My Breastfeeding Journey - For those Genuine Readers

Acknowledgement: I owe this beautiful journey to certain people and to certain things without which this would have not been possible.

1 : My mother

2 : My Lactation Consultant

3 : Lactation Cookies

4 : A friend who gave her hospital grade pump

I also have to pat my back for the continuous efforts I took to breastfeed my child irrespective of all the challenges I faced.

Some Background Story :

While I was pregnant, I had made up my mind to breastfeed my child for at least a year and did not want to give her any formula. One of my friend's passed on her Hospital Grade Pump to me prior to my delivery. I was so naive that I did not know why was a pump so important when I was going to have my baby right next to me post delivery and get a lot of skin to skin. Youtube can be super deceiving at times!

I had sterilised the pump parts and packed them up in my hospital bag a week before my due date. I started having contractions on 17 th March 2017 at 11 30 am( 39 + 2 days) and was admitted immediately to the delivery ward. I delivered my baby at 5 30 am on 18 th March 2017 and was shifted to the room immediately. My baby was taken to the nursery for her usual check up but the paediatrician came to our room at 9 am with the information that my baby has pneumonia and she has been transferred to the NICU and we will not be able to view her until 11 30 am. 

After all the reports, we got an update that she has to remain in the hospital for more number of days till she progresses and I will have to check out of my room. Meanwhile, the hospital's Lactation Consultant came to our room and helped me in using the Pump to build my supply while my baby would be in the NICU. She advised me to think of my baby or see her pictures while I pumped.
he pictures were so heartwarming with my baby having a tube in her mouth for feeds, and several other pieces of equipment being connected to her. How can a mother even imagine such things and build her milk supply? But I did not want to give up since the first drop of milk that came was known as the Colustrum has so much of goodness that it could also help my baby recover faster.

I pumped with all my energy and dedication and gave 5 ml, 10 ml of milk to the NICU nurses so that they would mix it with the formula and feed it through the tube to my baby.

Finally, on 22 nd of March 2017, the nurses called me and informed me that the Paediatrician had given a green signal for me to latch my baby directly since her breathing had become fine. I was so excited to carry her in my arms and to be able to feed her but nightmare struck. She was so used to getting milk through the tube and the bottle that she blatantly refused me. Motherhood hormones can drive you crazy first of all and to add fuel to fire, your baby rejects you - I was left shellshocked and in tears but the nurses encouraged me to keep trying after I take her home.

She was discharged on 23 March 2017 and I brought her home and kept trying to latch her whenever she was not extremely hungry so that she does not get frustrated. I joined local breastfeeding support groups for tips and for moral support. I spoke to counsellors since I was feeling low and needed some encouragement. Pumping was happening side by side while my mother sat and gave my baby milk in a bottle, I would sit and pump to give how much ever breastmilk I could for her. My mother made all the recipes she knew that would help boost my supply, like adding a lot of garlic, drinking several fluids and porridge and giving me good , healthy foods.

After a week, the ratio of formula to breastmilk(expressed) became 50: 50 and I started gaining confidence. I stopped stressing about my baby not latching and still kept trying to latch her whenever she was in a happy mood and sometimes it went well and sometimes it did not. I was not sure if she was able to drink properly from me and started stressing about her weight gain etc. I fixed up an appointment with a lactation consultant who did home consulting and she came home to see how the latch was and how the baby was doing. She taught me great positions so that I can get some rest too while feeding the baby and the correct latch techniques. The lactation cookies made by some mothers here in Singapore, helped a lot in building up my supply and the local support groups gave a lot of tips.

After a month, I was able to latch her at least twice a day properly and she would be satiated and happy after a feed and the ratio of FM to BM became 10: 90. We had decided to go to Chennai because my mother's visa was expiring and I was not confident to handle the baby alone without her help and needed some moral support after the harrowing NICU experience.
While we sat for the flight to take off, my baby cried terribly for reasons unknown and I was busy making her formula bottle and had given one bottle of Expressed Breastmilk for heating up and both were ready for her. She completely refused both and kept crying. Then I decided to try to latch her and there she was happy and smiling at me. Probably the new environment stressed her out or God only knows for what reason she began latching properly from then on.

Then I slowly started dropping pumps and started latching her and eventually, after 4 months it became just direct latching and no pumping then on. I was so relieved that I did not have to pump anymore because I had so many sleepless nights and it was so stressful while travelling to sterilise pump parts and charging them.

Now we are 15 months into the breastfeeding journey which is going well and I have left it to her with respect to weaning. Weaning is another whole different topic and there would be so much debate on it and the right age. As of now, we are doing well and extended breastfeeding has a lot of benefits for both the mother and child like lesser chance of breast and ovarian cancer for the mother and better behaviours in toddlers, more immunity to toddlers and so on. So I am looking at only the positive side and want to give the best start to my baby.
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