SIDNEY — The decision to breastfeed their babies was an easy one for two Sidney mothers.
Ashley Himes is the mom of four children, Piper, 9, Paisley, 7, Rolly the Fourth, 3, and Reba, 8 months old — all of whom she breastfed. Kirsty Barhorst is the mom of daughter, Bexley, 17 months old. August is Breastfeeding Awreness Month.
“I never considered anything else,” said Ashley. “I have lots of siblings and my mom breastfed them all. I was the first one of my siblings to have a child.”
For the past 10 years, said Himes, she has either been pregnant or nursing a baby.
“i’d stop nursing the older child when I got pregnant with the next one,” said Ashley.
During her first pregnancy, Ashley was working in retail management. After going back to college, she worked at a restaurant and faced challenges of pumping her milk while working.
“I couldn’t take more than the mandatory break,” she said. “Then I took lunch. If the restaurant was busy, I had problems getting my breaks.”
Her next challenge was finding a place to pump.
“The first place was in the bathroom,” she said. “I’d be in there for my 15 minute break and people complained because I was in there so long.
“The next place was a storage room that had a table and chair,” she recalled. “It would get to 110 degrees in there.”
After leaving the restaurant business, Ashley began working for State Farm Insurance as an agent in Urbana.
“I was able to pump at my desk because I could close the blinds and shut the door,” she said.”Some people would look at me like I had three heads, but if wasn’t a big deal to me.”
At that point, she hadn’t met anyone else who was breastfeeding their babies.
“I went for training for State Farm in Bloomington, Ind. They had a pumping room, chair massages and beverages with a refrigerator available,”said Ashley. “They were up and coming on how they treated breastfeeding moms. I’m very proud of State Farm.”
Ashley and her husband, Rolly, moved to Sidney three years ago and opened up Ashley Himes State Farm Insurance. She as pregnant with baby No. 3.
The Himes have a partnership when it comes to feeding the babies. Ashley will go home for lunch to feed baby Reba, or Rolly will bring the baby to the office when she needs fed.
“Rolly works in the lawn care business, so his schedule is flexible,” said Ashley. “He’ll bring the baby in when it’s time for her to nurse. Reba doesn’t want to eat from a bottle, so he’ll bring her here or I’ll go home for lunch.”
Ashley feeding her babies was a normal part of her day.
“People that I work with knew my boobs are just going to go off for no reason,” said Ashley. “Most people are OK with it. When I hired my team, I asked them how are you going to feel if you see my bob. Rebas’s going to be coming in.
“No one says anything and I don’t cover up,” said Ashley. “At church, I will go to the basement, but everywhere else … it’s a baby bottle in my opinion.”
Ashley said her children have been very healthy since they were breastfed for at least a year.
“They didn’t get sick until after they were one year old or older,” she said. “My first one got sick right after she stopped breast feeding.”
Ashley said it’s more convenient to breastfeed her babies.
“Plus when they soil their diapers it’s not as stinky,” she said. “We co-sleep with our kids. I don’tknow who I’d do it without breastfeeding. Its more convenient than formula.
“But you do have to do selfcare for yourself — make sure you eat and stay hydrated. And getting enough sleep is important. Breastfeeding is supply and demand,” she said.
When she had her first child, Ashley faced the challenges of being a new mom and breastfeeding.
“I found out I wasn’t drinking enough,” she said. “I have a lactation consultant as a friend. I called her and said I hate this. She went over a checklist with me and asked how much I was drinking. I wasn’t drinking enough and I wasn’t eating enough.
“Breastfeeding is a huge commitment. It gets easier with each child. With kid No. 4, it’s almost automatic.”
for Kirsty and her husband, Sebastian,, the decision to breastfeed Bexley was made in part because of financial concerns.
“Formula is expensive,” Kirsty said. “She doesn’t need any milk from anyone but me. She hasn’t been sick since she was born.
“It’s also a connection thing too,” she said. “I feel closer to her.”
Kirsty said she had a rough delivery when Beckley was born.
“She was small when she was born and struggled to latch on,” she said. “I started pumping and they gave her a bottle (with breast milk). Everybody else was feeding her and I felt like that was my job.”
With the help of the hospital lactation consultant, Kirsty and Beckley experienced a successful transition to breastfeeding.
“I stopped pumping and am a stay-at-home mom for the most part,” she said.
She said Sebastian was supportive of her decision to breastfeed.
“He’s younger than I am and he wasn’t around any babies growing up,” she said. “He told me to do whatever needs to be done so she and I are happy.”
Kirsty is a member of the Shelby County Breastfeeding Coalition. The group meets every other month. She’s also runs the Women’s Baby Bunch, which is associated with Wilson Health.
“I plan the meetings and pick the site where we’ll meet,” said Kirsty. Various speakers attend the meetings, answering questions of the breastfeeding moms.
“We talk about how to help mothers become more successful with breastfeeding. “We have a support system to help with their needs.”
Both women were involved with this years Big Latch On, which was held at the beginning of August. Ashley was a speaker and Kirsty helped with the event.
“The Big Latch One was a time for us to come together. We need other moms for support and to provide a morale boost for us. We know it’s OK to breastfeed our children. “
Kirsty encourages other moms to breastfeed their babies.
“Starting out, it was hard, very hard,” she said. “But it’s 180 percent worth it. If you stick with it, you’ll reap the benefits and feel good about it.
“This is what I wanted to do,” she said. “I wanted 100 percent to do it. This is probably the only thing I’ve stuck with and didn’t give up on it. This is what we were made to do. At the end of the day, you need to stand up for yourself.”