7 Essential Tips for Breastfeeding Success

1. Equip Yourself and Commit to it

The best start begins in Pregnancy so make the most out of your time to research about what to expect when you’ve decided to breastfeed.

Read 

A book I would greatly recommend is Dr. Jack Newman’s The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers. The book is self-explanatory and would greatly help in busting common myths about breastfeeding. It also talks about usual problems encountered in breastfeeding and holds a great deal of information on how to overcome them.

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Seminars and Talks

Attending at least one seminar will help you equip yourself. These seminars are conducted regularly in different areas like malls, hospitals and several mommy events. It would be great if you can bring a list of questions you might have. It is also a good idea to be surrounded by co-pregnant moms who share the same goal, which is to breastfeed.

Get Your Husband on Board

You do not need to do this alone. Having your husband’s support will absolutely help you in times you may feel like giving up. Having him around while you do your research and bringing him to seminars will surely influence him to make the commitment with you. If he has doubts, talk to him. Let him know you value his support and how much this means to you.

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Source: World Health Organization

Make the Commitment

To make the decision to breastfeed is easy, but to stand by it can be difficult. In this day and age where milk companies are very much eager in selling their products, sometimes it can be hard to convince your family members, most especially mothers and mothers-in-law to support you in your decision. Just make sure you have informed them about the dangers of formula milk feeding so they’ll be aware and not be blinded by the marketing ploys of these companies. Involving them in the seminars may also help them understand you better. So, it’s really better to tag them along.

Dangers of Infant Formula

Source: World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action; Written by Nancy Forrest

2. Unmedicated Childbirth

If possible, choose a natural childbirth.

I cannot even begin to emphasize the importance of attending a childbirth preparation class. If not for The Pod, I wouldn’t have learned about the benefits of breastfeeding and also what medications used in childbirth does to you and your baby.

The documentary called The Business of Being Born opened my eyes to the reality of childbirth in hospitals. How big of a business it is and how it disrupts every effort of the mother to breastfeed her child. Watch the video and find out what I am talking about!

So if possible, choose a natural childbirth without any medical intervention. If ever it is needed, choose the better option instead. Making an in-depth research will do if you happen to have no time to attend these classes.

3. Join Support Groups
-where to go and who to call when challenges come.

Being part of one is very important in achieving your goal. To be part of a group with like-minded people will surely help you when certain challenges arise. These challenges may make or break your breastfeeding journey; to have experienced friends, is a plus.

Mother-to-Mother

An online group I would highly recommend is called Breastfeeding Pinays on Facebook. All other support groups per area here in the Philippines are listed under their Files section – if you are looking for one. Although, you must first join the group in order to gain access to these files. Of course, there are other websites and online forums you can visit, but a Filipino-based community who understands our culture, may be of better help.

If ever you are based abroad, you may check the website of La Leche League for local a support group nearest you.

The Doctors

The group also has a list of Breastfeeding-friendly doctors if you wish to get a consultation. The Obstetrician and the Pediatrician you consult with should be knowledgeable about breastfeeding. If they start showing signs that they are backed-up by formula milk companies, that is already a warning for you to consider looking for another doctor. They will be your partners in promoting the health and well-being of your child so it is very important that you share the same views and advocacy.

4. The Latch

Unang Yakap is now an enforced protocol in most hospital which involves the following  steps:

  • Immediate Thorough Drying
  • Immediate Skin-to-Skin Contact
  • Appropriately-Timed Cord Clamping
  • Nonseparation of newborn from mother to allow for early breastfeeding

A mother must be able to establish a good start in breastfeeding in order to avoid common problems like engorgement and supply issues. The key is to make sure the baby is given the chance to feed as soon as possible which is roughly, 30 minutes to an hour after the birth. Please take note of Republic Act 7600 also known as The Rooming-In and Breast-feeding Act of 1992 which promotes and protects breastfeeding in the hospital setting.

Upon birth, every mom already has milk in the form of colostrum. This is very small in amount and is loaded with antibodies which serve as your baby’s first immunization. Aside from this, having the baby latched on right after birth will help in regulating baby’s temperature and blood sugar.

A Newborn's Stomach Capacity

Source: L.A.T.C.H.

Getting the baby to have a good latch from the very beginning will greatly decrease any form of difficulty along the way. If ever you need counseling, it is good to keep in touch with someone who can come over at the hospital to check on you and your baby’s latch when necessary.

Feed on Demand

Don’t watch the clock and don’t time your feedings. Allow baby to suckle at the breast for as long as he wants, one breast each feeding (or both, one after the other, if he isn’t satisfied). By doing this, it will send signals to your brain how much milk you need to produce. Breastfeeding is a law of supply and demand so having the baby latched often will help in your milk production later on.

Don’t measure the amount of milk, focus instead on the number of wet and soiled diapers. Remember, expressing milk is best done when baby turns 6 weeks old. By this time, milk production is already established and you wouldn’t have to worry about oversupply which usually leads to engorgement.

5. Exclusively Breastfeed for the First 6 Months

Exclusive Breastfeeding means no water, no solid food, no vitamins, and no other milk except breastmilk for the first 6 months of baby’s life. Studies have shown that exposing your baby to these substances can do your baby more harm than good. Breastmilk is already packed with nutrients to nourish your growing baby. It is really all they need!

The benefits for both mother and baby are just tremendous, I can go on and on about it! You may find a much more detailed explanation here.

Exclusive Breastfeeding

Source: Unicef c/o Breastfeeding Pinays

World Health Organization recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and health. – WHO

Working Moms CAN Continue Breastfeeding

Many mothers start supplementing with formula milk when they go back to work. What they do not know is that, this is unnecessary, and that it is possible to maintain your supply through expressing your milk. You may learn the art of hand expression which is way better and gentler for you breasts. If ever you do have the budget, you may purchase a breast pump. Either way, sticking to a schedule is the secret to making it work. You also have to remember that when you and baby are together, always go for direct feeding.

Being aware of the law called The Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act (RA 10028) is also important especially to those who are employed in smaller companies, who tend to violate the rights of the mothers to have an extra 40-minute break for expressing their milk. Note that you have rights and you need to be familiar with it to be able to fight for it.

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Source: World Health Organization and Trainer’s Reference Manual ‘Gabay kay Nanay sa Tamang Pagpapasuso’ c/o Breastfeeding Pinays

Cupfeeding

Using a cup instead of a bottle will eliminate the risk of nipple confusion. When a baby is breastfeeding directly, the baby exerts great effort in drawing the milk out through suckling. On the other hand, bottle-feeding requires no, to minimum effort for the milk to come out. The tendency is that, babies usually prefer the bottle over the breast and this causes a decrease in the mother’s supply. Cupfeeding is easy and can be done even with premature babies.

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My Matilda, fed with a cup of hand expressed milk when she was less than a week old.

6. Finding the Balance Between Breastfeeding and Solid Feeding

On the 6th month, your baby may already start eating solids. Not all babies though show signs of readiness by this time so it is best to get to know your baby. With Matilda, we delayed solids until her 7th month to maximize the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding. We didn’t have any problems with her weight gain so our Pedia approved of it. Also, she wan’t able to sit on her own unsupported yet and this was necessary to avoid choking.

Weight gain usually start to slow down around 5-6 months so don’t be surprised by it. As your child gradually learns how to eat, his weight gain will be on a steady pace from then on. Remember to always consider your baby’s milestones and do not compare your child’s weight with another. Every child is different and as long as he is a happy, contented baby, and meeting his milestones, you will surely have no problem.

A helpful guide on how much babies actually need is provided below:

6-8 months: 80% milk 20% solids
8-12 months: 60% milk 40% solids
12-23 months: 40%  milk 60% solids

Source: Tamang K.A.I.N Seminar (Kid and Infant Nutirition) conducted by Velvet Escario-Roxas in partnership with Breastfeeding Pinays

7. Push for Extended Breastfeeding

My Matilda at 1 year and 6 months is still breastfed and I plan to continue for as long as she wants. Why oh why? She has teeth already! Plus she’s already walking (more like running!). Well, yes of course she has teeth already! If the latch is right, it isn’t a problem. The picture below pretty much sums up all the reasons why we want to let her wean on her own. Breastfeeding is addicting after all! 🙂

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But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8 NASB)

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. (1 Peter 2:2, 3 NLT)

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Bullying and Homeschooling

As a child, I knew going to school was necessary for me to learn and to be able to “work” someday. It was clearly explained to me while I was growing up, mostly by my father. Being a child, however, doesn’t quite give you a wide understanding of the things that you will have to go through to get there.

I started pre-school a little bit late. I was 6 years old then and even though I passed the assessment test for the “prep” level, my parents insisted that I must go through the “kinder” level first to lessen the pressure of learning on my part. They wanted me to be able adjust first with the idea of school and they thought I wasn’t ready yet for the higher level. As it turned out, no amount of preparation could actually get you to that state anyway.

That entire first year in school went by smoothly. I wasn’t excited about the fact I’ll be left in school alone as my parents recalled. Because I was really young then, my memories of school were bits and pieces of both good and bad. One particular thing I clearly remember though, was that right from the start, I was always the target of the bullies in school.

If you don’t know me personally, my mother is Filipina and my father is Indian. I don’t actually look like an Indian except for the fact that when I was young, my everyday hairdo was a simple braid for my long and curly hair. My complexion is fair, I got that from my mom. The height, being tallest in the class is from my dad. At around 6-9 years old, my teeth looked terrible and to top it all off, I was very chubby. Yeah, I wasn’t as appealing compared to the other girls in school. And that was the reason I was the bully’s favorite.

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Fast forward to 2nd grade, I grew older and so somehow, everything I was going through already took its toll on me. I started showing signs that I disliked school. I didn’t show any excitement about it and that made every morning difficult, for my mother.

I don’t know why I didn’t tell my parents sooner what I was experiencing in school. Until one day when a group of boys from my class intentionally threw my lunch and tore my lunch box apart. In my attempt to stop them, I got hurt when one of them kicked me. A lot of students saw what happened and immediately called the attention of the teacher who wasn’t in the room when it happened. The teacher called my mom and informed her of the incident and it was just then when I told them the truth.

Everyday as I went to school, my classmates (boys) would call me names, trip me while walking, pull my braid, steal my things, and a lot more. Being a child at that time, who had been treated the same way for a while, I honestly thought what they were doing to me was normal. If not for that incident, my parents would not have known the truth about my experiences in school.

One more incident took place months after that. A boy from my class brought a pellet gun and he shot me right at my chin with it. Thank God he did not hit me in the eye and though it hurt so bad, it did not leave any permanent damage. And this was the first time I personally told my mom about a particular bullying incident.

As a mother now to my baby girl, thinking about what happened to me breaks my heart twice harder. I couldn’t for the life of me ever imagine for her to be treated that way. I now understand what my mom could have felt at that time and why she did all that she could to protect me and my memories of childhood.

After months of probation and deliberation, two of these bullies eventually got expelled from school because of other numerous incidents that involved them. But even though they weren’t in school anymore, it did not lessen my anxiety about the idea of going to school in any way.

Because of all the bullying, I developed an intense feeling of insecurity. I avoided playing with other kids except for some of my closest girl friends. I also had anxiety attacks wherein my tummy would get so upset on the way to school and sometimes I’d develop a fever out of nowhere. This was a serious concern for my parents and so whenever I showed signs that I wasn’t well, they wouldn’t force me to go to school anymore.

You see, communication is very important. It’s very common among children not to inform parents about certain things when they think that it is normal. Always make sure you talk to your child about what specifically happens in school. Ask them questions in detail to be able to know how they are doing. You also have to watch out for signs. If your child isn’t showing any interest in school, ask them and investigate why.

These simple things may make or break your child’s character. And honestly, it is one of the main reasons why we are leaning towards homeschooling our Matilda. I’m very thankful that no matter how rough those circumstances were to me, at least I somehow ended up to be a normal, happy person. But even though I turned out fine, that doesn’t mean it left no emotional scar in my childhood. Of course, it did! I can still remember the hate I felt towards every one of those bullies. In my mind, I wished bad things to happen to them and I grew up holding grudges against them. It was only when I came to know the Lord, through his mercy and grace, that I was able to forgive all of them.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31, 32 NLT)

Knowing the formative years are very crucial, I cannot depend on the school or a teacher for that matter, to lead my child into Christlikeness. That responsibility is mine and I have to own it. As her mother, she was entrusted to me by God for a reason. A reason that only a Christian parent will understand. This involves leading her to follow Christ and for her to do the same when she’s already of age. We want her character molded in a place where circumstances are within our control. And we (Joey and I) consider the home to be a safe place where I can monitor what she learns, how she does things, and everything else in between. I want to be able to personally guide her in the process of building her own personality, and not to be dictated by how other children perceive who she is. I want myself to set a good example for her and not for her to copy someone who doesn’t have any set of values – just like the bullies present in school.

I may be paranoid and my reasons may be invalid but if you were bullied like me, I’m sure you wouldn’t want your child to experience the same. And one way for me to prevent that is to home school her instead. Yes, I know, bullying is inevitable and it can happen absolutely anywhere, even in play areas and the like. All I want is to lessen the possibility since the school is a place wherein children interact with one another on a daily basis, and the chances of it happening there, are far greater. Plus, the effects based on their interaction without you around, are much more critical too.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying sending your child to a regular school is wrong. Of course it’s absolutely okay. It’s just that, you, as the parent should be responsible enough to make sure your child goes to a school which gives importance to your child’s inward orientation. Sure, they will learn well in this particular school knowing all the students who have graduated turned out successful. But, think about their heart. Where is Jesus in their lives? Was the school able to instill important life lessons such as having a personal relationship with God? Is the school as aggressive in building the child’s character and not just feeding them with curriculum lessons? Evaluate the school, the teachers and the students. You have to know where they stand. After all, you’ll leave your child with these people who will greatly influence their life. Wouldn’t you want to know who they will learn from and what they will contribute to the development of their character?

When you look at schooling this way, it is only then you will understand its gravity. Whatever your decision might be, it is best to consider what will work for your family. What works for us might not work for you and vice versa. Just make sure you have prayed and asked God for guidance in making the right decisions such as choosing the right school for you child.

In the event however, that your child is already being bullied, here are some tips I thought to share with you:

1. Try your best to keep your cool and go to the school immediately and talk to the proper authorities about it. Never, ever confront the bully or his parents. Note: “Anti-Bullying Act of 2012”
2. Request a guidance counselor to monitor your child’s behavior at school. A weekly meeting may help your child gain his/her self-esteem back.
3. Enroll your child in a sport that would enhance his skill in self-defense like Taekwondo or Muay Thai. (Note: Teach them to defend themselves and NOT to fight back!)
4. Encourage your child to communicate with you about his daily activities in school.
5. Explain the importance of forgiveness and that it is God’s command for him to do so. Pray with your child that God will grant you wisdom in understanding the heart of the bully. Doing this will allow him/her to be able to have peace in his heart.

  • Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13 NIV)

6. Set a good example to your child by showing proper attitude against people who mistreat you. How your child responds is usually how they see it from their parents. Make sure you are being a role-model at all times, even when things don’t go your way.

  • “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. (Matthew 5:38, 39 NLT)

7. Consider the benefits of homeschooling, both for you and your child.

My parents wanted the best for me that’s why they sent me to that particular school. The only mistake they made was that they trusted the school too much and they forgot to scrutinize how they value the formation of their student’s character.

The bullying was a depressing chapter of my life but I learned a lot from it. One is to extend my patience further and another is to have an understanding and forgiving heart towards difficult people. Part of who I am now is because of all the experiences I encountered in the past and I will be forever grateful for it.

Were you bullied as a child? Or do you have a child who is being bullied in school? What actions did you take? How did it affect your child? Let’s talk about it and let me know how I can pray for you!

 

 

 

Coping with G6PD Deficiency

Back in 2008, Joey’s nephew got a positive result for G6PD Deficiency after he had his newborn screening test. I was still studying then for my Medical Technology course and I already had a brief background about the condition. I was aware that this is common among Filipinos and that we had the “mild” type (Class III) according to World Health Organization’s Classification, based on the magnitude of the enzyme deficiency and the severity of hemolysis. I assured their family that it wasn’t something to worry about just as what the little boy’s Pediatrician had said to them.

Since I knew how this was passed on to the baby boy, which is hereditary, by the way, I knew that if I were to marry Joey and we had our own child, he or she might also be at risk of having the same condition as well. So, I dedicated some time to research more about this through reading books and several studies made here and abroad to further my knowledge in this area.

Years passed and December of 2012, I gave birth to my little girl, Matilda. And just after days of enjoying her presence, the hospital called and asked us to pick up the result of her newborn screening test, immediately. I knew right then and there that Matilda must have had a positive result for G6PD Deficiency and true enough, I was right.

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What is Newborn Screening?

Newborn Screening (NBS) is a simple procedure to find out if your baby has a congenital metabolic disorder that may lead to mental retardation or even death if left untreated. Most babies with metabolic disorders look “normal” at birth. By doing NBS, metabolic disorders may be detected even before clinical signs and symptoms are present. And as a result of this, treatment can be given early to prevent consequences of untreated conditions. This is ideally done immediately, 24 hours after birth. This costs only 550 pesos and the results usually come out within 2-3 weeks, depending on the place it was made.

What Disorders are included in the Screening?

Disorder Screened Effect if NOT SCREENED Effect if SCREENED and managed
CH (Congenital Hypothyroidism) Severe Mental Retardation Normal
CAH (Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia) Death Alive and normal
GAL (Galactosemia) Death or Cataracts Alive and normal
PKU (Phenylketonuria) Severe Mental Retardation Normal
G6PD Deficiency Severe Anemia, Kernicterus Normal
Maple Syrup Urine Disease Death Alive and normal

 

What is G6PD Deficiency?

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, or G6PD deficiency for short, is the most common “inborn metabolic disorder” in the world. This means that from the time a baby is born, thre is already something wrong with how his body makes and breaks important substances. According to statistics, about 400 million people have G6PD deficiency, and it is most common in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Babies with G6PD deficiency have very little or no enzyme called Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD). An enzyme is a kind of protein that speeds up chemical reactions in the body. The enzyme G6PD is especially important to red blood cells. If this enzyme is lacking or missing, red blood cells are easily destroyed.

How is it acquired?

There are 2 kinds of sex chromosomes, X and Y. All baby girls have two X chromosomes. All baby boys have one X and one Y. The gene that gives instructions on how G6PD is made is found in the X chromosome only, thus G6PD deficiency is described as X-linked.

If a baby girl gets one defective G6PD gene from either of her parents, she will not have G6PD deficiency because she has another G6PD gene that can do the work (remember: a baby girl has two X chromosomes, thus two G6PD genes). But if she gets two defective G6PD genes from both her parents, she will have G6PD deficiency. On the other hand, a baby boy whose G6PD gene is defective will surely get G6PD deficiency because the Y chromosome has no G6PD gene.

A defective G6PD gene will give wrong instructions on how to make the enzyme G6PD. As a result, too little or none of it is made.

NOTE: Kindly click on this link to view the inheritance chart – http://g6pddeficiency.org/wp/g6pd-deficiency-home/g6pd-deficiency-inheritance-chart/#.U5kwKvmSw1I

What is the potential harm of having G6PD Deficiency?

If a baby does not have enough G6PD, his red blood cells lack protection from the harmful effects of oxidative substances. When these substances accumulate in the body in hight concentrations, it may lead to hemolysis – a process wherein red blood cells are destroyed which usually causes hemolytic anemia.

Destroyed red blood cells are brought to the liver to be broken down to smaller pieces for disposal. One of the end products of this process is bilirubin, a yellowish substance that accumulates in different parts of the body when too much of it is produced. Quite often, bilirubin accumulates in the skin and causes it to appear yellowish (Jaundice). In the worst cases, biliribin accumulates in the brain (Kernicterus) and causes mental retardation or death. 

prevalence-2013

Source: http://www.newbornscreening.ph/

My initial reaction was relief that it was indeed G6PD Deficiency and not something else. Among the 6 conditions included in the test, G6PD Deficiency was the least serious and it had no medical intervention needed afterwards.

After confirming quatitatively the amount of G6PD level Matilda had, we came back to her Neonatologist-Pediatrician, with the result. The doctor explained that this condition is common among Filipinos and there is no need to be alarmed.

Since Matilda is breastfed, I had to ask the doctor if eating food that is found to be harmful for her condition is safe. He said that only very little to none is passed on to breastmilk that may cause harm or reaction on Matilda. A BREASTFEEDING MOM OF A G6PD- DEFICIENT BABY DOESN’T NEED TO RESTRICT HER DIET AT ALL. And since I knew that this was the mild type, I trusted him and did not restrict my diet in any way. He also explained that he advise against diet restrictions when babies already start eating. What he suggested was to introduce one type of food at a time and observe for any reactions if there is any. Common immediate reactions are:

  • paleness (in darker-skinned kids, paleness is sometimes best seen in the mouth, especially on the lips or tongue)
  • jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and eyes, particularly in newborns
  • an enlarged spleen
  • dark, tea-colored urine

So we followed what he said and just took extra care on the medicines and other substances that may pose a potential threat to Matilda’s health. Substances containing high oxidative properties such listed here:

g6pd-brochure_Page_2

As you can see, there are a lot of things to avoid and most of them are food we, Filipinos usually eat. But as I have said, I never restricted Matilda to such foods. In fact, she eats them regularly but in moderation. It’s not that I am not concerned about her well-being but it is more for the fact that I want her to be able to live a normal life just like anybody else. Just like any food we have at home, we rotate them and never eat them every single day, so that saves me from the worry that she might be overly exposed at some point.

Matilda now 1 and a half years old is a healthy breastfed baby and a happy eater, too. We do not let her condition define her life, rather, we look at it as a blessing. A lot of people mistake G6PD Deficiency for a sickness that is incurable and we aim to educate them that this is something you can live with. Something you can control. We pity those who are misinformed and those who are very cautious to the point that the life of the child becomes burdened with the thought that he is suffering physically and that his life is always at risk. Let’s not think this way and inform ourselves instead. Learn to do your research and do not rely on the internet for all the information. Not everything you will find there is true and reliable.

Most studies made about G6PD Deficiency were done abroad. Countries like China and Indonesia where this condition is also prevalent. Another blessing that this condition bring is that people found to be positive with it are living in areas endemic with Malaria. Why? Researchers have found evidence that the parasite that causes this disease does not survive well in G6PD-deficient cells. So they believe that the deficiency may have developed as a protection against malaria. See? G6PD Deficiency isn’t all that bad! Even though these studies are not yet a 100% proven, it gives me hope that God created this for a purpose. Just like here in the Philippines wherein Malaria is considered endemic, in Palawan and Tawi-Tawi specifically, it makes me at ease that she is somehow resistant to something. No, I don’t allow her to be bitten by mosquitoes because there’s still a chance she might have Dengue virus and we don’t want that either. But I’m sure you get my point! Anyway, if you looked at the list I included above, one particular group of medicines contraindicated are Antimalarial drugs – these are medicines to treat or prevent Malaria. Amazing isn’t it? God made the condition in such a way that, yes, you may have G6PD Deficiency but you are protected from Malaria and the harmful effects of the medicines needed to treat it. God is good, indeed!

Newborn screening is really important and I am glad that we have this available at any hospital. Because of this, we found out Matilda’s condition and also learned that Joey and I happen to have it too. At least now we know what (medicines) to avoid and what to do in case of emergency. It only goes to show that this is really common here in our country. And if your son or daughter has it, they got it from you as well. In our time, we don’t have this screening yet but we were able to live a normal life not needing to avoid anything. So please don’t over think the condition. Get yourselves informed and find a way to cope with it just like what I did.

People who have been tested and proven to have G6PD Defiency are not allowed to donate blood so make sure you are aware of this. And based on my research, we are also at risk of developing Gout. This I did not find on the internet before, but I read in our Clinical Chemistry book way back in college. I believe that it’s true since Joey and his brother both have high levels of uric acid in their blood. This affects men more than women and it can be serious especially if you are overweight or if there are underlying medical conditions like Diabetes and Hypertension. Gout affects Joey’s brother more than the G6PD condition itself so it’s best to keep your diet away from food that triggers gout such as the one’s listed here:

Now that you are aware of G6PD Deficiency, what do you need to do as a parent?

1. Make sure to get a newborn screening procedure made for your baby. If you found out he/she is positive for G6PD Deficiency, get a confirmatory test right away and have his Pediatrician informed immediately.

2. Commit 100% to BREASTFEED YOUR CHILD. This will not only protect them from the dangers of feeding formula milk but it will also greatly benefit their health in the long run. Remember that formula milk is processed and it usually contains soy!

3. Make sure always have the list of things to avoid wherever you go. This will come in handy if ever your child needs any medical attention. Post it on the door of your fridge or if your child goes to school, insert it in this bag and inform him about the copy in case of emergency.

4. Inform every person your child interacts with. Let them know he is not sick and what they have is not contagious. Allow them to grow up understanding what it is they have and explain to them why there is a need to avoid certain things. Do not scare them or deprive them. The list only says to avoid but not to entirely eliminate them especially for the list of foods.

5. Allow you child to explore most especially with food. Let them eat those listed above, in moderation and just observe them for possible reactions. That way, you’ll be able to pinpoint which to avoid next time. I would suggest a food diary in the early months (6 months and above) when they start eating. That way you’ll be able to keep track of what they eat and be able to rotate them.

5. Lastly, take comfort in knowing that God is with you and will never forsake you.

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Deuteronomy 31:8
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (NIV)

 

I hope I was able to share the most important things about G6PD. How about you? Is your child positive too? How are you coping with it? If you happen to have questions you may leave a comment and ask me. If I know the answer I will get back to you right away, but if not, I will do my research first then we’ll talk about it!

The Story of Matilda: A Testimony of God’s Blessing from Pregnancy to Birth

The day I found out I was pregnant, I felt happy and anxious at the same time. Happiness for the fact that I am about to become a mother, and anxiousness from the fear of labor and birth.

The first pregnancy test I took showed a faint positive result because I took the test too early. Any soon to be mom would want to make sure of the result, so Joey and I immediately went to the hospital and looked for any available OB-Gyne to get myself checked. That was around 5pm and most clinics were already closed except for one. It was a male OB-Gyne but we still went in nonetheless. The doctor asked me to get a Transvaginal Ultrasound (a procedure wherein the instrument – a wand, goes inside the vagina) to check the condition of the reproductive system and the presence of the baby’s heartbeat, if there is any. This procedure is recommended for the early weeks of pregnancy to get a more accurate result. The result we got for this test however, was a little disappointing. The doctor didn’t find any gestational sac and heartbeat yet (no baby). He said we had to wait for another two weeks just to be sure, because it might be a little too early knowing I hadn’t actually missed my period yet.

After 10 days, since I couldn’t wait any longer, I decided to take another pregnancy test. The result came back positive, but the lines weren’t very clear still. During this time however, I am already feeling the changes in my body. Tender breasts and the obviously growing belly were the most noticeable things among them.

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Two weeks passed and we came back for another ultrasound. It was then when we saw the little sac and heard Matilda’s heartbeat for the very first time. I was already 6 weeks pregnant. That moment I can still remember clearly. It was surreal and we just couldn’t believe we were about to become parents.

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Pregnancy

The first trimester went by smoothly. I had no nausea nor vomiting. I didn’t experience any weird cravings too. It was all going well until I hit the second trimester. Hormones started acting up and I began feeling constipated. This has got to be the worst part of the pregnancy. Talk about frustration in its highest form! Remembering it still makes me feel sick. By the way, that went on until the last trimester. Yes, I know, poor me. I tried everything from prunes to fiber supplements. I was even eating brown rice for carbs! Nothing seemed to help. It was just really bad.

On the 5th month, we found out I had Gestational Diabetes. This was after I took the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test. Due to this unfortunate result, we had to go to a specialist for the interpretation. The doctor (Internal Medicine-Endocrinologist) asked me to see a dietitian. I found out that the Gestational Diabetes may have been due to my own fault, triggered by drinking formula milk for pregnant moms. Had I known better, I should have listened to my OB when he said I didn’t need to drink that because it’s packed with sugar and it’s just calcium that you need from it anyway. Thinking I actually needed it, because of the claims they show in their advertisements, I caused both Matilda and I more harm than good. So may this serve as a warning for my pregnant readers: you do not need to drink those Mama milk. And always consult your OB before taking in anything. Remember that formula milk should be treated as a drug, taken only as needed. The doctor then said that if diet and lifestyle modification would control my blood sugar, I won’t be needing to inject myself with insulin.

In order to monitor my blood sugar level, we had to purchase a glucometer. It is a small device that checks your blood sugar. Oh yes. I had to prick myself 3x a day, 2 hours after each meal (known as the 2-hour Post Prandial test). It was tedious and I had to keep track of it and show it to my doctor during monthly check-ups. I kept doing this up until the last day of the pregnancy. And because I was very much careful with my diet, wherein everything I ate were measured in portions, my sugar level by God’s grace, was controlled. I didn’t need to inject myself with insulin through the course of my pregnancy.

Just weeks after we found out about the condition, ultrasound results showed that Matilda isn’t meeting her required weight. At first, we thought that it might be because of the strict diet (1,800 calories) I am in, but our doctor suspected otherwise. She had me go through several blood exams to check my thyroid function. True enough, it was due to that. I was diagnosed to have Hypothyroidism. Since I knew that I didn’t have Hypothyroidism before the pregnancy, our doctor concluded it may be a hormonal imbalance. I was given medication that I had to take in once daily, 30 minutes before breakfast.

All these things somehow took out all the fun in pregnancy. I had to monitor my blood sugar daily and also had to have myself checked regularly for hypothyroidism. That required monthly blood extractions too, in order to check if the medication is working for me and Matilda. We also found out from our Pediatrician that there are cases called Congenital Hypothyroidism wherein the condition of the mother may be passed on to the baby after birth. This is very serious and may cause irreversible neurological problems and poor growth if not treated right away. That is why this condition is also included in the newborn screening test.

On the 7th month, after everything I was going through, I went into preterm labor. Doctor found out I had Cervicovaginitis. An infection that usually happens in pregnant women. We weren’t able to trace where it came from and why I acquired it but my OB said this isn’t uncommon and it may be due to the hormonal imbalance I was experiencing. Because preterm labor is a serious threat to the mother and the baby, I was admitted for 3 days in the hospital for close monitoring and also for easier administration of IV antibiotics. After I got out of the hospital, I was on bed rest for 2 weeks. It wasn’t easy, but I endured it.

Given our situation wherein we were in a place away from our family, it made all these trials even more challenging. In my mind, I asked why could have God wanted me to experience all these things. Why God didn’t want me to enjoy the pregnancy just like any normal mother. I knew right then and there, it was Satan luring me to sin. I had to stop. I remembered questioning God was wrong and I have to trust that he has bigger and better plans for me. He gives me trials because He loves me and He knows I’ll be able to get past them. I surrendered everything to God that day and just prayed that He will always keep me and Matilda away from harm and that whatever His will is for us, we will accept it with all our hearts.

  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5 NASB)
  • Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

On the 8th month, praise God we finally hit Matilda’s target weight. I felt some sort of accomplishment that we were able to manage the conditions I had been struggling with. This was also the month wherein I attended Arugaan’s Peer Counselor training for breastfeeding by the breastfeeding diva herself, Ms. Velvet Escario-Roxas. I found out about it through the birthing classes I attended conducted by Ms. Alex Hao of The Pod, back in Davao City.

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Birthing Classes

Ms. Alex taught us (me and Joey) how to manage labor pains and what to expect upon labor and the early weeks of birth. Attending those classes was a very crucial decision. Not only did it give us valuable information, but it also paved the way for me to gain knowledge about my body, the baby, as well as everything you need to know during labor and delivery. Being part of this class was very helpful and I gained mommy friends through this as well. It is a great support group and I encourage every expecting mother to attend one. 579478_10152220428575711_1279631713_n

After I finished the classes and training, Joey and I came to a conclusion that we wanted to perform the Lamaze childbirth method – a natural, unmedicated form of labor and delivery. It also strengthened our decision for me to exclusively breastfeed our child. I learned that breastfeeding would protect her from possible hereditary conditions like diabetes and the benefits for both mother and baby are just tremendous.

Labor

39th week came and I was already very anxious. The thought that I might have to be induced brought a little fear in my already panicked state of mind. The suspense is slowly killing us. And just as those thoughts were crossing my mind, I have been feeling the contractions happening already. We came in for check up and I was already 1cm dilated. Doctor said it might take a few more days so we didn’t think about it much.

The Bloody Show – 39 weeks and 1 day

I knew labor was about to begin when I saw the bloody show. It is just a small amount of blood also called a mucus plug which blocks the opening of the cervix – a sign that the body is preparing itself for labor.

Contractions – 39 weeks and 3 days

When I started to feel the contractions becoming stronger by the hour, we decided we had to go back to the hospital. My OB said I was 2cms dilated and may still go home. That was about 10 in the morning, and so we went home. I took a bath, added some last-minute things to our bags and tried my very best to sleep. The contractions however, wakes me up from time to time and it was slowly getting stronger. At about 8pm, I told Joey it’s time that we go back to get myself admitted. I didn’t want to go to the hospital in the middle of the night and just wanted to settle in before the pain of the contractions started to become unmanageable.

Internal exam result showed that I was already 4cms dilated. And because we were decided on a natural birth, I said no to any medical intervention. The pain that night was just too much I couldn’t bear myself to sleep. I felt really exhausted and I was actually beginning to consider getting an epidural.

Birth – 39 weeks and 4 days

Morning came and I was still at 7cms. The doctors began feeling a bit concerned with my blood sugar that I had to be given insulin. My body wasn’t cooperating well and Matilda wasn’t ready to come out yet. The exhaustion took its toll on me that my knees started shaking and I felt my head spinning. I couldn’t walk any longer. The long sleepless night just didn’t help with the pain of the contractions.

I was just too uncomfortable that I finally gave in. I asked for an Epidural. Boo! I know, I still regret it sometimes and believe me, I tortured myself a 100 times over because I gave up. Joey even said he knew I’d give in to Epidural at a certain point knowing that I had a really low tolerance for pain.

That moment, I realized no amount of knowledge could prepare anyone for the pain that labor causes. It was just REALLY very painful. (Note that I have a low tolerance for pain hence I wouldn’t know how it’s like for other moms). In the scriptures, God really made childbirth difficult after the fall of man.

  • To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 NASB)

I still want to prove Joey wrong though, so with the next baby, I will really strive harder and get myself a doula (birth coach) to help me in managing the pain. A Birthing Suite or Water Birth might also be better options next time. The hospital is just not a conducive environment for mothers who aims for a natural childbirth. It’s too cold, the lights are too bright, you don’t have enough privacy and you don’t get to relax at all. Birthing at home would have been so much better but since my pregnancy is considered high-risk, any doctor wouldn’t allow it for me and my baby’s safety.

At about 12 noon, my OB said I was already 10cms dilated and should prepare myself for I am about to start pushing. He asked me to look at the monitor because I wouldn’t be able to ride the contractions since from the waist – down to the foot, I am numb from pain.

I started pushing thinking that was the easiest part. But I was wrong. I was pushing for a total of 3 hours but Matilda just wouldn’t go out. The doctor said my pelvis could be a little smaller than expected so Matilda’s head couldn’t fit through it. Though she is already crowning, her head went back and forth the entire time. Due to this, he said Matilda was already distressed and we had to get her out already. My OB gave me one last chance to push and said that if she still wouldn’t come out, we had to perform a C-Section already. While everyone already lost hope for me, I closed my eyes and prayed. I prayed that God will help me push Matilda out so they wouldn’t need to cut me open.

Birth

The Lord heard my prayer and on that last push, at 3:40pm, a beautiful baby girl, named Matilda, all the way from Davao City was born. It was like the movies. I cried as I saw and held her for the first time. Even Joey cried too! It was a beautiful sight.

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Looking back, I feel so thankful for my OB because he was very patient with me. Even with Matilda’s Pediatrician who waited all those hours just to make sure he was there when she comes out. Every single staff in the hospital were kind and accommodating as well. They didn’t pressure me and did not resort to CS right away (thank God!) just because my delivery was taking too long.

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Always remember that in this life, nothing happens by accident. It was all designed beautifully and with purpose, by our Creator. And being a mother is one of them – it is a great blessing from God. All those trials I encountered prepared me for this very day and the days to come. If not for those challenges, I wouldn’t appreciate His blessings this much today. So never question the good Lord for anything that you might be going through. It may be tough but you have to keep the faith and trust that all these things are made according to His great plans for you as promised on this verse:

  • And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NASB)

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Are you struggling today? Probably discouraged with life’s challenges? What is it in particular and how are you coping with it? Let’s talk about it! Leave a comment and allow me to pray for you.