Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Breastfeeding Stories: May Kwan, Ian and Timothy

When I was about to deliver my firstborn, I was often asked whether I would breastfeed my baby (Ian). My reply was a definite yes, because I saw my sister, Pik Kwan, and good friend, Mumtaz, successfully do it. 

After Ian was born, I would latch and latch, but, he was an extremely sleepy baby. As he grew older by the day, I saw him getting progressively yellow and his poo/pee output was reducing. On my instinct and family's encouragement, I sent him for his jaundice checkup and it was very high. Hence, Ian was immediately admitted and put under 2 phototheraphy lights. I started pumping then to provide for his feeds in the hospital as I wasn't confident that he was latching well. I had no choice then, but to supplement with Formula Milk (FM) to ensure he flushes out the bilirubin. 

Once home, it was a chase to meet his feeds and to reduce the FM feeds. I still struggled with the latching as he would still be dissatisfied even after 20 minutes on the boob. My sister would come and give me encouragement during this difficult period, but, being successful yourself doesn't necessarily mean you can successfully help others. So, I sought out a Lactation Consultant for help (Sister Elizabeth). She diagnosed my problem as weak suck and I would have to train Ian back on my breast. Direct latching (DL) 20 minutes and then topping up with a bottle every feed. It was like a never ending cycle of feeding-pumping-washing for 24 hours everyday. 

My darling hubs went out to purchase the most reliable and sturdy double pump we know (Medela PISA). Long story cut short, this went on for a good 2 months before Ian could latch for a feed on his own. It was just at a time when I was going resign myself to become an Exclusively Pumping (EP) mom and he did it miraculously one fine day. 


Upon returning to work, I was given a 'good' news. I was to be sent to Singapore for a 5-day training. Ian was only 3 months old then and he just managed to latch. I didn't want to jeopardise this by going away for so long! So, I postponed the training so many times until I was queried if I was serious about work. By the time Ian was 10 months old, I had to go for the training and my next headache was how to bring back my precious milk. 

That's when I met my next angel, Allyson, who so kindly taught me what to do and borrowed me her cooler box, which, I just recently found out was not even hers! With that, I successfully breastfeed Ian till he was almost 2 years old when I conceived my second baby and my milk dried up.

Armed with so much experience, I was pretty gungho while awaiting the arrival of baby Timothy. Especially seeing colostrum at my 3rd trimester, I was pretty sure that this round would be easier. It is easier yes, but, with a different set of challenges. With Ian, there was no engorgement or blocked ducts when he was born. With Timothy, my boobs were like rocks and I nearly went running to the LC again. But, with darling hubs' help, I managed to relieve it on my own. Having an elder child to take care of and being older now, it is seriously more tiring. 



But having said all that, I would not trade the breastfeeding experience for anything in the world. It is really not for those who are not determined. Having a support network is crucial as well. I want to thank my hubs for being there for me and for his endless support, my parents and in-laws for cooking nutritious food and soups (thanks to Dad for his yummy salmon papaya soups), Mom for always hearing me out on the phone, Pik Kwan for being supportive, Suk Kwan for supporting from all the way from Singapore, Allyson for helping a stranger, Mumtaz for her inspirations and last but not the least, I wish to thank Sister Elizabeth for answering my SOS on the phone and never being calculative with the amount of time spent. For Ian and Timothy, I am truly grateful.

Without all of you, I would not have been able to fully breastfeed both my boys. Love you all!  

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