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To breastfeed: Easier said than done!

Updated on March 11, 2012

I wish I may, I wish I might

Breastfeeding is beneficial, every one knows that. I am a breastfeeding advocate. I adhere to and promote breastfeeding recommendation: give your infants only breast milk for the first six months and continue breastfeeding up to two years of age thereafter, complementing it with nutritious and hygienic foods.

As I got pregnant, the desire to breastfeed my son was strong. I was even, perhaps, a little obsessive. I consumed foods that are lactogenic or milk producing, such as oats - a bowl or two every day. Lots of dark green leafy vegetables, barley water, Caro coffee substitute, stinging nettle, and plenty of nuts. But when my son arrived...

I was in my 35th week of pregnancy when he decided to come out. Weighing about 6.4 lb (2900 grams), he was ready to suckle right after he took his first breath. And that moment, it was beyond description. I am a proud mom to receive such a bundle of joy and the golden chance to breastfeed him.

Three hours after that first suckling, his blood test returned. I remembered rather clearly, even though I was so exhausted, how the nurse gently reported that his blood sugar level was too low and that the pediatrician has ordered to give him formula. Fine, I thought. Just for now. As soon as my milk comes out, formula is out of the list.

I must be the queen of wishful thinking! My son continues getting formula, not because he can't latch or doesn't like to breastfeed. Quite the contrary, he latches properly (I should know by the lack of nipple crack or soreness problem) and loves to breastfeed, but my breasts seem to produce not enough milk.

Even after my milk came out, my son's weight was either stagnant or declining, despite the fact that he breastfed for every two hours. We were changing his nappies often enough - a good indicator to tell whether a baby is getting enough milk. Still, I was worried: were our son a full-term baby, I wouldn't be too fussy.

I fought hard to get more milk produced. I went to see a lactation consultant who told me to take domperidone, a drug to treat gastrointestinal (gut) disease with side effect of increasing milk production. In addition, I also began alternative therapy by taking fenugreek and blessed thistle. I drank four litres of water every day. Napped whenever my son napped. I ate as much food as possible. And I pumped for 10 minutes every time after I fed my son. Results? If I didn't feed for six hours, then I produced a good 4 oz. Otherwise, formula was, and still is, on the menu, too.

After four months of doing this therapy, I gave up. I accepted that I can't breastfeed like I wanted to. Being obsessed with the desire made it difficult for me to enjoy the beginning of my motherhood. And being a breastfeeding advocate, well yeah, it is easier to recommend the practice than to practice it.

The lesson learned here: there are definitely factors contributing to the success of breastfeeding. Factors to whether or not a mother would comply with the breastfeeding recommendation. Although there are measures to assisst mothers to breastfeed, they do always not guarantee its success. As for me, although disappointed, I'm content. My son thrives well. He is healthy and happy.

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    • Anne Burlinson profile imageAUTHOR

      Anne Burlinson 

      10 years ago from Australia

      Thank you Dan, for the encouraging words.

      The experience is a huge learning curve for me, and I hope the message could help other moms with similar dilemma. Going through it has helped me to improve myself and learned the 'tricks' to achieve any goal I've got in life.

      Cheers!

    • joblot profile image

      joblot 

      10 years ago from Ringwood

      You know it's a wonderful thing and the whole issue of being a failure around this is so strong for so many people. There are one or two things that can help - such as getting plenty of water and taking suppliments etc. however sometimes for whatever reason it doesn't work out. I admire you for your commitment to it and for your attitude subsequently. Regards, Dan.

    • Anne Burlinson profile imageAUTHOR

      Anne Burlinson 

      10 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for the tip, bohica =)

      I'll let my hubby knows about that. Maybe the next time around we'll be luckier. And thank you for your support to breastfeeding in public!

    • bohica profile image

      bohica 

      10 years ago

      We have 7 children. My wife attempted with three children, to no avail.

      Later she told me that it was my fault for not exercising and training her breast during love making! She said that her Jewish grandmother told her this.

      So I applied myself.

      And I can report with the last four, she succeed!I can not express the joy and peace I felt just watching her, in her private undisturbed moment with our children! And there was nothing sexual about the moment!

      If I should happen to witness a woman performing this miracle in public today, I feel blessed.

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