Adoption and Breastfeeding – A #MyStoryMatters

by Meaghan McKracken

It could be said that my adoption story centered around breastmilk. A reality most wouldn’t expect in an adoption story but adoption stories, like all stories, are unique in their own right. This is mine.

If you’re on this site you probably already know that the realities of breastfeeding can be difficult. For many women, concerns about sufficient supply, struggles with engorgement, clogged ducts, cracked nipples, and more can turn what may be natural into what feels like an entirely foreign experience. An experience further complicated when almost exclusively pumping, grief of separation, and a new but essential relationship with adoptive parents. As a birthmom, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be set up for success. In reality, feeding my little boy naturally became the success of my adoption. 

Allow me to explain.

Open adoption is still adapting; still evolving. What it looks like today is vastly different from how it was even 10 years ago. Still, there are holes in the process because when you’re dealing with complicated human emotions and trying circumstances, finding a balance is an ever shifting and unique challenge. Stress, anxiety, and doubt from both birth mothers and adoptive parents are a reality of the journey. But there is also joy; so much joy. 

Meaghan and her baby

Breastfeeding became my test. Incorporating a breastfeeding plan would mean a very gentle transition for the baby and myself. There would be no sharp and severed moment of goodbye. Everything would be slowed down and transition of care would be tapered. I felt this would reduce huge amounts of stress and trauma for my little one and myself. If I could find a couple who was cooperative and willing to take an inclusive approach in involving me in the care of our child, allowing my milk for feedings I felt it would be better for all of us. Such an arrangement would fulfill my desire for real openness between our two families. If they valued nourishing my son through human milk, specifically the milk that was intended for him, I could trust them to put his health first in the future no matter what their anxieties. It was the perfect and natural way to unite us, just as it is the perfect and natural way to unite moms and babies.

My adoption agency shared my specific birth plan with their hundred plus adoptive couples, and over half replied with a very strong yes. When I finally picked my adoptive couple I was blown away by the level of inclusion they were prepared for. Working for my son’s health became a common cause for us to focus on together. A truly baby focused adoption. 

Rowan was born September 28th, weighing 6.8lbs and just 7 weeks later, he already almost weighed 10lbs. I nursed and pumped a bit in the hospital after the pregnancy. The adoptive mother used SNS (supplemental nursing system/at the breast with supplemental nursing system) with my milk so she could also have the experience of nursing and bonding, reducing nipple confusion. Once again I felt supported and valued in a practical way that was good for my son. I stayed with them after my hospital stay to establish my milk supply and to pump milk for them to get storage going for them.

Meaghan's adoptive parents

It was so fulfilling to see them build their family, to share in the happy side of adoption, and to feel accepted as an advocate for my child’s well being. I had a very primal and protective instinct to nurture and care for this sweet little one that was not only met but encouraged. It was simply love without ownership or possessiveness. And truly, what was there to fear? Bonding? Affection? Why would we want to protect our children from experiences like these?

I signed the papers a little over a week after giving birth feeling fully confident I would see my son soon. That all of us were on the same page about what story we were writing for our family. So far it has been a joy and an adventure; the most beautiful work I’ve done in my life. 

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What do you think of breastfeeding and adoption? 

Do you have any experience with breastfeeding and adoption?

Share in the comments below your thoughts on adoption and breastfeeding.

 ____________________

If you are a birthmom or know a birthmom looking for support or a community, On Your feet Foundation is an excellent resource. They have retreats, case management and an amazingly supportive community just for birthmoms.

 ____________________

If you’d like to share your story with a larger audience, submit your story, photos, and your bio, with #MyStoryMatters in the subject to content @ theleakyboob.com (no spaces).

____________________

Meaghan's headshot
Meaghan McKracken is a 32 year old mother of two. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three year old. The adoptive couple of her youngest son also lives close by and they see each other on a weekly basis. Meaghan is a massage therapist as well as currently developing her skills as a Pilates instructor.
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Pumping And Grief In Adoption – A #MyStoryMatters

by April

To have swollen breasts filled with milk, and no baby to feed is painful, more so in the soul. The loss is magnified when the milk starts to come in, and you are faced with empty arms. Your body won’t let you forget and move on. Your body remembers. The right decision to be made isn’t always the easy one. Sometimes the right decision is difficult. I decided I wouldn’t fight my body.

I asked the adoptive parents if I could pump for them. They may not know this, but the fact they said yes helped me move forward. It gave me a renewed sense of purpose. One would think that pumping would increase the grieving process. In fact, it did the opposite.

Deciding to pump was healing for me as much as is helped the son I placed. I thought perhaps it would be hard to pump. But I loved my son so much I wanted to give him every advantage. I couldn’t give him much. What I could give him was milk. The research has shown the advantages of breast milk over formula. Due to his premature birth, it was needed even more. I decided to set aside my own pain and pump for his parents.

I placed a picture of him on the pump and the first few times, I wept. I think this was healing and cathartic. It started to hurt less and I started to feel that my self-worth wasn’t tied to my past and the only thing I was good for was being a baby carrier for 8 months. I was starting to look at my present and future. The baby I no longer had was being nourished with the milk I was able to provide with the love of his adoptive mother. I had an intermediary deliver the milk. Despite the fact my psyche was slowly healing, emotions were still raw. Seeing the son I placed regularly was not something I needed at that time. Knowing he was being given my breast milk was enough to start closing the mental wounds. It was enough to know he was given the very best nutrition despite being a few miles from me.

April image

My own nutrition and exercise regimen improved. Women already are faced with horrendous body image issues. Multiply that 10 fold after having a baby, and no baby to show for it. Pumping helped me lose the baby weight, eat right after my pregnancy (again, taking care of myself post adoption), which trickled into other areas of my life and become strong in the gym and out of the gym. I was able to face the world with a renewed sense of purpose.

Even though the baby I carried was gone from my arms, he wasn’t just a faint memory. He was real. I had to face it head on while pumping and that made me determined to be as healthy as I could post pregnancy. I did my best during pregnancy while battling hyperemesis gravidarium. Life didn’t end after the baby was delivered. This is so important to remember as birthmother. Life goes on. I had to go on too. Pumping milk reminded me of that, whenever I felt as if there was no future for me. Many people may feel that pumping was a selfless act. If anything, it was also selfish, in a very good way. It was part of my self-care.

 ____________________ 

What do you think of breastfeeding and adoption? 

Do you have any experience with breastfeeding and adoption?

Share in the comments below your thoughts on adoption and breastfeeding.

 ____________________

If you are a birthmom or know a birthmom looking for support or a community, On Your feet Foundation is an excellent resource. They have retreats, case management and an amazingly supportive community just for birthmoms.

 ____________________

If you’d like to share your story with a larger audience, submit your story, photos, and your bio, with #MyStoryMatters in the subject to content @ theleakyboob.com (no spaces).

____________________

April headshotApril lives in Chicago, IL with her son and and four pet rats! Post adoption she realized that being strong mentally and physically was important to her well being. She now works as a personal trainer teaching women to strive for more and be more. One of he goals is to combat the bodyshamng that is rampant in print and social media. She loves teaching women to shift focus from looks and the scale and INSTEAD, embrace their strength – whether it’s deadlifting their own bodyweight, swinging a kettlebell for 10 minutes without stopping, or doing their first pullup.

 

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The Pumping Birthmom: Pumping for the Baby I Didn’t Take Home- Talia’s Story #MyStoryMatters

by Talia

Talia, guest post, leaky to leaky, open adoption

My son Yeshua was almost two when I realized I was pregnant again. But this time instead of tears of joy I cried tears of fear and disbelief. It wasn’t the right time. I called Journeys of the Heart and this is where my adoption process began.

I had never even heard open adoption before but Beth, my adoption counselor at Journeys had me convinced that it would be the best situation for me and the baby, so I was immediately on board. I found a nice couple that already had three boys and things moved forward fast. We had visits, Yeshua started playing with their kids, and Nikki (the adoptive-mom-to-be) even came to ultrasounds with me. We would have lunch and write deep sounding lovey fluffy emails to each other expressing our feelings about this crazy open adoption process we had entered together. Everything seemed perfect…until I was 36 weeks.

Now I’m a breastfeeding fanatic. Yeshua hadn’t had a drop of formula and I pumped at work for him like a dairy cow. I’m all the way crunchy. I even put my breast milk in my own ear when I got a sinus infection (I would have put it in my son’s ear too if he ever had one! But he never did, because he was breastfed). With all that being said, I was determined to pump and send milk to the adoptive family after this new baby was born as well. Even though I knew Zachary wouldn’t be coming home with me, I still wanted to give him the gift only his birthmother could give: breast milk a.k.a. liquid gold.

At 36 weeks it was time to sit down and make a “contract” that would set expectations or guidelines for how our open adoption relationship would play out once Zachary was born. I considered my expectations to be quite low, but one of them included sending milk that I had pumped. I never imagined in a million years that someone would turn down liquid gold for her newborn child. This couple refused. They gave no explanation for why, but they simply stated that they “preferred not to take it.” So I said, “Well they prefer not to have my child then.” Beth and I were onto a search for a new family that was right for me.

I fell in love with a parent profile that I had overlooked earlier with a couple named Robin and Jeff in it. Before I met them though, I asked Beth to call them to ask them their feelings about me pumping milk and sending it to them. Not only were they ecstatic about the idea, they actually already had a freezer full of frozen breast milk waiting for them from a friend whose toddler would no longer drink it. It was truly meant to be. We met and three weeks later I gave birth to Zachary Isaiah.

I was afraid to latch him to my breast. I was afraid to fall even deeper in love than I already was and I knew that many promised adoptions were ripped to shreds once the baby latched and the birthmother changed her mind. But I also knew I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t have those holy sacred moments with my perfect 6 pound newborn baby.

guest post, leaky to leaky, tail's open adoption story

I was sad and afraid that it was breaking Robin’s heart to watch me nurse the son she would take home the next day without being able to feed the same way, but she supported me and made me feel loved. I secretly asked her to forgive me in my mind. Leaving the hospital the next day without Zachary was the hardest moment of my life. I mourned the loss of a living baby which is so strange and distinct, but what was even stranger was that I was able to go home and start making milk for him right away, just as if he was right in my arms. A month after that I moved 5 hours away but that didn’t stop me; I kept pumping and froze the milk. In the meantime Robin’s friend with the freezer milk spent a small fortune mailing the milk over dry ice and between the two of us Zachary was an adopted baby that drank breast milk exclusively for the first 6 weeks of his life. I pumped for about three months but eventually I got a full time job and the supply was less and less. I lamented deeply as it all diminished.

I was able to visit with Zachary and his parents several times within his first few weeks of his life. The hardest part of those visits were holding my baby and smelling him and my body’s natural response was for my milk ducts to let down and say, “hey lady, it’s time to feed your baby.” I longed so badly to nurse him when I visited at their house, but I knew to request something so absurd would be crossing the line and I would never want to make Robin and Jeff uncomfortable because we had a beautiful open adoption. So instead of nursing him I went home and pumped and labeled the milk baggies “I love you Zachary.”

birth mom breastfeeding adoptive baby

Two years later Robin shared with me that because of our unique situation, Journeys Of The Heart had created new guidelines for new incoming adoptive parents. Now they tell adoptive parents that if the mother wishes to pump it is “highly recommended” to accept it. I felt honored by that change and hope to be an inspiration for birthmothers in the future to be encouraged to give a beautiful gift of milk that only they can give.

____________________

What do you think of breastfeeding and adoption? 

Do you have any experience with breastfeeding and adoption?

Share in the comments below your thoughts on adoption and breastfeeding.

____________________

If you are a birthmom or know a birthmom looking for support or a community, On Your feet Foundation is an excellent resource. They have retreats, case management and an amazingly supportive community just for birthmoms.

____________________

If you’d like to share your story with a larger audience, submit your story, photos, and your bio, with #MyStoryMatters in the subject to content @ theleakyboob.com (no spaces).

____________________

guest post, leaky to leaky, Talia's open adoption story 
Talia lives in southern Illinois with her fiance and son.  After having an intense all natural birth with her birthson Zachary, she realized her dream is to be a midwife and help other women empower themselves through having the birth of their dreams as well.  She currently works as an OB RN and prenatal massage therapist, with plans in the near future to start midwifery school.
 
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Your Guide to Relactation

 

Stopped breastfeeding and want to start again?  Here’s our guide to relactation.

What is relactation?

Relactation is re-establishing breastfeeding after stopping breastfeeding, or after a period of very little breastfeeding.

Why would I want to relactate?

Mothers decide to relactate for many reasons, but most want either to resume the breastfeeding relationship, or provide more breastmilk, or both.

What are my odds of successfully relactating?

There is little research on relactation, but the available studies strongly suggest that, with proper support, most mothers can partially or fully relactate.  Below are some studies that offer some encouraging findings about the success of relactation.  It’s important to bear in mind that in most of these studies mothers received help in relactating from trained breastfeeding support people.

One study of 139 Indian mothers who had stopped breastfeeding for at least ten days found that 84% were capable of either full or partial relactation:

  • 61% fully relactated
  • 23% partially relactated (formula supplements reduced by half)
  • 16% were unable to relactate

A recent survey of 84 relactating mothers of infants (on average, 2 months old) in Korea found:

  • 75% of mothers fully relactated (defined as 90% or more breastmilk feedings)
  • 25% of mothers either partially relactated or did not relactate

An older survey of 366 U.S. mothers, mothers reported that:

  • More than 50% established full production within one month
  • 25% required more than one month to establish full production
  • The remaining mothers breastfed with supplements until their babies weaned

A study of 50 mothers of hospitalized infants under four months old, found:

  • 92% of mothers fully relactated
  • 6% partially relactated

 

What factors will influence my success in relactating?

The research on relactation confirms what you might already suspect.  The following factors are associated with more success at relactating:

  • A younger baby
  • A shorter gap between weaning and relactating (sometimes called a “lactation gap”)
  • The willingness of the baby to take the breast
  • Having assistance from trained breastfeeding support people

These factors may influence your chance at meeting your goals, but each mother/baby pair is different, and relactation may still be possible even you don’t meet the most favorable criteria.

 

How long will it take?

Based on the research above, Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, in Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple, recommends that mothers plan for relactation to take one month.

 

How should I measure success?  What goals should I set?

You may want to spend some time reflecting on your motivation for relactating.  Is it important to you to provide as much breastmilk as you can?  To have the feeling of closeness you have with breastfeeding?

You might set a goal of full breastfeeding, or you might set a goal of partial or any breastfeeding.  Some moms, who don’t think that their babies will return to the breast, set a goal of pumping and providing as much breastmilk as they can by bottle (exclusive pumping).  Some mothers want the breastfeeding relationship back, and aren’t concerned with how much milk they provide.

Interestingly, one survey of relactating mothers found that “Milk production was less often a goal and, when so specified, it was likely to influence the mother to evaluate her experience negatively and to result in difficulty in achieving a total milk supply.”

There is no right or wrong way to set goals for relactation.  And you may not want to set any goals at all.

 

How do I relactate?

There are two, related parts to relactation:  bringing back a milk supply, and bringing the baby back to the breast.  These are interrelated projects, as the best thing for your milk supply is to have a baby nursing frequently, and a baby is more likely to return to the breast if there is plenty of milk there.

But the first, and probably the most important thing, is to seek some support.

Get support.

We strongly recommend seeking out sources of support for this process.  As we note above, the mothers in the studies cited above were typically receiving skilled help with relactation, and this may have influenced their success rates.

You may want to consult with a lactation consultant (IBCLC), La Leche League leader, a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician, or other trained breastfeeding support person (see links at the end of this guide for sources of support).  A well-trained support person can help you uncover reasons why breastfeeding stopped, troubleshoot as you work on relactating, and connect you with good resources to help you meet your goals.

Trained help is important, but don’t underestimate the power of support from other moms, family, and friends.  Having more people on your team can make a big difference in breastfeeding success. You may find attending a La Leche League or other support group meeting helpful.  WIC breastfeeding peer counselors are another good source of mom-to-mom support.  You may also want to discuss your goals and motivation with some friends or family members (especially your partner), and ask for their support and encouragement.  Relactation requires time and effort, and having support is key.

Explore what happened.

It helps to explore why breastfeeding stopped.  If it was a problem with basic breastfeeding management (poor advice, infrequent feeding, etc.), relactation may be a simple project of restarting what you were doing before.  If breastfeeding ended because, in spite of “doing everything right,” you didn’t produce enough milk, and your baby became unwilling to breastfeed, there are more issues to explore.  If you stopped because of pain, learning more about latch, and exploring the possibility of issues like tongue tie, are worthwhile topics to consider.

You may find it helpful, particularly in cases of unexplained milk supply problems or behavior in your baby, to explore these issues with a lactation consultant (IBCLC).  You’ll find a link to find one at the bottom of this guide.

Bring back your milk supply.

Empty your breasts frequently.  If your baby is willing to nurse, feeding frequently is the single most effective thing you can do.  Aim for at least 10-12 feedings every 24 hours.  Feed on both sides, and feed long enough to drain each breast well.

If your baby isn’t taking the breast, or is doing so infrequently, use a pump to stimulate your milk supply.  Ideally you should pump at least every three hours (though many mother find it more manageable to take a break at night).  Double pumping provides more stimulation than pumping one side at a time.

Ensure effective feedings.  If your baby is nursing, make sure that he or she is taking the breast deeply into the mouth, and that you feel comfortable when nursing.  A shallow latch and/or pain can mean that your baby isn’t feeding as effectively as possible.  Get help correcting this from a trained breastfeeding support person.

Pump after feedings.  If your baby is nursing, try pumping after feedings with a hospital grade breastpump.  Since milk supply seems to be calibrated based on how empty your breasts get, pumping after feedings can be an effective way to increase milk supply.

Use breast compression. When nursing and/or pumping, use breast compression to fully empty your breasts and keep your baby engaged while nursing.  This is a particularly effective way to get good feedings with a baby who is sleepy at the breast.

Consider a supplemental nursing system (SNS).  Using an SNS allows a baby to receive formula supplements at the breast while stimulating your milk production by nursing.  There is also some evidence that substituting feeding methods other than bottles – such as cup, spoon, SNS – increases the chances of relactation success.

Use the power of skin.  Holding your baby skin-to-skin (your baby in just a diaper on your bare chest) boosts your milk making hormones.  And it feels great!

Take a galactagogue.  There are both herbal supplements and prescription medications which increase milk supply.  Some herbs are particularly helpful with glandular and hormonal causes of low milk supply.  Consult with a lactation consultant and/or your health care provider about which may best suit your needs.

Bring your baby back to the breast.

Get skin-to-skin.  Skin-to-skin contact is immensely powerful in establishing breastfeeding, and it can significantly aid the process of relactation.  Hold your baby (wearing only a diaper) on your bare chest as often as you can.  You may find that he or she begins to self attach (see next point).

Use Baby-led Breastfeeding, Laid Back Breastfeeding positions, and co-bathing.  Research is increasingly pointing toward the importance of baby’s innate feeding instincts in the establishment and re-establishment of breastfeeding.  Babies are able to crawl, scoot, and wiggle their way to the breast all on their own from birth, and new research is showing that babies retain this instinct long after the newborn period.  Baby-Led Breastfeeding involves positioning babies in a way that allows them to crawl to the breast.  Biological Nurturing, or Laid-Back Breastfeeding, involves reclining to breastfeed.  See more about the Laid Back Breastfeeding position and its ability to take advantage of babies feeding reflexes.  Some lactation consultants have also found that taking baths with your baby (called remedial co-bathing) can help in re-establishing breastfeeding.

Ensure a good latch.  As mentioned above, a deep latch will allow your baby to receive the most milk, and will keep you comfortable.  Seek help from a trained support person if getting a good latch poses a challenge.

Breast compression.  Keep your baby engaged at the breast by squeezing your breast when your baby is nursing.  This is particularly effective if your baby is sleepy at the breast.

Consider a nipple shield.  Some babies who have had many bottle feedings will nurse if the mother uses a nipple shield, as it makes the breast feel more like a bottle.  For some babies, it can be hard to wean from nipple shields.  Seek help from breastfeeding support person for assistance in using and weaning from a nipple shield.

Use a supplemental nursing system.  SNS can persuade babies to return to the breast because they get a greater flow when they nurse.  And as noted above, they can help increase milk supply by keeping all sucking at the breast.  Seek help from breastfeeding support person for assistance in using one.

Focus nursing around strategic times.  Try nursing when supply is higher, such as nighttime and morning.  Offer the breast for comfort when you know that your baby is already full, or when your baby is sleepy.

Consider pre-feedings.  Some babies will nurse if the “edge” has been taken off their hunger.  Try giving your baby an ounce of formula just before attempting a feeding at the breast.

Ensure that your baby continues to thrive.

If you are reducing formula supplements while relactating, we’d suggest:

  • Reducing formula supplements gradually.  Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC, of kellymom.com recommends initially reducing formula supplements by one ounce per day (not per feeding).
  • Doing frequent weight checks to ensure that your baby continues to grow normally.  Checking for swallowing and monitoring diaper output can also provide some information about your baby’s intake.

 

What are some good resources for more information and support?

  • Lowmilksupply.org.  Comprehensive online source of information on increasing milk supply
  • KellyMom.com:  Relactation and Adoptive Breastfeeding:  The Basics

 

 

 Tanya Lieberman is a lactation consultant (IBCLC) who has helped nursing moms  in hospital and pediatric settings.  She writes and produces podcasts for several  breastfeeding websites, including MotherwearMotherlove Herbal Company, and  the Best for Babes Foundation.  Tanya recently authored Spanish for Breastfeeding Support, a guide to help lactation consultants support Spanish-  speaking moms.  Prior to becoming a lactation consultant she was senior  education policy staff to the California legislature and Governor, and served as a  UN civilian peacekeeper.  Tanya is passionate about supporting nursing moms, and especially to eliminating the barriers so many moms face in meeting their breastfeeding goals. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, her 8 year old son and her 1 year old daughter.

This resource page was made possible by Motherlove Herbal Company.

 

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The Semantics of the Sisterhood: How We Can Promote Breastfeeding Honestly and Positively

Today I’m pleased to bring my readers a lovely guest post by Lara, CLEC and the woman behind TLB Sponsor Mama Pear Designs.  Let’s consider how we talk about breastfeeding!

When you are pregnant, you must give birth to the baby, there’s no alternative.  And while there are various birth options available to women the end result is the same – you will give birth to a baby.  Until relatively recently, and in many parts of the world still today, the same was/is true for breastfeeding.  There was no alternative to breast milk to nourish and sustain a baby.  Either you or another lactating woman, had to put your baby to breast for its survival.  Today however, we know that breastfeeding is not a given, and as such we need to offer more support to pregnant women because they can choose not to do it.  Perhaps they make the choice not to, simply because they do not have enough information to make an informed one.  I am in no way saying mothers who choose to use artificial baby milk are in the wrong, I support their choice to do so.  I do not think that anyone should be forced to breastfeed, the choice is a personal one that must fit every mother and her new family; sometimes that means choosing artificial baby milk, and no mother should have to justify her choice to anyone. However, I do believe that prenatal breastfeeding education is lacking in many ways, and as such many mothers who might breastfeed miss out an on the opportunity because they are not given the information.  In addition, postnatal breastfeeding support can be hard to come by for some, and the combination of the two can be detrimental to women who have the very best intentions.  The reality is once you choose not to breastfeed it is a decision that is difficult to reverse.  For these reasons we need to offer support to women in need, so they do not get caught in a situation they did not anticipate.

So who am I talking about, who is “we”? Well everyone, really: all healthcare professionals, employers, friends, and family.  Specifically though I want to address the sisterhood aspect of the support scenario.  And by sisterhood, I mean the mother-to-mother support, such as the friend who hosts your baby shower and brings you dinner while you are “babymooning” after your baby’s birth, or whom you call when your baby has its first cold, first giggle, or rolls over for the first time.

What we say to each other and how we say it can be very powerful, both in a negative and positive way.  I want to raise awareness and create consciousness about these conversations involving breastfeeding.  I truly believe it is time to re-examine the language we use when we talk about the breastfeeding experience to women who have never done it, who are considering it, or who are in the throes of it.  If you have professional lactation training, you are sensitive to this.  You never phrase anything so that the mom feels like she has done something wrong, and you try to get a sense of her confidence so that you have the correct approach for her individual situation.  But the rest of us, well we could use a little guidance.  I have been a breastfeeding mother for four years, and recently became a Lactation Educator, so now I am able to participate in both sides of the conversation.

The first thing I would like is for people to stop telling breastfeeding moms is that it is hard.  Does the word “hard” word motivate you? Probably not, and especially not if you are worried about how the baby will be born, when will it be born, will your pre-pregnancy body come back, what is sex like after the baby, will your swollen ankles ever go away, etc.  Pregnancy is hard, and you do not want to hear that once the baby comes, more “hard” is waiting for you around the corner.  (A TLB post asking if Breastfeeding is hard “Breastfeeding Hard?” and another listing 25 things women commonly face that are harder than breastfeeding.) I think we can be honest, but careful with our words.  Breastfeeding can come with challenges and many questions, but there are ways to overcome those challenges and professionals and friends alike, can help new moms find the answers.  A conversation with a pregnant friend really should not sound like this:

Me: So, you are going to breastfeed, right?

Friend: Well, I think so, but I am not sure.

Me: Well it is hard, I had cracked and bleeding nipples, thrush, I leaked milk for months, but it was worth it.

Friend: Ummm…okay. (exit pregnant woman, running for the hills)

First of all, even though I have the best of intentions, I made the assumption that she was going to breastfeed and asked in a tone that made it seem like she was wrong if she chose not to do so.  I do not believe she is wrong for choosing not to breastfeed, should that be the case.  Remember, she is entitled to make her own decision on how to feed her baby, I really just want her choice to be a well-informed one.  So while I was trying to be honest, and I did tell her it was worth all of the early obstacles, I just scared her nipples of her poor swollen boobs, because she stopped listening at  “bleeding nipples”.  After that she heard nothing else. Guaranteed.

So maybe here’s a better way to approach the conversation:

Me: I just wanted to let you know that if you decide to breastfeed, I am always available to help you in any way, I’ll be glad to help you answer questions or help you find some reliable resources.

Friend: Oh thanks, I am not sure yet, I have heard that is it really hard, so I will probably try it, but we’ll see.

Me: You know just like learning anything with a new baby, it can have some challenges, but most women find that with the right support they are able to overcome the obstacles breastfeeding poses for them.

I did not use the word “hard,” but I did not make breastfeeding seem like it was going to be as natural as some assume it to be.   I also offered to support her, and hopefully she now knows that she can ask me when the time comes should she have any questions.

Using language that makes breastfeeding seem unfavorable, words like hard, hurts, and painful, really does not do a great deal to sell the idea to women who may be on the fence regarding breastfeeding.   I talk to women all the time who say, “Well I hear it’s hard, but I am going to do it anyway.”  What a wonderful attitude, she is committed from the get-go.  The problem is that if she thinks it is going to be hard, it will be.  If you have read anything I’ve written before then you know that my sister was my biggest supporter as I began to breastfeed my oldest son, and I was smart in that I really only turned to her for advice.  One reason was that I was the first among my friends to have a baby, but the main reason was that she was successful in breastfeeding my nieces, and she never told me horror stories, she just offered positive support.  And you know what? I never had any major problems.  A couple of times I had plugged ducts, but nothing too serious that could not be solved by a twenty four hour nurse-a–thon.  I had an overactive Milk Ejection Reflex, but eventually my babies grew and were able to keep up with mama’s fast flow! Essentially, I just tuned out the naysayers and focused on my cheerleaders: my sister, my husband, and my growing baby boys.

One of the other things with which we need to learn to be okay, is approaching the topic of breastfeeding in the first place.  Pregnant women are often subject to invasive questions, and even unwanted belly groping, we are all aware of this phenomenon.  It is commonplace to ask, “Do you know what you are having? (A human is always a great answer), or “What are you naming your baby?” (I always responded with “Chuck Norris”).  I said before that my only hope is for women to make well-informed decisions about choosing to breastfeed.  It is possible to offer your help, your sisterhood guidance, in a way that does not put the mother-to-be in an uncomfortable position.  I approach pregnant women, perfect strangers, all the time and discuss breastfeeding.  As a Lactation Educator, I cannot help myself – I am like a moth drawn to a flame.  However, I am very careful about the language I use.  I never ask their plans for feeding, I just offer my support and information.  I usually say, “If you are considering breastfeeding, I would love to have you in my class.  Here’s my information (on a business card), please contact me if you have any questions about my class or breastfeeding, either now or after the baby arrives, as I love to help moms and have a great list of resources to share.”  Done.  If she has chosen not to breastfeed then she can say, “Thank you” and throw my card away, or if she has (and I am glad to say most moms say they are going to try) then she has met one person who has offered to help her.

And last but not least, let us stop asking moms with older babies if they are still breastfeeding.   Even if we mean no harm, improper emphasis on the word “still” can make a mom feel like she is doing something wrong, when in reality if she and her baby/toddler/preschooler are still nursing happily, then they are doing everything right.  We are all aware that there are many people in society who are okay with a woman breastfeeding a newborn, or a baby who is four or five months old.  But with the eruption of teeth, moms start hearing suggestions that maybe it is time to wean, and certainly if a baby or toddler can ask for the breast the time has come to wean, right?  Wrong.  Is your breastfeeding relationship anyone’s business? Why does it matter if a mother is breastfeeding her 12 month old, or her 22 month old, or her 32 month old?  Quite simply, it does not.  It has no bearing on anyone whatsoever.  The problem is most people, including “first-generation” breastfeeding moms do not realize that it is normal to breastfeed children, not just babies.   When most people use the words “still” and “breastfeeding” together, it is merely so they can then comment how it is time to wean, that the relationship has run its course.  (Except me of course, if I ever meet you and ask you this, and you say yes, no matter how old your child is, I will congratulate you!)  So while I support talking openly about breastfeeding, I think the details of your relationship should remain as private as you like.  Should someone ask you a question that you do not want to answer because you anticipate that you may receive unsolicited advice about weaning on someone else’s timetable, then I suggest you reply with this question: “Why do you ask?” It will usually put people in their places without them even realizing it.

So are you in? Can we start rethinking and rewording how we offer our support to our breastfeeding mama friends, our “sisters”, in need of a little advice? I hope we can let go of the negative words that are a turn-off and instead be honest in a positive way, while showing our friends where to turn for help, either in their local communities or online.

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Why TLB on Facebook and What You Can Do To Help

Better late than never.  I’m hoping this is true because I’m showing up late to my own party.  After my little fairytale land came crashing down I had to stay and be active in the real world, the one where I’m mommy, wife, daughter-in-law, cradle, food, cook, etc.  The plans for the day would go on and online drama would have to wait for later.

I’ve been grateful that for quite a while now The Leaky Boob Facebook page has been flying safely under the radar.  Not getting attention was a good thing, it helped keep TLB a safe place, a place where the community of “Leakies” as we called ourselves was free to carry on encouraging and supporting breastfeeding.  Rarely did I worry about something happening to our page.  If something did happen we already had created The Leaky Boob Forums as a protected space for conversation and sharing photos without fear of them being deleted.  It wasn’t that I was unaware that Facebook deleted breastfeeding photos and whole accounts over breastfeeding images, I just hoped that we were a quiet enough group that nobody would notice or have any reason to cause trouble.

People don’t always have to have a reason.  Or at least, not one I can understand.

It has been pointed out a few times that Facebook can’t be trusted as a safe place for forum type communities and with good reason, they can indeed delete things all willy-nilly and without warning.  Which is exactly what happened.  So why build a community on Facebook when we risk having it all taken away?

Simply put: because the community built itself.  Though we created the space for protected forums they didn’t grow at the rate the Facebook community did.  The culture founded itself on Facebook and there were many reasons for it to continue there in spite of the precarious nature of the site.  Facebook is easy to use.  The simple layout made skimming for new posts a cinch.  The accessibility to the site from mobile devices such as phones and iPods allowed people that didn’t have regular access to a computer access to the community.  The ability to visit the page without going to another website or dealing with additional log-in helped it stay fast-paced and casual.  Posts being updated in newsfeeds permitted followers to stay in touch without constantly having to keep up with multiple posts.

My plans for TLB were simple from the beginning: support breastfeeding women and the people that support them.  Have fun.  Be real.  Communicate respectfully.  Share information.  Swap stories.  Encourage moms and families.  Tolerance.  As long as I felt those things were happening I didn’t see a need to change much.

But one of the biggest reasons we stayed on Facebook was that I couldn’t have moved it if I wanted to.  The Leakies were settled and happy.  I loved knowing that right there in the middle of a mainstream social networking site was growing a community of breastfeeding supporters.  Better yet, this helped connect moms of all styles, be they crunchy, mainstream, attachment-parents, traditional, homeschoolers, public-schoolers, Christian, Pagan, Atheist, European, SAHM, WOHM, old, young, first-time, seventh-time, currently lactating, hasn’t lactated in 25 years, not-yet-a-mom, single, married, and on and on around one common piece of parenting: breastfeeding.  People that would have never joined a breastfeeding forum could easily “like” a Facebook page and find out that breastfeeding wasn’t just for “crazy hippie types” or just for “stay-at-home-moms” or just for the type-A “have it all together types” or just for whatever type they thought excluded them.  Moms that would have been intimidated in many settings to say “I only want to breastfeed for 6 weeks” could read through posts without ever having to sign-up or create an account.  Unfolding conversations invited participants and lurkers alike to experience the normal ups and downs, funny and sad, tender and strange moments of breastfeeding.  To see breastfeeding as normal.

It is for all those reasons that I think it’s worth getting the original The Leaky Boob page back on Facebook.  Sure, it’s risky and there’s a chance we’ll experience trouble again.  So what.  I’ve had mastitis twice in the last 4 months, I’m still breastfeeding.  Because it’s totally worth it.  To me this is worth it too.  Reaching and encouraging moms right where they are.

What can you do?  Plenty.

Join the petition. For starters you can join the Bring Back The Leaky Boob Facebook page and you can share it with all your friends and then some.  In less than 24 hours it grew to over 5,000 “likes” and there is strength in numbers.  Information will be shared in real time on that page so please be sure to follow what’s going on there.

Let Mark Zuckerberg know.  I have no idea if this will make any difference at all but reading the comments on Mark Zuckerberg’s fan page, all 281 of them, are so encouraging.  Leave one if you’d like, if nothing else it’s just another place where we say we want TLB back and why.

Blog about it.  Posts started rolling out early in support of The Leaky Boob and protesting Facebook’s removal of our page.  Long before I got around to writing anything and while I was eating ginger chicken with the family the blog world was buzzing with the news.  I’m hoping to read each and every post too.  At the end of this post will be a list of blog posts related to the removal of The Leaky Boob’s Facebook page.  Check them out and thank the writers for the Leaky support.

Email. Respectful emails to Facebook to let them know you would like to see The Leaky Boob Facebook page brought back.  Please take time to craft your emails with respect.  Angry or hateful messages with name-calling are easily dismissed.  Level-headed, calm but persistent messages are harder to ignore.  Let’s show breastfeeding moms and breastfeeding supporters as a collected, educated group and blow apart the stereotype of hormonal outraged women.  (Even if that’s how you feel.)  You can try the Facebook help center though I’ve had little success through that avenue.  The new email address for appeals has already gotten me a response and you can try any of these as well with @fb.com: info, disabled, appeals, privacy, abuse, warning, customerservice. Huge thanks to Star for finding those addresses.

Continue supporting breastfeeding. There are lots of pages on Facebook and people on Twitter that support breastfeeding, encouraging and educating on the subject.  Let’s not forget the real mission, encouraging breastfeeding moms whether they breastfeed for a week, a month, a year or 3 years.  What really makes a difference is support; a breastfeeding mom with a community behind her is a breastfeeding mom with a future success story no matter how it turns out.  People are posting on the Bring Back The Leaky Boob page looking for BFing help as well as on TLB SupportBest for Babes, Nursing Freedom, Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths, Nurture Child, Blacktating Blog, TLB sponsors PumpEase, Motherlove Herbal, The Shower Hug, and lots, lots, lots more.  And support in real life ways too, support groups, mom-to-mom and by breastfeeding in public if your lactating and comfortable with NIP (Nursing In Public) and if you’re not then giving an encouraging smile to any mom you do happen to see NIP.

Media. This isn’t the first time Facebook has deleted breastfeeding related pages and accounts.  They’ve done it before.  Yet they leave plenty of other pages that have been flagged and reported for being truly obscene.  So what’s the deal?  If you want to know maybe it’s time we take it to the media, maybe they can help us get some answers.  When Guggie Daly’s account was removed for allegedly violating the TOS with breastfeeding photos the media got wind of it and held Facebook accountable.  Guggies account was reinstated shortly after.  And when Kate Hansen and Emma Kwasnica had their accounts deleted in separate incidents Facebook reactivated their accounts when the press started poking around.  They even claim it happens on accident.  Anyone else have one eyebrow involuntarily shoot up at that suggestion?  What gives?  How do they keep accidentally deleting accounts related to breastfeeding?  And will they ever learn?  You can call or email your local media outlets and let them know that it appears Facebook is discriminating against women, specifically breastfeeding moms.


Comment and share.  Asking for comments makes me uncomfortable but having the interaction in an easier to find place such as the blog is helpful, particularly right now.  It would be great to point to the blog and show the support present in the comments.  Whether it is on this or other posts, it would mean a lot to me if you showed your support by leaving comments relating to the post you comment on.  Then share any posts from here on the blog that speak to you in some way.  Old or new, spread the word as a demonstration of our community being alive and well.  Let’s get the words The Leaky Boob all over Facebook in a way they can’t just hide with a click of a button.  And twitter too.  Which reminds me, you can find me tweeting at TheLeakyBoob.

Breastfeed.  I don’t yet have links to share but you can find information on the Bring Back The Leaky Boob page.  If you’re a breastfeeding mom and would feel empowered by joining other women in a nurse-in, there are some being organized.  Be looking for details and I’ll share what I know when I know it.

Read and share the articles.  Check out the posts here and the blogs listed below.  Read and comment and then share those links on Facebook, Twitter, the forums you frequent, etc.  Traffic, comments, and pure volume helps get attention and social pressure is really all we have to help make some change.

Thank you for all the support.  The Leaky Boob has made a difference for many women by having a presence on Facebook.  Even if we made a difference for just one woman I would still fight to be there.



List of blogs that have written about TLB and Facebook.  This list will be added to and updated, it is a work in progress.  If you would like to add your blog to this list please post in the comments below.  Thank you!

Hey, hey, ho, ho… Why Facebook (might) have to go… by Car StarRod
Facebook’s Contribution to the Declining Health of Society by Nurtured Child
Facebook Deletes Leaky Boob Support Group for Breastfeeding Moms by Dagmar Bleasdale
Breastfeeding Is About As Sexy As Eating A Salad by Confessions of an Earthy Young Mom
My Leaky Heart by Confessions of an Earthy Young Mom
Breastfeeding: A crime punishable by social ostracism… you decide! by Prolixity2
Bring Back The Leaky Boob by Attached At the Nip (isn’t that a clever name?!)
Really Facebook? by Adventures in Mommyhood (great minds think alike, I was thinking this same title for a bit)
Boobtastic Media Storm by Michelle Tant
Monday Giveaway Awesomeness by Not Just Mom
Facebook and Twisted Sensibilities by Village Wise Woman
Breastfeeding Support Under Attack by Mummies Nummies
Help The Leaky Boob by MommaKt
Dude, Where’s My Leaky [email protected]@b? by Rockin’ Momma
Why Does Facebook Hate Breastfeeding by Embrace The Chaos, MSNca Lifestyle
Bring Back The Leaky [email protected]@b by The Good Letdown
Facebook Deletes Breastfeeding Support Group ‘The Leaky [email protected]@b’ by Christie Haskell at The Stir

Thanks to all you fantastic bloggers for your support.  I am honored to be a part of such a large, global community that supports women and families.

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If These Boobs Could Talk- More Than Fun Bags

I have finally found and understood my purpose in life.  Most people never get that and yet, I have.  And I’m just a pair of boobs.

[email protected]@bies.  Jugs.  Fun Bags.  Hooters.  Tits.  Ta-tas.  Knockers.  Rack.  Bazongas.  I’ve got a lot of names, a lot of incarnations, and a whole lot of varieties.  Breasts, no matter what you call me, pretty much every woman has me front and at least sort of center on her chest. Perky, droopy, apples, melons, socks with rocks, long, full, short, floppy and everything in between, I’ve been bouncing along for as long as humans have traipsed around this planet.  Which is a long time.  But every woman has to figure out what to do with me at one point or another and it isn’t always easy.  It has been vogue at various times of history to leave me free and unfettered under clothing, to push me up and out, to bind me tight and flat, to pierce me, paint me, hide me and flaunt me.  In some cultures I’m always out and open, others I’m so revered I’m covered yet a peek is desperately sought so much so there are men that will even pay money for it.

Before they have their own pair, every little girl at least notices that the adult version of herself has some sort of extra padding on her chest, something her male counterparts do not have.  These chest pillows are fascinating and in today’s western cultures a bit of an obsession.  As little girls grow they start experimenting with what they’d look like with soft round growths on their chest.  I am the mark of woman.  Not alone in that responsibility, I share the distinction of being uniquely feminine with the female pelvis and vagina.  With the exception of man-boobs.  But for everyone’s comfort, we’ll pretend those don’t exist, anywhere.  Ever.  Before I begin to develop on immature females, they play that I am there just because it is synonymous with playing a grown-up.

Then they sprout their own pair, slowly or quickly breasts eventually appear.  Confusing feelings mingle with my advent on a changing girl’s chest.  Pride and excitement about becoming a woman collide with embarrassment and a desire to stay a care-free child.  Eventually she learns that in western cultures breasts equal a certain kind of power, one she may not be comfortable wielding or one that is wielded against her.  Her breasts may feel like a burden regardless of their size or like a defining part of her personhood that she can use to her advantage.

As for me, I was just an average pair of smallish boobs, situated on a small framed woman that often wished I was bigger.  To make matters worse, one of my nipples was a split nipple, malformed and strange looking.  Her dissatisfaction with my size and shape led to uncomfortable bras to pad me out and push me up and I endured criticism every time she looked at me in a mirror.  No matter what I did, what I wore or how I participated in lovemaking, fashion and life she was unhappy with me.  She never knew what to do with me and I never knew what to do with myself.  I was inadequate.

Until one day.  There had been change, I had grown recently but she still wasn’t satisfied, now I managed to be too big or too… something.  No matter what I wasn’t good enough.  My bigger size included painful growing and she was distracted by other physical changes that were apparently far more important than me, the neglected, the unloved ones.  That is until that day.  The uterus and vagina, in one of their greatest moments of achievement produced a baby.  As the placenta left the uterus I got a signal, one that changed me forever: feed baby now.  I had already been producing a golden yellow liquid for which I saw no purpose and caused her even further disgust in me but when that baby came out and was placed on the belly, I knew.  Arms drew this small person close and the baby’s mouth immediately began searching for something: me.


In no time it became clear that I was this baby’s favorite thing in the world.  Every chance she got she latched on to me.  She loved me.  She didn’t care if I was perky or sagging, smooth skinned or flecked with red stretch marks, if I had large or tiny nipples, or even that one nipple wasn’t quite right.  She had a special sign for me, and that was the first sign she ever used.  It took us some time, the 2 or really 3 of us, but it was really just getting used to each other and figuring out how this works.  There were some rough moments, a few tears and frustrated words but we got it, we worked it out.  We had to.  Because this was what we were made for.

Now I have a position of respect and I am celebrated.  Five babies now have been nourished by me, have searched for me in their sleep, patted me as they suckled and asked for me by their special name.  I have comforted a small one hundreds of times over when nothing else would do.  Through me has flowed the healing power of sweet milk custom made for the baby whose mouth opened expectantly.  Small cheeks have rested on me in slumber after I have satiated their hunger and their need to be warm and close.  When I am seen in the mirror I am viewed sometimes critically but always with appreciation and I am treated tenderly.  My purpose is clear, everything else I do is nice and I enjoy a full and active life but nothing has fulfilled me as much as feeding a baby. 

Some day this job will be done and I will no longer feed babies.  I am ok with this; for when one finds and understands their purpose and the time in which it is served, one can accept when that time is over, satisfied in having discovered and served a purpose at all.  Knowing that I was more than an inadequate pair of fun bags and meant the world to 5 little girls is enough for me.

Not every pair of breasts will find their purpose the same way I did but I hope more and more do.  It doesn’t matter what you call me, what I’m dressed in, what society says I’m supposed to look like or what my role is, I’m happy.  I have been appreciated, loved and enjoyed for who I really am.

P.S. I love this video.

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TLB Gets a Little Support- Welcome PumpEase!

I am so excited to welcome a PumpEase Hands-Free Pumping Supports as a new sponsor on The Leaky [email protected]@b! Wendy, the mom behind PumpEase offers a wonderful product and has worked hard to build a company that supports breastfeeding moms.  Wendy’s been there so she knows what kind of support we need!  See the cute little add on the right?  She totally gets us moms and has a fun, funky, stylish look to her practical product.

As a sponsor, Wendy will be giving TLB readers a chance to win one of her PumpEase Organic hands-free pumping bra in an upcoming give-away so stay tuned but don’t wait to get your own PumpEase until then.  Check out her website for cute prints and other necessary and fun products, two of my personal favorites are the practical breastmilk storage guidelines fridge magnets (at just $2.50 every pumping and storing mom should have one of these!  It could save you liquid gold!) and the tiny spurge-worthy Nursing Mother Goddess Necklace in stony turquoise. *drool*

Wendy was recently on The Dragon’s Den, the Canadian version of The USA sow Shark Tank.  Determined, stylish, and just a really cool mom, Wendy raised breastfeeding awareness just by going on the show to market her PumpEase.  Check out the clip of her presentation!


Thank you Wendy for your sponsorship of The Leaky [email protected]@b and the support you give breastfeeding moms everywhere!

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Heather and Darin’s Story

We’re happy to share a guest post by our friend Heather and her breastfeeding experience. Heather has 3 children and 3 totally different breastfeeding experiences. She wanted to write to reinforce the last guest blogger. Today is the second and final segment of Heather’s story.

Heather and her children today.

I was fortunate to have a super-healthy 2nd baby, and experienced 18 months of wonderful breastfeeding with him without complications.

My 3rd child, Darin, was born to me by adoption. He was a 33-week preemie who also has Down syndrome, and I really wanted him to have the benefits of breastfeeding. Unfortunately, I did not have a long time to study the inductive lactation protocol. By the grace of God, the time from when we entered the adoption process, to when Darin was in our home was 5 weeks.

But I still had to give it a shot. After such a successful experience of pumping, and breastfeeding, I was certain that my body could figure out how to feed Darin.

So, I found a friend who had ordered Domperidone from a Canadian pharmacy to help with her milk supply, and I started taking this medication that has a common-side effect of lactation, even in men! I started pumping every 2 hours.

And a little milk started appearing.

A.little.milk.

Like drops.

By the 4th week, a whole days pumping would yield 8 oz. And I had gained 8 lbs.
But the good thing was, Darin was a strong baby. While still in the NICU, he was drinking 4 oz bottles of formula. So, when I put him to the breast, he knew what to do. And even though he didn’t get alot of nutrition from me, we did gain in our bonding from this.

I had to weigh the personal effect of gaining weight so rapidly (others reported 25 lbs of gain during the inductive protocol), against getting 1 bottle of milk per day. And the milk was very watery, thin, and white. Not what hearty breastmilk looks like.
So I gave up the idea of making the milk for Darin, and started working on the next-best thing:
Find donor milk!

I found a huge network of women in my area that were breastfeeding moms who pumped either for work, or just to have a stockpile, who would share with us.
Each week for about 2 months, I’d drive house to house to pick up 3, 10, 15 bottles of milk.
And then I hit the mother-load! There was a mom who had filled an entire deep-freezer, and her son never took a bottle! She donated the whole freezer to Darin. He ate off her for 1 whole month.

Darin today.

Fortunately, due to Darin’s prematurity, Darin was eligible for pasturized donor milk through the Mother’s Milk Bank in Austin. Insurance began to cover a weekly shipment of frozen donor milk to feed Darin from 4 months old until he was 1 year old. Such a gift.

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Heather and Darin’s Story

We’re happy to share a guest post by our friend Heather and her breastfeeding experience. Heather has 3 children and 3 totally different breastfeeding experiences. She wanted to write to reinforce the last guest blogger. Today is the second and final segment of Heather’s story.

Heather and her children today.

I was fortunate to have a super-healthy 2nd baby, and experienced 18 months of wonderful breastfeeding with him without complications.

My 3rd child, Darin, was born to me by adoption. He was a 33-week preemie who also has Down syndrome, and I really wanted him to have the benefits of breastfeeding. Unfortunately, I did not have a long time to study the inductive lactation protocol. By the grace of God, the time from when we entered the adoption process, to when Darin was in our home was 5 weeks.

But I still had to give it a shot. After such a successful experience of pumping, and breastfeeding, I was certain that my body could figure out how to feed Darin.

So, I found a friend who had ordered Domperidone from a Canadian pharmacy to help with her milk supply, and I started taking this medication that has a common-side effect of lactation, even in men! I started pumping every 2 hours.

And a little milk started appearing.

A.little.milk.

Like drops.

By the 4th week, a whole days pumping would yield 8 oz. And I had gained 8 lbs.
But the good thing was, Darin was a strong baby. While still in the NICU, he was drinking 4 oz bottles of formula. So, when I put him to the breast, he knew what to do. And even though he didn’t get alot of nutrition from me, we did gain in our bonding from this.

I had to weigh the personal effect of gaining weight so rapidly (others reported 25 lbs of gain during the inductive protocol), against getting 1 bottle of milk per day. And the milk was very watery, thin, and white. Not what hearty breastmilk looks like.
So I gave up the idea of making the milk for Darin, and started working on the next-best thing:
Find donor milk!

I found a huge network of women in my area that were breastfeeding moms who pumped either for work, or just to have a stockpile, who would share with us.
Each week for about 2 months, I’d drive house to house to pick up 3, 10, 15 bottles of milk.
And then I hit the mother-load! There was a mom who had filled an entire deep-freezer, and her son never took a bottle! She donated the whole freezer to Darin. He ate off her for 1 whole month.

Darin today.

Fortunately, due to Darin’s prematurity, Darin was eligible for pasturized donor milk through the Mother’s Milk Bank in Austin. Insurance began to cover a weekly shipment of frozen donor milk to feed Darin from 4 months old until he was 1 year old. Such a gift.

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