• Breastfeeding at Work Led Two Pinay Moms to Become #BFL ('Balaes' for Life)

    The two moms share how a reliable support system at work makes breastfeeding less challenging.
    by Mirma Mae Tica-Ortiz .
  • breastfeeding at work

    The author, breastfeeding at work , says a reliable support system at work makes breastfeeding a little less challenging.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Miriam College

    Motherhood can be a lonely job. What helps is having a community who cheers her on and listens to her without judgment. And that's what our "Real Parenting" section is for: a space where moms (and dads) can share the joys, pain, and the mess of parenthood.

     Mian Arcega and I became moms just a few months apart. Like any first-time moms, we wanted to make sure we breastfed our babies even when went back to work. So we used our maternity leaves to help us get oriented with the highs and (painful) lows of breastfeeding

    We survived breastfeeding all for the first three months, but we realized keeping the routine once we came back to work would be a whole different ballgame.

    Our conversation below is a snippet of the chats we've had to help us balance breastfeeding and work to keep our babies happy and healthy.

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    Mian: How was breastfeeding when you went back to work after your maternity leave?

    Mirma: It was not a bed of roses, but it was manageable. I had to make sure I managed my time and schedule well. Siyempre, hirap rin ng on-the-dot schedule, but keeping the three times a day goal was realistic enough for me. 

    Mirma: Your baby, Nara, has passed the one year mark. How many months have you been breastfeeding her?

    Mian: Fourteen months now! Grabe, I didn’t think I would last this long but kinaya! How about you?

    Mirma: Wow, grabe! Fourteen months? That’s amazing. I hope I can sustain it as long as you have. Ako naman ay nasa 9-month mark na. But I recall when I was just starting to breastfeed sabi ko at least two months sana. Tapos nagging four months, and then six months, now praying to sustain as long as there’s milk. 

    Mian: How did you start breastfeeding nga pala? And what was the hardest part for you?

    Mirma: The awareness came from friends who were breastfeeding mommas and while I was pregnant. I read a lot about the benefits for both baby and mommy. I know it was going to be challenging, but our workplace and the people around us help. 

    Mian: Ako naman, I had no clue about breastfeeding at all. When I was pregnant, I was just worried about the pain of giving birth. Parang I couldn’t see beyond that! But what helped me was when Miriam College had a talk with my co-preggy employees arranged by human resources. They invited a pediatrician who was a breastfeeding advocate, tapos ‘yun. Sold na ako! The pedia even became Nara’s doctor. Nakakatuwa. Did you attend a similar talk?

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    Mirma: No, unfortunately. I was on bedrest when that was scheduled. Pero alam mo, buti na lang the school has these initiatives — really helps new moms talaga.

    pumping breast milk tips
    Mian with her daughter Nara who sometimes makes an appearance on campus, which will hopefully be her future school.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Miriam College
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    Mian: Alam mo when I tell my friends about our daycare and breastfeeding area on campus, they’re so impressed!

    Mirma: Me too! Some even would jokingly say, “May opening ba sa Miriam?”

    Mian: Correct. Happy mommy, happy baby (and hubby!). 

    Mirma: Tama! I can see Nara growing up to become a smart and strong baby.

    Mian: And I can picture her with your baby Mikael playing together while waiting for their moms to finish work! Hahaha. Eto naman tayo.

    Mirma: #BFL (Balaes for life). Pero napansin ko si Mikael hindi sakitin. Ikaw rin ba na pansin mo yun?

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    Mian: True! I think it’s because of the breast milk. Nara recently had her first fever — at 13 months! Nakakatakot pero, in fairness, late na siya nagkasakit. And she got over it after two days siguro. And can I just say, ang tipid pag nagbi-breastfeed. Less hassle too when traveling. 

    Mirma: Agree. I didn’t realize that we were saving over Php4,000 a month. And it’s so convenient! All you need is a small nappy bag, and you’re good to go. No need to wash a mountain of bottles every day. But breastfeeding can be very tiring too. How do you cope with that?

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    Mian: Hay, totoo. Pumping pa lang is a big production number — wash the pump, pack the pump, bring the pump, freeze the milk, etc. — all on top of taking care of the baby! I’ve even had my fair share of forgotten pump parts! Pero it’s become routine na rin somehow. And you really have to sacrifice your alone time to be with the baby when she needs to feed!

    Mirma: Alone time? What alone time? Just kidding. I look at it this way: it’s not forever that we will have this moment so might as well savor it. Our babies are growing up so fast — if only we can keep them small forever. 

    Mian: That’s true. Every single moment counts! All those sacrifices are worth it in the end.

    breastfeeding at work tips real moms
    Mirma (left) shows Mian a feature of her breast pump.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Miriam College

    Below are my and Mian’s top tips for breastfeeding in the workplace:

    Manage your time well and set realistic pumping session goals

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    It’s good to talk to your supervisor and peers so that they are aware of your decision to pump at work. Here, communication and coordination are key to ensure that your work goals do not interfere with your pumping goals. This will also lessen unnecessary stress that may lower your milk supply.

    Find a quiet place to pump

    Finding a quiet place is very important. A calm environment is connected to your milk production and flow. The more calm and relaxed you are, the better. If a small space in your office is not available, the clinic is a great place to pump.   

    Nourish your body

    Nourish your body with healthy nutritious food like healthy fats and dark greens and fewer sugars and junk food. What we put in our body directly affects the quality of milk and, of course, our work performance. Breastfeeding can be tiring, but eating nutritious food will help us stay alert all throughout the day.

    Pack that pump! 

    After investing in a good pump, make sure all your pump parts are clean, complete and properly packed the night before — we all know how hectic mornings can be!

    Be kind to yourself — and to other moms! 

    Expect that it won't be easy (motherhood never is!). There will be times when you forget a pump part or miss a pumping session. It's bound to happen at some point. It does help to know your "batchmate" mommies at work. Not only is it a good support system, but you can also help each other out when you have questions, or even run out of milk bags (it has happened to us several times before!). And, of course, always remember that FED IS BEST — whether it’s breastfeeding, formula feeding, or mixed, making sure that baby is fed and healthy is still what’s most important.

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    This piece was submitted by Mirma Mae C. Tica-Ortiz with Mary Ann “Mian” Arcega, both of whom work at Miriam College.

    Mirma is the program coordinator of the Institutional Partnerships and Programs Office, a faculty of the International Studies Department under the College of Arts and Sciences, and the moderator of Pax Christi-MC. She is a hands-on mom to Mikael and a loving and encouraging wife to Marco “Chino” Ortiz.

    Mian, mom to 1-year-old Nara, is a Miriam College alumna from the Child Study Center Pre-school to High School (MCHS ’05). She currently works full time as an Alumni Engagement office manager and part-time faculty in Miriam Adult Education.

    Want to get something off your chest? Or share a slice of your parenting journey with fellow moms? Send it to our Facebook Messenger or email at smartparenting2013@gmail.com with the subject "Real Parenting." Join us at Parent Chat and Smart Parenting Village.

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