Postpartum Stories

Inducing Lactation and Being Postpartum as the Non-Birthing Mom

Inducing Lactation but Not Giving Birth

In a transgender relationship, both Chris and Amy carried babies for their families. Amy shares her journey of inducing lactation and the experience of motherhood both as the birthing and non-birthing partner.Inducing lactation as the non birthing parent in transgender birth

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR PARTNER: TTC TO PRESENT

My name is Amy and my husband’s name is Chris. We met while working together about 10 years ago. We got engaged about 2 years after we started dating and moved to start our life together from Kentucky to Ohio.

Chris and I struggled with infertility and after about 5 failed IUIs decided to switch to Chris and see if he had better luck (Chris was born female ). After 5 more failed IUIs and a miscarriage, Chris became pregnant with our first child, Hayden. I induced lactation in order to share in the nursing bonds with Hayden.

When Hayden was about a year old we decided we should start trying for a second because we knew it could be a long road. I desperately wanted to carry a baby so I was going to give it another try. We got pregnant with Milo on our first IUI.

Hayden is now almost 5 and Milo is 3. We feel like our family is complete and feel so blessed to have been given these two little amazing beings.

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM PRIOR TO YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE?

I didn’t know much about postpartum before Hayden was born. I had heard of it but mostly in the negative ways we all hear about postpartum.

Our experience was unique in that I experienced postpartum from a non-carrying and carrying parents perspective. We don’t talk much about the non-carrying parents perspective but it’s definitely one to consider. 

Back then, I was one of those “We will never…” pre-parents that everyone knows and loves. You know the person who thinks that getting pregnant, birthing a baby, raising a child will be like a scene from a picture-perfect movie?

Due to this fact, I really didn’t prepare or give postpartum much thought because everything was going to be rosy!

Quote about non birthing parent experience

FOR YOUR FIRST CHILD, YOUR PARTNER BIRTHED- HOW WAS HE REGARDED BY OTHERS THROUGH THE CONCEPTION THROUGH POSTPARTUM TIME?

It was tricky for Chris because he struggled with a lot of issues with his own body and he was pre-transition at this point (so not always presenting as male and he wasn’t on any hormones at the time).

Navigating the fertility clinic was rough. There are not currently a lot of doctors who understand trans men giving birth.

We were lucky enough to pair up with some amazing midwives who while they were not well versed in the trans community. They were amazing and super willing to learn. Between them and the help of a doula, we were really treated amazingly.

The hospital we birthed at was incredible and they followed our directives in the birth plan explicitly (pronouns, how he wanted to be addressed, assuring the desired level of privacy he requested during checks).

Chris has always taken a male role in things so I do know that through our first pregnancy people often forgot he was pregnant.

FOR YOUR FIRST CHILD, YOU INDUCED LACTATION TO BREASTFEED. DID YOU NOTICE HORMONAL CHANGES AND EXPERIENCE ANY POSTPARTUM SYMPTOMS IN THAT WAY?

Yes! Part of the inducing lactation process is tricking your body into thinking it is pregnant (through the use of medication). This can definitely affect your hormones and then when you start pumping that kicks up hormones in your body as well.

There are so many emotions that you experience through infertility and then the massive emotions and responsibility that comes with preparing for a baby and parenthood. You add those things on top of the medical process of inducing lactation and it’s very difficult (but amazing at the same time).

When Hayden was born I had so many emotions that just come with being new parents. Navigating it was much harder than I imagined. I think this was because of the hormonal changes.

Related: Online Pumping Course (This can help you to induce lactation)

WHAT SURPRISED THE BOTH OF YOU THROUGH YOUR DIFFERENT POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCES?

We had very different birthing experiences and pregnancies. For Chris, there was a lot of emotions surrounding his own body and transformation when Hay was born. He has always said when she was born he knew he had to continue his transition because he couldn’t ask her to be who she was as a person and to stand up for what she believes in without him being true to who he was.

Because of this his postpartum, while hard, was empowering but also isolating. Being treated like a mom when you are a trans male can be very emotional.

For me, I never expected to be a non-carrying parent so experiencing this side first made my second postpartum experience just slightly different as I had experienced it from both sides.

WHAT DO YOU WISH MORE PEOPLE REALIZED ABOUT CONCEPTION THROUGH POSTPARTUM WITH A GENDER TRANSITION?

Oh so many things! Not just with assigned gender transition but also with each parent their needs, fears, and anxieties are not cookie cutter.

There are so many things that can trigger a person and preparing for a baby can really magnify emotions. When your emotions are also tied to your assigned gender at birth this can be really damaging.

If I had to choose *one* wish, it would be that medical professionals, friends, family, birth workers, everyone really, asked questions in a respectful way. If you don’t know, just ask! It really can go a long way. 

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE HURTFUL? (EVEN IF WELL INTENTIONED?)

We were really lucky to have a super supportive family, birth experience, the community surrounding us during Hayden’s birth. Although there was a lot of learning, people worked very hard to stay respectful.

Where we really felt hurt was when I was pregnant with Milo and after. People seemed to be astonished that I hadn’t birthed Hayden (because we ALL know there is only one was to have children…cue sarcasm). We were often having to explain over and over our family.

WHAT ARE THE THINGS PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE MOST HELPFUL IN A DIFFICULT TIME?

Actual honest to goodness help. Having a community that is there for the parents and not just the cute babes (even though they are the best) is incredible. Making meals, folding laundry when they visited and making Hayden feel special was huge.

I think the biggest thing was when people would just listen. Not offer advice, just listen.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE? 

A persons family makeup is different no matter what it might seem. It’s so important that we don’t ASSUME anything.

From conception to parenting methods every family takes a slightly different path so if you don’t know…just ask!

There are so many ways to be a family, none of them wrong and all of them amazing.

If you’d like to talk more, are going through a similar experience or just have more questions you can contact Amy here.

Thank you to Amy for sharing her journey of inducing lactation and the experience of motherhood both as the birthing and non-birthing partner.

Related: Postpartum with Chronic Illness

Blog about inducing lactation and transgender birth

This series, Postpartum Narratives, aims to bring awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same, and as a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be. By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc. if you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.

Postpartum

Your Pelvic Floor After Having a Baby

WHAT IS THE PELVIC FLOOR?


pelvic model

If you would have asked me 4 years ago what the pelvic floor is, I probably would have told you it’s the back room in a club where shady dancing happens. After my first child, I remember peeing myself a little when I was working out, and honestly, I just thought that was my forever because #motherhood.

During my second pregnancy, I started working with a trainer who specialized in pregnancy and postpartum and she started teaching me about the muscles that hold everything together. Little did I know, it is so much more than kegels.

According to the Continence Foundation of Australia, “The floor of the pelvis is made up of layers of muscle and other tissues. These layers stretch like a hammock from the tailbone at the back, to the pubic bone in front. A woman’s pelvic floor muscles support her bladder, womb (uterus) and bowel (colon). The urine tube (front passage), the vagina and the back passage all pass through the pelvic floor muscles. Your pelvic floor muscles help you to control your bladder and bowel. They also help sexual function. It is vital to keep your pelvic floor muscles strong.”

RELATED: Back in the Sack:Guide to Postpartum Sex

Supporting my bladder, womb and bowel?
Helping sexual function?
Sounds like an important part of the body.

It’s kind of a disgrace that we don’t really learn about this in sex ed. Or anatomy. Or the OB office or… anywhere unless we actively seek it out.

BODY CHANGES IN PREGNANCY AND BIRTH

During pregnancy and childbirth, a baby is bearing down on your pelvis which impacts the tissue and muscles. Whether you deliver vaginally or have a cesarean birth, you experience a change. This function is also closely tied to your abdomen which often experiences separation during pregnancy and postpartum, adding to issues such as incontinence. As you carry and deliver a baby, there are a number of shifts- these shifts cause the muscles and tissue to adapt through the changes.

RELATED: Where We Learn About Postpartum

woman prepares pelvic floor by kegels

WHEN DO YOU NEED PELVIC FLOOR THERAPY?

If you’re experiencing painful sex, a heavy weight feeling in your pelvic area, or are experiencing urinary or bowel incontinence, it’s a good idea to seek out physical or occupational therapy. If you’re feeling out of touch with your body after giving birth, you may benefit from pelvic floor PT. Many professionals recommend that all mothers get some level of PT after giving birth, regardless of red flags, because of all of the changes and impact on that area during pregnancy and childbirth. In countries such as France, this therapy is standard care after birth for every mother. While many women are thinking about weight loss and outward appearance after baby, there is much more and by actually addressing the internal, you set yourself up for a stronger, connected body.

ARE KEGELS ENOUGH TO FIX MY PELVIC FLOOR?

The pelvic floor is so much more than kegels. I’ve been doing kegels for as long as I can remember and when I went to PT, she told me I needed to RELAX my pelvic muscles. Everything was holding tension and not being able to relax my floor muscles was contributing to painful sex and bladder issues. Come to find out, I hold stress in my shoulders, hips and my pelvic floor. Kegels can be a great part of strengthening and healing IF that is what you need. Seeing a pelvic floor therapist allows them to examine your muscles and tissue and give you insight as to what will help it best function.

After seeing my therapist for 3 months, I “graduated” with exercises to do at home and then started using the Perefit Kegel exerciser to gamify my exercises- it helps you to both contract and relax the muscles and helps you to build endurance. And honestly, kegels are more fun when you’re collecting stars.

Are you looking for a virtual way to learn about proper postpartum exercise? Check out the 6 week course from Strong Body Strong Mama Fourth Trimester Restore (and tell her Chelsea sent you!)

WHAT DO THEY DO IN PELVIC FLOOR THERAPY?

Does the idea of having someone “evaluate” and help you “repair” that whole area, “down there” feel a little intimidating? I know. But let’s face it, if you’ve given birth you’ve already had someone else “down there” so giving it attention to improve its function doesn’t have to be scary.

There are different approaches to pelvic floor therapy. To get an accurate understanding of your function and needs, your therapist will most likely want to do an internal exam. (If you’re uncomfortable with this, there are ways to talk about your pain/function and provide ideas without an internal exam, however your assessment may not be as accurate and therefore your treatment may not be as effective.)

BIOFEEDBACK

Some pelvic floor therapists use biofeedback to gauge your function. With biofeedback, sensors and a computer monitor are used to show muscle activity and allows you to see what areas need attention.

DRY NEEDLING

Dry needling is a method of relieving tension that involves inserting a thin needle into the muscle tissue.

MANUAL MANIPULATION

Similar to dry needling, manual manipulation targets the release of muscle tissue but the therapist will use hands or another tool as opposed to needles.

STRENGTHENING EXERCISES

Your therapist will teach you exercises you can do in your therapy as well as at home to exercise your pelvic floor. This may emphasize contraction strengthening and endurance or relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles (or a combination.) While I highly recommend seeing a therapist who can help you with an individualized plan, you can also find resources online. Please find exercises from someone specifically trained in prenatal and postpartum care such as Strong Body Strong Mama.

CHAT WITH A PELVIC FLOOR EXPERT

Sarah from Pelvic Floor and More answers questions just like yours so that moms can understand their pelvic floor and be empowered to take care of it- from understanding to advocacy to practice. Listen in and learn- because you deserve to!

ARE YOU CURRENTLY PREGNANT AND NEED TO MAKE YOUR POSTPARTUM PLAN SO THAT YOU’RE PREPARED FOR THINGS LIKE THE PELVIC FLOOR AND MORE? GRAB MY FREE POSTPARTUM PLAN CHECKLIST TO GET YOU READY!


pelvic floor after baby pinterest.png

RELATED: What You Shouldn’t Say to New Moms

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

Postpartum Stories

Being Postpartum After Delivering a Stillbirth Baby

HOW TO SUPPORT A MOM AFTER STILLBIRTH

When Taylor experienced a stillbirth, so much was unexpected and after all of it, her body was still postpartum as if there was a baby. Thank you, Taylor, for sharing your story.

WHAT IS YOUR STORY FROM TTC THROUGH PREGNANCY?

I am Taylor, I am 26 and married to my High School sweetheart. A SAHM and we currently reside in Minnesota. We have three kids: Kane, Macy, and Jagger. I was almost 22 at the time we lost our son Kane, so we’re pretty young.

So A tiny back story- I was engaged to my now-husband at the time, just turned 21, and completed my first semester of nursing school. I was the .0001% of women that got pregnant on the pill. We found out I was pregnant two days before my finals for the fall semester. It was definitely not planned, but we decided to go through with it. I quit nursing school after that semester.

My son who we named Kane, died from a placental abruption that summer. We don’t know why or what caused my placenta to detach from my uterus. I was 36 weeks along when my water broke and blood gushed all over. Who would’ve thought his birth would be the worst AND best day of our lives. He wasn’t planned but we were SO ready to be parents and bring him home. Kane was also our first pregnancy, and first born.

Being a Postpartum Woman After a Term Stillbirth

I have Kane’s whole birth story linked from a blog post I did. It goes into more depth about the exact day and what happened.

I just want to say, these are all of my experiences with postpartum after a term stillbirth. His death gave me PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), PPD (postpartum depression) , PPA (postpartum anxiety) , and certain things you may not think are triggering, are for myself. Nothing I experienced was “normal,” but I don’t know how anything is normal after losing a baby.

RELATED: PPD and PPA stories from Real Moms

when parents lose their child

WHAT DID YOU KNOW ABOUT POSTPARTUM PRIOR TO YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE?

I truly knew absolutely nothing about postpartum when I was expecting him, and after I had him. All I knew is my vagina will hurt for a while, there will be blood, and my milk will come in a few days later. I didn’t know what was normal and what wasn’t. No one explained anything to me really. And as a naive 22-year-old, I thought I’d be happy all the time. They warned me of baby blues turning into something more.  That was it! All I knew was to watch for huge blood clots, no sex,  and I’ll be good by the 6 weeks check-up

DID YOUR BODY STILL ACT “POSTPARTUM” AFTER YOUR STILLBIRTH DELIVERY?

I bled, a lot. I know that’s common especially after vaginal birth, but it was so traumatic for me. My mom and aunt went to my apartment before I was released from the hospital to clean up all of the blood in my bathroom. Every time I went to change the pad and pee, I cried. It physically hurt to pee, but mentally and emotionally hurt more when I had to see the blood. My milk came in full force about two days after I was home. I had HUGE boobs before pregnancy, like size H cup- no joke, so I used lots of frozen peas and tight sports bras.

Milk, Hormones, Recovery

My milk went away generally fast, all thanks to my mom. She told me what to do to get rid of it. Otherwise, I would’ve been extremely lost and suffering from swollen boobs for who knows how long. My hormones were jacked, I was a complete mess. I felt like all I did was cry and feel extreme sadness. The first week home was probably the worst. I almost threw up at the funeral home signing papers for his cremation. I barely ate, felt sick, and just didn’t know what to do with myself. Things would be okay one minute and I would be angry the next. Something would make me laugh, then I felt guilty for being happy for a split second and would burst into tears. Half the time I was surprised I still had actual tears running down my cheeks because I wasn’t sure how my body could constantly produce them after crying for a week straight.

HOW DID OTHERS RESPOND TO YOUR LOSS AND POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE?

We got a lot of sympathy cards in the mail. Many sent us money, which was extremely nice because I didn’t feel like cooking until 2 months postpartum. My husband’s job sent us flowers, a card, and some other things. Everyone was very sympathetic, which is a very common response to death. My mom was my rock, I don’t think I would’ve made it out alive without her. She was strong for me, took care of the hard things so I could grieve.

My husband’s coworkers constantly asked how he and I were doing, checking in. Family responses were mixed. They wanted to help us and take away the pain but didn’t know how. They didn’t know what they could say or do, they didn’t want to upset us or make it uncomfortable. Of course, they were devastated too, he was the first grandchild on both sides. Our two really close friends were very supportive and both lived further away and almost flew/drove to be with us the day I delivered him. I went out for drinks and dinner with my best friend 3ish weeks postpartum and it was the first time I went out in public, laughed, cried, and actually enjoyed myself. With strangers, even today I get the sympathy looks and the “I’m so sorry,” then they feel super uncomfortable.

HOW DID YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE, AFTER STILLBIRTH, IMPACT YOUR DAY TO DAY LIFE?

It was so hard to feel like I could relate to moms because my baby wasn’t with me physically. I went through all of that and can’t compare anything besides how sore my vagina was. Emotionally, and mentally I was lost. It physically hurt to look at other moms with babies. I was angry and jealous every single time someone on Facebook announced that they’re pregnant. We didn’t have answers as to why he died, so I was pitying myself and was extremely bitter. After I gave birth to him I felt like a piece was missing, I felt like a mom but was baby-less. I never expected to feel that way about motherhood.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE SAID/DID THAT WERE HURTFUL? (EVEN IF WELL-INTENTIONED)?

Share his pictures without our consent. It’s been four years and I still can’t hang his picture up. Talking about him in front of our kids. They’re too young to understand and we want to tell them on our own terms on our own time!

Some things people have said:

He’s in a better place.

God needed another angel.

It’s in God’s hands.

Everything happens for a reason.

The list is so long! It was all with good intentions but the last thing I personally wanted to hear.

WHAT CAN PEOPLE SAY/DO TO BE HELPFUL TO A FAMILY AFTER STILLBIRTH?

Bringing us food was a huge one! I had zero drive to cook for a long time. My aunt donated a brick with his name on it in our town. His name is with a whole bunch of other children that have passed away. It meant more than she’ll ever know. When people would empathize vs sympathize with us. There is no “but” or silver lining when losing a child. Telling us something like “I know you’re hurting, if there is anything I can do to help let me know, I’m here for you.” I don’t want your pity. Bad things happen, things we can’t control and no amount of your pity will change anything.

When you lose a child, there is no normal. Nothing about you and your story will ever be normal.

WHAT WAS YOUR MEDICAL CARE DURING POSTPARTUM?

My 6-week checkup was complete bs. I was cleared for Postpartum Depression (PPD) because I didn’t mark that I wanted to harm myself. Because I checked off every box besides suicidal thoughts, they told me I was just grieving. It wasn’t baby blues, it was PPD. I truly believe if someone stopped to tell me I wasn’t okay and feeling this way wasn’t the normal grieving process, I wouldn’t have had as bad PPD. They never made me go to counseling or therapy, it wasn’t ever brought up. Our postpartum culture (or whatever you want to call it) already needs to change because it’s failing mothers. It’s even worse for those who’ve lost a baby(s). There should be mandated therapy, and even more check-ins. Child loss is still a taboo topic, yet so many babies are dying, and the system is failing mothers after birth. 

Experiencing stillbirth and need someone to talk to? Find Taylor here:

mom shares story of stillbirth son

Do you know someone who has suffered stillbirth, miscarriage or another tragic birth event? Check out this Psychology Today article from Margaret M. Quinland, Ph.D., and Bethany Johnson MPhil, M.A. on Tips for Supporting Parents and Caregivers in Crisis.

This series, Postpartum Narratives, aims to bring awareness, normalization, and understanding to different postpartum experiences. No two postpartum experiences are the same, and as a society, we cannot have one view of what postpartum is or should be. By sharing stories, we diversify our own understanding and can then advocate for better support and resources for each person and space that affects a postpartum family- the home, the workplace, the medical field, social constructs, etc. if you have a postpartum narrative you would like considered for contribution, please contact me here.

RELATED: Infertility and Wishing for a Baby