My milk production factory was raring to go 24 hours after I delivered #2, after hibernating for 11 months since #1 weaned off. By the third day that I was home with #2, my supply had kicked in so much, my breasts were already getting engorged. I've learnt my lesson not to express in between feeds so that my body regulates its production according to my baby's needs. I wasn't in a hurry to store up expressed milk since I knew I could be around to nurse the baby with my flexible work schedule.
Fortunately, baby was feeding well. Unfortunately, he was a much fiercer sucker and my nipples suffered. AGAIN. By the end of the first week I was having cracked and bleeding nipples, tender breasts, strawberry milk instead of vanilla milk. Nursing round the clock. I simply couldn't understand why both my sons were angels during the hospital stay but were literally sucking the life out of me when I brought them home!
I called up a lactation consultant and she told me that if baby is having enough milk, he shouldn't have to nurse so frequently. He should be able to last for at least 1.5 hours to 2 hours until the next feed. She patiently gave me tips on how to massage my breasts while baby is nursing and I finally managed to overcome the engorgement and improve my baby's latching. Even though my nipples were cracked and I experienced chills again at night, my condition didn't worsen and I escaped a re-occurrence of mastitis.
During pregnancy for #3, I once again prayed for good supply of breastmilk and that I could nurse my baby without any incidents. Even though I was confident I could nurse my baby for more than 6 months as I did with her brothers, I was still fearful that my techniques might not be correct and that I would have to go through the same breastfeeding horrors. So during my stay at the maternity ward, I asked the lactation consultant a lot of questions. I was determined to make sure my baby had a very good latch and that I knew exactly what to do when I brought baby home.
Thankfully, it has been a rather smooth breastfeeding journey with #3 thus far, and she's now 13 months old. The only downside is I'm having a really difficult time weaning her off because not only is she taking breast milk exclusively, she's latching exclusively. The only problem that I have now is a small laceration on my nipple because baby decided to bite me when nursing. OUCH!
Apart from experiencing those physical pains from breastfeeding, the other part that frustrates me the most was when I have family members asking me questions like
Is the baby drinking enough milk?
How do you know how much baby is drinking when you latch him?
Baby is crying again, he's probably hungry. Maybe he didn't drink enough earlier.
As much as I know everyone is concerned about the baby's well-being, and worried that I would starve him because nobody could see exactly how much he drank, all these questions and comments added unnecessary stress to me, especially when I was a first time mom. It definitely didn't help when comments like these came from people who never nursed their babies before.
Whatever you decide for your baby, be it to breastfeed him exclusively, or not at all, it's really your personal decision. Don't let anybody judge you or make you feel uncomfortable about your choices. Don't forget the breasts are yours! Well, it will feel a lot like otherwise when they become milk factories for your little bundle. But ultimately, it's your body. Do what is most comfortable for you. If breastfeeding makes you very stressed and worn out, your baby can also sense your pressure. Do what keeps you happy and sane, and your baby, too, will grow up healthy and happy.
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