When it comes to breastfeeding support, I'm pretty lucky. My whole family supports my decision to breastfeed. I grew up seeing my mom nurse my little brothers for what some might call an extended time but was quite normal for us. It's my culture, and it has come pretty naturally to me. However, how many of my friends are currently breastfeeding their children? ZERO.
I do have friends who nursed their children or exclusively pumped but none right now. I talk to my coworkers about it a lot, and they offer advice and tips about pumping at work. It's been valuable, but I kind of wish I had a comrade; I wish I knew someone who is currently breastfeeding and pumping, just like me. A sister, so to speak.
I found that sisterhood online. There are tons of nursing moms writing about their experiences on blogs, Facebook and Twitter. So far along the way, they've been there to answer the questions I've asked: How much milk should be in Joshua's bottles, and how many should I leave with my childcare provider? How do you increase your milk supply? What's your best pumping tip?
These online sisters inspire me, too. I've made friends with so many different nursing moms. A mom who stopped nursing her son sooner than she wanted to, but is determined to nurse her second child for longer. A mom who is nursing through pregnancy. A mom who tandem-nurses her toddler and infant. A mom who worked and expressed milk for her first child and is now back to work after giving birth to her second child. A mom who pumped and donated milk after a heartbreaking miscarriage, so that something good could come out of it. Moms who have nursed 4 or more children. Moms who have nursed their children for extended periods of time. Moms who have co-slept and nursed their babies all night. Moms who have persevered through rough starts to nursing. And lots and lots of other moms who are inspiring in other ways too.
My online sisters cheer me on, especially when I'm down, reminding me that I'm doing what's best for Joshua. A simple "You're awesome!" from a Twitter friend really brightens a rough day!
It means so much to me to have found this sisterhood online. Now I do my best to cheer on other moms who are talking about breastfeeding online, just like I would if I saw them nursing in public. I join breastfeeding groups on Facebook and attend #breastfeeding Twitter parties. I ask questions, share my stories and encourage other nursing moms, in turn becoming part of their support network.