Note: Lengthy post. Go get yourself some cookies before you start reading! :P
Most people would usually get their diploma before degree, right? Not for me! I got my diploma after degree! Ladies and gentleman, please welcome your newest diploma graduate from the Nursing Faculty -- me! :D
Alhamdulillah, I've managed to achieve my first mission of fully breastfeeding Adeena for 6 months. I aimed to exclusively breastfeed her for the first 6 months though, but when I saw her growing interest in food, I decided to start her on solids earlier, at 5 1/2 months. She will turn 7 months in a few days time, and I am blessed that I am still given the chance and rizq to fully breastfeed her to date.
Many have asked me, how did I do it? How do I have so much milk? Honestly, I don't think it's got anything to do with my milk factory. But it's about one thing and one thing only -- determination.
If you've been a follower of this blog since 4 years back, you'd know that I didn't get to fully breastfeed my first son, Aydein, for as long as I'd hoped I would. In fact, I only managed to breastfeed him exclusively for 1 month. After that, I started supplementing him with formula. Why? Because I lacked determination.
I SAID I'd like to breastfeed Aydein for 2 years, but I did NOTHING to achieve just that. I didn't read, I lacked of knowledge, I didn't even get a pump. I hated the idea of Aydein hanging on to me like ALL THE FREAKING TIME. I thought breastfeeding was so troublesome. And there goes my "determination".
So one day, when my breasts stopped engorging, I thought my breasts were not making much milk. I read, and there were articles saying that it was normal because my body has regulated the amount of milk my baby needs, but I was stubborn. I thought, how come some women still get engorgement after years of breastfeeding? The info must be wrong. These "lactation consultants" are just simply saying it. I tried all the different natural milk boosters, still didn't help. So I turned to only one thing I knew would save all the trouble -- formula.
Someone told me before, if you want to successfully breastfeed your kid for 2 years, you need to place you niat. It's true. When you pasang your niat, Allah will make it easier for you. Allah will give you the determination. But the moment you said breastfeeding is troublesome, you lose your niat,
you lose your determination. So yes, as cliche as it sounds, be careful
what you wish for.
So what I did differently with my second breastfeeding journey was, I started off with a good niat, even while Adeena was still in my womb. I was determined to breastfeed her for at least 2 years. I equipped myself early - with the knowledge and the equipments needed to help make this mission a successful one.
As soon as I delivered, there were times when the nurses offered to give formula to Adeena because her sugar reading was slightly low, but I insisted to fully breastfeed Adeena. I knew my milk hasn't came in yet at that time, but I knew it was important for Adeena to get as much colostrum from me + nipple stimulation for milk production, so breastfeeding was the only way to go, no formula.
2 weeks after we got home, I started pumping milk out. One side direct-feeding Adeena, the other side pumping. The output was not as encouraging at first, but that's okay. All the negative thoughts pushed aside, I kept pumping. As long as there's demand, there's milk. The more milk that is expressed out, the more milk my body will make, I reminded myself. And alhamdulillah, from what seemed like a few drops, became one full bottle. Oh and then, my breasts stopped engorging this time too, ha, but I knew better this time. I kept breastfeeding + expressing milk out. Anddd guess what? Ada pun milk! So the lactation consultants were right. They didn't just simply say. :P Once I started working, I made sure I pump 3-4 times a day. And if there is a need for me to go anywhere without Adeena with me, the pump goes with me. And whenever I see Adeena sleeping, or simply any chance that I get to pump, I will pump.
So for those expecting moms out there who have placed your niat to fully your baby for at least 2 years, let me share with you some of the ABCs on breastfeeding.
1) There is no such thing as "not enough milk" because there is. Trust me, your milk is ALWAYS there. Take toilet tank for example. Once you flush, the tank will automatically refill right? That's exactly how our breasts work. Once you pump, your breast will automatically refill the milk. The milk flow may be a little slower, but it's there. So don't be afraid to breastfeed your baby even after you've pumped, because there will still be milk left for your baby. Most importantly, don't worry! As long as you pop on your baby for however long he wants, he'll be fine. (To be safe though, practice pumping + direct feeding at the same time each time. This way, you can be sure your baby is getting enough + you get to collect stock at the same time).
2) No breast engorgement does NOT mean no milk. Haha this one I say with 101% confidence. Seriously, it only means that you've efficiently emptied your breasts, which is good, because the more often your breasts are empty, the more milk your body will make! In fact, engorgement is no good in my opinion, because it only means that you don't express out/feed your baby often enough, signalling your body that your baby doesn't need much. Less demand = less milk production. Easy peasy.
3) Make full use of your confinement period. During this time, your body is a milk factory. It will make crazy amount of milk, especially during the second week on wards, because during this time your body doesn't know how much milk your baby needs, so it makes crazy amount of milk. Take this advantage and start pumping + stocking up early, it will be worth it. Because for most people, once they go back to work, their body would have regulated the amount of milk that their baby need, and make just enough for the baby's intake. It stops being a crazy milk factory, and start being an efficient one hehe. So take advantage of this time when your milk factory goes crazy, and feed + pump like crazy!
4) Trust your breasts, they will make enough milk for
your baby. Really, the second you doubt yourself, just remember to have a little faith in your "twinnies". Allah has made the women's body so unique, she can breastfeed even more
than just one baby. Remember those days when formula hasn't even been invented? How did the children thrive then? Solely on their moms' milk. Takde pulak cerita tak cukup susu bagai kan.
So there you have it. Determination is key. But of course, knowledge is also equally important. Because without knowledge, determination alone wouldn't help you get all these.
Remember, when there's determination, coupled with effort, knowledge, perseverance and good niat, insyaallah you will not only succeed in breastfeeding, but in every other things that you do. :)
Happy breastfeeding, mommies! :)
Ps: I'm now striving for a Degree (1 year), then Master (1 1/2 years) and then PhD (2 years). Please pray for me guys, and let's do this together! :)