Birth plans and breastfeeding don’t always go exactly as anticipated. We’re grateful to share the story of Alexandra, an active duty marine, who explains her journey with her little one:
To understand my breast-feeding journey you must first understand my pregnancy journey.
When I found out I was pregnant I started my journey with a regular OB/GYN. At my three month check up I decided it was not a good fit for me and sought out Bliss Birth Center in Conroe, Texas. I met with a midwife and absolutely fell in love with the facility and the faculty. During my initial visit I spent over an hour with Trish, the midwife which ended in tears of joy. I had decided I was going to have a natural water birth there. (The below photo shows the beautiful spa/tub I intended to use. It was so cozy and the whole room just made you feel at home). I was so eager to do a natural water birth there.
As I approached the seven-month mark, I was still dead set on my plan. But baby Vivian had a different plan. She was breach. Of course being the emotional, pregnant woman I was, I started crying. I went home and started trying everything I could from visiting a chiropractor, acupuncture, moxibustion and spinning babies. It became exhausting trying but I did not want to give up because not only did I want to have a water birth, I absolutely did not want to have a C-section. My husband would come home from work and see my laying upside down on our recliner. I’m sure at this point he was questioning my sanity! As I approached the 37 week mark Trish recommended that I consult Dr. Young, a surgeon at the hospital down the road. While there they conducted an ultrasound and scheduled me for a C-section the following Thursday. I could see my perfect plan going up in flames.
The Wednesday prior to my C-section I met with Trish one last time. I took a long Epson salt bath and did a few more spinning babies exercises. Before she tried to manually flip Vivian we did one last ultrasound. To everyone’s surprise we saw for the first time that she had a cord not only once but twice around her neck.
It was at that moment I started to cry because I realized I would in fact be having a C-section. I went home that night and pack my hospital bag.
After the C-section I immediately Fed Vivian. We had a good latch, there was no pain, and there were no concerns from the lactation consultant. I continued breast-feeding until we left the hospital with no issues. She was checked for a tongue tie and lip tie before we were discharged and both were nonexistent.
When we got home it was evident that she was hungry all the time. This being my first child I thought it was normal that she was attached to my breast at all hours of the day and night. My poor husband could barely hold her for five minutes without her crying to come back. This was putting a strain on both of us because he couldn’t get that newborn connection like I had.
At her two week check up we noticed that she still was not back to her hospital weight of 7.15. She was sitting around 7.6. The doctor did not seem concerned and sent me on my way. I went to visit Trish so she could see the baby because I was concerned. She asked how things were going and I explained how Vivian was constantly at my breast and never seem satisfied. She weighed her again and then observed me breast-feeding her And then weighed her when she was done eating. She only got about half an ounce.
Now again I began to cry when I realized that my baby had been hungry this whole time. I thought I was doing what was best for her by breast feeding her but in reality she wasn’t getting enough and was hungry the whole time.
I began pumping so that we could bottle feed her. There are so many bottles on the market I wanted to make sure that we could find something to imitate the breast in case I found out why she was not transferring I wanted it to be an easy return.
So now not only was I a struggling mom with a newborn, I was waking up three or four times through the night to pump so I could try and have bottles for her the next day. After about 1 Month of consistently eating foods to help produce milk and pumping on a vigorous schedule I was finally producing enough milk to no longer need supplementation from formula. I also was getting more sleep! I still wake up through the night to pump but not nearly as much. It seems like I produce the most milk throughout the night.
At the start of my pumping journey I was barely making any milk. This was because for the last two weeks Vivian was not eating enough so my body stopped producing. Again I turned it to the Internet and researched foods and supplements that would help increase my milk supply. At this point I was so extremely stressed at my milk production, or lack there of that all I could do was think about when can I pump again because I was so convinced that the only way to feed my baby was through breastmilk. And through stressing about that, it actually lowered my milk supply even more because as we all know stress can significantly affect how much milk do you produce. What I come to find out there’s a lot on the market that can help but the biggest help is supply and demand. Every chance that I got I was pumping. Vivian was still going to my breast for milk but I believe a lot of that was comfort. That is how she would put herself to sleep. I would usually feed her from the breast for about 20 minutes and then give her a bottle to ensure that she was full before going to bed.
Being an active duty Marine, while on maternity leave my concern is getting back into standards physically. while working out I have to remember to continue to drink enough water that my supply doesn’t diminish. I will be heading back to work soon and I am so excited to have found a bottle that Vivian enjoys and imitates the breast (nanobebe). We had originally tried two other bottles first and they both seemed to leak quite a bit (and for those breastfeeding mamas you know every drop of milk counts!). When we tried the nanobebe bottle for the first time I was shocked at how there is absolutely no leak! These are now my go to for many, many reasons!
Vivian is now 3 months old. I am pumping between 8 to 10 times a day. She still is slowly transferring more and more milk. It’s still not enough to satisfy her so we will keep using these awesome bottles! But I’ve finally realized, After so changes during to my pregnancy and my breast-feeding journey I’ve realized it doesn’t matter. Who cares if things don’t go exactly like you planned. Who cares what other moms can do. Who cares what you see on social media. I’ve learned through this whole experience that my baby girl needs me more than she needs my breast milk. She needs me happy, healthy and emotionally available to love her with everything I’ve got! At the end of the day fed is best and my baby girl is now thriving. Whether it’s coming directly from my breast, a pump, or formula when I do not produce enough milk… She is thriving and that is what matters.