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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.


Lactogenic and Galactogogues Wa…wa…what?

Lactogenic and Galactogogues Foods and Herbs
This is info that I have amassed in the last 7 months mostly from (great site). Remember I’m not a Dr. and I don’t play one on t.v. So read for your entertainment and if you like it or parts of the info talk with with your lactation consultant. Thanks Pumpmasterkamp 
Fluids– 2-3 Quarts, 100-120 oz, 4-7 bottles of water, ginger ale, lactation teas, milk, almond “milk”.
Healthy Galactogogue Foods:
Oats: Steal or think cut oats have been used has a galactagogue for centuries
Brewer’s Yeast- also a Lactogenic, and Extremely healthy it is listed as a super food.

Ginger (and Ginger ale)– Is said to help with the let down reflex. Please note that if you lost a lot of blood during birth, avoid taking ginger for several weeks.

Garlic – is helpful for the letdown and milk flow as well. I have read that eating diets rich in garlic will make a baby nurse More/harder.

Nuts – eat raw nuts like almonds, cashews, and macadamia nuts.

Sesame seed-“butter” known as Tahini  is high in calcium

Carrotseed has been used as a galactagogue for thousands of years
Legumes –  chickpea and lentils. Make a big batch of beans when you have time and freeze them in small containers.
CoconutOil/Butter: good fats for milk
Flaxseed oil: good fats for milk, and is a galactagogue.
One way to balance the fats is to dribble a quarter teaspoon of olive oil, flaxseed oil, sesame oil, and a thin slab of butter over meals. Be sure to eliminate unhealthy fats such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and trans fatty acids from your diet, as these will also enter your milk.
 Fennel -Fennel can be eaten raw or cooked, for instance, steamed, or sauteed in butter and then simmered in a bit of water. Fennel seed is well-known as an herb to increase milk production. The vegetable, containing the same pharmacological active volatile oils, acts as a gentler support
Black Strap molasses- (High in iron) Black strap molasses contains high amounts of calcium and iron, plusmagnesium, potassium, copper, and chromium. Buy organic, unsulphured molasses and use it to sweeten porridge, smoothies, and baked goods
Yogurt – or lactobacilli supplements to protect your intestinal flora and to help prevent colic and allergy in your baby
*Yogurt serves as a great substitute for high-fat ingredients in baking. Low-fat or fat-free yogurt can be used to reduce or replace shortening, oil, butter or sour cream in baked goods.  Plus, it’s packed with protein and calcium.
Here are some easy guidelines for using yogurt in baking:
  • When a recipe calls for butter, replace half the butter with half as much yogurt. For instance, instead of 1 cup butter, use 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup yogurt.
  • When a recipe calls for shortening or oil, replace half the oil with 3/4 the amount of yogurt. For example, instead of 1 cup oil, use 1/2 cup oil and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons yogurt.
  • Substitute yogurt cup for cup for sour cream in recipes.
  • Yogurt can even replace some of the water or milk in a recipe. Start by substituting 1/4 of the liquid with yogurt. The result will be creamier and more flavorful.
 A normal herbal regiment is listed here with all the herbs listed bellow.
Fenugreek capsules: Up to 3capsules, 3 times per day.

Alfalfa leaf capsules: Up to 3 capsules, 3 times a day.

Blessed thistle capsules: Up to 3 capsules, 3 times a day.

Marshmallow capsules: Up to 3 capsules, 3 times a day.

Red Clover: Up to 3 capsules, 3 times a day.

Goat’s Rue: Tea: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoonful of the herb,steep 5 -10 minutes 2 – 3 cups a day.

Red Raspberry Leaf: up to a quart

Brewers Yeast: As often as you can add to your diet. 2 tb in 8 ounces of orange juice once in the morning and evening.


Dosage and Preparation:

*   Capsules: Try one capsule the first day to see if you have an allergic reaction. If you do not have a reaction, then take 3 capsules, and then 6 capsules a day, divided into three dosages, taken before meals. Add one additional capsule per day and build up to 9 per day. This is considered standard dosage, though some mothers take larger dosages. Gauge your reaction carefully, and ask your lactation expert and doctor for guidance if you are unsure about your optimal dosage. n some sensitive women, a very low dosage of fenugreek does increase milk production. One woman reported seeing significant improvement with only 2 capsules per day.
*   Tincture: Fenugreek is frequently a main ingredient in lactation tinctures. Follow the dosage directions on the package.
*   Tea: Fenugreek seed can be steeped, infused, or decocted, and can be adjusted to be mild and delicate or potent and bitter. Add a natural sweetener to taste.
*   Sheila Humphrey in “The Nursing Mother’s Herbal”recommends steeping 1 – 3 teaspoons of whole seed in 8 oz. of boiling water for5 – 10 minutes, or longer.
*   Infusion, cold: Set fenugreek seeds in cold water and soak for several hours or over night. Strain off the liquid, refrigerate, and if desired, warm each cup gently before drinking.
*   David Hoffmann in “Holistic Herbal” suggests that mothers decoct (gently simmer) 1 1/2 teaspoons of slightly crushed fenugreek seeds in one cup of water for ten minutes, and, for a more flavorful taste, add1 teaspoonful of aniseed to the decoction. Drink three times a day.

Alfalfa leaf – Do not over-eat alfalfa sprouts or seeds

Dosage and Preparation:

*   Tea: 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of water. Drink up tothree cups per day. (To kick-start milk supply, double this dosage a few days.Increase is seen within two to four days.)
*   Infuse 1-2 handfuls in a quart of water, steep overnight.
*   Alfalfa Supplements: Up to 8 capsules per day.
*   Dried juice powder: 1 tablespoon, two times per day.
*   Homeopathy: X30 is used in combination with Lactuca virosa X30for exhausted, nervous, stressed mothers.

Blessed Thistle

Capsules: Up to 3 capsules, 3 times a day in combination with other herbs such as fenugreek

Marshmallow Root and Leaf

Dosage and Preparation:

*   Tea: Pour 1 cup of cold water over 1 tablespoon of root powder,and stir frequently while soaking for thirty minutes. Strain, and warm gentlybefore drinking.
*   Decoction: Per cup of water, add 1 teaspoonful of the chopped root,and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Take three cups a day. Sheila Humphrey recommends that if you are starting an herbal program, you may take higher dosages for a few days to kick-start your milk supply, i.e., take up to one handful of chopped root per cup of water.
*   Capsules: Take 3 capsules, 3 times a day, in combination with other herbs such as fenugreek, blessed thistle, alfalfa, and red clover.

Red Clover

Dosage and Preparation:

*   Capsules: 2 – 3 capsules, 3 times a day, in combination with other herbs.
*   Tea: Pour 1 cup of boiling water onto 1 – 3 teaspoons of thedried flowers, and steep for 10 – 15 minutes.
*   Infusion: Add the herb to a mixture of other lactogenic herbs and infuse for several hours or over night.

Goat’s Rue

*   Dosage and Preparation:

*   Tincture: Take 1 – 2 ml of tincture, or 10 – 15 drops, 3times a day.
*   Tea: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoonful ofthe herb, steep 5 -10 minutes. Drink 2 – 3 cups a day.


Dosage and Preparation:

*   Tea: Pour a cup of boiled water onto 1 – 2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb, cover and steep for 10 minutes. Take 3 cups a day. To kick-start milk production, double this dosage, and take up to 6 cups a day.
*   A mild tea is made by steeping one teaspoon of the dried herb for only 1/2 minute in a cup of boiling water. Take three cups a day. (Even the mild tea has a dark-green color and a rich taste.)
*   Infusion: In a quart jar, add boiling water, cover, and infuse overnight. Use a large handful of nettle. Combine with other lactogenic herbs,such as alfalfa, goat’s rue, dandelion leaf, red clover, vervain, and the umbel seeds.
*   Tincture: Nettle is frequently an ingredient of in lactation tinctures. Follow the dosage directions on the package.

Red Raspberry Leaf

*   Mothers take up to a quart of red raspberry leaf tea per day during pregnancy. See above. Red-raspberry tea is said to promote milk production the first week postpartum, though stinging nettle or alfalfa may be the better herb if there is risk of low milk supply-see above .
*   Medicinal tea: Pour 1 cup of just-boiled water over 2 teaspoons of the dried leaf and steep for 5 minutes. Sweeten with a natural sweetener to taste. Build up slowly to 4 cups a day during pregnancy
*   Red raspberry leaf as a mild beverage: Steep 1/2 teaspoon of dried leaves in 1 cup of just-boiled water for 1 – 3 minutes. Sweeten with a natural sweetener to taste.

Umbel Seeds


*   Anise tea: Gently crush 1 -2 teaspoons of anise seeds, and cover with one cup of boiling water. Cover and steep between 5 – 20 minutes. Sweeten to taste. Take 3 cups a day.

*   To kick start milk production, take up to 6 cups of anise teafor two to four days, carefully observing your and your baby’s reaction.
*   Infusion: In Eastern Europe, umbel seeds such as anise arecovered with boiling water and steeped for four hours before drinking.




 *   Umbel seeds can betaken individually, together, or combined with other herbs to make a lactationtea. They can be infused overnight in cold or hot water. Traditionally, they can be decocted, or steeped as tea.
*   Umbel seed tea: Gently crush 1-2 teaspoons of the seeds, and add one cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for between 5 – 20 minutes. Longer steeping produces a more potent tea. Sweeten to taste.
*   Umbel seeds as a beverage: Steep 1 – 3 minutes for a milder taste and effect.
*   Infusion: In Eastern Europe, umbel seeds such as anise, given to breastfeeding mothers to promote milk production, are covered with boiling water and infused for four hours.
*   In India, umbel seeds are placed in cold water and soaked overnight. The liquid is strained and gently warmed before drinking. This way,none of the volatile, medicinal oil is lost to steam.
*   The usual recommended dosage is 3 cups a day. To increase milk production, take up to 6 cups a day initially, as necessary, observing your reaction, and your baby’s reaction. If you or your baby get loose stools or become gassy, reduce the dosage or try other galactagogues.
*   To treat flatulence, drink umbel seed tea slowly before meals,or take it in sips throughout the day.


Valerian root is not a galactagogue, but it is listed in the MOBI Herbal because it can be useful to mothers suffering from sleep deprivation.

Dosage and Preparation:

*   Discover your individual dosage. Taking too large a dosage can lead to a drug-like sleep with the mother feeling as though she has a hang-over next day.
*   With herbal tinctures, the dosage can be fine-tuned. Although 30- 40 drops of valerian before sleep is the recommended dosage, 3 – 10 drops maybe sufficient for mothers who respond more sensitively to herbal medicinal.
*   Take valerian before going to bed if you are taking it specifically to help you sleep more deeply. Take it in small dosages during the day if you are using it to help calm your nerves. Do not overdose.
*   It may take up to four weeks for the herb to unfold its full effect.

Brewer’s Yeast- Add to all baked goods (2-4TB), to soups 1Tsp for every Cup or about 2TB-4TB for a full pot, and to popcorn (1 TB).
Glactofuge: Bad for lactation

Aloe vera
Borage (contains Pyrrolizidine alkaloids which may cause liver damage)
Cascara sagrada
Comfrey (contains Pyrrolizidine alkaloids which may cause liver damage)
Parsley (galactofuge reduces milk flow)
Sage (galactofuge reduces milk flow)

from website