Its really tough when you don’t have the support of your family on breastfeeding. It definitely didn’t come easy for me.
My in-laws are the typical traditional Chinese who loves boys more than girls, as the boys will carry the surname of the family and hence producing more offspring for the ‘Loh’ (their surname) generation.
So lucky them, my in-law have 3 sons. So no child was neglected. My 2 sis-in-law gave birth to girls before I gave birth to my 1st child, A BOY. So naturally my in-law, especially my mum-in-law was over the moon. She wanted to make sure that this boy, the very 1st grandson of the ‘Loh’ Family, is well taken care off; and she is a woman of strong character who believes in no one else except herself.
She strongly refused to let me breastfeed him. I spent my confinement days at her house, it was really chaotic. There were several reasons:
1) She wanted more time with the child. For breastfeeding, its really easy, whenever the child cries, just feed. If he refuses, then go check on his diapers. After feed he’ll just sleep. And the routine goes on like that for the 1st month or 2. So its feed and sleep, feed and sleep…. I love those days, don’t need to crack my brain for new ideas to entertain him, unlike now and by doing so, she do not have time with the child, ‘cos the child is either in my arms, nursing or asleep on the bed.
2) She refused to let me feed him unless it was 2 hours from my previous feed. Allan and I tried to explain to her that what works for formula feeding does not work for breastfeeding. She insisted because she thinks that I will burst the baby’s tummy by over feeding! You will never over feed your baby, your baby will stop when he is full or will refuse to be fed if he is not hungry. Hey, he has sensations too! He knows what he wants even as a baby, his human after-all! So my poor baby cried and cried till the time was up for feeding. She kept holding him until the time was up!
3) And because my poor child cried so much, he lost his voice when he was 1 week old and developed colic. My mum-in-law thinks that I pampered him too much by breast feeding him the moment he cries. She did not like the idea that there is no hard and fast rule in breast feeding.
4) She believes that breast-milk is more diluted so its not filling at all. At this point, don’t you think she is contradicting herself?! First she say I will over feed and burst the baby’s tummy, now she thinks that its not filling to the stomach. Can you imagine how unstable emotionally I was? And yes, I had postnatal blues. It was horrible!
5) Because we are Chinese, so during our confinement days, we had to drink ‘D.O.M’ or ‘Yomeishu’ which contains some liquor to build up our body stamina. She thinks that its a MUST to drink this and hence a ‘reason’ to stop me from breastfeeding, ‘cos the liquor will go to the baby through breast milk. Allan and I told her that I did not want to drink that, I want to breastfeed, but she finds that by breast feeding, it breaks all the tradition there is during confinement days.
6) Then there was the ‘Ginger’ problem. Ginger is believed to ‘remove air or wind’ in the stomach so its another MUST to eat things cooked with ginger. Since the baby is out of the tummy, there is nothing left except for air, so ginger will do the trick to get the air out and reduce the tummy. She refused to believe that breast feeding can flattened the tummy much better and faster through calories burnt. The main reason was she strongly believe that eating food cooked with ginger WILL cause the baby to have jaundice. Allan and I explained that I just need to avoid ginger food for the 1st 10 days and after that I will be able to take it, but again she finds that by not doing that, it breaks the tradition.
7) Due to reason 2, the whole family will be woken up by the crying more often in the night, instead of the 2 hourly cry. I was thinking, “Oh please, this is a life, a baby and babies cry at night, even though they are formula fed, it may not be a 2 hourly cry.” Allan and I explained to her that, won’t it wake up the whole family even more, if we still need to switch on the lights just to prepare the milk, its a faster way and easier way to quietened down the baby when all I need to do is unbutton and feed. Isn’t it more straight forward that way? She ignored. “Ahhhhhhh”
8) If you have read this, you would have remembered that during confinement, I was not allowed to bathe or have any skin contact with water. For hygiene purpose, I need to keep my breast and nipple clean, so I will wipe with a warm towel before and after each feed. She hated the idea! Firstly, I had to feed on demand which may turn out to be more than 12 feeds a day; Secondly, I had to come in contact with water so often. She went “No, no, no…” all the way.
We were quarrelling almost every other hour, it was so bad that Allan gave in after the 1st week and said “Forget about the breastfeeding for this confinement period. When this 30 days is over, you can breastfeed as much as you want when we are back at our house.”
And so, my mother-in-law won. For the next 3 weeks, MY BABY slept in her room in the night!Ahhhh…it was nightmare for me, I just could not sleep well. I am still boiling as I type this now.
I continued to pumped regularly to keep the supply, but its just not the same! The supply did not keep up with the growing baby needs, it was never enough; on top of that, my boy preferred the taste of the formula after being fed for 3 whole weeks on formula only. What a failure!