Breastfeeding eight babies… How did my mom do it when I struggled feeding just one? At least during the first six weeks, breastfeeding felt like a daunting task.
Is it really this hard? Or do I simply lack the patience my mom had? (I really don’t remember her complaining.) So I thought, maybe it’s because I’m a new mom. And perhaps, every new mom has to go through these breastfeeding struggles.
On my first two weeks as a new mom, I went through the day groggy. Cyd’s longest sleep was 3 hours and whenever he wakes up, I need to stand or sit up to breastfeed and burp him after. His cries/shrieks are impossible to ignore. I wonder how he could produce such ear-splitting noise from a tiny, fragile body. Luckily, we’ve discovered the wonders of breastfeeding side lying. He likes it because he could eat whenever he wants and I love it ‘cause I can rest while he’s drinking to his heart’s content. Our sleep has improved a lot!
Low milk supply
No one warned me that it’s possible not to have enough milk during the first few days after giving birth. And that it’s quite normal. I assumed that my body wouldn’t fail me. I thought, if my baby needs it, my body should respond. It looked too easy for my mom, she didn’t seem to worry about running out milk.
Turns out, we have this hormone called Prolactin, which is responsible for producing milk. A lot of factors can affect its release (i.e. sleep, stress level, diet, etc.). But nipple stimulation by the baby is said to be the best way to make it work hard making more milk. I also read that certain food and supplements can help boost it. So we bought just about anything that promised to increase milk supply.
Sore, cracked nipples
I really thought babies just automatically latch without a problem. But it’s not the case with me. Cyd and I had to find the least painful breastfeeding positions over a course of five weeks or so. Sometimes, I lead him. Most of the time, he leads me. This exploration stage led to cracked and sore nipples. There were moments when I felt like giving up. So what kept me going? The assurance that he’ll be less sick if I breastfeed. And to be honest, I don’t like the inconvenience of sterilizing feeding bottles and preparing milk every time he’s hungry.
The Witching Hour
At about 5pm or 6pm, when the sun is about to set, my baby’s mood turns sour. Why? It seems that he’s preparing for a lengthy sleep by drinking as much milk as he can. But my milk supply drops around this time (just when I needed it most). Gladly, these days, I’ve discovered ways to distract him while my breasts are refilling its supply.
Perhaps this was the biggest surprise of all. When breastfed babies are around 7-10 days and 3-6 weeks old, they can go through what’s called a growth spurt. During this time, they have voracious appetite so it’s normal for them to suck every 30 minutes or so. For a new mom, this is probably the ultimate rite of passage. I surely did not enjoy it. Surprisingly, some of my friends didn’t remember experiencing this. Maybe some babies don’t cluster feed? Well, their moms are lucky.
You mean the world to your baby
At least that’s what his eyes say.. a lot. My baby stares at me like I was the most beautiful person in the world. How can I not like this job? So while I cherish my free time, those times he’s napping or during his time with his father, I long to feed him and see him looking at me again.
These days, I mostly love doing it, unlike the first few weeks when I dread feeding sessions.
What about you? Have you struggled with breastfeeding, too? What was your journey like?