Perseverance is Key to Breastfeeding

Manual breast pump extraction of breast milk (2 sessions). Taken about 3 weeks ago.

When I had Dindin, I was not able to breastfeed much and eventually had to stop on the fourth month because after taking a break due to my medication, the milk flow stopped. It was really frustrating for me because I really wanted to breastfeed and since I was a stay at home mom, I knew I had time in my hands to do it. But it did not work out. I took up to 6 malunggay caps per day, took vitamin supplements, drank milk for lactating mothers, and had soup every day. I got to the point that my nipples were so sore, I was so tired, yet there was not enough milk that I just sat down in the bathroom at 3 AM to cry. I felt like a total failure because my mother breastfed my brother and I. I wonder why I can’t be like her. I was convinced that anatomically, I was not made to breastfeed. I was just thankful that there were three moms who donated breast milk to us, so at least Dindin had taken some until she was about a year old.

With Shane, things are a bit different because now, there is widespread information about breastfeeding and there is massive support. I got mine from the nurse at the Mother-Baby Friendly Complex of Riverside Hospital, my OB-Gyne, from the two breastfeeding seminars I attended, a breastfeeding forum on Facebook, and some new friends I met. Different avenues, difference lessons each time and I am so thankful. So here is my story.

Baby Shane prefers to latch at the breast. But like in the photo, I have to hold my right breast every time so that she can properly suck.

I delivered by C-Section and was heavily sedated. When I woke up on the third day, I accidentally rubbed on my breasts and noticed that they have shrunk, like it was back to their normal size. They were still big as I am naturally endowed, but I can feel that I do not have breast milk. Since the anesthetics are wearing off, I realized what was happening so I panicked. I talked to the nurse on duty and it turned out that she is the head nurse of the station as well as a mother who also breastfed her baby so she encouraged me and taught me the basics of breastfeeding. She told me that I just gave birth and that it was natural for me to produce milk. It would just need some stimulation and nutrition though.

Then I had a problem with getting my little one to latch. My OB-Gyne came to visit me and taught me the football hold in order to position the baby. Thankfully, Shane is quite small at birth so I was able to do it and she was able to latch, even for just a few minutes.

Dr. Marxwynn Diente for the breastfeeding seminar at the Riverside Medical Center.

That same day, the nurse told me that they are holding a breastfeeding seminar at the pediatrics conference room of the hospital. I was excited. They wheeled me to the conference room in order to listen to the lecture. I learned so many things from pediatrician and breastfeeding advocate Dr. Marxwynn Diente and was so happy.

The following day, I was browsing through Shane’s photos on the iPad when I saw that my husband had saved the digital poster of a breastfeeding seminar that will be given by certified lactation counselor Abigail Yabut. It was organized by the three ladies behind Bacolod Mom and Baby Club. Participants were asked to send a text message about their attendance and I did but eventually, I totally forgot about it. Thankfully, they sent a text reminder the day before so I was able to attend. And I am happy that I did because I learned so much!

Certified lactation counselor Abigail Yabut for the breastfeeding seminar at SM City Bacolod organized by the Bacolod Mom and Baby Club.

Along with all of that education, I take up to six malunggay capsules per day, have soup (all kinds), take a multivitamin supplement, drink a lactating mom’s milk, drink fresh milk, and many other things. I want to keep myself healthy for my baby as well as my older child.

I am just so happy and I feel fortunate to be able to learn many different things about breastfeeding. But one golden lesson that I learned is that, aside from nutrition and practices, perhaps the secret to breastfeeding is perseverance. A friend told me that she used to pump every two hours, even after her baby has latched. I don’t really do that because my baby is almost always at my breast, but I do pump whenever I have the time. And I found this to be true because with Dindin, despite all the nutrition, I was not able to produce much because I was not persistent in letting her latch and in stimulating my breasts. I really felt sad then because Dindin wanted to latch but feeling that I did not have milk, I gave her formula instead. 🙁 I just didn’t know better.

At present, I started with only about 5ml of breast milk from manual pumping, three days after giving birth. But I have gone a long way from there. At 1 month and 3 weeks, I can say that I am already at 95% breastfeeding status. I say 95% because although I have already fully breastfed my baby since last week, I gave her about an ounce of formula today because it seems that her demand has gone higher and my supply could not cope. Maybe she is having a growth spurt again.

Breastfeeding had been an uphill climb for me. I do not “naturally” produce milk. My breasts are not positioned right. I have to do it with help and lots of stimulation. Thankfully, I got two chances to do it. On the second one, I succeeded–thanks to all kinds of help that I have been getting from different sources. And if everything is well, I intend to breastfeed her until she is already two years old. 😀 Thank God for this blessing! And thank God from whom all blessings flow, including breast milk. I always pray that I will have ample supply for my little and that God will open my milk ducts every time Siobe needs to feed.

Special thanks also to my husband who has been very supportive. He was the one who kinda “ordered” me to buy an electric pump already so that I will not get so tired when pumping milk manually. He would gladly take Shane from me so that I can pump and he would remind me regularly to pump just to stimulate my breasts.  He lets me rest whenever he is available and massages my back to stimulate milk production. He also reads much on the topic and relays important points to me. Additionally, he keeps on reading about products online pertaining to breastfeeding, from supplements to storage containers.

So again, thank you everyone. You know who you are. You are all precious in this journey. 😀

Update, October 24, 2013: Baby is now 2 months and 2 weeks. I am exclusively breastfeeding. Baby would rather latch. I pump once at night but baby would not drink the expressed milk. So for now, she consumes breastmilk directly. 😀

Important notes and links:
1. Breastfeeding seminar at Riverside Medical Center every second Wednesday of the month, 2pm, at the Pediatrics Conference Room, 3rd Floor. Call Station 11 for updates or cancellations.
2. Bacolod Mom and Baby Club – Network with other breastfeeding moms in Bacolod, be updated of events like seminars and baby bazaars, or just be encouraged. You can post notices if you have extra expressed breast milk that you want to share or if you need some. You can also trade, share, or sell second hand breastfeeding stuff through the page. Just course it through the page admins. 😀
3. Little Panda Shop – This is the online shop here in Bacolod where I got my Spectra 3 Double Electric Breast Pump.
4. Baby Mama – If you want to order Fenugreek supplement.
5. Mommy Treats– The source for lactation snacks.

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