I can’t believe I have been exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months. It’s been quite an emotional but fulfilling journey so far. I’m writing this post to share my experiences and perhaps encourage preggy and future moms who are thinking about breastfeeding their child.
Early into my pregnancy, I was set on breastfeeding as a means to provide nutrition for my baby. Being a health professional, I knew the physical and emotional benefits it provides. Financially speaking, it is a lot more cost-effective than formula.
Only a few days after I gave birth, I was just about ready to give up. My breasts were engorged, my nipples were sore and my patience was dissipating into thin air. When will my milk come? Will it be this painful all the time? Can I really do this? I begun to question my decision.
What changed my mind?
This question brings me to the first two crucial points I learned.
(1) You need to be firm in your resolve. Breastfeeding comes with its set of challenges and then some. You’d encounter issues from latching problems to negative comments from people. You need to remember why you are doing it and who you are doing it for.
(2) You need to have support. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have somebody guide you or even pat your back in your breastfeeding endeavor.In my case, I was very lucky that my family and in-laws were and are very supportive.
My mom, who is also a postpartum nurse, encouraged me to do skin to skin contact with my little one. Skin to skin contact immediately after birth and for the first few weeks of life regulates the baby’s temperature, heart rate and breathing. Furthermore, he or she is more likely to breastfeed exclusively and breastfeed longer.
My sisters also helped me especially early on.They spent some of their vacation time with m, helping me out any way they can.My younger sister also sew me a hot compress stuffed with rice which I used during the early weeks to promote milk flow.Moreover, my mother in law, thoughtfully makes me soup dishes with malunggay which is a popular galactagogue.
A close friend of mine also invited me to join a breastfeeding group on Facebook called Breastfeeding Pinays.The group is a very good source of updated information and motivation for all breastfeeding moms : stay at home, working , exclusive and mixed feeding moms.
Lastly, I can’t thank my lucky stars enough for my dear husband who tirelessly shoulders most of the house chores so I can concentrate on breastfeeding, assists me while I breastfeed in public and appreciates all the effort I put into breastfeeding our daughter.
The other lessons came from my tendency to become a worrywart.
(3) Learn about breastfeeding and breastmilk but don’t obsess about it.
When I started breastfeeding,I googled and googled some more. I would spend some of my supposedly “sleeping” time browsing one website after another. This contributed to my sleep deprivation and confusion. One piece of info sometimes contradicts another. For instance, a common practice is to breastfeed every 2 to 3 hours and so I did. I’d feel inadequate when my baby was already hungry after only an hour. I even doanloaded an app to monitor the time and intervals of our breastfeeding sessions.Later on, I read that we should watch the child not the clock. These days, I follow this practice.I no longer care how long or how far apart I breastfeed.I nurse by demand.
(4): Relax and find some “me” time.
I often found myself lacking time to sleep, shower or even eat a decent meal. First time moms, like me, are often overwhelmed with the demands of having a baby that we would forget our own needs. But it is important to have some time for oneself so that we feel good about ourselves and can care for our little ones better.
(5) Build your milk stash.
Even for stay at home moms like me, I think having even just a few bags of breastmilk is a good idea. Who knows if one day you’d find yourself too sick to nurse? Or having too much pain? At least you have some milk to guarantee your baby’s sustenance.
Just remember some guidelines for storage:
1. You can store breastmilk for 3 to 7 days in the back part of the refrigerator, But the ideal period is up to 3 days.
2. You can combine expressed breastmilk provided they are of the same temperature. So if say you expressed 20 ml of breastmilk at 7:30 am, place it in the refrigerator first if you plan to express some more that day.At 10 am, if you express another 20 ml , place it in the ref for a few hours before combining it to the previously expressed milk.
2. If your refrigerator doesnet have a separate door for the freezer, you can store breastmilk for 2 weeks but if it has one, you can store it for 3 to 6 months
3. Thaw the milk from the freezer the night before use in the ref and the run it through tap water.
Now that my little one is 6 months, a new phase has started: eating solids. I hope to learn more about Tamang Kain and will share with you my experiences.