I decided to wean from breastfeeding, when Juliana turned 7 months. Just like other moms who experienced difficulties, pressure, and anxieties in breastfeeding, I also had a story to share.
Yana was born prematurely at 7 months 3 weeks, so she stayed in NICU for 10 days. On her first week of life, she was not allowed to latch on me yet. She was fed through a syringe and was cup-fed during those days, while I was pumping and doing hand-express. I go to NICU every day, to see her, for Kangaroo care and on her 8th day to breastfeed Yana too.
There I learned that Juliana has difficulty in latching because I had flat nipples. So I used a breast shield and it was effective on her. At NICU, I nurse every 3 hours, followed by breastmilk fed through a syringe (by the way, big thanks to NICU 2 nurses who assist me me on breastfeeding).
As a new mom, I want the best for my daughter so it was so painful for me to that I can’t express enough milk for Juliana, so I have to seek breastmilk from other moms and I’m really grateful for all these mommies and their babies who shared their milk to Juliana on her first 10 days! One of the nurses in NICU donated a breastmilk for my daughter, that’s her first milk! The next two days supply was donated by my good friend Cai, and the next 5 days were donated by more friends and colleagues!
On Juliana’s 9th day, my husband and I were already exhausted looking for breastmilk donor so we decided to mix-feed her with Enfamil Premature. Her weight is the only indicator that we can take her home. She needs to gain at least 250 oz per day and make sure that growth will be sustained at home. Going to NICU everyday and being separate from my baby at night is so hard and depressing. We really wanted to take baby home the soonest, so we fully cooperate with her Pedia to make this possible.
On Juliana’s 10th day, we were able to finally take her home. I took this opportunity to breastfeed her exclusively. She will latch on me for 40 minutes every 2-3 hours day and night for a month! But during her first-month check-up, her Pediatrician told us that she was gaining weight, but the gain is not enough to catch-up to achieve full-term babies weight. Juliana has to mix-feed with Enfamil Catch-up. I was 70% breastfeeding-30% formula during this time.
But on Juliana’s 3rd month, I had cracked nipple, it was so painful during latching until it came to the point that blood was coming out when I pump. I was so worried, I cried. I cried because of pain and because I have to stop nursing. For 2 weeks, I was exclusively pumping, I tried to pump every 3 hours to increase my supply, but this didn’t happen most of the time because of so many valid reasons. And also, my supply didn’t increase, I can only pump 40-70ml (sigh).
At this point, I realized that breastfeeding is just not good for babies but is also the easiest way to feed our babies, how I wish I have more supply! (And then I feel sorry for myself, got emotional and crying most of the days). After my breast was healed, I tried nursing again, but Yana doesn’t want to latch anymore, she becomes impatient of my low-supply! This time she prefers bottle-feeding! But I kept on trying! After two weeks, she was comfortable latching again, I was back to 60% breastfeeding-40% formula, I’m so happy! I considered this as a Christmas gift, as Yana prefers latching on me the whole month of December!
But come January, I have to go back to work! So she bottle-fed again all through-out the day (while I was pumping every 4 hours at work, where I can only pump 40-60ml). I keep this routine until February, but since Yana was not latching on me anymore, my supply slowly decreases down to 15ml last week. On my breastfeeding journey, 2 things that I prayed for: That I will have more breastmilk and I will be grateful for any amount of breastmilk I have and faithfully give this to my daughter as her vitamins (yes, no longer her food since I already accept that mix-feeding is the best for Yana). I already conquered my fear that my baby might easily get sick when she’s not breastfed, because she’s 7 months now, so healthy & strong! Though a preemie, her growth, and development are comparable to full-term babies! I believe that 1-2 oz I gave to Yana is a blessing from the Lord, it’s her vitamins, enough to keep my baby strong & healthy!
Now that she already started with solid foods, I already overcome and accepted that my breastfeeding journey ends here, on her 7th month! I’m guilt-free! I know in my heart that I love Juliana so much and I always wants the best for her, with or without breastfeeding! Maybe on my second, third, fourth child… I can exclusively breastfeed for a year or two!
For all the mothers out there, one thing I learned from this experience, yes, I personally prefers 100% breastfeeding, but our situation is different, and I have to make a decision that is best for my baby. That is mix-feeding, I prefer that my baby will not starve in hunger, I rather have her fed with formula and get full, than to see her crying because of hunger, because she’s not getting enough milk from me. I would rather see her gaining more weight to surpass premature state, rather than seeing her so small and so weak. Just sharing my thoughts… I know every mothers and babies are different, we have different preferences and beliefs, again this is just our personal choice! I just hope that every mothers will always choose what’s best for their babies, not only choosing breastfeeding because this is the trend, just because of their advocacies and just because they are deeply influence by social media or social groups. Choose breastfeeding because it is still BEST for babies, but always be open in feeding your baby with formula if your situation is not so ideal. It’s very rewarding to see our babies happily smiling right? 🙂
God bless you all mothers 🙂