The Story of My Breastfeeding Journey

October 23, 2014


Rafael will be turning eleven months in two days.  That means, I have been successfully breastfeeding him for almost eleven months already.  Truthfully, I never have imagined that I will be able to breastfeed this long. In fact, when I was still single, it never even crossed my mind that I will breastfeed my child.  As a baby, I was formula fed, just like my siblings.  Most people I knew were formula fed too.  I guess I was born in a generation where formula feeding was considered a norm.

After giving birth, I was still not that strongly motivated to breastfeed Rafael.  I was thinking, maybe I could try but if it won't work then there's always a formula that we could turn to.  An hour after my delivery, Rafael was immediately roomed-in to encourage bonding and breastfeeding.  I was told by the nurse to feed him every 2 to 3 hours.  I did, but nothing came out.  Not even a single drop.  The next day, still in the hospital, Rafael started to get fussy because of hunger.  I was helpless because my breast had not produced any milk yet.  I was worried and stressed.  I asked the nurse if we could give him formula but what was sent to my room was a Lactation Consultant who gave me a lecture (which sounded like I was being reprimanded) and a booklet about breastfeeding.

While I was at the hospital, I would feel guilty every time I was going to eat because I was thinking that my new born child hasn't eaten anything yet.  Formula was not allowed in the hospital so I was forced to breastfeed.  When we got discharged, I still tried my best to breastfeed Rafael.  I knew how important it is for him to get the colostrum, the milk rich in antibodies.  I was thinking once he got the colostrum, we can proceed with formula.  However, that night after we got home, Rafael cried every 30 minutes even if I just finished feeding him.  It was horrible, my new born child was screaming in hunger because mommy doesn't have any milk yet!  It breaks my heart to see him like that.  I was helpless and guilty, so I ended up crying with him.  I told myself that I will not starve him anymore, so I decided to give him formula.  After he finished 2 oz of infant formula, he was then able to sleep well, and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Three days after birth, Rafael was scheduled for a follow up to check his bilirubin levels.  While we were inside the pediatrician's office, he started crying again.  So I asked mama to prepare a bottle of infant formula for my little hungry boy.  As soon as the doctor saw the formula, I was reprimanded (again!)  I was told to go to the breastfeeding room if I wanted to feed my child.  I defended myself by telling him that I'm not producing enough milk for my son.  He said it's normal because breast milk is usually produced by the third or fourth day.  I was thinking, are these people crazy?  They want me to starve my child for three to four days just so I can breastfeed?  In addition, this was also the second time I got reprimanded in this hospital.  First, by the lactation consultant, and now, by the pediatrician? Just imagine how embarrassed I was.  In my mind I was saying, I am a first-time-mom, can't the world be a little more gentle on me?

I was stubborn.  I still continued giving Rafael with supplemental formula.  I wouldn't let my child starve anymore!  But just so I can give him breast milk, I started expressing using a manual breast pump.  That way I will be able to make sure how much he was taking and that he was being fed well.  Finally, milk was coming out!  I was very happy and felt so victorious that I would be able to give Rafael my breast milk.  However, since I introduced him to a bottle too early, he ended up having nipple confusion.

One day, while I was surfing the internet, I came across this website about the timeline of a breastfed baby.  While reading it, I felt nothing but regret.  I was well aware of the fact that breast milk is best for babies up to two years and beyond.  I often hear that in commercials promoting infant formula (which is by the way, so ironic), but I still ended up giving formula to my child.  If only I had just been more informed of ALL the LONG TERM BENEFITS of breastfeeding, not only for my child but for mothers like me as well, then I could have not given my child an infant formula.

I wanted Rafael to grow healthy, strong, and smart.  So I decided that I wanted to get rid of the formula milk as soon as possible.  I started to keep a diary of his formula vs breast milk intake.  In the beginning, I was feeling hopeless.  He was taking more formula (14oz) because I can only produce little amount of breast milk (9oz).  Expressing milk using a manual pump was very time consuming, it took me almost an hour (which feels like forever) to get 4oz.  In addition, washing and sterilizing bottles and breast pump also took time.  I had to pump every 3 to 4 hours just to increase and maintain my supply.  In short, I had to sacrifice sleep in order to give breast milk to my son.

I was exhausted and sleep deprived.  I told myself, I had to get Rafael back to my breast to make everything easier and more convenient.  I tried but he just won't latch anymore.  He had nipple confusion.  He was screaming on top of his lungs whenever I tried to make him latch during feeding.  The first few attempts were epic fail because a crying mama would always end up bottle feeding her sobbing baby.  I was ready to give up already when I came across another website and read about several inspiring stories of relactation.  I told myself that if these women were able to relactate after several months of not breastfeeding, then there's no reason for me not to get Rafael back to my breast.

I must admit that my breastfeeding experience had never been easy.  It took a lot of patience, hard work, practice, tears, and prayers before we were able to finally succeed.  I would understand if several women had given up on breastfeeding (at one point, I almost did also) because really, it's one of the most difficult (not to mention painful) thing I've ever done in my entire life.  Motherhood is a very stressful event in a woman's life, let's not be a burden anymore by giving discouraging remarks to these moms if they're having a hard time breastfeeding.  (Because oftentimes, a mother's "supposed-to-be" support group becomes their number one critic leaving them feeling discouraged.)

I hope people will become more well informed about the benefits of breastfeeding, so that more mothers will be encouraged and motivated to nurse their child.  For those mothers who have chosen to breastfeed their child, Congratulations!  And for struggling mothers who want to relactate, it's never too late!  Let's not take away from these babies the opportunity to live a healthier life.  Remember, "nothing worthwhile ever comes easy."  Let us support breastfeeding!



You Might Also Like

18 comments

  1. Congratulations! You did a good job Mommy! I breastfed my baby for 9 months and counting and I must say that my daughter is healthy and strong. She latch every day and every night until she fall asleep. Join us at Breastfeeding Pinay (FB) for more info about breastfeeding journey.. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Rackell! I am already a member of Breastfeeding Pinays. Congratulations also for successfully breastfeeding your daughter. I hope our government and the society would also support BF so that more moms would choose to breastfeed their child.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was a breastfeeding mom and was able to experience all the good benefits of exclusively breastfeeding my baby (Here's my post about that: http://www.audricsmomblog.com/2014/09/benefits-of-breastfeeding-personal-experience.html )

    Anyway, I already stopped breastfeeding because of my PCOS ( http://www.audricsmomblog.com/2014/10/stopped-breastfeeding-because-of-pcos.html ). But if I would be given the chance to breastfeed again, I'll grab it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your story with me, Audric's Mom! I'm glad that you were able to successfully breastfeed your baby.

      Delete
  4. Congrats! I only breastfed my son two months. Kudos to the hospital because in our hospital, the nurse told my husband to buy formula milk. And it's true, hindi agad lumalabas yung breastmilk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Michi! You're right, the hospital and all their health care professionals played a big role in the success of my breastfeeding journey. At first, I thought they're being too harsh on me and my baby. Buti na lang talaga, strict sila sa implementation ng breastfeeding.

      Delete
  5. Congratulations! All your patience, determination and tears paid off. :) I mixed-fed my eldest simply out of ignorance...really. My doc then wasn't a breastfeeding advocate. Sayang nga, bec with my 2 younger children, I was a cow pala! Wish I persevered more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the beginning, I was also mixed feeding my son (because of ignorance too). Health care workers need to be a breastfeeding advocate because they play a big role in educating mothers about the health benefits of breastmilk.

      Delete
  6. Congrats! With my second baby when I gave birth last 2012, hospitals are more strict encouraging moms to breastfeed. Just like you, I also felt the pain and struggles but those are worth-doing because it is the best for our babies. I used a breast pump and mixed-fed too. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Super Mom Jen! All the sacrifices were worth it because we've given our babies what's best for them.

      Delete
  7. Congratulations! I admire your perseverance and it really paid off. :) My breastfeeding journey was not a walk in the park either (at first) but I, with the support of my husband persevered and our daughter reaps all the benefits. She's now 3 years old and she still loves "Mommy's milk." Thank you for sharing. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi My Bliss! Breastfeeding isn't really easy but all the sacrifices were definitely worth it. Congratulations for your successful breastfeeding journey!

      Delete
  8. Congrats! Me, sadly, I was only able to breastfeed my baby for 3 months because I ran out of milk na ;(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, M! Don't be sad, atleast you were able to give your baby breastmilk for three months. It's still better than nothing.

      Delete
  9. Congrats for breastfeeding your baby! It should really be the only choice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you mommy Que! I really hope so that breastfeeding should be a mother's only choice!

      Delete
  10. Go lang nang go! You're actually lucky to have been encouraged to breastfeed right after giving birth; I didn't have the same experience. But BF for us had been largely easy, TBH. Even more that I'm trying to wean at 31 months, he is still occasionally breastfeeding. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marie Angeli Laxa! I hope I could breastfeed for long too.. I'm just a little bit worried about weaning because my baby might have a hard time during the process. For now, I'm just thankful that we've been successful with this breastfeeding journey because really, it was never easy.

      Delete

FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM @rozelle_ragiles