Images and text by Amber Duncan.
My name is Amber Duncan. I am a 21 year old mother to a 12 month old boy, Joseph. In November of 2012, my husband and I found out I was pregnant. I was 19 and knew nothing about pregnancy or breastfeeding. After reading up on everything I needed to know, my husband and I decided breastfeeding was the right choice for us and our baby. I watched all the videos I could find and I had a plan. I was going to go all natural, I was going to do skin to skin contact as soon as he was out. I was going to breastfeed. But plans changed.
I was in labor, dilated to 7cm and wasn’t going past that. So my doctor decided I was to have a c- section. When the nurses brought my son to me, I immediately tried to latch him on just like I had seen in the videos I watched, but we weren’t quite getting the hang of it and I was still dazed from the drugs I was given. Eventually, I started using a nipple shield and that made everything so much better. I was lucky enough to deliver at a hospital that strongly encouraged breastfeeding and my nurses were amazing when I needed help. When it came to nursing without the shield, however, that was a different story. He would not latch. He clamped his lips shut and I was very frustrated but decided that breast milk using the nipple shield was better than no breast milk at all (I did give into formula a few times and felt terrible afterward). I tried asking my mom for advice but she never breastfed and none to give. For all of my breastfeeding concerns, I turned to my best friend, who had given birth to a baby girl a few months before I delivered. She was my rock and with the encouragement from her and my husband, my son and I have been nursing for almost 13 months. I plan to let him wean himself.
Even though I didn’t get to do some of things I wanted to do, breastfeeding was and is the one thing that gives me power. I’ve yet to receive any negative comments about breastfeeding but get the occasional “He can have other food now” or “Well he’ll be quitting pretty soon” comments from my parents. I try to educate them when possible and get the eye roll like I’m a big know-it-all. But I know what is best for my son and their comments are not going to keep me from giving him the best. I know some mothers can relate to my story and I hope this shows them that they are not alone.