On 12 January, my baby was born in a hospital and I became a mother; this was the start of a new life. Things were not easy or joyful. My baby did not latch but only cried! He cried often and then slept. The nurses helped me patiently and carefully every two hours when I tried to breastfeed my baby. I took him to the nursery in order to avoid disturbing other mothers in the postpartum ward because my baby cried so much. I didn’t give up, which meant I didn’t get much sleep. My husband asked me to take a good rest but I told him, “I haven’t succeeded yet. I will continue to try until I succeed.” However, nothing helped.
My family members encouraged me to feed him formula. I was so stressed and sad because my baby cried so loudly at my breast while I tried to breastfeed him, which also made the rest of my family anxious. Due to so many voices, I fed my baby formula and pumped milk instead of breastfeeding. Unfortunately, pumping took me into a dark world. I pumped every two hours which was followed by engorgement, blocked ducks, and lack of sleep. Pumping created another problem: stress about milk volume. I was asked how much volume I pumped all the time. I was tired of so much pressure and felt like a failure. My world felt totally upside down.
I started to search the internet for help. After my confinement period was over, my husband accompanied me to visit an IBCLC. I cried and told her I was so tired. She told me gently that she understood my feelings. She guided me step by step and assured me that bottle-feeding could be wholly shifted into exclusive breastfeeding. She let me know that a mother’s determination to breastfeed is very important. She encouraged me to have skin-to-skin contact with my baby, and said she was ready to answer all my questions online whenever I needed her help.
I then joined a Facebook breastfeeding group and I was encouraged to practise paced bottle-feeding and use a small-hole teat. In addition, I tried cup and spoon feeding, hoping I could get rid of bottles, but that ended up with more screaming and crying from my baby. In these two months, I had two bouts of mastitis and was admitted to hospital once. After that, my milk supply decreased a lot and my son was fed with formula most of the time. However, I kept having skin-to-skin contact with him and let him play with my nipples when he liked and felt happy. I also kept in contact with the IBCLC.
In the fourth and fifth month, I attended La Leche League meetings. The Leader shared with me a LLL publication and encouraged me to try to let the baby latch at any suitable time, before or after bottle feedings, and decrease the formula quantity by 30 ml every day. This information and encouragement were very important to me. I continued holding my baby skin-to-skin and tried to take care of him in a relaxed manner. I believed that when I was happy, my baby would be happy and healthy as well. I gradually shifted my attitude away from fighting against breastfeeding issues towards working with my baby and learning together as a team.
One day, while I was half asleep, my baby latched! He was five and a half months old at that time. I was so happy and shared the news with everyone who had encouraged me to breastfeed. It’s hard to put my feelings into words, but all the challenges and difficulties I had overcome felt worthwhile.
We enjoyed direct breastfeeding for several months until he self-weaned recently due to changes in my milk during pregnancy. My second baby is due in August and I hope my son will regain interest in breastfeeding then, so that I can tandem-feed both children.
The IBCLC was certainly right about the importance of a mother’s determination to breastfeed. It took a long time, but my patience paid off. I never stopped believing in myself and my baby.
Close to the Heart Vol. 20, No. 2 (Mid-Year 2019)
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