Mamava Mama: Kristen Krahl
Kristen Krahl is not one to follow the road well-taken. Which is how she became a pipefitter, installing mechanical systems in Chicago’s high-rise buildings. So it’s no surprise that her path took a different turn when she became a mom...of twins. She had planned to nurse, but after an emergency C-section and a high-risk birth, her journey took her in a different direction. Here Kristen shares what she’s learned to help other new moms adapt to the unexpected, find the positive, and get what they need to thrive.
Embrace pumping as your new normal
After being induced for a vaginal birth, Kristen’s obstetrician discovered that her son was breech, and they scheduled a C-section. But then Kristen started hemorrhaging, her daughter ended up in the NICU, and her son had trouble latching. The hospital provided donor milk and Kristen began to pump around the clock to increase her milk production. She tried using nipple shields to nurse, but when a lactation consultant weighed the babies before and after nursing, they discovered that neither baby was getting enough milk. “Getting the babies’ weight up was important and pumping gave me a way to measure exactly how much they drank. I logged every millileter of breast milk,” says Kristen. At that point, Kristen realized that she needed to adjust her expectations around nursing and embrace pumping—exclusively—instead. “Pumping became the norm. It wasn’t easy, but it became a way of life.”
Share your pumping pro skills
At first, Kristen didn’t know that exclusively pumping was a “thing.” One day she posted to her breastfeeding Facebook group for all their support and someone wrote back: “Oh honey, you’re on the wrong page! You need to go to the EP facebook page!!” Kristen says that exclusive pumping “is its own culture,” and she wishes she’d known more about it before she had her twins. She’s now committed to sharing as many pumping resources as possible with new moms—both moms who exclusively pump and nursing moms who have pumping questions—on her Instagram page. “I don’t have all the answers, but if one mom benefits, then I’ve done what I wanted.”
When people ask Kristen if she’s breastfeeding, she always says yes. “Pumping is breastfeeding! You can pump and solely feed breast milk without direct nursing. It’s hard, but in time it does get easier.” Kristen says that a lot of moms see pumping as a kind of failure. “Don’t discredit yourself,” says Kristen. “I’m proud that I was able to pump eighty ounces of milk in a day!” The twins are now thirteen months old and eating solids, but they still get three bottles a day. And Kristen keeps a healthy milk stash (1700 ounces!) in the freezer. “I want to feed my babies’ my breast milk as long as possible. The reward is priceless.”
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