Becky is an amazing mamma I met online. We instantly bonded talking about how the paleo diet has helped us feel healthy and be able to provide the best food for our babies. We have talked about nursing and lactation for many hours. She also has some of the cutest baby wearing swag around!
She is truly an inspiration to me. She has encouraged me through actions to look beyond my self and my needs, and to offer help to those close to me who may need a little breast milk boost for their babies.
I asked her to share her story about donating breast milk to help and inspire others during World Breastfeeding Week!
I am the proud mother of three beautiful children. I have Madeline who is five, Aidan who is three, and Lillian who will be 10 months tomorrow.
Maddie and Aidan were both born via natural childbirth (aside from having to be induced with both of them, I had no pain medications whatsoever). Lillian, I wanted a completely natural birth. I planned to have no interventions, have my water break on its own, have no pain medications, and have her born completely naturally…then my blood pressure went through the roof at 32 weeks.
I fought to stay pregnant. Swore to not move a muscle and to lay on my left side for as long as possible. I managed to stay pregnant for 5 more weeks. I went in for my 37 week appointment to have 165/110 bp and +2 proteins. They did an ultrasound and found out she was really small (like 4.5 pounds). Oh this should be easy I tell myself. I can push this baby out at 5 centimeters!
They started the induction (which I didn’t want), and an hour later Lilly starts having MAJOR heart decels. Her heart rate would go for 150 to 45 during contractions. Baby was in distress, and had to come out NOW. So here I am, walked in wanting a completely natural birth, settled for induction with no pain meds, being wheeled down the hall for an emergency c-section.
She came out screaming, and I was bawling. It was such an emotional experience to hear that cry for the first time. She was fine, thank God! But she did have inner uterine growth retardation. What did this mean? She was PERFECT in every way, just tiny. Because of my blood pressure issues, my placenta had started to detach and her little body stopped growing at 32 weeks, BUT she continued to develop. So I was blessed with this absolutely perfect peanut at 4 pounds, 8 ounces, 18 inches long, that was PERFECT.
So why I am I telling you all this? Because the first thing the doctor tells me, “She is so tiny, I think we need to get her on some formula to boost her weight.” Before my brain could stop itself I say, “Hell no, you are not putting that shit in her!”
Now to back up, I do not have any problems with formula, I think it is a personal choice and every mother has to do what she feels it right for her and her baby. I also believe that my body knows what is best for my baby and I am producing liquid gold.
The doctor proceeds to tell me that she is so small that she does not know how to nurse (which was true, it took her almost 6 weeks to get it down). But I told him, “She may not know yet, but I am an expert and I will teach her.” I did not sleep for the first 24 hours. We worked on it. I was determined to be able to leave this hospital without her “needing” formula. And I was blessed with a hippy nurse who told me she would spend her entire shift to get this baby to nurse! And we did And at about 25 hours old, Lilly nursed!!! It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective!
So that is a little back story that leads to how I first became a milk donor. She was so tiny and only drank probably an ounce or two at a time, but my body knew what to do, and was ready to do it. I work full-time so with each baby I started pumping right away to build up my supply, and to build up my stock pile for returning to work.
So what happened with this tiny peanut baby? I ended up freezing 35-40 ounces a day! She was born on October 7th and by Thanksgiving my husband says, “Becky you have got to do something we have no room in this freezer for a turkey!” So I went on Facebook to a group called Eats on Feets and found our local chapter. I posted that I had literally thousands of ounces of milk and asked if anyone local needed any. I honestly wasn’t expecting too much but was flooded with emails! I ended up donating 1000 ounces to one mom who had a premature baby. I was thrilled because as I was going through my milk I had close to 300 ounces of colostrum! I also found another mom that had just had a son and I gave her 800 ounces. A few months later I had some more to donate and donated another 400 ounces to the premature baby again who, by the way, is doing great.
Then in April I was approached by a mom who had a son with severe milk and soy allergies. She had asked me if I could be a full-time donor for her. SURE I thought, I have close to a thousand ounces of milk again and would be glad to. The only catch, I had to cut milk and soy out of my diet.
Now I am not going to turn this into a religious message but it was an amazing situation. I had made some fairly significant changes to my diet back in January, and had lost about 30 pounds, but my weight was stalling. I had prayed for some direction and some answers. Two days later the mom called me! I googled milk and soy free diets and found Paleo. I started my paleo journey and lost 5 more pounds instantly, finally getting UNDER that 200 pound mark that I hadn’t been under since college . I also had to boost my supply again. I was still making more than enough for Lilly, but I now needed to make enough for 2 babies. So I increased my pumping at work.
I have 3 kids and work full-time so this is how my pumping schedule goes: (I have a 45 minute drive to work including daycare drop offs ) After everyone is dropped off I pump on the way to work at about 7:30 am, then I would pump around 10, 1, 3, then nurse Lilly when I got home, and then again around 9 pm after she went to sleep. I also took fenugreek and more milk for about a month and my pumping volume went from 18 ounces a day to 30 ounces a day. I was producing like crazy!
I was really saddened when the mom decided not to continue with the milk that I had offered her for personal reasons. I was sad because I truly believe that the milk could have helped him and made him healthier. She said he was not taking to the milk and she felt the transition would be too hard. Like I said earlier, it’s a personal choice every mother has to make, but I honestly am a true believer in the healing power of breast milk.
The good thing about this was that I was able to get back the milk I had given her (close to 700 ounces) and I was able to give it to the local woman I had donated to before.
I don’t mean to make it sounds easy. I think I am blessed with an abundance of milk, but it also came with work. I had to increase my pumping and I had to take supplements to help. I do believe that with breast-feeding, under normal circumstances, your body WILL make what you tell it to!
I remember after having Maddie (my 5 year old), I asked my midwife if she had any advice for me. She said, “Becky, your body knows what to do. Just relax, and trust the process.” I have never forgotten these words.
I am now 10 months going strong with no intentions of stopping. It is always so rewarding to take her to the doctors and watch her grow, knowing that I am responsible for her growth. I am a strong advocate for nursing and am so honored that I have been able to sustain not only my own three children, but have also helped three other babies along the way .
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