"Enjoying motherhood so far?", people would ask. "Yes", I would reply, "But I feel like a cow".
I blame all the media for making breastfeeding look so easy. It's almost as if all babies already go through breastfeeding school in the womb and know exactly what to do. Two weeks after birth, my little Izzy still cannot and mostly refuse to latch. Trust me, when you have to force a wailing hungry baby to your breast everyday and to hear her cry because she cannot get to milk, you'd want to burst into tears yourself. Yesterday after a particularly upsetting episode of feed-her-not, I tearfully announced to B, "No more, I am exclusively pumping from now on". He just nodded, knowing full well I would likely still keep trying. (I am. Stay tuned for more updates.)
I also had trouble with milk production. I've read the reason is because of all the drugs used during the labour induction process. Together with the traumatic loss of blood and emergency uterine flush they had to perform on me (I thought I was gonna die), my milk glands went on strike. My colostrum only came in on day 4 or 5 after birth! In the end we had to feed Izzy formula first. Even after the colostrum, my milk supply was really pathetic.
Thankfully, I had advice from my sis in law and we got the lactation consultant to make a house visit. Since then, my supply has increased significantly, though I'm still working to stabilize it. They say the average baby consumes approximately 750ml of milk a day. So far I am up to about 600ml and increasing daily. Thank God.
I thought it might be useful to share some of the tips that really helped me.
1. Doppler tablets. These were prescribed by the paediatrician when I brought Izzy to see her on Day 5. The tablets are meant to kick start the milk production but not meant to be taken long term.
2. Pump frequently. My sis in law strongly advised me that since baby was not latching, I needed to follow the baby's feeding pattern and pump every 2-3 hours to stimulate more supply. Her target for me was 8 times a day but unfortunately I need at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep so 7 times is the most I've been able to do. 730am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 9pm and 11.30pm are the rough timings I try to pump everyday. Somedays it feels like I'm permanently attached to my medela freestyle!
3. Fenugreek. I just started taking this yesterday (Day 14 after birth) and today I noticed a significant increase in milk production. Good stuff.
4. Drink more water. The confinement lady feeds me soup at lunch, before dinner, at dinner and before bed, as well as plenty of red date tea throughout the day. It makes sense, I feel thirsty all the time - all the water from milk lost.
I guess the message I wanted to share with new mothers who encounter problems breastfeeding is : don't give up, all it takes is time and you have to invest effort. It's still a learning process for me, hopefully it gets easier!