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How Breastfeeding Taught Me to be Me

How Breastfeeding Taught Me to be Me

mayjunejuly 039This is my story and our family’s journey to and though breastfeeding. The good, the bad, the ugly.

In 2008 I was pregnant with our first child, a son. At 18 weeks we found out that there was a problem. The baby had intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). At 23 weeks 3 days when they found our son had not grown at all in the last month. I was admitted into the hospital, and placed on bed rest.

During our stay a NICU doctor came to speak with us. He asked if I was planning on breastfeeding. I said yes I wanted to try, my mother breastfed my sisters and I for a few months each, and that I knew it was best. He then said that breastfeeding was going to be the biggest deciding factor in my baby’s life that I had control over, because he was going to be very tiny and his entire system was immature and needing every chance for survival. He explained the condition NEC, something I had never heard of, and how breast milk could prevent it. By breastfeeding I could save my baby’s life. Sadly, only a few days later we found that my Son was no longer with us. Part of me died with him. I was induced and 14 hours later on Aug 15th 2008 at 25 weeks gestation my son Joel Robert-Lee was born at 11.5 ounces and 10.5 inches. His cord had become tied.

That NICU’s  Doctors comments on breastfeeding has stayed with me, and will forever.

A very short time later (to short). We found that I was again pregnant. I lived in fear every single day, but thankfully, my pregnancy was mostly normal. When I was 38 weeks pregnant I asked to be induced as soon as possible, because of the fear she would die inside me. At 38 weeks 6 days I was induced. First off, the hospital couldn’t find my test results showing I didn’t have strep B so I had to have antibiotics, then they started my pitocin, broke my water, I had a epidural at 7cm, and gave birth in 4 hours at 11:05 am. She was tiny, the doctor had made a guesstimate that her weight was around 7 pounds, he was wrong. I remember him saying “she’s small”. She was only 5 pounds 9 ounces and 18 1/4 inches.

I was an emotional mess, talk about post traumatic stress. I couldn’t stop crying. I was so sad, so happy, and filled with so much fear. I could hardly hold her, all I saw was my Joel, but I didn’t want to let her go. My husband held her for most of the time before she was taken to the nursery. I didn’t nurse her when she was born, and I wouldn’t be able to for 5 hours, because the nursery nurses took so long to bring her to us. She latched fine, but ended up with jaundice (a “pit.” birth and delayed breastfeeding I’m sure had a lot to do with it).

I had no information, no Lactation consultant, and no one who knew anything about breastfeeding exclusivity. At 2 1/2 weeks we added formula per the pediatrician, because I felt like she wasn’t getting enough food. The pediatrician did nothing to sooth my fears. I returned to work early, because of many things, but I pumped 3 times during work for 15 minutes each. I would breastfeed her and give her bottles. For the first 2 1/2 months I slept in her room in a bed with her and breastfed through the night. Eventually by 2 1/2 months she slept through the night and I could no longer have that time with her. The pediatrician had advised us to use Enfimil AR and that I was to only pump and add rice cereal to each bottle. At that point I stopped the actual act of breastfeeding, and at 4 months we added food per that pediatrician. At 5 1/2 months I threw in the towel. I felt like my body had failed me again.

Then in January of 2011 I found out that I was pregnant again. This time I had to use another Doctor and hospital. I educated myself about breastfeeding. I read and read on low supply and what to do. Then 13 days before our son was due I went into labor suddenly at 3:33 am. I didn’t think it was real labor because it didn’t hurt enough. I had two previous induced births and the natural contractions in my mind weren’t hard enough to be real labor. I went to sleep and awoke again after 6am. We went to the hospital, we arrived at 7:00 (on the dot according to the clock in the car. At 7:19am naturally, unmediated, and very quickly I gave birth to my 2nd son. He was 6 pounds 8 ounces and 20.5 inches long. The nurses cleaned him and took his vitals. Suddenly, they realized and asked “Are you breastfeeding” I answered an ecstatic “yes!”. She apologized and brought my son to me. I held and fed him for the first time, and we connected. He and I laid there I’m not sure how long. I healed during that time. He and I looked at each other and I thought of my other two children. I talked to God. I knew what had happened with my daughter at that point and I remembered how long it took for us to “connect”. I regretted her birth. I had taken it away from her. I didn’t trust Her, my body, or God. Her birth was the first mistake I made in our breastfeeding journey and as her mother. I felt so sorry I could not give her what was best nor had I been able to give her all of me. I made a promise that I was new. I had lost part of me but I found a new part and a much stronger person.

My son was Exclusively breastfed from 3 weeks until 6 months. I and my husband gave some formula around 3 weeks for fear he was hungry. At that point I sought out help, and started to attend weekly support group meetings. I was educated about “The Virgin Gut” of a newborn, and I threw out all the samples that we I had been “gifted”. I met many moms and learned so much. I, also, got a few friends. They were and are blessings.

For my whole pregnancy I had prepared a long maturity leave. I enjoyed both my children during that time. At 11 weeks postpartum I returned to work on the Thursday before thanksgiving. I took pumping breaks every 2 hours for 20 minutes each. the next week of course was only a 3 day week (perfect planning). Things went well and mostly as planned for a couple months.

Then my son and I got sick when he was a few months old with RSV. My daughter had cought it and so lovingly brought it home to share. He quickly wasn’t able to nurse properly and that effected my supply. I started supplementing with my own stored milk with a syringe at my breast. First, I tried fenugreek, then goats roe with the fenugreek, finally I got a prescription for Domperidone. I had enough milk to supplement 3 days while I was at work. By the next Thursday if  it didn’t work quickly I would have to find donor milk, or use formula. I started friday morning, Saturday woke up and nursed and pumped like a crazy woman the whole weekend. By Monday I woke up with the “full feeling” and i knew it had worked like a charm. I used Domperidone from about 5 months till my son was 10 months when his food intake was enough for me to risk slowly stepping down off of Domperidone. Finally, at 10 months I was starting to collect 4-6 ounces of extra milk a week so I began extending the time between my pumping breaks to every 2.5 hours, as well as weaning off domperidone.

I was eventually given the opportunity to donate that extra milk to a beautiful adopted baby girl of a woman in our support group. The mom was inducing lactation and wanted her baby exclusively breastfed, if possible. Later I donated to one other child. I ended up pump at work for 22 months to help provide milk for those other children. I’m still amazed I went from perceived Low supply to real low supply all the way to milk donor. I never thought I would get there.

Our pediatrician, Bless her heart. I think I will call her Dr. “breastfeeding is never complete nutrition”, the same one who recommended formula at 2 weeks for My daughter continued to be our pediatrician. Dr. “BF NcN” tried pushing me to add baby cereal at 4 months. I flat refused stating that the AAP, CDC, and WHO said to wait till 6 months. At around 6 months I would not add baby cereal, but I would add “real” foods. He didn’t need the cereal according to the research I had read. Dr. “BF NcN”s response? “hummph”, yeah cocked her head to the side and poked her lips out and everything. She then stated that if the mothers Iron is low then so is the babies. That the cereal was needed to add that iron that the mother was lacking, and told me I was going to give him rickets that will cause bone defects and anemia that would cause him to be learning disabled. In my head i was thinking “So you are telling me  Human milk isn’t enough for a human? nor is it full nutrition? That I’m a bad mother? or both? I informed her that I had given blood only a week before and that amazingly enough my iron level was great! That when we went to WIC for his 3 month check-in his iron was great, too. She had nothing else to say. Needless to say we didn’t go to the next visit and we scheduled the 12 month appoint with a new doctor. I did make it to magical 12 months. I then set a new goal of 24 months. After pasting that goal the last goal was till he was done. My son nursed 33 months, 3 weeks, and 1 day.

My son is beautiful, strong, has straight legs, and has no learning disabilities. Contrary to what poor Dr. “BF NcN” warned I would cause by exclusively breastfeeding past 4 months.

More than nourishing my children breastfeeding made me a better parent in the end. It set me out on a journey that has given me strength that I never knew existed in me. It changed me forever. I know now that I did not fail at breastfeeding my daughter, I did breastfeed her. What happened is I didn’t meet my goal. I’ve learned to set reachable goals for myself and my children. I’ve been taught that not reaching a goal isn’t failure, but not reaching a goal is a learning opportunity in itself. Life doesn’t always go our way. You have to learn from your mistakes, and those of others, to find a new way.


Do you know how much newborns need?…

Do you know how much newborns need?…

5-7ml. Most of the time they are spending at the breast is for them to learn how to latch and to stimulate your body to produce more milk.

They are also nursing often in the beginning for comfort. Just imagine how tired they are after birth and if it was long or hard then they need time. Un-swaddle them, lay them on your chest, ask for a warm blanket, and if they don’t do it on their own don’t worry give them time. The hour after delivering my son was wonderful. That first hour after birth is so amazing. They are learning what you smell like, feel like, and how your milk tastes. They realize this taste just like home! because your colostrum tastes like your amniotic fluid they are used to. Take the time to fall in love with your new baby. They are wonderfully made, aren’t they?

P.S. Even if you don’t want to breastfeed your baby have them lay on your chest skin to skin. Let your new baby learn your smell and how you feel. You both need time to meet each other.

Lisa Horstkamp, CLC

Support Mommas

For some reason we as women have been bashing each other for the choices we make as mothers. Why? Do you think that it is truly going to help another momma to bash certain choices she has made for her family. We may not always agree with other Mommas, but we should support them and educate them IF they are looking for input. Sometimes we must agree to disagree.

Yes, I am sad every time I hear of a momma that quits breastfeeding and I’m honestly slightly angered by one that makes a choice to never nurse her child. That was her choice though, and one that I CAN NOT MAKE FOR HER no matter what her reasoning is.

Yes, I believe breastfeeding is a health choice and not JUST a life style choice. Many people believe it is only a life style or parenting choice, but I feel it is much deeper.

Yes, I personally quit/failed breastfeeding my oldest child. My oldest was born at a hospital with very little breastfeeding support. I had no lactation Consultants available and they didn’t even bring her to me for 5 hours after her birth. No support was offered to me after I left. We only made it 2 weeks before we added formula and by 5 months I was producing around 5 ounces a day. I didn’t feel like it was enough for the “trouble” and stopped. I regret that choice and many others starting with choosing an early induction, but that is another post altogether.

Yes, I plan on nursing my son as long as he wants to.

No, I don’t see my self nursing a 5 year old. I honestly think that I will have no milk to offer at that point, but who knows.

If a woman with a 3 week old says she isn’t breastfeeding, fine. She has already made her choice. Do not condemn her. If you see a woman who is 3 weeks from giving birth and she says she is not going to breastfeeding, ask her why? See if maybe she has never known anyone who breastfed and is uncomfortable or she feels like formula babies are fatter and there for “healthier”. Maybe all she needed was for someone to say to her to try. Why not just try? You CAN do it! If we can’t get women to at least try then we will not be able to change the numbers of baby’s given a chance to breastfeed and create that wonderful relationship with their mothers.

We all want people to support breastfeeding, but what if we are asking them to support something that they didn’t choice for their family. What we should ask is for them to support our choices as Mommas and not to hinder us. You can always switch to a bottle, but you can’t just “switch” back to breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding, bottle feeding, formula, exclusive pumping, mixed feeding, donor milk, and/or long-term or “toddler feeding”. Just support her as a Momma ladies. You ARE Mom enough!

Brewer’s Yeast Recipes

Use Brewer Yeast to Add protein, iron, B vitamins, trace minerals, and also to help women boost milk supply
Make sure to get the debittered kind!
On popcorn. After popping your popcorn, sprinkle on powdered brewer’s yeast for a great flavor. Many prefer to add some salt and granulated garlic as well. Also, try some curry powder or chili powder for other spice themes. Two tablespoons of brewer’s yeast on your popcorn adds significant nutrition to your daily diet.
In your soups. One of the major ingredients in store bought soup mixes is “hydrolyzed protein” or “hydrolyzed yeast”. They’re talking brewer’s yeast here. Add two tablespoons to your pot of soup, a touch of curry or turmeric, some parsley flakes, and optional salt. Your kids will think you bought soup mix, but you’ll know there is no MSG, no artificial coloring, and no poly hydrogenated fats to clog your veins.
In shakes/smoothies. If you’re looking for a homemade protein shake, add brewer’s yeast to your mix. Keep some frozen bananas in the freezer, and you’ll always have shake fixings. For smoothies, skip the freezing
In mashed potatoes. Make fresh mashed potatoes, and who can resist? For about 4 servings, boil 4-5 medium potatoes until soft. Mash well, adding 2 Tablespoons Brewer’s yeast, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, parsley flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.
In sauces. Add to any savory sauce you make: gravy and any pasta sauce. Adds depth of flavor as well as nutrition.
Mix in sweetened vanilla yogurt, about 1 tsp to 1 cup, add some honey and oatmeal for extra flavor.
Peanut butter sandwiches: mix it to and 2tb or peanut or Almond butter for extra nutrition on your sandwich.
Peanut butter balls: Mix about 2 parts peanut butter to one part honey, add enough yeast to make a stiff dough. Roll in balls. You can also use it as a sandwich spread, use a little more honey or a little less yeast, and add honey crunch wheat germ. This is very high protein and satisfying.
*Almond butter, cashew butter, pumpkin seed butter, or tahini(sesame seed butter) can replace peanut butter
*To add extra Omega add about a Tb-4 table spoons of flax seed powder/meal, or ground flax seed before the Yeast.
“Lactation” Cookies
  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 2 cup Sugar
  • ¼ cup black strap molasses
  • 10 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons flax seed meal (or flaxseed ground up to a “powder” in a Magic Bullet)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon Almond extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 almond flour (or ¼ cup almonds crushed and then ground into “powder” in a magic bullet)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups Steel cut oats (soaked in water over night in the fridge then drained through a cheese cloth)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (or the whole bag what eva’)
  • 4 tablespoons brewer’s yeast (or nutritional yeast, not as good but easier to find)
  • ½ cup Old fashion rolled oat meal.
  • Extra chocolate chips and peanut butter chips to add top of cookies
1.Preheat oven to 350
2.Mix the flaxseed meal and water with whisk and set aside. let sit for 3-5 minutes.
3.Cream butter and sugar.
4.Add Molasses and vanilla mix
5.Add flaxseed mix, beat well.
Set to side
6.In different bowl Sift together flour, brewer’s yeast, baking soda, and salt.
7.Add dry ingredients to butter mix in 3 equal portions. Mix well.
8.Stir in steel cut oats and chips.
9.*Optional Refrigerate minimum 24 hours. Make dough easier to work with.
10.Scoop onto baking sheet.
11.Bake for 12 minutes.
12.Add extra chocolate chips and peanut butter chips . Then sprinkle with dry oatmeal
11.Let set for a couple minutes then remove from tray.

Meal Shake

This smoothie is a powerhouse of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
2 tablespoons raw almonds or cashews
1 tablespoon raw sunflower
1 cup milk(dairy or nondairy)
1/4 cup juice(apple, pineapple, etc.)
1 banana frozen
1 cup fresh or frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, etc.)
3 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
1/2 teaspoon Black strap Molasses
Place nuts and seeds in blender and grind to powder.Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth.
Makes 2 servings
Breastfeeding Mom Smoothie
Here’s approximately what I use for one TALL glass full:
Put into blender:
1/2 cup milk(4oz)
1/3 cup oats
1/2 TBSP brewer’s yeast
1/2 TBSP flaxseed
1/2 banana(sometimes partially freeze hour beforehand)
Blend very well while assembling other ingredients.
1/2 cup (4oz)yogurt of choice (I freeze in ice cube trays
Brewer’s Yeast  Smoothie
  • 1 frozen banana (slice before freezing)
  • 1 apple (optional)
  • 2 or so tablespoons brewer’s yeast
  • 1or so tablespoons ground flax ground seed
  • 2 tablespoons whey powder (optional)
  • Dash of cinnamon,and/or vanilla
  • 3/4 cup almond, cow, rice, or soy milk. Or yogurt.
  • Ice cubes Blend  and Enjoy!