Founder A For Apothecary
Mother of Three
In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, I find it so profound that we would give it a week instead of a day to celebrate breastfeeding.
Why a week? Hopefully to get more moms to share their journey. To encourage other moms who are going through the same process - latching, pumping, worrying about supplies, the pain, the time. But yet the bond and a mother's love to want to provide the best triumphs over all obstacles.
When I was a new mom, I attended courses that mainly revolved how much to feed baby, how long baby should latch, what's the average time to pump, how to store extra breast milk but no one talks about the mental & physical toll it takes to embark on a breastfeeding journey.
My milk supply didn't come in until day 4 or 5 after my first born arrived in this world. On hindsight, now I know one of the reasons why he was early. My body wasn't ready to produce milk yet. 10 years ago, we didn't have as much breastfeeding support as today. The nurse immediately gave him the bottle, due to conditions like me not producing enough & baby having severe jaundice. Whenever I carried my boy near to my breasts, he would try to suckle for 10 seconds, unlatch and start wailing. What's wrong? What's happening? Why is he rejecting me?
We followed advice like - BF him 15mins each side, ensure he latch for at least 10mins to get hidden milk. But the reality is far from theory. I was extremely stressed out because my baby is always crying and rejecting me. In the end, we gave him the bottle and he took it immediately. He drank. A lot. Turns out he was so hungry.
That's my first humbled moment of motherhood. In my need to bond, my need to do things right, I was starving my boy without realising.
As a result, I exclusively pumped and supplemented with formula until my first born was 1 year old. He continued with formula until 3.
When my second and third came, I wanted to try breastfeeding again but without any expectations whether it will succeed, just so I can see what it's like to latch and experience what the bonding fuss is all about. They were successful fully latched babies until 2.5yo and 3yo respectively. It was a truly magical bond to have my baby latch peacefully while looking at me. Though not without it's downside. The engorgement, biting, pulling, only needing me to be fed are also stressors as they refused to use bottles.
I was overjoyed when I officially stopped breastfeeding. Oh, the clothes I could buy again! The freedom of getting my body back, without having to lift my shirt up every few hours or cover up in public is an unspoken joy.
Looking back, I am glad I managed to breastfeed. It was one of the most beautiful, humbling & tiring phase of motherhood. But was there any difference between my firstborn whom I never bonded over latching versus my other two? Honestly, there isn't. Or at least none that I could see so far. So, I hope moms who chose to breastfeed or formula feed or pump, I want you to know there's absolutely no condemnation. I would choose mental health and a well-fed baby any day.