Welcome to the Carnival of Breastfeeding for May!

The theme for May is “share your story”. When I first gave birth, a lot of my friends were breastfeeding and made it sound so easy. However, it definitely was not easy for me and I shed a lot of tears to make it work. This is my story.

Please check out the contributing bloggers’ posts linked at the bottom of this post.
As a new parent, everyone wants to give the best for their baby. During my pregnancy, I was bombarded with information that “breast was best”. Thus, even before Naima Clarisse was born, I was dead set on breastfeeding her. Naima Clarisse was born on 05 December 2007 and it was a fairly easy pitocin-induced delivery with epidural anesthesia. Within an hour after her birth, she had latched on and drinking up what little colostrum I was producing. During her first 24 hours, she had pooped out so much meconium that Stan was converted into a diaper-changing machine.

We were discharged on 07 December 2007 and the next 2 weeks were filled with sleepless breastfeeding days. On discharge day, Naima weighed 5 pounds and 10 ounces. However, as a breastfed baby, we were informed that was normal and she should regain her birth weight on her second week check-up. We went to our pediatrician on 19 December 2007 for her second week check-up. Naima weighed 6 pounds and 9 ounces which was 4 ounces more than her birth weight. We were very happy! However, we were eventually dismayed to find out that she was jaundiced and even more so when we were informed that it was breast milk jaundice!! (For more information on breast milk jaundice, please read this handout from Dr. Jack Newman. He explains that breast milk jaundice is normal and does not require treatment or supplementation as long as the baby is gaining weight well and having lots of bowel movements. As always you should consult your doctor for medical advice.)

The pediatrician recommended that she be given 1-2oz of formula after nursing. By then, Stan and I were so paranoid that we decided that I exclusively pump so we could measure how much she was getting. This was the beginning of my endless pumping and worries.. “will i have enough milk”? With the stress and sleepless nights, I wasn’t pumping enough and we had to supplement with formula. Also, as first-time parents, we didn’t know that there was an art to bottle-feeding the breastfed infant. So to force Naima to drink milk, Stan would pull on the bottle every time she stops sucking == end result?! Nipple confusion. Every time Naima would latch on to me, she would stay only for 5 minutes or less because she wanted faster flow and she was pulling on my breasts like it was a bottle nipple — adding to my sore nipples and breasts. It was a vicious cycle. At this point, I was exclusively pumping and didn’t know long I would last. I even rented a hospital-grade pump and bought another double pump.

I was really determined to continue breastfeeding. When Naima was about 7 weeks, I felt that my supply had increased so I again decided to go back to direct breastfeeding. I had been told that direct breastfeeding extends the breastfeeding relationship – as compared to exclusive pumping. Again, I was plagued with sore and cracked nipples. At this point, I was ready to throw in the towel. I kept thinking, I was a formula-fed baby, hubby was FF, my siblings and everyone else I knew were FFed and we were doing great!

Maybe those die-hard breastfeeding advocates really got to me – I decided to continue giving Naima breast milk and go back to exclusive pumping. I guess I was also a masochist because after 2 days, when my nipples had healed, I again tried to do direct breastfeeding. And suddenly, everything became easier. Her latch had improved. There was still some pain on my right breast but it was tolerable. And I started thinking that I could do this! I continued direct breastfeeding for 2 weeks, not giving her any bottle for fear of a nipple confusion relapse. This meant I couldn’t go out without her and I couldn’t go out often since my mom wouldn’t let me take the baby out.

Then plugged ducts hit! I had been pumping and freezing breast milk when we had to go to Cebu. In Cebu, I didn’t bring my pump and failed to do my regular 3 pumps a day (in addition to nursing) — resulting in engorgement! Plus, the fact that we were staying in hotels and had to fulfill some familial duties probably added to my stress ending in plugged ducts! So upon going back to Manila, I went to see an ob-gyne who was a lactation consultant and had her prick my nipple to free up the plugged duct! Boy did it hurt and for 2 succeeding days, it hurt every time Naima fed on my right breast! I was determined not to quit and my right nipple did heal.

Naima is almost 18 months and is still drinking breastmilk. I have gone back to full-time work when she was 7 months and have been expressing milk while we are separated. With hard work and determination, I’m able to pump enough milk for her daily needs and still have some excess to donate. Conservatively, I’m hoping we make it to 24 months. Then after that, we’ll see how it goes. I just hope that I’m up to facing the challenges that breastfeeding will bring.

Check out the posts of the other Carnival participants:
Amber @ Strocel.com – The Story of Hannah’s Weaning
Laura’s Blog – Weaning a Toddler
Stepping Off the Spaceship – Life, Death and Nourishment
So Fawned – Sticking with it: Our Breastfeeding Story
Mommy News & Views – How Breastfeeding Changed My Life
And All That Sazz – Flying Breast Milk
Grudgemom – Breastfeeding Failures and Success
Baby Carriers Down Under – Kandy
Massachusets Friends of Midwives – Ben’s Story: The best breastfeeding advice from the least likely source
Breastfeeding 1-2-3: The “I Told You So”
Breastfeeding Mums Blog: Breastfeeding made me the mother I am
Motherwear’s Breastfeeding Blog: They said the latch was fine
Breastfeeding Moms Unite: Can Early Public Breastfeeding Sightings Shape One’s Future Breastfeeding Practices?
Zen Mommy: Celebrating my chest in honour of breastfeeding
The Towells: For women in my situation (breastfeeding after breast reduction)
Blacktating: Nursing in Public
Crystal Gold: A Found Memory