Breastfeeding – one of the major topics when it comes to pregnancy and after birth. I did so so so much “homework” during my pregnancy when it comes to breastfeeding.
Initially, I was all for “fed is best”, until I started doing my homework, and when Emma was out, it became more of, “let me try to provide as much as I can”. It wasn’t easy I must say, and it sure was one helluva journey.
Disclaimer: This is my own personal breastfeeding journey and is in no way sponsored by the brands and groups mentioned in the article.
How Was 2 Years of Breastfeeding?
I have been breastfeeding for almost 2 years now, and I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. I started off with low supply and as a result of newborn jaundice, the hospital had to supplement with formula milk.
Despite that, I still continued latching, and pumping and told myself to push on for as long as I can and put off formula milk for now. After numerous months of power pumping, I finally had enough milk for my baby, and even had extra to donate to mommies who needed breastmilk.
During my pregnancy, I borrowed books on breastfeeding, attended webinars and I would credit a large part of my successful breastfeeding experience to Hegen!
I was convinced to buy Hegen’s milk bottles and as a result, the only mommy group I joined was Hegen’s telegram group and from there on, I got to know people there, signed up for their webinars and got invited to their Breast Practices workshop, birthday event etc. I was so thankful to be part of them, and learnt so so so much.
I learnt things about how milk supply works, different positions for breastfeeding, common breastfeeding problems and solutions, and what to do the moment a baby is out to kickstart the breastfeeding process. However, all these were just information, and nothing beats application!!!
I recalled writing a list of things to do once my daughter was out (in case I forget them due to fatigue). I had to do skin-to-skin immediately (was really lucky to be able to have 2 hours of skin-to-skin with her due to a busy day at the delivery ward), tell the hospital that I wanted to do the “total breastfeeding” way so they would not supplement formula milk for you unnecessarily, latch every 3 hours and etc etc.
What I Didn’t Like About Latching
Latching Was Tough
Not only was my daughter super sleepy, my nipple was sore to the extent it was actually painful for her to latch. In the beginning, a baby needs to learn how to achieve a deep latch, and while doing so, the shallow latches would hurt and this was something I had to pull through! I recalled taking deep breaths before letting her latch so I could prepare my heart and soul for the stinging pain.
Milk Supply Wasn’t Kicking in Fast Enough
During my 3D2N “staycation” at the hospital, the nurses were kind enough to teach me how to allow the baby to have a deeper latch and the LC onboard also taught me how to hand express colostrum to feed the baby. Hand expressing colostrum also helps the milk to kick in faster as you are removing the thicker “fluid” for the mature milk to come!
The nurses told me that they would only supplement formula milk if the baby’s weight dropped to a dangerous level but if not, it was okay. From there, I understood that the baby has reserves and they would tap into the reserve if mommy is not producing sufficient milk fast enough.
Long Feeding Sessions (45 – 60min)
As I was not producing as much milk, and also with my sleepy daughter, I would latch 20 – 30min on each boob and pray hard that she was drinking enough. Feeding was really tiring because a newborn drinks 8 – 12 times a day?! It didn’t help that I was not producing enough milk and hence she would become hungrier a lot faster.
Baby Sleeps Lesser, Gets Hungry Faster
Many say that breastfed babies know when to stop once they are full but in my case, my daughter would always fall asleep while breastfeeding. As a result, she seemed like she didn’t drink enough and would only take very short naps and wake up wailing for milk.
What I Liked about Latching
Breastfeeding my daughter was always so emotional. It was a bond I could never describe or explain to my husband. It felt so magical to be able to provide for my daughter at such an intimate level. I truly enjoyed latching her every time, as long as she’s not wailing or fussing haha.
Ease of Feeding in Public
Feeding her in public was truly a breeze. All I needed was a nursing cover and I could feed anywhere and everywhere. I need not lug my Lollababy bottle warmer, trusty Pumpables Super Genie, accessories, ice packs, and be sure to be home in a certain number of hours to ensure the freshness of the expressed milk.
Despite that, I still chose to express my milk out for various reasons…
Why I Stopped Latching?
Triggered by My Daughter’s Jaundice Levels
The trigger to start pumping was my daughter’s jaundice levels. It was dangerously high and she had to be admitted to the hospital for phototherapy. I dreaded pumping because my “homework” told me that I was supposed to latch till around 3-4 months before starting to express the milk out. I was reluctant to pump at the 1-week mark but I had no choice.
That was when it hit me really hard – I wasn’t producing enough at all. Heartbroken, and worried, I told the hospital to provide formula milk because phototherapy leads to dehydration and I would not want any further complications. I still diligently pumped every 3 hours, ate lactation cookies, drank lactation teas, ate whatever food that was “supposed” to help with milk supply but.. Nothing worked…
I also went to the hospital during the daytime so I could breastfeed Emma every 3 hours, and that wasn’t enough still. They had to supplement about 60 – 70ml each time after breastfeeding (imagine how little I was producing!). The nurses told me in a nice way that I was actually “wasting precious time that could have been spent doing phototherapy”.
Hence, lowering her jaundice levels was my top priority and I decided to research on how I can increase my milk supply, while allowing the nurses to supplement. I continued pumping and storing my expressed milk to welcome my daughter home.
Power Pumping Helped Increase Milk Supply
Power pumping was tedious, and time-consuming. I was doing the ‘20min pump, 10min rest, 10min pump, 10 min rest, 10min pump’ cycle at least once or twice (if time allows) a day.
As a result of the phototherapy, I decided to continue pumping so that I could monitor the amount of milk that Emma was drinking and have a rough idea how much she needed in a day.
Pumping and Latching Together Triggered More Milk
Whenever my daughter woke up at night, I chose to latch instead of expressing milk because I could sleep a little more while she latched and she tended to sleep a lot faster after! While she’s latching on one side, I would use the haakaa on the other and then switch. It was truly tiring.
After latching both sides, I would then pump for 5-10min (depending on how long she latched for) to further trigger more milk. Can you imagine the amount of “work” and time spent doing all these? Eventually, it was really worth it as it helped signal to my body that it needs to produce more milk!
I Can Know Exactly How Much My Daughter Was Drinking
By expressing the milk out, I could see how much my daughter was drinking, and it helped me to adjust the milk volume to suit the amount she needed. This allowed my daughter to nap longer, and she also started to sleep through the night. Up till today, I’m not sure if it was a direct correlation between feeling full and sleeping through the night, but that leads me to the next point.
STTN Saved My Sanity and Milk Supply Was Finally Enough
I am really thankful that at the 3-week mark, we found some magical routine (we trial and error so many different timings and routines and found one that worked!) that allowed her to sleep through the night from 10pm to 7am. I could catch up on the milk supply while she’s sleeping!
Even though she was sleeping, I was still waking up every 3 hours to pump. As a result of the 2 – 3 pumps at night, she had enough in the day and I finally could take a breather.
I stopped power pumping as it really sucked my life away, and I would always be on tenterhooks, worrying that she might wake up while I’m pumping. I was also unable to attend to her immediately when she fussed or cried (I did not have a confinement nanny at that time and there were days when I was alone at home with her).
Why and How I Started Latching Again
After my milk supply stabilised, I stopped latching because I was providing enough and I really liked that I knew how much she was drinking exactly, and that helped her sleep. I didn’t want to change anything that could potentially affect her sleep. However, a painful engorgement experience at the 6-month mark triggered the need to latch again.
At the 6 months mark, I was preparing for my move to Germany due to my husband’s work and it was pretty stressful. Coupled with stress, and the increasing milk supply, I experienced an engorgement experience that led to hard-rock and sore breasts and fever.
Getting Advice From My Breast Masseur
I recalled texting my breast masseur (who is a true gem!) in the middle of the night, while gobbling down my paracetamol pills, to literally beg her to visit me tomorrow to relieve my clogged ducts. During the massage session, she took a look at how my breast pump worked with her years of experience.
She told me that firstly, the flange size didn’t fit me (I was using a 24mm), and the pump was not effective in clearing my boobs. She recommended that I try a hospital-grade breast pump since I was exclusively pumping back then. Moreover, she recommended that I tried latching again so my daughter could help to unclog the blocked ducts.
The Result of Engorgement
Not only did my milk supply dip by HALF, it took about 3-4 months for my milk supply to increase slowly. I was tapping so much on my frozen milk stash (thankfully I brought them up from Singapore to Germany) and bottle feeding with my trusty Hegen’s milk bottle.
Also, I was feeding my daughter more solids to make up for the lack of milk. Probably not the best as she was still so young but I was reluctant to start on formula milk. I was power pumping (AGAIN!!) for a few months as well.. Thankfully she was taking solids well and naturally her milk intake decreased along the way and my milk supply was finally back on track for her.
My End Goal
My dream would be for my daughter to be able to latch and take the bottle well so I was keen on latching more again. After moving to Germany, I started latching more because it was tough to manage the amount of milk she needed alongside food intake.
I found myself wasting a lot of expressed milk because she was full from food. Latching was the perfect solution for me because at that time, my 7-month-old daughter really knew when to stop when she was full.
Moreover, when she was around 1, we were travelling Europe quite a bit and I didn’t want to bring my pump along. So latching made packing and travelling truly a breeze. I also started feeding her cow’s milk and she loved it! She’s now turning 24 months old, and I am proud to say that I am still breastfeeding, even though it’s only enough for the first feed.
What Would I Do Differently for My 2nd Kid?
The journey hasn’t been easy with this little one, but it was definitely worthwhile, now that she is exclusively latching. It really eases us from the continuous need to wash bottles, and going out has been so convenient – I don’t need to bring anything!
I feel that for my 2nd kid, I would probably still hope to be able to exclusively latch for as long as I can unless it was affecting their naps and nighttime sleep? If it affects, then perhaps I would return to expressing my milk out again to better monitor they milk intake. I understand that every kid is different so as mommies, we have to learn to adapt, and go with the flow!
I hope that mommies out there can find the will to persevere and see the benefits of breastfeeding. You can do this!
Help for Breastfeeding Woes
Breastfeeding Support Group – BMSG
BMSG is mommies’ to-go platform when they have problems about breastfeeding. There are professional breastfeeding counsellors in the Facebook group who will attend to your breastfeeding woes and give you advice. I benefited from asking the breastfeeding question sphere and I am sure you would be able to find the help you need from the counsellors or the other experienced mommies.
Breastfeeding Workshop Singapore
There are a myriad of breastfeeding workshops in Singapore but because I have only been to 1, the Hegen one, I can only speak for that workshop. I thoroughly enjoyed it because being taught by Hegen’s founder – Yvon – about breastfeeding is truly an inspiring experience. She acknowledged the pains of breastfeeding but yet, managed to sound so encouraging and it made me so excited to start breastfeeding.
The only Lactation Consultant (LC) I met was the one that was assigned to me at TMC Hospital after my delivery. She taught me how to massage my breasts prior to a feeding, how to hand express the colostrum and how to help my daughter achieve a deep latch. Coupled with the nurses’ help, I found it really informative and I could apply what I learn immediately. I would think that if you are facing problems with breastfeeding, you could contact a LC or you could head down to Hegen’s Lactation Centre, which I heard many great stories about, but I have not been there before.
Very well written and I truly understand the joy and difficulty you went through in your breastfeeding journey. My daughter is now going 9 months and I also went through the period where my milk supply dropped and my frozen breastmilk stash was depleting (after resuming work for a few months), I started power pumping at work and slowly increased back the supply so that I do not have to resort to formula milk. Same like you, I also increased her solid food intake so that I could catch up on increasing my frozen breastmilk stash! Was so touched reading your post, I wish to breastfeed my daughter for as long as I can too!
Hello fellow mommy!
Thank you so much for your comment and your kind words Tricia! It means so much to us at Nuevamae — to know that we manage to touch hearts, and be able to provide some form of comfort :”)
I am so proud of you for power pumping at work?!?!?! You managed to find the strength and energy to pull through! I found it difficult to even power pump at home, and you did it at work!! Mega supermommy here!
With your determination, I’m sure you can continue breastfeeding for a long time and your little one will be super appreciative of it!
We’ll always be here for you!