DISCLAIMER: It’s important to note that the posts in this page are NOT intended to be a medical reference or to replace professional care during pregnancy, labor, or birth.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Getting a Good Start in Breastfeeding

11.     Starting Out Right
(a)    Prepare yourself mentally and physically, starting as early as during pregnancy.
     Gather as much information about pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding as you can through trusted resources. When you are well-equipped with knowledge, you will understand what you are going through, will know what to expect and will be able to plan how to deal with it. With 101 myths on motherhood and breastfeeding that community tend to spread around, knowledge serves as a shield to protect you against being deviated against breastfeeding.

      Start practising a healthy lifestyle like good eating, sleeping and exercise habits, to keep yourself healthy physically so that when your bundle of joy arrives, you will able provide him/her the best of care. Having said that, each mother is different so I am not able to touch on what I mean when I mentioned good eating/exercise habits because this varies from individual to individual. 

(b)    Equip yourself with appropriate breastfeeding tools
Yes mothers, I know how it feels when you go shopping for your expected newborn. Especially if it’s a girl! You would feel like grabbing all the gorgeous clothes from the racks. But trust me dear mothers, investing in proper equipments for breastfeeding is way much more important. I learnt this by mistake from my first pregnancy. I spent on clothes until some of the clothes my baby didn’t even get the chance to wear because she outgrew it! I didn’t even think of buying a breastpump, let alone other equipments at that moment. So, the outcome was, my breastfeeding attempt tallied to my breastfeeding effort, in which of course, I failed. Shame on me. We all learn from mistakes, I suppose. Anyway, I was more cautious during my second pregnancy, and prepared all the basic stuff needed for breastfeeding to work. 

It may be "expensive" to start out, but it is a once for all investment. If you do the math and calculate the price for formula milk for two years versus your one time investment for breastfeeding tools (which can last for two years if you care for it meticulously), breastfeeding is still cheaper. Another plus point in saving money is that breastfed babies have less hospital visits compared to formula fed babies.

(c)    Choosing the right hospital and informing hospital staffs regarding your wish to breastfeed.
Baby friendly hospitals are generally much more co-operative than those which are not. If you plan to deliver in a non-baby friendly hospital, inform the staffs beforehand regarding your wish to breastfeed. Make a tag stating `Fully Breastfeeding’ and as the nurse to stick in on your babies cot in the hospital nursery.

Having said all the above, I made mistakes with my two previous deliveries. I gave birth in a non-baby friendly hospital, thinking that all hospitals would support breastfeeding.  I literally had to beg the nurses to bring my baby to me for feeding. I was given weird stares by nurses when my baby cried after two hours of latching on the breast. I was given comments like `Oh, you are not producing enough for you baby, that’s why she’s crying after nursing on the breast. We will top up 2 ounces of formula feed for her’. Best part, my baby was just a day old at that moment. And poor me who was so determined to breastfeed became so devastated and confused that I didn’t have the will to fight for my right at that moment. I sincerely hope mothers out there learn from my mistakes and do not have to go through what I went through.

2.    Hard Work

Once you get home, continue nursing your baby directly as frequently as you can. Try to get the baby to latch on correctly to your breasts. This might take some time and patience, so do not give up if you failed the first few times. Try to start pumping as early as 1 week postpartum, whenever you have a break from the baby. If the baby wakes up while you are pumping, nurse him/her first then continue pumping. I know how tiring it can be to care for newborns, and I agree that mothers should take naps whenever baby is asleep. In that case, I may suggest nursing your child on one breast and pumping on the other side. This method can help prevent a mother becoming lopsided, help her build up her milk supply and help her prepare some milk stock (useful for working mothers when they get back to work).

-Have a method of monitoring your milk supply. Chart how much you pump a day and assess the baby’s intake in the form of weight gain, stool and urination.
-Breasts might not need cleaning after feeding, but if you are using the breastpump, all parts have to be cleansed and sterilized appropriately.
-Milk storage can also be a tideous process provided you have a system. Only store milk in bottles or bags meant for milk storage. Label the bottles/bags with date and time, so that first one in would be first one out.

3.    Consistency
 For working mothers, going back to work should not be a barrier for you to breastfeed. Discuss with your superiors regarding your need to pump at work. Plan your time and proper milk storage accordingly especially if your work involves a lot of travelling.

4.   Adequate support from surroundings
-This is one of the most difficult factor pertaining to making breastfeeding work. There are abundance of negativism, criticism and inappropriate so-called advices rather than optimism, encouragement and co-operation. Sad to say, sometimes our own closest family members are against breastfeeding.
-Do attend Breastfeeding Classes with your companion (eg husband, mother) or the person who is going to help take care of you during confinement and so forth. It might help them understand the support you need with regards to breastfeeding.

-Should you encounter any lactation problems, search for a lactation consultant to help you overcome those problems and never resort to formula milk right away.

-My advice to mothers out there, do not let others cause your high spirited will to breastfeed crumble or shatter your emotions into pieces. Stay strong and remember that you are doing this for your baby and you so it doesn’t matter what others perceive.

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