Support. The only thing that should be associated when someone shares their breastfeeding journey. I think it’s so important to know that your motherhood journey is yours. What other people do or say doesn’t apply to you or your journey. You breastfeed 3 months vs 3 years. You formula-fed. Supplemented. You used donor breast milk, tandem fed, or didn’t. You pumped exclusively. Or maybe your breast milk came in after your miscarriage. Each is beautiful in it's own way, and each child is loved and cared for. It’s our job to cheer for each other. Not put each other down.
Rant over :)
I have shared a little about my journey through breastfeeding Malachi HERE. It was hard, I had stomach problems that prevented me from eating much, which tanked my supply, because well no calories in mama, nothing coming out for the baby. We made it for 6 months. And guess what. It was a huge accomplishment and something I was so happy with. I got some #breastisbest stuff from people. My nurse at one of Mal’s appointments to be exact and it left me feeling awful. He’s my skinny, short, and healthy boy who loves to eat. Thriving; and we breastfeed for 6 months and formula fed for a year and a half. I do have to say though, breast milk is definitely cheaper.
My second experience with my milk coming in and “breastfeeding” was very different.
Did you know, as early as a 12-week miscarriage, your milk can come in? Your body recognizes the hormones and the processes it needs to go through in order to feed your baby! That also means that, if you lose that precious babe. Your milk can come in. You can get engorged, clogged ducts, infections, and everything that can happen when you aren’t using that milk.
Your body is ready to feed a baby it didn't know it lost.
Emotionally, I was a wreck already, so throw in some postpartum hormones, the physical pain of engorgement, and voila. The worst 4 days of my life. The first being Ezra’s heavenly birthday, you can read some of our miscarriage story HERE, I also share openly about on my Instagram. The rest, waiting for my milk to dry up. At the time I didn’t know the other options, and I wasn’t really into looking for answers or options.
If this happens or is happening with you mama, I am so sorry. There are no words to describe it. But if you’re there and looking for answers I can help with what I know now.
Know your options and that it is a possibility.
You can donate your milk. You can pump and donate to another mother in need. Or to a milk bank, if there is one in your area. There are criteria and such, but it’s worth a gander if this is something that interests you.
It may or may not happen to you. Either way, be prepared.
There are ways to ease the pain.
- Frozen cabbage leaves - I don’t know the science but it worked
- Hot showers, it helps release some of the milk. For me, this was a breaking point. Watching my breast milk go down the drain, thinking back when I was fighting to feed Malachi. Breaking over the loss of my sweet boy I wouldn’t get to feed. It was so hard. * I also hand expressed, but only until comfortable - too much and you’ll start producing more milk to “keep up”.
- Wraps - my mom wrapped me tightly with a scarf. She also experienced miscarriage and her milk coming in afterward - having her was a saving grace for sure.
- ICE PACKS!!!!!!!!!!!
- Tea - she made me this herb tea. Pour boiling water over Rosemary, Parsley Thyme, and Sage. Cover and steep for 20 minutes. (My mama also made this for me.)
There is support.
I didn’t know, I had asked my doctor and she mentioned it was possible but there is no way of knowing. There were pamphlets and other resources that I was guided to and offered.
Look in your area, there could be support groups - not only for dealing with the emotional turmoil of your milk coming in but with it all. Don’t be afraid to reach out, to seek help.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
My whole goal in sharing my story is not only because it is helping me heal, but that I can help someone else heal. That I can be a voice to them in the dark, showing love, support, and giving comfort where I can. For mamas like me to know they are not alone. Whatever your national breastfeeding week looks like, I hope you are proud of you!