Motherhood Redefined

The holidays last December was an eye opener for me about what it means to actually take care of my family, all by myself. Our househelp, who has been with us for just 6 months, left us for good. What was supposed to be a short vacation turned out to be permanent goodbye. I thought a post must be dedicated for this story alone, but I feel like it’s just a waste of my precious time, so, I did not bother anymore.

I have always been a hands on Mom to Matilda, even before Mileina was born. Losing the househelp did not paralyze us in that area very much. Although, the difference now is that, we have another baby to take care of. For one, I am exclusively breastfeeding, and it takes so much time in a day for feeding sessions. However, this is still good, because it takes away washing and sterilizing bottles as additional chores everyday if we were formula feeding. Another is that, I make sure we have freshly prepared, homecooked meals daily. This is quite meticulous to prepare, considering I do have meat and vegetables each meal. Preparing the ingredients alone is already time-consuming. 

As a wife to Joey on the other hand, it is a whole other set of responsibilities. Joey likes to have food prepared for him to bring to the office for breakfast, snack and lunch. He also wants his clothes ironed really well, shoes regularly shined and scrubbed, and his gym clothes washed right after use. Well, this is apart from the usual night massage requests he asks for as his love language (Hey, I’m not complaining ha? Haha!).

Honestly, during the first few days, I was grumbling and irritated that Joey expects that much from me knowing that I still have to look after the two kids. After praying about it though, I realized that it is my repsonsibility, and I have to own up to it. It is my role, first, as a wife, to take care of him, before our children. Yes, babies are demanding of time and attention, but it is a good training for them to learn how to wait and understand the right order of priorities. It is a really good thing so that they do not grow up feeling entitled. It is also a wake-up call for me, because I have depended so much on our househelp in doing these things for us. I would just usually instruct and observe. Now, I am able to do so much more for Joey compared to how it was when I just delegated the chores to our househelp.

On my part though, adjustments had to me made before it came to that. I am now waking up earlier that usual, around 6 to 6:30am to prepare Joey’s packed food and our own breakfast at home, which is usually whatever leftover food we have the day before. And then I go on preparing ingredients for our lunch and dinner. After which, I load the laundry in the washer and come back for it when I have spare time. We eat breakfast, keep Matilda preoccupied with activities while I cook, and then breastfeed and wash soiled cloth diapers in between. I wash the dishes when I can, too! And then we take a bath, have lunch and put the kids to sleep for an afternoon nap. This is the time I get to rest and read my Bible. When they are deep asleep already, this is when I clean the house, wash the remaining dishes, refill water bottles, fold clean clothes and get the clothes from the washer. Whew! Talking about it makes me catch my breath! It is tiring physically, really, most of the time, but relfecting on how I am sustained by God day by day is the most rewarding feeling of all. Seeing that I get to personally take care of my family too, all by myself, is a true gift from God, and for this, I am blessed! 

And because Joey saw how well I am coping with the situation, we have decided to stop looking for a househelp. We just have a stay-out help, who comes in once or twice a week, to handwash delicate clothes, including the kids’ clothes, and to iron them as well. If for whatever reason she would decide to stop coming, we will still manage. 

This is a lot better for all of us. Matilda has become even more independent, and she has learned to be more considerate. She is now more careful with her toys and does not make a mess anymore. She even helps me take care of her little sister. 

Joey on the other hand takes care of the dishes when he is around. He cooks too, when he has the time. And for myself, I have mastered the art of multitasking and time-management at its finest! It is indeed humbling and we are grateful for this change in our household. For what I used to call motherhood was redefined, ultimately for God’s glory alone. 

Colossians 3:17

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Colossioans 3:23-24

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 

These verses are great reminders to me on how I should view my daily tasks. I do not only do it for my family, but I must remember that I do it for God. They will see, especially my kids if what I am doing is from my heart, and if I am serving them with joy and delight. I represent my faith to them that is why it is important that I set a good example of what it means to be a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother. My goal is to accomplish the purpose God has set before me, as I wait on the Lord. My rewards will not be from the earth, but is found in heaven when I meet my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

So mothers, do not rely on help from anyone. Do what you can, so that if ever they decide to suddenly leave, (well, they usually do!) you won’t have a hard time adjusting. Like many mothers all over the world, with the right amount of prayer, patience commitment, and most of all, grace from God, you can do it too! Let’s be supermoms for our families one day at a time. 

  

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Choosing Your Birth Team

I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a great birth team to make your dream birthing experience a reality. In my own water birth story, I shared the names of the people behind that unforgettable birth, but I wasn’t able to expound the roles they played in each stage of my pregnancy, and birth. I intentionally did that as I believe they deserve to have their own write-up as well.

Your OB-Gyne

There are so many factors you have to consider in choosing your primary health care provider for your pregnancy. In my first pregnancy with Matilda, we were still based in Davao and I didn’t get the chance to actually choose an OB. We just went with who had an open clinic at the time we went to the hospital.

With my second pregnancy, knowing in my heart I wanted a gentle birthing experience this time around, I made an effort to ask people in my circle, on whom they would recommend. At the top of their list was Dra. Menefrida Reyes, and I am just so blessed I decided to go for her.

Here are some of the major considerations before I chose my OB (and Pediatrician too).

1. She/He had to be a follower of God.

2. With clinic schedule on a Saturday – only time Joey can accompany me.

3. Had to be practicing in a reputable hospital that is Mother and Baby-friendly.

4. With good experiences from previous patients.

5. Low rate of recorded CS

6. With a reasonable Professional Fee.

7. Patiently answers questions during check-ups and does not rush the consultation time.

9. Provides mobile number in case of emergency.

10. Conservative in terms of treatments and medical interventions.

11. Respects the birth plan/preferences of the couple.

12. With a positive outlook, in general.

13. Goes to the clinic on-time.

14. Lastly, one who would be open on having Matilda with us during Labor.

These are just what came to mind as of this writing. Dra. Reyes being able to perform water birth was just a big bonus. I actually didn’t know of it and decided to go through it, until I was already under her care. I was originally set on having a Lamaze Birth.

I have fond memories of my prenatal check-ups with Dra. Reyes. Her very warm personality was what drew my family close to her. We felt secure knowing she waa truly concerned about me and the baby, and not just doing her job for profit. She is really very compassionate.

During my labor and delivery, Dra. Reyes patiently attended to my needs. She was very calm and encouraging and I never felt pressured in any way. It was a great deal that every single detail in my birth plan was perfectly honored as well. She also prayed with me, and for me through the difficult parts. And together, we all rejoiced in the blessing of Tulip Mileina’s life through a successful water birth.

I really have nothing but nice words to say about Dra. Reyes, and if you’d still ask if I would recommend her? Of course, it’s a BIG YES!

Your Baby’s Pediatrician

Matilda being born in Davao also had to switch Peditricians when we moved back here in Manila. Her current Pedia is practicing at Cardinal Santos Medical Center and could not cross over to St. Luke’s for the birth of our second child.

I have a really high standard in choosing my child’s doctor. It had to be someone I could completely entrust my child’s well-being. This also means that we have the same views when it comes to child care which includes the most important aspect of all, that is breastfeeding.

Nearing my expected date of delivery, I still haven’t chosen a Pediatrician. Ideally, you’d want to meet him/her at least once before you give birth. This is to discuss your preferences on how your baby will be taken care of after the birth. Some of which include Unang Yakap, Delayed Cord Clamping, Breastfeeding, Immunizations, Newborn Screening, and all other tests.

Upon meeting Dra. Reyes on my 38th week, I asked her recommendation for a Pediatrician. She only gave me one name, it was Dra. Maria Luisa Manlapaz. I haven’t heard of her before, but Dra. Reyes said she is good. Because I trust Dra. Reyes, I scheduled a meeting with her. Her clinic schedule for that week was already full so I settled to have it on my 39th week instead.

On the day I was supposed to meet her for the first time, my labor has finally started. I was thinking of just informing her secretary about it but Dra. Reyes gave me her personal number so I can contact her directly. Without thinking twice, I sent her a message informing her of my current situation and that I would really appreicate if she can be present for the birth of my child. I wasn’t expecting a reply at all but I was so surprised, she immediately answered back with a, “Yes, of course, I will be there”. I was so happy and I felt relieved knowing that we’ll have her present during the birth of Mileina.

While on the tub, I think I was around 8cm at that time, I met Dra. Manlapaz for the first time. Like Dra. Reyes, she too had a very warm personality and a follower of God as well. She stayed with us through that very difficult part of labor and personally took care of my baby after she came out of the water. She was the one making sure that baby is dry and warm enough to be with me while we wait for the cord to stop pulsating.

After cutting the cord, she borrowed our baby and checked on her in the room, while I deliver the placenta and clean myself up. It was just 5-10 minutes when she came back to remind us we had to move quickly as baby is already rooting, a cue that she already wanted to breastfeed. This made me really happy that she was very concerned about a good start in breastfeeding. Kudos to Dra. Manlapaz!

She gave me a go signal to go home the next day as long as baby is okay. She also allowed all vaccines to be given 12hrs after the birth, as it was my personal request to delay everything concerning tests and vaccines, if possible. She, too, was very happy about us using cloth diapers and told me this is a great way to monitor the baby’s urine output. Isn’t she the BEST?? I just love her! We are really aligned with everything! I am very thankful that Dra. Reyes recommended her to us.

Your Doula

If it’s your first time to hear the word Doula, let me give you a brief explanation about her.

The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period. – DONA International

There are so many reasons why every mother should get a doula. I would like to share with you my own personal reasons, for you to have an idea.

1. I wanted to have a Lamaze Birth the first time, but I failed due to so many external factors. I needed more evidence-based information, and a one on one prenatal session with a doula can provide me with that.

2. My birth plan wasn’t followed because I had no strength physically and emotionally to fight for it. A doula will act as your voice, your protector, who will try her best to ensure that your birth wishes, as long as it is safe, will be honored.

3. A strong physical and emotional support is vital to achieve a natural birth. Though Joey was with me, I needed someone else who understood and knew how to cope with the pain. A doula is the perfect person to encourage you and guide you through it.

4. Admittedly, I have a very low tolerance for pain. With the help of a doula, she can coach you how to use that pain to your advantage, to bring about a better (and quicker!) birthing experience.

5. To have a natural childbirth wasn’t an option for me, but a necessity. Having a doula around would remind me of this, during times I feel like giving up.

6. I find comfort in knowledge but, good birthing books are expensive and hard to find. If you are bookworm like me, your doula would normally give you free access to her library, as part of her services.

Ms. Velvet Roxas, is someone I admire and respect in a whole other level. She was the person who opened my eyes to the reality of infant and child-care, specifically, breastfeeding. I learned so much as I had my training, and it changed our perspective and whole lives, as a family ever since. Like her, I have taken breastfeeding as an advocacy, which I also share frequently here in my blog.

Because I know her personally, her beliefs and stand on many areas involving mother and child, it was so easy for me to decide on getting her as my doula. In fact, I informed her of my desire to get her services even before I had my first prenatal check-up! That is proof enough on how badly I wanted a natural birth right from the start.

There are very few doulas here in the Philippines, and Ms. Velvet, who I jokingly call “Madam V”, (others call her “Diva Velvet”) who has a very bubbly, BUT strict personality, is the only one who is DONA Certified. She is also the very first mother who have given birth in the water at Asian Hospital, 8 years ago. (Asian Hospital has no waterbirth facility anymore). It’s not because of her great credentials that I got her as my doula. It was mainly because I know she has a big heart and that her life revolves around mothering other mothers. I understand her and I believe we get along really well that’s why it wasn’t a difficult decision to have her on my side. I actually needed her (very) “strict” side to guide me through those difficult moments, because she can actually scare me at times! Side note and trivia: On my 5th month, we attended a seminar and there were so much food at the venue. She was checking on me if I was eating sweets!! She was my food police! (Madam V, please don’t get mad at me for this! I love you! Haha!) Which I truly appreciate as I know she only wants what is best for me.

I owe Ms. Velvet a big part on the success of my water birth because she armed me with so much information, and she was with me the entire time. She also patiently answered all my questions and checked up on me once in a while. During my actual labor, she stood beside me, fed me, took care of me, bathe me, and literally carried me throughout the toughest times. God used her mightily as an extension of His blessing.

Your Birth Photographer

I love taking photos in general, and the birth, for me, is a celebration of life that needs to be captured in the lenses of a camera. Originally, I had planned to get professional services from trained birth photographers/videographers, however, I found their rates quite too high and we just could not afford it. It was a blessing that Dra. Raissa Paje-Bayawa, a new Pediatrician friend through Ms. Velvet, who just actually wanted to be there to observe the birth, offered to capture the photos. And the result? Well, just like a PRO! Thanks again Dra. Raissa!

I believe that all these people were divinely appointed by God, so that I could experience the birth He has planned and designed perfectly for me. Truly, by His grace, He gave me the chance to meet them all so that together, we can glorify Him alone. Indeed, this birth was orchestrated beautifully, not for my personal benefit, but for Him! All Glory and Praises to our King!

My Birth Team

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Left to right: Myself an hour after the birth, Dra. Maria Luisa Manlapaz, Ms. Velvet Roxas, Dra. Menefrida Reyes, and Dra. Raissa Paje-Bayawa.

The Lord is My Healer

I believe it is only fitting that I blog about the recent developments of my pregnancy. By the time I make this post public, I’ll be on my 6th month mark. Oh how time flies! As most of you mommies know, right around this time, your Obstetrician would already request for you take your Oral Glucose Tolerance Test – OGTT test. This is a procedure wherein you will be asked to fast for 6-8 hours, have your blood drawn for it and then you will be asked to take an orange glucose drink, and have another extraction 2 hours thereafter. Normally, it usually takes 4 extractions which includes the fasting, 1st hour, 2nd hour and 3rd hour to have more accurate results, but because I already have a history of Gestational Diabetes in my past pregnancy, this procedure with fewer extractions, was done to me instead.

In my pregnancy with Matilda, it came out as a shock that I got a positive result for this test. Sure, I am fond of sweets, but I have my blood tests done annually to make sure all is well with my health. This is actually one of the things my parents do for their own health and has passed it on to me and my brother, just to know how we are all doing. So, you can just imagine my reaction upon seeing the result of my OGTT test. I was so confused and I felt as if my body has betrayed me.

I was asked by my OB to meet with an Endocrinologist, a specialist in this area, to check on me and help me manage my sugar level. She asked me to get a Glucometer, a small, battery-operated device to check my sugar 2 hours after each meal, and record it in a notebook. She also asked me to meet with a Nutritionist-Dietitian to try having my blood sugar controlled naturally, through exercise and by following a strict calorie count diet, before we decide if I’ll be needing insulin injections or not.

As I was going through this process, pricking my finger 3x a day, eating ZERO sugar and having portion controlled meals, my pregnancy on my 5th month then have become very depressing. I couldn’t enjoy eating whatever I wanted and I felt deprived each time. I was also worried for the health of my baby and just prayed that I’d be able to endure this difficult time.

Apart from that, this condition was also financially challenging as the glucometer strips were very costly and we had to go to 2 different doctors each check-up, plus the fact that we had to revamp our grocery shopping list to much healthier alternatives. This is also because this condition is also linked with Pre-Eclampsia, which is high-blood during the pregnancy, that I had to really watch my food intake and minimize using salt and oil in cooking. How sad is that? No sugar, less salt and almost zero oil in cooking. Just imagine how many times I had to say no to my cravings!

But… With all the difficulty, I am still so blessed that I was able to deliver a healthy, normal and full-term baby. Maybe it was just God’s way of reminding me that He is in control and that through that time, He was trying to bring me closer to Him.

Now on this second pregnancy, I became more aware of my food intake. I tried my best to stay healthy and ate whole food. I switched to red rice, and also increased my vegetable and fruit intake. I also removed the maternity milk, which all the while I thought was necessary-ended up being the trigger for having Gestational Diabetes, because of its high sugar content! So please, never ever take those and just stick to natural and fresh food. Those of which are readily absorbed by the body like indigenous vegetables and fruits. I also continued to breastfeed, which I talked about on my previous post. Breastfeeding helps regulate blood sugar levels, that’s why I made it a point to nurse Matilda up to the time she decided to wean on her own.

During my 1st trimester, we had to check how I was doing, and praise God, my blood sugar was normal. My OB advised that I will be having another test at around 5 and a half months and that too came out normal. Just when I had fully accepted the fact that I most likely have Gestational Diabetes again, all my test results came back negative! God is soooo good! He has healed me! I believe He allowed me to go through that ordeal so that I would fully depend on Him, and not on myself, neither what I can do. This chapter of my life was planned perfectly to make it a testimony of His faithfulness. Thank you, Lord!
And because of that great news, I celebrated by eating some churros with chocolate dip! Finally, I can now eat whatever I want, but of course, still in moderation. 🙂

To summarize, the things that I learned from this are:

1. Health is something you cannot, EVER, be in control of. Only God is in control.

2. Despite God being in control, you also have to do your part in being healthy. Your physical body is your responsibility. It is God’s gift to you, and you have to take care of it and not abuse it.

3. Nothing is impossible with God. He will  give you trials to mold you and make you stronger, but He promises that He will be with you through it all.

Psalm 103: 2-5

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

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Breastfeeding During Pregnancy

Matilda was still very small, when Joey and I agreed on trying for another baby as soon as she turns 2 years old. When Matilda was already about to turn two, (it was faster than I expected!) I also had my own hesitations about having another baby. In my head, I was thinking, “What if my pregnancy becomes complicated that we need to stop breastfeeding?”. And during this time, Matilda wasn’t showing any sign of weaning yet, even the slightest bit. Honestly, it made me anxious from time to time and I just relied onto God’s Word, for strength to overcome it.

We really wanted to go past the 2-year mark to maximize the benefits of breastfeeding, however, deep inside I knew that if ever the need arise, Matilda will be more than ready physically, as she gets her main source of nutrition now from solid food. It would then just be the psychological aspect I would need to address.

Breastfeeding is one of those things, like birthing a child, which I never thought I would endure. It is truly all by God’s grace! All I really wanted was to be able to give my best in all that I do, especially when it comes to bringing up my future children. With that, I knew in my heart I never wanted to force Matilda to wean if she’s not yet ready, that’s why I am still breastfeeding her up to now, and will continue to do so until she decides to wean on her own.

”Isn’t it dangerous to breastfeed while pregnant?”

As long as you have an uncomplicated pregnancy without any underlying medical conditions, (you are not classified as high-risk) and you don’t experience bleeding, premature contractions, lower back pain, or severe cramping in the abdomen, then it is safe to continue breastfeeding, until you reach your term.

Right now, I am close to reaching my 4th month. I haven’t encountered any problems from what I mentioned above, that’s why my OB-Gyne, who I love so much, never asked me to stop breastfeeding. This is because there really is no concrete evidence that links premature births to breastfeeding. And there are also plenty of mothers who have done it successfully. There isn’t really anything to worry about as long as your OB-Gyne is really knowledgeable, and an advocate for breastfeeding.

“Isn’t that milk supposed to be ‘reserved’ for the next baby?”

Our bodies are made perfect by God to be able to nourish our young. It does not stop producing milk as long as there is a demand. When baby number two comes, there will still be enough milk for them to share, hence, the term, tandem feeding. This happens when an older child feeds along with the younger sibling. This term is also used for breastfeeding multiple babies, such in the case of twin siblings.

“I always get so hungry because of breastfeeding, isn’t that a sign the baby in my tummy is being deprived of nutrients?”

The answer is, no. Because our body changes during the pregnancy, even the size of our organs also change with it. If you noticed, whenever we are pregnant, we can no longer eat as much as we used to, in one sitting. We tend to eat smaller portions, but we do it frequently. This also applies when we are breastfeeding during pregnancy. We just have to be smart in the choices we make when it comes to food and pick those that will benefit us, as well as our babies. Food that are high in calcium, iron and fiber are some of the things we need to add more to our diet, like that of green leafy vegetables and seasonal (local) fruits. Remember, we are not eating for two, (or in my case, three!) in a sense that we should eat a lot! We eat for two (or three) knowing that there is extra nourishment needed for our baby to grow healthy, and not in terms of the actual amount of food we eat.

“My breasts are so sensitive during pregnancy, it hurts so bad. How do I go on breastfeeding?”

This part is inevitable. Yes, it is true that it may hurt during the 1st trimester as our body adjusts to the changes brought about by our pregnancy. Nipples become very sensitive and based on my own experience, having a good and deep latch really alleviates the discomfort. Take note that this pain usually goes away in the second trimester, so a little sacrifice on our end is all we need. And if it’s any consolation, seeing the satisfied look on the face of your child who is just happy to be comforted by your breasts will really help you overcome it too.

“How do I manage breastfeeding 2 kids if they both want to feed at the same time?”

My expert friends say that it would be good to breastfeed the younger child first to make sure he/she gets all the colostrum he/she needs in the early days of life. As soon as the mature milk comes in, usually on the 4th or 5th day after birth, it really doesn’t matter which child nurses first. If you can manage to feed them together with each of your breasts, that would also be a good idea. However, take note that since breastmilk changes in composition depending on the age of your younger child, usually, the older child becomes so full from the breastmilk (which is high in calories to support the infant’s growth), they sometimes lose their appetite for solid food. It would be good to also watch out for this as it would possibly disrupt the established eating pattern of your child. Finding the balance is still the key.

Are you currently pregnant and breastfeeding? Or thinking about continuing to breastfeed even when you conceive again? Please leave a comment and let’s talk about your concerns!

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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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