Not exactly the line you would expect from a viral Instagram post, but it's one that has clearly touched moms all across the country: "Breastfeeding is hard." Thanks to Leah, aka @thenashvillebump, moms everywhere are relating to the new mom's struggles and even offering a glimmer of hope on her journey.
About eight weeks ago, the Nashville mom welcomed her daughter Penelope. On Jan. 24, she posted a nursing photo that went far beyond the usual "blissfully breastfeeding" images of mothers that you may see on social media. Instead, in the caption of her breastfeeding Instagram photo, she wrote about all of the uncertainties that nursing mothers face—all of the "second guessing, responsibility, commitment, discomfort," and the truth that breastfeeding is hard.
"We trusted our bodies to grow our babies for 9 months and now we have to trust our body to supply the nourishment for our babe's growth & development," she writes. "Talk about pressure."
It turns out she's not the only mother to feel this way, or to doubt herself while nursing—something she learned after talking with close friends who felt the same way. In an effort to encourage other moms who might also have insecurities surrounding the difficult but important work of breastfeeding, she decided to share her experience on Instagram.
"I had seen so many pictures on social media of mothers blissfully breastfeeding their babies that I didn’t realize it’s not always like that," Leah told the Huffington Post. "It seemed so easy and natural for them, but even things that are easy and natural can be a learning experience for many people."
Before having her baby, Leah had no idea how much of a "learning process" it was for many moms. But that didn't stop her from trying, so the Nashville mom has since found a lactation consultant to help build her confidence as well as her relationship with her daughter.
"It takes more than a breast to feed a baby!" she said. "It takes time, patience, support, proper nutrition, confidence and sometimes professional help to overcome your breastfeeding struggles."
For her, some of those struggles included not knowing if it was "Too much? Too little? Too intense? Not enough hindmilk? Not enough time? Plugged duct? Mastitis?"
As she originally wrote, she's "determined to tough it out" because she wants to make it work. But that doesn't mean that moms can't acknowledge how difficult this process can be. "We all so desperately want to survive and push through. We so badly want to have our baby thrive," she wrote. "We want that relationship. We want the experience. In the end, fed is best. That's what matters."
Since her viral Instagram post, which has so far received almost 8,500 likes and nearly 800 comments, Leah has become a big believer in encouraging other mothers to seek support in their communities. She's still committed to nursing her daughter, however, she wants any mom who might decide not to nurse and instead seeks other options for their children, to remember: "Rock on!"
"Mothers know what the best decision for themselves, baby and family is," she said. "Mothers who choose to exclusively pump, bottle-feed, supplement, formula-feed or breastfeed all need a lot of support."
If there's one thing that her photo has reminded all of us, is that motherhood isn't perfect. Sometimes acknowledging the difficult parts is what makes it all worth it. For Leah, at least, it meant finding a new community of support—and reminding everyone that it gets better.