I remember when I was hopeless in the hospital ward, staring at only little drops of breastmilk in the pump. “Is this all I have?!” – the already-judgmental mom in me was not having it. I was confused. I did everything by the book. Heck, I was even drinking natural malunggay extracts while pumping. My breasts were in literal full circles. How come droplets were all I have? I have a hungry and sick daughter down at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), then diagnosed with sepsis and was under observation.
I almost lost her.
Fast forward to a now never-tired, 4-year old chatterbox, I can’t thank the Lord enough that my little girl is in perfect health. I strongly believe that breastfeeding is one of the factors that nursed her back to wellness – pun intended.
And as for me, a former droplet pumper, I successfully breastfed my daughter up until her 3rd birthday! Turns out, I had more than I initially offered.
Breastfeeding is a conscious decision a mom should really consider. Both science and nature have proven that it is indeed the best for babies as it makes them stronger, brighter, healthier, and more immune to diseases. Nothing but the finest for the people we love, right? Not only that, it has amazing benefits for mommas, too! It makes us less prone to breast cancer, for one.
Sharing with you some of my personal notes to get you going on your breastfeeding journey:
Brace yourself. Breastfeeding comes with a lot of change. You’d have to watch over your diet carefully as you did when you were still conceiving as it greatly affects milk quality and supply. You have to stay limber, relaxed, and calm despite life’s stressors (aka that perpetually messy kitchen). You would have to secure safe spaces in your home to do this and check ahead of time if there are available breastfeeding facilities where you’re going. Reading up about it and joining communities of nursing moms would ease you up on some of the hard work that comes with breastfeeding. It also pays to have your spouse and family’s support as it would greatly help you in adjusting to this beautiful task knowing that everybody’s on board.
Stay fit and healthy. Let’s get this out of the way already – your cup size does not determine your milk supply and flow. How much you eat is also not an indicator, but what you eat matters. Stick to a diet that’s loaded with calcium, iron, vitamins, and nutrients that your growing baby needs. It also helps when you’re in shape as having an active lifestyle ensures healthy circulation of blood, which promotes good supply.
Hydrate. Water is key to successful breastfeeding. You will be heavily thirsty after a feeding, so imagine how much needs to be quenched especially when your little one is a milk binger like mine! Always keep a bottle or glass of water close by especially when you’re going out.
Keep calm. Stress is one nemesis you’ll battle as you breastfeed. When you are overfatigued, restless, and anxious, your breastmilk will be on a low supply. From experience, I noticed that taking warm baths and massages flush my stressors out and stimulate milk production. Try to see which relaxation method would work best for you and your baby.
Just do it. The more you breastfeed, the richer the milk and the experience become. When you substitute breastmilk with formula milk during the day, be sure to at least pump milk when you’re away or at work so the flow gets going. If you plan on doing this long-term, then the trick is to keep breastfeeding until you decide that it’s the season to stop. I talked to my kid about the “deadline” and we agreed that after her 3rd birthday, that’s it. No more Nanay’s milk. I’m glad she handled it quite well… aside from the occasional hand insertions through my shirt for the first few couple of months of weaning!
There is no single instruction manual on how to do it but opt to do so anyway! I’m sure that just like I did, you will find yourself immersed in it too in great amounts of dedication. Breastfeeding is such a validating and affirming way of motherhood that really knits you with your baby even after the journey is over. It is a joy to serve another human being in such a personal and intimate note – another amazing design by God to adore!