A lot of our friends know that my wife and I really encourage breastfeeding.
My wife started her breastfeeding advocacy back in 2012 when we were still dating. Back then, I didn’t care much about breastfeeding. Most men in general don’t care about it since we literally don’t know how to breastfeed. As far as we are concerned, breastfeeding is a woman’s job.
Raissa would always get excited about upcoming trainings, seminars, conventions, even webinars (online seminars) that would last for days. I would always get nervous about the costs of the trainings. Raissa would often say that there is very little money in this type of advocacy. What? No ROI? The thoughts in my head would usually be, “how much do you need to know about breastfeeding anyway?”, “do you really need to spend hundreds of hours learning how to breastfeed?”. I mean, it shouldn’t be that complicated. Right?
I could tell back then that Raissa was really into it and conversations like, “Langga, did you know that breastmilk can…” would be unavoidable, especially when stuck in traffic. Needless to say, she eventually convinced me on how important breastfeeding really is. Back then, she would usually have 90% of my support when it came to trainings because the 10% of me would always be thinking about the ROI. The more I learned about the importance of breastfeeding, the more I encouraged Raissa to pursue her trainings. This time, without thinking about the ROI, and even if it means spending more money. Like the times when I would tell her to stay in Starbucks so she can finish her webinars because our internet connection back in our apartment was non-existent.
As she continued with her trainings, she started doing breastfeeding counseling and giving talks combined with prenatal or postnatal yoga. Eventually, we started holding our own two-day seminars partnered with Onelife Studio where we used to teach yoga. Since it was really a small production, it would just be Raissa and I coming up with the content and a handful of people to help organize the whole thing. We also invited resource persons from breastfeeding groups like LATCH to share their expertise and on one occasion, Dr. Kat Villapando (Make Up Doc) did belly painting for our pregnant participants. I would usually help read through all the materials, listen to the lectures while taking photos, answer some questions when I could. Needless to say, I became an advocate of breastfeeding as well.
Nothing will beat nature in making milk for our children; the most expensive formula milk will not even come close. That is why there is always a disclaimer “breastmilk is still best for babies” on every advertisement, on every can of formula milk. Often times, Raissa gets asked, “what if I don’t have milk?”, “what if I can’t produce enough milk?”, and the context of her reply would always remain the same: to every breastfeeding problem, there is always a solution.
Our “expertise”, however, was more on the “theoretical” side of it. Though Raissa had a lot of hands-on experience since she does actual breastfeeding consults in her clinic, the closest she came to breastfeeding a real baby was during a peer counseling training with Breastfeeding Pinays . At that time, they let a baby latch on to her while expressed breastmilk was slowly poured from the top of the breast and was allowed to trickle all the way down to the suckling mouth of the baby to simulate actual breastfeeding. I, on the other hand, am only equipped with third-hand knowledge and Youtube. No hands-on experience whatsoever.
Fast forward to January 2017 when our first baby was born, I was very confident coming in to this breastfeeding game. Because of our combined knowledge and experiences, it’s like having a cheat code in a game that you are already an expert in. What could go wrong?
Well, almost everything went wrong when we got home.
Our first couple of days in the hospital were okay. Our pediatrician, Dr. Jessa Sareno helped us get started right in the delivery room during Unang Yakap. Raissa just started breastfeeding so it was understandable that her nipples were a little sore. There was very little milk, also understandable because baby’s stomach is just the size of a calamansi. Law of supply and demand, if baby requires little milk, the mommy will only produce just enough for the baby. As long as you see poop or pee, you know that the baby is getting something.
When we came home, breastfeeding became more difficult for Raissa. The sore nipples became open wounds and latching became very painful. To the point that Raissa would begin to cry even before our baby girl latches. Even the most encouraging words said in the perfect tone designed to win a tournament would do no good. Sometimes I would see that the baby is positioned incorrectly but I was not confident enough to reposition her because Raissa, being the “expert”, seemed to think they were both in the correct position.
This is when we realized, we were back at square one. More like, square negative one.
We did not know what to do. We almost considered using a feeding bottle to feed the baby because of the pain. Knowledge did not equal power because we felt very powerless then.
At this point, most people would start contacting friends, relatives, Google, maybe even ask Siri for help. Raissa told me then that NOW she truly understands why some mothers would give up on breastfeeding.
Thank God for the breastfeeding communities that we have! Yes, we have a few of those here in the Philippines. We even have a big community here in Mindanao. They call themselves the Modern Nanays of Mindanao (MNM), of which Raissa is also a part of.
She contacted Nadine Betonio and Nadine Casiño, both of them are her friends from MNM. True enough, there is always a solution! After just one visit from Nadine, a slight adjustment here, move the head here, position the arm here, Raissa suddenly went from crying to smiling while baby was latching and feeding.
Over the next several days, Raissa has truly become an expert (but she refuses to call herself that), maneuvering Tala from left to right, switching from one breast to the other. And every day, she gets better and better at breastfeeding. Not just her, but our baby as well.
Where do I fit into all these?
I mentioned earlier that breastfeeding is woman’s job. This has not changed one bit. It is up to me though to make it easier or harder for Raissa. Of course, I chose the former.
To all husbands, soon-to-be fathers, fathers, men, if you are reading this article, I would like to share with you that it is our job to make breastfeeding easier for our wives. It is our job to provide that stress-free environment and let our wives focus on only one thing in the early weeks after giving birth: breastfeeding our babies. It is our job to be the third, fourth, fifth and sixth hands of our wives.
Some might think that it is easy for me to say all these things because I don’t have a 9-5 job. Yes, I am fortunate enough to handle my own time, but just like every other working parent out there, I too, work many hours to provide for my family. I teach an average of 2-6 classes per day. Every morning I wake up between 5-6 AM (depending on what time my classes start) to walk our dogs and every night I sleep late so I can walk our dogs again. In between, I try to manage this website and still in between, I work for a logo design firm TeamGraphika.
And like every new father out there, I am also very tired. How do I cope? By praying.
We believe in the power of prayer. We, as a family, ask God for guidance in everything that we do. We do our best everyday. The things we can’t do we uplift to Him and let Him handle the things beyond our control. Some might say that it’s just hard work paying off, true. But it’s not all about me and my hard work. In reality, I just do my best and let God do the heavy lifting for me.
Almost every parent-couple that we meet say that it gets easier. True enough, it gets easier! Raissa can now do more. She’s managed to do more things without my help like cooking, home schooling and other stuff. I am able to focus on other things like writing/updating this article and running after the kids.
Again, if you are a first-time dad and you are reading this article. Encourage your wife to breastfeed from the get go. Apart from the the issues I mentioned above, you’ll be able experience the following benefits when you breastfeed your baby:
- Savings – No spending of hard earned cash on formula milk
- Health Risks – Baby has a lower risk for infections and stomach problems
- Boosts Immunity – Mom’s immunity gets passed on and baby is healthier and gets sick less often
- Recovery – Faster recovery and lowers risks of diseases like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, and heart disease
- SLEEP – No need to wake and stand up to mix formula milk for the baby at night. When baby is hungry, Raissa would just roll on her side and breastfeed, and we all go back to sleep. So for us parents, it’s probably the most important benefit!
Got Milk? Yes we do!
This article has been updated since it was first posted in 2017 from our previous blog site. We now have 2 beautiful little girls, Tala (5) and Kaya (3). And yes, Raissa is still breastfeeding both our girls to this day.
Getting ready for your baby’s arrival? Worried about establishing your milk supply? Want to learn the different breastfeeding positions or just know the life-saving benefits of breastfeeding your baby? Our Breastfeeding and Babycare online course will help you to prepare for the arrival of your little one and how to exclusively breastfeed your baby without the burden of not knowing where to begin.