This Baby & 295 Ounces of Breast Milk Are Here to Prove 'Fed Is Best'


ashleymclifford/Instagram

If you've ever tried to breastfeed, then you know it's not as easy as it looks. Every breastfeeding mom deals with latch issues, questions about her supply, and those oh-so-painful clogged ducts. It's okay to admit that it's not always easy, and it's also important to celebrate our victories. That's why one mom just shared an inspiring photo of her 5-month-old daughter surrounded by an incredible 295 ounces of breast milk.

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Ashley Clifford is a breastfeeding mom who admits nursing her babies hasn't exactly been a walk in the park. She struggled to breastfeed her first baby and eventually turned to formula. But with her second child, Ellie, the mom says she's had more success, and she decided to offer a bit of encouragement to other moms by sharing this photo of hundreds of ounces of breast milk she's pumped for donation.

This photo means so much to me. When I found out I was pregnant with this baby, my DREAM was to not only be able to breastfeed her, but to be able to donate milk as well. Let me be clear about one thing though, I believe FED is best. I tried to nurse David, but after a month of him barely gaining anything, I started supplementing an eventually went straight to formula with him. And he's thriving! This picture represents many sleepless nights, especially from the first couple weeks, 295 ounces of extra milk, five blocked ducts, and a 17.5 lb healthy, growing baby girl. Today I'm donating about 200 ounces for the first time and the feeling I'm having is hard to explain. It's a mix of excitement and love but at the same time, I'm having some reservations, only because nursing and pumping is HARD! I feel kind of protective of this haha BUT that isn't going to stop me from giving some of this away�

A photo posted by Ashley Clifford (@ashleymclifford) on

"This photo means so much to me," the mom wrote in the image's caption. "When I found out I was pregnant with this baby, my DREAM was to not only be able to breastfeed her, but to be able to donate milk as well .... This picture represents many sleepless nights, especially from the first couple weeks, 295 ounces of extra milk, five blocked ducts, and a 17.5 lb healthy, growing baby girl."

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Clifford tells CafeMom the photo was taken to commemorate her first breast milk donation. But, she didn't only share the photo to celebrate her good deed or to raise awareness about the importance of donating breast milk. She also wanted to send a positive message to moms who might be struggling to breastfeed.

"I had a really hard time nursing my older son," Clifford said. "It's hard! There's this weird feeling that nursing should come naturally to new moms, and a lot of times it doesn't."


Ashley Clifford

Clifford told CafeMom she tried everything to boost her supply, but at 1 month old, her son was still only about eight ounces over his birth weight. She started supplementing with formula and eventually stopped nursing completely. "I honestly felt like I was failing my son when we stopped nursing," she admitted. "But what I've come to realize is, no matter how your child is fed, fed is best."

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Like Clifford, I had a hard time nursing my first child. She had a tongue-tie that went unacknowledged by doctors, and it made breastfeeding incredibly painful. She wasn't thriving, and I felt completely defeated. Switching to formula gave me the worst kind of guilt, but like Clifford, I came to realize that a happy, healthy baby is the goal -- whether that nourishment comes from my breast, a donor, a breast pump, or a bottle.

"With Ellie, nursing hasn't exactly been easy, but we've been successful so far," Clifford told CafeMom. "We're on track to donating 1000 ounces [of breast milk] by August, and I couldn't be more excited! Ellie is healthy and growing like crazy, and so far we've helped one other family feed their baby. It's a really good feeling."

In donating her breast milk, Clifford is not only helping other babies get fed, but also showing moms that breastfeeding success is possible -- even after a struggle. Most importantly, she's proving through her personal experiences and her massive donation that there's more than one way to help babies stay healthy and fed.

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