Thursday, December 01, 2011

My breastfeeding experience

When I was pregnant with my boy there were two things that I decided I wanted to do. One is breastfeeding and the second was using cloth diapers. Breastfeeding was not even a choice; it was just the natural thing as I remembered my mom feeding my two younger siblings. We never had formula milk in the house (perhaps my elder brother did have but totally before my time). Anyway, I thought that breastfeeding is cheap, easy (no need to wake up and mix up the formula at night) and it comes naturally.

I was wrong on all counts. Perhaps it is relatively cheaper considering that baby Azry is fairly healthy with no major illness. But breastfeeding is hardwork. It is a commitment. It requires discipline.

Hardwork because I would need to pump to feed him when I am away. People who only need to pump only twice per day makes me envious. I need to pump at least four times to get the ounces that Azry needs. One early morning, twice at work and one at night. With that I had to be committed and disciplined.

And one major thing I realise after 7 months - no breastfeeding experience is the same. Mom's only problem with feeding us was soreness - and I was the number one culprit who likes biting the nipple. She has no issues with supply and my brother fed until he was nearly four. And so when I was fussing over my periods of low supply (as seen with the low volume I pump) my mom was saying I was being paranoid and as she did not take any supplements nor have any special diet to keep up the volume. Demand and supply- that is what she says.

But then, I realise. There was a major difference between me and my mom. I am working and mom was a housewife. I have 11 hours of separation and no sucking every day. That is minus one major stimulant to keeping up the supply. Sucking promotes prolactin release by the brain and this promotes milk formation.

Hence my search and research into milk production and galactogogues. By research I mean google and google scholar search and old wives tale. Clinically proven was metoclopromide or maxalon - a medication used to treat vomiting. The stimulating effect is actually a side effect of the drug which causes hyper prolactinaemia. I haven't tried that though as I am keeping it as a last resort effort.

Another remedy keeps popping up during my research : fenugreek or in Malay, halba. It is usually used in Indian cooking or in 'nasi dagang trengganu'. Apparently, fenugreek helps by stimulating the glands which is a modified sweat gland. It also lower blood sugar level and promotes good cholestrol in milk. Initially I bought a herbal tea remedy with fenugreek and other herbs thrown inside. It was damn expensive and the smell was bad. I smelt like a curry house- really! Anyway, I drank it twice but it gave me severe headache - whether is was due to the hypoglycaemia effect or smell I was not sure.

Then I went to my local pharmacy - fenugreek is available as supplements; I was so happy but my joy was shortlived. It is not available in this country because no one buys it. And then, my pharmacist gave me a good idea "Why don't I make my own fenugreek supplements". So in a Phineas and Ferb manner I instinctively knew what I was going to do that day. Make my own herbal supplements.

Anyway, I after about a month and a half I think it does help. I forgot to eat it for two days last week and my pumping session became a stressful event. Half an ounce to 1 1/2 oz only per session per breast. That was not enough for ever hungry baby Azry: he needs between 18 to 22 oz per day at the sitters. And when I resumed the supplements I managed to get 2 to 3 oz per breast per pumping session - this is after a day of re-starting.

So, I still do hope I can achieve my intermediate target in breastfeeding i.e. Fully breastfeed till 1 year of age (I hope I do not need to buy formula milk at all). It is already 7 1/2 months but I am taking it one day at a time.


Mel Ija said...

Hi. I am a breastfeeding mom. My baby is turning 1 next month, and I am still making a point to pump milk for her feeding the following day. I get about 9oz to 12oz per day depending on how many times I pump. It's hard work. it's not easy. And you need to be very disciplined. I know. Been there. Plus, I am working full time. Sometimes exceeding the 5.30pm going home time. So I know how difficult it is. Dont worry. You are not alone. You'll always have my support and all other working breastfeeding moms out there. Breastfeeding is the best thing in the world. The bond created between child and mother is very hard to penetrate. Trust me. I breastfed all 3 of my kids. So, stay strong OK. You can do it. Good luck!