05 June 2012

My Breastfeeding Story

I spent my early morning yesterday reading posts and articles about the house bill entitled "An Act Promoting a Comprehensive Program on Breastfeeding Practices and Regulating Trade, Marketing and Promotions of Certain Foods for Infants and Children".

According to Jenny of Chronicles of a Nursing Mom, "The current monster bill is a consolidation of several bills filed by various congressmen and congresswomen.  The original HB3396 bill was good - it wanted to increase restrictions to 3 years old.  The listed authors of the proposed consolidated bill are Magtanggol Gunigundo, Josephine Veronique Lacson-Noel, Anna York Bondoc M.D. and Lani Mercado-Revilla.  HOWEVER, the Congressmen who argued against the ban on donations, etc. (and are seemingly pro-milk companies) are Congressmen Rufus Rodriguez and Congressmen Anthony Golez."

Read about the details in Ms. Rita Linda Jimeno's article.

I have been contemplating on whether to share the articles I read.  Don't get me wrong.  I believe that breastfeeding is best for our children.  But, you see, I did not breastfeed Julia as long as I should.  I don't want you to think that I am a hypocrite.  So let me tell you my story...

My Breastfeeding Story

When I was pregnant with Julia, having waited for seven years, I want everything to be perfect for her (Spare me the "that will never happen" lecture.  I know that now.  Ha!).  So, I read books, articles and blogs about parenting.  Don and I were preparing to breastfeed Julia exclusively so we did a lot of reading and we attended a breastfeeding seminar conducted by LATCH at Medical City.  I drink Malunggay capsules prescribed by my OB and my mother-in-law cooked meals with Malunggay regularly.  

After my CS operation, Don and I did everything we could to room-in Julia as soon as possible.  I had a good start in breastfeeding Julia.  Proper latching was not a problem at all.  I started to have problems when Julia started to suck like she wants my entire breast.  On her 2nd day, I already had tears in my eyes every time I breastfeed.  I ignored the pain.  I was determined to continue breastfeeding her.  Don would hold my hand as I feed my princess.  On the late afternoon of Julia's 3rd day, she started choking and crying.  When I pulled her out of my left nipple, there was blood already.  I transferred her to my already-sore right nipple and the same thing happened.

I requested if I can use the hospital's breast pump.  I was hoping to get milk from my right breast.  After several attempts, I was advised by my pediatrician to stop breastfeeding until my nipples are better.  Until then, I need to give my daughter formula milk.  I was weeping as I fed Julia formula milk for the first time.  Don together with two of my closest friends who came to visit were crying too.  Don said it was like a scene in  a tele-novela.  I felt like I was the biggest failure in motherhood.  Breastfeeding is the "most natural thing in the world" and I can't even do it right.

After a week, I was able to chat with Jenny at Facebook and she encouraged me to try breastfeeding again.  With her encouragement, I was able to give Julia at least 8oz of breast milk everyday for a month.  Then I stopped.  Since then, I blame myself every time Julia is sick or if her development is delayed.

Lessons Learned

I learned a lot from my difficulties in breastfeeding Julia.
  • Knowledge about breastfeeding SHOULD BE partnered with determination and hard work.  The key to breastfeeding success is to never give up.  

  • Another important thing that I could have done is seek help from experts.  One chat with Jenny, that's all I did.  I could have asked her to coach me about relactation.  There are accredited LATCH peer counselors who are trained to provide breastfeeding support and services like hospital/home visits and pre/post partum one-on-one class.

  • We have our own breastfeeding story.  Let us not judge a mother's capability to love and raise a child by basing is on whether she breastfeeds or not.  Don helped me realize that my daughter will not love me less because I did not breastfeed her enough.  He was there all through out my postpartum depression.

  • Support of your husband and family is very important.  You need a community of breastfeeding moms to support you as well.  An encouraging DM, tweet or status update can make a lot of difference.  
Moving On

Every time I get the chance to talk to expectant mothers, I encourage them to breastfeed.  I refer them to blogs and sites where they can learn more about breastfeeding and its benefits.  I cheer moms I know who breastfeed and encourage them as often as I can.

Don and I are still researching more about shifting Julia to fresh milk.  This will definitely be one of our topics during her next visit to her pediatrician.  I continue to read about breastfeeding and hope to do it right on my second child.  I will forever regret not being able to breastfeed Julia as long as I should.  A cliche I know, but, it's true:  I cannot rewrite the past, but I can prepare for the future.

Whether you are successful in breastfeeding or not, let us do our share in promoting the benefits of breastfeeding.  As Frances Sales (Topaz Horizon and Topaz Mommy) wrote on her Facebook Page, "Breastfeeding ALWAYS and STILL is the best for our babies". Know your rights (Milk Code) by heart and read Jenny's post on how we can let our legislators know what the effects are if they will vote to pass the bill that will undermine the existing laws on breastfeeding.

What is your breastfeeding story?  What are your thoughts about the house bill?
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