Milky Mama of the Month: Christelle Alexis
“The journey continues and I love it.”
Welcome to the Milky Mama of the Month issue! This month we are going to honor Christelle Alexis. Keep reading to hear more about Christelle’s unique breastfeeding journey, her determination to persevere through tough times, and her advice to breastfeeding mothers everywhere.
Christelle has breastfed two children. She is currently breastfeeding “16 months strong” with her son! Way to go, Christelle! Although, her journey hasn’t always been so strong and easy. She said with her first born, it took her about two months to feel like she was getting the hang of breastfeeding, although it was “much easier the second time around” she states.
Christelle experienced raw nipples the first few weeks while nursing both of her children. She had a hard time healing and working on their latch. She explained, “I almost gave up the first time. I would wince in pain every time she would latch. At that time, I could not agree with the statement: "Breastfeeding isn't supposed to be painful". It was very painful! My nipples were raw and red!”. However, she continued breastfeeding. She used lots of coconut oil and an all-natural nipple butter to help herself heal. If you are also experiencing sore nipples, read our last blog, and make sure you are reaching out to a lactation specialist to ensure you have a proper latch to help alleviate sore nipples.
Christelle’s Tough Start & Perseverance!
“Everyday, I was determined that she would receive more breast milk than formula. Some days were better than others. It was an exhausting journey. We made it 12 months!”
Christelle shared her birthing story and her difficulties getting her daughter’s weight up. Before her baby was born, Christelle had decided she was going to breastfeed. She and her daughter were in and out of the NICU. During her struggles, she had doubts, but still she decided she wanted to provide breastmilk and spend nursing sessions with her daughter. Keep reading to hear Christelle's share her story!
“I had to supplement for my first born. My daughter was born at 37 weeks and 5 days. I had to be induced because they realized she wasn't gaining much weight in utero. She was born weighing 5lbs 3oz. I immediately breastfed once she was born. I received support from the lactation consultant at the hospital as well as a good friend. Two days later, my daughter's weight dropped to 4lbs 7oz and she had jaundice. My daughter's pediatrician put me on a strict breastfeeding schedule with her for the next 48 hrs. I had to breastfeed every 1.5 to 2hrs and keep a journal of the times and her wet/diary diapers. Two days later, she gained 3 oz but the level of bilirubin was still too high. The pediatrician sent us to urgent care the next morning for another bilirubin check. Her levels were finally normal, but her body weight temperate was too low. A visit to urgent care led us to the emergency room followed by a 36 hour stay in the NICU. The doctors wanted to see how much milk I was producing so they requested I pump and feed her the milk in a bottle.
By this time, I was only exclusively nursing. I was excited to pump! However, my excitement immediately turned into sadness when I was only able to pump about 2-2.5 oz of milk after 45 minutes. Meanwhile another mom that had a baby in NICU was pumping 10-14 oz of milk during each pumping session. I felt so inadequate at that moment. They told me if I am not able to pump enough for each feeding, I would have to supplement with donor milk or formula. I had so many mixed emotions! All I wanted to do was provide my child with breastmilk after all the extensive research I did during pregnancy about the benefits of breast milk. I reluctantly chose to supplement with formula.
Once we were discharged, they told me I could continue to nurse and pump, but I should also give her formula until her weight is regulated. I was determined to increase my milk supply so I would eventually not have to supplement with formula. I continued my research by reading articles, talking to other breastfeeding moms, and following all the great breastfeeding instagram pages to figure ways to increase my supply. I drank water, ate oatmeal, and tried all different types of lactation teas and cookies. Did it help? It did, but never enough for me to exclusively use breastmilk. Everyday, I was determined that she would receive more breast milk than formula. Some days were better than others. It was an exhausting journey. We made it 12 months!”
Christelle, way to go!! We are so impressed with your determination and perseverance! Motherhood is a rollercoaster of emotions. 12 months is an amazing accomplishment!
Christelle and Pumping at Work
Christelle is an elementary Kindergarten teacher in a public school in NY. She went back to work after 6 weeks after having her first born. With her teaching schedule, he only had one month left of the school year once she returned from maternity leave. While her job had no issues with her pumping, since she was pumping during her breaks for lunch or teacher planning time, she did feel “a bit of pressure and stress while pumping at work.”
Unfortunately for American working mothers, the quick return to work and stressful pumping sessions while at work is something we’ve heard often. Christelle goes on to explain, “I never felt I had enough time to pump in a relaxing environment. My lunch and teacher prep time were really times for me to prepare for my lessons for that day or the next day. I would pump in my classroom and was always nervous someone would walk in even though I made sure my doors were locked and windows covered! By the time, I situated myself to pump with work I can do while pumping, I only had maybe 20 minutes to pump.” Christelle decided to pump during her commute to and from work in order to keep up with her milk supply.
Her experience with her second child was a bit different. Christelle’s second child was born in September of 2020. She took 10 weeks for maternity leave and went back to work. Shortly after returning to work, because of COVID 19 and the lockdown, she was able to stay at home to teach remotely. She said, “It made pumping and nursing a way better experience!”
What we love about featuring a variety of milky mama’s each month, is getting to share-in-the-moment breastfeeding advice and encouragement. We can all learn and grow from reading and listening to each other’s experiences. Through the ups and downs, the toughest confessions and the most joyful moments, we can remember that we are not alone. Milky Mamas everywhere are here to support you and remind you, you’ve got this mama! Keep reading as Christelle shares what she’s learned and her advice for you all!
“1. You are AMAZING! You carried and birthed a baby!
2. Be patient with yourself and your baby! This is new for both of you!
3. Don't compare your breastfeeding journey with another mom!
4. If you are determined to breastfeed, reach out for support! Lactation consultants are available to support you. Feel free to search for a LC that works best for you and your child.
Breastfeeding the second time around was so different! My mature milk "came in" two days after giving birth to my son! Much quicker than the first time around. My breasts were rock hard and they hurt so much! I literally spent the second night home figuring out how to reduce the swelling. I googled different techniques, but nothing worked. I tried massaging, but it was so painful. Finally, I decided to try pumping. I couldn't tolerate the pumping at first either. Eventually, I used my haaka and that really helped with some of the swelling and extracted some milk. Then, I was able to pump. From then on, I didn't have any issues with breastfeeding. I was so happy to see that I was producing more milk the second time around. I was finally going to have a freezer stash! I ended up buying a deep freezer to accommodate my milk. After going back to work remotely, I was able to continue to nurse and pump regularly. I have been breastfeeding my son for 16 months. I am not sure when our journey together will end. My daughter self-weaned at 12 months. My son doesn't seem like he is ready to wean yet. My goal is 18 months so we will see. Until then, the journey continues and I love it.”