Celebrating the Journey
“It showed me that I did and was doing something special and that is worth recognition. It also made me want to continue. “
“It was a huge congratulations for us and it made the kids excited that we’d done a good thing together. It showed others that you supported us through our struggles, which I think is HUGE to advertise, explain and share with other Moms who want to nurse.”
“For me it was a finish line. A goal to make it to. Thank you for that, cause I would have quit sooner.”
These are quotes from mothers in my practice and they are talking about a t-shirt.
I give a t-shirt to breastfeeding moms and their 1 year olds at the one year well visit. I’ve been doing it for years. I pay for them myself and I do it because I figure that if you make it through all the obstacles that we throw in the way of successful breastfeeding, somebody should congratulate you.
“The shirts represented that I had done something really important for my kids. I was thrilled to earn one for both kids. I also wanted to show others that active moms do breastfeed. “
I have heard courageous stories of breastfeeding against overwhelming obstacles and am always impressed and determination of mothers to continue past those obstacles. I have also heard the pain when mothers don’t meet their nursing goals. So we celebrate the journey- we don’t need to devalue the breastfeeding experience or breastfeeding itself; we need to celebrate the success, and then transition to the next steps in parenting. . I have thought about doing it at different times in the experience or giving them to celebrate special achievements prior to a year, but I fund these myself. (Some day though I hope to expand this idea.) Plus, I like the idea of having these shirts on 1 year olds, instead of babies, as a way of demonstrating that nursing a toddler is still normal.
” It was a great bonding experience and I loved every minute of it. It was great to know I could breastfeed for that long and not feel ashamed like some people think it is out there in the world.”
“A special ‘thank you’ to you..for keeping me motivated through the (occasional) physical pain, for the words of encouragement on those days when I just wanted my body back, and for arming me with the confidence and intellectual, fact-based fire-power to defend my decision against those, “You’re STILL breastfeeding?” people!”
We all measure success differently. It could be that mom decided to breastfeed at all. It could be that she achieved her own goals. Sometimes, I think the mother just needs a cheerleader to help to her continue to meet her goals. Who would have thought a shirt could do it?
“There were times, around 10 months, where I was ready to stop, but knowing that (my daughter) could have a t-shirt, however silly that is, was a big deal for me. Once I hit that year mark, it was easy to continue.”
“That darn shirt kept me going on the days I wanted to give up.”
“I didn’t think I would make it, especially working full time, but I needed the t-shirt! Before I knew it he was 16 months and still nursing, even with a brother well on the way!”
“Knowing that I had overcome a lot of obstacles and trying times to achieve something great for my child. The t-shirt, although nothing huge like a trip to Disney world, shows to everyone what you and your child have accomplished.”
I’m sure that there is a myriad of reasons why the mothers in my practice chose to continue nursing, but I’m glad that there are some women that I could help reach or exceed their breastfeeding goals with a little recognition and an acknowledgment of their journey.
To see the gallery of kids wearing their shirts:
Dr. Jennifer Thomas is a pediatrician in Wisconsin and is Chief of the America Academy of Pediatrics Chapter Breastfeeding Coordinator Leadership Team. She shares her expert advice on breastfeeding and pediatric care at DrJen4kids.com.
Posts on this blog reflect the opinions of individual ABM members, not the organization as a whole.