Is breastfeeding right for me?

Local moms share their breastfeeding journeys

You will soon be a new mom and have gone to the birthing classes, but still have doubts on whether breastfeeding might be right for you and your family.  Here is the breastfeeding experiences of a Hudson Valley mom and why she made the choice she did:

Julie did it for health reasons
Julie Tresco, M.S., is a project nutritionist for the program Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables, a Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program funded by the USDA and New York State Department of Health. She is also mom to four-year-old Veda and eight-month-old Esme. Currently, the Esopus mom is breastfeeding Esme whom she plans to wean at eighteen months.

Learn why more women are breastfeeding

She nursed Veda until she was two. She says that health considerations were the prime reason she chose to nurse both of her babies. “Breastfed babies get more essential fatty acids that are necessary for brain development in the early years,” she says. “They also get their mother’s immunity for a longer amount of time. Breastfeeding is a lot less expensive than bottle feeding.”

Tresco says she knew she wanted to breastfeed at the start of her first pregnancy, and took prenatal classes that included information about breastfeeding. “You would like to think that a class can teach you all you need to know,” she says. “But it really wasn’t enough. I found that out when Veda was born. Luckily, I delivered in Northern Dutchess Hospital and they had a knowledgeable lactation consultant on board. She showed me how to breastfeed the baby correctly.” 

Jennie found it stressful
For Jennie Tibbs, the mother of nine-year-old Ellie and seven-year-old Shelby, the story is a bit different. The New Windsor mom is enlisted in the Army and works at West Point as a clarinetist in their marching band. She thought she  would breastfeed Ellie because it would be good for both of them. She did for about six weeks until her maternity leave ended., but she says, “I found breastfeeding very stressful.

Soon after her birth, I contracted the flu. I did speak with someone from LaLeche (a national organization that supports mothers who breastfeed) at this time because I was worried about breastfeeding. She was helpful, but nonetheless, I felt exhausted and stressed while I was breastfeeding. I was always nervous about something going wrong. I was worrying about pumping breast milk when I would be back at work.”

Breastfeeding in public?

Her job required that she pass a grueling physical fitness exam on her return to work, which made her decide to stop breastfeeding Ellie before she returned to work. “When Shelby was born, I didn’t consider breastfeeding past six weeks,” she says. “I knew from my experience with Ellie that I could bond and feel very good with a baby I was bottle-feeding instead of breast feeding. I was a more relaxed new mom.”

Diana lets them wean on their own
The breastfeeding experiences of Diana Cassar-Uhl, a fellow clarinetist in the West Point band, were a bit different. She is mom to Anna Maria (six-and-a-half), Simon Joseph (four-and-a-half), and Gabriella Cecelia (one-and-a-half) and breast-fed Anna Maria until she was close to four years old. She fed Simon Joseph in tandem with Anna Maria until she was weaned and when Gabriella Cecelia was born, fed her in tandem with Simon Joseph.

“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to nurse my babies and took a class, but I did need help initially from a local lactation consultant who was extremely helpful in answering questions,” says the Corwall resident. “I looked at the health benefits for the children, better immunity, fewer serious health issues such as future diabetes, and a reduced breast cancer risk for me. Anna Maria was very ill when she was born and remained in the hospital for a week so I was unable to nurse her initially.”

Breastfeeding tips

Cassar-Uhl believes children will wean themselves when they are ready and was in no hurry to wean her two older children within a set time. She pumps breast milk at work and has also pumped for a friend and donated breast milk to a breast milk bank in the region.

Claudia M. Caruana is a health and medical writer who lives in the Hudson Valley.