Mom with ALS Shares Inspiring Breastfeeding Experience
Breastfeeding is a beautiful experience many expecting moms look forward to. It was so important to one mom, in fact, that even the most daunting obstacles couldn't force her to give it up.
Amanda Bernier found out she was pregnant two weeks before a genetic test confirmed she has ALS. The disease runs in her family; her mother and grandmother both lost their fights. Bernier was conscious of symptoms, like twitching, but hoped to be cleared by a neurologist.
In a post on her Facebook page Amanda's Angels, she confirmed her worst fear: "I knew that it most likely was ALS as my mom, grandma and other family members died from it; but I was only 29."
Bernier faced her pregnancy while battling the degenerative disease that attacks fine motor skills, leads to paralysis, and eventually causes an inability to swallow or breathe.
Halfway through her pregnancy, she couldn't move anything but her head and was on a ventilator. As the brave woman neared her final trimester, she had something very important on her mind: breastfeeding her baby, whom she affectionately calls Peanut. On Facebook, she noted: "Nobody knew if I would be able to [breastfeed]. My doctors could not find any case studies." The expecting mom stayed positive: "Just like I knew that I would deliver a healthy full term baby, I knew that I would be able to breastfeed."
While Brenier worried about feeding her newborn, her neurologist worried if his patient would live long enough to see her baby. But Bernier defied the odds, delivering a healthy baby girl via C-section.
And, incredibly, Brenier has been breastfeeding her babe. The new mom credits her newborn's nurse, who came up with ways to position the baby on her breast and chest while Bernier lay immobile in the hospital bed. After being discharged, Bernier relied on family for help.
The breastfeeding mom, like many others, endured cracked, burning nipples, but powered through it. She has switched to pumping and has built up a stash of breast milk in the freezer. "I can't take care of my daughter, but I can give her the gift of breast milk," Bernier wrote on Facebook. "I will continue on until my body no longer produces."