A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Once a Badass, Always a Badass

by guest blogger Danielle

Danielle's husband

My husband was an infantry assaultman in the U.S. Marine Corps for 4 long years. He got to travel the world. He helped dig people out of the mud in Leyte, Phillippines in 2006 when an earthquake caused a mudslide to fall over an entire town. He was in our local newspaper. The next year he was sent to Iraq. He was stationed in Ramadi and Kharma. He worked every single day for 7 months. Not a day went by that I did not worry about him. There were no days off. He was involved in dangerous fire fights and was nearly ambushed once when a Humvee broke down. After my husband was out of the Marines I was talking to my uncle, a Marine who served in Vietnam, and I said something about my husband being a “former Marine.” My uncle was quick to correct me, “No,” he said, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” And how right he was! These experiences are woven into the fabric of my husband’s being. They have made him into the man I know today. He cannot unlearn the lessons that he learned while he served in the Marine Corps. He is not active duty anymore, but he is still a Marine and a combat veteran.

I have been seeing a lot of moms post and comment on various threads on The Badass Breastfeeder Facebook Page whose children are older and weaned or grown adults and they say things like, “I am a former Badass Breastfeeder” or “Am I a Badass if I breastfed 20 years ago?” I am always quick to remind them that they are veteran Badass Breastfeeders! I think that once someone is a Badass Breastfeeder, they are always a Badass. There are no “former” Badasses just like there are no “former” Marines. Being a breastfeeding mom changes who you are. You are not the same person that you were before you were a mom. And breastfeeding is part of that. You do not unlearn all the benefits of breastfeeding once your child is weaned. You are forever a breastfeeder and whether you chose to or not you always advocate breastmilk for babies because you know how amazing it is after you get past those difficult first weeks.

Both of my grandmas are Badass Breastfeeders. One of them told me that her brother was breastfed until after age 4. The other one was the first person to tell me how beautiful the breastfeeding bond is. I was a teenager, but I will never forget the soft look of nostalgia as she talked about breastfeeding her 6 babies.

Danielle and her mother

My mom is a Badass Breastfeeder. She breastfed me for almost a year and went on to breastfeed both my brother and sister for as long as she could with each of them. That is pretty darn good during the artificial milk-filled 1980’s. When I was pregnant I told her I wanted her help during the birth and afterwards. We didn’t know how to time it just right; we were both anxious that she have as much time with us after the baby was born as possible. She had a flight scheduled for my son’s due date, Friday the 13th, but I knew he wasn’t ready so she moved her flight to Monday the 16th. I think having her here really helped me to feel supported and safe and my son must have caught on that Grandma was here, finally, because I went into labor that night and delivered my son on the afternoon of Tuesday the 17th. She stayed with us for 2 weeks. She used all of her vacation time to be with us and looking back on this time I can really see how her veteran Badass Breastfeeding status really played a role in my personal breastfeeding success. She knew how hard it is to be a new mom; lacking sleep, learning how to breastfeed and also trying to recover from birth. So she did everything for us. She cooked and cleaned, she washed all of our laundry, she taught me how to bathe the baby, she got me a glass of water every time I sat down to nurse, she burped the baby and they took naps together every afternoon while I got a little time to shower and rest. She reminded me to “bring the baby to you, don’t hunch over” and always was quick to bring me extra pillows to prop him up. She would remind me of different positions to try to ease my new breastfeeding nipple soreness. She never pushed pacis, bottles, formula, or any other parenting advice. If I asked her opinion she always started with her exaggerated “It was a hundred years ago, but I did…  So you guys do what you think is best.” Acknowledging that she was here to offer help, but she was not necessarily advocating for me to repeat every single parenting step that she took. She respected us as parents, helped where she was needed and stepped back when we needed to just be us three; new mama, new papa and new baby. She never let me give up when the baby was hungry again I would wail “But I JUST fed him!!” She never made me feel like my milk was inadequate, just that he was a good eater. At his 2 week check up appointment he was up an entire pound from his birth weight. I was hooked. I was officially a Badass Breastfeeder.

Danielle's mother with newborn

This is how veteran Badass Breastfeeders can help new Badass Breastfeeders. By offering gentle support, real life help, and encouragement during those hard times. This cycle of support is how we can help families achieve their personal breastfeeding goals. Every mom needs assistance in different ways; some moms may not want visitors immediately following their birth. Maybe for them dropping off a healthy meal and a kind word is perfect. Some new breastfeeding moms need actual help with their newborns, they need an experienced breastfeeder to show them how to make the “boobie sandwich” to make latching easier or help connecting with their local La Leche League or Breastfeeding USA group for more professional assistance with breastfeeding. This is how us, as veteran breastfeeders, can continue to be Badasses whether we are lactating or not.

Danielle's mother and son

No matter if you breastfed for one day, one week, one month, one year or a dozen years in a row; your wisdom gained from experience can help other mothers to breastfeed successfully. Use this to gently help others. As Norma Woolf Ritter says, “The greatest joy is nursing one’s own baby. The second greatest is helping another woman to nurse hers.”

Danielle's mother and son

So in answer to all you mothers whose children are weaned and grown, you are not a “former” Badass Breastfeeder, there is no such thing. “Once a Badass, always a Badass”.