Friday, September 1, 2017

How I collect 30 oz of breastmilk a day & direct feed at the same time

Hello Mommies!

Disclaimer: I am a total newbie (3 months into breastfeeding) and am in no position to teach other moms exactly what to do. This is my personal experience which I intend only to share what I've learnt in the past 3 months.

The essential first few days

A lot of mommies get discouraged from the very beginning of breastfeeding journey. On the first week, I toootally understand if you get stressed out thinking that you're not producing any milk. I thought the same. When actually, your newborn only needed a few drops of your gold liquid (not yet milk) which we don't really 'feel' them flowing out (obviously, because you're producing less than 1 oz of it). You may then wonder why your newborn suckle on your chest for almost an hour if they need only so little. Suckling is baby's God-given instinct to survive plus, they don't know much else what to do yet. I was clueless when my newborn baby was suckling on my 'empty' chest until she threw up about a spoonful of goldish liquid with specks of blood. The liquid was actually Colostrum, a VERY important first meal for babies to build up their immune system, and the blood was from cuts on my sore nipples 😓  which was harmless to the baby. The key is not to worry because stress hinders milk production. As long as your newborn poops and pees, continue letting them suckle on you. If things go well, your beautiful "twin sisters" will start filling up by the third day. Engorgement can be painful, yes. This is when you ask your 'tukang urut' to massage your new 'most-important-assets' to help with breaking out the flow. Or lagi senang, start using your breast pumps!

Things that have helped me A LOT
  1. Invest on a good electric breast pump. I know cheap ones work too, but if you really want to make your breastfeeding journey a quality one, get good stuff to help you with it. It's not worth stressing over something that should be helping you.
    I use Autumnz Blossom Single Rechargeable Breast Pump. There's plenty good ones out there so do your research and find one that suits you best.
  2. Working moms, get a double electric breast pump.
  3. Moms who multitask, this hands-free nursing bra might come in handy:
    I bought mine from Lazada. Click here.
  4. I swear by this silicone breast pump (below). It sticks to your boobie and hangs there until it's full so it's hands-free, it's noiseless, it pumps out milk naturally (vacuum) so there's no stinging sensation, in fact I find that it pumps out milk faster than an electric pump because milk flows out longer with vacuum compared to the 'sucking-let go' process electric pumps do. I bought two of these so that I can do both sides at one go. I ditched my electric pump for these babies because they're so much simpler and I don't have to wash a gazillion parts after every pumping session.
    I bought mine for as cheap as RM28.90. Click here.
  5. Breastmilk cooler bags easily cost hundreds of Ringgit. You can actually get good ones at Daiso and save so much. You can trust the Japanese to make quality stuff like this so fret not. 
  6. Nursing covers - you don't have to buy fancy ones just because they look cute. Trust me, every time I whip out my bright turquoise unicorn design nursing cover, all eyes are on me 😓 . And that's the last thing you want when you have a cranky baby hanging from your boobie.
  7. Use breastmilk ziplock storage bags to store your milk especially if you're stocking up. Bottles take up space in the freezer. Plus, disposable storage bags are more convenient and hygienic compared to bottles which you use and wash multiple times.
    The one I'm currently using.
Tips & Tricks
  1. Do not use breast pump too early which is when you're producing Colostrum and no matured milk yet because you don't want to risk wasting your liquid gold on the walls of the breast pump equipment. It is best to direct feed until mature milk kicks in.
  2. When you're at home, have your baby around or close to you when pumping. When you're away or at the office, look at photos or watch videos of your little sweetheart while pumping. Somehow this helps with letdown. I've read somewhere that once you become a nursing mom, even the sound of baby crying can trigger letdown. Funny how nature works but this is true!
  3. While nursing on one side, use a silicone milk collector on the other side to save leaking milk. Every drop is precious.
  4. Pump after nursing. It's easier to collect milk once letdown is present. 
  5. Or if your baby is like mine, cranky when the flow is too strong, you can pump before nursing. Not only baby gets to enjoy slow flow, they get hind milk too - milk with higher fat content at the end of a feeding.
  6. Massage to assist letdown. Sometimes when letdown stops, we might think that there's no more milk when in actual fact we still have so much more! Massage while pumping is the way to go.
  7. Don't time yourself. Seriously, just sit back and relax while pumping. Remember, stress hinders milk production. The goal is to empty each breast no matter how long you take.
  8. Power pump to increase production and to stock up on milk. Two things: 1) empty each side at one session, 2) do it as frequently as possible - every 2 or 3 hours.
  9. Before nursing or pumping, make sure you have all necessary things with you i.e. cellphone, handkerchief, pillow, etc. Just trust me on this one.
  10. Store your milk according to the amount your baby drinks at one feeding. Let's say if you pump out 6 oz at one pumping session, divide your milk into 2 packets/bottles (3 oz each) for your 1-month old baby. When your baby grows older and drinks more than 3 oz, increase the amount of milk in one packet/bottle. This is to avoid wastage if baby doesn't finish one serving.
  11. Storing milk in the freezer: lay the storage bag flat and let it freeze. Once frozen, you can organise them better by standing or stacking them up. This helps save so much freezer space.
  12. I know it's embarrassing when you have to tell your friends, colleagues or boss that you gotta go pump real quick, especially if you're in the middle of a meeting or lunch out with friends, etc. But hey, know that you're doing this for your little angel and that's top priority. Nak tak nak, just buck up and excuse yourself for a nursing break. Or else, goodbye social life.
  13. Share your nursing journey with other mommies. It doesn't only expand your knowledge by learning from each other, it's also tremendously good for your emotional stability.

Pumping schedule

I suck at having schedules, new daily routines, basically having discipline at all 😂 . I get a lot of people asking what's my pumping schedule like but honestly honey, I don't have one. Pumping actually became a habit because I hate it every time my milk leaks and leave wet spots on my shirt! And it's freakingly uncomfortable when my boobs get engorged 😩 . So before these things happen I'd force myself to pump.

 During my maternity leave I pumped every 3 hours or every time I feel "the girls" are engorged, and direct feed on demand. On my work days, well, I'm still working on a plan. But for the sake of knowledge, I'll share a few good ones that I found on Pinterest:

Power pump for those in confinement and wanting to stock up

For working moms wanting to pump at work

I hope this blog post will be able to, somehow, help other mommies wanting to stock up on milk supply. Please, if you want to share your nursing experience, you are very welcome to do so. As a new mom, I love listening to other mommies' experiences and sharing mine as well. 

Oh, here's a sneak peak into my freezer!

I'd love to get myself a deep freezer but I live in a studio apartment and space is an issue (yikes 😓 ).

Thank you for reading, lovelies!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

We got married and the next thing we know, there's a baby crib next to our bed.

Syukur alhamdulillah this year we are blessed with a wonderful baby girl in our small family. 

This is a story of how my delivery went. It's definitely one to remember. *sparkling sound effect*

My due date was supposed to be 7th June 2017 however on the morning of 3rd June, during my 39th week check-up, I was already 2cm dilated. At that time I didn't really 'feel' anything that shouts LABOR except that I felt I was done with pregnancy. I just wanted the baby out! However I did feel my Braxton Hicks getting more constant and stronger the past couple of days. So the doctor sent a staff nurse to find me a room and told me to go home and pack my things and to see them later in the evening for my delivery. I was like, "Wait what? How sure are they that I was going to deliver tonight?? I'm not feeling any labor..... was that period cramps???" A little panicked, I told the nurse okay, let's get me a room for tonight. 

In the car on our way back home, I googled "cramps after maternity check-up" or something like that. So I learned that during the dilation check, the doctor actually did a 'membrane sweep' which, I read, can start labor. So that's why she was so sure I was going into labor in a few hours.

When we reached home, my husband and I took a long nap because if I really was going to deliver that night, we'd need the energy for the 'heavy work' later. When we woke up, the cramping was gone. We decided to call the hospital and tell them I wasn't going into labor and that we'll come in the next day. The nurse told us no, the doctor wanted me to come in that night because I was getting induced. Err, I didn't remember agreeing to this but okay. I wanted the baby out ASAP anyway. Lol. So I told everyone I was going to the hospital and asked for forgiveness if I had wronged them in any way and to pray for us a smooth delivery. I kissed and hugged my mom and she got a little teary-eyed (of course). 

6.30 PM : As we stepped into my room and rested my enormous, heavily pregnant body on the hospital bed, I got shivers and my hands got cold. Damn I was so scared! My husband gave me a long hug and said he was so proud of me bla bla bla sorry I'm getting teary-eyed already typing this LOL. And just a few minutes later when I went to the toilet I saw that I had a bloody show which is a sure sign that labor is on the way. Whoa! The doctor was right I really was going into labor that night!

8.00 PM : My contraction was supposed to start by now. Maybe it had but it wasn't strong. I could still joke around with my husband (although very nervously). I was all wired to the CTG machine from which we could hear our baby's heartbeat. It was melody to my ears.

10.00 PM : The nurse took us to the labor room. It was time. My husband and I walked hand-in-hand and we were both very quiet. (I wonder why I wasn't pushed in on a wheelchair hmmm 🤔 )

The mid-wife came in, I was 4 cm dilated. she punctured my water bag and hoped my contraction to grow stronger. Almost an hour passed and nope, contractions were mild. They hooked me up with Oxytocin drips to bump up the contractions. Oh boy did they get a lot stronger! 

How I would describe labor contractions are, they're actually different from period cramps. Sooo much more painful. They come in waves. You can see them coming from the CTG machine which is helpful. I laid on my side as the nurse said "would help the cervix to open". 0% relax and breath. 10%, 30%, 40%, oh boy, 30%, 20%, 0%. Phew breath.. Faris was right there holding my hand and monitored the CTG for me. The mid-wife asked me again if I was sure I didn't want Epidural for the pain and I said no, thank you. And then it peaked higher. 0%, 15%, 25%, 40%, 60%, ouch!!! 55%, 35%, 20%, 5% Phew breath.. The pain was indescribably strong. I appreciate my mama even more now having felt how she felt giving birth to me. 0%, 20%, 50%, 80%, 100% THAT'S IT CALL THE MID-WIFE. NOW, HUBS, NOW.

And so the pushing drama began. The mid-wife came in and I was 7 cm dilated.. 9 cm dilated.. 10 cm dilated. Here we go. I thought the contractions were the worst thing I've ever felt in my life but NOPE, pushing out a baby's head out of your gentle area was 10x more painful. I swear I thought that there was a possibility of dying at one point. I could see my whole life passing in front of me. No exaggeration here. All I could think of was GOD FORGIVE ME. Every time I push, I felt my face was so stretched I thought it was tearing off! And when the contraction paused, I relaxed, voiceless, and reminded myself "Yes I can do this. Yes I am strong". Meanwhile, the mid-wife and my husband had a chirpy pause "Oh look sir, that's your baby's head!" while her fingers played with my baby's hair 😑 . I had around 6 pushes before the baby was out.

12.22 AM : I gave one last push and brubb! The baby was out! Immediately the contractions stopped. Alhamdulillah! I just gave birth! The mid-wife and nurses cheered and congratulated me and Faris. They held up a tiny little person covered in white wax and asked me what's the gender, ma'am? My vision was so foggy and I said "a girl" and again they cheered.

They cleaned the baby and there it was, her heart-throbbing cry. It was the most beautiful thing to hear. They handed her to Faris and he whispered in her tiny ears the sound of Iqamat. And that, was the most beautiful thing to see. At this point I couldn't care less about the pain of getting poked and stitched down there. Carry on, Dr. Mid-Wife!

Alhamdulillah Allah helped me through my first labor. Only 2.5 hours in the labor room, Normal delivery, no epidural, healthy 3.0 kg baby girl. 

The point of this blog post was actually about what happened after I delivered. 6 hours after labor I had a traumatic experience where I had to be pushed into the labor room again. But this one is already long enough! Maybe I'll share that in the next blog post. If I have the time. 😂

🌸 Jasmine Afrina Binti Mohamed Faris 🌸
Born on June 4th, 2017 at 12.22 AM
Weighing 3.0 kg at birth
Mommy & Daddy's little sunshine

Thank you for reading! xoxo

Thursday, March 2, 2017

We All Have Big Dreams Once Upon A Time

Sometimes I wish I could be a kid again. Always filled with wild imaginations, free to have big dreams not restricted to worldly worries, aware that I have the freedom to express, I could run, laugh, jump and scream "I want to reach for the stars!" and far from getting judgemental comments, people would instead, smile.

18 years ago I couldn't wait to be a grown-up. I wanted so bad to know what I would become -- a scientist? An astronaut? A businesswoman? I wished so hard that I would wake up the next day already an adult. I was even convinced at myself that the future me would build a time machine, "just you wait! Future-Me will come visit me one day in one of her time-travelling trips!"

Fast forward to now, reality. I am all grown up - young still, but grown. Matured. Understand that yes, we can have dreams - I still have my ambitions to chase - but it all comes down to a well-thought out timeline. Goal, target. Own a property - done. What's next? A second house and an online business? Great but what are the consequences to consider? Let's list that down:

To buy a bigger house:
  • Current house is only sellable in a minimum 4 years time considering the market value and profits to make it worth. So in the meantime,
    • Plan A: rent it out. Risk: No renter because current market value is too high, loss > profit
    • Plan B: turn it into a homestay. Risk: it's not near any nature attraction areas nor is it in a city thus target audience is too niche - business people only
    • Plan C: Keep the current house and hope for miracles I'd have enough savings to buy a second house in 5 years time
  • More to consider, if I were to pursue with Plan A & B I'd have to rent a place to stay. Taking into account that my financial status isn't that impressive, I'd step back from juggling payments for my house loan, house rent and costs to be alive in this money-sucking world.
To have an online business:
  • What should I sell? Or what service should I be involved in?
  • Should I quit my job to commit to the highs and lows of business?
  • Do I have the money for a capital? No. So when should I start saving up? Another timeline to craft.
  • If I quit my day job and start an online business career, can this promise that I will have more time to focus on raising a child?
DREAM. GOAL. AMBITION. Big words that come with big commitments, big risks, big sacrifices.

I do wish a magical fairy-god-mother would appear to make it all easier. Don't you?

No, my dear. That's the beauty of it. You want something you gotta earn it. Good things will only come to those who hustle. Coz when Allah puts you through challenging times, remember, the tougher the journey, the more satisfying the reward will be. Allah's plan is greater than whatever you have in your well-thought out timeline.

Life is tough, but Alhamdulillah, soon I will get to experience childhood again. Through raising the child that I am carrying in my belly. It will be a break from reality. I could sing and dance and laugh and run again, with my mini-me. And instead of warning her about reality, I will instead smile and encourage her when she tells me about her dreams. She'll scream "I want to reach for the stars!" Oh yes you will my darling, yes you will.


Mommy can't wait to meet you and hold you in my arms, little one. In just a few short months Mommy and Daddy will hug and kiss you and love you with all the pieces of our body. I will try my best to be your magical fairy-god-mother for you to turn to when life gets hard. And I will try my best to make all your dreams come true.