Yesterday, one of my colleague asked me over lunch, how do I persevere on breastfeeding till today.
I have gone this far- a year. Something I myself did not think I could.
I did not come from a family who are pro-breastfeeding nor have great knowledge on how to breastfeed either. We did attend antenatal courses, but when trying to nurse a wailing baby, who on earth can remember every single detail of what you have learnt? I guess that is what breaks most new moms, thinking wailing baby is still hungry and they don’t have enough milk to supply.
My journey started on rocks. I had my fair share of hurdles and struggles. I battled myself out when I got help. This is another thing I realized mums usually avoid: seeking help. It is not a taboo to seek help. Getting help definitely does not make you less of a mum.
These are what I have learnt along the way for the past 1 year and hope it may benefit you in one way or another.
1) Breastfeeding is not a natural process like what is claimed. It is learnt, something both mum and baby learn together. This period will be the hardest for both mum any baby. If you started to doubt yourself, even a little, get help. If you have a lactation nurse, call her immediately. You need to persevere and do not give up yet.
2) Setting small goals. At first I told myself to breastfeed Nadra for 3months, and then come 3months, extending it to 6months and so on. It is more achievable and once accomplished, you will feel more empowered to continue.
3) Latch, latch and latch. Especially for the first few weeks, even if the interval is only an hour. Breastmilk digest so much faster so don’t blame on your milk supply.
4) Invest in a good pump. Some babies can go without milk for very long. To maintain your constant supply, you need to pump for every 2 hours for the first 1 month. There are some good manual pumps in the market that are as good as an electric. Electric just makes the job faster.
5) Drink lots of water and eat. How much I produced is greatly dependant on how much I drink and how much I eat. Try pumping when your stomach is growling, there will be too little output. On top of that, I also drink Traditional Medicine’s Mother’s Milk tea every morning. I am a tea lover. However when you are breastfeeding, caffeine intake should be minimal. This tea is non-caffeinated and it helps to boost milk supply! All the better. Listen to your body. If you are hungry, you eat (healthily).
6) Relax. Well, many people would say get enough rest. But can you? I couldn’t. So when you are nursing your baby, just relax. Relax your back on a cushion, straighten your legs, or whatever position you are comfortable with. Treat your nursing session as your getaway.
7) Put on a deaf ear. There will be people telling you that your baby might not be getting sufficient milk because your baby is small or couldn’t sleep through the night. Do not take it too hard. Breastfed babies are naturally smaller, but they are very lean. Only a small percentage of babies can actually sleep through the night, if you are one of them, you are very lucky.
8) Get your spouse’s support. Support here, I meant by sharing chores. Hehe… When you are nursing, he can help in some chores that you can’t complete. Faiz usually does the laundry and he seemed to love it (or I think he does).
9) If you are going back to work, you can start stocking up on the 3rd month onwards, 1-2 packets a day. At work, try to pump at least 3 times (early morning, during lunch and late afternoon). There will be times when your baby went on a drinking marathon and your freezer stash seemed to deplete right before your eyes. Do not worry. You are still pumping at work isn’t it? So there will always be milk supply for your baby.
10) Enjoy while it last. I am not sure when Nadra will wean herself off but till that day comes, I will continue on. It may be just another year, who knows?
The benefits of breastfeeding are endless. But if you tried and all things fail, do not beat yourself to it, open the formula can and carry on. Enjoy the growing moment of your child in other ways.