Tuesday, May 30, 2017

My Breastfeeding 101 (Breastfeeding Part 1)

Cecilia, Day 2
I always thought that breastfeeding came naturally to mothers. After all, in the animal kingdom, dogs and cats could naturally provide milk and simultaneously feed three to even seven puppies or kittens at a time while cows produced milk even for humans. And even when I attended a breastfeeding class, it seemed so easy to do all the breastfeeding positions with a doll. So it was to my surprise that breastfeeding was one of the most difficult, yet fulfilling, skills I had to learn as a mother.

"What am I gonna do with you?"
We were told in child birth class that all hospitals now practice the Unang Yakap (the First Embrace) wherein mother and baby, upon birth, have an uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact for about 20 to 30 minutes. After which breastfeeding is initiated so that the baby can immediately drink the colostrum, their first and natural form of immunization.

When my daughter was born and my doctor put her on my stomach I literally said, “What am I going to do with you?” And all the nurses laughed. But I was serious when I asked that. So the nurse guided my baby girl (and me) and put her to my breast, and she just started sucking. Three of my mommy friends who gave birth before me mentioned that breastfeeding was difficult, so I was surprised that she could already latch.

Bonding with her Papa
Moving to our room after the recovery period was another story. I was told that I had to feed the baby every two to three hours and that would mean waking her up to feed. I had a private nurse for the evenings so she would take care of waking me up when it was time for a feeding. Except my baby girl preferred to just sleep. It must have been the effect of the epidural because she was simply groggy. So we would try again after an hour, but she still just preferred to sleep, by which time I was already worried that she had not eaten anything since we moved to our room six hours ago.

She finally woke up after awhile and started drinking from the right breast. I was so happy! I had no idea if she was getting anything, but the nurse assured me that what she was getting from me at the moment was the colostrum (and this is all she drinks for the first 3 days of her life). But the sucking lasted for only around two minutes because she had fallen asleep again. After two hours, she awakened for another feeding. We switched her to my left breast but she wouldn’t latch. It seemed that my left nipple was slightly inverted which made latching difficult for the baby. So we went through the motion of “pumping” it with a syringe to make it easier for my little one to latch.

After letting her latch a number of times I was beginning to feel the soreness on my nipples.* Each breastfeeding session had now been accompanied by pain. I felt like giving up, but deep in my mind and heart I wanted what was best for my child so I was willing to sacrifice and go the extra mile so that we could bond at the breast and she would get what she needed to make her even a little bit healthier.

Thankfully, after numerous tries and with the help of our pediatrician, she managed to latch on either side and stay awake a little bit longer to suck on the colostrum. Apparently, I had a natural latcher. And while breastfeeding didn’t come naturally for me, I just had to relax, learn, be patient, and take the cue from my baby girl.

*A week before giving birth, it is recommended to start putting Lansinoh cream to prepare the breast and nipple area for breastfeeding. It can also be applied 30 minutes before feeding and is safe for the baby.

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