I was a senior in high school back in the 90’s when our English teacher asked us to visit the library. We were told to search for subjects that might interest us for our term paper. As I rummaged through the old books and encyclopedias, I stumbled upon an article on breastfeeding in a woman’s magazine. When I saw the title, “Breastfeeding: Best for Babies”, I was immediately taken back in time.
I was 5 or 7 years old, minding my own business, when lo and behold, I saw our helper expose her breasts to feed her baby. I was confused as a child as this was the first time I saw this mother and child scene. When my mother saw that I was dumbfounded, she explained to me that our helper was breastfeeding her baby. She said the baby is taking in milk from his mother’s breast. I didn’t know milk came out of that!
After that brief moment at the library, I immediately copied the title in a 1/4 sheet of pad paper and kept it in my pocket to be submitted later to my teacher. I found two more additional topics during our library time but the one that my English teacher approved was, you guessed it, the breastfeeding subject.
Fast forward to the future, I had our first child. I told myself that I would breastfeed him since I have all the information on breastfeeding recorded in my brain. My husband and I even attended a breastfeeding seminar in one hospital in Alabang just to make sure that I would really be serious at it.
After giving birth at the hospital, it took a while before I was able to get up and see him in the nursery. At first attempt, it did not work. Why didn’t it work? It was because the nurses already fed him using a feeding bottle. I remember giving instructions that I would be breastfeeding him but still they gave him formula. The nurse told me that it’s normal. Milk does not come out easily during the first try. She told me to come back after two hours and try again. I came back and tried again, he suckled a little and then just gave up.
On discharge on route to our house, our baby started crying incessantly. So, my instinct tells me to give him my breast. I remember that I was so frustrated because he couldn’t get any milk from me. The flow of milk was not that strong and he was getting angry too. I tried my best until we reached home.
After the ooh’s and aah’s at home from my parents, he started crying again. I tried to feed him but to no avail. He kept on crying and I can’t do anything about it. Imagine my despair as a first time mom who is trying my best to feed my baby but how come the lessons I got from the breastfeeding class does not work at all. My mom, seeing my inability to feed my child, asked the maid to buy formula at the supermarket. I really felt I cheated on my child that day. I was crying too feeling helpless.
To cut the long story short, I was only able to breastfeed him for only 2 to 3 months, which was unfortunately supported by formula which I regretted later.
I vowed after that, if God would bless us with another child, I would not give up that easily on breastfeeding.
And God heard our prayer, He gave us a baby girl. This time I made sure I did my homework. While still pregnant, I told my doctor that I would be including breastfeeding in my birthing plan. I think the doctor had written down my instructions in my chart plus I also informed the nurses that I would be exclusively breastfeeding her.
What we thought as a “easy” delivery turned out to be the opposite and a delicate one at that. Because of the baby’s position in the womb, it was going to be difficult for me to push and the baby to go down the pelvis. They had to do an emergency C-section because I have been pushing for so long and the baby might be in trouble. Finally, she was out but I was so dazed I couldn’t remember seeing her in the delivery room. As soon as I went up to my room, I immediately asked that the baby be roomed in with me. The doctors advised me not too because of my surgery but I insisted because I has to breastfeed. I wanted to make sure that I would be the one feeding my baby. So she was brought in, all bundled up in that tiny blanket. After checking if all the body parts were complete and smelling and kissing her, I tried to feed her. There was no milk coming out yet, which was normal, as I was told. Because I had no milk at that time, the baby was hungry, the hospital sent their formula to my room. I had no choice but to take the formula. So I put a small amount of formula in a medicine cup and tried to feed my baby. Little by little she was able to take in milk. I was so happy because no feeding bottle was used. For 2 or 3 days, that was how she was fed because my milk supply was not available yet.
After about one week, the milk came in and boy was I sore. I was crying because my breasts were so engorged that I could breathe anymore. I had to call my friend, who is a breastfeeding coach on what to do. She told me to just massage the breast and put hot compress over it. It was painful and again, it was normal. The milk supply is just coming in that’s why I feel that my breasts are so full. I needed to express some of the milk to help relieve the pressure. I could not remember how many days the fullness and pain lasted, but when it did, it was such a relief. I could now feed her more comfortably and I was more relaxed. My friend told me when my body is relaxed, the milk would flow easily.
It did flow for almost three years. I exclusively breastfed our second child for 2 years and 9 months. She never liked the taste of formulas. Neither did she like bottle feeding. There were times I had to express milk and put them in bottles, she would not take them. So I had to bring her with me everywhere I go.
Good thing that moms and Filipino moms have been open to the idea of breastfeeding. Even companies have been supported of breastfeeding moms that they have allowed us to breastfeed our kids comfortably and in public without shame.
Some of the breasfteeding items I enjoyed the most were:
Nursing blouses or dresses. Not only did it keep our private feeding time with baby discrete, these blouses are stylish as well. There are different styles and some of which you can wear as an ordinary blouse. The blouses either have zippers or slits that would hide the breast while feeding. Mommy Matters from Havin’ a Baby sells these cute blouses for moms.
Nursing bras. Some moms I have talked to didn’t like wearing nursing bras but I appreciated them. Search for them at the lingerie section of your favorite malls.
Breast pads. Oh so helpful in those days when the milk just can’t stop. Have to change it often too especially is your milk supply is more than enough.
Nursing bib or Cover up. If you don’t have a nursing blouse, the nursing bib can help you cover up when baby is feeding. I was blessed by my sister in law who gave me not two but three of her nursing bibs and they are just so cute.
Baby sling. This is my all-time favorite breastfeeding/attachment parenting tool that was ever created. We ou see African women or even here in our country, mothers who live in tribes carry their babies either on their backs on a sling. This modern day baby slings have different designs to suit you and your baby. The baby sling that I bought can also be used as a cover up because of the style. I got mine from Babyland and when you purchase one, an instructional CD is included in the package. It will teach you the different ways of carrying your baby or toddler.
I believe God designed mothers to breastfeed their children. Not only is this free, it has great health benefits for both baby and mom. No bottles to clean or bulky bags to carry around. Moms can feed anytime and anywhere and it creates an intimate bond between mother and child that lasts a lifetime.