Daphne Oseña-Paez poses by the poster replica of her BBB billboard.
Brains, Beauty & Breastfeeding Inc. (BBB), an organization that advocates breastfeeding, launched billboards all around the metro in October to help spread awareness about their cause. The billboards featured United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Special Advocate for Children Daphne Oseña-Paez, sportscaster Patricia Bermudez-Hizon, and BBB director Iza Abeja, as well as their kids.
The organization hopes that these billboards, as well as future innovations by BBB, will help correct misconceptions about breastfeeding, some of which include the notion that it's shameful to breastfeed in public or that it's a professional hindrance for women.
According to UNICEF statistics, 9 out of 10 children who die under five years old are not breastfed. Almost half of all mothers in the Philippines use artificial milk for their babies, which makes the campaign even more relevant in current times.
At the launch for BBB's billboards on October 13, Daphne and Patricia sat down with Female Network to talk about their experiences and give advice for breastfeeding mothers.
1. NEVER MIND THE GADGETS; FOCUS ON BREASTFEEDING.
Daphne says a lot of moms who intend to breastfeed their babies often get too engrossed in finding the right gadgets, like breast pumps and sterilizers. "Really, you won't know what you need until you're there, so don't worry about that. Just focus on getting your milk flow and your rhythym settled the first few weeks, and then you can see if you really need to buy a pump." Breast pumps are expensive nowadays, after all, and Daphne says it's fine to do it manually.
2. HAVE A SUPPORT GROUP.
"Seek advice. Seek assistance. And there's a lot of assistance from experts, from doctors. Hopefully, your doctor is pro-breastfeeding. Get help from your girlfriends," says Daphne.
Meanwhile, Patricia says it's important to include the entire household in your support group. Even her driver helped her, she shares. While she was doing her job as a sportscaster and the car was the only place to pump milk, he guarded the car and provided her with ice and additional assistance.
3. LOOK AFTER YOUR OWN MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING.
"Take a break if you have to take a break," says Daphne. "The most important thing for me really is the well-being of the mom. There are so many issues after giving birth, you know--recovery, post-partum [depression]." Breastfeeding is rewarding enough, she adds. "It makes you realize that your life has changed. You're a mom now. Everything you do will affect your child, so let's make it a positive thing."
"Keep yourself as happy as possible," says Patricia. "From listening to music that will make you feel happy, reading books, and giving myself some 'me' time. And if you need to pretty yourself up, go ahead." While some might think it's shallow, there's a physiological aspect to it, she says, and your happiness affects how much milk you produce.
Patricia Bermudez-Hizon with kids Vicente and Paul
4. FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS AS A BREASTFEEDING MOM.
Both Patricia and Daphne stress that not a lot of workplaces provide breastfeeding stations or suitable environments for breastfeeding moms. Daphne says one solution is to be a breastfeeding advocate yourself. "Convince your workers, your boss, that this is something good for everybody [because] studies show that breastfeeding moms who are supported become more productive and less sickly."
5. JUST DO IT.
Daphne says it's true that breastfeeding is only painful during the first few days, and even then, there are ways to remedy this. "After that, it feels so good. You can feel the contraction of your tummy, and it's like it's getting smaller and smaller." Make sure to tap your loved ones, your doctor, or a counselor in the early days too, as they will give you the support you need.
6. MAKE SURE YOU'RE PHYSICALLY STRONG.
Patricia says it's important to keep yourself hydrated because breastfeeding does use up energy. It's also important to do strengthening exercises. Why? "Because [of] back pain, carpal tunnel--all of these things. You have to keep yourself strong. Carrying all that weight you haven't lost yet, plus the baby--having to carry them around actually will affect your knees."
7. GET YOUR HUBBY TO HELP.
Patricia shares how having hubby Vince Hizon supporting her all the time made breastfeeding much easier for her. "He really was part of the breastfeeding process," she says, smiling. "It's hard to breastfeed pag puyat ka. [There were] many, many nights, I slept through the night, and he would be the one who would stay awake to thaw the breast milk and give it to the baby. I don't think my breastfeeding would have been as successful if it wasn't for him."
To learn more about breastfeeding and its benefits, check out these articles on FN: