Breastfeeding Diaries tells the stories of moms, dads and supporters of breastfeeding to inspire others to embrace their own journey in breastfeeding. To share your story, email us at email@example.com.
This article is not about the benefits of breastfeeding or things you should remember when you breastfeed. This is written for people like me who have seen moms breastfeed, whether we personally know them or not.
I met Kate about four years ago and we were practically seatmates at work. When she learned that she was pregnant about a year later, I saw how diligent she was in doing her homework, as she was with any task at work. Kate did a lot of research and she told me it was because she wanted to learn everything there is to know about caring for newborns and breastfeeding. After she gave birth, she took time off and came back about two months later.
I then learned things about breastfeeding that I would otherwise had no way of knowing.
Baffled at breastfeeding in public
I often wonder why mothers would do it, whenever, wherever. While I understood that babies don’t follow routine and mom can’t really ask them to wait when they ask for milk, it baffled me that they did it in public places, and not in private rooms. I learned later on that, unfortunately, mother’s rooms don’t exist in all public places.
When we moved to a new office, we had a dedicated mother’s room. Kate was the first to use it, and only then did I realize that my previous offices didn’t have any room like this. Other workplaces that I have been to for meetings or interviews often tell me they have a pantry or a game and recreation room, but not a mother’s room.
Kate and I used to eat lunch together and immediately after, she’d go to the mother’s room to pump breast milk. We also traveled together for business on some occasions and days before we left, she’d carefully plan to ensure her son had enough supply to last until she was back. In between meetings in our business trips, she would find time to pump. No matter how crazy and physically and mentally exhausting business trips were, she always found time.
It takes a village
I’ve also seen her with her husband Marvin and Bryce in action on a day trip to Malaysia from Singapore, and I said to myself that breastfeeding really is a family commitment. It isn’t easy. Moms can’t do it alone; they need their husbands to be in it with them.
This is also probably why there are a number of support groups for families because there’s an overwhelming need for it. “It takes a village,” they say. Breastfeeding definitely does. I have seen how difficult the logistics are; I can only imagine how physically exhausting it can be.
How we can help
Maybe, we, people who don’t breastfeed but know or see people who do, should commit to it too. How? Let’s start by not judging or giving moms the look when we see them breastfeed in public, or by offering help when we can. The simple gesture of helping with the bags can go a long way. I’m pretty certain it will remind breastfeeding moms that they are not alone.
Labor of love
I can’t write about how breastfeeding is best for babies or list down all of its benefits. As I watch Kate go through this journey, I’ve stopped wondering why mothers do it whenever, wherever. Breastfeeding is a labor of love. And you know what that cliché says, you do everything for love.
About the author: Janie Octia is Yahoo’s editorial operations manager for India and Southeast Asia by day, technology geek and web crawler by day and night. You can follow her on Twitter @janieoctia and on Medium.