Breastfeeding may be natural, but it is also a learned skill. For first time moms, overcoming breastfeeding challenges may be daunting. Armed with the right information and a supportive environment, breastfeeding can turn out to be one of the most blissful bonding moments that a mother and child can experience.
Claire Santos Mogol, a LATCH Philippines and Arugaan trained peer counselor, answers some of your most pressing questions -- and fears -- about breastfeeding for the first time.
Question #1: My baby was separated from me after birth. How soon after should we start breastfeeding? You should be able to breastfeed within the first hour after giving birth. In fact, this first skin-to-skin bonding and early breastfeeding initiation is recommended by our Department of Health (DOH) under the “Unang Yakap Protocol.”
Mothers should talk to their doctors about ensuring that the Unang Yakap Protocol is done. It is a four-step procedure: immediate drying of the baby, skin to skin contact, properly timed cord clamping and cutting, and breastfeeding initiation within the first hour of life. This initiative has been proven to decrease rates of newborn deaths globally. Moreover, this ensures the babies get the most precious colostrum, which is essentially your baby’s first vaccine.
Question #2: How can I make sure I am not one of those with “low milk supply”? It really is different for every mother, and sometimes the milk can kick at day three or day five. The key is to know what to expect. Keep in mind that a baby’s tummy is very small. My sister, who is a pediatrician, assures me that a baby’s tummy size only need small but frequent feedings. She adds that the baby’s sucking will help make the colostrum come out and to stimulate the production of more breast milk. In my case, breastfeeding on demand round the clock made my mature milk came out.
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Question #3: How do I nurse in public? Is it even legal? Yes. It is our right to be able to breastfeed our children anytime and anywhere. Lawyer and LATCH Philippines peer counselor Shyanne Juan-Monera explains that breastfeeding is ingrained in our basic human right to life, the child’s in particular. The right to a “good life” is enshrined in the Philippine Constitution and it is always the duty of the State to protect it.
She also cites that even the Philippine Supreme Court has acknowledged that "the best nourishment for an infant is mother's milk. There is nothing greater than for a mother to nurture her beloved child straight from her bosom. If you’re feeling less confident about it, try nursing tops where you can discreetly breastfeed your baby.
Question #4: Can I breastfeed after a workout? I’ve been advised not to breastfeed when tired because the breast milk will taste sour. I’ve also been told breast milk gets spoiled when the mom is tired. There is no truth to these “kasabihan” or “old wives tales.” Breast milk does not get spoiled in the breast. Moreover, the act of breastfeeding releases relaxing hormones for the mom. That is why a mother sometimes might feel sleepy when breastfeeding.
Question #5: Just when I thought I had it a figured out, my baby has a “growth spurt”! What is going on? When there’s a growth spurt, your baby becomes fussy, clingy, and will breastfeed like there is no tomorrow -- every hour, around the clock. It can fill a mom with anxiety especially when you think finally got your breastfeeding routine down.
You will need patience -- growth spurts will pass. The best thing to do is to follow the baby’s lead and breastfeed on demand. This growth spurt is their way of increasing your milk supply as well since breastfeeding supply is a function of the baby’s demand.
Question #6: Is there a way to avoid nipple confusion? Bottle feeding is the most likely candidate for nipple confusion. Some mothers have experienced being “rejected” by their babies once they started getting used to bottle feeding. As an alternative, you may want to request your baby’s pediatrician to teach you how to cup-feed your baby.
Here’s a video from breastfeeding advocate Dr. Jack Newman on cup feeding:
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A few tips on cup feeding:
The baby should be seated on your lap and held upright.
He should be awake, alert, and calm when cup feeding.
A shot glass or a medicine cup may be used as container for the expressed breastmilk.
The cup should rest lightly on the baby’s bottom lip.
Give him a little sip to start off cup feeding.
DO NOT pour the milk into the baby’s mouth. Just tip the cup a little so that the baby can lap the milk with his/her tongue.
Cup feeding can be awkward, and the baby might reject it at first. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor about techniques. LATCH also has monthly support group sessions in Pasig City.
Claire Santos Mogol is a LATCH Philippines and Arugaan trained peer counselor. Together with Atty. Jennifer Joy Ong, she helped initiate the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) adoption of the RA 10028 Expanded Breastfeeding Act as a formal lactation policy of the BSP. She is also part of BSP's peer mothers' group that conducts breastfeeding counseling sessions in their office and in nearby communities in Manila.