Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Breastfeeding Journey

Before Zara was born, I was set to breastfeed her as long as I could. She is coming to 10months old next week, and I'm glad my commitment has not deterred despite the problems I faced from different sources.

I have very good support from the hospital I delivered Zara. The mid wife helped me to latched her on immediately after she was born (right after the mucus has been sucked out from her mouth and nose). Zara was hungrily sucking away. I have to say it was pure bliss, after the hard labour, holding her in my arms, and seeing her suckling.

The first 2 days was tough. After 10hours of labour, all I wanted was to rest, but the little fella had another agenda. She was hungry most of the time, if she's not sleeping, she would be crying and the nurse would bring her to me to be fed. Being a first time mum, not knowing how to position her or handle her, added to the difficulty. Normally the nurse would helped me position, and I would then hold Zara in that same position, not daring to move, afraid she might be uncomfortable or unlatch and then I wouldn't know how to position her back. She would be nursing at 2am, 4am, 6am, 8am, imagine. I was at the brink of giving up, to ask for formula supplement, but I reminded myself about the importance of nursing in the first few moments (to ensure my milk supply is established), the nipple confusion, all the benefit of breast feeding (endless..), and I persisted.

When we were discharged, I was faced with another challenge, the confinement lady we have. Oh, she was so discouraging. First, she asked us to move the cot back to our room (from hers) if I wanted to breastfeed. "It's for your good, you have quicker access to the baby if she needed a feed." she said. Yeah right, it's more for her (to sleep uninterrupted by the cries) than me.

I have very little milk and Zara was hungry and crying all the time. Instead of boiling me soup or advising me what to take to increase milk supply, she summoned Daddy to get a tin of formula to supplement my feed (we did sneak out to get a tin of formula JUST IN CASE). We told her no, no supplement, I wanted to breast feed exclusively. The confinement lady was wailing all the time when Zara was crying for her feed and couldn't get enough. "Oh, poor girl girl, mummy naughty, mummy no milk, my girl girl have to get hungry". "Oh poor girl girl, mummy don't want to give you supplement" Oh, how I wish I could give her a slap and asked her to shut up! How can she be so discouraging and so 三八 (sampat - closes I could translate to is cuckoo)??!!

Because of all the other nuisance she's causing (well, that would be another story), we fired our confinement lady the 2nd day. I continued to breast feed Zara, even though it was still tough (fatigue, sore nipple), and she was still crying most of the time because of hunger, at least I fed her in peace now.

We got the hospital to send us a nurse to teach me how to care for Zara, as well as provide support for breast feeding. This was great. Nurse Chee was very supportive. She told me not to give up even though it's very tiring, and it can only get better. She taught me how to feed Zara lying down, that will give me time to rest or nap while Zara nursed.

My milk supply was established after a few days and Zara was starting to have a routine, feeding every 3hourly. Daddy too helped out by doing the midnight feeds using expressed milk so I got to rest 6hours in a stretch. I was beginning to be more confident about breastfeeding.

Zara stopped waking up middle of the night for feeds when she was 6 weeks old. Daddy still helped me with the early morning feed, allowing me even longer rest time. Things really got better (and another advantage is I returned to my pre-pregnancy weight after 2months).

After 3 months of staying home to care for her, my next problem cropped up. Zara was refusing the bottle, and I had to go back to work. People were offering advice to ask me to switch to formula; she might not take the bottle of breast milk, but she may take formula milk; 3 months of breast feeding is more than enough, I should start formula now; blah blah. Well, I'd gone this far, I won't quit now.

While at work, I continued to express milk. Zara cried, and screamed every time the bottle appeared, we tried spoon feeding her, cup feeding her but she only took a few sips, then repeated her crying bout. She took very little milk while I was at work. When I got back home, she, like an addict, would latch on, and spent an hour or more on the breast, practically sucking me dry.

Then the crying lessened and the drinking (from bottle) increased, eventually, she has this same excited look every time she's hungry and saw the bottle coming. After 1 month, she finally accepted the bottle as another source of nourishment. We crossed another hurdle.

She has a taste of formula when I was away for business trip, and I didn't have enough stocked up for her 1 week feed. I was so worried she'll refuse my milk when I returned. Well, when she saw me, the first thing she wanted to was to have her fix and she took her own sweet time enjoying the breast.

KL is not a very friendly place for nursing mums. Only a few shopping malls have facilities. I try not to go to those places without when I have Zara with me. I am not shy to feed her in the presence of my family, or my female in-laws. Sometimes in public, I have to do it as well, although I try to be as discreet as possible (well, if you asked me why I don't wear nursing clothes, you should come and have a look at what KL has to offer, all the clothes are just so 'aunty' looking). I feel proud, being able to be the source of nourishment to my baby.

I am glad the office has nursing rooms for mums and I have a very supportive manager who will not send me on business trips longer than 1 week (as I'd told him I'll have 'stock' issue). Daddy is also all out to support me.

I feel very contented every time Zara is in my arms nursing, I like stroking her soft hair, kissing her small hands. I like the feel of her head resting on the nook of my elbow. Sometimes she rewards me with a satisfied pouting of her lips or, when she knew how to, a smile after a feed. All these, and a healthy her, makes me want to continue nursing her.

Some people were shocked that at this age, she's still not on any formula milk, and commented good heartedly that I should start switching to make my life easier, but I always tell them breast is best.


Rebecca said...

You are such a great mom, your blog is so sweet!

On the one hand, its wierd to read about breast feeding on the internet. On the other hand, what the hec a breast for if not for feeding babies?? All my friends breast-feed here in California, so be encouraged :)

Fannie said...

It really wasn't easy to start with so much 'negative challenges'!

Mine was better...Ethyl was very cooperative tho'. Maybe shall I share abit of my breastfeeding story? Hmm...let me go recap...:)

blurblur said...

Glad that you've persisted against all odds!

That confinement lady hor..really one kind! How could she say such thing to the baby??

miche said...

i am so encouraged with your testimony. i am going to do it right with my 3rd baby. after reading a few mommy blog on breastfeeding, now i understand more and i am not alone when the baby cry for lack of milk during the first week.

thank you very much for sharing. :D