There’s only so much you can read up about breastfeeding. While I was preparing for the birth of my child, I read everything I could lay my hands on and was well equipped (so I thought) to breastfeed.
Although the theoretical knowledge did help to some extend, I must say I was a bundle of nerves and was quickly consumed by frustration when my newborn was first given to me to breastfeed.
On my hospital bed, I had a crying baby in my arms and suddenly, a ton of questions came to mind. How to I undress discreetly, can I clean my breast with a wet wipe? Or must I only do it with water and some cotton? And there were the different positions to carry the baby so that both mother and baby can be comfortable? All the knowledge I had gathered all crumbled into a pile of nerves.
My point is, when it comes to breastfeeding, nothing beats practice. It took me 2 weeks to figure out the most comfortable position for baby but unfortunately could never get it right for myself. I always ended up in an awkward position and some part of my body would always be aching after the 30-45 minute feeding session.
Then there is the problem of supply. By the second day, my child was crying hard no matter how long I nursed him. Then I realised, I wasn’t producing enough milk! My confinement nanny fed me lots of papaya and fish but by the end of the first month, I still did not have enough to feed my child. At this point, I had no choice but to supplement the feeds with powdered milk.
A good friend who was also a mummy constantly encouraged me not to give up and to continue to breastfeed no matter how little the quantity. I must say that having encouragement and support from friends and family was crucial for me to persist.
By the 4[SUP]th[/SUP] month, by chance I started to drink lots of ikan billis soup and miraculously the milk supply started flowing and not only I had enough, my freezer was overflowing with excess milk that I had stored.
Looking back, I feel a little regret that I gave up letting my child latch-on from his second week and was exclusively expressing for 1 year. Although I felt like I lost the opportunity to bond with my child there were many advantages to this arrangement. I could get a lot more rest, since anyone can help me bottle-feed my child, but yet my child continues to receive the best nourishment. This also meant, it was much easier when it was time for me to return to work.
To me, no matter whether it was direct breastfeeding or expressed, I feel that by not forcing myself beyond what I could comfortably do, I did not allow myself or my child to be in a stressful state. Difficult as it might sound but being a relaxed mummy is definitely being a better mummy to your child.
In summary, what I have learnt
- Read as much as you can about breastfeeding before your child arrive, but dont’t despair if it’s not as easy as what you have read. Practice makes perfect
- Always get into a comfortable position yourself before you position the child
- Be aware of the food that you eat, no raw food or alcohol 2 hours before feeding your child
- Ikan bilis does wonders for milk supply (for me at least, so no harm trying)