Monday, June 19, 2006

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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  1. Keith was born NB and I was worried sick that I might end up like my mom with a C-sec.I had no one to teach me on BF too. Thanks to the Pregnancy book which I've bought, I manage to BF Keith on the same day after delivery.

  2. sabrina,
    You are one lucky lady. I had many books and read up a lot. Still it took me two months or more to get it right!


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