I'm Able to Breastfeed My Baby -- Even Though I've Never Been Pregnant

NarSheba Tarajee Aasir

Induced lactation
NarSheba Tarajee Aasir

As told to Lauren Levy by NarSheba Tarajee Aasir.

Kids were something my wife, Crystal, and I both knew we wanted early on, without question. Very shortly after we were married in June 2014, we began the process of trying conceive by IUI. With two failed HSG tests, we soon learned that my tubes were bilaterally blocked, leaving us no choice other than IVF

Still we wanted to try. With a failed IVF attempt on my own, I knew I needed a mental break. We had a family friend (who we call our own little special angel) who had known our struggle and how badly we wanted to conceive. Out of the blue one day, she offered carry the baby for us. The rest was history. 
  • Due to me not being able to carry, I wanted to bond and provide for my little one in ANY way I could.

    NarSheba Tarajee Aasir

    To be honest, I was looking forward to everything pregnancy because being a mom was always pretty high up on priority list! From the huge belly and wobbly walk to the swollen feet, I wanted to experience it all. So breastfeeding was no different because I viewed it as part of that process and yet another way I could bond with my little one.

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  • Until month six, we had never even heard of inducing lactation.

    I accidentally ran across it in one on my expecting mothers support groups. I didn’t even know until that very month that it was indeed "a thing." We immediately ran it across our OB-GYN and she got me started on a protocol the next week. We learned that the earlier you start, the better your chances are of successfully inducing.

  • We had roughly four months left, so time was of the essence.

    Generally, with inducing, mothers usually start six to eight months prior to the baby's birth in order to give their body time to adjust and to have ample time to induce successfully. I didn’t find out about inducing lactation until the end of March while I was still studying abroad in India and our little one was due July 18. I returned home the first week in April, immediately met with my lactation consultant the same week, and got stated on a protocol. I literally started my entire protocol at once.

    She started me on a birth control protocol high in estrogen and progesterone. I would take the active pills only, skip the placebo weeks and automatically start the next pack to trick my body into thinking I was pregnant. I also begin taking natural supplements, and within the lactation support groups I joined, the ladies would always share little food tips to increase my supply. I quickly learned that coconut water (for hydration) and oatmeal were holy grails.  

    About a month after I begin the supply supplements, along with pumping every every hours, I began to notice a change in my breast size. It wasn’t milk yet. But it was enough to keep me pushing.

  • I was in month three of the inducing process with just a few short weeks left when I saw my first show of milk.

    After months of trying, constantly harassing my lactation therapist and crying at the drop of a dime about NOTHING, I wanted to give up. 

    I was taking everything you can think of: herbal shakes, brewer's yeast, oatmeal, lactation tea/cookies, fenugreek, thistle, goat's rue, birth control. You name it. And the most painful being having to pump 10 times a day! AND STILL NOTHING! Notta! Not A DROP of milk! Not even a wet nipple! For months!

    I was determined not to let it all be in vain. Without so much as a glimpse or inkling of the fruits of my labor, I still kept at it. Finally, at month three, one night, I had an itch. But not surface. Deeeeep down. I couldn’t get to the exact spot. Naturally, I started hand expressing to massage the area. Needless to say ... I dang near squirted my eye out! If you could have seen me and my wife jumping around and dancing in that room at 1 a.m. like we had hit the lotto.

    That moment reminded me that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT seen.

    It’s started with drops. By the next week, it was milliliters. Then the next it was ounces. Going from syringes to bottles made me really feel like I could finally sit with the cool kids! By the time he was born, I had gotten up to producing around 6 ounces for the entire day.

  • For some reason, that magical turn came when he was born.

    newborn
    NarSheba Tarajee Aasir

    He latched within the minute of being born so perfectly the first time. It was the moment that I had been building up to for months and it was everything I had imagined and more. But for some reason, him actually breastfeeding for first time seemed to make all the difference compared to the pump. 

    After he fed for the first time, a few hours later I had become engorged. I had even started to leak for the first time. I immediately pulled out my pump to relieve the pressure and to my surprise, I pumped 7 ounces in ONE pump. That was usually my goal total for the day. So needless to say, my milk did a huge increase one baby latched and my body adjusted. 

  • He breastfeeds about 80 percent of the time and bottle-fed the other 20 percent.

    induced lactation
    NarSheba Tarajee Aasir

    He’s a greedy little man, and I make just enough to sustain him. Our first choice is always breast. However, when I have nothing left and he’s still hungry/fussy we will give him the bottle. He prefers the breast as well. So it’s a toss up on whether he’ll just take the bottle or wait it out.

  • Not everyone understands my decision -- but most are learning from it.

    Quite naturally, other peoples' reaction is a lot like mine was. Like who even knew this was a thing? How is this even possible? I remember visiting a family member’s home who knew I hadn’t carried. Mid-conversation I whipped out and started feeding. The looks I got were priceless. I could just tell they were confused and just itching to ask HOW!? Finally, my older male cousin just blurted out, “Wait a minute, I thought you had to have been pregnant to feed a baby!” So of course I had to explain the entire process. Afterwards, they looked at me like I was super-mom of the year instead.

  • I decided to share my story because I truly feel like more women would induce lactation if they even knew it was possible.

    induced lactation
    Crystal Aasir

    I’m a nurse and I’d never even heard of it. Even now, when I go to the doctors and other nurses learn that I’m breastfeeding, they’re all just wowed. Just think about all the surrogate situations and adoptive mothers that are just longing to bond with their babies in any way possible. What better way than breastfeeding? 

    The feeling I get when breastfeeding my son is more than just feeding. It’s bonding with him on this amazing metaphysical level that’s so fulfilling. Like I’m literally supplying him life apart from an umbilical cord. The skin-to-skin contact, the heart-to-heart lying, giving him antibodies that I know formula couldn’t provide, even down to the way he stares at me while feeding are all things only he and I share in that moment. 

    I’d encourage all mothers to at least give it a try. If it isn’t for you, OK, I respect your choice. But what IF you try it and it’s a bond like you’ve never experienced. It is without a doubt one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.