*THIS IS GOING TO BE A LONG POST. PLEASE BEAR WITH ME.*
I think, some time in my first trimester, I decided that I wanted to fully breastfeed my kid. It was a decision that came very naturally to me and I didn’t have to think long and hard about it.
I started joining Facebook forums so I could equip myself with some knowledge before I embark on this journey. I didn’t think it would be a challenging feat. I’ve heard of horror stories before; mastitis, cracked nipples, engorged breast, low milk supply, no milk supply, etc but honestly, I thought pfffft no problem!
Well, in some sense, it did. But I wasn’t prepared at all for the journey ahead of me.
Fast forward to April 22, right after delivering D and after all the stitching, D was placed on my chest and I was taught to breastfeed her. Because I took (nay, demanded!) the epidural, I wasn’t suppose sit up immediately in case I got dizzy. Plus, I was slightly nauseous due to the epidural.
I breastfed for the first time lying down. Unfortunately, the midwife that taught me wasn’t so good on the teaching end, what we thought was latching wasn’t exactly latching. The nurses from the nursery brought D over much later that night and that was my second attempt at breastfeeding. It was another failed attempt. D was either too tired or didn’t try hard enough so she didn’t get any colostrum.
What I like about Sunway hospital is the persistence of the nurses there. D roomed with us and so our first night started with no sleeping at all!
The nurses came in every now and then to help me with breastfeeding. The method they taught wasn’t so effective. At one point I thought I had nothing to I started squeezing to see if I have colostrum. In the end, after much effort from all ends, D latched on for the very first time.
Throughout the night, I kept on latching D but even though she was sucking, my latching isn’t perfect so she isn’t getting her full share of colostrum.
This was just one of MANY things we went through in our breastfeeding journey. Both the hubs and I were just so tired out. My mom was amazing. Even though she has never taken care of a fully breastfed child, she’s so supportive of us doing this. Occasionally she’ll get worried, as only a grandmother would but gave us a lot of space with what we decide. <3
Just as I have feared, I had migraines on alternate days because of the lack of sleep….or so I thought. Having a migraine and absolute lack of sleep is a bad combination for the first week of your life as a mom. I didn’t feel so connected when I breastfed D because I was nursing both a baby and a migraine. But after being forced to drink PLENTY of fluids from the husband (who kept a tight watch on me), I realise the cause of my migraines isn’t the lack of sleep! No, it was because I was dehydrated! Breastfeeding drains you out, pun intended and so, I needed to drink a lot to rehydrate again. After that, my migraines stopped and no matter how little I slept, I was fine.
However, I still get migraines from heat waves so when I was back in my hometown, the heat was so bad I had terrible pounding migraines.
Throughout my first month, D and I had some trouble with latching. What I thought was the correct latch was actually not. Therefore, D had little milk every time she sucked so feeding time was super long. Some times she will get frustrated and so will I. After making sure I unlatch and latch her again, feeding was much better.
This is by far the most demanding of my whole breastfeeding journey. Every time you think she’s done with feeding and you have burped her, once you put her down, she starts crying. It’s fine when it’s in the afternoon but when it is at night and you are so dead tired, things starts to get ugly. I have had many frustrated moments with her. I had a meltdown once cause I don’t understand how someone so small can eat SO MUCH!
D had many cluster feeds, mostly during her growth spurts. She has fed from 4-11am before. She has fed from 7-11pm before and throughout these feeds, I only had probably half an hour of rest. Throughout those times, she was just attached to my boobs!
To those whose kids did not go through cluster feeding, you’re lucky! To those going through the same as me, good luck. All I can say is, ride it out. Just have a laptop/ipad/book/tv/phone to keep you busy.
Feeding on demand
Feeding on demand means you feed when she’s hungry. Naturally, during the first 3 months, you would want to feed her every 2-3 hours and not letting her go beyond 4 hours without a feed. This is so that she’s not dehydrated. When you feed on demand, if she wakes up every hour, you should let her latch on. With D, there was no schedule. Sometimes she feeds every hour, sometimes 2 or 3. On average, she feeds every 2 hours. This means if she wakes up for feed at 8am and feeds till 9, her next feed is 10am. So after feeding and burping and her finally sleeping at 9.30am, you have essentially 1/2 hour before she feeds again. Ohhh yyeeaaahh. And for someone like me who can’t easily fall asleep, you can get seriously sleep deprived.
Of course, the constant worry on the minds of breastfeeding moms, do I have enough milk? I think have enough. I latch her whenever she needs. Still, I drink milo with oats, green papaya soup and pumping every now and then to increase supply. So far she’s fine but still, it’s a constant worry.
At first, I thought my breastfeeding journey will be filled with constant negativity from my parents and in laws. My mom is a trooper! She helped to prepare the green papaya soup, bringing D to me whenever she thinks D is hungry and gives me encouragement. My hubs handles the in laws. They were never negative but needed a lot of educating on how breastfeeding on demand goes. All in all everyone respected our decision and I am glad!
Our social lives? I had to cancel on two weddings because D was either cluster feeding or absolutely colicky. I had pumped milk ready but when she cluster feeds, who knows how much she’ll need and constantly reheating milk isn’t very conducive in this situation. Was absolutely sad I couldn’t go for that because it was a wedding of a childhood friend and it was a reunion of sorts. The other wedding we cancelled out was when D was colicky and was just stuck to the boobs.
You may think with all these frustrations, I’d give up on breastfeeding but actually, these keeps me going. Breastfeeding is how I connect with D and our alone time whenever we have visitors in the house who wants to constantly cuddle her. This keeps her less stressed so she’s calmer when there’s too many people.
Would I quit anytime soon? Nope. I am more determined than ever to feed her! It feels so good. I don’t know how to describe it.
I had a paed who when I told him that I am exclusively breastfeeding D, kept suggesting that I add on with formula. When he pricked D to get a blood sample and she wailed, he said she was dehydrated and starved! But more on that later. Needless to say, we didn’t go back to him. :)
My gynae was amazing. When he asked how am I feeding D and I said exclusively breastfeeding, he congratulated me and said, “Not many people can do this!” And I agree. If the hubs wasn’t with me all the way, I would have given up long ago.
I’ll revisit my journey again in another 4 months when D hits solids. I hope I can keep on breastfeeding her till then. Little steps at a time. :)
1) Got milk?
This was our go to book especially in our first 3 weeks. I would definitely recommend this book. Get it before you deliver so you can start reading first.
2) The breastfeeding advocates network (Facebook group)
An open forum but you have to join the group first. It’s not private so anyone can see the posts. People are friendly especially the admins. Great when you need quick advice.
3) Lactation consultant
Dr Koe doubles up as a paed as well. She’s currently D’s paed but be prepared to wait for long hours. The best is if you can be first or second in line. The last time we went, we were 6th but waited for 2.5 hours! She’s very patient and never negative. We love her as well as Dr Lim from Assunta. More on Paeds later on. You can find Dr Koe at:
Koe Child Clinic
73, Jalan Mega Mendung,
5th Mile Jalan Klang Lama
Phone : 03-7983 0539
Operation hours :
Weekday 9.00 am – 1.00pm and 6.00pm – 8.30pm
Thursday and Tuesday night CLOSED
Saturday 9.00am – 12.30pm. Sunday closed.
Great online source!