Overcoming the Challenges of Breastfeeding

Overcoming the Challenges of Breastfeeding

by Kathrina Chow, RN, IBCLC​

Growing up in the Philippines, I was bottle fed and so were my four older siblings. For my mother’s generation living in a developing country in the 1970s and 1980s, many families were formula feeding, due to women working outside the home. Bottle feeding formula was considered normal.

Fast forward to my mid-20s when I had my first child here in the United States. I had the intention of breastfeeding, but did not attend any breastfeeding or newborn care classes. In the Filipino community I was a part of the “no one talks about breastfeeding” culture. I did not witness women breastfeeding, and I observed a lot of formula feeding. I felt alone, tired, and clueless on how to feed my baby and formula feeding was an easy option.

My baby was considered low birth weight; I had difficulty latching; she lost 10% of her birth weight; and we started supplementing with formula. At the time, I didn’t know how to latch my baby properly, I didn’t know the importance of pumping to build and maintain my milk supply. I developed cracked nipples, engorgement and mastitis. My supply didn’t come in fully and I had to combine breastfeeding and pumping milk with formula. Two months later, I returned to work without knowing the importance of pumping to maintain my milk supply. Within a week or two after starting full time, my milk dried up and that breastfeeding journey ended.

Eight years later, my second child was born and this time I had the lived experience of my previous breastfeeding struggle, plus my current knowledge as a lactation nurse. My goal with my second child was to exclusively breastfeed for one year. Even though I knew how to latch and position my baby to breast, I still had cracked and bleeding nipples. I was able to power through the first two weeks of life and by seeking assistance and support, I was able to exclusively breastfeed 12 months and beyond.

The breastfeeding journey with my first born is that of many first time parents. Now, as a lactation consultant and with my personal experiences, I am able to approach and help new and seasoned families by giving them the knowledge and skills to reach their breastfeeding goals–p​​roviding guidance during the hospital stay, after discharge, to weaning, and everything in between.

Learn more about Valley’s Lactation Services, or call 425.228.3440, ext. 5791.

Learn more about the challenges and successes of breastfeeding from Valley caregivers:

About The Author

Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office