"I breastfed from a bottle"

"I breastfed from a bottle"

Faith Lim shares her motherhood journey on how she breastfed from a bottle.

Majority of mothers are fully aware that breastmilk is the best for babies. Some of us name it as "liquid gold" (You don't just get it whenever you want it. So precious!) Here is Mother who does breastfeeding from a bottle.

Although there have been an increase in the numbers of mothers breastfeeding their newborns for weeks after birth, many of them stop breastfeeding exclusively or stop breastfeeding altogether due to various reasons.

Possible reasons:
  • Returning to work (especially in Singapore because most of the mothers need/prefer to return to the workforce after their maternity leave has ended.)
  • Not able to supply enough breastmilk
  • Baby was not able to suckle well/properly
The only breastfeeding photo I have. Liv was three days old then.
 

I wish to share my experience here. I had introduced myself as a Stay At Home Mom in my very first post (in case some of you missed that entry). I have every reason to direct latch Baby Liv and breastfeed exclusively. My breastfeeding journey has not been easy.

Fast rewind to the time when I was still in the labour ward after giving birth. Liv was brought to my side after a brief clean up for skin to skin contact and breastfeeding. BUT at that moment, I realised I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO IT! So much for the childbirth lessons I've attended.
 
Lactation consultant and nurses attended to my endless call button requests, practically each time Liv needs to be fed. They taught me ways to hold Liv while she latched on but she could not suckle well at the breast for long. Liv would latch on successfully when the professionals were around but unlatch as soon as they left my room.
 
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Was my way of holding Liv made her uncomfortable to breastfeed? Or was it because she was affected by the epidural administered during labor? I wished someone could enlighten me. Each time I tried to latch Liv for feeds, she would cry so badly that her face went all red and body all tensed up.
 
Just imagine, newborns need to be fed every two to three hours. How many times would I have to watch her cry and struggle at the breast in a day? It wasn't helping when well meaning older generation in the family suggested that I should give Liv formula by bottle when they visited me at the hospital.
 
I gave in under incessantly pressure (which I felt so) from them and also because I could no longer watch my poor baby cry anymore. Liv was supplemented with formula twice.
 
I was in tears when the nurse brought Liv away for feedings. It broke my heart because I was prepared to breastfeed her from birth, to nourish her in a nature's way.
 
I never stopped trying to latch her. And of course, well meaning family never stopped encouraging me to stop breastfeeding and just use the bottle.
 
S hired a confinement nanny for me after Liv and I returned home. She was not a pro-breastfeeding person too. She mentioned that it would be more convenient to feed Liv from a bottle with my expressed milk.
 
I finally understood where she was coming from months after. To put it blatantly, it was for her convenience. Neither did she need to bring Liv to me every other hour to feed nor did she need to help me soothe my hungry crying baby while I try to latch her.
 
During her stay with us, the nanny would stood by my side and "advised" me to stop doing so while I tried to latch her. As Liv latched and unlatched, she would start crying.
 
breastfeeding from a bottle
 
More pro-bottle feeding members in the family would join in. I succumbed and allowed them to introduce the bottle each time they joined forces.
 
The whole pregnancy and birth episode left me all drained out. Too weak from the lack of consistent sleep, the strain from childbirth, blood loss, fluid loss, low blood pressure. I was so so so exhausted. My kins were concerned about the wellbeing of Liv and I.
 
The advice they gave was out of love and sympathy. But what I needed most from my beloved ones were just one simple act, that was to encourage me to keep on trying. I was in a foul mood (huge hormonal upheaval I was experiencing played a part by the way) most of the time during those first days because I felt helpless and alone.
 
I wished it was easy for me to explain how heart wrenching I felt back then. But all I could manage was to sob remorsefully. A month had passed, Liv had gotten used to bottle feeding, and she never knew how to latch on again.
 
For me, exclusively pumping had became part of my life and bonding with her through direct latch was not an option anymore.
 
I can never forget those lonely days in the wee hours of the morning when I needed to stay up and pump to keep my milk supply up. The house was always quiet and dark.
 
Everyone, including Liv was fast asleep, snuggled warm and cosy in their bed. I would doze in and out of sleep as I listened on to the faint suction noise of my electric breast pump.
 
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 I still remember when I was desperately looking for a nursing room to express milk but realised not all places have one. I had to swallow my pride to sit in the cubicles of the toilets to do so.
 
Frequent knocks on my door to hurry up was common, crude remarks could sometimes be heard from displeased ladies in the queue for toilet hogging.
 
My time and effort went to waste each time I expressed milk in the washroom, because I had to dump them. I personally felt that they were unhygienic for Liv to consume.
 
And then there were disgusted looks certain onlookers would throw at me while I discreetly expressed milk in public with a nursing cover.
 
There was a lot to it. Warming, chilling, storing expressed milk carefully, under optimal conditions to prevent contamination...
 
Although I can never direct-latch Liv again, I'm thankful for the increasing support from my loved ones to continue pumping. S keeps me company whenever he can while I pump. He has been staying up at night to wait for me before we hit the sack at the same time.
 
Amidst the disapproving public, I am grateful for the few kind souls I've come across. I remember meeting this lady in a cafe.
 
I am sure she saw me with my bag of breast pump in one hand and in the other, my coffee, walking clumsily towards a table which was hard to get to in the crowd.
 
She came from behind and gave me a gentle tap on my shoulder as soon as I pulled out my nursing cover and pump from my bag.
 
"You can have my table, it's by the side, you'll feel more at ease there" she said.
 
"You're doing something great for your baby" she added. That made my day.
 
It's the simple gestures like this, that makes exclusive pumping more enjoyable for me.
 
Most importantly, Liv keeps me motivated to continue pumping . I've learnt that direct latch is not the only way to bond with my baby.
 
Just a note: Breastfeeding mothers, be it direct latch or pumping, encounter difficulties along the way. We just want the best for our child so do encourage us on.
 
10 months of breastfeeding, and counting. Liv is growing taller and stronger by the day!
 
This post is mainly on breastfeeding. To the mothers out there who are not breastfeeding your babies, it does not make you less of an awesome mum!

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Written by

Faith Lim

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