Ask the Expert: Breastfeeding
By Jani Combrink
Monica S. writes:
I have a 6 week old baby, and I am doing both breastfeeding and formula feeding. I do not have enough breastmilk to feed my baby and the methods I am using to increase production (such as lactation herbs) are not working. I am stressed out, upset at myself and physically exhausted. This is hard work and I am not enjoying my baby. Wouldn’t full formula feeding give me more rest and allow me to stop stressing over breastfeeding so that I can enjoy my baby? That way, I also know and can relax that my baby is having enough milk.
Why does it seem that breastfeeding comes more easily to other mums? I feel like I am the only one having difficulties with breastfeeding. I am really struggling to find any joy in it.
I have been told that if I rest and relax, I will produce more milk. But how can I take a break and stop stressing about my milk supply? I only have 30 minutes between feeds to do anything. The constant cycle of feeding – getting my baby to sleep – holding my baby while she naps – feeding again is really wearing me out!
On top of everything, I have been getting snide comments from my mother in law. She says I should just quit breastfeeding if I don’t have enough milk. Please HELP!!!
My first question to you would be whether you have seen a lactation consultant yet? International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (“IBCLCs”) can really help mothers to understand the challenges they face and what their options are.
Most women actually do not have any issues with milk production. Unfortunately many do not realise this, and confuse normal infant feeding, sleeping and growth cycle for inadequate supply. Add in pressure from family and friends, and breastfeeding often gets the blame for anything and everything.
My advice to you is:
Find a good IBCLC that you like and trust.
Try to remember that your body made this little human… of course your body can feed the same little human.
If you do find it challenging to breastfeed, know that you are not alone. There is loads of support for breastfeeding moms in Singapore (both on social media and face-to-face). Chatting to other moms may help you realise how many women struggle at times with breastfeeding, and how the right support can help.
The lactation herbs you are on may not be the right blend for you. There are many, many more options to increase supply than just herbs (both medicinal and not). Discuss these with your IBCLC to find the right combination for you.
ALWAYS remember that every mother-baby-dyad is different and unique. What worked for your MIL, sister, friend, etc may not work for you and your baby.
Be kind to yourself. Take a moment to just be you. It is okay to not enjoy the journey you are on right now.
Once you have all the information about what is NORMAL and expected, and what your options are, you can make an informed decision about feeding your baby. Only you can decide that.
Breastfeeding, though sometimes challenging in the beginning, becomes really really easy. Try to not quit on your worst day - but if you do decide to supplement for whatever reason, please remember that we all do the best we can with what we know. If you feel that this is the best option for you, after exploring all the possibilities, own your decision.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jani Combrink is a South African registered nurse/midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant living and working in Singapore. She is currently working at the Mother & Child Centre and is the mother of three boys. She founded the Stork’s Nest Singapore network of support groups in Singapore (including Breastfeeding Support Singapore), and her passion is in working with families and providing resources, information and support.