Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Brandi Nylen Reed, Hopkinton, New Hampshire, USA
My story of ballet, babies, and breastfeeding.
It was one of those beautifully easy first pregnancies and I felt healthier than I ever had before. I lived off salads and smoothies, and 7:00am prenatal yoga and massage. I dove right into what my husband and I had been trying for, for the past two years. We were blessed!
I had planned to take a seven-week maternity leave from teaching. I own a ballet school in Concord, New Hampshire, called Eastern Ballet Institute. I found a wonderful substitute to take my place in school, while I learned how to become a new mommy.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed for the incredible benefits and the bonding. Ahead of time, I made arrangements to ensure I had an assistant to fill in for me, for a half-hour or so here or there, while I either popped out to pump or nurse my little one.
My baby was timely. I went into labor on my due date. With my husband Allen and my doula by my side, I made it through a 12-hour natural labor and for the first time we saw our beautiful baby’s face. We named him Noah.
After birth, the nurses quickly took action when I started to hemorrhage. They warned me that my milk might not come in straightaway because of the excessive blood loss. The idea of that sent anxiety shooting through my bones. What would happen to breastfeeding now? This was not a good start!
Concord Hospital has a breast milk donor freezer, which is a blessing, because Noah was able to be supplemented with donated milk until we left the hospital. Before we left, the doctors noticed that he was tongue-tied—another obstacle in our way. After a revision, he was able to latch on and nurse right away. There was a chance now.
Four days later, my own milk became more plentiful, but because of two past fibroids that I had had removed, one in each breast, there was a lack of tissue, and my supply was really low. Every day I worried that I was starving my child and I can’t say that it has been easy—it has been incredibly challenging, when you might think something so natural would be a piece of cake!
With support from our family, lactation consultants, a postpartum doula, and initial supplementing, we were able to turn things around. Just recently, we nursed through a biopsy for a galactocele and Noah is still going strong at 15 months.
I cannot forget to thank people for the support that I have had, not only from my own family, but the ballet families at the school who have embraced Noah. They’ve helped cover me while I pump backstage at a show, and the assistants have stepped in to teach a section of class when I pop out to nurse Noah. I take him with me every day to the school. I’ve even nursed him in the sling while I teach a ballet class.
If you really want to breastfeed, it is possible! You can do it, but not without support. They say that “it takes a village” and that really is true!