Let’s face it guys, breastfeeding is not an easy task.
When I was pregnant, I vowed to myself that I would breastfeed my baby exclusively until he turned six months, and proceed to breastfeed with additional solid food until he’s two. The plan seemed so simple, like when I was writing it out on my to-do list. I’ve seen mothers with breastfed children, and mothers who formula-fed their children. I’ve observed and I decided that breastfeeding is the best option for me.
But like I said, breastfeeding IS NOT an easy task.
When he was delivered, he tried to clasp his tiny mouth onto my huge gigantic nip and failed. I thought it was my fault, and his cryings became more and more prominent as time passes by. I tried giving him some more time to tuck onto my breast and waited but he still wailed. I called the staff nurse and she taught me the correct and easiest way for the baby to latch. There was some thick liquid – anyone could guess it was the colostrum, and I tried to feed him with it. He sucked it in – I guess, because up until now I didn’t know if the colostrum did enter his tummy or I just swiped it all away because of my ignorance.
Okay. I told myself, maybe he did drink.
He was silent until minutes later. He started wailing, crying, his face red with maybe, rage because he was angry. As per what I had learned, babies only need colostrum to pass by, and the colostrum wasn’t that much.
There was no spare formula milk. I didn’t bring any because I was confident I can feed the baby all by myself. We will be alright, right, baby?
That first night at the hospital, he couldn’t sleep well. I couldn’t sleep well. My mother in-law couldn’t sleep at all. She took care of the baby, hushing him down, serenading him and tried to tuck him into the baby cot.
When I went home, there was still no sign of breast milk. I expected them to be runny, maybe a bit thinner than the colostrum. I pinched and I pressed and massaged my breasts, but nothing came out. My masseuse told me I had blocked duct, and I supposed to know about it since before I gave birth. She even told me that I should know as I am a doctor and well, DOCTORS KNOW EVERYTHING. Pffftttt
No, doctors know everything when it is someone else.
If it happens to them, do you know that doctors are the worst patients?
My baby sucked and sucked, but there’s nothing came out. My breast felt heavy and a bit tender. He was hungry, I’m sure but momma’s milk is not here yet.
My husband then decided he wouldn’t let my baby go hungry for another day. He bought formula by the end of day 1, which means I’m unable to feed anything to my baby for almost 24 hours. I felt like a loser. My breasts were aching and I was crying (damn those hormones!) when I tried to breastfeed him. My nipples ached so much, and when he sucked, the pain sent me off the roof. There was nothing in this world compared to the pain of a first time mother trying to breastfeed his child.
I watched my masseuse and my MIL fed him formula milk. I wouldn’t feed him myself. I refused to give him any formula as far as I would. I was a stubborn person, and I would stay that way. My baby too was a bit fussy in his early days. He was used to getting formula milk and how easily the milk poured out in his mouth as compared to when he had to suck harder for my breast milk. He cried restlessly when I tried to breastfeed him, because he knew there wasn’t much milk for him.
I was disappointed. I was depressed because I couldn’t breastfeed him. So what am I to him then? I used to think breastfeeding is the only way for mother and child to bond but now what am I going to do that I couldn’t breastfeed yet?
I was frustrated by the fact that what I read confused me. The text books told me that I would be able to feed as soon as he comes out. They told me that breastfeeding is how mothers experienced happiness – because that was when the oxytocin (the happy hormone) oozed out of your body. But I didn’t have any of that. My nipples hurt, and sometimes they bled. They were dry skins and baby scratches on my chest and every time I fed him I cringed because I couldn’t stand another pain in my nips. Where is the oxytocin? Where is the fucking happiness? Where is the relief? I would ask myself over and over again, and then spiraled down the misery alley again and again.
My husband then resolved to buy a breast pump for me. It was a bit pricey but he told me it was going to worth it.
I used it, tried to pick up my own pace in my breastfeeding journey. My MIL and masseuse still used formula to feed him now and then, but as time passed by the milk started coming out. I used all the tips in the books and also from the Internet to try to enhance my breast milk. The nights were messy with my tears, again when he tried to feed and failed and my MIL had to feed him formula. I scrubbed the nips and massaged it quite harshly in the shower after I took analgesics to ease down the pain.
But slowly I started producing more milk. The formula was weaned down little by little. I pumped my breast and let him latch on. My breasts still felt sore, and I still winced at the pain when he latched but after a month or so, there wasn’t any pain at all. My confinement ended with me happily breastfeeding my baby exclusively.
Then, I already established that breastfeeding is a very tough journey. It demands determination and perseverance. It needs practice and knowledge. It will come naturally to you, but you have to work upon it. It’s like learning to walk, you naturally can walk but you need perseverance and practice. Babies never stopped learning, adults did.
But most of all, all you need is love.