I am sure you must be wondering what I mean when I say nobody prepared me for breastfeeding. After all, there is so much information available out there on breastfeeding. Well, I read all that information and got lots of advice from my pals, but the actual process turned out to be quite a challenge. Let me briefly share my experience.
1. Cracked Nipples
The skin on the nipple is very sensitive, and for most moms, it cracks when the baby first starts to feed. In my case, the cracks came after about a week, and lasted for over a month! My little boy was quite an aggressive feeder, and he would pull the nipples as if his life depended on them! I would start sobbing every time he would wake up and demand a feed. Taking a shower was also a nightmare! With time and application of generous amounts of nipple cream, my nipples eventually healed. I still cringe whenever I remember that experience.
If you're having a similarly painful experience when breastfeeding, this video may be of help.
2. Expressing Milk
"Once the breast milk starts to flow, begin to express and store your milk." This is great advice if you have lots of milk, you are well rested and your baby sleeps lots. My baby was not a fan of sleep, and whenever he was awake, he was breastfeeding! The last thing in my thoughts soon after delivery was expressing milk, as I was always exhausted. To make matters worse, the first time I tried to express, I got only 25ml!
I eventually got the hang of expressing, but only after figuring out a method that worked best for my situation. A kind mom of a social media group advised that I express one breast as baby feeds from the other breast. It worked, and soon I was able to express at least 100ml per feed. When I went back to work, there was the challenge of finding a place to express milk. I ended up expressing in a colleague's car (it had tinted windows). Looking back, I am glad I made the sacrifice, but I can honestly say it was not easy!
3. The Constant Energy Drain
Breastfeeding manuals will tell you to eat well and stay hydrated, but none will tell you how draining breastfeeding is. Just after delivery, I experienced a loss of appetite, and as such, I was not eating enough to sustain my son's breastfeeding. The result? I grew so thin that I was a pale shadow of my former self, and I would feel like fainting when breastfeeding. I had to learn to have a plate of food and a hot drink nearby whenever he was breastfeeding.
Just a tip to new moms – that extra plate of food will help you produce more milk. Your body will sense that it has enough nutrients for baby's current and future needs, and will thus produce extra milk for you to express. Don't worry about weight gain – the breastfeeding season will not last forever.
My son has long since stopped breastfeeding, and I must admit I miss the bonding moments. If you are finding breastfeeding challenging, just hang in there, and give baby your best.
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