Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Guest Post: A Breastfeeding Story from a Non-Mommy - Part 1

Today's guest post comes from Margaux Ortiz.  Margaux is a colleague who ably helped her best friend and sister-in-law successfully breastfeed their babies.  In the early days, Margaux and I often discussed breastfeeding issues, advice and resources she could share to breastfeeding moms.  To this date, she continues to help her other friends in resolving their breastfeeding issues.  Her experience is proof that a supportive environment can make a difference in the success or failure of a breastfeeding relationship.

Moms in Benin. Photo from
This is the first of two parts:

It takes a village to raise a child, so goes an ancient African proverb.  But what if some of the villagers have absolutely no experience in child-rearing? Do they possess the minimum amount of credibility needed to realistically contribute to the well-being of the child?

Such was my dilemma when I first started with my personal breastfeeding mission. Let me clarify at the outset that I am single and without offspring. I know that these facts alone would make my advocacy problematic (I mean, who would believe me?). While I am adept at doing research on breastfeeding FAQs, I eventually learned that breastfeeding is actually a “technical” thing that often needs the expertise of trained counselors. And while it is the most natural thing in the world, breastfeeding is PAINFUL and DIFFICULT, especially for new moms.

I am now godmother and aunt/godmother to two healthy breastfed babies (a boy and a girl, who were born within two months of each other). While I now smile (gloat sometimes, heehee) with pride whenever I see them, let me tell you that the journey toward these twin breastfeeding success stories was not easy. Well, it was harmless enough at the start: my friend C found out she was pregnant early last year and informed me that she was considering breastfeeding her baby. I was happy with her decision and told her I was going to support her all the way. I’ll be her research arm, I assured her.

Fast forward to August 2010: C’s baby boy, JJ, was born. The hospital she chose was not BF-friendly and I had to go to the nursery to ask the nurses to room the baby in with his mom. We were aghast to learn that the nurses had given infant formula to JJ despite C’s request that he be exclusively breastfed. Oh, well. Baby JJ was able to latch on that first day and we were able to heave a big sigh of relief.

nursing baby JJ
A few days later, I received a disturbing text from C. She said it was “okay that I get mad at her” because she gave formula to JJ. Her nipples were bleeding all over the place and I imagined that it was painful beyond imagination. I was taken aback by her text message. Was it all worth it: the advice, the rah-rahs, the encouragements? What if she was suffering and wanted to give up, but didn’t because she did not want to disappoint me?

JJ almost a toddler
I wanted to give up then. I wanted to tell her that it was her choice: that it was not wrong (it isn’t; let me emphasize that breastfeeding is NOT an all or nothing thing) to give JJ formula. I wanted to tell her that I’ll still support her whatever her decision will be. But I did some introspection and I realized that what I was doing was solely for her and the baby. C is a single mom, and breastfeeding would greatly help her cut costs (both formula and infant sickness-related).

I decided to give it one last shot. I told my friend that I would contact a lactation counselor to help her with her nipple and latching problems. She was apprehensive at first (because of the additional costs), but I told her it would be my baptismal gift for my godson. C relented, and a few days later, her BF woes magically disappeared.

(to be continued. Margaux will talk about how she helped her sister-in-law successfully breastfeed in the next post)

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