How I Breastfed Three Kids Til Toddlerhood

First attempts at breastfeeding
 from a first-time mom
I suppose I was lucky the first time. I gave birth in a small, out-of-the-way, but well-maintained hospital. I believe these kinds of places are friendlier to breastfeeding than the big city hospitals. For one thing, there was only one other in-patient during my stay, so there were no viruses and bacteria to worry about. It was a normal birth. The baby and I were roomed-in at once, and I didn’t have to fight for it, or even insist.

My first breastfeeding attempts were painful and the milk wouldn’t come for the baby, even if I was overflowing during my pregnancy. But the nurses were supportive, the doctor was encouraging, and besides I had no choice. In Banaue, nobody even suggested that we buy formula milk. Those first few days without milk; they said the baby got colostrum and that it was okay. They said he was getting all these antibodies that I didn’t even know I had, and that it was good. 

I distracted myself from the pain of these early feeding attempts by reading a book, or looking out the window at the wonderful view of the rice terraces, or talking to Marlon or my mom and sisters. I didn’t know there was a right way to position yourself while nursing, and a proper way of holding the nipple while assisting your child at the breast. Eventually the milk came, and boy, it squirted and gushed like a faucet. In 1994, I was young and healthy and there was no reason for it not to.

We weren’t employed for a time. Our parents were supportive. We lived simply and there was no need to spend for much. When we did start to earn, it was from freelance work such as t-shirt printing, the sale of paintings, and woodworking jobs. Even when we ventured on the business of managing a canteen at a sawmill, it didn’t require me to be parted from my son for long.

And then I found The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding at a secondhand discount bookstore. It was a La Leche League publication that had all kinds of useful tips and first-hand stories from other breastfeeding moms. This was fortunate because when our little family moved to the hubby’s hometown I had no support group to speak of and no close friends to share experiences with. Worse, the internet was not as accessible as it is now and mobile phones weren’t even invented yet, unless you count the clunky Motorola MicroTAC. By the grace of God, my firstborn grew up healthy and strong, happily breastfed. He weaned himself at the age of four. Before this time he was nursing only occasionally, for comfort and reassurance and not for nourishment.

My second son was born at a community hospital. His father was in the delivery room with me the whole time I was in labor, assisting the midwife. In fact, he was the one who caught the baby in his arms right at the instance of birth. I already knew what to do about the breastfeeding by then. The kid latched on quickly, like an expert. The pain was still there, and I had forgotten about that one after 8 long years. It felt like a blade cutting through my nipple every time the baby suckled. For a month I felt this whenever my baby nursed.

I comforted myself with thoughts about how great it was that I was nourishing my infant child with my own milk production, without spending a fortune on baby bottles and infant formulas and sterilizing equipment. I was always a sucker for free stuff. I loved it that we didn’t have to bother sterilizing any bottles. I nursed him lying down so we didn’t  have to get up in the middle of the night to heat water and mix powders and prepare the milk, because it was right there! On my breast! Milk on demand! Of course when the baby cried and got finicky he had to be danced back to sleep, but most of the time it wasn’t gonna be me doing that. I was the milk factory. I needed my rest. This was in 2003.

Sibling love
Two years later when our third child was born, it was at a big city hospital. Doctors at this town were known to be conservative. We had a pediatrician and an Ob-Gyne. I had to request the large hospital for a rooming-in arrangement so that my newborn could stay with me right after birth. They advised us to buy a small can of infant formula, which we didn’t do.  The baby stayed in the hospital nursery for a few hours so he could have some basic tests. He had jaundice but I wanted him with me, so the pediatrician advised me to place him near the windows of my hospital room so that he would get some sun. That first night, we both didn’t get much sleep. He was restless, and I danced him and nursed him while I danced. 

For a while the toddler and the newborn were tandem feeding, until finally my two-year old had to concede his claim on the breast. His little brother had arrived. He was a Kuya now. 

Nursed til toddlerhood

16 years and 3 sons after, and she finally thinks she can be a mom blogger. Kelly is an artist and writer who loves to stare at a blade of grass on her good days. On bad days, she drinks inordinate amounts of coffee and multitasks as her soul dreams of mountains unclimbed and her warm soft bed. She is torn by both visions. Her favorite color is blue-green.   


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you were able to breastfeed all three of your boys Mommy. It's really difficult to have to spend all of your hard earned money on bottles and diapers. And just thinking about all the milk I bought since day 1 makes me cringe haha!

Does the book (The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding) say anything about inverted nipples? This was the reason why Holly wouldn't latch onto me. She didn't even try to suck because the milk wasn't coming out. :(

artnanay said...

Stef, the book has chapters devoted to everything about breastfeeding, even some info I didn't need like bringing up twins and nursing premies.

I had an inverted nipple too on my left breast, maybe thats why it hurt so much, but in Banaue, I had no choice but to have a go at it.

I wasn't even aware of the full benefits of breastfeeding at that time :D

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. I might just buy a copy if we're to plan for another youngin in the family. :) My first time breastfeeding was a terrible experience, but I'll try harder next time for the baby and to save from spending thousands.

artnanay said...

Glad I inspired you to try again. Good luck Stef!

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