Thursday, January 15, 2015

Breastfeeding: My bittersweet journey

What a long, sweet and bumpy breastfeeding journey!


I am so thankful and amazed to be able to breastfeed Emma for close to 15 months and I never want to forget how we walked through it. I just want to write all these down even though it was already 2 months back as I never know if I would have another chance to breastfeed another baby (Read about my ttc jounery here). I am still hopeful as God has his best plan and timing!


We had a good start and Emma latched well. Things went well until all the soreness and bled nipples came along within the first month. I didn't want to give up and continued to bear with the pain. Anyway, we didn't have any milk powder and she needed her milk.


It just gets better and Emma latches on well. I nursed for the first 3+ months before officially introducing her to the bottle. 


We started practising bottle feeding/pumping nearly 3 weeks before we sent her to infant care at 4 months and we struggled as she dislikes the bottles. She eventually got used to it in good time. It wasn't easy as I wasn't used to pumping, feeding (up to an hr) and caring a baby at the same time. I am glad to have my mum over to help me for a couple of days. It was probably due to the stress, I didn't managed to pump out enough for Emma. It took a while to build up a steady supply and a small stash in case pumping at work fails. 

We finally set in a routine of nursing when I'm with her and bottle feeding in school. Everything was (mostly) great! But one fine day, she decided that the world is more interesting that milk.  She refused to latch and fuss while nursing. We had to give her bottles and coax her to drink. She was around 6 months old when I stopped nursing and started to pump exclusively. 



I planned to stop breastfeeding after Emma turns 1 but because of all the challenges that I have mentioned in her monthly updates, Emma only fully transit to formula milk after almost 3 months. 


I was pumping 4 times before I started to wean off. I dropped my 7pm pump when she start to take 3 formula milk and 1 breastmilk feed without much problem. However, got some infection and lumps when I dropped another pump - the noon one. I then dropped the 3rd one - late night pump shortly after I recovered and eventually the last one partially before we headed to Gold Coast.


It took me nearly 1 month to wean off totally and Emma finally weaned off breastfeed at around 15 months old!


Like I shared in my previous post, I set small target of 3 months initially and gradually extended to 12 months for all the reasons I stand by. I am glad to breastfeed for almost another 3 months but it just has to stop some day. Breastfeeding or exclusively pumping is total hard work and one of the reason to stop is to give my body a break. I went below my pre pregnancy weight (and now I am back to normal pre pregnancy weight and I am happy with that) and felt rather tired and weak. 

Besides, I didn't want to set too high target for no.2 if God allows! Lastly, I was planning for a switch of job and holiday so it seems like good time to stop. Giving myself more reasons! Haha.

And so, I actually pumped for 12 months! During these 12 months, I have became more confident about pumping and learnt some important lessons which I wish would come handy once again.


Personal tips for pumping breastmilk



1. Use electronic double breastpump. I had 2 ameda pumps - one for work and the other home so that I do not need to bring it around. I just bring along the pump parts and ice bag in my longchamp.


2. Learn to hand express. There are days when I forgot the adapter or pump parts and hand express is the saviour! It is also useful to clear lumps. Practice makes perfect. 

3. Pump regularly. It keeps up the supply. I was able to sustain my supply by pumping 4 times a day (6am, 12pm, 7pm and 10pm) for several months.

4. Pumping for a few mins before latching to store helps to increase supply and create small stash. Not to worry that baby will not have enough as body will sense the increase demand and produce more. I did this for a few weeks before I start work to store up a little.


5. Hand express after pumping would help to empty the breast and helps to sustain supply or even gradually increase the supply.

6. It is possible to drag the pump interval without reducing supply. I used to pump 2 times at work (12pm and 4pm). In order to reduce disruption to work, I only pump at noon. I was still able to make up almost the same amount I get from 3 pumps (12pm, 4pm and 7pm) when I pumped twice at 12pm and 7pm.


7. Towards the end of the 12 months, I realized that I didn't exactly need to pump at the same time anymore. I just need to make sure that I pump the same number of times with at least 3hrs time difference and I would still get the same total amount. For eg, I would pump at 4pm instead of 7pm on weekends when we head out for dinner.

8. Use hands free and multitask. I didn't have a proper one but I made do with a sport bra like of nursing bra to make it hands free. I pumped while eating, feeding Emma, doing assignment, blogging and surfing the net.


9. Use a nursing cover and pump in the car or less crowded area when there is no nursing room. There are also some pump accessories that help mummies to pump discretely. Remember to get access to the nursing room before you return to work after maternity leave.

10. Chill pump sparts in tupperware and wash at the end of the day. It is safe as proven by Emma! This is certainly a very helpful, any mum who pumps know how dreadful it is to wash all the pumps parts!

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And before I end off, I want to give thanks to God for all the strength and ability to breastfeed Emma. I also want to thank my hubby for being so supportive in my breastfeeding journey! I doubt I could accomplish this without his support.


Meantime, I pray that this wouldn't be my last time writing about breastfeeding! 

2 comments:

  1. Totally know what you mean! I'm going to stop soon and feeling it already... sigh.

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    1. You have already did your best! Especially with 2 kids. kudos! I have been reading your blog! Thanks for the nursing rooms reviews! Love it! Helps me alot!

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