Ali Hynek of Nena & Co. opens up about her baby feeding journey.
We've partnered with Babynes to celebrate new parents' feeding journeys, and share some feeding positivity to help you feed your baby in the best way you can.
Navigating your way through your feeding journey as a new parent can feel overwhelming. Breastfeeding, formula-feeding, or combo-feeding -- no matter which you decide is right for you and your family, there's always someone else doing it differently. Which, on the hardest days, can make you feel like you're doing it all wrong.
But you're not. We know you're doing the best you can, and we think you're doing great. You're doing it your way, and we're proud of you for that. In case you need a little more inspiration and motivation though, we're launching a new series to show off the very diverse feeding journeys of some very diverse parents. And whether they breastfeed, formula-feed or combo-feed, they're doing it with positivity. We hope you are too.
First up, meet Ali Hynek, founder of the ethically made handbag company Nena & Co. and new mama of triplets. Below, Ali shares her own feeding journey, and why formula-feeding helps empower her to be a more confident mother.
“Having three babies at once really changes a lot of expectations. Whenever I thought of having children, I always assumed I would breastfeed. When I found out I was having triplets, I still felt like I would at least try my best to breastfeed to a certain extent. It was a hot topic for me and my doctor. He was very supportive no matter what I decided to do, but he really tried to stress to me that should I decide to formula-feed, my babies would be just as smart, loved and happy as a breastfed baby. So, my conclusion was, I wanted to at least try to breastfeed and would be OK with the idea of formula when I felt it was the right time.
My babies were born at 31 weeks and 6 days so they were tube-fed as they hadn't developed the skills to suck yet. But I started pumping right away. I was really worried that because the babies weren't actually latching on that I wouldn't produce the milk I needed. There are pros and cons to spending day after day in the NICU and one of the pros was that I had access to all sorts of specialist that were my cheerleaders in nursing the babies. I started with "non-nutritive breastfeeding," which means the babies were too little to get full gulps of milk, so I would pump first and then let the babies latch. I did this for about two weeks or until each baby was able to start breastfeeding.
I really loved that I had the opportunity to breastfeed. It is another way of connecting with your baby and that skin-to-skin time is heavenly. The challenge for me was that I had so many babies! I would have to mentally prepare for the day because I would have to go from baby to baby to baby, and once I was done I would run to the bathroom, grab a quick snack and then come back to their nursery and start over again. I know that's how most nursing moms feel!
In the end, I committed to breastfeeding them for 6 weeks because I knew they would have gotten that rich colostrum from their mama when they needed it so badly. With the help that you need caring for newborn multiples, it wasn't a realistic thing for me to continue once we got them home from the hospital, so I mentally prepared to transition to formula.
People would ask me if I was breastfeeding. I mean ANYONE would ask. Random men that would see us walking the babies in their strollers. I really hated that. It's a very personal question and as a mother, no matter what you do, you still feel guilt. But what really matters is what you and your partner decided to do with your babies, and my husband was my Number One supporter. The route we decided to take was better for us since we needed (and had!) a lot of family helping us get through those first few months. The best aspect of using bottles for us was the flexibility it gave us to have others help.
Other moms can be so critical of each other, and it's the single most negative thing about being a new mom. You really feel so vulnerable and everyone wants to give you their opinion. Once you do your own research and decide what is best for you, you need to do so with confidence. Be flexible and forgiving with yourself too. If you try something and it doesn't work, it's okay to try something different. Seeing that my babies were gaining weight, and that they were healthy and happy while they were bottle-fed made me feel so grateful for the people that have dedicated themselves to providing an excellent alternative to breast milk."
Photography by Becky Kimball for Well Rounded NY. This post is sponsored by Babynes.
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