I can’t remember how many time I have cried in pain and frustration at seeing my son getting more yellow by the minute, with his dark green stool (normal adequately breastfed babies should have mustard-coloured stool) and refusal to drink. I felt like a failure, as though as a mother, I was unable to help my son through one of his most crucial stage of his life. Needless to say, comments from others did not help, too.
“...the baby is crying every night as though he doesn’t get enough milk...”
“...why don’t you give him formula milk...”
“...the baby sleeps too much, why don’t you wake him up...”
and so on. Thank goodness my husband had been there a lot. The one week of leave that he was with me was so precious, because otherwise, I felt so alone and down. He’ll prepare my daily bath water and snacks with hot drinks whenever I need it. I can remember panicking when he had to leave to settle our son’s birth certificate and other paperwork, and the rush of absolute relief when he returned. And the help I get from my in-laws with the baby and my meals was priceless.
As crazy as it was during that time, the thing that kept me going was knowing that the moment will pass. I am a mother now, I told myself. I must be strong for my son! No matter how painful breastfeeding and the stitched wounds down there before they heal were, or how tired I was, or how unstable my emotions were, I must keep going for my son! This tiny, breathing human being needs me. I must be strong!
Although I managed to pump out a lot of milk at that time, I did not freeze any due to storage reason. We did not have extra fridge space. So I would recommend to parents-to-be who intend to continue breastfeeding their children even after going back to work to save up for a freezer to store the milk supply. I didn’t, mainly because my husband and I have decided that for the time being I would not have to go back to work. So I only kept some milk as much as our refrigerator can accommodate.
Day after day, our struggle during feeding time became less and less. At one month post delivery, I had my routine post natal check up and was given a clean bill of health by the doctor. The trick was, I kept taking the pregnancy vitamins (iron, folic acid, vitamin b-complex) as well as the milk that I drink during pregnancy (Frisomum) to replace the loss during delivery and breastfeeding (blood loss, nutrients, etc.) A few weeks down the road and my son no longer needs to be checked for his jaundice. His weight is gaining accordingly. He is healthy.
During the first few months, I had some issues with cracked nipple due to poor sucking technique by my son. After all, both of us were still learning. The only required remedy for me was to apply my own milk around the sore area and leave it to air-dry. A couple of hours later it will feel much better. It was the method I learnt in nursing school, so I’m sharing it with all of you.
After that, I realised that both of us were becoming better at feeding. Initially, my son, who is quite easily excited would be looking for the nipple frantically - a lot like a hungry bird pecking to get food. If he didn’t find it in a couple of seconds, he would cry and cry angrily. Naturally, the baby is unable to see yet, so he was easily anxious. I had to move as quick as I can to offer him the nipple. After a few months, though, he can find it himself, and to my profound surprise, the initial pain during let-down reflex was then replaced by a kind of relaxing and pleasant sensation that I do not know how to describe. It feels so good that I frequently fall asleep while my son is feeding! :)
Honestly, I did not take any so-called milk booster product, as I am quite a skeptic when it comes to those products. I only made sure I drink enough plain water and also take milk myself to replenish the nutrients needed as well as to maintain a variety of diet. So far so good.
At five months plus of age, my son suddenly had his first fever. His temperature was as high as 38.6 degree Celsius. I was in a dillema. I did not want my son’s first food to be medicine, although I kept the Paracetamol supply given by the clinic with me. I decided to try conventional method first, which is to wipe my son down frequently and to put him on thin clothing to promote heat loss. Thank goodness he was quite cooperative, as he accepted me wiping him down and leaving a wet towel on his body without much complaints. He was still feeding as usual and wanting to play despite becoming tired after only a few minutes, so my worries became less. I checked his temperature hourly and wiped him down about every half and hour, even at night during bedtime. We huddled together a lot, as I noticed my son to be more clingy and whiny during the time. Alhamdulillah, after 24 hours, his temperature remained below 37 degree Celsius.
Finally, this month (December) we both have passed the 6 month exclusive period. We are now working towards weaning my son with solids and to continue until he is two years old as mentioned in the Quran. Alhamdulillah for the opportunity! I’m thankful that we are blessed with enough milk and patience. The most important thing is, LILLAHITA’ALA. In sha Allah, help would arrive.
All the best to other moms out there!