Before Kai-Jin is born I did a lot of reading on pregnancy, child birth, and taking care of a baby, and already determine there and then that I am going to breastfeed him. Never to know that there is much more in breastfeeding than I thought I knew!
From all the books I read said that when the baby is born we should put him on the breast as soon as he is out, and I was determine to do that, but on Kai-Jin's arrival I was in the OT underwent a C-Section, and all the doc shown me was his "ding-dong" and he took him away! I didn't even have a chance to hold him, and the next time I get to see him was 2 hours later!
So the BF started 2 hour later, when the mid wife brought him to me and I put him the first time onto to my breast...and I realized...I don't even know how to put him to my breast! My position is awkward, I can't hold him like what I saw in the books and poster! I can't position him at the crook of my elbow, it is above my breast! With the mid wife's help (she just stuff my nipple into Kai-Jin's mouth), I managed to get him latch on. Kai-Jin was sucking really hard and he cried harder, for there was nothing coming out for him! The mid-wife said I should prepare myself if I want to breast feed before delivery! But I never know about that! No book mentioned it, and nobody told me about it too! And I started to worry, worrying that I do not have milk, and Kai-Jin will starve because I did not prepare my breast for it! I was cursing myself for not preparing for it, and I thought I had read everything about BF, and I actually missed the most important step: PREPARING MY BREAST!
On the second day I woke up and kept squeezing my breast and to my delight I saw some fluid coming out from the nipple, and I told hubby that I finally got the colostrum flowing! When Kai-Jin cried for food, I quickly put him to my breast, and another round of fight between baby and mama went on, and I sort of manage to get him on my breast with the help of hubby, and with all 4 hands. But Kai-Jin was wailing and screaming, and I think he didn't like it at all! For the rest of the time we kept trying, each time with different visitors' help, my aunts, my friends, and nurses but still not much luck, Kai-Jin just hated it and find it hard to latch on!
The 3 days 2 nights at the hospital was a fight, each time with the nurse helped we got him latched on, and later on we tried on our own we fail miserably! When we got him, it was more stress, each time baby cry I tense up, worrying that I can't supply him any milk, and I tried to pump to see if I have any milk, and there were only drops! Defeated, each time I have to give him an ounce of formula to fill him up, and each time watching him fighting to gulp down the formula make me want to cry, for being so useless to starve my darling boy!
On the second day when I got home my postnatal help arrived! A mid wife who answer house call came to visit, and she shown me for the first time how to position the baby and me, and how to latch on. And for the first time miracle happened, Kai-Jin latched on painlessly, and for the first time he roll off my breast with a full stomach! And that was like our first dance lesson, for the first time we did not step on each other's toes!
After she left, I was left alone with Kai-Jin to practice our new steps. With hubby's encouragement (like a coach counting beat for us) we kept trying, but I was still very tense, and baby is very hungry, I can't take my time to aim my nipple in his mouth, when he finally opened his mouth he was wailing so loud that I can't even get him to suck. Everyday we repeat the steps, sometimes baby cried and I too cried.
After 2 weeks, we decided to drop the spoon feeding for the formula supplement because baby was crying none stop during the spoon feeding and was very messy, and started using bottle. I have read about nipple confusion, and to never give baby bottle when I am still establishing my milk supply and learning to latch on. But there was too much stress around me that I gave in to bottle. Hubby had to go back to the island and left me and baby in KL with my mom, I lost my strongest support and coach for a while, before he left he told me, "Be strong, I know you can do it!"
We continued our learning, my postnatal help was really great, she taught me the football hold method, which everyone in my family find it strange because it is the opposite of the conventional cradle hold, and it is perfect for bigger breast mother. Finally Kai-Jin and I master the method, he cry less, and stay sucking for long time. Next come my other problem, Kai-Jin tend to end up crying because there was not enough milk flow towards the end, and he got frustrated sucking the slow flow, and my mother started to increase his formula supplement because he started to demand for more. Everyday I found myself praying for abundant milk supply, I ate everything that I know will increase milk supply, from pork knuckle, peanut soup, papaya soup, and fenugreek seed.
I have called, e-mailed, sms-ed all my friends who successfully breastfed their babies religiously, and they have been great in providing me help, encouragement, tips and everything I need to know about breastfeeding.
After full moon, we took Kai-Jin back to the island, and for the first few days, I shut myself in the room with him and put him on my breast whenever he demand for a feed which is like every 2 hours, and each feed takes about 1 hour! I was determine to build up my supply like that, and not topping him up with formula during the day, and only give him 1 topping at night so he can go to sleep for a longer stretch of time.
We were more familiar with each other by then, and the dance became more graceful, and now I finally built up my supply, and no longer need supplement, and also thank god Kai-Jin did not had "nipple confusion" because of bottle feeding, in fact, he rejected the bottle now when we try to feed him my expressed milk.
Now Kai-Jin and I are no longer stepping on each other's toes, but we are still not the most graceful. I only had experienced once to feed him in public, and I was really nervous, but I kind of managed it. So the next thing we are going to learn is to discreetly breastfeed in the public using the sling. (that is another thing I am learning now, to use the sling)
Here are a few tips for those who intend to breastfeed:
1. We all have milk, don't listen to others telling you that you don't have milk, just have to be patience! It took me 1 month plus to have good supply!
2. Older people don't like the idea of breastfeeding because they can't see how much you have fed their grandchild, so they will insist you to top the baby up with formula, try not to, if you baby is not driving you crazy with the cry of hunger, let the baby suck so your supply will be worked up sooner.
3. You don't really have to "prepare your breast", but it is a good idea to prepare it before giving birth, but if you didn't, you are not doom, the baby don't really need to eat during the first few days! Even if they need food the need very little only like the size of walnut. So your few drops of colostrum is enough. And it is the most important for your baby!
4. Search the net, I found some really useful hints and tips from the la leche league website. Learn the right latch, and this will help to prevent crack nipple, and let baby get more milk when they get a good latch.
5. U-tube have many visual help showing all different ways to position you baby and how to latch your baby correctly.
6. Lastly, like what my hubby said, "Be strong, you can do it!"
A big thank you to Syn, Carine, Joanne, and Jennifer Hor (Author of Asian Parenting Today) for your help! And of course to hubby for being such a great coach!
Yipee I am finally breastfeeding my baby exclusively!