I have finally figured out the reason behind the unfamiliarity of giving birth the second time around. Aside from the obvious that there’s a gender difference between my kids, it was mainly because I was new to breastfeeding.
I did breastfeed Gabbie but I never directly fed her as she had difficulty latching on my oh-so inverted nipples despite using a nipple puller (oh the pain!). Although she was able to get my colostrum, I began pumping and expressing milk soon after I gave birth. Although my OB-Gyn is pro-breastfeeding (she even had someone do a lactation massage on me) the circumstances then pressured me to mix feed even while we were still in the hospital. The nurses kept on telling me that my daughter kept on crying because she was hungry. I remembered being so stressed out and pressured with the thought that I was pumping a little less than an ounce of milk and that at times there’s blood on it that I’d have to discard it while at the same time enduring the pain of post CS operation. Not so much of a joyful experience for a first time mom I say. In a span of three months I mixed fed Gabbie with my expressed milk and formula, until eventually we transitioned to formula alone because well, my milk stopped flowing.
You see my mom was breastfed by my grand mom for seven years, yes she was still breastfeeding when she was in Grade 1! My grandma sure had lots of milk, imagine seven years! But my mom didn’t breastfeed me nor my two sisters, nor my two sister breastfed their kids. I have been accustomed to the idea that formula feeding is okay.
But then I suffered PPD (post-partum depression) with Gabbie. I felt like I was a very unfit mum and felt very guilty for not even persisting and trying everything in my power to breastfeed her. Recalling this when I found out I was pregnant the second time around two years later encouraged me to convince myself that breastfeeding is the only option I have when it comes to feeding my second baby.
The big difference then and now is that I am more informed, I have a support group (mommy blogger friends) who have been available to answer whatever question I have with regards to breastfeeding. Also, it helped that the hospital I had given birth to encourages breastfeeding and has a lactation nurse who is very much willing to teach me the proper positioning and latching and everything else that I needed to know. Plus, I have asked my husband that no matter how much I beg and cry that he must not give into formula feeding unlike what happened with Gabbie.
I’d like to share with you all my breastfeeding experience for the first month which I hope will help other mums or soon-to-be-mums to have an idea of what to expect. It’s not that I’m scaring you, but this is actually what happened to me and I think I have experienced the worst compared to other mums but still, all mums that I’ve talked to have experienced at least one of these bumps in their breastfeeding journey.
Preparation: A week before giving birth, I lathered on some lanolin cream to soften my cracked and dry nipples.
Day 1: Juro immediately latched few minutes after he was delivered to get my colostrum. My breasts feel normal and there was no pain of any sort, I assume he was able to get the gold liquid because every time he latched he felt satisfied after a few minutes.
Day 2: Because a newborn is tiny and has small mouth, I find that latching was easy as well as positioning. I spoke too soon. But there is no pain on the nipples nor breasts so far.
J only 2 days old. Joyce, the lactation unit manager of SLMC Global teaching me how to cup feed J.
Day 3: My milk started to come and I started pumping because J sleeps for 2-3 hours and I feel like my breasts are full. I was able to pump .5 oz per breast, 1 oz in total. My nipples start to sore and my breasts felt engorged. J is having a difficulty latching because my areola was swollen as well.
Day 4: Engorged breasts and still sore nipples. Pumping 1 oz. per breast now. Trying to directly feed but too painful so I bottle fed J instead.
Day 5: Pumping 2 oz. per breast. Still have engorged breast and sore nipples.
Day 6: Less engorged and sore nipples so I tried direct feeding. Inverted nipples still so I used nipple shield to help draw out the nipples, so far direct feeding has helped relive engorgement more than pumping.
Day 7: No more engorgement, right breast is okay to direct feed but left breast still was sore and this time around bleeding so I just pump.
Day 8: Mastitis happened. Couldn’t remember if it was the left or the right breast but I had chills, fever of 38.5 degrees celsius and flu-like symptoms. At first we thought I had UTI only to find out in a week or two that what I experienced was actually mastitis. Still, I directly breastfeed with my right breast and pump with my left.
Day 9-12: After letting the left nipple heal, I attempted to directly breastfeed on it and it was a success. Directly breastfeeding on both breasts now, so far so good.
Day 13: Milk blister happened on my right nipple. Then followed by mastitis again. Too painful to direct feed so I pump on my right and direct feed on my left instead.
Day 14: Still have clogged ducts on my right because of the milk blister.
Day 15: Attempted to direct feed on the right and the milk blister became smaller. Direct feeding and pumping at the same time because I have an oversupply of milk.
Day 16-20: Occasional sore nipples on both left and right because J is a strong sucker.
Day 21: Suffered milk blister on my left nipple. Again, I pumped instead but still directly feed on the right.
Day 22-26: Establishing milk supply by doing demand feeding. Whenever J wants to feed I offer him my right breast which has more milk then afterwards offer him the left. Lopsided since my right breast has more milk.
Day 27: Mastitis happened yet again on my right breast. It always starts with clogged/ plugged ducts whenever J doesn’t nurse. So I pump whenever I feel like getting engorgement.
Day 28-30: Still suffering from mastitis so I had to take an antibiotic and lecithin because I obviously am prone to plugged/clogged ducts.
As of present, I am still getting the hang of breastfeeding. My only rule whenever I don’t direct feed my baby: I pump at least 5 minutes but do not completely empty my breast so that it won’t signal my body to produce more milk.
Here are some of the things I’ve observed and learned along while breastfeeding:
- The first few days will be the worst days as you wait for your milk to come, so prepare yourself.
- It’s best to arm yourself with knowledge, read books or research online about breastfeeding even while you’re still pregnant. You can also attend breastfeeding seminar so you have an idea of the proper latching and positioning.
- It is quite a challenge to dress up when breastfeeding. As you must wear clothes that have easy access to quickly feed your baby.
- It’s better to have a support group. It is not enough that your immediate family and relatives support you with your endeavor to breastfeed. It helps if you know other mommies who are breastfeeding, that way you can exchange thoughts and ideas. Believe me, it helps a lot knowing that you are not alone in your breastfeeding journey.
- There are still a lot of people who will give you an awkward, uncomfortable look whenever you’re breastfeeding in public but then again there are also a lot of people who will give you a smile every time they see you breastfeed and bond with your baby.
- You’ll quickly lose your post-pregnancy weight but you’ll find that you eat more often than before.
- You’ll find it hard to go out without your baby. I assume it’s the bond between mom & child that’s making it difficult to do so.
- You’ll never look at your breasts the same way again and yes your breast will never look the same again, they’re bigger for sure. 😉
- It will eventually get better. I find this very hard to believe in the first few days of breastfeeding because of how difficult and painful it is, but after a month of breastfeeding, I have to say it has become better.
- You will have to invest on some breastfeeding & nursing tools that will help you to efficiently feed your baby.
Now here are some things that has helped me with my breastfeeding:
Medela Swing Breast Pump, Nipple Shield, Lansinoh Lanolin Cream.
Mustela Specific Support Bust, Mustela Nursing Comfort Cream.
Breastfeeding books lent by Cai of Apples And Dumplings.
Nursing covers from Nursing Mom.
Nursing bras & breast pads from Mama Baby Love.
Lactation cookies and muffins from Mommy Treats.
Proof that Mommy Treats is effective. On my 5th day I’ve already pumped this much milk!
A week after giving birth and I’m confident nursing in public. 🙂
Indeed breastfeeding follows the law of supply and demand. If you feel like you’re low on milk pump for at least 5 minutes after each feeding to signal your body for more milk. I take it one day at a time, I still cannot believe I am purely breastfeeding J for almost two months now. I plan to at least 6 months then if I can to a year!
To end this post I’m sharing this to all nursing and soon-to-be nursing mums, 10 things nobody told me about breastfeeding.
Remember, everything gets better with practice.