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Monday, September 24, 2012

Guest Post: Breastfeeding Challenges of a Doctor-Mom

I'd like to share this story from a breastfeeding mom who is also a medical doctor.  Dr. Myla V. Custodio is a mother of 5 and is an endocrinologist.  She is currently breastfeeding her youngest child.

Being a medical doctor, I never bothered to research about breastfeeding until my 5th baby came.  First, I'm an endocrinologist and I studied about hormones.  I truly believed that it is only hormones that would affect milk supply.  I never considered the law of supply and demand and its effects on milk supply.  Secondly, I never had the luxury of a maternity leave.  For all my 4 kids, once I could tolerate the postpartum pains, I was already out of the house and started doing my daily hospital rounds.  I got so busy taking care of patients that I forgot that my babies need me more than anybody else.  To compensate, I co-sleep and breastfed them to the best of my abilities (although with mix feeding).  I also take care of them whenever I'm at home.  

When I got pregnant with my fifth child, I was put on bedrest for 3 months due to preterm labor.  This was a surprising and difficult change - after having been busy with my profession.  During these trying times, my best friends were my rosary, novena, husband and 4 kids.  I also used the internet a lot and found a lot of information about breastfeeding.  At this time, I was already 40 years old and I promised myself to make breastfeeding succeed because this was going to be probably my last baby.

Despite all my research, when my baby arrived, he refused to latch on.  I was very disappointed.  My baby had to stay in the NICU for 3 days because of meconium aspiration.  I asked my husband to buy me a pump to build up my milk supply.  When we arrived home, my baby still refused my breast and I researched and found out about exclusively pumping moms.  I was still determined to breastfeed.  I did research and found out about nipple confusion.  

In hindsight, nipple confusion was probably the reason why my 3rd child refused to latch at 2 months and my 4 child refused to latch at 2 weeks.  I also found out that my youngest child had tongue tie.  Despite the challenges to exclusively pumping, I persevered and after 3 weeks, I was able to throw out formula milk.  

My next problem was my pump - which was a single electric pump - the thought of pumping for a year was impossible.  Happily, a doctor-friend (who was an exclusive pumper) introduced me to Mi'Ann of Babymama and I switched to the Unimom Forte.  I was quite happy with it - despite the fact that it was huge and I had to lug it everyday from one hospital to another.

Due to my continuous internet research, I encountered LATCH and La Leche League Manila.  I was able to meet with Abbie Yabot who helped me get through the nipple confusion issues.  After one month of trying to get the baby back to the breast, he finally latched on.  

My baby is now 9 months and he directly feeds when we are together and bottle feeds when I am away.  My husband was very supportive and helped me during the trying times of getting the baby to correctly latch on.  I attribute my success to him and to the knowledge and information I gained through readings and internet research. 

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