Meant to be Together

Three years into our relationship, Joey confessed of having thoughts about relocating some place else for work. I must admit, I felt as though our relationship will never make it. You must know, I’m not a believer of long distance relationships, so I didn’t really welcome the idea. As days passed, I realized how serious he was about it. I remember crying buckets when it all finally started to sink in. Joey’s decision to move to Davao wasn’t for a promotion or a strategic career move. It was basically because he wanted to try something new. The opportunity was just so perfect he couldn’t let it go.

Because I wasn’t in any position to meddle with his decisions, I tried to be as supportive as I could. I never told him I wanted him to stay. Truth is, I didn’t want him to blame me someday for major life decisions that he was supposed to have made by himself in the first place. I was just his girlfriend then, I wasn’t family yet.

During the first few months as we were still transitioning from our new set-up, we really fought a lot. It even came to a point where I blamed him for leaving. That it was his fault we were having problems. Had I known better, I should have trusted him and his decision to leave and just kept my mouth shut.

Months went by so slowly, and every single day felt like forever. Petty problems began escalating and being apart for so long took its toll on our relationship. We would fight, break up, and get back together. It was a vicious cycle.

A little over a year into his stint in Davao, he finally asked me to marry him. Knowing in my heart to be with him is absolutely what I wanted, I immediately said yes. Saying yes to Joey was a decision I made on my own. I did not seek for God’s approval. To be honest, I didn’t even pray about it.

In Genesis 2:23-24 (NASB) New American Standard Bible, it is stated that from the time we were created, God intended for us to have a companion.

23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 

Because this part of our life was a bit shady, the initial year of our marriage and being together was very challenging. Joey’s work demanded a lot of traveling and most days, I was left alone in our home. Even if Davao is a safe place, it was different being away from my family. I was happy to be married to Joey, but I had a hard time adjusting because I wasn’t really prepared for it. It was then I realized God was chastening me. Because I didn’t listen to his plans for me, this was the consequence I had to face.

Our set up still felt like we had a long distance relationship in a way. Joey was home only during weekends. And like how it affected our relationship back then, it also affected our marriage. I would make him feel guilty for leaving me behind and blame him indirectly. I was a nagging, disrespectful wife to him.

In Deuteronomy 24:5 it says, If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married. (NIV) New International Version. This verse clearly states that God’s design for marriage is not for the couple to be separated but for them to be together, most especially while the union is still being established. It is expected that in the early months of being together, there will be certain trials and in order to fully overcome them, couples must be given the time to get to know one another in a much deeper level. – This right here was our problem. We disregarded God’s design for us to be together.

Undeserving as we were of any blessings, God opened my womb and allowed me to get pregnant. It was the tipping point. It was when we knew this set up will never work for us. We needed change. We realized we needed God to be at the center of our marriage and that we cannot be apart any longer. Joey then started to consider other options, ways wherein we could be back in Manila again and just be together. We believe I could not raise Matilda on my own. She needs her father and I, too, need my husband. And because God is faithful, He kept blessing us tremendously.

Joey applied for another position in the same company and he got the job. The thing is, the area he will be assigned to is based in Lucena, Quezon. It was the closest thing we got to Manila and the only way for us to be together the soonest, so we went ahead for it.

Matilda was 3 months old when we moved back and our relationship has never been better since. We also joined a couples bible study group in our church for accountability and for us to grow more in our spiritual walk. It was one of the best decisions we ever made in our marriage. After all, God, from the very beginning has designed for Man and Wife to be together. It is not only for the benefit of the couple but for the children as well.

Ruth 1:16-17  But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (NIV) New International Version. These words from Ruth strongly showed how she honored the covenant of marriage. In these verses she wasn’t actually talking to her husband, but to her mother-in-law. It goes to show that she already had a deep regard for marriage even when her husband was still alive. In her heart she knew that this was how marriage ought to be.

We all know of stories where marriages fail because of long distance relationships, right? One of the main causes is temptations of the flesh. We are lustful human beings and that is one of the common reasons why men or even women cheat on their spouse. We didn’t want that for our family so we really sacrificed the comfort of material and financial blessings just for us to be together.

In Malachi 2:15, we are reminded of our purpose in marriage. Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. (NLT) New Living Translation

You have to understand that moving back to Manila required us to shift from the ways we used to live. We cannot afford living that way anymore since everything in Manila is practically expensive. But then again, why subject your relationship through possible threat when you know you could prevent it in the first place? Is it worth it to trade your marriage for a comfortable life? Would it actually make you happier to be able to get what you want instead of just settling for the things that you need? Come to think of it, God promised us to provide for our NEEDS. That is a promise he will never break. So for those who struggle for means to provide “enough” for their family isn’t actually trusting God’s faithfulness. Putting these truths to perspective made making decisions in our married life easier for both of us.

  • 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (NASB) New American Standard Bible
  • Matthew 6: 31-34 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV) New International Version

Yes, there will still be struggles and challenges here and there but that is God’s means of strengthening our faith. It is His way to call us back to Him. To have a relationship with Him and to put Him at the center of our lives. We have been disciplined by God many times in our marriage and individually. We went through ups and downs but one thing is certain, God never failed us. We withstood all trials because He is with us and because He loves us.

Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

I love Joey for who he is only because God enables me to love him. I am still a work in progress and it is only through God that I will be a submissive wife, who will honor and respect his authority as head of the family. For I know that in every command God asks us to do, there is a promise of blessing.

Now in this stage of our life, I can say I have surrendered my all to God and allowed Him to have complete control over our marriage. It is only through Him we are able to love unconditionally because he Himself through Jesus Christ, has demonstrated it perfectly by dying on the cross for our sins. All our past, present and future sins have already been forgiven and paid for. The only thing we need to do is believe in Him and accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. Transformation in our lives will come thereafter.

John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV) New International Version

Are you in that moment in your life where you feel lost? Are there problems in your marriage you think are beyond repair? Are you struggling with forgiveness or accepting circumstances in your life? Have you considered maybe God is teaching you something? Surrender it all to God now and listen to His instructions by reading His word. The Bible and through prayer are the only means of how God is able to communicate with us. Allow Him to help you and invite Him to come into your life to fully experience the joy of following Him.

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Breastfeed for a Better Future

Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (August). For this month, we write about the World Breastfeeding Week 2014 – Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life and share how breastfeeding can help the Philippines achieve the 8 Millennium Development Goals developed by the government and the United Nations. Participants will share their thoughts, experiences, hopes and suggestions on the topic.

Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.”

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First, let me start of by talking about the 8 Millennium Development goals. These are goals that were set by the Government and the United Nations way back 1990, and were adopted at the Millennium Summit year 2000. It has been proven, time and time again that Breastfeeding is a key link to achieve all these. In participation of this Blog Carnival, I will share my personal experience and suggestions on how I found these goals to be truly achievable through Breastfeeding, in order to reduce Child Mortality and improve Maternal Health by 2015 .

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The day I found out that I am pregnant, I immediately set my mind to thinking I should keep myself healthy in order to have a healthy baby. I was very diligent in going to monthly check-ups and in taking all that I thought I needed.

Being very diligent as I have mentioned, I drank 2 glasses a day of maternity milk. 2 glasses each day for 5 months! (Why oh why did I ever fall for that again?!). First trimester passed and it was on the 5th month when I found out I had Gestational Diabetes. Since I wasn’t fond of eating sweets at that time, my IM-Endocrinologist suspected that it could have been due to the maternity milk. And true enough, she was right.

It was only when I attended Arugaan’s Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Training which was held in Davao, where I learned that drinking maternity milk, or any formula milk is totally UNNECESSARY. Yes, there is no need to drink it unless you want to stuff your body with extra sugar. This also goes for follow on formula (also known as preschool milk or toddler milk).

Through this training, I also learned that breastfeeding can help protect your child from the risk of cancer, obesity and DIABETES. I was 8 months pregnant then and the moment I heard of that, it was then I committed my heart and mind into breastfeeding my baby girl.

Because I had a high-risk pregnancy, both my labor and delivery wasn’t easy. My blood sugar went up the charts during labor and I had to be administered with insulin throughout the delivery. If you are not aware of Gestational Diabetes, there are risks to the baby, most especially those crucial first few hours after birth. There are cases wherein the baby’s blood sugar become very low and that is really dangerous. One of the best ways to prevent that is to be able to breastfeed, right away. And that is exactly what we did as Matilda’s Pediatrician advised it as well. And because all went well, and Matilda passed all the tests, we were sent home the following day.

Breastfeeding in the early weeks were challenging but rewarding as you see your baby thrive with your breastmilk alone. Witnessing how that used to be wrinkly skin slowly fill up with muscles and fats, the sight of it is just captivating. And as we were on our breastfeeding high, being able to endure the ever famous 6 crucial weeks, we got a call from the hospital saying my baby got a positive result for G6PD in her newborn screening test.

Because I am very much aware about this condition, I knew at that point that breastfeeding is the ONLY way I can nourish and protect my child. One of the main components of formula milk, if you try to look at the can is soy. An ingredient that can actually pose a great harm (in large doses) to G6PD Deficient babies. I just cried and surrended it all to God. After all, I still felt very thankful to the Lord that day and until now that He gave me the chance to be informed and that He led me to breastfeeding. Had I not, Matilda, my very precious child, would have suffered the moment she was born.

Breastfeeding is not only beneficial to babies but to Mothers too. I found this to be 100% true because just weeks after I had given birth, I lost a great amount of weight and I was already back to my pre-pregnancy figure 3 weeks after. Not only that, I also had to undergo a series of tests for my blood sugar and all those tests came back normal. Praise God! Just because I breastfed, Matilda got protected from possible harm and I too, got healed instantly. Again, simply because I chose to breastfeed.

I believe it was all God’s work that He allowed me to experience the hardships of pregnancy, labor and delivery including those difficult early days of breastfeeding. It is through His great provision that I succeeded in this journey.

Looking back, and analyzing the root of the problem, it all boils down to unethical marketing practices of formula milk companies. Imagine, it all started with me drinking maternity milk which would have eventually shifted to formula milk for my newborn baby, IF I wasn’t informed. I was very blessed to get that chance but how about those who are living in the thought that formula milk is superior to breastmilk? My goodness. What a sad reality for them to think this way and it is all because they are misinformed.

One other problem I noticed is our doctors and health practitioners. How can we expect them to be knowledgeable about breastfeeding if this is not being given importance to in medical school? Universities must find a way to incorporate breastfeeding in their curriculum to turn things around. Having a breastfeeding advocate OB and Pedia (or any other doctor) will surely give any mother’s breastfeeding journey a great boost.

I am also thankful we have venues like this where we can share facts and information about breastfeeding. Since these milk companies are out of our control, one of the ways we can help our country in achieving these goals is through constant spread of awareness. A little goes a loooong way when in comes to matters such as breastfeeding. Just one mom breastfeeding in public, a mom posting a breastfeeding photo, or a mother sharing breastfeeding articles over at Facebook, will really make a difference. It will make breastfeeding the norm.

Another thing we can do is to continue holding seminars, trainings, equipping mothers to be able to do mother-to-mother support. This is basically the way to a successful breastfeeding journey. Breastfeeding Pinays, for example, has been such a great venue for support and it has imparted valuable knowledge to moms (even dads) which I know we have all taken to heart.

Achieving the Millennium Development Goals is so much more realistic now more than ever. Take my story for example, because I was informed about the wonders of breastfeeding, we were able to provide Matilda the best nourishment there is. The only thing that will help save her life. We also cannot ignore my improved overall health as it is a testimony on how it is beneficial to mothers as well. With the help of social media and the growing community of mothers who advocate breastfeeding, I can see a future where formula milk will just be used for what is was actually created for – a supplement, always inferior and a last resort. Now I can finally say, Breastfeeding is indeed the way to a better future!

Here are many thoughts and reasons why we should all advocate for mothers to breastfeed for the first 1,000 days of life #BF1st1000days

Jenny shares experiencing the One Asia Breastfeeding Forum

Mec insists to do the Math and breastfeed!

Ams, The Passionate Mom says Breastfeed for a Better Future

Pat says breastfeeding saves money and the planet

Cheryl, the Multi-Tasking Mama, tackles maternal health as addressed by breastfeeding

2011 CNN Hero Ibu Robin highlights gentle births and breasfeeding, even in disaster zones

Felyn stresses that Healthy Moms = Healthy Babies

Monique reminds us that there are second chances in breastfeeding

Normi relates how breastfeeding gave her strength and purpose

Nats thanks Dr. Jack Newman for showing how breastfeeding can be a win-win situation

Em believes breastfeeding is a solution to societal problems

Marge shares what breastfeeding has taught them

Kaity was empowered financially and as a woman through breastfeeding

Madel relates her breastfeeding saga

Jen of Next9 reminds us to do our research and share what we know

Celerhina Aubrey vows to work on one mother at a time

Grace wants to put an end to stories of toasted coffee and similar stuff over breast milk

Diane shares how she prevailed when things did not go according to plan

Hazel appreciates mommy support groups

Roan combines two passions, breastfeeding and architecture

Queenie tackled breastfeeding as the best choice for the environment as well and breastfeeding myths and poverty

Rosa shares how the picture she thought of was realized

Sally believes breastfeeding benefits mankind and our planet Earth

Floraine reminds us that breastfeeding helps combat diseases

Crislyn was happy to realize that she improved her own health by breastfeeding

Armi reminds us how breastfeeding during emergencies is crucial

Arvi tells us how breastfeeding made her look at her body a different way

Clarice elaborates on how breastfeeding saves lives and the planet

Giane reminds us that women empowerment can begin by seeing breastfeeding as more than a feeding issue

Liza thought she was only breastfeeding for her child

Hakab Na! 2014 Manila

Breastfeeding in public has always been a great deal of controversy in our society. It can be upsetting how people become so judgmental in the choice of the mother to feed her baby. When in fact, I don’t see any problems for people to expose too much skin on wearing skimpy outfits. I mean, come on! Are we really going to belittle moms who opt to do the most natural thing in the world?

It’s just things like this which make me even more thankful to be part of the event Hakab Na! 2014. Hakab Na, filipino term for Latch On, is a gathering of breastfeeding mothers from different key areas in the Philippines, in which participants are to simultaneously latch on their babies to the breast for a full minute. This is in accordance to the regulations of the worldwide event called, The Big Latch On.

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The Global Big Latch On is held annually during the breastfeeding week, from August 1-7, which aims to promote, protect and support breastfeeding. What better way to spread awareness about this advocacy than to get together and show the world that this is how it is done, right? It’s just awesome!

It is just the second year for the Philippines to join this activity and I must say, we have really outdone ourselves! From the event held last year, the difference on how the organizers prepared it this time around and how well it was received, is really such an improvement. It was also a  nice opportunity for the growing members of Breastfeeding Pinays to once again meet,  face to face, and enrich that virtual friendship we all share.

For this year’s Hakab Na! The group Breastfeeding Pinays, spearheaded by no less than the breastfeeding diva herself, Velvet Escario-Roxas (with the help of the administrators of the group which involved mothers and counselors) was able to prepare a half-day program for the participants. The event was held from 9 am to 12 noon, at Philippine Army Officers Clubhouse at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig. As expected, not only moms and babies were present, but also the very supportive dads as well as all the other breastfeeding supporters and advocates alike. Just like last year, there was media coverage too, from newspaper to television. Even though the place was packed, due to the happy hormones of all the breastfeeding mothers present, it felt warm in a different sense. The love for breastfeeding just radiated everywhere.

This was the Program:

Time Activity
8:30 AM – 9:00 AM Registration
9:15 AM – 9:30 AM Opening Ceremony– Welcome Remarks
9:30 AM – 10:00 AM Talk 1: Optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Beyond 6 Months of AgeMr. Alex IellamoIYCF Specialist, UNICEF
10:00 AM – 10:25 AM Big Latch On – Introduction and Instructions
10:30 AM – 11:00 AM Simultaneous Breastfeeding (Big Latch On)
11:00 AM – 11:30 AM Talk 2: Breastfeeding Circle of SupportMaria Asuncion Silvestre, MD
President, Kalusugan ng Mag-Ina, Inc.
Consultant, EINC, WHO Philippines
11:30 AM – 11:45 AM Open Forum
11:45 AM – 12:30 PM Gymboree Play
12:00 PM – 12:30 PM Free Time
1:00 PM Closing Ceremony

 

We arrived at around 8:45 am and the place was almost filled. The registration booth was manned by volunteer mothers, all part of Breastfeeding Pinays. All the participants upon registration were asked to sign a waiver that says you are allowing yourself to be captured on camera, while you are feeding your child. After which, we were handed ID’s and a loot bag, which contained freebies from sponsors as well as a kid’s shirt with a breastfeeding logo, designed by Abie Co-Floreza. Before attending the event, we were required to pre-register and pay a minimal fee of Php 150.00 per mom and baby pair. Companions like Joey were also very much welcome although they had to pay Php 100.00 per head. This is already inclusive of snacks and all the fun this event had to offer.

The place was a lot bigger compared to last year’s venue and it had different booths. There was a booth for lights snacks and coffee, a small Gymboree play area for kids, a David’s Salon haircut area that gave free services for the first 30 mothers to register, a separate room that showcased breastfeeding photographs of Stanley Ong, which was attached to a signature wall, and a lot more.

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Photo credits: Aldrin Valencerina of Ingente-Valencerina Photography

After the registration, we were asked to sit on the banig, it is a mat proudly made in the Philippines. Each banig had a sticker which matched the ones found in our ID’s. We were to sit and breastfeed during the 1-minute latch, on these mats, 10 mother and baby pairs, each.

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Photo credits: Aldrin Valencerina of Ingente-Valencerina Photography

The program started promptly and in those mats we were seated on, we waited for the cue to feed our babies. The 1-minute simultaneous breastfeeding occurred at around 10:30 am. We were given the instruction to raise our hands once the baby is latched on. This is for the benefit of the daddy volunteers (including Papa Joey) who had to check all the mothers and babies in each of the mat they were assigned to, if all are indeed present, and feeding along with everybody else in that entire minute. We also chanted Hakab Na! altogether while feeding, it was such an amazing experience!

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To be surrounded with like-minded people, doing exactly the same thing, is really empowering. I wish we can do this more often. I am just very proud and thankful to be part of the growing community of Breastfeeding Pinays. Just being there to witness the success of the organizers, is so heartwarming too. I can only imagine the trouble they all went through to make this event possible. So to all of you Moms, (and Dads too) Congratulations! for a job well done. We surely hope to be a part of this event again next year, God-willing Matilda is still breastfed then.

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Photo credits: Aldrin Valencerina of Ingente-Valencerina Photography Hakab Na! 2014 Organizers and Volunteers

More photos are found here:

By Aldrin Valencerina https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1512414242310666.1073741894.1432033153682109

By Ipe Tolentino https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.788898467798420.1073741837.598023240219278&t

By Carissa Jose https://www.facebook.com/carissa.jose/media_set?set=a.4280427144275.1073741874.1694213178&type=3

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Pre-Event Press Release

Breastfeeding Filipino mothers, families gather for Hakab Na 2014

Breastfeeding is a public health issue. While some mothers say breastfeeding came to them naturally, some found it difficult. In a mother’s most vulnerable stage, she needs to get the best support from the birthing center or hospital to the home, the workplace and within the community.

In celebration of the National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August, the Facebook group Breastfeeding Pinays (BFP), in partnership with the Philippine Army-Headquarters and Headquarters Support Group (HHSG), will organize a half-day breastfeeding activity called ‘Hakab Na! 2014’. The event seeks to promote the importance of providing proper support to all breastfeeding Filipino families. Hakab Na 2014 will be held simultaneously in Manila, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod and Iloilo on August 2, 2014 (Saturday) at 9:00 am.

Hakab Na! 2014 is held in coordination with the Big Latch On–an international activity where mothers will latch on their babies from different locations around the world. Last year, 14,536 mothers in 845 locations in 28 countries participated in the event.

This gathering in the Philippines is also a much-anticipated meet-up of mothers who have been supporting each other through the online forum since 2013. Breastfeeding expert Velvet Escario-Roxas of Arugaan, together with a pool of breastfeeding counselors and doctors, help members on almost all facets of breastfeeding.

“Breastfeeding is natural but it is not instinctive because we live in a bottlefeeding culture. Unfortunately, for some babies, having no chance to receive breastmilk becomes a choice between life and death. Statistics show that 16,000 Filipino babies die each year because they were denied breastmilk, making breastfeeding a public health issue. ” says Roxas. “Through Breastfeeding Pinays, mothers get to access support from counselors and fellow mothers. We are helping build a culture of breastfeeding one mother at a time, one baby at a time.”

This will be the second year that the now 25,000-strong BFP group will be staging Hakab Na. BFP expects to surpass last year’s record of more than 225 mothers who simultaneously nursed their babies, including 100 mothers in Manila, 90 in Cagayan de Oro and 30 in Davao.

In the Manila event, BFP will also be conducting talks on breastfeeding babies beyond six months and the importance of support on breastfeeding mothers. A minimal registration fee of P150 will be collected for every mother and baby/child pair, which includes a baby souvenir shirt, snacks and loot bag. P100 is charged for each companion 7 years old and above to cover snacks.

Hakab Na will be held in the following venues:

Manila: Philippine Army Officers Clubhouse in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City

Cebu: Ayala Center Cebu Active Zone in Cebu City (hosted by the Cebu Breastfeeding Club)

Davao: Stockbridge International School (formerly Tumble Tots) in Davao City (hosted by Breastfeeding Pinays – Davao)

Negros Occidental: Santuario de la Salle, University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City (hosted by the Bacolod Mom and Baby Club and the Institute for Negros Development)

Iloilo: Iloilo Provincial Capitol in Iloilo City (hosted by the Breastfeeding Ilonggas)

In Cagayan de Oro, Mommy Bright Side is hosting Hakab Na 2014 at the Ororama Cogon on August 1, 2014.

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Post-Event Press Release

1,772 Filipino mothers simultaneously breastfeed their babies

One Thousand Seven Hundred Seventy-two (1,772) Filipino mothers gathered today in Manila, Cebu, Davao, Bacolod and Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro, and simultaneously breastfed their babies, to celebrate the National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. The event dubbed ‘Hakab Na! 2014’ is organized by the Facebook group Breastfeeding Pinays (BFP), in partnership with the Philippine Army-Headquarters and Headquarters Support Group (HHSG). It seeks to promote the importance of providing proper support to all breastfeeding Filipino families and is held in coordination with the Big Latch On–an international activity where mothers will latch on their babies from different locations around the world.

This year’s 170 mothers overtook 2013’s count of 100 mothers. Hakab Na for Manila! 2014 also featured two learning activities on infant and young child feeding and breastfeeding support from breastfeeding experts.

1,772 mothers, 1,777 babies latched on for at least one minute!  The breakdown of this year’s Hakab is indicated below:-

Location Mothers Children
Manila 170 172
Bacolod 33 33
Cebu Ayala Mall 30 31
Cebu VSMMC 81 81
Davao 37 38
Iloilo 1,397 1,398
Cagayan De Oro* 24 24
TOTAL 1,772 1,777

*Cagayan De Oro held simultaneous latching on August 1, 2014

A further breakdown of Iloilo for its impressive turnout need to be mentioned. These towns are at the northern part of Iloilo province where Typhoon Yolanda’s wrath devastated 85% of their homes and livelihood. All six towns, excluding the Capital – Iloilo, were hosted by their local health offices under the supervision of the Provincial Health Office in partnership with Save The Children Foundation and BFI.

Iloilo Provide Mothers Children
Capital – Iloilo 35 35
Cales 225 225
Balasan 217 217
Sara 200 201
Estancia 200 200
Concepcion 320 320
Batad 200 200
TOTAL 1,397 1,398

The gathering also successfully brought together mothers who have been supporting each other through the online forum since 2013. Abie Co-Floreza, one of the group’s administrators, is proud to see families supporting one another in their breastfeeding journey. “By supporting breastfeeding moms, we are actually supporting the whole family. If a mother succeeds in breastfeeding her child, she has more time and resources for her family,” said Floreza.

Breastfeeding is a great equalizer. Children who are breastfed are all given an equal start at a healthier life because mother’s milk is perfect and complete with the necessary nutrients that a baby needs. – Nina Atienza, mother of 3

This is the 2nd year of Hakab Na, and also my 2nd time to attend it. I will continue to support, promote and uphold breastfeeding until it becomes the norm and a publicly accepted practice. Joining Hakab brings our message more effectively to a greater audience. – Pia Zorayda B. Busiños Home-based mom, Mother of 3

Hakab Na! was a family-friendly and fun-filled way of advocating breast feeding. It was reassuring for me to meet fellow breast feeders and my toddler had a great time with other kids who have the same passion for breast milk. – Lt Col Sharon Suico (Retired), mother of 3, former Air Force pilot

Breastfeeding also supports the Philippine’s Millennium Development Goals of eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, promoting gender equality and women empowerment, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating diseases and ensuring environmental sustainability.

Dr. Anthony Calibo, child health specialist and officer-in-charge of the Child Health Development Division Family Health Office of the Department of Health, lauds the activity. “When mothers gather together and take in their hands the conduct of activities that promote, protect and support breastfeeding, this sends a strong message not just for government but also for health professionals and the milk industry. That mothers, their friends, their husbands know that no infant milk formula marketing campaign will be persuasive enough to change what breastfeeding does to them and their infants.”

Hakab Na is organized with support from Rotary Club of Quirino Manila Central, David’s Salon, St. Patricks Baby, Gerochi Dental and Implant Center, Gymboree Philippines, KAYA Women Empowerment and Support Group, and Smart Steps.

A Breastfeeding Advocate in my Husband

Just a few days ago, Joey and I had a chance to have dinner with other couples we recently met at church. As we were in the middle of our discussion about our blessings, struggles, and life, in general, Matilda asked for mommy’s milk. Suddenly, our topic shifted to breastfeeding.

Ever since I attended Arugaan’s Peer Counselor Training conducted by Ms. Velvet Escario-Roxas, I never looked at breastmilk and breastfeeding the same way again. Having the chance to share all the information I have learned to Joey, he also became even more convinced to help me succeed on my own breastfeeding journey.

As he was talking about the benefits of breastfeeding and dangers of formula milk feeding, I couldn’t help but marvel at his confidence and knowledge in this area. I made an advocate of breastfeeding through my very own husband! And I just thought, wow! This is such a blessing! In my head, I felt like crying.

I got a bit lost in the conversation as I looked back on how Joey played a very important role in making this possible. I just feel so blessed to have him as my main supporter. The early days were much of a challenge, but I could have never gone through those difficult days (and nights!) without his help.

Having been through a tough labor and delivery, I was physically and mentally exhausted. I also had problems with Matilda’s latch and in keeping her awake through the course of feeding. I cried numerous times (alone and along with Matilda) and for once, I  just wanted to give up. But, Joey, such a great husband he is, kept encouraging me and reminding me of all the reasons why we are doing this in the first place.

Whenever I would feel so stressed, he would offer to carry Matilda and just rock her a bit to relax and stop her from crying. He would offer to take care of her as he would let me sleep without having to worry if Matilda is okay. Joey also cooked nutritious food for me like my favorite, Beef Nilaga, with plenty of soup, to help in boosting my milk supply. Those are just some of the things he did in the early days as I was still recovering from the birth of our child.

Even though some people tend to overlook the fact, that husbands play a major role in breastfeeding success, I would like everyone to know that a little support from them can go a long way. Just for one, if Joey hadn’t been as open to the idea of breastfeeding in public, we (Matilda and I) would have struggled way too much, since we were out a lot. Finding a place to feed discreetly was never an option, because he approved of feeding anytime, anywhere. He is indeed very proud of me and I feel that every time we needed to sit down (or sometimes stand!) to put Matilda to the breast.

Joey, from time to time, would also share stories about him discussing with his officemates and friends on how much we save and how great it is to have a fully breastfed child. He would often cite examples like how convenient it is to travel without needing to worry about sterilizing bottles and what not. And also, how he doesn’t need to get up at night to prepare milk.

I never in my wildest dreams thought that Joey would take all these things to heart. That in those conversations I thought he wasn’t listening, he actually was! And now, hearing him talk about it with so much enthusiasm is just wonderful. I feel like he would make an impact in the lives of people and that’s what makes him an advocate. Indeed, I didn’t waste any of my time bringing him to my trainings, classes, and just talking to him about these things.

I am one proud wife to this man right here!

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31 Reasons to Breastfeed: A special post dedicated to the Breastfeeding Month

If you don’t know yet, my daughter Matilda was breastfed from day 1, up until now that she is 20 months old. Matilda has never tried drinking from the bottle, may it be breastmilk or formula. She was and still is, fed directly since she was born. As we celebrate the Breastfeeding Month, I came up with 31 reasons to breastfeed, one for each day of August. This contains all that I  have learned, discovered and experienced over the past 20 months. If this does not convince you to breastfeed, I don’t know what else will!

  1. Breasts were created by God to produce breastmilk, it has always been God’s design.
  2. Breastmilk (Colostrum) is your baby’s first vaccine.
  3. Breastmilk is always perfect. Its composition vary depending on the age of your child, time of day, each nursing session, stage of child’s life. – A mom with a premie baby would have breastmilk perfect for her child to thrive, while a mom of a breastfed toddler would have breastmilk suited for the nutrients of her growing child.
  4. Breastmilk is loaded with antibodies and probiotics.
  5. Breastmilk of a mom with a sick baby produces the exact antibodies needed for her child to fight off a certain infection. This is possible through the Enteromammary Pathway.
  6. Breastmilk is always ready, available, and at the right temperature.
  7. Breastmilk contains just the right amount of iron. Any extra iron is food for bacteria.
  8. Breastmilk doesn’t spoil (when you feed directly).
  9. Breastmilk is a natural laxative. There is no problem with constipation in breastfed babies.
  10. Breastmilk is FREE! No need to spend on expensive formula milk, bottles, sterilizer and other paraphernalia.
  11. Breastmilk is species-specific: Human Milk for Human Babies.
  12. Breastmilk can literally save lives, like in the case of premature babies.
  13. Breastmilk is 88% water which keeps babies hydrated most especially when they refuse to eat or drink anything during those times they are sick.
  14. Breastmilk has a lot of other medicinal benefits: it heals cracked nipples, reduces itchiness and redness from insect bites, and so on.
  15. Breastfeeding contracts the uterus, therefore helps in stopping the bleeding after delivery.
  16. Breastfeeding is an effortless form of exercise that burns 500 calories per day!
  17. Breastfeeding produces ZERO waste.
  18. Breastfeeding is a natural form of birth control for the first 6 months of baby’s life. This is known as Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM) and it requires exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months to be rendered effective.
  19. Breastfeeding reduces health risks such as obesity, diabetes and cancer.
  20. Breastfeeding comforts a sick baby.
  21. Breastfeeding provides +8 IQ points.
  22. Breastfeeding gives a feeling of security. Emotionally secure babies tend to be more independent as they grow older.
  23. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of ear infection which is common in bottlefed babies.
  24. Breastfed babies generally have better set of teeth.
  25. Breastfed babies are not sickly. Formula milk is a mucus former because of its high sugar content, hence, babies tend to get sick all the time.
  26. Breastfed babies have stronger bones. Cow’s milk actually leaches calcium off our bones! (How ironic is this?!)
  27. Breastfed babies are generally happy babies because they are always satisfied.
  28. Breastfed babies are generally happy eaters as they are exposed to a wide variety of taste. Its taste depends on what you eat.
  29. Breastfed babies talk better. Suckling, which happens at the breast, is a precursor to chewing, chewing is a precursor to talking. Note: Suckling requires a huge amount of effort for the baby to draw the milk out of the breast. Sucking, on the other hand, as you feed through a bottle takes minimum to no effort.
  30. An ounce (1oz.) of breastmilk is sold at P200.00-P250.00 in hospitals that is why we refer to it as liquid GOLD.
  31. The Bible mentions Breastfeeding in most of its books. Moses was even “wet-nursed”  as written in Exodus 2. Need I say more?

Exodus 2:1-8 New International Version (NIV) The birth of Moses

Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said. Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses,saying, “I drewhim out of the water.” 10252119_10203802698061820_3336843675786351789_n

Raising a Happy Eater

It can be very frustrating when your baby refuses to eat anything, even his most favorite food at that.

From the beginning, we have followed the principles of Baby-Led Weaning also known as Baby-Led Feeding. This is a method wherein you do not puree or mash foods and/or spoon-feed, once the baby is ready to start eating solids (6 months and up). In Baby-led Weaning, you will offer the food in a way they can easily grab, instead.

What is Baby-Led Weaning?

Baby Led-Weaning or Baby-Led Feeding is simply Self-Feeding. This concept will allow your child to learn to chew before swallowing. Chewing is very important because this is a precursor to talking and exercising those muscles is extremely necessary for it. Learning how to chew also eliminates the difficulty when you transition to “real” food. Most kids I know resist eating real food if they are used to mashed food. Why? Because it is so much easier to swallow than to chew and allowing your child to go on with this can be a cause for greater problem, later.

What are the signs of readiness?

1. When the baby is able sit on his own – unsupported.
2. When the baby can accurately grab something and put it in their mouth.
3. When baby starts making chewing and gnawing movements.

The main reason why we chose this method for Matilda was because, we believe that if she learns to eat on her own at a very young age, she would most likely develop good eating habits as she grows.

In baby-led weaning, no special food or preparation is necessary. All you need is to invest on a highchair, and you are good to go. What’s so good about this is, what you will eat at home is what your child should eat as well (minus the salt for babies below 1 year old). Why? Well, why not? Would you want your children eating bottled/canned or processed unhealthy, junk food? Of, course not! So like them, you are forced to eat right. This worked for us a lot. Way back, we loved eating deli meat, processed food, and canned goods for breakfast, but since Matilda started eating, these became just emergency food or a “treat” for our family. We resorted to serving healthier options to encourage Matilda to do the same.

Baby-led weaning also relieves all the stress of feeding your child. Because Matilda is breastfed, there was never really pressure on my part about her eating. At 6-12 months, breast milk is still her main source of nutrition and food is just for fun. Whether she eats or not, it was fine. When she hit a year old, she still wasn’t eating very much but I just waited patiently for her to be more interested. (It takes quite an amount of patience, mind you, but do believe me when I say, it will pay off later!)

We started out by giving her a variety of fruits and vegetables like that of avocado, sweet potato, squash, banana, apple, carrots, and a lot more which I prepared either fresh – for fruits or steamed, roasted, or sauteed in olive oil or unsalted butter for the vegetables. I gave her these in finger-sized portions which she can easily grab and munch on.

Gagging vs. Choking

Here’s the deal, I strongly believe that no matter how you decide to feed your child, you must be equipped in knowing how to handle these incidents. Yes, it is true that choking is possible, but the possibility is never greater compared to those who are fed traditionally. Remember when you spoon-feed mashed food, the baby is used to swallowing rather than chewing, right? So when you start introducing lumpy food, that’s where the problem usually starts. If you think about it, in baby-led weaning, since the baby learns to chew before swallowing, he becomes a lot more careful about the food he will put in his mouth. I know this for a fact because I have witnessed this with Matilda. She did have gagging episodes during the early days of baby led weaning, but she did outgrew it eventually. So, how do you distinguish gagging from choking then?

Gagging is a baby’s natural and normal reflex when the food is too big for him to swallow. The gag response for babies is much more active than that of adults because it is triggered far forward on the tongue. As the baby grows, it moves farther back, closer to the throat, that is why it is necessary for them to be able to manage food by themselves right from the very beginning. When they are aware of the size of the food they put in their mouth, it reduces the risk of choking as they already have practiced how much food they can handle.

You will know your baby is gagging when he starts making sounds as if he wants to vomit (naduduwal or nasusuka is the filipino term for it). They also sometimes cough and then spit the food out. In choking, however, baby becomes very quiet, almost gasping for air because the food lodged in his throat may have partially or totally blocked his airway and therefore, turns his color into blue.
So it is really good to know basic first aid for any emergency situation and for all you know, food isn’t the only thing that can cause choking. A lot of things can, it’s still best to be prepared.

Looking back, the first weeks were fun although frustration was inevitable on my part when she won’t eat at all, I resolved to trusting her that she wasn’t hungry and was just at a phase of exploration. Soon enough, at about 9 months old, as I started introducing more and more food, she began showing more eagerness to try it out and began feeding herself a whole lot better. (I know this because I see it all in her poop! Haha!)

There will still be days, up until now when she wouldn’t eat or just grab a few bites and she’s done. And as I am able to observe her daily, I began realizing what causes these episodes and listed them down for your reference.

  • Teething
  • When she’s about to get sick with a cold or cough
  • Right when she’s feeling ill
  • At times when she’s just plain full or not hungry
  • When she is allergic to the food

It is also good to know that since your child is eating food in its pure form, meaning you did not add any liquid to it, you must expect that he would most likely eat less than babies who are fed traditionally. Even though he just bit a few pieces, trust him that those few bites are just what his body actually needs.

Mealtimes should be fun and should always be about sharing the food with the whole family, the food that was provided by our Lord for our nourishment. Any negativity can be easily felt by your child so make sure you are calm and relaxed during this time. Also, try your best not to concern yourself over the mess your child will possibly create (no matter how OC you are – like me!) just let him be, and focus instead on the fact that your child is exploring and learning a lot by eating on his own. Baby-led weaning requires trust, trust between your baby’s own instinct and judgement as well as your trust on your child’s capability to do it by himself. So, when your child refuses to eat, don’t over-think it and just try again in the next meal. As time goes by, he will soon realize that food makes him feel full, and would then eat more and more each day.

Matilda is a living testimony why I encourage my friends to try Baby-Led Weaning. At 19 months, she eats a wide variety of foods from fruits to vegetables to fish to meat and has already mastered feeding herself with a spoon. I am just so happy I found out about this and I am glad I have virtual friends over at Baby-Led Weaning Philippines to support me in this journey.

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To know more about baby-led weaning, please join the Facebook Group and try to grab a copy of the book as well.