Monday, May 27, 2013

Reader question: How do you manage nursing Iñigo from the breast alone?

I have readers in Abu Dhabi! A fellow mom—we'll call her Mommy A—emailed me her concern about breastfeeding her infant daughter.


Here's my late reply:

I was able to reply a couple of weeks later, so full was my inbox. I felt bad for replying so late. I was scared she'd given up. Breast milk may be the best milk we can ever give to our babies but breastfeeding is not easy, especially in the first few months. Many moms give up because they don't have support, encouragement or knowledge. It is very important that we help fellow moms!

Mommy A said she emailed lots of moms who breastfeed but no one replied. That makes me very sad but I understand. Moms are the busiest people on earth! That's why when I asked her if I could blog about this, she immediately said yes. She wanted other moms struggling with breastfeeding to know they're not alone. We are all faced with many challenges so the simple act of telling someone, "Chin up. We're mothering together!" will fill many mothers with hope and renewed energy and determination to face another day of loving and serving!

Did you struggle with breastfeeding? Why did you give up? Why did you persevere? Studies have shown that most new mothers want to breastfeed but give up too soon because they found it painful and exhausting, their husbands and mothers/mothers-in-law didn't support them, because they had to go back to work, they didn't think they were producing enough milk, they were told their milk isn't good enough, etc.

I struggled with breastfeeding with both sons, but most especially with Iñigo because he was greedier and because he spurned the bottle. I told Vince that if Iñigo had only taken milk—breast milk or formula!—in a bottle, I'd still be working in an office now. Iñigo really was a huge factor on why I became a WAHM. I just couldn't bring him to the office anymore. It was becoming unprofessional. For example, much as people were very understanding, it was not appropriate to be breastfeeding while in an important business meeting. Or I had to turn down many events at night (so important in the magazine industry) because I had to be home to nurse my baby to sleep.

Obviously, I chose baby before career and I don't regret it one bit or resent Iñigo at all. Of course, the reason could be I have the great fortune to be able to make that choice—to be financially stable enough for both Vince and I to work from home. Many women don't have a choice.

17 comments:

  1. I am also exclusively breastfeeding my baby now. She's now 8 months old and I quit my job last December to be able to do this full time. I don't know if you remember but I was the one who congratulated you when you said you won't be hiring a yaya anymore and that I envy you. I love our yaya but I want my baby for myself. Well guess what? Yaya will be studying in the province so starting June 1, our household will be yaya-less. Be careful what you wish for, right? I am looking forward to this new chapter in our life and I guess I have to thank the fact that Laika is exclusively breastfeeding. No waking up in the middle of the night to make formula milk, no added bottles to wash, no bottles to sterilize! Makes the job easier for mama :)

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    1. The yaya-less arrangement is only difficult in the beginning! But Vince and I worked hard together to manage the household and care for the kids. So we're really loving it now. Of course, I have him. How about you? Do you have someone to help you around the house? It can get really exhausting!

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  2. I struggled with nursing as well, especially with my eldest. It was my first time at everything and I was recovering from a CS section. I was about to give up because of the pain (I didn't take a breastfeeding class so I didn't know the basics of a proper latch). Luckily, a wise and older mom told me, "What are you doing it for? Answer that question first and then do something about it." I answered the question for myself and I sought help from the great ladies at La Leche League. Now, I'm a breastfeeding peer counselor with LATCH because I just wanted to give back after breastfeeding successfully.

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    1. I know! I remember you offering to help me when I was still pregnant with my first boy and I remember being very moved since we didn't know each other but you cared so much for me and my baby. Thanks, Justine! God bless you even more! =)

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  3. I wanted very much to breastfeed my baby. But unfortunately he was born 10 weeks early,
    so he was too small and fragile to take my breast when he was born. He stayed in NICU
    too long that he got "bottle confuse", if there is such a thing. :(

    Everytime I offer my breast to him, he will just wail and wail and wail. And eventually
    make my breast his comfy sofa. Matutulog lang cya na nakasandal dun.

    I have been pumping for almost 5 months now. The first three months, I was able to
    provide him my milk exclusively. But now that he is growing and his appetite is growing,
    i could no longer provide him enough. I guess the stimulation of the pump is not as effective
    as a baby's sucking. I only manage to pump 1.5 to 3 ounces per session. Happy na happy na ako
    if I manage 4. And now that I am back to work, I cannot pump that often na. I am only able to pump around 8 to 10 ounces in a day. Sometimes I want to give up na kasi he is not even taking my breasts naman, it gets soo tiring and frustrating. But posts like this makes me pause and rethink my plan. Di ba no matter how little i can give, the little BM that i give my son is still best for him?

    I dont know how long I would last. It's challenging really and frustrating at times.
    It's like combining breastfeeding and bottle feeding. Breast soreness and the all the what nots that comes with breastfeeding combine it
    with all the bottle cleaning and sterisiling.
    Not an easy feat for me. But I want to hang on, I will do my best to hang on.
    As long as I will still have milk supply, I will continue to feed my son his mother's
    milk, even if he has to drink it "Take Out" and not "Dine In". Praying I have the strength to hang on...

    Thank you so much frances for encouraging posts like this. And sorry for a very long
    essay. Just wanted to share my frustrations and joys of breastfeeding :).

    Thanks again!!!

    PS: I am a fan and loving your blogs.

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    1. Oh wow! Good job, Ranne!

      I also just pump 1 to 3 oz per session! Very rare yung times that I get more than 4 oz a day. That's why direct from breast si Iñigo. Take it one day at a time! I always say, "I'm giving up tomorrow!" But tomorrow comes and we come out okay and so he nurses again one more day =)

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  4. Initially, A hated the bottle. When I started working, he would eat very little while I was away, then super babawi when I got home. But he got used to it din. It helped to make the milk a bit warm, rather than straight from ref. But I guess that really doesn't work for other babies.:s

    The first couple of months were the hardest. As in umiiyak ako habang nagfi-feed. The number one reason women give up daw is because of the pain. I just had to soldier through it. That's what moms told me before, and what I tell new moms now: tiyaga lang talaga.

    Right now he's in the middle of a growth spurt, so I'm feeding every hour at night din. Strangely, I have gotten pretty used to the lack of sleep. A big deal considering I used to get 10 hours' sleep before. Haha

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    1. Yes! Studies show that we all need 8 hours' sleep and if we don't get it, we'll go insane and fat. Clearly, the studies have not included mothers. =)

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  5. Hi frances! Just want to share ny experience of breastfeeding too. I have two kids and both i breastfed exclusively. My first one i breastfed til he was three,he's eight now, and the other is still breastfeeding at two yrs old. We live in the uk and i work full time as a nurse. Both my kids did not use the bottle at all. Went from breast to sippy cups. Breastfeeding is hard in the beginning but after a month or two with some adjustment on our part it will be easier. Dunno what other advise to say kasi nasabi mo na rin. Pero just persevere. Just think that all these is for your baby and it will be easier. After a couple months baby will also find her rhythm and then hopefully sleep through the night. Hang in there mummy! You can do it!

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  6. Thank you for sharing. I needed the encouragement, too! Go, go, go, Mommy A! Kaya mo yan! God bless!

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  7. Heeey!! I'm a reader from Dubai. hehe.
    I also struggled with breastfeeding in the first 6 months. I insisted that baby will only have breast milk and nothing else. So kahit pagod, keri lang. I made it my goal.
    When she was ready to have solids, I introduced soy milk so I can stop expressing bm in the office. We direct feed at night.
    She's almost 2 now and still going at it!
    Not easy but its for the best. :)

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  8. I'm still breastfeeding my baby, and he's 14 months now! Here are the reasons why I persevered:

    1. Like you and Mommy A, he refused to take anything from a bottle, so virtually no choice talaga ako hehe. When he turned 1, I tried to give him formula. Ayaw talaga eh!

    2. I love thinking that I'm giving him not only the best but also a part of me. This is true!

    3. I get the support I need from my family and other moms from the blogosphere. Blogging is a huge part in my perseverance to breastfeed.

    And here are my selfish reasons:

    1. Breastfeeding saves lives - and money!

    2. This actually allows me to get some rest. When I'm breastfeeding, I'm exempted from household chores. Haha! It's relaxing for me too.

    3. It's so much more convenient to breastfeed than prepare formula, in my opinion.

    4. My ultimate selfish reason: I've lost so much weight just by breastfeeding! When I was pregnant, I was 75 kilos. Now, I'm down to 52 kilos! This is a lot less than my pre-pregnancy weight, promise. I always (always!) get compliments, and I have a legit reason to buy new clothes! And I don't even need to diet or exercise!

    Yours truly,

    Maan of Davao Mommy

    By the way, Ms. Frances, thank you so much for retweeting my request the other day! :-)

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  9. When I was pregnant with Lia, I attended breastfeeding classes, joined breastfeeding forums, the works. I was expecting that breastfeeding would be easy since I made it a point to educate myself. Pero it was not easy at all. My baby and I went through a difficult breastfeeding journey because of many factors -- inverted nipples, bad latch, inconsiderate/unsympathetic nursery staff, clogged ducts, very sore nipples, etc. Many times I thought about giving up but I didn't because I know that Lia will benefit a lot from exclusive breastfeeding. Puyat-puyat din ako nung first month ni baby because I was exclusively pumping. Sanayan lang talaga. Ngayon, my baby can direct feed na kaya I can sleep longer since I don't have to pump at night.

    Lia's 4 months old na and she's healthy, happy and active. :) You can do it, Mommy A! Things will get better, konting hintay na lang. Good luck!!

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  10. Hi Frances! I belong to that circle of moms who initially had problems with breastfeeding (bad latch due to high-arched palate, sore nipples, milk blisters). I am just blessed to have a supportive husband, family & friends. They, along with my sweet little baby boy, kept me from giving up. And now, looking back, I am thankful that I didn't let those challenges prevent me from giving the best possible nutrition that I can offer to my son. My son is now 8 months old & is still breastfed. Truly worth it! :)

    There is this Facebook group for breastfeeding mothers like us or expectant mothers planning to breastfeed. It's called BREASTFEEDING PINAYS. A successful breastfeeding journey needs a strong support group like this. I really learn a lot from all the bits of advices and stories of breastfeeding experiences. Might be of help lang to some readers.

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  11. My babe is still on the boob at 15.5months now and no signs of slowing down. We are without family nor help as well, and my little girl is really attached to me. Our first two months were horrible. I was miserable, baby was miserable, my husband was helpless. I was pumping exclusively (lazy latch) and at some point our baby had lactose overload because i was not pumping correctly. I brought her to the breast again and she just took it like she's always been doing it, which i found strange, but I couldn't have been happier. Ever since, she would barely sit in her stroller and would not sleep without being held. I plowed through, and at present, we are co-sleeping and I put her in her carrier 70% of the time. The first few months were extremely exhausting and I was getting really depressed with our life. We moved to a bigger apartment, with a bigger bed, and I made the decision to cosleep. My only regret was not doing it from the very beginning.

    To mommy A,
    On really trying days, I just keep on reminding myself that this is only temporary. Our babies are only at this stage once, and they will never be 2 months, 6months, 12months. So whatever sacrifices we are making now, they will all pass, and the rewards are so incredible. The first laughs, the giggles, the first words, the first slobbery kisses, the first hugs. Sleepless nights, fatigue, exhaustion, they're all part of it. Keep a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids, try to sleep when your baby is asleep, do NOT worry about keeping a clean house. Can you maybe try to hire someone to clean your house for a couple of hours a few days a week, or drop off your laundry and get it delivered? Also, I have heard wonders about the slow cooker. Maybe think of investing in one so you and your husband won't need to worry about meals too much? Wishing you all the best xoxo

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