Silver boobs with golden nipples. That’s me. I am proud to say that I achieved 9 months of fully breastfeeding Naia without supplementing; except her first 5 days of life because this Mama’s milk came out late.
Disclaimer: I just want to make it clear that there is nothing wrong with giving your baby formula. I am not putting down others that are giving their baby formula or supplementing. This post is just me sharing my own personal journey and how proud I am of my journey.
I never thought I’d make it until today, before Naia was born I had a goal of breastfeeding my baby until she turned two. Then I started my breastfeeding journey and I changed my mind. Breastfeeding was/is so goddamn painfulll.
I was so angry that no one educated me on breastfeeding! All everyone talks about is childbirth, how painful it is, how you have to jaga yourself during pantang, how cesarean would be, alll that momochacha but never was I warned about breastfeeding.
I remember when Naia was first born, the nurses brought her up to me and said “Mau try kasi menyusu dia? Feeding time sudah nie” I opened my arms ready to take her in, ready for this whole new chapter in my life. I cradled her, put the nips in her mouth and she latched, she had a perfect latch. The nurses approved and left.
She kept sucking, fell asleep, woke up, sucked some more and eventually cried. “Ala belum ada susu lagi nie”, I said looking at Mazir. I made Naia latch some more, maybe the milk will come out but she kept fussing and crying. “We probably should get the nurses” Mazir suggested, “Yeah yeah.” I quickly agreed. Naia spent her first 2 days in and out of my room, she would latch, fall asleep, wake up hungry, latch a lil bit, get frustrated and I would call the nurses.
When will my milk come out? I quickly googled and they say it takes at least 3-4 days, 2nd day being the quickest. Hmm okay. I shouldn’t be bothered too much. The 3rd day we were discharged. We came back home and I would try latching every time, but she was crying and we would make a bottle. (MIND YOU, it did not HURT this time. DID NOT. I was just thinking the milk will come out when it wants to).
“Buat sikit saja, supaya dia masih lapar still can latch with me” I would tell Mazir, but even if we made 1oz or 2oz she would snooze off right after. Naia had jaundice and we weren’t really aware of that so she would just sleeep and sleeep and sleeeeppp and I would think. Huh, what a good baby, such a good sleeper. She wasn’t. 9 months later, she’s waking up at night pusing sini pusing sana. She just had jaundice.
Come the 4th day (this is where it gets fun), my boobs were hard as rock. It was painful to even lift my arms up. I tried pumping. Put on the flanges, hit the on button. Zzzett zzzett. Sh*t! *Turns off button quickly* That friggin hurts! Why does pumping friggin hurttttsssss. Okay okay. Lets try this again. Lets try pumping again. *turns on button* Zzzzeeet zzzeetttt. Babi! *Turns off button quickly* Breathe breathe. Puts on level 1, zzeett zzzeettt. WHAT THE HELL! Why does it hurttttt?!
I quickly Whatsapped my sisters, she said the manual worked better for her, that the suction for the electricity is too strong. I googled the manual pump next, “B. What time does Baby Wonderland closes? Still open right? Can you go out and get this?” while showing it to him. I was aware that it was an additional RM200 but my Pamela Anderson boobs and ithinkimgonnadie pain didn’t care.
“Hmm.. You sure you need this? What’s wrong with this one?” pointing to my electric breast pump. “It doesn’t work!” I wailed. At this point tears were rolling down my cheek. It worked obviously, its the pump I’m using now but at that moment it did not work.
Naia had just woken up and Mazir was passing her to me so I can try to latch again. I tried latching and by this time it was so painful. It was sooo painful I had an Ally McBeal moment on my 4day old daughter. I wanted to push her head away. I felt so defeated, hopeless and lost!
Mum came in the room to look at my condition. “Cannot lah, no matter what tonight she you kasi latch saja dia. Biarlah dia nangis. If not kesian you. Beli cabbage lah, it helps tu.” I called Mazir immediately after Mum left, told him to not come back unless he has the manual pump and cabbage.
I was in so much pain that I lay for a second crying. I didn’t understand why. I didn’t understand why this would be more painful than having a cesarean. I was laying down trying to process the pain when Naia cried. I tried to get up but moving was so painful. I took a deep breath and decided to use my stomach muscles to pull myself up. I had a cesarean 4 days ago, but rather use my stomach muscles to get up because moving my upper body was just so painful.
I cried picking up Naia coz I was in pain. And no, not because I had to use my tummy muscles but I couldnt even lift up my arms without it shooting pain! Mazir came back soon after Thank God. I told him to put the cabbage in freezer quickly so I could put it on my breast. I looked like a mermaid that day, if only I had a picture for memory sake. As for the manual pump, yeah it didn’t hurt but at the same time I couldn’t draw out milk. Feeling defeated I just set it aside. (Found out weeks later Mazir had set it up wrongly, he didn’t put in the valve so there was practically no suction.)
That night when Naia wanted to nurse, I made the formula, made her latch on me and used a small syringe to insert at the side so she thinks that she’s drinking from me. I probably had colostrum but milk wasn’t flowing well. I got better that night and by the next day Naia was able to latch. I still couldn’t pump without hurting.
The pain didn’t get better once the milk started flowing in. There were numerous times I had a nipple bleb. First time mother, going through so many already, and yet the most ‘natural’ thing doesn’t come natural. I had no idea what a bleb was, I thought it was due to my eczema. LOL. They told me it would be better in time, said it wouldn’t hurt after 1 month plus. But I was already 3 weeks and it still hurt, I was thinking they were lying about it.
It hurt all the friggin time. The only time it wouldn’t hurt is when I would be walking around the room topless. Which is basically only 5 minutes everyday after shower. I couldn’t use a towel to wrap myself, it would hurt. Everytime my nips brushed against my baju I would winced. My mum saw me walking from her room one day, I was hunched over walking slowly.
“Stop slouching! Ever since you gave birth you’ve been slouching. Its okay to walk properly.” She thought I was walking hunched over because of my operation, that I was scared to ‘stretch’ myself. It wasn’t because of my operation I was walking that way, I was walking that way because it HURTS every time my nips brushed against my baju. *cry me a river*
Everytime I wanted to latch, I would already anticipate the pain, I would zikir habis-habisan and quickly latch her. It was toe curling pain. Felt like crying every single time. My goal to breastfeed to 2 years quickly diminish. How the hell am I supposed to do this? I felt like quitting almost every day. I wanted to grab the bottle and make formula, I didn’t feel like I wanted to continue breastfeeding. But I kept saying next time, and soon I didn’t need to. My nipples became nipples of steel one fine day. I don’t remember the exact moment but one day I woke up and it didn’t hurt so much anymore.
After it didn’t hurt so much I had to worry about building my stash for work. This time pumping hurt less. I would pump for half an hour and only get 1oz. No, not for each boob but both yield combined! Argghhh.. another problem. What’s going on? Why am I not getting the yield I see on the ads, friends and sisters? I had friend’s giving birth around the same time as me and I would see them post pics of their full bottle.
I searched for the best milk boosters. Believe it or not I’ve tried all of these, nothing worked obviously. What I failed to realized then was that my storage capacity is just average. It’s not too small and its not big. I kept comparing to others, why could I not produce 5oz at one go?
My logic was, if I got the milk boosters to work I wont need to pump so much. I’ll easily set up stash for work. But no matter what I took it didn’t happened. I was producing 1oz per session for half an hour. And it didn’t help that all newborns do is just latch latch latch latch latch and just latch. It was getting harder and harder for me to pump when Naia was going through growth spurts. I tried pumping half an hour after Naia nurses (as googled recommended) but sometimes as I was just starting to pump Mazir is already back in the room with Naia in his arms.
So in the end I did tandem pumping. It was easier because Naia would only drink from 1 side and once she’s done on that side she won’t want to drink from the other side again, I did try though but by that time I tried making her drink from the other side she’s too full and already in la la land. I had Naia on one side, and the pump or hakka (I got a dupe version from Shopee, only RM2 for China seller) on the other.
I didn’t use much of the ‘Hakka’ but it did come in handy when I had letdowns or leak in the morning. Even if it was 0.5oz I’ll keep it in the fridge so by the end of the day I’ll kumpul-kumpul my yield and freeze it, that’s how I collected my stash.
Although because I was too focused on building my stash for work my plan to introduce bottle feeding to Naia didn’t happened (I’ll share bottle feeding journey another time) because I was afraid to use my stash and she would not have enough. I made calculations, thinking I need at least 12-16oz a day and it was so hard to even save up 8oz in a day.
Turns out Naia only drinks up to 12oz (her record) I went back to work having 225oz of stash, thinking it’ll be gone within 2 weeks. That too never happened. When I returned to work I was pumping 4 times at work, 10, 12, 2, 4 and I’d bring back 12-16oz everyday.
And now that she’s on solids she drinks 8oz max. I’ve dropped my pump sessions to 3 times now and would bring back about 9-12oz. This is still more than she takes in a day of course but I dare not drop my pump sessions coz its going to drop my supply and I need to make sure my supply is enough for when I’m home.
I’ve still got 2.5 months to go to my goal, Insyallah. After I hit the 1 year mark I’m planning to wean Naia off. This is going to be one hell of another journey, and honestly I do feel sad that I’m going to be taking something away from Naia, knowing how much she loves latching herself to sleep and how she finds comfort in it. But at the same time I’m hoping to get some freedom back.
Basically, what I’m trying to convey is that; breastfeeding is a rough and an emotional journey. Its painful. I’m not going to sugar coat it, with the milk bleb, mastitis, blocked duct, engorgement, them biting on your nips, but don’t give up! You’ve got this Mama! You’re working hard for the little one and I promise you it’s going to pay off. And the pain? I’ll come and go, it will get better.
So if you’re a new mother and thinking will this pain will ever end, yes it will. If you’re expecting and thinking about the pain of birth, worry about breastfeeding too, if you’re already reaching to a point that you’re tired and about to give up on pumping and latching, Mama you’ve got this!
As of now I’m 2 weeks short of the title Silver Boobs with Platinum Nipples <3.