Loving yourself first

by Julie Sanford


It’s important to love yourself first even after welcoming a new baby. You might be thinking I’m totally crazy for saying it but trust me, you need to love yourself first before you can love your growing family. 

I’m a mom of two with a third on the way and can honestly say that becoming a mom has been the ‘biggest’ self-development journey of my life.  Every day I have to consciously make the choice to put ‘me’ first, tell myself that I am enough and that every decision I have made for myself, family and life was the ‘right’ one when I made it.  I have also learned there is no one way of doing something and what worked yesterday, may not work today or ever again. 

With Baby #3 on the way, I’ve realized I need to redesign my breastfeeding/pumping experience with each child.  Who would have thought that breastfeeding could be so hard? Not me…it’s supposed to be natural – the baby just latches on and away you go…right? No. That wasn’t my experience.   

Baby #1

As a first time mom, I was so excited to breastfeed;  I set a personal goal of breastfeeding for one year. Needless to say, I quickly learned that what I thought was going to happen and what actually happened were vastly different.  With M, I ended up with two infections (mastitis and yeast), bleeding/scabbed nipples and a lovely trip to the ER.  My treatment included ice packs and warm compresses (one to stop the swelling and the other to loosen-up the blocked milk ducts). Eventually, it was time to go home but I wasn’t going home alone, this time I went home with a hospital grade breast pump – my new BFF for the next 10.5 months. I made the choice to continue to breastfeed and my new BFF (aka hospital grade breast pump) enabled me to do it. For the first 6 months I pumped exclusively 8-10 times a day…and then it was time to return to work. My new schedule included pumping 6 times a day on top of my full-time job. My role required a lot of travel, which meant it was time to invest in a pump that was easy to take with me on work trips. Together we began a journey…finding places to pump on-the-go (airports, the backseat of cars, store offices, coffee shops, yoga studios, etc.). Looking back, it’s a total blur…I remember certain moments that make me laugh and then there are other moments where I can still feel my toes curl and tears start to form because of how painful the whole breastfeeding and pumping experience was at times. I had to throw out what I ‘imagined’ breastfeeding was going to be and embrace what it was for me.

Baby #2  

The first thing out of my mouth in the delivery room was, “I need to see a lactation consultant now!”  My previous experience with M came rushing back to me and I could feel the fear creeping in… “Could I go down the same road again? Was I strong enough to pump for the next 10.5 months?”  In that moment, I was holding a beautiful baby in my arms and I already felt myself doubting my abilities as a ‘new’ mom. Thankfully, I saw a lactation consultant within 6 hours after my request and she left me with a few words of wisdom… “No two babies are alike…you need to let go of the past…whatever happens, happens…you are a great mom.” I couldn’t help but shed a few tears after she left, then shared my commitment with Baby Q and began a new journey with her.  This time around, I exclusively breastfed for 6 months (using a travel pump when needed)…Q loved my ‘boobs’ so much she became attached! I ended leaving my job and staying home full-time and at 15 months ‘I’ made the choice to stop breastfeeding – Q would have kept going well into her teenage years.

Here I am, pregnant with Baby #3, already a mom to two independent and beautiful girls. The only thing I know for certain, is I will be a ‘new’ mom for the third time and this experience will be its own. 




Julie Sanford

Julie Sanford is the proud mother to two independent girls and is expecting her third baby soon! She recently co-founded SMITHS, a creative design and leadership firm based in Rhode Island. Julie has extensive retail experience stemming from her days as regional manager at LuluLemon and Abercrombie & Fitch. She holds a BA in Communications and Media Studies from the University of New Hampshire.