OBS Story - Ning
Ning with her daughter and partner
I am a first-time mum and was 36 years old when gave birth to my first and only daughter, Mia. I spent my early 35 years’ life in different countries across Asia and Europe, living, studying, working, and traveling to enjoy the different experiences brought by different cultures. While enjoying my life, I also experience various challenges. However, none of the challenges is the same as breastfeeding.
When I was in the last trimester of my pregnancy, coronavirus was raging with no place to hide. The first national lockdown came as expected, however, I absolutely had no idea how difficult delivery and breastfeeding of a lockdown baby can be.
I had a very traumatic delivery at the beginning of the first national lockdown, 33 hours of induced labour followed by a caesarean section and emergency surgery due to massive blood loss. My daughter was sent to high dependency care in JR immediately after her birth and was kept there to have oxygen supply and antibiotic injection for the following days. Therefore, everything I have planned for the birth and breastfeeding fell through. My daughter and I had no skin-to-skin contact right after delivery, and she couldn’t stay with me in the first few days of her birth. In JR, I have met an excellent midwife who showed me how to hand express colostrum without any pain. After several attempts of hand expressing, I had got no progress in collecting any colostrum for my daughter, and thus I stopped trying and had to agree with paediatric doctors that if the donated breast milk is not enough, my daughter can be fed by formula. Not insisting on hand expressing is one thing I regret most at the beginning of my breastfeeding journey. Due to the separation with my baby in the hospital, I lost the chance to talk with JR infant feeding team.
The care I have received from OBS supported me through the most difficult lockdown time and gave me the motivation to continue my breastfeeding path.
After 5 days in the hospital, my daughter and I went back home and finally, I can start breastfeeding. I encountered probably all the issues that you can find online for breastfeeding, low milk supply, sore and cracked nipple, mastitis. We get relentlessly struggled in each feeding, starting with jiggling, going on with constant de-latching and relatching and ending up with crying and frustrations. I consulted with my midwives, health visitors and other consultation sources, however, nothing has improved. Although I am a person with strong will, I was seriously considering giving up. When I was at a loss, my friend introduced OBS to me. Although there is still no face-to-face consultation due to the pandemic, I have got video phone calls and follow-up sessions booked after each consultation so that I had never thought I am left with no help. The care I have received from OBS supported me through the most difficult lockdown time and gave me the motivation to continue my breastfeeding path. When I was most helpless, Charlotte has been patiently answering and solving my various problems and counselling me, by encouraging me that as a first-time mother, I have done very well. She guided me to find the feeding method that suits me and my daughter most.
Breastfeeding is entirely a personal choice. As I’d fully embraced the proposition that breast milk is the best nutrition for a baby and that this is what I would feed my baby, my original goal was to ensure Mia to have breast milk for at least 6 months. A few days ago, she turned eight months old. During these eight months, I had managed to gradually increase the breastmilk portion in her feeding until it replaced formula to become her main food. Another thing that surprises me is that one day suddenly, Mia can latch on without a nipple shield.
As Mia starts eating solid food, I am ready to stop breastfeeding and milk expressing which will be another process full of challenges. Looking back at the efforts I made for breastfeeding, I feel a great sense of accomplishment, however, without the help from OBS, I cannot imagine I would be able to go this far.