The Milk Pumping Factory

We’re happy to share a guest post by our friend Gini and her breastfeeding experience. The story of the breastfeeding journey she and her daughter went on will be shared here in parts. Today we bring you part 1.

Hi, my name is Gini! My husband, Luke, and I welcomed our beautiful baby Claire into our family on October 11, 2009. I also have a step-daughter, Bella who is six, and we live outside of Birmingham, Alabama. I only have a few dozen readers over at The McGlothin Family but I thought I had a pretty good story to share. I hope you’ll agree.

Let me first start by saying that I am not pro-breastfeeding. Nor am I pro-pumping. Nor am I pro-formula feeding. I am pro-baby feeding. I think people that make you feel bad about the decisions you make for your family are morons.Those who give their babies bottles or those who nurse in public are both given the side-eye. Moms can’t win. Now I’ll get down from my soap box.

After a long labor and more than three hours of pushing, I was exhausted but overjoyed, holding this little angel in my arms.I just knew I would cradle her, look into the beautiful blue eyes passed down to her by her father and a glow would surround us as we began the bonding that is breastfeeding. I mean, this is supposed to be natural, right? Women have done this for centuries, right? How hard could it be, right?

Wrong. And wrong some more. Claire would fight the boob like it was poison delivered by a nipple made of broken glass. She would have nothing to do with nursing at all.I broke down and fed her formula (gasp!), which I was perfectly fine with. I was nervous about nipple confusion, but I still was naive enough to think she would come back to me and that glorious glow would find us again and we would both become breastfeeding pros in no time.

Also to consider was, long story short, I was laid off from my job last April when I was 16 weeks pregnant with Claire. Needless to say, I could not find a job given the economy, and on top of that I had an already big belly brewing. I knew I would be out of work at least until early 2010, so we needed to stretch every dollar in order to make it on one salary. Breastfeeding was part of that. We needed to save money at every turn, not spending it on formula when we could feed her breastmilk for free. Not only did I have the pressure I put on myself to be the perfect mom but I also had dollar signs flashing in my mind. The day after Claire was born I said to myself, come hell or high water, I would breastfeed Claire. I would not let her or my checkbook down.(And I am fully aware that this is pressure I put on myselfnot that anyone else put on me.Don’t ever let someone pressure you do something or be someone.)

So I spent lots of time with the lactation consultant in the hospital, and things slowly got better. Claire needed four or five formula bottles while we were there, and other than that, was starting to get the hang of the boob. I was so proud.Proud of myself. Proud of my baby. Really proud of my super supportive husband. We were a family, and we were making it through the first of many obstacles together.

And then we go home. And things got worse. Claire had lost more than the average 7% of her body weight before we were discharged. And when we saw the pediatrician again at 4 days old she was down almost 2 pounds from her birth weight. The pediatrician recommended we up the formula because Claire was simply not gaining enough weight. I began to doubt the idyllic breastfeeding situation I had fought so hard to create.

My milk finally came in when she was a week old. Now, I knew we would get back on track. Wrong again. Even with my crazy-full boobs waiting to be relieved, Claire still wasn’t getting enough to eat. So at ten days old, I packed up my momma and my babe and we trekked back to the hospital for another visit with the lactation consultant. The visit that would change everything.

To be continued…

Eliana’s Story part 3

We’re happy to share a guest post by our friend Eliana and her breastfeeding experience. The story of the breastfeeding journey she and her son went on will be shared here in parts. We have already brought you part 1 and part 2, today we conclude this portion of her story with part three. It is our hope that some time in the future, Eliana will be back to tell us more as her journey continues.

After reflux, and reactions we didn’t understand or know about at the time, my son was put on Alimentum at 2 months old. And this is when my medical issues became the big problem.

Bleeding after birth, whether vaginal or c-section, is common, and often lasts up to 6 weeks after birth. Mine never went away that early. Apparently this little piece of placenta kept open a spot in my uterine wall. So I didn’t stop bleeding at 6 weeks.

The dr gave me some medication (hormones), where if I had been nursing, I would have to pump and dump anyway. So it was a blessing that my son was on formula by this point. These hormones were supposed help stop the bleeding. I was on them for a couple weeks, but it didn’t change anything.

I still hadn’t passed the placental piece by 3 months after birth, so my OB started to explore what was going on. A biopsy revealed that I had 2 uterine infections in the 3 months after birth. It didn’t show why I was bleeding, but the infections could have been from the birth or the placental piece they were missing. My dr gave me antibiotics, just in case that was causing the bleeding, but that didn’t stop it either.

My doctor decided to perform a D&C to remove whatever was causing the problem. If the D&C didn’t fix it, I would have been at risk for a hysterectomy. Apparently, however, this scared the placenta out of me because 4 days before my surgery, I finally passed it. We still went ahead with the D&C, just to make sure but the bleeding had already basically stopped by that time.

The most difficult part for me by this point was that my milk seemed like it had dried up, also. By the time that I had my D&C, I couldn’t squeeze a drop out. They say that you shouldn’t do this, but I had to try. It was actually VERY painful to even try, and I just felt like my body had failed me. I had no recovery time from the birth, because of all the issues we had following it.

After the D&C, I began to leak like never before. Suddenly, my sheets and nightclothes were soaked. I even felt like I went through a second round of “baby blues.” Still no engorgement, but more milk then I ever made before. No one had prepared me for all this. I knew the placenta controlled a lot of things, but I had no idea that every post-partum issue would come back.

If I had been in contact with a lactation consultant, they might have suggested that I nurse again. If my OB had known what was going to happen, they might have supported me in my nursing efforts more than they did in reality. If I had known that I was going to start producing milk again, I might have pumped and dumped for those middle 2 months.

But without the support and the knowledge that I needed, my husband and I decided the best course was just to continue to feed our son formula. It is a good thing, but we only know this is hindsight. With his reactions, reflux, and my placental issues, I did the best I could without much support regarding nursing.

I honestly have no idea whether the 2 months that I was able to nurse him helped him or did nothing for his reactions. But I do know that I gave him the best that I could at the time, and since. There is nothing wrong with nursing for only 2 months; there is nothing wrong with baby-wearing to stop baby from screaming; there is nothing wrong with not figuring out cloth-diapering before baby came along; there is nothing wrong with co-sleeping or having baby sleep in a crib. When my husband and I decide to have another one, which may be awhile considering everything we have gone through this time around, I might try all this again from the get-go.

But I will not be afraid to co-sleep, or baby-wear, or maybe even cloth-diaper. I will not be afraid to ask for a consult with a lactation expert. And I will not be afraid of formula.

After all, “successful breastfeeding does NOT mean EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding.”

Photo courtesy of Idils’ on Flickr.

Eliana’s Story part 2

We’re happy to share a guest post by our friend Eliana and her breastfeeding experience. The story of the breastfeeding journey she and her son went on will be shared her in parts. Yesterday we brought you part 1, today we continue her story with part two.

My son latched like a pro, like he had nursed for years already. And I was so proud that I was the only one able to give this gift to my son. I glowed in a way that I hadn’t while pregnant. I tried to be discreet about my nursing, leaving a room at feeding time, or trying to cover up as much as possible, although my son had different plans about that. But the thrill of helping my son survive and being the only one was amazing. I had never felt a bond like that before.


I started to notice problems almost as soon as I got home from the hospital. I had heard that engorgement was REALLY painful, for some women, even worse than labor. Although my boobs grew several sizes, I never felt like I was going to pop. I read all the symptoms for it and all the solutions to help, but after a couple weeks, I still hadn’t had the feeling and so thought maybe I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t have to deal with it.

Then my son’s reflux started. He is a silent reflux-er, and it can be disturbing to hear the reflux moving up but nothing coming out. He really never spit up (doctors had trouble believing this). But from his gas and the sounds from his belly, you could tell that he was in pain. Honestly, even now at 2 years old, his normal cry typically has a slight pain side to it. He just seems like he has always been in pain in some way.

I tried changing my diet to a certain degree. I tried to remove dairy for a few days, although that did nothing. I tried to avoid gassy foods, like broccoli and sauerkraut, but bread seemed to give him gas. We used Mylicon drops and Gripe Water, but each of those only lasted so long. It didn’t stop the way he screamed, and it didn’t stop the gurgling in his belly.

Then I entered my nursing nightmare and the end of my breastfeeding dream.

I honestly was so sleep deprived by this time that I can’t tell you how exactly it began. I know that it was somewhere between 6 and 8 weeks. But one Wednesday, my son decided that he wanted to nurse every half hour around the clock. For two. Days. Straight. He would sip (maybe get an ounce), fall asleep while eating, sleep for only 30 minutes, wake up SCREAMING, sip again, and the cycle continued. FOR 2 DAYS STRAIGHT.

I finally took him to the pediatrician Friday. I was basically told that it was simple colic and would go away on it own about 3 months. Again so much for fantasy. But my “mommy gut” told me that wasn’t all there was. I KNEW there was more than just colic. Colic comes and goes, gets worse at night, isn’t helped by feedings, etc. Reflux is pain, pain you can hear from the outside, screaming for days on end. With colic, you have moments of time where you can enjoy your new little baby, the coos, the smiles, the little fingers wrapped around your finger. Reflux steals all that from you.

Everything that I had read and heard told me my poor baby had reflux, and so I BEGGED for some Zantac for my son. We started it that Friday, although with some formula (I needed to sleep), and he was a new baby by Sunday.

My husband and I decided to stick with the formula for a few weeks, and that I could try to pump as much as possible. Well, my pumping was a miserable failure; even though I tried for several weeks, I never got more than an ounce out. So I just figured it was either formula or nursing for us. That was okay since “successful breastfeeding isn’t EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding.”

Then my son had a constipation problem and we had to take him to the ER. We didn’t realize that his constipation would turn into a bigger issue as he got older. It turned out that his constipation was due to an allergy or reaction* he had, that was even present in his formula: cow’s milk. I had no idea, however, that he reacting* to so many other things as well. At this point in time, his formula was then switched to the highly expensive Similac Alimentum. We didn’t discover all of his reactions* until he was 18 months old, after a full year of random hives and ongoing bowel issues.

And this is when my medical issues became the big problem.

To be continued…

*I use the terms “allergy” or “reaction” to describe IgG-mediated immune reactions. The typical itchy eyes, runny nose, cough, throat closing reactions are caused by IgE-mediated reactions. The reactions my son has are mostly gastrointestinal reactions, like abdominal pain, reflux, constipation, and diarrhea. The testing for these reactions are not FDA-approved or even accepted by all allergy communities.

Eliana’s Story

We’re happy to share a guest post by our friend Eliana and her breastfeeding experience. The story of the breastfeeding journey she and her son went on will be shared her in parts. Today we bring you part one.

I am not your typical home-birthing, baby-wearing, cloth-diapering, co-sleeping, all organic, nursing-until-baby-weans momma. I applaud and admire the mommies out there that are. But it honestly isn’t me. I wore my son in a Snugli under duress: he actually stopped crying if I did, and started crying if I put him down. Same thing with co-sleeping: after 4 months of killing my back on our couch, I told my dear, sweet husband that I didn’t care if he didn’t want to co-sleep; I NEEDED SLEEP! I didn’t cloth-diaper because, by the time I finally figured out how much money it would save me, it wouldn’t save me any money any longer and my sanity would also have suffered (I just can’t do that much laundry). Eating or feeding my son organic would probably have cost me my sanity, my finances, and finally my marriage, the third due to the loss of the first two. And I honestly don’t think I could have delivered a breech baby at home, although I have heard of several women that have.


Don’t get me wrong. I really do applaud and admire the women who choose to do all these things. But in keeping with the “it just isn’t me,” I was totally fine with breastfeeding and supplementing with formula. In fact, my boobs to me were more fun and show than functional. I totally loved the mantra “successful breastfeeding isn’t EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding.” Especially since Dad could do a few of those middle-of-the-night feedings and I could sleep.

Before my son was born, I had no idea HOW I would supplement with formula. I just had grandiose ideas that at about 4 months, my son would happily go from boob to bottle without any issue. Well, maybe by 2 months; my imagination had him sleeping through the night at 4 months (which he didn’t do until 18 months, btw).

All that being said, before my son was born, I had determined I would give breastfeeding a shot, a chance. Women in my family just hadn’t nursed much, if at all, and so I had very little family support (my great-grandmother apparently said that “women in our family don’t make good cows”). Formula was the way that many kids survived. My husband and I were part of that; neither of our mothers were able to nurse (my mother had a little experience with it being able to nurse my older brother, but that, too, was short-lived). So I wanted to give nursing a try. Just a try.

When I heard my son’s first cry, or held him for the first time, however, I determined that we would succeed at breastfeeding. The health benefits for him and me just couldn’t be beat, and I was hoping that all those warm, fuzzy nursing feelings would help me bond with my little one. Also, I was scared into not supplementing with formula from the nurses, until at least 4 months. So much for the sleeping through the night fantasy!

What I didn’t know, when I held my son and made this pact, was what was going on in my body. Even though I had a C-section and they (forcibly) removed the placenta, somehow they missed a piece. I had no idea that I had retained about a 2 inch piece of placenta in my uterus. So even though my body understood that I had delivered my son, it didn’t stop sending blood and nutrients to my uterus, totally bypassing my boobs.