Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Now... A Mom of 3

Amazing... I have not said here that I was pregnant at all?

Well, I have actually given birth already too. Last September 9! Yes, he (yup, another boy) is turning 2 months old on Monday. He is now shrieking and can see. He has dimples. He came into this world peeing on me... And marks me all the time by barfing on me, or salivating on me, or gnawing on me.

Iael Ysaiah is my latest bundle of joy.

And I am still homeschooling Iakob, who is now in Grade 2.

And helping my middle child (who is turning 5) transition from being the baby (cat) to being an older brother.

Life's a hoot... Hopefully I will get back to blogging soon.

Monday, July 20, 2015

With LIGHT, Breastfeeding is Doable

Here I am again converting The Feast preaching to a breastfeeding  inspirational. :)

First... As Bro. Alvin said in his preaching yesterday, The word LIGHT can mean two things. One is the opposite of HEAVY, the other as the opposite of DARKNESS. Then he went on to say that we can be carrying a light thing, but may still have a hard time stumbling with it in the dark... As opposed to carrying something heavy and being able to do it if we know where we are going, or if our purpose wad clear.

He later on gave as an example a woman's burden of carrying a growing baby inside for 9 months. It helps us to know it's only for 9 months right? That we won't have to waddle forever with it. It helps us that we see that child as somebody to love and get to know once it comes out.

The same is true for breastfeeding.

Light can mean clarity of purpose, knowledge as to why and how, positive support and believing in a greater power behind it.

Because breastfeeding is seldom easy. A woman has to live with the fact that she has to share her body with her child long after the birth... That what she does, how long she can be away, what she chooses to wear, what medicines to take or even food to eat have to consider breastfeeding and her baby's health.

And then there are those times when the burden is really heavy... When there are post-delivery complications in either mother or child, when baby is a preemie, when baby has congenital problems, when someone gives births to multiples, when baby becomes seriously sick. How could a mother possibly breastfeed then?

Only with clarity of purpose, the right knowledge base, the proper support and belief in God's Divine provision, I say.

Fears over whether your child is getting enough will always be there.
Fears over your supply will always be there.
Fears over your child's health will always be there.
Fears over your body's ability to provide will always be there.
Fears over the best course to take will always be there.
Fears brought about by side comments and criticisms and judgment by others (whose standards are different from your own) will always be there.
Fears brought about by a culture and generation raised on consumerism and instant results will always be there.

But if your heart and mind are clear on why you are breastfeeding, you will pursue the how, no matter what. You will find ways and make ways to persevere and prevail over sombering diagnosis, over tubes and NICU stays, over medications and work limitations. You will be tired and sick and emotionally wrecked, but those will not be reasons to stop finding ways to make it work.

You may need special help, but it doesn't mean the end of your breastfeeding story.

Choose light over darkness... Be clear about your purpose, get the right info and support.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Mothers Do Not Need Milk to Grow Babies and Produce Milk

If you are pregnant or lactating, you do not need special milk to help you grow the baby inside you, or to help you produce milk.

Current Culture:
1. Milk companies have created a demand for milk for mothers (hereinafter referred to as MFM, since the more popular term "mother's milk" confuses people) by having OBs pushing these as VITAL to a pregnancy's success.

2. Milk companies are pushing the sale of MFM because the implementation of the Milk Code has affected their infant formula and toddler milk sales so they are diversifying to growing up milk (GUM), MFM and milk for senior citizens.

3. Some OBs get perks from milk companies when they push, prescribe, recommend or give away these MFMs to mothers.

4. Selling MFMs to mothers is also a cross-branding strategy by milk companies. Surveys have shown that parents are more likely to choose a formula brand from the same line (e.g. If a mother drank Enfamama, she will buy Enfalac for her baby, Enfagrow and and Enfakid for older children)

What They Don't Tell You:
1) Like formula, MFM contains high levels of sugar compared to regular cow's milk.

2) It was reported at One Asia Breastfeeding Partners Forum 2014 that pregnant mothers complaining of hypertension, gestational diabetes (GDM) and allergies (skin rashes) also presented as MFM drinkers. Within two weeks of being advised to stop drinking MFM, their conditions resolved.

3) There is a lot of  anecdotal evidence at Breastfeeding Pinays (BFP) of pregnant moms asked to take MFMs who experienced rapid weight gain and failed their oral glucose tolerance tests. Some even had to suddenly go on diet in the last months of their pregnancy.

Truths to Remember:
1. Pregnant and lactating moms need a balanced diet and an extra 500 calories intake per child (generally, because I am not sure a mom carrying sextuplets need 3,000 extra calories, her body might not be able to process that much either).

2. Pregnant and lactating moms need THE SAME vitamins and minerals people normally need, most important of which is calcium, which can be derived from food sources. They do not need any special diet.

3. Nowhere in the history of human evolution did mothers NEED special milk just to have healthy pregnancies or abundant milk supply. Think of mothers who had to be pregnant and breastfeed before the days of clean water supply, modern plumbing, farming, medicine and in the midst of plagues, wars and less abundant food supply. MFMs are a new invention, and has only become popular/is being pushed more aggressively for the past 10 years.

4. Lactating moms also do not need milk to produce milk. Cows only eat grass. Lions only eat meat. We produce milk because we are mammals. The milk we produce is specifically designed for the needs of our young (in the case of cows, their calves need to grow big asap... in the case of humans, babies need to finish brain development first).

5. There are no studies yet (as far as I know) proving MFMs put mothers at risk for diabetes, hypertension and allergies for the simple reason that it will be unethical to ask mothers to take MFMs when they are already believed to be potentially harmful.

5. GDM/diabetes, even hypertension, will always be due to a number of factors (genetics, habits). However, one cannot deny that diet plays a huge factor in one's health. If you have a history (family or personal) of diabetes, food intake that is high in sugar will increase the odds of you developing the condition/getting sick.

6. MFMs are made from cow's milk which is not as easily digestible as fruits and vegetables (as calcium source). It also contains additives and preservatives. Cow's milk has also long been established as the top slow-acting allergenic food.

7. Milk has only become part of the worldwide diet after modern farming has allowed for excessive milk production by cows (which are pumped with hormones). Historically, the only ones who really used milk as part of their diet are people living in temperate countries, as milk digests more slowly (allowing people to feel warmer and fuller for a long time, especially during winter time).

8. A self-respecting doctor who has done his research would not prescribe MFMs to moms but would insist that moms eat healthy, natural food (as opposed to processed food, which MFM is). That will go a longer way in helping ensure a healthy pregnancy since real food will have biodigestible nutrients, fiber, water, etc.

9. A regular prescription of MFM affects a family's budget. Some moms also do not like drinking milk, or do not like the prescribed MFM but get scared (or guilt-tripped) into forcing themselves to drink MFM because they were advised by a doctor they trust to do so, for the health of their baby. That is a disservice to them when again, natural food sources offer a wide array of options and should be the automatic choice.

10. Should a mother ever want milk, any nut or soy milk or  the usual fresh milk  in 1-liter cartons should be good enough. Milk drinking for moms is not prohibited (unless there are special conditions) but it is also unnecessary.

11. When a pregnant mother develops GDM or hypertension, not only is it difficult and painful for her to suddenly go on a strict diet, her life and the baby's life is also put at risk.

Again... Nature had this system perfected already. Provided a mother eats healthy, gets plenty of rest and has the help she needs, she should be able to have a healthy pregnancy and sufficient milk supply.

Let us say NO to relatives, friends, doctors and milk companies who are pushing processed food our way when we should be eating healthy for two (or three).


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Even Breastfeeding Advocates Cry At Night

If... Even pretty girls cry at night...

Well, even breastfeeding counselors,  advocates, experts and  BFP admins cry/cried at night too. 

We cried/cry because most of us didn't know what to do in the first place.

We cried/cry because we made/make mistakes.

We cried/cry because nothing can really prepare you for the demands of a newborn. First time mothers will get shocked into the role, it is so "every moment". Those with other kids will have to juggle time and energy for all the other children who would all need something from her.

We cried/cry because even the most loving and supportive of households can never fully share the exhaustion breastfeeding brings.

We cried/cry because even the most loving of husbands will continue sleeping while we nurse through the night.

We cried/cry because no woman ever imagines seeing their nipples sucked raw, sore, bleeding or with blebs and pus. It's scary and extremely painful when your breasts get engorged. 

We cried/cry because when babies bite, the pain reaches down to our toes. If they do it while awake, you can train them not to... But what of those lockjaw moments they get while in deep sleep? No self-respecting Mom will be shaking them awake to tell them biting hurts. Nay, we just grit our teeth in the dark, crying the silent tears as we continue nursing. 

We cried/cry because some of us had unsupportive households, relatives and friends.

We cried/cry because some of the significant people in our lives "blame us" for everything that goes wrong or seems wrong with the baby... Or anything that doesn't meet THEIR standards. 

We cried/cry because the doctors we turn to for help when we get sick almost always tell us to stop breastfeeding, in the meantime or for good, instead of doing their job... Which is to update their knowledge base and prescribe medicines that are breastfeeding-safe.

We cried/cry because it gets depressing, exhausting and downright annoying to have to keep explaining, defending and fighting for our choice and the Science behind that choice. 

We cried/cry because those of us who have given formula and seen the effects of that to an older child will forever regret not having known better then. 

We cried/cry because those of us who work away from home get overwhelmed and exhausted and stressed over keeping our milk supply up, pumping enough and storing enough for our child.

We cried/cry because no matter how much we love our babies, the nights seem triply long when they are sick and forever attached to us. 

We cried/cry over the responsibility of being sole provider... We sometimes deny ourselves medications or delay treatments just because we don't want our baby to be without us. 

We cried/cry over aching arms and back pains... Maybe even disproportionate (size) boobs (since most babies will favor one more).

We cried/cry because we are made to feel ashamed for nursing in public.

And for those that Life thought to challenge more, they cried because their babies were born earlier or with biological impediments (tongue tie, cleft palate, etc) or life-threatening conditions that make breastfeeding more challenging.

And yet... Here we are, trying to help and inspire others... And save one mother and child at a time. 

Because we believe in God's provision and Nature's grand design. Man would not have been able to survive as a species if we had to rely on "modern formula, fortifiers and vitamins" to be healthy.

So, those of you about to begin your journey... Or are struggling now... Please know that we cried at nights too.

The only things that made it easy were  that we believed we made the decision to breastfeed 
1) out of nothing but love for our child
2) out of nothing but a desire to invest in our health and our child's health for the long-term
3) out of nothing but faith that the same God who gave us this baby will allow us to provide for this baby

Us breastfeeders, breastfeeding counselors, advocates, experts and BFP admins... We still cry.

We cry for every mother we try to help that refuse our help.

We cry for the poor who do not know better to make informed choices for their families.

We cry for moms whose efforts are being undermined by their own partners, family, friends, doctors and at work. 

We cry for illnesses and deaths that could have been prevented or reduced in severity had the baby been breastfed. 

We cry... Because there is still so much to do for the advocacy, and we get exhausted too. 

But again, because of the tears shed before and despite the tears we shed now, we are here, wanting to help however way we can. Because we know we stand for truth and love. 

And for every success story we hear, for every mom we meet who strives, for every milestone our own child reaches... There are tears of joy.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Choose to Join Us!

I like to think breastfeeding forums, and breastfeeding (BF) and infant and young child feeding (IYCF) advocates are like teachers to mothers, especially the new ones. We can only open the door to success by providing the right info and support, but YOU mothers have to choose to enter that door by yourself.

You have to choose to listen to what we are saying (which are based on facts), and then do your own research to make informed decisions.

You have to be willing to let go of preconceived notions, habits, old beliefs.

You have to be willing to fight for and stand up for your rights and your child's rights... even if it may mean challenging relationships.

You have to be vigilant about asking what is due you... as a citizen of this country, ensure the Milk Code is implemented for you. As an employee, insist on lactation breaks (even if a lactation room cannot be physically provided for you). As a patient, demand your doctor to only prescribe breastfeeding-safe meds and focus on your baby, not on weight and yellowness.

You have to keep your eye on the goal always, in all ways.

You have to take inspiration where you can and filter out everything that does not help you achieve your goals.

You have to prioritize health in the long term (for you and baby) over what is convenient now.

You have to edit your own thoughts, your own questions... so that they empower you into action, and not depress you into giving up.

You have to celebrate the little things and the little triumphs... and take things one day at a time.

You have to treat challenges (pumping, soreness, sickness) as bumps in the road and not your final destination. You have to accept that there will be difficulties (and heck, you are entitled to tears and the occasional chocolate bar or ice cream pint) because what you are doing IS worthwhile.

You have to write your own breastfeeding story and not have others write it for you.

You have to find ways and make ways.

Most of all, you have to believe that God gave your child to YOU... so what that child needs is Mom, not Man-made. (love this slogan!)

Champion yourself and your child... we can only show you how and where to go. After all, we were all once lacking information and empowerment, and as governed by fears and insecurities as you. It's just now, we know better so we do better.

Choose to join us.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Do the Math, Aim High for Breastfeeding

"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.

I will admit to being stumped as to what to write for my chosen Millennium Development Goals (Achieve Universal Primary Education and Develop a Global Partnership for Development). After all, what else do I say that I have not said before?

But since I have adopted the "Do the Math" mantra whenever I try to inspire moms to stick to and commit to breastfeeding, I guess I will  adopt the same here.

First, let's have a quick look at the following pertinent breastfeeding statistics:
1,738,100 babies are born in the country yearly
Only 34% of these babies end up being exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months (around 278, 000 babies)
18.75 - infant mortality rate for every 1,000 births (that is at least 32,000 babies 1 year below)
16,000 children between 1-5 years old die every year from illnesses traced to formula-feeding or directly-addressed by breastfeeding

It is actually very good that infant mortality rate in our country has been steadily declining. And looking at these numbers, we can say that just more push from the right institutions and it can be further reduced dramatically. That is where breastfeeding will come in.

Just another 10% more moms to exclusively breastfeed can buy them lactation amenorrhea, protection from getting pregnant again and contributing to next year's population. A steady increase like this can mean that ten years down the line, the government can be at a perfect position to actually provide better primary public education because population growth was curbed somehow (or at least, it did not boom as exponentially).

Add to this the possibility that a family with an infant who breastfed exclusively can channel their abundant/ just enough/meager funds to food for the entire family as well as education for the older children.

Let us not even quibble with rates and percentages. Let us just say that if 1,000 more families will exclusively breastfeed this year, there may be 1,000 less babies next year... and 1,000 more babies next year who will be better fed.

For us middle-class and the rich, with happy problems like which food to introduce first and whether we are able to offer enough variation, this does not seem impressive. But try living their life... Tell me if it's still easy. Try living from hand to mouth. Try losing a child to diseases like diarrhea (Go Erceflora!) and infections (Amoxycillin anyone?). Try having kids with stunted growth who cannot process what they should be able to by the time they are of school age, putting further stress on an already struggling education system. Try imagining how burdensome that could be to a family if a child will be unable to learn or contribute. Try imagining struggling to feed and raise a child only to lose that child before it turns 5 years old... and repeat the same every few years or so.

From a middle-class point of view, consider how kids of can afford parents start school at the average age of 3. This means that from that point on, that child will be bringing home viruses and germs he caught in school. Now, imagine that there will be 1,000 less toddlers/preschoolers who will get sick this year from a certain flu strain because they are still being breastfed. They won't get sick because their mom's milk will give them the antibodies. That means no medicine intake or hospitalization for a few days. That means Mommy doesn't have to go absent from work for a few days. No stress on the finances or on everybody's schedule. That will mean not missing school for a few days so there is less tension about missed lessons. Now, what if these one thousand kids  get spared twice in a year? Thrice? This great possibility is attainable if only a mother will commit to breastfeeding in the first 1,000 days of a child's life.  #BF1st1000days

Wouldn't you agree that if you look at things this way, it becomes easier to see why our government should make this a priority?

Where does global partnership come in?

Well, 1,000 more kids breastfed means 1,000 less that institutions like WHO and UNICEF will be worrying about because it is 1,000 less children requiring aid.

1,000 more breastfed kids mean 1,000 less to make provisions for in times of emergencies and calamities.

1,000 more breastfed kids would mean  at least one set of 1,000 days not missed by working moms to deliver services locally and internationally. Aren't you curious just how much that would mean for commerce and trade?

1,000 more breastfed kids will mean millions of savings from out-patient treatment due to respiratory diseases.

If policies like "Wednesdays off  for baby's first year" (an additional 44 days of maternity leave) can be enacted, we might be looking at more than 1,000!

And 1,000 babies exclusively breastfed has the potential of bringing about 192,000 less cans in dump sites (the environmental cost by those who can afford). Indeed, why don't we tell formula-feeders that when they do so, they are wasting water and blocking drainages?

Oh, and 1,000 less children dying will mean around P33M savings from funeral costs, FYI. These costs affect the national budget, the implementation of plans, the approval of loans and aids and the ability to pay off such loans. These savings can in turn be channeled to feeding and educating more children, right?

Breastfeeding is truly a gift. It is basically free and yet it can save money and lives, regardless of demographic. Which is why I hope you will scroll down to read the rest of the entries for this blog carnival. Read and share each one if you can, let us get more mommies to commit to breastfeeding in the first 1000 days. We may not meet our MDG targets next year but still, any small step in the right direction :)


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

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Breastfeeding and the First 1,000 Days #BF1st1000days

My biggest takeaway from the first day of the 2nd Breastfeeding Congress was the role breastfeeding plays in the first 1,000 days.

First 1,000 Days is a partnership among key players worldwide concerned with maternal and child nutrition. Basically, the belief (backed by numerous studies) is that the first one thousand days of a child’s life is the period that decides the health and wealth of the world. From pre-conception care to the first two years of life, how a child is nourished will influence his long-term health, ability to learn and performance in all aspects of society. Breastfeeding, having the largest impact on child mortality of all preventive intervention, is thus something that all nations have to promote, support and protect.

Unfortunately, milk companies are trying to jump on the 1,000 days bandwagon to squash all the efforts the UNICEF and WHO (as well as other concerned agencies) have been putting in for this breastfeeding campaign and confuse consumers yet again. Or maybe I mean dupe consumers. Nestle and Danone have officially hijacked the initiative and launched/registered sites bearing the 1,000 days catch phrase. It definitely isn’t the first time that milk companies will twist something from the breastfeeding camp (golden bow, “best start”, etc). You can download Breaking the Rules 2014 and see for yourself other violations these companies have been committing worldwide.

It is in this regard that breastfeeders, breastfeeding advocates and breastfeeding supporters are now being called to express support for breastfeeding. Let us use our social media accounts. Let us post breastfeeding photos, breastfeeding quotes, reflections on your journey/testimonies as a breastfeeder and use the hashtag #BF1st1000days.

Perhaps, in this way, these milk companies won’t even think of bringing their ludicrous underhandedness in the Philippines.

Having breastfeeding in mind while pregnant helps mothers mentally prepare themselves and the people around them to breastfeed. Breastfeeding in the first two years of life (and beyond) complemented by healthy eating habits after baby turns six months reduces risks for chronic diseases for both mother and child. Breastfeed for the first one thousand days. Let your posts all contain #BF1st1000days