A Wonderful Journey Called Breastfeeding

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My journey of breastfeeding was started from February 12th 2013 until June 24th 2016. I experienced all the struggles when starting breastfeeding from the very beginning, nursing while pregnant (NLP), tandem nursing and weaning with love (WWL). Basically, this is my personal reflection of what I’ve been through during one of the most wonderful journey of motherhood and how to deal with it.

The birth of my preterm daughter

Due to the leak of my amniotic fluid in my 31st week, I was told to take a bed rest at the hospital and was supposed to have a scheduled C-section a week after. However, after only 3 days of bed rest, finally my 1st child was born spontaneously in her 32 weeks (using vacuum because after a full dilation I pushed for an hour without the amniotic fluid that had made it so difficult to deliver) on February 12th 2013, 01.08 am. My beautiful daughter was a preterm baby with the birth weight less than 2 kg. She also needed to be administered in an incubator and spent the first 20 days of her life in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). During that 20 days (total 12 days inside the incubator and the next 8 days outside the incubator), all I could do were just pumping my breastmilk and delivered them to the NICU hospitals.

On the very 1st day I can only pump once 7 ml (yes, that’s all I could get) and surprisingly it was just all that she needed at that time. The next day I could pump 4 times: 1 ml, 8 ml, 11 ml, and finally 15 ml. Apparently those amounts were also sufficient for my new born baby. My breasts were swollen and sore, I just kept massaging them and tried to release all the breastmilk that I could get for my baby girl. On the 3rd day, I came to a surprise when I finally could pump 50 ml using the electric pump. After that, the production of my breast milk kept increasing and it all became easier for me. Even though my daughter could not directly breastfed to me at that time, she could still have exclusive breastfeeding that administered to her via small pipe and later via bottle with the help from the nurses. Since she was moved out from the incubator, I also tried to breastfeed her directly during “kangaroo care” but still couldn’t succeed at that time. I was also asked by the health cares at the hospitals to give her HMF (Human Milk Fortifier) to help increasing her body weight but I refused and still had the confidence that my breastmilk only would be sufficient for her.

After my daughter was released from the NICU and was brought to home, I tried my best to breastfeed her directly, but it was not easy. I also needed to monitor her fluid intake so I still used the bottle with the special spoon to reduce her “nipple confusion”. Finally, just a day before she became a month-old-baby (which is also my birthday) she could directly breastfeed to me. I felt like it was a wonderful birthday gift to me and I was so grateful for that. Her weight became rapidly increased after she could directly breastfeed to me, from 1970 grams at birth, it became 2285 grams on the 1st month, 3740 grams on the 2nd month and 5270 g on the 3rd month. From a little skinny-look premature baby she became a healthy chubby-look baby. She could sleep all night long without asking for breastmilk since she was 3 months so I could have enough rest at night, such an easy baby.

Due to ‘the metamorphosis’ of my daughter, from very skinny to very chubby, some people even asked me what brand of baby formula that I gave to my baby, but all I said was “Just the breastmilk. Nothing else”. Even though I gave the exclusive breastmilk to my baby, apparently I still hadloads of amount of breastmilk stored in my freezer, so I decided to donate some of them to a 4 -months-old baby girl. I successfully gave exclusive breastfeeding to my baby and still continued it while giving the solid food to her when she reached 6 months-old. Those moments of giving successful exclusive breastfeeding and complementary solid baby food also inspired me to write the first 2 articles in this website “Premium Nutrition for Preterm Baby” and “Tips for Successful MPASI (Solid Baby Food)”

The 2nd pregnancy

I waited for 3 years and 3 months before my 1st pregnancy, therefore I didn’t expect that my 2nd pregnancy would come so early. I realized that I was pregnant with my 2nd child when my 1st child was only 9 months old, on November 11th 2013 when my pregnancy test pack gave me a positive result. At that time I was already 5-6 weeks pregnant, so it meant that I was expecting my 2nd child while my daughter was only 7.5 months old. Due to my medical history of giving a premature birth before, my doctor suggested me to stop breastfeeding my daughter. I was so sad because I still had a plenty of breastmilk at that time and I wanted to breastfeed my daughter until 2 years. However, I still tried my best to continue breastfeed my daughter at least for the 1st year.

Nursing While Pregnant (NWP)

Apparently my breastmilk production was significantly decreasing soon after that pregancy. I was not sure it was because of my pregnancy hormones or my psychological pressure due to my doctors advice not to continue breastfeeding my 1st child. The last time I could pump my breastmilk was on January 1st, 2014 which was only 30 + 15 ml (before I could produce more than 150 ml in each pumping). I began to lose my confidence, breastfeeding was no longer a joyful moment for me at that time. My daughter began to bite my nipples, may be she just pissed off because my breastmilk was reduced or the taste was altered. My nipples became very sensitive and painful when my daughter sucked it and I also began to feel the contraction that my doctor had warned me before. The frequency of direct breastfeeding was also reduced until only 1-2 times in a day. My daughter became thinner, everyone was comment the same thing “why is she become so thin now?” and it made me more stressful. Luckily I still had a plenty of my breastmilk stored in the freezer, so she still could enjoy the breastmilk and I finally succeeded in giving my daughter the breastmilk for the 1st year of her life as I had planned before.

However, it was not for long until I run out of my stored breastmilk. On February 16th, 4 days after her 1st birthday, finally my daughter finished my last stock of stored breastmilk. I tried to continue breastfeed her at least once in a day (usually in the night before sleep). I also started to feed her with UHT milk. Luckily she also was not a picky eater and has no problem in eating other nutritious and healthy foods. She finally gained some weight, I was so happy and also gained my confidence back.

On May 31st 2014, I gave my last breastmilk directly to my daughter. I could not give her anymore due to the contraction I felt everytime I breastfeed her. Fortunately, she also didn’t ask anymore breastmilk after that and could go to sleep without nursing. June 12th I spotted my colostrum leak and maybe I would giving birth anytime soon. Finally, on June 18th I gave birth spontaneously to my 2nd child (after more than a half day contraction and 15 minutes inducing), a handsome baby boy. He was born on 37th week + 1 day, which meant that he was full term, not preterm like his sister.

Tandem Nursing

I gave birth my son close to midnight, and unfortunately he should stay at NICU too due to rapid breathing. On the next day, he was completely OK and no longer experiencing any rapid breathing, but the pediatrician needed to observe him for few more days and gave the antibiotics for the suspected infection that might cause him. Again, I must pumped my breastmilk and delivered them to NICU too. On the next day, I have experienced the swollen and sore breast, but this time I also used them to nurse back my daughter so the pain could be relieved sooner. Finally I could bring my newborn son back home on the 5th day and luckily he had no ‘nipple confusion’ problem like his sister. He could easily adapt and succeed to breastfeed since the 1st trial. I also kept continuing breastfeed my daughter, sometimes I gave her the stored breastmilk, sometimes I just directly brestfed her. Sometimes, I even breastfed both of them in the same time (on both sides).

I stopped breastfeeding my daughter when she was 2 years old, but still gave her the stored breastmilk until 3 months later. Apparently, breastfeeding the boy was quite different with the girl. My son was a ‘strong drinker’, he even could spend the whole night sucking breastmilk until morning even during his sleep! I rarely had ‘a deep sleep’ for the 2 years during the time of breastfeeding. I also rarely pumped my breastmilk because he already finished them all and left nothing to be pumped and stored.

Weaning with Love (WWL)

I had no difficulty in weaning my daughter, because actually I had weaned her before for more than 2 weeks before I continued breastfeed her again after her brother was born. At that time I still breasfed my son, therefore I also had no ‘emotional drama of weaning’ yet. However, things were quite different when the time really came for me to stop breastfeeding my children. That was when my son reached 2 years old. He was still a ‘strong drinker’ at that time. I started to seriously weaning my son on June 22nd, 2016 which was 4 days after his 2nd birthday on June 18th, 2016.

On that 1st day of ‘serious weaning’, I used 5 capsules of ‘habattussauda oil + propolis” to be swapped around my nipple and apparently my son didn’t like the aroma so he refused to directly breastfeed. When they were full, I gave them to my son but at least the frequency of direct breastfeedings were reduced on that day. The next day was easier, I only need 2 capsules of “habattussauda’ and only gave him 1 time direct breastfeeding on my left side (because the last time he breastfeed to me last night was on the right side). On the 3rd day, he just also got 1 time directly breastfeeding to my right side during the nap time. That was the last breastfeeding I gave to my son that completed my 3 years and 4 months wonderful journey of breastfeeding and I was so grateful for that.

Based on my experiences, I would like to share some tips to you for a successful breastfeeding:

  • Be confidence and never give up. You are what you think. If you think you can do it, you will be successful in doing it.

  • Pump and store your breastmilk. Don’t waste any remaining breastmilk, you can use them later for your own baby or you can donate it to other babies in need.

  • Set the target. Exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months old, continue until 1 year old, complete it until the 2nd birthday of your children. Try your best to achieve them all.

  • Consult with your doctors if you need to do nursing while pregnant or tandem nursing. You also can refer to my previous article in this website “Nursing While Pregnant and Tandem Nursing” for more tips.

  • Weaning with love can be done peacefully for both of you and your baby. The most important thing is both of you ready for it, to finally let go one of the wonderful journey that specially created with love from the Almighty Creator.

REFERENCES:

4 books of my personal diaries and medical record books of my 2 beloved kids.