My Breastfeeding Journey

As I’m sure many of you know, August is National Breastfeeding Month. I figured this was the perfect time for me, as my weeks of maternity leave dwindle down, to share my own journey with breastfeeding — both the ups and the downs. While fed is always best, being able to breast feed was something that was extremely important to me. Whether it was difficult or came with ease, I was excited and anxious to give it my best effort once Ella was born.

I’ll preface this post with first saying, I am no expert when it comes to breastfeeding. I had some prior experience working with breastfeeding mothers at WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) when I lived in Columbus, Ohio, but my words were supported by textbooks and educational videos that I had watched in school. I lacked the experience and understanding of one who has walked the journey them self. I squirm in my seat when I think of some of the comments that I likely made to these moms at that time. I was so blind at the fact that there is not one perfect way top breast feed. It is not a textbook subject and does not follow any written rules. I’ve learned this many times in the 2 short months that I have been doing it myself.

— I’ll finish this comment by saying if you need help and you are a breastfeeding mother, please consult a professional. Ask someone who is certified to give you sound advice and please shy away from any inexperienced individual who attempts to give you guidance. —

~~~~ Stress.

Before Ella was born and after I found out I was having a c-section I had an immense fear that I would not be able to breast feed. I don’t know where I got the idea in my brain that because I was not giving birth vaginally, Ella would not have the intuition to latch on after birth. I researched and googled “can I breast feed successfully after a c-section”  and read countless numbers of articles and personal stories to feed my anxious brain. I did exactly what I tell others, including my patients and their families, not to do.

When I look back at the anxiety I developed about breastfeeding prior to her birth, I know exactly why I had this experience. Being told I was having a c-section was something that was out of my control. Losing the ability to give birth in the way I originally intended made me fearful that the one thing I could contribute — breastfeeding — would be taken away from me too. How silly and selfish those thoughts were….

~~~~ The beginning.

The day finally arrived and Ella came into this world with a bigger appetite then I could have ever imagined. I remember getting tearful when she latched on so effortlessly in my recovery room. Even the nurse commented on how surprisingly easy that was for both me and her. Her first feeding was just shy of an hour and I was on cloud 9. The next 2 days were filled with late nights of nursing and minimal sleep, but I could have cared less. I was so elated that this experience was going well, nothing could take away my excitement……. then my milk came in.

I remember waking up, looking in the mirror, and being horrified at what I saw. Surely something was wrong. I thought to myself, why didn’t we stay in the hospital one more night? While I have never been small-chested, what I saw in the mirror was foreign and painful. I panicked and texted just about every breastfeeding mother I knew asking what was going on. Do I have an infection? Is this what mastitis is? Sure enough, nothing was wrong… this was just what “having your milk come in” felt like.

I quickly googled ways to help relieve my pain. One of the first things I figured out was not to pump…. “don’t pump?!” I was so confused. How in the world was I supposed to get through the next few days (I remember reading it could take up to a week to regulate and wanted to start crying) with these foreign objects that Ella could barely latch on to.

Engorgement is no joke.

I continuously was trying to squeeze and pinch as much of my skin as I could into her mouth to help her latch. I was not only in pain, but I was more uncomfortable than I had every been during pregnancy. I spent as much time as I could rotating between hot and cold compresses and expressing milk out in the shower. I was constantly trying to apply nipple cream in between feedings. I was so emotional and so frustrated that I eventually turned to the Haaka. If you are expecting, add this to your list of things to purchase; it was my savior! I suctioned it on for about 3 minutes 2 times per day to help relieve myself. This seemed to help just enough to get me through this time without causing more harm then good. Believe it or not in those 3 minutes I was getting upwards of 2-3oz per breast… again, in 3 minutes.

Fast forward a week later…. I was no longer in pain and felt happy to be back to our normal feeding routine without continuous discomfort.

~~~~ The emotional rollercoaster.

Breastfeeding a newborn with a big appetite is something I was not fully prepared for. While I was happy that nursing was coming along with ease, I could not believe how much time I actually spent nursing during the day. I was so anxious about anyone coming into our home aside from our families knowing that pretty much every hour Ella would need (or want) to eat. This hectic schedule in combination with me being fairly immobile from the surgery set me up on our couch for a good 2-3 weeks. I had minimal movement other than to use the bathroom or shower. It amazes me that this time was only 9 and half weeks ago.

With little ability to do things for myself and being pinned to the couch the majority of the day, I felt myself feeling frustrated at the little-to-no privacy I had for myself. Even when I would shower, it felt like 10 minutes would go by and I would hear Ella start to fuss or Jeff walking upstairs with her knowing that it was time to nurse again. I would have minutes before my milk would let down whether I was ready or not. That meant many wet nursing sessions with me barely able to dry off and put on clothes before this would happen. While I was happy to be there for my little girl and thankful that she was thriving, I was completely overwhelmed, emotional, and found myself many times crying in the shower. Jeff was wonderful and supportive. With time my emotions calmed down and we were able to move on to the next stage of this journey.


No one prepares you for the amount of attachment you feel to your baby.

Ella was, and is, one of the happiest and joyful things that has come into our life thus far. As minutes between feeds spread out to hours, I started to thoroughly enjoy nursing time, especially when it was just me and her. I felt that “bond” that everyone talks about with breastfeeding knowing that she could rely on me to provide for her at any time of the day. It’s unlike any emotion I have ever felt. Still to this day, I tear up when I think (or type) all of this out because the love for her and our time together is so joyfully overwhelming and special to me.

~~~~ Milk supply.

With everything going well, I decided to start exercising again after I was cleared by my doctor. Surprisingly, running came back with ease, and I was happy to get in 30 minutes whenever I could during the week. I was elated to be active again and start feeling more like myself, until I realized that my sudden rapid increase in exercise was doing something to my body that I did not want.

I started to notice a slight dip in my milk supply and immediately regretted what I was doing. I tried to drink more water, eat more, but still felt my milk supply was not where it was just a few short weeks ago. I turned to my lactation cookies, which I felt helped, but having to many at once seemed to cause Ella to develop gas which made her fussy and irritable. I felt stuck and my only option was to slow down and try a few other means of exercise that were a little easier on my body.

Today, I think I have finally found a good mix of cardio (running and/or walking) + easy at home exercises with body weight or light weights that has helped feel active without dipping my milk supply again. I am also shocked at the amount of water I have to drink in a day!

~~~~ Rounding the corner.

Today, my headspace is much clearer than it was even a few weeks ago. I feel stable in breastfeeding for the most part and enjoy every little moment I get to spend with Ella. Nursing is something that has been challenging but very rewarding for me, and I am so thankful that I have the ability to provide for her in this way. In this new phase of our journey, I am trying to learn that life will be ok and Ella will not starve when I go back to work (any other mamas have this irrational fear!?). With help from Jeff and my mom, we have accomplished little victories in Ella taking bottles of breast milk from people other than me which has been both exciting and heart-wrenching for me to watch. I am excited and happy to continue this journey with her and am ready for the next curveball that is thrown our way. What an experience this has been thus far!

Hospital Bag Round Up

Remember when I said I would tell you about what I packed for the hospital? Well, here we go! My pre-planning brain was all over the hospital bag well before we knew I was having a C-section. Once we found out the new plan for delivery, my bag grew a bit as we were told we would stay anywhere from 2-3 nights or until I was stable to discharge. I will break the list into 2 categories – MUST HAVES and LEAVE AT HOME.

Disclaimer ! — I am no expert on what anyone needs for L&D! I will say, if you have a brain like mine you may think more is always better. I can say with absolute certainty, that more was definitely not better in our case, BUT I am happy I listened to my gut and packed items that would make me comfortable after delivery. To me, wearing around a hospital gown was quite uncomfortable and made me feel sluggish and just downright yucky. I empathize with those that spend days, weeks, or months in hospital rooms wearing a hospital gown and totally understand why people often times bring so much stuff from home. Feeling like you have something that is “yours” can be very comforting and make you feel a little more at ease and relaxed — again, just my opinion!


My Hospital Bag


MUST HAVE – Comfy PJs. I purchased a new pair of pjs with a button-up top for nursing that I kept clean and waiting just for that special day! I was so excited on post-op day 1 when my nurse removed my catheter and allowed me to change into my pjs! They were so soft, comforting, and made me feel a little more awake and put together when visitors stopped by! I’m linking my exact pj set here — Star’s Above – Floral Print, Pink

MUST HAVE – Comfy nursing bras. I purchased a two pack of simple nursing bras that were comfortable enough to sleep in. My nugget was a ravenous eater from day 1 so when my milk started coming in, it can in STRONG. Sleeping in a nursing bra was actually more comfortable than being bare chested. I’m linking my favorite, affordable sleep nursing bras here —Maternity Seamless Crossover Sleep and Nursing Bra

LEAVE AT HOME – Diaper, wipes, all the newborn changing items! Our hospital provided ALL of this stuff. I was so set on having my cute, eco-friendly diapers for changing our precious little girl, but friends this was a definite leave at home. We would maybe see a diaper for a few hours (if that), tops! We went through so many darn diapers in the 3 days we hung out in our hospital room that I did not even consider busting out my cute little giraffe print diapers! If I could guess we went through a minimum of 12-15 diapers a day.

MUST HAVE – Snacks (a lot of them!). I am so thankful we brought snacks (fig bars, Cliff bars, KIND bars, cocoa almonds, etc) to have in our room. Not only did breast feeding make me extremely hungry, but having items of our own to have out in between meals saved us from constantly having to buy snacks from the cafeteria (which weren’t that great to begin with!).

LEAVE AT HOME – Nipple cream. The hospital actually had this there for me! I had brought a little of my own to try, assuming it would be helpful after my first day of breastfeeding. It was definitely helpful and soothing, but I never opened my own container! I just used what the hospital provided.

MUST HAVE – Professional camera (if you already own one!). I’m so happy Jeff though to pack this! He snapped a few photos that we will honestly cherish forever. Our hospital had professional photographers come to each room and offered to take pictures, but they were extremely pricey. The pictures he took were personal, casual, and very special to us!

LEAVE AT HOME – Boppy. My nurses were all little angels sent to me from breastfeeding Gods. They set up pillows in ways I still haven’t been able to master at home to make breastfeeding easy as pie in my hospital bed. Also, for those of you having a c-section, the Boppy will not work regardless immediately after! My stomach/incision site was much to tender and sore to have anything on top of it!

MUST HAVE – Toiletries (body wash, shampoo, tooth paste, etc.). Once I was able to shower having my own shampoo, body wash, etc. helped me take a relaxing shower and just feel better. Of course I didn’t not bring our big bottles from home. I had purchased travel sizes ahead of time from Target!

MUST HAVE – Multiple onesies for your little one! Blowouts, frequent wet diapers, and inexperienced parents led to dirty onesies — have back ups!

LEAVE AT HOME – Hair straightener. I don’t know what made me think I’d have time or energy to straighten my hair! I’m rolling my eyes at myself as I’m typing….. replace this one with a hat! (My mom ended up bringing me a hat from home which I wore the day we discharged!)


I hope this was a little helpful to those of you that will soon be in the same position! Regardless of what you bring, just remember to pack what you feel you will use and what will make you and your little one comfortable. Good luck!





Ella’s Birth Story

Well, it has been a minute since I have taken time to write a blog post. During my 3rd trimester, I decided to take a step back and really try to enjoy and soak in the last few months of my pregnancy. This meant stepping away from Her Healthy Kitchen for a short period of time. I am so glad I did this, but happy and excited to get back to blogging with little bit different twist and perspective than I originally had.

Having Ella has truly been our greatest gift yet. Becoming a mom and adding another member to our family has been extremely rewarding, but has not been without its challenges and hurdles as well. Nothing can prepare you for the whirlwind of emotions, changes (both physically and mentally), and adjustments that you go through as a new mom. Adjusting to this new life has had its share joyful tears and feelings of love and warmth towards our little girl but has also compiled tears of frustration, fear, and anxiety in creating the safest and happiest space for Ella as we could. While I hope to share more on all of this later, this post is going to focus more on Ella’s birth story and everything that came with that special day!

Our Decision:

Ella was born the morning of June 22nd at 7lbs 5oz via c-section. Ella was in a frank breech position, which means both her feet and her head were upright with her bum sitting at my cervix. She was in this position for quite a long time leading to an early conversation around what we wanted to do if she did not move on her own. My girl definitely got her moms stubborn personality because she did not move leaving me with the decision of whether or not I wanted to try an external cephalic version (ECV) or schedule a cesarian section for delivery. While you’d think this would be an easy, stress-free decision…baby girl would arrive safely either way… this was one of the hardest decisions I have every had to make in my life.

I am a planner, and this was not in my plan.

After a lot of discussions with Jeff, I decided to schedule the c-section and leave my precious little girl right where she was comfortable. Since I first found out I was pregnant I had embraced the thought that God gives you what you can handle and will create a path thats best for baby and mom. Trying an ECV went against that concept for me, and having never been a risk taker I wanted to minimize any and all risk in Ella’s delivery.


The morning of Ella’s birth was actually fairly calm. We woke up about 2 hours before we needed to leave for the hospital. I wanted to have time to wake up, shower, and get myself ready for the day. As silly as it sounds doing simple things like straightening my hair and putting on a little bit of make-up help me feel normal and more at ease then waking up 10 minutes before we walked out the door. Jeff took Eddie for a run since we knew this was the last time we would see hime for a few days. I tried to prevent myself from getting hangry by staying busy in the house (I was not allowed to eat or drink anything before the surgery).

We packed our things in the car (another post on what I packed for the hospital/what I’d recommend bringing and/or leaving at home to come later!) and headed out for the last time as a family of 2. To be honest I can’t remember anything about that car ride. I was so focused on what was to come and trying to keep myself calm that the 25 minute ride could have very well been an hour and I would have never known.

We parked our car in the only shade spot we could find and debated whether or not we needed to bring the car seat into the hospital or wait until later (oh the first of many contemplations of being a parent!). We decided to leave it in the car, and I soaked in the last few minutes of being able to walk on my own into the lobby and up to the second floor of the hospital. As we entered with our billion items, a new dad got onto the elevator with us and I thought to myself, he looks happy and calm… we can do this! We checked in at the front desk and were taken immediately back to a small room where I felt like I signed my life away in paperwork. Jeff was calm and already taking pictures. While I normally want to document every moment, this was one time I didn’t even think to take out my phone, so I’m thankful that he did!

A nurse came and led us back into my pre-op room which was spacious, very clean, and right around the corner from the OR. Our nurse started going through her check list of questions (I couldn’t tell you what half of them were now) and another came in to place an IV and start fluids. Needless to say, after not drinking anything since 12AM in the Arizona heat (it was about 9:30 at this time) I was very dehydrated and was ecstatic to get fluids. I’ve never felt so hydrated after 1L quickly dripped in. They did a quick ultrasound to assure baby girl was still head up (of course she was), and we started the waiting process. My OB came in to pay us a visit, confident as ever, energetic, and ready to go.


My nerves started to kick in waiting for our visit from the anesthesiologist, and you know what happens with nerves… bathroom! Thank goodness for this because my next easy “bathroom trip” would not be for a day or too.

The anesthesiologist came by just a few minutes later and was very friendly. Even though I knew more than I probably should about what was to come, it helped calms my nerves hearing him reinforce the simplicity of what was about to happen. Jeff was still calm as a cucumber in his blue scrubs and hair net; I was looking at the clock about every 3 minutes waiting for the next person to knock on our door. Jeff continued to snap away pictures and update family and friends on where we were.

Just a little after 11AM, we had a knock on the door and were told it’s time to go! I looked around the halls anxiously as we rolled away, keeping Jeff in site as we came to a stop outside of a cold room with glaring lights and a skinny little table right in the center. Jeff gave me a kiss, and I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. My OB’s assistant offered me a few words of encouragement as she wheeled me into the room. I knew that I would see Jeff again in just a few minutes once they were ready to start. Despite being nervous and scared, knowing we would see our little girl in less then 15 minutes was a surreal feeling. I was excited to finally see her and know that she was ok, healthy, and here in the world with us.

I received a spinal block {For those who asked, a spinal is used instead of an epidural during a c-section. A spinal block is a 1 time injection and prevents the sensation of pain for about 2 hours. There is no catheter in place like an epidural.} My nurse was right, I didn’t feel a thing during the injection (I didn’t even know he was doing it actually) and my legs went numb almost immediately. The curtain went up as they started to prep my body, and Jeff entered the room. He looked at me with an encouraging smile and started our music. He had created a country playlist for me per my request! I kept my eyes locked on him and waited to hear any indication that she had arrived. My anesthesiologist told us she was almost here about 2 songs later and before we had time to breathe we heard a cry. He took Jeffs phone and took a few pictures for us. Jeff got up once it was time and peaked around while they quickly wiped her and wrapped her in a blanket. He looked back at me and simply said, “she’s perfect”.


Ella’s nurse brought her around the curtain for me to see and I was so happy to see my beautiful baby girl screaming and crying just waiting for us to hold her. Once they had all of her measurements, Ella’s nurse handed her off to Jeff so we could snuggle her for the remainder of the time until they were ready for us to leave the OR. Ella was 7lbs 5oz, 20 1/4 inches, with a 14cm head circumference.



After all the nerves and anticipation in a matter of 8 minutes we got to see our baby girl and about 40 minutes later we were rolling out of the OR, our lives forever changed in the happiest of ways!


4 Weeks Later…

Ella is any absolute joy. She has the most beautiful, big eyes and loves to smile and giggle at her mom, dad, and fluffy puppy which she’s taken a liking to. She is a wonderful eater and although she can get fussy at times, she overall is a happy and content baby. She is now just under 9lbs. She loves to snuggle on her dad and also loves bath time! She’s a dancer and can escape out of just about any swaddle which left mom in a panic the first few nights at home after the hospital. We are so happy to have this little girl in our lives, and cannot wait to watch her grown and continue to develop her own personality!


Photo by Christina J Photography