Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week: An Honest Q&A with Nicole Trunfio & Holly Newton
Today marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week - a global campaign raising awareness for the benefits of breastfeeding, and highlighting ways to better support breastfeeding mums.
Everyone’s breastfeeding journey is different. For some, breastfeeding is a natural experience that comes easily. But for many women, breastfeeding can be more challenging, and may feel daunting and isolating without the right support.
In honour of World Breastfeeding Week, we wanted to celebrate 2 amazing mamas and share their unique breastfeeding stories - in the hope that we can make other new parents feel supported and uplifted in their breastfeeding journeys.
What is World Breastfeeding Week?
Celebrated globally between the 1st and 7th of August, World Breastfeeding Week aims to normalise the practice of breastfeeding, highlight the health and wellbeing outcomes, and provide support and resources for new mums.
While breastfeeding can be a beautiful experience, we also know that establishing breastfeeding can be hard work. Every woman embarking on their breastfeeding journey needs a huge amount of support from their loved ones, healthcare providers and workplaces in order to have a positive experience, and to enable them to breastfeed for as long as they wish.
To open up the conversation, we recently spoke with 2 incredible mamas about their unique breastfeeding journeys, the hurdles they faced along the way, and their insight on how we can best support breastfeeding mums.
An Honest Breastfeeding Q&A, with Nicole Trunfio, model and entrepreneur & Holly Newton, from our community.
Nicole Trunfio is a model and founder/CEO of Bumpsuit, Erth Jewellery and Erth Swim who lives in the US with husband Gary and children Gia, Zion and Ella. With very different breastfeeding experiences for each child (including complications with tongue and lip ties), she shares how honest conversations and a community of support are critical for new mums.
Holly Newton is a hair stylist who lives on the Gold Coast with husband Jarred, daughter Frankie and son Obie. While she faced some initial challenges in her breastfeeding journey, she was able to find the right support to overcome them, enabling her to have a positive experience even after returning to work.
Keep reading for an honest Q&A with Nicole and Holly who open up about their individual breastfeeding journeys.
Breastfeeding has so many benefits for both mum and bub. What benefits stood out to you the most during your breastfeeding journey?
Nicole: Besides the amazing nutritional benefits, the bonding time I had that no one else was able to provide with the babies was so cherished.
Holly: Ahhh, the list goes on! Firstly, the convenience - on tap wherever we went, perfect temperature and ready to go. I also found when my babes were sick it was really the only thing to comfort them. And teething - the poor little babes can have such a rough time while cutting teeth, so having an extra tool in the toolkit was great. It really was the answer to everything for us.
Can you tell us about the highlights of your breastfeeding experience?
Nicole: Successful latches with each of my kids was probably my biggest achievement. Each of my babies had different needs and challenges, so taking the time to figure that out and then relishing in our successful feeding was so fulfilling.
Holly: There really is no other feeling that compares for me. Knowing they’re being nourished without even having to think about it - it kind of feels like lazy parenting. Also, once I got over those first few weeks of struggles, it was a bit of a flex to myself that I overcame them! And when they smile up at you on the breast…my gosh, heart explosion.
As we know, breastfeeding can be a daunting and confronting experience. Did you face any challenges throughout your breastfeeding journey and if so, how did you overcome them?
Nicole: Each of my babies had very different experiences. I was confident that no matter what, we would find a way to nourish my baby for as long as my body would allow before having to transition to something else like formula or milk once they were old enough. I experienced tongue tie and lip tie which is a huge problem for so many moms that are trying to breastfeed. It is not identified or talked about enough, which makes it even harder to recognize and understand. Some experts said it was due to too much folic acid. I eventually got mastitis which was extremely painful as well. Cabbage leaves in my bra after the milk comes in was a life-saving tip! I think as a mom you can instinctively tell when something is amiss, so always inquire and look into what may be happening to overcome any doubts.
Holly: Yeah, the first time around I thought I had a low supply. Having thoughts and feelings of not being able to feed my baby was detrimental to my mental health. It took me about 5 weeks before I could admit that I needed some help. So, I saw a lactation consultant who made immediate changes for us and pretty much reminded me that I was enough, giving me the confidence I needed by sharing lots of evidence-based information. I soon realised I didn’t have a low supply and understood that babies feed frequently, without schedules, so it was more of a supply and demand type thing in those early days.
The second time around I thought “I’ve done this before, I know what I’m doing”, but my wee babe had a hard time latching to the breast on one side. I wasted no time in seeing my LC again and before I knew it, we were on a roll.
Returning to work while maintaining a breastfeeding schedule can be difficult to juggle. How did you manage returning to work whilst breastfeeding?
Nicole: I personally didn't have a schedule. I am lucky to have my own business with the flexibility to work around my kids' schedules and work throughout the day and evening at all hours.
Holly: I was lucky that my daughter was 11months old before returning to work and only part time, so the two days she was in care, she was fine to skip a couple of breastfeeds because she always made up for it the following day. If I needed to, my job allowed me to take time out to quickly pump, which helped me keep a well-established milk supply.
We know the weaning process can be difficult for both mum and bub after holding on to such a special bond. How long did you breastfeed for and how did you stop?
Nicole: I breastfed for 10 months to a year for all three! It wasn't by choice that my journey came to an end - when I ran out of milk I had to switch. I was grateful to have at least 10 months. In one case, I had a job in Germany for a couple of days and lost my green card in the boarding area so couldn't get back into the states. That was extremely painful as I didn't have a working pump and had to manually do it which was traumatic and painful - so by the time I was back in the states, my milk had dried up. This was a hard way to stop, but I’m so glad I was able to breastfeed for as long as I could.
Holly: We breastfed exclusively for 15 months until I fell pregnant again. The weaning process was probably a week in total. At the time I remember it being quite emotional, with a lot of mixed feelings to work through - saying no was tough sometimes. But on reflection, I feel grateful and couldn’t have asked for a smoother transition.
What advice do you have for new breastfeeding mums? What do you wish you knew/were told at the beginning of your breastfeeding journey?
Nicole: I wish I knew more about complications such as tongue and lip tie as well as the folic acid information. If I had known breastfeeding shouldn't be painful, I could have used that knowledge to research and seek help. I had three different lactation consultants and they kept telling me to push through which was not actually the best advice. My sister was the one who gave me the confidence to seek more answers. I wish more women knew what I didn't as it may be the cause of so many not being able to breastfeed, which can be devastating. My biggest advice is that the most important thing is to feed your baby. Whether that is breastmilk from the breast or a bottle, or if it's formula... a happy and healthy baby is our goal. Don't be hard on yourself and learn to roll with the flow of things because it is a journey that changes from pregnancy to pregnancy, woman to woman.
Holly: It’s so imperative to get the right support!!! I don’t mean from a midwife at the hospital you’ve seen once, or a GP that has no qualifications or even understanding of a lactating mother. I mean real continuity of care. Someone to lean on for a week or so, however long the individual needs. Some women aren’t phased whether they feed from the breast or bottle. But for others, myself included, I wanted nothing more than to breastfeed. So, for those women, I would say find the right support person. And if you’re questioning whether they’re the right person for you… they’re not. Keep looking. It’s one of those investments that you may only see the value in once you’ve done it. But I promise you won’t regret it.
How can people better support breastfeeding mums – including spouses, friends and family, and society at large?
Nicole: I think talking about breastfeeding struggles and successes between moms is key for new moms. A mom that hears about the struggles other moms experienced and accepts that anything is possible is a mom that is going to be better prepared for any changes that may take place during their own journey. We need to have these conversations more with anyone that we can because it can help so many women that may be struggling.
Holly: This is a tricky one. I think for the most part, we can all be better at listening. Quite often when we’re working our way through challenges, all we need is an ear, and to hear ourselves ask the questions out loud. More often than not we have the answers ourselves but don’t quite get the safe space to figure it out. Instead, we’re bombarded with advice, suggestions, tips and stories. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for sharing stories, but I’m also the type to ask for help when I’m feeling pickled. I think it’s about honouring that person’s journey and being there to support them by listening and making them feel heard. I also want to mention the difference between new mothers with babies offering and sharing stories…to advice coming from generations before us. A lot has changed now, and some of the advice they were given is no longer a recommendation, so understanding that and respecting that is paramount to a new mother.
Ways to Support World Breastfeeding Week
World Breastfeeding Week reminds us that we can all play a role in supporting breastfeeding. Here are some simple ways to get involved with World Breastfeeding Week:
- Share your breastfeeding story with others, including your struggles and successes
- Check in with new mums to ensure they have enough support (and acknowledge the amazing work they’re doing!)
- Advocate for changes in your community and workplace to ensure they are breastfeeding-friendly.
For more breastfeeding resources, advice and local support groups, visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association here.
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