The word “breastfeeding” instantly brings the ubiquitous picture of a mother cradling her child to her bosom. This picture speaks a thousand words, and its beauty is appreciated by all races and generations.
A more accurate picture of breastfeeding, however, would show the support system the mother and baby get, to make the journey possible in the first place. While the mother and her baby are the heart of the breastfeeding journey, all the people surrounding them are the veins that “carry blood” to make the heart continue pumping.
I am a first-time mom. As soon as I learned I was pregnant, breastfeeding was the first of the many decisions that my husband and I didn’t have to think twice about. I was determined to breastfeed, but our journey would not have been this successful without my husband’s support.
Here are a few reasons why breastfeeding was, and continues to be, a conjugal decision as far as our little family is concerned.
Like a marriage proposal, this “yes” was the beginning of the many decisions that we had to make regarding breastfeeding. I would perhaps be telling a different story if he said no to it! At the onset, it was important for me that we both understood its practical, emotional, and nutritional benefits. I was even willing to drop all the work that requires me to report onsite just so I can breastfeed our baby.
Yes, we knew about sleepless nights with a newborn, but it did hit differently when my husband was the one who reminded me of this. I was diagnosed with anemia years back, and that’s one of the reasons why I am not a night owl. He told me that this decision to breastfeed is going to take a physical toll on me, that I would have to accommodate the adjustments, and that I will have to make sacrifices for the sake of our little one.
Of course, he has been there all throughout, right from the time we were ticking off items from the long list of first-time moms’ “must buys.” It took us months to complete our list, but I have to admit that the only items we bought related to feeding our baby were the lampins, nursing pillow, my nipple cream, nursing bras, and button-down ternos! All the others like the feeding bottle, breast pump, bottle sterilizer, and more breastfeeding clothes were gifted to us. My husband did not insist on getting things I didn’t identify as a need.
I am married to a wide reader. Hence, the expression, “I read…” “Read this…” or “Let’s research on…” is a part of our daily conversation. When I had sore nipples due to blisters, he asked me to read first if it was safe for me to breastfeed. When I got feverish right before New Year, he asked me to immediately send a message to our baby’s pediatrician to ask if it was safe to breastfeed, and back it up with a quick Google search. Sending each other helpful links or social media accounts has been part of our routine as parents, too!
My husband is big on cooking nutritious food, long before I got pregnant. It’s one of his advocacies as the one who cooks in our home. Since I gave birth, he makes sure I get the nutrition (and all the liquid!) I need to help my milk supply. Tinolang manok and tahong with malunggay became staples in our home. He also reminds me to drink a lot of water and as a force of habit from when I was still pregnant, he prepares my milk before we sleep at night.
I vividly remember the time our baby was still so tiny. It was almost nighttime, and nursing and rocking our baby to sleep took a toll on me. I called my husband, cried at the sight of him, and told him, “I am so tired.” On instinct, he took our baby from my arms while I continued to cry. Now that I don’t have many of those crying moments, I still do tell him when I’m tired or when I need to do something first, so he willingly plays with our baby for the time being. Every time I ask for his help, we are both reminded that the decision to breastfeed happens not just once or in the beginning, but every day – easy and difficult days included.
Now at seven months, our daughter has her ways of expressing she wants playtime with her dad. At times, she would signal to want to play even if it’s feeding time. She wouldn’t latch until he takes her. For our baby to feed, my husband would need to sit really close to me, hold our daughter’s head, and would repeatedly assure her, “Nandito lang si Tatay.” Our baby would lovingly look at him while she latches, and she would comfortably and happily latch until she’s full. Even if no one takes a picture of us whenever this moment happens, this mental picture of us three huddled will forever be my own picture of what breastfeeding really is for our little family.