I started 2013 with only two resolutions: 1) to VBA2C and 2) to breastfeed exclusively for at least a year. (This also proves that no resolutions should ever be made when carrying a baby full term and/or under the influence of progesterones.) The first one, well, let’s just say I’ve moved on. But the second, I’m going to give myself an early pat on the back for completing. Pat pat.
I’m quite proud of myself this time considering how I only breastfed M1 and M2 for 6 months each and they have had formula from the earlier days of their lives. M3 was exclusively breastfed until he was 5,5 months when he started eating solid food. He was still breastfed until he was a year and a half, because when those pearly whites started popping out and he started to find biting my nipple entertaining, it wasn’t an experience I wanted to prolong.
Breastfeeding didn’t not come naturally for me. My supply did not overflow and I had to fight tooth and nail to feed my baby. In the first three months of M3’s life, there was too much drama, too much crying, too much of thinking “is it enough?” But in the end, the supply established and we were well on our way. So, what changed between this time and the first two? I guess I’m older and more mature is one. And the other, I think that considering this might be my last baby (no wait, this WILL be my last baby), I wanted to give one last hurrah. I mean, this part is what we’re going to miss most when they grow up, right? Er… maybe. But this proves that unless it is medically impossible, if you fight hard enough, everyone can breastfeed their babies.
I’ve had some friends ask me how I managed to breastfeed fully this time, and I think I’ll share some of the more important points here.
1. Be confident. Your milk production is encouraged by “happy hormones”. So being stressful about this will not help. One thing that always made me feel more confident is to know that my baby’s stomach is only as big as his fist. His fist is pretty tiny; it should be doable.
2. Have a support group. I cannot stress this enough. Research have pointed out (and I can attest to it) that the number one reason for failure is an unsupportive environment. Especially in a collective culture such as ours. Husbands, grandparents, or friends who are in constant contact with you or the baby can have influence in your milk supply. Some of them might unconsciously be against it. Like when the baby is crying non-stop, comments like “your supply is not enough” or “just give him formula” will not help you. And when you’re too hormonal to respond, you need to appoint a spokesperson, someone to back you up unconditionally. Someone who will brush off negative comments and tell people off on your behalf. I was lucky enough to have a Nazi Lactivist as friend, who also provided house calls, by the way. She came over and brought with her a breastfeeding guide book (which became my daily read). She also helped me with getting the right latch on. Come to think of it, every time I find myself on the brink of giving up, her face popped up in my head and then think to myself, “Will giving up be worth the evil eye and judgemental look she will give me for the rest of my life? Err, maybe not.” And so I ploughed through. If you can find someone like her, please appoint her your Breastfeeding Cop.
3. Start the process right. Choose a hospital that is pro-breastfeeding. Choose a pediatrician that is pro-breastfeeding. That will help because they will support you.
4. Eat a lot. They say breastfeeding makes you lose weight. I believe that it only applies for a selected few (lucky biyotches). In my case, I have found that to be a laughable myth, because breastfeeding, in fact, made me gain weight. Whether it’s because I was always hungry or because I believed that my milk supply is directly proportional to the amount of food I ate, or both, I can clear up the fridge like there’s no tomorrow. Eat nuts. Eat greens. Drink milk. Whatever you do, just eat. Diet can start later. While you might be itching to go back to your pre-pregnancy weight, let your body do its magic to bring food supply to your baby.
5. Relax and enjoy your baby. That really is the best way to get through the breastfeeding process. Nurse on demand, anytime he wants you, be there – bra opened, boob ready. Get some rest. Take your baby out. Enjoy the quality time you have just with your baby, because as it cliche as it may sound, that time will pass by way too quickly.
Breastfeed when you can. But always remember that you are his mother and you know what is best for your baby. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently.