Friday, May 11, 2012

Lactivism and My Experience with Breastfeeding

Before my son was born, I was a militant lactivist. I still am a lactivist, but I have learned that there are situations where breastfeeding can be nearly impossible. I try not to judge mothers in these situations. In the past, I probably opened my mouth far more than I should have, and I have certainly eaten my words. I still feel sorrow for any mothers that I may have hurt.

My birth experience was nearly the exact opposite of what I wanted and imagined for my son and I. I wanted a homebirth, but due to my living situation (we were living with my parents,) my husband and I chose to plan a birth center delivery. I went to Hypnobirthing classes, read breastfeeding and childbirth books, etc. I did all the right things. Well, January 11th, 2012 my water broke. I was dilating and effacing, but my contractions were not taking on any sort of pattern, and were pretty scarce. After about 36 hours, my midwife sent to a hospital for an induction, and that's when it all went downhill. According to Florida law, a midwife has to send a patient in for induction if her water has been broken for more than 24 hours. She risked herself by letting me go for 36 hours, but we both know that the Florida law is not science based. I went into the hospital at 5 cm, 90% effaced. After 6 hours of horrendous pitocin induced contractions with no break in between and excruciating back labor, I was still 5 cm. I got the epidural. I dilated 2 cm within a few minutes of the epidural taking effect. My son was born 5 hours later on January 13th at 6:24 am. I had him placed immediately on my chest and attempted to nurse him. He looked at me like I was nuts. I'll never forget the face he made. I believe that the epidural caused my nursing issues. I also believe that I never needed to be induced. I was dilating and effacing, my body was doing its job, whether or not I was feeling contractions or having an established pattern.

Since he did not nurse, I immediately started pumping to ensure that no issues with my supply would develop, and tried endlessly to nurse him. I asked for help from the nurses and the supposed lactation consultant at the hospital. Big mistake. All they did, including the LC, was try to force my screaming baby onto the breast and assault my nipples. He did not latch and I continued pumping. I saw a very reputable LC named Pam once I left the hospital. He still wouldn't nurse. I tried cranial-sacral therapy. Still no nursing baby! That was when my exclusively pumping journey began.

I started to exclusively pump breast milk for my son, and continued to do so until he was 3.5 months old.  During the last month of exclusively pumping, I developed chronic mastitis. After natural methods failed to cure it, we tried 4 different antibiotics and none of them worked.My supply dropped drastically. I gave up pumping and started feeding my son organic formula and supplementing him with probiotics and chlorella. I tried finding donor milk, but it has been a failed mission. It has been about one month since I pumped, and I feel awful. I know my son deserves more. Breast milk is normal, formula is inferior.

I am going to attempt relactation. I can still get some milk if I hand express, despite it having been a month since I pumped. I have spoken with my LC, and she has told me how I should begin going about relactating. I really hope that I can get my son to latch and nurse. I wanted to nurse him til he weaned himself. I feel like we have been cheated. I especially feel like he has been cheated. He deserves all the antibodies, growth factors, etc that only breast milk can provide. I am determined to give my son the best.


  1. Good Luck Veronica! You are amazing for getting back at the pumping after all the painful infections! I hope it all works out and you get that lo nursing directly!