October is also Pregnancy + Infant Loss Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My guest blogger this week is a dear friend that I met in college. Marissa Huggins is a fashion/content blogger in Cary, North Carolina. She is an intelligent, funny, stylish wife, mother and model. She also has a passion for breastfeeding which is something we have in common. Marissa was the first woman to really urge me to check my breasts monthly for lumps and what do you know... Her advice led me to this situation a few years ago. I am forever grateful to her for her urgency regarding my boobs :) I haven't seen her beautiful face up close in a while, but I hope to change that this month!
Hi besties, I’m Marissa! Busy mom of 3 with my husband and partner in crime Larry! I’m a huge advocate for breastfeeding, though ultimately, I think FED is best! I believe in women and mothers supporting one another and squashing the mom wars and just because we’re moms doesn’t mean we should lose our sense of individuality or style! I blog over at Shabby Chic + Cheap where I focus on living my best life on a budget! Come say hi sometime!
2. Were you/your siblings breastfed?
I was breastfed as a baby and actually my mom had a difficult time weaning me! My mom tried to breastfeed my sister, but she just didn’t seem to take to breastmilk and actually preferred formula. So my mom formula fed her.
3. What made you decide to breastfeed your first child?
If I am being honest here, the price of formula is what initially drove my decision to breastfeed, my husband and I were not in a position financially to be able to afford $30 cans of formula. While finances may have initially driven my decision to nurse, the bond I experienced while nursing my son is what drove me to continue and also what determined my decision to nurse my other 2 children.
4. What were the best & hardest parts of starting your breastfeeding journey both personally and professionally?
For me the hardest part professionally was actually having the time and a comfortable place to pump at work. My employers were always accommodating but it still felt like I was inconveniencing them. With my first born I actually had to pump in a storage closet that was filled with random chairs and equipment and was actually a safety hazard to enter and leave. I had to share with another mom that was pumping and sometimes our schedules would collide and there was only one room to use so one of us would have to wait. Any mom who breastfeeds knows that waiting can lead to engorged breast or leaks…neither of which you want to deal with! As for personally, with my first born the hardest part was feeling comfortable enough to nurse him in public, I definitely nursed in my fair share of bathrooms with him, as I got older and with my daughter and youngest I felt more confident in nursing and less embarrassed. I nursed them EVERY WHERE!
5. What did you learn about yourself and your support system while breastfeeding your first child?
I had a very encouraging support system of family and FRamily (friends that are family) with all 3 of my children. My friend Shawna was present for all 3 of my children’s births and has been such a huge supporter of me breastfeeding and also of self-care. She never fails to remind me to take some time to take care of myself and most importantly to NOT FEEL GUILTY about it! My husband and best friend Nayrha were fantastic at supporting my decision of child led weaning. I had so many people ask how long was I going to breastfeed and when was I going to wean from family and friends. They always supported my decision which made me feel confident that I was making the right choice and doing what was best for each of my children.
6. With your third child turning a year old soon, what are your feelings regarding weaning?
AJ turned 1 in May and I can’t believe that a year has flown by that quickly! We are still nursing, though of course he eats table food as well. At this point in our nursing journey he mostly just nurses after school and before bed during the week. On the weekends you can usually find him attached to my boob more frequently during the day!
7. How do you think breastfeeding has impacted your children's thoughts on body image?
I hope that they see a woman’s body isn’t something to be objectified, that it was created by God to do amazing things. To carry life and sustain it. I hope they see that there is nothing strange or embarrassing about breastfeeding and that it is actually something quite beautiful and profound.
8. What moved you to start @breastfeedingaroundraleigh? What is your main goal/mission?
I was inspired to start @breastfeedingaroundraleigh after sharing several pictures on my @shabbychiccheap account of me nursing AJ in public places and receiving quite a few likes. I thought it would be a great account to start to be an inspiration and support to other nursing moms in Raleigh and beyond. A place to foster community for nursing moms to share their pictures and stories with me. And also a place where they could see themselves reflected in the pictures and post I share.
9. What advice do you have for first time breastfeeders?
I would tell a first-time breastfeeding mom to do what feels comfortable to her. Everyone has an opinion even the people that support you! If you don’t feel comfortable nursing in public that’s ok, if you do and the baby is hungry then that’s ok too! I don’t think there is a right or wrong way or a perfect amount of time to nurse. Do what feels best for you, baby, and your milk supply.
10. Please list any general tips or tricks for breastfeeding that worked (or didn't work) well for you.
With all three of my kids I had to take supplements to help increase my milk supply, with my son I thought this meant I was not doing something right or that something was wrong with my body. I couldn’t have been further from the truth! It’s natural for a woman’s milk supply to decrease and increase, stressing about it doesn’t help matters. It’s ok to take supplements! And when the time comes for weaning when you’re ready, the cabbage leaves trick actually really works! I would also recommend pumping on the side that the baby didn’t nurse on to help alleviate and prevent pain and build up and also keep your supply flowing.
11. What has your breastfeeding journey taught you?
Whew! This is such a deep question, but I’ll try to keep it short! I think overall my journey has taught me to love my body. It’s not always easy, but I am in awe of what my body can do. How much stronger it is than I ever thought. My 3rd pregnancy was very rough and I had quite a few health complications and I was on bed rest and yet AJ is here just as perfect as ever! He latched on in the hospital and we’ve been nursing, bonding and growing ever since! It really is such a one of a kind experience and it’s different with each child. I’m so grateful I’ve been able to have this experience 3 times. I know I’ll be sad when AJ is ready to wean because he’s my last baby (we are so DONE having kids! LOL!).
12. What does "normalize breastfeeding" mean to you?
To me, normalizing breastfeeding means to stop criticizing moms for nursing their children in public, to stop SEXUALIZING something that is so completely normal and NATURAL! Stop mom shaming mothers who choose to breastfeed (and bottle-feed too). The mom shaming just needs to stop in general honestly.
13. Pumping. Dos and donts? Tips? Pump recommendations? Have you ever had to pump in an awkward place or had limited time? How did you handle it?
I am probably the worst person to ask for pumping advice because I hate pumping! One thing I will say though, is to invest in a quality pump because it makes a huge difference. I am a big fan of the Medela brand and highly recommend them.
If you see Marissa around Raleigh or Cary (breastfeeding or not), say hello!
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