• Mom 'Breastfed' Son in PH While She Was in London for a Year!

    Here's the story of how this mom and her husband was committed to provide her son breast milk.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Mom 'Breastfed' Son in PH While She Was in London for a Year!
PHOTO BY courtesy of Tanya Recalde
  • Breastfeeding is a choice and a commitment many new moms take because they know the benefits that come with providing that precious liquid gold (not only for their child but for their well-being as well). It does come with challenges like maintaining milk supply and transitioning from breast to bottle, especially when you're a working mom.

    A working (and studying!) mom hurdled this transition phase (and making us go wow) even though she was 10,000 kilometers away from her baby.

    Back in 2014, mom Tanya Recalde, who works at Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), was able to supply her third baby, Eli, with breast milk as she completed her Master’s Degree in Corporate Law at the University of Cambridge in London, United Kingdom. She was away from the country for a total of nine months.

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    Fulfilling a dream

    Speaking to SmartParenting.com.ph via Facebook Messenger, Tanya shares that she had mixed feelings about leaving her baby. “I didn’t know that I was expecting when I applied for a Chevening scholarship,” she shares. “When the results came out, I was heavily pregnant.”

    Obtaining a master’s degree had always been Tanya's dream, but on the other hand, her baby would only be 4 months old. It also meant leaving her two other children, Ethan and Enzo, who were 7 and 4 respectively, at the time.

    It didn’t help some people shamed her for even considering the option of leaving. “Ang daming nagpapa-guilty. Kesyo ang sama ko to leave a baby,” she shared.

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    “Maambisyon daw ako. Kawawa ang baby, who will take care of him?”

    It was her husband, Eric, who gave her a push in the right direction, telling her this opportunity was not likely to come again. Even if she waited for Eli to grow older, people would still judge her for leaving.

    “Siya ang nagsabi na tumuloy ako. He said he would be in charge,” Tanya says.

    Tanya and her husband Eric completed their Master's in Corporate Law at the University of Cambridge (Eric in 2014 and Tanya in 2015). 
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Tanya Recalde
    Creating a breast milk supply

    Tanya with her son Eli.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Tanya Recalde

    Tanya had breastfed both of her sons, so she could not imagine not doing the same for Eli. “It was easier for me since third child na siya, mas abundant ang milk supply ko,” she shares. She even tandem fed both Eli and Enzo, who was 3 years old at the time.

    Even before Eli was born, she was already thinking of ways to make sure he had enough milk supply to last him when she was away. “As soon as I gave birth, I worked triple time to build my stash. I pumped round the clock every four hours or so,” Tanya says.

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    This photo was taken on July 2014, Tanya's goal was to fill 300 bottles with breast milk before she left for London on October 2014.
     PHOTO BY COURTESY OF TANYA RECALDE

    Tanya was also on the lookout for milk sources. She was active in mommy groups, both online and in her workplace at BSP. “Yung mga kasabayan kong nanganak na may sobra, hinihingi ko ‘yung milk. One time, I even drove more than 30 kilometers just to pick up milk,” she shares.

    She bought a freezer to store everything, but it was not enough. She deposited some milk with relatives and even stored some inside their office fridge. When she left in October, she had enough breast milk supply to last her son a month. She came back in December for a short break, where she pumped milk and breastfed Eli. But in between, she and her husband decided to source her son’s milk supply.

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    Asking help from other moms

    Tanya enlisted the help of Atty. Jenny Ong, one of her colleagues in BSP who is also a peer counselor at L.A.T.C.H. Philippines to look for other milk sources (L.A.T.C.H. is a nonprofit organization that offers lactation education and peer counseling services to mothers who wish to breastfeed).

    Jenny connected her to Arugaan, another organization that advocates breastfeeding and responsible childcare. “She referred us to a wet nurse who went to our house to breastfeed Eli. She had a baby who was the same age as my son (same month and year), so tama ang nutrients ng breast milk for his age,” she shares. But the wet nurse project failed, and they had to find another mom willing to donate her milk.

    They found another mom whose baby refused to feed on her breast. That mom supplied Eli with milk until Tanya came back. But they still had to buy more milk from donors living in Mandaluyong and Arugaan in Batasan, Quezon City when their supply became low.

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    When she came back to the Philippines for a short break in December 2014, Tanya brought home 27 kilos worth of milk and ice gel packs stashed in her luggage.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Tanya Recalde

    Thanks to these options, Eli was fully breastfed for six months and mixed fed until Tanya came back home for good.

    Pumping liquid gold

    While in London, Tanya would regularly pump while studying and in between classes. Thankfully, her school supported her advocacy.

    Tanya recalls that since she was required to live within the university, she had to fill out a form for accommodation requests. “I wrote in a request for a place with the biggest freezer possible since I was storing milk. I also indicated that I wanted to live nearest to the law building, so I could easily go home to pump,” she shares.

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    Her requests were immediately granted, and the university even bought Tanya a freezer! “They bought a fridge with a freezer for our flat, and then a separate freezer in my room,” she says. “They also told me that if I still needed storage space, I can store my milk inside the college kitchen.”

    Tanya stored her breast milk properly and eventually filled two luggage worth of breast milk for her return in July 2015. After nine months, she had successfully maintained her wish to provide breast milk for her son.

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    But there was more good news: Tanya received First Class Honours, a De Hart Prize in Law and was elected to graduate from her scholarship in Christ’s College at the University of Cambridge.

    The breastfeeding mama proved that she could fulfill her dream without sacrificing her son’s needs. And she has her husband, her school, and her fellow breastfeeding advocates and moms, to thank.

    “It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes more than one village to breastfeed him for a year across the miles,” she says.

    Tanya with sons Eli, Ethan, Enzo, and husband Eric.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Tanya Recalde

    This article was edited on September 11, 2018 at 4:37 p.m.

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