As I write this entry, I am fondly looking at my milk drunk honey – my baby Kobe. A few weeks ago, I posted this on instagram:
Less than two months after he was born, I felt that he was constantly attached to my breast. My nipples were sore and cracking, yet every time this little human opened his mouth, squirmed or started breathing fast, I would pick him up and feed him. I would nurse him maybe eight to twelve times per day (I really don’t count). My only consolation is that he sleeps longer at night, and would wake me up to feed only around two to three times. He sleeps with us on our bed, so when I feel him moving, I just turn to face him and put him to my breast and feed him ‘til we both fall asleep again. (Note: babies rarely need to be burped when fed using the side-lying position. But I would still burp him when I see him fussy after a night feed, which rarely happens.)
I have been exclusively breastfeeding Kobe for three months now, and I intend to continue for at least up to he’s a year old, maybe longer! Honestly, I think I am having a relatively easy time breastfeeding, though I hit some bumps along the way. I want to share with you some tips based on my personal experience of breastfeeding – and hopefully it will help soon-to-be moms and newbie moms like me.
Attend a breastfeeding seminar or have a session with a lactation consultant. A couple of months before my due date, I joined a seminar facilitated by L.A.T.C.H. – a breastfeeding advocate group that specializes in helping new moms and promoting breastfeeding in the Philippines. I also had a one-on-one breastfeeding consultation with lactation consultant, Dr. Claire Celiz-Pascual. Getting the low-down on the specifics of breastfeeding really prepared me on what to expect, and helped debunk myths and old wives’ tales that I thought were true. One of my (silly) fears is that since I had small breasts, I won’t be able to produce enough milk, haha! I honestly think that attending the seminar and having the one-on-one are major factors that helped me in my in my first few weeks of breastfeeding. So equip yourself with the right knowledge even before you start!
Have the right tools and equipment for breastfeeding. A few months into my pregnancy, I started researching about breastfeeding, and asking for tips from my breastfeeding friends. It was overwhelming to a soon-to-be mom like me, learning about things that I’ll need – like a good breast pump, nursing bras, nursing clothes, nursing covers, and even lactation massages! But really, all you need are your baby and your boobs! Some nice-to-haves are: nursing bras (for accessibility when you’re outside), breast pads (I didn’t know that boobs leaked!), pure lanolin cream (for when your nipples get sore, most especially in the first few weeks), nursing cover (but any shawl or scarf will do!). If you need to pump milk for when you go back to work, you’ll need a breast pump, milk storage bags or containers, sterilizer, ice packs and cooler bag. But if you’re a full-time mom or work-from-home mom you can direct feed your baby – it’s hassle-free!
Prepare yourself physically and emotionally. Before giving birth, I was both excited and terrified! Since I had a scheduled cesarean section, I knew exactly when I was going to give birth; and the night before my CS, I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking of my baby, and all the possible things that could go wrong. One thing on my mind was breastfeeding – questions like “what if I have no milk?” and “what if my baby won’t latch properly?” were running through my mind. I voiced out my fears to my husband, and he helped me relax and let go of my anxieties. Eventually I was able to get some rest that night. And FYI, stress and anxiety can contribute to a decrease in milk supply. So learn how to chill, mommies! You also need to prepare physically. I started taking malunggay supplements around two weeks before my due date, and I braced myself to endure some pain while breastfeeding. Many people say that breastfeeding should not hurt, but honestly, at least in my case, it was a little painful at first. It still hurts a bit up to now, during the first few seconds after my baby latches. But it is very tolerable, and I believe it’s normal. Or maybe I just have a low pain tolerance!
Manage your expectations. Breastfeeding is not 100% easy-breezy. Yes, to breastfeed your baby is the natural thing to do, because we are built for it; but honestly, the average mom will have at least one problem with breastfeeding. When we were in the hospital, I had no problems with breastfeeding Kobe. He had a good latch, a strong suck, and he was pooping and peeing (so I knew he was getting milk from me even if I don’t see it gushing out). But on his first week, he became a lazy baby – he would latch and suck weakly for about a few seconds and then stop and sleep. All he wanted to do was sleep! I was so concerned that we was not getting enough milk and losing weight. I would massage my breasts while he was latched to get the milk flowing, then he would suck again, and then stop! My milk really came in around his 8th day and my breasts were engorged (hard as rocks!) but he wouldn’t nurse, he would just sleep on my breast! Another lactation consultant told me to pump some milk so my supply won’t decrease, and to just continue nursing Kobe while manually stimulating my breasts – it was tiring and frustrating, believe me! I was still recovering from my CS, and was in pain whenever he nursed (my uterus would contract causing extra pain in the area). We did this for a few days, and after that, he started to nurse longer and more often and things got easier. Then when he was six weeks old, it became excruciatingly painful when he would nurse from my right breast! I found out that I got milk blisters from nursing using the side-lying position too often (this was the most convenient position for me since I had a CS). Milk blisters are small plugged ducts on the nipples that look like whiteheads or really small white pimples. I tried relieving them with hot compress but it didn’t work so I had to go to my lactation consultant so she can “pop” them, ouch! Since then, my baby and I got the hang of it, and have been breastfeeding successfully!
Do not be afraid to ask for help from people who has “been there” and “done that.” Whether it be your best friend who breastfed her babies, an officemate who is currently breastfeeding, your lactation consultant or pediatrician, or even those in your online breastfeeding support group; do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. I am sure you’ll find someone who understands what you are going through. Of course, not all breastfeeding experiences are the same, but having someone who can empathize with you will really help you continue when you feel like giving up.
I consider myself a newbie at breastfeeding, but I am lucky to have a supportive husband (who is also a pediatrician!), friends who are lactation consultants and friends who successfully breastfed to support me whenever I have questions and concerns. Here is a list of groups I joined and contact info of my lactation consultants:
L.A.T.C.H. – like their page on Facebook
Breastfeeding Pinays – ask to join their group on Facebook
Dr. Claire Celiz-Pascual – 0932-8648795
Dr. Jamie Isip-Cumpas – 0918-8075767. Parkview Children’s Clinic, UG25 Alfaro Place, 146 Leviste St. Salcedo Village, Makati City and The Medical City Satellite Clinic at Robinsons Magnolia, QC.
Dr. Carl Aquino-Biolena – 09985330630
Dr. Katrina Trebol-Villapando – Baby Steps Bacolod
The Medela Freestyle breast pump and other other Medela products are available at The Parenting Emporium. Address: #29 1st Street, New Manila, Quezon City. Tel Nos. 725-3723, 738-6272, 0917-6247246.