Let me preface the post by saying that this is going to about me and my mammaries, mmmkay? Scoot off if you are not interested in reading all about their exploits.
One thing that I got asked a lot after I had delivered Aidan was whether I was breastfeeding. In short, yes. Besides the many health benefits that breast milk has, it made both practical and financial sense. We can save our pennies on buying expensive formula and it’s so convenient. No need to sterilize and wash bottles, just pop the kid onto your boob and voila! A fed and happy kid!
Before I started breastfeeding, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I had read all about the various pains and problems, like mastitis and engorgement and low supply. But just like motherhood, what you had read about would never adequately prepare you for what is to come.
Thankfully, Aidan latched like a champ the first time we nursed, two hours after he was born. The nurses at Mount Alvernia hospital were wonderful and gave me loads of guidance. He was brought to me every three hours for feeds and the staff absolutely respected my desire to total breastfeed him. Not once did anyone suggest otherwise.
I was lucky that I never faced any real problems when it came to breastfeeding. His latch was perfect on one side and a little wonky on the other – that was readily fixed by a nurse angel during our hospital stay when Aidan was warded for jaundice. The boobies toughened up quickly and by the second week, we were nursing like pros. My only real ‘problem’ is plugged milk ducts, which usually went away after a couple of days, thanks to vigorous massage on my part and my little man’s constant nursing.
So really, we were fortunate in the physical aspect of it all. However, I have to say that most of my mental anguish came from our families.
Perhaps it’s due to the lack of education but our parents’ generation were not brought up on the ‘breast is best’ mentality and both sets of parents seemed perplexed by the fact that we were not feeding our baby formula. I still remember my mother-in-law cooing over a wailing Aidan at the hospital and saying, “Are you hungry? Shall we fix up a bottle of milk for you?”
My in-laws have also been dropping hints about supplementing Aidan with formula milk. They wondered if his lack of sleep was due to low milk supply, and if I couldn’t keep up with Aidan’s needs since I looked “pale and thin”. They would also like to have Aidan on formula so that he isn’t reliant on my breast milk and can stay with them for longer periods of time. My mother has been nagging at me to feed him some formula so that he wouldn’t reject the stuff when we eventually wean him off breast milk. And every time Aidan cries, the elders would comment that he is “hungry” and hadn’t had “enough milk”.
All these aren’t exactly encouraging for a first-time mother who is anxious about feeding her child. As it is, breastfeeding is tough enough for a woman. Do I have enough supply? Is Aidan putting on enough weight? Is he drinking the ‘right’ milk (ie. hind milk versus fore milk)? Is he wetting enough diapers and pooping enough? Is the color of the poop right? All these questions and more plagued my first few weeks as a breastfeeding mama. It wasn’t until recently, when Mr A more than doubled his weight (from when we left the hospital), that I finally relaxed and felt confident about breastfeeding.
I don’t know how long I can keep going at it, especially when I get back to work. My initial target was to breastfeed until the end of my maternity leave, and then for another two months, if possible, making it six full months of breastfeeding. As for the rest of it, we’ll see.
But in the meantime, it’s gratifying to see my little man grow and become the potato that he is today, thanks to the wonder of my breast milk.