April 06, 2007

My breastfeeding journey

When I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I was aware of the goodness of breast milk and was determined to give the best to my baby. I knew it was not going to be easy but I didn't really read up a lot to prepare for it, which was just as well as I was blissfully ignorant of the possibility of blocked ducts, mastitis and other potential problems. I didn't even prepare any formula milk as I has simply assumed that my milk would just come and I'd be able to breastfeed successfully, just as nature intended.

The first couple of days were the most difficult. Yiu Yiu was struggling to latch on and kept crying in frustration when she couldn't. As we struggled to establish nursing and she didn't get much for the first two days, I started to worry if she'd be starved even though my gynae and paediatrician kept reassuring me that she'd be alright. On the third day, she developed jaundice and since she was lethargic, she nursed even less. I was told that she needed more fluid in her body to help flush out the bilirubin and as she wasn't nursing well, I finally succumbed and asked the nurse to spoon feed her some formula. The next morning, I was reprimanded by my gynae when he found out and told me that they would know if she needed supplemental feeding as her blood glucose level was monitored daily.

After that incidence, I resolved to keep her off formula as advised. My milk finally came on the third day and I was so thrilled when I could express 2oz from both breasts using the hospital pump. Not a lot, but enough for a tiny baby's intake. I could be discharged from the hospital already but as my breast pump was in Ipoh (I was going to have my confinement in my parents' home in Ipoh) and I couldn't express at home, I decided to stay put in the hospital. Paying RM195 a night for another three nights wasn't exactly what we had planned but I was determined to breast feed my baby successfully.

It has not been an easy journey, as any breastfeeding mother can relate:
• the endless hours of sucking in the early weeks, where she'd spent one hour sucking and the moment I tried to unlatch her after foolishly thinking she was asleep, she would be wide awake and screaming for more.
• the endless interrupted nights as I am not among the lucky few whose baby slept through the night after several weeks or months. At 17 months now, she still wakes up at night but at least I've mastered the skills of nursing lying down so when she wakes up, I'll just carry her from her cot to our bed and let her nurse while I continue to sleep. So much for training baby to sleep on her own!
• the endless hours spent expressing milk at home and at work, and feeling that I was compromising my work. I used to express three times daily – once in the morning before going to work, once at about 2pm and another time after work at about 7pm. Luckily Yiu Yiu is not that big an eater and my three pumping sessions produced enough to meet her needs, with some to spare for freezing to be used when I traveled. Since she started on solids at six months and her demand decreased, I gradually cut out the expressing session in office.
• worrying endlessly whenever my supply dropped and did not express enough for her next day's feed. During these times, I would busy myself cooking numerous soups that supposedly enhance breast milk production. Among those I've tried are green papaya soup with fish, white radish soup, cashew nut soup and fenugreek tea.
• the countless times she chomped on my nipples to soothe her itching, teething gums.
• the countless times I've become her pacifier. Sometimes she just wants to suckle for comfort and she'll be hanging onto my breasts just for the fun of it. I enjoy these bonding sessions with her and I'll tickle/sing/talk to her while she suckles but there are also times when I wished she wouldn't spend so much time at the breasts, leaving me with no time on my own. Wicked mom but hey, I'm only human after all.

Now that she's only nursing whenever I'm around and on formula at other times, I think she's suckling mainly for comfort as I don't think she gets much from the breasts. I know she probably should be weaned off soon but I'm not sure if she's ready. I definitely am not!


chanelwong said...

you did very well..Bravo and give a pat to yourself

TheBlueRanger said...

You are one good mother, who can breastfeed for so long plus the fact that you are working. If I can turn back time, I will be more determine to breastfeed.

A Mom's Diary said...

thanks chanel.

blueranger, it's been a tough journey but definitely worth it.

Zara's Mama said...

you are doing very well actually.. and you have very good gynae's and paed's support.

Yeah.. I dislike the countless time of 'pumping' too.. sometimes we go out and she was fed from a bottle at home, and when we get home, all I want to do is sleep, but to make sure that feed of bottled EBM get replenish, I have to pump.. zzzzzzzzzz

Contented Mum said...

Be proud of yourself for being so determined in giving the best (bf) to Yiu Yiu!

A Mom's Diary said...

zara's mama, i was lucky to have both gynae and paed who are pro-breastfeeding, and yes, the pumping sessions were always a dread.

contented mum, just doing my best to become a good mum in some ways, as i know i'm lacking in others.