Before August Breastfeeding Month will be over, I wanted to share my breastfeeding journey as a mom who breastfed all her kids and is still currently breastfeeding my 4-month-old infant. I wanted to document my different experiences breastfeeding my 3 boys.
When I was pregnant with my 1st-born, my goal was to breastfeed him exclusively. I love what I read about the benefits of breastfeeding for the baby plus I wanted to save money. Formula milk can really be heavy on the budget. I was glad that during the time I decided to become a mom, the breastfeeding advocacy is loud and strong. I was glad that I found a community of breastfeeding advocate mommies that would help me in my journey. I was ready. I was really ready. I thought I was…..
I delivered Naj through emergency caesarean section on the 29 June 2014. I bought a Medela FreeStyle BreastPump, which was a bit on the pricey side for me, to prepare for my breastfeeding journey. Naj had to stay for 1 week in the hospital because of neonatal pneumonia. So I was at home, not being able to provide for him unlimited latching to ensure a good production of milk. So I kept pumping and pumping for half an hour at home but no milk is coming out. It frustrated me. My breasts finally got engorged with milk by Day 3 postpartum. I tried pumping but I felt the pump wasn’t strong enough to remove the milk from my breasts. It was agonising. When Naj finally came home, breastfeeding him was so painful. I feel that I didn’t have enough milk for him to be satiated. He got frustrated. I got frustrated. My breasts would be raw, tender, bruised and bleeding with scabs. I really wanted to exclusively feed him with breastmilk but I seems impossible. I was on my wit’s end. I was devastated. It was partly because I has crushed that my goal to be an exclusively breastfeeding mom seems dim at that point and I get this nagging pressure & guilt from advocates of breastfeeding that I am doing the wrong thing to hand my newborn child a bottle of formula milk.
When it was my time to go back to Singapore, I was heartbroken that I couldn’t bring Naj with us because he hasn’t received his passport yet. I didn’t have enough breastmilk stash so I have no choice but to allow him to be fed with formula milk.
When I was in Singapore, I would diligent pump every 3 hours and create a good stash of frozen breastmilk in our fridge. I would pour on over articles online on articles on how to increase low supply breastmilk. I would join Facebook Breastfeeding Groups and check on techniques & suggestions in how to increase my supply. I would buy galactogogues medications and foods hoping this is the answer to prayers. I learned how to store milk properly and how to thaw them when I freeze them. I even bought another breastpump, Spectra M1, which seems more stronger than the Medela Freestyle. I also added a manual Uminom Breastpump which I hardly use.
Finally, my hubby and I were able to get Naj to bring here in Singapore. I was the happiest being reunited with my son. I was determined that I will exclusively feed him until he turns 1 year old. He would latch on me when I am home and fed him with my expressed milk. I still felt Naj frustation that he wanted more milk and he didn’t feel like he was full with my milk. Stubborn that I was, I carried on exclusively breastfeeding him.
At that point, I enjoyed our bonding moments when I would breastfeed Naj. Breastfeeding wasn’t as painful as before. I managed to sleep through the night because we co-sleep and he would just latch through the night. But I was already supplementing him with formula milk because my milk wasn’t just enough to create an adequate stash when I am at work and I had a hard time at work to pump every 3 hrs.
But at 6 months mark, I noticed that Naj was gaining weight. He was very thin even when I introduced solids. My milk supply got even lower by 7 months. So by that time, I stopped breastfeeding Naj and he was exclusively on formula milk.
This time, I told myself that my next baby. I don’t mind mixed feeding my baby because I don’t want to make the same mistakes I did before by pushing breastfeeding to the point that my son was not having adequate milk to nourish him.
Fynn was an excellent latcher. He is an expert at Day 1. He is a voracious milk monster. He can perfectly empty my breasts. The problem is, he doesn’t get satisfied with both full breastmilk. He needed another 4oz of formula milk. And with that, he was such a healthy chubby boy. But I did suffer a week of painful bleeding nipples at the start. It got better after awhile.
I have found medications that would help boost my milk supply. I learned the art of pumping anywhere, in bus stops, MRTs, while doing groceries. Yes, I can! I do it with my trusty breastfeeding apron and one pump on one breast with my hand holding it while I have one hand free.
As always, breastfeeding gave me this bonding moments with my baby and I get to sleep through the night without me leaving the bed because I was breastfeeding.
Fynn was a very easy baby to take care of. By 7 months, I have stopped pumping milk at work but I still got to continue breastfeeding Fynn until he was 1 year old. I stopped breastfeeding when he started biting my nipples. He preferred to play with it rather than drinking milk so breastfeeding him ended as he turned 1 year old.
For my 3rd baby, I was armed and ready for my breastfeeding journey. I wanted a steady supply of milk but I wouldn’t be too strict. I don’t mind supplementing with formula milk, if needed. And I must say, this time around, I believe I had enough experience in breastfeeding and it made it so easier. I am so surprised that I have more than adequate supply of breast milk. I didn’t suffer from any crack and bleeding nipples. I feed Zeke 90% breastmilk and 10% formula. He prefers feeding from my breasts rather than my expressed milk or formula milk.
It helped that I had two sessions with a very good lactation nurse when I gave birth to Zeke. She taught me techniques in successful breastfeeding. She even supervised me how I breastfeed Zeke and corrected how I hold him or position him. It was so helpful. I would like to impart to breastfeeding moms out there some things I have learned from my experience to establish good milk supply.
How to Establish a Good Milk Supply
1. Take Malunggay Capsules a week before you deliver and continually take 1-2 tablets 2x or 3x a day.
2. Schedule an appointment with a good lactation consultant
3. Massage breasts while taking a warm shower to unblock ducts
4. Do unlimited latching with baby at home
5. Do skin-to-skin contact with baby
6. Pump both breasts for 15mins every 3 hours
7. Pump breast for 10-15 mins after feeding baby to empty breasts
8. Make sure baby latches correctly
9. Drink lots of water
10. Get a correct size breast pump flanges. (I realised my Medela Freestyle work just fine.
11. Make sure that the breast pump flanges are positioned correctly at your nipples to allow proper flow of milk
12. Lean a little forward when pumping
13. Do power pumping
14. Take galactogogues foods like salmon, oats, almonds, etc.
15. Babywear your baby
I just love breastfeeding my kids. I totally recommend it for all moms but I am not going to force the issue that all moms must exclusively feed their child. I do supplement my kids with formula too. I do love breastfeeding but I believe fed is still the best.
I don’t know if my breastfeeding journey would stop at Zeke. But I am sure when the time comes that I will stop breastfeeding, I will surely miss those days of bonding with my babies.
Share with me your breastfeeding stories too!