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June 26, 2010

Got Milk?

Doesn't that make you want to go ...uhunh uhunh uhunh...you know like from the Got Milk commercials? Lol Anyways, this post isn't about cow's milk, it's about breast milk. Although many breastfeeding moms may at some point feel like a cow, especially if they ever used a breast pump. I wanted to do a blog post on breastfeeding because in the beginning, for me, it was the most difficult things I've ever had to do. I wish someone had told me exactly how hard it might be and so this is for all the girl's reading this who are at any point planning on breast feeding.
Unlike alot of moms, I hadn't ever heard that breast feeding could be painful - wasn't it suppose to be the most natural thing? Also near the end of my pregnancy, at a breast feeding class, I found out there were so many different positions, you had to get the baby to latch on right, you were also suppose to switch sides, so on and so on.  Wow, I would never have thought breast feeding would be so much work. I had fantasized it as just cuddling your baby in your arms and letting them have their meal and be done with it. I also hadn't known how many times, you were suppose to feed a baby - 8-12 times a day!! For some reason I thought, they had like 4-5 meals a day. And then I heard about all the moms who gave up breastfeeding because of the pain and hassle. When I first found out I was pregnant, I had made up my mind to exclusively breast feed for at least the first 5-6 months (until solids are introduced) and continue on till she turns 1. But suddenly I was confused, did I want to exclusively breast feed? No the bigger question - was I going to be able to? Sunvi joked about how I was born to give birth (wide hips) and breast feed (large breasts). Upon further research, I decided I was going to stick to my plan for breast feeding.
Breast milk is obviously the best thing for your baby. Many, too many people have told me to give her formula. But formula just isn't the same. Why? First, breast milk has over a hundred nutrients that can't be created and added to formula, and it also has those amazing antibodies resulting in most breastfed babies having less illnesses and allergies than formula fed ones; second studies have shown breast fed babies to have, on average, a higher IQ and enhanced cognitive development than solely formula fed ones; third, formula is less easily digested than breast milk; and fourth, moms can continue eating what you want since breast feeding and dieting don't go hand in hand :p *did y'all know breast milk also has antibiotic and anti-bacterial properties that are great for healing?* So within 40 minutes of Arissa being born, she was put to my breast to get her first meal outside of the womb. And she latched on perfectly! She didn't even need any assistance, the nurse put her on my chest and she found her food all on her own in a few seconds (at the time I was still being stitched up). However, things got much more difficult from there. The next time she was brought to me, she was screaming for food. The nurse told me she woke up and immediately started screaming (and she still does this, she doesn't cry...she goes straight to hair raising scream). So I started feeding her and she just kept suckling. 40 minutes passed by and she was still latched on. Usually, the first 2-3 days after giving birth, moms have very little in their breast and it's often only very small quantities of colostrum - which is amazingly good for babies and all mom's should at least try giving their babies that either through breast or pumped and given via bottle. Since I also had small amounts of colostrum and my milk hadn't come in yet, Arissa was usually not satiated and even if she was she is one of those babies that have a strong urge to suckle and she didn't suck her thumb or fingers, therefore she always wanted my breast. I was also advised not to give her a pacifier yet as it might result in nipple confusion. She would start screaming each time I tried to take her off because my nipples had gotten so sore. Even the nurses at the hospital were going crazy; each time they would take Arissa to get a check up or for tests they would have to pull her off my breast and she would scream all the way to the other room and I could hear her still screaming while they were wheeling her bassinet back. Over the next 3 days, my nipples were bleeding and blistered and I sobbed as Arissa had each feeding session. On my last day at the hospital, the nurse suggested I give her formula as supplementation, to give my nipples a break. However, Arissa only wanted me and would not take the formula (this did make me feel proud). That day, we also found out Arissa had jaundice, so we had to leave her at the NICU by herself for a day :(. During this time, I had to send Sunvi with few ounces of pumped colostrum to feed her few times a day. According to the nurses, she was so attached to the breast, that she would cry and cry and only take the bottle (pumped milk and formula) when she was really hungry. Eventually, the nurses gave up and gave her the hospital brand pacifier to soothe her in my absence. That one day with out her was tough, but it did give my breasts some relief. And although breast feeding was still hard for a while after wards - I tell people the first week of motherhood was tougher than the entire 9 months of pregnancy - it eventually got better. I stuck through the worst and moms out there who feel like they just can't do it try sticking it out just a little bit longer.

Few things that saved my life during the first few weeks of breast feeding were:
1. Boppy Pillow - nursing pillow (a real life saver) because your arms will get so so sore from holding your baby all those hours you breast feed.
2. Nipple cream - to soothe and heal sore, cracked and blistered nipples.
3. Nursing Cover - so you can feed even when people are around or your out in public.
4. Disposable Breast pads - because your breasts will leak.

5. Nursing Bras - for obvious reasons, you don't need to be fumbling with bra straps when you have a hungry baby screaming for food.

Now, I enjoy breastfeeding so much and even if sometime in the future, I have to pump and feed or supplement with formula, I plan on continuing breast feeding for as long as possible. I actually look forward to it (although sometimes in the middle of the night it can seem like a chore). As great as breast feeding is, it does have it's drawbacks - you have to either pump (can be annoying) or be ready to breast feed in public when you're going out and most times going out for more than a few hours is not realistic. During growth spurts, your nipples will get sore AGAIN. You still have to watch what you eat especially when it comes to medications. And the worst part for most moms is probably the amount of dedication you must put into breast feeding. Getting up every 2-3 hours the first 2-3 months to feed your baby; feeding almost every hour during growth spurts. All this can take a real toll on your body, patience and increase the stresses of motherhood. A formula fed baby doesn't have to be fed as often, other people can often take care of feeding and it isn't as physically demanding for mommy. However, for me the most difficult has been dealing with the questions and unsolicited advice. Almost every single female, young/old, has children/doesn't have children, have asked me if I was breastfeeding. My answer is always a proud - YES. And then most of these women proceed to tell me or suggest to me that I should also formula feed. I've come to realize how naive some people are when it comes to this issue. Many people, and this view started sometime in the 70s when the majority of women began to pick the formula over breast feeding option, believe that formula is better for their baby. They wrongly assume formula has been artificially loaded with every possible nutrient needed for a healthy child. And even though some modern moms now know that's false (the formula companies agree as even they suggest any amount of breast feeding is better than no breast feeding), most still believe in the magic of infant formula. I will say this - formula is the best and ONLY substitute to mother's milk and while some breast fed babies are not always healthy, most formula fed babies grow up perfectly healthy. I did have to supplement with formula a couple of times, since Arissa didn't gain a lot of weight after the first month (since she was colicky and its hard getting a screaming infant latched onto nipple) and we also gave her only formula for a couple of days because she had breast milk jaundice. Exclusively breast feeding is also always not an option for mothers when it doesn't fit into their schedule or lifestyle (ex. work, studies). And sometimes formula is a godsend for moms who are unable to breast feed for medical reasons or babies who are unable to latch on (pre-mature, illness' etc..). So anyone who does choose to exclusively formula feed should be able to do so happily and with peace of mind.
For me breast feeding is an amazing feeling - being able to to hold your baby, bond with her while she looks up into your eyes or holds your breast with her tiny hands and being able to provide her with something natural, something purely from you. The healthiest option for my baby and I applaud all moms who are able to put the dedication it takes into breast feeding a child for however long that might be. We have given our bodies to creating, giving and sustaining a little life. We are just as miraculous as those lives.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks! This was informative.

Afsana K said...

awwww.i remember when she used to hold your breast..it was sooo cuteee..
lol..this blog shud be on top in google when people search for breastfeeding..

Anonymous said...

hey this is Aana.very nice blog very informative.i also had similar experience with breast feeding myself and can totally relate... i also take pride in the fact that i am able to give my son what is best for him.. hats off to those who stick through the initial hard times.. it does get better with time and becomes the most intimate time with ur child... i am thankful to god that i am able to do it :D

Raihana said...

hey Antara! Nice blog and just like your other blogs I feel like I'm reading about myself! I can totally relate to what u r saying and it was a nice walk down memory lane coz my baby is almost 3, and i breastfed her till she was 2 and I actually miss those days! It seemed so much easier then the everyday battle with food coz now she's such a fussy eater!!!!
And you are so right about the different comments from people, my own mother-in-law was telling me to formula feed, so you can imagine the pressure right at home!! I think most people in BD have a very wrong perceptions about breastfeeding and I think its up to us modern & educated moms (!) to change that and provide the best we can to our children and encourage others! Take care and by the way Arissa is GORGEOUS Mashallah! :o)

Antara And Sunvi said...

thanks anonymous and piyu :)

@ aana - feel exactly the same way! Thanks for reading hun!

@ raihana - Hi! Thanks so much for reading my blogs...I write them usually keeping mommies and babies in mind. And I totally get how you feel about the mother-in-law pressuring you to give formula..I get that everyday...and once in a while I have to give in just to appease her and not seem rude. But I still try my best to do what I think is BEST for MY baby.
Thanks for Arissa's comment =D...take care too!

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