I’d like you to meet Breastfeeding mama, Jite O. She is from Nigeria and is a mother of a precious little girl. She wants to share her journey in hopes that new and experienced mothers can be encouraged to overcome challenges, big or small, and believe that they can provide breastmilk for their children. She wants mamas everywhere to know IT IS POSSIBLE!
Read all about her breastfeeding story ⇓. After feel free to leave a comment and let us know if you can relate?
My breastfeeding journey…hmmmmm. It’s been filled with many downs, but there have been many ‘ups’ too. First of all, I’d like to say breastfeeding is not as easy as it looks in those cute photos we see on social media; or when we see another mother seem to do it so effortlessly. From my 7-month plus journey, I can gather that a few things should have been done from the very beginning to either make the journey so hard or make it extremely easy.
I made a lot of those initial mistakes and my journey has not been as easy as it may have been. Ok, enough of the gloom, lol, here goes….
I started my breastfeeding journey in March the day after my beautiful daughter was born. She was sitting so cozily at 40 weeks, not ready to say hello to the world at all. I started having contractions late in the evening on my EDD but no dilation. Labour was induced, and after 48 long hours with very little progress we had to do an emergency C-section to get my little Princess out. My expectation was to have a smooth vaginal delivery, and in my part of the world, C-sections are really frowned upon. So I went into a depression right from the theater. I woke up in my room 3 hours later, lots of activity around me, my husband and his Mum cooing over our baby but I felt so out of the picture. I could not sit up, so I could not hold her and breastfeeding was the last thing on my mind. Little did I know that this initial stage was so important for me and my little one.
I did not attempt breastfeeding till the next evening. And it was so painful. I think I only tried for a minute or so. Everyone around me said to get formula. At that point, I thought it was perfectly ok since I wasn’t producing any milk. And I was still feeling dazed and detached. Fast forward to the third day when we went home. The way our society is wired, once the baby comes out everyone shifts their attention COMPLETELY to the baby. The mother is relegated to the background. The best you’ll hear is ‘eat well so you can feed the baby’. While this is good, it didn’t help me. I was already disappointed in my birthing experience, and I felt no bond with my baby. I also did not know the benefits of breastfeeding, and I had very sore and bleeding nipples each time I tried. We don’t have lactation consultants in this part of the world. The doctors and nurses were more than happy to recommend formula and started feeding my baby that before she was even one day old! The odds were against me.
Two weeks postpartum I actually came to terms with the fact that I had a mild case of postpartum depression, and with my husband’s support I reached out to a psychologist who talked me through the process for another two weeks till I felt better. One month postpartum was when I began my research on breastfeeding (another mistake). All I found made me so sad that I didn’t know so much sooner. I remember reaching out to THE LACTATING MAMA and she offered so much advice and support back then. I also reached out to a few ladies who make lactation cookies for sale here in Nigeria (also didn’t know those existed). Then I got on a pumping schedule and I was finally able to give my baby at least one 4oz of breastmilk per day….which was a combination of three or more pumping sessions. After 2 weeks, my daily pumping output increased to 8oz per day. I was happy but I kept up with research, I was determined to get at least one day where my baby would take only breastmilk, no formula. Even if it was just one day. The I found Fenugreek. With that, I was able to increase my pumping output to about 12oz. I kept searching and stumbled on Legendairy Milk supplements. Pump Princess was IT for me. My highest pump per day so far is 24oz. Double what I was producing while I was taking Fenugreek. My baby was now taking ONLY breastmilk to daycare and I was able to build a small freezer stash. We hardly used formula now. She was gaining weight nicely and hitting all milestones ahead of time. All I could see was smooth sailing and milky days ahead till our 1-year goal….
Then at the beginning of October, I found out I had breast and nipple thrush. My nipples were cracked and bleeding all over again. Breastfeeding has been very painful, with more of the pain after I breastfeed. Currently undergoing treatment, and getting better. I had to drop my pumping schedule, and reduce breastfeeding which has completely tanked my supply. Also had to stop taking all supplements to avoid getting engorged when there was almost no way to get the milk out (yeah, tried hand expression….painful!!!). That’s still not over, I’m recovering and I won’t lie I have been VERY tempted to call it quits now. I mean, no one can say I haven’t tried right?
But I’m not quitting now. Once I get cleared that the thrush is completely gone I’ll resume breastfeeding and my pumping routine again.
I’m also determined to breastfeed my other children exclusively. I know now…so many things I won’t allow the doctors, nurses or family members pressure me to do at the initial stage.
My baby deserves every drop of liquid gold I can give. I’m determined to keep at it. Start again if I have to. Till we get to one year.