EAT, SLEEP AND FEED
That is basically how your lifestyle would be in a nutshell, for the first month or two. Well it entirely, like I said earlier, depends on the individual as well. How convicted you are to getting back to your normal routine, or even getting back to work.
For some mothers, they might not have thought of being a full time home-maker. It may not be a privilege for some due to the family’s financial position but for the rest… It is just not them, being constrained by the four walls at home. They need to work. They need to get back out there.
We’ve heard of different stories by different generations of mothers how their lifestyles were after given birth. Some of these mothers they took a month’s confinement. Some took three months, while some just two weeks and they’re back at work. The thing is this, how long you decide your confinement period is, it’s entirely in your hands. But, it is also solely you yourself bearing those consequences as well of your decision. Christine took six weeks before getting back to work.
The whole idea of this “Confinement” thing is so that the mother gets ample rest, and is fully (if not truly) recovered. Among the kind of rest that mothers would be looking at during this period of time partly would be sleep, and just, not moving around so much at home so that the stitches hold, the wounds heal, and the womb contracts and is secured back at its rightful place.
Whether you gave birth naturally, or c-sec, you’ll find yourself not being able to move that much because of… pain. In addition to this, if you find it painful at the suture area down there, there’s this float thing that you can buy from your pharmacy (or most). This float serves as a cushion for you when you sit up to do what you have to do.
Mundane as some might find it be, really, at least for the first month, be lazy, be still, be obedient, behave (trying to rhyme all the be).
Hold your horses!
Breastfeeding is a privilege. If you’re able to, please do. If you’re not, keep trying. If you just can’t, give yourself a pat on your back.
Breastfeeding not only gives the right stuffs (fine… nutrients and antibodies) to your baby, but it also promotes bonding between the mother and the child. The body to body contact, baby listening to your heartbeat when he or she lies on your chest, your smell too, they’re all important.
You might want to take note that, breast-fed babies are prone to have jaundice. So, don’t get too alarmed should your baby looks yellow the first few days after birth (I know it’s easier said than done. Christine and I literally went through hell). Ours had jaundice too, in fact prolonged jaundice even though baby was said to be low-risk. *shrugs*
It is also important to know that the nutrients and antibodies found in your breast milk changes over time to cater for your baby’s needs and growth. Of course what you eat as mummy affects it too.
One issue that I had a problem with (not that I’m able to, but from observation), is the constant assumption that when the baby latches on and starts sucking, the baby would 1) have milk to drink (availability), 2) having enough milk to drink (quantity), 3) drinking enough for his or her current needs (dietary).
Availability – It doesn’t come instantly, or automatically. Though you can be quite certain that it comes naturally, or eventually. Some people would say you gotta be in the right frame of mind, the determination, the conviction that “I’m going to breastfeed my baby”, and the milk comes.
Some people would even say, you gotta start massaging the nipple as the duct might be blocked due to the initial production of milk, and it got solidified there. A good indicator if this is happening to you, is that your breast(s) will start to swell, engorged, stiffer, and there will be a slow increase in pain. Should this happen, some would recommend using “heat pads” which you’ve to heat them up with warm water and place them on your breast(s) to “melt” the solidified milk in the ducts.
Some would advice you to massage the nipple so it’ll help to push the solidified milk through. Some would even tell you to start using a breast pump, to help to suck the solidified milk out. Heat pads didn’t work for Christine cause it wasn’t blocked ducts she was dealing with. The breast pump and massaging helped though so do what you need to, as long as it works for you.
The production of milk needs time to start. It’ll start slowly before you’ll get a constant supply of milk for your baby. You might even have friends who have showcased their “breast milk collection” in their refrigerators. Don’t envy them. It takes time, as much as it takes effort too. Don’t give up.
It is interesting to know, how much milk you are able to produce, is also dependent on how much liquid you put into your body. Liquid like red dates water, soup… your 1st 4-6 weeks no plain water… yet… confinement, remember? That is if you’re going through it.
Another interesting find is, the breast to your dominant arm, will produce more milk, and eventually will be bigger in size, than the other. Proven! (not with pictures but from testimonies). Which means, if you’re right-handed, your right breast will produce more milk than the other. So if you’re just starting out on this adventure, start with the breast that produces more milk first (follow your dominant arm).
I know what you’re thinking. Can you somehow balance them? Unfortunately, No.
Christine also found out that Milo and durian helped increase the production of milk. Somehow it was just… more… than the usual. Of course, if you are gonna start taking durians, your milk will smell (nah, incredibly it doesn’t), but rather tastes sweeter.
So, the first thing you gotta know in breastfeeding is whether or not, there is milk.
Quantity – I like to be sure, of things, in general. Likewise, I like to be sure my baby, is getting enough. Thing is this, yes even though the baby latches, and is sucking, but, there’s always this uncertainty how much the baby is taking in. Cause there are times, in fact quite frequent, the baby somehow dozed off during feeds.
Dozing off might also give you the misinterpretation that the baby had enough, therefore dozed off. But I realized that the baby is just, tired. So, baby didn’t have enough, and dozed off. You will realize when the baby didn’t have enough, the “alarm” goes off at irregular hours, pee is lesser (for newborns averages 5-6 times a day, for ours now, 2 months, 10-12 times a day). You will also realize that the baby might not be increasing in weight as well. Another indicator would be the area above baby’s forehead would be slightly sunken.
Ours was dehydrated. Baby’s weight dropped from 2.6 kg to 2.4 kg.
Our hearts dropped too.
Lesson learnt, and I did something about it.
I had Christine pump-stored her milk into storage bottles. Didn’t like the idea of storage bags because it introduces more plastic wastage for one, and eventually you will need to empty the pumped milk into a bottle to feed (even though storage bags take up lesser space in your refrigerator). In the event that the breast milk isn’t enough, we topped it up with formula.
Then I made a chart to monitor the baby’s feed (amount taken, slot, time), also taking note on baby’s pee and poo. At 2.6 kg, baby needs around 320 ml of milk daily, feeds 8 times (looking at 2-3 hourly), so it’ll be around 40-45 ml per feed. Pee: 5-6 times. Poo: 2-3 times. It’s easier to monitor according to time blocks/slots… 12mn, 3am, 6am, 9am, 12nn, 3pm, 6pm and 9pm (can’t go wrong with this).
Baby is now 5 kg. Thank God.
Dietary – Is your baby drinking enough? Two factors: 1) Baby’s weight and 2) No. of feeds in a day.
A rather safe guide, every 1 kg = 150-200 ml daily. The calculation goes like this: (weight x amount) / no. of feeds.
So in our scenario, 2.6 kg; (2.6 x 150) / 8 = 48.75 ml per feed.
We did 30 ml formula + an approximate 20 ml from breastfeed.
NOTE: This part is primarily for mothers who breast-feed.
On top looking into the needs of your baby, most of your time will be spent on pumping. There are two kinds of breast pumps out there, the manual kind, and the automatic. Both have their own use, and they shine in their own ways in different given scenarios.
Automatic – Not as tiring as the manual pumps where by you might need to introduce effort on your part to pump the milk. However, should you have done your homework on Google, you will realize that there are so many brands out there. The question is not “Which is the best automatic breast pump” (I Googled that, really!). The real question rather, should be “Which automatic breast pump is best suited for you”.
If you were to Google the second phrase, chances are you will still be undecided on which automatic breast pump to buy.
Christine and I went around town searching, walked into baby stores and actually asked them what would they recommend. Most of the time we found ourselves being recommended stuffs we don’t need. Advises from friends were basically quite general as well and may not be suitable for you because remember, we’re dealing with people, so what works or worked for them, may or may not necessarily work for you too.
So bear this in mind that I’m not trying to push a particular brand to you, nor were we sponsored by any of these brands listed. We trial-and-error-ed before we came to these conclusion.
“Which automatic breast pump is best suited for you?”
Five factors to help you decide.
- Stage – At which stage are you? Are you just starting out as in just delivered, or are you already 2-3 weeks into your confinement? Recall I mentioned earlier that milk production takes time to have a constant supply? Therefore, if you’re just starting out, the automatic pump might not be as effective compared to the manual one. In fact, it may cause pain as well.
- Suction Power – There are many brands out there offering automatic breast pumps. Among some of the more popular brands would be Spectra, Advent by Philips, etc. Some of these automatic breast pumps also offer different modes or suction power. Buy one that offers different modes so that you can adjust and use the mode that is comfortable for you.
- Suction Area – We nearly bought our automatic breast pumps online. Though it is more convenient, nothing gives you the confidence and pre-knowledge on the pump’s effectiveness than to see it with your own eyes. Hold it in your hands and examine the size of the suction area (sizes differ across individuals) before you decide and make your purchase.
- Support – Another important factor would be the support that you’ll get. Brands like Spectra is an imported product. Spare or replacement parts may or may not be so easily accessible. Repairs may not be available as well.
- Maintenance – Are the replacement parts costly. Are the parts in general detachable, accessible and washable?
For automatic breast pump, we went with Youha even though it is a local brand, it’s effective and it works.
Manual – There are two types of manual breast pumps as well. One that comes with a lever like Philips’ Advent, and the other that just latches on like Haaka. If you’re just starting out, get the one with a lever. When your milk production is constant, then only get the one without a lever.
GREED IS GOOD
Not really but… I believe you’ll need both automatic and manual, and use them whenever it’s suitable. If you’re working and you need to pump (cause if you don’t, your breasts will become swollen and painful due to the milk inside), and you don’t have the luxury of sitting by a work desk or even the privacy while at it, you can also consider Youha’s Cup. It’s rather convenient though it doesn’t pump as fast as those regular ones.
Once you’re done pumping for that session, you’ll need to store it in either storage bags, or storage bottles. We prefer bottles as it’s reusable and you don’t introduce more plastic wastage, also, when you grab it from the refrigerator, just cap the teat on and place it in the warmer.
We measured the amount needed for each feed and stored them in multiple storage bottles. You might also want to label them using masking tapes, noting down the date and time the milk was stored so should the milk turn bad, or sour, you would be able to trace where/when/what went wrong.
When you store the pumped milk, if it’s in the freezer compartment, use storage bags, they should be good for 3 months or so.
On the other hand, if you’re storing them in the refrigeration compartment, place those bottles (or bags) as deep as possible into the shelf. Reason to this, the coolness of the refrigerator drops every time someone opens the refrigerator door. If the bottles were placed near the doors, then the temperature of the milk will be affected, which can cause the milk turn bad faster. Stored milk in the refrigeration compartment can last up to 3 days, but I personally won’t recommend you to stretch it too far.