by Susana Marina Lezcano
(Panama City, Panama)
Visitor Breastfeeding Story: In my breastfeeding video clips, there’s a part when the nurse arrives with my son so I can feed him for the first time, and you can hear in the background my grandmother’s voice saying “oh look! She doesn’t know how!”.
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I really don’t understand how she would expect me to know how to breastfeed my kid if it was the very first time I ever did it (besides, I was covered by wires from my IV, a pump with painkillers and a another thing for peeing), or is it that women from her time were already breastfeeding experts by the time they had their first kid?
At first, breastfeeding was complicated. Thankfully, Daniel would latch on easily, but I had no way to know how much he was eating, besides, burping a newborn turned out to be an odyssey, and there was always the temptation to stick one of those ready-made formula bottles my mom would get, you know, just in case.
I reached a point where I got easily frustrated, and it didn’t help much that my uncle made jokes about me being kicked out of the dairy cooperative. One of those days, my baby’s daddy went out on one of his famous shopping sprees and got home with an electric and manual breast pumps, nipple protectors and another bunch of stuff that I still haven’t found any use for, but we can’t return to the store anymore.
I decided to try the electric breast pump (I still have no idea why I tried that one instead of the manual one) and managed to pump out 2 oz and a little later another ounce. From that point, and following my doctor’s advice to drink lots of fluids and try to make Daniel latch on as much as possible, I started to leak a lot and to see really bizarre things I have already documented for posterity with little drawings and all, so my son knows what’s coming when he becomes a parent.
A couple of days ago, a found in a local newspaper an article titled Barreras para amamantar (Barriers for breastfeeding) and as a new mom, it was very comforting to read a quote from the medical director of Panama’s Children’s Hospital, explaining that it is wrong to believe that a mother’s production of breastmilk isn’t enough to feed a child.
I have been able to breastfeed my baby almost exclusively, which has been a huge blessing; however, in the two months since my son’s birth, I have heard comments such as “are you sure he’s full with that?” or “remember to take enough formula with you so you don’t go around sticking out your boob like…”, and really, it is really sad to see one of the most gratifying experiences out of motherhood as something shameful, especially when family should be the main support for every new mom.
And that’s how an aunt mocked me with something along the lines of “yeah, right. You’re a milk making machine”, and that’s how I enjoyed the look on her face when I nonchalantly told her that I had just put in the fridge a 4 oz bottle while I was still breastfeeding my baby.
Being able to breastfeed my son has been a matter of pride. I know I’m providing the best for his physical and emotional development, and my baby isn’t another pathetic statistic.
I’ll be back to work in a few days, which means things won’t get any easier, but I’m determined to breastfeed Daniel at least until he’s six months old, hopefully more.
Right now, I can only say that in one month my baby gained 3 lbs almost on breastmilk alone.