This August 10, Alex will be 8 months and that also means that she’s an exclusively breastfed baby for 8 months. Keeping her an EBF baby is hard especially because I work full time, but it is not something that I have allowed to become my excuse to stop giving her liquid gold.
The decision to breastfeed her came easily after mommy friends encouraged me to breastfeed her, even just for 6 months. So after I gave birth to Alex, I tried and tried to get her to latch properly. Alas, it was not easy (even if I thought it was going to be super easy). We struggled to get her to latch because she was nipple confused (she was given formula as I was recovering from CS) and because I was hesitant, doubting my milk supply.
The normal scenario for her first few weeks was, I gave her formula milk and she will go to sleep. While she’s sleeping I will pump for milk which I will give to her for her next meal. Bit by bit we were able to eliminate the formula milk and slowly, with E’s encouragement, we were able to remove the bottle from the equation. After almost giving up, she latched directly! I was super happy for this achievement. I realized then how wonderful it was to directly breastfeed Alex. It was fulfilling especially when she looks at me with contentment, as if saying “thank you mommy for my milky.”
Learning More About Breastfeeding
E’s a registered nurse so he shared with me just how healthy breast milk is. I did my own research which helped me become a member of the “BreastFeeding Pinays” Group on Facebook. Because of this group I learned a lot more about how healthy breastmilk is and that I should stop questioning my milk supply. From that group I learned that what I make is just enough for Alex:
Thanks to this group as well, I learned that my breastmilk changes depending on the needs of Alex. I also learned that I shouldn’t stop breastfeeding her just because I am sick, contrary to what other people are saying. She needs more of my liquid gold, because it will help protect her from what I have and lessen the chances of her getting sick as well (this one I have proven just a month ago. I was sick for 2 weeks, but Alex was super fine).
Aside from what I have learned, what I value the most about being a part of that community is having the support of other mommies as well. Getting encouragement to target breastfeed Alex until she’s 2 years old. This infographic below is also my favorite from the group:
Working, Pumping, Breastfeeding
Of course my maternity leave had to end, and as early as a month before I had to go back to work I slowly built my breastmilk stash. I feared of course the fact that my milk supply might decrease and that I will not meet my mini-breastfeeding milestone of keeping Alex exclusively breastfed for 6 mos.
It was hard at first, I was only storing 2 oz per pump, because I only pumped after Alex finished nursing. Eventually I was able to build a 30 plus oz stash. All were frozen using Honeysuckle Storage Bags. A few weeks before the end of my leave, we started training Alex to bottle feed again. She was hesitant at first, we struggled, but eventually she learned to feed from the bottle again (I am lucky that she didn’t get nipple confused like before, but it is advised to cup feed instead of bottle feed breastfed babies).
On my end, I had to figure out a schedule of pumping to ensure that my supply won’t dwindle so I can take home precious breastmilk for my little girl. At first it was hard, I had to deal with finding space to pump and keeping up with my schedule amidst my full work day schedule. After some time though, I realized that with enough discipline it will be easy. I just had to keep a 10.30 AM – 1 PM- 4. 15 PM pumping schedule. At the end of the day this will yield to a 12-15 oz stash for Alex.
To be honest, there are times that I missed my pumping schedule because I forgot about or I was stuck in a meeting. This changed after I experienced a decline in my supply, from 15 oz to a low of 9 oz per day. During that time when I only had 9 oz per day, I would check with E if Alex has any milk left at home. He will update me every afternoon so that I would know if I will need to pump extra that night. Thankfully we only encountered a day when I had to rush home due to low milk supply. This was a signal for me to eat up lactation cookies again to re-establish my supply and stick with my pumping schedule. To date, Alex has extra supply at home and I never worry about milk supply anymore.
As I shared earlier, Alex and I will soon hit our 8 month. I am extremely happy to have surpassed my initial goal of 6 months but I know that we can go for up to her first year or even longer. I just have to keep up with my pumping schedule and direct+unli latch every night.
I hope my short and summarized story will encourage other working moms to also continue breastfeeding their babies. Remember, you have rights mommies. Reinforce it and just remember that the best thing that we can give our babies, aside from our love, is our breastmilk.
* All photos (except for milk stash and Alex’s photo were from the Breastfeeding Pinay’s page)