I miss breastfeeding.
I remember breastfeeding each of my kids and the quiet time I cherished with each of them. I remember how difficult I thought it was with my first baby. I remember crying and pumping and feeling completely inadequate as a mom the first few days after giving birth to my first baby. I pumped and pumped and it seemed like my breasts just couldn’t make the milk I knew my daughter needed. It was a moment that was shared with my ever supportive hubby…he was always by my side when it came to anything that our children needed…attentive…ready to comfort me if I needed it…or in this case provide comic relief when I was on the verge of tears.
Days later (with all of my pregnancies), my milk would come in and as it turned out my baby girl would have to come off the breast every now and then because my milk flow was in fact, too fast! At first I thought I was doing something wrong, but then I realized she was actually coughing because it was too much at first. I was so grateful for the abundance of milk in those beginning days…I knew that I could give my baby girl what she needed to grow big and strong. As Gia and I both became more comfortable in her nursing, my own body regulated to her needs and soon enough there wasn’t anymore coughing or adjusting to the flow.
With all of my children I did my best to breastfeed them for as long as I could. With each baby, I grew more and more comfortable with the entire process. When I breastfed Gia, I would always retreat to the privacy of my room if we had guests for fear it might make them uncomfortable. By the time Gelli was born, I was quite comfortable breastfeeding in public if she wanted (I would nurse on demand), with the help of a small blankie or even a breastfeeding cover. While each of my experiences with my children were different…I feel the one that I can share with you today to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week 2014, would be my journey of breastfeeding Gellibean.
As many of you know, Gelli was born with Duodenal Atresia. Her duodenum was only a partial blockage which meant that I did not have the build up of amniotic fluid that many women experience during pregnancy if their child is diagnosed with this digestive disorder. Despite this partial blockage she would still require surgery immediately after she was born to correct her malrotated intestines, remove her appendix, and by-pass the partial blockage that was evident in all the scans.
This also meant that Gelli would not be able to latch for at least one full week after being born. She would be fed the nutrients she needed through tubes. She needed to be monitored closely to see if she could pass a simple gas bubble all the way through her digestive system before she could be given any breast milk…AT ALL.
Because I could not feed my baby while she was healing, I did my best to pump and pump and pump. I stayed up until the wee hours of the night while Gelli was still in the PICU. I read blogs of other mommas who had babies just like mine…I pumped, I measured milk, and I prayed that when Gelli was ready we could have our time together in the same rocking chair I nursed her big brothers and her sister in.
I had many concerns in breastfeeding Gellibean. Children with Down Syndrome tend to have tongues which are a little bigger and this can sometimes inhibit a proper latch. Children with Down Syndrome can also have very low muscle tone which can also hinder the ability to nurse properly because nursing is hard work for lil babies! I was afraid that the instinct to suckle at my breast might not be there because we were not allowed to breastfeed until Gelli was 9 days old.
When Gelli’s team of neonatologists at St. Luke’s Global gave me the go ahead to nurse Gelli (at 9 days old), I knew that I needed to enlist the help of my friend Abbie Yabot. She is a PGH certified lactation counselor, and one of only 3 La Leche League International Leaders in the country. I taught yoga to Abbie’s son JM and we were good friends even before she helped me with Gelli. She came to the hospital, helped Gelli latch properly, and set this “feeling like a first time Momma” (again) back on track without worry and concern. She stayed two entire days with me in the hospital until I felt confident and calm in nursing my daughter. She was more than my lactation counselor, she was my friend when I needed it. She reassured me that my milk production was enough to feed more than just one baby and in fact said that I was blessed with an abundance and could consider donating.
She accompanied me to Medela House after seeing how the cups for my pump were quite small. We got situated with all of the right gear and I felt confident in what seemed like a totally new endeavor for me despite breastfeeding my three big kids before Gelli was born.
Honestly, as a new Momma of child with Down Syndrome…she was exactly what I needed. Her energy was calming. She put my fears at ease. All my insecurities of nursing a child with Down Syndrome and the difficulties that can arise were quelled with her knowledge and expertise. What makes this entire story even more ironic is that Gelli was the first baby with Down Syndrome that she had helped latch!
But I digress in my gratitude because this entire month is Breastfeeding Month. World Breastfeeding Week began on August 1st and there is so much information I want to share!
Truth is I had a wonderful breastfeeding model. My cousin whom I am very close with breastfed openly in front of me when I was just engaged to Nino. Through her example she showed me with such strength and grace how easy and natural it was to breastfeed her then baby, Andrew. I knew I was embarking on an adventure with my then fiance which would (God willing) lead me to a path of motherhood, and I looked up to my cousin wanting to emulate the nurturing mother who breastfed so naturally in front of me.
If children learn by example, she was my example as a young adult who knew she wanted to have children to breastfeed of her own someday.
If you are breastfeeding, or plan to breastfeed your future babies, you need a support network. (We need support networks in everything we do, it just makes life easier.) There are many places you can look to. Family and friends are the first people I always turn to because they are who we are most comfortable with. We can also turn to experts, books, websites, attend seminars, talks, and of course turn to the internet for help as well.
Here are some helpful people, places and organizations that can assist your endeavor to give the your child the best start by breastfeeding.
- Abbie Venida Yabot
- Jenny Ong of Chronicles of a Nursing Mom
- Jen CC Tan of Attached at the Hip
- La Leche League Manila
- L.A.T.C.H. on Facebook
- Medela House, Medela Moms, Medela Moms Too
- Honey Suckle Breast Milk Bags
- Mommy Matters
As a special treat for World Breastfeeding Week Author, Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag is giving away her book “Breastfeeding A Journey Worth Taking,” on Amazon. Teresa’s book is a collection of stories tied together with the faith and strength of a mother’s love to provide inspiration to other mothers who decide to embark on the “Journey Worth Taking.”
This is the second time that Jack Newman will be visiting the Philippines, and he has added two more cities to his itinerary. Perfect timing for Breast Feeding Month. If you are interested in breastfeeding or are a breastfeeding advocate this would be an event NOT to miss. Check out the pages on Eventbrite.com
If you would like to consult with Abbie you can contact her by email at Abbievyabot@yahoo.com, or through text 09178292268.