“Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (July). For this month, we join the National Nutrition Council – Department of Health in celebrating Nutrition Month with the theme “Isulong ang Breastfeeding – Tama, Sapat at EKsklusibo!” Participants will share their experiences in promoting breastfeeding or their tips on how breastfeeding should be promoted. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants.”

I live in the formula generation. I can’t recall an instance when my family talked about breastfeeding. It was all bottles, different brands of powdered milk, and sterilizers. None of my cousins (on my mom’s side) were breastfed.

I remember my mom told me that I was part of a formula brand testing and got a year’s supply of formula! The reason why I wasn’t breastfed is that my mom had a lump in one of her breasts that needed to be removed. I was breastfed for about a month. My younger sister, nada. Poor one didn’t even get to taste colostrum.

Not that I regret that I wasn’t breastfed. I grew up well and so did my sister and my cousins. But if I had a choice, I would have wanted to be breastfed.

So for our first daughter, I chose breastfeeding. I have been breastfeeding her for the past eleven months (and counting!). And I’m blessed to have a supportive family. Of course, it meant bringing the baby almost everywhere, choosing to work part-time and watching what I eat as if I’m still pregnant.

And now, this formula-fed mom is encouraging others to breastfeed. How?

1. Share information. Sometimes I do this by posting on my Facebook or Twitter, and friends would send me questions. I’m happy to share what I know and experienced because, really, experience is the best teacher. I just tend to overdo it sometimes, hence the very long replies!

I wonder, though, why some of my friends tell me I’m lucky I still breastfeed, when they didn’t even try for more than a month, saying they had a hard time or they didn’t have milk. They had all the opportunity and time, after all. They could have saved lots of money.

2. Live by example: nurse in public. At times, however, I tend to forget that I’m not in the comfort of my own home and just offer my breast to my daughter, covered or not covered, especially when she starts to be restless. My nursing cover is actually useless now because she just plays with it and removes it anyway.

What I do is wear something accessible for breastfeeding. Often a tube underneath a loose pull-up blouse is fine. I just cover whatever skin is exposed with a piece of cloth.

3. Invite pregnant and new moms to support meetings. Some moms need to hear from other moms to be convinced that they, too, can breastfeed. There are LATCH seminars, Medela classes, and La Leche League meets (where I started attending a year ago this month).

Plug: There will be a La Leche League meeting on July 23, 10:30 AM at Mothercare,Greenbelt5. More info on La Leche League Manila’s Facebook Page.

Not convinced yet? Maybe we could suggest the following to promote breastfeeding better:

1. Have more breastfeeding-friendly hospitals. My hospital had this big sign that theirs is indeed a breastfeeding-friendly one. It was from WHO, if I remember right. I did not take prenatal classes but with a little coaching and support from the resident doctors and midwives, I gave birth unmedicated. The baby was immediately latched on to me and she was roomed in a few hours after. The hospital had midwives who taught us about breastfeeding cues, latch, and so much more.

I’m fortunate also to have an OB-GYN who’s highly supportive of natural birth and breastfeeding. She’s vegetarian, too, so she made sure I ate healthy when I was still pregnant.

2. Have more breastfeeding-friendly pediatricians. Some say they’re breastfeeding-friendly, but they’d still resort to formula feeding after some time.

My baby’s own pedia asked if I still had breastmilk for my baby back when she was eight months, and yet she says she’s a breastfeeding advocate. Her secretary gave me a look when I breastfed my baby in the clinic while waiting for the doctor. She asked: “You still breastfeed? You still have milk?” As if it’s a bad thing!

3. Make nursing clothes mainstream, and cheaper. I only see nursing clothes online, and those in the mall are expensive and sad-looking, with zippers that are choking hazards. There’s the nursing cover, alright, but you need easy access to your milk source, right? You see really expensive nursing clothes and then tell yourself: nursing is for the rich.

Try the tube underneath your clothes. It does work, practice makes perfect. I have Undercover Mama from Mama Baby Love which hooks to your nursing bra.

4. Longer maternity leaves! Maybe four or six months is best for both mother and baby to establish breastfeeding and eventually introduce solids. Of course, ample recovery period for the mother, who may or may not suffer postpartum blues, is necessary.

My OB-GYN talked me into quitting my job to focus on my pregnancy, birth of the baby, and newborn care. So I did. And my husband and I didn’t regret making that decision. Slowly, I’m going back on track, teaching part-time and singing for events.

Breastfeeding involves dedication, passion, and determination. Don’t get mad, lactivists, but for beginners, I think a little breastfeeding is better than none. It’s a good start to convince new moms to breastfeed. It’s the most natural thing any mother can do, and it’s the cherry on top of the icing.

~ Touringkitty

Posts from other super breastfeeders below:

The Low-Milk-Supply Mommy Did It! by The Odyssey of Dinna
Milk Mama Diaries 3 by MimmaBenz (@benzcorana)
More Breastfeeding Promotion Plus a Guest Post by Chronicles of a Nursing Mom (@mamababylove).  Guest post by Shaps Lim (@cromartielove)