5

Breastfeeding, A Winning Goal for Life.

“Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (August). For this month, we write about the World Breastfeeding Week 2014 – Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life and share how breastfeeding can help the Philippines achieve the 8 Millennium Development Goals developed by the government and the United Nations. Participants will share their thoughts, experiences, hopes and suggestions on the topic.  Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.”

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I wish I could say that my son has been purely breastfed since birth, that he has a virgin gut, that I have never let him taste formula milk but I can’t. My son was born S.G.A (small for gestational age) and was admitted to the N.I.C.U (neonatal intensive care unit) to be treated for hypoglycemia and hypothermia. We had incompatible blood and he developed jaundice. Looking back, I should have stepped in, but that was a year ago. After four long labor days at home and a painful natural birth, my son was shivering and I cannot produce milk (or so I thought) and feeling like a failure, our neonatologist explained why we have to give our son formula milk while I wept ( I have planned on breastfeeding before I even planned on getting married or having children) and my husband was trying to talk the doctor out of giving our baby formula milk (which was never in the birth plan) but we were told that newborns are expected to lose weight the first two weeks of life and my too small son has no other choice but to feed on formula because I had no milk.

Now that I can think coherently, I traced most of the things went wrong started after I gave birth. The delivery room was awfully cold that I was shivering after I gave birth. My son was wrapped in a warm blanket before being given to me for him to latch on/to do kangaroo care or what is known in the Philippines as “Unang Yakap” (read more on Unang Yakap here: http://unangyakap.doh.gov.ph/enc.html ). I tried to feed him but nothing prepared me for that first moment of nursing. I was exhausted and I couldn’t see my son’s mouth nor did anyone said anything whether he is latched on or if what I was doing was right. I wish I had someone knowledgeable and not sleep deprived for four days who can let me know what I’m doing wrong and what I can do right (I am not pointing fingers here. It’s just that it would have been better if a lactation consultant was with me at the time).

 

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My tiny son was constantly being taken from me and put on the warmer to be measured, taken vital signs every 3- 5 minutes,etc. I should have spent more time holding him. I should have asked that they turn off the aircon because it was not only I, an adult,who was shivering but also my little boy who was so brand new to this world who needed warmth and his mommy. I could have given him the warmth he needed, he would not have had hypothermia, he would not have had chills and cause his blood sugar to drop. I could have started breastfeeding earlier, I could have tried more. I should have..I could have…

Despite the circumstances, I still pushed for breastfeeding. I almost never left the NICU. I would feed my son for almost an hour (I did not see any milk and proceeded to think that I did not have any milk, not even colostrum which is absurd but logical to my crazy mind at the time), then let the nurse or my husband or my mom give him the formula. Yes my nipples hurt, my episiotomy hurts even worse (even more so when I walk several halls from my room to the NICU every two hours) but I was determined to breastfeed. Because he was small, it was important that we keep on a schedule: feed every two hours without fail. By then, I had the help of several lactation consultants. I learned that I really wouldn’t have a lot of milk but that whatever I might have, had already been sucked by my baby. I was doubtful of course. I should have believed them. Breastmilk does not overflow, drip from your boobs and spurt everywhere to be enough. The body produces only what my baby needs. It’s one of the things that make it special. In my case, my transition milk came by Monday night. We were home by then(I never fed my son formula since we left the hospital by Sunday).

Are you still there? Please keep on reading. We’re going to the good part!

My son never lost weight and although he has never been a chubby baby and his weight gain is slow, he is very strong and healthy. He reaches all his milestones on time. Some even ahead of time. He is the love of our lives. If I love him so much, why would I give him less than what’s best? Here are my reasons for being so keen on breastfeeding and why, a year later, I am still breastfeeding:

  • The bond it creates. When motherhood comes to my mind, even when I was little (I was mixed fed), I would think of a mother holding or nursing her baby. A bottle was just never in the picture when I imagined it. The feeling of being able to provide food, love, comfort and the feeling of security to our child through something which God has so generously and wonderfully designed only for us, mothers, to do–that alone is priceless.
  • Our body produces oxytocin when we breastfeed which most of us know is the happy hormone! It makes us happy! Obviously, it decreases the possibility of post partum depression. And the bonus part: this hormone also helps the uterus return back to its normal size (who doesn’t want a normal sized uterus after having it stretched for 9 months and having a seemingly indisposable pregnancy pouch?). Not bad,eh?
  • Studies have shown that mothers who breastfeed have lower risk of having breast and ovarian cancer. They also decrease their chances of cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and even high cholesterol! Baby is healthy, mom has lower risk in so many diseases! Win-win!!
  • Studies have proven that breastfed babies are less likely to have diarrhea and pneumonia. Unlike formula, breastmilk does not need bottles and water which can be easily contaminated. In fact, breastmilk is complete nutrition for our little ones. No need to give water because 88% of breastmilk is water. In formula feeding, one wrong move or accidental contamination and the baby gets sick. I remember my college professor who was a breastfeeding advocate, would ask during health teachings, “How old are you? In your ___years of existence, nakakita ka na ba ng utong na nilalangaw o nahulog sa lupa?” I think that pretty much makes the entire point.
  • Nursing mothers need extra 500 calories per day because the food we eat, the baby also eats! In fact, we need to eat more than pregnant mothers do (Pregnant: plus 300 calories unless otherwise advised by doctor) . Who does not love eating more? The best part? It is SO easy to lose weight! In fact, I have lost my pregnancy weight in less than two months just breastfeeding (I am not a fan of exercise and diet to be honest). I fit into my pre-pregnancy bikinis four months after giving birth. If that is not enough motivation for vain moms(not that I am. Lol!), I don’t know what is.
  • Enteromammary pathway! According to La Leche League International, Whatever bacteria or viruses we have been exposed to or are already immune to, we develop antibodies for it that we transfer via breastmilk. Same goes with our babies. If my baby becomes exposed to a bacteria or virus, he will pass it on to me when he feeds. My immune system will create antibodies for it and will be in my milk so the next time my son feeds, he will have antibodies for it as well. Amazing? Oh yeah! No formula milk can do that! God designed breastmilk so perfectly that babies’ immature immune system will have the best fighting chance to survive and prevent various diseases! So yes, moms with cough and colds can breastfeed (although it is better if you wear a mask–which I do not do) because you have already exposed your baby to the bacteria or virus before your illness even presented itself. Your breastmilk can give the baby better fighting chance to not get sick than stopping breastfeeding which by now, you probably have learned, will be useless.

Now, of course there are times that your baby will get sick (mine did) but if he was not breastfed, it could be worse. Remember, breastmilk is a child’s first immunization. My son got cough and colds during flu season but unlike all the other babies who saw the doctor with the same problem, he did not have fever. He was also in a better disposition than the other babies and our (new) breastfeeding advocate pediatrician attributed this to the fact that he is breastfed.

  • One of the great things I love about breastmilk is that it provides complete nutrition at zero cost. The nutritional content of breastmilk is so complete that it provides everything a growing baby could ever need and it changes its nutritional content over time depending on our babies’ nutritional needs! How cool is that?! God made it so perfect and the best part is–it’s free!!!

The only hindrances I have found are the availability of formula and the mentality that “it’s OKAY to give formula” because IT IS NOT. When they say formula is more convenient and complete, I hope the person saying that is just kidding. I was sent milk samples weeks prior to giving birth and at first I was glad I did not have to purchase formula IF I want to mix feed. Which I don’t. But. Oh. Hey, it’s available and for now, it’s free. Then I read the ingredients (as I always do before I eat something when I was pregnant) and I was appalled to see the top ingredients: sugar, corn syrup, vegetable oil! I could go on and on but this entry is long enough as it is. I mean, just imagine eating processed food everyday. I tried to taste formula milk just so I know the taste and I almost threw up! Now imagine a newborn stomach taking that in,depending on it for nutrition and growth. What a sad, sad thought.

Also, just because a person is a doctor or nurse that does not make him/her a breastfeeding expert. My take on this is that, all medical personnels must be given extra training and education on breastfeeding if we really want the medical field to be a RELIABLE source of support. Look at our former neonatologist, right? Let’s not go too far. I mean, just look at me, a non practicing registered nurse. I should have known better too!

 

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Some may reason out, I do not have enough milk. That is just a misconception! I have been there. Send me a message so we can talk more about it. My advice? Do not supplement on formula. If I can make a do-over, I would not have had formula fed my son ever. Another advice is: Demand to be close to him. It is important that you try to feed him/make him latch on as soon as he is born. The earlier the better! He can stimulate milk production.

Some say, they are working moms and cannot breastfeed. Guess what?! You are on maternity leave so while you are on that leave, you have no excuse not to breastfeed. Talk to your human resources staff about breastfeeding law (read more here:http://www.lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra2010/ra_10028_2010.html). You should be able to pump at work. I can only imagine how hard it must be BUT there are so many moms who did it and are still doing it. It just takes a lot of will power and extra effort.

Some reason out, they delivered via Cesarean Section. That is not an excuse. I can only imagine how much it hurts but you can still do it. So many moms have been there and they did it! You can too! Others reason out, it’s too burdensome. Believe me, I’ve been there (and all other exclusively bf mommas too!). I was at a certain point when I was wondering why I was still alive after being sleepless for a few months and yet, I held on and survived. My son had colic and reflux and had to be fed upright for 5 1/2 months . Those 5 1/2 months, I fed every two hours and dozed off in a sitting position. Lying down is an almost forgotten experience for me which,if it ever occurred, never lasted more than 2 hours. But I kept on going because I know I am giving God’s best to my son.

The thought that God made me for this, that millions of women since the biblical times have been breastfeeding–the way God intended babies to be fed, kept me strong. It’s a blessing to have a supportive husband too (a strong support system is a must!). And with God’s grace, I was able to make it. A day at a time. It is hard but not impossible. Giving up on our babies for convenience should not be an option. We are parents for a reason. Part of being a parent is choosing what is best for our child. Breastmilk is the best. I am telling you–EVERYONE AND ANYONE CAN BREASTFEED. I did it. You can too! It entails only a mother’s commitment, not capability (your capability is a given fact! You are enough!).

If you have a treasure, wouldn’t you share it with your child? What if I tell you that your treasure right now is available, at no cost, just waiting to be given to your baby who cannot speak for himself what he truly needs? I implore you. Please. Please. Please. Give your liquid gold to the one it was created for–your baby.

I am Diane Tolentino, a mother of a small for gestational age baby with lip tie. I have been breastfeeding for 12 months and one week as of writing this. What seemed to be one of the hardest struggles of my life has turned out one of the most beautiful. It is worth it. My child is worth it. Your child is worth it.

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For Filipina breastfeeding moms and moms-to-be, you do not have to go through this alone. I encourage you to join Breastfeeding Pinays on facebook. It’s free. You need all the support you can get. Trust me, an awesome support group can make all the difference.

 

 Here are many thoughts and reasons why we should all advocate for mothers to breastfeed for the first 1,000 days of life #BF1st1000days

Mec insists to <a href=”http://www.mecasmom.com/2014/08/do-math-aim-high-for-breastfeeding.html“>do the Math and breastfeed!</a><br>
 
Ams, The Passionate Mom says <a href=”https://thepassionatemom.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/breastfeeding-for-a-better-future/“>Breastfeed for a Better Future</a><br>
 
Pat says <a href=”http://www.wearandnursebaby.com/2014/08/breastfeeding-save-money-save-earth.html“>breastfeeding saves money and the planet</a><br>
 
Cheryl, the Multi-Tasking Mama, tackles <a href=”http://themulti-tasking-mom.blogspot.com/2014/08/improving-maternal-lives-through-global.html“>maternal health as addressed by breastfeeding</a><br>
 
2011 CNN Hero Ibu Robin highlights <a href=”http://themulti-tasking-mom.blogspot.com/2014/08/milk-mommy-diaries-guest-writer-2011.html“>gentle births and breasfeeding, even in disaster zones</a><br>
 
Felyn stresses that <a href=”http://eypolapol.tumblr.com/post/95386493886/milk-mama-diaries-healthy-mommy-healthy-baby#.U_ar2cWSyud“>Healthy Moms = Healthy Babies</a><br>
 
Monique reminds us that <a href=”http://anounceoffaith.com/2nd-chances-do-happen-you-can-breastfeed/“>there are second chances in breastfeeding</a><br>
 
Normi relates how <a href=”http://www.thismommylife.com/2014/08/breastfeeding-a-winning-goal/“>breastfeeding gave her strength and purpose</a><br>
 
Nats thanks <a href=”http://mymommykuwentos.blogspot.com/2014/08/thank-you-dr-jack-for-showing-how.html“>Dr. Jack Newman for showing how breastfeeding can be a win-win situation</a><br>
 
Em believes <a href=”http://www.touringkitty.com/2014/08/22/breastfeeding-a-solution-to-societal-problems/“>breastfeeding is a solution to societal problems</a><br>
 
Marge shares <a href=”http://nanaylovespurple.tumblr.com/post/95363750724/teacher-mom-breastfed-baby“>what breastfeeding has taught them</a><br>
 
Kaity was <a href=”http://snapplaylove.blogspot.com/2014/08/breastfeeding-winning-goal-for-life-on.html“>empowered financially and as a woman through breastfeeding</a><br>
 
Madel relates her <a href=”http://www.mommymeowmeow.com/2014/08/milk-mama-diaries-our-breastfeeding-saga.html“>breastfeeding saga</a><br>
 
Jen of Next9 reminds us <a href=”http://attachedatthehip.me/milk-mama-diaries/“>to do our research and share what we know</a><br>
 
Celerhina Aubrey vows to work on <a href=”http://www.celerhinaaubrey.com/2014/08/breastfeeding-winning-goal-for-life.html“>one mother at a time</a><br>
 
Grace wants to put an end to <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/notes/gayo-gayoso/putting-an-end-to-the-usual-stories-of-toasted-coffee-over-breast-milk/10154523250885254“>stories of toasted coffee and similar stuff over breast milk</a><br>
 
Diane shares how she prevailed <a href=”https://starsrainbows.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/breastfeeding-a-winning-goal-for-life“>when things did not go according to plan</a><br>
 
Hazel appreciates <a href=”http://sahmommywannabe.blogspot.com/2014/08/my-milk-mama-diary-yes-we-all-can.html“>mommy support groups</a><br>
 
Roan combines two passions, <a href=”https://homeworksbyroan.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/breastfeeding-and-architecture/“>breastfeeding and architecture</a><br>
 
Queenie tackled <a href=”http://www.lifeofque.com/just-for-moms/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-the-best-choice-for-mom-baby-the-environment/“>breastfeeding as the best choice for the environment as well</a> and <a href=”http://www.lifeofque.com/just-for-moms/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-myths-related-to-poverty/“>breastfeeding myths and poverty</a><br>
 
Rosa shares <a href=”http://thecareerhousewife.blogspot.com/2014/08/milk-mama-diaries-breastfeeding-and.html“>how the picture she thought of was realized</a><br>
 
Sally believes <a href=”http://thebinondomommy.blogspot.com/2014/08/breastfeeding-winning-goal-for-life.html“>breastfeeding benefits mankind and our planet Earth</a><br>
 
Floraine reminds us that <a href=”http://myhappybeginnings.blogspot.com/2014/08/breastfeeding-winning-goal-for-life.html“>breastfeeding helps combat diseases</a><br>
 
 
Armi reminds us how <a href=”http://www.mayumiandme.com/milk-mama-diaries-carnival-august/“>breastfeeding during emergencies is crucial</a><br>
 
Arvi tells us how <a href=”http://thehappymrst.blogspot.com/2014/08/how-breastfeeding-helped-us-jumpstart.html“>breastfeeding made her look at her body a different way</a><br>
 
Clarice elaborates on how <a href=”http://tickledmomclarice.com/2014/08/22/breastfeeding-saving-babies-and-mother-earth/“>breastfeeding saves lives and the planet</a><br>
 
Giane reminds us that <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/notes/giane-cortazar/its-more-than-just-the-boobs/10152599848099043“>women empowerment can begin by seeing breastfeeding as more than a feeding issue</a><br>
 
Liza thought she was only <a href=”http://mommylovesyouforever.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/breastfeeding-i-thought-i-did-it-just-for-him/“>breastfeeding for her child</a><br>

 

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3

Women vs. women

We hear it too often it’s almost cliche. “We are our worst critic”.
I think it’s more appropriate to say that other women are a woman’s worst critic. It’s so self explanatory but I want to expound on this based on the simplest and worst experiences.

Case in point number1:
Would a woman applaud another woman for giving up her career to take care of her child? NO. Believe it or not, the worst comments she’d hear would most likely (More or less 100%) come from women. Women she knows. Women she barely knows. Women who think motherhood must include a career in the equation to make herself a hero. That being”crazy busy” and hours spent away from her children means she is doing motherhood right. Why can’t women support women who choose to give up their careers for family?

Likewise,
Would a woman applaud another woman who choose her career over her children? Although i have seen more empathetic moms who keep mum over this because not everyone can afford to stay home with their kids. But how often are working moms understood that leaving the kids in the care of someone else isn’t easy especially if it’s the only way to put food on the table? The only way to pay the bills and secure the kids’ future?

Why does one have to be above another? Why does one have to be better than the other? Why can’t women share the limelight? If you think you deserve to be put on a pedestal, don’t you think it should be shared with someone else too? Does one really need all the glory to herself? Do women really need to put each other down to pull one’s self up? And do we really need the limelight? Do we need to put ourselves on a pedestal? Truth is, we don’t! Too much drama being a woman IMO.

Case in point 2:
Breastfeeding.
Please this is not a debate whether you should or should not breastfeed. We all know breast milk IS best for babies. It is understood that not everyone will do it. But don’t you think more mothers would breastfeed if she is not judged when she needs to do so in public? I have found that aside from all other obstacles (and there is A LOT), one of the worst things a breastfeeding mom has to do is go out.

The shame and hassle of having to discreetly hide her new baby when she doesn’t have a bottle ready or if the baby wouldn’t take the bottle and needs to take out a boob. She has to think of all the opinions of all the people who would see her and consider whether “feeding her baby the natural way” is making other people uncomfortable. I do not want to think of how many women stopped breastfeeding for this reason.

Guess what? Some men may want to take a peek BUT most men (at least here in the U.S), i have found to be respectful enough to turn away or find another parking spot when they see a woman nursing (YES, EVEN WITH A COVER).

My son is 8 months as of now and i have heard COUNTLESS shaming stories, with that familiar, no doubt, critical voice of women(-yes, even women dear to me!!!)one of which, telling me how a teen explicitly gave a boob to her crying baby in public. Or that women nurse in public for everyone to see and how it made them uncomfortable. And the mortified tone when i should be the one mortified! Like, “Why are you telling me this?! You know I breastfeed!”.

I remember a voice of an old friend-THE ONLY ONE, who said, “who cares what people think and say?! My son is hungry and i will feed him the best way i know how!”. After that, i became proud and confident wearing my nursing cover(which i now rarely use). Screw (excuse the word.or not), the people who treat nursing in public worse than P.D.A!! I am feeding my son!

Back home, not everyone can afford a nursing cover and would have to do with nothing and yet, there they are, treated with contempt by their fellow women because they have to give a boob to their hungry baby while men are looking at them when they should be angry at the men for staring. Should breastfeeding be sexualized? No! God designed us for it! We are made to do it! Why must it be a big deal? Why can’t women be respected for doing so? You never hear a woman judge another woman when her baby receives a bottle, “what?! How could you?!” Or “Why are you feeding him through bottle?” Or “Shame on You for giving a bottle in public!” No. You never hear that. How can we be so judgmental of those who do not?! If women stick together, if we could learn to support one another, we can ask those guys to look away because it is making the mother uncomfortable rather than judging and criticizing the breastfeeding mom for making HER uncomfortable which shouldn’t be the case at all if we have each others’ backs!!!

We went to the Philippines last December and had to go to the clinic for our clearance before returning here in the U.S. The clinic we went to was incidentally, inside a nice mall in Ortigas where most (if not all) the crowd are middle working class to upper class. So there i was, waiting for my husband who had to check with his boss while i was at the food court and my son who at that time just turned 4 months became hungry. So i took out my cover and fed him. I felt eyes on me. I looked to my left–nothing. And then to my right-there he was. Probably around late 30’s-mid 40’s who was looking at me. I was completely covered and yet obviously feeding, having my baby positioned under my cover. He shifted, still trying to peek. I moved to my side farther from him. He stood up and shamelessly leaned over to me. I stood up. Glared at him and stopped feeding my son. I was mortified but do not want to make a scene! Imagine my horror!

Looking back, I should have confronted the guy. I was afraid to tell my husband because he is very protective of me and my son. And that realization (yet again) of how much breastfeeding women had to go through. And unfortunately, women are our worst critics. They would be the ones to say, you deserve it for taking out a boob in public. You are making a scene. Wow. What a world we live in.

If feeding a hungry baby is a crime, is wearing shorts an invitation for rape? Ladies, we should know better. We should react better. We should be better to each other. I can elaborate more but as i have said: self explanatory.

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February 7,2014

Just so I will always remember this day. It’s not even your birthday but my heart just swells with joy. Just because.

I love you and I thank God everyday for choosing me to be your mom. There is no greater honor in life than being chosen to carry you, to deliver you,to hold you, to care for you, to love you, to raise and mold you into the man you are destined to be. May the Lord give us wisdom, unlimited patience and gentler hearts as we do our daily tasks as your parents. You are very much loved my dear son.

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There will always be only one you. You are irreplaceable, unique, beautiful. And I will love you even if you out grow my arms, because you will never outgrow my heart. I love you my baby!

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6th month immunization

12 years ago, your father held my hand for the first time. February 12, 2002. That was our J.S. prom.
Exactly a year ago, I met the doctor who eventually, delivered you. where did the time go???

If I could take away the pain, I would. But this is for your own good. There are worse things than pain from injections and having a fever and those awful diseases are just some of them. So please bear with me my son. I didn’t do this to hurt you but to make you stronger and less vulnerable. Because i love you.

My mom would always tell me that the pain for my own good before I get my vaccine shots. I never believed nor understood her. And now that I finally do, I finally have a son who thinks otherwise!

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Huh

There is nothing-nothing I say, that can prepare anyone for motherhood. Even a nurse or a doctor who has had countless experience with delivering and taking care of babies could ever prepare one for motherhood. No books, blogs, magazines, etc., no matter how many you read could ever prepare you from being one.

Every child is unique just as every mother is. Just as every situation of the unique child and mother is. There is no exact formula. No perfect solution. One can only pray and try and do her very best.

You can pretend to know. Yes , ms.know-it-all, mrs.i’ve-done-my-research, mrs.i’ve-had-experiences-with-blah-blah-blah-before.. Seriously, You can ONLY pretend. No offense intended.

Yes it is best to prepare, to read, to learn, but when the time comes and you hold your tiny baby in your arms and you see eye to eye for the first time and his little hand holds your finger and see his little smile, you’ll still feel unprepared, fragile, unworthy, and yet strong and full of love more than your heart can ever, ever hold. And then fear would start to sink, as you realize that the world is too big and too cruel for you to protect your dearly beloved child.

And then that smile, that beautiful, angelic smile, would remind you there is a higher power in control. That you cannot protect him all the time but your role would be to mold him, to hold him and to prepare him for that time when he had to let go of your hand, and pray that when that time comes, that little person you once held, would someday, in his own way, will make the world a better place.