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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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.

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)

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!