To some, breastfeeding is not the most comfortable topic of choice, and for others it is one of miraculous wonder; “Liquid Gold.” Either way, you can imagine the reactions I’ve received when I use the word…Re-Lactation!?!
I get it, I scrunched my nose at it when I first heard of the idea. Women who had weaned their last years prior were able to relactate; even women whom have never breastfed before were able to relactate! I have to admit, when I first looked into relactation I did so more out of shear curiosity, but the more research I did, I realized that this was not a new concept. In fact, in some cultures, the Grandmother of the baby to be would relactate during the expectant mother’s pregnancy so there would be milk for the babe if the mom was unable to produce for whatever reason. Many of you probably have heard of the title, “wet nurse.” Many of these ladies weren’t currently nursing a babe of their own, but had induced lactation or relactated for that specific purpose! WILD!!
A couple of years ago we were matched and I decided that I wanted to see if I could possibly re-lactate for this match. I pumped and took herbs but wasn’t convinced that I would produce much of anything. I joked that I was so dried up, that if I actually produced, it may be powdered milk! lol I don’t remember how many weeks it was, but I’ll never forget looking down in the pump flange and seeing One. Solitary drop of colostrum. I froze!
I…I actually produced something! The body that I had felt was so broken and worthless as a woman since my emergency complete hysterectomy was… was actually producing something that could be life giving!
I will forever be grateful for that moment. For, although that match never came to fruition and I didn’t try past that point of the relactaion process at the time, I knew deep in my soul that God was telling me,
“See, you aren’t worthless, you still have so much to give. Trust in my Divine Providence for I know the plans I have for you. “
Fast forward a handful of trips around the sun, the amazing journey of God bringing us to China to our precious son, Malakai, his precious heart begging to be a big brother and God answering that prayer only 4 months after updating our home study and starting the domestic process once more!
I had been praying in discernment as I had a deep fear that I would fully invest my heart and body only to feel the staggering pain of loss and having to allow my milk dry up once more as I felt with my 6 miscarriages and multiple failed matches. Then God spoke to my heart clearly…
“When were you ever open to life where your heart and body weren’t completely invested? Do you regret saying yes to that life when my plan was not understood by you? Every experience, sensation, memory and moment is a gift. Some day you will fully understand; until then, Trust in my Love. I will not abandon you nor forsake you. Trust in my Divine Providence.”
I decided then and there that I was to be open to everything lifegiving that I could possibly give to my future child. I was no longer able to carry or birth my child, but God may be giving me the gift of breastfeeding; one of my most blessed, precious and priceless times with my babies through bonding and nourishment.
We recieved “The Call” a little after 3pm on April 14th 2017; Good Friday! It was so fitting, we had laid these desires and prayer intentions at the cross of Jesus since 2008 and now, on Good Friday, our prayers were being answered! I began the relactation process soon after we were matched with herbal supplements: Gaia Lactation capsules, Morniga, Shatavari, Goat’s Rue, Mother’s Milk tea, and Boobie bars! It felt so good to be doing something productive when the rest of the process was so deep in the wait category.
Soon after, on April 28th, I felt inspired to try and start pumping after visiting my dear friend’s new little son. I was nervous to start as I knew this was when the commitment portion would kick in and I had to kick out my fears of “failure.” That afternoon, I pumped for the first time with the shocking result of a decent amount of colostrum! I was not expecting that much and was enlivened by the thought of maybe, just maybe, my years of breastfeeding weren’t over!! I was elated!
I continued the herbs and pumping but found it difficult to keep up with the protocol with the kids still in school and other events, activities and stresses and soon my supply had diminished to nearly dry. During this time we also were told that our baby may have Downs and so the hunt for information and answers ensued; taking most my time and energy.
I was almost ready to throw in the towel until I read a blog of a women who had also relactated. Her words spoke straight to my heart:
“Breastfeeding is more than the milk. The bonding that skin to skin provides and the prolactin that is released helps you and your baby bond on a special level.”
And with that, I knew I had to give my all as I would anything else I have committed to in my life. #NoRegrets
The Journey: Just put one pump in front of the the other
Started herbs April 18th
Pumped every 3 hours for 15-30 min.
April 28 – first colostrum
May 9 – had a few droplets but not enough to trickle down the flange.
May 17th – Started (30mg,3x/day) DOM & increased herbs.
May 28th – upped DOM to (40mg,3x/day) with herbs.
June 8th – First droplets of milk that would trickle into the bottle and pool!
Continued Herbs and DOM along with pumping with hand pump first and using the massage while pumping techniques for 5-7 min. Both sides and then electrical pump. Or if electrical wasn’t available, massaging and pumping with manual until all ducts felt soft and empty. * I found putting coconut oil on the girls helped express much more milk out with the massage and hold and the line strokes downward worked great!!
And Lots of water!!
Journal entry if my Journey :
BCP (Birth Control Pill) wasn’t an option for me so I took goats rue and shatavari, morninga,fenugreek and blessed thistle. I used the lactation support for Gaia and Supplements of blessed thistle and fenugreek along with drinking the “Milk flow” supplemental drink for those two as well(very tasty btw.)
On May 17th, 2017 I dropped the goats rue when I started Dom. I continued with the fenugreek, blessed thistle and moringa. At first my max dose of Dom was 120 and I got pretty good results. I am now at 140 mg. I haven’t had any side effects except for weight gain.
After a bit I was finding my milk supply was struggling. I was guided to try and drop my fenugreek as it tends to react poorly with DOM for some reason.
I found that using a hand pump with breast massage (using coconut oil for massage oil) worked better at first rather an electric. I used the Lansonish manual pump. When I started in with an electric pump I used the Medela PISA.
After my milk supply started coming in more, I reintroduced Fenugreek but only in the form of combo meal supplements.
I.E ~ Boobie Bars and “Milk Flow” drink mix. I drink A LOT of water 💦 and try to limit my caffeine intake.
I baby-sat and held young babies when I could. Also, people have said that watching you tube videos of babies talking or playing helps.
It has been a lot of hard work and dedication but it has been such an amazing journey so far!
As of today, July 31st, I am now producing at my current max, 10.38 oz of milk a day; which I have been told is phenomenal, “Pre-suckling,” aka, before baby starts nursing. 🙂
We will be given Ezekiel between 1 and 3 days old. I wanted to make sure that I was making enough to feed him on demand for any of those ages.
I am currently making (as seen on my running chart below) on average, 39.5 mls per pump. Which means, At this point, I am producing enough to sustain Ezekiel for that 1 – 3 day old goal of having enough(and then some) for Ezekiel! After that, he will be feeding on demand and his suckling will put in the food order from then on! 🙂
I am so thankful that God has in-trusted me with this precious gift of Milk from Heaven.
I am also thankful that I have been able to share that gift with our son, Malakai! He has been receiving this life giving milk through his G-tube since I started making enough to freeze and give to him!
I don’t know how long I will be able to nurse Ezekiel and supply milk for Kai, via Gtube, and at that point, there are formulas or donor milk that I will go to.
All I know is that God is amazing and he has bestowed on me, a gift that I am undeserving of and I will spend every day thanking God; I am have been able to breast feed all my babies on earth in one form or another!
I feel like Elizabeth, I thought my body was no longer a vessel of life and God showed me his might and unfailing love by bringing forth new life from barren ground.