Breastfeeding — something so natural and beautiful, but can also be painstakingly challenging. Come to think of it, it’s a lot like parenthood, right?
My breastfeeding journey started three and a half years ago when I had my firstborn, Theo, whom I nursed for the first ten months. Three months ago, I had my second baby, Xandro, and I find myself on the same path once again. But this time, I am more confident and prepared mentally, physically and emotionally.
Throwback to the Firstborn
Nothing and no one prepares moms, or parents in general, for their firstborns. I am not quite sure if there are any first time parents out there who can describe their postpartum experience as “unicorns and rainbows,” but that definitely was not mine. Babies are such precious and wonderful gifts, but no one ever talks about how challenging it can be when you bring that baby home — being on-call 24/7, lifestyle adjustment, schedule rearrangement, sleep deprivation, the emotions, and more. No amount of partying prepares you for the all nighters you start to pull when you become a parent. Zombie life is real, folks.
Breastfeeding is a whole other story! In a nutshell, I was a slave to my son’s routine, which was cry, feed, cry, poop, cry, sleep, repeat. After what felt like an eternity of days and nights becoming one big blur, I reached the 3-month mark and finally, a glimmer of hope! Things started to change from 4-12 months, and I reckon it’s also because we have somewhat adjusted. Things got a lot better for us after the first year.
The Second Time Around
Fast forward to my second baby, Xandro, and it’s quite the opposite. Confidence and calmness probably being the two things I was equipped with from the get-go, as compared to when I had Theo. I am able to prepare what I need and calmly pick up the baby depending on the cues I am getting from his cries.
When it comes to breastfeeding, I am completely in tune with my body. I understand what works for me so I know how to remedy any situation. I didn’t have much milk with Theo and I believe that was due to stress with work and adjusting to motherhood. I still have my stresses today, but this time I am aware and I am more mindful about relaxing my mind and body for proper milk production, and so far, so good. I am determined to make this breastfeeding journey a pleasant one.
Don’t Give Up
I think the hardest part about breastfeeding is the dedication it requires and how much time it takes up, not to mention how sore it leaves you in different parts of your body. For the first three months, it’s easy to spend an hour per feed, then repeat every 3 hours for 24 hours. Getting up in the middle of the night to feed is definitely a big sacrifice, so most breastfeeding moms are tired, sleepless, experience breast pain and soreness, low milk production, etc. Quitting is very tempting at this point. But, the commitment and the drive to make it work is how I, and probably most moms, overcome this hurdle.
Aside from the nutritional benefits, breastfeeding is something really special because of that special connection a mom makes with her baby while nursing. Personally, that makes all the challenges worth it. Just remember not to be so hard on yourself because each situation is different. It took me quite a while to get a hang of it with Theo, as I suppose I was also easing into motherhood at the same time.
I am a strong believer that breastmilk is best for babies. If my baby will be fully satisfied with just my breastmilk, and both of us are thriving, I’m all for it. However, I also understand that breastfeeding isn’t possible for everyone, for whatever reason. With Theo we began mix feeding at 10 months because I just didn’t have enough milk. Rather than beat myself up about it, and make the whole experience unpleasant for both of us, we started to supplement and if I may be honest, it actually took a huge load off my chest.
Favorite Nursing Accessories
For me, childbirth, diaper changes, sleepless nights, etc. are not the hardest parts of motherhood. It’s breastfeeding, pumping, and everything that comes with the territory. After a lot of trial and error, hits and misses with my firstborn, I have come a long way and became hands-on with the development of must-have breastfeeding accessories that are guaranteed to make any breastfeeding mom’s life easier.
1) Milk Easy 2-in-1 hands-free pump and nursing bra. Even though wearing a bra is the last thing you want to do, you will need the support, hence a comfortable bra is key because you will be wearing it 24/7, even to sleep. It’s not advisable to wear bras with underwire because these may cause clogged ducts which are extremely painful and can lead to mastitis. You also want a bra with easy access to your breast for more convenient feeding, and ideally one that can also hold up your pump. Milk Easy combined both functions in the most convenient way possible. This 2-in-1 hands-free pump and nursing bra allows you to nurse your baby while holding a collection pump in place on the other breast. No more crying over spilled milk!
2) Silicon hand pump (available at Momzillaph.com) In your first few months of breastfeeding, before your milk starts to really come in, you will leak a lot. While your baby is latched onto one breast, the other will leak. Instead of having all that liquid gold to go to waste, you can attach a silicon pump on your other breast to collect all that let-down and it also helps even out your breasts in terms of milk content.
3) Milk Easy wireless breast pump Eventually your breasts will begin to fill up more than what your baby consumes, so expressing the excess milk is key to maintain and stimulate consistent production. Expressing also relieves the breasts from engorgement. For now, I just pump whenever I feel engorged which is about twice a day. I also began building my milk stash in the freezer. Many moms don’t have a choice — they need to leave the house to go to work or run errands, so pumping is a necessity. With my firstborn, I experienced pumping for 10 months using a traditional wired pump with leaky bottles. It really felt like such a chore. The Milk Easy wireless breast pump is a major game changer because it is wireless, compact, and allows movement. Not to mention it is very affordable compared to most pumps in the market.
4) Milk Easy flow easy flanges If you already have a breast pump and getting a second pump isn’t an option, take a look at the Milk Easy flow easy flanges. They are breast pump attachments (uniquely shaped to comfortably fit your breast) that will allow you to lean back a little so you won’t need to hunch through every pump session.
5) Fun Nest Nursing pillow Another key to successful breastfeeding is comfort. Investing in a nursing pillow can help you and your baby be more comfortable while feeding. You can put it round your waist while seated for feeding sessions, you can prop the baby up on it for burping, and they can use it for tummy time. Fun Nest’s nursing pillow is made of 100% Egyptian cotton, so it’s very soft and smooth. It and can also be personalized with embroidery.
6) Milk Easy boob mark It’s important to ensure that your baby is feeding from both breasts evenly. It could cause one breast to start producing less milk if it’s not being emptied out at the same rate. But, it’s so easy for us moms to forget which is which. The Milk Easy boob mark is like a bookmark — you clip it onto your bra and be reminded which side your baby fed from last. Besides, you also don’t want to have asymmetrical breasts (gasp!). It’s frustrating and sometimes painful.
7) Milk Easy self-heating heat pack I can’t emphasise this enough: Hot compresses help stimulate your flow and also prevents clogged ducts. When breastfeeding in a pandemic, you need to be extra careful with your milk ducts since we can’t have home service lactation consultants anymore. I’ve tried so many different kinds of heat packs and they either take too much time to prepare or are generally unsafe. Milk Easy’s heating contraption is in the heat pack itself, and it heats up without the use of a microwave or electricity. It usually lasts longer than a feed, it’s portable, reusable and affordable.
To all the breastfeeding moms out there, especially the first-timers, just remember that not everyone is a natural at motherhood, and that’s okay. Everyone gets there eventually. Remember to get help and ask for help. There is nothing wrong with making our lives easier.
To know more about the products mentioned:
Please go to: IG: @milkeasyph and @funnestph