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Category Archives: Breastfeeding

Goodbyes and Thank yous

Today, I packed away my breast pump.

I haven’t been expressing milk for a couple of weeks now. Paolo and I agreed to wean her off the breast when Meia hit a year old for a variety of reasons.

It took a few weeks, but we finally got there. We were lucky – since I work full-time, Meia’s used to drinking milk from the bottle (a far cry from the bottle wars). I would only feed her direct when she’d wake up in the middle of the night or during weekends when the yaya is on leave and I was too lazy to pump. A few days after her first birthday, I noticed that she drank less and less at night. Sometimes, she would only suck for less than a minute, for comfort it seems, then would fall asleep right away. Eventually, my supply dried up and I no longer needed to pump milk.

I feel so liberated and at the same time, completely and utterly useless. I now have a little bit more time in my hands, so I have rediscovered my passion for reading. I have started exercising which I couldn’t do before since it adversely affected my supply. I could go out for more than 3 hours at a time without lugging around my gear and worrying about where I could pump. At the same time, whenever Meia makes the milk sign, I can  no longer do anything to help except look for the yaya or my husband to give her what she wants. Whenever I buy formula, I can feel my inner lactivist shaking her head disapprovingly. (While we still have over a month’s supply of breast milk, we’ve started mixed feeding to help Meia with the transition.)

A part of me still can’t believe that I am actually looking back at my breastfeeding year fondly. I remember the first few days when I wasn’t sure if milk was coming out. I remember coming home from the hospital and Meia crying because she was hungry and at the same time rejecting my breast. Back then, we had to run to the drugstore to buy her sterilized water to dissolve sugar in then. I still get stressed thinking about that god awful hour. I remember the plugged ducts and nipple blisters. I remember being too tired and falling asleep while nursing her (I never nursed in the sleep lying position, so falling asleep while breastfeeding was not okay). I remember not being able to go out because I had to be on standby in case she got hungry even before her schedule. I remember the cluster feeding and our marathon 1 to 2 hour nursing sessions. I remember feeling insecure whenever I looked at other breastfed babies – they looked so big compared to Meia. I remember going to starbucks and not being able to buy anything because they were all caffeinated.

Breastfeeding is easily one of the most difficult things I’ve done but I’m happy that I decided to persevere despite the many hardships that came with it.

Aside from, of course, being able to give Meia the best nutrition available, breastfeeding made a huge impact in my life. I learned to be more selfless and more giving. My body, my time, my life were no longer mine – I had a little one who was completely dependent on me and I was more than happy to share everything I had with her. For me, this is different from pregnancy because breastfeeding is a choice – I chose to share these things with my daughter even though technically, I could have given her formula and she would still grow up okay. When you’re pregnant on the other hand, you have no choice since everything you eat, everything you do to your body, automatically affects the baby. (And no, abortion is never an option.)

Breastfeeding also gave me the opportunity to have quiet time with my daughter. While nursing, I am able to enjoy her company away from the prying eyes of well-meaning friends and relatives. Breastfeeding allowed me to foster deeper relationships with friends who are also breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding has also allowed me to meet and help other struggling moms in their journey.

As I pack away my pump, I feel extremely grateful for the year that was and for everyone who has helped and supported me in my journey. Special shout out goes to the hubby, for always cheering me on. For mommy friends such as Nats and April and the rest of the Tazian moms for their kind words of support. For Didi and Jean who helped me when my shields broke. For Concep, who let me use her sterilizer and bother her at work when the dreaded ants infiltrated my pump parts. For my relatives who, while unfamiliar with breastfeeding, eventually learned to stop asking if Meia was having enough to eat and who understood why I was a no show to most family events during the first few months of her life. For my other friends who I don’t see anymore because my life was overtaken by boobs, milk, and nappies. For RPJ and the rest of my former bosses and officemates, for lining the glass walls of my room with manila paper and scheduling meetings around my pumping schedule. For my current bosses and officemates, for not asking any questions whenever I disappeared for 20-30 minutes inside the conference room. For Joyce (of The Marshmallow Mama) and Paola (of Mommy Treats), for making yummy lactation goodies. For the internets for websites such as Kellymom and Chronicles of a Nursing Mom, which were my go to resources when it came to breastfeeding concerns. And most especially for Meia, for bearing with me and patiently drinking her milk from me even when my supply was low, I was smelly (I was probably smelly back then, I would only had a few minutes to shower before I’d hear her stir and look for me), cranky, awkward, and obviously a mommy and breastfeeding neophyte.

 
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Posted by on 05/01/2012 in Breastfeeding, Parenthood

 

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Mixed Emotions

Meia turns a year this coming Saturday. Wow. Whoever said that the days are long and the years are fast was correct. There were times when I just wanted the day to end so I can start fresh – a day without leaking diapers, witching hours, and bottle wars. And yet, here we are. One year gone and I honestly don’t know where it went.

When Meia was born, I promised myself that I’d stop breastfeeding when she turned a year old. I needed to get my life back, I thought. So for one year, I turned down most (if not all) invitations to hang out with friends unless (i) I could be home in 2-3 hours’ time (I really wasn’t comfortable pumping in a bathroom, and as far as I know, only Eastwood Mall has a decent breastfeeding room), or (ii) they were held in my house. I haven’t had a sip of coffee or caffeinated tea (or milk tea for that matter) or eaten anything coffee flavored since I learned I was pregnant. Exercise went out the window as it adversely affected my milk supply. Malunggay became my go to vegetable/vitamin. My pumping kit was my constant companion.

My sacrifice paid off. I am proud to say that Meia is still exclusively breastfed – almost 12 months in and yet she has never tasted formula (not that there’s anything wrong with formula). Four months in my breastfeeding journey, I had to buy a chest freezer since we needed more space to store my frozen milk. Less than two months later, I had to start donating since 4 cubic feet wasn’t enough to keep my milk stash.

At first, I pumped every 2 hours. When I went back to work, I moved it to every 3 hours. Sometime December or January, I decided to space my pumping time further apart to every 4 hours, then 5, and now 6. My milk supply has of course decreased as a result — I just found out that the yaya had to defrost milk for the first time in months today. And I don’t know how I feel about that.

On the one hand, I know that I had given my little bear the recommended one year’s supply of breastmilk (I have enough stash to last until her birthday) and that I can now transition her to cow’s milk. At the same time, I find myself reaching for another lactation cookie (my third today) that my friend, the Marshmallow Mama, generously provided me last Sunday, hoping that it will do its magic and that the yaya won’t have to defrost milk tomorrow.

 
 

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Beyond Being Thin

“Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (December). For this month, we want to honor breastfeeding for having enriched our lives and blessed us, maybe even empowered us, in a way that only breastfeeding can. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants.”

I was a fat kid. I wasn’t cute, healthy, or big boned. I was just plain fat.

As a child, I would always get clothes from the pre-teens section. As a pre-teen, from the teens section, and as a teen, from the ladies department. My only saving grace was that I was tall for my age, so I didn’t look that horrible.

Then one day, when I was in grade 4, I stepped on the scale and saw that my weight hit a whopping 140 pounds. To put it into perspective, I was 60 pounds heavier than the average girl my age. My weight was the equivalent of almost 2 11 year olds!

It was at that point that I decided that I needed to lose weight. Yes, at 11 years old, I went on my first diet. I also tried sports – there was a new taekwondo class being offered, and I decided to enroll.

It took a while but eventually, I started to shed the pounds. From then on, I was always on a diet. Here’s a picture of me on my wedding day, I think I was more or less at my thinnest then:

i'm such a ray of sunshine

At this point, I was 10 pounds less than my ideal weight according to those height and weight charts. However, despite being underweight, I never really felt thin. There was always a body part to tone, a bilbil to get rid of. While I knew in my mind that I was no longer my grade 4 self, I was always afraid I’d get back to it if I let myself go.

Then Meia happened. When we decided to have a baby, I promised myself that I would start dieting right after I gave birth. I would eat a lot during my pregnancy but that was okay, there was a little one inside of me that I was eating for as well.

7 months pregnant

Then I decided to breastfeed. This is what I didn’t account for in my get-back-into-shape-right-after-giving-birth plan. Dieting was a big no-no, as I would feel weak and dizzy if I didn’t eat a lot. Exercising wasn’t an option either — while some websites say that it’s okay for me to exercise while breastfeeding, I realized that it severely affected my milk supply.

Today, nine months in, I’m still 10 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, and light years away from my pre-pregnancy body.

What I’ve realized during the past year is that my body is no longer my own. I am in charge of taking care of it, of making sure that it’s healthy, but it’s not mine alone. I currently share it with Meia, who is getting her milk only from me. Because of that, I realized that I needed to push away my fear of being fat and concentrate on nourishing Meia for the time being. So what if I have a pooch in my belly? So what if I still don’t fit into any of my favorite prepregnancy clothes?

Don’t get me wrong. I still feel fat every now and then. But you know what? It’s more than worth it because I have this in return:

a happy 9 month old bouncing bear

Breastfeeding has freed me from my fears. It has made me realize that my body is beautiful because it has performed and continues to perform a beautiful function – it has produced the most wonderful baby in the world and continues to nourish her even outside the womb.

Do take the time to check out all the posts in this month’s carnival:

 
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Posted by on 12/13/2011 in Breastfeeding, Parenthood, Uncategorized

 

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I Finally Get It

It’s been a hectic couple of days for our household. Paolo has been in the hospital for the past 4 days. According to the doctor, it may take at least 3 more days before he gets discharged — that’s assuming his current medication works. I rushed him to the ER last Monday because he had a 39.1 fever. We were about to be sent home then but right before he was to be given his discharge papers, his fever hit a whopping 39.9. Since then, we found out that Pao has pneumonia on both lungs, sinusitis, high sugar, and possible dengue. I say possible because we’re still watching his platelets. They’re currently below normal, but not yet at levels wherein we’re sure it’s dengue.

On my end, I’m juggling taking care of Paolo during the day and coming home to take care of Meia during the night. I’m also not a 100% — I really think Paolo got the virus from me, it’s just that mine didn’t develop into a pneumonia but just became acute pharyngitis, whatever that means.

Aside from that, the all around maid has a sprain on her wrist which compromises her ability to lift and support heavy or moving objects, such as a very active bouncing bear. That means even though I’m tired after coming home from the hospital, I had to be the one to help the yaya bathe Meia. On the other hand, the yaya has been complaining of a bit of redness in her eyes and dizziness. I’m also currently searching for a new yaya as the current one wants to go home for good next year.

Suffice it to say, I’m not having a very good week.

It has become our ritual to nurse Meia to sleep. Tonight was no exception. As I was settling in to feed her, I was forced to focus on the task at hand and stop thinking about my worries. I was looking at her nurse sleepily when I suddenly got this feeling of calm. That everything would be alright. And for that brief moment, I was happy.

Yes, folks. I finally got it. I’d always read about how other breastfeeding moms look forward to nursing their children and how they wish they didn’t have to wean. I used to think that was silly — breastfeeding had its drawbacks after all. It was painful especially when Meia was still learning how to latch and when she finally learned to bite. It also took away what little social life that I had since I had to be pumping every 3 hours and I couldn’t go out at night. And even if I have a prescription from my EENT for my throat, I can’t take the medicine since it’ll affect the milk.

It took me 8 months and a hell of a week but I finally got it. And at that moment, I felt extremely grateful that I was given this wonderful gift to nurse my daughter.

 
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Posted by on 11/04/2011 in Breastfeeding, Parenthood

 

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Bottle Wars

Meia at 2 months old

My first few weeks back at work after giving birth were not easy. While my previous law firm allowed me to express milk in the office whenever I wanted, giving Meia the milk I pumped was another matter. Back then, she absolutely hated the bottle and would sometimes go on what my husband and I would call bottle strikes — like a real hunger strike, she would refuse to eat as long as I wasn’t direct feeding her. Needless to say, I racked up plenty of absences and half-days in the office. Sometimes, I would drive an hour to work only to have to come back home to make sure Meia doesn’t go hungry.

Things have gotten a lot better since then. I can now go to work without having to check every 2-3 hours to see if she actually ate something.

Here are the strategies my husband and I employed to make sure Meia eats even when I’m not around:

1) We tried different bottles until we hit the jackpot.

Meia prefers these bottles by Nuby. However, before we discovered Nuby, we tried Avent bottles with mixed results and Medela bottles (the ones that come with the breast pump) – the latter was a complete failure.  From my conversations with other moms, it seems that each baby has a particular preference, so just keep trying different brands of bottles until you find out what suits yours.

2) I disappeared for a while.

From reading various articles, I thought all I needed to do was to be in a separate room while Meia was being fed. I would hide in the study while my husband and the nanny would try to feed her in our bedroom to no avail. After half an hour of struggling, I would give in and feed her direct.

One day a few months in the bottle strike (yes, the bottle strike period lasted a couple of months!) and after 3 days of being absent from work (it’s a wonder I didn’t get fired), I decided to leave the house on a hunch. I did our grocery in the supermarket 10 minutes away from the house so I could easily rush back in case she goes on strike again. When it hit her 2 hour mark, she cried and cried and only ate an ounce from the bottle. Then she slept. I decided to wait a little bit more, to see what would happen next. An hour later, Meia woke up again, hungry, and started drinking from the bottle! She finished a good 3 oz.

I tried it again the following day just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. It worked like a charm. All this time, niloloko lang pala ako ng batang ito!

3) After a night’s rest, her first meal should be from the bottle.

We noticed that Meia would “reset” each day. One day she’s be on a strike and the next day she’d be happily drinking from the bottle. From our observations, it seemed that her first meal each morning would dictate how she wanted to be fed the rest of the day.

4) We’ve learned to be creative when it comes to feeding her.

I’ve lost count of the many different positions we’ve tried while feeding her. Sometimes we hold her in a cradle position, other times she wants to be in her crib and we’re just cradling her head to drink, other times we have to be standing up while feeding her. I’ve also seen babies Meia’s age being fed from the bouncer. To each her own.

If I’ve learned anything this past 7 or so months, it’s that feeding a baby takes a lot of patience and practice. When all else fails, perhaps it’s time to try another method of giving milk, such as dropper, syringe, or cup feeding.

Good luck!

 
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Posted by on 10/26/2011 in Breastfeeding, Parenthood

 

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Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 Implementing Rules

Really happy to note that the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 has already been issued. This is important for nursing moms like me who pump in the office as now all establishments, including public places, are required to establish lactation rooms. Rule III, Section 10 gives the minimum requirements for these lactation stations, as follows:

  • It should be accessible to the breastfeeding women;
  • It should be adequately provided with the necessary equipment and facilities and other items, the standards of which shall be defined by the Department of Health;
  • It should be clean, well ventilated, comfortable and free from contaminants and hazardous substances;
  • It shall ensure privacy for the women to express their milk and/or in appropriate cases, breastfeed their child; and
  • It shall NOT be located in a toilet.

The last bullet point is italicized because the most common question I’ve been getting from well-meaning officemates is why I don’t pump in the bathroom. Well, because it’s a bathroom.

Further, nursing moms are entitled to break intervals in addition to the regular time-off for meals to breastfeed or express milk. These breaks are counted as compensable time and should not be less than 40 minutes for every 8 hour working period. The employee and employers may agree as to how often and how long each break interval shall be.

You may get a copy of the IRR here. I suggest you print a copy of the IRR and submit it to your HR so they can start setting up lactation rooms!

According to Fabnaima, the IRR will be effective on 12 September 2011. Yeay! Pretty soon, no more pumping in the office bodega for me! (Unless of course, they turn the office bodega into the lactation room.)

 
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Posted by on 09/10/2011 in Breastfeeding, Parenthood

 

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