As a moslem family, I shall know that breastfeeding is every baby’s rights as reflected:
"The mothers shall give such to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. No mother shall be Treated unfairly on account of her child. Nor father on account of his child, an heir shall be chargeable in the same way. If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them. If ye decide on a foster-mother for your offspring, there is no blame on you, provided ye pay (the mother) what ye offered, on equitable terms. But fear God and know that God sees well what ye do. (The Noble Quran, 2:233)"
But having a consideration living in a modern life, I personally think that to breastfeed is purely every mom’s choice. And I really grateful that I decided with my strong will to keep on breastfeeding M until as long as he wants or until the maximum of his first two years of life. Even though it wasn’t quite an easy choice (in the beginning) as I remembered. As I really had a hard time to the extent of nearly got myself into a baby blues situation.
Actually during my pregnancy, I had lots of reading about breastfeeding, but mostly only about the benefits of breastfeeding and the latch-on techniques. All those reading are good enough to make me so excited and even more eager to breastfeed M.
But I was never had any opportunity to get any information about the real situation on how to start in a hard way or any of the worst possibility that we might experienced. I was too carried away with the beautiful vision of breastfeeding, how breastfeeding is a natural process that will easily happen without much effort, and it turned out that I was wrong!
Early Initiation of Breastfeeding (EIB)
Some friends who've had babies first suggested me to have EIB. They never tire of reminding mommy that EIB is important to expedite the process of breastfeeding. EIB is a process carried out shortly after the baby is born, so the baby is placed on the chest and then let the baby to reach the nipple and began to suckle. Normally this process naturally occurs for 30 minutes to 2 hours or for as long as the moms required, but of course depends on the mom and baby condition. EIB is intended to train the baby for suckle instinct and are believed to trigger milk production. So do not forget to ask for EIB to you obgyn, because not all doctors support the EIB without we’re asking for it. Fortunately my doctor highly supporting EIB.
Quote: “A baby nursing at a mother's breast... is an undeniable affirmation of our rootedness in nature (David Suzuki)”
First Latch On
I had my EIB myself, but not for long, only about half an hour because me and M equally tired after 15 hours of labor and delivery. I was so exhausted (but still excited) and M wasn’t really try to suck either. Both of us are busy staring and admiring each other during that half an hour. I was so busy admiring, until I didn’t realize the stitching process on my teared vagina, hahaha!!!
So his first latch on actually occurred about a half hour after the EIB. After me and M got cleaned and wrapped comfortably then moved from the delivery room to the ward. And it was definitely a beautiful moment as I can remember :-)
From most of source that I get and also from the maternity class, I understand that for some cases, several days after giving birth, we do not produce milk, but colostrum. Even some of moms had the colostrum started to come out a few days before giving birth (in which I think it’s such a waste).
Colostrum produced in small amounts, is approximately one to three tablespoons per feeding (some moms may had more). But Colostrum is very high in nutrients and calories, and so easy for infant’s unstable digestive system (though babies born overdue, their digestive system is still not perfect). So, do not worry if the baby will enough food intake, since the baby was aslo born with a small marble sized stomach. Formula milk will only force the baby's digestive system to work harder, because formula milk is not as good as the content of colostrum that are so easy to digest.
Colostrum also very rich in proteins, vitamin A, and sodium chloride, but contains lower amounts of carbohydrates, lipids, and potassium than normal milk. The most pertinent bioactive components in colostrum are growth factors and antimicrobial factors. The antibodies in colostrum provide passive immunity, while growth factors stimulate the development of the gut. They are passed to the neonate and provide the first protection against pathogens.
The importance of family support, especially husband
Up to the colostrum stuff I still feel so confident onto the breastfeeding.
So the first night of our stays in the hospital after giving birth went smoothly according to my prediction. Moreover my mom was accompanying me all through the night. At least there is someone who can help me to change M diapers when I’m too tired to wake up in the middle of the night. M woke up 4 times that night. I asked for M to be in my room for breastfeeding conveniently, and also to avoid naughty nurse giving formula for M (although I’ve already told the nurses that M would be fully-breastfed, but still room-in makes me more relieved and it’s also good for us to get to know each other more.
The second night was still as smooth as the night before, until the third night (which is the first night we came back home), my colostrum has turned into breast milk and still very small in amount. M was keep on crying the whole night and asking for more and more nursing for almost every hour. And he was also passed motion for quite numbers of times.
My mom was very worried and kept persuading me to feed M with milk, worried that M wasn’t get enough milk, but I kept refusing. Even daddy took aside with my mom. Oh no! The worst moms can't get is husband support!!
It had opened my mind that old folks never really got a proper education about breastfeeding. Even the fact that my mom had all her 5 children breastfed is also not a guarantee that she knows everything about breastfeeding, she event questioned why my breast aren’t as swollen as other moms do and therefore my breast milk supply was so low. And I was wrong for too much relied on her that time.
I was getting more and more pressures from my hubby and my mom. They don’t get to agree on my thought that breastfeeding is a demand-supply process, that this is the most critical moment of which giving M formula milk will only make my breast milk supply getting lesser and lesser. Stress mommy, low milk supply, stressed M. The whole night was a mess. I knew M was getting as stressed as I am.
Early next morning, M got into high fever, 39C at the age of three days wasn’t a good sign at all. It was combination of excessive crying for the whole night and low milk intake, as the result of stressed-mommy. M’s jaundice turned up again, in which it was already at the safe level when we left the hospital. M’s face turned so yellowish, even I could see his dulled eyes. I was so sad and worried and exhausted. Daddy didn’t know what to do, my mom didn’t give much moral support, I was at my lowest point at that time.
Not to wasted more time, M was examined by his paediatrics. Result came out to be virus. Of course had he get enough milk, he would be just fine. So M had stay at inward for UV treatment and observation until his jaundice and fever lowered down. I stayed 24 hours with M at the hospital, to make sure that he got everything he needed.
We spent three days at the hospital until finally M had his jaundice and fever lowered down. Doctor gave me support to keep on breastfeeding. Being left alone with M, without my mom and daddy, gave me lots of time for self-reflection. And also to get more connected with M. I kept on telling M that I’m so sorry for all the mess, that I promised I would do better if he did the same thing too. My lactation consultant helped me to go through all the stressful situation too. She taught me to do the correct latch on, to be more relaxed and to express my breast milk using the breast pump provided by the hospital.
When we finally back home that day, I convinced myself to be more persistence and confident, regardless of how my mom and daddy were still not supporting me for breastfeeding. Yup, I still didn’t get any support from them.
Luckily, I had my best friend visited us, Alia Permata Nur (RIP). She had her 2 kids breastfed. Her son was born three weeks earlier than M. I told her my situation, and there she was to tell me the main secret about breastfeeding :
“The main thing about breastfeeding is the mindset. She said just believe with your whole heart and mind that your baby will get more than just enough milk from you, even if the rest of the people around you are not supportive at all. Just trust your instinct!!!”
All along I was so busy with my own thought, until I totally forgotten that I have many friends with the similar experiences too. I should have asked them too! There are things that we can’t only learn from the books, things like experiences from other people are sometimes helps a lot! There’s no such thing as perfect mom. The more we ask the more we know. Just ASK!
Ever since that day, I didn’t care much of what my mom or daddy would say. Even when M cried for the whole day and night, I just didn’t bother. I asked my friends instead.
I found out that it’s totally normal for newborn to cry constantly at the first few days, some even lasted for few weeks or months. That’s the only language he knows, the only way to communicate with us about what he's feeling, be it scared, uncomfortable, cold, heat, stomach pain, hunger, etc. Babies cried and keep on wanting to breastfeed not because they don’t get enough intake, but because they need to feel comfortable in the warmth of their mom hands, our bodies scents that can make them feel warm and comfortable as when they were still in the womb. Moreover, unlike formula, breast milk is very, very easy to digest. So it’s normal that few hours after they had breastfed, they will pass motion/urine/gas, therefore their empty stomach needs to be fed again. It’s actually a good sign, that their body is regulating with the new world outside the womb. Please remember that newborn’s stomach is only marble seed sized.
Give our babies regular intake of milk in moderation but more frequent will be much better than to give formula in big portion for long time span. So just let the baby leads you of when to breastfeed. However it’s generally took every 2-3 hours. M had not been separated from my arms for few days. If M still cry and not want to sleep for hours despite already breastfeeding, then I hug him while singing soothing songs him, until he wanted to suckle again. Sometimes I let him suckle until he overslept in my arms mommy. We are inseparable. If I put him in the mattress he would definitely cry. It's tough but I would love to do that for thousand times!!!
Quote: “While breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it is the best choice for every baby (Amy Spangler)”
You must be thinking that you’re an expert until this point, but hold your breath as this is also important to know.
Growth spurt is a tremendous growth in weight and length that happen in a very short time. Don’t be surprised if suddenly your baby has a huge appetite to the extent of never wanting to let go of your breast. It’s not because you have a sudden breast strike. It might be just they’re having a growth spurt, that’s why they need more milk. And don’t you ever try to satisfy them by adding formula milk because it might cause your breast milk difficult to catch up with their needs. Just let them get more as much as they want, it will help our breast to adjust the supply to produce more according to what the baby needs. This is one of many miracle of breastfeeding that I’ve been always amazed with, how our body can actually adjust the settings to comply with our baby needs.
During this time, your baby might not the only one who has big appetite, you might feel extremely thirsty and hungry too. It’s alright, just follow what your body is trying to tell you, keep yourself well dehydrated.
Growth spurt happens a lot during the first year of your baby’s life and later when they reach a teenager stage of life.
LDR (Let Down Reflex)
Just like my milk supply, I had my LDR slow too. LDR is how our breast reacts to baby’s suckling reflex in such a way that your breast will squeeze milk out of your control. In the beginning I truly believed, but later on I realized that sometimes even without M suckling it, just by hearing him crying wanting for milk, I got the sensation (it usually a tingling feel in my nipple)
Don’t worry too much if you can’t feel it, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have it. Because some moms just can’t feel it. The easy way to detect the LDR is by observing baby’s suckling pattern. As the breast automatically squeeze the milk during LDR, the baby won’t need effort to enjoy the flow. So when you suddenly feel that your baby’s taking a long and slow suckling moves, well he’s definitely enjoying LDR.
I got mine really slow and short too at the beginning that sometimes it makes M frustrated and showed me his complain. Cute! But then I kept telling him that he has to be more patient, that we both tried our best to be a great team. And after few weeks, I finally got mine over supply that I have to pump it out every evening. And I always remembered to keep telling M that it’s all because of our great team work.
Always keep in mind that our breast size never to determine our milk supply. Breastfeeding is a demand-supply process, the more the baby suck the more milk will produced and vice versa.
Good Latch On and Nursing Position
Good latch on is very important for the early stage of breastfeeding. It will help to boost the LDR and also to avoid sore nipples.
M was a natural born latch-er, never give up and always powerful. I never had any sore nipples at all. It probably because of my well-shaped nipple too. Another thing that can help good latch on is the nursing position. It’s very personal depends on you and your baby. Everyone may have their own favourite nursing position. When at home my favourite was side lay as I don’t have to get up when M was awake and ask for milk in the middle of the night. But when we’re outside, we love the babycarrier-nursingcover position, while we can still walking around doing my errands (or shopping). Try to observe the best nursing position for you and your baby.
Quote: “Mother's milk, time-tested for millions of years, is the best nutrient for babies because it is nature's perfect food (Robert S. Mendelsohn)”
Another good thing about breastfeeding is that we don’t need to worry about hygiene. Breastfeeding is guaranteed to be the most h hygienic compare to any formula milk in the whole world. Formula milk is very prone to bacterial contamination. Try to imagine from the production, packaging to serving process, there’s a lot of contamination possibilities that might occurs, and they never as 100% suitable for baby as breast milk can be.
Quote: “There are three reasons for breast-feeding: the milk is always at the right temperature; it comes in attractive containers; and the cat can't get it (Irena Chalmers)”
There are so many myths circulating about breastfeeding, we have to be very clever to respond if there are people who leave a comment in the form of a myth. Keep asking and sourcing to get the facts instead of believe in a myth.
Do not hesitate to commit to breastfeed our baby moms, remember only 1 in 1000 women who really can’t breastfeed because of breast abnormalities. It has been ascertained that 999 can breastfeed if there is intention and spirit.
My Learned Lessons
To conclude, breastfeeding M taught me lots of things. I believe M and I did learned much. About relationship, communication, about how to love, share and sacrifice things for the loved ones, about how I truly willing to give all the best M can get for his precious childhood moments. We’ve completed the 2 years of breastfeeding without any more problems. It was never the easiest way but if it’s the best way I don’t mind doing it for his most important first 2 years of life that will give huge impact for his lifetime. It’s priceless!
Quote: “Breastfeeding is a mother's gift to herself, her baby and the earth (Pamela K. Wiggins)”
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