You and Me & Chasing Little G


How to Fight For Your Breastfeeding Relationship

MotherhoodSabra GilbertComment


I’m going to start with the obvious.

Breastfeeding is so freaking hard

I knew from the get go that I wanted to breastfeed. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to make it work. And even if I struggled, I was going to fight tooth and nail for every second I could get breastmilk to my daughter. I knew that I had worlds of science against the thought of me even trying this journey. But I was going to do it anyway.

Screw infertility. Screw PCOS. Screw having a cesarian section. I was going to breastfeed my daughter!

And with knowing that I had the world against me. I did a crazy amount of research on how to fight for breastfeeding.

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Now before I go too far, I want to point out that this is NOT a formula bashing post. It just wasn’t what I wanted for my daughter. And as a mother, I am allowed to say that. I can fight for my breastfeeding relationship and NOT be bashing the mother who chose to formula feed.

In the world of Fed is Best, I believe that it has suddenly made it so that encouraging and celebrating breastfeeding is bad. It is somehow shaming other mothers who did not choose or could not go down the breastfeeding path. That is not what I am doing. But I am providing support for those who have decided as I have that there is no other option. I don’t want to give formula because I strongly believe that breast milk is biologically better for my child. My body literally makes this JUST FOR HER, not some generic recipe that works for most babies. It is OK that others have decided the same as well. It is OK that others have decided that that is not their path as well.

It has not been easy. Doctors tell me that my body is naturally working against me with my PCOS. Women who struggle with infertility often struggle with the hormones that make the precious milk that i wanted to provide Gemma. Then I had a long and strenuous labor. I had a cesarean section. Gemma swallowed meconium and I didn’t get her on my chest until fifteen minutes after she was born. It was another half hour before I could even try to position her to breastfeed without a sheet draped over my body. Then there was the issue of her weight. She was born a big baby. Big babies struggle with their sugar levels. Big babies from cesarean sections tend to drop more than 10% of their body weight. Her latch was shallow. She struggled to gain weight. She’s still skinny.

Gemma has never had a drop of formula. Or even donor milk.

She has been 100% mama fed and this has ALWAYS been supported by my husband and pediatrician.

And you can do this too! Set yourself up for success straight from the get go.

Before Baby Is Born

Educate Yourself on Breastfeeding

Guys, THIS CLASS, take it. Love it. It really is amazing! Simeon and I watched it together in the weeks before Gemma was born and it taught us so much. Milkology

Find a Pediatrician Who Will Support Breastfeeding

Everyday, I see mama’s in my breastfeeding support groups who ARE NOT being supported by their children’s doctors. Who are actually telling them that formula is better and that there is no way their child will thrive on breast milk. While this may be the case in a baby here and there, I think way too many women are being told this.

I have been so blessed to have a pediatric office that has a certified IBCLC pediatrician that also educates all of the doctors on staff to support breastfeeding mothers. Even with Gemma gaining weight slowly, they have always been supportive of our journey. Telling me that Gemma’s weight wasn’t a major concern (especially with her father’s figure) and to just keep doing what we are doing! Even when I was personally concerned, we did weighted feeds and were educated more by the IBCLC.

Get Items to Support Your Breastfeeding Journey

While breastfeeding is “cheaper” than formula, there are still supplies you need to get ready to breastfeed! Your nipples will hurt. Baby will sometimes still need a bottle (so you can get a break!). And you will have cravings. Not to mention getting comfy, dealing with leaking, and catching all that extra milk!

Haaka’s are amazing for catching the milk you leak and helping you build up a milk stash. I have the NatureBond brand which works amazingly as well!

For soothing your newly put to work nipples, I feel in love with Earth Mama Nipple Cream and Soothies.

I also don’t think I would have survived those early days without my boppy. And check out this adorable cover! I might need to get it for LIttle G #2!

Talk to Your Spouse about Breastfeeding

THIS IS SO CRITICAL! If you don’t have support in your Spouse, breastfeeding can go south so quickly! Simeon would have to pick Gemma up for me to feed her in the beginning because of my unplanned c-section. He also had to cheer me on through the days of tears when it seemed like Gemma and I were never going to get it. He cheered me on through the multiple weight check appointments where I questioned if we were making the right decision. And proudly would count up the ounces in the freezer so I would know that I made plenty of milk for our baby girl. His support was CRITICAL to my breastfeeding confidence with Gemma.

Not only do you need your husband on your side when it comes to breastfeeding in general, but discuss your plans for when you are out in public and baby gets hungry. Now I do warn you that this is a topic that many men are uncomfortable with. Simeon was too. But I laid out my feelings and listened to his concerns as well. We came up with a game plan. I would try to usually feed Gemma before we went somewhere or even in the car before going in anywhere. If she still needed fed while we were out and about, I used the two shirt method. If I was somewhere that I didn’t feel comfortable breastfeeding without a cover, we keep a light muslin swaddle in the diaper bag. This is something that I see couples fighting over ALL THE TIME. Don’t be bullied, but don’t be a bully either. You both just want what is best for baby. So compromise.

Find out Any Concerns with Breastfeeding

As I have explained before, I have PCOS. This can be a major concern with breastfeeding as well. I knew this from the get go and so I was not surprised when at my first IBCLC appointment, it was brought up. I was warned again that it might be a hindrance in having this wonderful relationship with my daughter. Hormones, they rule everything that your body can do.

Since I knew ahead of time what I was going to be up against, I was able to research and be prepared for these concerns from doctors. I also already had the mindset that I was going to have to work a million times harder than most mothers to even begin this journey, which is why I did my best to set everything else up as perfectly as possible.

Create a Birth Plan

Which brings me to my birth plan. While I didn’t get everything that I wanted in my birth, I still did the best research I could to set us up for breastfeeding success from the get go. This included taking a natural birthing course, and letting nurses know exactly what I wanted to happen immediately after birth. I came to the hospital with multiple copies. Next time I plan to even frame one and prop it up so that it is immediately noticeable to staff caring for me. It wasn’t long or excessive and would fit perfectly in just one paper sized frame.

Find Your Breastfeeding Support Group

I will say this over and over again. You DO NOT have to do this alone. Even if you are the first in your family to breastfeed in generations. Even if none of your friends breastfeed. Mama, you have so many people that will gladly join your team, including me! I am a part of two breastfeeding facebook groups that I adore: Milky Mamas and Breast, Bottle & Beyond. You can learn from mamas who have already been there. Have solidarity with mamas doing the same thing as you (there always seems to be one middle of the night “whose up feeding their baby right now too?!” post somewhere! Some cities also have in person groups where you can bond and ask questions with moms in your area!

After Baby Is Born

Baby to Breast ASAP

This is something that I freaked out about the most when they started wheeling me down for my cesarean section. I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed Gemma as soon as I wanted. My dream had been for Gemma to pop out and for her to immediately be put on my chest to latch while we waited for her chord to cease pumping. I didn’t get that dream. Not only was my chest covered by a sheet and she had to be put practically on my neck when I got to see her finally, but Gemma had swallowed meconium as well and had to be suctioned before I ever got to see her. BUT they did encourage latching as soon as I was in the recovery room. As soon as they were done stitching me up, she was skin to skin with me and having her first meal.

Skin to Skin As Much As Possible

The more time that you can spend directly skin to skin with your baby, the better. This may mean putting up some rules in your birth plan, such as if anyone is going to be squeamish about seeing your skin or breasts, they might just need to wait until you get home to visit. It’s ok to stand up for your bonding with your new baby. You don’t have to hand her off right away so another family member can see her. You don’t have to put a shirt on if it is just going to get in your way. You just birthed a baby that you’ve been baking for 10 months. You get to make the rules!

See a Lactation Consultant in the Hospital

Even with all the education and videos to watch in the world, latching your baby is still a completely different story when you go to do it. It’s great to have a professional take a glance at your latch and make sure that you are doing great. It also is nice to have someone take a peak into baby’s mouth and check for any tongue or lip ties that might make breastfeeding more painful.

Immediately Communicate ANY Issue with your LC, Pediatrician, and Spouse.

If you think there is ANY issue. ANYTHING at all. Tell someone right away. Don’t let it get to the point that your nipples are gushing blood or that baby is loosing weight. If you have any question or concern, work with the professionals to figure out the answer. I was so happy that our pediatrician for the first few weeks was also a IBCLC. We were doing weight checks on Gemma for a few days after coming home from the hospital because she was slow to gain weight. But with working with someone who is a professional at breastfeeding, we were able to get weighted feeds at her appointments and be given advice on the best ways to latch her and keep her awake for feeding! I was re-assured that breastfeeding was the right path and so excited for it. We were able to trouble shoot and figure out any issues before they became major.

Many mothers seem scared to go to their pediatrician with any problems with breastfeeding because they fear they will be pushed into formula immediately. If you don’t think that you can trust the people that you are working with to raise your baby, you need to re-evaluate who you have allowed into your babies life. Any professional that is in your child’s life still should work with you because you are mama! You made and will be raising this little being!

And don’t let any doubts bubble up in your mind alone. Go to your spouse and let them set you straight. I was soooo terrified that I wasn’t making enough milk. So Simeon would drag me in front of the freezer and show me the stash that was already building. He wouldn’t let me live in the un-true doubts that circled my head.

Mama, you got this.

Why You Need a Fresh 48 Session

Photography, MotherhoodSabra GilbertComment

Have you even heard of a Fresh 48 newborn session?

But I'm telling you guys, you need one! There are so many things that change about your baby and yourself just while you are in the hospital. So many things that need documented in those first few days. Things that you later will realize you were way too sleep deprived to actually remember, like how wrinkly they are and squishy. Or if you are like me, in too much pain and worrying about recovering to remember. To remember where you spent your first few days with your baby.

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While you can do newborn photos once you get home, I've always been a bigger fan of lifestyle photos. (As you could probably tell from our maternity shoot!) You can capture so much more with a lifestyle shoot than just pretty faces. A Fresh 48 newborn session in the hospital means that you can catch how actually tired and worn out you are in those first few days. I know that doesn't sound pretty, but it was real life.


Capturing Forgotten Memories

While I'll admit that the photo above isn't one of my all time favorites due to how crappy i feel like I look, it was real. The most effort I put in before this photo shoot was actually getting dressed for once while in the hospital! Though part of me even wishes that I hadn't. That I had stayed the way I had been most of my stay in the hospital. In the hospital gown and honestly, mostly topless learning to feed Gemma or doing skin to skin with her.

There is also just so much newborn newness that is already lost in the first couple of days. The first photo that I have of my daughter, she is a fluffed up little purple  thing. And already by day two when we took our photos, she's resembling more of a baby. Already learning to stretch out compared to the bunched up little baby I held the first day.  And then there is a difference waiting a week for newborn photos! So different already!


Even just the room where we spent our first few days with Gemma. It meant so much to have photos of us sitting in the hospital bed with her or of her in her hospital bassinet that I spent times pushing around the halls while I worked on figuring out how to walk again after c-section. I'll always have those memories now. Memories I know I would have forgotten in the fog of the first few days of being a mother.

All the Baby Details

By a week out of the hospital, all her little wrinkles were gone and so were the flakes of skin that we spent that entire week trying to rid her of. (What happens when little stinkers are a week late and no longer have the vernix protecting their skin in the womb!). She’s already re-gaining the weight that she had lost those first few days (though she wouldn’t be back up to birth weight for another week or so.)

So many things change so quickly. I like to remember all the little bands they had on her feet, how tiny her feet even were those first few days.


Capturing Baby Keepsakes

We also brought a few little goodies that we knew would be important for family members to see Gemma wrapped in right away. Handmade blankets and hats that all hold so much meaning for us. Simeon's mom had made a girl blanket 30-something years ago and then had all boys and found it for Gemma. My mom made a replica of the baby blanket/sleeping blankie I had when I was younger. And my best friend's grandmother made a sweet receiving blanket and hat for Gemma. These were things I wanted to remember right off the bat.

My little girl is turning 9 months in a few weeks. And man, the things that have changed by now are so numerous, I doubt I could write them all out in a post! She’s still a tiny squish, but her hair turned strawberry blonde! After being so, so dark in these photos! I’ll forever love this Fresh 48 Newborn session and plan to do them again and again and again!

Coming to Terms with My C-section

MotherhoodSabra GilbertComment

Wow. I really never thought I would have to write that title. I spent months insisting that everything would go the way I planned it and that medical intervention wouldn't be needed in my birth. No thank you, I was going to be fine on my own.

Oh how wrong I was.

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If you've already read my birth story, you know that I ended up with almost every intervention that there could be. I needed pitocin, which lead to needing an epidural, and when both of those didn't work. I ended with a cesarean section. Everything that I'd been terrified of having to use the entire pregnancy. Everything that was against my well thought out birth plan. The one that I took a 12 week birth class to be able to write out knowing the exact details of all my decisions.

But Gemma had other plans for me. And lucky for her, she was worth it. ;)

For the first few days after Gemma was born. I was perfectly fine with my birth. I guess I was maybe just blocking out how I really felt about it. Gemma was here, healthy and perfect. How could I be upset with the way she came into the world?

But then we got home. We settled into a routine and I finally got to think about everything that had happened. To finally realize the danger that Gemma and I had actually been in. And the lengths that had to be done to get us through Gemma's birth. To feel disappointed in the fact that I couldn't do it. I couldn't do what millions of women have done before me and bring my child into the world on my own. That I didn't get to be the first hands to touch my child. That I didn't get to see my child for minutes after she was born. I didn't get to hold her until longer after that. That I didn't get to nurse her until even longer after that and the first hour that was supposed to be our time, me and my Gemma, was eaten up by me being stuck in a bed while my husband was escorted to the recovery room with my daughter. I don't even know if my wishes for her chord to stop pulsing before being cut was honored. I was in pain, exhausted, and had no idea what questions to even ask after my surgery.

See, I hadn't even done any research into how to handle a cesarean section or what it really was, other than I didn't want it. I was clueless about what would help my recovery. In what I could or couldn't do. About what I needed. 

I panicked. I cried without knowing exactly what I was crying about.

I was jealous of the bond that my husband already had with our baby. I couldn't soothe her like he could since she loved bouncing and I could barely walk. He could jump up to her every cry. He could get up and change her outfit or diaper without even a wince of pain, unlike me.

I was terrified that our breastfeeding journey had been hurt by the pain medications I had to be on and the time that we had lost in the beginning.

I was terrified that Simeon would hate my scar and I refused to look at it. And I hated it myself.

Honestly, I hit a point where I wondered if I had postpartum depression, which scared me even more than everything else that was also happening. (Perhaps that's a post for another day).

And then I admitted how I felt about it to Simeon. That yes I was upset and didn't feel like I had actually given birth to our daughter. That I hated that he was able to do more with her and I was terrified that I couldn't do things with her because I'd drop her from being in pain. That I didn't get to hold her in that time.

Admitting your feelings is so much better than trying to hold them in and deal with them. It's always been something that I've struggled with. Even if Simeon and I have an argument, he has to pull what I'm actually upset about out of me. I usually try to say that I'm fine with everything even if I'm not.

But I always feel a million times better about things once I do.

I've recovered knowing that I grow stronger every day after my surgery. That I've actually had a faster recovery than most. I hold my baby and am comfortable in knowing that I can soothe her just fine on my own now. Simeon calls my c-section scar one of my battle scars from pregnancy along with my few stretch marks which makes us both laugh. And I've checked it out finally and am pleased that it isn't as dark as I was terrified it would be. 

I know that all my fears in the first few weeks have been solved and have been just fine. I wish I had spent more time enjoying my baby than being terrified of what was happening. But all I can  do now is sit here cuddled with her in my wrap loving her like crazy now and know that what happened doesn't make me any less her mother. She's a healthy little girl whose alive and in this world because of me. And in the end, that is really all that matters.