My Breastfeeding Journey (so far)

Zal is now 20 months old. It’s been that long that I have been breastfeeding him; and it has been 17 months that I have been pumping at work.

I won’t lie. I feel proud of myself. Alhamdulillah. It has not been an easy journeyl in fact, it’s so full of anxiety and panic attack. But looking back at the past 20 months, I feel that I deserve a pat on the back. At least from myself.

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When Zal was born, he didn’t immediately succeed in early breastfeeding initiation. The midwife put him near my breast after they finished weighing him, and I vaguely remember he reached my nipple and sucked for a while. I couldn’t even tell if he managed to get some colostrum (I started leaking few weeks before I delivered him).

Next thing I know, we both were in the same room together. Every few hours or so, a nurse would take him to the nursery so I could take some rest. I remember it was about 2-3 hours. Although I was so tired after 14 hours of labor, I couldn’t really sleep cause I kept thinking of him.

We stayed at the hospital for 2 nights. Whenever Zal woke up, cried cause he’s hungry, a nurse would bring him back to our room and let me nurse him. Being a first time mom, I didn’t know anything about the correct way of latching. Don’t even ask me if he was getting enough milk on that first few days. Luckily, the hospital that we chose is really supporting breastfeeding. Every few hours, there will be a lactation consultant (LC) visited us and taught me the correct way of latching. Even so, I still couldn’t make it right. At some point of time, an LC squeezed my breasts and managed to get some colostrum to be put in the syringe and -to my surprise- she gave it to Zal.

Thinking about it again, what did it even mean? Did it mean that Zal didn’t latch correctly? Or my milk was not kicking in yet?

We went home on the third day, and I was still completely clueless on how to latch correctly. As a requirement for a newborn, Zal needed to be monitored for two weeks to watch his jaundice level. I still remember few days after we were home, we came back to hospital on Sunday only to find out that Zal’s jaundice level was worrying enough that the doctor said he might need to be admitted.

And I blamed myself cause perhaps it’s due to me lacking skills to get him latching properly. I was also having blocked duct on my right breast. Zal didn’t want to nurse on that side either so I was totally clueless on how to get it cleared. That night, I pumped my milk from my left breast, and Alhamdulillah, I still got some colostrum. We fed it to Zal using syringe. My heart broke in pieces seeing my few-days-old baby drank breastmilk from a syringe.

When we finally got a chance to meet an LC again, she taught me how to cleared blocked duct, and she also taught me how to make sure that Zal latches properly. Then when she taught me all of those things, I just saw that Zal was an impatient baby. He was that impatient (and perhaps too hungry) that he didn’t want to latch himself properly first before settling for milk. The LC told me to keep latching and latching.

We went home after a very very long day; but at least I got some idea on how to deal with this whole breastfeeding thing.

For the next few days, I tried to improve Zal’s latching on my own. From positioning his mouth to catch the nipple to practicing various breastfeeding positions. It was really really a challenge. All the while I kept worrying whether Zal had drank enough and about his jaundice too 🙁

Everytime Zal wanted to nurse, I put him on a pillow so he would get closer to my breasts. And being a newborn, of course he nursed very very often; like, around the clock. I was so tired that often Husband/Mum found me falling asleep sitting down while nursing Zal.

Seeing me so tired, Mum asked me to practice breastfeeding while lying down. It will be better for me cause it would give me chance to get some rest as well. I didn’t dare to do that cause I was worried Zal still couldn’t latch properly. What would happened if I latched him lying down?

Until finally when Zal was about 3 weeks old, we took him for another check at polyclinic, and I was so happy that his weight was finally increasing! By big margin some more! And his jaundice was gone! OH YAY!

So finally, when Zal was almost one month old, I tried nursing him lying down, and it only took him several tries until he could finally fell asleep! I was so relieved that I could finally get some rest, phew.

(I really really needed some break as well because I was still on my final semester of Master program; reports and meetings are things I couldn’t miss)

After Zal was one month old, breastfeeding was quite a breeze. Of course there were some times that I dreaded breastfeeding:

  • When he started teething.
  • When I had cracked nipples
  • When he had a brief nursing strike
  • When he was having fever and he only wanted to nurse
  • When he refused to nurse under nursing cover and how nervous and self-conscious I was when I first did that.

Thankfully, all of them didn’t last really long. Of course they needed some patience, and I admit sometimes my patience grew thin, but it has been okay so far.

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The time of weaning him is getting closer and closer. To be honest, I am not so keen on weaning him.. I am going to miss the closeness and the bond we are having. But it’s ok, I guess. That bond is just going to transform into something else. I am still his mother and it’s something that’s not going to change no matter what.

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy how he smiles widely whenever he finished nursing, like I am the only one that matters for him in this world :’)

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