Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Breastfeeding Advocacy Journey

When I learned that I was pregnant...I didn't really fuss about it. I wasn't too focused on what would happen once D was born and what I would do in terms of feeding him. I've seen my Mum and a lot of my Titas breastfeed and pump milk...I thought that was what I needed before I would give birth. I didn't think that it required a lot of preparation on my part, even for L.

I've read a few articles, a few e-books...but nothing really struck me. It wasn't until I attended a mommy meet-up at The POD under Alex Hao that sparked my interest and got me into actually researching and studying about breastfeeding. I learned about the Milk Code or Executive Order 51. I then found myself being very passionate about it. Learning that my siblings and I grew up on breastmilk taught me that I had a support system in place.

So, the day arrived and having given birth to D...our breastfeeding journey had a pretty rocky start. Had to go through an emergency C-section, and D was separated from me for about 10-12 hours...naturally, I was panicking that the struggle was more real and I was holding my baby for the first time in my entire life. When we got home, the struggle became more apparent for me...though I thought that we were getting the hang of it, uncertainty and myths plagued me and I started to question everything that I was doing. Naturally, hormones played a huge part of and I was still kicking myself in the butt for having that C-section.

Breastfeeding, like any skill, has to be learnt and what makes this learning more unique and sometimes challenging is that there are two people involved, the baby and the mother. I had to learn to relax and be calm while feeding D and he had to learn how to deal with my letdown. I had to correct his latch and learn how to transfer milk to him so that he gets the amount that he needs without fuss. It took us about 2-3 weeks to really get the hang of it and I could feed him lying down.

Fast forward to 2 years and about 2 weeks...I'm still breastfeeding D. It's been an emotional ride with lots of learnings and ups & downs. It's an everyday decision to keep on going. Honestly, there are moments that I wanna throw in the towel and say, "I'm done...I've done my part..." but I know that he still wants to breastfeed and finds comfort in it. Who am I to restrict that from him? Yes, I'm leaving it up to him and right now, it doesn't look like weaning is in the picture.

I've been quite involved in this advocacy since the start of the year, having attended the Arugaan Breastfeeding Peer Counselors' Training under Velvet last January. Then the first LATCH Breastfeeding Peer Counselors' Training last April.

We've just concluded the biggest event of the year for LATCH, we were able to bring Dr. Jack Newman (yes, the breastfeeding rockstar) back to the Philippines for a 3-city event. With fundraising activities and talks on the side, I'm so lucky and blessed to have a group of like-minded mothers who are as committed and as passionate, if not more, about this cause.

I am, in no way, against formula milk. I believe that it does have a place in society. But what I am against is its unethical marketing strategies by making the public believe that it is as good, if not better than, breastmilk. This is where we put ourselves in and inform everyone what they should know.

As challenging as this journey has been for me and my group of mom friends, I've also learned that it's a beautiful thing to be with such strong and passionate moms. It makes this uphill battle so much more fun and worthwhile.

And now the Breastfeeding Awareness Week has come to a close and Dr. Jack Newman's 3-city tour has ended...I hope and truly pray that more people have been made aware of the the risks of artificial feeding and how this is truly a public health issue for both mom and baby.

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