CoverMyHeart Focus Group, the mom's and babies from "The Pass Area Breastfeeding Cafe" in Banning, California.
In the Juvenile and Formula industries, profits are measured with no regard to breastfeeding solutions. I began to look at those statistics and soon realized that they were capitalizing on our failures.
Personally, I failed three times at breastfeeding because of sexual abuse I sustained when I was growing up. I wanted what the industry was marketing to me, something easy! They gave me every excuse to quit. I knew that my last and change-of-life baby, Alicia, needed only what I could give her. I had to at least try harder this time. I tried to stay determined even when I was at my lowest. I kept telling myself, “Don’t quit"! Those closest to me were encouraging me with the words ONE MORE DAY. But they didn’t have my scabbed nipples from my poor latch! Not only that, but I was battling nursing shields and baby weight loss. I developed severe postpartum depression and post traumatic stress disorder. I cried every day, sometimes at nothing more than formula commercials or the hummingbird feeding on the nectar outside my window. I was at my lowest and I just couldn’t get those commercials out of my head. Why? Because they targeted the rationalizations that would make me feel better about quitting. For instance, “It is the closest thing to mother’s milk." Or the bright, inviting packaging of formula with names like “Good Start”, “Expert Care” and descriptions like “Clinically Proven, Triple Health Guard (Growth, Brain and Eye, Immune System)". The clincher was "It’s Ready to Use"! All my inner voice could muster was, "I want that!" The market offered the coolest bottles and nipples that were designed to mimic my breast. With all of this against me, how did I stay determined to breastfeed? How could I succeed? I knew that my baby needed me to stay confident but, the market wanted me to fail!
Sadly, this is precisely where mom's break. Self-doubt wins. The industry wins. In fact, by 3 short months into breastfeeding, 44.4% out of 3,978,497 babies born in 2016 became the customers of the Formula Industry according to the CDC Breastfeeding Report card.
With my breastfeeding struggles, my first step was to recognize the Formula Industry knew exactly what I needed and how to market me. Once I realized that, I knew that I needed a solution . . . and quick! This is how I began on my journey toward success. I had my "village" (those closest to me and my lactation educator). But now I needed strong self-confidence and the tools to continue. The nursing covers available to me only met my needs for a brief period of time. They were not designed in a way to meet my child's development. So, with my love for my daughter and my gift of knowing how to sew, I summoned the strength to design a cover that would contribute to my success as a breastfeeding mom. I did not want to fail, I wanted to breastfeed my baby! My determination led me to design my first nursing cover with pillow back support. On my journey to overcome my obstacles, I succeeded and breastfed for 28 months. Alicia was my lifeline and I was hers. I was empowered.
Now it is my turn to impact change in the breastfeeding world. I joined a local breastfeeding support group and the mom’s at "The Pass Area Breastfeeding Cafe" (shown above). Although they loved my nursing cover and my mission, they had wants that the cover did not meet. I listened and addressed their needs, which included pumping and feeding not only one baby, but twins and toddlers. The covers that were available encouraged overheating, so I addressed that concern by offering a lightweight chiffon material so babies can see objects moving, while building their sensory skills during nursing. My A-Line design was slimming, the geometric design was transforming. The design offered more than 17 ways to wear it. My mom's support group loved everything about it. I met all their needs and had tailored my breastfeeding scarf to give mom's the confidence and solutions for long-term success. The added bonus - I created a fashion piece that set us apart in the marketplace. After two years of testing different prototypes, I patented my design and brought it to the market in December 2013.
These are exciting days! As CoverMyHeart continues to grow, I am inspired by our breastfeeding advocates. They have made tremendous strides in this endeavor. Together we are breaking barriers daily. It is necessary to continue to do more for mom's so that current and future generations will have the tools necessary to succeed. It is time for statistics to reverse and for the Formula Industry to have less influence.
Together, we can do this!