I've promised my dear friend, Sarah, who is currently pregnant with baby no.2 about breastfeeding. She didn't managed to breastfeed her first child and she is determine to breastfeed her new baby. She even bought Spectra Breast Pump (I'm not sure which version), to help her when she's back at work.
This 101 (The definition of 101 is "Basic introduction") is based on my own experience with 5 children and trust me, if I can do it, same goes to you! When I was pregnant with my first child, I don't have any idea about feeding baby, with my own breasts and all I can think was I need to buy high quality bottle and milk for my baby. My mum was a nurse (she passed away 4 years ago due to cervical cancer) and she always brought back many kinds of pamphlets, brochures, booklets and other types of reading materials regarding babies, healths and stuffs. A small booklet on breastfeeding caught my eye and after reading it, I held on the book religiously like it's some kind of a live saving book. Hahahaha.. My mum never talks about breastfeeding although she worked at Miri General Hospital where they swore on breastfeeding policy and baby friendly and I was kind of intrigued with this knowledge that I've discovered. After reading it from cover to cover, I promised myself to breastfeed exclusively (exclusive breastfeeding means that an infant receives only breastmilk with no additional foods or liquids, not even water).
I always listen to the most common reason of not breastfeeding their children by lots of woman: NOT ENOUGH MILK IS BEING PRODUCE by their breasts. This is a total bullshit for me because, regardless your shape and size of breasts, it produces milk when enough stimulation is being made i.e; from baby sucking or breast pump sucking. When you breastfeed on demand (every time baby cries or giving the cue of being hungry, you MUST feed him with your breasts), milk is constantly being produced and the cycles always run through the same process. If you only breastfeed WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WANT TO, then, that is the main cause of shortage of milk supply! And the next main reason of not enough milk supply is, women tend to jump into a diet regime as soon as they delivered the baby, for fearing getting stuck with all the fats that had been accumulated through their pregnancy. STRICTLY NO DIET when you breastfeed, just enjoy the bonding between you and your baby through breastfeeding and when he's older, then, you can think about diet and getting back to shape. Don't be selfish, think about the life insurance (breastmilk) that you are giving to your baby. They deserve the best from you and besides, it's free!
My mum didn't gave me much information because she told me that she only breastfed all 4 of us siblings when she was on her confinement days due to lack of milk. And, nobody told me about breastfeeding is not an easy task, especially when it's your first baby and you have no support around you. Let me tell you about my first baby delivery experience. I was 21 years old when I gave birth to my first born and my hubby was 31 years old. My mum went to Kuching for radiotherapy for her cervical cancer treatment (Stage IIA) and she wasn't around during my labor. My younger sister (she was 18 years old at that time) had just came back for a short break from her college at Kuala Lumpur. On 7th June 2004 at 4 am, I noticed a brown spot on my pantiliners when I went to the toilet and after calling my mum, I told my husband that it was time for the baby to come out. We went to the late Dr Chin's clinic and after checking me, he asked me to checked in Miri City Medical Centre and wait for him there because I was already 3 cm dilated.
After making ourselves comfortable at the ward, Dr Chin induced me and he told me that being the first time delivery, it'll take time and I have to be patient plus the pain will be more intense because of the inducement. True to his word, the contraction started and it felt like I was ripped on the stomach! Every 4 hours, they'll inject me with some kind of drug to let me relax because the dilation is taking such a long time to open up to 10 cm. I was constantly dozed to sleep and talks in my sleep about hitting by a bus, asking my sister to stab me with a knife. What a nightmare! Every time I cried, my hubby and my sister also cried and even my hubby promised me that this is the only time he'll burdened me with this pain of baby delivery (but he broke the promise by sending me 4 times more to the labor room!). I couldn't walk properly because of the drugs and finally the next day, on 7 am, Dr Chin broke my water sac to make the dilation process faster. Around 11.24am, 8th June 2004, I delivered Dayana Badriyah at 3.3kg.
Before the delivery, I've told the nurses that I want to breastfeed the baby, so they asked me to start right away after the baby was born. There was a good sister (head of the nurses) who taught me how to breastfeed and latch the baby properly and at that time, everything seems very easy and in place. As soon as we're back home, everything was out of place. The baby was constantly crying, my breasts were sore, chapped on the nipples, I was having high fever because of breast mastitis and the funniest of all was because of my chapped nipples, I have to express my milk and spoon fed my baby, so, I asked my sister to pump it for me while I held the suction cup. I was using the cheap, manual breast pump with Camera brand and it had a weird looking illustration of a woman pumping out her milk. Both of us were laughing and crying at the same time. Hahahahahahah.. and she told me that that was going to be her last time to be sprayed by my milk and she was totally disgusted by it! So hilarious!
My mum's family, being a traditional chinese family, didn't give me moral supports and every time my baby cried, they said that that was because she was not full enough after each feeding. But, when I went to my baby's pediatrician for her monthly jab and check ups, her weight was very good and doctor was satisfied and even encouraged me to not to stop breastfeeding. Due to lack of experience, I always hid inside any changing rooms if I need to breastfeed my baby while going shopping. I was always stress while doing it for fear of taking too much time in the changing room. Luckily, with enough determination, I successfully breastfeed her for such a long time and even when I gave birth to her brother, Danish, 2 years later, she still shared the milk with him. Even now, if I express my milk into a cup, she'll happily gulps it like it's the best milk in the world! I'm so proud of her. I can see the effects of the breast milk on her especially on her studies where she got number 1 in her class for two times and she is studying in a Chinese kindergarten!
While pregnant with my second baby on the year of 2006, I equipped myself with more knowledge that I gather from the internet. I bought my few first breastfeeding clothes from www.blessedmums.com and bought Triumph's nursing bra (I don't like it because it's not sexy and unattractive but serves the purpose very well). At that time, I can easily breastfeed Danish while I'm shopping and no more rushing to the changing rooms. I just breastfed him straightaway while he was in the carrier bag and I cover him with a cloth so that no censored views were exposed.
With 3rd, 4th and current baby, every thing is done with a snap. Although it's 2010 now, breastfeeding in the public still raises some eyebrows and even the nurses at my gynae clinic (Dr Lee at MCMC) offered me lots of lactation milk supplies enough for 1 year because they told me that they are not many women who breastfeed their baby longer than 3 months. OMG! What an eye opener!
So, here are some tips that I can conclude about breastfeeding based on my own experience with 5 children:
1. Don't listen to any negative remarks from anybody even it's from your own mum!
2. Determination is important. Never give up no matter how hard it looks like.
3. Drink lots of water and if you can, drink proper lactating milk and add in some supplements like fish oil, spirulina, calciums.
4. Don't simply take any medication whether from your doctor or pharmacist. Never fail to inform your medical practitioner that you are breastfeeding so that they can give you proper medication that is safe for your child.
5. Try to find proper nursing bras or clothes to make feeding easier and if you can't afford, try using double clothes. I always use a singlet or sleeveless shirt underneath my blouse or shirt when I'm going out so that there's no flesh exposed.
6. Putting your baby inside a baby carrier or a baby sling is the easiest way to breast feeding in style and with an ease.
7. If anybody's looking at you while you're breastfeeding like you are doing something weird or guilty, just smile with your sweetest smile and just walk away from them.
8. Just remember this: In Islam, a woman gets one merit / reward (pahala) for every single drop of milk that she gives to her baby.
I'll update more information in future. Time to cook dinner!