Saturday, July 5, 2014

Breastfeeding: The Working Mom


It’s been 5 months and I am happy to say that our little one is still exclusively breastfed. Getting here was no walk in the park though. It is during difficult times that I’d tell myself that if I don’t love my baby, or if I didn’t have a support system, I would’ve given up. Breastfeeding, in my opinion, was designed in the premise that mothers are supposed to be with their little ones 24/7. For the working mom, however, it’s a test of patience and endurance.

The Good

I wanted the Cimilre M1 pump but the high cost of P7800.00 was something I intended to postpone for until I go back to work from my maternity leave and earn again. Good thing Babymama.ph sold some test breast pump kits at half its actual cost, so I grabbed one. It was so efficient! I’ll post a separate review about it but in a nutshell, it’s worth its price and you can never go wrong if you decide to get it for yourself. Because of my efficient pump, I am able to troubleshoot my oversupply by pumping before directly feeding my little one. I was able to save so much milk with this routine that I am able to donate to other children who needed them. I am overwhelmed by how grateful mommies are for receiving my milk that they bring me fruits and letters that make me happy. Thanks to Human Milk for Human Babies for creating a network for milk sharing.

Also, I am blessed that our company already took on the responsibility of supporting the milk code. Hence, we already have a lactation room and lactation provisions are already in place. I am able to bring fresh milk home to my daughter that she never had to drink milk that is more than 3 days old. At work, I realized that a 15-minute pumping session would actually consume more time than 15 minutes because of the preparation and the clean-up. Wonderful mommies from Facebook community’s Breastfeeding Pinays suggested that I place the breast flanges in the fridge so that the droplets of milk that stayed there will not spoil and the flanges will be ok to use the whole day without washing. That brilliant idea did reduce the time, but it still didn’t fit the 15-minute break, so I reduced my sessions to just 10 minutes. I know that by law, lactating moms already have an extra 40-minute lactation break but the work that I do affects a class of 20+ participants who don’t have lactation breaks like I do. There were even busy days when I had to reduce the frequency of my pumping sessions and it did have an effect on my milk supply. That was blessing in disguise by the way because I used to have oversupply and I don’t anymore.

The Bad

I knew since my first day back at work that feeding through the bottle is not my little one’s kind of thing. But because a lot of moms assured me that the baby would eventually feed through the bottle, I gave in and let go of all my worries. When I went back to work on a morning shift, she did drink from the bottle but only enough so she doesn’t feel hungry. When I get home, she would nurse as if there’s no tomorrow, leaving me with little sleep. That was ok with me until I was transferred to the evening shift. Serene sleeps through the night as long as breast milk is readily available once she shows early signs of hunger. However, that is not the case in the morning. In the morning, she would have more awake times than sleep times and it left me with very little to no sleep. That was still fine with me as long as my baby feeds until…

The Ugly

…we started struggling through feedings. Initially, I noticed that everytime I tried to carry my baby by cradle position, she squirmed and eventually cried out loud that I can’t feed her anymore. Drew found out that the nanny forced her to feed through the bottle even when she’s not ready. I can’t put all the blame on her because 1. She’s not a mother, and 2. Even if she were a mother, not all mothers are equipped with knowledge about breastfeeding because 3. Not all mothers breastfed their children; Not even my own mom and 4. We don’t have the luxury of time to wait until she’s ready just to feed her and make her sleep.Even I confess that I force her to feed at times when I’m almost late for work.  At that phase, I will only be able to feed her if we both laid down on side-lying position.That meant I wasn’t supposed to go out with her anymore but I wanted to. I want to bring her to the mall, to Sunday service and everywhere I am except at work. So, I forced her to feed by cradle position all the more which traumatized her further until she won’t feed without a battle.

The End

Drew and I decided that we had to put an end to the war Serene and I had everytime she needs to feed, so we sought help from a lactation consultant. While at the clinic, Serene amazed the pedia / lactation consultant by showing her how difficult it was to feed her. We tried waiting for her to initiate the feeding on her own by cradle position, saddle position, side-lying position and cup-feeding but she just screamed the whole time and refused to feed. Looking at our scenario, the lactation consultant agreed that we have been doing a bad job by forcing Serene to feed. She suggested that until our baby forgets how it feels to be forced to feed, we have to make her really really sleepy before we offer her milk – by bottle or by breast. She said that this is also the time when babies’ gums are swollen in preparation for teeth to come out which aggravates the situation. For this, she advised that we apply teething gel to her gums to alleviate her pain / irritation. These we followed to the T. I made a commitment to not fret if I am about to go to work and Serene is not yet ready to nurse, making sure that everyone else does the same with her bottle.

Now, our baby is moving on from her breastfeeding trauma. We stuck with her favorite bottle, the Pigeon wide-neck with peristaltic nipple, when I’m away and we have seen great progress with the way she nurses – by bottle or by breast. There is no more battle – just a bit of tension and hesitation but I am positive that we are moving toward peaceful nursing in the near future. I’m excited for her to turn 6 months so she could start solids. Yey!



your every woman,

Monday, June 9, 2014

Security and the Silver Shoes


I grew up with a lot of insecurities and I'm sure hubby had a handful too. I personally believe that the level of security of a human being has a lot to do with how he or she was raised. You can just imagine my dilemma on how I could possibly raise a secured child when we had our first girl. 

It was Ella's first time to attend Elementary school. Our budget is so tight because I just recently gave birth to her sister and we failed to expect that I am not to receive salary for 2 salary periods because of the obligations that I should have paid if I were not on maternity leave. Because of this, everything had to be crammed up to the last day before school. That night, while we were preparing stuff, we realized that we already gave Ella's previous school year's shoes away. My mom promised to buy her school shoes but the order will not arrive until 2 days later. I was torn with having her wear casual clothing, even though the school strictly informed us that kids should be wearing uniform by day 1, or have her wear uniform without proper school shoes. Drew chose the 2nd option with only the silver dress shoes as replacement for proper school shoes. The following day, when I told Ella that she had to make do with the silver dress shoes she said "Wow! ...just like in Princess Charm School (a Barbie movie)! Explain ko nalang sa teacher." Truly, our eldest daughter became a princess that day.



After Drew sent Ella to school, I told him that it amazed me how Ella reacted to wearing those silver shoes. If I had to be in the same situation when I was her age, I would've felt very insecure to the point of probably sitting at the farthest part of the class hoping to be invisible. He said he was thinking of the same thing on their way to school. That if he was in the same situation when he was her age, he'd probably be absent on his first day! 




Now, more than ever, I was finally able to tell myself that in the past 6 years, Drew and I may be doing something right. 

your every woman,

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Breastfeeding: The First Months




I wasn't successful at breastfeeding Ella and we all suffered the consequences. First, she is very sickly. Second, it took a long time for me to fully recover from my CS operation. And last but definitely not the least, we had to cope with a budget of P1000 a week for formula. Because of this, I made sure that I would be successful at breastfeeding Serene. Let me share with you my breastfeeding journey

The Preparation

1. I read a lot about breastfeeding. How it works; the benefits; the problems; the truths vs. the myths, etc. It pays to be in the know when it comes to these things because that way I was able to...
2. ...Make it clear to EVERYONE that I have decided that my baby takes nothing less than my milk. I sat down with my husband and other people in the family who will have an influence on me when it comes to child-rearing.I encouraged them to understand more about breastfeeding so that they could stand the same ground as I am when facing breastfeeding challenges. The least a mother wants to have are people who are negative about breastfeeding around her. Breastfeeding is most likely to be successful with a support system, especially during those times after birth when you cannot be in control of certain things. Included in the support system are your medical team. That's why...
2. ...I chose a hospital with a breastfeeding advocacy. I originally planned to have a birth plan signed but was hesitant because birth plans are not popular in the Philippines. Good thing I didn't have to because VRPMC (Victor R. Potenciano Medical Center aka Polymedic) is pro-breastfeeding. Apparently, DOH and WHO are already working towards making the Philippines a breastfeeding country. Good job DOH and WHO for RA10028!
3. I bought breastfeeding compatible bottles for when I go to work and my little one would be left with breastmilk from the refrigerator.
4. I drank Nu-Mom, a supplement for nursing mothers, by my 36th week of pregnancy. I wanted to make sure that I am confident that my boobs would have colostrum by the time I gave birth.
5. I manually and mechanically tried to express colostrum by my 37th week of pregnancy just to check if something would come out. When colostrum did come out, I became more confident in my success at breastfeeding.

Things I Really Needed and Used

1. An efficient breastpump; especially because I intend to continue breastfeeding after going back to work. I was given a Fisher Price electric breastpump as a gift and it helped me during the first few weeks but since it was a single pump, very noisy and did not pump on it's own (It just continuously sucked like vacuum and there's button you have to constantly press to let go of the boobie nipple - technically making it a glorified manual pump!) I had to get the Spectra Cimilre M1 from BabyMama.Ph. It was so efficient and quiet and I'm really happy with that purchase. It helped me build a breastmilk stash (more than enough that I was able to donate some before returning to work and troubleshoot some breastfeeding challenges such as under and over supply. I still keep my Fisher Price pump as a back-up though.
2. A nursing bra. Not only did it give easy access to boob for the little one but it also helped me pump hands-free! Just click here to see how it's done.
3. A nursing pillow. In my experience, the nursing pillow totally made the first few weeks easier, when baby seemed to fragile and I was still recovering from my CS operation. It's short-lived though because as soon as little one had stronger bones and muscles, I found myself needing the nursing pillow a lot less. So, it's better to get a cheap, or even a hand-me-down but reliable one.
4. A nursing cover. My family and I love to go out and despite breastfeeding advocates' stand that breastfeeding is a natural thing and need not be hidden, I still choose to nurse discreetly. 
5. Breastmilk storage bags and bottles. I bought my breastmilk storage bags from here and got the Looney Tunes set of 4 breastmilk storage bottles at SM Megamall Department Store. They're the most affordable choices as far I was able to search. I use my storage bags to build my stash in the freezer and the storage bottles to routinely arrive with freshly expressed milk from work. 
6. An insulated bag with gel-type ice packs. Aside from it going to be used to keep my expressed milk fresh upon returning home from work, it also came in handy when I had to host a wedding ceremony wherein the whole family was invited but couldn't directly feed the little one.

Things I Thought I Needed But Didn't

1. Breastfeeding compatible bottles. The Internet is very helpful, but it can also be harmful at times. I was haunted by the thought that my daughter will not take the bottle by the time I return to work so we ended up buying different kinds of bottles that claim to be "breastfeeding compatible" and trained her with them. It stressed both of us out when we didn't have success during training only to find out that my daughter will take any bottle as soon as I was out of the house. 
2. The milkband. I won't say it wasn't helpful because it did remind me of the time and the side I last nursed my baby during the first few weeks. However, I learned that I should breastfeed on demand and the fullness I felt on my boobs eventually became my reminder on which side LO last fed on. 

The Challenges

1. Difficulty achieving the correct latch. It took a lot of patience, practice and support from other people. For some, it may take a few days... For me, weeks. My nipple was even at one point too sore that it bled. But when I was about to give up, I just had to remember "This too shall pass..." and it did.
2. Timing feedings and observing cues. A hungry baby is a fussy, noisy, baby and it didn't help alleviate my post-partum blues. 
3. Oversupply. A lot of people I talked to think that oversupply is great, but it's not. If you have ever experienced expressing breastmilk or at least have seen someone doing it, you'll know that milk comes out of not just one but several holes. Sometimes, the ejection of the milk can be too strong for the baby, causing them to gag or choke, stop nursing, cry and be fussy. To remedy this, I'd have to pump everytime before little one is about to nurse. It's a hassle because one I can't predict the time "before" the feeding cues show up causing little one to end up having to take the strong milk ejection because I wasn't able to pump; And two, because I have more pumping-washing-sterilizing to do. 
4. Bottle feeding. - Only if you go back to work or go somewhere without your little one which are both something I intend to do. I eventually learned to not make a big deal out of it because my daughter feeds just fine on a bottle when I was not around.
5. Boob-side preference. Because of the oversupply problem, each feeding had to be done on only one side so that LO can get the right amounts of the foremilk and hindmilk from that boob. Recently, I am finding that there's no fuss feeding LO on my left, but a hurdle to feed her on my right.  

My Takeaways

1. Breastfeeding is difficult. I never thought that something so natural would require a lot of time, effort, hardwork and support from other people. If I didn't have all 4, I probably ditched the entire breastfeeding thing.
2. Articles on the Internet are informative but MAY do more harm than good. Yes, the Internet taught me a lot but it pays to hear experiences from real people who have already gone through the breastfeeding journey. Good thing friends invited me to a group in Facebook called Breastfeeding Pinays
3. Forewarned is Forearmed. The fact that I already knew a lot about breastfeeding helped me defend my stand to exclusively breastfeed my daughter despite what other people say or do. For anyone who may read this blog, one very important foundation information that I learned about breastfeeding is that a newborn's tummy is just about the size of a cherry so the tiny bit of colostrum that comes out of my breasts when I give birth is enough. It helped me stay confident about not having to concede to formula pressure.

The Rewards

1. A happy, healthy baby.
2. Faster CS operation recovery.
3. Faster pre-pregnancy weight achievement.
4. Around P4000 monthly savings for not feeding with formula.

So there! It's been two months that I have exclusively been breastfeeding my daughter, Serene and we're very happy and excited to experience what else is in store for us in the next few months. 

your every woman,

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I have an artist for a daughter!


Isabella has always been very good in whatever she does. Because of this, we were kind of confused as to which of her skills needed to be formally honed. We are a middle class family and we can't afford to send her to several specialty schools just to find out which she would excel in. Good thing we were blessed to find out early that Isabella is an artist.

water color

pencil imitation of illustration from Old Mother Hubbard

Recently, she received these recognitions:

1st honor and Best in Art. We're so proud of you Anak!


This strengthened our will to enroll Isabella in art school. Thank God for blessing us with a means to do so.

KidzArt Mandaluyong

And by the 1st day, Isabella wowed us with her work:

shading with colored markers

Next up? Sculpting! She said she wanted to learn how to properly mold polymer clay. There's really no stopping our little artist!

your every woman,

Tipid Tip: Home-made Baby Wipes


My daughters have very sensitive skin. I should know, they got that from me! With Isabella, I learned that commercial baby wipes have ingredients that may harm babies' sensitive skin so I resorted to making our own. It's very easy and affordable too!

Materials:

cotton balls
water
Cetaphil (optional)



1. Arrange the cotton balls in a spill proof container.
2. Add just enough water to wet each layer of cotton balls.



3. Add a few drops of Cetaphil or any no-rinse sensitive skin cleanser that you trust.
4. Bring anywhere! Not only can it clean your baby's nappy area, it can also be used for any other cleaning you may have to do for your kid such as cleaning the face, the hands, etc!


your every woman,
 

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