My first breastfeeding (BF) experience was bumpy and challenging.. to the extend I felt quite traumatic when I was confirmed to carry my second child in my womb months ago. Yes, I don't really fear pregnancy or labor as my experience for those were quite smooth and easy, alhamdulillah, but breastfeeding is another different story. Now that my first daughter is already 2.5 years old, I managed to look back and identified the mistakes I made so that I will be more successful for the second time.
10 biggest mistakes I made wrt breastfeeding
1) Although I delivered at a `breastfeeding-friendly' hospital, I did not get a special consultation from lactation consultant that is actually available in most of hospitals(I dont even know who to sought for help).Right after labor, they quickly send the baby for rooming in and left this first time mother figure out how to breastfeed by herself. Of course the act of breastfeeding is natural, however the knowledge and experience shared is vital for survival of fully breastfeed baby. Mind you, not everyone is blessed with overflowing milk with not much effort, some need trial and errors to make things happen. So a good advice from an expert is what you really need to keep the motivation high.
2) Apparently it was true that my milk did not flow properly/I did not provide milk for the baby even on the second day. The nurse told me my baby had crystallized urine and accused me for not giving enough milk to my baby (as initially I was determined to fully bf my baby). None of the bf forum or books that I read that mentioned about possibility of not having milk flow at all and resulted to baby having crystallize urine! At this point of time I have no choice but to allow them to feed formula milk to my baby. I cried hard and felt like a bad mother for not be able to give milk to my own baby.At this time, I was depressed and at the lowest point of my life. I constantly cried, not realizing that depression and unstable emotion did not help to establish a milk flow that was much needed by the baby.
3) I did not have regular check ups for my baby after I discharged from the hospital. Do you know that you can register at the nearest Klinik Kesihatan and the nurses will come to check on mother and baby every few days to ensure both are healthy and baby's growth is according to the chart. Well I did not know about this back then. So after a month suddenly I suspect my baby might have a slight fever and we went to the paed near to our house (not my baby's paed), we found that my baby did not gain weight at all (luckily she did not lose weight!).The paed (he was my siblings paed and very old fashioned) scolded me for not giving enough milk to my baby and forced me to mix with formula milk. Again, I came home and cried hard and was desperate, so I mixed.
4) The paed I went to as per point 3) is NOT breastfeeding friendly. Going to him for advice (and followed his advice) was the biggest mistake I made so far.So please mommies, it is very important to seek help from baby/BF friendly doctor for any advise.
5) I realized I had a low milk supply hence scared to pump for milk during my baby's first month.Sounds stupid, right? But that's what I did. I just started pumping after I mixed with formula, so obviously the outcome was not satisfying.
6) I was constantly worried, depressed and cried every night, I think I was actually having a post natal depression. My baby was crying non stop every night even after she was full after feeding, and only sleep after dawn. I did not get enough rest, my milk supply was low, I still need to breastfed and well as making formula milk to feed my baby when she did not stop crying, and I was so grumpy at almost everyone.So yeah, that did not help at all.
7) I spent my confinement period at my mother's house. She did not breastfeed her children and my sister in law also did not too due to this mindset - we did not have enough milk for our babies, so it is normal to mix with formula. Although she did not stop me from breastfeed my baby, she constantly suggested to mix with formula since my baby seemed unrest every night. I don't have any support/advice.motivation that is highly needed for all BF moms who was having difficulties especially during confinement like me.
8) My husband was away in Brunei and only came home every 2/3 weeks. I felt like having no support and shoulder to cry on :( I did everything by myself from changing diapers, making formula milk at night, washing the bottles, etc. So everynight I cried when we had our daily Skype session.Sounds like a depressed young mother, I know. I was. It gets worse when I moved to my inlaws' house when I started to work. My inlaws are actually quite keen to help, but this stubborn, depressed, first time mom thought she is a supermom and determined to do everything by herself because she was hesitant/embarrassed/scared to get any help.
9) In most of BF forums or conversations that I followed, there are always these few ultra gung-ho BF moms who wrote/talked like difficulties in BF journey never exist, all mothers should be able to BF their babies easily and it is (almost) a sin to mix with formula for whatever reason. These people made people like me scared to seek for advice especially from strangers who were expert/claimed to be expert in BF. At last, we just tried our luck and see what actually works. If these people are more friendly and welcoming, I believe more mothers will be more successful in BFing.
10) Despite all the difficulties, I still continued pumping my milk when I get back to work. Well, the mothers room is not conducive (for me) and I pumped at other secluded place, and I was constantly embarrassed and depressed when other mothers boasted about how much milk they produced, or even to see the abundance of milk in the shared fridge at the office while mine was `kais pagi makan pagi'. When I had a very low milk supply during Ramadhan and not even able to get 1 oz in each pumping session, let alone the work commitment and urgent meetings to attend, finally I stop pumping milk at work. My daughter was 10 months this time and already fed on formula and solids. However I still nurse my daughter when I get home after work until she is almost 2 years.
Well, I am not proud with my experience and it took me 2 years to actually have the courage and shared this with others; however I believe this sharing is important as I myself actually turned to Google when I need a quick fix for any problems. We all do, I believe. I will share on my latest experience on how I overcome the breastfeeding challenge for my second baby. Yes, I still face challenged in this topic (guess the luck was not on my side but Allah must have a better plan for me) but I will never give up and will not repeat my previous mistakes again.