I had always known that I would want to breastfeed my babies - when I had them. Itís said to be the best! I just never thought about how I would go about it. Personally, I had not seen many around me breastfeeding.
I had grown up with my mother extolling the benefits of breastfeeding; although she herself had never breastfed the 3 of us for longer than ONE month! "Milk just Dried Up", she says. Later, on probing, I found out that she had freely supplemented with formula. No Wonder. So even though my mother believed breastfeeding to be good, she was not very well informed!
Fortunately for me, as part of our Marriage Preparation Course (MPC - programme organised by the Family Life Society), we had to attend a Breastfeeding Talk. This talk was given by a Dr Charlotte Yung (a Medical Doctor & LC) from the Breastfeeding Society. She had even brought along her breastfed baby!
I received Very Good Information from that Talk. So when we had Sarah, I was very sure that Iíd be able to breastfeed her exclusively even after I returned to work. I meanÖ..fully breastfeed, no bottles, no water, no formula, no pacifiersÖÖdidnít sound too difficult! But things didnít turn out the way I thought they would!
Sarah was an EXTREMELY "high-need" baby. She must have been the "worst" newborn baby they had in the Hospital! The moment I put her down, she would cry - LOUDLY! It was so embarassing that I just latched her on. So there I was eating my meals with one hand and craddling my baby with the other to breastfeed. The hospital cleaning lady even commented that I was "spoiling" the baby, and I was almost ready to believe her . What did I know as a new parent?
Nevertheless, I perservered. I thought that it would only be that bad for just a little while - maybe only a few days. In that way, Sarah was exclusively breastfed during our stay in the hospital - even at night.
Back home, the situation got worse. Sarah wanted to nurse ALL THE TIME! It seemed like she was latched on 18 hours out of a 24 hour day! Thankfully most of the remaining 6 hours was Night-Time Sleep. Whew!
With that type of nursing "schedule", I quickly felt OVERWHELMED & extremely exhausted! I permanently had this baby stuck to me . By the end of the 1st month, I finally decided "enough!" and gave up breastfeeding. I was so relieved that Hubby could now help me feed the baby. And he was such GREAT help & support! He quietly took over whenever I started getting really down.
I MUST add though that switching to formula didnít change Sarahís feeding pattern very much. She continued to have a fussy disposition and feed very frequently. Small amounts at least every 2 hours until she was 15months old! Later on, I read that it was QUITE NORMAL ("So I Nursed him every 45 mins") for some babies to want to nurse constantly simply because -- "breastfeeding" is more than "nutrition"! If I had known this, I might have felt comforted and continued breastfeeding Sarah. And if I'd learnt how to nurse Sarah while lying down, it might even have been easier and I would have gotten my rest at the same time.
I was sad that I couldnít even do something so "simple" as breastfeeding. When we were expecting our 2nd baby - Daniel, I thought about breastfeeding again. I really wanted to try and handle it better this time. Another reason why I felt it would be necessary for me to at least try again was Sarahís Frequent Diaper Rash & Eczema - she started having rather bad cases of it from the age of 3 months.
Knowing how I reacted the previous time, I could only hope it would be better this time. But I tried not to be "Super Mom" again, and decided that Iíd just take it one step at a time. "If it doesnít work out, giving formula isnít going to be the end of the world!". With that frame of mind, I felt much more relaxed about breastfeeding when Daniel was born.
Starting out, I thought Iíd just try and see how it goes during the 1st month. It was really smooth-sailing. Probably because Daniel was such a "pleasant" baby too! Slept all the time!
In the 2nd month, Danielís feeding pattern got more Frequent & Demanding. But by then, Iíd discovered the Internet. Thereís so much interesting information on breastfeeding on the Internet! I also found a great newsgroup, misc.kids.breastfeeding. I learnt so many things from that newsgroup, and knowing that others also had problems (some much worse than mine!) was really great encouragement! I even learnt to pump milk! It took some time & some planning, but I think itís really worthwhile. I thus perservered with total breastfeeding even when I started work at 2 months postpartum.
The breastfeeding was going along fine until Daniel was 4.5 months old. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, he just started nursing differently. He didnít latch on well and gummed ("bite") me often. I then got a plugged duct. It was so painful. Everytime I nursed him, I had to grit my teeth. When no one was in the room, I even cried out! But by then, I felt that I had already breastfed Daniel for so long (4 months was long to me!), that I didnít want to stop just then. What I did was to take hot showers, massage my breasts, nurse often. The next day, the plugged duct was gone! Whew!
But thenÖa week later, the plugged duct was BACK! I was so disappointed, but I continued to have hot showers, massage, & nurse often. One side felt much worse than the other, so I actually gave that side a rest for 2 days by pumping that side while nursing Daniel on the other. We just couldnít understand why Daniel was so "stupid" to "forget" how to nurse properly! During this time, I continued to get great support from the Internet newsgroup - by this time, I was a regular and most of the other mothers "knew" me.
We found out the reason for Danielís change in sucking style when at 5months, his 2 front teeth popped out! A few days after that, his sucking was back to normal, and I didnít suffer from plugged ducts, pain or soreness after that. I guess Daniel just got used to his new teeth!
By the time Daniel turned 6 months (the target I had set after my successful 1st month), breastfeeding was going so well, that I said to myself "why stop?". All the initial problems had been ironed out. Daniel had grown really well on Momma's Milk. He only occasionally had mild eczema (not as bad as Sarah's) and never had any diaper rash. And so here I am, still breastfeeding Daniel. And I enjoy it. Heís 10 months old now, and walking all by himself!
I find it so endearing that he can be such a BIG BOY, exploring the
house, playing all sorts of rowdy games with his big sister Sarah, but
when heís tired or hungry, he still comes to me. I like this "Mommy I need
you" feeling. I donít know how long I will continue to nurse him. Weíll
probably continue to take it - "ONE STEP AT A TIME"!
Because of the support I found from internet groups, I decided to start one of my own. One for parents in Singapore & Asia. Do check it out at the Asia Parents' Mailing List Website. Join us! It's FREE!
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