The newborn baby has only three demands. They are: warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three.
~ Dr. Grantly Dick-Read
As a health practitioner, most people including health staff themselves would assume that Id know everything there is to breastfeeding (BF). It goes without saying that the general public would think BF to me, is like kacang putih. Little do they know that despite being a medical officer, being a first time mother was an overwhelming experience and I was at a total lost when it comes to feeding baby.
Baby Zeeq was born a week earlier than his due date. Although I have taken every single measure to ensure my BF moments to be smooth sailing, I was still not prepared as to the circumstances that ensued.
My ideal goal of BF was up to a year. I only managed to BF for 8 weeks. Yes, I was terribly disappointed with myself.
My problems include;
Too much visitors: Baby Zeeq was my firstborn and he was also the first grandchild for both families. We were expecting visitors from relatives and friends. But we werent expecting the whole town to drop by. It was a joy to receive tons of gifts and wishes but it gradually became suffocating as every elderly woman in the village started to offer their tips and advice of yesteryears. most of which are contradictory to modern medicine. On top of that, these visitors who tend to flock in groups would usually end up talking between themselves about other things than the baby creating a remix unpleasant to the babys ears. Baby ended up irritated with mummy feeling desperate. For some time alone.
- Too little privacy : Flashing the boob to nurse the baby seemed inappropriate in front of men who have seen too many winters or the other way round. I wanted the space to just let the milk drip from its ‘faucet’ without having to worry about modesty.
- Non supportive environment : A newborns stomach is only the size of its fist. Or a pea. But once it wails in hunger, people would think its tummy has grown reciprocally and thinks BF will not bring baby satiety. Formula milk lays itself out as an option. As a frustrated mother, I eventually gave in. It was also difficult to find a nanny who supports BF too, who would feed the baby using a cup/spoon as opposed to teats.
- Job related stress : I was due for a transfer to a new place. I had no idea what the shift system was like. Or how the oncall roster was arranged. I was worried that finding time to BF would be an issue. Hence the early weaning off baby from BF.
- Incomplete gear : Part of the reason I gave up on BF was my insufficient gear. My manual breastpump was not functioning. I did not get proper breast pads causing the milk to spill on my shirt and thus smells. I was sticky, uncomfortable et cetera. Having attended a BF seminar lately however, I was surprised to see so many items/gadgets available to mothers to ease the BF process. I honestly wished I had known about them earlier.
Recently, I met a mother of four who confessed how she had just learnt the art of BF after giving birth to her youngest child. She was not just any mother, she was a working mother, a medical specialist who have commited half of her career years to the elderly population. She did all the ‘wrong things’ in trying to achieve exclusive BF with her older children but was later enlightened with the latter child.
Thus, I am inspired.
It is never too late to make a change. It is never too late to learn something new. InsyaAllah if Allah bestows me with another child, I will make extra extra effort to ensure my BF skills are better this time.