March 2018 Newsletter: International Women’s Day

by BMSG Editorial Team

#PressforProgress – the hashtag for this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration is a stark reminder that a lot of work remains to be done when it comes to giving women opportunities to live to their best potential in this life.

For breastfeeding mothers and advocates, pressing for progress means fighting the unseen and tangible pressures that surround the breastfeeding community against fulfilling our children’s right for milk.

When we look at how society views breastfeeding, it seems that the difficulty in advocating for it stems from the tension of the multiple hats that women have to wear: wife, daughter, mother, worker. The difficulty in understanding it can be due to the unquantifiable nature of a mother’s desire to breastfeed, and how breastfeeding can sometimes be at odds with our fast-paced way of life. It is the intangible benefits of breastfeeding that perplex most people because they are not immediately obvious to those who are not privy to the breastfeeding relationship between a mother and child.

Some ideas come to mind when we think of what could be done to help the progress of breastfeeding mothers:

  • Encouraging policies that allow working mothers to stay at home with paid leave for a longer duration
  • Workplace policies that support mothers who pump milk for their babies – incentives for employers, facilities for pumping, as well as permission for the mother to take time off from work to pump
  • Childcare facilities being more open to supporting mothers who wish to provide breastmilk for their toddlers and older children
  • No harassment or shaming of mothers who breastfeed in public
  • Better awareness and education on breastfeeding as a norm
  • Excellent postpartum support for mothers that starts right from the hospital; ample opportunities for rooming in and bonding; precise support from lactation consultants and nurses for newborns and mothers; the provision of accurate and evidence-based information for parents to make informed choices
  • Reigning in formula milk and baby food marketing in hospitals and healthcare offices, and instead investing in the training of breastfeeding science and support for health personnel

While it may seem a tall mountain to climb, let us not forget that though the efforts may take awhile to move things, any small progress is a reason for success and a possible turning point. In the spirit of IWD, let us also not forget that individually we may not achieve significantly but together we can make great changes, as we have seen in the history books how women have flourished from chapter to chapter.

From all of us at BMSG, Happy International Women’s Day!

 

March 2018 Newsletter: Mother’s Sharing

By Regina Lua Ubaña, BMSG Volunteer

I have two beautiful children, a 5 year-old girl, Reigna, and a 2 year-old boy, Reignz, whom I have been breastfeeding since birth. Reigna was breastfed till she turned 2 years old. Both my husband and I were determined to give our firstborn the best we could. We are nurses by profession and know that mummy’s milk is the best.

Alas, when my baby was barely more than a month old, I developed severe food poisoning, and my temperature hit 41 degrees Celsius. Not only did my milk supply decrease tremendously, but I was also given the wrong advice by the A&E doctor to stop breastfeeding. Heartache consumed me when I emptied bottles of manually-pumped milk down the sink. The doctors also suggested medications that they said would mean ceasing breastfeeding immediately. I wept, fearing that I might not be able to nurse my child anymore. Thereafter, I insisted only on treatment which would not interfere with breastfeeding.

During my hospitalisation, I was too weak to pump regularly and developed mastitis. The pain was unbearable compared to my natural delivery. Thankfully, I soon recovered. I latched Reigna whenever I could, and due to the pumping which elongated my nipples, she finally was able to latch successfully when she was 2 months old. Yet this was still not the last hurdle I had to overcome. The following month, I had to go for a pre-root canal procedure. At the time, I did not realise that local anesthesia is considered safe for breastfeeding. I feared that it would be harmful to my baby, and requested for the procedure to be done without any painkillers. My elderly dentist told me I was his first ever patient to request this. To this day, I can remember tears pouring down my cheeks during the process. I had found something even more painful than my encounter with mastitis.

From the ordeals that I had gone through, one of my biggest takeaways is this: it is necessary to be well-informed on breastfeeding for medical situations, so that we can get the right medication and treatment that we need.

About two months before I returned to work, I miscalculated and ran out of bottles and bags to store my milk. I cut down on pumping while waiting for my online order of milk bags to arrive, and as a result, mastitis returned to haunt me. Despite my own poor health, I was grateful for the amount of liquid gold I could produce for Reigna. She was chubby, healthy and rarely fell sick even when other family members at home took ill.

With much heartache, we finally weaned when she was 2 years old because I had some difficulty conceiving. My periods were very irregular, which we suspected was due to breastfeeding. My freezer of frozen milk remained untouched in their milk bags for another year, before I impulsively threw them out. I now regret not keeping at least one packet for sentimental value, as that was the precious milk that had sustained my little daughter.

Breastfeeding is a beautiful thing to do, but it does not paint beautiful pictures all the time. Although it has vast benefits and is highly recommended, it is also tiring and not an easy process, especially when there are many medical issues that get in your way. However, practice makes perfect, both for mummy and baby. Persist and don’t give up too easily. It is important for us to try our best, but no matter what, the love we have for our babies is immeasurable.

From the ordeals that I had gone through, one of my biggest takeaways is this: it is necessary to be well-informed on breastfeeding for medical situations, so that we can get the right medication and treatment that we need.