They never tell you that it’s actually really not easy at all. All pro-breastfeeding books always start with “Breast milk provides blah blah nutrients to baby, and promotes bonding between mummy and baby….. WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least 6 months blah blah blah….” But have they told you that breastfeeding requires more than just pure determination?
Having read all the pro-breastfeeding literature, Dear2 resolved to breastfeed Baby1 for as long as possible, setting a timeline of at least 6 months. But in merely 2.5 weeks time, many events seem to have taken place, testing mummy’s and daddy’s resolve on numerous occasions.
Challenge #1 – Colostrum not coming in
Some mtbs complain about colostrum leaks nearing the end of their pregnancy. How I envy these mtbs, cos it means that baby won’t have to suffer those few days while waiting for mummy’s colostrum to come in. Dear2’s colostrum did not start until Day3 at the hospital stay, and mind you, that mere first 3 days of waiting and pressure from the nurses was enough to put the question to mummy’s and daddy’s mind on multiple occasions – should we feed baby with formula milk? Baby1 was able to use her reserves for the first few days after her birth, but as her weight keeps on dropping from 2.5 to 2.1kg, and with jaundice looming ahead, we finally gave in on Day4 and consented to feeding her with glucose water….
Challenge #2 – Milk not coming in
5 days stay in the hospital and Baby1 got thinner and lankier, and mummy’s milk supply was still very much questionable. The Medele Freestyle Pump which was the most expensive baby item we bought did not yield any milk at all, if you consider that miserable few drops of breastmilk to be anything at all, it was a confidence trial again. It was with sheer determination to feed Baby1 with whatever little breastmilk that mummy has, and the belief that Supply = Demand , that mummy continued to breastfeed baby diligently at 3 hours interval as well as stimulate milk production through pumping. No bother that Dear2’s mum and Dear1’s parents keep asking if baby is drinking enough. As long as baby is able to fall asleep after a feed, this means baby is able to be satisfied from the feed, meaning, full…. With a few days of constant feeding, mummy is able to detect some patterns too, like how baby looks satisfied or falls asleep immediately after a feed, and how mummy’s breasts seem to become softer after a feed, meaning, emptied. Baby also almost always rouses at 3 hours interval for her feed, meaning, hungry already. With all these signs, plus mummy’s determination in not giving up, mummy is comforted, but not so for daddy. Daddy was still concerned by baby’s poo and pee, is her poo normal, is her pee enough….? 2 weeks on, and baby seems to establish a routine – feeding at mummy’s breast during the day time usually makes a sleepy baby, but baby seems to be exceptionally hungry during the nights, and it’s usually supplements with formula milk.
Challenge #3 – Growth Spurt
Just when mummy was getting confident that everything is under control, baby’s feeding patterns change again. She seems soooooooo very hungry all of a sudden!! Is it that mummy’s milk supply is not catching up with her supply? Sob sob…. Each feed is almost an hour, and yet baby is still not full, and gotto supplement with formula milk. Would we be better off just sticking to total formula milk…..? Luckily, Dear1 found on the website that baby is just undergoing a growth spurt between 2 to 3 weeks, and thus constantly needs to be fed. During this phase, breastmilk is still the best food for her in this developmental phase, so mummy just gotto change from the 3 hourly to 1.5 interval feeds…
Challenge #4 – Sore nipples
They tell you that they have given up becos of the excruciating pain from the sore nipples. Yes, the nipples are sore after the constant sucking, and pains when baby latches on, but the most grilling part is when mummy cannot carry baby as she constantly kicks or brushes past mummy’s nipples. Should I persevere in breastfeeding, only to compromise on having intimate moments with my baby? The determination is yet again shaken…
Challenge #5 – Confinement Rules
5 days stay in the hospital and no shower or wash hair is ok as mummy hardly perspire in the air con ward. But once back home, with Singapore’s kind of humid weather, it was sweat sweat sweat all the way. D#mn all the no bathing, no touching of water confinement rules, so it was off-you-go barely after 2 days at home, but even twice a day shower and alternate days wash hair and mummy still sweats greatly. Hope baby doesn’t take in these sweat when she’s at mummy’s breast…And to h#ll with all the confinement food – ginger makes jaundice worse and wine gets passed on to baby through the breastmilk. How come nobody ever talks about these conflicts between confinement and breastfeeding……..?
Challenge #6 – No life
Feed every 3 hourly from start to start, and each feed takes from 30min to an hour, and that leaves mummy only 2 hours. Sleep, eat, wash up, do housework, and it’s hardly much time for anything else. Even catching a home movie requires some precise timing so that baby dun wakes up before the end of the show. Going out of the home is a nightmare too. Now, does this shopping centre have a feeding room? If not, den nope, we can’t go there….. Go to the park for a walk? Have to go IMMEDIATELY after a feed, else baby will fuss again…
Challenge #7 – Miserable pump yield
Dunno is it mummy’s problem or is it the pump problem, baby is able to be satisfied from direct latching, but if we were to pump it out, it’s a miserable 10ml from each breast only. Still a problem unsolved, but we’ll make do with direct latching, afterall, direct latching still beats feeding indirectly.
They only tell you all the good things about breastfeeding, but hardly mention about these things that make your resolve waver so often, so frequently. Luckily we are in an internet time now, and can seek constant support from other people in forums, or through ‘professional’ advice from websites which details what we can expect as the norm.
For now, mummy is just going to take 1 step at a time, and hopes to breastfeed baby for as long as she can. *Pray, please don’t keep testing my resolve….* Hopefully as Baby1 gets older as the days goes by, her feeding and sleeping habits will establish some patterns…