I started my breastfeeding journey since March 2009, when our 1st child was born and I never stopped breastfeeding since then. I breastfed our 1st child past 1, 2, 3 years old, throughout my 2nd pregnancy, then went on to tandem nursed our first 2 kiddos for 1.5 years until our 1st child self-weaned at 45 months old. As for 2nd child, she is still nursing right now at 2 years old, I nursed through my 3rd pregnancy and currently tandem nursing our 2nd and 3rd child since 1st October 2013.
With all these experiences gained in my breastfeeding journey, I decided to pen down the critical phases which I think contributed to a successful breastfeeding journey.
For my 3rd post today, I will start off with: the 1st week after giving birth to your baby. By now, most likely you would have been discharged from the hospital and already in the midst to establish your breastfeeding routine with your newborn.
I believe the first week is critical because this is when something foreign happens to your baby and will likely to throw you off-guard and being a new parent, of course your first reaction is to do whatever it takes to heal your baby.
By something foreign, I am talking about jaundice. According to Wikipedia, "Neonatal jaundice is usually harmless: this condition is often seen in infants around the second day after birth, lasting until day 8 in normal births, or to around day 14 in premature births." You can read this article to understand more on Breastfeeding and Jaundice.
For our 3 kiddos, their jaundice started on day 5. You can read about our experience with jaundice in all 3 of our kiddos, but in summary:
First child's jaundice lasted for about 2 days as we admitted him to the neonatal ICU under bili lights treatments.
Second child's jaundice lasted for 2 months, no hospital admission though we caved in to antibiotics on week 6, something which I still regret as we couldn't get hold of our paed to consult his opinion.
Third child's jaundice lasted for almost 2 months, no hospital admission, no antibiotics, nothing. We just let the jaundice run its course and clear by itself. Exclusively breastfed baby can have prolonged jaundice up to 3 months.
By letting the jaundice run its course and clear by itself, I actually meant just continue exclusively breastfeed on demand. The more you can nurse your baby, the better. The more pee and poop that your baby can make, the better as bilirubin is flushed out through their pee and poop.
Look at the picture below, this is our 3rd child, Carolyn on day 6. You can see her yellow face and if you look closely to the whites of her eyes, there is obvious tinge of yellow as well in her eyes.
Now why I said 1st week is critical? You see, as a new parent, you get worried when you see your newborn baby turning yellow. And when you get worried, you quickly seek advice from others. From others most likely mean, your paed or doctor.
If you are lucky, you will get a doctor who will look out for any unusual jaundice symptoms (blood incompatibility, liver problems, etc).
If you are not lucky, the doctor will advice you to stop breastfeeding for 3 days and to solely give your baby formula milk.
I came across this post by Dr. Jack Newman on Facebook about the scoop on jaundice. Excerpt from the article: "So doctors often tell the mother to stop breastfeeding and put the baby on formula for 2 days (some for even a week, which is the same essentially, for many mothers, stopping altogether). Naturally, the bilirubin comes down, proving that breastmilk is the problem. Except that there was no problem in the first place. Bilirubin is known to be an anti-oxidant and may actually protect babies' cells from damage. If the baby has liver disease, except for some very rare causes such as galactosemia, there is no reason to stop breastfeeding either."
I've had friends being told by their paed to stop breastfeeding for 10 days and substitute with formula milk when their baby has jaundice. I was disappointed hearing that despite advising them to continue breastfeeding no matter what.
So, yes, the 1st week after giving birth is a critical phase in ensuring a smooth path to your successful breastfeeding journey. To sum this post up:
Critical Phase For Successful Breastfeeding Journey : the 1st week after giving birth to your baby.
Check whether baby is nursing well, peeing and pooping normally, active and alert as usual.
If your child is active, alert, peeing, pooping, feeding, gaining weight like normal, just continue on breastfeeding and don't cave in to substitutes, don't stop breastfeeding and don't give antibiotics.
If your baby does not exhibit the above signs and you are worry still, by all means, bring baby to doctor to check!
Among the things to watch out for and when to see doctor: poop is black in color (means internal bleeding), bloated tummy (means inflamed liver)
If your baby has to be admitted to the hospital for jaundice treatment, try to see whether you can stay with baby. If possible, room-in with baby so you can still nurse baby. If no, immediately start expressing (by hand preferably) and storing your breastmilk so that you can bring to hospital to feed baby.
- If there is no need for your child to remain at the hospital, just continue exclusively breastfeed on demand. The more you can nurse your baby, the better. The more pee and poop that your baby can make, the better as bilirubin is flushed out through their pee and poop.
Have faith in your breastmilk and your baby. Just keep on nursing and don't cave in to other factors which might jeopardise your breastfeeding journey.
That's all for my 3rd post in the critical phase for a successful breastfeeding journey!
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