#15: Hope talks with Rachel Gazda and Talana Keister, married couple, about their Co-Nursing Experience
Listen to Rachel and Talana's interview here:
We are so very grateful to Rachel who took the time to do TWO interviews with us. So if you haven't already listened to it, please check out last week's episode #14 in which we had an amazing professional interview with Rachel about co-nursing.
When a couple co-nurses their baby, the non-gestational may produce milk by inducing lactation, or she may not. When both mothers produce milk, co-nursing is a delicate balance to insure that their combined milk production meets baby's needs. This may not always be possible, but when one of the mothers births the baby it usually is. The key is not to undershoot the amount of milk each mother will produce.
It may seem as if each mother should aim to produce a portion of the milk so that the total is a 100% supply. In reality though, the surest bet for producing enough milk for baby is for the gestational mother to aim for a full milk supply - in other words, enough milk to meet 100% of baby's needs, and the for non-gestational mother to aim to maximize her supply (which is likely to be a partial milk supply). Why?
So, at first it is generally recommended is for each mother to express her milk when the other mother is nursing the baby. (Pumping at each missed breastfeeding is similar to what a mother working outside the home might do to maintain her milk production when her caregiver is bottle-feeding her baby.) Once both mothers have established their milk productions, each may be able to experiment with dropping a pumping session (or more than one) when the other mother is nursing. If a dropped pumping session results in baby requiring supplementation when he didn't need it before or more supplementation when he did need it before, the mother may wish to resume that pumping session to maintain her prior milk production.
If a parent continues to pump when she is not nursing baby and her baby does not need this milk, there are certainly many other families who do need the milk. Please consider donating to a nonprofit milk bank or sharing your extra milk with other local families.
Some additional helpful links:
Here is a beautiful and inspirational blog post about one couple's experience of co-nursing: http://offbeathome.com/2011/02/co-breastfeeding
Jules Moon presents some excellent preliminary research on co-nursing for same-sex female couples in this paper: http://www.turningtidesmidwifery.com/research.php
And for more information on Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (DMER), please see d-mer.org
We are proud to present a series of podcasts for parents Breastfeeding Outside the Box, where we aim to support the nourishing and nurturing of babies in exceptional families - families who historically have not received the help and support they need and deserve. Our exceptional families include adoptive, intended, and foster families; gender, sexual, and racial minorities; families with special needs babies; parents who have had breast surgery; mothers with IGT or low milk production for other reasons; exclusively pumping mothers; and more.
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Breastfeeding Outside the Box aims to be as inclusive as possible. We are aware that the term "breastfeeding" has limitations: not all of our listeners have breasts and not all of our listeners are feeding at the breast. We are also aware that not all of our listeners identify as mothers. Therefore, we will regularly use the term "nursing" rather than "breastfeeding", and "parent" rather than "mother." While we cannot identify directly with every listener, as adoptive mothers who nursed their babies, Hope and I do understand what it is like to parent outside the box and will make every effort possible to embrace anyone interested in being a part of Breastfeeding Outside the Box. We also know that we are human with our own limitations and biases, and look forward to learning and growing with you. Please let us know how we can make you feel more welcome and supported.
Breastfeeding Outside The Box exists to provide education and information about breastfeeding options for people everywhere. Every effort has been made to provide up to date and accurate information, but this information should never be used to diagnose or treat problems you may be experiencing. Information shared in this episode is not intended to replace medical advice or care from your health care provider, and we encourage you to consult with your personal physician, pediatrician or local IBCLC before making decisions about your care or the care of your baby.