Buntis Congress!

I feel so blessed to be chosen by the Department of Health (DOH) to share about my personal advocacy on breastfeeding during the 1st Buntis Congress in Sarangani. 832 pregnant mommies from the seven municipalities were able to attend this congress. Several husbands also joined the event. Registered mommies got free check ups, free ultrasound, get family planning counsels, free laboratory consultations and Oral health services. 

  
In Sarangani from January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015 there were over 5,800 mothers who gave birth. However, in the same period maternal deaths reported were 6. The target is to bring zero maternal deaths by advocating mothers to get prenatal check up and giving birth in proper birthing facilities. I realized that a congress like this can make a huge difference because we are educating these women who are far from far flung barangays. 

As for the statistics on breastfeeding, Sarangani has a record of 88% who breastfed after child birth. Our target is to get 100%! We are advocating hard! 

  (Photo credit: Kim Tiblani)
Why Breastfeed?

  1. Colostrum -This brown to yellowish syrup excreted from the nipple is the first milk. It is filled with antibodies and protects your child from diseases and increases immunity. This is the most important fore milk our babies should get. Before the white milk coming from the breast colostrum maybe all that will come out for the next 3 days. 
  2. Free – God prepared every mother with the ability to nourish and feed their own child. The great thing about breastmilk is it does not cost mommies anything. Families who actually breastfeed for 2 years can save up to P200,000. This can potentially be good savings for the family so long as mothers persevere and dedicate themselves to breastfeeding.
  3. Best Milk – Not even scientists can replicate colostrum or mother’s milk. It is the best milk with the perfect nutrition and even antibodies. You really do not need to even provide your child with vitamins because the breast milk is complete! It is also perfectly digestable unlike with formula milk which causes constipation and gas. In fact, even formula milk companies have already made their disclaimer – “breast milk is still best for babies until 2 years old”.
  4. Strong Babies – Babies who are breastfed have strong bones. They often have good control of their heads and crawl and walk earlier than non-breastfed babies. Since their immunity is high, they do not get sick easily.
  5. Practical – Mothers who breastfeed don’t need to buy milk bottles because they can just go direct latch. They also don’t need to carry loads of water and formula powder in their bags. They also don’t need a few minutes to make milk. Breastmilk is always available anytime. 
  6. Bond – There is a secure bond between mother and child during breastfeeding. It is good for a child’s psychological and emotional health. Also mothers actually produce the oxytocin hormone that makes one feel loved and in bliss. This is such a beautiful maternal bonding experience.

As I explained breastfeeding to pregnant mothers-to-be, I also realized some mothers are shy. They feel ashamed to actually show their breasts in public. But as an encouragement to them to still choose to breastfeed, the Governor and his team prepared breastfeeding covers to give the moms of the congress. This was our way of pushing further our breastfeeding advocacy. Plus, they made me the endorser of their breastfeeding cover! The covers were a livelihood project of the Sarangani Moro Women. 

 Instructional material on how to use the breastfeeding cover: 
The best part of the presentation was having my husband’s approval. He affirmed me by saying “excellent presentation!”. Also our children who I breastfed, Joshua and Anna came to support. I demonstrated  how to use the cover with Anna too! 

We want our mommies in Sarangani to be happy and healthy. My husband’s thrust is to really keep every Sarangani citizen healthy. And truly… breastfeeding is healthy both for baby and mommy!  

To God be the glory for this opportunity.

 (Photo credit: Kim Tiblani) 

The Hairy Story

If you are a  breastfeeding mother this story is something you can relate to. You have been breastfeeding your baby over 3 months when suddenly you wake up and your long hair strands are found on your pillow, on your sheets, and even on your baby’s neck! By the time you hit the shower, your shampoo seems to make your hair fall off! The look on your hair brush is just so unpleasant. You even feel embarrassed about it that you hide from your husband. You then ask, “Why on earth is this happening to me?”

  
It’s a normal phenomena for breastfeeding moms to start having hair loss. It is also called post partum hair loss. But not to worry because the baby hairs will be growing. Hormone levels will adjust to normal and the hair loss will stop. In the meantime, moms should eat well and drink B complex.  

As for my story, I made a decision to just cut my hair and sport a new hair do. Thanks to my sister in law Pria and her friend Stefano of 2 GO for introducing me to International hairstylist Laurent Herbert. He styles for celebrities and royalties. He also consults for salons and help make their businesses profitable. Laurent was available to style me and so I feel so privileged to be in good hands!  Anna went with me to his private Salon in LH Hair Science Lab in Bonifacio Global City.

  

My long, thick black hair was going to be chopped off into a pixie cut. This hairdo will be a new look and also a means to saying good bye to my long messy falling hair! 

 
A new look and a bit of pampering is good for mommies. As a mom, I get so busy running after my children and nurturing them that I can forget about myself. Once in a while moms deserve that break. Thank God for a supportive husband who even chose the kind of short hairstyle I should go for! I am one happy mommy!!! 🙂  

ASTHMA ATTACK!

20140214-111637.jpg

It’s so unbelievable! I can’t believe it — my childhood asthma is back. I have been howling and barking like a hyena… and I pray I get over this hypersensitivity.

It all started in January 2014 when we were in Manila. The temperature dropped to 15 degrees celsius and that is quite cold. Our air-conditioning goes as low as 17 and this was 2 degrees lower. Obviously one was bound to get sick. It started with our nanny Jovy. We tried our best to keep her away from Joshua, but it was difficult. I had meetings and things to do that often she had to assist him.

My son did not get sick quickly. His cough developed almost 2 weeks after his nanny’s. Our pediatrician suggested that he takes ambroxol and nebulized. Later, his phlegm was getting thick and he had to be upgraded to augmentin for 7 days. After the prescribed days have passed, his cough lessened but it still has the phlegm. What came 2 weeks later, was my cough. I thought, since we co-sleep it would not be long that I would get infected with his cough.

So, like Yaya Jovy and Joshua, I too started to take medicines. I took first Guafenasin and wondered that even after taking it, I still continued to cough. No phlegm, just itchy dry cough. By the wisdom of my sweet health-conscious husband, I met with a doctor to check what was wrong with me. I gladly obeyed though my schedule recently has been filling up with meetings. What the doctor confirmed was a definite wheezing sound on my chest. It really is asthma. I could not believe my ears! I thought I outgrew that. I am back to being hypersensitive to smoke, to weather, to dust. Also the doctor says, the possibility of Joshua getting asthma is about 50%. I do hope he does not have it. I recall the bad episodes I had as a child when I felt my throat constrict and really panthing for air.

I turned to swimming and it became my sport. Not only my sport but I competed and joined even regional meets in college for swimming. It definitely helped me overcome asthma. When the doctor asked me when the last attack I had, I could not even remember. It was ages ago.

But now, this momma has to be back on the inhaler, antihistamines, and nebulizer. The great thing is, there are medicines today that are breastfeeding friendly. None of the meds I take will affect Joshua or my milk.

I also explained to the doctor, that even if Joshua is coughing, he remains active and eats alot. Its like he isnt sick. She answered me, ” its because breastmilk has antibodies so he is taking antibodies thats why he is strong”. So to my other breastfeeding mommies there, you can continue to breastfeed even if you are sick, just get meds that are breastfeeding friendly. It is still best for our babies.

Lactose Intolerant?

20140119-232506.jpg

It has been 13 months of exclusively breastfeeding my son. I have been recently getting busy and back to my work regimen so the thoughts of weaning him or doing a mix feed are playing in my mind.

I have researched that after 12 months, breastfed babies can be introduced to whole cows milk and drink it out of a cup. It seems like a great idea. I walked the aisle of fresh milk in the supermarket several times contemplating on this thought. Finally, I dropped a box of fresh whole milk on my grocery cart and hoped this was going to be the start of a mommy-led weaning.

When I got home. I gave my son half an ounce of fresh milk for taste. He liked the flavor and it was not too bad. So that day he had an about 1.5oz. There was no adverse effect so far.

So the next day, I decided to try mixing it with my breast milk. He had mixed fresh and breast milk for sleeping. He also had fresh milk together with his breakfast. About a total of 4oz of fresh milk he consumed that morning. In the afternoon, he had very soft stools and he kept on having bowels before sleeping. Hmmm… Strange.

The next day he had again 3 bowels in the morning and then he began having a fever. So, we needed to see our pediatrician to see if its the whole milk. That was the only thing different in my baby’s diet. Lactose intolerance could be a factor.

Lactose is found in milk and to digest it the stomach must have enough lactase enzymes. Babies may not have developed lactase to digest lactose in dairy such as high lactose cows milk. Of course, I learned this later. Mommy forums on the net have shared that some of their babies were getting diarrhea and red butts after introducing fresh cow’s milk.

So Joshua took a stool exam. By this time he has already passed bowels about 6 times, yet the result came back negative of anything. By his 10th pass, we had a second stool exam and this time it confirmed entamoeba hystolitica. I was thinking, could his lactose intolerance triggered the amoeba? He was absolutely fine prior to the whole milk.

Despite this, Joshua remained strong and did not even show discomfort during bowels. We kept breastfeeding, drinking pedialite, and obeyed instructions to take metronidazole and erceflora (probiotics). I can’t think how Joshua got amoeba. But now we are increasing our hand washing and alcohol..

20140119-231736.jpg

Though this needs further study, I am.wondering if it is possible that lactose intolerance which causes diarrhea can trigger amoeba to thrive or surface? Reason I ponder upon this is because another mom had her child stop all dairy because she also had diarrhea when milk was introduced. Same as Joshua the diarrhea later became amoeba.

I guess for now, we will stick to breastfeeding because it heals and the antibodies found in breast milk has helped my son remain strong and active. But I am still in a quest to find the right lactose free milk to compliment breastfeeding. You probably are wondering why should I not consider formula. First, it is still from cow’s milk…so same effect. I also have seen how formula milk has rotten with cavities the teeth of my nephew. I am hoping to skip formula and its just my personal preference. I am still researching on lactose free milk and nut based milks to see what will be best for my son.

Meanwhile, this health challenge has taught us a lot about maintaining the basics – wash hands, disinfect, sterilize, and continue breastfeeding (especially when I still can). God is teaching me that He has enabled me to provide the best nutrition to my son and that I should not rush to wean. That time will come and it will be a perfect time.

New Year for my Passions

After 2013…

It is still surreal that I am a mom. I recall the years of waiting, the anticipation, the disappointments, the heartbreak, the journey of faith and receiving the promise! The 7 years wait taught me so much about the faithfulness of God and how true He is to His promises.

20140107-063632.jpg

I’m still amazed that I have a mommy blog. I have helped friends with their blogs in the past while I stood by them as an observer and fan. Finally after Joshua, I gave birth to my own blog.

I have finally set my mind to be self-employed. I have been a sales executive for telecoms in the last 13 years. It took some guts to obey what I needed to do, and that was to take that leap of faith towards my new calling. Finally, I get to work on things that I feel passionately about which is Tourism and Investments. I have so much hopes on this new direction in my life.

It still shocks many that I am still breastfeeding over a year. Okay, it has surprised so many, and that includes myself. Never have I thought I would be breastfeeding this long. However, it has become one of the best decisions in my life. To be able to give my child the best nourishment. Even my husband is a big supporter of this, which I am thankful for. Really, if I try to compute, we have saved a whole lot of money by choosing to breastfeed! This is my other passion, to help other moms especially in their breastfeeding journey.

To sum it up, God is faithful and there is so much to be thankful for. He never fails to provide. He never fails to make his children taste and see His goodness. I feel so blessed. At such, I am also passionate about God, and helping those who are hurting know that there is God who cares, who knows, who loves them very much. He wants to give everyone the good life, the abundant life. By God’s grace I pray to continue to be involved in His Service.

All I know is the best is yet to come!

1 Corinthians 2:9
However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[a]—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

Separation anxiety!

I work for an international telecom company for 12 years already. For the first time in a long time, the company decided to hold a sales kick-off for the entire sales force of the company in Macao. To some its the most exciting experience to look forward to. In all honesty, I felt kindda torn about it because for the first time I will be apart from my little one.

I am an exclusive breastfeeding mom. I plan to be one until my son decides he is ready to wean himself. The dilemma I had was how to be able to prepare to be apart from my son for one week!

Since I knew that my trip was in July, beginning April I started to save about 2-3 oz of breast milk each day. I would store in bpa free plastics and freeze it in the freezer. I would label each plastic the date I expressed it and the volume.

I also began observing my baby’s schedule. His daily waking hour, his daily eating time, his sleeping schedule, his bathing and playing time, and his milk drinking periods. What was difficult to tell was how much milk he was drinking from me at night because it is straight from the breast. So I “guess-timated” because it was pretty hard to measure.

I also began to pray to prepare my baby and myself for that particular week. I prayed that my son would be okay, and he would be able to sustain a week without me, to have enough milk, and to be accident free. Most of all I prayed for me to be okay. Mind you… I have not been away from my baby for more than 6 hours for the entire 6 months of his existence! So this was a huge deal for me.

20130920-224044.jpg

So before I left, I saved about 90oz of frozen milk packed in containers according to chronological order. I made a schedule for yaya Jovy to follow. I was also super grateful to my sister-in-law, Pria for staying in The province to oversee Joshua for me.

I took the night flight out to so I could stay as long as I could with my baby. I was able to breastfeed him and I left him in a happy playful mood. But that flight gave me butterflies in my tummy from all that anxiety of leaving. That night and every night away from home, I found it difficult to sleep because I was not used to sleeping by myself. Weird as it may sound but I felt something was missing so all my sleep were light and stressful.

20130920-232156.jpg

The sad part about that week was the fact that I could not store and bring home the milk I would express while in Macao. So it was a “pump and dump” week. I felt so sad when my breast milk was being thrown away. I guess my only consolation was thIs thought “I’ll get to eat and drink all the food and drinks I have refrained from all these months! Hello spicy food, hello coffee and tea, and hello wine!”

20130920-232225.jpg

I had to trust that while I am away, Joshua was in good hands, had enough milk and food, had a schedule of sleeping, eating, playing and bathing that my helpers were following. Most of all thank you Lord for technology whereby I see photos and communicate with my baby. I had to remind myself God is with us and He is the ultimate protector and provider of Joshua.

It was time to also let my hair down and have fun! It was also good for me to engage in learning and applying concepts at work. It was also an awesome experience to socialize with other team members from all over the globe.

20130920-232403.jpg

At the end of that long week, all I wanted to do was go home to my family. After all our sessions, I took the next flight out which happens to be at night. When I got to Manila I had a 4 hour layover and took the first flight in the morning to General Santos. It was a tiring trip but was the best decision to travel that way because I could not wait to hug and snuggle my baby and husband. It was perfect timing too because my baby was down to his last milk stash.

20130920-232644.jpg

I don’t think I can probably go on a trip away from my baby for a while. But it was a good learning experience for me. I learned that Separation Anxiety is not a myth. It is real!

Motherhood made a Healthier Me

Before pregnancy, I was one unhealthy woman. I was lazy to exercise and I let go of my healthy diet and got my body accustomed to junk food. As skinny as I was before pregnancy, my lipid profile showed that my cholesterol was out of control. I also skipped breakfast, did a lot of midnight snacking, slept late (around 12mn to 2am). Talk about major bad habits, I had them!

The only thing I was proud of was that I did not smoke (I quit this one about 10 yrs ago), and also I did not really drink alcohol except on special occasions. But on the overall I was not healthy. Then, unexpectedly, I get 2 lines on the pregnancy test. This means fixing up my life. Now that I am providing nourishment to a baby in my womb, it made me decide to drastically change my lifestyle.

Healthy Me during Pregnancy

Healthy Me during Pregnancy

The good thing was my body started to crave for breakfast and so I had that back on my diet. Also fried food made me sick, so this made me want boiled food, steamed dishes, proteins and vegetables. I had to discipline my body to avoid junk food. Though I wont lie that I had several occasions I cheated. Ok… it was with Cheetos and chocolates (mommies admit that you can relate!). But I discovered that fruits replaced these cravings.

Since I got pregnant at a much later age and having no exercise, I really felt the age of my body. I decided to do yoga for pregnant women at home. That helped support my body for the weight, but really the back aches were no longer preventable on the last trimester. In my wishful thinking, I could have been more prepared for the pregnancy. But who knew I would even be pregnant after 7 years of waiting!

There were also foods that a pregnant woman is refrained from eating… Such as raw food – fish or meat (sashimi to prosciutto) because it can cause bacteria that can make a mother sick. Also having a balanced control of patries and sugar-filled food can prevent getting gestational diabetes.

After child birth, being healthy is still required for those who plan to breastfeed. Since my son is getting all his nourishment from me, I have to ensure I eat healthy to provide what he needs. That means staying away from caffeinated drinks (because it keeps your baby awake even when he is tired), away from too much sweets (because it depletes the milk), staying away from chocolates (it can cause allergies to your baby), staying away from too spicy foods (because it causes gas and reflux to your baby), and away from a lot of preservatives (because it gets passed on to the baby).

Ever since Joshua came into our lives, he has been my motivation to stay healthy. I pray I get to maintain this even after he weans. I have never felt this good about my body and its all thanks to motherhood!

The bible has a similar account about being healthy in motherhood. The story of Samson’s mom:

There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing

Mommy needs Mommy friends

Aren’t you glad that in this day and age, there are just so many information about caring for our little ones? Just GOOGLE SEARCH and you will find tons of data about motherhood and caring for babies. There are also very helpful applications that you can download on your laptop or on your smart phones. You can download BABYCENTER and What to Expect When You’re Expecting. They have become very helpful tools in reminding moms about vaccinations, charting milestones, etc.

But I have to say, nothing beats having a mommy friend. Even with all the information found on the net or in books, there is nothing like an assurance from another mother that what you are going through is absolutely normal. Encouragement from family and friends who have kids are precious as gold.

I have found so much comfort when I call my sister or talk to my other mommy friends about things I get puzzled about my baby. I remember calling Monique (my sister) about breastfeeding — what to do when I get engorged, what “essentials” to buy for breastfeeding, etc. Another friend, who has been such a great source of encouragement is my friend, Lia. Since our babies are just three weeks apart, there are so much similar things we are experiencing. We sort of compare notes on different issues. I also have a group of mommy friends online that give free advise when you ask for it. Its been such as wonderful support to my motherhood.

Mommies' Support System

Mommies’ Support System

Also recently, Lia, my sister, and I, went to a Mommy Bazaar in Rockwell Tent in Manila. This was my first time to attend a Mommy Mundo event and it was a grand gathering of mompreneurs! I felt like 3 hours in that bazaar was not enough with all these great mommy products!

First on our list was buying clothes that had easy access to breastfeeding. Mommy Matters carries that line of breastfeeding clothes. There are also really trendy baby traveling bags that makes mommies look great at being a mom! I bought also one for myself from Nursing Mom.

Mommy Mundo Stuff

Mommy Mundo Stuff

Other interesting products include organic baby food, baby developmental toys, protective baby rider for grocery carts, screen covers for fans to protect your little ones from finger accidents… and lots, lots, of other stuff. It was a perfect venue for moms to gather and shop baby-friendly products made by OC (obsessive compulsive) kind of Mommies! Wishing for an event just like that in Mindanao… maybe we shall be organizing one this year. We shall keep you mommies updated.

I thank God for Mommy friends! They are angels in disguise. Without them knowing it, their advises have given me confidence and good mental health! Hahaha…

Feeding the BEST

I’ve heard it, you have heard it… Humans are probably the only specie that would offer their babies another specie’s milk. That is probably not true for all humans, but that line was the introduction of the Lactation Consultant during our breastfeeding class.  I asked my twin sister to accompany me to a breastfeeding class to help me prepare for my baby.  It was a real eye-opener and these are some of the truths I learned from the class about Breastfeeding:

1. It is complete.  Did you know that breast milk is a complete super food? You don’t need to supplement because it is sufficient with nutrients and vitamins that our little one needs.  It’s like manna from heaven, the perfect health food for babies.

2. It immunizes. A child that breastfeed for 6 months and drinks breast milk up to 2 years old have immunization from many diseases up to 12 years of age.  Even the COLOSTRUM which appears 3-5 days before the milk is a special super antibody provided specially for the baby. All this is produced by the body naturally.

3. It is good for the tummy. No constipation for newborns that feed on breast milk. It easily digests and is safer for the baby’s stomach. Constipation usually happens with formula.  Also your baby will not experience lactose intolerance (this refers usually to an allergy to cow’s milk).

4. It is good for bonding. A mother and child develops a stronger bond when they breastfeed. They spend more time together thus providing the child a sense of security, comfort, and love.

5. It makes mommy sexy. Two benefits go to the mommy when she breast feeds.  First, she can get her pre-pregnancy abdomen quicker. As the mom breast feeds her uterus contracts and goes back to its normal size sooner than those who don’t.  The second benefit is breastfeeding can be a natural birth control.  It delays the return of the menstrual cycle which protects the mom from getting pregnant again (but this is not a guarantee, so still be careful!)

6. It is convenient.  There are no need of bottles that crowd the baby travel bag.  There is no need to carry along water and powdered milk (that makes the bag heavy). Also no sleepless nights for daddy in trying to mix formula into the bottle.  The mom is all that is needed!

7. It saves MONEY. Do you know how much a family saves if the mother breastfeeds?  The family can save in 2 years more than P200,000.00 !  This is the part of the class where the husbands mouth drops, and looks intently at their wives to encourage them to breast feed.  Then the Lactation consultant gives the wives a come back ” This is why you can demand from your husband vacations in exchange of the savings!”  Hahahha… that is true!

I am amazed at how God provides for us.  Naturally, breast milk is the BEST milk with all the benefits that other milk cannot completely provide.  This encouraged me to also breastfeed my son by God’s grace.  Now that I know, why would I not provide my child the very BEST?

20130207-115954.jpg

Genesis 49:25 (NLT)

May the God of your father help you;
    may the Almighty bless you
with the blessings of the heavens above,
    and blessings of the watery depths below,
    and blessings of the breasts and womb.