When I became pregnant, I thought being able to breastfeed was somehow a matter of luck—if you were blessed with breast milk, great. If not, there would always be milk formula.
Then, my husband and I attended childbirth class to equip ourselves for the big day. It was in the class that I learned more about the facts and fallacies about breastfeeding—but mostly about its benefits. The first and foremost truth being that breastfeeding follows the rule of supply and demand—the more you feed, the more milk you'll produce. Simple as that.
Later, however, I found out that it wasn't as simple, especially after undergoing cesarian delivery. While recuperating in the hospital, we followed a system that seemed to work perfectly: the nursery would call me when my newborn son was hungry and I would get to walk over to feed. My baby gets to eat and I get some exercise to help me recover from the operation faster. In between, I also get to lie down in my room to rest and sleep. Sadly, the “perfect system” did not go as smoothly when we finally brought our son home.
Obviously, I had no nurses to take care of him in between feedings (oh and did I mention that I didn't have a yaya? Just me and my husband and our commitment to be hands-on parents). In just a couple of days, I became a zombie—a zombie recovering from a CS delivery. It was difficult, to say the least. The night feedings, especially, became challenging when lack of rest and sleep finally caught up. Ironically, I ended up sick, irritable, and miserable while delighting in my baby and new mommyhood.
As much as I wanted to purely breastfeed, I finally succumbed to mixed feeding. I would breastfeed all day and my husband would cup-feed with formula two to three times during the wee hours of the morning. This gave me more sleep and more energy to take care of our son during the day. Until it was time for me to go back to work. Admittedly, I was okay with the two to three times a day of formula, but I knew I needed to start storing breast milk so we could maintain the mixed breast milk-formula feeding ratio. Then the stress of wanting to produce more milk got the better of me, such that I wasn't producing enough milk to store.
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I was resigned to the fact that I needed to give more formula when I'd finally go back to work. I shared this difficult decision with my fellow mommies from childbirth class who were all encouraging me and giving suggestions to choose pure breastfeeding. I still didn't know how to do it. I even considered quitting work until one of my fellow mommies offered to give me some of her breast milk. She gave me so much! So much that she inspired me to exert more effort to store my own milk. If she could do it, so could I. On top of that, she gave me a headstart in building my supply. I kept myself hydrated (drank a lot of water, juice, and soup), drank malunggay capsules, and followed a regular pumping schedule.
Twelve months later, I have been feeding my baby, now a toddler, nothing but pure breast milk. In fact, I have even shared my milk with another baby as well. Imagine that.
Breastfeeding is hardwork. But it can be done. Just arm yourself with all the information you can get (Don't listen to hearsay! Read up!), talk to fellow mothers who have successfully breastfed, surround yourself with family and friends who will encourage and inspire you and enlist your husband for all the help he can provide. As in many things in life, hardwork does pay-off. And if you have begun giving formula to your baby, remember, you can always turn back and go pure. It's possible.