Velvet Roxas, CD(DONA)
I breastfed for a total of 7 years and 2 months. Yes, you read it right: seven years for my two daughters. I breastfed my first baby for 3 years and 2 months the younger one, for 4 years. I also decided that I wanted to breastfeed as long as I can. J stopped because she lost her front tooth while playing, and V stopped because we both decided it was time to stop. No crying, no tantrums just pure discussion and mutual agreement.
Seven years of bliss and challenges at the same time. Having undergone sore nipples, plugged ducts, thrush, engorgement, and mastitis, the drama queen in me once questioned the Lord “What have I done in this world to deserve such treatment? ” Years later, my question was answered. I had to go through all that so I can be a more effective breastfeeding counselor and trainor.
In fact, my entire journey started out with a challenge. I mix-fed J with formula milk for the first three weeks of her life. I’m so thankful to Nona Andaya, because she reminded me that I had enough milk for my baby when I called her on the phone. From 8 oz of formula on Thursday, I was down to 4 oz on Friday, 2 oz on Saturday, and received the gift of exclusively breastfeeding by Sunday, which was Mother’s Day.
It was my first Mother’s Day, and was truly a memorable one in my breastfeeding journey. A week after, Nona visited me and taught me breastfeeding positions. If there was any monetary investment that I have never regretted in my life, it was a visit from a breastfeeding counselor for a one-on-one session.
In my quest for more breastfeeding knowledge, I regularly attended La Leche League meetings at St. Luke’s Quezon City with Jane Cacho, Cris Rosenthal, and Dr. Pat Kho. This is where I met breastfeeding friends too.
I was a peer counselor and facilitator in college, but I learned the practical art of breastfeeding counseling through Nanay Ellen, who also taught me lactation massage skills. I was amazed by her counseling skills and the spirit with which she did her work, and thus learned a great deal from her. We can read books and study the research but there’s no better way than to learn than through hands-on work. I’m glad I’ve found my teacher in Nanay Ellen.
Velvet and Nanay Ines
The doors to breastfeeding advocacy were opened to me by Ines Avellana-Fernandez, the founder and executive director of Arugaan. She has mothered and mentored me as I engaged in the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. She gave me opportunities to learn, to study, to network, to lobby, and to simply get exposed in the advocacy. The Nanays of Arugaan (Nanay Innes, Nanay Ellen, Nanay Mitas, Nanay Lita, Nanay Rich etc.) were my surrogate mothers in Manila. Their commitment to the cause was contagious!
Teenager J (3rd from left) with the Nanay of Arugaan
Another personality who made a mark on me was Dr. Mianne Silvestre. When I first met her, I was drawn to her soothing voice and positive aura. A part of me wished that I could have her combination of gentleness and firm resolve. On the other hand, it felt very different but equally amazing to learn from trainings with Dr. Natividad Relucio-Clavano. I could feel the roar in my heart whenever she talked.
Velvet and colleagues training breastfeeding counselors in Iloilo
These are the women who not only helped me to be successful in breastfeeding the two little women of my life, but also to help other women achieve their breastfeeding goals.
Doula Velvet Roxas is a Certified Birth Doula under DONA International (Doulas of North America). She is also the Special Area Representative of DONA International in Asia.
Velvet is one of the founders of Breastfeeding Pinays, an online support group of over 190,000 breastfeeding mothers and families, which aims to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. She is also an expert on infant and young child feeding.