Friday, July 13, 2012

I won't be bullied about the breastfeeding issue

When I was pregnant with Vito, I didn't really care about how I would feed him. Breast milk, formula. All the same to me. They served one purpose and so I didn't see what the fuss was all about. But my sister-in-law, Lizelle, was very encouraging about breastfeeding, my friend Jennie gave me her La Leche League book and Daphne kept blogging about it so finally I decided to at least make an informed decision.

I read up on breast milk and its benefits to both infant and mother, and on breastfeeding and how it's done and its problems and how to overcome them. The research was just astounding. Breast milk truly is the very best food we can give our babies! So I decided to breastfeed Vito.

Theoretically, it was an easy decision to make. In actuality, breastfeeding is tough, and every morning I had to keep renewing my commitment to nurse my child. Still do, with Iñigo! For one thing, especially with Vito, I had to deal with my insecurity that my milk wasn't enough. I was bombarded constantly by his yaya that my breast milk really wasn't enough. She'd tell me Vito's hungry even after he just let out a big fat burp. She'd comment that the reason Vito nursed so long was because I had no milk. She'd look at my chest and say, "You have small breasts. You don't have milk." She'd tell Vito, "Kawawa ka naman,  ginugutom ka ng mama mo."

She wasn't the only one. When I was out with Vito, strangers would come up to me and comment on how cute he was. Then they'd ask, "What's his milk?" And when I reply that he's breastfed, they'd all say, "Is that enough?" They just commented on how healthy my baby is and then they ask me that?!

I held out for 4 months but finally I asked Vito's pedia about it. She told me, "But Vito's so healthy and chubby. He's even developmentally advanced. You have more than enough milk."
This was Vito at 4 months old. Does that look like a starving child to you?

But yaya won't let it go so I asked the pedia if it's okay to have formula anyway, you know, just in case. So she said, "If you insist, try this goat's milk formula. It's not as heavy as cow's milk and free from growth hormones." And that's what I did. I instructed yaya to give the formula only when my supply of expressed milk runs out, but I know she felt that formula was better than my milk.

I still nursed Vito until his 13th month, when he decided on his own to wean. I don't feel bad about giving him formula; what I feel bad about is I gave him formula because I let myself be bullied into doing it. So when Iñigo was born, I promised myself these things:
  • I will not allow just anyone to tell me my breast milk is not enough.
  • I will trust my body to produce the milk my child needs.
  • I will trust my son's body. If his body is healthy and strong, then I will believe it.
Sure enough, Iñigo's first yaya did what Vito's yaya also did: She told me I can't possibly have milk given my small breasts. This time, I stood up for my body and I told her to never comment on my milk-producing capabilities and the shape of my body ever again. When strangers ask about Iñigo's milk and then doubt my proud answer, I tell them that yes, breast milk is the only thing I feed my baby! Judging by his cheeks and hefty thighs, my milk is the very best and it is bountiful.
Iñigo at 2 months. Chubby on breast milk. Healthy!

So, dear mommies who are struggling with doubts on breastfeeding, trust your bodies. We were built to  feed our babies. You have to believe that!

Please read this article, Dispelling the myth that many women can't produce enough milk.
Please also visit Chronicles of a Nursing Mom or like her Facebook page. Jenny Ong curates a lot of very good resources, articles and helpful links about breastfeeding.

38 comments:

  1. I'm glad someone like you stood up for us "small breasted women who breastfeed". I also get comments on how I feed my daughter and how thin she looks which was really bothering me. I asked my pedia and he said that my baby is healthy eventhough she is thin furthermore, she is not thin, she is lean, pure muscle! so that stopped my doubts and it's enough for me to go on breastfeeding.

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    1. Personally, I never really liked fat babies =D

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    2. Thanks! You really are so sweet Frances. :)

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  2. Hi frances,

    What a very cute and chubby baby boy.
    I totally agree with you. I am very proud to say that even though my build is not big enough and you will be in doubt to think that I can produce milk, I am very happy that it's been five months now that I am exclusively breastfeeding my baby girl and she's growing up very healthy, strong and advance at her age.
    I always believe that breastfeeding is mind conditioning, dedication and unconditional love to our baby knowing all the benefits that we can give now until she grows old.
    So keep it up and I salute all the breastfeeding mothers. Cheers! ;)

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    1. You're right--breast milk supply is affected by our brain, so if we think we don't have enough milk, our body lessens production! So it's very important that we have a support group (our husbands, families, friends) who will be our cheerleaders. Sadly, this is often not the case =(

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  3. I love reading this post. Your post is very encouraging and powerful. If all people who give negative comments about our milk-giving bodies can read this, they would definitely understand why are we doing this to our children. I, too experienced that and I don't care about them. This is me, I produced milk, and I am his mother. I survived those silly things they say, and I am happily breastfeeding my 20 month old boy. Cheers to your breastfeeding journey!

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    1. Wow! Almost 2 years! Congratulations =)

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  4. Cheers! I love this... I belong to your group, the small breasted women. Hahaha! And wag nilang maliitin ang mga small breasted ano?! Hahaha! I breastfed my youngest for 5months. I hope you and the rest of the breastfeeding advocate will not be mad at me for nursing my youngest for so long but then again, when I breastfed exclusively my youngest, Susme! 2 months palang, she was super big, just like your baby Inigo. Hahaha! Kahit super duper Antok ako to wake up just to breastfeed my Amaya, still I do it kasi I believe that it will benefit my Amaya the most. She was born na super small. And I thank my small breast for producing the milk that made my Amaya super duper cute and HEALTHY.

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  5. thanks for linking up Frances! and kudos on your determination. i agree with you - moms need to read, research to be informed and be able to stand up for your rights. whatever or however you feed your baby - breastfeeding, formula, mixed, direct, exclusively pumping is your decision BUT it must be something you came to after understanding the pros and cons, benefits, advantages and not being bullied into it. thanks for writing this!

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    1. You're right--what we feed our children should always be an informed decision!

      Thank YOU for your blog and educational links, jenny. You're one of the reasons why I soldier on with breastfeeding!

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  6. I remember tuloy Kailee's first yaya with your story. I've told her numerous times before I gave birth na the baby will be breastfed and she told me she understood BUT when I gave birth my gosh - with the pedia in our hospital room she uttered for everyone to hear 'ALAM MO MA'AM, mas tataba si Kailee kapag FORMULA ang inimom niya' And everyone was SHOCKED! The pedia had to tell her 'Yaya, friends tayo dapat ha - strictly BREASTMILK lang tayo' I was sooooo humiliated that my yaya had the guts to do that. I had to reprimand her and told her to respect my decision. Hay nako talaga.

    This is a good write, will share this!! :)

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    1. Kaloka si yaya! Mas magaling pa kay pedia! =D

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  7. My baby was in and out of the hospital when he was younger. My mom kept telling me to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula. My eldest was formula-fed and was rarely sick. She was saying maybe my milk wasn't giving him enough protection. Good thing I'm hard-headed and still continued with breastfeeding. My baby is now almost 21-month and is very healthy and developmentally advanced

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    1. Congratulations! It really is tough to get no support from our moms' generation. It's not their fault naman kasi talagang they were told formula is good for your baby (and it is naman, it's not poison!) and we their kids grew up okay naman so I understand why they're like that.

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  8. Great post Frances! Like Jenny, I wish there will be more parents out there who make informed decisions even with such matters as what to feed baby as soon as he is born. I hope they would decide to check out the issue and see if it really is worth the fuss even if they couldn't understand what the fuss was all about to begin with. If in the end, they weren't convince then I don't think they lose anything. They just becomes more knowledgeable on such matters and are able to feel more secure in whatever decision they've arrived at.

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    1. Ya, parenting is hard enough to do so we should educate ourselves on the ways to raise our children, choose what we feel fits best, and be committed to it.

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  9. Good for you! I am flat-chested but I produced LOTS and LOTS of breastmilk. Don't judge a (milking) boob by it's size! LOL!
    For moms, it's really all about making informed choices. Happy feeding Frances!

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    1. Wow! All caps, Michelle! You must've produced gallons and gallons =) Lucky kids you have there!

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  10. breastfeeding is the best investment i made.My daughter's 13 months now and is still exclusively&directly breastfed.She's a healthy&happy baby with smooth&soft skin, which i credit to breastfeeding.It was a challenge for me during the 1st month,after 3 major operations,but I stayed positive about it with the help of my husband,family & friends.

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    1. Yes, I read that breastfed babies have nicer skin. They smell better, too! =)

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  11. amen to this! i used to have a lot of insecurities with my milk supply too. but no one really knows our body except us so trust in our capability to produce is important. no milk/formula can beat the wonders of mommy's milk! congrats frances! :)

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    1. Yes, we should trust our bodies to do what it was built to do!

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  12. So true, so true! Love this post.

    I've experienced the same neverending bullying - not from the yaya, but from my in-laws and, would you believe it, from my own mother! But I just keep going. I know that I have small breasts, and may have small storage capacity. So what? I decided I'd nurse more often than a mother with huge breasts would do! The baby doesn't need to gulp too many milk in one session. It will only lead to overfeeding. The neonatologist at St. Luke's Global would always say that it is best for the baby's digestion to have small frequent meals given upon demand rather than give large servings every 3 or 4 hours. Isn't that the rule even for adults - small frequent meals?

    My daughter is now 8 months. But from the time that she was born, she has never experienced colic or crying spells, she is always active and healthy, and has never gotten sick (not even a common cold). She is a happy baby. It is because I insisted on breastfeeding her, even after I returned to the demanding corporate world.

    Sorry if this post appears to have so much ranting, but I have to get this all out of my system. This is for all of you who, for 8 months, have been discouraging me from feeding my human daughter human milk.

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    1. That's what I love about SLMC Global--they really support breastfeeding. They even have a lactation consultant! Love it!

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    2. Smaller breasts doesn't equal to smaller storage capacity. I have 34a breasts non lactating and becomes 34b when lactating, but I fed both my sons for over a year each exclusively with breastmilk. While friends I know who has bigger breasts have smaller storage capacity had to supplement. It's not with the size of the breast but the storage capacity. I think when I was engorged too id be 34c lol. Still breastfeeding my 13 month old at night and he gets fresh milk during the day.

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  13. Thanks for posting this, I'm 5 months preggy with my second and I'm really hoping to breastfeed exclusively. I do have small breasts and this is one of the reasons I wasn't able to breastfeed my first child for long. I felt my milk wasn't enough and I was afraid that my baby will not be healthy. Reading your post is inspiring, now I know better. Thank you!

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    1. Yup, I felt like my milk wasn't enough too! But this time around, like you, I will really try to breastfeed my second child exclusively!

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  14. Hi! What was the name of the goat's milk formula you gave? I'm starting my 7 month old on a bottle a day next week and still don't know which formula to give her. Thanks!

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    1. I think you should ask your child's pediatrician on what formula to give. What if may allergy pala your kid to goat's milk? It'll be my fault pa! =(

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  15. Oh your yaya is so ignorant and it was terrible she kept saying negative things to you! When I was in the hospital and I breastfed my son, he did not want to drink. I had to feed him by a dropper. I also had so little milk, but in a few days, because of persistence, so much milk! The strange thing was it was sooo painful! i thought it would be a peaceful time like in the magazines, but nope! I wanted to give up because of the pain, but my husband said I should continue. I asked God, and the minute I mouthed my question to God, the man on the radio (FEBC) said: "Don't quit. God doesn't like quitters." So of course i continued until I got mastitis on the 11th month! :^) Patsy from
    HeARTworks

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  16. I am praying for lotsa lotsa milk! I'm not preggers yet, but when that time comes I really want to feed my child with only my milk. Ang mahal kaya ng formula! So I won't dare compare it to mama's milk which is chemical-free, very nutritious, bottomless and most of all, FREE! I'm almost flat-chested too (as the boyfriend puts it, "kagat ng lamok!" Meanie, I know!) but I know the Lord will grant my future children overflowing sustenance despite the lack of size. I already talked to the future husband about this and he says that I should probably start munching on their malunggay tree at home, to which I would gladly oblige! Koala bear at eucalyptus lang ang peg! :)

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  17. I'm 7 months pregnant now and I really do plan to breastfeed. I know it won't be easy but I'm game for it. Haha hindi pwede ang kataklesahan ni yaya saken...

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  18. I have small breasts too, and I too experienced "bullying" when it comes to breastfeeding. "ano ba yan ang laki laki na, pag formula mo na yan!" "akalain mo yan, may gatas ka pala!" "ako, saglit lang ako nag breastfeed sa mga anak ko, tama na yan sayo!" And even her pedia keeps on insisting to switch to fomula, kasi ayaw maniwala that I am still capable of producing milk. Nakakainis din ung iba, coz they really don't know the benefits of breastfeeding at ang hilig pa mangealam! I know my body, and I know that I am still producing milk for my little girl which she truly enjoys. She may not be fat/chubby, but she is healthy, strong and malikot! Hindi sakitin! Bahala sila, basta ako I'm proud to say that I am breastfeeding my daughter for 16months now! :)

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  19. I am glad that more and more moms in the Philippines are choosing to breastfeed. To think mahal ang formula sa pinas, bakit di na lang mag breastfeed at magsabaw ng malunggay. And mga obgyne anlaki ng mga nakukuha kasi from the medreps eh.

    I'm proud to say that I am still feeding my 9 month old son with breastmilk, pumped and direct since I am back at work fulltime. When I was in pinas for vacation, my mother in law kept on insisting that my milk is not enough to satisfy my son. She said the most absurd comments, like, my son will sleep with his mouth open. She would say, kasi gutom pa, kulang ang milk. Iiyak lang nang konti- kasi gutom pa, kulang ang milk! One time, she said to my husband, while I was in the room, sabi nya, "listen to your mother, I have three children and i know better!". OMG. And yes, she never breastfed any of her kids. To think she has a degree in nursing. How ignorant is that?! Thank God my husband was very supportive of my decision to fully breastfeed.

    Sabi niya, i-formula feed ko na daw para relax ako.huh.ano daw?anyway, i proved her wrong because my son is a healthy,smart,bibong-bibo baby. And I have no intention to stop right now.

    *J*

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  20. Nice! It's weird because I'm a little well endowed but my mom and people around me kept on telling me that I wouldn't have lots of milk too because larger breasts produce less milk daw! But my son is the same age as your Inigo (I think we gave birth just a few weeks apart!) and he's already more than double his birth weight! So yup, us mommies were built to produce the right amount of milk to nourish our bubs! :D Kudos to breastfeeding moms! ;-)

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  21. That's what I can't understand, how come other people always think they know better how to raise your child?! From breasfeeding, to formula brand, to your discipline style, to your choice of school... haaay, the list is endless! :)

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  22. Hi Ms. Frances, I only got to read your blog today, sadly some people think that pag hindi mala-longganisa ang braso ng bata eh either ginugutom ang bata or walang gatas ang nanay. Frustration ko po ang pag breastfeed, I already have 2 kids, but I only got to breastfeed my eldest for 2 months, youngest barely a month because of nipple confusion or because mahina ang milk supply ko; she didn't want to feed, she gets frustrated pag wala po makuha na milk. I think the problem was because hindi po maka-latch ng maayos. I wasn't able to seek assistance from a lactation expert, mostly because I didn't have the means to do so. The stress of having to stay at home for more than 2 months (with no salary)naisip ko din po na possible reason why mahina ang milk supply ko, with all the bills to pay, ang hirap po talaga na pagkasyahin yung kung ano lang yung meron ka. Sa totoo lang po I want to have another baby, para lang po ma-fulfill ko po yung long time dream ko na makapag breastfeed hanggang sa kaya ko, kaso po mahirap po sa estado po ngayon ng buhay namin, ako lang po ang nagwowork sa ngayon because hubby has no job, nag-re-rent lang po kami ng house so yung budget po namin ngayon ay mas nahahati pa. Sana po, hindi man ngayon eh in the future magawa ko pong mag breastfeed exclusively. Saludo po ako sa inyo for promoting breastfeeding. I enjoyed what I have read in your blog. More power and may you find more ways to inspire more mothers like me.

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