Tanashia’s Story: Breastfeeding despite lack of family support

Tanashia is the mother of three breastfed daughters ages 9, 4, and 3 months. Her older daughters self-weaned at ages 13 months and 16 months. Tanashia blogs about pregnancy, birth, parenting and family life at The Tallahassee Huffs.

What motivated you to breastfeed?

I have always known that I would breastfeed my babies.  As a child I didn’t know that it was the best thing to do, but I knew that I would.

What is the history of breastfeeding like in your family?

My grandmother breastfed her six children, but because she had to.  My mother & her sisters did not breastfeed.  My sisters & my cousins did not breastfeed.  I was the first to breastfeed in my generation.  My mother & grandmother could not understand why I didn’t give my baby formula since I could afford it!

What was your attitude toward breastfeeding before having done it yourself?

I have always had a positive attitude toward breastfeeding.  Formula was never an option.

What were the early days of breastfeeding like?

The early days were extremely difficult.  Unfortunately, I had not taken any classes or read any books.  I assumed it would come easy because it was “natural.” I wasn’t prepared for engorgement, leaking breast, and a let-down that could take an eye out.  I remember going to Walmart 3 day post partum trying to find a nursing bra & pads.  It was not fun! My mom & younger sister were there for me the first few weeks, but couldn’t help because they had never done it themselves.  Actually, my mom was quite unsupportive because she could not understand why I was doing it.  She thought it was “nasty.” My husband encouraged me because he knew it was best & that it was important to me.

What has been your biggest breastfeeding-related challenge?

My biggest challenge has not been breastfeeding itself.  It has been educating my family about breastfeeding & encouraging them to be supportive.  It doesn’t feel good when your own family makes things difficult for you.

What has been easiest about breastfeeding?

The easiest thing about breastfeeding is not having to get out of bed to make a bottle!  I honestly cannot imagine having to prepare & wash countless bottles.

How has breastfeeding changed from one child to the next?

I now have three children.  Their ages are 9 yrs, 4yrs, and 3mos.  The biggest change is my confidence.  I’m not anxious about nursing in public & I’m not afraid to take on a negative person about the benefits of breastfeeding.

How long did/will you breastfeed? How long exclusively?

I breastfed my first child for 13mos.  She started taking solids at 9mos.  My second daughter started solids at 6mos and breastfed until she was 16mos.  Both of them self-weaned.  My current plan is to allow my baby to nurse as long as she likes & introduce solids when she displays signs of interest.

Who have been your breastfeeding role models?

I have one breastfeeding role model.  She is my God-sister.  She had her first baby when I was 13 yrs old.  She came to our home to visit and I saw her breastfeed her baby.  She was the first woman I saw do this.  Her mom made her leave the living room “cause don’t nobody want to see you doing that.” I followed her & was full of amazement.  Despite the negative response from her own mother, she continued to nurse.  She also nursed her second child!

How did you learn to breastfeed?

I just figured it out on my own….trial & error.

What’s the best/worst breastfeeding advice you’ve ever received?

The worst breastfeeding advice I have ever received was about pumping.  I started pumping way too soon with my first & was always engorged.  The best advice I’ve ever received was to allow my milk supply to level off (at least a month) before pumping.

Have you experienced any negative reactions from others regarding breastfeeding?

Yes, I have.  Unfortunately, it has mainly been my own female family members.  One associated my breastmilk with my urine…a waste product!

Who has been your biggest supporter about breastfeeding?

My husband has been my biggest supporter.  He truly understands that it is what’s best for me & our babies.

What is/was your breastfeeding routine like?

I breastfeed on demand.  I pay attention to her cues & nurse when she wants to.  No specific routine.

How do/did you handle separations from your breastfeeding child?

I recently returned to work after 12wks of maternity leave.  Thankfully, I work in an environment that is breastfeeding friendly.  I have been able to pump every 4hrs during a 12hr shift and then nurse her when I am home.

Is there anything that you wish you would have done differently?

The excessive pumping with the first child is the only thing I wish I would have done differently.

What would you say to a woman who is unsure about whether or not to breastfeed?

I would strongly encourage her to do some research.  All of the evidence supports breastfeeding, but it is a personal choice.  With my encouragement, one of my sisters did breastfeed her baby girl for 6mos!!  She recently thanked me for that.

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6 thoughts on “Tanashia’s Story: Breastfeeding despite lack of family support

  1. Chisma says:

    I am so happy that you shared your experience. I am presently about to start an intitiative to educate black woman specifically and woman in general about the importnce of breastfeeding.

    My mother did not support me breastfeeding, only because she did not understand.

    Your experience, reminded me of the importance of teaching ALL those who will listen….so that maybe the will be more supportive.

    Thank you

  2. Kelly says:

    Hello!! Im so glad to have found this site and luv the stories. My nationality is Ecuadorian and presently bf my 10 month old daughter. I havent had any negative comments from family or friends… thank God! On the contrary, as a result of EBF, I have encouraged ladies that probably wouldn’t have bf at all bcuz of lack of info to do so.

    My grandmother bf her 10 kids f/ 2 yrs each. She spaced her babies out by bf!! My mother bf her 5 kids and I grew up thinking it was just a norm. Now, as a mother of 2, Im well informed & understand the benefits.

    Keep the stories coming!! I will be sharing this site w/ my friends… Receive w/out limits!!

  3. therrs says:

    Fantastic, really helpful re: let your milk level off before pumping! I’m on son #4 and I wish someone would have told me this sooner 🙂

    -Becky

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