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Name: modgurl
Location: Singapore

New mom. New woman. Born in Singapore. Raised in the World Wide Web.
Sunday, January 19, 2014 @ 10:32 pm
Breastfeeding Blackmail

Dear Blogger,

After having four children, I am still pretty pissed off (I've been feeling quite pissed off often haven't I?) about the lack of information or support online about women who could only do partial breastfeeding. Yes, yes, yes exclusive breastfeeding is good and heavily promoted but just like body sizes, not all breasts are created alike.

There are women out there, like me, who have difficulty breastfeeding exclusively no matter how hard we tried. For baby's safety and/or personal sanity, we have to resort to formula milk, even after a few days old. It's not that we couldn't breastfeed. We could. It's just that we couldn't breastfeed EXCLUSIVELY.

I used to be envious of women who managed total breastfeeding, but now I'm just annoyed. Cut women like me some slack will ya! They have no idea the stress we were facing and the lack of support was not helping at all.

When Sarah was born, it took about a week for the first few drops of milk to be available. Of course, Sarah couldn't wait for a week to have her first feed. So I allowed the nurse to feed her formula. When the milk finally came, it was so little that I had no choice but to supplement with formula. Sarah was crying of hunger and all that crying can drive anybody crazy.

I tried all sorts of tips and advice I could get my hands on. I swallowed capsules and capsules of fenugreek. I expressed every hour to "empty" my breasts so more milk could be produced. I drank bottles of water. You name it. I've done all that I could. But still the milk would not satiate Sarah. I was stressed and I had negative thoughts about being inadequate and a bad mom. Breastfeeding lasted about four months.

When Iman was born, the milk came 48 hours earlier than Sarah's. I started early on the fenugreek. I expressed even before milk came. I was determined to try exclusive breastfeeding again. Iman did receive more breast milk than Sarah but it still wasn't enough. Iman was even hungrier and fussier than Sarah. He would bite if he didn't get milk fast enough. So, it was formula milk after breastfeeding again. I was stressed too and again that thought about being a bad mom lingered. This time, it lasted about six months.

Then came Mairah. Milk came three days after delivery. I didn't give up on breastfeeding. But this time, I wasn't too hung up on exclusive breastfeeding. I invested on a really good double breast pump. I took the fenugreek capsules as usual. I breastfed as much as I could and supplement with formula if needed. I didn't look up websites on breastfeeding like I used to. That eliminated the stress and I learned to enjoy the breastfeeding moments. I didn't think I was a bad mom because looking at my eldest two, they grew up smart and healthy without exclusive breastfeeding.

Finally, Imran was born. I was so busy with work and studies, I didn't really prepare for his birth. Bought another double breast pump because the previous one was spoilt. Milk came a day after Imran was born. I thought, hey! Finally I could breastfeed exclusively. So for three days, I total breastfeed him. After three days, hubby noticed that Imran was getting a little yellow on the skin. Also, he cried often which I thought was normal for breastfeeding babies. Breast milk isn't very filling you know.

When we went for his newborn checkup, Imran's jaundice level was high and he lost a lot of weight. Too much weight even for exclusive breastfeeding. I was advised to feed him formula milk after breastfeeding just to bring his weight up and hopefully, his jaundice level would go down.

After a week, his weight went up and his jaundice gone. Another exclusive breastfeeding failure. But you know what? My baby's health is more important than my pride. As long as I breastfeed as much as I can, I shouldn't be made to feel guilty about supplementing with formula. Besides, people cannot emotionally blackmail you unless you allow them too.

To women like me, I understand what you're going through. That's why I'm writing this post. It's OK if you can't do it. Some breast milk is better than no breast milk. You know in your heart that you've tried your best and that's OK. Your baby will still love you no matter what. To those exclusive breastfeeding activists, LAY OFF! We don't need the added stress. We just need your support.

Some tips to increase breast milk flow:

  • Breastfeed as much as you can
  • Express right after breastfeeding for at least 15 minutes
  • Express as much as you can, especially when baby is asleep
  • Take fenugreek capsules
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Drink lots of water
  • Stay strong and positive


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