It’s been more than four months since Cristalle Beloand husband Justin Pittwelcomed their sweet little boy Hunterearly into the world. And Cristalle has been fully embracing motherhood and putting her life “on hold” the first couple of months as she focused on her baby, Hunter, who was born prematurely at 33 weeks.
“We went through such an ordeal,” the Belo Medical Group managing director tells Pep.ph in a recent interview. “We went through the whole premature thing for seven days [in the hospital]. Then, on the seventh day, he got a hospital-acquired infection.”
But Hunter proved he was a fighter, and after 18 days in the NICU, he was transferred in the same room as Cristalle. “It was such an emotional rollercoaster, but I now know what it’s like to stand for someone you love — we literally fought for his life,” Cristalle wrote on Instagram.
One thing that Cristalle believes that helped her baby was breast milk. She’s happy to say that she has been breastfeeding exclusively for four months now.
Surprisingly, a lot of people commented on her social media that they were surprised at her decision to breastfeed. The reason? “On Instagram, they always say, ‘ang yaman-yaman mo, bakit ka nag-be-breastfeed,” Cristalle told Pep.ph.
Cristall was quick to correct the wrong notion. “A lot of the people still think now if you’re mayaman, you can afford formula so go formula. But at the end of the day, breast milk is the super duper best for babies.”
“I want to give him all the nutrients, especially because he’s premature. I want to give him that headstart in life, and that’s something my breast milk can give him,” she shares.
Premature babies need extra love and care. Parents, especially mothers, have a crucial role in ensuring their survival. Providing breast milk is one of them. It is the ultimate nutrition all babies need for the first six months of life, and it contains antibodies that moms can pass onto their baby, which serves as the baby’s first immunity.
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Not only that but moms of preemies produce milk that contains extra nutrients to specifically help their premature babies grow and develop. Studies have also shown that breast milk is vital for preemies’ brain development. And, just so it's clear, breast milk doesn't choose an income level. It is the best for any baby whether he comes from a humble or wealthy background.
It’s not only Cristalle who swears by the power of breast milk. Saab Magalona, who also gave birth prematurely to her son Pancho, says that it was kangaroo care (which Cristalle also did for Hunter) and breastfeeding that really made Pancho’s condition improve. Other moms of premature babies have also said that feeding their babies breast milk, whether by pumping or cup feeding, is still the best way as it is easier to digest than formula.
Though it’s been a challenging four months, Cristalle is content being able to keep her milk supply up so she can provide for Hunter’s needs. She considers it a good “bonding time” between her and her son. “It helps me relax at night. I’ll come home and then he’ll latch. It’s time to quiet down and just be present, she says.”
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for all babies ages zero to six months. Cristalle hopes she can do the same — and she’s pulling all the stops, including pumping in the wee hours of the night!
“I always say I’m going to breastfeed for six months just so there’s no pressure. I’m not committed to anything, but ideally I want to get to one year,” she says.