Don’t judge working moms who can’t breastfeed

Rather than judging moms who use formula milk, advocates and government agencies charged with promoting breastfeeding should see to it that working moms get enough support

For starters, let me stress this: I see the value of breastfeeding. I totally agree that it’s best for babies. And like many moms out there, when I got pregnant, I really looked forward to breastfeeding my baby. 

But like many working mothers who really tried their best to breastfeed, I failed.

I agree with the women who commented on our story on this

It’s NOT easy. 

I read all the tips. I followed the instructions. I made sure my baby latched on properly. The nurse at the hospital nursery – a supposedly certified facility – checked how I was doing it. I subscribed to online tools that gave you tips on how to be successful at it. I bought the pumps. Several of them. I bought the bibs. 

I forced myself to wake up at regular intervals despite having little sleep. 

I ate every type of food that experts said would help your body produce more milk. I even took those malunggay supplements. 

Nothing worked. 

I pumped and pumped. My breasts went sore. One hour’s work produced less than an ounce of milk at best. 

My beautiful baby boy actually turned gaunt-looking before my eyes because he was not getting enough milk. Certainly not enough to nourish him and help him flourish. 

He lost weight. He developed jaundice. His pediatrician became concerned. Faced with that, I had no choice. 

What’s my point? Why this rant? 

Because I think the current campaign of breast milk advocates is judgmental of moms, particularly working moms. 

Moms buy formula milk because the choice to breastfeed has been taken away from them. Not because they chose formula milk over breast milk. 

Not every mother can afford to rest sufficiently just so that her body will be able to produce enough milk to nourish her baby. 

It’s a different world now. A world where moms do work. A world where mothers are not just nurturers. They are also breadwinners. 

And many of them have to perform those functions in crowded cities like Metro Manila where you have to jostle your way day in and day out through an inhospitable mass transportation system. Where you spend hours in a bus stuck in traffic.

Can you imagine bringing your laptop, your baon (of malunggay and other healthy food) and your breastfeeding paraphernalia (breast pump, bottles, etc) through the hustle and bustle of the MRT? How about pumping for an hour while standing in the ladies room because there is no private corner where you can comfortably pump away?

Don’t get me wrong. I applaud moms who are able to do it despite the odds. Back then, I envied them. 

But frankly, the emotional punishment that you go through after you realize that you’re one of those who cannot produce enough life-giving milk to sustain your baby is already enough. 

When it sinks in, you get that feeling that you are so inadequate. You feel like a villain, depriving your baby of essential nourishment. You feel guilty.

It’s emotional pressure that keeps you from enjoying and bonding with your newborn. When you are at that point, you do not need people out there judging you. 

Rather than judging moms who use formula milk, advocates and government agencies charged with promoting breastfeeding should see to it that working moms get enough support. 

Instead of quarreling with formula milk producers, these advocates should see to it that the environment becomes more conducive for working moms who want to breastfeed. Why not require those formula milk producers to set up those facilities? 

If you ask me, breastfeeding facilities should be available in every building. 

Counselors should be accessible not just in the communities, not just in the posh villages, but in the work area where the working moms need them most.

A support system for working moms would go a long way. 

Why? Because again, deep in their hearts, I believe every mom wants to be able to say I breastfed my child. I gave my child the best. 

And given the support, they will. –

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