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Friday, July 31, 2009

Maintaining My Milk Supply

One of the most common questions I get asked on breastfeeding and working is how I maintain my milk supply. Naima is almost 20 months old and she still takes expressed milk at home. I also still have excess milk which we donate (if substantial) or use in cooking Naima's food.
I went back to work when Naima was 7 months old. At that time, my biggest fear was that I would not be able to express enough milk at the office for Naima’s next day feed. Happily, that has never happened. Naima’s daily milk intake has remained to be fresh (refrigerated, actually) and we’ve never had to dip into our freezer supply. In fact all my freezer supply gets donated every time my cook complains that we don’t have space for our frozen food (which used to be every 2-3 weeks but my intervals have lengthened into a month or so).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Synchronized Breastfeeding 2009 in the Philippines

Have been really busy over this week! So many activities - the breastfeeding awareness festival calendar project and rush work on top of that. I have several unfinished posts that I hope to get to by the weekend. In the meantime, would like to share these breastfeeding activities, begining August 5 and ending in an October event, which is part of a worldwide synchronized breastfeeding event.

Children for Breastfeeding, Inc. and Nurturers of the Earth, Inc.

with the Department of Health

and the Office of the President

invite you to join the celebration of

World Breastfeeding Week 2009

Breastfeeding: A Vital Emergency Response: Are You Ready

Wednesday, August 5, 2009, 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m.

Rizal Ceremonial Hall, Malacañang Presidential Palace

Official Opening of the World Breastfeeding Week Celebration - Year 5

Campaign to Promote Ten Excellent Sources of Calcium During Emergencies

Launching of the Synchronized Breastfeeding Worldwide - Year 3

A Philippine-led Global Event on 10:00 a.m. October 2, 2009

With President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in attendance

Important Notice:

Please confirm your participation as soon as possible. Call us up at our wireless PLDT phones701-4414, 701-4430, or SMART mobile phone +639198395555 or email us to include your name in the official guest list and ensure your admittance at Gate 1 of the Malacañang Palace. Malacanang Protocol officials require the organizers to submit the guest list at least three days before the event. Rizal Ceremonial Hall can only accommodate 500 guests.

To avoid long queues, please be at Gate 1 by 10:00 a.m. As per Malacañang Protocol, all the guests should be seated at the Rizal Hall at 11:30 a.m. All breastfeeding children and babies are welcome. The use of feeding bottles and pacifiers will not be allowed. Attire: Semi-formal. Guests wearing denim jeans or “maong”, rubber shoes or sandals will not be allowed to participate in the ceremony at the Rizal Hall.

Lunch will be served.

Other Events:

Details to be Announced Later

Launching of the Breastfeeding Station - SM Lipa City

Launching of the Breastfeeding Station - SM Baguio City

Details to be Announced Later

Sectoral Forums on Infant and Young Child Feeding during Emergencies

(for Disaster Response Workers, Media and Youth)

The Breastfeeding Clinic:Your Partner from Pregnancy to Parenting
A joint Project of Children for Breastfeeding, Inc. and Nurturers of the Earth Philippines
Managed by International Board Certified Lactation Consultants:
Nona D. Andaya-Castillo, IBCLC
Elvira L. Henares-Esguerra, MD, FPDS, RPh, IBCLC
PLDT Wireless Landline: (632) 701-4414 7014430 Mobile: +639198395555

Friday, July 24, 2009

Setting Up a Lactation Program at Work, Creating a Buzz

The Survey
After the successful presentation at the employees' association meeting, C and I started work on the proposal by preparing a survey for female employees. The purpose of the survey is to obtain data on how many female employees are currently breastfeeding or have previously breastfed (successfully or not). We also wanted to obtain information to determine the necessity of a lactation room and essential components thereof. Thanks to Google Docs, creating the survey form and compiling/tabulating the collected information was easy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You Gotta Love Baby Blues

Do normal SAHM days really look like this?
July 5, 2009
Hopefully, Naima will want to bf her babies, too :)
July 18, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An Invitation to Breastfeeding 101: Beginning Breastfeeding

*Sharing this seminar to new and soon-to-be moms. This will also be a chance for you to check out Medela items. To register, contact The Medela Moms (see information below).

We would like to invite everyone to Breastfeeding 101: Beginning Breastfeeding. Arm yourselves with the power of knowledge so you can't be swayed by well-meaning family or friends to switch to formula! The class will be on July 25 at 10am. Speaker will be Ms. Abbie Yabot, leading La Leche League certified lactation counsellor. Organized by The Breastfeeding Club, fee will be P500 for non-members. Upon payment, you will be entitled to 2 other classes: Sustaining Breastfeeding (Sept 26) and Breastfeeding and Beyond (Oct. 24) and will have access to privileges and discounts from the sponsors (Medela, Prolacta, BabySmiths, Planet Noah, and HandyDandy Diapers). The class will be held at the Medela House - 29 1st St., New Manila, QC. See you there!

Register thru this email or through 0917-5614366 or thru 725-3723/738-6272.

MedelaMoms Inc
Exclusive Authorized Distributor

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Chemicals in my Breast Milk

Two months ago, I volunteered to be part of a study to determine the types of chemicals that leach into breastmilk. Mylai, an environmental scientist, is trying to complete her PhD at the University of the Philippines. For her thesis, she opted to do a composition study of breastmilk. She is a breastfeeding advocate and believe that by doing a study of breastmilk composition (instead of choosing the mainstream thesis topics), she will be helping further research and information concerning breastmilk, particularly in the Philippine setting.

Mylai requested Naima and me to submit urine samples while I also had to donate 100ml. of breast milk. Logistics were a bit difficult since we lived at opposite ends of Metro Manila. Further, Mylai had to get freshly expressed breast milk. It was a good thing that I regularly express milk at the office so Mylai was able to get my "freshest" milk possible For urine samples, since Naima was semi-toilet trained, collecting her urine was not a problem.

Mylai also requested information about cosmetics and deodrants I used, prenatal care, including supplements and general diet. Apparently, my milk had mercury! Mylai noted that the values (chemical content) are more dramatic in milk. Here are the results of our samples:

Li Cu Cd Mn Hg Cr Co Se Pb
BU1 below MDL 2.5 below MDL 0.4 below MDL 3.7 below MDL 8.0 1.7
MU1 1.81 3.8 below MDL 0.2 below MDL 3.5 below MDL 5.7 1.5
M1 below MDL 21.4 below MDL 1.2 5.9 42.2 below MDL 5.9 9.9
BU1 = Naima's urine; MU1 = my urine and M1 is my milk.
Li = Lithium; Cu = Copper; Cd = Cadmium; Mn = Manganese; Hg = Mercury; Cr = Chromium; Co = Cobalt; Se = Selenium; Pb = Lead
MDL= minimum detection limit

The results certainly made me re-think my diet and exposure to chemicals. However, I still still definitely continue to breastfeed. Mylai also assured me that in all other scientific articles, despite traces of contamination in milk, breast milk is still recommended as it still has lower chemical contamination than cow's milk. Mylai had also wanted to conduct a study of powdered milk samples but she did not have time to do so.

Interestingly, the Philippines is one of the countries identified here as having conducted breast milk monitoring studies. It is really disturbing to learn how great the effects of exposure to chemicals are. Just recently, it was also reported that chemical concentrations do not decrease during lactation.

Mylai had informed me that some of the metals found in my breast milk may have been from those accumulated as a result of my diet or contaminants I was exposed to even when I was not yet pregnant. Proper diet and controlled environmental exposures are important not only for pregnant or lactating moms but also for women who are in child-bearing age. This is certainly something I will need to think about when planning my next pregnancy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Our HIPP Contribution

In last week’s post, I talked about the release of the July-August 2009 issue of HIPP Parenting Magazine. I was able to obtain a copy over the weekend. One of the articles is called “Breastfeeding 101” and includes 101 tips compiled by HIPP’s holistic mom columnist, Dona Tumacder-Esteban. Dona asked me to contribute some tips from my almost 20-month breastfeeding journey.

There were a couple of other moms who contributed their own tips. One of them was my own lactation counselor, Abbie Yabot who shared her own experiences as well as the experiences of other moms she counseled. My co-Latchers Melody Tan and Irene Recio-Nicolas also contributed their own tips. Dona compiled tips from moms in various situations such as a full-time working mom, exclusively pumping mom, stay at home mom, celebrity mom and toddler nursing mom (me!) She also asked my husband, Stan, to contribute his own tips (on supporting a nursing wife). I will be sharing mine and Stan’s tips below. For the 91 other tips, check out HIPP’s July-August 2009 issue.

Stan’s tips:

1. Play an active role in taking care of the baby to give your wife a break.

2. Attend classes or join groups with your wife. I attended all my wife’s lactation consultation sessions and I repeat to her the tips of the counselors whenever she feels down or hopeless.

My tips:

1. Breastfeeding is natural but must be learned by both the mother and baby. Ask to be roomed-in with your baby and have your first feed within 1 hour from birth.

2. Look for breastfeeding-friendly doctors (pediatrician and ob-gyne). We are a doctor-believing society. If your doctors do not truly believe in the benefits of breastfeeding, then you've lost the fight, even if it hasn't started. Ob-gynes can choose to prescribe non-breastfeeding friendly medicines/painkillers, while pedias will prescribe formula from the start.

3. Enlist your husband and make sure that both of you are on the same page to breastfeed successfully. Support of the husband is essential - especially during the difficult early days. My post here is about how my husband supported me.

4. Prepare a list of references (lactation consultants, massage, support group) so you know who to approach when times get tough. I've compiled a list of support groups/resources here.

5. Feed your baby on demand. Watch your baby not the clock - no truth to the claim that baby must finish each side in 15 minutes. There are different types of nursing babies - nibblers, gobblers, etc. and some finish quicker/longer than others.

6. Do not give your baby the bottle or artificial nipples too early, lest your baby have nipple confusion - like what Naima had.

7. It is okay to nurse in public. To build confidence, practice at home in front of the mirror and make sure that your baby's head covers your breast. [Actually, this should be to see that your baby’s head covers your breast, so there is no reason to be self-conscious]

8. Talk to your boss and tell him/her about your plans to pump at work. Check your office's policies on breaktime. If you don't have a private room or a lactation room, look for a place where you can pump - preferably not the toilet.

9. Nursing a toddler presents unique challenges such as nipple twiddling, boob grabbing, and shirt pulling. She is now in her twiddling stage and I always hold her other hand when nursing to prevent her from twiddling the other nipple.

10. I also taught her the sign for milk and later. So she doesn't scream and shout when she wants milk. And if I am driving or if we are unable to nurse immediately, I sign later and she quiets down. It's also important that you teach your toddler the right word for milk - use a word that you won't be embarrassed to hear in public.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Po-Ge-Lai and Breastfeeding

As a Filipino-Chinese mom, I considered po-ge-lai as one major cultural challenge I had to work at, especially in connection with breastfeeding during the early days. For urban Fil-Chis like me, ge-lai is immediately associated with "1-month-no-bath" yucky time that comes immediately after giving birth. But the no-bathing time is actually part of a bigger scheme which tries to restore the yin-yang balance disturbed by pregnancy and birthing.

One major belief is that a mother who just gave birth loses the "warmth" of her body (e.g. must be associated with the blood as you give birth). Thus, to compensate, the mother must keep warm, eat warm foods and don't do, eat or be exposed to anything cold. My mom told me that this period of confinement is for 1 month. During this 1 month, you not only face "no baths" but you have to contend with major diet restrictions and requirements. A detailed discussion of these restrictions (and po-ge-lai in general) is found here.

Since my mom and mother-in-law were not with me when I gave birth, I didn't strictly follow po-ge-lai. The diet restrictions and requirements needed lots of preparation which I couldn't handle by myself. I also thought that the diet would inhibit my milk supply. Had I strictly followed po-ge-lai, I wouldn't have been allowed to drink water or eat fruits and vegetables (which are musts in a nursing mom's diet) as these are considered "cold foods" which will delay the return of the yin-yang balance. I would have also been required to drink Chinese wine (alcoholic), as this is considered "dyet" or hot and will hasten the return of the balance.

However, I probably just did not prepare enough as there were several other breastfeeding moms who practiced po-ge-lai but still successfully breastfed their babies. One of them is Giselle Sanchez (yes, the comedienne!) who talked about her experience here.

Another mom, Yoly Chua (who is still breastfeeding her 5-month old), shares that she followed po-ge-lai to the letter, by not drinking water, no bathing, eating black chicken, pigeon, no fruits and vegetables and drinking only the Chinese herbal tea (o-tso tong sim). She did feel that these practices caused a dip in her milk supply because her son, Yohann was feeding hourly every day for the first 8 weeks. Yoly was also given an expensive herbal concoction (when her po-ge-lai officially ended) which contained ginseng and lots of potent vitamins. The day after she took it, Yohann developed severe rashes which lasted 3 weeks. The herbal concoction was ya-po (good for mom's health). But apparently, it wasn't good for the baby. The biggest challenge Yoly faced was to keep hydrated during the po-ge-lai since she had to drink the o-tso tong sim (red water made of dates, dried longan + other stuff) instead of water. I myself tried this concoction but it tasted weird. You can't drink it cold - it has to be lukewarm and it was a bit sweet - so it really does not take the thirst away and is not something you would want to drink at least 8 glasses of per day.

If you really have to follow the diet restrictions and requirements of po-ge-lai, a suggestion that another Fil-Chi mom, Jane, shared would be helpful. Like Yoly, her mother-in-law made her drink a herbal concoction with ginseng. So to lessen the effects on her baby, Jane drank the herbal soup after she nursed her baby. You can read more about ginseng here. It also helps if your pediatrician is someone who understands po-ge-lai practices AND is a breastfeeding advocate or is pro-breastfeeding. Jaydee Cheng was lucky to have such a pro-breastfeeding pediatrician in Dr. Joy Ty-Sy who helped her reconcile the practices and breastfeeding, allowing her to continue breastfeeding her 8-month old baby, to date.

Not all diet requirements of po-ge-lai are harmful to nursing mothers and their nurslings. Some foods included in the diet which are helpful in stimulating milk flow include fish, fish broth (my mom told me to drink lots of lapu-lapu, or grouper soup), sesame seeds, pig's trotters, red beans and papaya (I had usually had this with tinolang manok or chicken ginger stew). I also enjoyed the hot chocolate drink (tablea or sikwate) I took each morning (and still continue to take up to now, with oatmeal for breakfast).

In hindsight, having to undergo po-ge-lai is not all bad or difficult as long as you prepare for it. You also need to understand the reason behind these practices and their benefits so you won't resent having to obey certain rules and restrictions. Would I do it again? Probably if I have my mom or mother-in-law with me to help me prepare the food and concoctions I have to take. :D

*Update: 14 August 2009
Dr. Joy Ty-Sy got to this post and found it very uplifting and encouraging to know that the effort she puts into promoting breastfeeding resulted in positive outcome (as in the case of Jaydee Cheng). Dr. Joy holds clinic at Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Room 375 (3rd Floor). Her schedules are MWF (12-3pm) and TThS (1-6pm). She may also be reached at 727-0001 loc. 2264 or 0922-9500973.

*Update: 28 May 2012
Another mom, Raquel, who underwent po-ge-lai shares her detailed story here. But what's interesting is that she is pure Pinay while her husband is the pure Chinese one.  Luckily, her husband is a chef AND cooks po-ge-lai foods available for orders.  Each dish costs 1,500 pesos and is good for 2-3 days if eaten for both lunch and dinner.  Visit his Facebook page for details on the menu and how to order.  Here's a review of the ge-lai menu by Benz Co-Rana.

More ge-lai experiences from Dianne and Giselle (yes, the comedienne!)

*Update: 28 September 2014
I was recently contacted by a company who specialises in confinement foods.  Finally! We have one such service in Manila.  Hao Po Po Philippines specialises not just in meals but in tonics, herbs taken by mothers undergoing po-ge-lai. Here is a sample menu:
 You can choose to subscribe daily, weekly or monthly meals.  They also have various products used by moms and even the herbs when it's time to take that wonderful first bath after ge-lai!

For inquiries, visit Ha Po Po Philippines Facebook page

Friday, July 10, 2009

Check out HIPP!

HIPP, published by Manila Bulletin, is the newest parenting magazine in town. One of the columnists, Dona, asked me to contribute some tips on breastfeeding. Check out their issue for this month, which focuses on breastfeeding.

Here is Dona's email:

In celebration of the Breastfeeding Month (August), HIPP (Happy, Intelligent, Progressive Parenting) Magazine presents BREASTFEEDING 100, July-Aug 2009 issue. Available NOW in all magazine stands.
Real Moms (and Dads!) give you 100+ breastfeeding tips - from latching to weaning, from teething to twiddling, from newborns to toddlers, from feeding at home to pumping at work, from enjoying the time with your little baby to enjoying time with your babe. Be informed and be inspired.

The feature also contains the important numbers you'll need when you're breastfeeding. (e.g. counselors, support groups, websites, accessories, etc.)

Check it out! :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Innovative Breastfeeding Accessories?

There was a time when all you needed to breastfeed were a breast and a baby. Is it consumerism that is creating a need for products when there was originally none? I'm always online and I have seen several breastfeeding accessories that I didn't realized I needed or didn't even think existed.

If you're directly breastfeeding your baby and not going out yet, you'd think that you won't really need any breastfeeding accessory. But did you know that there are special pillows for your breasts? Utterly Yours breast pillows are crescent shaped pillows which moms can use to support and position their breasts. These pillows have surprisingly been given favorable reviews.

When I was looking for a nursing cover, I thought there was only 1 type - a bib or over-all apron type to cover the essentials. But creative moms have thought of new products to be used as a nursing bib. A modified bib is The Breastfeeding Butterfly which you tie around yourself to create a cover on the side where your baby is feeding. It looks a bit difficult for me to use, especially with a fussy, impatient baby.

For those whose babies don't want anything over them, there's the Slurp N Burp, which is actually a sash with cleverly design slits to expose the least amount of breast possible. It has a local Pinoy counterpart - the Nurse N Burp. Also a cute "cover" is the Moboleez - a breastfeeding hat. The Moboleez hat is worn by the nursing baby and has a wide brim to cover the essentials. I like these 2 "covers" because they don't actually cover the babies/breastfeeding. However, they still provide some sort of "shield" for moms who are uncomfortable with nursing all-out in public.

For milk storage, I used to think that I only had 2 choices - a bottle or a bag. Apparently, there are a lot of ways you can store milk. There is a special bottle storage - a vacuum milk storage system - the Milk Bank - which promises to deliver the freshest milk possible by removing harmful oxygen from storage. There is also the MilkSaver, whick you use like a breast/nursing pad but stores milk leakage, instead of absorbing them - acts kinda like a breast shell. One product which I use is the milk trays - Sensible Lines since it allows me to freeze milk in small amounts without taking up much freezer space.

Finally, for pumping moms, a primary concern is hands-free pumping which you can actually set-up on your own. There are products such as PumpEase and Easy Expressions which sell because moms want to pump hands-free the easy way. The Freemie also capitalizes on hands-free pumping but what makes it different is that you attach it to your pump, use it instead of your pump horns, conceal it in your bra and pump away.

These are just a few of the "innovative accessories" I've seen which makes me realize that breastfeeding moms are and can be a huge market. But really, no purchase is necessary to breastfeed. In fact, Kellymom has a great chart enumerating alternatives instead of purchasing these accessories. And for a 3rd world country like the Philippines, what is really essential to successfully breastfeed is not fancy accessories but really, just the determined mom and hungry baby.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What's Up This Weekend?

L.A.T.C.H. will be conducting its monthly Breastfeeding Class for Expectant Couples, this Saturday (July 11, 2009) at The Medical City from 9am-12nn. This is free but on a first come, first serve basis. Classes will be at the 4th Floor, Conference Room 1. Class topics include Breastfeeding Benefits, What to Expect in the First Week, Positioning and Latching, Back to Work and Busting Breastfeeding Myths.

Also, this Saturday will be La Leche League Philippines' (Best Friends in Breastfeeding) monthly meeting at Mary the Queen Parish from 9-11am. I attended this meeting last month and you can read about my experiences here.

So which one to attend? If you're pregnant, I suggest you got to L.A.T.C.H.'s class. If you're already breastfeeding, check out La Leche League's meetings which are more informal and is not focused about the basics of breastfeeding.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Solids and the Breastfed Baby

Father's Day 2008 was very memorable for us - not only was it Stan's very first father's day, it was also Naima's 1st day of trying out solids. Prior to that, she was exclusively on breastmilk. I read a LOT on how to start solids. The general idea I got from my research was NOT to start a baby on solids earlier than 6 months. Although this statement is supported and promoted by the World Health Organization, there are still a lot of doctors who recommend starting babies on solids at 4 months, especially if these babies are on the lower percentile of the formula-fed babies based growth charts.

During a visit to one of Naima's former pediatricians, I was able to get an "Infant Feeding Plan" produced by our Department of Science and Technology's Food and Nutrition Research Guide.
I was happy that the plan promoted solids at 6 months and not at 4 months. There have been studies which state that starting solids before 6 months increases risks of allergies but despite these findings, there are still books or doctors who suggest that babies start solids at 4 months, especially when the baby is *off* the infant growth charts (which are based on formula-fed babies). Also, Kellymom believes that starting solids too early and feeding baby too many solids often results in the early weaning of breastfed babies.

The plan also provides a list of locally-available foods that you can feed your baby. I think the use of indigenous foods for complementary feeding is very important. However, I think Filipino moms are not that well-educated or there is lack of information on what indigenous foods are available and can be used for complementary feeding.

I also don't know much about indigenous foods and the indigenous foods (that I can recall) we fed Naima would include: camote (sweet potato), banana (lacatan and tundan), sayote (is this indigenous?), papaya, calabasa (squash) and monggo. Naima has been eating a lot of vegetables, like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, asparagus --> which are all locally grown but are not indigenous to the Philippines. Not knowing much about indigenous foods is one of my challenges towards crafting a healthy meal plan for my family.

In preparing for Naima's first solids, the websites Wholesome Baby Food and Homemade Baby Food were very helpful. I ignored the suggestions to start at baby's 4th month but instead used their charts, starting at 6 months. I like that the foods are organized according to baby's age and meals. There are also suggestions for menu planning. Kellymom and Mother-2-Mother were also very helpful as they focused on the breastfed baby. Aside from the internet, I also use The Big Book of Recipes and Feed your child right - a book for Asian Parents.

When starting solids, it is important to remember that despite all the literature telling you to start solids by the 6th month, it is actually your baby who will give you the signal that s/he is ready, whether it be in his/her 6th, 7th or even 10th month. There are signals to watch out to determine readiness. Each baby is unique - so it definitely won't help if you compare how easily other babies started solids, as compared to your own baby.

It should also be noted that contrary to popular notion, starting solids does not mean that breast milk (or even formula milk) intake should lessen. Solids are only meant to COMPLEMENT the milk feeding and not replace it (*note how the guide above is called "Complementary Feeding Guide"). Kellymom has an excellent explanation on complementary feeding and also recommends that babies be given solids an hour after nursing.

Naima's first food was avocado, mixed with breastmilk. I chose to start with avocado and not am or lugaw (rice porridge) because my readings showed that avocado had more nutrients than rice. I followed the 3-day rule (feed baby same food for 3 days to check allergies). Happily, Naima did not seem to be allergic to any food.

Naima has never tasted Cerelac and I don't plan on giving her any. She also hasn't tried Gerber but has eaten about 3-4 bottles of Earth's Best, given to her when we were traveling and had no access to cooking or a kitchen. Before Naima was one, I did not want to give her any restaurant food and we usually packed her meals to take along during our meals out.

Starting solids is an exciting milestone which must not be rushed. It is now a little over a year since Naima started solids. Now, she pretty much eats anything EXCEPT shellfish. As she grows older, her menu choices expands but so does her palate/taste preferences. There are days when she eats A LOT and days when she just nurses and nurses. We are now facing the challenges of feeding a finicky toddler.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

But it's just 1 bottle...

In my early days of breastfeeding, I had read an article entitled "The Case for the Virgin Gut", which talked about how even giving your baby 1 bottle of formula has risks. I was not really a *purist* since I mixed fed Naima for about 1 month, after she was diagnosed with breastmilk jaundice.
Recent news show that there is basis for this theory of the virgin gut. Scientists have identified an ingredient found in breast milk called pancreatic secretory trypsin inhibitor which lines and protects the babies' intestine. This ingredient is not found in formula milk. Read more about this here.
Considering that it is at its highest levels in colostrum, there is more reason to put babies to breast in the first few days, even if mom feels that her milk has not come in. The list of breastfeeding benefits just gets longer and longer! :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Medela House

Last Saturday, I was finally able to visit Maricel and Beng’s newly-opened Medela House for the first time. I originally intended to attend Abbie's Breastfeeding 303 class but I didn't count on waiting for Naima. Maricel and Beng are the Medela Moms who distribute Medela breast pumps in the Philippines. Their showroom/stockroom used to be in Beng’s house. However, they’ve seen it fit to rent a space aptly called “The Medela House”.

The house was actually a bungalow which they are slowly converting into a showroom. I was pretty impressed with their plans. Maricel gave me a short tour and briefly explained their plans for the house. Since the house had several rooms, they reserved a couple of rooms for their children to stay-in (ala daycare at work).

The living room was converted into a lecture/session area. It was unfurnished, with soft rubber mats on the floor. It also serves as a "holding place" for the babies and toddlers while their mommies are listening to the lectures or participating in the seminar. During the Breastfeeding 303 class, Judy of Babysmiths brought some of their Wonderworld wooden toys which the babies and toddlers had fun playing with. Naima has a rocking caterpillar I got from Judy and she enjoys playing with it.

One room near the main door currently serves as their office, with the computers and boring stuff. The room beside it has been designed to be their showroom. This is where they display their pumps and other accessories. This also serves as their consultation room, where they help moms fit the shields and horns or assist moms in latching their babies.

What interested me most was the back room, which Maricel said will serve as their library and rental/pumping station. Maricel said that Medela will generously supply the books for their library. This is very good news since there are not a lot of good books in bookstores on breastfeeding. However, the books cannot be taken out of the premises.

The Medela Moms are also looking towards operating the first *real* pump-rental station in the Philippines. Currently, rental pumps are just not available in the Philippines. Four major Metro Manila hospitals allow you to rent their pumps but only the Medical City has hospital-grade pumps! The rest of the hospitals rent out either an Avent electric or Medela double electric which I'm sure are NOT hospital grade/multi-user pumps. Filipino moms are not aware of the differneces of hospital-grade multi-user pumps and regular pumps.

During last week's lactation program presentation, we suggested the purchase of hospital grade multi-user pumps for the employees. The institution can then provide each pumping mom with 1 set of horns (to be taken from their medical allowance) and moms will just purchase extra sets of horns if they wish. However, one of the representatives objected and said that it was unsanitary to share pumps! I explained that it was going to be a hospital-grade multi-user pump but she still thought it was cleaner for each mom to bring her own pump. I thought it would be more practical (and cheaper for the moms) if the institution provides a hospital-grade pump in the lactation rooms since new moms need not purchase new pumps but would just need to get horns. However, I guess more *information* about hospital-grade pumps need to be shared in our institution.

Maricel shared though, that their hospital-grade pumps (Symphony) can only be used within the Medela House and cannot be rented out. I told her that it would be quite impractical with traffic and all. However, she said that it would be impossible for them to rent out the expensive Symphony pumps without a huge deposit. Requiring a huge deposit would be contrary to their objective of providing the hospital grade pumps, which is to give moms who can't afford the Pump-in-Styles access to a good pump.

I shared that when I used to rent my Ameda Elite abroad, the rental station required me to swipe my credit card and informed me that if I fail to return the pump, they will automatically charge the succeeding months' rental until I return the rental. The Medela Moms currently do not accept credit card purchases but this is something that they may want to look into once they start their rental station.

The Medela House, #29 1st St., New Manila, Quezon City (725-3723, 738-6272, 0917-5614366). Coming from Greenhills, it's before you reach Aurora Blvd. From E. Rodriguez, go past Auora Blvd. It's beside 8 Gilmore Place.

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