While preparing for the arrival of my 2nd newborn next month, I am taking time off to write this very long entry, hoping to encourage more moms to join me in this amazing breastfeeding journey too! I hope that whatever i write below can help inspire you to attempt and persevere to breastfeed for as long as you can, cos breastfeeding is a gift that a mom can give to her child only once in his lifetime, once the time had passed, you cannot give this gift again.
Before i became a mom, I had never thought much about breastfeeding at all, or even showed any interests to find out more from breastfeeding colleagues. When i hear about breastfeeding my reaction will be “Oh?! Ok…” Only when I was mid-way pregnant with my #1, then I began to question myself if I want or need to breastfeed my baby? But first, if I know nuts about breastfeeding, how am i going to make that decision of to breastfeed or not?
Being a very serious person that always seek to find out the truth myself, instead of depending on hearing what everyone (breastfeeding moms, non-breastfeeding moms, singles, married but no children yet, and even men had tried telling me about breastfeeding when I haven’t gave it a thought at all) had to say, I actually went to the library to borrow many books on this topic to learn what breastfeeding is all about, what are the benefits, how it works, the techniques, tricks, tips, how to troubleshoot, etc. So i studied and i succeeded in exclusive breastfeeding for 18 months despite negative comments, discouragements or challenges from around me! I was able to do so because i already knew what are bullshits that i do not need to heed or entertain, as well as i found two very positive and supportive mommy friends whom i approached for help and advices!
Recalling back, I feel it’s amazing how my body is able to support and provide food for the first 18 months of my son’s life! All his milk intake came from me and i was very happy because my son is my lipo-suction machine as well as he is gentle to our wallet!! I didn’t plan when to stop breastfeeding, some how, one day after midnight, when KD turned 17 months exactly, he decided to stop latching just like that. 🙂 I think I am a lucky one in this sense, i immediately took the cue and start weaning him by extending the time to express my breast milk. The frozen supply of expressed breast milk in the freezer lasts for another month before it is totally depleted and then we started our purchasing of milk powder journey.. ($_$””) [Psst!! And can you imagine? For the next 9 months that followed…. i still have breast milk in my breasts even though i didn’t latch on or express anymore? that’s like WOAH! No one told me that!!]
I shall not go into details about how breastfeeding works, what you should do etc.. You will be able to easily find theses out on your own if you are really keen about breastfeeding. What I want to share is the 10 things about breastfeeding that I have experienced & learnt and feel it will be encouraging for you to know:
I feel the biggest advantage about breastfeeding is convenience – there is no need to wash & sterilize bottles, no need to bring any milk accessories out, no need to wake in middle of night to go out to mix a bottle of milk, you don’t even have to switch on the lights to find your breasts! Thus i always advocate please latch on all the way, unless necessary. One big beauty about breastfeeding is it’s available anytime, anywhere! I don’t feed my baby water cos breast milk is water and i don’t force my baby to drink from a milk bottle too. C’mon! He is so new to this world! Let him enjoys what he loves! *grins* And you know what is the other greatest convenience? You can bring your baby travelling without fear of:
i) him crying on the plane cos of ear pains,
ii) him drinking any contaminated water or food
iii) packing hot water, ensuring enough milk powder,
iv) how to sterilise while outside or overseas etc etc etc
2. NIPPLES SAVER
The BEST nipple cream is actually your own breast milk, try it to believe it! After every feed, just press on your areola to express a little milk and smear it over the nipple. Wait a while for it to dry before covering up. And the BEST way to heal crack nipples is actually your baby’s saliva! Just endure the pain and keeps on latching, the pain will surely go away in a day on its own as compared to not latching and pumping out the milk with nipple cream.. It’s the same as wearing new shoes, you know? Cracked nipples are result from improper latching so your nipples need to be accustomed to your baby and it won’t be pain again. Endure and I swear it heals in a day!
3. NOT ENOUGH MILK MEH?
I am always very puzzled when i heard friends turned new moms tell me they stopped breastfeeding like as early as less one month after delivery, their reason is always not enough supply and when i observed or probed a little, i realised that they do not feed frequently or when baby demands for milk, they continued wearing underwired bras, they want to nap in day and sleep through the night and etc. You must know that your baby controls the milk supply. In the beginning, he may cries often and need to latch on VERY often, it’s very normal.. he is helping you to build up the supply for his needs. Many oldies love to criticise that it’s because you do not have enough milk and thus the baby is always hungry.. simply just latch on, and soon, your supply will meet your baby’s demand and a schedule will be form. And please remember, your baby is growing and will have growth spurts. Thus expect that during his growth spurts you will have to latch on frequently again as he is helping you to build up the supply again to meet his needs. Should you feel your milk supply has dropped, check your breasts for blocked milk ducts. There are also ways to increase milk supply such as having enough liquids intake, ensure ample rest and relaxation, as well as taking nursing tea & supplements. Lastly, DON’T BE obsess with how much milk you can pump out and how much milk your baby is taking at every feed! The logic is the same as you will never pee or poo the same amount of waste every time cos it’s depending on your intake and as for the baby’s feeding, they are like adults, we eat more when we are more active and warm and lesser on days where it’s cool and cosy right? They have appetites too.
4. FEED REGULARLY LEH
I do not really follow a time table to feed my son. I take the cue from him to feed him. However, i make it a point to not let the time in between feeds be longer than 3 hours so if he was still sleeping, i will carry him up, wake him and feed him. If he is too sleepy, you can undress him and stroke his jawline gently to wake him. There are actually many different theories out there on breastfeeding schedule and techniques, there is no wrong ones, just simply choose one method that fits you best. In gists, all theories are in the same direction –> Feed regularly to promote and maintain milk supply. And remember, your breast can never be emptied of milk… as you feed, it’s producing milk too.. So in the time span of feeding your baby, don’t be amazed when you have let down a couple of times.. (Ehem, this is something only women get to enjoy just like the other thing you know?…) It’s good for your baby’s growth and it’s good for the mommy cos the more you feed, the faster you slim down! ;p
Just like it’s you whom carried your baby for 9 months, it wasn’t your hubby, your mom or your mother-in-law.. Breastfeeding to me is the same. It’s a very special way of bonding that can only happen between the mom and child, that NO ONE else can replace. Simply just let others bond with the baby in other ways. There should be no need to express your milk out and allow others to feed the baby instead if you are breastfeeding! Won’t that make things more tedious for every one? You pumping, your baby wailing and some one has to wash and sterilise everything later! If you are going back to work, u can start pumping only the week before and talk to your baby about you going back to work, trust me, he knows. Feed the baby only one or two feeds a day via bottle during the hours that you will be away at work. Don’t need to feel frustrated if the baby doesn’t want the bottle. They are smart, when you are not around, somehow they will know and give in to bottles when they are hungry. I still latched when I am back home with baby or on weekends cos I am a lazy fuss free mom. It’s convenience and bonding at the same time that I love!
6. MOST PRECIOUS AND BEST GIFT
Do you know that the colostrum that our breasts produced during the 1st 3 days of the baby’s life is very precious and good for the baby? Even if you do not breastfeed for long, do it at least the first few days to pass this gift to your child. Once it’s over, you can’t give to him again. Extracted from La Leche League:
” Your breasts produce colostrum beginning during pregnancy and continuing through the early days of breastfeeding. This special milk is yellow to orange in color and thick and sticky. It is low in fat, and high in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies to help keep your baby healthy. Colostrum is extremely easy to digest, and is therefore the perfect first food for your baby. It is low in volume (measurable in teaspoons rather than ounces), but high in concentrated nutrition for the newborn. Colostrum has a laxative effect on the baby, helping him pass his early stools, which aids in the excretion of excess bilirubin and helps prevent jaundice. In those first few days it is extremely important to breastfeed your newborn at least 8-12 times each 24 hours, and more often is even better. This allows your baby to get all the benefits of the colostrum and also stimulates production of a plentiful supply of mature milk. Your colostrum provides not only perfect nutrition tailored to the needs of your newborn, but also large amounts of living cells which will defend your baby against many harmful agents. The concentration of immune factors is much higher in colostrum than in mature milk. Colostrum actually works as a natural and 100% safe vaccine. It contains large quantities of an antibody called secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA) which is a new substance to the newborn. Before your baby was born, he received the benefit of another antibody, called IgG, through your placenta. IgG worked through the baby’s circulatory system, but IgA protects the baby in the places most likely to come under attack from germs, namely the mucous membranes in the throat, lungs, and intestines. Colostrum has an especially important role to play in the baby’s gastrointestinal tract. A newborn’s intestines are very permeable. Colostrum seals the holes by “painting” the gastrointestinal tract with a barrier which mostly prevents foreign substances from penetrating and possibly sensitizing a baby to foods the mother has eaten. Colostrum also contains high concentrations of leukocytes, protective white cells which can destroy disease-causing bacteria and viruses. The colostrum gradually changes to mature milk during the first two weeks after birth. During this transition, the concentrations of the antibodies in your milk decrease, but your milk volume greatly increases. The disease-fighting properties of human milk do not disappear with the colostrum. In fact, as long as your baby receives your milk, he will receive immunological protection against many different viruses and bacteria.”
Do you know that there are very little supplement that you can give to your child below one year old and yet they are so exposed and vulnerable to all the germs and virus in this world? The special thing about breastfeeding is that we can breast feed all the time, even when we are sick with flu or cold! You should be wearing a mask when you breastfeed your baby when you are sick, and feed before you take your medication. Our breast milk will contain the antibodies for the illness that our body is fighting against and is very good for the baby! Always check with your doctor if you can continue breastfeeding, you can breastfeed unless advise otherwise by the doctor. 🙂
8. YES BABY??
Breastfeeding time is actually a very good time for the mom to bond with the baby. He does not look any where but you (of cos other than that he might be so cosy that he falls asleep!) So, try not to multi task while you are latching on the baby, (though it’s always tempting to check on facebook, reply messages or upload the baby’s latest photos…) You can look at him, admire and remember his features, trying to freeze those touching moments into your memory. Some times i sang to my baby or i just talked to him. He will be very soothed by his mom’s voice. KD was breastfeeded by me for 18 months and he is already 40 months old now. Yet he still remembers that i breastfeed him!! Once in a while, he will come to me and tell me he wants to drink MY milk but i will apologize and reply him no more stock! Haha!
9. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Breastfeeding also make us more aware & conscious of the food that we eat. It’s important that we learn to know our food because certain foods can:
* increase or decreases your milk supply
* provide nutrients to your baby like eating salmon for DHA etc
* cause allergies to your baby
* cause colic & wind and etc
Always keep a mental note on what you have eaten and observe your baby’s output. And you can be adventurous when your baby gets older!
10. YOU HAVE GOT THE POWER!!
Lastly, to end off, i hope that you know that you have this special gift / ability / power to be your own baby’s only source of food for at least the first 6 months of his life. No one can or should stop you unless you yourself want to.
BREASTFEEDING TIP #1: Especially for new moms-to-be, I will strongly recommend you to go to the library to borrow at least a book on breastfeeding, to find out what it’s all about on your own. After all, breastfeeding does not work out for lazy and half hearted moms… And though women nowadays are are educated but it is not something that comes natural to every women. Breastfeeding is actually science on its own too. 🙂
BREASTFEEDING TIP #2: After completing the readings, make your own notes and go to YouTube for tutorial on how to latch on baby, how to unlatch etc.. Again, it’s not something that all women or babies will know how, some women actually dunno their own bodies well enough, and it’s something where you can’t practise or have hands on tutorials before hand… You just have to learn the techniques and trial and error when you have your newborn in your arms. Lastly, there are many different issues/situations such as some women may have inverted nipples or sleepy baby etc.. ALL THESES, can be troubleshooted and you can breastfeed. There is actually no such thing as not enough milk or cannot breastfeed unless your doctor specifically tells you you have a medial condition that you can’t breastfeed your baby.