Allie’s Breastfeeding Success and Overcoming Postpartum Depression

Allie's Breastfeeding Success and Overcoming Postpartum Depression “My daughter Sammi was born July 2014 via C-section, but fortunately we were able to be skin-to-skin and nurse within her first hour. My supply was good but I was so concerned over whether I was doing this right because it sure didn’t come “naturally” – I saw an IBCLC in the hospital after delivery and again a week or two after being home and was assured I was doing great because my daughter was gaining weight beautifully. I was doing everything right, but it still felt wrong.

I had a very hard time adjusting and bonding, being a mom for the first time along with dealing with the unexpected way she was born and trying to heal from my physical complications. I had struggled with my mental health since the age of 14 yet my pregnancy was the happiest and healthiest I had been in years. But my post-partum experience was an emotional 360 and I couldn’t even get myself out of bed. I was hospitalized for post-partum depression for 10 days – I sobbed that first night when my husband gave her formula as a close friend brought me to the ER. I missed my girl’s 1 month birthday and just felt so guilty that I wasn’t there for her or my husband. In my eyes, I had completely failed as a mother since I couldn’t even care for my baby or myself.

So then I had to figure out pumping while in the hospital – and when you’re there for psychiatric reasons, they don’t let you have your own shoes, never mind a breast pump. I had never pumped before and now I had to do it under close supervision and then they had to confiscate the equipment right after so I couldn’t harm myself. I was so humiliated and petrified that I kept getting engorged and wanted to give up.

Allie's Breastfeeding Success and Overcoming Postpartum Depression Finally, I met with Heather, a part-time staffer on the ward, IBCLC & part of the Manchester La Leche League chapter. She had a long chat with me and my husband who was visiting – she didn’t sugar coat things and flat out told me I needed to advocate for myself and my daughter by making sure I was on a solid schedule because pumping twice a day wasn’t enough and my supply was already dropping. She also encouraged me not to give up, even though it was hard. I finally had some validation that breastfeeding was important and my right as a mother. It was the only way I was still connected to my baby while stuck in that inpatient unit and I was finally able to work things out with the nurses so I could pump without feeling like a prisoner. You’d think there’d be more medical professionals in a hospital with a birth center only a floor away who would support breastfeeding and pumping.

I had to continue pumping once I was home since I needed to be in a day program for 6 weeks and would nurse on demand once I got back. Within another few weeks after my outpatient treatment, we were fully back to breast. We had a few spells of milk blisters and mastitis, but we carried on with no regrets. Last November, I got to sing with a choir in New York City and since my husband and daughter couldn’t make the trip with us, I pumped the whole 5 days I was there to keep my supply going, including backstage at Carnegie Hall the night of the performance!

Allie's Breastfeeding Success and Overcoming Postpartum Depression I never thought I’d make it to 6 months (my original goal) but now my daughter just turned 2 and we are still nursing twice a day. I’ve gotten some flack from my extended family, especially since she’s older now and because I nursed in public without a cover (my daughter made using a cover impossible), but I truly believe this was the greatest therapy for both of us to finally bond as mother and child. I love my daughter more than anything in the world and although at times I want my body back again, I know I will miss our milkie snuggles once she’s done nursing. I’m so grateful to Heather and to support groups like La Leche League and Breastfeeding USA.”

Allie (Sammi’s mommy), Manchester, CT La Leche League