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.

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7 Essential Tips for Breastfeeding Success

1. Equip Yourself and Commit to it

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

Read 

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

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Seminars and Talks

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

Get Your Husband on Board

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

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Source: World Health Organization

Make the Commitment

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

Dangers of Infant Formula

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

2. Unmedicated Childbirth

If possible, choose a natural childbirth.

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

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

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

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

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

Mother-to-Mother

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

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

The Doctors

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

4. The Latch

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

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

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

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

A Newborn's Stomach Capacity

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

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

Feed on Demand

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

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

5. Exclusively Breastfeed for the First 6 Months

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

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

Exclusive Breastfeeding

Source: Unicef c/o Breastfeeding Pinays

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

Working Moms CAN Continue Breastfeeding

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

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

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

Cupfeeding

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

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

6. Finding the Balance Between Breastfeeding and Solid Feeding

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

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

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

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

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

7. Push for Extended Breastfeeding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pregnancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Birthing Classes

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

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

Labor

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

The Bloody Show – 39 weeks and 1 day

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

Contractions – 39 weeks and 3 days

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

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

Birth – 39 weeks and 4 days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birth

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

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

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

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

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