continued from Breastfeeding Survival 101 Part 1
… I seriously considered buying formula for him, and give up breastfeeding.
Good thing I called our attending pedia at Asian. I told him that my son cried and cried for several ungodly hours, and that I didn’t think I was producing enough milk. He calmly told me that my son’s insistence at suckling was telling my body to produce more milk, because at the rate my body was going, it was not enough (I imagined my son communicating this message to my body through suckling: Matakaw ako. Bilisan mo! Ubos ko na agad yung ginawa mo. Bilisan mo at damihan mo!). So I just have to let him suckle whenever he wants to. I felt relieved and bothered all at the same time. Relieved, as I would still be able to breastfeed him, and bothered, because my nipples are complaining big time. True enough, the very next day, my breasts rivaled Pamela Anderson’s…except that instead of silicone, it was full of milk. But because of its engorgement, my baby again had trouble latching, because the nipples were too big for his tiny mouth. It was a good thing that I thought of borrowing my sister-in-law’s breast pump just for fun. When I saw milk dripping out/being pumped out, I was in awe. Moreover, the pumping was a lot less painful than a baby’s suckling. So I pumped and pumped, and borrowed my niece’s feeding bottles. We tried feeding baby pumped breastmilk, and it was okay with him. It was a eureka! moment for me, because I felt like having the best of both worlds: I would be feeding breastmilk for my baby but at the same time, it won’t hurt as much (bonus: hubby could wake up whenever baby was up and feed him with refrigerated breastmilk)! I did some research about eping (slang for exclusively pumping) and bought my own breast pump. At first, I thought that eping was the best idea, until a thought hit me: Hindi nga masakit ang nipples ko, masakit naman ang kamay ko sa kaka-pump! So I bought myself an electric breastpump. Now, electric breastpumps are surprisingly expensive. Entry level electric breastpumps like Philips Avent can cost anywhere from P5,000-10,000! The really good ones like Medela and Ameda cost P10,000-30,000! I was shocked at how much they cost! They really are expensive. In the US, hospitals rent out these breastpumps. Too bad we don’t have that here in the Philippines. Since i wanted to buy double electric breastpumps (to save time and to avoid wasted breastmilk because pumping one breast leaves the other one dripping), I scoured the internet with
a good deal until I hit jackpot: a pre-loved Ameda Purely Yours Double Electric Breastpump was being sold for only P1,500! Being the cheapskate that I am, I immediately bought it (in excellent condition pa!). Since I decided that that I will “career” my pumping, I’ve also thought of buying pumping bras because holding breastpumps against your breasts is so tedious and boring as you can’t even switch the channels. Good thing I discovered that a regular nursing bra also does the trick (just shoot the “satellite” into your breast, latch the bra and start pumping). Anyway, I was feeling rather proud of myself until I was berated by a pedia: she told me that direct feeding was a lot better because 1.) eping doesn’t suck every single drop of milk; 2.) in the long run, baby will reject my breasts because bottles eject milk more easily (this was what happened to my sister-in-law–her baby rejected her breasts because her baby got used to the bottle while she was away at work); and 3.) washing and sterilizing are tedious (and doing it wrong may contaminate the milk). This pedia specifically told me: Put the bottle away! I was crestfallen, but I tried to follow her. As much as I can, I directly fed my baby but when my nipples hurt like crazy, I resorted to pumping. I asked my sister-in-law whether breastfeeding hurt her and she said that Yes, it did. It took her a week or two until the pain went away. It’s been almost two months for me, yet the pain was still there, then I surmised it was because of the fact that I’d just been pumping all this time. So I just pinched whatever (or whomever) I can whenever my baby suckled…pinching other people provided me comfort, hehe. And then after a week or two of direct feeding, the pain went away. It is true that when you reach this point, breastfeeding becomes a comforting experience. At this time, my ngalay has also diminished because my baby has grown that he can just settle on my lap as he fed from me. I’ve also come to appreciate how good it is not to wake up at 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. and go to warm his milk from the ref, and then after he feeds, go to the kitchen to wash ad sterilize his bottles.
In my baby’s third month, I can say that my son and I have already perfected the art of breastfeeding. I feel proud that I survived breastfeeding, and that I was able to nourish my son with MY milk. MY MILK. MY MILK! Up until around the second week of May (when my son was almost 5 months old already), he has never tasted a single drop of formula (if I weren’t teaching that summer, he might never have). Up to this day, my son still breastfeeds from me, but occasionally drinks formula from the bottle when I’m out.
So, in a nutshell, breastfeeding is not as easy as most breastfeeding advocates claim it to be (believe me, I’ve never learned how difficult it was until I became a mom) but it is so worth it. The pride I feel every time people praise me is inexplicable, plus I know that I sacrificed and did what I can for my baby.
In case you haven’t realized or read them yet, these are the benefits of breastfeeding that kept me going:
1. Baby is less sickly.
2. Economical ‘coz breastmilk is free!
3. Breastfeeding will help you slim down.
4. Studies show that a non-breastfed baby could have raised his IQ points higher if he were breastfed.
5. Studies show that breastfed babies are less likely to have obesity/weight problems in their puberty years.
There are a gazillion other benefits of breastfeeding, but to me, the above-mentioned are the most important ones. However, bear in mind that we might encounter these excuses as well:
1. My breasts have no milk – Happened to me, remember? Re-read the first paragaraph of this blog entry and my previous post, Breastfeeding Survival 101 Part 1.
2. My baby’s mouth is too small and my nipples are too big/My baby doesn’t know how to suckle – Breastfeeding is an art, and I’m telling you that it is not a walk in the park for both baby and mom. The solution is just to be patient and keep on practicing with your baby. One way you can help your child is for you to guide your nipples using your middle and pointing finger…imagine you are playing Paper, Rock, Scissors, and pretend you’ll go with Scissors. Now close your pointing and middle fingers on your nipple (pretend you are “cutting your nipple”) and guide your nipple into your baby’s open mouth. That is a lot better that using the tip of your thumb and pointing finger in guiding your nipple into your baby’s mouth. If you find that tedious, do not worry because after some time, you won’ even have to guide your nipple to your baby’s mouth as he will seek it on his own.
3. My nipples are inverted – measly excuse! I know several women whose nipples are inverted BUT they were able to breastfeed their babies. Lactation experts even say that a nipple isn’t even necessary for a baby to latch…all a baby needs is a hole in the breast where milk can flow out. And please refer to my answer to #2.
PS: Our helper had inverted nipples and wasn’t able to nurse her baby because the old women in her barrio stuck sharp bamboo sticks into her nipples to make the hole bigger daw kuno! Bad decision, because her nipples got infected and had pus.
4. Breastfeeding hurts like hell – Been there, experienced that. Solution? Tiisin mo! Haha, I feel smug. Just remember that it will pass…with each kirot and hapdi, you are getting nearer to the point of pain-free breastfeeding. I can’t recommend what I did (i.e., use breast pump and then feed through bottle in between to let my nipples rest), because some babies are picky: when they realize that bottles are easier, they’d start rejecting your breast. I was just blessed that my son is so voracious he doesn’t care about his food’s packaging, basta gatas, gatas! I did use nipple butter to help soothe my breast but I’m not sure whether it actually worked or not. I guess it did, and even if it didn’t really help with the pain, it helped moisturize cracked nipples. Tip: Cheapskate me tried to make tipid of the nipple butter–I shouldn’t have because as I’ve said after some time the pain will be gone and then you’ll no longer need it.
5. Breastfeeding is nakakangalay – True! That’s why a good quality nursing pillow will be a big help! Make sure you buy one that soft yet firm AND something that would fit your waist. I was annoyed at some of the “nursing pillows” I saw at SM Calamba...sa waist pa nga lang ng chubby hindi na kasya paano pa sa bagong anak? At sobrang lambot, kahit kuting ang ilagay mo lulubog, kukuba ka rin kahit may “nursing pillow”. I’m satisfied with the one I got, it cost almost P2,000 and the brand is Uratex. Also, a La-Z-Boy recliner would also be great, but it is too expensive. I seriously considered buying a recliner or at least a rocking chair, but when I got the hang of breastfeeding I realized I can do without one.
As I have said, breastfeeding is not a walk in the park. It is hard work, but hard work that would pay off pretty quickly. Breastmilk is the prefect food for your baby. Your body went to great lengths to make sure your baby will receive it: though your body was stressed with all the hormonal fluctuations that your pregnancy brought about, and the physical stress that giving birth brought about, your body is still hard at work to give your baby the best: food that is siksik (What’s siksik Mama? Full of nutrients!), food that never spoils, and food that is free, because breastmilk is a right of every baby. So difficult as it may be, it is sulit (What’s sulit Mama? It’s getting more than what you’ve paid [worked] for). Breastmilk Fortified, You’re My #1! (OK fine, baduy na, can’t help getting carried away).