Saturday, 22 December 2012

My Postpartum Adaptation

Before I embrace parenthood, there was an adaptation period that I went through. It's called a postpartum period which is basically the period just right after the baby is born. I have to say though, that it was not something that you just dived into although it may seemed like it. You know, now that you suddenly become a parent, it does not necessarily means that you are all of a sudden ready for it even if you think you are. It was a confusing and puzzling moment for us. There were a lot of guessworks involved when taking care of a newborn.
Imagine a very sensitive and helpless little creature who is just as confused as you are. In reality, my baby and me are both learning to adapt to this new world that we are brought into. It was the period to  know each other and to get along. I like to think of it as an ice breaking period. Thanks to Dunstan Baby Language dvd that we bought, it just makes getting acquainted with my baby much easier. We could tell if she was gassy or hungry by listening to her cries. We were also lucky to have a helper (kraamzorg) for one week to teach us how to care for a baby. It is a standard treatment that you will get right after having a baby in The Netherlands. We thought it was a really nice gesture considering that we do not have our family to help us around. She would teach us everything form how to properly latch our baby to how to bathe our baby and even how to set up our baby bed. As parents, we were asked to fill out the baby book where we would write down the time she fed, pooped and peed. The book was so detailed that we have to specify how long she fed and which breast was given. It was just so the kraamzorg could have a read through the next morning she came. Eveything seemed to be systematic.
However, it was not always easy and straight forward. As for me, it was definitely a challenge to get my milk supply up. During the first week of Najla's life, she had lost more than 10% of her birth weight which can only meant one thing; she did not get enough from me. That was my biggest nightmare ever since I was pregnant with her. So, I was immediately asked by my kraamzorg to pump right after I fed her. The first time I pumped, there was barely any milk. It was a very stressful and depressing time for me. I felt like a failure. I remembered even after 1 week of pumping, I was really lucky if I even got 10 ml in 1 session. Concerned of our baby's health and growth, we were advised that Najla needs to be supplemented with formula feeding. So, after she had finished feeding with me, we would give her around 25 ml of formula with a small spoon. This was just to avoid nipple confusion because she was still too young to be bottle-fed. It was only when she reached 1 month that we were given the approval to start with bottle feeding. At the same time, I was still pumping to get my breastmilk production established. I also tried seeking advice from breastfeeding expert and eating as many supplements to get my supply up. However, I still did not see a significant change but I did not give up on breastfeeding entirely. In fact, to this day Najla is still being breastfed and now that my supply has established, she is only supplemented with formula feed during bedtime. I have done all I could and as long as she recieved my breastmilk, I am happy.
And then, two weeks after Najla was born, my family came to visit. It was such a great time when three generations of my family got together. My grandmother took care of my physical wellbeing and my mom would help around the house. Every morning, I would take a soothing and warm herbal bath followed by full body massage done by a special masseuse, my lovely grandmother. It was everything I could ever asked for. My home was turned into a spa. Afterwards, she would tie a corset around my waist to thigh area everyday to get it shaped again. I am telling you, I felt like a princess. I owed them a lot for doing this for me.
In short, postpartum period was definitely the best and the worst of times. It flew so fast that I felt like life just flashed before me. There was a lot of things happening that sometimes it was just too overwhelming. For me, it definitely helped to have an open mind and to not give up when things are difficult. Like all first experience, they are always tough at first. You just need to have faith that things will get better from then on. So to all new mothers out there, good luck with your baby and appreciate every moment you have together. That is all for now. See you in the next post.

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