A mother’s breast is made to nurture her child. This is what I kept in mind when I decided to breastfed. The decision was made prior to Cloud’s arrival in our life. Even when I was still single, I made a promise to myself that I will breastfeed when I have a child.
Cloud turned one year old last December 13, 2015. It also marked one adventurous, meaningful and love-filled breastfeeding journey for me.
I initially thought it was easy. I thought it would be just putting my nipples into my babe’s mouth. Boy, I was wrong! The one year of breastfeeding had taught me lot of lessons and experiences that I will carry in my next breastfeeding journey. (By the way, I am still breastfeeding Cloud and intend to continue until he decides to stop).
Two hours after giving birth and still groggy from lack of sleep and the exhaustion that comes with labor, I was told by the nurse that it is time to feed my child. The hospital that I gave birth was not very compliant with the Breastfeeding Act which mandates the prohibition of formula and bottles. I was told by the nurse that I have to feed my baby because my husband refuses to buy formula milk. To qoute her “Ma’am, gising na po kayo,feeding time na po ni baby. Yung mister niyo po kasi ayaw bumili ng gatas.” I wanted to hug and kiss my husband at that moment. I knew that he is very supportive of our breastfeeding journey as a family.
So the nurse gave Cloud to me. Boy, he was such a small baby and looks so fragile. It’s as if the slightest touch would break him. Little that he was, his voice is the exact opposite. He loved crying (screaming) his lungs out. So I put him in my chest and guided my breasts to him. I thought that’s it! But no, wait, he is still crying. I wanted to grab a bottle and ask my husband to buy formula. Then I remembered my promise to breastfeed. So, I changed position, transferred Cloud from one breast to another and made him latch again.
Like all the experiences of breastfeeding mothers, the first few weeks was a struggle. Since milk was not that abundant yet, we were tempted to introduce formula milk to Cloud. But thanks to Breastfeeding Pinays and my husband who is very supportive, they provided continuous advice and suggestions. My husband would use my facebook account to check on BFP regarding tips and guidance.
It was not easy. Especially for a working mom like me. My work includes lots of travels across the country. One of my most unforgettable experience was pumping inside our service vehicle from Davao City to Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao. It was a five hour trip and I strictly follow the every three hour pumping session rule. So, inside the vehicle, on the way to Sultan Kudarat, I pumped. I didn’t care if the sound of my pump bothered my boss and colleagues. All I was thinking is that my baby needs his milk. Thus,my workmate would often tease me as the “padede mom/breastfeeding mother”.
One year and one month, and our breastfeeding journey is still going strong. There had been instances when we were tempted to switch to formula milk. When I thought of all those “barkada nights” that I have to skip because my son needs me, those “quiet time” with my husband that has to be cut short because the baby need the boobies, part of me feels sad. But then I look at my son and cannot help but feel proud. I feel proud that I am able to nourish him from my own. I know that my husband feels the same.
A few things that breastfeeding had taught me, it is 90% determination, 5% audience participation (moral support) and 5% milk supply. Never ever thought of stopping breastfeeding. There are no acceptable barriers. Work, school, errands. All of these things can be addressed by storage, expression and/or pumping. Also, never let other people’s opinion hinder your breastfeeding journey. When people tell you a myth about breastfeeding, don’t get angry or laugh. Take time to share the right information. Remember that one myth that we correct at a time can lead to a more informed and empowered breastfeeding community/support group. Also, when it comes to decisions for your child/children, be firm and put yourself down. I have been told several times that because I am thin and frail, my milk is not enough and healthy for my baby. I was judged that I cannot exclusively breastfeed. But, by the grace of the Lord, here we are as a breastfeeding family, still going strong.
Breastfeeding is a special bond between mother and child, they say. I, on the other hand, disagrees. Breastfeeding is a tie that bonds the mother, father and their child. That’s one of the essentials of breastfeeding – make your husband your number one ally and supporter. Make him part of the journey.