Friday, 22 February 2013

Breastfeeding experience - Part 2: The attachment

In the afternoon of day 2, little Isaac finally managed to attach to the breast! Who would have thought it would require so many attempts. But as I said earlier, it requires learning on both mama and bub's part.

I did not know what to expect of breastfeeding while I was pregnant; how it would feel, how easy or hard it could be, how often, etc. To be honest, I never thought much about it. Throughout my pregnancy, I was given tonnes of flyers on the importance of breastmilk but not on breastfeeding itself. The positives always outweighed infant formula by leaps and bounds. My mother also breastfed us when we were babies so I've never really considered formula. I just figured since everyone's doing it and Australia is so pro breastfeeding, that's just it then. How hard could it be?

Anyway, back to the first attachment. I was really excited and happy when Isaac breastfed for the first time successfully. I had a very chirpy midwife that day who was my coach and cheerleader. When I told her Isaac did it, she was overjoyed :) I really met some awesome midwifes during my stay at the hospital.

The next few feeds were good too and I thought, wow we're really getting the hang of this now. And then...one of nipples started getting sore. I looked at it and there was a dark line on it like a bruise. I thought to myself, oh no..what is happening! It was so sensitive and sore I couldn't let Isaac or anything or anyone touch it. So I had to breastfeed only from the other side. Now I know why God made women with two breasts! Turns out, it is common for nipples to become sore at the start as even the nipples need to 'learn' or adjust. Good grief.. I also figured that Isaac's mouth was really small causing him to not fully latch on properly.

I was recommended to buy Lansinoh, an ointment to soothe the pain. True enough, it worked really well. This is a must for any mum who is breastfeeding. I used it after every feed. Soon all was well again.

The next two weeks, baby and I continued practising breastfeeding. I use the word practice because it requires effort at every single feed. I would have to help baby latch on correctly. It would often take multiple attempts before he could latch on. Sometimes my arms would be so tired. When my breasts were too full, baby could not attach and I would have to express some milk out. To express milk, you have to make sure your bottle and pump are sterilised. Can you imagine trying to set all that up while you have a hungry and crying baby and after you've expressed, baby still needs help attaching and after a few minutes, he 'accidentally' comes off. Gosh, tiring..very tiring..oh I forgot to mention, you're doing this at 2am in the middle of the night and then again two hours later and again and again and again..............................

Ok the first few times we were probably very disorganised and ignorant about sterilising, etc (we were over doing it). But it was all still very tiring, stressful and frustrating at times. My breasts was also 'learning' or adjusting to how much milk bub required. I remember at the start I only had 5ml of colostrum. After about 4 days, I had 20ml of milk. I was amazed. After that, I had too much and was afraid I would get mastitis so I was expressing every time my breasts felt too full. Later I found out from my midwife that due to the supply and demand nature of breastfeeding, by constantly expressing, I was exposing myself to mastittis even more because I was telling my brain I needed more milk than what was actually required. It was a bit of a deadly cycle. After a few tips from her, things started progressing more smoothly.

Oh I also forgot to mention leaking breasts..yes that's right. I had no idea your breasts could leak! And the crazy thing is, the minute I think about feeding baby or if the baby cries, milk would automatically start flowing and my shirt would have two wet streaks on it. Firstly, it's a bit gross. Secondly, it's just inconvenient because you have to change your shirt. Third, what a waste of milk. Fourth, it's cold wearing a wet t-shirt on.  So then your breastfeeding routine now includes, changing t shirt and wiping your breasts and body clean. I found out later that this is known as the 'let down' reflex.

This is when I started educating myself on breastfeeding. I read almost every single thing on the Australian Breastfeeding Association's (ABA) website. Any minute I had (or a free hand), I would be reading breastfeeding material. It's amazing how much information is out there and how many mums have asked the same questions I was asking on forums. My questions were answered! I also discovered blogs written by mums which were tremendously helpful in giving me ideas on how other mums did it.

So after gathering all the information I needed, I finally got myself organised and found out how to resolve some of the issues I was having. Breastfeeding requires planning!

To be continued..Part 3: Where we're at now

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