Franny Mommy : 10 things I've learned about Breastfeeding

Before I start this post, let me tell you that I am no breastfeeding advocate. Yes, I do recognize and believe in the benefits that it bring but I promise that this won't be the type of post that will lecture you on and on that breastfeeding is the only way to go. I still do believe that fed is best. That said, I do respect whichever way a Mom feeds her kid. Breastfed, bottle fed, formula, pureed solids, baby-led weaning... for as long as the baby is properly nourished and fed, I am all for that.

What I would like to share is my personal experience as a breastfeeding mommy to my twins for the past 8 months (and still counting..whew!). It was actually silly of me to think that I won't have milk to breastfeed. Well, I do have some basis. Looking at my genetic line, neither my Mom nor my Ama breastfed and my sister actually didn't had much so I saw how she struggled and persevered to be able to feed my niece A up until she reaches a year old. Pan totally won the determination award for that. So, while I was pregnant with my twins, I didn't even bothered to read up nor to at least read the manual of how to operate my pump. Believe me, my breast pump was still safely kept in the box up until I delivered my babies. Paul and I agreed that we won't drive ourselves nuts to breastfeed if I eventually have shortage of milk. So, remember that turning point on my 3rd day post-partum when I tried to pump my colostrum in the hospital and what do you know, I actually can produce enough for my twins! It wasn't much but it sure was enough to sustain them for that particular feeding. That was when I officially entered the world of breastfeeding.

It has been 8 months of nursing my twins and while I have been mix-feeding them as they're already eagerly taking more and more solids, I still make sure that they stay breastfed at least all throughout the night. That said, let me share with you my top 10 learnings as I breastfeed my twins:

1) Take it easy.
Understand that your baby's tummy grows as he grows so on his first few days and weeks of life, his tummy is so small that he can only take in about 10-30ml of milk per feeding. However, expect that he will cry for milk at least every 2 hours so it's best to be ready for that.

2) Hydrate. hydrate. hydate. 
This is probably the best tip that I've gotten right after I gave birth. Drink lots of fluid as clearly, whatever amount of liquid enters your body will help increase your milk supply. I obediently drank all my ge lai soups and drinks as I find it to be very helpful in improving my milk production. To this day, I bring a 750ml water bottle with me to bed as I drink up all throughout the night.

3) Believe in the power of your breastmilk.
It may sound like magic but did you know that your breastmilk's composition changes from time to time? Aside from the change in color as your baby grows, it can also arm your baby with the needed antibodies especially on days when you're down with a cold or you're baby is sick with flu. I continued to breastfeed J when he caught the stomach flu and L when she had a cold. I believed that it somehow helped them recover faster and I got to give them that much needed comfort too. Similarly, the time when I was nursing a bad cough and cold, I just continued to breastfeed my twins to give them that much needed antibodies through my milk.

4) Don't forget to ask for help.
During the first few months of my twins' lives, I was so fortunate to have dear friends who willingly reached out and offered to share some of their milk with us. This kind gesture meant so much to me as this allowed me to build my stash without worrying that my twins won't have anything to eat for the next feeding. Just a word of caution though, be sure to know the source to ensure that you're giving your baby good quality breast milk.

Another way to ask for help is to seek the expert advice of a lactation consultant. I was lucky to have Nurse Nana when I was still in confined at St Luke's QC and she helped me with the basics of breastfeeding given that I know nothing about it (the price and shame I pay for not reading up when I was preggo). Also, I got Nanay Lorena (message me if you want her number!) who came over and helped de-clog all my clogged ducts which slows down my milk flow, she also taught me then how to make J latch and lastly, she gave me the best massage ever. After her visit, I was breastfeeding much better and I feel that this has helped kickstart my milk production too.

dr mama ph 6
5) Store it well.
Breastmilk is obviously not processed so it can spoil easily. Remember the rule of 3s. For milk on room temperature, this can only last for 3 hours. Should you decide to keep it in the fridge, have it there for only 3-5 days. If you store it in the freezer, then it can last for 3-6 months. I am very OC when it comes to this as the last thing I want is to give spoiled milk to my twins.

6) Use sturdy milk bags and label them well. 
No one wants to cry over spilled milk and believe me, it hurts so much to throw away your liquid gold. I've had my share of using bad quality bags bought for the sake of being such a scrooge and I paid the price of the bag leaking as I was thawing my frozen milk. All 200ml of milk gone just like that. I've learned my lesson and so I now carefully choose the right milk bags for me. You all know how much I love Dr Mama's milk bag for it's OC-friendly pour in-pour out system and it sure helps that it comes in these cutesy designs that helps brighten up my day.

7) Hello to weight loss!
One frequent comment that I got after giving birth was that I lost so much weight. I was so happy with this as I've never weighed this less all my life and I am determined to keep it this way. I got to admit though that I eat like there's no tomorrow and I snack frequently but did you know that breastfeeding can make you burn 500 kcals a day per baby. Since I got twins... *dun dun dun dunnn* I'm burning approximately 1000 kcals a day. That's just awesome.

8) Saves time and energy. 
As I barely had time to even take a shower when my twins were really little since I had to attend to their needs round the clock, the last thing I need is having to do the dishes or at least to wash their bottles and to sterilize. This is also why I lessened my pump cycle as the thought of having to wash and sterilize all the parts and bottles is enough to make me decide that I'd just directly nurse them to save time. Sure, I have Yaya D who makes sure all the bottles, nipples and even toys of her beloved alagas are washed and UV sterilized at the end of the day but taking care of twins is no joke and I do not have the heart to add more to her growing list of things to do.

9) Breastfeeding solves everything.

Remember that scene in the 90s flick "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" when the Dad of Toula (Nia Vardalos) believes that Windex can sure and solve anything? I'd say the same for breastmilk and breastfeeding!

So far, it has helped stop hiccups from continuing on, breastmilk can help improve skin rash or any irritation, latching can also give them comfort especially after a painful immunization or when we had to suction their nose. I guess for babies, breastfeeding is like a hug that assures them that Mommy will always be there.

10) The bond that you build is something that will last a lifetime.
Recently, my twins gave me a slight emo scare when they began to fall asleep at night without me nursing them. They did this for 3 nights straight and it got me to believe that they're starting to wean out of breastfeeding. While others may rejoice over the possibility of regaining some sort of freedom, I was surprised to feel a bit sad. I wasn't sure that should be the right emotion for this but I just felt like I wasn't ready yet. Somehow, them crying for me made me feel..wanted.

While Paul is truly an awesome and very hands-on Dad who equally shares the parenting tasks with me, breastfeeding is something that only I can solely provide and it makes me feel happy. I love the smiles that they give me when they know I'm about to feed them and the bond that we have as I nurse them to sleep. Well, they both learned to say "Mamam" at 6 months and eventually transitioned to saying "Mama" soon after. Hearing them cry for "mama" no matter how sleepy I am never fails to make my heart melt.

So there you go. 10 valuable lessons that I've learned in my early journey of breastfeeding. I don't know how far I'll go but what I know is that this is one experience that I'll cherish for the rest of my life. ♥

*these beautiful photos were taken by Little Heartbeat Photography in partnership with Baby Dove Philippines.

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