"It provides us opportunities to grow and develop together."
Two years into her training in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics in PGH, mommy Chekai describes her breastfeeding journey as one of “affirmation”. “People have been listing down the benefits of breastfeeding, both to the child and the mother, but having to experience it yourself is different.” She fondly recalls an incident where Ethan (and everybody else around) suffered from an upper respiratory tract infection, and she continued to breastfeed him. She believes that breastfeeding and the antibodies she passed onto him “…played a great part in making him feel better and shortening the duration of his illness.” Being a pediatrician, she thought she was ready to face the struggles of breastfeeding but she eventually learned that it was definitely a lot different from knowing the theory and going through it herself. She says, “…I soon realized that knowing everything in theory, proper latching, proper positioning, etc., is very very different from having to go through it yourself. The struggle and the pain were real.”
When asked how she overcame her struggles, she shares that her loving and supportive husband made a whole lot of difference in her breastfeeding journey. She recalls, “having someone to just hold you while you’re crying and tell you that you’re doing a great job gave me strength, and made me feel that my milk was enough, that I was enough.”
To this day, Mommy Chekai is back in training, which means missing opportunities to bond with Ethan, to breastfeed and directly latch but according to her “it does not mean that he has to miss drinking breast milk entirely.” She shares her practices
“During clinics, despite the long list and the number of patients that we see everyday, I make sure that I have time to pump my precious milk for him in between assessments. It was hard at first and I struggled with clogged ducts and decreased milk supply, but I soon got the hang of pumping. I found way to manage my time, looking for areas and opportunities to pump and fit pumping into my daily schedule. I even pump inside the car (taking into consideration safety precautions of course!) while I’m in transit to and from work.”
When asked what she would do anything differently from when she first started breastfeeding, she says that she “would probably have asked help from fellow Mommas earlier.” She stresses the importance of a support system, or “a good network of friends and family”, through her breastfeeding journey and success. “Ever since I gave birth to Ethan and started breastfeeding, I became more connected to old high school and college friends, colleagues and even some of my patients who have gone through or are going through the same journey as I am.” Her network shares breastfeeding tips, tricks and techniques like “where to get the yummy lactation goodies, which nursing bras are more comfortable, which nursing clothes are convenient and easy to use, and which malls and restaurants have baby-friendly and nursing-friendly areas”. These she dotingly calls mundane things but are surely treasures of all breastfeeding mommies alike. ‘Having a strong support group - friends and family - who you can talk to about your woes and concerns (no matter how simple or irrelevant you think they might be) is essential to breastfeeding success.”
Mommy Chekai places an importance in the contribution of society in the success of breastfeeding moms. “Breastfeeding is not a journey that a mother should embark on alone. Workplaces, churches, restaurants and other places of recreation such as malls should provide mothers a place where they can breastfeed comfortably. And even if a mother decides to breastfeed in public, they should not be reprimanded or discouraged to do so.” She advocates that breastfeeding should be normalized and that individuals in our society should “refrain from body shaming or putting malice into a mother’s act of offering her breast to feed her baby, even in public.”
When asked what advise she would give to new moms, and moms-to-be who are considering breastfeeding, she says “…do not be afraid. It will be challenging at first, but everything is worth it once you realize the benefits it has for you and your child. Not to mention the incomparable feeling of fulfillment and joy you will have as a bonus!” She also adds a positive message to mommies like her who are already breastfeeding and advocating breastfeeding, “[to] just enjoy the ride and be happy! A happy mom produces more milk. So learn to enjoy, and not sweat the small stuff. Smile constantly; it brings joy not only to you but also to your baby.”
"You are enough."
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.