Mom of Triplets Proves Naysayers Wrong & Breastfeeds For 8 Months & Counting (PHOTOS)

brittany yankowski Two components of breastfeeding that can be as vital as supply are support and inspiration. There are times many moms need a little help to continue, and if you need inspiration you need to know about Ohio mom Brittany Yankowski -- a breastfeeding mom whose photo has been going viral on Facebook. Brittany and her husband already had two daughters when they found out they were having triplets. A family of seven! Brittany also did what too many doctors think is impossible -- she birthed them vaginally.

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Her triplets Addisyn, Bentley, and Connor are now 8 months old, and as Brittany said in her now viral post on the Facebook page Yankowski Triplets for her blog 'Til You Triplets, "It's been almost 8 months. It's hard, it's a commitment, it's a sacrifice. I've been frustrated, I've wanted to give up. I've been told I can't do it. I've been asked why I don't just give bottles. But I've gained more than I've given. I've gained one on one time I wouldn't have otherwise gotten. I've given them the best I could. I've learned how strong I am. I debated sharing this photo, but this is my life. This isn't vulgar, this isn't sexualized. This is hard work, dedication. Let's normalize breastfeeding."

Brittany spoke with The Stir about doing your best and her inspirational photo:

Did you know you wanted to breastfeed when you were pregnant with triplets? 
My older two children were breastfed, so I knew 100 percent I wanted to breastfeed. I just had no clue how I would do it. I didn't know if I could do it, if it was possible, or how it would work in my life. I spent a lot of time looking for other triplet moms who had nursed, support groups, anything that could show me it was at least possible. Once I found that it could be done, I was excited to at least try, because it was one of my favorite things with my singletons.        

What challenges were you worried about the most? 
I was mostly worried about how I would be able to nurse them all, sleep and eat, plus make time for my other kids. My biggest fear was how the triplets arrival was going to change my relationship with my older girls and how it would impact their lives. Even though I couldn't have ever imagined having triplets, I felt very selfish in how bringing three newborns into their lives would affect them and I thought if I tried nursing them it was even more selfish because they might get even less of me.  

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I was also worried about starving the babies and not knowing. I felt like if I couldn't keep up, I would be letting them down because it was something I had given to my singletons but couldn't give to them. I just wanted to be able to have some kind of normalcy amongst the chaos, and for me that was breastfeeding.      

What challenges did you face and overcome? 
One of the challenges we faced in the beginning was that doctors didn't think we could do it, and their lack of faith had me doubting myself. Once I realized they didn't know me and I found my support, I was able to not care what they thought. As long as they were growing, I was doing it. Other people doubted me too, asked why I didn't just use formula or when was I going to give up. I really just needed to hear I was doing a good job, or they were proud of me.   

Sometimes my supply would drop, and I felt overwhelmed because I need it back up but also had crying babies. We've used donor milk when needed, like when I had mastitis to help save my sanity. But I pump after as many feedings as I can so that I can have some saved up for the days when they just don't seem satisfied and I need to step away. It's really easy to lose yourself when you've got so many daily demands.        

What advice would you give other mothers about breastfeeding triplets?
Find a good support system, and make a lactation consultant your best friend. If you're committed, it can be done. And don't feel like it's all or nothing. If you can't give all, you can give some and you're still doing an amazing job. I know moms who nursed for a while then exclusively pumped, some who nursed two and gave formula to one and rotated ... there are so many possibilities.  

The last thing any mom needs to do is beat herself up over it when our jobs are hard enough, but I want to share my story because seeing that other moms had done it is what really motivated me. So I think the more we see moms who have done it, the more we can look at ourselves and say I can do it, too!        

What breastfeeding advice would you give to all mothers breastfeeding -- whether they have a singleton or more? 
Again, support. I think even with one if you don't have the right support it is really hard. Sometimes it's uncomfortable to just nurse your baby when we see so much how we should be doing it in private. I've actually had people come over and hand me covers, even when I was nursing one. Having a good support makes you more confident in your body, and your abilities.  

More From The Stir: 12 Most Common Breastfeeding Hurdles & How to Overcome Them

And when you want to quit, push one more day. Our emotions often get the best of us. We get overwhelmed and we want to stop, then later find ourselves regretting it. I did that with my first daughter when she stopped at 9 months. A few weeks later, I regretted not trying harder and that guilt eats at you. If you really want to make it work try one more day. And if a doctor is pushing you to supplement get a second opinion from a lactation consultant.  

Unfortunately doctors can be uneducated in breastfeeding (I've been told by them myself they don't know much about breastfeeding and breastfed babies) and that can really leave moms feeling like they weren't doing well. A lactation consultant is specifically trained, and is going to be your best resource. Even if you have to go a bit farther, find a good one and keep her close.        

Did you ever almost give up? What inspired you to keep going?
There were so many times I wanted to give up. There were times I cried because I was tired and exhausted and I just wanted my life to be "easy." But I knew how I would feel if I did. And really, I wanted to prove my naysayers wrong.  

I'm so blessed to have a great support system and amazing lactation consultants who I see weekly. One of them even is a grandma to triplets! She pushed me, and I told myself if I quit she would be let down. That's probably not true, but it helped me get through tough times. I'm sure I bothered her with silly questions (many I knew the answer to but wanted that affirmation) but it helped me.        

What is your reaction to everyone's excitement over your photo of you breastfeeding your triplets?
I'm really blown away. I wasn't expecting it at all. I wasn't even going to share the photo until another mom told me I should because it's too beautiful not to share. I've shared breastfeeding things in the past, and nothing like this happened. At first I freaked out because they are my kids and I worried the image would fall into the wrong hands. But the more I think about it, and the feedback I get, the more I realize that we need to share our journey's because it does help other moms. It helped me! And it has really enlightened me on some of the pulls of breastfeeding vs. formula, mom shaming, and the lack of support moms are getting to breastfeed. I've been told I am shaming everyone who wasn't successful and it hurts my heart because that isn't what I want to do. But I feel so compelled to help somehow, I just haven't figured out how yet.

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I think I speak for all moms when I say that Brittany has helped so many already, just by showing it can be done, that what seems impossible is possible, and her beautiful spirit shines through her photos and her words, and that we can feel that she too supports all of us. Check out these gorgeous photos of Brittany -- including the one that's gotten all the attention in the slideshow.

Who has inspired you and supported you to breastfeed?

 

Images courtesy Babymonster Photography and Brittany Yankowski

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