Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Diary of a Breastfeeding Mom - Part 4 (Final)

This is the final instalment of the breastfeeding series. Enjoy!

25 August 2010



I NEVER thought I’d still be breastfeeding. My youngest just turned 21 months old. When I started, I was just happy to take it one day at a time, ticking the days off to the six-month goal, the period that I hoped to breastfeed my baby exclusively. This means I feed her only breast milk and nothing else for the first six months of her life.

When I went back to work after maternity leave, I started expressing milk for the two feeds that she would drink when I was at work. Expressing enough for the next day’s feed was a huge challenge, as I didn’t have much milk this time round. Somehow I muddled through the entire six months, but barely.

On day 181, I literally hung up my pump, gleefully opened the can of formula I had bought for this very day and told my mother-in-law that she could feed my daughter formula while I was at work. The pressure was off!
I went to work that day a little lighter, knowing I won’t have to express twice like I normally did. By the end of the day, my breasts were slightly engorged and heavy with milk because I hadn’t expressed. I rushed home to see my daughter, wondering how she did with the formula. I was told she took two pulls of the bottle and cried the house down. Disaster!

She cried when she saw me, so I immediately put her to my breast and she drank hungrily. My happiness at not having to express anymore at work was now replaced by guilt.

My new routine went like this: I would feed her before rushing off for work, pray that she would drink something while I was away, then rush home after work to feed her.

She eventually learned to take formula and even managed two or three feeds while I was at work, but I continued to nurse her when I was home. I did this for three reasons: it was easier than making formula, feeding her and washing the bottles afterwards; it assuaged my guilt about being away from her the whole day; and I still believed in the health benefits of breast milk.

I really don’t know when I’ll stop. For now, it’s easier to just continue breastfeeding. When we go out, I don’t have to lug around bottles, hot water and formula milk powder. At night, when she wakes up hungry, I don’t have to fumble in the dark to make the bottle. When she falls sick, I know my breast milk is easy for her to digest and won’t cause any allergies.

When we travel, I know she’ll have the comfort of my breasts amidst new surroundings, to lessen her anxiety.

Perhaps when I finally decide to wean her off, I’ll share my experience again. But don’t be expecting that for a while now.

You can find the link here and a gallery of other breastfeeding moms which I compiled here.

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