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Episode 74: Mom Journey: Breastfeeding After Losing a Baby

July 13, 2022

38y83aartawfjkimuql3 Podcast Covers Kajabi

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Jacqueline Kincer  0:03

Welcome back to The Breastfeeding Talk Podcast. I’m your host, Jacqueline Kincer. And today I am interviewing someone really awesome. And I’m really excited to introduce you to her. Her name is Jennifer Shafer. And she’s actually our podcast manager. So she gets to listen to all the episodes, and she does the editing. And you’ve seen her work if you’re listening to the show, show notes, transcripts, all of that fun stuff. And she’s a mom of two boys and she has been on her breastfeeding journey for almost six years now. So she’s nurse through pregnancy then done tandem nursing onto another pregnancy while weaning her oldest. And then, unfortunately, nursing after a loss.


She has donated 5000 ounces to local moms as well. And she’s a doula and a birth worker. But primarily right now she is focusing on podcast management. So she’s been through everything and figuring it out the first time with no help. She’s had clogged ducts, lip ties, but an over producer, you name it, she’s pumped, she hasn’t pumped, she’s pumped us to donate. I’m excited for Jennifer to tell us all about her entire journey and really share some inspiring stories and her experience with you. Because I think it’s so important to share these stories. I find people like Jennifer, so inspiring. And I’m so glad to have Jennifer as the editor and manager of this podcast because she understands the content that we’re talking about on the show, and it’s meaningful to her in her life. So welcome, Jennifer.


Jennifer Shafer  2:09

Hi, I’m so excited to be here with you guys. I’m so excited to share my story and my journey. And hopefully, it can relate to someone else. And I feel it’s really relatable. I’m editing this podcast every week. And I’m just sitting here listening to all these other moms stories. And I’m just thinking every time like, I need to be on this podcast, I need to share my story. I’ve been through so much that I think someone needs to hear it. So I’m super excited to be here.


Jacqueline Kincer  2:34

Yeah, yeah, no, I love that you are open to sharing it because you’ve gone through some things that other moms have, but then some very unique things as well. And so I’m excited for you to talk about that. And I don’t know, if you want to just maybe kind of start chronologically from the beginning of how this all started for you and becoming a mom and all of that. I think that would be just a great place for listeners to get to know you.


Jennifer Shafer  2:59

Yeah, I already feel like I’m going to do a lot of talking here. Yes. My journey started in 2017 when I had my first so he’s about to be six in January, actually, I guess rewind a little bit. It started in 2015. With our first miscarriage. It was right around our wedding when my husband and I got married. And we didn’t know we were pregnant. I was very early on after that miscarriage kind of dove me into the birth realm. And I was like, hey, I need to find out what happened here. Why did I miscarry? How did I not know I was pregnant in the first place. And so I kind of dove into my Doula work. And I started my Doula trainings a couple years later, but my miscarriage kind of opened my eyes to the birth realm.


So then fast forward after that, so 2017 when we had our son, I knew that I wanted to have him naturally. I put air quotes on naturally because I didn’t know at the time, the wording to use I guess, knowing now it’s physiologically, but I knew I wanted to have him naturally. So we were in the hospital, and I went 27 hours in labor. Wow. 19 of them. Yeah, 19 of them are unmedicated. And we tried everything I tried in the birth job. And then at 19 hours, they basically said, you can go another 24 hours, but you might risk your baby or you can have a C section. Those are his exact words. As a first-time mom, I thought well get the baby out. I’m exhausted here. So we went forth with the C section at noon the next day, so it had been 27 hours. That’s when my breastfeeding journey began, I guess. So at a C section. So here I was wanting a natural. Now I know physiological birth. And now I’m in the hospital with a C-section.


So I’m like, as a first-time mom, I’m just like, whoa, I’m stunned right now. I don’t even know where to begin. And so after about an hour, you know, hit They get him cleaned up, they get me cleaned up and then back to our rooms it had been about his first hour is when I first got to hold him and cuddle him. And then I knew that I wanted to breastfeed, I always knew that I was going to breastfeed my kids, I just, it just always was, and always is, and that’s just how it was. So I waited for the lactation consultants to come in. And I’ve heard this so much on the podcast, I hear this almost every episode that there’s a mom dirty that I waited for the lactation consultants to come in, and they never pay. Oh, baby, okay, you know, or it had been 12 hours until they came. I hear this all the time.


So at the time, I’m trying to latch and I didn’t even know what hold to do, I was just kind of letting him do his thing on my chest and hoping he would get a good latch. And like, I was just blind man, I had blinders on. And so I waited for the lady to come, hours and hours went by, and she finally came. I don’t know how long it was. But I just remember her not explaining anything to me. But doing it for me, like, putting him on the boob for me, and never explained. So when she left, I remember it was the middle of the night, like the second night. And I just remember thinking I don’t know what to do, because she did it for me. So I don’t know what to do. So,


Jacqueline Kincer  6:16

So common. That is just that’s yeah, I happen to me to like, I don’t understand this. And I don’t want people to think that all lactation consultants are like this or not. But I’m so sorry, of course, you don’t know what to do. You’ve never done this before.


Jennifer Shafer  6:30

Yeah. And so I finally worked, I finally got him, I finally calmed down, my mom finally arrived. And, you know, kind of got me my stress level down and said he feels your stress. So just calm down. So, so we did get him to latch in the hospital a few times. They told me that they were going to do like a check to make sure that we were good to go latch-wise, but they never did. Never did that just released us. So we went home. And that first night that we were at home, he was I think three days old. And I remember sitting in the middle of my bed, just rocking him back and forth. He was crying and I was crying. I hurt so bad. And I just remember looking at this little baby thinking, I don’t know what we’re doing either. But we’re gonna figure it out together. Oh, and I remember my dad pushing formula. Like, why don’t you just give him a bottle. And I remember saying because I don’t even have formula in the house. I didn’t plan for formula. It’s not an option for me. You know, we’re gonna breastfeed, we’re gonna do this. It’s gonna be fine.


He had a touch of jaundice as well. So we were kind of worried about getting him some more fluids. So we spent a couple of days like that. I was in a lot of pain. I was very gorged, I didn’t have a pump yet, because insurance hadn’t given it to me yet. So I was using a manual pump at the time I was asking my husband, can you pump me? My arms were so tired from manually pumping just trying to not be in gorged. Or shape. But did he do it for you? He did. Yeah. Like a trooper. Yeah. So I’m super in gorged and I’m in pain. And, you know, now I’m starting to crack and bleed. I’m getting clogged ducts now. And this, like the latch just is not working.


I reached out to a lactation consultant through the Health Department, I believe, but I never got any help. I just got text help, like an absolute no-no, like, text me a picture and I’ll tell you if it’s a lip tie. And she did. And she was like, Yeah, that’s a lip tie. And that’s exactly why you’re hurting. That’s exactly why he’s not nursing well, and that’s why he doesn’t have a good latch. You need to get that clipped right away. So as a first-time mom, I’m like, Red Alert. Oh my gosh, okay, this is going to solve my problem. So let’s get this clipped.


So we get it. We get him in to an end and they get him in right away. And he did it the old school style where he just sliced and then I put him straight on a boob. And we left like a vampire for the whole afternoon. Oh, no. The whole the procedure actually went okay. But looking back on it, it was an unnecessary tie. And it did not need to be clipped. So it just stinks.


Jacqueline Kincer  9:55

So basically, someone said you had a lactation person tell you from a photo. Yes, it’s a lip tie. They never assess breastfeeding. And then you went and went to this ENT, they cut it. And in the end, that was not what your baby needed.


Jennifer Shafer 10:25

It’s not at all. It did relieve some of the pain that I had. I regret not knowing. Like I knew at that point that I was interested in birth work after that first miscarriage but then I didn’t really dive deep into it. But we made it through that and then the next part of my journey, I did dive into my birth work. So after all of that, I got pregnant again in so he was born in 2017. My next one was born in 2019.


Jacqueline Kincer  9:55

How long did you nurse your son for?


Jennifer Shafer  9:58

So I found out how I was pregnant with my little one was probably a year and a half, just just about a year and a half. And He nursed all the way through. He nursed all the way through that pregnancy, after his tie got clipped after we worked through, I still kind of had clogged ducts here and there, but I knew how to work through them. I was just kind of following my intuition and following my body, you know, massaging in the shower and stuff like that really helped. So I dove into my birth work. And I find out I’m pregnant. I’m nursing all the way through this pregnancy.


My milk dried up about 23 weeks, but he dried nursed through so he kept going, never missed a beat. And this is when I started my Doula training. So this is when you know I’m pregnant. And I’ve got an almost two-year-old and I went to my first doula training and I knew that I didn’t want my second labor to be like my first I knew that I wanted nothing like that. In my Doula training, I found the language to be able to communicate to my partner to my doctors to my midwife, what I wanted was a physiological birth. So my second story is probably going to shock you. It’s complete opposite from the first.


Jacqueline Kincer  11:06

So you knew you wanted a VBAC right away.


Jennifer Shafer  11:09

I knew that I wanted a VBAC waterbirth. okay, because I couldn’t get the water birth the first time, but in the hospital, they wouldn’t allow me a waterbirth because I failed the first time. Ah, yo, here I am at my Doula training. And I’m like, I can do this myself. So I’m going home to my husband, who’s in the hotel with our almost-two-year-old at the time, and I’m saying, Hey, we’re gonna do this birth by ourselves, we’re gonna do this one at home. And he’s like, wide-eyed, like, What do you mean, we’re doing this one by ourselves? And I’m like, Well, I have all the knowledge and tools now. And I know what happened the first time.


So looking back on my first birth. Now I have the knowledge and language and understanding to understand why it was a C section, you know, failure to progress. I was scared. I was in the hospital. I didn’t know at one point and my first labor, I looked from side to side, and there was just people everywhere. And they had brought everybody that was in the labor and delivery unit to my room to watch me in the birth chart. so I had a wall of people.


This was not in my birth plan. So it’s no wonder I wasn’t progressing past seven, seven centimeters. Because I had an audience I was scared. And I didn’t know that the first time. So all of my training while I’m pregnant with my second interest really opened my eyes like, wow, I’m noticing everything that went wrong in the first time. I want to do it right the second time. So we ended up getting a water tub. I ended up getting two doulas from my Doula training to come they were about four hours away.


So they ended up coming down. I had a midwife, but she didn’t do home births. So she was kind of just on backup, I guess. We knew we were going to be at home, in our living room in the tub, but to do list. So that’s exactly how it came. That’s exactly what happened. And it was a beautiful four hour labor with just two doulas my husband and our two year old. And I remember, he was about to come out. And my husband and two year old almost three year old was sitting at the end of the tub and my my son just starts crying.


Tears just start coming down his eyes. And then the head starts coming out and his ears start coming out. And I tell him, that’s your baby brother. That’s your brother. He’s coming. And he’s just got tears coming down his eyes. He comes out beautifully. We we get cleaned up and everything goes well. And then you know, I’m all let’s get that first latch. So I lay back on the couch and we’re all bundled up and I let him do more of like the breast crawl this time. And so I just kind of lay him on and the cord was still pretty short. So he didn’t have a lot of room. He did crawl up and He nursed and he latched on beautifully.


And you know, I told someone in the background so let’s snap a picture of his first latch. And it was so beautiful. And it was just everything flowed so perfectly and everything was just amazing. And still to this day that child is still like my miracle child. He is just amazes me every day. You know, he we were complete opposite with him. So instead of running off to the pediatrician and saying, Hey, is my baby, okay? I just, I just watched him as his mother. I just he he had a touch of jaundice. He was nursing great.


My two-year-old was still nursing at the time. So we started tandem nursing. He started sharing tandem nursing. I knew that I always wanted to do it. And I’m so glad that I did. Because having both of your children right there and then seeing them holding hands and seeing the bond that they have is just unexplainable. It’s it’s one of my favorite things and my breastfeeding journey ever. It’s just the TN of nursing and watching their brotherly bond. You know


Jacqueline Kincer  15:00

Wow, that’s really beautiful. And it sounds like, you know, your oldest was two at the time and quite excited to meet the baby brother and all of that, do you think because of tandem nursing that helps to avoid some jealousy of, you know, the baby getting more, quote unquote, attention, because obviously you’re having to meet more physiological needs of the baby than the two year old. So I’m curious how you think that might have played a role beyond just their relationship to and your relationship with each of them?


Jennifer Shafer  15:32

Yeah, I definitely think that it strengthens their bond. A lot of times now, if the little one is kind of fussy. The big one will say, to just want your dummies Do you need me or need Mommy, I can get mommy for you. Like, he still knows that he’s in need of, of his little brothers. And I think that like even watching them fall asleep at night, they were to like, rub each other’s shoulders or rub each other’s face before bed like, siblings don’t really get that bond, they don’t really get, you know, that bond with their mother a lot. And so it’s a special bond. I feel like through tandem nursing that you’re nourishing, to have these little humans, you’re bonding with each of them. They’re bonding together, I see that in their relationship. Now. As three and five-year-olds, I see that in their playing. I see. I see them reaching out to each other and just kind of mentally saying, Hey, you okay, you’re good. Like I see that connection, the same connection that I saw with them holding hands through a nursing session, you know, that is so special. Yeah, I agree. So anyone that has the chance to TNM nurse, I highly, highly recommend it, it’s definitely a rewarding process. For sure.


Jacqueline Kincer  16:41

That’s amazing. I love that I do think it can be so valuable, like you said, and, you know, there’s other benefits to like, you know, your your nursing throughout your pregnancy. So, generally, your milk comes in a bit sooner, although it would typically because it’s another pregnancy and birth. But you know, if your oldest is nursing, you know, immediately postpartum, it brings your milk in faster, all of those amazing things. And a lot of people worry, you know, is there going to be enough milk left for the baby. But if you’re starting off with both nursing, you’re you’re setting that stage of telling your body to make enough milk for two kids, and your body will do it. I try to remind people all the time, you know, people have twins, and they can also rescue those twins. It’s pretty cool. I’ve had clients with triplets as well. And so, you know, our bodies are capable of some amazing things.


Jennifer Shafer  17:33

Oh, I totally agree. And that actually reminds me I forgot to talk about over producing with my first because back to the clogged ducts. And right after the lip tie, I started pumping as soon as I was able to get my hands on an electric pump. And I started pumping so much that I just had so much milk, and I was with my baby 24/7. So I had no need for bottles. We tried them here and there just because dad wanted to get some interaction with baby. But it just got to the point where I was like, in the middle of the night, it’s like, I’ll just get up, let me let me just put him on a boob it. It’s much easier. So I started my donating, we donated breast milk through the first breastfeeding journey. But then the second one came along. And as you were saying, putting them both on tells my body to create more supply.


So I had enough so I was over the pump. I was done pumping with my second and I was like, you know this labor was just the most miraculous thing it could have ever been. And it’s so amazing. I’m just not going to pump. I’m just going to feed on demand with this one. I’m going to make it easy on myself now. You know? Yeah, so I didn’t pump at all. Well, I shouldn’t say identity pump at all. I pumped a little bit with my second only because I had moms reaching back out to me because they knew that I was a donator. And so they were reaching back out saying hey, my baby needs milk. So I remember sitting there one night and I was I dug my pump out of the closet, I dug all the parts out and I sat there on the floor, and I pumped a fresh bottle and I literally ran it out to the car because the baby had no milk. So I literally ran a fresh bottle out to her because a mom reached out and she didn’t have any milk. So I’ve done I’ve done drops of you know a couple 100 ounces of milk. We really donated through the first one we donated about 2000 ounces with the first one and then the second one probably closer to just 500 ounces just kind of on demand when when they’ll go moms needed it. Wow. And


Jacqueline Kincer  19:23

how did you how did you start that? Like you had this extra milk? Did you post online somewhere like hey, I have all of this milk or how did that donation process happen?


Jennifer Shafer  19:35

Yeah, so I donated on human milk for human babies. And I found all of my mom’s there. The first one through the first journey. She lived about 30 minutes away so we met kind of in the middle and I would just take her like 500 ounces every time I got like every time I freezer filled up. I would just take like a bunch and then the second time around like I said it was just moms on demand release so it was just through like Facebook and through like local mom have two new me. And just like and local mob groups and stuff. So that was more like for like just on demand.


Jacqueline Kincer  20:06

Right? That’s amazing. Yeah. And I wonder too, maybe because you gotten into the birth work world, people kind of knew of you or something, too. I’ve seen that in my community where doulas will have babies. And they always end up donating milk because they’ve got clients or other colleagues, clients with babies that need it. So I love that it takes a big heart to do that. Yeah.


Jennifer Shafer  20:28

So fast forwarding on our journey. We’ve got both of the boys nursing and nursing wonderfully. They’re tandem nursing on demand, I’m not really pumping. So then comes spring of 2021. I go away on my first trip ever, away from my kids. And I go 16 hours away. And I’m supposed to go for 10 days. Oh, wow. I went for one. Because I ended up getting there. And I got sick. I just I had like this gut feeling like I need to be home with my kids. So they were both doing okay, without breastfeeding. They were both to that point now, where they were old enough. They understood I was going to be away. They understood I was coming back. So I lasted one day I came home found out I was pregnant.


That’s why I was sick. Oh, wow. So I start talking to my boys about being pregnant, you know, a couple of weeks. And we found out in the spring. And not far after the spring. I was trying to remember this morning. Exactly what it was it was between spring and summer right after we found out we were pregnant. That’s when my oldest decided, hey, I’m done. So he decided to wean himself. He was four and a half at the time. And I remember him saying, I’m going to save these milk use for the baby. I don’t need to get them because I’m a big boy, Mom. Let’s just save these for the baby. So he saved them for his little brother and the baby. So he weaned himself.


I did get a photo of the last time he nursed. I was taking pictures like every single day like this could be the last time so I have to get a picture of it. So I did. And yeah, he’s good with it. I was good with it. He was good with it. He he knew it was time, shortly after I did dry up again. And then my little one at the time was still nursing. So he also dried, nursed all the way through again, that one was a lot more painful to nurse him through the pregnancy. I remember at the end of the pregnancy, it was just like, razors, it hurts. So that’s a nurse that went all the way through. And that’s that’s where the journey takes a turn, I guess we should say.


Jacqueline Kincer  22:50

Yeah. And your youngest at that point is two?


Jennifer Shafer  22:54

So the young oldest is four and a half. When we find out we’re pregnant. That’s when he wanes. And the youngest is two and a half. Okay.


Jacqueline Kincer  23:03

Yeah. Do you think it was just painful? Because he’s dry nursing or hormones or a combination?


Jennifer Shafer  23:09

I think the combination? I don’t remember being that sore. The first time around nursing during pregnancy, I think just a combination, you know? Yeah. So that one’s nursing. And then that takes me into the third labor, which I don’t want the labor to get lost in the story, because this is the most beautiful labor I could have ever imagined. I remember in fall of 2021, being about 25 weeks pregnant. I got COVID. And I remember feeling a shift. My the whole family got COVID the kids got it. Everyone got it. We lasted through it. But after that I remember feeling a shift. And I really retreated inward for that pregnancy. And I remember telling my husband, I just want to be in a corner and I want nobody to be around me. I don’t want anybody to be here. I don’t want to talk to anybody. Just let me be for my pregnancy. I’m telling you for the last whole trimester, I just, I felt a shift. And so like we were talking about before the podcast made the birthdays of the kids. So the oldest was born January 5 2017. The middle was born January 2 of 2019. And then the third one was born. January 6 of 2022. Wow. Yes, I had to read all those down. Yes. So we just celebrate my youngest birthday. He just turns three. And I’m about to pop any day now. We celebrate the oldest birthday on the fifth. And all I remember is him saying Mom, you can’t have the baby. Oh, my birthday. I don’t want to share my birthday. So


Jennifer Shafer  24:54

of course not. That’s so funny. So we go to bed, the night of his birth We celebrate his birthday, we went bowling, and we go to bed. And my water breaks at 1155 on his birthday. Wow. So she really held out. The third one was the girl. So my water breaks. And so when I went into labor, I knew I knew she was going to come overnight. I knew it was going to be just me and my husband at her birth. my Doula was actually here for about a week before. And I kicked her out. I said, I need everybody to go. At this time, I didn’t know the outcome of this labor.


This is so hard to talk about. Yeah, so. So I go on the bathroom, I closed the door, you know, I’m trying to be quiet, my husband turned some meditation music on I get in the tub, we had a birth tub, ready to go again. And I knew that I wasn’t going to use it. It was stored away in the room that the kids were sleeping, and I knew that it just wasn’t going to work out like that. So I’m in the bathtub. And then I knew it was really quick. It was really quick. I worked through contractions, you know, I did all the labor stuff. And we moved into the living room. And she started coming out, and my husband saw foot. And I thought that’s not supposed to happen. But somehow deep down instinctually, I knew that this labor was going to be different. I knew that this pregnancy was different. I knew something was different. And so instinctually I knew, I knew from all of my research and my birth work at this point, and my birth work. I’m deep in it.


I’m deep in my birth work right now, I’m wanting to support other moms, I’ve went and helped friends with their latching, I’ve went and supported other moms at their births. So at this point in my life, I’m really in the birth realm. So I knew with my training, I had to get her out as quick as I could. And, and I couldn’t. I she just wasn’t coming out. And I remember shifting, trying to let gravity. And then she finally came out. But she wasn’t breathing. So all of this while the kids are sleeping in the next room over. So we, you know, obviously we call an ambulance, we go we do the whole thing. I go, I go to the ER, she comes with me. My husband stays home with the kids. And I remember coming home from the hospital, I get released right away, she has to get flown over to the city. We live in a little rural community.


So she gets flown over and I come home and my parents were on their way. So I come home and you know, my little one still nursing. So I come home, it’s early in the morning, and I’m nursing him. And it was at that point that they realized, Hey, Mom, your belly is not that big anymore. And they didn’t. They didn’t know at this point, we still didn’t really know what what was going on. So my parents get here. And we go to the hospital with with ember. And she passed away at 36 hours.


And we it’s another one of those things that I didn’t know at the time. But I know now. So I know now that when I got COVID in August, when I was 25 weeks pregnant, I know that I got plus and Titus, I believe I’m not sure how to pronounce it. It’s the actual only virus that can affect the placenta. And so I know now that that’s what happened. And I remember in the hospital in the NICU with her. It, it didn’t even occur to me I was in such shock that I just gave birth and then lost my child. I remember asking the nurses do I need a pump? Should I be pumping right now? I’m just nursing my three year old should I be pumping for her? And they were like, well, you you can you’ll have milk come in, you know.


So I started pumping like a madwoman. I started and I knew it was going to possibly cause an oversupply. But I was hoping that because I was still nursing my three year old that my body would kind of regulate itself. I don’t know, I don’t know what mindset I was in at the time. I just remember thinking I have to pump because I have to still feel some sense of normalcy here. So I can’t even begin to explain being a postpartum mom without your baby. I can’t even begin to explain the hurt behind it. And that coming from the breastfeeding background that I come from, like, Oh, I’m just gonna breastfeed. It’s just what I do. I nurse both of my babies all the way through. And now I don’t have a baby to nurse and I’m supposed to be breastfeeding. And I don’t have this baby to nurse. So that’s when I went on to donate 5000 ounces. And it turned out one of the babies I started donating to lost his mother during labor.


I’m thankful that I donated I’m thankful that I pumped I’m not pumping anymore. So right now I ‘m six months postpartum, and I’m not pumping anymore. And I’m very thankful to not be attached to a pump. I’m so thankful, I still am nursing my, he’s three and a half now. So he’s about to be four in January. He’s still nursing. He’s, I guess, regulated, my supply is regulated enough that I started to notice a decrease in my cycle return this time around. And so that’s when I kind of made the decision to stop pumping. I wasn’t quite pumping enough that it was, you know, maybe like 100 ounces every two weeks, you know, it just really wasn’t enough to have to keep my schedule so strict and schedule so tied down to remember to vote. And I didn’t, I didn’t like if if I missed a pumping, I’d be in gorged. So I’ve come this far, it’s been six years almost, I’m ready to be not attached to it. So that’s where we’re at today.


Jacqueline Kincer  30:53

Wow. You know, It’s okay, if you don’t feel like talking about this, but, you know, being able to nurse your three-year-olds throughout this time of loss. Was that a comfort to you that even though you couldn’t nurse your newborn and have her, you know, in that postpartum experience? Is there something about being able to nurse, another child that was helpful for you?


Jennifer Shafer  31:18

Yeah, I think it was very comforting. Looking back now that any time he wanted to nurse, I was right there, like, Yep, let’s do it. In fact, I think that was asking him. Do you want to join some nummies? Yeah, trying to coax him in just to have that little bond, you know, yeah. Especially when you have a loss like we did you. I love my kids to beyond, I love my voice. But it makes you realize how much you love them. And it really, this one really made me realize that they grow up so fast. I know, we hear it all the time. It’s so cliche, they can’t fast enjoy it while they’re young. So I know that my youngest is about to be done nursing, I can feel it, he has sessions are getting few and far between, you know, he’s falling asleep at night, not on the milk ease. So where he usually does fall asleep on the milk II.


So I know he’s weaning. So I’m, I’m kind of in that transition right now, where I’m mentally preparing for even the next three to six months, I could be not nursing at all, I could be not producing at all. And so I’m in this transition right now of trying to be okay with that. And it’s really hard coming from the loss that so quickly, just six months postpartum, that that’s so postpartum. That’s just, that’s, that’s very new postpartum. And then to already have to be processing the end of my six year breastfeeding journey that I thought was going to last a lot longer. It’s I’m in this just mind game right now of how do you feel? Because part of me wants to get my body back. You know, I’m back at the gym. I’m a very active person. So, but it’s like, I’m ready to get my body back. But am I like, am I going to be okay, without that connection? You know what I mean? So, that’s kind of where I’m at right now. The little in between?


Jacqueline Kincer  33:10

Wow, yeah, that makes sense. Because I feel like there’s just like you said, this connection and you’ve got all of these hormones. And you know, you are still newly postpartum. I know in the United States, that’s typically not culturally seen that way. But you and I know from birth work is absolutely is still really new postpartum. And there’s just so much there. And that connection that you’ve built over these years means so much to you. So yeah, I think it’s important for parents to know like, when you go through weaning, even if it’s, you know, completely trial blood, and you let them just nurse until they’re done. There’s still this bittersweet aspect of it. It’s not like most moms out there, like, Finally, they’re done. Like, no, like you said, you’re snapping those photos of the older one, any day could be the last day now and you want to capture that memory. And you know, when you’ve nurse for this long, I think you truly have created so many special memories with your children over these years. Make some Yes,


Jennifer Shafer  34:14

yeah, I was just taking pictures, while one was nursing. And then the older one was next to me with his iPad and showed me his games and I just snapped photos two days ago of their little feet and try and they were playing footsie together while once nursing and once flying. And so I caught a little picture of it and then their hands were up against next to each other even though one’s done nursing. He’s still right there on the other side, you know, interacting. So I was taking little pictures of that just trying to like remember these memories before? I’m not breastfeeding anymore.


Jacqueline Kincer  34:46

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Gosh, so now you’re not pumping anymore at all right? Because you’re just like this is so many


Jennifer Shafer  34:55

done with them. I have put her up in the closet. I still have her on backup just same case, the mom calls, but my little one has been saying, like, he’ll switch in between a nursing session and say I need the other one because there’s no milk in this one anymore. So and I’m like, it’s that quick. Ah, so I think I’m starting my body’s starting to also notice that he’s not needing as much. Where are you? Oh, I know, he’s close. I’m just thankful that I, it’s not abrupt. I’m thankful that I have this time to process especially being nearly postpartum I’m able to process everything and you know, I have milk from the first one, I have milk from the second one and I kept some of embers milk to I did pomp, a little bit of colostrum for her. And I kept that bag and I put her name on it and my husband got me a little locket that I can make a little like breast milk keepsake. So I’m going to put all three of those together and then I’m going to make a little breast milk keepsake for me so I can have that as a remembrance of my journey.


Jacqueline Kincer  35:53

That’s amazing. I love that breast milk keepsakes are really cool. There’s there’s kind of a lot of different options these days. But yeah, it’s you know, there’s so many people will do you know, placenta prints or thing, right, you know, you’d kind of do some keepsakes for the birth. But you can do breastfeeding keepsakes, too. And I think that’s such a special way for you to remember all of your journeys. I love that you’ve kept milk from all of your babies.


Jennifer Shafer  36:16

Yeah, I know. Obviously, it’s not good anymore. It’s almost six years old, but I have it and it’s gonna go into a little locket, I was just just waiting for the right time when I knew it was time to emerge them all, you know? Yeah. So yeah, that’s my story. And that’s my journey. And I hope it can be relatable to somebody. And if anybody ever needs to chat, I’m not really doing birth work anymore. But I’m always always, always an open ear to anyone who’s had a loss or anyone who just needs an ear, or just needs to say, how do you get through this? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Yes, there’s a light. It’s hard. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I mean, I can’t I can’t even imagine being postpartum. And not nursing at all, like you said, Did Did my middle one, nursing after the loss helped me? Yes, absolutely. And if I didn’t have that, if I wasn’t breastfeeding at all, after my loss, I think it would have been quite a bit harder to process, you know, it would have just been a relationship with the pump at that point, you know, and that I can’t even imagine. So I’m always an open ear, if anybody needs to just have a virtual hug.


Jacqueline Kincer  37:24

I love that. Yes, thank you for volunteering in that because you will be a connection for somebody that needs you. And, you know, just everything you’ve you’ve gone through, you know, persevering through, you know, this last birth experience and all of that. What did you, what were the things that you found were most helpful to you beyond breastfeeding, to get through that and be in the place that you are now six months postpartum?


Jennifer Shafer  37:51

Absolutely, my husband, my husband, 100%, I don’t even know how I could have gotten through to the point where I am now. Without him, he’s always there for me to talk to, I think having an outlet to just get your feelings out immediately after the loss. It’s like, I went through all the stages, you know, I was really sad. And then I was really angry. And then I was sad again. And then I get mad again, and I go through all my stages of grieving, but just having that support, just having someone there to receive it. And just to see you and honor you and say, I’m here with you, you know, and I’m holding you. So that’s why I offer my virtual support to anybody who doesn’t have that and who might need it.


Jacqueline Kincer  38:30

Wow, that’s really beautiful. You’ve, I feel like you’ve come so far in a really short period of time with your grief. And for anyone who’s listening, like, don’t feel like you need to follow Jennifer’s timeline, it’s going to be different for everybody. Especially I think, too, if you lost a baby that, you know, you don’t have any other breastfeeding relationship going on, I could absolutely see how that could be harder. So thank you for offering your support. Jennifer, thank you for sharing your story. I think it’s powerful from beginning to end, quite honestly. And I love that you kept going through all of these different challenges like things could have gone a totally different direction for you at so many points with each of your children. And I just think it’s really inspiring that things have turned out the way they did. And I think that’s a testament to really just your your drive and your certainty, like you said at the very beginning, like before you had your first child, you just knew you are going to breastfeed. And I find that that is the common thread that I see for for moms that overcome the hardest of challenges is that they just knew they were going to breastfeed There was never a doubt or question in their mind. And that’s not to say that if you have doubts or questions that you won’t, it won’t work out. But I just hear people say it they had this conviction they just knew and you just know so that’s incredible. I love your stories. Thank you so much for sharing.

In today’s episode, Jacqueline has a very special guest to share her breastfeeding journey. Jennifer Shafer is actually our podcast manager but has such an amazing story that we had to pull her from behind the scenes.

Jennifer is a mom of two boys and she’s been on her breastfeeding journey for almost 6 years now. She’s gone from figuring out everything as a first-time mom with no help, to donating 5000 ounces after losing her 3rd child. She’s tandem nursed, nursed through pregnancies, dry nursed, and experienced clogged ducts.

If you are in need of breastmilk or would like to donate, you can search Human Milk 4 Human Babies (your area) on Facebook.

*This episode does reference the loss of a newborn so please be advised when listening.

In today’s show, we discuss:

  • Breastfeeding as a first-time mom after an unplanned c-section
  • Battling clogged ducts and lip ties
  • Tandem nursing after nursing through a pregnancy
  • Donating and pumping breastmilk
  • Weaning at 4 and a half
  • Losing a child and continuing to breastfeed after that loss


A Glance at This Episode:

  • [2:59] Jennifer seeks lactation help after her unplanned c-section but receives no in-person help
  • [9:58] Being pregnant, her son continues to nurse through pregnancy and even dry nursed when she dried up
  • [11:06] Jennifer’s 2nd birth, a waterbirth at home
  • [15:00] Now tandem nursing, Jennifer is really noticing the bond between her kids
  • [20:28] Jennifer finds out she’s pregnant again and her oldest decides to self wean
  • [30:53] How she found comfort in nursing her middle child after the loss of her newborn
  • [37:24] How Jennifer coped and is grieving after her loss and ending her breastfeeding journey


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