Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My Journey to Breastfeeding

I am back! I can definitely say I feel normal again. Alan and I have graduated from the demanding daily grind of a newborn and now we have somehow established our own little routine which is so amazing!     

Today, my beautiful daughter turns 3 months old. 3 months may seem to have flown by so quickly but to me that was the slowest and most difficult 3 months of my life. It was also the most amazing because I am blessed to nurture and give nourishment to my daughter in the most natural way, BREASTFEEDING. Mainly, our breasts are divinely designed by God to nourish our precious babies. So before I give birth, I prayed that the Lord will allow me to nurse my daughter and that I will be free of any sickness or complications that will hinder me from nursing my child. Alan and I prepared ourselves for this journey by attending lactation classes and getting hold of all the things we would need (nursing bra, nursing pads, nursing cover, nipple cream, etc) Other than direct feeding, we also thought of pumping and feeding through a bottle. Luckily, Alan's insurance covers for pumping equipment! (Tip: check your insurance provider and see if they can provide you an electric pump for free)

But boy oh boy! As natural as it is, breastfeeding was the most painful and humbling thing I had to go through. I had underestimated it! It's harder than being pregnant and giving birth. To breastfeed takes a tremendous commitment and effort. In the beginning, Amanda was feeding on demand. That means she has no set schedule for feedings so we would feed her whenever she's hungry. That also meant sleep deprivation for us. It was exhausting. Amanda had a good latch but since my nipples were new to breastfeeding, I got excruciating sore nipples. It was so uncomfortable and sometimes I would dread the next feed. But it does get better like breaking a new pair of shoes. And then here comes engorgement. My milk came on the third day and my boob suddenly engorged. My flat chested boobs all of a sudden looked like porn star boobs! haha. They were hard and not pleasant at all. I also got my share of clogged ducts, milk bleb, chills, fever, minor mastitis, lahat na! But I continue to nurse even though it would burn occasionally. I would literally cry out during feedings. 

Honestly, I was so close to giving up breastfeeding the first few weeks. I questioned myself that maybe it wasn't for me. I tried to convince myself that I was a formula baby and I grew up just fine. What was the big deal? I felt like I couldn't do it anymore at that time. All I thought about was myself. It's funny cos I prayed for this child for a long time and now why was I being so selfish? However, Alan was adamant that I breastfeed our daughter because it is the best and loving gift we could give her. He said that if only he could breastfeed, he would. Breastmilk has lots of amazing benefits to our baby. It provides the ideal nutrition and has everything our baby needs to grow. And it's free! I'm thankful that my husband didn't let me quit. I couldn't do this without his full support. To help ease my load, he would change our baby's diaper, give me water and snacks while I nurse, wash the pump equipment, he let me sleep in longer and would give our baby pumped milk at night, do the laundry, etc. I remember for the first 6 weeks, all I did was nurse, nurse, nurse. I am also lucky that other family members that live with us chipped in with the cooking, cleaning, and other house chores so I didn't have to do anything but take care of our baby. Alan and I were also able to go out on Sundays to go to church and we would leave our baby with my mom and my sisters. It helped a lot that we had our family's love and support. Thank you guys! You helped me so much to carry on my breastfeeding journey. It is so true that it takes a village to raise a child.

Whenever I see my baby's chubby cheeks while chugging away all my milk (cutest thing ever), all the pain goes away. And when I see her fat rolls on her legs and arms, it's a validation that all my sacrifice is worth it. Breastfeeding is such a miracle and I'm truly grateful to have been given such an honor to nourish my baby in the most natural way. I'm also happy to get my pre-pregnancy weight back! It's not that it matters a lot, but it feels great to wear my favorite pair of jeans again! 

In terms of milk supply, currently, I do not have a lot but I have the enough amount my baby needs. In the beginning, I wasn't producing enough milk and since Amanda had jaundice, it was suggested to us that we mix-feed her so she can get rid/lower the amount of bilirubin level through her poop. We're lucky she didn't have any nipple confusion. And after she was free of jaundice, and I had boosted up my milk supply, I got rid of the formula completely. I am glad to breastfeed again 100%. What helped me increase my milk supply were drinking tons of water, eating fiber rich food, Milo(malt), Fenugreek seed supplement or Moringa (malunggay) supplement. My goal is to breastfeed her at least 6 months, if I'm lucky a year would be great.  

Each woman and each baby is uniquely made by God. I understand that not all women are physically fit to breastfeed. And that's okay. Whether you decide to exclusively breastfeed, exclusively pump, formula feed, or mix feed, please know that it is perfectly fine. Let's not be too hard on ourselves. What is important is that our babies get the nourishment they need. And to those who see moms breastfeed or formula feed in public, let's be respectful and let's avoid judging them for how they feed their babies. They are doing the best they possibly can. 

I hope I didn't scare all those future mothers out there. As I said, it does get better, I promise! Today, I find pleasure in breastfeeding and I think I will miss it when I eventually wean her. Breastfeeding won't go on forever and so treasure each special moment you have with your baby. 


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