A former Miss USA, the model and actress, 39, most recently starred in and executive produced Hollywood Girls Night on TV Guide Network.
|Estela inspects her nursing brother – M. Design|
I’d like to start off by saying that nursing was one of the most amazing experiences for me.
When people talk about breastfeeding, they’ll tell you about what a great bonding experience it is, how it’s the best way to make sure your baby gets the nutrition they need and antibodies to protect them. They’ll even tell you about how it helps you lose weight after giving birth.
But it’s hard to really describe how intimate and special it is.
|Hair/makeup/nursing multi-tasking – Courtesy Ali Landry|
Of course, in the name of honesty, there were also difficult parts that nobody warned me about. Nobody told me about insanely sore nipples or wrestling with a breast pump or how you cry the first time you spill some of that liquid gold.
Looking back, it makes sense that nobody dwells on having to wear nursing pads in your bra for months on end, because ultimately it’s a small price to pay for all the benefits.
In honor of National Breastfeeding Month, I thought I’d share a few of my stories: the good, the bad and the ugly.
|My special cooler – Courtesy Ali Landry|
I nursed my baby girl for 10 months, a memory that still feels bittersweet. I would come home, sit in my glider with her and let the rest of the world just fall away. I would look at her, see how content she was, and no matter what kind of day I’d had, I’d feel happy, too. Her little hand on my chest as she nursed — that memory will stay with me forever.
As a new mom, I was determined to do everything right and to nurse as long as possible, but when her teeth came in she started biting me. I talked to other moms, my doctor and a lactation consultant in search of a solution, but nothing helped. I even tried hand-expressing my milk directly into her mouth, in a desperate hope that I could nurse without letting her little piranha teeth anywhere near me, but in the end, I decided it was time to wean. She is now a perfectly healthy five-year-old with a new baby brother.
When Marcelo was born, I knew more about the challenges ahead. Alejandro and I learned a lot of lessons the first time around — some more expensive than others. (One time we stopped for gas, and while Alejandro was filling the tires I started the gas pump and then crawled into the back to lean over the car seat and nurse. Alejandro got in and drove away while the fuel hose was still attached. Talk about an expensive tank of gas!)
|Pumping at Oscar Fashion Wrap – Courtesy Ali Landry|
The second time around, I knew a few things. I went into it with even more excitement, anticipating how precious those first months would be, but other challenges presented themselves.
The biggest challenge was that I was back to work a lot earlier. Just two weeks post-partum, I traveled with the whole family to shoot my final scene in Alejandro’s movie Little Boy. I’d shot earlier scenes in 1940′s maternity wear, which was educational, but this time I was back with baby in tow. I nursed while sitting in the hair and makeup trailer. With my hormones doing acrobatic readjustments, the experience was overwhelming.
Only a few weeks later, I traveled to New York for a press event promoting Hollywood Girls Night. This was when the pump and I first became best friends. Later, while working on location on a film in Louisiana, my new BFF and I went everywhere together. Sometimes my trailer would be far from set, so I’d carry a small cooler around with a piece of tape on the top that read “Breast Milk – Do Not Open.”
|Cocktail, anyone? – Courtesy Ali Landry|
Whenever the production assistants asked if they could do anything for me, I would put them in charge of my little cooler until I could get back to my mini-fridge and tuck the baggies in between the bottles of Tanqueray and Patron.
Because I believe so strongly in the benefits of breastfeeding I decided not to be shy about what I needed. In addition to toting around my cooler, I was very open about when it was time for me to pump. I used a light blanket for cover, and if people on set got squeamish I just smiled and went about my business, knowing that my persistence was a shout-out to nursing mothers everywhere.
Unfortunately Marcelo followed in his sister’s footsteps when his teeth came in about a month ago. Knowing that he might, I had braced myself to push through, but the biting was just too painful. Having just weaned him, I feel nostalgic for that special time, but I also feel very blessed. I did my best for both of my kids, and really, what more can any mother do?
|Nursing is hard work, sometimes we just need to rest – Courtesy Ali Landry|
So if you’re a nursing mom, or soon to be a nursing mom, I’m here to tell you it can be rough, but it’s absolutely worth the trouble. You’ve got to hang in there as long as you can, and then give yourself a pat on the back, whether you nurse for three weeks, three months, or three years. Viva la leche!
We learn so much from each other as moms. I would love to hear your journey with breastfeeding.
– Ali Landry