Tag Archives: breastfeeding

Coming to the (almost) end of the breastfeeding journey

This round, I would be calling it a day earlier than during Z’s time.  I completed about 15 months of breastfeeding during Z’s time.

For X, it would seem to be 13.5 ~ 14 months.

Travelling always render breastfeeding a pain to deal with logistically.

Now that we had 2 kids, we had more barang barang to carry around.  Hence, there was ‘urgency’ in getting X to accept 100% formula milk before we flew off to Bali.

I never thought I would be able to go through another year of breastfeeding after Z’s time.  I surprised myself by taking this on.  Experience did not make this round easier though.  A routinely fed baby would.  I had so many engorgements with X as compared to Z’s time.

When we came through DFS after flying home from Bali, we stocked up on wines and beers again.  It had been a very long hiatus of nearly 2 years.  I did miss an occasional Hoegarden or a glass of chill white wine.  Maybe I should be sentimental that I would cease being the source of milk provider.

However, I would really not miss the days and nights of expressing milk, having lesser time to myself or with my family or even work, carrying around bags of equipment, bagging milk for freezing and dealing with clots.

It was a journey that I would look back, that I would reminisce and I would share with my friends or my sons and their future wives.  Like a new business, it was difficult to start up.  However, once you grasp the ropes, it would bring in a steady stream of income milk.  It was time to ‘wind up’ this milking business.

The biggest contributor in the equation was Mr H who would relentlessly help to wash, sterilise and assemble the apparatus.  Between the two of us, we had punched in so many manhours that really, it was time for formula milk to relieve our sanity and unclog our precious time.


Milk transition

It had not been smooth. X refused to take the full 100% formula milk and we ended up mixing both types of milk. It was not recommended but we had no choice.

It was 20% formula milk and 80% breast milk.

He finished up during the first time and rejected the second time.

Well, I prayed we would have better luck on that soon.

Introduction to formula milk

With X turning one year old two days’ ago, it was time to move on to formula milk.

It was a bittersweet decision.  First, I felt sad that I was selfish to stop providing him breastmilk.  Second, I looked forward to liberation and that the medela breast pump would finally stop being my critical life support.

Using formula milk would be so much more convenient especially for travelling.  At the moment, I had to express milk 5 times a day – 930am, 130pm, 530pm, 11pm and 4am.  Trust me, when I was sick or extremely tired from the lack of sleep, I really wanted to stop breastfeeding.  However, I held out because I had persisted during Z’s time.  Z was also only introduced to formula milk after one year old and fully transited out of breastmilk by 15 months’ old.

Breastfeeding was, honestly speaking, hard work.  How many times had I expressed milk till I nearly fell off the chair?  How many times had I nodded off? Countless.

However, it had become such a natural duty that we just continued.  It felt like the default choice of beverage was only breastmilk.

Of course, I acknowledged the benefits of breastmilk.

Most importantly, I had an unsung hero – Mr H.  For both rounds, Mr H was the amazing spouse who helped to wash, sterilise and assemble my breastfeeding equipment.  That really eased the entire operations of breastfeeding.

I spent approximately 30min per session and that meant I spent 2.5 hours a day to express milk.  If you counted the waking hours, 2.5hours easily constituted 15-20% of my day.  It really helped to have readily assembled parts for use.

It would not be practical for me to continue but I guessed Mother Nature’s really knew how to guilt-trip nursing mothers.

About cabbage leaves

I never thought I would ever have such bad engorgement issues, considering I was quite a ‘veteran’ in the field of breastfeeding.  Z was such a good and regular drinker that the only time I encountered it was in the early stages due to a poor fitting nursing bra.  X, on the other hand, was a terrible drinker.  He had irregular frequencies and quantities.  However, the science of breastfeeding dictated that the babies could resolve all milk clots.  The only problem – X had weaned himself off and would only consume all milk from the bottle 5 months’ ago.

Two weeks’ ago, I was caught in an overrun meeting and had worsening engorgement throughout the weeks.  It got more and more painful everyday, and I had to spend a very long time to massage out the clots and it was still not easing up.

I finally went to a GP to ask for medication.  I was told that I could take antibiotics (Augmentin) only when the engorgement developed into an inflammation (aka mastitis).  The GP, a very nice lady, advised me to use cabbage leaves.  I had heard of this old wives’ tale but coming from a GP?  Seriously?

Anyway, I did not want to get into a situation where I had mastitis.  I bought the cabbage leaves.

You know what?  It worked.  I left it on for 2 hours, and the engorged milk clots dissolved in another 2 hours’ later.

Mr H was amazed that it really worked.

He ran a Google Search to understand the science why cabbage leaves helped and found this.

Quoted from the site:

The common green cabbage (Brassica capitata) is used for engorgement therapy. Cabbage is known to contain sinigrin (allylisothiocyanate) rapine, mustard oil, magnesium, oxylate and sulphur heterosides. Herbalists believe that cabbage has both antibiotic and anti irritant properties. (Lawrence and Lawrence 257-258)

It is theorized, that this natural mixture of ingredients from Mother Nature’s Kitchen, helps decrease tissue congestion by dilating (opening) local capillaries (small blood vessels), which improves the blood flow in and out of the area, allowing the body to reabsorb the fluid trapped in the breasts. Cabbage may also have a type of drawing, or wicking action, that helps move trapped fluid.  In many cases, science is finding cures from Mother Nature’s Kitchen can’t be duplicated in the laboratory.  This may be the reason why a gel made from cabbage leaf extract was not effective in treating engorgement (Ayers, 2000; Caplan, 1999; Shifer, 1995; Roberts 1&2 1995)

I had no idea how true the above italicised data was but dear cabbage leaves, thank you for being my saviour and I would never belittle you again!

One less milk feed in school

We had been informed that X would be dropping a milk feed in school. His original schedule was –

8am – breakfast (cereal w 70ml ebm)
830am – 100ml ebm
11am – lunch
1pm – 120ml ebm
3pm – tea break and 120ml ebm
530 – 150ml ebm

The teachers tell us that he would usually nap for very long after lunch and it was a struggle for him to finish the 1pm milk even if he was up. Either way, I supposed they would rearrange his schedule as deemed fit.

A sure sign that Baby X was outgrowing his babyhood.

The implication for me was that I could reduce my pump sessions. However, due to an overrun meeting last week, I ended up with engorgement so I doubted that I would be skipping any pump sessions till I resolved that tricky issue.