Friday, June 30, 2006

Failure To Breastfeed

Failure to breastfeed does not translate to failure as a mum.

A mum wrote to me about her unhappiness at having to give up breastfeeding. I thought that I should share my reply to her and maybe, just maybe, this too will be able to help another mum in a similar situation.

Please don't be so hard on yourself for giving up on breastfeeding. I know it must have been a very hard decision for you and you must have thought about it a great deal. Its no small matter at all. Its a big decision. If you know that this is the best for your son and for your family and circumstances then let go of your guilt and concentrate on looking after the baby from now on ok?

There is also no reason for you to feel like you are a failure. You have tried your best. I am pro-breastfeeding but I don't like to push other people too hard, (only myself) because I know how that feels. Although my lactation consultant was very helpful, I sometimes felt that she pushed us too hard on occassions.

Sometimes a lactation consultant or another breastfeeding mum may inadvertently push their colleagues, friends or relatives too hard to breastfeed. I know they mean well and feel frustrated that their friend is not breastfeeding but sometimes that creates more stress for that person. I think support should be in the form of a listening ear, guidance in techniques, knowledge etc and should be no more than that.

Anyway, I'd like to point you to some other places for support. First go to babycenters article on "When You Just Can't Breastfeed". You should find this article useful. If you should need to "talk" to other mums in this situation perhaps you could join their formula feeding forum. Here's the link to some of the postings. I think you will probably be able to identify to some of what you read here.

One other thing, remember to look after yourself first for only if you are well taken care of can you look after your baby, spouse and household. Next concentrate your efforts on looking after your baby and spouse and last the housework. I tell my spouse that he is important but for now, baby's needs come before his and I let my house rot for the first few months.

Also remember that it is going to get easier and easier. I'm a good example. I remember during the early days, I probably didn't even step out of my apartment for the first 3 months or more as I couldn't cope. My toilet looked like a public toilet and I didn't do any cooking not even after 6 months. I only cooked for baby when they start solids as that took up a lot of time too while hubby and I relied on takeout food. Thats how I cut corners.

Ok. I've got to go. Take good care now.

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Falls During Pregnancy

I fell down on the 28th week of my first pregnancy. I was as not careful as I should have been. During pregnancy our center of gravity shifts making us more susceptible to falls so I should have been more careful.

The car park was a distance from my office where I worked, about 5-10 minutes walk and it included a rather steep downhill road. I was quite big at 28th week and there I was hurrying along the downhill road, belly first and before I knew it, I was down on my knees and hands and a lady walking near me was rushing to my aid.

Well, I got quite a big scare, a tetanus shot and sleepless nights for weeks from worrying about the baby and a scar on my knee which remains till today. I don't care about the scar. Baby was not hurt and that was all that mattered to me.

The point of this post? No matter how rushed or hurried you are in your daily life, remember to take it easy during pregnancy. Remember to thread carefully when you walk, try to eat well, get more sleep and rest and try to cut out stress from your life.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Eating Well During Pregnancy

As mothers we should eat a well balanced meal all the time and especially even more so during pregnancy. We must remember to take our folic acid before getting pregnant to prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. During pregnancy you will probably be prescribed a multivitamin as well.

I remember this time as the only time when my husband served me daily breakfast in bed (a bowl of cereal in milk).

It was difficult for me to prepare meals for us at the time because of my morning sickness and so we relied on home food delivery (We managed to find an expectant mother's food package) to be delivered to our home in the evenings for dinner. It was not ideal because I prefer to do my own cooking (so that I can know for sure what I put in the food) but we had to make do. For lunch, I ate out since I was still working at the time. As for my spouse (the poor dear) he packed his own dinner every day. I did mention in an earlier post that expectant mothers often get special attention and treatment from the expectant fathers during pregnancy.

Here's an article I found useful on Eating During Pregnancy including what food and drinks to avoid during pregnancy.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sex of the Baby

These days it is quite common to know the sex of the baby even before it is born. Since an ultrasound scan is usually used to gauge the condition of the baby, it is quite often used to find out the sex of the baby as well. The ultrasound scan must be very useful indeed to see how the baby is doing but sometimes I feel that it is overdone. The doctors seem to scan at every single visit and I wonder if thats good for the baby. Still, I'm not a medical practitioner, only a mother, and so I can't comment on the safety of ultrasound in this post.

"We don't want to know the sex of the baby till the birth." we told the doctor from the start. We wanted to have a surprise as it didn't matter to us what sex the baby was. Finding out the sex at birth is much more fun. The doctor informed us that most couples are eager to know the sex of the baby when she scans. Sometimes some of them asked eagerly "What is the sex? What is the sex?" instead of "Is my baby healthy?" she said.

It made shopping for baby stuff a little bit harder as we had to stick to unisex colours but still we stuck to our decision for our first child. I still remember coming to after the operation with general anesthesia and immediately asking my doctor in a blur "Is it a boy or a girl?" to which she replied "Its a girl!".

For the second, we decided to do things a little bit differently and so we decided to know the sex of the baby beforehand. From the ultrasound scan we found out that it was a boy. It was later confirmed to be a boy at birth.

If you are interested in reading about the accuracy of the diagnosis of fetal sex through ultrasound, you can read this faq "Ultrasound diagnosis of fetal gender" .

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bleeding During Early Pregnancy

During the 6th week of pregnancy for my first baby, I experienced bleeding when I woke up from an afternoon nap. It was not mere spotting but I could see fresh red blood. I was very scared and immediately blamed myself for going to sleep under some thick covers in a hot room. I had read that one of the "Things You Should Not Do During Pregnancy" is "You Should Avoid Raising Your Body Temperature" and "You Should Not Use A Sauna, Hot Tubs Or Take Long Hot Baths" and this caused my mind to go into a frenzy of self blame. (Mothers are worry warts and quite often blame themselves when things go wrong.)

At this early point of my pregnancy, I had not made a doctor's appointment yet as I had only recently discovered that I was pregnant using two home pregnancy tests kits. So I immediately went to see a doctor. She told me that I was experiencing a threatened miscarriage and told me to wait and see before going back to her again in 5 days. It was a long 5 days of worry as I continued to have on and off spotting.

At the second doctor's appointment, I was prescribed progresterone pills (Duphaston) but she said I could continue to wait and see if I didn't wish to take them. I decided to wait. I continued spotting for another week. I also had slight cramps on my lower abdomen and smelly vaginal discharge. When I saw my doctor again at the end of the 7th week, she did a genital swab. I bought the pills she prescribed but the bleeding stopped so I didn't need to take them afterall.

The genital swab results at the end of the 8th week showed heavy growth of candida species (not albicans) which meant I was having a fungal infection. I was given treatment for that (Canesten) and it cleared after that.

It was a very anxious 3 weeks for us but luckily the pregnancy proceeded a bit more normally after that with my main grouse being my morning sickness.

"Vaginal bleeding occurs in about 30% of all pregnancies. Of these 30% of pregnant women about 50% will continue to go on and have a healthy baby. However, the remaining 50% (or 15% of all pregnancies) will experience a miscarriage. If the pregnancy continues, sometimes a physical cause for the vaginal bleeding is found. However in most cases, the cause remains unknown.

NOTE:Any vaginal bleeding during pregnancy should be communicated to your caregiver. "

Excerpt sourced from Article on Bleeding During Early Pregnancy by

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Morning Sickness

I had really bad morning sickness during both my pregnancies. I think I survived on lemons and 7-up. Taking the fizzy 7-up however made me feel extremely guilty but I couldn't help sipping the sugar heavy nutritionally empty drink loaded with preservatives.

I wonder why they call it "morning" sickness when it asails you all day and all night long. There was no relieve, totally no respite from the feeling of being sick. It was with me 24/7 even during sleep.

It was particularly bad for my first pregnancy. It lasted for 4 whole months. One myth of pregnancy is that morning sickness is worse if you are carrying a girl and perhaps that is true because my first baby turned out to be a girl. For the second it was equally bad but of a shorter duration, perhaps 2-3 weeks shorter.

Somehow I always seem to want to throw up while driving. One time I felt the bile rise up my throat at a traffic lights. Without any convenient stop, I had to swallow it back in. Yuck! After a while I got smart and carried extra vomit bags (little plastic bags) with me.

I could not keep any of my dinner down. Everything that I ate came right out again within an hour after the meal. Sometimes it was so bad, the projectile vomit shot right out of my nostrils. Once, I had some sprouts for dinner. You can imagine the time I spent picking out the sprouts from my nostrils afterwards. Urggh!

I felt like bionic woman with a bionic nose. Walking into a shopping mall was torturous as the smells of everything assailed me left, right and center. The smell of smoke, bakeries, restaurants, cooking, just about anything that had a smell would send me rushing straight to a restroom to puke.

Even at home, the smell of soap, perfume, haircream and even my husband's smell (which I love) turned me off.

I moaned and complained all day long. Even my husband who was sympathetic at first soon became immune. I felt awful, simply awful but it feels good to write this down and get it off my chest now. I still balk at the memory of it. Thankfully, however I didn't have to be hospitalized for it as some women may be when they have Hyperemesis Gravidarum, an extreme form of Morning Sickness. I cannot imagine how awful that must be. And all the while you will have well meaning people telling you to "Cheer up. You should be happy, you're expecting." I don't think that helped the nauseous feeling to go away.

I read in a book on Morning Sickness by Nicky Wesson about how morning sickness affects those around you including your spouse. Quoting from the book:

"Although he may be sympathetic, it can be very difficult for people to really understand the impact that pregnancy sickness has on someone if they haven't had it themselves. It is very hard to imagine feeling that ill day after day and, moreover, sympathy does run out eventually. It can be compared with colic babies, which lasts on average for the same length of time. At first you feel desperately sorry for the baby, but as time wears on and nothing that you do appears to make any difference, you start to lose patience. The fact that your tiny baby is in evident pain no longer affects you in the same way and you may begin to feel resentful and in need of sympathy yourself. Of course in neither case can a baby or a woman be blamed for their symptoms, nor has anything improved, but the capacity for sympathy in others has diminished."

How very true. Hopefully this post helps other mums who have bad morning sickness just so you won't feel so alone when even your spouse no longer becomes very sympathetic.

I did say that Getting Pregnant is hard work. Well, Being Pregnant is even harder work and if anyone thinks that after the baby is born, the hard work is over then I'm sorry to tell you that its just the beginning..... its just the beginning of a lifetime journey of motherhood.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Early Signs And Symptoms of Pregnancy

So how do you tell if you are pregnant? You can read about what signs to look out for in this article : Early signs and symptoms of pregnancy: Things you might notice before you start prenatal care by

For me, personally, it was difficult to tell. For my first baby, I felt bloated, very bloated. I was burping all day long and coincidentally I also fell sick, with fever and a runny nose. I went to the doctor and took some medication. I was appalled later when I discovered that I was pregnant. I got worried sick thinking about what those medication I took must be doing to the baby. (Mothers are worry warts. We start worrying the moment baby is conceived!)

For the second, it was daytime sleepiness. Everyday at noon, I just HAD to sleep. Funnily, I was alright in the evening.

Well, thats my personal experience but I believe its different for every mother. For the same mother its even different for every baby. Afterall every mother and every baby is unique.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Post Partum Blues

I was going to write about this topic later but then someone emailed me and I need help to help her.

I have stopped working for my DH and wanted to take care of DS fully myself. I have no confident to take care of him fully after my confinement. We are not staying with in laws. So I will be home alone with DS from 2nd mth onwards. My C-section wound still giving me problem and it is so hard to put DS to sleep nowadays. He cried very frequent and I really dunno what he wants. Now, I have the confinement lady to take care of him, so whenever he cried and I failed to handle him, I just pass him to the C/L. I can't imagine what will happen after my C/L left.

I am feeling very insecure whenever DH is not here with me (when he goes to work). When he is back, I'll be so happy and I feel less stress taking care of DS.

I am just wondering how did you cope with your bb when you first have them. I am half heartedly to send him to babysitter until he is 4 mths old and I'll take him back. But, I know DH sure object. This is not what we want.... Feel that I am struggling everyday...

I think my perfectionism has caused me all these problem. I have high expectation on myself and never thought that the actual situation is so much different from what I have expected. I wanted a natural delivery but end up a C-section. I wanted b/f but end up wounded both of my nipples. I thought I can up and be normal after delivery but my wound hurts so much that makes me so immobile.

I thought bb just eat and sleep but never thot he can cry for no reason. All these has make my life so up side down and I can't seems to cope with it. I feel so tired and stressed whenever i hear him crying.Whenever I saw the b/f advert or knowing someone can b/f exclusively makes me feel so heartache that I can't do this with my bb. Plus the post natal blues... dirty kitchen, messy bedroom and living hall... I just hate the whole situation..

But I am trying to cope with it. I know this is just short term and I will somehow get through it. I just need my wound to be healaed completely, so that I can run and jump like normal person. How long does it takes the wound to heal completely? Don't you feel immobile when you need to take care of your child and at the same time, afraid you will hurt yourself?

My milk supply has dropped a lot. Main reason is I did not pump that frequent due to my post natal blues. I just feel so blue and depressed. Every morning I was so reluctant to wake up from my sleep and I continue to sleep till 12pm. My sis was telling me that I am avoiding the reality. I dunno but I am slowly trying to take over the caring of the DS from the C/L. I started bathing him today, taking him totally few hrs without C/L help. Usually after taking care of him, I'll be so exhausted, then I will just take a nap. I wanted to start b/f him again but really dunno how...

Mothers out there in blogosphere, does this sound like you when your baby was a newborn? If it does, I hope that you will leave a comment to share your experience with this mother. It'll help her feel her better to know that she is not alone. I will email her your comments. Thank you.

I remember during the early days I felt like that too. I felt overwhelmed. I felt fatiqued, exhausted and miserable for being unable to breastfeed well. My baby cried ALL THE TIME and her weight kept on dropping. I cried along with her. I felt so stressed up! Sometimes I even "scolded" the baby for crying. "Oh! Will you please stop crying so that mummy can get some rest!" handling baby just a little too roughly. (To the mother concerned, please remember that when you are alone with baby and you can't handle the endless crying, leave baby alone safely in the cot until you gather your composure. Never ever shake a baby as it can cause injury to the baby/Shaken Baby Syndrome.)

To read more Post Natal Blues experiences, go to these blogs:

Tracy's Nest
Clumsy Wife, Careless Mum
Double Happiness

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Home Pregnancy Test Kits

And so thats how we got pregnant. I say "We" because the father is very much involved in the process isn't he? Afterall, he contributed the sperm. And throughout our pregnancy, it is he who makes sure we don't trip, walk into doors etc. Husbands usually treat their wives extra well during pregnancy don't they? Suddenly, overnight you're turned into this fragile thing they worry about all the time!

These days, with home pregnancy test kits easily available at pharmacists, couples can do their own tests in the comfort of their own home. I can't describe the feeling you get when you see the two little blue lines meaning "Pregnant" or "Positive".

Before digital cameras became the norm, I know of mothers (its usually the mothers) who kept the pregnancy test kits for keepsakes. Ewe! It contains dried up urine, mind you. Nowadays theres a much simpler way. We take photos and keep them.

Pregnancy test kit for our first child

Pregnancy Test Kit for our Second Child

As you can see from the pictures, to differentiate between the two, we had our first child sit in the second picture. Maybe those of you parents who are trying for your second kid can try this trick as well. Happy trying to conceive to all those who are currently trying!

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Getting Pregnant Is Hard Work

We have two kids aged 2 and 4 and this is how it all started.

My husband and I married late ie in our mid and later part of thirty. We knew we wanted to start a family so we went to work immediately. What we didn't realise was that getting pregnant is hard work. The people in the movies always get pregnant so easily but in reality its not that easy. Every month theres only a short window of opportunity (fertile period) where sperm gets the chance to meet egg and get fertilized.

We bought books, among them Dr Miriam Stoppard's "Conception, pregnancy and birth", "What to Expect when you're expecting" by Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff & Sandee E. Hathaway and a "Pregnancy for Dummies" book. They were all great books and very helpful to a clueless couple like us.

We signed up for Babycenter's conception newsletter. This was amusing. It would send us email reminders of the fertile period. "Tonight is the night for some activities" it said. Actually, I don't remember what the email said but it was amusing nevertheless.

In addition, we also made our own ovulation chart using an ovulation calculator. You can find many of these calculators online. My favourite was the fertility calculator from because the result was a pretty calander with a rose on the expected ovulation date.

We even charted my Basal Body Temperature (BBT). This involved the husband sticking a thermometer in my mouth the moment I wake up as the chart would not be accurate if you take the temperature after you get up and move about. The temperature would go up after ovulation and you can only see a pattern after several months of charting.

With these methods, we achieved success in 4 months for our first and 1 month for our second. Even our gynaecologist laughed with us when we showed her our charts. She thought we were very hardworking indeed.

One thing I want to add. Making love for making babies can be quite a chore and rather tiring. To achieve a better success rate, you have to do it everyday or every other day during the fertile period. Some pretty lingerie, sweet scents and a sense of humour definitely helps. And of course a mutual desire to have a baby would be good. When you have other kids in the picture, getting the timing right is even harder as you have to either wake up very early or stay up very late to make baby! Yaaawwwwn....

And remember, try to lower your levels of stress as cutting stress may increase your chances of pregnancy. Read more here: Stress reduction boosts chance of pregnancy, offers alternative treatment to restore fertility

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Monday, June 19, 2006

The Joys Of Breastfeeding

I am adding this page to remind myself about the wonderful as well as funny moments I experienced breastfeeding. The early days breastfeeding was so hard that its easy to only think about the negative aspects. I also need a reminder for the moments when I want to pull my hair out and say I need some time for me..........!

So here's 10 reasons why I love to breastfeed.

  1. I love the moment when my babies eyes begin to droop, beautiful lashes sweeping innocent cheeks as they drift off contentedly to sleepyland.
  2. My babies sunny smiles when they look up at me half-way through a feed certainly brightens up my day.
  3. Breastfeeding at night is a breeze as I get to sleep when baby feeds.
  4. My hubby rushes around keeping groceries when we get back from shopping while I get to put my feet up and cuddle baby for a feed!
  5. I can eat, breastfeed baby and read my emails all at the same time!
  6. Coming back from a party, I breastfeed baby in the car, when we get home, he's happy and so am I. It saves so much time.
  7. Halfway through shopping, I breastfeed baby, and then we go on enjoying the sights and sounds at the mall. Its so convenient.
  8. At a family gathering, I breasfeed baby before he frets and everyone wonders why baby is happy and smiling all the time.
  9. I can breastfeed baby and keep my toddler happy at the same time by playing, reading and chatting with her as my hands are free.
  10. My toddler looks so adorable pretending to breastfeed teddy when I breastfeed baby. She smiles at me sweetly from across the room and I know my time spent breastfeeding her is worthwhile.

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My Breastfeeding Journey - Part III (The Second Time)

I wrote this journal when my son was 4 months old. Notice that its shorter than the first journal, because with two little ones to take care of now there's hardly time for myself. How quickly the time has flown. My one year old baby daughter is now a lively and sweet little 2 year old toddler. And now she has a little baby brother who is 4 months old. I never had any doubt at all that I would also breastfeed her brother. I breastfed my daughter for 17 months ie I weaned her when I got pregnant with the second. I thought that things would be easier the second time around but how wrong I was.

I had planned to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) but again things did not go as planned. My husband and I were very anxious as the days got closer to the delivery date as I was huge this time around. We knew that the time was near when I had my show and a little backache. We quickly went to see the gynae who told us all the pros and cons of a natural birth. My baby was quite big, my old wound was hurting, the scan showed that the umbilical cord was near is neck area, at 38 I did not have the advantage of youth, so eventually I opted for a planned C-section under epidural. The gynae told us that the baby was coming very soon, so even as we sat in her office at 12pm, she told us that we had to check in to the hospital and have the caeseraean at 2.00pm. Boy what a rush that was.

I was quite afraid to be awake for the operation. Although I knew I would not feel the pain, still the thought of someone slicing up your abdomen is almost too much for me to stomach. (pun intended). It was quite an experience and I was happy to be awake to hear baby cry for the first time.

My baby had difficulty latching on from day 1. I was staying at a breastfeeding friendly hospital so the nurses would come and help me breastfeed and they would give feedings from a cup to avoid nipple confusion. All the nurses came and went and even the most patient of them grew tired of helping me latch him. One of them even murmured softly under her breath “child abuse” when baby was yelling for his milk after being unable to latch on as we only gave him some formulae after trying for some time. Some of the nurses that came recorded that baby had been “breastfeeding well” although he had not latched on at all but I was too tired to do anything about that. Baby has still not latched on when we left the hospital. Baby did not latch on at all for two whole months.

My days consisted of trying to breastfeed baby, pumping milk, feeding baby milk from a cup and repeat, several times a day. It was very tiring to do this all day everyday for two months without success. One time I almost fell asleep pumping. Tired from this ardous task, I got a fungal infection and an infection of the wound. The infection of the wound was just a slight one but I thought I was going to die and cried buckets worrying about who was going to look after my babies if I were gone.I can laugh now.

The medication given to me for the fungal infection gave me a very bad gastric pain. So there I was with pain in the wound and a terrible gastric pain. I wanted to double up in pain and lie down but could not, not even in the middle of the night. Baby who could not differentiate night and day was up all night crying. I had to pacify him and at the same time worry about missing a pumping session and milk drying up. It was a very hard time. Unlike the first time breastfeeding, this time I had a little more knowledge so by pumping consistently 6 times a day for 30 minutes each time, I was blessed to be able to pump up 35 ounces of milk a day and I did not complain at all when my breasts leaked all the time because I was so happy to have enough milk for my baby. I became an expert at hand expressing and ditched the two expensive pumps I had bought earlier while breastfeeding my first.

My lactation consultant said that baby was having a difficult time latching because he had a tongue tie and she advised me to have his frenulum clipped. I was uncomfortable with the idea and so I plodded on with the punishing schedule. It might have made nursing easier for us but it was just an area I did not wish to pursue and so I didn't. Finally at two months, my husband and I decided to either use the nipple shield or give the baby breastmilk from a bottle to make things easier for us. It was exactly at this time that baby learned to latch on.

A few things that helped this time was our experience and greater awareness about breastfeeding difficulties, support from my husband and the lactation consultant as well as several articles I had read from the internet. One mentioned that babies will learn to latch on no matter what at two months and that milk supply should be maintained by pumping, this kept my hope up to keep trying. Another mentioned that to help the latch one should try to shape the breast to match the baby’s mouth ie like a burger instead of an apple, (just imagine yourself posting a letter to a letterbox or eating a biscuit, you would have some difficulty if doing it vertically). So baby latched on at exactly 2 months and 1 day. How wonderful.

The problem didn't end there though. I had to learn how to let go of the pump after pumping exclusively for 2 months to feed baby. It was very hard to become confident in breastfeeding after having such difficulties. It was even harder to tell myself that baby was getting enough as unlike pumping I could not "see" how much he was drinking but very slowly and gradually I learned to be more confident by watching my baby. He was content most of the time and had enough diapers for me to stop worrying.

It certainly has been worth it. Short term pain for long term gain. Now things are so much easier. Whenever we go shopping, I get to pop into a baby room at the shopping complex with baby, pram and all to breastfeed baby and a few minutes later, baby would be happy, sated or asleep and we could carry on shopping. No need to lug any bottles along. Nap times are great too. I would breastfeed baby while singing and telling my toddler stories and they would both fall asleep in about an hour. Its lovely and I would do it all again if I had another child.

Related Posts:

My Breastfeeding Journey - Part II
My Breastfeeding Journey - Part III

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My Breastfeeding Journey - Part II

I quickly made an appointment with the breastfeeding consultant at the hospital when we took baby for her first check up. We were horrified to discover that our healthy 3.61kg baby weigh just 2.75kg 2 weeks later, a time when most babies should have regained their birthweights after a small drop before that. That was a whopping 25% of her weight. My baby was beginning to look gaunt and was crying all the time, so was I. The pediatrician at the hospital was not very supportive and told us to “just give her some formula if she’s not getting enough”.

The breastfeeding consultant showed me how to hold baby to breastfeed and lent me some books and magazines. I saw an ex-colleague featured in one of the magazines sharing her success story and quickly rang her for advice. She recommended us to her pediatrician and breastfeeding consultant who was very dedicated and devoted to helping mothers with breastfeeding problems. That was the turning point for us. We made an appointment with the pediatrician who was very kind and supportive. She showed me how to breastfeed baby and told us how much baby should be taking.

Sitting in her office, I felt like I needed to be and octopus with 6 arms as it took that many to get baby to latch on correctly i.e. the pediatrician’s, my husband’s and my own two arms and I thought it would feel like the most natural thing in the world! I was also advised to pump and feed the baby the pumped milk since she had not learned to latch on correctly yet. Sometimes I had to pump 3-4 times just to make up one feed and it was really tiring. My sweet husband ran out and bought several pumps for me. During this time I had many discouraging advice from well meaning friends. “Why are you stressing yourselves up?” “Just give the baby a bottle of formula” “Your milk is not enough. Mine too. I could only pump 15 ounces a day.” (I was green with envy as I could only pump ½-2 ounces each time).

Still we plodded on. We tried various methods to get baby to latch on correctly and to boost my supply, all accept medication which I felt uncomfortable with although we were told it was safe. Eventually we had to supplement with formula given from a spoon. It was really hard. I felt like my days were one endless feed after another. It went something like this “Pump – spoon feed – breastfeed – pump – breastfeed – spoon feed – pump..” In between, I managed to get some sleep somehow.

We went for weekly visits to the pediatrician and monitored baby’s weight gain closely. I remember feeling miserable. It was during the confinement month, I was supposed to be at home resting with my new baby and husband at my side but there we were, all three of us huddled under an umbrella in the rain to get to the doctor’s office. It was the raining season then.

My husband had returned to work and it was tough on him too to rush home after work to take us to the pediatrician. Although my husband was wonderfully supportive (I couldn’t have done it without him) the stress took its toll on him too and we had several arguments about it. Everyday we spoke about giving up and struggled with our decision to carry on breastfeeding. Feeding baby formula seems so much easier in comparison. The pediatrician also contributed to our breastfeeding success as she was extremely supportive. She sent us home with specific instructions on how much to feed baby and when and it was such a relief to at last have some direction. She would even call me up at home to ask if I was doing ok. The phone calls really meant a lot to me as I was feeling down and so lost.

Eventually baby learned to suckle from the breast but that was not the end of our woes. I had recurrent mastitis (an infection of the breast which causes fever and chills) at least 4-5 times during the early months. One time I felt so ill that my husband and I almost called emergency services in the middle of the night. It was quite scary. Occasionally the infection got so bad there was pus and I had to just pump and discard the milk. It was very hard work to pump and look after my newborn when I had the fever and chills.

Originally I had planned to breastfeed for 6 months but it was only after 6 months that things started to get easier. It was only after 9 months that I started to feel that breastfeeding was freeing and relaxing instead of work and stifling my lifestyle. It became mummy’s special weapon, worked like magic every time, to calm, comfort and give baby nourishment, such a wonderful gift and it is wonderful to watch baby grow in your arms. At first her little hands were clenched up into tiny little fists at my breasts. Later, the tiny fingers opened up in various positions and then she started to pull and tug at my clothing and now she often touches my face and smile.

My baby’s weight gain eventually caught up and she is a healthy baby with only one cold during her first year. It’s really been a wonderful journey to give my baby the best milk. She never learned to drink from a bottle, I had to spoon feed her the supplements for 6 months. I later learned that the window of opportunity to get baby to suck from a bottle is one month after which some babies just don’t know how. I struggled with spoon feeding her for 6 months. It felt like an incredible long time but that too has passed and we taught her to drink straight from a cup at 6 months. She also does not use a pacifier so no need to wean her from that.

When we have the next baby we will definitely be breastfeeding her. I keep on saying we because my dear husband is very involved.

I just wanted to share our experience with all the new mums out there who are struggling with breastfeeding as I know how hard it can be. (Some lucky mums say breastfeeding is a breeze and don’t have these problems, some have other problems like engorgement pain etc). I wish all the mums good luck, happy breastfeeding and persevere if you can. It’s really worth it.

Related Posts:

My Breastfeeding Journey - Part I
My Breastfeeding Journey - Part III

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My Breastfeeding Journey - Part I

This is a journal I wrote on my daughter's first birthday.

Today is my daughter’s first birthday. This is a major milestone for us. We are so happy and excited. We are not planning a big do. It will be just my husband, myself and her grandpa. Still it is a joyous occasion, so we got her a big cake, presents, a new dress and decorated the house with balloons and banners. We blew up the colourful balloons together first thing in the morning and my baby had a good time chasing the balloons all over the house.

As I breastfeed her while she murmured contentedly at the breast, I smile. Occasionally she would put one little hand on my face and break into laughter at her own private joke. Its very sweet and the most natural thing in the world. It did not feel so natural when I first started to breastfeed her though. On the contrary it felt like the most unnatural thing in the world. I had a really hard and stressful time. “Has it been one year already?”

I had always known that I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I thought to myself that this is nature’s way. Little did I know how difficult it was going to be. My husband and I read up all that we could amongst other parenting articles. I thought I was well prepared. How wrong I was.

I planned for a natural birth without medications, so I would be alert to feed my baby immediately after birth. I also read up about how to breastfeed baby after a caesarean, just in case. We checked into a breastfeeding friendly hospital. We decided to have the baby room in with us as we were informed that that would help in the breastfeeding process. And then the day of the birth came and I found that I was totally unprepared!

First of all, the birth did not go as planned. I was in labour for 8 hours and had an emergency caesarean to deliver the baby. By the time baby arrived, I was too out of it to enjoy my baby. I drifted in and out of sleep in a groggy state and heard my baby crying endlessly. My husband held baby in his arms, till he fell asleep (my husband, not the baby).

I realize now that rooming in was a mistake for us. My baby was born at about 2.00am. This meant that there were not as many nurses around as during the day. Also the breastfeeding consultants only make their rounds in the mornings. When my baby cried, in my sleepy state I sometimes asked for the nurses to show me how to breastfeed or had baby taken back to the nursery for diaper changes and sips of water offered from a spoon. We didn’t want her to be fed from a bottle or this might cause her to reject the breast due to nipple confusion. Although I read about how important it was to nurse baby almost immediately and to keep on breastfeeding baby as often as possible, I feel that I did not and as a result my milk supply reduced drastically and my poor baby had very little nourishment in the first few days.

By the time I was discharged two days later, I still did not know how to breastfeed. My husband was eager and happy to return home to show baby her home but I was so afraid because I didn’t know how to breastfeed her yet and there were not going to be any nurses around to help me. We had chosen not to have a confinement lady against the advise of all our family and friends. My husband had taken 2 weeks off from work to look after us and we jokingly referred to him as the Confinement Man and what a fine Confinement Man he was too. My husband did everything, all the housework, laundry, dishes, bought the groceries on his own, took care of baby and even prepared the special bathwater for me all accept for the confinement food which we catered. He had offered to cook as well but since he could not even differentiate between onions and garlic, I declined.

So there we were in a situation where we were all alone with our breastfeeding woes. It was a very stressful and trying period but looking back now it is so rewarding going through new parenthood on our own. My husband had plenty of opportunities to bond with baby as he took her out to the pool every morning to sun to recover from jaundice or when he gently rubbed the cradle cap from her brows and forehead.

We had read so much about looking after a baby but somehow we missed out the fact about feeds. How much milk does a newborn require? How many bowel movements a day should she be having to indicate that she was having enough nourishment? I don’t know how we missed that but not knowing if our baby was getting enough compounded the stress.

Related Posts:

My Breastfeeding Journey - Part II
My Breastfeeding Journey - Part III

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New Blog for Mothers

I'm starting a new blog today. I've got lots of ideas of all the things I want to write on this blog.

For a start, I will gather some of the materials from my breastfeeding site and put it in here to get it up and running. I will however, be reorganising the content as soon as I can find the time.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006


Pregnancy and Childbirth



Doing fun things with the kids

My Poems
(My family is my inspiration when I compose these poems)

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