Throughout my breastfeeding journey, I’ve realized that breastfeeding is not easy. It takes commitment and dedication to see it through. In the beginning, it was exhausting to feed 15-20x a day. I have never felt more exposed, and I really felt like my body was no longer my own. Now at 17 months of breastfeeding, while feeding is much less and no longer as painful, it takes the same amount of dedication and commitment to continue and keep my supply up. It is hard work from the day you start until the day you decide to stop.
Truly, breast milk is so powerful and special! I mean, what other drink (or food) can shift its components and adapt to exactly what the child needs? It's amazing how even just a few drops of colostrum is enough to nourish a newborn baby, or how milk with COVID-19 antibodies is enough to protect and keep a child free of COVID-19 despite exposure in the environment. Not many people realize this, but once they do, it is no surprise that they will try to keep breastfeeding for as long as possible.
Before becoming a mother, I thought breastfeeding was a simple task that moms can easily do for their babies. I thought that it was just an option for families who don’t want to include infant formula milk in their monthly expenses. It was very common for me to ask other parents, "Is your child breastfed?". As I became a parent myself to my firstborn, my perspective on breastfeeding changed.
Our breastfeeding journey began during my pregnancy. In my third trimester, my husband was very supportive. He knows better when it comes to breastfeeding essentials – from fixing up an electric pump to choosing the best breast milk storage bags and containers. He even bought all of those for me. But yes, I still felt the pressure was on me!
When I gave birth in September last year, my milk production didn’t kick in immediately. I felt sad as days passed, and still my milk supply was not coming in. I was about to lose hope, desperate to breastfeed our newborn, until one day I prayed and asked God to guide me and our baby in our breastfeeding journey. If He would allow, I asked Him to use me as an instrument to help the preemies in the NICU or the babies in the nursery. I made a promise that once I am able to build a stash, I would donate to public hospitals or NGOs. Day after day, I kept praying. Every time I pumped, I prayed for God's help. A month later, my husband and I decided to purely breastfeed our baby since we both thought that my supply was already enough to satisfy his hunger. It was on that day when I finally collected enough to build my very first stash!
I also realized that apart from the physical benefits, breastfeeding can also contribute to a child’s mental health as it helps moms communicate with their babies. Knowing that newborns are not yet used to the outside world, proper nursing can give them the warmth and cuddle they had when they were still in the womb.
My key takeaway from my experience is if I could do things differently before giving birth, I would definitely educate myself with enough knowledge in breastfeeding. If I just knew earlier that a mother’s breast milk supply is enough from day 1, then we would not have purchased the infant formula milk for my baby, and I would not have felt bad for thinking that I was not enough for my baby.
Yes, breastfeeding is indeed difficult as it requires patience and determination. Having someone who is heavily dependent on you 24/7 can be exhausting. While it may have caused a drastic change in my life – from eating habits to lifestyle, I always kept in mind that the challenges are outweighed by the physical and mental benefits breastfeeding has on my baby’s growing years. I am glad that up until now that he is 10 months old, our breastfeeding journey continues. I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity to help in this special way. Salute to all moms and supportive dads that are on this journey!
As a first time mom, I did not have a hard time like I expected to. Despite giving birth earlier, my milk came just in time, so supply was not a problem. Alon also latched like a champ, although he was picky with breastfeeding positions. I had to experiment with what was comfortable and efficient for us both. I had to deal with nipple blisters, ensuring I had nipple balm on hand and that I would ice my breasts in between feedings. Luckily, pain was not much of an issue for me because I have a relatively high tolerance for it. What worried me the most was when I had a bad episode of diarrhea and my supply tanked for a few days. But after much rehydration and eating right, I was able to regain my supply.
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.