Wednesday 15 December 2010

Got Mummy's Milk Too?


I know what you're thinking, "Oh no not breastfeeding again?!?"
(If you don't then please see this post)

Well... this particular activity has occupied 10-30 minutes (10 if I feed direct, 30 if I pump) every 2-4 hours (every 2 hours when she was 0-3 months, every 3-4 hours when she was 3-5 months) every day for the past 5 months, that's at least 400 hours (if not more) of milk, milk, and more milk! So yeah, you can say I've become somewhat of an expert on the subject. At least in my own opinion. Haha.

With my sister's encouragement, these posts are therefore the products of me wanting to share my 400 hours worth of experience.

Firstly, to all mothers-to-be out there who are considering breastfeeding, I say, "DO IT!!"

According to most sites (for e.g. this), there are infinitely more pros than cons of breastfeeding. The best benefits in my opinion include being able to lose weight, the health of your baby and the tons of money you will save from not buying milk powder. However, all it takes is TWO cons to make you give up: i) excruciating pain (especially in the beginning) and ii) extreme tiredness (cos no one else can do it except you).

Hence, be sure that you are prepared or you will not succeed in doing it. From my own experience, I realised that the key to long term breastfeeding lies in:

1) Your knowledge about breastfeeding
Positions, latch on, let down reflex, typical length of feedings & amount of milk, how do you know if your baby gets enough milk, breast engorgement and its problems, mastitis, what not to eat, what to eat... the list goes on and on and on! Make sure you are well read on the topic. Buy books and magazines. Or better still, read it for free online. Google 'breastfeeding' and tons of websites tell you what you need to know. Check out the Truth about Breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding outside is also made easier with nursing rooms located in various public places like shopping malls. Here are their locations and my ratings.

2) Managing your expectations
Although women have been doing this for centuries, don't and I mean DON'T expect this to be natural. It is a skill that you need to master. Something like learning to swim or ride a bike... you need time and patience. You need to practise, practise and practise. Get a lactation consultant to help you. In the beginning when I breastfed Baby J, I really didn't know how to do it so that my nipples wouldn't hurt. I thought it hurt because she had damn powerful suction (which she does ok). Anyway, the lactation expert observed me and realised I was doing it wrong. That's why it hurts. After I got it right, it didn't hurt as bad (still hurt a bit but not as bad). After weeks and weeks of practice, I soon got the hang of it and actually enjoyed it!

Until she starts sprouting a tooth that is...


3) Perseverance
The beginning of learning every new thing is always the hardest. You fall and fall and fall when you're learning how to cycle. Same with breastfeeding. You just gotta grit your teeth through the first 4 weeks of it and trust us it will definitely get easier!

And resist the urge to stop feeding directly in the 2nd week thinking that you don't have enough milk for your baby. The human body is an amazing thing. If your baby needs it, your body will produce it. Give it time. Keep latching on your baby to establish your milk supply and you will have plenty of milk.

4) A lot of Support
Make sure you have got someone who's also breastfeeding or has breastfed before to support you. There was a point when I felt no one understood me because no one around me has ever breastfed before. Only another mother going through or who has gone through the experience could truly emphathise with you. Then Belle, my friend who was also breastfeeding her daughter, came along and offered me a lot of understanding and encouragement. I really appreciated it.

Support from your hubby and family is also extremely important. It will not help you at all if all your hubby can say to you is, "So difficult why don't you just give up?" Or if your mother keeps saying, "What's wrong with milk powder? All of you grew up with milk powder what..." Get them to understand that breastfeeding is important for your baby's health.

5) Tools that can help
Pain can be overcome with help from nipple creams and nipple protectors . Breast pumps can also help you to catch up on your sleep by allowing others to feed the baby on your behalf.

Use them =)

With this in mind, go ahead and enjoy the journey. Although it was the most challenging thing that I ever had to deal with after giving birth, it was also the most rewarding. It is really the best thing you can give your baby which you and only you can give =).

She may not wear 'I heart MUM' on her clothes but we all know who she wants when she's hungry. It certainly ain't daddy...

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