Friday, January 8, 2016

Starting Your Breastfeeding Journey

While typing this, it’s the 7th of January 2016. My son is six months old. It means I had been breastfeeding him for six months already.

Wow!

I thought I’d be back in corporate, by this time, but I don’t seem to be anywhere near working outside the home anytime soon.

Six months, and to some, that’s not even half. I know people who breastfed for four years and more, and here I am, proud of half a year. But mummies, breastfeeding, no matter how many days or weeks or months or years, is always an achievement on its own.

Some people would think of us frugal or poor or lazy (because we only need to do side lying at night to feed our babies), but breastfeeding takes a lot of effort and sacrifice and so much of our time.

I had been counseling, encouraging, and supporting mums and mums-to-be in their own breastfeeding journeys even before Khale was born, and these are a few points (which I remember, and I swear I will edit once something crosses my mind)  I share with my counselees:

1. Research
I was on my second trimester when I found out about Breastfeeding Pinays, a support group/forum for breastfeeding mothers in the Philippines.

By the time I gave birth, what I have learned from the group gave me confidence. Knowledge is power. Knowing about colostrum will keep you sane on the first few days of your baby’s life. Knowing you should not pump earlier than six weeks will save you from a lot of pain. Knowing not to give water or vitamins earlier than six months will save and protect your baby’s life and your pockets.

Information will help you not to give in to formula-feeding on your baby’s nth cry.



2. Get breastfeeding advocate doctors and hospital. 
An advocate OB-Gyn will never give you mother’s milk and will encourage you that if you need nutrients in your life, there are a lot of more nutritious food in the planet which will save you a lot of money. She will also wholeheartedly put your baby on your tummy for it to crawl towards your breast for that first latch.

An advocate pediatrician will never give your child water or vitamins unless there’s proven deficiency. She will care about your baby’s virgin gut and not immediately blame your breastmilk when your baby shows up with yellowish skin on his first check up. She will not instruct nurses to give your baby glucose water or formula milk while you’re in the recovery room.

I have seen three pediatricians for my baby: one original breastfeeding advocate, one for vaccines, and one for emergencies. The one for vaccines advised me to give vitamins, which I never gave. The one for emergency said that my baby didn’t need vitamins because he was overweight when he was two months. I checked on this. He wasn’t overweight. Our original pediatrician, however, supported us from day one. On my baby’s first check up, she never gave vitamins. I remember wanting to hug her when she told us, “Mommy and Daddy, bibigyan ko po kayo ng Cattleya notebook as our baby book kasi wala pa ako nung galing sa formula milk companies since hindi po ako tumatanggap nun. (Mommy and Daddy, I will give you a Cattleya notebook as our baby book because I don’t have the ones from formula milk companies since I don’t accept them.)” She was for keeps.

I gave birth at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Sta. Mesa, Manila. As I didn't decide on breastfeeding as early as the first trimester, I was more than happy to have noticed the breastfeeding tarpaulin on Milk Code and Rooming In Act in the hospital. They also don't have a nursery.

3. Find support.
My husband is my number one supporter. When we were getting ready for childbirth, he conditioned himself to encourage me when the going gets tough and to remind me why we started in the first place. He attended every breastfeeding seminar with me, and recently, I trained and graduated as an Arugaan-trained Breastfeeding Peer Counselor with him and our baby by my side.

And it’s not just the husband. It is important that members of the household support you in your decision to breastfeed as they will play vital roles in your success. It can be your partner, mother, father, siblings, in-laws or even the nannies. There will be low moments no matter how many happy hormones breastfeeding can produce, and it's such a great relief and comfort when these people tell you not to give up when on the verge of doing so.

My husband’s such a wonderful example for this that I’ll dedicate one blog post entirely on his support.



4. Create a birth plan.
Your birthing experience should be about you and your child and not your doctor’s. Although, unang yakap and immediate rooming-in are protocols protected by law, I always suggest to write that on paper just so it’s clear and have the doctor sign it. I always hear horror stories of mums where they were not oriented about these things and they felt cheated and betrayed. Now, there’s no more reason to feel that way.

5. Ditch the bottles. Better yet, don’t buy one.
My baby is six months old. To tell you honestly, we never owned a single one. I know a lot of mothers who breastfeed their babies exclusively, but people I personally know are always surprised by the fact that my baby has never tasted anything else other than my milk (except for tomorrow, since we will be starting on solid food).

I’m not sure if it was the day after or the next, when my mother’s high school best friend came to visit in the hospital. Her friend was asked what my baby’s milk was, and she boasted that I am the only source and that we never brought bottles with us.

It’s interconnected. If you’re not well-informed and/or distrusting of yourself, you will panic when you don’t see “white milk” squirting out of your nipples, so when the hospital staff (god forbid) tells you to buy formula the temptation will even be greater with the bottles on hand. And there’s such a thing called nipple confusion and it is very very real.

So don’t.

6. Trust yourself and be determined.
You have breasts for a purpose. If cows, dogs, cats and every mammal on this planet can feed their young, why can’t we? Trust your body’s capacity to produce the food that your baby needs.

Trust and determination tells you that you have milk and that it doesn’t need to be squirting in the first few days. They tell you that you are producing enough even when you cannot measure how much milk there really is in you.

Breastfeeding is 90% psychological and 10% physiological, so hype yourself.

7. Latch on and hydrate.
Supplements may or may not help you. You can take it. If it works, then great. If it doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world.

I used to take malunggay capsules, until I just ditched them too because it didn’t really make any difference.

What will ensure a steady supply is to direct latch, feed on demand and stay hydrated. The baby will always be the best person to bring that milk out.

8. Stay happy.
Happy hormones help in milk production. Need I say more?

I always tell my newfound friends that breastfeeding takes two to tango and that they should get all the support that they need; that it is part milk, part trust, and part determination; that there will be people who will judge us no matter how much we explain, but what’s important is that we keep doing what’s best for our children; and that if we can’t encourage them, then at least let us not allow them to discourage us. Their words can only affect us if we let them.

So mums and mums-to-be, and husbands (I hope you let them read this, too), good luck on your journey. I hope these few pointers will be able to help you.

Keep calm, and latch on!

29 comments:

  1. Savor every moment, and you won't regret it. :)

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  2. I'm definitely considering breastfeeding when the little comes out.

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    1. Please please please do. I will be here to help. :)

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  3. Gusto ko din ng ganitong group! I didn't get a chance to join. Im still breastfeeding my other twins. He is 2 yrs old.

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    1. Twins? Wow! You know, a lot of first-time mummies of twins could benefit from your advices. :) you can still join Breastfeeding Pinays and help other mums. There's a group called Mothers of Multiples by LATCH. Do join them. :) never too late.

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  4. Congrats! I agree with ditch the bottles because if you are determined to breastfeed, you don't need it.

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    1. Thank you! :) So easy to be tempted when bottles are around.

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  5. During my time walang ganito (my time talaga no.. kala mo ang tanda ko na!) basta ako nun decided ako to breastfeed. Stay at home kase ako ever since so medyo wirdo sa akin ang idea ng bottle feeding.. ano naman silbi ng cup c kong dede kung hindi mag no nourish ng baby.. so there was never a question nun if I should do it or not. Basta I'll do it. Good thing walang kumontra sa akin.. importante talaga na supportive ang mga tao sa paligid mo in order to survive breastfeeding :)

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    1. Congrats mummy! Hahaha! Grabe sa time. Lol. Mahirap kapag may kontrabidabels. Pero sobrang ok na kahit si partner/husband lang. :)

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  6. Amazing group! I wish i had known this before during my early years of mommyhood and breastfeeding. I would definitely consider breastfeeding again when i have my thirdy..i hope it'll be soon :) Thanks for sharing!

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    1. When thirdy is there, I'm very much willing to help and support. :)

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  7. It really takes determination to breastfeed especially for a lengthy period. I admire moms who choose this path. I was also a breastfeeding mom myself.:)

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    1. Indeed! Congratulations on your breastfeeding achievements too! :)

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  8. A Breastfeeding Pinay member here! Great tips! I've been breastfeeding for 10 months now :)

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    1. Congratulations on your 10th! To more months of breastfeeding! And see you at BFP.

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  9. We are all pro-breastfeeding here!

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    1. Seems like it, mummy lani. And it's great! :)

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  10. Bf mom here too for a year and I am lucky that I am getting support from my husband, families and even friends. Actually even they do not support me, I will still breastfeed my son hehe. Same as you, i have learned so much things from Breastfeeding Pinays. :)

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    1. I owe it to the group too. :) congrats on you milestone. I used to post a #gatasserye about my breastfeeding adventures with my in-laws. But they're now very supportive.

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  11. Congrats on our breastfeeding journey. And here's to more breastfeeding sessions with your little one (cheers). I'm also into breastfeeding and just yesterday, we've celebrated our 6th month. Wee!!! I plan to breastfeed my baby as long as he wants. I'm training him with the cup as he doesn't like bottle nipples ( yes, you're right, nipple confusion does exists).

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    1. Cheers to more! :) have you started with solids already?

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  12. I never learn to breastfeed my children! But it's awesome to hear na may ganyan to help and inspire ang mga moms to breastfeed their babies! :)

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    1. Thank you, mummy joy! :) it gives me a sense of fulfillment to help mums sa breastfeeding.

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  13. I breastfeed my son for only 4 months kasi I need to get back to my day job and sobra akong stress. They said kasi pag stress bawal magpagatas. Congrats and keep it up hanggang kaya mo :)

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    1. Pwede magpadede, mummy. :) pero nakahina ng milk ang stress. Kaya it's best to stay happy.

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  14. Now that I'm pregnant with my fourth child, I'm reading up on breastfeeding again. I hope I become more successful this time around.

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    1. Congrats mummy! :) let me know if I can help you with your journey.

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  15. How I miss my breastfeeding days. I have three daughters. All of them were breastfed by me. But only for a few months coz I immediately went back to work.

    I agree that happy hormones help in milk production, coz I can see the results in my kids, who are now 12,4 and 1 year old. =)

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