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Friday, April 22, 2011

Guest Post: Power of the Breast

Today's guest post comes from Cheryl of The Mommy Bustle.  Cheryl shares how one can further the breastfeeding cause without the need to be active in organizations but simply by just being THERE for people who need her.   

Breastfeeding for me, started as a choice.  Pregnant with my first child almost four years ago,  I decided that I wanted to feed my child human milk.  And so, I started my journey to ‘cow’dom.    First came research.  As one who grew up with GI Joe, I do believe that knowing is half the battle.  I read up.  Kellymoms, La Leche websites, Mom blogs became everyday reading material.   The more I read, the more I became convicted in my choice.  The advantages of breastfeeding, both for the mom and the child, outweighed the advantages of reasons for formula feeding.  Then came the shopping spree.  Pumps, nursing bra, bottles, sterilizer, food warmer, nursing cover, nursingwear…   I thought I was fully geared and ready. 

Then came the baby.  Scott, my eldest, was not a champion latcher.  I considered myself a semi-experience baby-carrier, for I have helped babysit a number of my younger cousins.  Yet, maneuvering a newborn to feed at my 2 cup size bigger boobs was a very challenging feat.  My mom, the doting grandma, had to help me shoot the opened baby mouth to an engorged boob.  We would even have a 1-2-3 countdown to help facilitate the tricky maneuver.  I had a “nursing-station” with at least 3 big pillows plus a boppy pillow to make nursing more comfortable.  We tried varying positions: cradle, football, sidelying...   I made a nursing chart.  Which side did he latch on, start of feed, end of feed.  And boy, was this stressful.  We were already happy if an hour would go by between feeds.   By this time I realized that breastfeeding wasn’t just a choice.  It was a commitment.  This went on for a little more than a month, then we got our rhythm… and everything became easier, until I went back to work, and had to pump… but that’s another story altogether. 

What helped? 
First is my mom, who was as clueless as me when it came to breastfeeding, gave me all out support and respected m y decision in breastfeeding.  I never got a “why not give her formula because you don’t have enough milk” even when my son was crying his lungs out. 
Second is a friend who has successfully breastfed.  A resource person, so to say.
Third is a lactation consultant and masseurs who unclogged all the ducts and taught me and baby the difference between the right and wrong latch.  And a pediatrician who was super supportive and kept saying “I’m so happy you're breastfeeding.”
Fourth is a husband who’s proud of his cow/wife. 
Fifth is a stubbornness  against naysayers.

A change in me?
A definite yes.  After successfully breastfeeding my first child for 21 months, and still breastfeeding my second child of 14 months, I could say that breastfeeding has improved my being. 
Breastfeeding has become my advocacy.  I'm not much of a philanthropist; I am not proactive enough to seek volunteer work.  But after reaping the benefits of breastfeeding, I find myself becoming its champion.  Again, not proactive enough to join LATCH and other breastfeeding groups, but I find myself going to friends’ houses, visiting them in the hospital everyday, answering text messages in the middle of the night, in hopes to help them successfully breastfeed.  I figure, if I got to start somewhere, why not with my friends?  It became my mission to get my friends to breastfeed by give all out tech support: teaching friends different positions, and proper latch, and sometimes simply offering an eager ear.
Breastfeeding and motherhood also taught me how to prioritize and be content.  Before having a baby, I said to myself that I wouldn’t be content to being at home and not working.  Yet, as my baby grows bigger, I realized that you cannot give your 100% at home and 100% at work.  You have to seek a balance that you will be happy to live with.  Working full-time would mean: Pumping (for breastfeeding moms) and leaving the care of your child and home to someone else while you’re away, and missing some firsts.  Being a homemaker means, you won’t have income and sometimes no decent adult-talk to for days.  I also realized that work at home moms can’t give their 100% to work when they don’t have help with their kids.  Work will always be interrupted by the N’s: nappy changes, nap time, nursing, night terror like screams in the middle of the nap.  So, in finding my ratio, and accepting the consequences, I won’t have any regrets (at least, I hope not).   
In relation with breastfeeding as my advocacy, I am especially proud of this next achievement:  That I in turn have caused a change in others.  My mom for one, is a breastfeeding convert. No, she’s not breastfeeding! Hahaha.. But since she has seen how I am happy with by breastfed kids, and how easy it is for me to comfort them, she has given her all out support to my sister in law in her breastfeeding journey. She’s also spreading the good word to other mom in laws. Second would be my dear husband, who normally would be apathetic to the going ons of his friends’ homes, now would encourage his friends to support their wives in their decision to breastfeed.  Third, are the friends who I’ve helped to successfully breastfeed.  One specifically said, she’s going to pay it forward, and told her friends that her phone and text line is open 27/7. Middle of the night included!  And that was music to my ears.  

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