Meet LaTesha Charbonnet Gonzales, Greater New Orleans Breastfeeding Coalition Board Member
LaTesha Charbonnet Gonzales, University of New Orleans and IntheNOLA.com
GNOBAC Board Member, Public Relations Committee Chair
As a native New Orleanian, I am so happy and proud to be a part of the Greater New Orleans Breastfeeding
Awareness Coalition. I grew up in Gentilly and still reside there to this day with my family. I work just down the street at the University of New Orleans in the Division of International Education’s Intensive English Language Program as the Assistant Program Director. In addition, I am also the editor of IntheNOLA.com, a local media website that promotes the positive happenings in New Orleans.
My story begins almost 4 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child, Gabriel. Like many new mothers, I scoured the Internet for anything related to pregnancy, labor and delivery, etc. What I didn’t spend too much time on, however, was breastfeeding. In my head at the time, I thought of breastfeeding in very simple terms: Boobs are made for breastfeeding and babies are made for breastfeeding. Simple as that. Only it wasn’t so simple…
After a 24-hour labor (I started off naturally, but then begged for an epidural around hour 15), the doctor placed this little wrinkly, pink, bald baby on my belly. Over the next couple of days at the hospital, Gabriel nursed around the clock, the lactation nurses looked in on me, and all seemed well. We left the hospital and got ready for the whirlwind of a having a newborn baby at home.
Although I nursed Gabriel for the first few days once home, I found the pain to be too uncomfortable and ultimately unbearable. So within the first week or so of him being born, I decided that I would pump exclusively. What started off as pumping just an ounce at first quickly morphed into pumping between 4-5 ounces every 2 hours. That’s right…I was pumping between 48 – 60 ounces of milk per day starting at week 2!
Many moms will think, “Oh my goodness. You’re so lucky! You never had to worry about the baby getting enough milk or gaining weight or eating fenugreek or booby bars to maintain milk production!” While it’s true that I didn’t have to worry about those things, what I did have to worry about was the constant engorgement I felt because of my constant milk production. I was so uncomfortable, depressed, and unhappy even with the bags upon bags of milk I had accumulated.
After a few weeks of pumping 12 times per day and with hundreds of ounces of breastmilk in my freezer (and my mother’s!), I quit cold turkey…no weaning, no nothing. Just quit. And even though my breasts became two huge balloons with what felt like concrete in them from the hardened breast milk for two weeks, I was finally able to get my sanity back. Because of all the milk that I pumped, Gabriel was exclusively bottle-fed breast milk for about six months and then we switched to formula once the breast milk was all gone.
When I look back on this time, I cringe because I refused to ask for help. I felt like something was wrong with me that I couldn’t breastfeed because I had convinced myself that breastfeeding was so natural that you shouldn’t need any instructions on how to do it. Had I reached out for help or accepted the subtle hints of help that were offered to me, perhaps things could have been different.
And that is what brings me to GNOBAC. Even though breastfeeding did not work out for me, I have still a huge proponent of it and am proud to further GNOBAC’s mission of supporting breastfeeding mothers in our community. Furthermore, as a woman of color, I know that my community has some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding and it’s important that mothers see people who look like them.
I look forward to continuing to encourage and support breastfeeding in the Greater New Orleans community!
Favorite Snowball: We’re actually not big snowball people (gasp, I know!). But we do love Creole Creamery in Lakeview for ice cream. They always have new flavors to try.
Favorite Festival: French Quarter Fest and Bayou Boogaloo are two that we love.
Favorite Pizza: We just discovered Mid-City Pizza on Banks…delicious!
Favorite Hamburger: There is no other hamburger place than Company Burger in our eyes! Add the ranch dusted pork rinds!
Favorite Things to Do: With IntheNOLA.com, we are always at many events. When we’re not working, we actually love relaxing at home with the family, getting ice cream at Creole Creamery, eating out together, taking the streetcar downtown, and finding the cheapest margaritas and oysters in town!