I am a first time mommy of the age of 25 and when I was pregnant I was determined to breastfeed. I thought breastfeeding was plonking the baby on the breast and that’s it. Ha! Little did I know!
I tried to prepare myself as best I could. I read articles, watched videos but nobody really talks about the struggles about breastfeeding, I was so ignorant. I was about 36 weeks pregnant and I started leaking colostrum and my gynae told me that I have a very good chance at breastfeeding.
I was so excited and determined. We attended ante natal classes and had a class specifically focusing on breastfeeding. Which was informative, but in my opinion, more focus must be spent on breastfeeding – I will share in more detail later in my writing.
So my scheduled c section arrived for the 11th of July 2016. I told the nurses no formula unless it was medically necessary as I wanted to breastfeed. My little boy was born and it was the most beautiful day of my life. My breach, 3.92kg baby had arrived. The baby we have waited 9 months for!
So as I lay in recovery my husband went with baby. They measured his sugar and unfortunately his sugar was too low and they couldn’t wait for me so my husband had to consent and they had to supplement with formula. That was the biggest mistake which affected my breastfeeding journey.
When I finally got to try and breastfeed my baby he had already been supplemented twice. He was lazy and sleepy and wouldn’t latch. The nurses are also not really pro breastfeeding and didn’t offer much help. It’s so sad to think how little encouragement and help we get, even from our private hospitals.
We tried getting him to drink with a nipple shield but the flow was too slow for him. He was already used to drinking from a bottle – and that from only two times. I kept trying full force to breastfeed him for the next three days but I didn’t succeed. I ended up giving him a bottle just so that he could get milk into his little tummy.
I was also still recovering from a c section so comfort was zero. I had help, My grandmother came to help me, my mother tried, we tried all the positions under the sun, we even got a lady nurse to come and help me but my boy just wouldn’t. He continued to take two sucks and then sleep on the breast.
I eventually started expressing for my little boy with a hand pump that I was blessed with from someone. I was determined for him to drink my liquid gold by any means even if it meant in a bottle. Hand pumping became really strenuous and very soon bought a single electric pump and not long after that we upgraded to a double electric.
I had been pumping religiously; Every. Single. Day. For the past 8 months. As if being a full time working mother isn’t tiring enough, sitting jailed to a pump for 4 hours of your day is nothing enjoyable. You can only read Facebook so much, then you have seen everything already. Expressing was so boring for me. My breastfeeding journey was nothing enjoyable. The only reward for me was knowing what I was producing was growing my baby.
You plan your day around your expressing schedule. While you are expressing you can’t even see to your own baby – Thank God I had a hands on Husband. I don’t know what I would have done if he wasn’t helpful.
I was very blessed to have a great milk supply with the help of medication; I was able to express 1.2L of milk a day which my boy used to drink everything of. One of the terrible side effects of the medication was picking up weight. Which made me REALLY negative. So I decided to slowly wean myself off of the medication by dropping one pill every 2nd week and I can proudly say I completely stopped the medication and my supply was still intact.
I recently had a few rough weeks where I struggled to express. I couldn’t get the milk out. The milk was there but I couldn’t get it out. I was unable to initiate a let down. I now know how other mommy’s feel that struggle to get a good reaction from expressing. Where it took me 40 minutes a session to express it took me a hour and a half. Which ended up killing me as I had a teething baby and was waking up 6 – 7 times a night sometimes. I just couldn’t anymore.
I gave my baby boy 1.2 L of liquid gold for 8 months but my body was telling me it was enough. I was exhausted and I couldn’t anymore. I was also emotionally stressed. Every time I have to express I started worrying about if I am gonna get enough milk for my babys daycare the next day.
This led me to making the most difficult decision I have ever made it my life. I decided to stop breastfeeding.
My goal was to feed him to one year and I couldn’t even reach my goal. I feel so guilty. It feels as if I am failing my son because I am giving up before I was ready to give up but my body was telling me its time. I went and got the pills to dry up the milk and I started taking them.
I was so engorged I wanted to cry. I had to pump and dump to avoid mastitis. That was the most difficult thing I was ever to do was to express and throw my milk away. I couldn’t bare the thought of it. After expressing I left the milk in the basin and my husband had to throw it away, I just couldn’t.
Today is the first day that I feel okay. The milk is mostly gone but the guilt is everywhere. Every time I make a formula bottle that guilt hits me like a bat in my face.
I don’t think anyone realises the sacrifice a mother makes to either breastfeed or to exclusively express for your little one. I mean you have to eat healthy, avoid spicy foods, some mommy’s have to avoid all dairy products, limit caffeine intake and the biggest killer for me was not being able to take a proper pain pill when necessary.
Watching my little boy grow from my milk was an absolute dream come true but I have to put myself first. I completely agree with the statement “Fed is best” as long as you are feeding your baby that is all that matters, whether it be by breast or by formula. Mommy you are doing a great job!!
If I can give a small word of advice to new mommy’s to be please attend a La Leche League meeting if you can or join their Facebook group. They have lactation consultants and can most likely help you with your baby’s latch. I only found out about them when it was too late, I wish I knew about them while I was still pregnant.
If you plan to breastfeed empower yourself with as much information as you can. Do research on how a baby should latch, the latch needs to be deep in order to avoid cracked and bleeding nipples. Watch videos, watch them over and over and over again.
Know that a baby is going to want to breastfeed ALL the time to establish your milk supply. Throw your clock away and wear comfortable clothes and just breastfeed. Know it is not going to be sunshine and roses. It is going to be difficult but I do believe that it can form a special bond between you and your child. But if it doesn’t work out for you. Thank Goodness for technology. Thank goodness for formula.
Remember Fed is best!!!! (I need to keep telling myself this)
I felt the need to share my story and hopefully get some closure.
Thank you for reading.
Article sent in by Olga Neuhoff