When it comes to breastfeeding a new baby, I don’t care who you are — there’s always a learning curve involved. No two moms or two babies will take to nursing quite the same way, and throw in some wild hormones (with a dash of I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING) and it’s easy to see why it’s every bit an emotional journey as it is a physical one. It’s also why we hear so much about new moms finding their tribes online in this increasingly digital-minded world, where our “village” may not always be right outside our door. We moms NEED each other; and a recent viral tweet by tennis pro and new mama Serena Williams is reminding us all of that fact this week.
On December 6, Williams tweeted an adorable photo of her new baby daughter, along with a simple yet emotionally-charged plea to the moms of Twitter: “Fellow moms,” wrote Williams. “How long did you breastfeed? Is it weird that I get emotional when I even just think about when it’s time to stop?”
Her simple question immediately struck a chord in me, because I so get it. My first baby breastfed for about a month or two after coming home from the NICU and I still remember the sting of tears running down my face when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed him for longer. I had my heart set on experiencing the magic everyone had told me so much about; but for us, it didn’t work out. My second baby on the other hand? Oy … I had to cut him off at about 2½ years. He’s now 4 and still asks to nurse when he is super upset. (Sorry, kiddo!) And now my last baby is nursing strong at seven months.
As for the emotional part, well, Serena, lemme tell you firsthand that almost everything feels more emotional when you’re a mom. I mean … hello, sappy long-distance relationship commercials!
I wasn’t the only mom touched by her sweet tweet, though. It didn’t take long for the moms of Twitter to immediately heed her call.
Twitter user @Robyn_J_Flowe shared her own bumpy road with nursing, tweeting: “I nursed my son for 1.5 years. My milk was drying and he was pinching me. I felt guilty for stopping. The pressure of family members who never, ever nursed made me feel awkward for even going that long. Btw, he still puts his hand down my shirt and he will be 2 in a week!”
Meanwhile, @Linda32978682 assured her: “It’s the most beautiful experience in the world keep breastfeeding you will know when it’s time to stop.”
@MyTigerWithin also had some great advice for Serena to look into, writing: “Have you seen a lactation consultant or a support group like LLL or CocoaBeans? Lots of moms begin supplementing with formula because they fear that they aren’t producing enough milk, which usually isn’t the case. But once you begin supplementing, you can hurt your milk supply.”
All in all, nearly 2,000 comments rolled in for Williams, from supportive mamas all over the world. If that’s not a sign that the village is still alive and well (despite looking a little different these days), then I don’t know what is.
From one mother to another, I wish you luck, Serena. And don’t worry — what you’re feeling is totally normal. I promise!