*MOTHERHOOD, Gathered Thoughts

My Breastfeeding Journey (and Essentials!)

This month, I achieved my goal of exclusively breastfeeding my baby for AT LEAST six months as he also celebrated his half birthday (and will soon start solids/complementary feeding). So now, the goal is to continue breastfeeding him until he turns one year old and even beyond! To God be the glory!

I’m celebrating this because I remember how my breastfeeding journey started… I honestly thought I couldn’t do it! From the moment I gave birth, the doctors immediately put Rafa (my baby’s nickname) on my left breast to latch. As a first-time mother, I was so clueless at the start on how serious breastfeeding is! I mean, at first, I thought it was just bringing the baby to the breast and everything would just magically fall into place. But no! Breastfeeding is something to be learned (and if you’re a new momma, maternal instincts will kick in so you’ll eventually know what you’re doing — so don’t worry!). There are even different breastfeeding positions… and yes, I tried ’em all (my favorites are the cross-cradle hold and side-lying). With learning, though, comes pain, tears, sweat, and yes, occasional blood! 😛

I remember on Rafa‘s fourth day, two days after we came home from the hospital, he suddenly couldn’t latch properly after latching well for the past four days. I was sooo sleep deprived, I was crying due to postpartum blues and my painful breasts/nipples. Eventually, I contacted one of my sisters who’s a pediatrician. After examining Rafa, it was decided that he had poor activity so he had to be re-admitted to the hospital at five days old. We found out that he had to be treated for sepsis, so we spent another week, including his first Christmas, at the place where I gave birth to him (thank God he recovered; more details on my previous blog entry here). That was also the reason why at five days postpartum, I started my pumping journey. I don’t really religiously pump because Rafa still latches directly to me whenever I’m at home; I just pump when there’s a need like maybe once a day or twice when I’m at work.

Normally, new mothers are advised to pump after six weeks postpartum. But then again, it’s always a case-to-case basis so always consult your doctor. Since I developed gestational hypertension that continued to my fourth trimester, I was advised to express my breast milk so I could catch up on sleep. Sure, I could hand express but it was just too time consuming; using an electric breast pump and a manual silicone pump/milk catcher was a personal decision (with doctor’s advice, of course). Add to that what happened to Rafa when he was just five days old… I wouldn’t be able to recover properly if it weren’t for my early pumping. You see, I’m blessed to have a husband who was willing to sacrifice some shut-eye during the early days of Rafa. Whenever Rafa would cry in the wee hours of the morning, my husband would be the one to feed him from a bottle with my expressed breast milk, which in return helped me recover from my postpartum hypertension and other complications. (So thank you, Ish! Rafa and I love you!)

Anyway, I know that each mother has a unique breastfeeding (or non-breastfeeding) journey. I’m just sharing my own story, and I’ll be glad if you get a thing or two out of it. 🙂

To be honest, my major concern back then was how to give Rafa my breast milk when I return to work. I wanted to build a freezer stash but didn’t know how to start. Eventually, I was able to build enough supply (mostly with the help of a manual milk catcher!), and Rafa was able to drink purely my breast milk during his first six months. I was even able to donate some! So I’m really grateful to God for everything.

❤ ❤ ❤

To pay it forward, I’d like to share the things (my so-called essentials) in alphabetical order that helped me successfully breastfeed Rafa, especially during the fourth trimester when I was still establishing my milk supply:

Baby feeding bottles – In order for my husband to feed Rafa so I could rest, we needed baby feeding bottles. We took the risk of introducing the bottle to Rafa at a very early stage (again, at five days old — always consult your doctor!), and I’m just glad he didn’t really struggle with nipple confusion. Sure, he became “picky” at around four months, but he still takes the bottle from time to time especially when I have to go to work. For me, it was a trial and error process in finding the brand that Rafa liked best — FYI, it’s Hegen. When we observed him, Hegen was the bottle with the best “slow flow” teat that’s compatible with Rafa‘s “feeding pace” so we never looked back since. The other brands I tried at the beginning were Comotomo, Medela, Philips Avent, and Tommee Tippee.

Breast milk storage bags – Obviously, I used this to store my expressed breast milk in the freezer. The brands I tried are Dr. Dudu, Orange & Peach, UK Baby (the most affordable!), and Uni-Love.

Breast pumps (electric and manual)

Electric pump – My sisters gifted me Medela‘s Swing Maxi Flex, and I use it as my main breast pump. Hands down, I love it! It really empties my breasts — which is actually the number one key in establishing breast milk supply. The breasts need to be emptied, so the brain will get the signal that the body still needs to produce more breast milk. 😉

Anyway, the only other electric breast pump I tried was an unbranded and China-made handsfree pump. It was okay for “relieving” but not really for “emptying” so I don’t really recommend it for establishing milk supply. I’m actually willing to give it away if any momma out there needs it, so just let me know! Haha!

Manual silicone pump / milk catchers and savers – Ahhh! The key to my freezer stash! Mommas know this, but during the fourth trimester when breast milk supply is at its peak, let-downs happen ALL THE TIME on the other breast when the baby is feeding on the other. It would be such a waste if we just let our “liquid gold” go to our clothes, hence the need for silicone milk catchers! Most people call this a “Haakaa” because it’s the brand that invented it, but of course, other brands are available in the market. The brands I tried are Dula, Haakaa, Orange & Peach, Naturebond (the best for me ’cause the suction is not as painful as the Haakaa!), etc. I own six milk catchers, so I already have one available at each feeding session when the others are still at the cleaning/sterilizing queue! 😀 Seriously, I love it! I even love gifting it to my new momma friends. Although after the first three months, when I already have a steady freezer stash and got comfortable with the side-lying breastfeeding position, I got tired of using it. LOL! No worries, though, because silicone pumps and parts usually have a lifespan of only three months; they eventually need to be replaced especially if used often (which I did, literally every day for the first three months postpartum!).

Breast shells – These saved me from leaks and sore nipples when I returned to work! Instead of breast pads, I put these in my bra, so that my leaking breast milk would be caught. It also helps my nipples not touch my bra or clothes, so it lessens the sting (breastfeeding mommas know this feeling!). The brands I tried are Dula, Orange & Peach, Philips Avent, etc.

Breastfeeding/nursing pillow – I actually have two, both were given to me as gifts. The first one is shaped like a small rectangle wherein I can slip my arm and Rafa can rest his head on the pillow while on a cradle hold position. The other one was included in my hospital package when I gave birth, and it’s the more common U-shaped one. I like the latter because it’s so versatile, Rafa‘s also able to use it during tummy time and as a seat support.

Galactagogues – This might sound foreign to some, but that’s what nursing mommas call foods that help increase our milk supply (provided that we continue “emptying” our breasts). The ones I tried and tested are:

Almonds – From whole almonds as snacks to almond butter to almond milk, I instantly became a fan! (Because honestly, pre-pregnancy, I wasn’t really into almonds! Haha!)

Lactation drinks – I usually have one every breakfast (or every after meal depending on my mood). The brands I tried are Nestle’s Milo (oh yes!), Daily Herbs’ malunggay choco and coffee, Mother Nurture’s malunggay choco and coffee (my faves!), and Naturearth’s M2 malunggay tea drink.

Lactation treats – The fun part about breastfeeding! Enjoying sweet treats without the guilt (just continue to do it in moderation and always check your sugar!). The brands I tried are Ava’s Kitchen (I prefer their savory and cream cheese-based lactation spreads), Galacto Bombs, Hustina Bakes, Milking Bombs by ABC (hands down, the best and my favorite!), and Mommy Treats.

Oatmeal – Apart from the ingredients used for the lactation treats I consume and my occasional oatmeal milk drink, the only brand I tried is good ‘ol Quaker Oats. I usually have it plain (no sugar or milk) with chia seeds for breakfast, paired with a lactation drink. Yum!

Lactation massager – I was skeptical at first but when I tried it, it really worked wonders! My milk output was better during pumping sessions when I used a lactation massager. It also helps unclog milk ducts. 🙂 The only brand I tried is Lavie.

Lactation supplements – a.k.a. malunggay capsules! I started taking ’em during my third trimester of pregnancy. The brands I tried are Buds & Blooms, Eu Natural, Life Oil (the best for me, although a bit pricey — also the one recommended by my OB-GYN), and Mega Malunggay.

Nipple balm – During the first few weeks of breastfeeding, the breasts and nipples of new mommas need some time to “adjust” to the painful different sensation of a baby’s latch. I actually started using one when I was still pregnant to somehow “prep” my breasts, but no amount of “prepping” would be enough to the actual experience! Haha! But yes, nipple balms help soothe and moisturize — just make sure you use one that’s baby safe and made of food-grade/natural ingredients. The brands I tried are Mustela and Orange & Peach.

Nipple wash – Bath time for me is never complete without this! The only one I tried is Cradle‘s Cradle Mama Natural Breast and Nipple Wash.

Nursing/pumping bras and clothes – There’s a difference between a nursing bra and a pumping bra! Haha! The former has easy access for baby to latch, and the latter has holes wherein you put a breast pump’s flange so you can pump handsfree. I have Medela‘s Easy Expression Bustier but since it’s pricey, the rest of my “nursing/pumping” apparel consists of China-made and local finds from Shopee! If you need recos, let me know! Wahahahaha!

Steam sterilizer – From baby feeding bottles to breast pump parts, we sterilize everything at least once a day. The only one I’m using now is Philips Avent’s 3-in-1 electric steam sterilizer. It’s so convenient when the “queue” is piling up! 😀

Support group – Ah yes, mommas need to help fellow mommas! Aside from my sisters, husband, and household help, I’m blessed to have mommy friends from all walks of life who are in the same season as I am! I even found a light group (LG) from The Feast exclusive for young mothers like me, and we meet online once a month (and talk via our group chat any day)! So shout-out to all of you, fellow mommas! Thanks for being with me in this journey. ❤

Water – Breast milk is composed of around 80% water. Since I started breastfeeding, I’ve been drinking AT LEAST two liters of water per day. During the fourth trimester, I always have a tumbler beside me because I’d drink water before and after each feeding session, even if that’s in the wee hours of the morning. I seldom use a water glass anymore because I drink straight from one-liter tumblers — it’s just easier to track my water intake that way. On a good day, I get to drink four liters of water. To be honest, I’ll continue this habit even if I’m not breastfeeding in the future because it’s just really good for my health overall.

Whew! Looks a lot, no? Sure, some may perceive these as “extras” but like I said, I’m speaking from my own experience. The aforementioned “essentials” allowed me to exclusively breastfeed Rafa without the need to resign from my work, get my much needed “me time” from time to time, and stay sane (trust me, new mommas can relate), so I don’t regret investing in these!

Obviously, my breastfeeding journey is mostly trial and error (as is motherhood in general) and I know I still have a long way to go. And whether or not you breastfeed, I salute you fellow momma! We all have the same goal of giving the best to our babies, and no one can do a better job at being our babies’ mothers than us!!! 🙂


“While he was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.'”
-Luke 11:27

*FAITH, *MARRIAGE, Down Memory Lane, Gathered Thoughts, Marked on the Calendar

#MikaIshTheOne: Some Wedding Traditions Done with a Twist!

First off, my heart goes to all those in the middle of wedding preparations during these very trying times. Experiencing a pandemic in this lifetime is really hard. Planning a wedding is stressful enough — then add a pandemic to that equation? I don’t even want to think about it. For some, this may sound trivial, but married couples who went through the same ordeal AND engaged couples going through THIS ordeal would understand. My prayers are with you! May this strengthen your relationship with each other and with God. 🙂

Anyway, it has been almost a quarter since me and my husband got married. Nobody said marriage is easy, but I’m blessed to have a partner in life who makes it easier somehow. (Shout-out to my husband, Ish! I LOVE YOU!). I decided to create this post to also give engaged couples some ideas not just about their upcoming weddings, but also about the more important aspect of their entire preps: marriage.

Those Godless and Silly Myths

I’d like to mention that I don’t believe in superstitions (including feng shui, zodiac signs, etc.). Let me just put this out there. Sure, there was a time when I believed in those and I realized that instead of being progressive, superstitions just instilled fear — I believe it’s aim was to control a person using exactly that: FEAR! And where does “fear” come from? Definitely NOT from God (1 John 4:18). Besides, if you think of it, superstitions make no sense. Most people say that there’s nothing to lose (“wala namang mawawala” in Filipino) when they follow superstitions. But based from personal experience, it shows lack of TRUST — especially, TRUST IN GOD! Yes, I realized that when I believed and followed superstitions, I was subconsciously losing trust in God: trust in His provisions (Matthew 6:25-34), trust in His plans for my life (Jeremiah 29:11), trust in His perfect love (John 3:16). And truth be told, losing trust in God is a BIG DEAL! That’s why I don’t subscribe to superstitions. As a practicing Catholic, I follow traditions approved only by the magisterium of the Catholic Church.

“Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness.” –1 Timothy 4:7

Our wedding day was one perfect example of how I wanted to glorify and honor God, and I did my best not to restrict myself from that — there are many superstitions connected to weddings, and they are actually limiting and restrictive! To be honest, aside from God, the most important ones for a wedding to take place are only the bride, the groom, the priest presider (for a Catholic wedding), and the two witnesses. Others are just extra. But since God has been really faithful in our lives, Ish and I made sure that the “celebration” of our union would be some sort of thanksgiving to Him and to the people who’ve been part of our individual lives and journey as a couple. From my bridal march song (“Thank You Jesus” by Hillsong Worship – instrumental version) to our wedding reception, we made sure that our guests knew how Jesus played a very big role in our relationship.

What else? Well, we added a twist to some of the known wedding traditions! 😀

Some Wedding Traditions Done with a Twist

  • Additional bearer for our Papal Blessing (instead of just the usual: Bible, Coin, and Ring bearers)

Usually, a wedding entourage has only three bearers for the Bible, arrhae/coins, and wedding rings. Since we had an intimate wedding with an equally intimate entourage (mostly family members), we decided to also include the Papal Blessing parchment we received from the Vatican. By donating to the Papal Charities Office, you can receive an official blessing from the Pope across the miles. More information can be found here.

  • Bible verse engraving in our wedding rings (instead of wedding date)

Aside from engraving our names inside our rings, we decided to also include a Bible verse — Romans 1:12.

“…or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” –Romans 1:12

Ish and I decided to make this our “marriage verse” — so that anytime, especially in difficult times, we can be reminded that we couldn’t do this whole marriage thing without Christ at the center of it.

  • Coins from travels in our arrhae (instead of the usual modern arrhae coins)

When I was searching for wedding suppliers, I came upon a store that was selling 13 arrhae coins with engraved symbols for almost Php2,000. I was like, NO! That was too expensive! So I researched the history of the arrhae and found out that originally, real coins were used for it — and since I love traveling and collected coins while at it, I decided to use my leftover coins. What’s important is the priest’s blessing, anyway.

According to Wikipedia (haha), “the thirteen coins today have the alternative meaning of Jesus and the twelve apostles. The exchange of the coins represents the groom’s promise to provide for his family and the bride’s trust in his ability to do so.”

At present, the arrhae with coins is located at our home altar (as well as our Papal Blessing).

  • Washing of the feet by the groom (instead of the garter toss)

Holy Week just passed; the tradition of washing one’s feet is traditionally done on Good Friday to commemorate Christ’s humble act of “servant leadership” to His apostles. Ish and I decided to do this at our reception to signify what true love really means — it’s not a feeling, it’s not just a decision, but it’s about dying to one’s self for the good of the other. Did you get that? Authentic loving means dying — selfless, not selfish.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” –Ephesians 5:25

As for me, well I also have my own commandment to follow as a wife: submit to my husband as I submit to Christ, trusting that he only wants what’s best for me (Ephesians 2:22-24). Will definitely write more about this topic in another post! 😉

  • Flowers for single ladies from the bride (instead of the bouquet toss)

When I was single, one of the awkward things I did when attending weddings was join the bride’s bouquet toss (no choice, they usually call pre-selected names!). I would go in front with other single female participants and would “fight” over the elusive bouquet! Haha!

When it was my turn to be a bride, I decided to give an artificial single-stem rose (bonus souvenir!) with an attached vocation prayer to each of my single ladies so they wouldn’t feel the same way I did when I was still single and in a wedding. I pray that they also heed God’s call in whatever vocation they’re called to. ❤

Don’t get me wrong. I know that each wedding is unique, and there may be times that some couples wouldn’t be able to let go of following certain traditions out of respect for their elders, culture, etc. I’m just sharing what worked for me and my husband. Also, always check your heart for your intent. If you’re doing a tradition with some uncertainty in your heart (meaning, you don’t really know or understand it), you might want to reconsider. But if your heart’s at peace, then that’s a good sign.

What matters most is getting married to the love of your life in front of Love Himself:
Jesus Christ.
(Revelation 19:6-9)

❤ ❤ ❤


What are your favorite wedding traditions?
What are your not-so-favorite wedding traditions?
Do you know why you feel that way toward these traditions?

*FAITH, Down Memory Lane, Gathered Thoughts, Marked on the Calendar, The World (TRAVEL), Year Enders

2018, You Were Really Somethin’

Last year, I said in my annual “year-ender” blog post that “I actually consider 2017 as my BEST YEAR.” But I also concluded that entry with this: “Yes, 2017 was my best year… SO FAR. Not to worry, though. I have a feeling na hindi naman papatalo si 2018 ehApir!”

And indeed, hindi nga nagpatalo ang 2018 ko! 😀

I’m going to make this year ender short and simple. God really took over my 2018, and He actually made me feel His tender loving care (TLC) through these things that made a mark on me this year:


God once again answered my travel dreams by allowing me to visit four new countries I haven’t been to before… including my last stop: the heart of my Catholic faith — The Vatican!!! ❤

my 2018 travels


Well, if there’s something I’m most grateful for this year, it’ll be my special someone: Ish. 🙂 Yes, friendsss, I’m in a relationship with someone who I love and highly respect — most of all, who loves God more than anyone and anything, even more than me and I like that fact very much! Also, I’m happy that God allowed him to find me at a time when I was very content with my single life and not really looking for a boyfriend (my close friends could attest that before I met Ish, I was actually planning on entering the convent! HA HA HA). But God had other plans for my life, and He knows what’s best. Indeed, God works on His own timeline — so to all my single friends reading this, just continue to trust Him and let Him surprise you. God NEVER FAILS, and He’s still probably preparing the one for you to be at his/her best according to His will (or perhaps, preparing YOU)! In His perfect time, all will fall into place. Not your time, but His perfect time.


My work is still one of my answered prayers ever since I started working at my dream workplace almost four years ago. This year, God surprised me even more with a promotion I didn’t really expect to happen at all in 2018! Haha! When the opportunity opened, I just grabbed it and placed it in God’s hands… it has been a quarter since I acquired my new position at work. There are added responsibilities and I admit that I’m still in the learning process (learning never stops anyway), but as I enter the new year, I’m excited for what God has in store more for my career, trusting that He always has got me covered! 😉

So, that was my 2018. As the newest Miss Universe, Catriona Gray (yay for the Philippines!), reminded us in her winning answer: “be grateful” and “see situations with a silver lining.” I totally agree (in fact, “gratitude” has always been a recurring theme in all of my year-ender posts since 2011!). As we enter 2019, let’s continue to be grateful and to see situations with a silver lining… but most importantly (as one post I saw also mentioned), may Ms. Gray‘s win be a reminder of how beautiful you are in God’s eyes. Don’t let the world dictate who you are; operate in God’s universe and see how He can transform you into being a true champion and warrior who is made in His image and likeness! 🙂

“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them…” -Genesis 1:27

I pray that you’ll allow God to be the center of your universe this coming 2019, and may He bless you abundantly!!!

As for me, if 2017 was my so-called “best year” and 2018 was really something, I claim in Jesus‘ mighty name that 2019 will be my MOST BLESSED YEAR BY FAR! ❤