As the Philippines observes the National Breastfeeding Awareness Month this month, we asked three working moms to share their own breastfeeding journey—the joys and the struggles, and how they overcame the challenges in order to feed their babies.
How have these women juggled roles as breastfeeding moms and as driving forces in their own businesses and work offices? Here are their stories:
mom of three and entrepreneur behind mommy treats
Nine years ago, when I first started my business, I didn’t really have anyone to help me with the baking, packing, shipping, and everything else that was needed to run the business. I was also a first-time mom to a newborn and the pressure was quite daunting. It was hard to balance the physical and mental demands of doing things for the first time, including breastfeeding. I felt really isolated from the world.
"By some pleasant twist of fate, I found motivation in the very thing that first made me feel helpless."
Somehow, baking for some breastfeeding moms like me—and knowing that I’m helping them in their journey—felt like being part of a community that had each other’s back. The moms I baked for empowered me as much as I hoped my treats were able to empower them. Suddenly, I felt that doing things for the first time wasn’t as daunting anymore as long as we have a community to do it with and to do it for. Having a core purpose to drive me to keep doing something, may it be breastfeeding or working, was what mainly motivated me to breastfeed for almost two years with all my three kids.
One of the most important things I tell moms and moms-to-be is that the best investment for our breastfeeding journey is knowledge. I went to a breastfeeding class and found out that many of my worries and problems could’ve been avoided if I took the class prior to giving birth. I even decided to get professional training to better my ability to help moms who come to me with questions about breastfeeding.
I’ll be honest—I still had some troubles along the way with breastfeeding my second and third babies. But another big source of help was my support system. I have an amazing husband who also learned with me and showered with encouragement and praises, a very knowledgeable and breastfeeding-friendly doctor who reassured me along the way, and family and friends who respected and trusted my decision to breastfeed. Without them, I wouldn’t have been as successful with my journey.
Patience and being able to forgive ourselves [are the things I learned from breastfeeding]. It’s not easy to breastfeed. There will be moments when you’d want to give up. But I learned to be easy on myself and not to be my own worst critic. “Take it a week at a time, Paola. If it doesn’t work out after 1 week, then it’s okay,” I told myself this throughout my breastfeeding journey and next thing I knew, the weeks went by and things got better.
I use this approach on many life challenges now. I learned to take my time and trust in the process. It’s such a wonderful lesson and I’m grateful to have learned it because of my kids.
Mom of two and President and Co-founder of Rags2Riches, Inc.
I had a hard time breastfeeding in the beginning as I was not producing enough milk for my son. It was incredibly stressful, even more stressful than being pregnant and giving birth!
But I really wanted to try to breastfeed for as long as I could. I was not very precious about breastmilk as the only source of nutrition for my baby, though, because I felt that it was best if he does not starve while I build up my supply. I was able to slowly build my supply because of a lot of support from my family and friends, especially my husband. I got lots of tips from working moms who breastfed, too.
[The things that helped me get through my breastfeeding journey are my] trusty breast pump, three sets of breast pump accessories (so that I did not have to wash every single time I pump), lots of lactation cookies and brownies, breastfeeding pillow (can't live without this!), and the thought that the months or years of breastfeeding will pass by really quickly and these were the moments I'll remember the most.
[Breastfeeding] is not easy, but it is worth it! But at the same time, not all moms can breastfeed or breastfeed in the same way. But we can all love our children in the best ways we know how.
"Breastfeeding is a beautiful gift, but if we have conditions that make it difficult or impossible for us to breastfeed, we should also learn to be kind to ourselves and know that we are enough."
Mom of ONE and Merchandising Manager at Rustan’s
Breastfeeding didn’t come easy for me. During my pregnancy, I was so excited about the idea of breastfeeding, I’ve done my research and prepared every arsenal needed for breastfeeding.
But it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I still struggled with low milk supply. It breaks my heart every time my baby fusses and cries during feeds because of my slow milk let downs. The constant pain (and blood) in breastfeeding and sleepless nights while recovering from surgery didn’t help either.
She was wetting fewer nappies than required and was below average in weight. I felt like such a failure, I was in pain physically and emotionally, I was always worried that I might not be able to provide my baby the best nourishment she needs. I felt so guilty, but I was also so thankful to have access to formula to help nourish my baby in the first few weeks.
I would sometimes pump during meetings and seminars, and thankfully I have very understanding officemates who don't mind. I would rush home during my lunch breaks to check on her and feed her. Being an "enougher" (producing just barely enough for my baby), I was constantly worried that she might be hungry (or starve!) while I'm away.
I was so desperate that I tried different pumps, various supplements, and lactation treats but nothing seems to work. It was so heartbreaking to see you’re producing barely an ounce during your pump sessions. I even had to ask a friend who was producing more than enough milk to help with my baby's growing demands and give me enough time to build my stash.
"Breastfeeding for me was 10% milk and 90% determination."
I started with very few milk, barely enough to feed my baby but I didn't give up. I had to endure sleepless night and several pumping hours to get it right. Of course, breastfeeding tools like good electric pumps, manual milk catchers and lactation supplements also helped. I also had mom friends who just gave birth so there is a support system. You give tips and tricks, share stories and do's and don'ts. You help each other out and give support.
Each mom has their own challenges to breastfeeding. I guess I learned that we should not be too judgmental on fellow moms. We each have our own story and journey through motherhood, and moms always know what’s best for their babies.
Every mother has their own unique breastfeeding journey. Producing milk might be a breeze for some while a struggle for others, but the goal is still the same—for these moms to provide proper nourishment to their babies.
Aside from the support that each mom’s family and friends give, having the suitable breastfeeding accessories like Bebe au Lait nursing pillows, covers, and scarves, Pigeon nipple creams, and NUK breast pads can also help moms and babies be more comfortable and successful as they go through this journey.