Time flies, my little girl is 6 months old and I have reached my 6 months breastfeeding milestone. First target achieved!! I will continue to breastfeed as long as my supply allows me. It’s never an easy journey but I am enjoying it for my loved one.
My baby girl at 6 months old
Way before my girl was born; I started to have some transparent liquid discharge from my breast. It’s the colostrum; a sign that we are ready for breastfeeding. It’s high in protein and contains antibodies to protect the little baby. When I delivered my girl in the delivery suite, I requested to direct latch on my girl, it is to give the signal to the breast that I need milk for feeding. That’s when my breastfeeding journey started…
During my hospital stay, I latched my girl whenever she is hungry. As I am still new in breastfeeding I do not know whether she has enough milk from me but as long as she don’t cry I guess it fine. My pediatrician told me to latch 15mins on one side, burp the baby then change to another side for another 15mins. On the 2nd day, I tried to latch her again but I’m not sure why she keeps crying. So I asked the nurse for assistance. She told me that my supply may not be ready hence she recommends us to use formula milk instead. As a new mum, I think the nurse should have more experience than me. So, we bought a bottle of formula milk. We tried to feed my baby girl and she took less than 10ml and cried again. We were at a loss. The nurse said the baby may be tired and needs to sleep. During that time, I was worried if my girl was getting enough milk and do not know that when a baby cries, there are also other reasons apart from getting sufficient milk.
After being a mother for a few months, I started to know the reasons of why a baby cry; it can be due to hunger, lack of sleep, need comfort, need to burp or having a wet diaper. Back then, I got no idea and I can only listen to the nurse’s advice. The next day, the hospital lactation specialist came to visit, she taught me to squeeze the breast so that the baby can get the milk. I got to form my fingers with a U or C shape, hold the breast and press when baby is latching. She pressed on my breast really hard! But it is really effective. I done that for the first few days while feeding my girl and I did not face any problem with breastfeeding. Also, she mentioned that we have to burp the baby after a feed so that she will feel comfortable. This is an important step as she may cry if we fail to do so.
My girl at 1 day old
Before I discharge, my girl was diagnosed to have slight jaundice. The doctor suggested leaving her in hospital for a night, although ultimately, we still can insist to bring her home. After a discussion with my husband, we think that it is better to let her stay in hospital for treatment than to bring her home. So the first day after discharge, I did not try to express any milk. I was too tired and my husband told me to rest as it is most important factor to ensure a healthy flow of milk supply. The next day early morning, I wake up to pump some milk so that I can bring to the hospital to feed my girl. The very first time I managed to pump out around 15ml. The milk is light milky in colour. It will take a few days for the milk to fully kick in.
From baby discharged till now, I did not give her any more formula milk. I am really lucky that I have sufficient milk to fully breastfeed her. In the beginning, she latched on every hour. It may be tiring but it is really good that it helps me to build up the supply (demand = supply). It is normal for a newborn baby to ask for milk every hour. Their stomach is too small for them to drink too much milk at a time. Moreover, breast milk digest every 1.5 hours, hence they will get hungry easily.
My girl at 20 days old
The first 1 to 2 months was really tiring. Slowly, it change to 2 hours and gradually, it became 3 hours; now it is 3-4 hours per feed. Even my girl is 6 months old; she has not sleep through the night yet. She will still wake up for feeding, but this is fine, or else I will still need to wake up and pump the milk out. Latching is much easier than pumping. I used to pump in the beginning; twice a day at 2am and 5am. The milk that I pump out is kept in the fridge for emergency use. It ended up occupying too much space so I donated them to a needy mother. As mentioned in My breastfeeding journey my girl don’t feed through a bottle. Hence, my lactation consultant advised me to just feed on demand to prevent oversupply. Thereafter, I stopped pumping milk from around 4 months onward.
I used to have engorgement in the breasts in the first 2 to 3 months. Usually, it would be clear after a few feeds. The pump just couldn’t do a better job. It is advised to massage regularly before every feed. As I am too lazy and sometimes the baby just couldn’t wait, I always ignore massaging the breast. Some time, I just miss the engorgement times. After so many months of breastfeeding, the breast is used with the feeding patterns; it will never get engorged again. Most of the time, the breasts is soft to the touch. Anyway, soft doesn’t mean there is no milk; it is always producing sufficient supply to prevent oversupply.
At times, I did regret in over feeding my girl. As a new mum at the very beginning, I keep doubt myself, thinking that whether I am producing enough milk for her. I tried to feed for longer period but she ended up vomiting all she drank. I always regret after that, she looked so uncomfortable after vomiting, and we have to spend time to clear the mess. Since I feed her directly from the breast, I really can’t tell how much milk she is taking. After a few times, I never offer her two breasts in one feed again. I am able to pump 110-160ml from a breast at baby 2 months old for 10-15mins. Baby usually will latch for 10mins. At 6 months old my baby latched for 4mins. She can finish her meal really fast. Haha.. 4mins sound very short isn’t it? As long baby is gaining weight and there are at least 5-6 wet diapers in 24 hours, it means that they are doing fine.
The guidelines are 1st day 1 bowels, 2nd day 2 bowels, 3rd day 3 bowels, 4th day 4 bowels, 5th day 5 bowels and 5 bowels per day for the first month. At 6 months old, my girl has 2-3 bowels and at least 5-6 wet diapers a day. She will usually have 2 bowels in the morning and once at night.
I am always curious what type of food is my milk booster. There are milk boosters such as salmon, almond, durian, milk tea, milo (Australia recipe) and lactation cookie but none work for me. I don’t feel any engorgement after taking them. Probably, my baby really drink a lot!
I maintained a normal diet, as I don’t choose food. Though, I eat a lot of fast food and fried food too. I tried to take fish about 2-3 times a week; any type of cooked fish not just steamed fish though. For me, supplements are a must since I don’t really look after my diet. I took multi-vitamin, fish oil and calcium supplement every day. These were prescribed by my gynae. I took them during my pregnancy and I continued to have them till now. I believed that these are really beneficial to me, as I did not fall sick at all since I took them. It has been about 1.5 year since I last fell sick.
The supplements I took
However, I found my milk killer, Bak kut teh!! It was the first time my milk supply drop after a meal. I didn’t know bak kut teh is a milk killer until it happens on me. How do I know? It happens quite fast. I was having it for my dinner and I did not notice my supply drop in the beginning. I find it weird that my girl was fussy while latching which it has never happen before. The first two feed was quite bad. But the lucky thing is that every woman have two breasts. I just have to feed her with both sides, instead of one. Bak kut teh consist of some Chinese herb. I do know that some herb is not recommended for breastfeeding mother.
Hoping my supply will return, I tried to pump after each feed and I drank a lot of water (4 cups) before going to bed and have a good sleep. Some mummies will have difficulty in getting their milk supply back to normal. As for me, I am really lucky that my supply went back to normal after 3 hours of sleep. Milk killer is no joke. Since my daughter do not feed through bottle, I wonder what will happen if my supply can’t return? Scary!! If it happen, I guess I can only resort to feeding through a spoon or syringe.
In the beginning, I also face difficulties when I went out with my family. As she is still very small, she will want to drink milk very frequently. So going out is like having a battle; to finding a nursing room. It really dampens my mood in going out. But now it became better, as she starts to grow, we do not need to keep nurse her. At least, she can hold out for 3 to 4 hours without milk. Now, I don’t feel as much pressure as compare to the first 4 months. Gradually, I enjoy nursing her. As I can carry her in my arms, looking at her, cuddling her, seeing her smile. Nothing can beat these lovely moments.
Nursing at Axis Bar, Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Recently, she also started to reject nursing cover. She used to be able to nurse under a cover. Probably she is growing up and is curious of what is happening outside. Next, it will be nursing her in public without cover? I know a lot of people can’t accept the fact that a mother breastfeed their child openly in public. It may be another challenge which I will be facing next. But I guess I really got to accept how people will look at me. Feeding a hungry baby is the most important after all.
Overall, there are ups and downs in these 6 months. But I can say it is not that difficult and quite smooth for me. I enjoy it!
Never doubt yourself, never give up!!
Fighting breastfeeding mummies!!