Before Breastfeeding Month ends, l just want to share my breastfeeding journey – how normally difficult it was, how big a challenge it has been despite how prepared (I thought) l was, and how totally worth it it has been so far.
I work for Nestle. You would think that coming from the biggest (and best ever, woot!) milk company, I’d have developed a preference for formula, but it is just the opposite.
Since Day 1 (more than 4 years ago) the company has never been clearer on anything else – Breastmilk is best for babies up to 2 years and beyond, and no formula can compare or even come close. Formula is only there for when mom cannot, for one reason or another, breastfeed. And while I’ll bet my arm & leg to vouch for the quality of Nestle products, moms must always consult with their pedia for what’s best for their babies.
Not to say l don’t have a few cans of NAN on our shelf for contingency and about a gazillion different milk bottles, but that’s just the OC mom in me.
Picking up from my birth story, l woke up at the recovery room feeling very dazed & sore, to find a lactation nurse massaging my breasts. As she worked, she gave me the same advice I’ve been hearing from everyone else:
1. Breastfeeding is the best for baby
2. I’II have clear colostum first, rich & limited and enough for baby.
3. Just keep baby latched and the white milk will come in a few days later.
At the back of my smug & painkiller-riddled mind I thought l already got this down to a science. Hadn’t my baby latched so perfectly the first time in the DR? This would be a breeze, I thought.
Well, it didn’t take much to wipe out my confidence.
That first night went as fine as any new mom ccould hope for. l was tired and sore and bleeding, but also very elated to have my baby, who was adorable, pooping and sleepy. I have to highlight the importance of this combo – pooping and sleepy – in contributing to my peace of mind. Pooping made me think he was feeding well, while sleepy meant that he only cried in short bursts, and was easily soothed when latched or carried by my husband.
And our latch was perfect. Since my arms were still leaden and my legs shaky, my hubby or his mom would bring him to me to feed side-lying every 1-2 hours. We even fell asleep feeding on my mom-in-law’s watch.
The following day was another story. After the first night, we were hungover from the delivery and lacking sleep. Then my parents & ate arrived, and it was first a flurry of excitement and adoration. My mom even brought native chicken tinola with malunggay & lots of ginger.
And then it started. First it was just a harmless question, “How’s your milk?”. So I said innocently, not much, no white milk yet, just colostrum. A nurse even came over and gave me a breast massage, and even managed to express a drop of clear liquid each from my breasts, so yay!
But my parents were not impressed. They didn’t believe that was enough, and Oreo being their first apo, they were very concerned indeed. Their well meaning concern progressed from saying ‘maybe’, to ‘kawawa naman ang apo namin’, and ‘iyak ng iyak, gutom na gutom na kasi’, over and over until my nerves frayed and I also started doubting if my baby was indeed crying from extreme hunger. At the end of the day, I was so agitated that I refused my mom’s offer to stay the night, even though I really needed her.
But my hubby kept calm and collected, and while I was close to relenting to give formula, he reminded me of all the things we learned from breastfeeding class. Indeed, we were even told how we would receive lots of varying feedback, and it would be hard but essential to filter them graciously.
The next two days after check-out, we were still very giddy over taking baby home, but at thr same time I was still very tense, because Oreo was no longer either poopy and sleepy. My nipples were chafed and I was light-headed from lack of sleep, but with my hubby’s support and lots of lanolin cream, I kept Oreo latched almost hourly, determined to let him squeeze out every last colostrum there is. And apologizing for my grumpiness, I enjoyed lots of tinola and other ginger & malunggay filled recipes prepared by my mom and dad.
And then finally, my white milk came in. On our fourth morning I saw white liquid on my baby’s lips, and I knew we made it through.