Saturday, March 31, 2012

Breastfeeding Training of Community Health Workers

Per the Department of Health's Breastfeeding TSEK program, training of community health workers have been conducted since last year. My friend Velvet Roxas has been asking me to attend one to see what they have been doing, but they started in the QC and KAMANAVA area so it was only recently that I had the chance to cover one.

Last March 1 and 2, Arugaan (an NGO that conducts the training for DOH, which is then funded by the World Health Organization) held a training of community health workers/officials at the Remedios Center in San Andres, Manila. That was their second to the last training for Manila, after which, they were heading to Zamboanga for two weeks.

Suffice it to say, it was a humbling experience.

On behalf of all the people trained and helped, I would like to express gratitude to WHO for funding this and DOH for designating officers per area to find venues and gather the attendees. Most of all, I was bowled over by Arugaan's trainors (led by Nanay Ines Fernandez, founder of Arugaan and one of the pillars of breastfeeding advocacy in the Philippines).

I saw these community health workers (from volunteers to barangay councilors to nurses, doctors, dentists as well as Manila City Hall's health officials) arrive the first day, happy to be out of their regular work area and just there to comply... and leave excited about breastfeeding. So excited that some of them even exposed their own breasts to demonstrate what they have learned. So excited that some of them even tasted breast milk... some for the very first time.

It was also particularly nice that the flow of activities ensured that no one is sitting still for long. There were activities/contests, debates, even a dance/mime number. Nanay Ines and crew also made sure to shake things up with rhymes and silly dances, ones she uses at her Creche.

not in this slide is the fact that milk companies only spend some P2-3 billion a year for its employees, ads and giveaways in this country... such a paltry exchange considering the cost to our health care system alone for all the babies getting sick due to wrong formula feeding

busy health workers on a task

I chose this collage because I liked the idea that they put all the benefits in the shape of a breast, and all the undisclosed risks in the shape of a feeding bottle

male nurse talking about helping someone deal with mastitis

another activity that tested participants on their perceived baby-mommy schedule

some of the babies by mixed-feeding moms who were brought in by health workers so Arugaan can demonstrate how health workers can help such moms

the mixed feeding moms became accidental models for lactation massage (who best to show that they have milk, if only they can relax, right?)

barangay councilor holding a newborn while Mom has her lactation massage

as appreciation for their efforts, the mothers go home with some baby clothes, towels, a tub and a sling (slings were manufactured by next9, paid for by UNICEF)

had the shirts been bigger, i'd have stolen one for Yamee... haha

God blessed us by a mother who came with a baby with cleft palate... so Arugaan was able to show the health workers how to breastfeed such a baby (note that the baby is positioned a little more vertically than usual so that part of the mother's breast can cover the cleft in the child's lip and make suckling easier for him)

health workers showing what they learned...

... like lactation massage

the mime show as a last reminder of the risks of formula feeding

photo opp with Nanay Innes, DOH and Manila Health Office officials

Arugaan helps its community of mothers by employing some of the mothers as trainors, and some to do the catering for the trainings. This, aside from their counseling work, lactation massage, wet nursing services and teaching at the creche makes Arugaan as the only entity that employs women for their breastfeeding capacity. Isn't that wonderful? More to the point, isn't that empowering?

It is the DOH that deals with the LGUs to organize these trainings, however, so you might want to ask your LGU to start collaborating with DOH so they can assign an officer for your area who will then coordinate with Arugaan. The sooner the trainings are done, the sooner the health workers can help pregnant mothers/mothers with newborns in your area.

Another wonderful thing is that because it is funded, it is reaching more sectors. The TSEK campaign does not stop with the conduct of this training. Arugaan people will also shadow those who have been trained to see if they have really retained what have been taught and guide the trainees to really help their constituents/patients. Health workers will also need to fill up forms (much to their dismay) to monitor breastfeeding cases at the barangay level and provide the DOH with better statistics.

Even the official photographer, multi-awarded Sir Lito Ocampo, committed to the project despite the lack of prestige and perks (the trainors and photographer get paid, but not THAT much) because he belies it the right thing to do.

I really felt more hopeful about breastfeeding advocacy because I attended this training. Hopefully, I can attend more to further imbibe my breastfeeding commitments.

And hello... if my Mom network considers me as a breastfeeding advocate, they should meet Arugaan moms! Again, I am humbled and very privileged to have met them and assisted them.


Just in case anyone passes by here and feels the need to defend formula-feeding... please know that the TSEK campaign, though it hopes to benefit all mothers and babies, targets mothers who go to barangay/government clinics (read: the poor). Formula-use among the poor not only endangers the baby (due to wrong or rationed formulation, sterility issues, etc), the mother (since the mother does not get protected by lactation amenorrhea, she is more likely to conceive again so soon) but also compromises the health of older children (as parents will tend to channel all resources to purchase formula instead of investing in good food for the entire family).

Remember, breastfeeding saves lives.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Excited For Family Congress 2012

I was late and got lost a little yesterday but I still managed to catch the better part of the blogcon for the upcoming Family Congress 2012.

I wanted to share yesterday about the time when I posted on FB about how parents who want to give the best to their children should attend marriage encounters, parenting seminars and maybe even nutrition counseling and regular therapy. That, instead of breaking backs to purchase expensive gadgets or doing thorough research on which school to send a child to or what enrichment classes in the summer are great. There were several negative reactions to that post, mostly about it being extreme and regular dates should do it.

Regular dates with the hubby ARE important... but regular check ups are equally important. It's like the relationship's well-baby checkup. If we send our kids to different enrichment classes, why not attend one ourselves on how better to communicate with the members of the family, which food to prepare, how to affair-proof our marriage and the like? After all, nobody took up parenting and being a spouse in school, we usually learn as we go... and there is always room for improvement somewhere, even in the happiest of homes.

We take Lamaze classes for a one-time event in our parenting life... why not take classes on how to care and empower that precious child we gave birth to? :)

So, anyway... please spread the word:

Family Congress: BFF (Building the Filipino Family)
August 25, 2012 (Saturday), 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Valle Verde Country Club in Pasig CIty.

Early bird promo (before April 30) is P1,300/person
Group Promo: Pay 6 and 1 gets in for free
Regular Rate: P1,500

Registration Fee is inclusive of seminar fee, meals and maybe some freebies from sponsors.

Breakout sessions include "Handling the Bully and the Bullied" by Dr. Honey Carandang and "Migrating and Managing the Digital World" by Ms. Queena Lee-Chua, PhD.

See you there, for we're definitely going! :)

For more details please call 579-0100 and 4364-143 or mobile #0917-8972903 or email

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Summer is More Fun at St. Michael

St. Michael Playhouse will be holding special classes for both parents and kids this summer.

First, there are these classes for the parents.

I intend to attend the living storybook workshop because I feel it would help with the homeschooling stint. Hopefully though, there will be someone I can leave the kids with on those dates.

And then there's this for Yakee:

I am darned sure he'd love the woodwork and gardening sessions. I can't really enrol him in the other classes because I intend to have him and Yamee take swimming classes as usual. He's actually been asking already why he isn't going to swim school yet. :) This would be his 4th year and Yamee's first. Hopefully, I can manage their schedules.

It's really not a good time to let go of babysitter but this is an opportunity to grow :)

This Birthing Chair

I have always thought of this chair as an elder's chair... for old people who did not really like rocking. I had always assumed that either someone decided to make a rocking chair stable by cutting off the rockers... or someone decided to put rockers on such a chair. I had also always assumed that the extended arm rails were there to accommodate, not just resting arms, but crafts, food, chores or kids.

And yes, they are such nice lounge chairs too.

So, imagine my surprise when, in a tour of Jalandoni House in Bacolod, I was informed that this is a birthing chair. It was designed to sit pregnant women comfortably... and then double as a birthing chair. The extended arm rails are there to support the legs!

I thought to blog about it here because it really spoke to the Waldorf mom in me... that once upon a time, Filipinas gave birth sitting up... and that there were these chairs that evolved with a woman's needs, cradling her as she goes about her roles. It's a little sad that it became more popular as a siesta chair when it used to serve a higher, more noble purpose.

Weird as it may be, I have a newfound respect, nay, reverence, for this chair. After much Googling, I found the term the guide used: BUTAKA.

(there's a rocking chair with such arm rests at my in-laws, so obviously not a birthing chair. But it serves me well when I breastfeed... and so far, both my sons have managed to detach the left arm rail)

Monday, March 12, 2012

My Irrational Outburst

The weird thing is... I am not really angry about anything specific, but I just blew my top at my boys. And they weren't even particularly unruly and challenging... I just blew my top.

I'm not tired. Not hungry. I do have my period but I wasn't even crampy nor feeling off. But I still blew my top.

I think it's because of the news of a 7-year old girl who lived a street away from us... who was raped and killed. I don't have daughters but that's just so close to home. And such disturbing news made me realize yet again how little I do have control over. And maybe I panicked inside... reacting so negatively to the news that a simple insistence by a baby to play some more brought out a raging storm in me.

I couldn't have put it more clearly for my eldest to stay away... scared I might hurt him for something he didn't do. For something that will never be his fault.


We just talked... and I profusely apologized. Suffice it to say, we also both cried.


I do not want to parent in fear. And I want to keep trusting this world will help me take care of my sons. But the crazy thing is, the minute you lose faith that things will be alright, you also start messing up the good things that are.



I had a friend whose sister was raped and killed just 2-3 minutes away from their house.

I had a friend who was killed by the bf she found on FB.

I had a colleague whose son got killed in an FB scam gone wrong.

These are all so terrible and tragic and you cannot help but feel so bad for the victims, for their families... and rage for the perpetrators.

And yet... there is that part of you that also can't help but thank God that it wasn't you, your brother, your child. But even in that kind of gratitude, there is a bitter taste in your mouth. Because a lot of crimes happen in random... and it may very well be you next.

And how... how can a mother surrender her children to a grand design that may mean heartache and loss?

Yes... I know, I am dwelling. I will say prayers now.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Home Improvements for Homeschooling

Despite not having a lot of extra funds, we decided to have some repairs and upgrades done in our home. I have also started really going through our stuff and throwing more and more things away, even if I'm only doing it 15 or so minutes per day. I have even let go of my magazines (parenting and wedding, not yet the travel ones and Readers Digest).

And because I want to adopt a less/no-TV policy at home, I am thinking of investing in gateway laptops instead of a flat screen. Just so we could have more space and also finally throw out the desktop. Hubs and I are intent on creating our own office spaces, a homeschooling space and a play space for the children in our 25-m first floor.

Wish us luck! :) Right now, I am dreaming of buying shelves every other month to help organize our things, but what are we to do with our chests that also contain stuff?