Friday, October 23, 2015

My Breast-and-Bottle Feeding Journey

I have always been an advocate of breastfeeding. Even before getting pregnant, I knew I wanted to nourish my future child with mother’s milk alone, nothing else. When I found out that Lia was already in my tummy, I started prepping myself by reading up and attending seminars on breastfeeding. I also bought a nursing pillow and a very comfy couch for the baby room where I foresaw myself spending long hours cuddling my hungry baby girl.

I gave birth on the evening of March 28, and as was Asian Hospital’s SOP, my puffy patootie was immediately made to latch to my breast. She did not feed straightaway. Like me, I think she was too tired and dazed with the whole birthing thing that she’d rather rest than eat. She eventually got hungry and cried and latched. Whether or not she got milk from me that very first time, I had no idea. I never saw milk coming out, nor did the lactation consultant at the hospital. Whenever Lia would cry, I would just offer her my breast and she’d latch, then after an hour or so, she would fall asleep. Because that’s how it was for the rest of our 3-day hospital stay, I assumed she was getting something. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have stopped crying when she’s hungry.

Right after I gave birth. Please forgive the double chin. =D

It was a different story after we got home. I would breastfeed her when she’s hungry, but the crying didn’t stop. At home, there was no lactation consultant or nurse whom I could trust to help me check if she’s properly latched on or if she’s getting milk. Aside from my husband, it was only my mom who’s there and she always seemed doubtful that baby was getting anything. :( After a while, I did what I didn’t imagine I would do. I gave in to my mom’s prodding. I asked Rolly to buy formula.

It was heartbreaking watching my baby gulp down the milk from the bottle. The way she did so made me realize that she really wasn’t getting enough from me and that she was extremely hungry. She fell asleep after finishing the milk and was quiet for more than a couple of hours (which, in newborn speak, is long). I cried a river that night. I felt extremely inadequate. Everything I imagined about nursing my child went down the drain. I felt sorry that I couldn’t give the very nourishment she needed.

After a day or two, I unboxed the breast pump which I only planned to use when it’s time to go back to work. I didn’t want to give up on breastfeeding that soon, and I knew I had to help myself. Imagine my joy when I saw milk trickling down! I was over the moon! It turned out my milk supply was just a few days late, and I could breastfeed my Lia after all. I was so happy to be able to offer my breast to baby again!
My liquid gold. :)

I thought it wasn’t too late, I thought it was just easy to go back to the way we started. Just me and her. No formula. No bottle. Well, I was wrong. By the time my milk supply was already steady and strong, my baby already got so used to bottle-feeding that she didn’t want to feed directly from me anymore. They say it’s called nipple confusion. According to Baby Center, “a baby is said to have nipple confusion when he finds it difficult to latch on and breastfeed because he’s previously had a dummy or a bottle teat to suck on… sucking on a dummy or a teat will feel quite different from ksucking at your breast.”

To make the long story short, I ended up exclusively pumping. I’d pump for about 6-8 times a day, every 2 to 3 hours round the clock. It was definitely exhausting but it was worth it. I felt happy knowing that my body was able to nourish my baby, it actually made her cute and plump. Hehe. I exclusively pumped until her appetite grew bigger and my supply wasn’t enough anymore. We resumed giving her formula, Nan HW1 in particular.

My breastmilk in a bottle. Lia was still so small here!

When she turned 6 months, my milk supply had already significantly waned. Maybe because my pumping sked was not as consistent anymore.  Though I could pump at work (my office and bosses are very mommy-friendly), there are usually several meetings in a day and I obviously can't bring my machine and cover in the meeting rooms! :) My husband and I agreed that I could already stop pumping milk, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I continued for three weeks more. Yesterday, 6 days before Lia’s 7th month, my output was almost zero. I used to get at least 5 ounces per pumping session, but yesterday I got only 1 ounce for the entire day already. I guess it’s the beginning of the end.

A bittersweet goodbye? It is. It feels sad and liberating at the same time. Now I can look forward to full nights of straight sleep, without having to wake up to the sound of my alarm clock telling me to get up and pump. However, I will also miss my midnight sessions when it’s just me wide awake, staring at my baby peacefully sleeping while the machine and I work together to provide her my liquid gold. Haaaay. No goodbyes are ever easy. 

Tonight, after we put Lia to bed, perhaps I will pump one last time. Last na talaga. I am sure I won’t get anything anymore, but I need to do this one last go. I know it will be a little sad, a little glad, but I will be at peace knowing that it is indeed the end.


Update on 02 November 2015.
Within the first week after my last pump, I could feel lumps in my breast which could be plugged ducts. I've read that some mommies pump or breastfeed one more time to "deflate" these, but I didn't. There was no pain anyway. I just massaged them with hot compress, the lumps went away after a while. Now they're completely gone. :)


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