Breastfeeding During Pregnancy

Matilda was still very small, when Joey and I agreed on trying for another baby as soon as she turns 2 years old. When Matilda was already about to turn two, (it was faster than I expected!) I also had my own hesitations about having another baby. In my head, I was thinking, “What if my pregnancy becomes complicated that we need to stop breastfeeding?”. And during this time, Matilda wasn’t showing any sign of weaning yet, even the slightest bit. Honestly, it made me anxious from time to time and I just relied onto God’s Word, for strength to overcome it.

We really wanted to go past the 2-year mark to maximize the benefits of breastfeeding, however, deep inside I knew that if ever the need arise, Matilda will be more than ready physically, as she gets her main source of nutrition now from solid food. It would then just be the psychological aspect I would need to address.

Breastfeeding is one of those things, like birthing a child, which I never thought I would endure. It is truly all by God’s grace! All I really wanted was to be able to give my best in all that I do, especially when it comes to bringing up my future children. With that, I knew in my heart I never wanted to force Matilda to wean if she’s not yet ready, that’s why I am still breastfeeding her up to now, and will continue to do so until she decides to wean on her own.

”Isn’t it dangerous to breastfeed while pregnant?”

As long as you have an uncomplicated pregnancy without any underlying medical conditions, (you are not classified as high-risk) and you don’t experience bleeding, premature contractions, lower back pain, or severe cramping in the abdomen, then it is safe to continue breastfeeding, until you reach your term.

Right now, I am close to reaching my 4th month. I haven’t encountered any problems from what I mentioned above, that’s why my OB-Gyne, who I love so much, never asked me to stop breastfeeding. This is because there really is no concrete evidence that links premature births to breastfeeding. And there are also plenty of mothers who have done it successfully. There isn’t really anything to worry about as long as your OB-Gyne is really knowledgeable, and an advocate for breastfeeding.

“Isn’t that milk supposed to be ‘reserved’ for the next baby?”

Our bodies are made perfect by God to be able to nourish our young. It does not stop producing milk as long as there is a demand. When baby number two comes, there will still be enough milk for them to share, hence, the term, tandem feeding. This happens when an older child feeds along with the younger sibling. This term is also used for breastfeeding multiple babies, such in the case of twin siblings.

“I always get so hungry because of breastfeeding, isn’t that a sign the baby in my tummy is being deprived of nutrients?”

The answer is, no. Because our body changes during the pregnancy, even the size of our organs also change with it. If you noticed, whenever we are pregnant, we can no longer eat as much as we used to, in one sitting. We tend to eat smaller portions, but we do it frequently. This also applies when we are breastfeeding during pregnancy. We just have to be smart in the choices we make when it comes to food and pick those that will benefit us, as well as our babies. Food that are high in calcium, iron and fiber are some of the things we need to add more to our diet, like that of green leafy vegetables and seasonal (local) fruits. Remember, we are not eating for two, (or in my case, three!) in a sense that we should eat a lot! We eat for two (or three) knowing that there is extra nourishment needed for our baby to grow healthy, and not in terms of the actual amount of food we eat.

“My breasts are so sensitive during pregnancy, it hurts so bad. How do I go on breastfeeding?”

This part is inevitable. Yes, it is true that it may hurt during the 1st trimester as our body adjusts to the changes brought about by our pregnancy. Nipples become very sensitive and based on my own experience, having a good and deep latch really alleviates the discomfort. Take note that this pain usually goes away in the second trimester, so a little sacrifice on our end is all we need. And if it’s any consolation, seeing the satisfied look on the face of your child who is just happy to be comforted by your breasts will really help you overcome it too.

“How do I manage breastfeeding 2 kids if they both want to feed at the same time?”

My expert friends say that it would be good to breastfeed the younger child first to make sure he/she gets all the colostrum he/she needs in the early days of life. As soon as the mature milk comes in, usually on the 4th or 5th day after birth, it really doesn’t matter which child nurses first. If you can manage to feed them together with each of your breasts, that would also be a good idea. However, take note that since breastmilk changes in composition depending on the age of your younger child, usually, the older child becomes so full from the breastmilk (which is high in calories to support the infant’s growth), they sometimes lose their appetite for solid food. It would be good to also watch out for this as it would possibly disrupt the established eating pattern of your child. Finding the balance is still the key.

Are you currently pregnant and breastfeeding? Or thinking about continuing to breastfeed even when you conceive again? Please leave a comment and let’s talk about your concerns!

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31 Reasons to Breastfeed: A special post dedicated to the Breastfeeding Month

If you don’t know yet, my daughter Matilda was breastfed from day 1, up until now that she is 20 months old. Matilda has never tried drinking from the bottle, may it be breastmilk or formula. She was and still is, fed directly since she was born. As we celebrate the Breastfeeding Month, I came up with 31 reasons to breastfeed, one for each day of August. This contains all that I  have learned, discovered and experienced over the past 20 months. If this does not convince you to breastfeed, I don’t know what else will!

  1. Breasts were created by God to produce breastmilk, it has always been God’s design.
  2. Breastmilk (Colostrum) is your baby’s first vaccine.
  3. Breastmilk is always perfect. Its composition vary depending on the age of your child, time of day, each nursing session, stage of child’s life. – A mom with a premie baby would have breastmilk perfect for her child to thrive, while a mom of a breastfed toddler would have breastmilk suited for the nutrients of her growing child.
  4. Breastmilk is loaded with antibodies and probiotics.
  5. Breastmilk of a mom with a sick baby produces the exact antibodies needed for her child to fight off a certain infection. This is possible through the Enteromammary Pathway.
  6. Breastmilk is always ready, available, and at the right temperature.
  7. Breastmilk contains just the right amount of iron. Any extra iron is food for bacteria.
  8. Breastmilk doesn’t spoil (when you feed directly).
  9. Breastmilk is a natural laxative. There is no problem with constipation in breastfed babies.
  10. Breastmilk is FREE! No need to spend on expensive formula milk, bottles, sterilizer and other paraphernalia.
  11. Breastmilk is species-specific: Human Milk for Human Babies.
  12. Breastmilk can literally save lives, like in the case of premature babies.
  13. Breastmilk is 88% water which keeps babies hydrated most especially when they refuse to eat or drink anything during those times they are sick.
  14. Breastmilk has a lot of other medicinal benefits: it heals cracked nipples, reduces itchiness and redness from insect bites, and so on.
  15. Breastfeeding contracts the uterus, therefore helps in stopping the bleeding after delivery.
  16. Breastfeeding is an effortless form of exercise that burns 500 calories per day!
  17. Breastfeeding produces ZERO waste.
  18. Breastfeeding is a natural form of birth control for the first 6 months of baby’s life. This is known as Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM) and it requires exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months to be rendered effective.
  19. Breastfeeding reduces health risks such as obesity, diabetes and cancer.
  20. Breastfeeding comforts a sick baby.
  21. Breastfeeding provides +8 IQ points.
  22. Breastfeeding gives a feeling of security. Emotionally secure babies tend to be more independent as they grow older.
  23. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of ear infection which is common in bottlefed babies.
  24. Breastfed babies generally have better set of teeth.
  25. Breastfed babies are not sickly. Formula milk is a mucus former because of its high sugar content, hence, babies tend to get sick all the time.
  26. Breastfed babies have stronger bones. Cow’s milk actually leaches calcium off our bones! (How ironic is this?!)
  27. Breastfed babies are generally happy babies because they are always satisfied.
  28. Breastfed babies are generally happy eaters as they are exposed to a wide variety of taste. Its taste depends on what you eat.
  29. Breastfed babies talk better. Suckling, which happens at the breast, is a precursor to chewing, chewing is a precursor to talking. Note: Suckling requires a huge amount of effort for the baby to draw the milk out of the breast. Sucking, on the other hand, as you feed through a bottle takes minimum to no effort.
  30. An ounce (1oz.) of breastmilk is sold at P200.00-P250.00 in hospitals that is why we refer to it as liquid GOLD.
  31. The Bible mentions Breastfeeding in most of its books. Moses was even “wet-nursed”  as written in Exodus 2. Need I say more?

Exodus 2:1-8 New International Version (NIV) The birth of Moses

Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said. Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses,saying, “I drewhim out of the water.” 10252119_10203802698061820_3336843675786351789_n

7 Essential Tips for Breastfeeding Success

1. Equip Yourself and Commit to it

The best start begins in Pregnancy so make the most out of your time to research about what to expect when you’ve decided to breastfeed.

Read 

A book I would greatly recommend is Dr. Jack Newman’s The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers. The book is self-explanatory and would greatly help in busting common myths about breastfeeding. It also talks about usual problems encountered in breastfeeding and holds a great deal of information on how to overcome them.

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Seminars and Talks

Attending at least one seminar will help you equip yourself. These seminars are conducted regularly in different areas like malls, hospitals and several mommy events. It would be great if you can bring a list of questions you might have. It is also a good idea to be surrounded by co-pregnant moms who share the same goal, which is to breastfeed.

Get Your Husband on Board

You do not need to do this alone. Having your husband’s support will absolutely help you in times you may feel like giving up. Having him around while you do your research and bringing him to seminars will surely influence him to make the commitment with you. If he has doubts, talk to him. Let him know you value his support and how much this means to you.

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Source: World Health Organization

Make the Commitment

To make the decision to breastfeed is easy, but to stand by it can be difficult. In this day and age where milk companies are very much eager in selling their products, sometimes it can be hard to convince your family members, most especially mothers and mothers-in-law to support you in your decision. Just make sure you have informed them about the dangers of formula milk feeding so they’ll be aware and not be blinded by the marketing ploys of these companies. Involving them in the seminars may also help them understand you better. So, it’s really better to tag them along.

Dangers of Infant Formula

Source: World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action; Written by Nancy Forrest

2. Unmedicated Childbirth

If possible, choose a natural childbirth.

I cannot even begin to emphasize the importance of attending a childbirth preparation class. If not for The Pod, I wouldn’t have learned about the benefits of breastfeeding and also what medications used in childbirth does to you and your baby.

The documentary called The Business of Being Born opened my eyes to the reality of childbirth in hospitals. How big of a business it is and how it disrupts every effort of the mother to breastfeed her child. Watch the video and find out what I am talking about!

So if possible, choose a natural childbirth without any medical intervention. If ever it is needed, choose the better option instead. Making an in-depth research will do if you happen to have no time to attend these classes.

3. Join Support Groups
-where to go and who to call when challenges come.

Being part of one is very important in achieving your goal. To be part of a group with like-minded people will surely help you when certain challenges arise. These challenges may make or break your breastfeeding journey; to have experienced friends, is a plus.

Mother-to-Mother

An online group I would highly recommend is called Breastfeeding Pinays on Facebook. All other support groups per area here in the Philippines are listed under their Files section – if you are looking for one. Although, you must first join the group in order to gain access to these files. Of course, there are other websites and online forums you can visit, but a Filipino-based community who understands our culture, may be of better help.

If ever you are based abroad, you may check the website of La Leche League for local a support group nearest you.

The Doctors

The group also has a list of Breastfeeding-friendly doctors if you wish to get a consultation. The Obstetrician and the Pediatrician you consult with should be knowledgeable about breastfeeding. If they start showing signs that they are backed-up by formula milk companies, that is already a warning for you to consider looking for another doctor. They will be your partners in promoting the health and well-being of your child so it is very important that you share the same views and advocacy.

4. The Latch

Unang Yakap is now an enforced protocol in most hospital which involves the following  steps:

  • Immediate Thorough Drying
  • Immediate Skin-to-Skin Contact
  • Appropriately-Timed Cord Clamping
  • Nonseparation of newborn from mother to allow for early breastfeeding

A mother must be able to establish a good start in breastfeeding in order to avoid common problems like engorgement and supply issues. The key is to make sure the baby is given the chance to feed as soon as possible which is roughly, 30 minutes to an hour after the birth. Please take note of Republic Act 7600 also known as The Rooming-In and Breast-feeding Act of 1992 which promotes and protects breastfeeding in the hospital setting.

Upon birth, every mom already has milk in the form of colostrum. This is very small in amount and is loaded with antibodies which serve as your baby’s first immunization. Aside from this, having the baby latched on right after birth will help in regulating baby’s temperature and blood sugar.

A Newborn's Stomach Capacity

Source: L.A.T.C.H.

Getting the baby to have a good latch from the very beginning will greatly decrease any form of difficulty along the way. If ever you need counseling, it is good to keep in touch with someone who can come over at the hospital to check on you and your baby’s latch when necessary.

Feed on Demand

Don’t watch the clock and don’t time your feedings. Allow baby to suckle at the breast for as long as he wants, one breast each feeding (or both, one after the other, if he isn’t satisfied). By doing this, it will send signals to your brain how much milk you need to produce. Breastfeeding is a law of supply and demand so having the baby latched often will help in your milk production later on.

Don’t measure the amount of milk, focus instead on the number of wet and soiled diapers. Remember, expressing milk is best done when baby turns 6 weeks old. By this time, milk production is already established and you wouldn’t have to worry about oversupply which usually leads to engorgement.

5. Exclusively Breastfeed for the First 6 Months

Exclusive Breastfeeding means no water, no solid food, no vitamins, and no other milk except breastmilk for the first 6 months of baby’s life. Studies have shown that exposing your baby to these substances can do your baby more harm than good. Breastmilk is already packed with nutrients to nourish your growing baby. It is really all they need!

The benefits for both mother and baby are just tremendous, I can go on and on about it! You may find a much more detailed explanation here.

Exclusive Breastfeeding

Source: Unicef c/o Breastfeeding Pinays

World Health Organization recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. – WHO

Working Moms CAN Continue Breastfeeding

Many mothers start supplementing with formula milk when they go back to work. What they do not know is that, this is unnecessary, and that it is possible to maintain your supply through expressing your milk. You may learn the art of hand expression which is way better and gentler for you breasts. If ever you do have the budget, you may purchase a breast pump. Either way, sticking to a schedule is the secret to making it work. You also have to remember that when you and baby are together, always go for direct feeding.

Being aware of the law called The Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act (RA 10028) is also important especially to those who are employed in smaller companies, who tend to violate the rights of the mothers to have an extra 40-minute break for expressing their milk. Note that you have rights and you need to be familiar with it to be able to fight for it.

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Source: World Health Organization and Trainer’s Reference Manual ‘Gabay kay Nanay sa Tamang Pagpapasuso’ c/o Breastfeeding Pinays

Cupfeeding

Using a cup instead of a bottle will eliminate the risk of nipple confusion. When a baby is breastfeeding directly, the baby exerts great effort in drawing the milk out through suckling. On the other hand, bottle-feeding requires no, to minimum effort for the milk to come out. The tendency is that, babies usually prefer the bottle over the breast and this causes a decrease in the mother’s supply. Cupfeeding is easy and can be done even with premature babies.

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My Matilda, fed with a cup of hand expressed milk when she was less than a week old.

6. Finding the Balance Between Breastfeeding and Solid Feeding

On the 6th month, your baby may already start eating solids. Not all babies though show signs of readiness by this time so it is best to get to know your baby. With Matilda, we delayed solids until her 7th month to maximize the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding. We didn’t have any problems with her weight gain so our Pedia approved of it. Also, she wan’t able to sit on her own unsupported yet and this was necessary to avoid choking.

Weight gain usually start to slow down around 5-6 months so don’t be surprised by it. As your child gradually learns how to eat, his weight gain will be on a steady pace from then on. Remember to always consider your baby’s milestones and do not compare your child’s weight with another. Every child is different and as long as he is a happy, contented baby, and meeting his milestones, you will surely have no problem.

A helpful guide on how much babies actually need is provided below:

6-8 months: 80% milk 20% solids
8-12 months: 60% milk 40% solids
12-23 months: 40%  milk 60% solids

Source: Tamang K.A.I.N Seminar (Kid and Infant Nutirition) conducted by Velvet Escario-Roxas in partnership with Breastfeeding Pinays

7. Push for Extended Breastfeeding

My Matilda at 1 year and 6 months is still breastfed and I plan to continue for as long as she wants. Why oh why? She has teeth already! Plus she’s already walking (more like running!). Well, yes of course she has teeth already! If the latch is right, it isn’t a problem. The picture below pretty much sums up all the reasons why we want to let her wean on her own. Breastfeeding is addicting after all! 🙂

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But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8 NASB)

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. (1 Peter 2:2, 3 NLT)