Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Great Breastfeeding Debate

When girl friends and relatives had learnt that I was pregnant, their constant reminder was, "Try breastfeeding." Back then, my response was always "why not?" Or "why shouldn't I?" It was only when I have given birth when I realised that the struggle to breastfeed was real.

First, it was frustrating that in-laws, parents, and random strangers are frustrated that you're not breast feeding despite the assurance of nurses and my OB that the milk would eventually flow after three days or so. There was a sudden panic-attack of "what if I don't have milk? Will my baby be deprived of its health benefits? Am I a good mommy?"

While I was still in the hospital, I began googling for "food to improve lactation" and even "why is there no milk in me?" Or "how to get rid of annoying unwanted advices from strangers." (joke!) It was not even helpful that other mommies in the hospital, regardless if you know each other or not, would seem to wonder why you don't have milk yet since theirs started leaking while they were on their first trimester. "It will come in, people! I will text you all when it did."

Of course, when it finally did came in, there was no sudden gush of le precious milk right away. It started with a few drops of yellowish liquid colostrum - said to be the healthiest part of a breast milk - before white milk would come in a few more (sigh) days after. So, white milk or none, we still breastfed baby Charley every day.

A hungry baby figuring out how to latch and suck without drowning or starving herself and hurting me in the process can be tiring, too. When I'm exhausted from lack of sleep (since our yaya has gone awol for holidays), it's not easy to be patient all the time especially since baby Charley seems to be hungry every hour. Not to mention my roommate and my mom were constantly asking, "Are you sure she's getting enough milk from you?"

Sometimes, I would really wish to give up and give in to exclusive formula-feeding.

But I didn't.

Good thing I didn't.

We would offer to breastfeed her first before giving her formula milk. Yes, that meant regardless if she's getting any milk or not. That way I could get use to the process and baby Charley would make my body think that I needed to produce milk soon -- for everyone's sanity. It was only after a couple of days that we were able to "drain" the colostrum and the white milk finally (yay!) flowed.

It has taken some time before baby Charley and I both figured out how to do this breastfeeding thing without disowning each other. It was a journey we both shared and we're thankful for we got that done with.

Baby Charley was not breastfed exclusively during her first few weeks. There were times that we would give her formula milk, Nan HW One, which was prescribed by her pedia while we were still in the hospital (remember, I had no milk yet back then?). We made her finish the can first, and she would drink an average of 3 bottles every day. We bought Nan HW One for almost Php1,200 so I am so not throwing that money away.

Once we had finished the can, we decided to give exclusive breastfeeding a shot. We've finished our first week and so far, baby Charley does not look underfed at all. Yes! 

I hope we could continue exclusively breastfeeding baby Charley when I go back to work. I've heard that I can pump then put the milk in the fridge, and it could last for days. I'm not sure about how to heat it though or if I should. That one we're still trying to figure out.

On the other hand, some mommies prefer not to breastfeed their babies. I know one who has very low pain tolerance and could not really take being sore. Some could not because of time or of their work schedule. My sister-in-law couldn't breastfeed my nieces before since she used to work in Makati while my nieces stayed in Batangas. Sadly, some mommies just didn't have enough milk.

Baby Charley and I are very fortunate that I could still breastfeed her, but we still have very high respect for mommies who gave their babies formula milk instead. No judgment ika nga. After all, what matters is that the baby is well-fed and loved....breastfed or not.


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