"Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future". This quote was repeated several times during the recently concluded First Breastfeeding Congress organized by the Philippine Pediatric Society. I was lucky enough to start my World Breastfeeding Awareness Month celebration with this Congress. You may know me know as Chronicles of a Nursing Mom – a staunch breastfeeding advocate. But you will be surprised to know that the decision to breastfeed was not something I thought about.
Did you know that seven months into my pregnancy with my first born, Naima, I was contemplating what brand of bottles to buy and what brand of formula milk was best for my child? I grew up in a culture of bottlefeeding - where formula marketing was rampant and formula feeding as considered a norm for Filipino babies.
At the time I was pregnant with Naima, I had several “classmates” who gave birth before I did. I guess I was lucky that these mommy friends breastfed their babies because they were the ones who influenced me to breastfeed. This was good role modeling for me.
My initial ambivalence turned into conviction when I started reading and researching about the wonders of breastfeeding and the risks of formula feeding. Literature after literature showed that there was no way that formula milk could ever approximate breastmilk. I also attended breastfeeding classes, did online research and watched videos.
To be honest, what the classes, readings, researches prepared me for was to have the RIGHT attitude. Nothing prepared me for the actual experience of breastfeeding and its challenges. We started off with the wrong latch – leading to sore nipples and inefficient milk transfer. This resulted in jaundice – which led to formula milk supplementation. The formula milk supplementation affected my milk supply and ended with another problem – nipple confusion. I realized now that just one bottle of formula could wreck havoc to my already shaky breastmilk supply.
Because of my preparation, I knew that these were issues that I could overcome. I was not the only breastfeeding mom who faced the problems. Women had been breastfeeding for years. I took this upon me as a challenge – something that I should resolve – something that should not defeat me.
I rallied my support group, went to see breastfeeding counselors, practiced, practiced and practiced. I tackled one problem at a time. I built up my milk supply then fixed Naima’s wrong latch. All this time, my mindset was to never give up. For every problem, there is always a solution. This was the key to my success. I searched for solutions for the problems and because of this, breastfeeding succeeded.
While breastfeeding is natural, it is a learned skill both for mom and baby. Some mom-baby dyads take to it easily, while some do not. I cannot overemphasize that what makes the breastfeeding relationship succeed is the right attitude and the right mindset. If you believe that there is another option, albeit second best, then the temptation to give up will be very strong.
As stated during the Breastfeeding Congress, breastfeeding is not the best – it is the ONLY choice for your baby. Deciding to breastfeeding your child is actually respecting his human right. If you are ambivalent about whether or not to breastfeed your child, do your unborn baby a favor – head off to an upcoming breastfeeding class. Be informed before you decide that you don’t want to breastfeed your child.
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Jenny Ong is wife to Stan and mom to two kids. She is the blogger behind chroniclesofanursingmom.com