IMAGE courtesy of the author (left) and @yasmien_kurdi/Instagram
Yasmien Kurdi wanted to breastfeed right away after giving birth to her daughter, Ayesha Zara, on November 22, 2012 by caesarean section. She tried and tried, but to no avail. “Wala halos milk na lumalabas,” Yasmien says, shaking her head.
In an interview with SmartParenting.com.ph, the 28-year-old actress shared the challenges she had to face to breastfeed and how she eventually overcame them.
“Nasa hospital pa lang ako, wala na talagang milk na lumalabas,” Yasmien recalls. “Ang sakit-sakit na. Lahat ng cream, binili ko na. Wala talaga, tumutuklap na ’yong skin ko from my nipple area, pero wala pa rin. Meron na ’kong high fever na tawag nila sa Filipino, baka nabinat na, pero hindi pa rin lumalabas ’yong milk ko.”
After two weeks, Yasmien was ready to give up. She was teary-eyed as she recalled how she and her husband, Rey Soldevilla, then a flight attendant and now a pilot, fought when she suggested they try formula milk for the baby. "E wala talagang lumalabas sa akin. Blood na ’yong nilalabas ng baby kasi tumutuklap na nga ’yong skin ko from the nipple, na pag nagta-try s’yang mag-suck, nakukuha n’ya na ’yong blood. Gano’n na."
It was during this difficult time that Yasmien's mother-in-law made a suggestion: Would Yasmien try a hilot? Yasmien said yes, a decision that proved to be life changing.
“Ewan ko kung naniniwala kayo do’n sa hilot or hindi,” Yasmien tells us. “Pero sa akin kasi makinig na lang ako sa may mga experience kasi s’ya, ’yong mother-in-law ko, meron s’yang four kids. Lahat, breastfed nang maayos ang napalaki n’ya naman nang maayos. Kaya nakikinig ako sa kanya. May maganda din na makinig ka sa mga taong mas may experience sa buhay na makakatulong sa ’yo. Hindi lahat ’yan nasa libro. Hindi ’yan lahat naigu-Google mo lang. Talagang lahat ng bagay, based on experience. Mas importante ’yong experience in life.”
A day after the hilot, the first-time mom woke with her shirt soaked with milk. “Gano’n karami bigla, ’yong sumisirit na ’yong milk ko,” she says, still in awe of experiencing nothing short of a miracle. “Bigla kong ’binigay ang milk ko kay Baby na gutom na gutom.”
Since that day when her daughter started getting a steady supply of breast milk, Yasmien noted a marked difference in Baby Ayesha. “Tumaba na s’ya nang tumaba,” she smiles. “Exclusive breastfeeding ako for 8 months. Talagang no water, no other milk, no vitamins. Sa akin lahat nanggagaling ang feed n’ya.”
She then enumerates the benefits of breastfeeding aside from the proven nutrition that it provides to babies: “Sobrang tipid talaga ng breastfeeding kasi imagine, magkano ang formula? Ang poopoo ni Baby, mabango pa. Mas madali mag-travel kasi wala ka ng masyadong dadalin na mga bottles. Kailangan mo lang ang sarili mo, di ba?
“’Tsaka walang diet-diet kasi papayatin ka ng breastfeeding. ’Yong nagbi-breastfeed ako, ’yon ang pinakapayat ko. Umabot ’yong waistline ko ng 23 inches. That was my thinnest sa buong buhay ko kahit pagkadalaga ko.”
Yasmien was producing breast milk abundantly that she began sharing it with other moms who didn’t have as much. “Kailangan ko mag-donate sa PGH [Philippine General Hospital] kasi sobrang dami ng lumalabas,” she says. “Imagine I was pumping every 30 minutes, 8 ounces ng milk ang lumalabas sa akin. To the point na pinapaligo na ng baby ko sa face n’ya ’yong milk. Hindi ko na nararamdaman na nagpapa-breastfeed ako. Na-enjoy ko talaga.”
Yasmien misses breastfeeding so much that she now wants to have a second child. Ayesha, who will be 5 years old in a few weeks, is looking forward to having a baby sister. “Pero ako, kahit ano [ang gender],” Yasmien says, beaming. “Mapa-boy or mapa-girl, wala namang difference. Kasi nagagawa din naman ng girls lahat ng nagagawa ng mga lalake ngayon. Kung boy, okey din kasi wala pa kaming boy.”
For new moms who are having difficulties with breastfeeding, Yasmien has these pieces of advice to share: “I think kailangan na mag-pray ka kay God na bigyan ka n’ya ng milk at si baby. Then ’wag kang mag-diet and drink lots of water. Kung puwede, i-measure mo s’ya ng 1.5 liters hanggang 3 liters a day. ’Tapos lahat ng sabaw -- sinigang, bulalo, malunggay -- para maraming milk at masarap na milk. Tinikman ko din [ang milk ko], and in fairness, matamis din s’ya. And listen to your elders, those with many experiences in life.”