Breastfeeding 101 : What you should know about breastfeeding…

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Breastfeeding is not for the faint hearted woman. I got the scare of my life when my then less than a month old baby started having weird and heavy breathing sounds when he sleeps. I thought “Oh my god, he’s having heart problems, he’s having breathing difficulty”. We rushed him to the Accident & Emergency (A&E) department and they admitted him. Imagine my horror to find out, it was caused by breastfeeding. Specifically, it was caused by two main reasons. The main one was because as a first time mom, I’m inexperienced and second one is my milk oversupply issue. I had a one on one session with a lactation consultant, and from there it got much better. So mommies, please equip yourself with proper knowledge and techniques. Let me walk you through what you should know about breastfeeding.

It’s all about the benefits…

Breastfeeding is recommended by WHO at least for the first 6 months of your baby’s life. For various good reasons. There’s many reasons why it is known as liquid gold. Breast milk is the most easily digestible food you can give to your newborn baby. It contains a lot of antibodies that the mother can pass to the baby to protect them during the first few months of life especially, when they don’t have their own immunity yet. Your milk also coats their intestines and closes the gaps between the intestines. This forms a protective barrier so that the bad bacteria doesn’t pass through and invade your baby’s gut system. At the same time, it helps to promote good bacteria that is needed in their guts to aid digestion. 

Do you even know that breastmilk is dynamic? Apparently, when the baby’s saliva touches mommy’s nipple, the cells are communicating. The baby’s cell will tell the mother’s cell what’s the situation and what he / she needs. Then the milk produced is engineered and customized towards the baby’s need. Isn’t it magical? For example, when it’s winter, the milk will contain a higher amount of fat to keep the baby warm. And when it’s summer, the milk will contain more water to keep the baby hydrated. When the baby is having fever, the breast milk will contain more substances that can help the baby’s to build their antibodies faster to get well soon. 

Of course, not to mention that the money you are going to save. Check on the price of a bottle of infant formula stage 1, you’ll see what I mean…

Breastfeeding comforts your baby like nothing else 

Truthfully, my baby didn’t like pacifiers from the very beginning. It was a big headache for us as he was having acid reflux. Pacifier could have help with his reflux condition. But he rejects the pacifier and only breastfeeding comforts him. At first, it really wore me out as he wanted to breastfeed almost every one or two hours especially when he was newborn. I started reading a lot of mommy forums and I started to be thankful that by nursing, I managed to comfort him every time without fail. Some babies apparently can’t be comforted at all and cry all night long. At least mine, once I breastfeed him it calms him down and he drifts off to sleep every time. Also, it gets better and less frequency by time.

So I became thankful. This positive mindset changed my perspective and It became our special bonding moment. I made it so that our breastfeeding session is special. Every time I breastfeed him, I would softly caress his hair and his back, and I would sometimes poke at him playfully. That way, I made breastfeeding a truly pleasant experience for him. He truly looks forward to being in my arms.

But,I broke my baby’s heart once during breastfeeding… never again.

I made a mistake once when he was still very young. When he didn’t latch properly , I refused to nurse him even though he asked for it repeatedly. I wanted him to do it right as per the books. Then, the unthinkable happened. My baby went on a nursing strike and refused to breastfeed for a few days. I realized I was too stern and harsh. He’s a newborn baby. What am I expecting?

Finally we had a mother-son talk, and I apologized sincerely to him. I think that we had to learn from each other. I’m new to motherhood. And he needed time to learn how to latch properly, he’s a newborn too. After asking for his forgiveness and I told my baby let’s learn together, he started to breastfeed again immediately. Seriously baby, they truly feel you and they can understand what we are talking about.

Ever since then, our breastfeeding bonding session only gets better and I think we both looked forward to it. Remember, making breastfeeding experience as pleasant as you can. Let our baby associate breastfeeding to comfort. In future it will make your life much easier when they are sick or teething. Trust me on this. Especially when your baby is having acid reflux. Breastfeeding is not always a bed of roses though… 

Tons of things could go wrong that could actually make you want to give up at some point.

First there’s the oversupply or not enough supply of milk. When you don’t have enough milk supply, it’s stressful. But when you have oversupply of milk, it’s equally stressful. I’m the latter.

When you’re under supply, you will be in constant worry if you can satisfy your baby’s needs. But when you’re over supply, you and your baby will be constantly having trouble as well. You also risk getting mastitis or clogged duct very often. I often have clogged ducts that my baby helps to clear usually but I have also personally got high fever twice over mastitis. You will not only get high fever, but chill all over your body, extreme fatigue and severe backache as well.

You needed to empty your breast because you are producing more than your baby can take. But if you empty it, your breast will receive a message that the milk is emptied and it needs to produce more milk. So it’s like an endless vicious cycle. 

Not just that, when you’re over supply once your baby latches on your milk letdown reflex can be so strong that your baby chokes on it. Like mine. The milk actually went into his nose as he is not good at swallowing or gulping yet, when the letdown reflex hose all the milk into his mouth. That’s the root cause of the wheezing sound he made when he was breathing and sleeping. The wheezing sound that made me rushed him to A&E. It must be so uncomfortable for him as well, to have milk in his nose almost all the time. Imagine as an adult, you wouldn’t have liked that either.

So yes, the correct position and technique matters. Hereby is the link of a downloadable e-book about breastfeeding from one of the best public hospital in Hong Kong. This free downloadable e-book explains in detail about breastfeeding positions, correct techniques etc. It also covers various topics to storing breast milk and optimal diet for lactating mom. I have learnt everything about breastfeeding from this useful book and I hope you will find them useful too.

You can try out several different positions and find the best ones suited for yourself and your baby. Personally, we love cradle and side lying position best. Don’t stress too much about the exact posture and gesture, the most important thing is the mother and baby are both comfortable,  the baby is able to latch properly.

Remember that what you eat goes to your baby. 

There are some foods that can cause an upset stomach for your baby like spicy foods or cause them to be gassy like garlic or onion. Honestly, there is no way to know in advance what’s gonna cause your baby to be gassy or stomach ache. So have your food in moderation, so that even if your baby has a reaction to it, it won’t be too severe. Know that what you eat affects the taste of your milk. My doctor personally suggested that I continue taking maternal vitamins when I’m breastfeeding. That’s because we are passing a lot of nutrients from our body to the baby, so we should eat some vitamins to ensure our own body is nourished as well. 

Bonus for Mommies…breastfeed and lose weight (oh yes!)

When you are breastfeeding, you are burning extra calories. I gained almost 30kg by the end of my pregnancy term. Once I gave birth, I lost 11kg. The rest of the extra weight I put on, I lost them completely by breastfeeding exclusively for a year now. But I managed to go back to my pre-pregnancy weight just by 7-8 months. I didn’t even need to diet, I was even eating snacks and desserts. By the way, you should try to limit this unhealthy food consumption when you’re breastfeeding.

Please support breastfeeding

There is truly no milk out there that can replace breast milk’s benefit. So for the sake of your baby, please try to breastfeed them exclusively. For yourself as well. Hopefully, for you who aren’t planning to breastfeed, this will change your mind. For you, and most importantly for your baby’s sake.

I hope you enjoyed this breastfeeding guide, for more parenting posts please click here.

Parenting Pain: Breastfeed is kind of nice…. until your baby starts teething…. I get shivers down my spine just reminiscing how painful it is… My poor nipple… R.I.P

Featured image photo credit by Wendy Wei on Pexels (2019)

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2 Replies to “Breastfeeding 101 : What you should know about breastfeeding…”

  1. I was fortunate enough to have a good breastfeeding journey with my little one and it helped us bond. She’s two now and still wants to do a bit of skin to skin!

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