Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mommies-to-be, please breastfeed your baby (even if it's "hard"!)

I had a lovely lunch last week where the fabulous and gorgeous beauty editors of Mega and Metro said they breastfed their children. I was so happy and encouraged! One of the ladies at our table was horrified, however. I am not exaggerating--her face registered disgust when she found out that Kim, Charmagne and I are breastfeeders. She said that she didn't breastfeed her kids because she was traumatized when she saw the saggy boobs of her grandmother.
My Facebook profile pic!

Mommies, we all have our reasons to not breastfeed. I go through those reasons every day! Here are some of them:

1. "It hurts!"
When the milk first comes in and for a few weeks afterwards, the sensation of your breasts filling up will hurt. When your boobs become engorged, they will hurt. When the baby suckles, it will hurt. When the baby starts teething and will try to soothe his gums by biting down on your nipple, it will hurt. But the pain does go away--your nipples will toughen up! As for the biting baby, you can train him not to bite. Yes, even infants can be trained!

2. "I don't have milk."
You do. You just don't see it. We don't have the satisfaction that transparent bottles and nipples may give us so we worry worry worry that our kids aren't getting milk. Trust your bodies--you have milk!

In the beginning, you might think no milk is coming out. Don't worry. Your newborn's tummy is the size of a small strawberry. He only needs a few tiny swallows at a feeding. And it's colostrum that comes out and coats your newborn's stomach lining. Once your baby's tummy is protected by colostrum, then your body starts producing milk. This can be on the fourth or fifth day!
Try lactation cookies! Mommy Treats really helped with my
milk production. Click here to buy yummy cookies!

3. "The baby won't latch."
As with all things, practice makes perfect. Don't get frustrated (I did!). And when other women tell you that a bottle and nipple will be easier, well, try your breast anyway! I was fortunate to have my sister-in-law Lizelle coach me when I was pregnant. Then when I gave birth, the nurses at St. Luke's Global showed me how to breastfeed, too. Not once did they suggest infant formula for Vito, despite my tears and fears that he was going hungry. And true enough, on Vito's third day of existence, he latched correctly!

4. "I feel so exposed."
I never had a problem with this until recently. Why only now? Vito's so active and curious now. He won't breastfeed under a cover. He has to watch the world go by while suckling. And if something grabs his attention, he'll sit up suddenly, leaving me exposed.

Just so you know, I don't have a problem with nudity. It's malice that makes nudity a problem. That's why when I'm breastfeeding Vito, and people around me start getting uncomfortable, I get appalled that they are thinking of me and my child in an ugly way.
This beautiful photo of model Miranda Kerr
angered a lot of women. They said she
"sexualized" breastfeeding. Really! 
Dirty minds don't belong to the menfolk, though. In my experience, it's the women who get their panties in a bunch. Puh-leeze. You're showing off your boobs, too, and the only good reason to expose that much boob is when you're breastfeeding.

5. "It's so inconvenient."
This is not really true. Breastfeeding is so easy! No need for bottles, milk, water and big bag! I only think of this reason when I'm in a place with lots of judgmental people. Breastfeeding in a place with squirming, horrified, shocked and disgusted people does get to me. It really bothers me. I just keep thinking, "My child is more important!" So, moms, please breastfeed whenever, wherever. We have to make breastfeeding normal!

6. "I wasn't breastfed and I turned out okay!"
That was my line for years actually. My mother took medication to dry up her milk as soon as she gave birth to me because she had to go back to work. I was a terribly sickly child but other than that, I turned out great. Still, after reading all the benefits of breastfeeding, I sometimes wonder if I could've turned out better! That's why I'm breastfeeding Vito now because I want him to have the best possible start in life.

Vito's big head! Can't use a breastfeeding
cover now--he won't let me!
7. "My baby's already big. It doesn't look right anymore."
Tell me about it. At one year old, Vito's taller, stronger and faster than many kids his age (it's the breast milk!). He's walking and blabbering. He's a big boy now. But I still wrestle my big baby to my breast. It's harder now but it's still worth it.

Another version of this reason that I hear from other people is: "Breast milk loses nutritional value when the child starts eating solids so stop breastfeeding!" Studies have shown that breast milk after the first year changes in composition, yes, but the changes are more fat and more protein and more antibacterial properties! Your body is aware that your baby is a fast-moving, fast-growing machine now so it makes milk that will give him more energy and muscle. Your body is also aware that your child is eating solids and picking up everything and putting it in his mouth, so it now makes milk that protects your child from allergies and tummy infections. Is our body great or what?! So amazing!

8. "My boobs will sag."
And so we go back to that woman who refused to breastfeed on the basis of vanity alone. You know, I'm aware that a lot of women can't breastfeed for medical and physical reasons. They're sick, their nipples are inverted, the baby has a cleft palate, etc. When that happens, of course, infant formula (or even better, breast milk from other moms!) to the rescue! I will never ever say that formula is evil. But please, if you can, try breastfeeding first! And please, don't let your reason be as shallow as saggy boobs!

Can't actually breastfeed your baby? Your expressed milk
is perfect! And your hubby will enjoy feeding baby, too!

My friend's friend (who I detest for many reasons) told me, "You know what your boobs will look like after you breastfeed? Like empty socks hanging on the clothesline." I'm so glad then that my husband is a butt-and-leg man and that I got a great perky butt and fab legs!

Well, I have no idea how my breasts will fare after all the beating they're taking from my greedy child. I want to think they'll be fine but if not, well, I was a size AA before I got pregnant. Flat as a board. If I go back to flat, so be it. If I end up with empty socks, I'll go call Dr. Belo.

August is Breastfeeding Month but I hope every month is a chance for all mommies to try breastfeeding. It's got its kinks but the benefits far outweigh the little annoying parts. By a lot! So please breastfeed!

* * * * * * *
For more info on the benefits of breastfeeding beyond 12 months, read these:
Kellymom - "Immune factors in breast milk increase in concentration during the second year."
Your Family Doctor - "The official policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics is not to put any limit on the duration of lactation."

21 comments:

  1. Hi Frances!!

    Thank you for this post! Just a clarification on Item No. 8 - "You know, I'm aware that a lot of women can't breastfeed for medical and physical reasons. They're sick, their nipples are inverted, the baby has a cleft palate, etc."

    The medical/reasons for being unable to establish a full milk supply is insufficient glandular tissue (IGT) which affects about 2% of the women worldwide.
    http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/lv/lviss2-3-2009p4.html

    Sick moms, moms with inverted nipples and babies with cleft palates can still breastfeed!

    For babies with cleft palate, since poor suction can make direct feeding difficult, use of a special bottle with expressed milk is recommended - http://www.kellymom.com/babyconcerns/bfhelp-cleft.html

    For moms with inverted nipples, babies can actually draw out the nipples. There are just certain extra steps to be taken if your nipples are not everted - http://www.ivillage.com/breastfeeding-can-you-nurse-inverted-nipples/6-n-136890 and http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/breastfeeding/common-problems/flat-or-inverted-nipples

    For sick moms, breastfeeding is actually recommended because babies get the antibodies from you. http://kellymom.com/health/illness/mom-illness.html There are just very few illnesses (HIV and HTLV-1) where breastfeeding is absolutely contraindicated and only in developed countries because in developing countries, it has been shown that infants are more likely to survive when they nurse from their HIV-positive moms as opposed to drinking formula milk without access to clean water.

    For further info, you can check this WHO document on specific maternal/infant conditions for permanent or temporary cessation of breastfeeding.
    http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2009/WHO_FCH_CAH_09.01_eng.pdf

    Thank you!

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  2. Hahaha. I like that when u said that u have butt and fab legs and ur husband likes that.
    Your post is so true. At times, I got worried with my boobs looking like empty socks hanging, but indeed it is very helpful. I dnt care how saggy it will look for the months to come.
    I am exclusively bfeeding my turning 9mo old boy. Happy!

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  3. i suuuper agree with you frances. i believe that moms should really give breastfeeding a try - and i dont want to hear reasons that are vanity-related that's why they didnt breastfeed. its the benefits that my child will get from breastfeeding that did it for me - more chances of survival, among others. im breastfeeding my second baby for four months already, my fist was breastfed for 2 1/2 years (and my breasts are not sagging!)

    more power to breastfeeding!

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  4. I was never breastfed by my mother, but I breastfed my daughter up until she was 13 months old. And, yes, I guess my boobs look more like empty socks - empty BABY socks, even - now compared to the little yet perky boobs I had before, but I don't regret breastfeeding my daughter. She's the smartest kid on the block and every time someone praises her in any way at all, I always say "it's coz I breastfed her. ;)"

    http://wonderwomanrises.blogspot.com

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  5. This is not the first time I read your blog. I'm one of your avid readers, but this is probably the first time I will comment.

    I love this post! I am a mother of 3 kids and proud to say, I've nourished them all during the first 2 years of their lives.

    I dont get it sometimes why breastfeeding looks odd to other people, the fact that it is normal.

    I am with you in your campaign for breastfeeding.

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  6. i will surely breastfeed when my baby comes this end of october and i plan to do it as long as it takes... this is because i have been reading your blog and the other mommy's as well that i got the determination ... thank you very much for writing articles to help me understand more about breastfeeding...

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  7. Our boobs will sag when we get old. Period. It doesn't matter whether a woman breastfeeds or not. So women might as well make use of what God blessed them with. And yes, Dr Belo is just around the corner. Personally though, I think old women with perky breasts look weird. :)

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  8. Very honest post! I am also breastfeeding my almost 3 year old girl and yes, my breasts sag but I don't care coz my sister who was not able to breastfeed also has a sag breasts! Hehe. And when that woman said na trauma xa when she saw her granny has sag breasts, I find it really absurd cz when u age, everything will sag from from face, skin, etc and for me at least merong pakinabang young breasts mo hehe. I was also breastfeed until age 5 and I am so thankful to my mom because I am so healthy as in healthy talaga and so slim! And yes, my breasts are small now compared 2years ago.

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  9. Fear of sagging breasts is the lamest excuse for not wanting to breastfeed. Unless you go braless or topless most of the time sagging breast should not be a major problem.

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  10. yay for this post! just this weekend I was talking to some friends who were wondering why I still wanted to go on nursing since my baby is close to 6 months na...and how they gave up after a month or so kasi kulang ang milk nila. I explained that I had the same fear when I started but I continued because I knew that the milk will come in sooner or later. I wish tuloy that aside from encouraging moms to breastfeed, the DOH / doctors should also counsel moms about what to expect when they make the decision to do so! This post is a great start - I'll send the link to my friends who are curious about nursing too. :)

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  11. Thanks for this post! I don't get why some people (Women! What!?) think breastfeeding is bad. I'm not a mother yet but it never occured to me to NOT breastfeed when I become one. Ever since I was young I always thought it was a normal thing. I appreciated those milk ads that end with "breastmilk is still best for babies up to 2 years old."

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  12. thanks for this post frances. My second baby is due in two months and I plan to breastfeed for as long as I can. I was a frustrated breastfeeding mom with my first daughter who was born premature because: 1) I didn't get the support from my in-laws. Being first time grandparents, they always wanted to bottle-feed the baby with formula they bought; 2) I had to travel 3 hours to/from work at the time; 3) I did express milk in the office and stored as much as I can for use at home, but then again, the in-laws would say that they baby didn't like my milk so they just threw away containers of milk I pumped so hard for; 4) One of my nipples was inverted. Now that we are living on our own, I really plan to breastfeed/feed expressed milk full time.

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  13. Jenny, thanks for the comprehensive info! I actually just wanted to tell moms who don't breastfeed that I do understand their reasons but that they, like I did, should persevere!

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  14. Cheer, Rachel and Lei, yes, breastfeeding should be normal, right? I'm glad you think that way since that means when you have your own babies, you'll breastfeed too =D

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  15. Liz, don't feel bad. Mahirap talaga makisama, I guess, and you really tried. Ako nga, with my own yaya, naiinis na ako kasi she keeps insisting that Vito needs Nido na. Grrr. Paano pa ikaw, your own in laws?! That must've been incredibly hard. Glad to hear you're now living away from them. Now you can raise your kids the way you want to! Congratulations!

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  16. Fellow mommies, congratulations on breastfeeding! =D You inspire me!!!

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  17. Hi Frances. Just dropping by. Emilie is now 8 months old and still breastfeeding, though no longer exclusively because I had to supplement with formula. It was heart-wrenching when I started training her on the bottle, a week before I went back to work. She had this expression that made me feel so guilty as I was holding her bottle. She has long since gotten used to it (even if I get to take home a max of 15 ozs expressed milk)but oh how her whole face lights up whenever I get home from work and starts burying her face in my chest when I carry her! I feel so loved! =) Thank you for inspiring me to bf.

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  18. how I wish I've seen this post when I was struggling with breastfeeding 4 months ago.... I really hate giving my son milk formula... I salute you all breastfeeding moms!

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  19. Everything is possible. If you just put your heart into it. This article is very encouraging and should be read by all pregnant women. I'm an OB GYN. A very busy mom. But still I choose to breastfeed. It's the best decision I have made in my life. My daughter is almost 4 months old now, yes it entails a lot of sacrifice but if you just think of your child first and foremost, breastfreeding will be a breeze.

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  20. oh my God miss Frances :')
    as I was reading your post, I's already teary eyed...
    there were those times that I'm thinking of mix feeding my (turning)9mos old girl , but luckily I browsed your blogs, and it made me change my mind even though I'm planning on working na in a couple of weeks
    thank you so much for this....having read your blog is a blessing to me..thanks God He used you to share something like this...

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  21. Saggy boobs? Really? At 35 or 40, you'd still worry about saggy boobs?? I am pregnant with my first child. And I'm a single mom, so I know I'd go back to work after my maternity leave so all this time I was thinking that I'd just stop breastfeeding after my maternity leave, but reading your posts inspire me. :) If you can do it, I can do it as well. I'll buy those breast pump and coolers like you and extract all my milk for my child to feed while I'm away. Glad that your posts are honest! Not all just the good things. You mentioned how it hurts like hell but as I've said, you did it! So I can too. Thank you Frances for your blog!! I love it here.

    http://celerhinaaubrey.com

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This is all pretty new to me so please feel free to share your mommy wisdom!