As somebody who has breastfed for three years (and counting!), I can say that it is not for the faint of heart. I’ve realized that it’s a privilege for me to have continued breastfeeding because I had the means to do so — a supportive family (especially my husband), access to research (social media groups as well as reputable websites), and a flexible work/study arrangement that has been very supportive of my direct latch, pumping, and hand-expressing in countless meetings, lesson planning, and teaching. Having this privilege helps me commit to breastfeeding our children until signs of weaning to come.
9 breastfeeding tips I've learned over the years
I’d like to share the story of my journey and the lessons I’ve learned throughout to pay tribute to all moms and dads who dedicated their time and effort in breastfeeding, especially to my husband who has been a great team player in our commitment to it.
A way to systematically organize expressed milk in the freezer
A breastfeeding-friendly environment helps us working moms fulfill both our duties to ourselves and to our babies. If you’re breastfeeding and would like to continue when you go back to work, ask your workplace about having a lactation station. You can (and should!) also demand your lactation breaks as it is mandated by law.
I’ve had my fair share of pumping/hand-expressing sessions and my trips to the library (where I work) were dual purpose – either to get books or to store my pumped milk in the pantry refrigerator. Make sure expressed milk in the freezer are in clearly labeled dedicated storage bottles or milk bags. Repurposed glass food jars work too — just make sure they are properly sterilized!
Utilizing a systematic way of storing breast milk and knowing its recommended shelf life helps in following the “first in, first out” rule, minimizing spoilage and ensuring the freshness of breast milk your baby consumes.
Hand-express or pump milk for immediate consumption
If the mom is beside the baby, why do you need to do this? In my case, we had to do this because I contracted chickenpox. It's scary, but upon consultation with my OB-GYN and our child’s pediatrician, coupled with research, the best thing to do was to breastfeed the baby, given two conditions: 1) there are no active lesionsbthat the baby can get in contact with and 2) the medicines prescribed to me are compatible with breastfeeding (make sure to ask your doctor and you can also check here!).
At first, we had to express some milk and feed it to her via cupfeeding. As the days progressed and no active lesions came out that can be in direct contact with the baby, we proceeded with breastfeeding. After all, our child has already been exposed to the virus even before the rashes came out. The good thing is, breast milk can help protect your baby from contracting the disease as it adjusts to the baby’s current health needs.
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You can combine breast milk collected at different times into one container
There are days when you just run out of storage, especially at work. You realize you forgot to bring enough bottles/bags but you want to save the excessive milk output you’ve had for the day. Here’s a simple hack: you can combine small amounts of breast milk you collected at different times! (Just make sure the expressed breast milk have the same temperature.) according to La Leche League International, “When combining milk expressed from different pumping sessions, ensure fresh milk is chilled in the refrigerator before adding it to previously expressed milk.
Isn’t cold milk bad for babies? Not exactly. Babies are used to warm milk from mommy’s breastand while we do not want our baby’s stomach to be shocked and react to cold milk. high temperatures can destroy living components found in breast milk. Try this: bring out breast milk from the fridge, thaw it on the counter, and let baby consume it even if cold.
If you must warm liquid breast milk from the fridge, let it stand at room temperature for up to 4 hours (for the consumption of healthy full-term infants only).
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Direct latch is still what I prefer
Direct latch is nature’s design of a mother providing nutrition to her child — whether you want to think of it as “I-don’t-want-to-wash-another-bottle” moment, discreetly breastfeeding in a safe baby carrier in public, or you simply just want to do side-lying position as you are tired from a day’s worth of adulting. Even if it is a natural act, the World Health Organization clarifies that “it is also a learned behavior…[that] require active support for establishing and sustaining appropriate breastfeeding practices.” (Tip: you may want to check out this Smart Parenting article for tips on basic breastfeeding positions.)
Breast milk can help with teething
Is your baby drooling excessively, refusing to eat, fussy, and tugging on her ears? Those might be signs of teething! You may use teethers or chilled washcloths to provide comfort, but you can also use breast milk! You can make ice lollies using your milk to soothe the pain away. You can use pure breast milk or if your baby is already eating solid food, you can try adding fruits such as in this recipe! Just check with your pediatrician regarding which food your baby is allowed to eat.
Breast milk is liquid gold and us pumping mommas feel bad when a single drop is put to waste, especially on those low output days. But as with any fresh produce, breast milk has its recommended shelf life and as much as we would want to save the precious milk, milk gone bad has to be discarded.
Hand-express milk into baby’s freshly prepared food
Why did I do it? Adding a familiar flavor helps lessen the baby’s aversion to newly introduced food. When you’re too lazy to go back to the kitchen to cool down/thin food (like very hot oatmeal), just make sure your hands are clean then you’re good to squeeze that milk! Perhaps, just be discreet, especially when you do it in public.
Breastfeeding while pregnant may be possible
Disclaimer: this is not a recommendation but only a recounting and explanation of my personal experience
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Our firstborn was just over a year old when we found out that we were having another baby, hence, there was no active plan of weaning her. My OB advised us to formula feed our firstborn as she knew of my subchorionic bleeding during the first few weeks of my first pregnancy’s first trimester. She said that breastfeeding can trigger uterine contractions. Sadly, we had to slowly wean our baby. But as I listened to my body, and upon seeing the second ultrasound image (which indicated a healthy, normal pregnancy), we slowly went back to alternating formula feeding with breastfeeding. According to the American Pregnancy Association, breastfeeding while pregnant is considered generally safe, except in some cases (such as if you experience bleeding or you at risk for preterm labor). When the baby was born, we were wary to keep tandem feeding open. Myths such as “the older child will steal the nutrients from the baby” are still prevalent but otherwise already busted.
For those planning to tandem feed after giving birth, just make sure that your newborn gets the colostrum and after a few days (include your general wellbeing in the factors!), you can slowly get into the groove of feeding your toddler as well.
Having said all of these, there is no one way to perfectly breastfeed your baby. I only presented nine breastfeeding tips but for sure, there are many scenarios out there. Share your ways so that we can inspire one another in our breastfeeding journey!
Anna divides her 24 hours between full-time housework and childcare, part-time teaching and studying at the University of the Philippines, and extension work with the Philippine Society for Music Education. When not (procrastinating on) writing her master’s thesis, she writes short snippets on motherhood on her Instagram, @mamaatbp and longer ones on her website, or does philosophical musings with her husband, Z.