Breastfeeding: Oh tits!

Nobody told me …that breastfeeding doesn’t always happen naturally, that it isn’t easy.

There is a lot of pressure on moms to breastfeed, and while it is a beautiful, natural , bonding process which is nutritionally superior for babies , getting the hang was certainly not easy for my firstborn DD and me.

As soon as I was reunited with my baby after c-section recovery, the nurse said ‘ let’s try to feed her mommy’. ‘I don’t have any milk’ I promptly told her… how could I immediately have milk? My breasts still looked and felt the same, wouldn’t it be a cruel tease to offer my baby a dry booby?

The nurse insisted and my baby started mouthing, so I put her to my breast. Ouch! The nurse asks me, ‘is she latching?’…um I don’t think so? What is it supposed to feel like anyway??! I had no idea what I was doing…(The reality of motherhood quickly set in)

It seemed like DD was chewing my nipple, not sucking. It was so painful but I tried to endure it as I thought that she’d at least get something. It didn’t take me long to realise that she wasn’t latching at all, but I knew I had lots of colostrum, I could see it streaming out of my breast, and welling up in the Medela breast shield. The second day in hospital my maternal instincts kicked in as I knew DD was not getting enough milk. The nurses assured me that even just a little milk is good as long as she has wet nappies. I was still worried.

I vaguely remember the midwife demonstrating how to hand express during our antenatal classes…and thought that I’d give it a try.  I started expressing milk by hand into a plastic teaspoon (not sterilised!) , out of pure desperation. It took me an hour to express about 2 teaspoons, but at least I knew DD had something in her tummy. I kept putting DD to the breast, and supplemented with a few drops in a teaspoon, throughout that night.

Into the next morning DD didn’t have a wet nappy. I was concerned and told the nurse. DD was lethargic too… it turns out her blood sugar was low, due to her low intake of breastmilk. My gut was right.

A paed recommended I supplement a bottle or top up feed of formula. I asked my husband to bring my Tommee Tippee breast pump to hospital as I did not want to give my DD formula. I expressed about 50 ml! DD drank half from her Tommee Tippee bottle (latching on well to the teat) and that was that. I left the hospital shortly after that, feeling confident that I could feed this baby!

At first, most of the feeds were expressed milk in a Tommee Tippee bottle. Believe me, it’s not easy expressing every 2 hours, around the clock for a newborn.  Pumping while DD was sleeping (even at night) pushed me to the limit, but I persevered solely for the benefit of my baby. My hubby learnt to sleep through the ZZZ ZZZ ZZZ noise!

I still kept putting DD to the breast using Medela breast shields. Everyday my confidence grew, and by 6 weeks DD latched perfectly and drank for longer. I think that perhaps my nipples (and the shields) were too big for her little mouth at first, and as she grew she was able to grasp and latch on.

In retrospect I should’ve reverted to only breastfeeding once she latched correctly, but the comfort of seeing those millilitres of breastmilk being drained from the bottle gave me peace of mind.

Eventhough it was physically taxing at times, and a real challenge at most, I would not change the fact that I breastfed for anything. Breastfeeding may have taken away my firm C-cup handful, but it gave me and DD so much more:

  • It helped establish a bond with my DD;
  • It forced me to sit still and marvel at the little bundle in my arms. In the mayhem of changing nappies, expressing, naps( or lack thereof!), washing and sterilising bottles, you forget to take in the beauty and miracle that is your child.
  • A healthy child. DD got her first cold at 16 months and I attribute this to breastfeeding, even after being exposed to many flu and cold germs!

You will be offered so much advice, take what you want from it, discard the rest…most importantly, always follow your gut. It’s a whisper from God guiding you through every facet of your life.

Please share your breastfeeding stories with me !

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Comments

  1. Great first post, you mommy blogger, you!
    Open,honest, and relatable. I particularly like the point you made wrt “sit still and marvel at the little bundle in my arms.”. An absolutely true n spectacular pro of bFeeding!

  2. If only all sources were as honest as this about what it takes to breastfeed! I’m so glad it worked out in the end. Well done!
    It wasn’t quite the same for me but I did find a way to make it work anyway… http://confessionsofafailedbreastfeeder.wordpress.com

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