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A Rookie Mom's Guide To Fighting Baby Blues

August 21, 2015
Experts on the topic says that almost all expectant mothers will experience Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression (PPD) at some point during or after their pregnancy. And it is completely and 100% normal.

Is it? I find it hard to believe that it is normal. I am one of the unlucky ones who went through and still going through baby blues. When I was pregnant, I was always happy, contented and thought PPD was a myth. But a few days after I gave birth, sudden surge of emotions rushed in and I did not know what happened to me. Baby blues and PPD are scary, I find it very difficult to accept that what I was going through is normal. At some point, it seemed like it's going to be forever, like there's no escape and I will never going to be the same again.

I gave up a lot of things when I found out that I was pregnant, I was not ready to be a mother yet and I was only 24 years old, my career was soaring and I was just starting to live out my life. I was falling deeply into the depression and it seemed like I cannot do anything about it.
Some days are better and some days seemed like darkness ate my soul away.

Let me share with you my own personal tips on how to cope with Baby Blues and PPD:

  1. Do not accept that it is normal. Depression is not normal, seeing a psychiatrist is not normal. Accepting that it is normal may just put you deeper into the depression and will make you accept that everything you think about negatively is normal. Stop! Believe that what you are going through will eventually end and things will be better at some point.
  2. Identify what causes your depression. We think differently. Our problems and life issues are also different but we understand each other when we talk about how difficult it is to take care of a new baby and getting stressed about it is acceptable and normal. But, what are the other issues that's causing your depression that is not about your baby? 
    • Here's mine:
      • (a) I started a family at a young age and I was not ready
      • (b) Me and my husband were not financially ready to raise a child
      • (c) I gave up my career for my baby, what happens to me now?
      • (d) I need to move out of my mom's house and be separated to her and my sisters
      • (e) I will be moving to my in-laws until such time comes that we will be ready on our own, when will that happen? 
    • Once you identified your own issues, it's time to try and slowly solve the things that is causing your anxiety or better yet, tweak your mind into thinking positively. (a) I have known others who have started a family much younger than I am and they did just fine. Time will come that I too will be okay just like them. (b) We are average and my husband is earning just enough for now. We will be able to save money for Arya's needs and if there is an emergency, we have relatives that will be here to help us. (c) It's not going to be forever and I chose not to be a housewife, I started working online 4-hours a day to earn extra money. Fortunately, by the January of 2016, I will be back in the corporate world living a job position that I have always wanted. (d) Everyone moves out of their parents' house once they start a family. It's not like I'm going to see them anymore, just less often but they can always visit me whenever and I can always hangout with them too. (e) Again, it's just temporary and not forever. They have been really helpful with me and Arya and I am so grateful that they are here to guide us.
  3. Join support group if that can help you be better. Support groups is not for everyone but some women may feel comfortable if they can find others who can relate to their situation. I am an admin of a motherhood group in Facebook and I find it really helpful that there are other mothers who are going through the same situation as I am. I am very open and loves exchanging stories and experiences with them. Honestly, support groups keeps me sane.
  4. Get your husband or partner involved. Men will not understand how crazy and difficult its is for us to go through with this but they can be the best person to give us support at a time like this. Times may come that you will get angry to your partner, maybe even feel disgust or feel that everything is unfair because you're the only one who is having the difficult time. Relax, chances are he is tired and stressed just like you, it's just that he knows how to deal with the situation and handles his emotion well.
  5. Go out. Seriously, go out.  Do you feel suffocated and freedom seemed like closed its doors on your face? Just go. You need fresh air, you need to see other faces. You don't need to lock yourself in the bathroom or in your room together with your baby. You need a time out too and you deserve it!
  6. Keep a diary or journal. Writing soothes me, writing my thoughts and feelings helps me release my body's tension and makes me more relaxed.
  7. Find something or someone familiar. When you are left alone with your baby in a new environment, moments will come that you will go crazy. Actually, most moments will be crazy. Having something or someone familiar around you, could be your pet, a favorite pillow, or even a friend may lessen the stress and anxiety that you are feeling.
  8. When in doubt, sleep is the answer. We all get tired for the first few weeks or months when our new baby is here. Having sleepless nights is completely normal. I encourage you to have someone around to take care of your baby so you can sleep. They say sleep when the baby is sleeping, you can do that too but that did not work for me. Get some help.
  9. Cry it out. Yes, you can cry and I encourage you to do so. It will definitely make you feel better and it is actually good for you.
  10. Enjoy your new baby. It's not going to be easy to enjoy your little one when you're depressed but he/she will only be a baby once. They grow everyday and you're missing moments because of what you are feeling. Focus on the happy side and you'll find that you'll escape depression without even noticing it.
A day will finally come that you will get better, you will learn how to do things and will realize that this is not going to be forever. Coming out from baby blues or PPD will not be easy, some days you feel great and some days you'll feel so miserable. Whatever happens, don't jump off a building or never ever hang yourself, and flushing your new baby in the toilet is not an option too. Just relax and let every day go along.

Rookie Mommy PH - On to recovery!

My Pumping Journey: Lactation Aids

August 20, 2015

My breastfeeding journey was not as successful as I would want it to be. I have been exclusively pumping for the past one month in the hopes of continuously feeding Arya my breast milk. However, I was not able to religiously follow my 2-3 hours pumping schedule because I only get to pump whenever Arya is sleeping now, I noticed a sudden decline in my milk supply. Before, I was able to pump 8-10oz per day. Recently, reaching the 2oz mark is already difficult. It's so depressing...

The reason for the decline of my milk supply is probably because Arya is not latching anymore, another is that I am no longer able to follow my regular pumping schedule. I am pumping and hand expressing after each session and noticed that there are still milk dripping from my breast, but whenever I try to use my manual and electric pump nothing or very little is coming out so I am not really sure if my milk is already drying out or there is just something wrong with my pumps. But, as long as I have milk dripping on my breast I will not give up! 

This brings me now to trying out a few lactation aids which can boost my milk supply. I asked around and did a research on the market. I was very lucky that I did not have to buy them myself because my relatives and friends gave me a few of their stash so I can personally try them first before wasting my money trying out all the lactation product in the market.

1. Life Oil Malungai Capsules 500mg - I have heard from other moms that taking malunggay capsules is one of the best way to boost your milk supply. My autie who is also mixed-feeding her baby bought these capsules and swore that they are very effective on her. My mom then, bought 60 pieces capsule and I started taking 2 capsules everyday from the moment I gave birth. I have to say that this is very effective on me at first back when Arya was still latching and I was pumping regularly. However, the effect seems to be wearing off on me now that I am failing miserably on pumping regularly. If your baby is still latching and you are pumping on the clock then I suggest that you try this product. This can be bought at Watsons or Mercury Drugstore.

2. Malunggay Herbal Tea 6g - . My auntie gave her left over stash to me and  I recently just started drinking 2 cups of 120ml malunggay tea every morning and night before I go to sleep. I checked its content and ingredient and saw very little amount of maluggay in it. I have not yet feel or seen its effect on me but I will still continue to take it until I finish the box.

3. Fresh Malunggay Leaves - My mother-in-law loves cooking and is very good at it. She makes me Tinola and other dishes where she can incorporate the malunggay leaves every other day. I find this really effective since I was consuming the leaves fresh. We have a malunggay tree nearby so we don't have to go to the market to buy the leaves.

4. Mother's Milk Tea - This was recently sent to me by a friend who is mix-feeding her little one as well. She mentioned that it did helped her increase and maintain her milk supply. I carefully followed its instructions and enjoyed a cup of this in the afternoon. The taste is both bitter and sweet. I find the taste more pleasant than other teas that I have tried. I'll keep drinking this and will update this thread if it will do wonders to me as well.

Seeing how my milk is dropping leaves me with little hopes that there's still chance that my milk supply will increase. But, there's no harm in trying and I am still producing milk so maybe, just maybe a miracle might happen.

I will continue to update this post as I continue taking my lactation aids.

Happy breast milk feeding!
Rookie Mommy PH - waiting for a miracle to happen

Support Group For Pumpers: Exclusive Pumping Pinays

August 7, 2015

"Breast milk is breast milk."

Happy International Pumping Day!

I never stopped researching about the ways I can give Arya my liquid gold after giving up on directly latching her on my breasts. I am really lucky to have an ample supply of breast milk, just enough to continuously mix-feed Arya.

During my research, I learned more about the moms who chose to go the other way, "EPING" - Exclusive Pumping is already popular in other countries. However, here in the Philippines, mothers who chose to pump and bottle-feed pumped breast milk or formula milk to their babies are often shamed by the mothers who chose to exclusively breast-feed their little ones. Most support groups will encourage and force you to exclusively breast-feed without carefully looking into a mother's situation, thus leaving the others feel guilty and discouraged to continue her breast-feeding journey if she is having personal issues of her own.

I was on the hunt for mothers who are also going in this direction here in my country. Are there any? I tried searching on Instagram and lo and behold, I found one! This mother is a cold-blooded pumper! I asked her tips and advice on how she was able to build and keep her milk supply without latching her baby girl and she happily gave me her personal tips. A few hours after, someone commented on our thread, inviting us to join an exclusive Facebook group for mothers like us. 

Exclusive Pumping Pinays  

Taken from the Facebook Group Description:

This is for mothers who are exclusively pumping/expressing for their babies may it be by choice or they find breastfeeding difficult or had problems breastfeeding. A place wherein we can share tips and advice and provide support for one another while we are in the journey of pumping and nursing our little ones.

No judgement here mommies

I immediately joined and was surprised to see that there was only 12 members in the group. I am an admin of another motherhood-pregnancy group called 3rd Quarter Pinoy Babies of 2015 where all the members are moms who will give birth within the 3rd quarter of this year. I created a long post about this new group and I was surprised by the amount of response that I got. Most of the mothers wanted to be part of it immediately because of their different and personal reasons. I, then coordinated with the group founder, Ms. Jhoanna Marie Aguila that I will be inviting other mothers from my group to be part of our group. Together, we can build the group and help other mothers who are aiming for the same goal - and that is to feed breast milk to their babies in any way they can. Jhoanna was very excited, she made me an admin and from 12 members I was able to boost up our community to 60 members, and we are still growing!

That's when we realized that we were not alone in this journey. Mothers started voicing their hearts out. How bottle-feeding seemed like a mortal sin, how formula and mixed-feeding makes you less of a mother. We saw how important our support group is becoming and we are very much excited to build strong relationship to these moms.

If you think you fall under this category, I encourage you to please join our group. You can find us on Facebook or you can simply invite me and Jhoanna as a friend and we can directly add you in the group if you cannot find or join the group.

Exclusive Pumping Pinays:

Joarra Torres Gaang-Solis:
Group Admin

Ms.Jhoanna Marie Aguila:
Group Founder

Happy Pumping, Rookie Moms! 

Rookie Mommy PH - happy breast pumper

My Breastfeeding Heartache

"Breast milk is best for babies"

I had my heart set on breastfeeding even before I was pregnant. I was surrounded with friends and relatives who have successfully and exclusively breastfed their babies for six months or even way longer than that. I was very excited to start breastfeeding, I joined support groups and learned from the experts as much as I can about breastfeeding my baby. I was committed and set that goal to myself until the day came and I realized that I cannot do it.

Breastfeeding is not an easy feat. 

I was successfully doing it at first. I never doubted my milk supply. I continued latching Arya for a few days even my nipples were sore, chaffed, and even bleeding. But when did it became so unbearable? I remember waking up at night to the sound of her cries, my eyes were so heavy, my body is still sore from labor, and my stitches were aching. I could not pull my shirt up to feed her. The horror and pain of her sucking my nipples scared me, I just couldn't take it anymore. The toe curling and twinging pain set trauma to my body. What I told my husband next set fire to my heart and soul.

"Honey, I can't do it. Please go and buy a formula milk prescribed by the Pedia for Arya"

My husband knew how much I wanted to breastfeed. He too was a breastfeeding advocate himself and supported me all the way. However, he could not stand seeing me in so much pain.

I felt so bad the moment I gave Arya the bottle with formula milk, guilt rushed through my body, I felt so horrible and questioned myself If I am a good mother by doing this to my child. I felt so weak, discouraged, and unimportant. The next morning came and I unboxed a gift from my autie, a handy-dandy manual breast pump and started pumping both of my breast to produce milk for Arya. I felt good doing it and even felt great when I gave it to Arya instead of giving her formula milk. I kept doing it everyday, every 2 hours or so I continuously pumped my breast to produce enough milk for her but the day came that I cannot keep up with her growing appetite and we resulted in mixed feeding. 

I haven't given up breastfeeding just yet. We went to my OB/GYN and she helped me, encouraged me, and gave me my confidence back to breastfeeding. I tried letting Arya latch on me again. However, she became so fussy and would not take my nipple. After a few tries, she gave up and successfully latched on me again. I thought everything is going great for the both of us. Few minutes passed and it became hours and she is stall latched on to me. The pain is coming back. I unlatched her and saw my nipple sore and growing a blister. Arya cried and I latched her again, the toe curling pain is definitely back. My husband was helping me to correct my position and he was getting frustrated as well. We tried it for a couple of times more but Arya was crying so loud that my heart is really breaking. I put her down and said enough. I cannot do it anymore. I immediately made her a formula milk and gave it to her. She took it immediately and she easily dozed off to dreamland.

The next scenario was not pretty, my husband and I argued because we both wanted to exclusively breastfeed her and we can see that it is not happening. He told me that if it was him with the milk producing breast then he will be able to breastfeed Arya, that alone broke my heart, I cried while I lulled Arya in my arms. I told him that if only I can take the pain away I knew I will be able to breastfeed her, there's no mother in the world who will choose to not give the best for her child. But I am done letting myself feel this way. I grew up mixed-fed too, and he too was mixed-fed and so are other people and they grew up just fine. Arya and I can bond in so many other ways. He soon realized how hard it was for me physically and emotionally. He apologized, gave me space and let me rest.

"Breastfeeding is the most rewarding thing you could ever do to your child"

Yes it is. And I envy all the moms who can do it, I salute you! How I wish I can do it too but I happily admit that I am no longer forcing myself to breastfeed Arya. I am exclusively pumping milk and feeding her from the bottle. It's still breast milk and I am happy about it. Me and Arya are both happy about it.

I went back to my Pedia and told her my situation, she supported me and told me that breast milk is breast milk. There's no need to feel bad if you are giving it through a bottle.

To whoever is reading this, I still encourage you to breastfeed. Never doubt your capacity to produce milk for your baby because you can and you will. The choice is always in your part on whether to exclusively breastfeed, mixed-feed or to pump milk for your baby, not other people. Remember that the hardest part is committing your 101% to it and if you have high tolerance for pain then go for it. But do not let yourself suffer, please, that is not the way to go. 

Rookie Mommy PH - proud to be exclusively pumping milk and mixed feeding Arya.