Posted: Dec 27, 2013 8:00 AM
 
Paala's blog about breastfeeding and natural parenting has led to a place of support for breastfeeding moms — and she's not only pregnant with her third child, she's still nursing two of her girls.

Paala Secor runs a popular blog and Facebook page, chronicling her breastfeeding and parenting experiences and supporting moms with similar goals. Her story is sweet and inspiring.

First breastfeeding goals

Secor, a native Texan, moved to California around 10 years ago for art school. "Thank goodness I did because I met my husband here and feel at home with the natural parenting community," she shared. "We live in the San Francisco Bay Area with our two girls, Paaloma, 4, and Amelie, 2. Our third girl is due at the end of January and we are so excited!"

I knew it was supposed to be a bit better nutritionally, at the very least, but I didn't really know the difference between formula or breast milk at the time.

She had planned to breastfeed her first child based on a few notions — for starters, she wasn't wild about paying for something that she could make for free. "I knew it was supposed to be a bit better nutritionally, at the very least, but I didn't really know the difference between formula or breast milk at the time," she explained. She said that she and her husband didn't really discuss it, but she noticed that other people asked her many times if she planned to nurse her baby, and she started to be annoyed by the constant questions — she thought that since she'd be a young mother, people thought that she wasn't going to breastfeed.

She hadn't been exposed to breastfeeding as she was growing up or as a young adult. However, her husband's family provided much-welcome inspiration and support. "I heard stories of how his mother nursed her three sons for over a year each and both of my sister-in-laws nursed all seven of their boys," she shared. "I saw them breastfeeding babies before I had my own."

Initially, she intended to nurse her baby for a year and then stop. "That's what lots of people do, right?" she asked. "They pick an age or developmental milestone to wean based on what is socially acceptable. One year seemed like a long time, that I would have done my duty and then that was it."

Child-led weaning

PaALA SECOR BREASTFEEDING DAUGHTERSHowever, her philosophy changed as her babies grew. "We are still in the middle of child-led weaning, which to me means I'm allowing my children to wean themselves how they see fit," she explained. "I do set limits when I need to, of course, because nursing through this pregnancy has been difficult, but we're done with night feedings so it's mostly good."

She is still nursing her eldest child, but she's down to nursing only once a month or so. If she's asked for milk from one or both of the girls, and she's up for it, they nurse. If not, she said they just snuggle. "I cannot believe I might have one weaned child soon!" she said.

She said that her girls rarely tandem feed anymore since her older girl nurses so infrequently, but for quite a long time they nursed together. "By the birth of my second child in 2011, I was still nursing my first at 21 months, a year past when I started feeling pressure to wean, but I was committed at that point to child-led weaning, to just keep on nursing until both of my girls wanted to stop," she remembered. "The jump into tandem breastfeeding was a whole new world for me with even fewer people nursing two siblings of different ages. I felt like an oddball until I found my community a few months later. The bonding between them has been priceless though and I'm so thankful I have been able to give them that."

Essential support

Her husband's support was vital for her, not only during nursing, but her life in general. She said that he never pushed her to pump or buy formula so he could feed or "bond" with the babies — he trusted her and her body completely. "He doesn't bat an eye at the fact that our two girls are still nursing and I might be triandem nursing come next year!" she reported. "I love hearing him chime in against breastfeeding naysayers when I share nursing in public harassment incidents in the news with him."

Paala Secor and family

She has also been supported by her best friend and her husband's family. She has also enjoyed online support, private breastfeeding groups on Facebook, attachment parenting meetups and nurse-in gatherings. "Sitting and nursing with friends is the best!" she explained. "All feels right in the world, feeling that connection."

Blog inspiration

She was inspired to start her blog after she attended her first nurse-in shortly after a mom was harassed in a retail store in Texas. She realized that she needed to get over her own nursing-in-public fears, and she found a kinship with other mothers doing the same thing. "I nursed uncovered for the first time, surrounded by other local mothers also feeding their babies, and it was exhilarating," she told us. "After I created Paa.la and started blogging, I realized that merely talking about breastfeeding in my own space online really helped me feel more confident in myself as a mother, doing what I needed to do for my babies without running off to hide to nurse in a bathroom or car."

I realized that merely talking about breastfeeding in my own space online really helped me feel more confident in myself as a mother, doing what I needed to do for my babies without running off to hide to nurse in a bathroom or car.

She loves that her Facebook page and blog inspires and supports other nursing moms. "From week to week, what is going on in the world of breastfeeding is simultaneously uplifting and depressing," she stated. "There are so many mothers being shamed but when their stories are shared, people across the world can step up to support her."

Finding a community online not only helps other moms, it helped her in her own quest to find support. "I wouldn't be in the mental space I am now, fully accepting nursing past infancy and nursing through my second pregnancy, if it weren't for finding my community online," she explained.

Immeasurable rewards

Secor feels rewarded for many reasons — some are personal, such as the pride she has in her own family. Others go beyond her own circle and out into the world, however. "I absolutely love hearing from my readers in personal messages, sharing the breastfeeding customs or acceptance level in their area, and thanking me for just continuing to share my story and my breastfeeding and parenting journey with them," she shared. "On the rare occasion that a breastfeeding naysayer finds my page and starts insulting me or other mothers for breastfeeding in public or nursing past infancy, my community immediately steps up for love and common sense."

She plans to continue to expand the body of work she's put two years of work into, and hopes to continue to inspire parents and the public. "I am happy to get the word out about breastfeeding past infancy and tandem nursing as normal," she explained.

We can't wait to see how her online presence continues to evolve.

More on breastfeeding

Breastfeeding toddlers: Why extended nursing works
Why is Instagram blocking breastfeeding photos?
Why breastfeeding a 3-year-old rocks

Images courtesy of Sweetness and Light Photography, Nicole diGiorgio, used with permission

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