By Zion Tankard – Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
When I experienced my first pregnancy in 2010 with twins, I was both scared and excited. I had planned to do everything naturally, and those plans did not play out as I had thought. If it had not been for a La Leche League (LLL) Leader at the local Group meeting for mothers of multiples, I would have never known about tandem breastfeeding, which is the ability to nurse both babies at once. It was this encouragement that let me know that I could do it. Now, as a mother of four, I look back at the impact one courageous LLL volunteer had on my life.
La Leche League has been monumental in exceeding the expectations of those in the scientific community and society who once believed that breastfeeding was more of a disadvantage than a benefit. Research and the experience of millions of families have confirmed that human milk is the natural first food for babies and protects their and their mothers’ health. La Leche League, through its Leaders, has contributed to the dissemination of breastfeeding culture and inspired the development of global breastfeeding initiatives.
My family legacy
From the very beginning of my breastfeeding journey, I had the support of my husband and family members. Having people supporting and encouraging me to keep going made a huge difference for me. I grew up in a breastfeeding household, surrounded by pictures of me and my siblings all nursing as infants. I remember watching my mom breastfeed my younger sibling.
Then when I became pregnant, I knew that breastfeeding was something that I wanted to do too. I am grateful that breastfeeding can pass from one generation to the next as I have experienced in my family. Breastfeeding has become part of our family culture.
My breastfeeding milestones
I had never watched anyone breastfeed twins and was not sure if it could be done. That was my mental challenge.
I gave myself small goals, so that I would not become overwhelmed with the thought that my body should be able to sustain the lives of two babies at once. My initial goal was to make it to six weeks. Then, I thought I could make it to three months. Moving forward, I realized I could even make it to six months… Once I hit nine months, it was smooth sailing from there. I didn’t have the worries that I had experienced before. Sometimes taking on a new challenge requires taking on small bits of accomplishment.
Have you ever heard the saying, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is one bite at a time. Breastfeeding can seem like a daunting endeavor at the beginning.
Making it one day at a time, one month at a time can help relieve the pressure you may sometimes feel as a parent and give you the chance to enjoy the moment.
My commitment to La Leche League International
It is with gratitude that I serve La Leche League International to help further provide free support to families throughout the world, and contribute to passing on its legacy to the generations ahead.
Please help us fulfill this purpose by staying informed and giving to our mission. To find out more information about our activities, how to get involved as a volunteer, and how to donate to La Leche League International, visit us at llli.org
Zion Tankard has been La Leche League International (LLLI) Executive Director since September 2019. She has an educational background and has spent the last seven years working in women’s advocacy with the Durham County Women’s Commission in Durham County, North Carolina, USA. Zion is married with four children and resides in Durham, North Carolina.