Mama Fierce: When Breastfeeding Doesn't Work Out

As a brand who works to support breastfeeding, we talk a lot about empowering women to confidently breastfeed their babies and how important it is that women feel supported the choices they make about how they want to be a Mom.  There is an important aspect of this conversation that we don't talk about enough: when breastfeeding doesn't work out and supporting a mom's choices when she is in this situation.  I'm super excited to be speaking with Plus Size Style Guru, Briana Hernandez from Mama Fierce today who has volunteered to open up about her experiences with breastfeeding and moving on.

Briana rocking the Reptile Tunic available for pre-sale now during the  Plus Size Kickstarter Campaign!

Briana rocking the Reptile Tunic available for pre-sale now during the Plus Size Kickstarter Campaign!

You mentioned in your writing that you had hoped to breastfeed but it didn't work out. Can you talk a little bit about your experiences breastfeeding and what didn't work for you?

I had a perfect storm of badness right after my son was born. My milk didn't come in very well. I could only pump three ounces out of both breasts combined. I had two epidurals since my first one crapped out at eight centimeters and I already have back problems. So as I was trying to breastfeed, my back would spasm. It took two nurses to get me into a comfortable position so it became apparent this couldn't be a thing I could do independently, which was important since my partner was due back at work in six short weeks. After the first night home, I could just tell my son wasn't getting enough. I pumped for a week after that but my milk was still lagging so I threw in the towel. The most heartbreaking thing about it was that I thought breastfeeding would be so liberating. I pictured myself just whipping it out any time I needed to and being militant in taking no disrespect for it. But because it was very difficult for me, it ended up being something to hold me back. The point for me wasn't to have to suffer through it, and that's exactly what was happening.  

Did pregnancy and birth change your attitude toward your body?  Did your experience breastfeeding alter this at all?

My pregnancy was pretty easy and it made me feel invincible and limitless. With breastfeeding, I definitely confirmed my body has limits! And there may have been a little shame since I just expected this to work for me like it works for so many women, but I also knew I was not alone. That really helped. But I'd say the thing that messed with my body image the most was motherhood in those first few months. I'm so driven by personal style and I suddenly didn't have the time or energy for it, nor were any of my clothes easy to throw together, which was crucial.  

"This is why Leche Libre resonates with me so much. If I had invested in nursing fashions like this, it wouldn't have felt like a waste when breastfeeding did not turn out to be my friend. At least I would have been left with some poppin' pieces!"

"This is why Leche Libre resonates with me so much. If I had invested in nursing fashions like this, it wouldn't have felt like a waste when breastfeeding did not turn out to be my friend. At least I would have been left with some poppin' pieces!"

I'm glad to hear that you knew you weren't alone. How or where did you find this support?

I luckily had family and friends who either chose to formula-feed right off the bat or went to it after breastfeeding didn't work out for them. These people were obviously very supportive of my decision to stop. 

Did you ever feel judged by other moms for not breastfeeding?  And if so, how did this make you feel?

Absolutely. I remember posting one of the first pictures I have ever taken of my son on Facebook. In the picture, he was having a bottle and someone commented with, "That's not a boob" and nothing else. That felt pretty judgy and invasive. It reinforced all the unkind things I was saying to myself--that I gave up too easily and that I wasn't sacrificing enough for my baby. Luckily, I knew deep down that was all bullshit. 

"The most heartbreaking thing about it was that I thought breastfeeding would be so liberating. I pictured myself just whipping it out any time I needed to and being militant in taking no disrespect for it. But because it was very difficult for me, it ended up being something to hold me back."

Was there anything you can think of that would have made your experience easier? 

What would have definitely made my life easier at that time is to have talked about breastfeeding as if it weren't a guarantee. Sure, it was talked about as a choice, but no one ever told me it might not work out for me. Maybe if that conversation had happened, I wouldn't have been left with a half-dozen nursing covers I would never use and nursing tops I would never wear (because holy crap, where they fugly). This is why Leche Libre resonates with me so much. If I had invested in nursing fashions like this, it wouldn't have felt like a waste when breastfeeding did not turn out to be my friend. At least I would have been left with some poppin' pieces!

Thank you Briana for sharing your story and truth with us. As mother's we're all doing our best and the more we can support each other in our choices and paths, the stronger we'll all be!  Please support our Plus Size Kickstarter campaign to make sure these poppin' pieces get made! 

Leche Libre Kickstarter!

Leche Libre is doing a Kickstarter to fund its first large scale production run and I need your help to get there.  Please donate today and you can help create a world where women everywhere can confidently breastfeed whenever they want, wherever they go in style!

Hi I'm Andrea Newberry, founder of Leche Libre and proud mama of two kiddos – Thora and Otto. 

Like most new moms, I had a pretty severe identity crisis right after the birth of my first baby. I was sleep deprived,  my body felt weird and now I was responsible for another person that needed me 24/7.  I was so busy taking care of Thora, I was overwhelmed at the idea of taking care of myself as well.

I had a really hard time finding clothing that was easy to breastfeed in My style is edgy, sleek and sophisticated but the only options I could find made me feel frumpy, unstylish and like a completely different person.  I felt like the clothing was telling me I should be ashamed of my postpartum body and I needed to cover it up with shapeless layers of loose fitting clothes. Becoming a mother had already changed my identity, and the nursing clothes I found made me feel like even more of a different person than I was before I became a mom

After the birth of my second child, I knew there had to be a better way.I was just learning to sew at the time, so  I started making a few things for myself with breastfeeding access and whenever I would wear them out, I got so many compliments about the design.  People would freak out when they realized my dress was functional for breastfeeding.  I knew I was on the right track and should keep going. 

Prior to having kids, I had no experience in the fashion industry.  This is a mission of passion for me, and I've spent the last four years teaching myself fashion design and the fashion business to develop this idea.  I've done several small sample runs for market testing and have fine tuned my designs along the way.  I've gotten feedback from over 500 women and I'm finally ready to take my Leche Libre to the next level with my first large scale production run.

WHAT I’M SELLING

The money I raise with this kickstarter will go directly toward buying material in bulk and meeting higher factory minimums to allow me to sell the same ethically produced, high quality Leche Libre garments online and in stores to at the prices women want to pay.

The collection I've designed for this kickstarter represents 3 dynamic and versatile looks all with zippers down the bust for discreet nursing access making it easier for women to fashionably integrate breastfeeding into their busy lives. 

  • The Little Black Breastfeeding dress is the ultimate in sophisticated style and can easily transition from day to evening wear. 

  • The Zipper Tunic is the signature look of the edgy Leche Libre aesthetic and transitions easily from professional to casual wear. 

  • And finally, I’m excited to debut my new Nursing Sweatshirt, which will be the first piece of my upcoming casual streetwear line. 

From home to office to formal events, these three versatile looks will cover all your bases and allow easy breastfeeding wherever you might go in style.  In reward to being a backer to my kickstarter, you’ll get the first exclusive access to these new looks at an awesome discounted rate!

Women have always been pigeonholed and pressured into cultural expectations of femininity and beauty. As moms, we face a lot of pressure to be perfect, and it doesn't help when our nursing options stifle our personal styles, forcing us to dress like people we are not. Leche Libre is pushing back against these stereotypes, redefining what a Mom can look like and creating more space for women to be their authentic selves.

I believe bringing our true authentic selves into parenting makes us the best moms we can be. Being able to wear clothing with a more edgy aesthetic was a key part in helping me regain my identity as an individual, and the functionality of the clothes I made allowed me to breastfeed more easily in public situations, making me a more confident Mom.

Any new mom can attest to feeling a lot of pressure to be perfect, and being forced to dress as someone you’re not only exacerbates this problem.  I believe we will all thrive when mothers feel empowered to be their true selves and can bring that authenticity into how they parent.

Moms do it all, wearing multiple hats throughout the day to get shit done.  mom, wife, boss, friend…   I want to help badass women everywhere express their unique individuality in any and all situations so they can be confident as women and be the best moms they can be. 

Leche Libre is changing the look of breastfeeding apparel forever.  So please, contribute today.  With your help, we can empower women everywhere to confidently breastfeed whenever we want, wherever we go, in style!  Zip and sip!