Week 2 Postpartum Diary- Breastfeeding is a hard job

15 May 2019


Every day is different. Nights are even more varied. We seem to suss the night & sleep routine 2 evenings and the next night everything goes funky again. Aiza seems to sleep all day one day and then sleep most of the night the next. Babies really have messed up day and nights and I’m kinda accepting it as my new normal. However hard we try to control her sleep cycle, she is still the boss and rules all the way.

One of my episiotomy stitches got painfully infected last week so this week was all about breastfeeding while lying down. Still clueless why no one suggested me to do that at the birthing unit because the throbbing pain from the stitch was straight up scary. I didn’t want things to escalate to a full blown uterus infection so at the risk of thrush (yeast infection of nipples that gets passed between mum and baby), I still took a 5 day antibiotic course. I stopped wearing those stuffy maternity pads and kept my stitches clean & dry and aired them out, which seems to have really helped and things are so much better from what they were 2 days ago. I couldn't even climb one stair. Imagine living in a 2-storey house with all bedrooms on first level. The 16 stairs that I had to do multiple times a day were piercingly painful.

As the blood flow from uterus is still substantial (and I'm not using any pads), I’m having to make multiple trips to the toilet to wash it out frequently (read every few minutes). It’s very hard and uncomfortable when you are managing a baby alone and can’t even walk or sit, so these extreme measures that have now been put into place in order to heal faster. I am also taking a dose of probiotics in order to ward off possible yeast infection from antibiotics. After ingesting many sachets of probiotics, I had a light bulb moment and have started including pickle and yogurt at every meal, my natural dietary probiotics that have never let me down.

Aiza seems to be doing ok. She cried a lot in the first week and half. To be honest, I might have cried with her too because it was impossible to figure out the reason from her incessant shrieks. When you are physically & mentally too flat out to help & soothe your bub, it’s certainly not a nice feeling. I did feel like a failure some moments but then some self pep-talk later, things were better. I have to remind myself that this is new to me and to her. I am not experienced and I have no one to guide me. I just have to trust my instincts and keep going forward.

One of the reasons for crying might have been feeding. Under-feeding. While breastfeeding, I used to feed her till she stopped and moved her head away. To me, that was the sign that she's full. In fact she wasn't because I didn't realize that if I offered her milk again a minute or so later, she would start sucking again. She was merely exhausted from sucking and not full, when I assumed otherwise. My lactation consultant noticed this and as soon as we rectified the situation, her crying frequency decreased. I feel bad about under-feeding her, when I had all this milk gushing out like a fountain, but how would I have known?

Let's talk about breastfeeding though. Single most hardest thing I've ever done. The naive me assumed that when the baby comes out, so will the milk. Some milk switch will switch on. Baby will latch on and drink some and be merry. SO WRONG. Breastfeeding is hard. It is painful and it is a huge learning curve, both for you and the baby, but is it also rewarding. For first 3 days, there was some clear yellow fluid/colostrum. I assumed that was all there is to breastfeeding. Wrong!
Come day 3, I woke up with painfully engorged boobs. Big, rock-hard, so full and so so painful. I tried everything to soothe them- hot showers, hand expressing, heat pads, etc. Nothing worked, except getting Aiza to drain them naturally (by feeding her). Poor bub who hadn't even learned sucking yet was put to work. Needless to say, there was lot of spit-ups and sour milk smell.

Not only are the boobs painful, getting your baby to latch on properly is a real pain. It is exhausting for both mum & bub to figure out the best position and angle to latch on. Once they do latch on and start sucking, there's cracked bleeding nipples. It's almost like it doesn't get easier, until it does. I did not have plan B (formula-feed). I was very adamant on getting it to work. My lactation consultant was an immense help. Beyond words. Her calm nature and her assurance that this is all normal and every new mom goes through this phase, helped me immensely. I persisted and I got through to the other side. The side where breastfeeding starts to come naturally. The pain subsides and your baby isn't getting annoyed after failing repeatedly trying to latch on. The first 2 weeks with breastfeeding were the hardest. Now, as the time is passing, it's getting easier for both me and Aiza. Now she can find her food in the dark. Such a pro!

I purchased a feeding pillow from Farmers NZ and it's by far, one of my top newborn essential. It gives your arms and back some much needed relief. I'm sure Aiza appreciated it too.

Everyday is such a learning curve. Both me and Sunny are just amazed at all the minor details of newborn care we discover each moment. When you see babies out and about, you never realize how hard it is to actually care for them. You don't realize the struggle it is to be out and about with a baby, juggling a million things, their nap time, feed schedule, diaper changes, fussy times.

Evenings are the hardest with Aiza. As it gets darker, she starts getting cranky. She loves her bath time but starts screaming from the time she's taken out of bath to the time I put her on the bed to feed & sleep. It's quite a test of your patience. You feel for the little thing but you also feel for yourself. Is this how my life will go from now on? Are my day and nights going to be a blur forever? Are we always going to have this bright night light on? Will I ever sleep an entire night again? When will these stitches heal? Is this bleeding going to stop anytime soon? Where has all my pregnancy energy dissipated? Why is my skin so dry and parched? Why am I eating at 3 am? Poop sleep repeat. Poop sleep repeat. 

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