My Breastfeeding Journey

On July 24th it will officially be six months since I gave birth to Natalie. I can state the obvious and say ” a lot has happened since this time last year”, but I think that goes without saying. What I can do is reflect on the changes not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Birthing a baby changes you and raising one tests and strengthens you.

My recovery post partum was uneventful. I bled, I cried, I cuddled; which is what to be expected. I had a week with my husband at home and his parents stayed with us that week as well. Once that week was over I was suddenly alone. My husband went back to work, in laws went home and Natalie and I were tucked away safely at home getting to know each other. One of my favorite memories was waking up and we had several inches of snow on the ground. I made myself some tea and laid in bed holding my daughter watching the snow fall for hours. It was calm, peaceful and beautiful. I’ll always cherish that memory.
My breast feeding journey had ups and downs. I had a breast reduction when I was 19 years old. At the time my surgeon informed me that, in future, if I were to choose to have children we will not know if I could breastfeed until the time came. I don’t regret my decision to go through with the surgery and, as young as I was, I didn’t give that warning a second thought. Late in my pregnancy I was hopeful that it would be something I could do because I actually was successful in self expressing colostrum from both of my breasts. My intention throughout my pregnancy was to breastfeed, but I kept an open mind and was ok if it was not in the cards. Before my hospital stay was up (6 days total) I was supplementing with formula. I used the SNS method to feed Natalie so she was still latched to my breast and pumped in between feedings. She was a champ right away. Aside from my low production of liquid gold – breastfeeding was a breeze. Shortly after returning home I began taking supplements such as Brewers Yeast, Moringa Pure, Sunflower Lactaline and Blessed Thistle, but was finding it hard to find time to pump between feedings and everything else on my plate. My supply was slowly going up, but it till wasn’t enough to stop supplementing with formula.
I finally bought a bra that allowed me to pump “hands free” in April. It was a game changer. Reflecting back I honestly think if I had utilized this since the beginning I would have had more production.
My maternity leave began in late December. The job I had at the time was very physically demanding and, although I had initially intended to work up to my due date, as I got bigger I knew that was not going to be feasible. After my daughter was born I had February, March and April on leave. I sought out a new career opportunity that would put my closer to home and had hours that allowed me to align my schedule with my husband and the daycare we would put our daughter in. I enjoy being a working mom, but I feel like I had finally gotten into a routine and was getting good at building my supply when I finally had to go back to work. My first day at work I forgot my pump. It was not a comfortable afternoon. Days and weeks following I pumped before leaving for work, once during the work day and occasionally at night. I watched my already low supply dwindle down lower and lower. I have been back to work for 2 months and until last week I was still pumping in the morning before work. This week I have not pumped at all. I do not feel engorged and am not leaking. Natalie still breast feeds, on demand, before a nap, between meals or dream feeds. I’m sad to know this to is near the end as I dry up. I’m actually having a harder time then I thought I would. I will miss the bonding time and looking down at her sweet face as she feeds. I know I’ll get this bonding time in other ways as she gets older, but this is a true sign that she is growing and my baby is no longer a newborn.
If and when we have baby number 2 I hope my breast feeding journey is a more smooth transition. I have a better idea of what to expect, but also will feel more prepared. In the thick of those first few weeks post partum some days I felt I was in the same chair, in the same room all day. I felt accomplished if I brushed my hair. Looking back I miss those moments and cherish them. The memories of when her stool changed color so slightly and googling at 2am with my hubby “what does normal poop look like in a 3 week old?” or sending pictures to a mama friend of the umbilical stump “is this normal?!?!”. I also feel so fortunate to have some great mama friends who checked in on me and offered a shoulder to lean on and advice to take in. My breast feeding journey was unexpected and short, but I am so happy I got to do it. I am trying to see the positives like being able to pick an outfit and not have to think “can I get to my breast easily in this? Can you see my pad through my shirt?”.
Onto the next post partum journey.

My Birth Plan

I am a planner and I cannot help it. Not only do I like to know the who, what, when, where and why’s, but more often then not I like to plan the who, what, when, where and why. So needless to say pregnancy is teaching me a lesson or two about plans and how to roll with the punches (and kicks and twirls).

I found out I was pregnant on Mother’s day. Two months later I had a pretty good outline done of my birth plan and by August I had already gone on several hospital tours. I took the information I learned from the tours and updated my plan as necessary. I cannot stress the importance of a hospital tour and the importance of writing out what is ideal for you in your birth plan to help you pick the place that is most compatible. Most of the tours I went on had about 5 or so pregnant women and their spouses (one woman had brought her in laws, parents, brother..which is really not necessary in my opinion). On all tours I was the only one to ask questions. This surprised me! It seemed like people just assume that because it’s the hospital it’s their rules – which just isn’t true. You have a say in your healthcare! Fortunately during each hospital tour a lot of my questions were answered as we went from room to room and they gave their usual speech. However some of my more important questions that I had to ask were:
  • Is this a teaching hospital? Can I expect interns/students to be present during my delivery?
  • Is skin to skin immediately after birth an option?
  • Is their the option of delayed cord clamping?
  • what happens in the event that my baby is in distress and requires NICU attention? Do you have the setup here? Or will they be transferred to another facility? Will I be in transport?
  • What security measures are in place to protect me and my baby?
When I first found out I was pregnant I was immediately introduced to this amazing podcast called ‘The Birth Hour’ (I tuned in via Spotify). I have a long commute to work so I was able to get an episode in each work day. I was (and am) obsessed! I learned so much from listening to women all over the continent talk about their birth stories and what they planned. They shared what went right, what went wrong, what they would do again and what they wouldn’t. I learned so much and with listening to these amazing women I can say I have no fear of birth at all. That may change with each contraction, but for now I am content and look forward to the whole process.
Listening to the podcast and knowing myself I knew a midwifery and birth center was not for me. I’m a worst case scenario type of girl (which isn’t a compliment) and knew I wanted a hospital. I have been seeing the same gynecologist since I was 18 and he is now my OB. He is wonderful and I’ve worked up 13 years of trust with him so I knew I wanted him there too. I work in the veterinary field and although I deal with animals and not people – medically they are very similar. I’ve seen the good that can come with medical intervention and am not going to shy away from it if it means a safer birth for my baby.
Below is my birth plan (as of now). I say as of now because as I learn more and get farther along in my pregnancy things change!
In early Labor I plan on:
  • Eating and drinking light foods
  • Taking walks and stretching (until I receive an epidural)
  • Resting
In active labor I’d prefer:
  • Minimal cervical checks, unless medically necessary
  • To labor until at least 7cm dilated then get an epidural
  • To not receive pitocin (unless absolutely necessary)
  • Fetal monitoring
  • To labor in water if I choose to
  • Low lighting
  • Just my husband in the room with me

In birth (pushing) I’d prefer:

  • To deliver out of water
  • To be offered a mirror to see the baby crowning
  • To be helped/guided when pushing if their is slow progress
  • To catch the baby myself if possible
  • Cord to stay attached until it stops pulsating
  • My husband to cut the cord if he chooses
  • To be shown my placenta
  • For all newborn exams and procedures to happen with me present
  • No mother/baby separation if medically possible

Newborn Decisions

  • To be informed of all procedures that are being performed on my newborn
  • To have my baby room with me
  • To keep my baby with me until she has breastfed successfully on both sides (if medically possible)
  • Administer erythromycin eye prophylaxis
  • Administer Vitamin K injection
  • Apply the pulse ox to my baby during newborn exam

In case of a cesarean birth I’d prefer

  • To be awake
  • To have my partner with me during birth
    • I understand if general anesthesia is needed my husband is unable to be with me.
    • I do not want extended family or friends to meet my newborn until I have recovered and have had time to bond with my baby (My husband is excluded from this).
  • To have my hands free
  • To place baby skin to skin as possible after birth
  • For my husband to stay with the baby at all times after birth
  • That someone is with me in recovery

My birth plan used to be a lot longer. However, when we finally selected the hospital I took out what was standard care in this hospital. This way they just see the bullet points of things that are not routine practice. I hope this post helps anyone that may be confused on where to start in their birth plan. If you have any questions feel free to message me using the contact tab. I’d be happy to send you my full list of questions I had for the tours.