Katey McFarlan Hellman isn't afraid of being candid while discussing her breastfeeding experience with her two children, Maxi and Harry. Recently, she shared a photo that her husband took of her to Instagram, and described what it's like to breastfeed when you have little ones to keep an eye on. Noting that breastfeeding is incredibly challenging for mums, she also highlights that feeding babies in any way, shape, or form is just plain hard.
"When Paul took this photo, I never would have imagined sharing it, but this is breastfeeding when you've got a toddler," she shared. "When I had my first, I had no clue what nursing would truly look like (this photo). It is World Breastfeeding Week and let me tell you, feeding your baby is hard. I don't care how you do it, it's a job. On top of a full-time job (motherhood), on top of other full-time jobs."
Although Katey's son Harry is barely two months old, she's aware that her breastfeeding experience with him might look different than the one she shared with her daughter, and that's OK.
"Whether you nurse-on-demand, pump and bottle feed, or have trial and error with dozens of [formulas], it's a role in motherhood that should be praised," she said. "With Maxi, I did not make it a year because I had to stop due to having to take medicine. And who knows how long I will go with Harry. For me, I'll go as long as it makes both he and I happy. And I truly enjoy it."
"It's leaving a dinner table at a holiday to go nurse by yourself because you have a fussy baby. It's waking up all night long to nurse."
Breastfeeding has certainly been rewarding for Katey, however, she's the first person to admit it's extremely mentally and physically draining on mums. "Is it hard? Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have ever done," she shared. "It's leaving a dinner table at a holiday to go nurse by yourself because you have a fussy baby. It's waking up all night long to nurse. It's knowing you can't really make a schedule because nursing is supply/demand. It's mastitis. It's pumping in hotel rooms so you can go to a work conference and crying when you aren't making enough."
Beyond the physical toll that breastfeeding takes on your body, there's also the sheer and unwavering need to constantly be prepared. And as any mother knows, there's no compromising.
"It's revolving your wardrobe around nursing. It's knowing you don't really get your body, hormones, or self back until they wean. It's focusing all your meals around eating enough to produce enough milk," she wrote. "It's daydreaming about sleeping through the night. It's feeling like you are sick of lifting your shirt up and down 800 times a day. It's hard, but it is something I am so darn proud of. It's something I will always treasure. It's something that I feel lucky to do. It's something I love."
Regardless of how your babies get their nutrients, Katey is encourageing other women to cherish the time you spend with them. "Feeding your baby (breast, bottle, or formula) is a moment you get to slow down, hold them, and pray for them and their future," she wrote. "There is NO easy way to feed your baby. And whatever way you feed your little one is the way they need and the most loving gift you can give them. They all turn out to be 3-year-olds that only want chicken nuggets, anyways."