Hi everyone! Caitlin here - the cofounder and marketing side of Hey Mama Kitchen. I wanted to introduce myself a little bit, tell you how I came to help start a lactation product business, and share what breastfeeding has been like for me. I hope this will shed a little light on what a part of what drove the creation of the business.
I had my first son in 2015 and up until then was in the advertising business working on digital media. I loved the job but it was quite demanding, with business travel, long hours and team meetups after work on a regular basis. While on my maternity leave, I learned that if I returned, I would be in for even more changes and a level of uncertainty in my position so I decided to strike out on my own. I loved my company but it just felt like time to move on. At the same time, from birth, my oldest was not a great weight gainer. He was born at a perfectly normal weight but lost a lot in the hospital (he was an unplanned cesarean birth) and stuck to the 5th-10th percentile for weight his entire first year. It required frequent trips to the pediatrician for weight checks and a lot of hand-wringing on my part that my breast milk wasn't enough (or somehow had a skim milkfat). I just couldn't fathom worry about my job as well, for better or worse, and had a supportive partner who encouraged me to do my own thing.
It was important to both myself and my husband that we exclusively breastfeed our babies, of course assuming nothing life threatening was happening. That said, hospitals don't have a high tolerance for risk and with my son's weight dropping immediately after his birth, the pediatrician on call started to say the F word a lot - formula. His health was otherwise great - no signs of any other issues other than not staying on the expected weight curve, so we consulted the hospital lactation consultant. She was very positive and supportive of us continuing to exclusively breastfeed if his health was fine. This lactation consultant was a godsend - she (and a very pro-BF neo-natalogist) gave us the confidence to stick to our guns, as well as the emotional support when I broke down from worry and hormones. This lactation consultant weighed the baby at various points in the first four months to make sure he was getting milk from me, and to reassure me that he was, in fact, gaining weight. That said, I never shook the idea that my milk supply wasn't enough, so I also took all the herbs - Blessed Thistle, Fenugreek, ate tons of oatmeal and even had a dark beer every so often with her blessing.
All if this is to say that I think that my baby just hugged a different curve that formula fed babies - neither of which are wrong. I just wish someone had told me that these are different curves and it'll all turn out ok. I also want to make clear that this path isn't everyone's cup of tea, it was just personally important to me to stick with breastmilk only. Without the support of an IBCLC, some helpful herbs and nutritional supplements, as well as a confident husband and the breastfeeding support group I met our other co-founder, I wouldn't have made it to the 13 months of breastfeeding that I got to. The support group was simply a place for me to ask things like "my baby is incredibly fussy from 5-10pm - is that normal?" or "when should I pump and for how long?" and so on. Anyone looking to breastfeed for any length of time, I implore you to find a group of moms in your area - especially if you don't have a lot of family around. New motherhood can be a lonely and isolating time, and you have no idea what you are doing, so having others tell you it'll be ok is beyond comforting.
I'll end this by saying that once solids became a primary part of his diet, my son started to fill out more and is in the middle of the growth chart at three years old. I don't regret at all the decisions we made and would do it all again (and did, just 5 months ago!).
Thank you for reading this, and feel free to share your breastfeeding experience below!