I’ve always thought breastfeeding would come naturally, just like childbirth, beautiful, easy and effortless. How wrong I was!
It takes a lot of perseverance, observation and determination! Not just a little but lots, and I really mean lots and lots of patience and determination.
I conceived at the age of 34, but suffered a mid-term loss during the 20th week when the scan revealed that my unborn baby had a severe form of spinal bifida, a birth defect involving the backbone and spinal canal. I was devastated after the loss but I am determined I would breastfeed if I can conceive and have babies. I finally conceived for the third time (I had a second loss after the first), and successfully gave birth to my daughter via C-sec as I was told that I had low placenta and was too risky for natural birth.
Told to give baby formula
I had to lie down to breastfeed after the C-Sec, and I tried an hour trying to get my baby to latch. She was sleepy and unlatched every minute, and my wound hurt when I tried to get baby to latch on. I thought it would be better the 2nd day, but it wasn’t. By the 3rd day, my milk wasn’t flowing. I was told that baby needed to be given formula to prevent dehydration. I cried! I know breastfeeding is a choice, and I chose it but it became more than a choice, it was a primal need, an obsession. I just want to be able to breastfeed and my baby to be totally breastfed, with no bottles and milk formulas.
Nursing my baby was…
The lactation consultants came to visit and gave me many tips and encouragement. I was told that nipples stimulation will encourage and speed up the flow. I did that and my milk came on the 4th day, the day I discharged. When we were still at the hospital, the nurses brought the baby in every 3 hours so I can nurse the baby. After we reached home, the baby cried so frequently and I was nursing almost every hour! I was struggling with milk supply, and I was exhausted, felt unwell, and I wanted to sleep. My family has been trying to persuade me to give formulas.
However, I did not give up. I continued to nurse and latch often. As each day passed, breastfeeding did get a little easier, but I was up a few times at night to nurse, and as I sat up nursing, usually in a football hold position, I was exhausted after a month because having to wake up every 2 hours and sitting up nursing means I did not get sufficient rest. I knew I had to explore another position, so I began to practice reclining position. It took me a while to perfect but finally I was able to nurse the baby lying down, and when I finally mastered the position, I remembered I was doing nothing but nursing the baby the whole day, and only got up to eat and going to the toilet when necessary. My daughter was on breastmilk for 8 months, and I partially breastfed her till she turned one year old.
It’s tough but no one can take your breastfeeding experience away
We were then blessed with a healthy baby boy, and who must have thought the second time would be easier right? I thought so too but I was wrong. I struggled with milk supply, and was told again that my baby needed to be given glucose and formula because he hasn’t pee for the past 12 hours. I did the nipple stimulation again and my milk came in on the 3rd day, and combine with the past breastfeeding experience, I was confident that I can do it and I did!
As I am sitting here and writing this, I am still breastfeeding my 16 months old baby boy and I have no intention to stop as of now. It has nothing to do with the antibodies in human milk or the protection against breast cancer. It’s about the indescribable feeling when my baby pulls off the breast and grins up at me with milk running out the side of his mouth, and then happily returns to nursing.
Contributed by Cecil Lum, 41 years old, mother of two. Cecil breastfed her first born for 8 months and currently breastfeeding her second born for the past 16 months.
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