How Breastfeeding Helped Us Jumpstart Our Family

Posted by Arvi on Friday, August 22, 2014

"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (August). For this month, we write about the World Breastfeeding Week 2014 - Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life and share how breastfeeding can help the Philippines achieve the 8 Millennium Development Goals developed by the government and the United Nations. Participants will share their thoughts, experiences, hopes and suggestions on the topic.

Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries."

I am always excited every time I get to blog or post about breastfeeding. What's even more exciting is that I get to participate in this year's Milk Mama Diaries blog carnival to share my personal thoughts and our experiences in breastfeeding with high hopes of inspiring others to pursue their very own journey as well.

Breastfeeding Aids Poverty 

Like all newlyweds, we were on our way to building up our own family, and that also meant building up our finances. While we've already planned to have a baby on our first year of marriage, we were still caught in a bit of surprise at how costly it was to have a baby. The monthly check-ups, vitamins, medicines, laboratory tests and in my case some special tests to make sure that Ava was perfectly fine inside my womb. And then there were those cravings, the clothes that did not fit and the days/months when I had to take a leave from work. Then it was time for Ava's birth. While it was one of the best days of our lives, we still had hospital bills, doctor's fees, more medicines and other stuff. It was a bit overwhelming but we are grateful for our families for giving us the emotional and financial help that we needed that time.

After all those bills paid, we were back to building up our finances. Breastfeeding helped us, in more ways than one, to be able to do so.
  • If we didn't pursue with breastfeeding, I can only imagine, but we would have spent roughly 5,000Php every month just for formula milk alone. Doing a quick calculation, we have already saved 105,000Php for the whole duration of the 21 months I have breastfed Ava.
  • Breastmilk is packed with a lot of antibodies, Ava was and still is protected from a lot of possible diseases and illnesses. Those few times that she had the usual cough and cold, all we did was just let her latch. Everytime a baby latches on, the external receptor cells on the breasts absorb the bacteria from the baby's skin which is then transported inside the mother's own system where she makes antibodies specific to fighting that bacteria. This is called the Enteromammary Pathway. Breastfeeding not only benefits babies while they're young, it also lessens the possibility for them to suffer diseases later in life, including cancer, leukemia and diabetes. We are already being saved thousands of pesos for sure.
  • Breastmilk is packed with a lot of nutrients, definitely the best source of vitamins and minerals especially for young infants. Ava is growing up a happy and a healthy baby. I believe that a lot of Ava's developments were end results of our breastfeeding journey. Without the need of vitamins and other boosters, I see Ava meeting her physical, mental and emotional on time, even earlier sometimes.
Breastfeeding awareness in our country has come a long way over the years. For a small family like ours with just enough monthly income to cover our lifestyle and expenses, those things are already a lot of savings. The minimum wage in our country is 429Php/day, roughly 13,000Php monthly. If a single-income family would spend, say 4,000Php monthly for an average-priced formula milk, that's 30% of their total budget, the rest of the 70% will go to their food, clothing and housing. And that's only for a family with one child. And we all know that a lot of Filipinos are earning below minimum wage. If we can push a bit more so we can reach more families, especially the poor, it will immensely help the poverty issues in our country.

Breastfeeding Empowers Women

I started breastfeeding with an initial thought that it's the most natural and the easiest thing a mother could do. I was wrong. I had problems with sore nipples, engorgement and low supply. I started reading a lot about breastfeeding, I sought advices from experts and even attended mommy group meetups to learn from other mothers as well. With the full support of Mr. T, we both learned and understood what breastfeeding is really all about and most of all it's numerous benefits to babies, to mothers and to the family.

With all these knowledge, I was also able to understand that a mother, regardless of her social status, culture or location, can provide sufficient breastmilk for her child. That fact alone is already enough to empower a woman. But let me share more of the things I've learned through breastfeeding.
  • Before motherhood came, I used to look at breasts in a different way. I sometimes feel shame  (for me or for her, I couldn't tell) whenever I see a woman breastfeeding in public. But when I started breastfeeding, I realized that there's really no shame in it. Whether you are the one breastfeeding, or you saw someone breastfeeding. It's not only my child's right, but also my right as a mother to nurture my baby anytime and anywhere. Breasts should not only be viewed as a sex object. A lot may say that you should be a little more discreet when breastfeeding, believe me when I say all mothers are trying. But when your baby started screaming and crying at the top of her lungs, or your toddler started reaching and ripping your clothes off, the only thing you would want to do is get your breast out so they would stop. Give us time to get settled and that's when we'll cover up.
  • I took care of my body more. Breastfeeding gave me time to rest and relax by taking advantage of our nursing sessions. I also became more conscious to what I eat - more fruits, more vegetables, I made sure that I have a balanced diet. I also made sure that I get to eat a wide variety of foods because I learned that my breastmilk's taste will also vary depending on what I eat. I think this is one of the reasons why Ava turned out to be such a foodie. Because even when she was still exclusively on breastmilk, she was already experiencing a wide variety of tastes.
  • When I came back to work, I was still able to continue breastfeeding by expressing milk for Ava's consumption while I was away and direct latching every time we're together. I was confident that I can sustain it because I know that it is our right as mothers to be able to continue breastfeeding, by expressing milk, even when we are back at our workplace through the R.A. No. 10028 The Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act. But I still made sure that I am more competent at work because I wanted to show that even if I have the right to those pumping sessions, my output at work was not affected.
  • Being part of the Breastfeeding Pinay Group in Facebook inspired me to be more pro-active in pushing this advocacy. Reading real-life stories of mothers from all walks of life encourages me to share and participate in the community. I am trying to push this advocacy in small ways that I can manage, that's why I really look up to the women behind the group. They go out of their ways to promote and spread breastfeeding awareness in our country.

One of the very first and probably the best decision we've done as new parents was to choose breastfeeding as one of our ways to nurture Ava. After 21 months, we are still breastfeeding with no signs of weaning. :)

I hope more and more families will choose breastfeeding over formula-feeding. I have shared with you just a few of its numerous benefits not only to your baby but to your whole family. If you want to read more, please do take time to read these amazing blogs who are also participating in this blog carnival:

Jenny shares experiencing the One Asia Breastfeeding Forum
Mec insists to do the Math and breastfeed!
Ams, The Passionate Mom says Breastfeed for a Better Future
Pat says breastfeeding saves money and the planet
Cheryl, the Multi-Tasking Mama, tackles maternal health as addressed by breastfeeding
2011 CNN Hero Ibu Robin highlights gentle births and breasfeeding, even in disaster zones
Felyn stresses that Healthy Moms = Healthy Babies
Monique reminds us that there are second chances in breastfeeding.
Normi relates how breastfeeding gave her strength and purpose.
Nats thanks Dr. Jack Newman for showing how breastfeeding can be a win-win situation.
Em believes breastfeeding is a solution to societal problems.
Marge shares what breastfeeding has taught them.
Kaity was empowered financially and as a woman through breastfeeding.
Madel relates her breastfeeding saga.
Jen of Next9 reminds us to do our research and share what we know.
Celerhina Aubrey vows to work on one mother at a time.
Grace wants to put an end to stories of toasted coffee and similar stuff over breast milk.
Diane shares how she prevailed when things did not go according to plan.
Hazel appreciates mommy support groups.
Roan combines two passions, breastfeeding and architecture.
Queenie tackled breastfeeding as the best choice for the environment as well and breastfeeding myths and poverty.
Rosa shares how the picture she thought of was realized.
Sally believes breastfeeding benefits mankind and our planet Earth.
Floraine reminds us that breastfeeding helps combat diseases.
Crislyn was happy to realize that she improved her own health by breastfeeding.
Armi reminds us how breastfeeding during emergencies is crucial.
Arvi tells us how breastfeeding made her look at her body a different way.
Clarice elaborates on how breastfeeding saves lives and the planet.
Giane reminds us that women empowerment can begin by seeing breastfeeding as more than a feeding issue.
Liza thought she was only breastfeeding for her child.


  1. When I look at my breasts now, I don't just rejoice that I have a cleavage... I can't help but say a prayer of thanks because they allowed me to give so much of myself... and far longer, than pregnancy ever did. Thanks for joining the Milk Mama Blog carnival :)

    1. Breasts are definitely a million times more than being a sex object. ;)

      Thanks for coming up with this blog carnival and for the invite to all those interested. :) Can't wait to read all the entries. :)

  2. We wrote the same emphasis on huge savings by choosing to breastfeed. Ang saya noh! :)

    1. Kasi super tipid talaga. Was able to get a lot of other stuff for Ava instead of spending it on formula milk.

  3. Breastfeeding Pinays also helped me to ditch the formula. :)

    1. It's such a great community supporting mommies from all walks of life.

  4. My views on my breast also changed when I had my little one. What used to be my nice pair of babies that looked good on a tight fitting tee is now my baby's food and nourishment. Perfect!

    You have an amazing story. Found your blog thru milk mama diaries. Glad I joined.

    1. And I don't wear tight clothes anymore. :)

      Thanks for dropping by. I've read your entry as I well, congratulations for reaching 6 months of breastfeeding. :) After 6 months I stopped counting because I know I'm just gonna wait for Ava to self-wean. :)

  5. Lovely entry!
    A good support system is crucial in a successful breastfeeding and I'm happy that you were able to get it. I don't know also how long our babies will be latched on to us (same ages pala sila) but will surely miss it, when the day comes. :D

    1. Yes, without a good support system, it will be a difficult but definitely not impossible. :)

      Ay, when Ava slowed down on nursing, medyo na-depress ako. Hahah! I don't want to think about weaning muna. :)