Archive for the 'Breastfeeding' Category

Preamble to My Breastfeeding Saga, Part 4

August 15th, 2014 by MamaBear

Part I, Part II, and Part III of the Preamble.

I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to leave, but I didn’t know when I would get another appointment. It was hard to get the one I had. The scan was half done anyway, so I reasoned that I might as well have it overwith. I didn’t ever want to have to go back to that godforsaken place. Also, I was in complete shock, so it paralyzed my thought processes. I looked up at her face, and she was smiling like she’d just won first prize at a bitch contest. This was the first time I saw her smiling, and it confused me even more. What in the world was wrong with her??? How did she ever get hired? How was she able to keep her job? I was instantly reminded of the other ultrasound tech thousands of miles away in a completely different country, almost a decade before, who also mistreated me. I couldn’t help but wonder if the anonymity of the profession made it so that patients were more likely to have a bad experience with an ultrasound technician than with most other health professionals.

I didn’t report her because I figure she’s had a rough day, she’s working on a Saturday after all, and I didn’t want to deal with the hassle. I had bigger problems to deal with. I took the ultrasound films the next weekend to Dr. Enthusiastic.

Dr. Enthusiastic scanned my breasts himself before the procedure, and he told me my breasts are “busy” because they inexplicably create a bunch of tumors. He performed the cryoablation and also aspirates some fluid-filled cysts as well (these are new). He was very competent and his personality is reassuring and kind, but the procedure is nonetheless unpleasant: painful, scary, and humiliating. I had to be awake for it, which is part of why it was painful, scary, and humiliating. It took longer than I thought it would, and it left more scarring, though small scars, smaller than if I had had another biopsy. Unfortunately one of the new scars is now on my left areola.

This new procedure was done in a state-of-the-art facility in the U.S. However, Dr. Enthusiastic, a breast specialist, never once mentioned future lactation. Nor did any of the health professionals that attended me in the context of my cryoablation.

I had another cryoablation procedure done with him a couple of years later. It was about the same, but in this procedure, I had the added discomfort of having a drug representative sit in for it. She wasn’t a health professional; she was a salesperson. I don’t know why she was there, but she was and she got a first-row seat to see my mutilated, hypoplastic breasts, too. I don’t remember consenting to having her in there, but I may have, inadvertently.

Since none of my doctors ever mentioned anything about breastfeeding or lactation, I never thought to ask. I figured they were the professionals and if there was something important to say, they would mention it. It bothers me that out of the dozens of health professionals that came in contact with me in the context of my breast surgeries, nobody mentioned anything about lactation or possible problems in the future. For my part, I took for granted that I’d be able to breastfeed my future children, in part because of what my friend who had the breast augmentation told me, in part because nobody mentioned anything about impaired future lactation, and in part because it never occurred to me that I couldn’t. Also, whenever I would research breast surgery, on the internet or in books, future lactation or possible problems therewith were never mentioned.

I think the reason why lactation is never mentioned is a simple one: nobody thinks about it. Our culture takes for granted that babies get fed with bottles, so that if lactation should fail, there’s an easy safety net. Even if it did occur to one of the doctors attending me to mention lactation and possible future problems, they probably stopped themselves because it probably never occurred to them that it would be so important to me. “She could always feed her kid formula,” is probably what they thought to themselves.

That breaks my heart. As kind as most of the doctors I had were, it breaks my heart that in the end, I was just another faceless customer. No one special or important who wanted to provide the best for her baby. No one needing information which would have made a difference in what kind of care she would have demanded. I wonder how many of them opt to breastfeed their own kids? Probably a fair number of them, given that it’s the best way to feed a baby. Did they use the same high-quality standards for me that they would use for themselves? I don’t think so.

I’m hoping that by writing this out, as painful as it is for me, that I can help someone make better decisions for herself.

If you must have breast surgery and if you have a choice in the matter, talk to your surgeon beforehand, and don’t let the surgeon cut your nipple or areola. Try to make the incision as far away from this area as possible, so as to minimize the damage to your milk ducts and to preserve your future lactational ability. If I can spare even one person the pain I’ve been through by sharing my story, it’ll be worth it.

This is the last part of the Preamble. My Breastfeeding Saga may get written someday, if I have the time.

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Preamble to My Breastfeeding Saga, Part 3

August 14th, 2014 by MamaBear

Please read Part I and Part II first.

Twenty-one years old: I discovered more lumps in both breasts. By now, I was a veteran at this. I scheduled with the same plastic surgeon, Dr. HairPlugs, and anesthesiologist, Dr. Competent, as last time. I had the usual round of ultrasounds again. By this time, it feels like half the country’s health professionals had seen my breasts, much to my chagrin.

Before going to get the surgery done, I spoke with a friend of mine who had had breast surgery herself. She’d never had lumps. She had had a breast augmentation. She told me (and showed me) that her plastic surgeon had placed her implants by making an incision around her areola to reduce the appearance of scars. I thought that was very clever. She furthermore told me that she’d had this surgery after the birth of her first child, who she breastfed, and before the birth of her second child, who she also breastfed. She had two kids after that, too, who she claimed to have also breastfed. I learned all too late that when she said she’d “breastfed” them, that it was only for six weeks, and that the whole time she breastfed them, she was also supplementing them with formula. (If I’d only known then what I know now…)

So, armed with this new “knowledge,” I asked my plastic surgeon, Dr. Hairplugs, to go in through my areola on my right breast to excise the tumor because I didn’t want a visible scar on the breast skin itself. This was stupid for so many reasons in hindsight, and if he had mentioned even once that my breastfeeding ability would be impaired, I would have said no. He never did, though. None of my doctors ever did. So I was acting on the knowledge I had at the time. Every time I think of the memory, it makes me feel a little sick. He seemed to pause a bit, and I told him, “Well, if it’s too much trouble, never mind.” Something about the way he paused made me want to change my mind, especially since I already had a scar where he was about to do the surgery anyway (UGH!!). But then he went ahead and said, “No, it’s no trouble at all.” And that was that. (sigh) That is my biggest regret, and is probably what made the difference between having an adequate milk supply and starving my baby.

So I had surgery, for the third time, to remove breast tumors. My right areola was sliced, but thankfully only the top half. The bottom half was left intact.

Fast-forward a few years. Twenty-four years old: I discovered more lumps. I had a job of my own, was no longer in college, and no longer under my parents’ insurance, so I was essentially on my own. I researched on the internet to find out what the latest in fibroadenoma treatment was. I learned about cryoablation, which means you freeze the fibroadenoma in situ and then let the body reabsorb the dead tumor over time. It’s a minimally invasive procedure, out-patient, and pretty brand-spanking new.

Before I had the surgery, I went to get the requisite ultrasounds done. I was sent to an ultrasound facility somewhere in Houston, scheduled for a Saturday appointment. I showed up and donned the appropriate gown. The technician, a woman in her early twenties, told me to get onto the table. I did everything she asked of me. I was trying to remain lighthearted because I hate hate hate hate hate the pre-surgery ultrasounds. Have I mentioned that I hate the ultrasounds? I disrobed my top half and tried to be as complacent as possible. She started scanning me, and I asked her what she saw. She told me, “Your doctor will tell you that.” I didn’t understand her reply because usually when I’ve asked this question (and I’ve asked this question dozens of times to dozens of ultrasound techs), I was told something vague and then some harmless, time-passing chit-chat usually got started. Confused, I asked her, “What do you mean?” There was no one else anywhere near us, so I guess it made her feel safe in doing what she did next. She gave me a dirty look, raised her voice and said, “I CAN’T TELL YOU ANYTHING. I’M NOT ALLOWED TO TELL YOU ANYTHING. DON’T ASK ME ANY QUESTIONS. DON’T TALK TO ME AT ALL.” Then she smacked me on the breast with the jellied-up wand to continue the scan. There was a horribly uncomfortable silence as she finished. She was, after all, scanning my naked, mutilated breasts and because she decided to be a total psycho, I couldn’t talk to her. Also, let’s not forget: she hit me. On the breast. With the ultrasound wand.

Part IV tomorrow.

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Preamble to My Breastfeeding Saga, Part 2

August 13th, 2014 by MamaBear

Please read Part I of the Preamble first.

Fast Forward a few years. Eighteen years old. I’d been avoiding chocolate and all-things-caffeinated for two years. During a routine breast check ( I started doing those since I found that other lump two years prior) I discover… More lumps. In both breasts, this time. One of them is in the same place the first one was found.

I went to get my ultrasounds. I went to a couple of different places and had different technicians, male and female. I hate hate hate hate hate having ultrasounds. It’s always so cold, impersonal, uncomfortable, humiliating. But I have to do it, so I do. Thankfully, none of the technicians were rude or unprofessional to me this time. Whew!

Dr. Compassionate suggested I consult with a plastic surgeon to do the surgery because she doesn’t want the scarring to affect my already battered self-esteem. The surgery she performed two years prior left a large pink scar across the top of my left breast, and she was hoping the plastic surgeon would clean it up with finer sutures. Also, she didn’t see anything wrong with my ovaries this time, so all I needed were a couple of breast lumpectomies.

I consulted with the plastic surgeon, Dr. HairPlugs. He looks at my breasts (who hasn’t at this point?) and says he can do it. I talk to some people in the hospital about who my anesthesiologist will be. I tell them about my eye-drying experience and about the after-surgery pain I experienced last time. They made sure my anesthesiologist for this up-coming surgery was Dr. Competent.

Just before the surgery, a nurse tried to put an IV in my hand. She picked the thickest, largest, Most Painful-Looking IV Ever and jammed it into the back of my hand. She maneuvered the plastic needle around under my skin while I tried to stay as still as possible so that she could find the vein. After about thirty seconds of this, it was just too painful, so I yanked my hand back. She left the IV halfway stuck into the skin on the back of my hand, told me I was not cooperating, and walked away. Dr. Competent came by, saw my hand and told me, “It’s going to be all right.” He gingerly removed the Horse IV and came back with an IV intended for use on preemies. He was so gentle I didn’t even feel it go in. He smiled as he taped it on, patted my other hand reassuringly, and told me it was all going to be okay.

The surgery went without a hitch. I woke up from the anesthesia with moist, sparkling eyes. Unfortunately, when I come-to, I experienced some pain and confusion and was inexplicably unable to talk. I see Dr. Competent right in front of me. He said, “There, there now. It’s okay,” and injects a small amount of clear liquid into my IV. I went from incoherent pain to drifty bliss in an instant. I became unconscious in a matter of seconds.

The biopsies came back and revealed that on the left side, I had another fibroadenoma (or two, hard to remember). On the right side, I had what’s called “fibrocystic breast disease,” which basically means, “we don’t know what this is, so we’re calling it ‘fibrocystic breast disease.’”

As good as the experience was this time, nobody mentioned anything about future lactation.

Part III tomorrow.

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Preamble to My Breastfeeding Saga, Part 1

August 12th, 2014 by MamaBear

I said I’d talk about My Breastfeeding Saga, so this is the preamble, necessary to understanding the problems I faced when I had BabyBear. It’s a multi-part series, and it’s kind of heavy, so read with caution.

Ever since I was a little girl, I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. I remember seeing women breastfeeding their babies and thinking to myself, without any hesitation or repulsion, that that’s what I wanted to do when I had a baby of my own. As I grew up, I acquired more knowledge about breastfeeding that solidified my opinion: it’s far superior to any artificial milk, it protects the infant, etc. I was a breastfeeding supporter, though an often silent one, for as long as I could remember.

My problems with breastfeeding actually began years before I ever conceived BabyBear. I was sixteen. It was summertime, and I was reading some Stephen King novel that had just come out. I think it was Gerald’s Game. I was laying down in the bed and holding the book above me with my left hand. With my right hand, I reached over to scratch my left armpit. Scratch, scratch, scratch. As I scratched, I noticed something wasn’t right. I felt a… No, it couldn’t be. I felt again. Omigod. It was.

A lump.

I felt again. Yup, it was a lump. Not in my armpit, but in my left breast. The tears welled up. At that time, everyone I’d ever heard of with this sort of problem ended up undergoing chemotherapy. I foresaw the following future for myself: cancer, baldness, death. This was pre-internet and I lived at the time in a third-world country, so I couldn’t reassure myself that there were plenty of other people who had experienced this before and been okay with results from a Google search.

My mom took me to the gynecologist, Dr. Compassionate.  She felt the lump, examined me thoroughly and told me that in all likelihood it wasn’t cancerous. She said it was more than likely a fibroadenoma, a benign breast tumor. To be on the safe side, though, she wanted to remove the lump and have it biopsied. She said nobody knows why some women’s breasts make fibroadenomas, but that I should try and avoid caffeine in all forms (including chocolate) and try to live a healthy lifestyle (exercise, eat fruits and vegetables, etc.)

Apart from the lump itself, the avoidance of chocolate and coffee was the hardest part. I learned, for the first time, to appreciate vanilla and strawberry, among other previously ignored flavors.

An ultrasound was scheduled prior to the surgery. This was in lieu of a mammogram, which wasn’t really feasible given that I was so young and my breasts were so small. While the ultrasound was being done, I began to cry. The room was cold and this strange lady was feeling up my normally chaste breasts with an uncomfortable wand covered in frigid jelly. I looked at the screen and the tears just came out. I didn’t want anyone to see me like this, but I couldn’t stop them from coming.

“What are you crying about?” The technician scowled at me. “Girls younger than you come in here to get scanned for the same thing and they don’t cry about it. Don’t be such a baby.”

This was the first I’d heard of this, though I didn’t feel reassured by the fact that I wasn’t alone. It didn’t change the fact that, for example, nobody I knew had even heard of such a thing, that all my friends (as far as I knew) had normal, healthy breasts and I was the only one I knew who needed to have breast surgery.

Her tone and expression were impatient and devoid of compassion.  My crying had angered her, somehow. Surely she wasn’t trying to make me feel better, was she? I still don’t know what made her react that way. Bad day? Long hours? Having to see people sicker than me all the time made her not-so-compassionate when she saw a relatively benign case? Maybe my ugly boobs caused a revulsion so visceral that she couldn’t hold herself back? Who knows?

Unfortunately, this would not be the last negative ultrasound experience for me. Nor the worst.

During that ultrasound appointment, in addition to the lump in my breast, it was also discovered that I had a multitude of cysts on at least one of my ovaries. Dr. Compassionate told me she could cauterize those with a state-of-the-art (at the time) procedure using video laparoscopy. I was pretty sure that, in 1993, I was unfortunately the only kid in my high school who knew what that procedure was.

I was put under general anesthesia a few days later. The lump was removed, biopsied, and found to be a fibroadenoma, as Dr. Compassionate had predicted. During the same operation I’d had a laparoscopy to cauterize the multiple cysts in one of my ovaries. A tiny video camera had been inserted through an incision in my belly button, and grasping and cauterizing instruments were inserted through two other small incisions located further below on my abdomen. The footage on the video had been recorded, and I was given a copy of the tape for posterity. I have no idea where the tape is now, but I can assure you, other than earning me geek coolness points for allowing me to say, “I know what my ovaries and uterus look like,” it’s about forty minutes of pure boring.

I woke up from the surgery with blurry vision that wouldn’t go away and stinging, dried-out eyes. Also: a throbbing, aching body. The anesthesiologist didn’t bother to close my eyes during the entire operation, nor did he administer any pain medication, apparently. I’m kind of surprised I survived the operation at all with that kind of neglect, actually. Was anyone even monitoring my vitals while I was under?

It took a few hours to get my eyes to focus again once they were remoisturized (by allowing myself to cry freely — not hard at all under the circumstances), and the rest of me recovered eventually (sort of). I was given regular strength Tylenol for the pain.

Nobody, not even Dr. Compassionate, ever mentioned anything about my future lactation.

Part II coming tomorrow.

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Facebook Headquarters Nurse-In, Menlo Park, CA, February 6, 2012. Be there.

February 3rd, 2012 by MamaBear

The world of breastfeeding has been negatively affected by the actions of none other than Facebook.  Facebook has been deleting breastfeeding photos with the justification that they are “obscene” or “sexually explicit.”  Oh, sure, the pictures must first get reported by an individual Facebook user, but after a process which involves “skin-detecting” technology, the pictures actually get reviewed by a human being, a Facebook employee.  It is this person who makes the final judgment call of whether or not to delete the photo, suspend the offending user’s account and/or delete the account altogether.  Since the deletions continue, it makes Facebook the responsible party, complicit in the bullying of breastfeeding moms.

Recently deleted by Facebook

Even though there is a recent buzz surrounding Facebook’s actions, this behavior on behalf of Facebook has been reportedly going on for years.  A Facebook page created by Kelli Roman and other fed-up breastfeeding mothers that used to have over 250,000 supporters was recently archived by Facebook, most of its members lost in the ether, despite being an active group.  The page was called “Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding is not obscene!” In 2008, another woman named Heather Farley helped to organize the first Facebook nurse-in in response to deletions of breastfeeding pictures on her account.

Now, another nurse-in at Facebook headquarters all over the world has been scheduled for February 6, 2012.  Emma Kwasnica, one of the most vocal and influential lactivists in the world and creator of the worldwide milksharing network HM4HB, has been a victim of Facebook’s bullying tactics several times, having had her account suspended on numerous occasions.  After having worldwide media coverage for her suspensions, Facebook has apologized for the deletions and has said repeatedly that they were “in error.”  However, Facebook continues to delete breastfeeding pictures and suspend/delete other users’ accounts, which she and her supporters actively protest against.  There is a page on Facebook to support her and her efforts in getting Facebook’s behavior rectified called “FB! Stop Harassing Emma Kwasnica over her breastfeeding pics.“  Despite its name, the end goal is to get Facebook to stop harassing ALL breastfeeding women, not just Kwasnica.

Deleted by Facebook

Curiously, the vast majority of these deletions run contrary to Facebook’s OWN policy, which states:  “Does Facebook allow photos of mothers breastfeeding?
Yes. We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful, and we’re very glad to know that it is important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Facebook. The vast majority of these photos are compliant with our policies, and we will not take action on them.”

Facebook's breastfeeding policy

Recently deleted:

Recently deleted by Facebook

It’s becoming clearer and clearer, given Facebook’s history with breastfeeding photos, that either they are lying, or the employees are not all on the same page regarding what is acceptable on their own network.  This would be understandable over the course of maybe a few months, but YEARS?

If you live in California, please support the nurse-in there at Facebook Headquarters:

Menlo Park, CA (formerly listed as ‘Palo Alto’)

1601 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA

Tremendous thanks to Jodine Chase, another victim of Facebook’s bullying tactics and event organizer/media coordinator for the protests against Facebook, who has kept meticulous track of the situation on her blog, Jodine’s World.  Thank you, Jodine!

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Chalyn’s Milksharing Story — Exclusive Pumper & Donor

October 5th, 2011 by MamaBear

The first-ever World Milksharing Week has passed, but there’s no reason to stop celebrating milksharing.  In that spirit, I am publishing yet another wonderful milksharing story.  Thank you SO much, Chalyn, for sharing it with the world.  For you exclusively pumping moms out there, it’s a must-read.


By:  Chalyn Myers (Joy N’ Birth doula)

It’s amazing how things work out sometimes.

I found myself, during my fourth pregnancy, once again facing a
vanished twin, once again sick and very depressed. I was sure that
this would be our last baby, and, while I didn’t want to go out this
way, I just didn’t think that I would be able to do it all again. So
I began to form my breastfeeding support team. I dealt with myriad
problems with my first three babies, and, if this was to be my last
chance, I wanted to do everything in my power to get it right. Fourth
time’s a charm, right?

But it was not to be. Not only did I have many of the same issues I’d
had with my other children, God saw fit to send me an even bigger
trial. I got booby trapped. She wasn’t gaining and had even lost some.
The pediatrician was making threats, and I got scared. And at the end
of a sudden, whirlwind weekend of pumping and supplementing with a
bottle, I found myself joining that small group of mothers who pump
exclusively for their babies.

feeding and double pumping

I pumped for about four months, putting bags and bags of milk into the
freezer every day.

stash after ~2 months of pumping

I was sad and frustrated and overwhelmed…and very
lonely. I knew mothers who had pumped, and I knew mothers who had
pumped exclusively, but I didn’t (and still don’t) know any mothers
who had pumped exclusively while also caring for older siblings. I
found a routine of sorts. I learned to feed her while double pumping.
I learned to pump and to feed and to pump and feed while homeschooling
and refereeing fights and fixing sandwiches.

pumping and babywearing; getting ready to start up the knitting machine

She was happy, and she was gaining, but I was still sad.

And then I discovered Emma Kwasnica and Human Milk 4 Human Babies. I
connected with a wonderful mother/baby in need, and soon after, the
whole family drove almost three hours to meet dad and big sister and
deliver my very first donation of about four gallons of breastmilk. I
was beside myself with joy. Not only was I able to use my trials to
help another family, but in doing so, I found some peace about the
loss of our second Baby B. If breastfeeding had worked out like I had
hoped, I would have lost the extra supply my body had prepared for
him. And if I had followed the ped’s instructions and supplemented
with formula instead of pumped breastmilk, I would never have had the
opportunity to connect with the one woman who was able to offer me
something I so desperately needed: healing.

first donation, approximately 4 gallons

Two months after my first donation, we met up again, both families. I
had another more than two gallons of breastmilk for them. It was
amazing beyond words to meet in person the mother and baby who were
able to make something positive out of our loss. I wasn’t able to give
more after that, though I recently celebrated one year of pumping and
have no plans to stop in the near future. I’ve even started a blog to
share my experiences. ( But I
am so thankful that I was able to give something. My only regret, I
think, is that I was afraid to try wet nursing the last time we were
all together. This has been such a healing, learning, growing process
though that I’m finally able to think about having more children.
Maybe I’ll try again after #5…

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World Milksharing Week — Recipient & Donor Story

September 29th, 2011 by MamaBear

By:  Name Withheld by request

My milksharing story starts with the natural birth of my son, Roby.  I suspected I might not have enough milk for him (I did not make enough to sustain my first child), but I had a natural birth so that I would increase the chances of breastfeeding success.  He latched on immediately after birth, and was breastfed on demand thereafter.

After about five weeks, it was clear he wasn’t gaining well.  I knew I had to supplement, but since this wasn’t my first rodeo, I knew I had to do all my supplementing at the breast.  I was not going to risk losing my breastfeeding relationship by using bottles or finger-feeding.  I used a Lact-Aid at first, and it worked for a couple of weeks, but then my son became very frustrated with it, it became too hard for him to suck the milk out of it, so I switched to the Medela SNS which had a faster flow.

Nursing with SNS
I had to learn how to use the device by trial-and-error.  It was NOT easy!  At the beginning I felt like I needed more than two hands to operate it, but soon I had figured out in what order to do things so that using the SNS was a methodical, smooth procedure.  At first, I filled it with formula, because I’d made peace with this almost certain eventuality before giving birth to him.  But then something incredible happened.  I discovered, through a friend of mine, a milksharing network with a funny name. (The name has since been changed to “Human Milk 4 Human Babies” — the name-change occurred in the months while I was using it).  I decided to put my request in and in a matter of hours, a local doula contacted me and put me in touch with 3 different breastmilk donors!  I was beside myself with joy and relief.

I contacted the donors, and arranged milk pick-ups.  I also found another donor in a neighboring state (also through the HM4HB network) that ended up donating gallons of breastmilk to my baby boy.  I fed it all to him through the SNS, and managed to preserve the breastfeeding relationship I had longed to have with my first baby but sadly never got to enjoy.

Close-up of Roby latched on with SNS tube. Note the thumb holding the tube in place.

Miraculously, after five months of supplemental feeding at the breast, my son rejected the SNS outright, just REFUSED to nurse with it, but still wanted to breastfeed.  I couldn’t believe it!  I was worried at first because he didn’t take bottles, so all of his nourishment was coming just from me!  Yet he didn’t lose weight.  He was gaining ever so slowly, but he was thankfully old enough that I could start to feed him some solid food.  So I did, and between that and the nursing on demand, he has managed to get in the 45th percentile for weight.  He is not the chunkiest baby I know, but he is doing well for himself.  Roby is now ten months old, very energetic, healthy, meeting all his milestones, and a good eater.  He still loves to nurse and looks to me for comfort and milk.  For me, it’s a dream come true, and would not have happened without the hard work and frustration of using the SNS for so many months.  It was well worth the effort, every bit of it.

Roby nursing contentedly. :)

I am and will always be eternally grateful to the donors that buoyed me through those arduous first months with their selfless gifts of milk to help me nourish my son.

But the story doesn’t end there…Recently another miracle occurred:  I donated 46 ounces of my own breastmilk to another mother in need, for her four-month-old baby.  Paying it forward is very gratifying.  If you are reading this as a recipient, I hope this story gives you hope that one day you may be able to not only nourish your baby completely with your own breasts and your own milk, but be able to help another baby in need with your milk, too!  It happened to me.

Find an at-breast supplementer:  Hygeia brand, Medela brand, Lact-Aid brand, DIY (video)

World Milksharing Week:

Find a breastmilk donor/recipient:  Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB)

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World Milksharing Week — Angela’s Story, Recipient

September 28th, 2011 by MamaBear

By:  Angela Brown Sanelle

Hello! I want to share my milk-sharing story!

Amelia was born March 30, and I was anticipating problems nursing because I knew ahead of time that I had inverted nipples. She couldn’t get latched at all the first three days, and after several meetings with a lactation consultant I was given a nipple shield to use. Looking back, I wish I would have tried harder to get her to latch directly, but I guess the shield was our best option at that point. I’d try to get her to nurse as much as she could, and then we used a tube and syringe to supplement every two hours using milk I had pumped. Around week three she started crying nonstop… for days. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Because she wasn’t back up to birthweight at that point, our pediatrician told us to start supplementing with formula. I had a very difficult time with that, but I realized that week that I wasn’t producing enough milk, and that she was basically starving. She was 5 weeks old before she got back up to birth weight. She struggled with colic, and reflux, and was super sensitive to every formula we tried… we finally ended up on a non-dairy, non-soy, predigested formula, and the first ingredient was corn syrup solids. I hated that I was stuck giving that crap to my baby and felt so guilty that I hadn’t been able to produce enough to nurse her sufficiently. At this point I was still nursing her, and then supplementing directly after. I wasn’t sure if something in my diet was bothering her, so I started cutting things out and ended up on a diet of chicken and rice for awhile.

A friend told me about Human Milk 4 Human Babies, and I was so desperate at that point I might have tried anything. Our first donor was a lady in LA, and I drove two hours each way to pick it up. What an amazing gift!!! Amelia being on a diet of 100% breast milk helped her to turn a corner. She started putting on weight, she was happier and less cranky, and her colic and reflux issues disappeared. Several people pointed out that she could have just grown out of the colic and the reflux, but I think its too coincidental that she got better as soon as we put her on all breast milk. I’m still nursing, and still pumping, and can provide for her about 1/4 of what she needs daily. Due to the generosity of ladies on this board, I’ve been able to continue feeding Amelia solely breastmilk for the majority of the time. I had to go back to formula for a couple days when our supply ran out once, and the crankiness returned - coincidence? I think not!

I know that God gives to us evenly so that we can share in the joy of both giving and receiving… it’s joyful to give, but I’ve learned humility and thankfulness in receiving, and have been incredibly blessed by those who have given. I’m ever grateful for this amazing gift that has bettered my daughter’s life!  My daughter is almost 6 mos old, and  I’ve been fortunate enough to receive donations from several women.  Knowing that we can provide her with breast milk due to the amazing generosity of mommies with extra is the hugest blessing ever… I don’t have words to describe how thankful we are!!!

Amelia, Milksharing Recipient

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World Milksharing Week — Cindy’s Story, Donor

September 27th, 2011 by MamaBear

By:  Cindy Collins

I went to Denmark for a midwifery conference in 2009. I was nursing my 14-month-old, who did not come along for the trip. I had planned to pump to maintain supply and find someone to donate to. Well on the way to the airport I realized I had forgotten my ENTIRE luggage!!! I fortunately put my pump in my carry-on bag. I had the basic essentials: currency, passport, pump, a shirt. I left all my proper storage EBM (expressed breastmilk) containers in my luggage. There wasn’t enough time to go home and get the luggage. So when I pumped I would store my breastmilk in various beverage bottles.

The funny part is, since my room did not come equipped with a refrigerator, I had to use the one at the front desk. I swear every time I brought down a new bottle of expressed breastmilk to be stored, which was stored in a glass refrigerator just behind the front desk that guests could see right into, there was a different person working. I felt the need to explain to each person working the desk I had not met before that I had forgotten my entire luggage back in the states and that I normally would store breastmilk in proper storage containers - not beverage bottles. It was humiliating. At the end of the week, a Danish mom came to get the milk, I apologized and explained to her also what had happened. We had a good laugh and she was grateful for the milk.

Since that trip I travel VERY light :O)


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World Milksharing Week — Kristi’s Story, Recipient

September 26th, 2011 by MamaBear

By:  Kristi Autrey, Mom of 4 Wonderful Boys

I am a mom who suffers from IGT (insufficient glandular tissue), and have been able to nurse 4 babies to the best of my ability. Most moms in my shoes would have given up and gone to the bottle but I was determined to give my baby everything I could. As long as I made a drop of milk, I was going to give it to my baby! I went through a lot giving my baby the best I could: lots of doctors appointments for weight checks, lots of mouth from other people telling me to give up, that I was starving my baby to death. At times, I would think they were right. And then I would get up, latch my baby to my breast with the at-breast supplementer, and smile, for I was giving my baby the best.

Braden breastfeeding

I can only make about 15 ounces/day, maximum, so I have had to give formula in the past because I thought there was no other option. I have never had any one around me nurse. They all went straight to bottles, so the thought of getting milk from another mom was never a reality for me until I had my fourth son. He was 7 months old when I found milksharing. It has changed my life and the way I feel and think about formula feeding and why any mother would go straight to formula and not even try to nurse her baby. It is sad we live in a society that pushes formula as the mainstream way to feed a baby.  They always say “breast is best,” but shove formula in your face. Why could they not say, “There are donors who make too much milk for their babies and who are willing to give milk to yours if you can find one.” I think if they would, there would be more people breastfeeding their babies and the formula bottle generation would fade into the background. Then women at the store giving their babies a bottle would be the odd ones, not me, the woman with the nursing shawl and a baby attached to the breast while grocery shopping.

Braden nursing

My son was having serious issues with the formulas I thought I had to give him. He started on supplementary formula at 5 days old and from week 2 of his life went from pooping a lot to none at all. He would only poop once a week and when he did it was hard and black or dark forest green at times, but mostly solid black. He would throw up every time he had his bottle and it was not a little, it was half or more of what he ate. I was always covered in puke. His weight was very slow to gain and the doctor was constantly saying if he didn’t gain we were going to have to put him in the hospital. I had already been through this with 2 of my sons and history was repeating itself, but this time I had a computer and internet. When he was 5 months old we got it. Through talking to other breastfeeding moms who are like me and can only give their babies part of what they need, I got some support I badly needed. My husband and my mom were my only sources before and though they never gave up on me breastfeeding and I would not have made it without them, at times they would make me feel as if they were leaning towards the other side of giving up. Through these mom forums I found out about Eats on Feets, Human Milk 4 Human Babies, and Milkshare.

As soon as I found out milksharing was an option I went straight to the sites and posted my need on all of them. It took me a couple of weeks to find a mom who could donate to me so when I got my first shipment in the mail it was like getting brand new diamond earrings. That box was pure gold in my eyes. I took it in the house and opened it as fast as I could, worried that the milk had thawed in transit. Oh, the relief when I opened the box and took the lid off the cooler:  frozen solid. Yes! It made it to me! I thawed 20 ounces that day and started on my journey of providing donor milk for my son. Within 3 days of starting the donor breastmilk he stopped throwing up. After a week he started pooping every other day, at first, but he was pooping and it was not hard. It did not hurt my baby. No more bleeding; just to do the most natural thing: poop.

The difference in my son is nothing short of a miracle. The women who have provided milk for my son are angels. They will be blessed for the gift they have given me and my son. I could never repay them for this. He is doing great! I learned after taking my son off the formula that he was allergic to it and that all the intestinal problems and throwing up was because of that. My doctor said they did not tell me that because there was no other option for me besides formula, so they just kept switching him to different formulas and giving me medicines to counteract the problems the formula caused. My son is 10 months old now and has been on donor milk for about 10 weeks. His tummy is healing great and he is a brand-new baby thanks to all the moms who have donated to my little man. I cannot thank them enough for their love and generosity. I wish I would have known about milksharing from the first day I had to give any of my babies formula. I am glad it is there when needed but there should be doctors and LC’s telling mothers that are having problems with formula that there is another option and that milksharing is the best option. Their hands are tied and cannot tell us, so I am trying to get the word out about milksharing, so no mom has to dump her milk because it went bad, and no baby in need has to suffer because of formula intolerance!! I am thankful for milksharing and all the sites that provide the place for us moms to connect to each other. :)

Happy, Healthy Milksharing Recipient

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