Updated: May 1
So it’s been 2 weeks into motherhood! Trying to keep track of as much as I can as I relish each moment of this journey. Also with the confinement nanny around, I actually have some free time (& hands) to document this, so taking the chance to do that while I can!
Right after baby was born, the nurses brought baby to me for skin-to-skin and to try and breastfeed. It was a really special moment latching baby for the first time. Positioning was probably awkward and not the most comfortable, but we somehow managed to get a latch and that got things started.
I opted for full breastfeeding in the hospital. In between feeds the nurses brought baby to the nursery so that we could get some shut eye, but they’d bring her in every 2-3 hours whenever she needed to feed. It was pretty amazing, because our room was right next to the nursery, I could hear all the babies crying in there, and after a night I began to be able to recognise my baby’s cry and almost anticipate when they were going to bring her in to feed. I barely got any shut eye those two nights in hospital because I took so long to fall back asleep in between feeds, but it was a wonderful feeling being that close to my baby :’)
The lactation consultant popped by to check in on us on the 2nd day of our stay and she said that my supply was pretty good, which I was thankful for! Before birth I had already started to produce colostrum and attempted to story it previously, but it was such a measly quantity that I decided not to bring it along to the hospital. The LC also taught us what a good latch looked/felt like, and I could tell that baby latched much better on the right side compared to the left, even though my left boob had more supply! I was quite happy breastfeeding in the hospital nonetheless.
Day 3: Back home
We headed home on 27 Dec, and the confinement nanny met us at home on the same day. It was a pretty frenzied day – we were delayed at the hospital for almost 2 hours because they took so long to process our bill. By the time we reached home, it was mid-afternoon. I honestly don’t remember latching baby much that day. I was so exhausted by then because of the lack of sleep over the past two days and I just crashed on the sofa for awhile (thankfully baby was happily sleeping in her cot) until the nanny arrived shortly after.
I have to say that I was very turned off by her words right at the start because from the first day she asked if we wanted to consider feeding baby formula -.-”’ up to that point, I had been fully latching in the hospital and I was actually hoping to just be able to do that since I knew friends who fully latched, especially at the start. I never really wanted to buy formula because what I’d heard from friends’ experience was that breastmilk supply will take time to kick in, which is alright because baby doesn’t need much in the first few days, and if they bought formula, they ended up just using a tiny bit and disposed of the rest which is such a waste! So I didn’t give an answer to the nanny at that point.
That night, since there weren’t any other options, I continued to fully latch baby. The night passed in a blur with the nanny coming in every 1-2 hours with baby to feed, pretty much like what we did in the hospital. I was alright with it to be honest. I wanted to try and see if that could work. But I hardly had the chance to do so. My left nipple was also starting to really hurt from the continued poor latching. I was super worried that it would crack ><
The next day, the nanny again asked whether I wanted to top up with formula because she said that with breastmilk, baby wasn’t full enough which made her wake up so often in the middle of the night. She was also quite insistent that I had to pump to increase my supply. I was quite reluctant to do that as well because while I did have a pump on standby, I hadn’t really learned how to use it and I didn’t want to start bottle feeding so early.
But anyway, I decided to give pumping a shot. And failed miserably the first 2 times. Despite massaging the boobs and all, there was only a few tiny drops yielded from the left side and zero on the right. I was so frustrated, thinking that the pump had an issue because it wasn’t one of the common brands that most people use, and no one had any idea how to help me with it. One thing that was pretty clear was that the flange size was way too big for me. So instead of getting a whole new pump, I decided to give it a shot and just get a smaller flange to see if that worked. So, so thankful for mummy who went all the way to bukit panjang to collect the flange for me so that I could try it out on the day itself. Thankfully, with the new flange, there was some slight improvement!! At least there was some fluid being collected (not sure whether it’s colostrum/milk?).
In the end, I also gave in to formula because with baby’s jaundice check up coming up on day 6, the nanny said that drinking some formula would help to bring it down. Oh well. Since I didn’t want baby to get pricked, I decided to go ahead with it. Also figured that if it allowed the nanny to bottle-feed baby in the MOTN, then perhaps I could catch up on some sleep in the first month and recuperate.
So we had baby’s jaundice check on Day 6 and thankfully her jaundice level was below 200! The PD was quite happy and gave us another appointment date on Day 9, but left it open to us whether we felt that it was necessary.
During that week, I was pumping around 70-90ml combined for each session. The left side always yielded more than the right. I had a lactation massage session on Day 7, and was told that my boobs were starting to get engorged. Which was somewhat a good thing because it meant that the milk was coming in! Except that it was not flowing out, so it was getting clogged. The massage was supposed to help to tackle the engorgement, and I was thankful that it didn’t hurt too much.
Also, with nanny’s help, I managed to correct baby’s latch on the left side and it felt SO MUCH BETTER after we got it! Every time we latch, it still takes a few tries (regardless of which side) and sometimes baby gets super frustrated. But I’m persistent about getting it correct before allowing her to stay on now, because I don’t want anymore sore nips!
What I think helped to prevent the cracked nipple even with the bad latch was after each latching/pumping session, I would apply a layer of nipple cream, allow it to air dry, then put on my silverette cups. But please, don’t tolerate a bad latch, my advice is to get it corrected ASAP!
I also started my postnatal massage on Day 9, and my masseuse also helped me to do the breast massage. THIS WAS PAINFUL. Omg. Sometimes I feel like I might start to tear when she squeezes so hard and I wonder whether my boobs will get damaged haha. On the first day she too told me that I had quite a lot of clogged ducts and other than helping me to squeeze to clear the ducts, she taught me how to massage it myself to improve the flow. While I really can’t tell whether the boobs are clogged, or just full of milk, or it’s just the breast tissue, but I could definitely feel the flow improving during pumping. The left side quickly became less clogged, but the right side took longer as she mentioned the milk on that side tended to be a bit thicker. Today at Day 14, she told me that the right side is finally unclogged! I hope that’s really the case. Gonna have the lactation massage again on Day 16 so I’ll ask then too. My pumping volume has increased to an average of 100ml together for each pump, going up to 150ml sometimes. Have not taken any lactation cookies/supplements at this point in time. It’s probably purely from the supply coming in and smoothening out the clogs and flow.
On the Day 8 jaundice check, we decided to go to the polyclinic instead of PD (it was less than 1/10 of the price haha), and baby’s jaundice level had decreased further to 121! But still not entirely cleared, it had to be <100. So we’ve been scheduled to go back on Day 15.
We got into a bit of a routine with the nanny on feeding – she would feed baby formula for 2x feeds in the MOTN to help with baby’s jaundice and to keep her fuller during the night. I would wake up once between 2-3am to pump. In the morning when baby woke up and was really hungry, I would latch her because she is most efficient at suckling then. Although sometimes the timing didn’t match and I’d have to pump before baby woke up because it was just too uncomfortable and I’d be leaking all over my clothes and the floor >< I’d also pump every 3-4 hours, or latch if the timing matched or in between pumps. If the timing didn’t match, nanny would feed her the expressed breastmilk (EBM). And this would go on till around latest 6/7pm, and baby’s last feed before bedtime would always be EBM from the bottle to help her sleep better (according to the nanny).
To be honest….I would really like to try to make latching exclusively work. But I find it a struggle with the nanny who has other ideas, and as a FTM, I feel like I’m not in the right position to know what is best for baby. In terms of latching, while baby’s sucking power has definitely become much stronger in the past week, but I don’t think she really clears the boob fully. I usually try to start on the right side first, since I’m trying to bring up the supply on that side to balance it out with the left.
One main challenge that I’ve been having is baby falling asleep at the boob after latching for 10-15mins all the time!!! While “experts” give all sorts of suggestions on how to wake baby, none of these have worked so far (or am I being too soft on her?). She just falls asleep on me, and it is only when I give up trying to wake her and decide to put her down, then she immediately wakes up (not even 1hr later. It’s like within 5-10mins) and starts yelling for milk again. There was one day I was extra persistent (or maybe, stupid? haha) and pretty much sat on my hard dining chair for 3 hours trying to latch her on and off. My bum was numb after that. And despite all that, the nanny pronounced that baby was still hungry because she was still crying, and proceeded to give her a full feed from the bottle 😦 SIGH. I struggle to read baby’s cues, and especially when she screams so badly, it really seems like she’s just hungry, and I don’t know what to do to get her to consume the amount of milk that she needs.
I know I’m not the only one going through this! And I’m sharing so that for any mummies out there who is experiencing the same, you know you’re not alone in this. I haven’t found a solution though 😦 Just hoping that as baby gets a bit bigger, she’ll be able to stay awake for longer, or suckle stronger so that she can get her fill before she falls asleep.
What I’ve been doing to improve the milk flow
Before each pump/latch: I place a hot towel (like really quite hot, mix warm water + boiling water) over the boob. Use thumb & index finger to squeeze the areola (not the nipple!) to open the pores and get some milk flowing, then use your fingers to jiggle the sides of the boob to loosen any clogs and kickstart the flow.
While pumping/latching: You can use your thumb/knuckles to massage the areas of the boob that still feel a bit hard. Massage in a circular motion, moving in the direction of the areola. Hold on to the flange while you’re doing this, bcos in my experience, it tends to come off when I massage while pumping.
In the shower: Use your thumb & index finger with some body soap to massage the nipple. According to the nanny, you’ll see little black stuff coming out and this helps to open up more pores for the milk to flow. I haven’t noticed any black stuff haha, but I still do this anyway. With warm shower water flowing, do the circular massage from the armpit all the way to the boob and areola to help improve the flow.
Ending off with some encouragement from my friends who successfully breastfed for quite a long time (esp those who did more direct latching) – the boobs will feel slightly lumpy for a few months so it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s clogged! I feel like my boobs are not entirely soft after each session, but my postnatal masseuse told me that they’re no longer clogged. Baby will fall asleep at the boob very often at the beginning, and there won’t be much of a schedule/routine, but these things take time.
Will try to keep up these diaries if possible! At least for the next 2 weeks while the nanny is still around to help out. Hopefully I’ll have some things to update on how things are going!