The Milk Cow on the 12th Floor

Hello, I am the milk cow on the 12th Floor. I am sure most new mothers can relate after your baby is born; you have now been reduced to a milk cow. My daily routine consists of eating, feeding, pumping, changing diapers, and napping. (If I have a spare moment, blogging.) My nipples are sour from the sucking, and I am always exhausted. On a good day, this whole routine will last an hour, on a bad day, this routine can last for 3 hours or even more.


Before I started breastfeeding, I had this romantic idea of breastfeeding is the only way to go, and I wouldn't consider anything else. Now that I am breastfeeding, I am a lot more open-minded about when to use formula, when to pump and when to breastfeed.


Formula, Pumping, or Breastfeeding, which choice is right for you?


When it comes to breastfeeding, you will have some mothers who are hardcore about breastfeeding and some mothers who would rather do formula all the way. Everyone has a strong opinion on this matter, but what is important is to listen to what your body is telling you.


For me, I have done all three. I started my son on formula, and now I am breastfeeding and pumping, and here is a quick overview of the pros and cons for all three.


Formula



Pros:

- The baby is fuller for longer, as formula is heavier.

- Your husband/partner can help you out with the feeding.

- Their poos are like wasabi so easier to clean up.

- You can measure how much your baby has eaten.

- It is easy to travel with.


Cons:

- Formula is harder to digest, so babies are more prone to constipation.

- Might have to try different formulas before finding one that your baby likes better.

- Not as nutritious as breastmilk.


Pumping



Pros:

- You can pump and do other things at the same time.

- It doesn't hurt your nipples as much.

- You can measure how much your baby has eaten.

- You can see how much milk you are producing.

- Your husband/partner can help you out with the feeding.

- You can see what quality your breastmilk is so that you can adjust your diet accordingly.

- Your baby is getting tailored made milk, especially for them, as the mother's breastmilk changes according to the baby's needs.

- Your baby is still getting breastmilk.


Cons:

- You have to make sure the pump is in the right position, or else you will hurt your nipples.

- Baby's poo is a lot runnier, so harder to clean.

- You have to find time to pump and feed the baby at separate times, so you need longer.



Breastfeeding



Pros:


- You get to be very close to your baby, and it is a special bonding time.

- You don't have to carry as much stuff when you are going out, as all you need is your breasts.

- Your baby is getting tailored made milk, especially for them, as the mother's breastmilk changes according to the baby's needs.

- Your baby is actually the best way to breast pump you need. Their suction is better than an electrical breast pump.


Cons:


- Your nipples hurt after the baby have been sucking on it for a while.

- The baby eats slightly slower as they have to work harder for it.

- You still need to pump after breastfeeding to make sure you have emptied out the milk in your breasts.

- Baby's poo is a lot runnier, so harder to clean.

- You have no idea how much your baby has eaten.



My Breastfeeding Experience



I started with formula, as my breastmilk didn't kick in until day 4, and Joshua's jaundice started to get worse. At first, I want to do breastfeeding only. However, I didn't want my expectations and ideals to cause his jaundice to get worse. I know some mums will insist on breastfeeding even in my situation, and that is perfectly fine if you don't mind the baby staying in the hospital for longer. However, I wanted to get Joshua home as soon as possible, and to give myself less pressure, so I opt for formula until my breastmilk kicks in. Looking back, it was one of the best decision I made about feeding.


People always advise you not to give your newborn the bottle or else he/she will have nipple confusion, from my personal experience that is not the case. There is truth behind that belief as babies are smart, they will very quickly suss out what is the easiest way to be fed. I still remember the first time Joshua had a bottle, the bottles they provide in the hospital let the formula out very quickly. The baby pretty much doesn't need to work for it at all, the milk just drips out of the nib when you turn it upside down. So during the next feed when I tried to breastfeed, Joshua gave me this sideward glare of disapproval. His expression said, "Oh, it is the boob again, why are you giving me this when there is no milk. I am not going to work for it; just give me the bottle." He obliged any way and latched on, but he only sucked twice before giving up, as he knew he was going to get a top up. At that point, I thought, great....this is it, he will never breastfeed again, but I was wrong.


What I found was, using the right bottle nib is the key. Some nibs out on the market let the milk out very easily, so the baby becomes lazy and doesn't suck when it comes to the breast. The brand that I was recommended to use by my confinement lady, the baby needs to work for the milk, so he will still have to do the same suction as breastfeeding.


When I was discharged from the hospital, I had blocked ducts, so my breast was felt like rocks, they were heavy and super painful - simply put, you just don't want your boobs to be touched. My confinement lady had to massage them to help me unblocked them. If you think boob massages are soothing and relaxing, think again! They are FXXKING painful! It is not that she was massaging them particularly hard, it is just that your boobs are so sensitive that even if someone blew on them, it would hurt.


As she was massaging my boobs to get the milk out, I had to muster up every ounce of energy in me not to scream or cry. It honestly felt like torture, that someone is squeezing your boob so hard that it is about the burst. The only thing that kept me going was seeing milk come out, so I braced myself for more pain and continue going. After the massage though.....heaven! My boobs felt normal again, and they are back to it's soft and non-inflated state, I just remember being super happy to see 30ml of breastmilk and grateful after that my boobs no longer felt like rocks.


I didn't start breastfeeding until a week after, as we wanted to get Joshua's jaundice down as soon as possible. The problem with breastfeeding is we don't know how much he has eaten, and we want to make sure he is eating enough. Once his jaundice started to drop, we started working on breastfeeding.


Breastfeeding isn't easy - it takes a lot of patience, time, pain, sweat, and tears sometimes, especially if your baby is a slow and fussy eater, like mine. I love my son more than life itself, but he has to be one of the world's slowest eater, EVER! I know a lot of my friends love breastfeeding, and they say it is the best feeling, but there are times that I dread it. Maybe because Joshua is fussy eater, and he wiggly and tug on my nipples while breastfeeding. There are times that I find it very frustrating and just want to give up.


That is why I ended up half pumping and half breastfeeding. I breastfeed during the day and pump during the night. I found this arrangement a lot less stressful for me. Not only does it give my nipples a bit of a break, but it makes it a lot easier for me to manage when it comes to the night feeds. When it is 2 a.m. in the morning, and your baby is being fussy and won't latch, it can be so infuriating. I am already exhausted, so I want the midnight feeds to be as quick as possible, so I can go back to bed. The good thing about the bottle is, my son eats a lot faster. Not only is he more awake, but I can also make sure he is eating enough, and know when his next feed will be. If I were breastfeeding at night, I would be getting up every 2 to 3 hours.



Final thought


Ultimately whether you breastfeed, pump, or use formula, it is a personal choice, and there is no right or wrong answer. From my own experience, your expectation and reality are usually quite different. I never thought breastfeeding would be stressful. It highly depends on your baby and your body. Before I started breastfeeding and pumping, I always thought I want to do this for 2 years, as that is what the nurses at the hospital recommended. However, now that I am doing it, I am not quite sure. I think my nipples are also on the sensitive side, so whether I am pumping or breastfeeding, it does get quite painful after awhile. I can now truly understand the term "sucking your nipple raw," as that is how it feels sometimes. So I guess I will just have to see how long I will last at the end of the day.


Just do what feels right for you. Don't let other people's opinion cloud your judgment, as you know your body best. If it is getting too stressful, stop, and rethink what is the best path for you. As your mental and physical health is just as important to be a good mother. If you are stressed out all the time, you are going to be irritated, and this never helps when it comes to taking care of a baby.



Tips with dealing with sore nipples


I haven't 100% worked this out what is the best way to deal with sensitive nipples yet, but here are a few things that I have found that has helped:


1. Put something cold on it - whether it is using a cold flannel or reusing the nipple wipes after the feed or pump. I found putting something cold on the nipples really soothes the pain.


2. Roll a can of coke on it - similar theory to cold flannel or nipple wipes, if your boobs are sore after breastfeeding, you can roll a can of coke or beer on your breast to ease the pain, but make sure you wrap a towel or flannel over the can of coke before rolling.


3. Nipple shells - I found these very useful. I bought some Medela ones, and they are pretty good. I use them right after I pump or breastfeed so my nipples are not in direct contact with my bra, so it gives my nipples time to revert back to its normal state.


The only thing I don't like about them is, you cannot wear them for long. As they are made out of plastic, it gets very hot and sweaty after a while, so I only wear them for about 10 mins after feeding or pumping. I know there are silver nipple shells on the market, but I haven't tried them yet.


4. Apply Nipple Butter - I found applying nipple butter after I finish pumping or breastfeeding helps soothes my nipples. Some of my friends use Purelan, and others use different types of cream. Unfortunately, it is a bit of trial and error when it comes to what works and what doesn't.


5. Nipple pads - As much as I wanted to use reusable nipple pads, so far the ones I have tried have all been too scratchy, and it irritates my nipples even more, so I have to use disposable ones. The reusable ones usually are made out of a towel material so it can be very uncomfortable next to sensitive nipples.


I hope you find the above tips helpful. If you have any other suggestions, please share with me at the comment below. I am always happy to try something new to see if it works better.


Sending you love and positive thoughts,


Christine xxx


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