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Friday, September 25, 2009

What to Expect During L.A.T.C.H's Best Beginnings Class

Despite having given a presentation during a breastfeeding event with 500+ moms and organizing a breastfeeding awareness festival at work, I had yet to participate in L.A.T.C.H.'s primary activity - the monthly free breastfeeding class at The Medical City. I began my training to be a LATCH peer counselor in March 2009. Since then, there had been about 5 monthly classes. However, I was always either out of town or had other family commitments. Finally, I was able to volunteer during the September class.
As expected, I was tasked to talk about the "Returning to Work" presentation. Since only 2 LATCHers volunteered to present, I was also asked to present the "Breastfeeding Treasures". Judy, my partner that day, discussed what to expect during the first week and breastfeeding myths.
There are several breastfeeding classes held by various individuals. What makes the LATCH class unique is that it is very light and spontaneous. It is also the only class which is held at a hospital and includes the participation of pediatricians. However, it doesn't mean that you need to deliver at The Medical City in order to attend the free class.
During the September class, we were graced with the presence of our pregnant President, Buding, who began the class with a brief introduction of LATCH as an organization - our vision, mission, goals and activities. I was up next, with a short game of Breastfeeding Treasures - which invited couples to identify the benefits of breastfeeding. It was my first time to do the benefits and I was really nervous. It was an interactive presentation, with prizes to boot! Luckily, I was assisted by my fellow LATCHer, Jenny (who was a veteran in attending the classes). I had my break when Judy talked about getting started - what to do before giving birth, what books to read, and how to prime yourself to breastfeed. Judy also discussed the early days -- which are the most challenging days for 1st time parents! This presentation was super helpful since it shows parents how to find an answer to their biggest concern --> is my baby getting milk?
We also showed a Breast Crawl filmed by UNICEF in India. We also have a breast crawl video filmed in Fabella Hospital - which I thought was more poignant and heartwarming. However, due to some technical problems, it would not play on the computer. Hopefully, this technical issue will be resolved in the upcoming classes.
After a short break (with yummy snacks), we broke off into small groups for LATCH's signature break-out groups. During this period, a group of 4-5 couples will be working with 1 LATCH counselor, who will show them how to properly position and latch their babies. This session is complete with props and is more intimate, allowing couples to participate in the discussions.
We went back to the classroom set-up after the break-out groups session. Since our time was limited, Judy and I had to breeze through returning to work and breastfeeding myths. During my presentation, I discussed how working moms can still continue providing breastmilk to their babies even while they are at work, how to maintain their milk supply and how to store their milk properly. Judy then busted several breastfeeding myths which still persist despite the promotion of breastfeeding awareness.
A pediatrician from The Medical City, Dr. Christina Bernardo discussed the history of formula milk in the Philippines. She was also able to address several concerns and respond to the questions of the expectant couples.
The LATCH class was not limited to first-time parents, some participants were 2nd and 3rd time parents who were not successful in breastfeeding their other babies. I was happy to see that they were still interested to learn and perserved to succeed in breastfeeding their coming babies.
Free breastfeeding classes such as this one should be staples in hospitals throughout the country. Various hospitals are now coming up with their own wellness or education classes on healthy living, women's health, geriatrics -- why not one on breastfeeding?
I'm currently in talks with a pediatrician to organize a similar class in another hospital in the Manila area. Since Dr. S is very very busy, she hasn't had time to lay down the administrative groundwork for her hospital. I'm really interested in volunteering for classes in this hospital since this is much closer to my house than The Medical City. Hopefully, by 2010, monthly breastfeeding classes will already be organized, not only in this Manila hospital but in more hospitals in other parts of Metro Manila.

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