I am a human food dispenser
It’s 3 a.m. I have just finished nursing my baby girl.
I am sleepy, dead tired, and wondering why I’m letting myself be a slave and food dispenser to such a small noisy creature.
Then I realize, this small noisy creature is my little girl. I swore to give her all the best that I possibly can, and that includes milk that only I can provide.
When I first got pregnant with my first child, I immediately decided that I would breastfeed my baby. Seeing pictures of mothers serenely nursing their small ones presented such an attractive picture to me.
Everyone knows that breastmilk is definitely best for babies. Babies who are given breastmilk grow up to be healthier and smarter. After all, a mother’s milk has millions of nutrients and vitamins and is most geared toward human babies. It protects the child from a myriad of diseases because of the antibodies found in mother’s milk.
Breastfeeding is also good for mothers. It prevents certain types of cancers and osteoporosis later in life. It also enables the mother to lose weight easily because the body burns calories while producing breast milk.
And to top it off, breastfeeding is also good for fathers (or breadwinners). If a kilo of milk costs an average of P1,000 or so per can, and the baby consumes at least four cans a month, then that would mean a savings of at least P24,000 for six months for a breastfeeding mother. Just imagine how much will be saved if the mother will nurse her child for one or two years as opposed to buying formula milk.
Armed with all these information that I had, I knew I just had to nurse my child. But after the first few tries, I quickly realized it wasn’t as easy as it looked.
Being a first-time mother, I didn’t know if my baby had enough milk or not. Since I couldn’t measure how much she got from me while nursing, I chose to pump my milk and feed it to her in a bottle so I could easily quantify how much she was eating.
The thing is, latching on to a bottle is different from latching on to the mother. Since my babies (1st and 2nd child) would switch from me to the bottle, they developed nipple confusion. I ended up with sore and cracked nipples because they weren’t opening their mouths wide enough.
Thus, there were times when I would be pumping milk, and suddenly realize that my milk was already pink (from the blood). Not a very attractive sight, I can tell you.
And at times, I’d be in so much pain that I’d be crying while nursing my babies. My husband would tell me to stop so that I wouldn’t be in pain anymore, but I’d tell him in a tearful voice, “No, kaya ko pa. Sige lang.”
After a while, the sore and cracked nipples led to fungal infection. My doctor said I had to stop breastfeeding because I had to take antibiotics. So even if I didn’t want to, I had to stop nursing my children before they reached one year.
With my 3rd child, I decided to completely do away with bottles. My baby just latched on to me if he wanted to feed. And during times when I wasn’t home to feed my child, I trained the nanny to feed the baby via medicine dropper, and later on, from the cup.
That at least solved the nipple confusion problem. But since he’s a boy and quite a voracious eater, the pain from sore and cracked nipples was something that I still had to endure.
Now with my 4th child, I’m back to being a milking cow. I would nurse her when I’m around, and pump my milk once or twice a day so that the nanny can cup feed her when I’m not home. The excess milk, I would donate.
When people ask me how long I intend to keep this up, I’d say, as long as supply lasts. To sustain the supply, I’d drink all the fish soup, tinolang manok with malunggay and green papaya, and all the “pampagatas” food that I can.
I guess what I want to stress here is that yes, breastfeeding has a lot of benefits. But it takes a lot of “sipag at tiyaga” to make it work. One has to be committed to breastfeed. It entails a lot of pain and sacrifices.
And for working mothers, it means setting aside time to pump milk even when they’re at work, just to sustain their milk production and be able to feed their babies.
But at the end of the day, I cherish the bond that I developed with my children through breastfeeding. And I take comfort in seeing my children grow healthier and stronger from the milk that only I can give them.