the unnatural mother

embracing mother-ing and all its glory – from wet diapers, spit-ups, tantrums to first smiles, hug-a-bugs and sweet cuddles

The success of a parent July 8, 2013

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Parenting — reeseyenko @ 2:05 pm
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I saw this post on Facebook by Pinky McKay.

separation anxiety

And I couldn’t help but be amazed at how breastfeeding has greatly shaped my parenting beliefs and style. From the instant and “snap” culture that we have to the downright slow, persevering and hardwork it takes to express milk, I no longer believe that children need to learn independence once they are born or to know the alphabet when they turn 1. That babies and children have their own learning and growth curve, that nobody – not your doctor, not scientists or researchers who make the charts, not advertisements – can dictate what your child should be doing at a certain age or how heavy or tall your child should be. Your child is YOURS – a sum of its parents, a sum of 2 very different people, a unique being that cannot be plotted in a chart or a curve or made to fit in a mold dictated by medical practitioners from across the globe. You know your child by touching her, feeding her and loving her which all requires time – lots and lots of time starting into each others eyes, kissing her forehead a hundred times a day while she lays on your lap, cheeks pressed against your skin and taking in your smell…even if you’ve had a long day.
Yet, as your child is YOURs, you are also HERS or HIS – you bear a responsibility to your child to see to her wellness and well-being, to provide security and a safe haven, to ensure that she is getting the best of everything and that she is developing at a rate that is comfortable to her and you. You owe it to her to present her with as much opportunities for her development and growth.

From believing that the success of a man or woman is measured by the notches he/she has climbed in the corporate ladder, I measure success by how happy and content their children are.

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A Pumping Mom’s Day Out July 1, 2013

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Parenting — reeseyenko @ 2:02 pm

A few days ago was our 7th year wedding anniversary. We have 3 children now – 2 of which are going to school already and the third is a stay-at-home 1-yr old. We stopped going on vacations on our 3rd year. We were just too busy then to plan and be anywhere so since then, we just opted to take a leave from work and eat out or do something.

Now, on #7, still breastfeeding our 19-month old, here’s how my day went:

  • Brought our son to school and by 6am, he was there at the Ateneo Grade School
  • By 630am, we were at CBTL Technohub for our breakfast
  • Left at 730 am – pump in car
  • Play and feed baby her breakfast
  • After which, nurse baby while on facebook
  • Leave at 10am for Trinoma
  • Bought Chatime drinks
  • Went to cinema to buy tickets
  • Ate a light lunch at Bigoli
  • Went inside the cinema at 1130am
  • Came out at 130
  • Pumped at 2pm
  • Had lunch at 230
  • Went around the mall looking for shoes, clothes, etc
  • Bought hubby 2 polos on sale at Giordano
  • Looked for shoes. None that I liked
  • Bought lipstick
  • Go Home
  • Arrived home at 5pm
  • Started homework with my eldest at around 6 while fixing the things we bought, pumped milk, facebook, nursed baby
  • Ate a light dinner
  • Nursed baby to sleep
  • Take a bath
  • go on Facebook
  • then sleep

This isn’t my normal pumping schedule since IT is a special day. Yet, I do try to stick to it and still pump 3x a day and nurse in between pumping sessions if I know the interval is going to be long. I also try to multi-task to get everything done in the limited time I have.

 

Sacrifice of a Nursing Mother June 14, 2013

I have been breastfeeding for a cumulative of 32 months – 1 month for my 1st, 13 months for my 2nd and 18 months for my 3rd (and still going). There were many struggles and obstacles along the way and they weren’t easy to overcome. But more than those troubles is all the sacrifice I had to make for my LO. Sacrifice entails a giving of oneself… much like LOVE and thus, I could name this entry the ‘Love of a Nursing Mother’ because breastfeeding is pure LOVE.

The number ONE sacrifice I had to make was going out. I’m a girl and I love shopping – plain and simple. In the first 2 months of my baby’s life, I refrained from going out not because I was recuperating  (that’s the least of my concern at that point) but because I felt it was unsafe for baby’s health. I live in the Philippines where there is people everywhere – the malls are packed even on a simple weekday – and I just didn’t want exposing my LO to all the germs around (germophobe in me typing).

TWO, close to number one, I had to give up going to the movies… frequently. It was and still is such a struggle for me to find time for movies because a) I’m a working mom and spend 9 hours at work, 3 hours commuting and 8 hours sleeping (not without waking, I must say) which leaves me with only 4 hours to spend a day for my 3 children; and b) weekends are for errands like grocery shopping, gift shopping for all the birthday parties we are invited to, actually attending those birthday parties, hearing mass and seeing relatives ; and c) I’m dead tired when I have the time to be tired so I would just like to be alone. So this is more like a sacrifice of having a family but here is the breastfeeding part…Going to the movies entails expressing milk before and after the movie which means bringing my pump bag and cooler all around the mall. I am not the kind of mother who expresses a lot or much at all so I would rather directly nurse my baby than pump.

THREE is giving up the convenience of medicines or the euphoria of caffeine. I put this two together because they are both drugs. Yes, caffeine is a DRUG and must be taken in moderation. Speaking of moderation, a lot of sites would say that Coffee is SAFE for the breastfeeding mom and baby when taken in moderation which means, 1 standard cup a day is fine. Yet, I am not taking any chances, considering that I am asthmatic and I have a maintenance medicine of salbutamol already – that’s 1 drug regularly in my system, that I need to LIVE. Other drugs for cough or colds, I tend to avoid as well.

I believe anything we put into our mouths or our bodies finds its way to our bloodstream and into baby’s breastmilk. The effects may not manifest in the amount of milk we produce or immediately in baby’s behavior. Even if they are ‘approved’ by our doctors, most often than not it only means that ‘there is inconclusive studies/results or no studies at all were made on the effects on baby for lactating women’. Some of these drugs, though BFDA approved, are new and the effects on babies whose mothers breastfed them may only be documented in the last 5 years or so. What if there are long-term effects that will manifest when child is already 10 years old,  15 or 25? Yes, i am paranoid but weighing my child’s health & safety vs. my convenience, I choose my child.

Having said all these, my life may look dull, lifeless, difficult and you may think ‘breastfeeding is drag‘, but on the contrary, breastfeeding has taught me a lot about the more important things in life – things that this fast-paced world has ignored and set aside just to keep moving with the tide.

It has taught me to prioritize and organize my life around things that matter – God, Health, Family, Self and lastly, work or money. I take care of myself before family because if I am sick, no one will take of my children. They need me to be at my tip-top shape in order for me to be their MOTHER. I take my vitamins, eat healthy and avoid fastfoods and junk food (I said, ‘avoid’ not remove… take note. Its good to enjoy comforts once in awhile 🙂 ). I spend and devote the time I have at home for my children – playing ‘zombie hunter’ with them even while I pump my breastmilk, reading books to them and even to my 18th month old who just likes flipping through the pages and using my finger to point and waiting for me to identify the object (beats any V-tech toy!) and just cuddling in the morning when everyone is just bleary-eyed and fresh from a good night’s rest

It makes my life simpler. Breastfed babies under 1 year old don’t need water, don’t need vitamins and don’t need much food. They just need mother’s milk to sustain them for the first year of life and complement solid foods after that . They just need to cuddle when they are hurt or nursing an ‘ouchie’ . They just need to be nursed to sleep  and given the boobie when waking up a night – no fuss, no mess. Thus, I’ve realized that I, too, don’t need new shoes every month or new nail polish for the season or the latest Apple gadget to complete my day. Less wants, less needs, less fuss, less ado about nothing.

It has taught me to FOCUS – be it at work, while pumping or reviewing my older child. I need to finish my work on time so I can leave on time and be with my kids. I need to leave office concerns at my desk while I pump milk  – I even used to imagine my child during pumping sessions to trigger the milk ejection reflex. And when I study with my older child, I can’t be thinking about something else.

But even with all this focus, I also learned to multi-task and plan ahead. I love crocheting and it keeps me stable and sane –  I do this on the commute from and to work.  I pump in the car when I am too busy at work. I think about the kids’ snack and lunch while I am walking, eating lunch or using the bathroom!

Having a baby is a life-changing event and this goes for all those new parents, second-time parents, third- time parents – its different with each one – breastfeeding or not. Please don’t expect that it all goes back to ‘normal’ – whatever that is – when the child learns to feed, talk, walk,  poop, wash itself. It doesn’t. It’s a lifelong trek of adjustment and of course, LOVE.

Sure, going out on movie dates is fun but grocery-shopping dates are ‘fun-er’ – it combines shopping and exercise in one activity – nothing beats that for a woman!

 

What pump do I use? May 24, 2013

Filed under: Breastfeeding — reeseyenko @ 9:26 am
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In the facebook breastfeeding groups that I am a part of, this is a usual question. Though I think lactation councilors, consultants and experts are trained to say that a good pump is not essential to breastfeeding success, I would say it is only essential if you plan to be regularly away from baby.

My first pump was a manual single pump from a brand that I would not mention because it did not work for me. It led me to believe that breastfeeding would not work when I went back to my day job as an IT professional. Little did I know, at that time when there was no facebook yet, that that amount was normal.

In any case, with my 2nd baby, a friend introduced me to Medela. It was pricey indeed and that must have been the most expensive gadget I had bought in my entire life until now – 3 years after. Yet, it was an investment worth every centavo. I bought the Medela Freestyle which was and still is the top of the line of pumps at Medela.

My 2nd baby was breastfed for 13 months. He was born April and I started regularly using it on July. I used it for 4xday, 7days a week for 10 months. When I got pregnant, I tapered off my pumping sessions and stopped. I took out the battery and kept it away.

A few months before I gave birth, I had Freestyle checked and cleaned at MedelaMoms. They reported everything in good order.

My 3rd baby is almost 18 months. With her, I started pumping once a day at Day 5 – for several reasons. I gave birth at the end of November and went back to work mid February. I’ve been using it 3xday, 5 days a week, for 15 months plus once a day on weekends for the first 14 months and now, 2-3 x a day on weekends.

I believe my Freestyle is used a lot and still works well. I’ve recommended it to my SIL and I have no qualms recommending it again

 

Why do I breastfeed? Because I never had to rock or dance my baby to sleep. February 4, 2013

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Parenting — reeseyenko @ 10:01 am
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Baby nurses herself to sleepYes, my 2 breastfed children never had to be rocked or danced to sleep by me. Of course, the nanny had to do it when I was away but I only had to give ’em the boobies and it instantly lulled them to sleep. They would even fight off sleep once latched on and its cute how their eyelids would droop and they’d make an effort to open them but eventually succumb to slumber after a few. Yes, its that easy 🙂 – no tantrums, no kicking and fighting, no excuses.

The only downside to this is that I have to be with them at sleeping time at night. This means, no partying or staying out late for mommy – but I don’t really mind. My priorities have changed and there is nowhere I’d rather be than… stuck to my child’s latch or rather, my child stuck to me until she wanders off to dreamland.

 

Why do I breastfeed? It is Natural. October 16, 2012

Filed under: Breastfeeding — reeseyenko @ 9:47 pm
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I have 3 kids – one is in primary school, one is a toddler and one is an infant. All of them are/were breastfed to some degree – my first breastfed for only 1.5 months, my second for 13 months and my princess is 10 months and is still breastfeeding.

There are many benefits to breastfeeding  and you can get this information anywhere. But why do I choose to breastfeed? My reasons change every time you ask me and almost everyday, there is a new realization.

At this point in my princess’ life, I breastfeed her because it is the most natural thing to do. When I get home, the first thing I do is (wash my hands), put my expressed milk in the refrigerator and take my baby from the babysitter. I would offer her my breast even if it has only been 30 mins since my last pump. Breastfeeding has become a habit and a way of life – just the way it should be.

My princess and I cuddle for a nursing break at one restaurant.

I hope to naturally wean my princess. This means that I will not do anything to stop her at the breast and that I will wait for her to say “mommy, I don’t want mommy’s milk anymore”. Why stop her from getting the best?

 

A Newborn baby’s needs… August 4, 2012

Filed under: Breastfeeding,Parenting — reeseyenko @ 8:20 am
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This puts into words all I want to share about my experience having 3 newborns in my life.

Remember these 3 things when your baby cries.

I must say, I did not learn it from the ‘elders’ or the yayas we employed. They would often say, “put the baby down, he/she will make a habit out of being carried” or “he/she is still at the breast??? maybe, you don’t have enough milk that’s why he/she’s taking sooo long”. After 3, I have enough experience (on newborns only) than most elders in my family and I can confidently (and with authority) dismiss their comments with a wave of my hand.

I learned this gradually and with a lot of reading. I would tell them “shush, what of it?” .

I learned that babies need to be just like they were in the womb – all snuggly and warm – and that’s why we swaddle them in receiving blankets or woombies. But I was never an expert in swaddling or the woombies were to expensive so I used myself. I would keep baby close to me and put her head in the crook of my neck, wrap my hands and arms around her tiny body, legs and feet, use my breath to warm her hands and cheeks. And I’m pretty sure it worked! My youngest was born late November and being a Catholic I did not want to miss midnight mass on Christmas eve. I brought her with me – all tiny, less than a month old. She was fine and sleeping peacefully because she was cuddled in mommy’s loving embrace. No infant seats, no strollers. Just mommy’s warmth.

I learned that there is no better food than food from the breast. Human milk is perfect for a human baby; just as cow’s milk is perfect for a cow baby.  It doesn’t take much really. You don’t need 1 oz of milk in her first feeding nor 3 oz of milk when she turns 2 months. Heck, you don’t even need 6 oz of milk when she’s 5 months. Those ‘requirements’ are for supplemental or artificial milk.With all that’s been said about the nutrients and antibodies of breastmilk, there is truth in all of it. The human milk produces just the right amount of antibodies to protect the baby depending on his/her age and exposure. Yet, do not expect it to have the same effects of supplemental milk – rapid growth, a fat baby, hyperactivity. Breastfed babies have a slower growth rate, leaner bodies and less restless. And for me that is perfectly alright!

I learned that security for baby’s mean being held by mommy… or daddy. It can be tiring, I know, and that is why there is an abundance of baby slings and carriers in the market nowadays. I was never confident with those cloth slings so I bought myself a structure carrier. It proved helpful in vacations and trips to the mall. I just hope that even when she’s bigger she will still accept it.When baby is older and goes to the mall or supermarket more frequently, she can be overwhelmed with all the people, sights and sounds. Mommy’s breast and the way mommy and baby cuddle when they breastfeed give her a sense of calm and peace.

There are a lot of moms-to-be out there who are turning to the internet for guidance and support and I hope this finds them. I hope they decide to breastfeed because it’s the best thing I’ve done as a mother.