Friday, September 01, 2017

[PERSONAL] Celebrate Breastfeeding at Mount Alvernia Hospital + My Breastfeeding Journey

World Breastfeeding Week 2017 starts on 1st August to 7th August and to celebrate this, Mount Alvernia Hospital held an exclusive breastfeeding and postpartum health talk to encourage more mothers to breastfeed on 5th August 17.

Breastfeeding is a very important milestone for both mothers and the little ones. It is highly recommended to exclusively breastfeed an infant at least for the first six months. While we all know the importance of breastfeeding, we should not forget about the challenges that comes with it too.

This post combines the celebrate breastfeeding event as well as my personal journey to serve as a reminder for myself on how I get my first drop of precious liquid gold, the problems I encountered and how I'm coping with breastfeeding now.

My mother has been a great motivator and supporter and thus I can't think of anyone else but her to accompany me to this event. She's the one who always told me to eat well, sleep well and don't stress too much.

Ms Kang Phaik Gaik, better known as Sister Kang, the head of lactation shared with us on some breastfeeding tips which I'm more concerned on continuing breastfeeding after I go back to work. She touches on this topic as well as how to properly store the milk that was pumped out.

Ms Tan Shi Ling, the dietitian continued to provide more tips on weight management and how to start weaning when baby is ready to eat solid food.

Ms Michelle Liew form Alvenia Parentcraft Centre sharing her personal breastfeeding experience which is not all smooth sailing too.

After the talk, we had a mass latching session thus even babies were allowed to attend. All 15 parents latched our babies at the same time. It was a fun experience. We also had a great set lunch and not only do we went home with tips but so much goodies. Thank you Mount Alvernia Hospital for organising this event.

The start of my breastfeeding journey was a painful one. I thought my milk supply would come naturally immediately following the birth of Baby Rena but it didn't work this way. It was horrible as I carry and try to latch my crying baby but there's just no milk for her. I even have to beg the nurse to let my baby have some formula milk because I didn't know what else I could do. 

NUH, being a pro-breastfeeding hospital, the nurses there just kept assuring me that my baby's stomach is still tiny and would not need to top up with formula.

Everyday, the nurses would come and check on my milk supply and asked me to do some circular massage. By day 3, my milk supply still didn't kick in and I was giving up hope. The nurses there provided me with this hot compress to make my harden breasts feel better and told me that a lactation specialist will be visiting the next day.

By right, I should be discharged on the third day but I stayed on another day due to the discovery of jaundice in Baby Rena. This extra day happens for a reason as my milk supply finally kicks in! Especially grateful to nurse Zhang Yan for being so patient, helping me to massage and collecting the colostrum drop by drop. Colostrum is yellowish in colour and is the first milk that will be produced. This is extremely nutritious so do not think that it's dirty milk and throw away.

At this point of time, Baby Rena still has not mastered the skill of sucking, she will just latch but will not suck so we have to use the syringe to collect the milk and feed her.

When Baby Rena finally learns how to latch, another problem arises. There will be a 'let down' from the unlatched side. My bestie, Lis then introduced this special container called the Haakka, this is used to collect the leaking milk from the other side. Best part is that it's Hands Free as the silicone is able to provide the suction. Great invention that solves the problem of breastfeeding mummies.

During the first few months, I did not exclusively breastfeed my baby because I have lots of fear and uncertainties. I'm afraid that my supply is not enough and that I did not eat well enough. At that time, we would alternate between formula milk from bottle and direct latching. It was quite inconvenient as we have to bring milk powder and hot water to prepare the milk outside. 

Towards the end of June, I started to realised that whenever my MIL prepared the formula milk and fed my baby, after a while my shirt will be wet from the leaking milk. That's when I stopped preparing formula milk and exclusively breastfeed my baby. Going out was easy, I do not need to bring so many equipment since my baby loves latching direct, I just have to make sure the place I went to have nursing rooms, otherwise I have to use the nursing cover.

To me, I felt that the greatest joy is the ability to nurse my baby. It's a special bonding between baby and myself that no other people can take away. I would hope that I could nurse my baby for as long as she wants to.

"There are three reasons for breastfeeding: the milk is always at the right temperature; it comes in attractive containers; and the cat can't get it." Irena Chalmers

Just when everything seems like a breeze, another problems arises. Going back to the workforce. I have my pump ready but the sterilizer is spoiled and I had to sterilized the bottles using the most traditional way. Put in boiling water. Then, Baby Rena decided she doesn't want to be bottle fed. My mother had a tough time trying to feed her. She would cry and struggle and refuses to drink. Sometimes, going to sleep without drinking.

Now that my baby is five months old, she still latches directly whenever I'm around. However, my milk supply has gone down a bit and she would rely on bottle-fed formula milk when I'm at work. She still struggles a bit before she drank from the bottle. Soon, she will be entering the next stage whereby we would have to introduce solids to her gradually. It will be another new set of challenges that time. Till then. 

* Photos without watermark are taken from Mount Alvernia Facebook Page *


1 comment:

Chloe said...

It's great that in the end you were able to do exclusive breastfeeding :) For me, it didn't work everytime, so we fed our boy with breastmilk and formula alternately. We used "Holle" formula which we got at and couldn't be happier with it :D My second baby is on the way now, so if it's necessary to feed formula, we would definitely go with Holle again :)