My Learnings From My Breastfeeding Journey
Always listen to your doctor
After I took the LAMAZE classes before the delivery, I was confident thinking “I have got this” and nothing can go wrong. But as always nothing happened as planned. I was suggested to go for C-section at week 38 for various reasons. Though it was the best decision, but I was not happy about this as I was suggested by most of the people around me to go for a normal delivery and I was already a failure.
LEARNING: No method for delivery is good or bad. It depends on our situation and health condition. So, listen to your doctor as they know the best.
Starting of a new life
It was all good till the delivery and I was blessed with an angel. She was brought to me within an hour of delivery for the first feed and it was a feeling I had never experienced. For next six months I was going to be her only source of nutrition. My daughter looked good and all other test results came back as normal except the bilirubin count. Those who are not aware of what bilirubin is, for them it is a compound that is measured through blood test to find out various problems and one among this is jaundice.
TIP: Please insist on feeding your baby within an hour of delivery. It is referred as golden hour and is very crucial for both.
My daughter got the levels at border line, and we were suggested to hospitalize her for a day to get the photo therapy treatment which was supposed to be the best bet at that time for us to reduce the bilirubin from her blood. What I understood from the doctors is that we need to feed her as much as possible which will help the bilirubin to get flushed out of her system. So, what does that mean? It means that breastmilk will not be enough for her, and she needs to be fed formula milk along with breast milk. It made sense as it was just a day after the delivery, and I was not able to produce so much breastmilk.
TIP: Keep calm and don’t panic if you find that your baby needs extra attention. Talk to your doctor/pediatrician for the next steps. Few things are very common these days. When I was talking to people around me about this jaundice, I found out that many of their babies went through the same situation.
As I had a c- section, I was not able to help much in feeding her with the formula milk. The nurses at the hospital helped a lot here and they would take care of feeding her with formula milk during her photo therapy sessions. We got discharged the next day and were asked to visit to re-check the bilirubin after few days. Meanwhile we were asked to continue with the formula milk along with breast milk to improve the condition.
We came back home happily and were busy with meeting and greeting. We continued the same formula milk along with breast milk pattern for the baby. What we did not know here and what changed my life here after is that we were not supposed to use feeding bottle for the formula milk. We were supposed to use the feeding spoons for the formula milk. The nurse had used a feeding spoon in hospital for the same reason. We found out later that if the baby is given a bottle before 6 weeks, there are chances that baby might get confused and reject breast feed. And that is what had started happening. Suddenly she was not sucking the milk. Feeding from a bottle looks to be less effort for the baby. With days passing by she would just stick to me without sucking the milk. It used to take 30-45 minutes for her to fill her tummy at the time when she should have done it in 15-20 minutes. Sitting for breastfeeding for 30-45 minutes every 2-3 hours was also not easy for me.
LEARNING: Do not use bottle to feed formula or extracted breast milk at least till the baby is 6 weeks old. This might confuse the baby.
TIP: Try taking help from lactation consultant if you feel something is off with baby’s feeding. Trust me it is not as easy as it sounds. Both the mother and the baby need to work on it.
Guilt resulting into desperation and then determination
At that time, I felt guilty and was feeling that everyone would blame me for this which happened to some extent. With my guilt, I was desperate to find a solution to this situation. I started reading on google, watching YouTube videos and visited a lactation consultant as well. Got so many tips but unfortunately nothing worked. Finally, I found something on internet called exclusive pumping. Exclusive pumping is something where you extract the milk and feed instead of directly feeding. This looked like a solution to me. My main priority here was to provide my child with the best nutrition and then bonding with the child. So, I decided to go for exclusive pumping and find alternative ways of bonding.
TIP: There is always an alternative. You will have to look for it and go with whatever suits you. If not exclusively pumping, I would have chosen to go with formula milk.
Easier said than done. Believe me it was not an easy job. I read many articles and watched many videos to handle this situation. I had to adjust with the timings. This included baby’s feed timings, her sleep timings (I needed the baby to sleep or someone to hold while I could extract), my sleep timings, the time till the milk is good after extracting etc. It was not possible without help from the family members. Along with me, my husband and my mother had to gear up. During the day it was smooth as people were around to take care of her but at night it was only me who had to multitask. My mother and my husband were already doing more than what they could. But at the end of the day, I was happy that I could feed my baby my breast milk and she was getting enough nutrition.
TIP: Please do not beat yourself if something goes wrong. You would have gone through so much to bring this little one into this world. Take it easy. The baby can be happy and healthy only if the mother is so.
Bonding with my baby
I was also concerned about my bonding with the child as I was not breastfeeding her (at least not directly). So, I decided to feed her on my own every single time and started having more skin-to-skin contacts. I could have decided to give her formula milk but then somehow, I was determined to provide her with what I could. I do not see feeding formula milk as an inferior method. It just depends on a mother’s situation. I believe a mother always decides the best thing for her child.
TIP: Please have skin-to-skin contact with your baby as much as possible. This is highly recommended. Breastfeeding gives this opportunity automatically.
All about exclusive pumping
I started with extracting 8-10 times a day. I started with a normal electric pump but it was not so efficient so, I had switched to a hospital grade pump which I have got for rent. They are fast and does not make much sound. I have tried manual pump as well. It is good only if you ignore the pain in your hand that you get while pumping.
Fast forward to the current time. She is 11 months old now and I am still able to provide her with the golden liquid as they call it.
Now I must extract 2-3 times a day. Many of us start extracting their milk when they start going back to work after the maternity leave. For me it was little early. The WFH situation helped a lot till now. Next week I start going to office. It will be difficult, but I guess we mothers are equipped to handle this.
Not many mothers know about this exclusive pumping in details and my idea here is to bring this as an option to those mothers like me. There could be other reasons for a baby to not able to drink from breast, but the mothers might be having enough milk to feed the baby exclusively. In such cases this could be one of the options which will help both baby and mommy.
NOTE: I do not have any medical background and all these Tips are based on my experience.
Dipannita is a software engineer at Apple.She is mother to a 1 year old baby girl and to a 7 year old four-legged fur baby.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store.