from one mother to another — breastfeeding

although breastfeeding seems like a “natural” thing, a lot of it surprisingly doesn’t come naturally to a mother who’s new to breastfeeding. it’s a skill that needs to be learnt — kinda like driving — and there’s a lot of theory to understand if you intend to breastfeed.

i’m no lactation consultant, but here are some pieces of information which i now know are useful for a new mum who wants to exclusively breastfeed in the first few months.

by the way, struggling to breastfeed a newborn is completely normal, even among women in a pro-breastfeeding culture, so don’t be discouraged!

forming a support network

  1. finding sisters who have breastfed, are breastfeeding, or are going to breastfeed is super important. as a first timer there will be many, many questions and many, many unfamiliar situations. having people to discuss these issues with will teach a lot and keep you sane. there are breastfeeding facebook groups out there, but i think best is to find people you know in real life whom you are comfortable texting.

establishing milk supply in the first three weeks

  1. breastmilk supply is essentially about demand and supply. your breasts are containers, and the more you empty them, the more your body will refill them. some of us have bigger “containers” than others, and these differences come to play when comparing pumping output, but as long as you continue to latch or pump, insyaAllah your body will provide enough milk for the baby. by the way, our capacities have nothing to do with breast size, because it’s about the number of milk ducts we have, not the amount of fatty tissue.
  2. the first 3 weeks after delivery is the most important period for our bodies to establish our milk supply. if we keep emptying our breasts, our bodies will know to keep producing milk. so keep latching, and try not to offer formula milk yet, otherwise your body won’t be receiving an accurate signal of how much milk your baby needs. it’s a vicious cycle: the more you supplement, the less you nurse. the less you nurse, the less you produce.
  3. our parents lived through a pro-formula milk era where advertising was aggressive and rampant. it’s not uncommon to hear them ask or declare that our “susu tak cukup” (milk not enough) or pass comments like “kesian dia, asik gantung sebab dia minum tak puas” (poor thing, baby has to keep latching cos he/she’s not satisfied at the boob). such comments are not only inaccurate but also hurtful. ignore them and stick to your guns. this is where having your husband’s support is crucial!
  4. my nurse told me that newborns aren’t born hungry because they’ve still got some nutrition from the last few days of being in our wombs. if your colostrum has not kicked in, latch anyway so that baby can help stimulate production. don’t despair! in any case, babies want the comfort of being close to their mothers’ bodies. it is normal for milk to kick in only a few days later. colostrum is super beneficial for babies, so don’t worry about when milk will come in. trust your body to do its thing. our job is to keep latching.
  5. there’s going to be a lot of leaking in the first month! buy a Haakaa pump, a cap or stopper for the pump (they’re sold separately), and milk storage bags, and collect leaking milk from The Other Boob. this milk will come in handy for bottle training.

establishing a good latch in the first two weeks

  1. it takes time and guidance for babies to establish a good latch (watch video here; plenty of diagrams elsewhere). in the first two weeks, your nipples may feel sore, and that’s normal. however, cracked and bleeding nipples are NOT normal. if your baby seems to have a good latch but you’re still hurting, see a lactation consultant immediately. if it turns out that your baby has tongue or lip ties which prevent him/her from latching well, you can get them corrected asap so that you don’t have to suffer any longer. these problems are unlikely to go away on their own…
  2. if baby is unable to latch well, there’s also the option of exclusively pumping. however it’s more work and requires passion and a truckload of perseverance. personally i would set aside money to consult an expert (lactation consultant) to try salvage direct latching.
  3. breastfeeding positions — at NUH, i was taught to use cross-cradle which i found very useful because i would support Watermelon’s head and place my thumb and finger on her ears, and then guide her to the breast. when she got stronger and more pro, cradle worked fine. i didn’t try football hold, but i imagine it’s also a position that allows you to closely guide baby’s head to your boob.
  4. as long as your baby pees and poops regularly, you’re doing great momma. here is a good chart summarising how often you should feed, baby’s tummy size, how many wet diapers to expect, etc.

Guide-to-BF-chart-copy

Credits: Perth District Health Unit

jaundice

  1. apparently it is common for doctors to advise mothers NOT to offer breastmilk when a baby has jaundice. they could not be more mistaken. you can read Dr Jack Newman’s explanation here, but in short, KEEP BREASTFEEDING. in his words, “Do not stop breastfeeding for “breastmilk” jaundice. “Breastmilk jaundice” does not need to be treated. It is normal!”

breast vs bottle

  1. drinking from a milk bottle and drinking from the breast requires two different skills from babies. the flow from a milk bottle is faster and requires less effort. so if you introduce a bottle too early, the baby may prefer the milk bottle and start to get frustrated at your “slower” breast.
  2. if you intend to return to work, you should introduce the bottle shortly after the baby has learnt how to latch well. during my prenatal classes, we were advised to introduce around 3 weeks. i introduced it at around 7 weeks and luckily for me it went okay. if you introduce too late, the baby may reject the bottle, which will lead to other going-back-to-work problems.

my favourite resources

Ina May has a book on breastfeeding (affiliate link). she’s well known for her book on gentle birthing. it’s a super detailed read, but she writes with a gentle and loving “voice”, something that i really welcomed.

Stanford University produced a super helpful video on hand expression.

Nancy Mohrbacher is a well-known IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who has plenty of good breastfeeding articles on her website.

I also like Breastfeeding USA’s compilation of evidence-based research articles. A lot of the content overlaps with Nancy Mohrbacher’s, but I like how they categorise the articles.

okay this is all i can think of, for now. feel free to add! might be an information overload, but that’s motherhood for newbies right? 😀

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milestones!

assalamualaikum! it has been a happening week. two highlights:

1. ninja groom’s sister got married!

alhamdulilah ninja groom’s sister was safely diijabkabulkan over the weekend. her wedding was a milestone for us/me for two reasons. firstly, when choosing the wedding date, it was agreed that ours would be x months (read: a reasonable interval) after her wedding so that relatives/friends of ninja groom’s parents wouldn’t be invited twice within a short span. so now that her wedding is over, I feel like we’ve passed by a huge milestone. *insert sigh of relief* bet time will fly starting from now!

oh and in case you’re wondering why tak combined terus, it’s cos there wasn’t a lot of interest to do this. mama kraken was just commenting to me: “imagine eh, by now you could have been married.” eeps! as much as I’m counting down to my wedding, my savings masih belum cukup :p I guess I’m quite set on my vision for my wedding reception and I wanna see it happen, even though it’ll take slightly longer to be able to afford it.

the second reason why the future sister in law’s wedding was a milestone is cos it’s the first time I met his relatives. oooh. during our engagement ceremony, only an uncle and wife accompanied his parents to my house. so I’ve not met rest of the uncles and wives and cousins. was it daunting? yeah, a little. but luckily my FMIL brought me around to introduce me to them on Friday night so I just went around salam-salaming before I ran off to help ninja groom run errands and then devour the trademark Friday night tulang. yums.

on the actual wedding day, I had the chance to chat with 1-2 more of his maternal aunts plus hang around with his paternal aunts after we had finished packing up. I’m glad that both sides are nice, friendly and not intimidating. phew!

on a sidenote, the FMIL made her own bunga manggar! she used cloth, green tape, and sapu lidi (punya lidi).

cloth bunga manggar
handmade bungga manggar from different scraps of cloth

cloth bunga manggarclose up

playing with cat 1 on the way to pasting directional signs, we played / teased cats with them lol

playing with cat 2 this one kinda destroyed one of the buds..whoops!

2. today is our engagement anniversary!

been a year since his mum put a ring on it! ok lah although being engaged doesn’t make us a legit halal couple, one year of being engaged is still kinda significant to me. it’s been a great year for us, thankfully. although the wedding date discussion put a lot (and I mean, a lot) of ~tension~ between us in the beginning, the rest of the time has seen us grow closer, more mature and more responsible. I’m just glad to be on this journey towards marriage with no one else but ninja groom. I discover more and more just what a selfless and loving person he is, like when he gives in to my whims and fancies regarding our wedding. and so I trrryyy my best to reciprocate. I’ll shameless admit it’s difficult for a last child like me who never had to give in much (muahaha) but ok la i must evolve and embrace change yah.

lastly, a mini highlight is that I finally overcame inertia to start ngaji over the weekend. wow, I am so incredibly karat. but inertia is a powerful force, and the first step is always the hardest…

big change!

so, God answered ninja groom’s prayers cos recently, his mum relented to having a smaller scale wedding. they are most likely downsizing from say, 1000 pax to 400-500 pax. needless to say, member happy giler ah.

the boy who previously wasn’t particularly keen on wedding planning is now a tad more semangat. applause.

another change is that his reception will be moved from Sun, 10 May to Sat, 9 May evening. that’s a big deal uolls. cos it means that the 2-day wedding affair i will now be 1-day. which means that my friend’s wedding itinerary which I was so going to happily copy is now irrelevant. *insert dramatic tears* on a more serious note, it also means that both my photographer and mak andam will have to work longer hours at one shot BUT can book another couple on 10 May. (rejoice!)

i’ll have to plan my own 1-day itinerary (i can roughly guess how it goes) and as much as possible I’ll try give them a break in the middle cos it’s gonna be a hella tiring day! not that 2-day weddings are any less tiring, but maybe the night sleep helps?

anyways if anyone has any suggestions on such 3-in-1, 10am to 10pm wedding programmes, do share! thank you in advance 🙂

both ninja room and I are machiam back to the early stage of wedding planning: waiting for vendors to (ever so slowly — by our standards) confirm the change in schedules. WARGH! my least fevret part, really.

majlis khatam al-Quran


(source: thrivalroom.com)

i stumbled upon a lovely picture of a pre-nikah khatam Quran ceremony on IG recently. it looked very regal. the bride sat in the middle of the stage in her glittery baju, flanked by a row of bridesmaids in their matching outfits on each side. i was very moved by the photo. not just by the bride taking the time to read the Quran before her nikah ceremony, but also the fact that she had this circle of ladies/friends/sisters whom she could love the Quran with.

the photo made me realise that i’ve been so caught up chasing after my wedding bucket list that i’ve forgotten about my ancient, unfulfilled resolution to khatam the Quran. i’ve been obsessed with worldly goals like getting better skin, achieving straight teeth, saving up enough so that we can put together a decent wedding reception that i’d forgotten about how once upon a time when i was in my early teens, when i attended ngaji weekly, i’d tell myself “ok i must khatam the Quran this year” at the start of the year for two years. then when i stopped attending ngaji under the guise of CCAs and O level preps, i forgot about it altogether. whoops. or rather, astaghfirullah.

soooo i asked mama kraken about having my own majlis khatam Quran.

me: kat khatam Quran, orang nanti baca jus ‘amma aje eh?
mama k: yes. tapi dorang bukan suka-suka datang baca juz ‘amma aje tau. you kene baca juz 1-30 dulu.
me: haaa
mama k: and you tak boleh baca sorang-sorang. you mesti baca berguru
me: haaaaaaaaa

verily, it is not as easy as i thought. pardon my ignorance! i’ve never been to any majlis khatam Quran nor have i had the chance to discuss with ex-BTBs who held one.

so anyways mama kraken helped me approach her two good friends who happen to be our neighbours, who have agreed to coach me. yay syukur alhamdulilah. i’ll need to work out a schedule though. seems like Saturday mornings can’t be sleep in mornings anymore 😦 i’m sure it might be tiring, challenging, maybe even frustrating… but i pray that i will have the patience + perseverance to see this thru. wish me luck!

if you had a majlis khatam Quran or you’ve attended one, please share your experience cos I’d love to know! 🙂

our first wedding exhibition experience – kisah cinta

the ninja groom and i went to our first wedding exhibition of sorts today. it was a high tea hosted by Quality Hotel Marlow and planned by Comel Molek Decor. $25 per couple, so i thought not bad lah. i learnt about it from FB. the only reason why i wanted to go was to see Dessert Artisans so that i could understand their services better and do a bit of food tasting. i figured that no amount of FB or IG or websites or ex-btb reviews can match up to checking out food-related services in real life.

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the first thing we realised when we reached the hotel was that we didn’t know where exactly the exhibition was. tetiaow. . .poster fail. we asked the concierge (who in turn asked someone else) and were directed to the Quality Ballroom on level 3. ohhh. say lah.

we arrived right when a tarian showcase was going on. after that the dancers went around finding partners to dance with them. i was hoping hard we wouldn’t get picked (there didn’t seem to be a lot of victims to choose from!), and thankfully they spared us. immediately after that was a lucky draw where they gave out prizes sponsored by the different booths. smart! (ok pardon me, it is my first wedding exhibition after all. . .bet they do this everywhere) i was relieved when the lucky draw ended and the chatty host gave the ballroom some peace.

then we checked out the different booths. the problem – or not, depending on how you look at it – was that we weren’t really that interested in the services because we either already have our hearts set on other vendors (like for photography, photo booth, henna) or decided we don’t really need them (like gubahan, bridal chamber, videography). so i felt a bit bad chatting them up and wasting their time. all the vendors we spoke to were so nice and patient in explaining to us, and it was sayang that we’re just not their target audience.

wedding tier table or candy buffet?

the last booth we visited was the very one we attended the high tea for. Dessert Artisans was promoting their wedding tier table, which is supposed to replace the wedding cake. so it’ll be set up beside your dais, beautifully decorated to match your theme. the part of their concept which i didn’t quite agree with is that it’s a see-no-touch thing. their suggestion is that you can distribute the desserts and goodies to your close family and friends after the event. i’ve not seen it at play but i’m just wondering. . .how do you tell kids and sweet-toothed guests that oops sorry, i know the chocolate looks great but you can’t eat it. . .

nonetheless, i realise nothing’s to stop us if we want to turn the wedding tier table into a candy buffet and let our guests attack it. the only concern is the numbers. . .their wedding tier tables are typically designed for 100 pax, but for a 1,000 pax wedding, that ain’t gonna be enough. i’m thinking maybe 300 pax will do, cos after you multiply the variety (4-5 types) x 300 pax, there’ll be enough for everyone. plus not everyone will go for it. . .i doubt makchicks will fancy macarons and friends.

we left without securing my date because i had to go home to discuss with the parents, who are picking up the food tab :p but at least i got to learn how candy buffets work!

verdict of the event

considering that we didn’t eat full servings of the nasi briyani because we came from a friend’s place where we had lunch + cake, and we didn’t book anything, i don’t think i got a lot out of my $25. but ok lah, it still wasn’t such a bad experience. there’s a first time for everything. at least now we know that wedding exhibitions aren’t really for us since we’re either DIY-ing or doing away with some of the ‘usuals’. also we are quite the cyber stalkers when it comes to vendors, so we pretty much already have our own shortlists and meeting new vendors at exhibitions are unlikely to sway us. plus we still have about 15 months to our wedding, so we’re still relatively relaxed about booking vendors.

decision on dessert table + venue update

after sharing my findings with my mum, we’re not going for a dessert table after all. we will just ask the caterer to provide more cuci mulut, or ask a separate makchick to supply us the desserts. so our dessert corner may not look beautiful, but insyaAllah it’ll feed the guests, which is our intention.

also! venue wise, it has been decided that we’ll have it at our nearest CC. we’ve been back and forth on this one. actually for a long time i wanted a void deck wedding. reason being that i grew up attending and helping out at my older cousins’ void deck weddings, so i also wanted to have my own. and then recently we explored having it at our CC, but caterers seem to have all sorts of extra surcharges and hurdles so we shelved the idea. but even more recently the tekun mum managed to clarify that cooking is allowed, so we’re going ahead, insyaAllah. hope our booking goes smoothly. . .else i’m trying to mentally prepare myself that the back up plan is the void deck, which was the original plan anyway.

goal-setting for wedding planning

on the way to work this morning I listened to a video by Marie Forleo and Ned Hallowell on setting clear and defined goals, to help us set our priorities straight so we achieve the things that are very important to us without having to feel so overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks/noise.

so, I thought I would apply it to myself re:wedding planning. the idea is to set three short-term goals every day, three mid-term goals for the next 1-2 weeks, and three long-term goals for the next 6-12 months. and also three lifetime goals.

ok but I’m modifying mine since wedding planning is kinda a side thing on top of my daily life (or at least I try to make it seem that way – I’m not obsessed about my wedding, I’m not! I’m not!)

3 short term goals (1-2 weeks)
1. secure new apmt with ishQ
2. arrange an apmt with Bliss
3. secure apmt with a decorator if we not taking up catering with Pak Haji

3 medium term goals (1-2 months)
1. book photographer + photo booth
2. book mak andam
3. book decorator (if applicable)

3 long term goals (6-12 months)
1. work out our living arrangements after marriage (house ain’t ready till 2Q 2016)
2. tailor sanding outfits in KL and Bandung, and maybe buy accessories (depending on andaman arrangements)
3. start planning honeymoon and sussing out the good deals

no idea how I’m going to keep monitoring these, but hopefully i remember to set goals consistently and that these goals help calm down the Kraken…amin!

p.s. if anyone’s interested in how to prioritise, here’s the video:

the kraken runs free

i’ve been terribly OBSESSED with wedding planning lately, and it’s been unhealthy. it’s barely two weeks since we got our date and i’ve been spending every waking moment just thinking, thinking about it. i wonder how long i can go on. . .although i suspect the end of the enthusiasm could be near.

here’s why:

mak andam – paused

can’t do much right now. my appointment with nora zee was postponed because she was unwell. have yet to fix an new apmt with her – gotta wait till she returns from her break. in case she’s not free on my date, i already have my second choice in mind. i haven’t checked if she’s free though, but i’m not overly worried about it. i’ll just ask her to recommend a colleague. *chants to self* must have abundance mentality!

decor – paused

the dream decorator is free on 9 May! yippee. however, i can’t go ahead to book them until my parents have booked a caterer. therein lies a problem because if they choose one that includes/insists (see pak haji story below) on decor, then i’ll have to let go of my decoration dreams. not only that, but if we really go ahead with pak haji, then i’ll have to settle for more standard decor. which is okay. . .just that i was hoping to go for something whimsy and young.

the pak haji story

so far my parents have tasted Amani’s food, and are now pending their next food tasting sesh with A&R Wedding Creation on 23 Feb. A&R is a bit of a mystery. it’s run by a husband and wife team, Pak Haji Arpah and Cik Ruhana. we’ve never heard of them and an online search doesn’t yield much.

we met them briefly on monday, to show them the two void decks we’re thinking of using. Pak Haji is interesting because he speaks with a LOT of conviction. like he really *believes* in his work. within 5 mins of meeting, he turned to me and said “yang paling penting, awak mesti ader keyakinan dalam saya.” and i’m like errr, okay, we just met ya and i’m still looking at your decoration pics. he strikes me as an authority marketer – he gives you a lot of proof points to back up this work (e.g. he invites you for food tasting at multiple weddings so that you can see how ‘consistent’ his quality is, and he suggests you come at 4pm so you can see that his food is always fresh, he mentions multiple times that he’s in the industry for 30 years, he claims that several people have forfeited their deposits with other caterers to be with him, etc.) in a way, talking to him gives you faith that he’s very experienced, knows what he’s doing, and even sincere and hardworking in his business. for instance, he said he would start sleeping over our void deck from thursday onwards to prepare the deco, refuses to collect any deposits until you’ve tried his food furrealz, and collects payment only two days after the wedding (as opposed to on actual day, as practised by other caterers).

so come 23 Feb, my parents will see for themselves if the food really lives up to the hype. i’m 50-50 on this, on one hand if they do like his food, then the most important vendor is settled and we can all sigh in relief. on the other hand, i won’t be able to engage my own decorator. for the record, his decorations are unique despite being on the oldskool side. he uses ceiling drapes that look like you’re in a gazebo instead of  a void deck, which is cool i guess. says he can customise colours, but apart from that, i doubt he would get Gen Y kind of decor concepts like rustic vintage, indoor gardens, etc. but i suppose going with him could save me some money.

photographer – slowing down

i recently discovered Ivan Tan Photography, whose work and approach i really love. however he isn’t taking 2015 bookings yet, because he could be going on post-grad studies and won’t know till mid-this year. plus his rates are slightly out of my league, even after i stretch my neck out a little. so i is sad.

so then i went a little crazy yesterday browsing thru photographers’ websites and e-mailing them for rates. last night and today, i heard from some of them (after refreshing my inboxes a million times at work, no less). and then i started to get a headache from the different kinds of pricing structures and price points. urgh. so in the end i hastily narrowed down to two choices, The Peeping Thom and Zakaria Zainal. we’re in the midst of setting up appointments with them, and in a move that surprised even myself, i said there’s no urgency – even march or early april will be fine. i look forward to meeting them though, and hopefully by then i would be more relaxed and happier than i am now and can engage them better.

it’s a date!

the date has been decided: 9 May 2015, insyaAllah! truth be told, it’s been a bumpy ride to arrive at the date since first broaching the subject sometime in october. what i thought would be a straightforward process of us choosing the date then getting our parents’ agreement was delayed by scheduling conflicts. as the wait got longer, i started feeling anxious, impatient, and being full of resentment. coupled with a really bad week at work, at my lowest i was snappy and unhappy and throwing a pity party for myself that things weren’t in my control. when i came across a quote that I had written down previously – joy is a choice – i thought bitterly to myself it’s not even an option. i don’t think i’ve thought to myself “life sucks” since my angsty teenage days. it was just so depressing.

at the peak of these feelings, i started feeling conscious of what eckhart tolle calls “pain body”. my Ego was hurting. it was unhappy that something as important as my wedding date had to defer to external circumstances. once i realised that, i told myself to try separate myself from my Ego. it worked for a bit. . .i felt less upset on the whole, and tried to be more understanding of the situation and just tawakkal.

triggers like my desired vendors posting that they were starting to get fully booked in the first half of 2015 would bring some of the anxiety and resentment back. not to mention, this wait for our wedding date was taking a toll on our relationship. the poor boy was feeling a lot of pressure from me. and so our wedding became a taboo subject.

BUT it’s all water under the bridge now. i have a date. and we are doing nikah+bride reception on saturday and groom reception on sunday, which is my preferred choice. alhamdulilah, i’m happy. and excited to embark on the wedding planning journey with my mum and sister and little niece who keeps asking “what colour will your wedding gown be cik kraken?” and of course my dad, my catering paymaster (heheh) and my brother, who has already been assigned the role of operations manager for my actual day insyaAllah.

the first step of our wedding journey has already been a humbling lesson in patience and trying to better manage my emotions. who knows what the rest will hold. wallahualam. for now i’m guessing it’s going to be a huge negotiation exercise. i’ll have to learn to let go and be open to ideas from both my family and future family, because my wedding is not just about me.

the next step for me is book my bridal service, and secure my first choice decorator once my parents have chosen their caterer. if it turns out that my first choice decorator is already booked on my date, i hope i will be able to accept it graciously. (it’s hard cos they opened their 2015 bookings when our wait had just begun) and hopefully the photographer whose work I’m in mad love with replies my email enquiry, with rates that are within my budget.

till then!

p.s. i also sometimes wonder if i’ll start hating the wedding planning process and think to myself “ah tulah nak sangat start planning kan?!”