Here’s what missing a wedding taught me about breastfeeding


(Photo: Pixabay)

This post is sponsored by The Breastfeeding Shop.

I was supposed to be a bridesmaid in my good friend’s wedding.

I had the dress.

I made the travel plans.

And then, the week of the wedding, I had to call her and tell her I wouldn’t be there. Partially, it was because of a hurricane. But the real reason, and the part that she couldn’t understand was this: It was because I was breastfeeding.

When she asked me to be a bridesmaid for her wedding, I happily agreed. She was a close friend in college and she had participated in my wedding ceremony a few years earlier. At the time, I had just had our second baby, a boy. My daughter–a toddler–was asked to be the flower girl. My husband was deployed to Afghanistan, but he was scheduled to be home months before the wedding.

As the wedding date approached, I was still nursing our 8-month-old baby. Yes, he could eat some baby food at that age, but he was also nursing several times a day, especially at bedtime. I had never bothered to introduce him to a bottle because of the deployment.

I had my hands full changing diapers and keeping both my children healthy. I simply didn’t have time to pump breast milk and then give it to him in a bottle. The baby was with me every day, so there was never a need for him to bottlefeed. My husband planned to hold him during the wedding events, and when he got hungry, I would find somewhere to nurse him. It seemed like a fool-proof plan.

Until, of course, a hurricane ruined it all.

The weekend of the wedding, a Class 3 hurricane threatened the East Coast. At our base, that meant leave was cancelled, and the Marines were told to be available for emergency duty. Just like that, my husband was unable to travel with me to the wedding. I couldn’t be in a wedding party with a fussy baby on one hip and a toddler on the other.

I considered going alone, taking the toddler so she could still be the flower girl. But I couldn’t leave the baby for a weekend when he wasn’t bottle-trained. With only a day or two before the wedding, there was no time to suddenly teach the baby to use bottles all day. I was stuck.

I called the bride and tried to apologize, explaining why she would be missing a bridesmaid and a flower girl. She suggested all the ideas I had already considered. She didn’t understand why the baby couldn’t just stay with Dad.

By the time we hung up, we were both disappointed and frustrated. I think she eventually forgave me, but it might not have been until she had her first child and understood the challenges of breastfeeding. Years later, I still regret missing an opportunity to celebrate an important part of my friend’s life.

Since then, I have learned a lot about babies and deployments. I continued to breastfeed our next two children, but I made some adjustments that would help us deal with future emergencies.

Always have a back-up plan

Breastfeeding is great, but there are times when it will not be ideal for you or your baby. What if you need to go to a wedding, like I did. . . or a funeral? What if you are in an accident and spend a few days in the hospital? I was lucky that I was able to back out of the wedding, but moms can’t always change plans. Keep a can of formula in the house or have breastmilk bags saved in the freezer, just in case something goes wrong. Have a friend or family member who has spent time with your baby and would be able to feed them when you can’t. Hopefully you will never need to use your back-up plan, but you never know.

Yes, bottle-feed your breastfed baby

Bottle-feeding gets a bad reputation, but remember–you can bottle-feed with breastmilk! Use a breastpump to make a fresh bottle. Even if you stay home with your baby, introduce the bottle at a young age (around two weeks) when they will be most receptive to it. Practice once a day at first, then keep it up once a week or so until your child is able to drink from a sippy cup (around nine months). This way, you always have the option to leave the baby with a sitter for a few hours if needed.

Surround yourself with friends who support your breastfeeding choice

Some people judge moms who breastfeed in public, or don’t understand why you won’t switch to formula. You don’t have to defend yourself to anyone, and you certainly don’t need that negativity in your life. If your friends can’t support the way you need to feed your child, then find yourself some friends who will be more encouraging. Every mom needs a supportive tribe. If you find yours, the breastfeeding year(s) can be much easier.

The Breastfeeding Shop provides name-brand, high-quality breast pumps and breastfeeding supplies. Catering to the military community, the Breastfeeding Shop’s quick and easy service ensures that TRICARE beneficiaries can receive breast pumps and supplies at no-cost to them.

By Lizann Lightfoot