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Mums share: Breastfeeding concerns that we struggled with!

Breastfeeding has many benefits for babies and mummies. However, it is a skill that needs to be picked up by both mother and baby. Some may learn it faster than others, but contrary to what most mums think, this learning process may not be instinctive nor is it one that naturally falls in place for some of us. In fact, many variables make breastfeeding challenging for a majority of mothers, even those who are not first-time breastfeeding mums.

Often, breastfeeding is an emotional process. It is the next immediate emotional rollercoaster you ride on after birthing your baby. Do not be surprised if you feel intense feelings from time to time and there is nothing to be ashamed of if you decide it is necessary to prioritise your family’s well being and opting for infant formula instead.

To provide solidarity for mums who may be struggling during their breastfeeding journey, we ask our friends to share about their own breastfeeding woes and how they eventually handled them.

Some breastfeeding mum don’t have enough support

One of the most common encounters amongst our friends is a lack of support for their breastfeeding journeys, largely from extended families, particularly those with whom they live with. Husbands, who may or may not be supportive themselves, may feel trapped between his wife and his other family members.

When members of the household are not equipped with breastfeeding knowledge or unwilling to respect a breastfeeding mother’s decision, it gives rise to tremendous pressure for the breastfeeding mother to “perform” and/or persist in breastfeeding. There may be a domino effect from these pressures which add additional stress onto the new mother.

Some of our friends mitigated the situation by attending breastfeeding courses with their husbands during their pregnancy, and, share nuggets of breastfeeding knowledge with extended family gradually over the course of their pregnancy.

Equipped with breastfeeding knowledge, you can also take the chance to gradually and gently set expectations with household members on how it might be like during breastfeeding, so that they would be mentally aware of what it entails. Adjustments and compromises can be made as you go along, to reach a balance that works for everyone in the family.

Breastfeeding mums believe that they do not have enough breast milk

It can be devastating and stressful for breastfeeding mothers if they experience a delay in milk coming in, are not aware of how little baby actually needs initially or, have to endure opinions of this nature.

One of our friends broke down in tears after trying to express breast milk for the first time, because all she managed was a tiny ring of milk that covered the base of a milk bottle, in addition to having to endure comments that her baby was inconsolable from being hungry due to her insistence to breastfeed.  Unknown to her at that time, the amount of breast that she managed to express is actually just about the amount her newborn baby can stomach.

Newborns only require a very small amount of breastmilk. 

Knowledge gives rise to confidence that we are progressing in our breastfeeding journey. With the necessary breastfeeding knowledge, you are less likely to panic, feel out of control when you encounter situations that may not seem to be in your favour.

Breastfeeding mums endure sore and cracked nipples

Almost every breastfeeding mother has experienced sore / cracked nipples at least once, usually in the beginning of their breastfeeding journey. This commonly happens because baby may not yet have a correct latch, or, when mums have sensitive nipples that suffer abrasion from having to repeatedly

Cracked and bleeding nipples during the start of your breastfeeding journey can be nerve-wrecking for new mums.
Photo credits: Estella Goh

The breastfeeding mother can bleed from her nipples due to repeated latching after abrasion and the baby may even swallow blood from her mother’s nipple. The pain and sight can be scary for a first-time mum, as she struggles with getting her baby fed while riding through her physical pain.

Breastfeeding mothers can apply lanolin cream, nipple relief cream or breastmilk to relieve themselves of sore and cracked nipples.

Breastfeeding woes with mastitis

Mastitis is an infection that occurs from plugged milk ducts in your breasts. Usually, this can be encountered at any point in your breastfeeding journey, especially when mums do not empty your breasts of breast milk efficiently enough.

Symptoms include fever and flu-like symptoms as well as a pair of painful, rock hard breasts. Mastitis may need to be treated with an antibiotic treatment, during which you may have to pump and throw away breast milk within 2 hours each time you consume the antibiotics. Wasting breast milk is a huge source of distress or breastfeeding mothers, who may already find it difficult to provide enough milk for their baby.

Cold cabbage leaves work to reduce milk supply quickly and are very effective in reducing engorgement. They could be used in initial treatment of mastitis, by leaving these cold cabbage leaves on for about 5-10 minutes. As this method is also used by breastfeeding mums who wish to reduce their milk supply, remember not to leave them longer for 10 minutes as some may experience a reduction in breastmilk thereafter.

Having to express breast milk in unsuitable environments

Not all workplaces are breastfeeding-friendly and breastfeeding mothers who need to return to the workforce may not have a suitable place to express and collect their breast milk hygienically.

Several mothers reported that they were required to express their breast milk in the toilets or storerooms. To manage the situation, they suggest procuring a suitable container, which you can sanitize daily, to hold your breast pump, parts and bottle during expressing. At the very least, the surfaces that are in contact with your pump equipment are clean!

Travelling for work while breastfeeding

Many working mothers have to travel on work assignments. In order to continue giving their babies breast milk, they need to ensure that their milk supply does not drop or prevent themselves from suffering infections such as mastitis, breastfeeding mothers have to work around their pump times and/or figure out how to transport expressed breast milk from one country to another.

Our friend, Florinda Tay, felt compelled to share her knowledge on preserving and transporting expressed breastmilk on a work trip in her photo album here: https://www.facebook.com/florinda.tay/media_set?set=a.10156206580292794&type=3

Photo credits: Florinda Tay

We hope that these true stories of breastfeeding struggles can give you some insights on how every breastfeeding mother may experience their own challenges. Hopefully these stories can help support and encourage you on the tough journey of breastfeeding.

We’d love to hear your breastfeeding stories too, share with us in the comments below!

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Babies For Parents Pregnant

Pregnancy week 41 – 42: Going past baby’s due date

At week 41, if your expected delivery date has come and gone and your bun is still nestling comfortably in your oven, don’t worry just yet!

Pregnancy Week 41 – 42: Large watermelon

Your baby is now the size of a large watermelon! He may be 55cmto 70cm long and may weigh about 3.5kg to 3.9kg.

As your body gears up for labour, your baby’s endocrine system, which is responsible for hormone production, gears upas well for him to send the necessary chemical signals to trigger the labor process.

During this time, your baby will produce more stress hormones than any other time in his life, but rest assure that this is good stress for your baby. These fetal stress hormones are the same ones our body produces in flight or fight response to a life-threatening situation or a stressful event. They help your baby to transition and adapt to their life outside of your uterus in the following ways by helping him breathe, increasing blood flow to your baby’s brain and kidneys, increasing your baby’s immunity and supplying energy to the baby after birth.

There may be changes in your baby’s movements in utero at this stage, because the space your uterus has become much smaller for your baby since he is at his full size and weight now. You should still feel his movements and do consult a doctor if there are any significant decreases in fetal activity.

Going past your estimated delivery date (EDD) – pregnant mum’s emotions

You can’t wait to have your baby and it can feel like the longest weeks of the pregnancy, although it seems like you have just entered the third trimester! On one hand, you may feel tense, restless, frustrated, apprehensive or anxious in one moment due to the uncertainty of labor, or the fear of impending labors pains. On the other hand, you may feel anxious, excitement and happiness on the impending arrival of your baby.

It’s normal to feel anxious when you’re baby is staying longer in your womb than it’s expected due date.

There are a whole lot of feelings going on inside you and you might find yourself having intense, realistic dreams about baby. Feeling tired even if you have had a lot of sleep, and, imagining all kinds of situations about the birth of your baby and your life afterwards is to be expected too.

During this time, telling yourself to relax and stop feeling or thinking is likely to be counterproductive. You are entitled to allow yourself to experience all of these feelings, so take time for it and give yourself the necessary space to do so. Often, acknowledging our own feelings leads to acceptance and even relaxation and better rest, after you’ve been taken care of emotionally.

Changes in your overdue pregnancy body

 From this week onwards, you may be asked to note down baby’s moments and any bodily discomforts or changes you notice. You could also be asked to check in with your gynae more often for assessments on how the baby and yourself are doing.

From week 41 to week 42, mums may be experiencing physical discomfort such as backache, strong pelvic pressure, cramps, frequent urination and the inability to rest well due to these discomforts.

The estimated delivery date, or EDD, given to you by your gynae is a working due date that has a five-day margin of error and is not necessarily the time nature decides to takes its course. In fact, fewer than 5 percent of babies arrive on their due date, and you are actually not considered overdue until 42 weeks gestation.

There are several signs that help you know when you are going into labor. One sign of impending labor is a bloody show, which is a pink or brown tinged mucus discharge from the rupturing of blood vessels in your cervix in preparation for labor. You may have hemorrhoids, more commonly known as piles, because there is increased blood flow to your pelvic area and the pressure rests on your rectum. You could experience diarrhea too because the internal muscles are loosening in preparation for childbirth. One of the most obvious signs is, when you experience a constant fluid leak that is probably your water bag breaking.

Tips to induce labour when baby is past his due date or over 40 weeks

There are several ways to help “quicken” your baby’s arrival, the most common one of which is a “Stretch and Sweep”, where medical practitioner will separate membranes attached to the amniotic sac with a finger or two during internal examinations. This method will feel uncomfortable, but it is an effective method that can trigger the hormone that stimulates your uterus to begin contractions.

Other ways to speed up labour include eating spicy food, getting an induction massage from a credible therapist, going for walks, squats and having sexual intercourse.

Kudos on the pregnancy journey, and now it’s time to welcome your new baby into the family.

 

Waiting for the arrival of your baby in the final stages is an experience in itself. Now that your hospital bag is packed, your birth plan is ready and you have read our guide to preparing for a new baby, do try to indulge in enjoying the couple and me time available now. You’ll be glad you did!

Did your baby arrive past his or her due date too? Let us know in the comments below!