Tracy Paulino-Cuesta is a medical doctor fresh out of her Pediatrics residency at the Makati Medical Center, a wife to pilot Gino Cuesta, and a doting Supermom to two beautiful girls: Rina (4) and Gicca (9 months).
Despite the mental and physical demands of medical training, Tracy remains extremely family-centered and feels strongly about exclusively breastfeeding her two girls. “I want to normalize breastfeeding, even in public,” she says. “It’s a perfectly natural way to feed a baby, and I feed my babies anywhere and anytime. I don't need to look for breastfeeding places or do extraordinary things to cover up.”
“I feed my babies anywhere and anytime."
As is the case for many mothers, breastfeeding wasn’t always easy for Tracy. “My milk didn’t come until my girls were three days old,” she admits. “Rina was getting hungry and even had an episode of low blood sugar; I had to give in to giving glucose water.” Despite this setback, Tracy kept trying. She was determined to give her babies the benefits that only breast milk can offer. “I couldn’t just give up, and my milk finally came in at the third day. So, when it was Gicca’s turn, I knew not to put too much pressure on myself and not to get disheartened right away.”
The initial scarcity of milk wasn’t the only problem that Tracy had encountered in her breastfeeding journey. In addition to raising a family, Tracy also had other kids to look after: her patients. “It meant a lot of sleepless nights and sore breasts, especially since breastfed babies wake up more during the night to feed,” she shares. “I breastfed and pumped during Residency. I would pump every three hours—even while I was on duty.”
“I would pump every three hours – even while I was on duty”
Despite the bumps in the road, Tracy has never regretted her decision to exclusively breastfeed her girls. “I breastfed my eldest, Rina, for 14 months, and I’m still currently breastfeeding Gicca who is 9 months old,” she says proudly. “I, and everyone around me, have noticed how close my girls are to me. Rina is a mature and independent child, but she knows that she just needs to cuddle in my arms whenever she feels unwell or scared to feel better again.” Tracy is living testament to the unique mother-child bond formed during breastfeeding. She gushes, “There is not a feeling more amazing than seeing all the love in their eyes while they gaze up at me while breastfeeding.”
“There is not a feeling more amazing than seeing all the love in their eyes while they gaze up at me while breastfeeding.”
Tracy is passionate about sharing this love for breastfeeding with other mothers. She ends by saying, “Breastfeeding is physically demanding. Sometimes, it’s exhausting. You will be alone and awake in the wee hours of the morning feeding and rocking your baby to sleep. You will lose your privacy when you bare your body anytime your baby gets hungry. Yet, despite these difficulties, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing your baby grow big and strong—knowing that you are providing the best and most perfect food for your baby.”
“You are providing the best and most perfect food for your baby.”
In line with our objective to empower Filipino mothers to breastfeed, Milk Matters presents Express Yourself, an online movement that sheds light on the breastfeeding experiences of Filipino mothers, families, doctors, nurses, and other members of society. Our vision is to inspire other mothers to continue breastfeeding through these stories.