The lactation care provider glanced at her breasts and claimed, “You’re not going to be able to produce much milk.” Glenis Decuir, CBS, a young mother at the time, had just given birth to her first baby (now 17 years old), and while she intended to breastfeed her daughter, without explanation, without proper consultation and counseling, without a shred of compassion, the lactation consultant disparaged her intentions so tragically that Decuir not only did not breastfeed her daughter, she remained discouraged through the birth of her second child (now 14 years old) and did not breastfeed him either.
Decuir eventually learned that she has Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT) disorder.
“I knew my breasts looked different, but my mom’s looked the same as mine; I didn’t think anything was abnormal,” Decuir explains. “ I was young and wasn’t resourceful; no one explained anything.”
Though Decuir’s introduction to infant feeding was shrouded in the unknown and total neglect from care providers, her story takes a turn, epitomizing self-determination, advocacy and education, perseverance, resilience and empowerment.
In 2018, Decuir’s wife became pregnant with their third child. Because she would not grow and birth this baby, Decuir wondered how she would form a bond with him.
“It was very difficult for me to wrap my head around that,” Decuir shares.
When she decided to embark on this path, Decuir reached out for guidance, but found herself in a void.
“Unfortunately, I received the most pushback from doctors, many of whom didn’t even know that inducing lactation was possible,” Decuir documents her road to co-breastfeeding. “I had to see four different doctors before I could find one willing to work with me. Being under the doctor’s care was very important because I had never done this before, and I knew I would be taking medications. After exploring several options, we chose the Newman Goldfarb Protocol as our method of induced lactation.”
For well over 20 weeks, Decuir delved into the protocol.
“Because I had really poor experiences with my first two and poor experiences with seeking help with breastfeeding professionals… I became an advocate… I had overcome so much adversity,” Decuir begins.
Laws state that we can pump anywhere, Decuir continues. And that’s what she did.
“I was pumping in every location imaginable! At my desk, in the car, the movie theater, Six Flags, and much more!” she writes.
Decuir goes on, “I decided to be very public about my entire journey on Instagram. One, I have the right to and I exercise every right, but it also opened a gateway to educating others.”
Prior to inducing lactation, Decuir reports that her children had never been exposed to anyone breastfeeding, “not even at a playground or anything,” she elucidates.
“This is how behind closed doors moms are with breastfeeding,” she says.
But Decuir and her wife’s approach is different; they are open-books with their children, she explains.
“They were old enough to understand scientifically, biologically, physically what my body was going to go through,” Decuir starts. “I educated them through a scientific standpoint, but also talked about normalizing breastfeeding. We talked about my daughter breastfeeding in the future, and my son and his role as a man in a household and how he can support his future wife to breastfeed.”
Decuir recalls the emotional and practical support her older children offered: “I cried in front of them, I pumped in front of them, I laughed in front of them; they helped wash bottles and Spectra parts…”
In sharing her journey with others though, Decuir wasn’t always met with such maturity and acceptance.
“I got everything under the sun,” Decuir remembers. Some told her it was disgusting, some found it weird, and some even went as far as to claim it child abuse.
Orion was born on September 2, 2018. At the time of his birth, Decuir was producing 16 ounces a day– quite close to what is considered full production– and had stored over 1,000 of her milk in a deep freezer.
Decuir says that she didn’t set forth focusing on the quantity though. “I wasn’t thinking about achieving full supply; I was thinking about producing anything. Even if it was only five ounces a day, I thought, I can at least do one feeding a day and that to me was worth it on its own.”
She continues: “Every time that I would latch Orion on, I just thanked Mother Nature and how amazing our bodies are. Maybe if I had birthed Orion, if I had just latched him on, it wouldn’t have been a second thought, but because of what I went through–I worked real, real hard– every time I was able to latch my son, I literally thanked the universe. I was so grateful.”
Decuir and her wife went on to co-breastfeed Orion until he was two-and-a-half.
Throughout her breastfeeding relationship, Decuir remained visible in her efforts. “Having the power to go through that experience breastfeeding anywhere and everywhere in public, it became almost liberating and very freeing to be able to exercise my right, and in doing so I came across a lot of people. I took them as opportunities to talk more about breastfeeding and breastfeeding in public.”
At the start of her journey, in order to create her village, Decuir started a private Facebook support group. Today it has over two and a half thousand members.
Locally, Decuir serves as a breastfeeding support person through ZipMilk and is a ROSE Community Transformer, all on a volunteer basis. She has presented at the ROSE Summit in years’ past and is currently working on a book.
You can read Decuir’s former publications about her co-breastfeeding journey at https://aeroflowbreastpumps.com/blog/the-road-to-co-breastfeeding