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Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding’

For many reasons, I wasn’t able to breastfeed the Babii beyond a week after her birth. Because of that experience, I tried very hard to breast feed our little BooBoo Bear. It wasn’t easy, because I was literally starting from scratch and in the beginning it was. Just. So. Hard.

I know I often belly ache about how hard it is to be so far from home and family, and giving birth in a far away land with no family is certainly one of the factors that make it so difficult. The hospital system is different. The hospital culture is different.

One thing that I really appreciated, though, is the emphasis that our hospital placed on breastfeeding. The babies stay with their mommies during the day and return to the nursery only at night. During this time, the mothers are expected to breast feed their babies, but formula is also available upon request.

I started off breastfeeding BooBoo Bear, but it seemed that she was always hungry and we could go at it for hours and hours because she would cry once I put her down. To top it off, my nipples started chafing until it came to the point when they started bleeding.

Ewww. TMI.

Apparently, even when a mother’s nipples start bleeding she should continue breastfeeding. It’s quite disconcerting, because aside from the physical pain that the mother feels, the baby spits up the blood. And in my hormone-anesthesia-pain killer induced haze, it looked a lot like I had a little vampire baby.

At that point I was just ready to throw in the towel and have a good cry. Googling for answers didn’t help, because all of these websites had mothers cooing about how wonderful breastfeeding was and how they bonded with their babies and how everything was sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. None of them seemed to have encountered any problems so why was I different? (Answer: It’s a breastfeeding conspiracy!!!!)

On our last day at the hospital I had taken to giving the BooBoo bear formula most of the time because I just couldn’t take the sight of the blood and the thought that she was drinking all that (I have issues). The night nurse had looked at my chart and came over to ask me why I wasn’t breastfeeding. When I explained to her why, she took a look at my breasts and let out an “Ayayay!” because they were so swollen.

“Get your baby. I will help you.”

So in the middle of the night I took the BooBoo Bear from the nursery and the night nurse stayed with me to make sure she was latching properly.

She was a big help that night and she kept me going when I was ready to give up. I wish I could say that we lived happily ever after, but there will always be glitches because that’s just the way life is.

The supply of breast milk was never enough, and I know websites say to just keep going because you will eventually get there, but I doubt the website would be of much help in the middle of the night when the baby is hungry and angry, and the boobies have released all the juice it could possible release at that point.

I’ve never been a fundie or a purist and I don’t have any issues about “exclusive breastfeeding.” Some mothers can supply all the breast milk their babies need and still have left overs to freeze and/or donate to charity. I am not one of those mothers. So I supplemented with formula and saved my sanity.

Now that I am back at work I am glad I made that decision, because there are just times when I can’t pump on schedule or don’t get to drink enough fluids.

It was hard enough to actually just get started on the breastfeeding and harder to maintain it given everything else that is going on in our lives without being anal about exclusivity. As long as my daughter is healthy and happy, I won’t waste my time worrying over it. I just wish I didn’t allow those websites to influence my own experience of breastfeeding the BooBoo Bear and make me feel inadequate about being a mother.

When we started out, I set myself a goal of six months. I didn’t think I would even last the week, but I did. We are now in the middle of our fourth month, and I wonder if I will have the heart to stop at six. But I will take it as I promised myself that night in the hospital: one day at a time.

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Maybe it’s because of Mother’s Day, maybe it is just the natural progression of things, but these days there is more and more talk (debate?) about parents and what constitutes good parenting.

I am not in a position to judge people. We all have our own circumstances and we deal with them the best way we can. But I would like to relate my own experience with breastfeeding.

This was ten years ago, and the campaign for breastfeeding had yet to gain steam in the Philippines. I would like to note that we, as in most countries, have a strong pharmaceutical lobby which includes baby formula.

When I had the Babii, I specifically noted in the hospital form that I filled out that I intended to breast feed. Some things being beyond our control, however, it was decided at the last minute that I needed a C-section. That meant (at least at that time, to me) that I would not be able to care for the Babii during the first twenty fours (or more) after delivery, so we decided against having her in the same room as me and opted for her to stay at the nursery. I was assured by the hospital staff that I could still breastfeed.

Fast forward to delivery and recovery. After twenty-four hours, I could already stand and walk, albeit with some difficulty. I called the nursery to ask about the Babii. She was still sleeping, they told me. They promised to call me when she woke up so I could start breast feeding.

Hours passed. I called again. Oh, they fed her already. This went on for the next few days and, if I had not put my foot down and staked out the nursery, I would never have been able to breast feed my child.

It’s difficult to speculate on people’s motives ten years after the fact, but at that time I felt truly frustrated that my preferences/requests/instructions were not being followed by the hospital staff. We stayed at the hospital for five days, and all that time I staked out the nursery. Sometimes I was able to catch the Babii’s feeding time. Most times, I could not due to nursery visiting hours.

I was thankful when we finally went home, thinking that my breastfeeding issues would soon be over. I was wrong.

I was taking antibiotics for the operation, but I was assured by my OB-Gyne that it would not affect the baby if I breastfed. At home, however, I noticed that after each feeding, the Babii would have a wet bowel movement.

People (including doctors) have told me that it was not possible for a baby to have LBM from breast milk, but how can I argue with reality? Off to the pediatrician we went.

In the end, I decided to take the Babii off breast milk and put her on baby formula. The doctor prescribed a non-lactose formula for two weeks, and the Babii’s bowels became normal.

Was it the antibiotics? Had my daughter become used to formula from the nursery? Where was the problem?

I admit, I was dealing with a lot of things at that time and probably did not handle the entire thing as well as I could have. Next time around, I intend to go to the hospital better informed about my options and, yes, more assertive about how hospital staff handle me and my daughter.

Will things be better? Will I truly breastfeed this time around? I don’t know. But I would definitely try.

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