It’s World Breastfeeding Week. So, it’s pretty timely to tell about my past and present experiences in my breastfeeding journey.
I was able to post before that I still breastfeed my toddler. This time, I’d be sharing more moments I have gone through in this terrific motherhood stage.
Day 0 — My Decision to Breastfeed
When I was pregnant, I really wanted to breastfeed because my sister was able to do it with my nephew. Its nutritional benefit was also a factor of my decision.
I prepared by drinking more liquid and sipping more soup. I also watched videos related to breastfeeding such as how to let baby latch properly and different breastfeeding positions.
Since I have known the basics, breastfeeding would be easy peasy. Or so I thought…
Day 1 to 62 — The Struggle Was Real
Nobody gave me a memo that breastfeeding was hard! The first two months were very challenging.
In the Hospital
We practiced “unang yakap” as standard protocol of the hospital for mothers who had given birth. Olivia was placed on my chest but I didn’t get to feed her yet. It was actually our first cuddle.
When we went to the recovery room, we were guided by the nurse on breastfeeding by showing me how to make her latch and what positions we could do so both of us were comfortable.
She was able to latch instantly. But I was not really sure if she was already getting my milk because I did not feel any milk trickling down my breast. The nurse assured me that she was able to get my milk, so I just believed her and let her feed whenever she cried.
By the time we got home, she started to be fed every other hour. We got the notion that she might not be getting enough milk, because she was getting hungry again after an hour.
My mother suggested giving her formula to help her satisfy her hunger. I reluctantly agreed. My instincts were debating. I really wanted to exclusively give her only my milk, but being a first timer, I did not want my child to get hungry all the time. Hence, I only give her formula once every evening before we go to sleep.
On the fifth day, my milk started to drip out on its own. I was so grateful during that time. To increase my supply, I drank lots of fluid and even consumed soup with tons of moringa leaves every day! I cannot believe I ate the same type of viand for two straight months! Likewise, I eventually stopped giving her formula milk.
Day 3 to 63 — Perfecting Those Ninja Moves
I am not really athletic, but being a breastfeeding mom will totally make you do moves you’d think you cannot.
When I was breastfeeding my daughter while lying on bed, I’d wait for her to sleep. Then, in a very slow motion, I’d carefully pull out my boob from her mouth with a bated breath. If she did not chase after my boob, I knew I was good to go. I’d carefully place a pillow beside her and oh so quietly roll myself out of bed.
Sometimes, I’d be using my feet to grab things. As illustrated below:
Day 13 to 60 — Learning More About Breastfeeding
My knowledge about milk production was pretty shallow that time. I thought that after giving birth, you’d have to wait a few days before you could produce milk. So, sometimes, when I took a shower when I was pregnant, I would look at my mammaries and silently pray that they produce milk after I would have given birth.
Watching YouTube videos alone on breastfeeding positions etc. was not enough. There is a lot to learn about breastfeeding. I had wished I was able to learn more about this when I was still pregnant.
Good thing, joined the Breastfeeding Pinay group on Facebook. I am thankful to this group because it provided me the knowledge about breastfeeding. Likewise, I consulted other sites like KellyMom and La Leche League.
My Key Take-A-Ways From Breastfeeding Forums and Sites
- The baby will be the one to help you make your milk come out.
As mentioned earlier, milk does not come out on its own. You have to work hand-in-hand with your baby for your milk to come out. This is done by letting her nurse on demand.
- If you have boobies, you definitely got milk.
Most mothers assume that they don’t have milk during the first few days after birth. I thought I don’t have milk too at first. But I did not relent and continued to let my daughter nurse. For more information on how milk production work, KellyMom explained it better: https://kellymom.com/hot-topics/milkproduction/.
- Babies don’t need to be fed too much after being born.
That’s because they have a very tiny stomach. The reason they cry often is not because they are always hungry. There are other factors such wet diapers, new environment adjustment, sleepiness. Or simply, they just want some love, security and attention from their parents.
- Babies absorb breast milk better.
This is the reason why they feed more often than if they consume formula milk. Since they are able to digest breast milk faster and better, they usually want to feed again after an hour or two. It does not necessarily mean that they are not getting enough milk from their mother.
- Your body can produce enough milk for your baby’s need in every stage.
This was my mantra. I did envy other moms who could produce an entire-freezer worth of milk. But, I just thought that my body will produce EXACTLY what my baby needs. I have also said a prayer in between to be able to have enough strength and persistence to provide food for my baby.
And until now, I am still providing milk for my daughter.
Day 50 to 717 — Building My Stash
I started building my milk reserve two weeks before I went back to work. While my yaya was practicing how to cup feed my daughter, I was busy pumping and hand expressing in order to accumulate my stash. Moreover, I pump while she was feeding on the other side.
Within two weeks, I was able to accumulate about 100 oz of milk. The amount was only good for 5 working days. I know it was not much, but I prayed that it would be sufficient for the coming days.
As the days went on, I was able to occupy ¾ of the freezer space. It was equivalent to 1 month worth of milk supply. My stash dwindled by the time Olive turned 1. It was eventually exhausted during the first month of this year.
Day 66 to 750 — Pumping At Work and Public Breastfeeding
Republic Act 10028 promotes the breastfeeding rights of the Filipino mother. I emailed our H.R. a section of this law as a support of my intention to pump at work.
Our office does not have an exclusive room for pumping mothers. Some of my office mates back then were pumping inside the ladies’ room. That’s why I requested from our H.R. to allow me to pump in vacant meeting rooms instead. However, there were times that no room was available, so I had no choice but to pump in the utility/stock room.
When I was in a whole day seminar, I had no choice but to pump inside the comfort room cubicle. Sometimes, when we would be dismissed early from the lecture, I went to a nearby mall just to pump before I head home.
In public places like malls, we always look for breastfeeding stations. Amongst the establishments had been to, the one in Trinoma was by far the best in terms of its comfort and privacy. In public vehicles, I had no choice but to feed her right then and there. I just made sure I was wearing a discreet nursing clothing.
Day 30 to 800 — Breastfeeding Woes
I had my share of breastfeeding physical problems.
- Milk blebs — oh the pain of it!
KellyMom referred this as milk blister, blocked nipple pore or milk under the skin. It was the most painful thing I had experienced by far. The remedy I did was to simply let my daughter nurse until it was pulled out. When it bled, I didn’t let her nurse from that breast. I just let it heal.
- Plugged duct — also quite painful
I had experienced this when I was still pumping. You’d feel I hardened part on your breast. Sometimes, the milk won’t come out if you pump. When I had a clogged duct at work, I just can’t wait to get home and let her nurse it out.
Some were just simply normally crazy:
- She nursed for 2 straight hours.
This happened when she was just a month old. She literally nursed for 2 hours and my body ached that time. Well, I found out later that most of that time was spent for just comfort sucking.
- Peeing dilemma
I didn’t have any choice but to take her with me in the comfort room just to pee. Just imagine the ninja moves I did.
- Her distraction and acrobatics
This was pretty embarrassing when we were in public. No matter how discreet or covered up you were, once she became distracted and pulled away, lo and behold!
Sometimes, she’d attempt to pull my breast with her as if she could take it with her anywhere.
And, not to mention acrobatics she did, something similar to this cartoon below:
- Crying over spilled milk — literally
One particular incident was when I had pumped a great 3 oz of milk. Then my clumsiness knocked over the bottle and left me with 1 oz. I think I had spent five minutes lamenting at the loss.
Day 950 — Still Got Milk
Time can only tell how long we’d go on. I know society would say that we should stop now since she’s almost three years old. I don’t know for sure. Maybe we would have a mutual agreement on when to stop.
But for now, I really don’t mind doing it. I think breastfeeding is sort of our bonding time together. It’s like seeking each other’s comfort at the end of a busy day.
I’m glad that there are different breastfeeding support groups out there. But I just wish that other members of the family would be educated on breastfeeding as well. In this way, the support system of the mother would start from the immediate family, not just from advocate groups.
To all breastfeeding mommas, whether you’ve breastfed for a few months or two years, give yourselves a huge pat on the back for a job very well done!