Showing posts with label breastfeeding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label breastfeeding. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Storage solutions for breastmilk

When I reviewed my blog's page views, the most visited entries were not the ones where I bled my heart out and shared my soul. Nope, no consolation for all that carnage. It was my posts about tips and reviews and everything practical that garnered the highest visits. So... In the guise of helping out fellow breastfeeding moms in their quest for wise storage solutions for their breastmilk, I am writing this post to increase my blog hits. (Kidding. Or not.) 

Here's a list of my own storage solutions that I thought could help out other breastfeeding mamas:

1. Invest in reusable storage cups and bottles.

When I had Zohan, my mother bought a lot of stuff for the baby, the Avent Via storage cups included. I used them for storage of breastmilk the whole time that Zohan was nursing. They were practical because they were sturdy, transparent, and definitely reusable. To put labels on the expressed milk, I just wrote through a micropore with pentel pen and then stick them to the cups. I could easily peel the label off when washing the cups.

Now that I have Khaleid, the Avent Via storage cups are making a comeback. I'm using these cups for storing milk that are intended to be consumed at home within 5 days from collection.


For a more organized appearance, you can stack them in twos and place them in small baskets that are available in different storage stores. I got these white baskets from Japan Home Centre for a very cheap price. 


In addition to my Avent cups, I also ordered these Autumnz storage bottles from Mamabella

Image from Mamabella's Facebook Page

I love that the bottles fit my Ameda Purely Yours breast pump, such that I can express milk directly to the storage bottles and put them right away in the refrigerator. 

I am anticipating that these Autumnz storage bottles will be a great help when I express milk in the office. (I only have almost two weeks left of my maternity leave.) Since the milk can be expressed directly to the storage bottle, I can do away with the collection bottle (which I used to tediously wash and pat dry after each session when I expressed milk for Zohan).

2. For the storage of milk expressed outside the house, use disposable plastic storage bags.

The reusable cups and bottles are practical, but they are quite bulky. So, everytime I go out or when we go home to the province, I just bring with me disposable storage bags. These plastic bags are a little pricey though, so if you're matipid like me, make sure to canvass for the cheapest brand. I've tried a lot - Ainon, Precious Moments, Spectra, and Orange and Peaches. They are all relatively cheaper compared  with other brands.

3. Position the plastic bags horizontally in the freezer, instead of vertically. 

I used to store milk in bags standing horizontally, since that was the only way it could accommodate 5-8 ounces of milk. But notice how bulky and disorganized they could get. It also used up a lot of space that the fridge no longer had room for our ulam.


I discovered that storing only 2-3 ounces per bag and filling it out vertically will make a more practical way of storing inside our fridge. 


Just stack them up!

4. Divide the collected milk into volumes of one feeding and store them into separate bags/bottles.

Once a person has gone through the hassle of expressing breastmilk at least once in their life, they are likely to realize that the adage "no crying over spilled milk" really makes no sense. Every single drop of milk is too valuable, you wouldn't want to waste it.

So, to ensure that there will be no spilling or throwing away of expired milk, I store milk in their containers per volume of a single feeding. As a result, it is easier to transfer milk to the feeding bottle (I can just empty the entire bag!). More importantly,  since it's good for one feeding, there are usually no left-overs that get stale.

However, there's a downside to this tip. If one feeding, let's say consisting of 2 ounces, is stored in one bag, it will be impractical and expensive since each bag will not be utilized to its full capacity of storing up to 12 ounces. Even if a reusable cup/bottle is used instead of a disposable plastic bag, it will take up so much space in the refrigerator.

So, mommies, just take this tip based on what you're not willing to discard - breastmilk, money, or space.

5. For expressing milk in the office, invest in a compact and practical storage bag.

I used to carry bags upon bags of pumping paraphernalia when I expressed milk for Zohan. I also carried a small cooler for the ice packs and collected breastmilk. You could imagine how bulky and heavy it was! (You can read about it here.)

Now, I am so glad to have found a small bag that can carry it all. It's so compact it looks like I'm just carrying my baon. Meet my Posh Autumnz Storage Bag (also available at Mamabella):



It's actually a bi-level bag. The top can be used to store breast pump, micropore, and pentel pen. The bottom portion can accommodate all ten Autumnz storage bottles, but if you want to make room for the ice packs, you can store at least six bottles. Both top and bottom are insulated so you don't have to worry that the milk will not be cold enough.





6. Collect milk for short-term and long-term storage.

I am lucky that my milk's supply is more than Khaleid's demand. Since there seems to be an abundance of milk, my first morning collection are intended for long term storage. I place them in plastic storage bags to be frozen and stored up to three months. For the rest of the day, the milk that will be collected are for short-term storage. They are placed in the disposable cups for immediate consumption (meaning within the next five days). 

This system gives me enough assurance that even if my supply dwindles, or when I cannot express milk religiously, Khaleid will still have the frozen milk to consume while I work on increasing my supply.

There you go. I hope I was able to share something practical to the mommies out there. If you have other tips that you swear by, do hit the comments button. After all, they said it takes a village to raise a child, so let's be part of each other's village.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Khaleid's Birth Story (and my failed VBAC Attempt) - Part II

 "There could also be an initial attempt to do labor but after several nerve-wracking pushes, the baby's head turns out to be too large or the mommy's pelvis too small to allow the baby to pass through. In all of these, there would be a gut-wrenching pain, from labor or otherwise, followed by a relief that when everything else seemed to fail, the mother would be summoned to the operating room for incision for her own good. These mothers would end up with a scar from the CS operation, but they fought a battle, and they fought hard."
                                                             - An excerpt from my very first VBAC Post 


After a long, arduous, and exhausting trial labor, my efforts were all for naught because I wasn't able to deliver through a varginal birth. In medical jargon, the failed VBAC was because of "arrest in descent, secondary to cephalopelvic disproportion".  In ordinary parlance, the baby's head was too big and my pelvis was too narrow.

But for me, the real reason was the Universe working its way to save me from a looming danger. I was wide awake during the CS operation, that's why I was able to witness why God refused to listen to my plea for a normal delivery. 

Upon opening up the previous wound, Dra. Guinto immediately discovered that my first CS operation had not just one, but two incisions inside! That would have been okay, except that while the first stitch was low transverse (which is the primary requirement before a VBAC is allowed), the other stitch was VERTICAL - a contraindication of VBAC (the kind of incision with a higher risk of uterine rupture). 

The reason why Dra. Guinto allowed me to try VBAC was because I was a qualified candidate - or so we thought. The operative record of my previous CS operation indicated a low transverse incision, which led us to believe that I could pull off a VBAC without any unusual risk. (I wrote about the requirements for a VBAC candidate here.

But that was where the problem lied -the record indicated only the transverse incision; thus, neither Dra. Guinto nor I would know about the second incision. As to why the operative record did not accurately reflect what was done inside my body was something I refused to ruminate. It was water under the bridge.

At 10:16 AM, "baby out" was finally announced by Dra. Guinto. I heard my baby's cry and I let out a sigh of relief. 

When Khaleid was handed to me, there were no tears of joy or music playing in my head or thoughts of magical moment. Of course, I was glad that we were both safe, but I was so ready to close my eyes to sleep. I was that exhausted. But I couldn't sleep just yet. Khaleid was immediately placed in my breast for the "Unang Yakap". With just a few attempt, he latched properly and our breastfeeding journey began.

At this point, Dra. Guinto and her team was still at me, re-doing the stitches from my previous operation. She figured it would take her hours to "improve" the old stitches. When I heard her making calls to cancel all her appointments that morning, it dawned to me how fortunate I was to have found a very competent doctor. It was a good call she made to discontinue my VBAC attempt. With the vertical stitch inside my body, who knows, I might be just one push away from uterine rupture.

At around 2:00 PM, Khaleid and I were wheeled into our private room, where Kristan had been anxiously waiting. Kristan was alone in the room since my labor began and I could just imagine the worry and anxiety that he had to go through for hours. He kissed me on the forehead and whispered how much he loved me and how grateful he was to me for enduring everything. 

After two and a half days, I was cleared to go home. I stepped out of the hospital leaving my hopes of a vaginal birth behind. It was not only the end of my VBAC journey; it also meant that we could not try for more babies. But that's okay - I had always believed in the greater scheme of things. I knew the Universe knows better than me. 

The most important thing was how blessed we were to have been entrusted once again with another being - to raise, to nurture, and to love. It was a wonderful, wonderful journey which ended so beautifully with me endlessly taking a whiff of my baby's scent and planting kisses on his cheeks to my heart's content.



You can read PART I here.
You can read all my VBAC-related posts here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Our Breastfeeding Story - and How it Ended Twenty-Two Months later..

A month ago, I wrote a post raising the question of how to wean your kid in two months. It was because I have decided to wean Zohan after he turns two, which would happen in two months at the time the post was written. I was running around like a headless chicken, totally clueless on how to go about it and I felt like time was ticking fast. The post never got published, and somehow, the big guy up there provided the answer through this.

After learning about my pregnancy, the husband and I immediately went to an OB to have myself checked. The first doctor that I went to advised against continuing my breastfeeding. She mentioned about the hormone "oxytocin" which is released to the bloodstream each time a mother breastfeeds - which hormone also causes the uterus to contract, sometimes leading to a miscarriage. Given this scenario, and considering the fact that I had earlier decided to wean Zohan in two months, I felt like it was really time to put an end to our breastfeeding story.

Before going to the end, please indulge me as I narrate how we started.

Initially, I made a promise to myself that I would move hell or high water to breastfeed him for at least six months. Then I eased into breastfeeding and have since realized how healthy my son had been. So six months became a year.

After my son turned one, I stopped expressing milk at work and would only breastfeed him when we’re together. Things became easier for me (because really, it’s just the expressing milk and storing and heating and all that jazz which burdened me). What could be more convenient than just popping out my breast at any given time - when my son needed it, and sometimes, when I needed it (i.e.,to pacify him or lull him to sleep)? So breastfeeding became my new normal, and weaning transitioned to an issue that I would always put off for another day.

Before I knew it, he’s only two months shy of two years old – healthy and still breastfed.



Twenty-two months later, and with six posts on breastfeeding, I have decided it was time that he parted ways with my breast. 

Things would have been easier if he’d taken the bottle. That way, he would still have something to suck on to. But ever since I stopped expressing milk at work, he also stopped taking the bottle, mainly because he never really liked any formula milk. We tried almost all brands I could think of and I had asked his pedia for her recommendations – but we always ended up throwing stale formula milk because he never took it. To supplement, we would give him fresh milk and yogurt milk, upon the advice of his pedia. He particularly liked Selecta Fortified Milk tetra packs and Dutchmill Yogurt Milkdrink (all four flavors!).

On June 18, 2013, exactly two months before Zohan turned two (the exactness was purely coincidental, by the way), I started the Herculean task of weaning him. 

It was a Monday (because I didn't want to do it on a weekend and ruin two perfect days that we were inseparable), and after arriving home from work, Zohan was there at the front door, ready to jump on me and feed himself. I had to excuse myself, rush to the washroom, and put red lipstick all over my breast. Yes, this Revlon Colorburst Lipstick - True red was my accomplice!


Image taken from here
With a thump on my chest and a lump on my throat, I coaxed the poor boy into the bedroom and showed him Nanay's breast, with lipstick all over. I told Zohan it was "Yuck", and as expected, he let out a loud, guilt-inducing cry. At this point, I was already crying myself. To add insult to injury, I couldn't even carry Zohan because I was also advised against it by my OB, so the husband had to take charge. 

After a few minutes, Tatay was able to console Zohan. The next bout of crying was at bedtime. He wanted to pull my shirt up but the minute he saw the "yuck" breast, he cried inconsolably. I had to put up a poker face, but inside, I was torn and shattered into tiny pieces.

That first night, the little boy woke up thrice and cried relentlessly.  Each time, I was crying harder than him. Thanks to the husband who signed up to be the night's hero, Zohan would doze off after being carried and lulled back to sleep. The second night, Zohan cried twice in the middle of the night; and on the third night, he cried only once.

The following nights had been peaceful, and that marked the end of our breastfeeding story. Now, if you ask Zohan if he wanted to breastfeed, he'd say, "Noh, noh, Nanay dede yuck." 

I was so proud of that little guy. He has always made things very easy for me, for us. From my uneventful pregnancy, to our smooth breastfeeding experience, until the quick and easy weaning, he has always been kind and considerate. 

But you know what's the clincher? I switched doctors; (more about that in a separate post - and it's all about VBAC) and the second doctor informed me it was not a hard and fast rule to stop breastfeeding while pregnant. (Wtf, right?!) 

She said that in theory, yes, the body releases oxytocin when a mother breastfeeds, but not all women experience uterine contractions. In fact, she has patients who are breastfeeding until six months of pregnancy or even right until they're about to pop. 

This new information prompted me to do some research and I found a helpful article from our reliable muther Kelly. This was particularly enlightening:


Breastfeeding and contractions
Nipple stimulation releases the hormone oxytocin into the bloodstream. Oxytocin is important for breastfeeding because it is the chemical messenger that tells breast tissue to contract and eject milk (the “milk ejection reflex”). Oxytocin also tells the uterine tissue to contract. All women experience uterine contractions during breastfeeding, although they are usually too mild to be noticed. Nipple stimulation can be used to ripen the cervix when a woman is at term, and can also augment labor after it is underway. Postpartum breastfeeding efficiently shrinks the uterus back to pre-pregnancy-size.

Given these associations, it seems a short jump to guess that breastfeeding might trigger labor before it’s time. This question deserves medical study, and it is important to bear in mind that at this time we do not have one. At the same time, preliminary data do suggest that breastfeeding and healthy term births are quite compatible. Sherrill Moscona’s 1993 survey of 57 California mothers who breastfed during pregnancy concluded that breastfeeding resulted in no apparent adverse consequences to the mothers’ pregnancies.3 There are also countless anecdotal reports of mothers who have breastfed throughout pregnancy have given birth to healthy term babies. Of course, some pregnancies are not destined to proceed as we hope, whether the mother is breastfeeding or not, and so breastfeeding mothers have suffered their share of preterm labor and miscarriage as well.
Read the full article here.

Anyway, that's water under the bridge now. I have since realized that I also have to focus on our new baby and his/her (hopefully her) safety. And since there is a risk involved in continuing my breastfeeding, I gladly accepted that Zohan and I have hit the end of the road. I personally believe twenty-two months is a feat in itself, and I'm actually patting myself on the back right now.

It was a wonderful journey. And I hope to tread that road again with baby number two. 


Sadly, this is the only breastfeeding picture that we have. Taken during Christmas of 2012.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Today we pack up the crib...

I am staying true to my resolution that I will update this blog more regularly, so unless somebody stop this mad woman, I am afraid I'll bore you with milestones that aren't really very interesting.

Like today, December 23, 2012, we packed up the little boy's crib. It wasn't really being put to use for a long while. And instead of accumulating dust and becoming a catch basin for all my bags, the husband and I agreed to pack it up.

It is kind of momentous for me because I feel like Zohan has graduated from a little child to an active little kid. He has been like that for a while now, and the packing sort of sealed it. And since the crib has already been folded and kept in obscurity, perhaps it's also a little symbolic that Zohan is no longer a baby - hence, time to have a new one?

Incidentally, (and this is TMI, sorry!) I also welcomed my monthly cycle two days ago - after two  years! I counted from the time that I had gotten pregnant until today. The delay in the return of the regular cycle is due to the fact that I am breastfeeding until now. I bet that's a new information for you, single ladies? It has something to do with the hormones, they said. So since I am back to regular woman programming, I think I am now physiologically and physically ready for a second child.

I have always been vocal about wanting to have many kids. Now that I have experienced having one, it has not changed my views about it. In fact, Zohan may have further strengthened it. Having many kids may mean we may have to work a little harder, earn a little more, have more patience, and in the process have lesser time for ourselves. But I guess I'm okay with that. I believe these sacrifices come with the territory - and one or a dozen kids make no difference at all. Once you become a parent, your capacity for  love and patience expands. You are never the same selfish person you once were. And when you have done it the first time, you can do it again. And again. And again, until your patience or your uterine wall finally grows thin, whichever comes first.

So there. Today, we packed up the crib. And a new season begins.


  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Just Keep Nursing

A friend asked me the other day, "Until when are you going to co-sleep with Zohan?" I was caught off-guard because I hadn't really given it a thought. I said, "Well, I haven't reached that part yet! Haha." Then I added, "Same with breastfeeding. I've been asked several times until when am I going to breastfeed him. And to be quite honest, I haven't really considered giving it a time-limit."

Zohan turned one year and one month old. He is still exclusively breastfeeding, by his own choice. He wouldn't take any kind of milk aside from mine. We tried NanPro, EnfaPro, Similac HW, even Cowhead (all these brands upon Dra. Vienne Saulog's advice, given after he turned one year old) but he wouldn't take any of it. We tried giving it by force, by stealth, by intimidation and undue influence (okay, lawyer talk!); we tried giving it while he's awake, he's asleep, he's in play - but no, he just wouldn't budge. 

Before you judge me with my uncanny attempts to give him formula, do know that I've been exclusively breastfeeding him until he reached age one. (Save for some very few instances in the past that he had to be formula-fed, but those times are in a scale of one to a thousand ounces!) With my very demanding day job, that meant I had to express milk at work so I could sustain his daytime feeding while I was away. Heck, I even had to bring the entire paraphernalia to out-of-town works! 

At the beginning, I was very eager and patient. You know, first time mother caught up with breastfeeding pride, with new gadgets (aka breastpump) to work on, and a steady supply of milk, with a resultant healthy baby - it was all good. But after a year and a thousand milk-pumping sessions, I just grew tired. Whenever I saw my bag of breastpump paraphernalia, I literally felt weak. I could puke at the sight of it. That kind of tired.

So when Zohan was about to turn one, I decided that I shall mix-feed him - meaning I would directly breastfeed him if and when I was around, i.e., at nighttime, after work, before work, during weekends. And at daytime on weekdays, he shall be supplemented with formula milk. That way, I wouldn't have to express milk at the office anymore. Sounded like a nice plan, wasn't it? Well, until the sneaky boy decided he wouldn't take any kind of milk save from those that leaked from his mother's breast.

To solve that problem, I had been advised by well-meaning relatives to wean him altogether. They said he turned one and he's healthy, it was a job well done insofar as they're concerned. And, they noticed that I'd been loosing too much weight and they believed breastfeeding was the culprit. (I eat A LOT, and while I know that breastfeeding made me burn a lot of calories, which could be attributed to the weight loss, it was not entirely appropriate to blame it on the breastfeeding.) But I just chose to shrug it off and told them, "I'll see." I love my relatives and I chose my battles. I knew they meant no harm.

But in reality, the reason why I just couldn't get myself to force-wean Zohan from my breast was because I was not yet ready. Other breastfeeding mothers would probably agree with me on this one, but there's just an unexplainable feeling of being needed and loved, (actually, needed is just the right term. Loved is too big a word!) when you breastfeed your child. 

When he was less than a year old, his health and his nourishment were the primary reasons I was breastfeeding. It also gave me enough perseverance to bear the tedious work of expressing milk at the office. But after he turned one, I came to realize it wasn't only his health that made me keep nursing- now, it was more of my maternal attachment to him that sustained me. It made me feel that no matter what Zohan was doing, or whoever was holding him at the moment, when he saw me or when he felt hungry, he would come to no one else but Nanay. Okay, that sounded like a budding mother-in-law from hell, but really, it's a  selfish reason that kept me going at this point.

Right now, I didn't express milk anymore so there's no milk for Zohan at daytime. But that's okay - I spent more time at home than at work, so that gave Zohan more nursing time. And while I was away, he thrive on solid foods. I was very keen that he gets enough fruits, vegetables, and other sources of calcium at daytime. My nugget of confidence that there was actually no need for me to insist on giving Zohan formula milk at daytime was thoroughly explained here by Jenny Ong of Chronicles of a Nursing Mom, quoting Dr. Francis Tatad-To,

"Formula is unnecessary in children who are older than 1. At this age, children are expected to have a full/complete diet which may or may not include full cream fresh milk.
Fresh milk is the standard dairy recommendation for children older than 1 who are no longer breastfed, and the American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends low-fat milk for ALL children (Except malnourished ones) older than 2. "

Mothers have varied reasons why they breastfeed (or why they don't.) And I have learned to respect each of their choices. We all have the best interests of our children in mind. And I kept nursing because, well, I had my personal interest in mind, too. Spare me the judgment, and let's just keep nursing, shall we?

*Incidentally, last August was Breastfeeding Month, so this post came a month late. Nevertheless -- Hats off to all breastfeeding mamas around the world!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Five Ws and One H of Expressing Milk at the Workplace

100% Breastfed onesie from St. Patrick's infant line, gifted by Dad and his sweet kids

For the past seven months, Zohan has been 99% exclusively breastfed.  Roughly, such percentage is equivalent to five months of expressing milk at the office; thousands of pesos worth of storage milk bags; 20 ounces of spilled milk due to spoilage/too much rushing; 10 pieces of discarded papers after spilling milk on them; 765 cuss words uttered every time I spilled milk on something that always happened to be important; and 100% stress-level for this working mama.  On a good note, however, it also means 100% nutrition for the baby!

It isn't a walk in the park. To be honest, I have entertained thoughts of discontinuing breastfeeding my son because of the all the hassles that I have to go through.   Perhaps, the only respite I have is when I breastfeed at home where I could just whip out my boobie and let the feeding frenzy begin. But unfortunately, I have a job that can be overly demanding at times, and more often than not, gets in the way of my breastfeeding. (or vice versa).

But I have carried on. Let me tell you why, where, what, who, when, and how.

1.) WHY?

..because I have no choice. I want to breastfeed him, but I have a job that I can't give up. I can't bring him along to the office everyday, so I have to express milk at the workplace.

I guess the bigger question is, why do I breastfeed? I know the internet/your pediatrician/your friends are bursting with all the right reasons why every mother should at the very least try to breastfeed. And I won't bother to repeat them because for sure, they know better than I do. I have my personal reasons why I do, apart from all that nutritional stuffs. And that is - breastfeeding makes me feel closer to my son. 

I can't make Zohan laugh and giggle as much as the husband.  I get impatient and tired emitting all those sounds that make him laugh. But after they play, the little boy would run to me (okay, not run) to nurse, and when he's latched on my bossom, time and space disappear so suddenly.  I would give this really proud, high-chin look to the husband, as if to say, Okay, your time's up mister. My turn to be loved. Sometimes, I say that out loud. Oftentimes, a bitcher version of that. 

2. WHERE?

Where do I pump? 
One of the things that make it really convenient for me is the fact that I have a room in the office all to myself. I just lock it up when it's time to express milk, and my secretary already knows the default response when somebody knocks at my door: nagpapump po. 

Where do I store?
Thank God for the home-y feel of our office, it is not uncomfortable for me to store my expressed milk at the refrigerator. In fact, my officemates are amazed at how much I could collect in a day. (When Zohan was still with my in-laws, I had a week's supply of breastmilk stored in our office refrigerator. Every Friday was inventory time! I would put all my milk in a big cooler full of ice packs, ready for the travel home.) But now that Zohan is here with us in Makati, I only store the day's collection in the refrigerator. At the end of the day, I just put the expressed milk in my Avent's insulated bag. 

3. WHAT?

What are the essentials? Please bear with me because there are a lot. Below is the photo of the bag that I carry with me wherever I go - to a court hearing, to a government office, to the office - every.single.day. 

Let's do a bag raid:
I carry this bag to the office everyday!
INSIDE THE BAG:
Light brown small bag for the pumping kit, 
Avent insulated bag for the Avent Via collection cups, 
Cloth bag for the milk-collecting bottle, and adaptor for the electric pumping kit
Photo source













Of course, one has to have a reliable pump. I made a simple review of the pumps that I have tried before coming up with the one that works best for me. You can read about it here. But if you don't have the time and patience, I will say it anyway. I swear by Ameda Purely Yours Double Electric Pump. A little pricey, but definitely worth it. 


For storage, I previously used disposable milkbags because I had to store a week's collection of milk. I have tried Ainon and Precious Moments, which are commercially sold at the mall. I also tried Spectra, which I ordered online from Babymama.ph. I must say, all of them are good to use, but I like Ainon best - it's sturdy and spacious enough to store large quantities of milk. But now, since I can bring home the expressed milk everyday, I don't need too many storage bags. I'm using Avent Via cups, which I can wash and use over and over again. Pretty neat!

Photo Source


Since travel time from work to home is not as awful as it used to be, I've done away with ice packs and coolers, in exchange for my awesome Avent insulated bag. Thank you Nanay for the insulated bag!


4. WHO?

I realized when I was already writing this up that the Who question is a little out of sync in this topic. But if I think hard and deep, I would have to admit that the bigger person who deserves the "who" spot is the husband. So let's give him his 5-second-fame because really, it would be so much difficult without someone who would drop the pump bag to my office when I need to go straight to a hearing first; bring home my expressed milk when I need to stay overtime at the office; carry the pump bag when we walk home most weekdays; and  be just a staunch ally in this endeavor that I embarked on. Thank you! Your time's up!

5. WHEN?

I express milk first thing in the morning (or before I leave the house if I wake up early) before starting with work because a lot of  of a lawyer's deskwork require "in-the-zone" moments. That way, I do not get interrupted by my pumping schedule the moment that I am already basked in my combative mood. After I have completed a substantial amount of work in the morning, I'm off to lunch. I do not have the luxury of time to overstay at the coffee room for chika with my officemates, because I have some milk-expressing to do. So after taking my lunch, I head back to my room again and set-up my paraphernalia. The next milk-expressing schedule would be after merienda, and the last for the day would be before going home. I try to express milk at least 3 to 5 times a day in the office. My schedule is actually a little counter-productive, but it is the most practical timing that I can come up with. 


6. HOW?

Of course, I don't need to tell you how I express milk. (No mental image please.We're dealing with the sustenance of a child here, for Christ's sake!) But how do I manage to do it? Here are a few tips:

1. Dedication. Self-explanatory. If you do not set your heart and mind to it, laziness could really win you over.

2. Do not think of formula - or else, one will have the tendency to miss out a pumping schedule since there's something to supplement anyway. If you are doing it, might as well give your all. No retreat, no surrender!

3. Think of the benefits - and you will most likely agree that it far outweighs the disadvantages. For that alone, I get renewed strength to stop what I'm doing and set-up my pumping gears. 

4. Be proud of what you do - When you are giving your baby the best food there is, what is there not to be proud of? 

I knew that a lot of times I looked like a tired and stressed mother heavily laden by my pumping bag walking around aimlessly under the scorching heat of the sun. Those days I wished that I need not bring all those things with me (We hardly bring our car to work, that's why I always look like an eloping teenage girl with all the bags I carry every day.)

I knew that a lot of times the pleading that I was drafting had to be filed that same day and I could use every freaking hour to finish it. Those days I wished I need not spare extra time to express milk.

I knew a lot of times I could really use a good conversation with friends from the office - to rant or to ask about their cases or to just blabber nonsense and laugh out loud. Those days I wished I could stay longer for lunch instead of heading straight to my room after chewing on my last morsel of meat.

But I also knew that I was doing everything for my son, so I had to carry on.   After all, he would only need my sacrifice for a year or so, not for a lifetime. And I could never get these days back once I let them slipped by. So yes, I express milk at the office. And I'm extremely proud of it. 







Sunday, February 12, 2012

Take it from the non-expert!

"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (February). For this month, we focus on back to basics. Participants will share advices - either the best breastfeeding advice they received OR/AND the best breastfeeding advice they can give to new moms.  Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries."














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I'm pretty sure you have heard, and probably agree, that unsolicited pieces of advice are easy to give, but dreadful to take. Interestingly enough, giving birth and  motherhood in our society attract as much unsolicited advise as a sweet nectar to a bee. Being a first-time mother - with looks of cluelessness silently screaming through my face almost all the time -  I sure did take the part of an easy prey. Had the advice been helpful? Well, a few helped, but most of the time, some things were better heard in one ear and then swiftly slipped out the other the reason being that, motherhood is a wonderful world of individuality.  Whatever works for you may not work for the others. And rather than insisting that other mothers out there take after what worked for me, let me  share with you instead my experiences in breastfeeding- the challenges that I have met, how I successfully surmounted some of them, and how the rest has remained victorious over me. At the end, please be the judge. You see, I am not an expert. Far from it. I am just as helpless as most of you are. So you can either take it from me - a non-expert, or just let my blabber swiftly slip out. After all, some advice should be taken  with a grain of salt, if not all.

1. When my milk supply was insufficient...

Like most first time breastfeeding mothers, I struggled with milk supply at the beginning. I was advised by the doctors from the hospital where I gave birth to supplement with formula milk until my breastmilk supply stabilized. Since I was so keen on breastfeeding, I tried to offer my breast to Zohan as often as I could. And I overdosed myself (and the whole household) with malunggay. Malunggay in the morning. Malunggay in the afternoon. Malunggay in the evening. Malunggay even in my dreams. There came a point that I could puke just at the sight of it, while the husband developed mammary glands complete with lactation with  the overdose of malunggay. In less than a week, my breastmilk supply increased. Tremendously at that, I could feed an entire barangay. 

The non-expert says... Malunggay overkill really works!

2. When my milk supply was too much...

We should really be careful with what we wish for. I hoped for a steady supply of breastmilk which was granted to the point of explosion. When Zohan was asleep, or did not want to nurse and I was lactating, I had to take in the pain of engorgement, and the shame of looking like two plates were plastered right in front of my shirt. Something had to be done. So  I asked the husband to look for a trusty breastpump to alleviate the pain of engorgement and also, to prepare for my going back to work. The problem of choosing the best pump was so humongous for a post-partum depressed mother, it deserved a post of its own, which you can read hereBut it all ended well. So when there's too much milk, go find a breast pump that you can call "the one".

The non-expert says...Go find a good pump, express milk, and store for future use.
 
3. When I went back to a demanding work...

After the maternity leave ended and I went back to work, my head spinned like crazy. Suddenly, I was at a loss at how I can cope with the new changes in my schedule. Busy as it was, I had to squeeze in pumping time, which was a good 15-30 minutes per session for five times a day! My solution was to become anti-social. After arriving at the office, pump time. Then work. By this time, my friends would be at the coffee room for breakfast,  calling me to join them. But I had to decline because I had to finish as much pleading-drafting as I could. After they're done, it was time to pump again. Work. Then lunch with friends. After lunch, I couldn't stay for coffee or dessert or chika, because again, I had to pump. Merienda time was spent in my room, and you guessed it right, by pumping milk. Before dinner and before going home, another pumping session. It was a sacrifice, indeed. For a while, I missed out on important stories from my friends. A lot of times, I felt so isolated and grown up. I also had to work overtime just so I could finish all my work and beat my deadline. And anti-social also meant no more time for social networks. *wink*

The non-expert says...Prioritize. Be anti-social, if necessary, and until you have adjusted to your new schedule.

4. When I am out of the office or on the road...

My schedule on item (3) above were the easy days. During days where I had a scheduled hearing or legwork, I had to carefully study and plan ahead. I had to make sure I pumped before leaving the house and I must be at the office after three hours, in time for the next pumping session. With heavy traffic and clogged court dockets and late judges, a three-hour travel time was impossible. What worked for me? I would normally excuse myself from the court staff, use their room and pump in a corner with just a nursing cover! If that was not possible, I had to take the pain and tenderness of my breasts filled with milk until I arrive at the office. There I would pump with a sigh of sooooo much relief! 

Whenever we go home to the province and we were stuck in traffic at the time of my pumping session, I pump inside the car just armed with a nursing cover. For this reason, I also had my Farlin manual breast pump ready, and my clothes should always be pumping-friendly.

I had a friend who pumped in the comfort room of malls, just to empty her breast and keep the milk-production system going. She would discard the collected milk after, for hygienic reasons obviously. This was also a sound advice, which I did not do though. For my mall days, I just had to cut the trips short and make sure to go home in time for my pumping schedule. Otherwise, I would have to bear with engorgement and tenderness until we arrived home.

The non-expert says...Pumaraan, so that you can pump whenever, wherever!

5.  When I couldn't go home to deliver collected milk as scheduled...

If you had been reading my blog, you would know that I left Zohan in the province with my in-laws for almost three months before we finally brought him to Manila. During those days, the husband and I would go home to him on Wednesdays and Fridays, and we would bring the milk which I collected while I was away from him. There were instances however, that the milk supply which I left would be consumed long before we arrived with the new supply. While waiting, he would supplement with formula, at least for a few feedings. Looking back, I know I could have done something about it, like go home thrice a week if necessary, just so he would not be fed with formula milk. I was a new mother adjusting with heavy workload and crazy schedule, and the husband was adjusting with the long drive home and getting up earlier than usual for work the next day. We did what we can do.  At any rate, those  backlash were only few in the story of my breastfeeding life. And since he arrived in Manila, I vowed to make sure he would be exclusively breastfed.

The non-expert says...Sometimes, James Ingram is right. I did my best, but I guess my best wasn't good enough. 


By far, these are the most difficult struggles that I had to face to continue breastfeeding my first born. At almost six months, I am still breastfeeding and feeling very happy and comfortable about it. There are challenges for sure. But nothing is impossible for an indefatigable advocate. I can only share with you my experiences in the hope that you may be inspired to breastfeed in the future, or that you may progressively advance if you have already commenced with the daunting task.  

You can take it from me. Or not.

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Please do check out the other carnival entries!


The Articulate Pen's Breastfeeding needs Patience
Diapers and Stethoscope's Back to Basic
My Mommyology's What I've Learned About Breastfeeding
Ms. Masungit's From One Mom To Another
The Odyssey of Dinna's Breastfeeding Words of Wisdom
Mrs. Bry126's We're All in this Together
I Am Clarice's Paying it Forward
My Mommy Kwentos' Sharing My Favorite Breastfeeding Advice
Planet Marsy's Better Than None
Mommy {T} Coach's Saved by the Nursing Mommas
Mama Drama's Patience and Breast-friends
Adventures on Planet Mom's Stubborn Me! Sure Glad I didn't give up
Nanaystrip's Eat Malunggay, Say "I Have Milk" and Love your Baby
Starting at Twenty-Five's My Husband's Best Breastfeeding Advice
Legally Mama's Take it from the non-expert!
Mommy Mama Rat's My Breastfeeding Mantra
Mr. Jacob's Mom's Breastfeeding Tips from a Non-Breastfed Mommy
Hybrid Rasta Mama's Breastfeeding Lists, Advice, Links and More
Apples and Dumplings' One Word of Breastfeeding Advice
Touring Kitty's Just Do It
EthanMama's Only the Best for My Baby
the canDIshhh tales' My Breastfeeding Advice
Mec as Mom's Enough is Enough
Chronicles of a Nursing Mom's On Breastfeeding Number Two - Redux

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