Progress Report: currently on our 16th month breastfeeding; 1.5 of which we mixed fed.
Just so you know, like most moms, breastfeeding was a big challenge for me too. Low supply, poor latching, inverted nips, thrush, over supply, biting — among the many breastfeeding problems a nursing mom can go through. And to tell you frankly 4 out of 6 mentioned became our stumbling blocks. We were one difficult night short of giving up each time, but I thank my stubborn self for insisting to try one more time, every single time.
If you’re breastfeeding feel free to go down the memory lane with me. Expecting, you’ve been warned. Oops! I mean warmed.
16 months; 64 weeks to date. Though it might seem like a long time ago, I can still recall each phase as if everything is still fresh. Maybe we’re not really meant to forget the experience so we can share them with others. And maybe, the struggle was meant to prepare me for something else, like this blog entry perhaps.
Some say I’m too fortunate to be breastfeeding until now, I say I’m persistent. Because every drop is liquid love and I wouldn’t want my little one to have it any other way just because I quit trying.
So how do you sail through the storms of breastfeeding without throwing in the towel?
I was so confident about nursing before actually doing it. But to my surprise, I was completely dumbfounded when the nurse handed Atlas to me.
How do I hold him?
How will I position this tiny creature without crushing his bones?
Why does it HURT!!!
Bottomline is, I wasn’t prepared at all. I don’t think anybody will ever be. I always thought breastfeeding is something that happens naturally. Well it didn’t. And through reading I’ve learned that it really doesn’t happen naturally to many women.
Some are fortunate to have sufficient supply right away; others don’t.
some babies know how to latch; some don’t.
Inverted nipples / Low supply / Over-supply / Forceful let-down
And so many things about breastfeeding that could and would definitely come to you as a surprise.
I reached a point where my google searches were more like questions I wanted to ask someone. My history tab looked like a one way communication. LOL on me. But the web sure did aid me in getting through most of the tough nights. Girl are we lucky to be a click away from a myriad of moms helping parents alike through blogs and forums online. Kellymom.com to site one. It provides a plethora of breastfeeding and parenting articles that really help.
Knowledge is key. You can’t be fully prepared but a little heads-up is enough.
GET YOUR PARTNER’S SUPPORT
The first couple of weeks of parenthood can wear out any seasoned or new mom. The late nappy changes, growth spurt, feeding routines, the ever-changing sleep pattern, and then there’s breastfeeding. I hate to break it to you but like most things in life, it’s not rainbows and butterflies everyday. There will be days and nights when you’re just too exhausted about everything, about life. It’s one of the many crazy post-partum effect. The baby blues? The PPD? Coupled with sleepless nights and a grumbling stomach is why motherhood is like a walk in the park – Jurassic Park!
The good news is, having a supportive partner makes a heck of a difference. So make sure you keep communicating. Confide to your partner and remember:
You are a team.
BE STILL. STAY CALM. RELAX –
even when your newborn can’t seem to stop fussing because he’s hungry but he doesn’t want to feed. Or he’s too active he keeps on fighting sleep and becomes overtired (oh boy). Or because he’s just too fussy in general.
It really is stressful when you can’t figure out why he can’t latch, why he refuses, or why he gets upset when you offer. I had this so many times I thought I might have lost part of my sanity. And just when I was able to figure out the whys and worked out with the hows, another issue keeps on happening.
You see, breastfeeding can get really frustrating!
The best thing you can do is again, to keep calm and know your stuff. “The more you know, the less you fear” and the less you fear, the greater control and power you have over any situation. That’s how you calm your spirit. Otherwise, gear up for a distressed baby because a newborn can sense our anxiety and pretty much gets upset too.
If all else fails ………………
SEEK OUT HELP
So the cutest little thing suddenly became a crying, pooping, restless milk monster. You feel tired as a mother and s*** just got real, like both literally and figuratively. The sleep deprivation adds up night after night and you think you can’t go on another day mothering. As if all these aren’t enough, you have a breastfeeding issue to deal with.
First, you need to rest your restless soul momsh. Breathe and relax, it only takes seconds to calm that nerve. Then, get some help. There are so many people willing to lend you a hand, all you have to do is ask.
When sometimes it seems more difficult to let in a family member, consider talking to the nurses in the NICU, or an experienced friend. Chances are, they all have a thing or two to share that will definitely help you survive the first few (6 to be detailed) gruelling weeks of breastfeeding.
I can never repay my friend Roxanne, no matter what favor, for introducing me to my lactation consultant. When I was about to give up because I thought I wasn’t producing enough milk for Atlas, I met her. And through low and high supply, to forceful letdown, she was my guiding light, making me see through the clouds in my head. It took us 11 weeks before my supply was fully stable. That’s 2 and a half months long of latch, unlatch, want to latch but can’t latch situation. Come 18 weeks and we went through another struggle – teething and biting. I was already too attached to give up but it was too damn painful 😦 —
See, I can’t help myself from typing that emoticon because I still feel the emotional and physical pain to date. But through that recall, I also feel so proud and victorious that again, between a rock and a hard place, we found a gem and a safe haven — all thanks to my dear Jay.
I don’t need to stress how big of a challenge breastfeeding can become to most moms, but with the support and encouragement you can get from people you trust, there’s no telling how long you can go.
CONSIDER YOUR DIET
Not the getting back to shape diet but one that is beneficial to your speedy recovery and well-being. You have to make sure you get the best possible nutrition so that your baby can also get it from you.
Oats, avocado, chia and flax seeds, coconut milk, veggies, soup, mother’s milk tea, lactation cookies and increased water intake every day for about 3 months. Because aside from the healing properties and the beneficial nutrients, these stuff are known to aid in lactation. I swear by the milk supply boost! Why I went from low supply to over supply for weeks! Plus, these are the only food that didn’t upset Atlas’ tummy. For some post-partum reason, I became lactose intolerant after delivery. All of a sudden, I can’t risk downing my favorite latte, let alone touching a slice of pepperoni pizza or else I’m spending an all-nighter with a fussy gassy baby. Sad right? I thought so too! Until I realized it was my body’s way of veering away from unhealthy grubs. Win-win!
KNOW THAT THERE WILL BE CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAY
So many things can happen in any moment, I’m sure you know. Well breastfeeding belongs in those mini moments that aren’t so long but could potentially consume you in good and not so pleasant way. Which is which, only you can answer.
“Know that sometimes things outside your control might mean breastfeeding doesn’t work as well as you’d like–or at all.”
You can have all the advantage and eventually end up in an early weaning. You can have a rough start and just give up. It’s okay. You’re no less of a wonderful mom! Nevertheless, you can also have a rough start and reap the benefits in the long run.
Breastfeeding is taxing. It requires loads of patience, determination and hardwork. But every sleepless, nerve-racking, and crying to sleep night is worth it.
And you will never understand fully unless you give up now.
-and whatever happens, don’t give up too soon. Some will tell you it just doesn’t work for everyone. While it may be true, sometimes, a little push from a friend or a family member plus a little persistence can go a long way.
I envisioned myself laughing at the frustrated, crying newbie breastfeeding mom that I was months ago. But instead, I gained a certain level of confidence and respect to myself and to all moms who chose to nurse through whatever odds thrown at them.
It is tough my love, but so are you.
MAKE THE MOST OUT OF IT
This I would like to tell any breastfeeding mom what my 64 week breastfeeding self would tell my neophyte nursing self: GO ON. All the sleepless nights, along with its pain, hassle, and issues will be a tale of triumph someday. No matter how draggy the days feel, someday is sooner than you think. And when that time comes, you only have but a peachy keen memory to revisit through flashbacks and photographs.
PS. Glad you made it to the end. As a token of appreciation, we’re sharing with you our breastfeeding journey in one short video clip. WATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK.