June 2, 2010

No One Told Me... Let Me Tell You!

Ya know, I am dead curious why mommies fail to mention this, not even a whisper. One important area that never got to see the light of day was the all important - breastfeeding issues. Hubby and I even attended an antenatal class just to equip ourselves with as much info as we possibly could absorb about the pregnancy, labour and parenting, and YET these issues were not brought up. How odd. And a waste of money. (antenatal classes are not very helpful and in my opinion just another way for someone to make a few bucks out of innocent parents!)

Anyhoot, the first few weeks of breastfeeding was challenging for me because:

1. The breast pump that I had was not right for me
Despite having one of the best electric breast pumps, it was so not right for me. In fact, the 'machine' tortured me like hell the first time I used it. Being the 1st time mommy that I was, I actually, for a moment, thought the torture was part and parcel of pumping! My problem - the 'fit' was not right. At all. So the lesson here is: give your pump a test run before baby arrives. It will save you a few tears. Pls note pumping is not supposed to be painful.

Contrary to popular belief, electric pumps arent always the best option. After THREE pumps, I found that the manual pump was the best for me. And its not such a hassle as I thought it'll be.

2. Milk ducts. Blocked. Painful. As hell.
Why the crap did noone mention this??? I was sooo scared and was panicking when it first happened. One day during my confinement, just after nursing Ilhan, I felt an area of my breast harden. Like stone. And it was hurting so bad. I honestly thought I was ill and something was very wrong with me. I called up a lactation consultant and was so relieved to know that my condition was common. COMMON? How come no mommy ever shared this with me?

Nevertheless I was taught to apply warm compress and massage hardened area to unplug those ducts. Massaging with a plastic comb works better. Yep. But for me they only help relieve the pain a little and only Ilhan can unplug it when I nurse him as often as possible on the breast with blocked ducts. And pls note, most likely the same milk ducts will be blocked over and over again for as long as you are lactating. It takes a few hours to 3 days to unplug a blocked duct. What causes them? Google for answer.

3. When your milk supply decreases, you feel sad
In my case, I was depressed and cried by myself at night when Im alone nursing Ilhan. Now I know what menopausal women go thru! A wave of sadness overcomes you. For me, I was sad because I felt I was a failure - failing in providing my son with the one thing he needs most to develop and grow healthily. Yes, there's formula milk, but its not the same, especially for moms like me who cherish the bonding effects of breastfeeding. And its even sadder when certain people dont understand why I was sad and why substituting breastmilk with formula milk is not the answer for me.

But all hope was not lost, which leads to point number 4....

4. There are ways, MANY ways to increase milk supply!
Thank you Nasaruddin sisters!!!! I am forever grateful to them :) These very well-informed sisters shared with me the mannnnnyyy ways you can increase  milk production. There are supplements, jamus, teas and foods you can take to increase milk supply. I tried a jamu - jamu ASI, and it worked! And I only had to take it once to see results. To think I almost gave in to formula milk!

So when I bring these issues up with friends and experienced mommies, generally I get the same response.... "Ohhhh yessss, it happens."

Ya rabbi, why la you didnt tell me.... ;p