Food + fluids + rest = milk …. yes? … not quite that simple.
Have I already mentioned that I always thought my big boobs (by chinese/singaporean standards) will ensure me no problems breastfeeding? WRONG. Size is irrelevant. I have insufficient milk.
The first 3 days absolutely nothing can be squeezed out of my breasts. I know the theory that babies can extract colostrum more effeciently than pumps or hands but couldn’t help assuming that baby is running on empty. On a blind faith that milk will come, I persevered but the paediatrician came everyday telling me baby is a bit dehydrated, and the situation is getting worse each day. He told me initially to supplement with 20ml, which is conservative given newborns can take 50ml, to 30 ml every alternate feed. Only on the third day, where he advised 30ml every alternate feed did I attempt some supplementation. About 5mls was painstakenly fed to her with a combination of syringe and a supplemental nursing system. That same day a nurse fed her formula without our consent when she cried and I got very upset because I had wanted to use only SNS for supplementing. On the night of day 3, I broke down and prayed to God for help. He answered my prayers by filling up my breasts so that I could actually squeeze a drop of something out. I thought I was on the road to success.
On the fourth day I went home. The day before Christine did ask whether I wanted to stay another day to pickup more parenting (esp feeding) skills and I kind of said its a milk supply issue not skills issue so a day will not make much difference. I was really happy that my milk had come in and at the parentcraft class the lactation consultants said I was doing well. Baby was constantly feeding and I thought nothing of it. I just allowed her because I was so glad I finally have milk. The lactation consultants said I was letting her treat me as a human pacifier. In truth, she was just hungry because there was simply not enough. That night she slept well enough waking up only ever 3 hours and I thought I had a textbook baby on hand. However, in the day the intervals started getting shorter and soon she was waking every hour. I thought it was a sleep problem. Turns out, she was just hungry. I suddenly realised she looks really yellow! I rushed her to A&E and she had to go through phototherapy. Doctor did reveal that actually it was partially so that she can be fed supplemental formula milk. Her BH level was not dangerous yet. It was 170.
That night I pumped every 3 hours. The first pump yielded nothing much and worse still, I spilled it all and had a quarrel with the husband because he didn’t care. The other 2 yielded 10-12mls each.
The next morning before heading to the hospital I came up with a plan – I would supplement 10ml at every feed after latching on and bottle feed 30 mls at 1pm and 10pm (because those are the feeds where I don’t mind if she goes for slightly longer between feeds). However, when doctor spoke to me upon discharge, he told me to supplement a whopping 45ml at each feed assuming I am able to supply 15 ml. That sounds like a lot for me to catch up with.
Yesterday (day 6) I stubbornly refused to give 45 ml supplement, giving only 30ml. She was screaming her head off. Last night and today, however, she seemed happy with 30ml. I truly hope its not because she’s drowsy from the knock on her head! Even with just 30ml without latching on she seems ok. And I am producing 23ml when I don’t latch. Am I catching up with her demands? If we make the 2 meet slowly, will I be able to total breastfeed?
Its still a journey I am pushing ahead on. With God’s grace I hope I can manage. I know the first few weeks are meant to be trying. Hopefully it will slowly get better. I am persevering to provide the best that God has prepared for my baby. If this was the way He intended that His creations feed their young, surely He will make sure it happens.