Wednesday, December 29, 2010

From zero, to a fulltime breastfeeding mom.

After 3 months of struggling with breastfeeding and to finally get it right, I am called to share my experience in breastfeeding.  The challenges, the problems, and the solutions to my problems.  My baby had refused to be breastfed during the early weeks, and now she refuses to be bottle-fed when I am around. 

When I made the decision to fully breastfeed my baby, I was over-excited by all the good stuff.  I purchased myself a good breastpump and all the breastfeeding equipment, educated myself on storing of breastmilk and the goodness of breastmilk, and read about all the beauties of it.  Little did I know of the problems that you may experience while breastfeeding which led to my almost post partum depression state after I gave birth.  Yes.  The challenges.  There are problems that may arise during breastfeeding (I embolden them for you throughout the whole write up). 

On my girl's first day of birth I was already in tears.  About an hour after labour, my baby was given to me for nursing.  I had failed miserably the first time because the baby had a problem to latch on to my nipple, which was apparently inverted.  This was the first problem I encountered.  I had never read that when breastfeeding, you may have nipple issues such as inverted or flat nipple.  This was my first mistake.  If I had known this before, I would probably have purchased the breastfeeding aid for inverted or flat nipple: the breast shell.  

Following my first failed attempt to breastfeed, I was suppose to keep trying to breastfeed.  However due to the latch on failure, I had no milk colostrum at all on that day.  None.  I tried pressing, massaging.  Nothing came out.  I referred to the hospital nurse, and I was asked to keep trying.  Then came the night, my baby girl was already too hungry to wait anymore.  She cried and she cried and this had caused me to breakdown since I was alone with her.  No help whatsoever.  You see, the first problem with latched on had led to my second issue, low milk production which later on became a huge problem.   

Then came the second day, things got out of control.  She cries and she cries, but mommy can't feed her.  I decided, which was my next biggest mistake, to feed him on formula.  Using bottle.  Yes, like I said my biggest mistake because once she had a taste of the teat, she got nipple-confused.  It will be hard to try to get her on the breast again.  It's hard, but not impossible. 

These three problems went on for weeks, with endless crying from both baby and mommy.  I was lucky because though not knowing the problems before-hand, I had strong support from a good friend of mine and my sister in law who are breastfeeding fulltime as well.  So here, let me share how I overcame these problems and after 2 months, I am a happy breastfeeding mommy.  Remember the key to a successful breastfeeding is patience.  Remember as well, that all babies are different.  You must try different solutions before you decided to give up!  

Inverted Nipple
Patience is the key.  I kept on pushing my baby for the breast.  Let her cry for a bit in refusal.  Like my father said, you can't give her everything she wants.  My nipple was sore, it was too painful at one point.  But heard of nursing cream?  Go to the doctor or pharmacy to get this.  In fact, I regretted not having it earlier.  After several weeks, nipple condition improved.  My baby frequent sucking (once feeding pattern established) had helped draw out these nipples. 

For info, before I tried to just 'keep forcing her', I tried to use the syringe to draw out nipple as advised by my doctor.  This didn't work for me, it only hurts me even more. 

Tips:  You can also try purchasing breast shell to draw out your nipple.  I didn't know about this earlier so I never tried them.  Now I know that Medela has them: 

Low Milk Production
The concept is simple.  Demand=supply.  Yes, so if demand is high, supply will be high too.  Why my milk production is low?  It's due to the low demand by my baby.  During the fifth days of birth, things became worse for her.  She had severe jaundice and this had caused her to drink less and less.  Up to the point when she would just sleep for hours and not waking up to feed.  When I was suppose to feed her little and often to establish milk production, she refused to be fed.  This was very frustrating as a mother, and very worrying for the little one too. 

Again, patience is the key.  When I started pushing her to get to like the breastmilk, and she started to establish a better feeding pattern, my milk production got better.  Still low, but better.  The latched on problem earlier was the main contributor. 

Once I started work and demand from baby is suppose to be lower, I try to maintain a good pumping pattern to keep it going.  I also drink dry longan every night and soya bean milk during the day.  Hot water works for me too, so before I start expressing milk using my Freestyle, I drink hot water first.  This helps maintain my milk supply.  Not much, but it helps. 

Also, do invest in a good breastpump as it may help maintain your milk supply during the day.  Mine is a 2-phase expression and it immitates baby's sucking pattern.  I just love mine. 

Tips: You can also try herbal Milkmaid Tea, fenugreek tablet, motillium, fresh milk and many other supplements to help boost your milk supply.  Make full use of Mr Google and you shall find something that may help.  Read here as well:

Nipple Confusion  
Now, babies who are nipple-confused will have a problem in breastfeeding.  This problem had gone on for weeks as well.  Refusal to drink from the breast.  It hurts my feelings.  A lot.  She used to prefer the teat than me.  So myself as a mother felt so useless.  When this happened, what I did was express my milk, keep them in the fridge and gave them to her when she's hungry. 

Until one day I had a chat with my friend (who is my biggest support for breastfeeding), and she suggested I try using this one particular bottle her baby is using.  The First Years Breastflow.  I had posted about the bottle in my previous post: .  It works wonders.  It taught my baby to latch on and suck properly.  From this moment on, my baby's nipple confusion problem went away just like that. 

Tips: Talk to a lactation consultant who may be able to help you overcome the problem.  What worked for me, don't necessarily work for you.  Also talk to another breastfeeding mom to share the problem. 

My point is, breastfeeding can be very easy, or challenging for some.  Every mother's situation is different. 

  • What's important is to know where to look for help and support.  I have friends and family members who helped.  I also refer to a breastfeeding community for help. 
  • Do your research thoroughly if you have decided to breastfeed. 
  • Expect problems especially if you are a first time mother like I was. 
  • Do not be around negative people who tries to demotivate you with breastfeeding. 
  • Learn the technique before you start.
  • Learn ways to calm you down when breastfeeding.  Trust me, you need to be at your most peaceful mind to do so. 
  • If you are a working mother, choose a daycare that supports breastfeeding.
  • Invest in a good breastpump (Mentioned this before). 
And if you still have doubts on the help needed, do email me then maybe I can share my knowledge with you.

Happy breastfeeding!  Enjoy it to make it works! 

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