Breastfeeding is arguably one of the most natural things a woman can do, but the topic is fraught. Whether it’s where you can do it, whether you should do it or how you do it, everyone seems to have an opinion.
The image in many peoples’ minds is that breastfeeding is an easy, natural and serene experience that bonds women with their babies.
Remember when supermodel Gisele Bunchden posted a photo of herself breastfeeding, looking gorgeous and serene, as her glam squad made her even more beautiful?
That photo hit a nerve with many mothers, who say nursing a baby isn’t usually that glamorous. Or painless. Or easy. The list goes on.
Now, one brave new mom has shared some refreshingly honest selfies that show that the reality of breastfeeding can look a lot different than the idealized image.
In honor of National Breastfeeding Week, mom and photographer Angela Burzo shared the sweet snap below on July 30.
In the caption, she wrote: “Trying to tackle this breastfeeding life. Serious power to the women who can and to the women who have the power to walk away.”
Then about a week later, Burzo shared a tearstained photo of herself attempting to breastfeed with a harsh dose of reality: Breastfeeding is beautiful and natural and easy—and often it is not.
“This is my reality right now,” Burzo wrote on her post from Aug. 8. “This is real & as much as I want to stay strong and be the soldier I feel I can be I cannot hide the struggle that is BREASTFEEDING. Whether she is not latching on properly, whether I am not producing enough milk to keep up with her demand, whether my nipples might not be adequate, whether we confused her with having to give her a bottle after pumping . . . whatever it may be it has been an emotional & painful struggle.”
The post has since received more than 7,000 likes and thousands of supportive comments. Clearly, many moms can relate to Burzo’s struggle.
When you read about women pumping for 10 hours a day to support other new moms (and one total rockstar pumping IN THE MIDDLE OF A MARATHON!), it’s easy to forget that breastfeeding isn’t easy or even possible for everyone.
According to the CDC’s latest figures, about 8 in 10 mothers begin breastfeeding their babies after birth. That number drops to 51.8 percent by the time the baby reaches 6 months old. The reasons? Myriad.
Some mothers experience low supply, improper latching and/or painful feedings, for some women it’s a lifestyle choice not to breastfeed and for others, it’s a decision forced upon them by other life demands like work and family.
According to the CDC, what women need to help them continue breastfeeding is community support. From their website:
“Many mothers begin breastfeeding but need community support to help them overcome challenges they may face in the hospital, when they go home, or after they return to work. This support might include breastfeeding education programs, improved maternity care practices in hospitals, peer and professional support for moms; and adequate space and equipment to breastfeed or express breast milk in workplaces and childcare centers.”
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and the same could be said for helping a mom stay the course on breastfeeding her child, if she chooses to do so.
So let Burzo’s post be a lesson to us all—let’s be kind to all new mothers, whether they’re nursing or not.
As for Burzo, she shared a more recent Instagram of herself nursing her baby. In it, she’s smiling and tear-free, and the caption reads: “No tears! 🙌🏽 #winning But I’m still not sure if she is getting enough from the boobs. 😔”
Hang in there, mama.