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

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Coping with G6PD Deficiency

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

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

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

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What is Newborn Screening?

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

What Disorders are included in the Screening?

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

 

What is G6PD Deficiency?

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

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

How is it acquired?

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

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

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

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

What is the potential harm of having G6PD Deficiency?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pregnancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Birthing Classes

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

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

Labor

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

The Bloody Show – 39 weeks and 1 day

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

Contractions – 39 weeks and 3 days

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

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

Birth – 39 weeks and 4 days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birth

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

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

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

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

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