Breastfeeding has been anything but easy for me and my daughter. I never realized that the act of breastfeeding would sharpen the edges of my past trauma and bring out an array of emotions in me.
My experience alone is enough for me to never say, “Breast is best.” I truly know the benefits, and I know that it can bond mother and child, alleviate financial hardships, and be a wonderful overall experience for both. But it can also trigger victims of sexual assault. I can say first-hand that sexual assault can change a woman’s breastfeeding experience.
My journey started with my daughter really struggling to latch for the first few weeks of life. I felt completely unwanted, like I was failing her, and myself. Each day, I was crying, anxious, and couldn’t figure out why I felt all of those emotions at once. I often questioned myself wondering if I was a good enough mother.
When I tried to force my daughter to latch, she would scream and pull away. Yet I would try again. It all felt too familiar — someone forcing you to do something, and you telling them “no” or pushing them away. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to give up because it became too hard emotionally.
After attending therapy sessions and speaking with lactation consultants, I worked hard to help teach my daughter to latch. I started to come around to being okay with my decision whether I chose to breastfeed or not. While there is a lot of pressure to breastfeed, I didn’t want to do it for anyone but her and I. She is nearing nine months old and our breastfeeding experience is still going strong. I am so thankful we stuck with it. She truly helped me through this difficult journey, and I am thankful for what we overcame together.
So in honor of all those who have been sexually assaulted, I stand with you whether you choose to breastfeed or not, you are still an amazing mama. Today I am stronger then I was yesterday, and I owe that to the survivor in me, and the strong individual I plan to raise my daughter to be.
About This Guest Blogger
Briana moved to Sonoma County from Corona California in 2008. She graduated with a Masters in Social Work from CSU East Bay, and works with children, youth and family affected by mental illness. She and her husband are relocating to Sacramento County next month. Empowering others is her passion – she loves to connect with people and embraces their individuality. She’s a Starbucks enthusiast, Nike addict, with a constant smile on her face and a lot of humor to liven things up!