Noobs at Boobs

Last Saturday, we attended The Parenting Emporium’s All About Breastfeeding workshop. I asked Mikey to come along with me because I read that engaged husbands lead to a more successful breastfeeding experience (also, it’s fun attending workshops together! We should do it more often).

I’ve been reading up on breastfeeding and watching all the tutorial videos, but there’s still added value in attending workshops because you get to ask your questions. An added bonus: our speaker, Ms. Abigail Yabot of La Leche League of the Philippines, is currently nursing her youngest baby! She was able to demo actual breastfeeding! ❤

Here are my favorite take-aways from the workshop:

  • A crying baby doesn’t mean he/she is hungry. Babies communicate by crying, so your baby may not necessarily be hungry.
  • Try to breastfeed the baby before they start crying. Ms. Yabot showed us a bunch of hunger cues to look out for. It’s more difficult to breastfeed a hysterical baby.
  • You won’t always hear the baby burp, especially if they’re breastfeeding. Breast milk has no air bubbles and if you breastfeed exclusively, air will usually only accompany the milk during the first two weeks when the baby is still learning how to latch. And even then, babies can pass gas in other ways.
  • Try to direct feed exclusively for the first six weeks. That way, your body knows how much milk it needs to make. While some moms choose to pump and direct feed at the same time, overproduction of milk is not always a good thing (especially if you intend on being a stay-at-home or work-from-home mom). But it’s okay to pump and direct feed at the same time when you are trying to build your milk supply because you will need to go back to work eventually.
  • Try to use both breasts equally within the span of 24 hours (otherwise you may find yourself with different sized boobs).
  • Latching is very important! Your baby needs to learn how to latch properly so that they can feed properly. The learning curve is steep, but you have to keep working at it!
  • The milk your body can produce by proper direct feeding (because of the efficiency of a baby’s latch) is always exponentially more than the milk you can produce with the best and most expensive pump.
  • The size of your boobs does not determine the amount of milk you produce!

There were some controversial assertions made during the workshop. For instance, Ms. Yabot shared that breastfeeding could actually replace immunization shots. She said that for her child, she only gets the shots for the illnesses that are common in the Philippines. While I believe in the benefits of breast milk, I don’t think I’m brave enough to forgo immunization shots (especially if our pediatrician recommends that we get it).

She also shared that men are also capable of breastfeeding. She explained that we all have the same breast structure, but men have underdeveloped ones. She shared that in some cultures, men actually breastfeed their babies! (At this point, Mikey is looking at me with his joke-time-naman look). And even if this were true, I think I’ll take charge of breastfeeding Squishy. Hehe.

The thing about parenting workshops (and any type of classroom learning for that matter) is that your teacher/facilitator/resource person will always have their own biases and advocacies. I taught at the university-level for over five years and I always try to disclose my biases to my students at the beginning of each term. I do this because I want my students to be critical of what they learn in class—the goal is for them to develop their own biases and perspectives and not simply mimic mine.

Now, more than ever, I realize how important it is to be critical about the kind of information you allow to affect your parenting/childrearing decisions. People will always have advice and “truths” that they will put forward (whether or not you ask—haha). But you will go mad if you try to follow everything.

This is what Mikey and I end up doing: we listen, we express gratitude, we take a step back, and then we talk about it—did that make sense? Will that work for us? Why did that person have crazy eyes when he or she was sharing that story? We are often turned off by advice given in the tone of you’ll-be-sorry-if-you-don’t-listen-to-me. We genuinely appreciate people who share their stories of what has worked for them and at the same time, encourage us to figure out what will work for us.

At this point, we have a vague picture of the ideal. But we also know that we have a lot to learn. I guess what’s important is that we’re committed to growing together as parents. We will also be forgiving of each other and ourselves (grace, grace, and more grace). And we have to remind ourselves that there’s no other metric for success apart from the happiness and well-being of our little family.

Today, we’re at 34 weeks and 2 days! ❤ And the learning continues! In fact, I’ve signed us up for another breastfeeding workshop this Saturday: St. Luke’s Mom and Breastfeeding 101. Come! Come!

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