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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Breastfeeding Slum Book

In late June, Cher asked me to answer some questions which she will be using to write an article for a local parenting magazine, to be released in August. She asked me to answer a certain portion of her survey. I wonder what the other questions were. This definitely was more challenging than answering a slum book ☺ I enjoyed answering the questions as it gave me a chance to immortalize my thoughts and hopefully, share them with Naima when she’s older.

IV. Breastfeeding and Daily Lives
1. What advice can you give moms regarding handling the day to day activities of work and running a household and breastfeeding?
Working full-time, breastfeeding and running a household are no easy tasks. Organization and preparation will allow any busy mom to balance the hectic daily activities. I work M-F from 8am-5 or 6pm. I've trained my helpers to prepare and pack my pump horns every morning. It also helps that get Stan involved and share in taking care of Naima. Hey, we live in the 21st century - no room for chauvinists here. Every Friday night, my cook and I discuss and prepare the menu for the week so we can do the grocery shopping over the weekend. Honestly, good help (and yaya) is essential to ensure that my household runs efficiently and Naima is being taken care of when I'm at the office. I also keep tabs by calling about 3x a day from the office (during my pumping times) to check on Naima.

2. How can breastfeeding be applicable to the fast paced modern life?
Breastfeeding IS a boon especially to busy moms. Since we co-sleep, it allows me to sleep better since I don't have to get up at night to fix her a bottle of milk. During the day, whenever Naima breastfeeds, it allows me to pause and take a breath - relax and enjoy the moment. Breastfeeding is our quiet and cuddle time together.

3. How can moms who exclusively breastfeed handle the following situations:
a. going to the mall - Postpone going to the mall till when baby is bigger. Your baby will be small/young only for a short time. Also, you can but a lot of the stuff online ;) If you really must go to the mall, bring the baby - use a sling to keep her close to you. Practice breastfeeding at home in front of a mirror to help you become more confident about nursing in public, if necessary. If you don't like nursing in public, visit a mall with nursing stations (there are a lot!!) and know the location of these stations.
b. going out of town for more than a week - Bring baby if possible. When Naima was 3 months old, we went to Cebu. When she was 5 months old, we went to Davao. When she was 9 months old, we went to Hong Kong. She has been everywhere :) If you can't bring the baby, start stocking up milk by pumping after baby feeds or if you're working, pump during weekends also. Bring your pump, milk bags and a cooler bag. I prefer bringing milk bags because they are less bulky than storage bottles. Pump as often as the baby nurses - wake up at night if you have too. A friend went to Hong Kong/Macau for 10 days and left her 11 month old baby. She pumped and dumped her milk (since she didn't have access to a refrigerator/freezer). When she went home, they simply resumed nursing without issue.
c. when one goes back to work - Check out your office's policies regarding break times. Talk to your boss and explain your circumstances - usually, they are willing to consider your requests - you just have to ask. Scope out places where you can pump (if you don't have a private room or a lactation room). Express milk at regular intervals. Set up your pumping station. I put my pump in one of my drawers and it's plugged and set-up. I just bring home the horns and leave the tubes (zipped inside a pouch). Some moms bring extra horns so they don't have to be bothered with washing after every pump. If you only have 1 set, you can rinse your horns, run it under hot water, store in a plastic container/ziploc and keep it in the fridge in between your pumping sessions.

V. Breastfeeding Etiquette
1. How can moms breastfeed in public? (Should moms ask people around her if it’s okay to breastfeed so as not to offend others?
Practice at home first - practice in front of the mirror. Practice in front of your husband, helpers, siblings, parents. It's not necessary for moms to ask permission to breastfeed. People don't ask permission when they shove a bottle into their babies’ face - so why should you? :P Since Naima has become aware of her surroundings, I've stopped covering up everytime she nurses. I also invested in good breastfeeding bras and nursing tops. These purchases allow me to breastfeed in public with ease. I've also noticed that it is only I who gets conscious and people don't usually look or mind me.

2. How can moms breastfeed in the office? (Is it okay to excuse yourself in a meeting in order to breastfeed? How do moms ask permission properly? Is it okay to bring your exclusively breastfed child to work?)
On bringing your breastfed child to work, it depends on your employer. Some employers have daycare where you can leave your baby, visit and breastfeed her during your break times. Other offices (like mine) have a “no-children policy”, so I have no choice but to leave her at home and express milk at the office. If I know that I have a meeting on a particular day, I schedule my pumping time so that I get to pump before and after the meeting. Again, it is important to talk to your boss about your concerns. If the meeting runs long, I will ask to take a break if there is an opportunity. I won't tell everyone that I'm going to pump, although I will inform my boss that I may take a break to pump. I think of it similar to excusing yourself to go to the bathroom :)

3. What are the challenges of a working breastfeeding mom?
Early on, it was to make sure that I had a good supply - ensure that I am able to leave enough milk for Naima when I'm at work. When my supply runs low, I pump over the weekend or at night before I sleep. This is also not the time to be lazy - I never miss a pump, even if the intervals between pumps are short. Also, instead of engaging in idle chit-chat with officemates, I try to work efficiently to maximize my office time and give me more time for my pumping breaks.

VII. Breastfeeding: Personal Anecdotes
1. What has been the most memorable, funniest, unforgettable experience you have had with regard to breastfeeding?
Most memorable for me is the peace that I experience every time Naima latches on - and the awe, wonder and satisfaction I feel when I think about how she gets all her sustenance (at least for the 1st 6 months) from me.

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