Earlier this month, I had the honor of being one of the speakers for the 3rd International Breastfeeding Conference and 6th Breastfeeding Congress held here in Manila. My pediatrician, Dr. Angel Tinga, believed my breastfeeding journey would be worth sharing.
As I found it unnecessary to share early on, not many people know of my son being born prematurely. The ideal range is at 37 to 40 weeks, and I gave birth at 36 weeks and 5 days. Not too bad you would say, but complications of pre-eclampsia towards the end of my third trimester triggered an emergency C-section delivery.
For any first time mom, I thought I did more than enough preparation. I ate well, exercised, visited the doctor, took meds. I felt strong and fit for the whole journey. I was even at work, covering basketball games, shooting a movie, and teaching yoga until my second trimester, as everything felt easy and comfortable.
But like what they say, you can never be too ready for a life-changing experience such as pregnancy. To cut the long story short, I reached a point where I was experiencing incessant headache, increased blood pressure, and light spotting. My OB-GYN, a well experienced and distinguished doctor at 82 years old, called it right away when my symptoms became difficult to manage. Other doctors were even reaffirming how lucky I am to have Dr. Florante Gonzaga, whose expertise throughout his career prevented further medical concerns.
So in the morning of September 7, 2017, at about 11 AM, I delivered my first born, Greyson Jet Padilla Cariaso. Easily, the groggiest day of my life. Epidural was too intense for me to feel the magic of finally being a mother.
But kidding aside, I may have been partially dazed, yet it was nothing but instinctive to think of and worry about my newborn son, though I was told that he’s healthy and has no complications.
Amidst the haze, my mind somehow brought me to that time in a science class, when we were told that nature has its way of protecting and taking care of its own. When a problem arises, a solution is always close by. Like how a snake has its own antidote for its venom, or how a nearby plant can cure cuts and wounds out in the wild. Nature is always self-sufficient.
And like how the problem arose from my body, I knew the best solution will also come from me. So to breastfeed was never a question.
Operated and all, I stood up the next day and went to see my boy to get the latching started. Soon after, all other ways to hasten my milk supply were done. I bought all kinds of pumps, took all lactation supplements, fixed pumping schedule, and maintained a diet that will help my cause.
Breastfeeding also affected my other activities. Work, exercise, and all else that requires me to step out of the house, I had to assess if necessary. I had to advise my producers to allow me to pump while taping. I wasn’t practicing yoga as much as I used to. Dinners and get-togethers, most of the time, got a no. Breastfeeding was absolutely the top priority.
Months passed, things got easier. Things are getting back to normal. And breastfeeding has found its sweet spot in my daily life. I am proud to say that close to a year now, I am still breastfeeding and my son remains healthy as how he has been since day one.
However, more than sharing with you how my son has been, the illustration I want to paint is the effort involved in breastfeeding. Undoubtedly, it is a huge sacrifice. It is difficult, painful, and a lot of work. But definitely worth every single drop.
And this is the perspective I am encouraging women to warmly embrace. In this time and age, when our world is defined by ease and convenience. I hope mothers, mothers to be, hopeful mothers, and mothers who want more children, would not succumb to this kind of mindset when it comes to nurturing and nourishing their children.
There’s a reason why we refer to our planet, and nature as a mother because we have been extended the same power and capacity to protect and to nurture. As we bear our young, natural breast milk is the best nourishment we can give them. Isn’t it beautiful to bring forth life, and thereafter introduce life to them in its rawness and purity? By breastfeeding, we are instrumental in bringing them back to who they really are, allowing them to develop the way they would and should like any other animal, which is always beautiful. It may be difficult to really see the difference when they get a little older, but the nourishment, protection, development, brought forth by breast milk will be imprinted within them and is a life-long gift that we can give our children.
Though formula-feeding is in no way frowned upon, this is just a gentle perspective that moms out there could consider and take to heart. I did, and mine has never been so full knowing that by breastfeeding my son in his infancy, I found a way to be with him for a lifetime.
How did your breastfeeding journey go? Share them with us by commenting below!