In this post, I am going to (attempt to) share my breastfeeding journey with Pia. For the record, Pia breastfed from birth up to a few months shy of her 5th birthday.
Even before Pia was born, I had always known that I would want to breastfeed her exclusively. I had seen firsthand the positive effects this had on my sister’s (Tina) children, and after doing my own research online and reading other moms’ personal stories, that desire became even more powerful.
When Pia was born, the Brunei hospital that I gave birth in, also had a very strong pro-breastfeeding policy so this made it easy for me to breastfeed her from the very moment she was out in the world. Our first night together in the hospital, just the two of us, was a truly magical time as I was able to breastfeed her with ease, feeding her on demand without much difficulty.
After about a week post-delivery, when we were already at home, I experienced what they called breast engorgement in my right breast which was very painful and even caused me high fever for a few days. Consulting with my sister and her lactation consultant friends, I was able to do what I needed to do to overcome the breast engorgement after over a week. I also experienced cracked nipples which was very, very, very painful especially whenever Pia would need to latch on to the said cracked nipple. And although it would have been easier to give up and let Pia bottle feed, I still chose to breastfeed through the pain because I didn’t want Pia to have what they call nipple confusion and end up not wanting to feed from me anymore. During this time, EVCO – Extra Virgin Coconut Oil was my natural remedy of choice as it not only helped soothe and heal my cracked nipples, it was also safe for Pia to ingest. Despite the pain and discomfort, I persevered in my breastfeeding Pia, knowing deep in my heart that this was what I was supposed to do and that it was the best for her. The little sacrifices paid off because we were both able to adjust to each other well : my body settled nicely, producing more than enough breast milk for Pia’s growing needs and Pia learned how to properly latch onto my breasts whenever she fed.
The love, support and encouragement I received from Rhenee and other family members helped me a lot, and I firmly believe this played a huge part in making our breastfeeding journey a success from the beginning. Rhenee, for his part, would always cook me yummy soup dishes, esp. tinola with lots of malunggay leaves to help keep my milk supply flowing. Tina, gave me an electric breast pump, to help me express my milk; and my Mama gave me much needed maternal support that only a mother could give a daughter. Though she did not breastfeed us exclusively when we were babies, she’s become quite an advocate of breastfeeding her grandchildren.
Before my maternity leave ended, I had already come up with a plan how to maintain my milk supply and still be able to breastfeed Pia when I was at home with her after office hours. That’s when my electric breast pump came in very handy as I was able to express milk for Pia and stock up on her supply in our freezer so that she would always be able to have access to my breast milk even when I was at the office. At the office I would also express my milk at our office pantry, in the morning and in the afternoon, so at the end of the office day, I would have at least 2 milk bags full of breast milk for Pia’s supply. During my lunch break and when I get home after work, Pia would directly feed from me. In the evenings before going to sleep and in the mornings before going to work, I would express milk too. That’s how much milk my body was producing – liquid gold – as what breast milk is fondly called and I was so grateful to God that He allowed my body to be able to do this for our little miracle, to have this superpower for a few years.
The choice to exclusively breastfeed Pia during her first 5 years really helped our family a lot. Pia was a very healthy and happy baby, and rarely got sick, and even when she did get sick she recovered very quickly. Breastfeeding helped me manage my body weight post-delivery. It was good for our finances as we didn’t have to buy baby formula every week. And we didn’t have much sleep loss as Rhenee and I didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night or wee hours of the morning whenever Pia would wake up to feed.
I know for a fact that not all moms have or had this opportunity so I count it a real blessing that I was able to do it for Pia, and not just for the recommended first 6 months of her life but as mentioned, all the way up to a few months shy of her 5th birthday. There were some well meaning people who would ask me why I was still breast feeding Pia even when she was already beyond 2 years old, and I just smile and tell them that it will be Pia’s decision when she stops, and that she will stop when she is ready. And that while she’s not yet ready, I will continue to do what is best for her and provide to her what she needs, when she needs it. And that’s exactly what happened, when she decided she didn’t want to breastfeed anymore, she just told me herself and she stopped, just like that. No crying, no drama, no struggles, all before her 5th birthday this year.
To end this, I would like to point out (again) that not all moms will have the opportunity or capability I was given to breastfeed. And that does not make you any less of a mother to your child or children. I am just sharing my personal breast feeding journey with Pia, in the hopes that it may help a new mother somewhere out there who needs a little inspiration or motivation to go on with her own breast feeding journey.