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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
I always believed that motherhood, along with breastfeeding, will come naturally to me as I am fond of babies. I thought my instincts would be enough to help me know how to breastfeed my baby. I never thought breastfeeding is a learned skill and that you get better in time as you practice it and go through the experience with your baby.
My husband and I only attended birthing classes. We did not think of attending any other classes. I gave birth to Lucas Joaquin on February 25, 2013 after more than 24 hours labor via caesarean delivery, a birthing experience that I do not want to go through again. It was the anniversary of the EDSA Revolution. Despite the grogginess, I felt the great need to breastfeed Lucas and fought the sleepiness just to let him latch on to me.
I can still remember the first time he latched. It was a wonderful feeling. I felt complete.
We experienced a few hitches at the start of our breastfeeding journey such as sore nipples and plugged ducts but they did not hinder me from nourishing and bonding with my son. However, because I wasn’t able to correct Lucas’ latch and I used a breast pump quite too early, his weight gain slowed. By his fourth month, he was diagnosed as severely underweight.
It was a difficult time for us. Being in a new place only having my husband for support also did not help me gain the confidence I needed to breastfeed. Support from the hospital, doctors and health center was limited to being told to just continue breastfeeding. It was not enough.
Fortunately, I got the help of Nay Ines Fernandez of Arugaan and learned the proper breastfeeding techniques. Being there with other mothers who went through the same experience I was going through made me feel empowered. I was also invited by my friend to join the Breastfeeding Pinays forum on Facebook, which further enhanced my knowledge on breastfeeding.
Becoming a breastfeeding advocate
At Arugaan, I felt the great need of helping and encouraging mothers to breastfeed their babies knowing how it feels to be in their situation. I saw the importance of the breastfeeding advocacy in the country. I realized my new calling, my new mission in life — to help mothers breastfeed their babies and advocate for breastfeeding in Olongapo.
I made a promise to myself and to Lucas that no mother and baby will go through the same experience that we did. It is their right to get the correct information and proper support to breastfeed through the loving help of fellow breastfeeding mothers.
In 2014, I was fortunate to have undergone training as a breastfeeding peer counselor with L.A.T.C.H. and Breastfeeding Pinays.
Mission in Olongapo
A year after trying to form a breastfeeding support group in Olongapo, with the help of passion driven and like-minded mothers, we were able to form Breastfeeding Pinays Olongapo last February 2015. The group is an affiliate of Breastfeeding Pinays with over 200 hundred breastfeeding mother members to date. We also held the first simultaneous breastfeeding event in Olongapo in celebration of the Breastfeeding Awareness Month last August, which was attended by 262 breastfeeding mothers and supporters.
Our volunteer work is not only limited to providing breastfeeding counselling and support to mothers. We also conduct breastfeeding awareness-raising activities such as mommy meet-ups for our members and breastfeeding classes in barangays and companies. Recently, we have been invited by the City Health Office of Olongapo to become members of the breastfeeding support group for the barangays.
Until now, I still cannot believe that my dream — my mission — is now a reality. The struggles and challenges I faced, which I consider as my breastfeeding revolution, has evolved into a breastfeeding mission. A mission to liberate, encourage, support and empower mothers to successfully breastfeed the next generations here in Olongapo.
About the author: Mithi is a wildlife veterinarian’s wife, full-time mom, environmentalist, Rotarian and a breastfeeding peer counselor. When she gave birth to Lucas, breastfeeding became one of her advocacies along with healthy lifestyle and nature conservation. She has been breastfeeding her Lucas for 31 months and counting.