It’s been a few months since I ended my breastfeeding journey with Alexa for good. I must say it was quite an emotional journey overall and as with life, not without some challenges along the way. But I’m really grateful for that privilege to be able to have done it for close to a year for both kiddos. I say ‘privilege’, coz I know of many dear ones who genuinely didn’t have enough milk supply or couldn’t for a variety of reasons… so I don’t take it for granted!
I started well… thanks to my mum, sister and mummy friends advising me. I felt quite prepared and was ready to breastfeed my baby all the way for at least 6 months.
When I had Axl, my supply came in only after 14 days! This, in spite of latching him every 2-3 hourly AND pumping 5-10 mins after that (even during night shifts)… As a new mummy, I admittedly was so focused on my new role and all it demanded, that I neglected/forgot to drink enough fluids. Add in my skyrocketing stress levels from being a new mum, it really took a toll on my milk production.
(Side note: Talking about stress, I took close to 3 months before I felt remotely ‘sane’ or like a ‘normal’ person… 1st time parenting is no joke yo..) 😅
With the low supply… by the 5th or 6th day, poor baby Axl was super cranky and crying often due to the hunger. So I decided to supplement his feeds with formula milk…through bottle feeding.
I’ve heard of some using syringe/spoon to feed the baby formula at this stage to avoid the baby having nipple confusion or being lazy to suck during direct latch ons (sucking on bottle teat is less effort for baby). Or that if you give formula, your milk supply would be affected. Or that baby would not want to go back to breast milk after tasting the sweetness in formula milk, etc etc
But I just couldn’t bear seeing my poor baby so hungry. And what more, I realized the stress of not producing enough milk was also not helping the situation. In fact, when I fed him formula… it took the pressure off me and I could focus on pumping (now at least 20-30mins, 2-3hrly, throughout 24hrs) while seeing my baby happier and well taken care off. Soon, I slowly saw my supply building and after one and a half weeks of this, I was ready to breast feed lil Axl again. Thankfully, he latched back on without any difficulties.
Oh ya, talking about latching… breastfeeding hurts! They always say it doesn’t or not supposed to… bleh… I experienced sharp close to tears kinda pain especially in the 1st 2-3mins of latching. But by the 3rd month… it got better and DID come to a point where it didn’t hurt eventually.
I didn’t have a problem feeding Axl in public with this trusty breastfeeding cover that was my partner-in-feeds! In fact, a lot of times I’d be having meetings or talking to people (even coaching) while nursing my baby with it.
I chose to direct latch with him coz I loved the bond it brought, from the satisfaction of providing and feeling the milk nourish his little body, to the time spent locking eye and memorizing every inch of him! But of course who am I kidding, let’s not forget to mention the number of bottle parts I DON’T need to be washing and sterilizing! Haha…
Since I was the one doing the night shifts, it was also much easier to direct latch than fumble around to heat up the frozen milk etc.. Plus once he was older and I was confident enough to breastfeeding lying down, it was a breeze!
I stopped after 11 months as I wanted to regulate my body to prep for baby number 2. (Yup, we had planned for 2 children and wanted the pregnancies to be back to back). My menses came a month after I stopped breastfeeding…
For Alexa, things looked really good at the beginning. In fact, I was so happy by the second/third day to already see signs of colostrum and milk coming in. But alas, it was short lived and everything dried up when I was discharged from hospital and went back home. With the nurses helping and being so well taken care off earlier, reality was a stark difference. Now back home without a confinement nanny nor a domestic helper, attending to the demands of a newborn plus an adjusting 2yo toddler fighting for your attention, yup stress won that battle again.
I suspected Alexa also had some problems latching properly. That’s where I shared previously (read here) about how my nipple bled (not just a tiny spot, but raw bloody with exposed tissues and stuff k). Sigh.. So before the week ended, it was formula milk for Alexa and back I went to the pump to let the wounds heal.
Poor baby gal didn’t like the formula or the bottle much, so she only drank a little here and there. Gave her whatever I expressed and topped up with formula. By the 3rd week, I went back to breastfeeding her. I was a little traumatized by the whole episode and pain, so I did have to meditate and prayed hard that she would latch well this time. Thank God it went smoothly and she fed & latched well…
See how chubs chubs she got with Mummy’s breast milk… I had thought only formula can make the baby so big! Haha
Ooh…by time this gal reach 8 months, she got kinda difficult to feed in public coz she hated the nursing covers and would fight it! I remember feeding her a lot more in our car or a quiet restaurant booth without it.
I remember hitting the 6 months mark (Singapore’s current advised minimum duration – they’ll be changing it to 12 months soon I heard) and feeling a sense of accomplishment and a whole load of pressure off too. But I knew we were not going to have another baby, so told myself to take my time and just enjoy the process. It went on without me giving any thought on it and in a blink of an eye, shortly after her 1 year old birthday, I fell very sick. I was hit with a virus and was not recovering after bouts of generic medication and was eventually advised by doc to take an antibiotic; and I then had to stop breastfeeding. (My supply had already dropped a lot at this stage after being sick for so long)
So I was kinda bummed that I didn’t have much of a choice for this… but also knew this was the final push I needed to wean her off completely. I prolly wouldn’t have been able to do it by myself.
All in all, I’m so beyond thankful for the breastfeeding journey with both kiddos. Not a blissful ride without blood, tears or pain, but I really wanted to share it all. Coz all our experiences and journey is different… And often, things fall far from the ideals, our plans or what we envisioned it to be. But I’m glad we can learn and grow along with it…while knowing you are not alone!
It broke my heart when a fellow mom recently shared with me the guilt she felt when she supplemented/gave her baby formula coz of her condition. She thought she was the only one and felt so lousy about it. I promptly gave her a big hug and told her she was definitely not alone! So here’s sharing my breastfeeding journey as a hug to all mummies out there… whatever your journey may look like!
*BIG HUGZ & LOTSA LOVE*