Turning regret into advocacy

When Ashley Albright’s baby Marcus Jr. (MJ) was diagnosed with Down syndrome, she was “crushed.”

I felt what I thought was my heart shattering. I could not believe it,” she writes on her blog Just the Albrights.

It was her husband who helped change her perspective. After a conversation with him, she no longer felt defeated by the diagnosis; she felt hopeful and enthusiastic about her son’s future.

While Albright has embraced the diagnosis, she still has regrets about her infant feeding story.

We had a very rocky breastfeeding journey and stopping at three months is still one of my biggest regrets!” she exclaims.

Although Albright planned to exclusively breastfeed, she reports that the hospital offered “absolutely no support.” During her son’s eight-day stay in the NICU, no one encouraged her to provide breastmilk for her baby; actually, no one had a conversation with her about breastfeeding at all. Still, determined Albright pumped milk for MJ.

“I grew tired of pumping though…Because of his Down syndrome, we were terribly busy with doctor appointments, therapy sessions, [and so on.]”

Albright has since had another son and a daughter. She breastfed her second child for 34 months and continues to exclusively breastfeed her eight month old daughter.  She points out that she birthed her daughter at a different hospital than her sons and acknowledges that the breastfeeding support was “out of this world amazing.” She also utilized the Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline, staffed by CLCs and IBCLCs.

“Out of all of my children, MJ needed [my milk] the most,” Albright says. “I regret that I did not supply him with the best.”

“Months later, I would pump whenever I was engorged with my second son,” she goes on.  “I would offer that milk to MJ, but he would refuse it.”

Now that Albright has several years of breastfeeding experience, she says that friends, family and co-workers come to her for breastfeeding advice.

“Plus, I absolutely love breastfeeding” she adds. “I want to be there to encourage and educate other moms.”

Accordingly, Albright recently completed The Lactation Counselor Training Course.  

“I loved the course…I learned so much,” she says. “If I had money to dispose of, I’d take the class again because it was so fun and interesting!”

Albright plans to volunteer her new skills at the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid South.

“[People] need to know the endless benefits that they can offer their children through breastmilk,” she says.

Albright also practices her breastfeeding advocacy through breastfeeding groups on Facebook, by creating breastfeeding videos on her YouTube channel and offering breastfeeding encouragement through Instagram.

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