Wednesday, August 17, 2011


"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (August). For this month, we join the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action in its "Talk to Me!" theme where participants will share personal experiences, insights or recommendations in communicating breastfeeding intentions and goals to their support system. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants."

"Ma, did you breastfeed me when I was a baby?" my second daughter asked me one afternoon.

"I did. I breastfed you for two years."

"What about me?" my 8-year old firstborn inquired.

It took me a while to answer her. The truth is, I breastfed her for a few days only. Due to delivery-related complications, I was given medicines that the doctors said were not safe for a newborn. My first month after giving birth was spent confined at a hospital, and going back and forth the emergency room due to high fever, vomiting, and severe allergic reaction to medicines. By the time it was safe to breastfeed my daughter, my milk had dried up and she absolutely refused to latch.

So, how does one discuss breastfeeding with a child who was formula-fed? How does one emphasize the importance of breastfeeding to a daughter who, in a brood of three, happens to be the only one who was not breastfed?

I distinctly remember that while I was thinking hard and fast on how to answer her, there were three things that I wanted to be clear about. 

First, I love her very much and my actions and decisions have always been guided by that unconditional love. 

Second, breastmilk is still the best for babies under most circumstances and had it been medically safe for her to have my breastmilk, I would have willingly and lovingly breastfed her.

Third, while I intend to breastfeed B, her youngest brother, for as long as possible, my breastfeeding goal is not limited to that. As a mom of two girls, it is my long-term goal to raise daughters who, when the time comes, would choose to breastfeed. But I know that it would be difficult to do that if F perceives breastfeeding negatively as a result of her being the only one who was not breastfed. 

With the "what I want to say" being clear in my mind, I began to answer her question both in words and in deed. 

1. Honesty is still the best policy. "Yes, I breastfed you but for a few days only," I told F. I could have just answered her yes because technically, that is true. (Ah, have you noticed how lawyers often resort to technicalities? But I digress.) I've always tried to be honest with my children. I wasn't about to start lying to her by omission.

2. It's all about love. I emphasized to her that I love all three of them--her, my firstborn, her little sister and the bunso. Because I love all of my children, I want to give them the best milk. And breastmilk is still the best for babies under most circumstances. 

This, I told her, is the reason why I breastfed her sister for two years and am still breastfeeding her baby brother who is now 11 months old. And my unconditional love for her is also the reason why I breastfed her for the first few days of her life. 

3. I never assumed that she would not understand me. I explained to her that while I've always intended to breastfeed her, I would never knowingly put her at risk. Unfortunately, because of all the medication that I was taking after giving birth, it was not advisable for me to breastfeed her (or at least that's what my doctors told me).

"I get it. You were sick and you didn't want me to get sick also," she said.

Come to think of it, that perfectly summed it up.

4. I let her (and my other daughter) be a "part" of my breastfeeding relationship with baby B. I always make sure that she feels welcome to stay with me while I'm breastfeeding B. I also pointed out that my breastfeeding B benefits not only the baby but the entire family, including her and her sister. How? Since breastmilk is free, she knows that Mom and Dad don't have to buy formula milk. Instead, we can use the money to watch movies or buy her favorite Geronimo Stilton books.

5. I discuss breastfeeding with her and correlate it with her experiences. For example, last December, she and my second daughter had a terrible bout of cough and cold which necessitated frequent visits to the doctor. She had to drink nasty-tasting antibiotics in order to get well. And then she remembered that B did not get sick at that time. She concluded that it must be because B was drinking breastmilk!          

I am happy to say that most of my breastfeeding pictures were taken by my daughter F. And when she started doing this, I knew that she understood my message--that breastmilk is still best for babies.

But more importantly, she knows that I love her, breastfed or not. 

*On hindsight, how I wish I knew then that relactation is possible. This is why being informed about breastfeeding is so important and crucial to a successful breastfeeding experience.

**My daughter is not only a part of my support group. Had she felt bad knowing that she was the only one who was not breastfed, it would probably be difficult for me to continue breastfeeding B openly.

Please do read the posts of the other blog carnival participants:

Communication and First Time Breastfeeders 
Creating a Pro-Breastfeeding Culture in the Family
How to get others to support you in breastfeeding
Pre-Natal Pediatric Consultations Are Necessary
On breastfeeding: Say it, claim it, get support!
My Best Breastfeeding Support System — My Husband
Communication through Breastfeeding
Escie's World: Ready, Get Set, Go! for Breastfeeding
I'm breastfeeding, and that's that.
BreasTALK : Text, Retweet, Share your Knowledge and Experiences
A Shout out to My Breastfeeding Buddies
Talk and Make It Happen
How I Taught the Family to "Breastfeed"
Effective Communication Bucket List
6 persuasion tips for breastfeeding moms and advocates
How I recruited my top breastfeeding buddies
Couple's Decision and Communication: Key to Successful Breastfeeding
A-S-Ks (On Breastfeeding Questions, Help, Support)



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