Wednesday, August 17, 2011

mommy musings: let's talk about breasts

I am proud to say that I nursed my son exclusively for the first 16 months of his life.

I made the decision to breastfeed long before I even got pregnant. It's a no-brainer really. Breastmilk is all-natural, all-organic. Way before formula was invented, breastmilk was the only source of nutrition for babies. All formula advertisements claim that breastmilk is still best for babies. Not to mention, breastmilk is FREE. Why wouldn't I breastfeed, right? It just seemed like the most practical and logical thing to do.

Bud was born two months before his expected due date so as soon as he was delivered he was brought to the NICU right away. We didn't have that special moment when I would hold him close to me and he would latch onto my breast like I had hoped if he was born full term. At the recovery room all I could do was worry and pray. Is he going to be okay? Could he breathe on his own? What was his chances of surviving? Please God, let him live. Nursing him was the last thing on my mind.

A few hours after I was brought back to our hospital room, the phone rang. It was the nurse from the NICU informing me that they already gave Bud a few drops of breastmilk. My heart sank. I felt cheated. He's supposed to be drinking my breastmilk. I asked where they got the milk and the nurse said they gave him breastmilk that had been donated. At least they gave him breastmilk. I had to stay positive. I was determined to give my son my breastmilk. I asked the nurse if they had a breast pump so I could express milk right away. Good thing they did. I was knocking at their door in no time and started to pump. After 30 minutes with the breast pump, all I had expressed was 1 oz of milk. By thay time I was already worrying about how to stimulate milk production without Bud actually latching on my breasts. In a way it was a good thing that Bud was only drinking a few drops of milk every 3 hours for the first few days.

When I came home after being discharged from the hospital I was close to a breakdown (maybe I did have one and just won't admit it). I realized we had not bought a single item for the baby. We were not prepared. I haven't even started reading parenting books. Thank God for my friend, B, who lent me her What to Expect The First Year with all her notes and my sister-in-law, Jack, who lent me her breast pump. I gathered my wits and made a plan. My strategy was to pump every 2-3 hours to stimulate milk production. And that's what I did for the next two months. Even at night, I woke up every 3 hours to express milk. I was a milk machine. It worked! I was able to express more than enough milk to feed him during his 2 months in the NICU. In fact, I was even able to donate a coolerful of breastmilk to the NICU as a way to pay it forward. Maybe a tiny baby would also need a drink while his mommy is still recovering from the delivery.

Some other things I did that I believe helped stimulate milk production was to eat A LOT and drink Natalac malunggay capsules.

So, if you're a new mom and you're concerned that you don't have enough milk, trust me when I tell you that you do! Our bodies are genetically programmed to produce milk when we give birth. How do you think women in the early ages fed their babies? If I was able to make my breasts produce enough milk with just a breast pump, imagine how much you could produce when your baby is actually latched onto your breasts.

I know, breastfeeding is not easy. It's a commitment. Welcome to motherhood.

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