, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Beautifully and wisely said. You’ve reminded me of all the mothers along the way who have helped me grow in confidence as a nursing mom. I could not have come this far without a big village helping to support me!

  10. Marcie on August 7, 2014 at 5:21 am

    Thank you for this wonderful post! I am nursing #2. What nursing tanks do you recommend? Do you like the Blanqi? Thanks!

    • Kathryn on August 7, 2014 at 7:48 am

      Go Marcie! I use the H&M tanks and love them (got them online) and the Blanqi nursing tank is great with my nursing bra. It also holds up my unbuttoned postpartum pants (got it via Target online).

  11. […] So a fun thing happened this week. Luke, Gianna and I were in the Huffington Post. What?! You might remember me chatting about the public breastfeeding awareness project (#PBAP2014) I participated in with photographer Leilani Rogers. Well, it kinda went viral this week. Not only was I ecstatic for Lei, but even more so for every momma out there who needed a breastfeeding boost. Feed the babies, y’all! It was such an honor to participate. And to all the haters that say we should cover up, head to the bathroom or nurse before leaving the house, I say {ahem} something not very nice. Oh, and here’s our pic. If you’re looking for a few tips on becoming a confident breastfeeding mamma, I have a few. […]

  12. Karen on August 8, 2014 at 12:57 am

    Wow. Great post. I am nursing my third right now and also used to nurse in the bathroom. I was feeling a little nervous about this one in public, but honestly your post was so inspiring. Yes, feed the babies. The Pope, wow.

    And great tip on the H&M tanks. There’s one near my house and I’m stopping there tomorrow. The Blanqi is confusing to me. It is supposed to be below your breasts so that it doesn’t need to be pulled down? And it’s really worth $70? Target has some on clearance.

    Thank you, love the pictures, love the post! I book marked it to save for days when I need encouragement.

  13. Anna on August 8, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Love this post! And I LOVE the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project!

    I wear a nursing bra, then a cheap, stretchy cami ($1.50 at forever21) and then I usually wear a looser, more flowing top over that. Shirt, comes up, cami comes down, my flabby tum is covered and the flowing top shirt ensure that not too much bosom is exposed!

  14. Linda on August 8, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Great post! Reading this while I nurse my 1 month old actually! And I’m completely the mom that plans her day around nursing sessions. I haven’t gotten to that comfort zone of nursing in public yet. It’s so frustrating! Hopefully I’ll get there one of these days. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Kathryn on August 14, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      Linda, I think the comfort only comes with time. And, admittedly I still find myself a little nervous in certain situations, only because I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable!

  15. This Week’s Miscellany: Vol. 98 on August 8, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    […] Be a Confident Breastfeeding Mama: Team Whitaker […]

  16. Joanne Kibbe on August 8, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Yesterday I was working at the pool store and I was nursing Monica and someone came in and needed something. The other lady was on the phone so we just walked out (with a nursing cover – because I’m not quite where you are… yet : ) and helped the man and he went on his way. He actually apologized for some reason and I tried to assure him making his change and giving him his receipt one-handed was totally fine and normal.

    • Kathryn on August 14, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      You go, Joanne! I tend to think women are more judgmental than men. The boys hardly notice we’re doing it!

  17. Kendra Tierney on August 8, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Love this Kathryn! I’ve been so blessed to have been around confident nursers almost my entire mothering career. It makes such a difference. It took the internet to make me realize that there were even people who were against public nursing!

    • Kathryn on August 14, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      Ha. I know! Having a cadre of supportive moms made ALL the difference for me.

  18. Gina on August 8, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    I love this post! I am nursing my 3rd child who turned two (was a 27 week preemie… Got the shirt for pumping gallons of liquid gold and sharing with the milk bank) Every time I would consider weaning, a little voice told me, “no don’t stop.” Today we found out he has an allergy to cow’s milk that has been causing bleeding in his lungs. So you can bet I’m not stopping, and I will nurse him wherever he wants! 🙂

  19. Carol on May 26, 2015 at 6:46 am

    I loved reading this post! You made me cry it was so beautiful! I have been nursing on and off (mostly on) over the past 23 years with my eight children. I was very hesitant nursing in the presence of non-family members with my first children. Thanks be to God, and the intercession of the saints, and the lovely example of other confident nursing mothers, that has gradually changed over the years. This past weekend we were at a wedding. My youngest is now nursing just a few times a day, (and probably hadn’t nursed in public the past half year or so). As the reception wore on, I realized that it had been a very, very long day for him (and suggested that he might like “a little something”). I had the joy of watching him fall asleep in my arms while nursing… while the dance was going on beside us at the dance floor, and the waiter was clearing off the table around me. 23 years ago, I would have never dreamed that I would one day nurse a 35 month old child in public!

    It’s been a beautiful journey. So glad that you’ve also had a similar journey of your own. It is a good and beautiful thing to be able to, not only feed our child at our own breast, but also to comfort him and console him with nursing, too.

    God bless you, Kathryn! Thanks for sharing this! I am sure it is a lovely example to young mothers who are reading it!

    • Kathryn on May 26, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      Oh, what a sweet thing to share, Carol. Thank you!

  20. sarah isis (@disisd) on March 16, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    You inspire me truly!
    It’s definitely one of my most favorite things in the world — nursing my baby. 🙂

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