Breastfeeding Seminar: Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

“Aren’t we the highest form of mammals?  Then we can all produce milk,” said Nurse Joyce Zaragoza, the lactation nurse and consultant who spoke in the seminar I attended this past Sunday.  She is an expert in the field, and there are only a few lactation consultants in the Philippines, as what I have inferred from her stories.

Amazing how God created the female body, capable of producing food for the baby’s needs.   We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made!

Amazing how God created babies to help their mommies produce more milk!  The more a baby breastfeeds, the more his mommy’s bodies is trained to produce more milk.

I attended “The ABCs of Breastfeeding” seminar last Sunday at The Parenting Emporium.  This is the second seminar I attended there, for a minimal fee of 350 pesos.  We got some freebies from sponsors, too!   We definitely got so much more than what we paid for.

I learned a lot in 2 hours, and am keeping my notes here.  The first seminar I attended at The Parenting Emporium was on Mommy and Newborn Care, and that one was even for free!  Thank God for The Parenting Emporium for hosting these seminars and helping out first-time moms like me.  It’s time to take a break from preparing for baby stuff / shopping, and be ready to learn more on how to take care of River.

Why Breastfeed?

On the top of my head, here are my top 5 personal reasons for wanting to breastfeed.  I learned that breastfeeding is…

1. Good for the baby’s health.  “Breast milk is the natural first food for babies.  It provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life.”  From The World Health Organization website, on exclusive breastfeeding.  Some more interesting and important stuff I got from the website:

Breast milk promotes sensory and cognitive development, and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea or pneumonia, and helps for a quicker recovery during illness. These effects can be measured in resource-poor and affluent societies (Kramer M et al Promotion of Breastfeeding Intervention Trial (PROBIT): A randomized trial in the Republic of Belarus. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2001, 285(4): 413-420)

I read in another website that breast milk lessens the occurrence of colds, ear infection, diarrhea and constipation and food allergies in babies.

2.  Good for my health too (lowers risk of cancer of the breast and ovaries, and it also helps my uterus heal and recover faster after giving birth.  Another plus – lets me lose 500 calories per day!

3.  More economical and more convenient than formula!  Imagine how much we can save from buying formula milk.  And should we travel with the baby, no need to bring a lot of baby feeding stuff like bottles, bottle cleaner, and packed formula milk.

4.  An opportunity to bond with my baby.  Breastfeeding is an opportunity to have skin-to-skin contact with the baby too.  There are 9 benefits of skin-to-skin contact, according to www.fitpregnancy.com, some of which are as follows:  boosts mental development, promotes healthy weight, helps one make milk, reduces babies stress and pain, helps baby to sleep, helps in breastfeeding, prevents post partum depression and others.  Skin-to-skin is not just for mommies, but also for daddies.   It helps a daddy establish his bond with the baby too.

I think this will be a challenge when my mom is around, because she would often say not to carry babies often or else they’ll get spoiled or to attached to their mommies. She would tell me “hindi ako mahirap alagaan” or I was a baby easy to take care of because I did not cry often and I did not demand to be carried.  We would often praise babies who do not like to be carried as well-behaved and not spoiled.  Hmmm….  I need to read more on this.

Myths
from www.breastfeedinginsheffield.co.uk

5.  Helps my baby not to be a picky eater.  Breast milk tastes like amniotic fluid that the baby has been taking in when in the womb.  Its flavor depends on what the mother eats, so it helps in a way for the baby to appreciate a variety of flavors.  Formula milk has the same flavor, no variety.

Breastfeeding is Tough in the Beginning

We’ve been warned that breastfeeding entails hard work.  Breastfeeding moms need all the support and encouragement they can have, especially from their husbands. (Hello, Daddy C, read on!) It is natural but it is also a learned behavior.  I am not judging those who use formula milk for their babies.  They must have their reasons, priorities and concerns, and I don’t know how hard they tried to breastfeed.  Mothers know and do what is best for their babies given their own particular circumstances.  But for me, given that more information, research, and techniques are more available now, and that I’ll be a stay at home mom, there is no excuse for me not to breastfeed.  I personally know of at least 5 mommies who breastfed or still breastfeeding their babies, and I wish I could be like them!   I’ll try my best, even up to the point of having a home consultation with a lactation nurse, and if all else fails, will use formula milk.

I’m sure with the advances in research and technology, there is no considerable harm in formula milk too, although the seminar painted a quite biased picture of formula.  Yes, there are hazards, but I believe that among those who took well-trusted brands of formula milk, a huge percentage turned out ok.  These are just some of the hazards of formula milk mentioned:  obesity, nutrient deficiencies, low in antibodies, less enzymes and hormones, processing hazard, slow to digest leading to gastrointestinal ailment, among others. (Read more here.)

I guess it just reinforces how important to choose an excellent brand of formula milk if one chooses formula.  Most in our generation had formula decades ago and we all turned out ok.  But then again, possible harmful effects of formula milk vs no harmful effects of breast milk?  Plus all those benefits of breastfeeding stated above.  Breast milk is best, why not try my best?  Prepping myself as early as now.

On Milk Production and Supply

From Nurse Joyce’s slide:

How do I produce milk?

  •  Lactogenesis Stage 1:  Occurs 10 weeks and progress at 16-20 weeks of pregnancy (colostral stage);  Colostrum is infant’s first immunization.
  • Lactogenesis Stage 2:  with sudden withdrawal of pregnancy hormones at delivery of placenta;  2-3 days post partum (transitional milk)
  • Lactogenesis Stage 3 or Galactopolesis:  is dependent on infant suckling;  establishment of mature milk supply.  (mature milk)

Will I be able to produce milk?  RELAX and TRUST your BODY!

Other Important Notes:

(1)  Feed on demand, not on schedule.  This is consistent also with what I happen to read from the book “Bringing Up Bebe” on French parenting.  The author wrote that when babies cry, it doesn’t always mean they are hungry and that they need to be fed right away.  As the American author of the book labeled it, there is something called “The Pause” that has no name in French parenting because it comes naturally to them, wherein just letting a baby cry for 5-10 minutes and not picking them up immediately is not a sign of negligence, but actually a time to observe why the baby is crying.

Going back to Nurse Joyce’s seminar – Usually, pediatricians who are not breastfeeding advocates will tell the mommies to feed their newborn babies every 2 hours.  Babies are wonderfully designed by God – they know when to eat.  Mommies should not disrupt that rhythm.  In the womb, babies have a 24-hour restaurant when they can eat anytime they want through the umbilical cord and the placenta.  When outside the womb, they give signals showing that they want to eat.  Their tiny mouths serve as the umbilical cord, and the mothers’ breasts, the placenta.

What are the cues the baby give to tell the mommy that he is hungry?  Here are some photos showed by Nurse Joyce, from https://www.breastfeedinginsheffield.co.uk:

baby-feeding-cues

(2)  No water for the baby during the first 6 months.  Breast milk or formula milk already has water content, enough to keep the baby hydrated.  If the baby is given water, he might already be too full to take in the milk, and miss out on the nutrients he gets from milk.  There is actually a thing called water intoxication for babies, and it can be dangerous.

(3)  Formula milk shouldn’t immediately be next option in case one is not producing enough milk.    The diaper output, babies’ weight and developmental milestones will indicate if the baby is having enough milk.  Formula milk should be the last option.  There is actually a hierarchy as recommended by WHO.  This is the one from Nurse Joyce’s slides:

  1.  Direct breastfeeding
  2. Mother’s own expressed milk
  3. Donated milk from a healthy donor (whom you personally know)
  4. Donated milk from Breast Bank Milk – pasteurized human milk
  5. Breast milk substitute – formula milk

Found this table as I googled on feeding hierarchy:

Milk-for-Low-Birth-Weight-Babies-WHO-Hierarchy-of-Feeding-Choices-14
WHO Hierarchy of Feeding Choices – from www.researchgate.net

I hope I’ll be fine with #1 and at most, #2!

(4)  Know what to expect so we wouldn’t be alarmed.  These are the expected diapers of breastfed babies (warning – photos are graphic 😀 )

diaper-photo-breastfed-baby-574x750
from www.breastfeedingmaterials.com

(5)  There is a “Rule of 5” in milk storage:  Breast milk can last:

  •  5 hours in room temperature
  •  5 days in the refrigerator
  •  5 months in the freezer of a 2-door refrigerator

Breast milk can actually last longer as indicated above, but better to be on the safe side.  Nurse Joyce also showed this table:

storage guide
Photo from leisanatomy.blogspot.com

(6)  Babies need energy to breastfeed.  I should make sure that I dry my baby immediately after giving him a bath because if he feels cold and he shivers, that would mean less energy for him to breastfeed.

(7)  Babies produce gulping sound if they are being breastfed properly, and not a suckling sound.  There is a proper position for them to be able to breastfeed properly, and the breast should be pressed parallel to a baby’s mouth (can be C or U depending on the position).   Push, press, release.   Although there were techniques taught at the seminar, I’ll need to watch more videos on this to learn more.

More things to research on:  cross-cradle position, side lying or laid back position

(8)  I need to inform my OB that I intend to breastfeed and I would like Unang Yakap guidelines to be followed, especially if I’ll be keeping my cord for storage.  Upon delivery, if we will avail of cord blood banking services, the cord will be cut immediately for harvest if I do not tell them about it.  Unang Yakap by DOH has these specific guidelines on cord clamping:

unang-yakap

(9)  Other notes that I’ll insert here, from Nurse Joyce’s slide presentation (forgive the heads – I was seated not too near the screen):

Nurse Joyce is very generous enough to say to spread the word about breastfeeding and what we have learned from the seminar, so I believe she has no concerns about me posting these slides.  🙂

————–

Now what do I do with those bottles I bought? 🙂 I thought whether I breastfeed or not, I can actually use those.  I was thinking that I will have extra milk that I can give my baby, so that wouldn’t require direct feeding.  But based on the seminar, expressed milk (or milk stored / not to be given directly) should be given in a small cup and not through a feeding bottle.  Why?

  •  The baby might get used to the bottle or lazy suckling and no longer direct feed.  Then I’ll have to bottle feed my baby with breast milk, meaning pumping more often.
  •  The baby will not get oral gratification from drinking from a cup and would be excited to latch and breastfeed.  This will tell my body to continue to produce milk. 🙂
  •  Breastfeeding helps in the baby’s oro-facial development.

If it turns out I’m not going to use the 8 bottles that I excitedly bought last week, I just might sell them online.  Though those were discounted, they still do cost a lot.  I’m sure it won’t be hard to find buyers since I’ll be selling them at the discounted price I bought them for, at a really good deal! 🙂

I asked Nurse Joyce how my daily shots of Innohep and intake of aspirin for my DVT will affect my baby when I breastfeed.  She said it’s not a concern and I can check out the app LACTMED to see details on how those medication can affect my breast milk.

I’m quite concerned though that I will not be able to breastfeed for a long time because we would like to have another baby by next year.  Breastfeeding can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle.  For now, I’m thinking that I should aim for at least 6 months of breastfeeding.

There are many other things discussed during the seminar, and to moms who want to know more about breastfeeding, it’s best to watch out for seminars like this one offered by The Parenting Emporium.

This is the goal and I’ll start praying for it!

1344643224146_1060723

Around 2.5 months to go and I’ll see you soon, River!  Let’s breastfeed!

River, your turtle and crocodile friends are waiting for you, too!

More online references on breastfeeding here:

6 Amazing Things That Happen to Your Body When You Breastfeed
5 Tips To Keep Your Breast Milk Supply Up

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