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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Milk Storage - Part II

Where to store milk:
1. Hard-sided containers, such as hard plastic or glass, are the preferred containers for long-term storage. These containers should have an airtight seal. Check here for tips on how to use glass containers for milk storage.
2. Choose containers that are bisphenol-A free --> not polycarbonate plastic.
3. Containers must have been washed in hot, soapy water and rinsed. People have been asking me if we sterilize the bottles. We don't have a sterilizer and rarely sterilize. Instead, I just pour boiling or hot water on the containers after they've been washed. We stopped doing this when Naima turned 1.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Milk Storage - Part I

As a working mom, knowing how to properly store milk was one of the very first thing I mastered. Properly storing milk is very important especially since I was not one of those moms who was able to produce 50oz or so of milk everyday. It is also important that the caretaker be taught how to correctly store, thaw, handle and feed expressed milk. During my August talk in Davao, one of the topics I focused on was milk storage. I made a summary of various guidelines I relied on in deciding how to store Naima's milk. I've had several inquiries about milk storage and recently learned about a donee having the throw away several ounces of milk because her pediatrician felt that the milk was improperly stored. So I decided to post the summary I previously compiled to help nursing moms avoid wastage.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Breastfeeding and Catholicism

Our Lady of La Leche from

In today's Philippine Daily Inquirer, there is an article about the Vatican approving breastfeeding photos or images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. In a predominantly Catholic country, having the Vatican's support breastfeeding is a major step towards establishing breastfeeding as an infant-feeding norm. In 2008, it was reported that the Vatican wanted more "“artistic and spiritual rehabilitation” of 'loving and tender images' of Mary breast-feeding."

In the Philippines, the group of Dr. Elvira Esguerra and Ms. Nona Andaya-Castillo has "commissioned the creation of a sculpture showing a full-breasted Virgin Mary in the act of feeding the Baby Jesus. The sculpture is expected to be completed next year and will show a 'humanized' Mary looking lovingly at the Baby Jesus as she feeds him, in the proper, 'full latch' breastfeeding position."

Interestingly, as early as 2000, there has been a group of Marian devotees who organized the Our Lady of La Leche Movement in the Philippines. I'm not quite sure where the image is housed and there doesn't seem to be any updates to their website. Still, it is heartening to read about the increasing acceptance of breastfeeding in the Philippines and to know about the support that various sectors have accorded it. Thanks to Claire for the article heads-up!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Don't Forget the Pump!

Welcome to the Carnival of Breastfeeding for December. I'm making my reappearance after missing the Carnivals for October and November. For this month's carnival, the theme is taking care of yourself during the holidays -- specifically tips for nursing moms on how to get reast & relacation during the holiday season and avoid becoming stressed, overtired and getting plugged ducts and mastitis. Please check out the other contributing writers linked at the bottom of this post.

For the holidays, my family usually goes to to cities - Cebu (Stan's hometown) and Davao (my hometown). These cities are about 1 hour and 1.5 hours away from Metro Manila and are 45 minutes away from each other by plane. Since we go home as a family only once a year, we have a list of relatives to visit and parties to attend (especially in Cebu).

I really don't have tips to cope with the schedule since I pretty much just tried to "wing it". I've seen 2 other websites with great tips which I'd like to share here and here. For me, however, one important (and painful) lesson I learned was to always bring my breast pump when on vacation. When Naima was about 3 months old, we went to Cebu to attend a wedding. At this time, Naima was exclusively breastfeeding so I didn't see any reason to bring my pump. Plus, we just pulled out from our nipple confusion troubles so I really didn't want to give Naima any bottles during our trip.

What I didn't expect was for Naima to change feeding schedules - she started feeding for longer intervals and I ended up getting engorged with plugged ducts! Naima nursed from me as much as she could but even then, I couldn't get everything out. I tried hand expressing unsuccessfully. I tried calling my first lactation consultant but she wasn't answering my texts/calls. I was eventually able to resolve the plugged ducts when we got back to Manila but hot compresses, pumping and taking lecithin. It really did hurt and I think I could've avoided this if I brought my pump.

This holiday break, I am trying to wean from the pump. I expect that Naima will be nursing but I'm hoping to stop pumping by year-end. So, I will still be bringing my pump to avoid any more plugged duct nightmares. Happy Holidays everyone!

Other Carnival Participants:
The Adventures of Lactating Girl: Breastfeeding and the Holidays

Friday, December 18, 2009

2009 Working Mom Balance Awards

I'd like to congratulate L.A.T.C.H. President Buding Aquino-Dee for winning the public service award at the 2009 Working Mom Balance Awards!

Public Service awardee Anna Lisa Dee, meanwhile, was honored for her breastfeeding advocacy as co-founder of the non profit group Lactation Attachment Training Counseling and Help (L.A.T.C.H.).

She works as a breastfeeding counselor, resource speaker and contributing writer to various “mom and baby” publications and web sites.

Dee is also a loving wife to her high school sweetheart Dudu and a doting mother to her children.

You can read the entire article here. Congrats Budge!

Monday, December 14, 2009

New WHO recommendations for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

I recently received an email from Alex, a WHO/UNICEF consultant in the Philippines. He shared that the World Health Organization just released new recommendations for pregnancy and breastfeeding in the context of HIV. Alex shares:
In line with several recent clinical studies that have demonstrated the efficacy of (anti retro viral) ARVs in preventing HIV transmission from mother to child during breastfeeding, the new guidelines call on all HIV-infected pregnant women to begin ARV treatment during pregnancy and for the mother or baby to continue ARV treatment for the duration of breastfeeding.
The new guidelines encourage HIV-positive mothers taking ARVs to exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first 6 months, introducing appropriate solid foods while continuing to breastfeed for the first 12 months of life.
WHO states that there is now enough evidence to support the use of ARVs while breastfeeding.
"We are sending a clear message that breastfeeding is a good option for every baby, even those with HIV-positive mothers when they have access to ARVs," said Daisy Mafubelu, WHO's Assistant Director General for Family and Community Health.
You can access the full text of the release here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nursing in the News

Just some interesting news I read about breastfeeding:

1. I'm always happy to read about celebrities who share that their babies are breastfeeding. Latest celebrity is Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio who shares that his 4-month old son is "only on breast milk right now, and even at night time, when he wakes up, you just stick a bottle in mouth or breastfeed him and he goes right back to sleep." I'm not too happy to read about him sticking bread or strawberries in his son's mouth though.

2. Meanwhile, Today presenter John Humphreys had been enjoying breastmilk with his morning drink. His co-worker, Rosie Millard, a former BBC arts correspondent had been expressing milk which she stored in a common fridge. Someone spiked Humphreys' coffee with her milk. Humphreys was unperturbed -- he had drank breast milk for the first year of his life.

3. Finally, I was really disturbed with the article that a breastfeeding mother may have accidentally smothered her infant during a United Airlines flight. The mom was on her way to Kuwait from Washington DC with her 4-week old baby smothered her baby while allegedly breastfeeding. Although United Airlines refused to confirm reports, almost all headlines related to this incident screamed "breastfeeding mother smothers baby". Experts were quick to point out however that it was not breastfeeding but rather sleepsmothering (falling asleep with an infant in arms) which put the baby at risk. I have to agree -- whether or not you were breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your baby, the danger lies in the act of falling asleep on your baby and NOT in the act of breastfeeding your baby.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Last Meeting of the Year for La Leche League Manila

La Leche League Manila will be having its last meeting of the year on 12 December 2009, 9-11a.m. at Mary the Queen Parish Hall, Greenhills. LLLI meetings are informal and not really breastfeeding classes. Each month, a LLLI leader usually takes charge and discuses a certain topic. However, attendees can ask any question or concern they may have about breastfeeding. There are usually experienced moms, pregnant moms and new moms in attendance. It's a great mix of moms with a variety of experience (from none to advance! :D). You can read about my experiences here.
This Saturday's meeting is special as it will be the last meeting of the year and LLLI will be having a potluck. If you would like to attend and meet other nursing moms, do get in touch with LLLI Leader Cris Rosenthal via email or 09178941099. Having the support of like-minded moms is one of the things that helped me successfully breastfeed and La Leche League meetings are great venues to meet other nursing moms in a casual setting.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


my little girl during her birthday weekend

My milk supply is going and it's a bittersweet time. Naima just turned 2 over the weekend. She still nurses at night but during the day, she is busy being a busy toddler. She has started school and goes for about 2.5-3 hours in the morning. She also does not drink milk anymore when she naps in the afternoon. However, when I come home from work, she still nurses - even if she just ate a snack. But I think that this session is more for comfort because she missed me during the day :).

I have been dropping pumps and now do only 1 session a day. Still, the milk I get is more than enough for Naima's needs - which is why by the end of this year, I am hoping to completely stop pumping at work.

What don't I miss about pumping? As I started dropping pumps, I've stopped watching the clock. I've also lessened the bottles and pump parts I bring to work daily. I've also started to enjoy a longer lunch break (no more quick eating to squeeze in pumping time!).

However, I miss the feeling of being the only source of nutrition for my little girl. She has become little miss independent and seems to need me less and less. Pumping has become part of my daily routine that I feel that my day isn't complete without the pumping session. Plus, I feel guilty about not being able to store milk for the day (although Naima never drank my frozen milk and I just ended up donating the milk I stored from my work day).

Naima's yaya told me that for the past week, Naima doesn't drink milk anymore when we are separated. She waits until I get home before she starts asking for milk. I still have lots of milk stored in the refrigerator and freezer. Since I stopped my early morning pump, I haven't been able to leave freshly expressed milk for Naima. So yaya has started to use the refrigerated milk. But she tells me that it's always a battle for Naima to drink the milk I leave.

One more thing that’s stopping me (aside from mommy guilt) is the requests for donations I get. So far, I have always donated milk to moms who have yet to produce milk. Lately though, I’ve started turning away some moms because, I simply do not have enough milk to give. But with Naima refusing to drink expressed milk, I think it’s about time I wean from the pump.

I have 3 pumps (1 for work, 1 for home and 1 for traveling) and they’ve been my very good friends these past 2 years. I’m very happy with my pumps performance but I won’t be sad to see them go. I initially just wanted to reach 6months of breastfeeding Naima – here we are, still nursing at 2. But I’m definitely looking forward to the end of this year when I can finally drop that last pump of the day, comfortably and without regrets.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday Naima!

Naima's turning 2 and I'm having a promotion and raffle on my online store to celebrate. Please check out Mama.Baby.Love for details. Meanwhile, we're heading out to the beach in the Visayas tomorrow for a yaya-less, family bonding weekend! :D

Monday, November 30, 2009

Stem Cells and Breastfeeding

Last weekend, my sister (who is almost 7 months pregnant) and I were talking about the advantages of cord blood banking. I had read about the benefits of cord blood banking in my ob-gyne's clinic. However, the costs were quite prohibitive. In my sister's case, their hospital's initial fee was P70,000 (about $1,500) plus yearly storage fee of P7,500 or (about $160) for the next 10 years. Stan and I decided to just donate Naima's cord blood to the public bank but even then, it was rejected since only very little was collected.
Our talk about cord blood banking reminded me of a breastfeeding benefits news which was published last week. In a study made by Dr. Mark Cregan at Medela (now you know why Medela pumps are expensive as they fund studies like this!), 3 types of stem cells were found in breastmilk -- the only adult tissue containing more than 1 type of stem cell.
In another article, Dr. Cregan emphasized and highlighted the differences between formula milk and breast milk.
“The point is that many mothers see milks as identical – formula milk and breast milk look the same so they must be the same. But we know now that they are quite different and a lot of the effects of breast milk versus formula don’t become apparent for decades. Formula companies have focussed on matching breast milk’s nutritional qualities but formula can never provide the developmental guidance.”
Wouldn't it be great if stem cells can indeed be harvested from breastmilk in the future and we won't worry about cord banking anymore?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Snappies in Use

If there is one good thing that came from Naima's breastmilk jaundice, it would be the snappies bottles I accumulated while being forced to pump while she was given liquid Enfamil. Snappies are innovative breastmilk containers which allows a mom to pump, store and feed (older babies) all from the same container. Please note however than for young babies, cup, finger or syringe feeding is recommended over bottle feeding. When I started using these containers almost 2 years ago, they only come in 2.3 oz. sizes. Now, they come in 1 oz. sized bottles as well.

So what do I love about these containers? Number 1 is the flip-top lid. The manufacturer's website describes the lid as follows:

The flip-top lid is conveniently hinged to the container, so you can open and close the Snappies Container with one hand without concerns about dropping or misplacing the lid. The lid locks back out of the way while in use, and closes with an exclusive audible “snap” to indicate an airtight, leak-proof seal.

That best summarizes why the flip-top lid is what I love best about my snappies containers! I don't have to worry about the lids being placed on an unsanitary office table or worse - getting dropped on the floor! My Snappies also fit my Lansinoh and Ameda pump flanges. They also worked well with my Medela Swing pump (before I sold it!).

The Snappies are also packed and sold as sterile and have a space where you can write pumping date and time. Although Snappies are meant for single use (thus the space to write information), they are made of durable plastic (not polycarbonate!), which is a food grade polypropylene material. Thus, to allow me to reuse my Snappies, I usually write information on a magic tape and stick them on the containers.

On the Snappies size - it can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the mom. I'm sure a lot of moms can relate when I say that not everyone is able to pump ounces and ounces of milk. This is not a matter of having no or little milk, but rather, the amount of milk you pump is dependent on the mom's storage capacity.

When I used them during the L.A.T.C.H. training, one of the moms (who was gushing with milk) commented they looked like milk test tubes. However, for someone like me, who has a small storage capacity, seeing the containers get filled up (even if they are small) is such a huge confidence booster! The most I was able to pump in my almost 2-year breastfeeding career is about 7 oz. (both breasts) and that happens when I skip 2-3 feedings or was unable to pump for 6 hours. My normal pumping output was 4oz. (now, it's down to about 2-2.5oz.). So, these Snappies containers fit my needs perfectly. I can imagine that the 1 oz. container will be very helpful for moms with preemie babies who are unable to latch on.

Anyway, I'm very happy to see that Snappies are now available in the Philippines. They are currently being sold by Janice over at Mommy Matters. I'm hoping to carry them in my online store soon. Watch out for them! :D

Here are my Snappies in use - filled and stored with other milk bottles, in my storage container ready for use and just filled with milk ready for storage.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What Would You Rather Hear?

I only started reading up on breastfeeding at about 8 months into my pregnancy. Even during that time, I was still contemplating what would be the best formula or bottle brand to buy. I had already purchased a Born Free Starter Kit but was very hesitant to buy a breast pump because I was unsure if I would be successful at breastfeeding.
Although I had been reading up and researching on breastfeeding, whenever someone asked me if I wanted to breastfeed my baby, I would answer: "Kung kaya" ("'If I can"). During the one and only child care class I attended (which included a 30-minute talk on breastfeeding) one thing emphasized by the lactation counselor was that breastfeeding should NOT hurt. Right after I gave birth, the hospital's lactation counselor likewise echoed and emphasized the same sentiment.
Last month, an article from Reader's Digest entitled "Call This Easy?" by Lucy Atkins was being circulated in my yahoo groups. The author raised a valid point which I think all lactation or breastfeeding counselors should consider:
"Of course, childbirth educators and health professionals do not want to put us off. But surely it would help if we were told beforehand that our breasts might not do what is expected of them; that it is common for boobs to ache, or block up, or get engorged, or nipples to crack; that our babies may not gain weight exactly as the chart says; and that in the first six weeks they may feed up to 12 times in 24 hours. To present us instead with a picture of erotic mother-infant bliss is, surely, setting us up for a fall?"
During the first 3 days in the hospital, I didn't feel any pain from breastfeeding. Two lactation consultants came to check out Naima's latch and my positioning and said that everything looked fine. We were discharged on Day 3.
On day 5, I went back to the hospital to attend a breastfeeding support group meeting. They charged $5 and I met with a lactation counselor and other moms who were also breastfeeding their babies who were months older than Naima. I have to say that this meeting did not help at all! One mom looked at Naima and commented "my baby was never that small"! Ummm.. duh.. she was a pretty big lady compared to me plus I knew for a fact that Asian babies were typically smaller than Caucasian babies. I asked the lactation counselor to check our latch again - which she did briefly and said everything looked fine.
I really didn't get much tips from there but it became a session where moms compared their breastfeeding experiences. At that time, I didn't realize that breastfeeding experiences varied from one mom to another and whenever Naima and I had a different experience, I would immediately think that we were having problems.
I have to agree with Lucy Atkins - breastfeeding experiences should not be sugar coated. If I had known that it was normal for breastfeeding to hurt (and it's not just being tender!!), then I would've have been more prepared. But - that's not to say that all breastfeeding moms will feel pain. Some moms don't feel pain at all, while others find that the "tenderness" is actually mind-numbing pain. I guess it also all depends on the level of pain tolerance that each mom feels.
Also, telling a mom that the baby needs to take in the areola is also not helpful. Some babies - mine included, just have really small mouths that it is impossible for them to take in a lot of the areola! For me, what helped is the thought that the pain is not going to be forever and that my breasts (and nipples) just needed some time to get used to being "sucked at".
However, discussion of pain, sore nipples, etc. should not be to the extent that new moms would be scared of breastfeeding. Moms just need to be given enough information not only of the joys and benefits of breastfeeding but also of the difficulties (pain included!) she might encounter. To end, I'm quoting Lucy Atkins again because I feel that she best sums up what new information new moms need to be given in preparation for breastfeeding.
"So yes, of course we need to be encouraged; and yes, we need to be told how valuable breastfeeding is. But we also need to know – in advance – how ''normal'' problems are. Antenatal realism might not solve the whole breastfeeding issue – it is too complicated for that. But it might help countless women feel better about themselves, whether they choose to continue or not. And that cannot be a bad thing, can it?"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Burn Those Calories!

Not a week goes by when I don't read about breastfeeding in the news. This week, it's all about the calories, fat and nursing moms. One of the benefits attributed to breastfeeding is the speedy loss of excess pounds gained during pregnancy. In fact, several Hollywoods stars from Angelina Jolie to Nicole Richie attest that breastfeeding has helped then lose weight. Ana Ortiz of Ugly Betty even considers breastfeeding as "nature's lipo". Not only that, more recently, Nicole Kidman shares that the curves she gained as a result of breastfeeding her daugher Sunday, helped her cinch parts calling for a "sultry beauty".

My own experience has been somewhat similar - I was able to squeeze back into my pre-pregnancy pants after about 3 weeks. One friend, Pepper who is still breastfeeding her 8-month old baby, swears that she weighs 10 pounds less than what she weighed before she got pregnant.

Indeed, breastfeeding has been attributed to helping moms burn off the pounds. However, in last week's Skin Deep column of the New York Times, writer Catherine Saint Louis focused on 2 studies with contrasting results. First was a 2008 Danish study which concluded that:
Breastfeeding was associated with lower post-partum weight retention in all categories of prepregnancy body mass index. These results suggest that, when combined with gestational weight gain values of approximately 12kg (26.45 pounds), breastfeeding as recommended could eliminate weight retention by 6 months postpartum in many women.
An earlier second study conducted in 2004 in Cincinnati, however, has a different finding:
Body composition changes occur differently in nonlacting and lactating women during the first 6 months postpartum (the study also found that non-lactating women loss whole body, arm and leg fat than nursing moms between 2 weeks to 6 months postpartum) and occur at some sites until 12 months postpartum regardless of previous lactation status.
I doubt that the findings of the second study will lead a mother to choose formula feeding over breastfeeding instead. Most of the mothers I've met who formula feed their babies WANTED to breastfeed their babies but weren't able to do so due to lack of support, low milk etc. etc.. I have to admit though that I did meet mothers who NEVER wanted to breastfeed their babies because they were too vain (they think nursing makes their breasts sag - untrue!) or breastfeeding just simply did not fit their lifestyle (I mean, how can you party when you have a baby waiting to feed from you at home) --> this is a topic for another post.

Anyway, even if I am still nursing Naima at 23 months, I have gained some pounds. I did go back to my pre-pregnancy weight but with my complacency at the thought of burning 500 extra calories while nursing, I've gained back pounds which I'm now trying to lose. I've held off dieting because I want my milk to contain all the nutrients Naima needs and I have this unfounded fear that dieting will lead to less milk production.

That said, I still WANT to nurse Naima (and my yet to be conceived children) even if formula-feeding moms lose weight faster than nursing moms. I breastfeed because it is best for my baby and not because I want to lose weight. I have to admit that although the Hollywood stars glamorize breastfeeding, they also put extra pressure on moms being able to go back to their pre-pregnancy figures. Much like breastfeeding relationships, each mom has a different body, different metabolism and will have different experiences at weight loss when breastfeeding. I think it WILL be a lot easier for moms (nursing or not) to accept that we are now mothers and it's more important to ensure that our babies are healthy rather than making sure that we go back to our pre-pregnancy weight.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shopping Time!

MamaBabyLove Bazaar
Originally uploaded by crazydigger
Mama.Baby.Love will be going to 2 bazaars this November!

First up is the ExpoMom Christmas Bazaar next Sunday, 22 November 2009 at the Rockwell Tent. Shopping will be from 10am-8pm. Will be bringing my nursing lingerie & accessories, baby carriers, crayons (rocks + stars), kiddie furniture, cloth diapers/bloomers, maternity tops and the Mother Tongue Collection.

Then on 30 November 2009, we will be at St. James the Great Foundation's Bazaar in Cuenca, Alabang. This time, we will be bringing everything including our nursing wear!!

Hope to see you there :D

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Act of Breastfeeding

*This article was written by Velvet EscarioRoxas, the deputy executive director of Arugaan pioneering mother support group. She is a breastfeeding counselor and breastfeed her two children, the youngest (whom she waterbirthed) is still breastfeeding. She is also an active parent of Kolisko Waldorf School. This article was published in Baby Magazine's November issue.

The child is a wonderful work of nature powered by intricately harmonious sense organs of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. From birth, the child explores his physical world through these different senses. Breastfeeding provides these necessary experiences. Breastmilk is the substance produced by the mother’s breast to feed her baby. Breastmilk can come either from the baby’s mother or supplied by another mother through donor’s milk. It can be fed directly from the breast or expressed milk through a cup, a bottle or another container. In breastfeeding, the child draws milk directly from the breast. The act of breastfeeding is the gentlest way to feed a baby.


For a child to stay healthy he must be active. The highest level of selfactivity is shown by a breastfeeding baby. The baby needs to exert more effort than if the baby simply sucks from a bottle. There is a difference between sucking and suckling. A baby sucks at the nozzle on top of a bottle, but at the mother’s breast a baby suckles.

Rather than simply squeezing milk out by sucking, breastmilk is extracted using rhythmic pressure, which strips milk from the ducts. Breastfed babies need to work harder to extract milk. This helps to strengthen the jaw and associated muscles and to encourage the growth of straight, healthy teeth. Development of the jaw and muscles at the front of the mouth will influence the later feeding patterns of chewing and grinding when solid foods are introduced. The mechanisms involved in feeding also provide practice for the actions of many of the fine muscles needed for clear speech and articulation later on. In other words, suckling is a precursor to chewing and chewing is a precursor to speaking.

Oral feeding that requires suckling, swallowing and breathing coordination is the most complex sensorimotor process that newborns undertake. These three actions works in synchrony and in rhythm.


Rhythm and life cannot be separated. Plants, animals and human beings all reveal rhythmical qualities in form, movement and growth patterns. Nature’s rhythm of day and night; the changing of seasons. Human’s biological rhythms of heart and lungs. The organs used for metabolism and digestion coordinate their functions to work together optimally.

Infant’s ability to regulate rhythmic functions is still undeveloped thus needing support and stimulation. The baby has to find new rhythms in sleeping and waking, in digestion and excretion. While a normal, healthy adult’s heart beats at a regular interval, a newborn baby’s heartbeat is faster and at times irregular. Its thermoregulatory system is immature and easily disrupted. Their fluctuations in body temperature, blood sugar levels, levels of various hormones and blood salts and other metabolic processes are not yet synchronized.

Just the simple act of breastfeeding protects the child, warms the child and keeps the child welladjusted by mimicking the rhythmic heartbeat of its caregiver and through constant skintoskin contact. No wonder, mothers who immediately roomin after birth creates an intimate motherinfant bond which decreases the incidence of abandonment, abuse and neglect by mothers, and infant’s failure to thrive. Thus, breastfeeding is a very direct way for both to experience that we humans need each other and are there for each other.

Infants learn rhythm from their mother’s heartbeat and rhythm from the suckling of their breast. Babies suckle follow a rhythm. When the milk flow increases, the rate of suckling decreases. When the milk flow is low, the rate of suckling is higher. This rhythm substitutes for strength. Any rhythmically repeated action takes less exertion and energy than a onetime action performed at an unusual time or under unusual circumstances. Babies who have slowly learned rhythm become more harmonized, more balanced.


Balance is not something that we automatically have but something that we learn to do. How is balance learned? Mothers know that slow rhythmic movements have calming effects on infants. Similar to the father’s gentle rocking of baby from side to side or a duyan’s rhythmic swaying. Balance is learned during the developmental milestones of turning, crawling, standing, walking, jumping and skipping.

The simple act of changing position from the left and right breast is an exercise of balance in a breastfed child. For a bottlefed child, a righthanded caregiver would always hold the baby in her left arm while holding the bottle in her right arm, hampering the child from learning balance which may affect the infant’s neurological organization in terms of eye and hand preference. The process of suckling also is also an exercise for monocular vision. Monocular vision uses each eye separately increasing field of view but limiting depth perception. When an infant suckles, the eyes also tend to converge, an important mechanism in the development of stereoscopic vision.

Combined with the nutritional content of breastmilk, a breastfed baby has better visual acuity. When the infant suckles from the right breast, the baby’s left eye is partially concealed by the breast. While his left arm is limited by the breastfeeding position, there is active use of the right hand and leg waving, stroking and even kicking. Thus the baby is inclined to the rightsided function of his brain. A reversed but similar thing happens when a child feeds on the mother’s left breast.

The hearing and balance apparatus are intimately connected as both reside in the inner ear. A bottlefed child’s recurring bout of ear infection will eventually lead to hearing problems which will eventually lead to problems with balance and movement. Vision and balance must learn to work together. Hearing must learn to support balance in helping the baby to locate sound in the environment. Touch and muscular awareness (kinesthesis) will eventually help the infant to have an inner awareness of its place in space, but none can work their magic in isolation. All five senses need to work in cooperation with balance to create a sense of harmony in the sensory system.

Breastfeeding gives children an edge in life. They are adequately nourished, have healthier bodies, stronger immune system, higher IQ, socially active and emotionally nurtured. By exposing the baby to its different senses, they have already been given a head start in education. The simple act of breastfeeding creates a child with a good sense of balance and whose rhythm in tune with natural vigor of life.


• A Guide to Child Health by Glöckler and Goebel

• Natural Childhood by Thomson

• The Well Balanced Child By Blythe

• Attention, Balance and Coordination by Blythe

• Breastfeeding and Human Lactation by Riordan

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

News: Maclaren Stroller Recall

We recently got Naima a Maclaren Triumph to replace her Mothercare Jive stroller which her yaya left in a taxi in Singapore. We were quite happy with it as it was light (even lighter than her Jive) and easy to manuever. We only got it in August 2009 and haven't really used it much as Naima now prefers to walk or be carried. Anyway, I just got this message in my email today and wanted to share it to other Pinoy moms. Maclaren is a very popular brand of stroller in the Philippines. This is actually a US recall and I'm still trying to find out how to get the repair kit here in the Philippines.
Update: The Philippine Distributor of Maclaren is
B.I.D. (Philippines) Enterprises
33 P. Martinez St Mandaluyong City Philippines 1550
Phone Number: 994-5675

I called today and although they have heard of this recall, they still do not have any advice from Maclaren UK (which supplies the strollers in the Philippines). Hopefully, they can provide a free repair kit to Philippine Maclaren users too!
Maclaren USA Recalls to Repair Strollers Following Fingertip Amputations

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: Maclaren Strollers

Units: About one million

Distributor: Maclaren USA, Inc., of South Norwalk, Conn.

Hazard: The stroller's hinge mechanism poses a fingertip amputation and laceration hazard to the child when the consumer is unfolding/opening the stroller.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm has received 15 reports of children placing their finger in the stroller's hinge mechanism, resulting in 12 reports of fingertip amputations in the United States.

Description: This recall involves all Maclaren single and double umbrella strollers. The word "Maclaren" is printed on the stroller. The affected models included Volo, Triumph, Quest Sport, Quest Mod, Techno XT, TechnoXLR, Twin Triumph, Twin Techno and Easy Traveller.

Sold at: Babies"R"Us, Target and other juvenile product and mass merchandise retailers nationwide from 1999 through November 2009 for between $100 and $360.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using these recalled strollers and contact Maclaren USA to receive a free repair kit.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Maclaren USA toll-free at (877) 688-2326 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm's Web site at

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Free Breastfeeding Class

This Saturday, 14 November 2009, L.A.T.C.H. will be conducting a breastfeeding workshop information at The Medical City from 9-12nn. This is a free class on a first come, first serve basis. Classes will be at the 4th Floor, Conference Room 1, take the entrance beside Starbucks. Topics include Breastfeeding Benefits, What to Expect in the First Week, Positioning and Latching, Back to Work and Busting Breastfeeding Myths. For inquiries, you can call TMC at 635-6789, loc. 6444. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Nursing Naima

Naima is 23 months today - one more month and it's that terrible two's period (not too terrible I hope :D). Stan and I keep talking how we miss a baby and that Naima is no longer one. She can talk - mix of English, Tagalog, Fookien, Mandarin and Bisaya (with some sign language!). And enjoys playing tricks on Stan and her yayas.
She has also lessened her expressed milk intake but still enjoys nursing with Mommy Jen. Naima likewise enjoys nursing her babies and here are some photos taken by her yayas while I was at work.
nursing baby nica

toddler nursing position - she's all over!

smiling for the camera

my favorite position! side-lying :D

She is growing up pretty quickly (and I can hear my mother-in-law in the background nagging me about another baby :D)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Making Over My Favorite Cartoons!

I'm an 80s child. My sister and I had our own favorite cartoon characters - mine was Rainbow Brite while hers was Strawberry Shortcake. We loved watching the cartoon TV shows and had cartoon dolls. Naima is starting to watch videos and one of the 1st videos I got for her was Strawberry Shortcake. To my disappointment, they've given SS a make-over! She's now this tall, skinny girl and not a cute cuddly little girl anymore! Same with Rainbow Brite! From the adorable, colorful kid, she's been transformed into a sexy chick!
What was wrong with the old Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake? And what message does this give young kids?! Luckily, my sister was able to save one of her old Strawberry Shortcake doll and Naima loves playing with the 23-year old doll! All the more reason to keep track of what she watches on TV and video!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Learnings from the Missions

Several breastfeeding missions have been organized over the past weeks and there were some lessons I learned

  1. No expectations

During my first visit at Pasig, we brought 1 cooler chest full of pasteurized milk. There were probably about 77 bottles there but we only used 3 bottles. All of the mothers we talked to (with the exception of about 3-4 mothers) were breastfeeding. Although some of them were mixed feeding, these mixed feeders were lessening the formula milk intake of their babies and were slowly going back to exclusive breastfeeding (due to lack of clean water).

The 3 bottles of milk were used not because there were babies who needed the milk but because they had been thawed and couldn’t be re-frozen. The breast milk was instead fed to toddlers who loved the milk!

During the drive organized by the Philippine General Hospital a week before, the group brought 2 cooler-chests of milk. But as reported by my co-LATCHer Mec, a lot of moms were already breastfeeding exclusively or mixed. Thus the thawed milk ended up also being given to toddlers.

Apparently, breastmilk drive was not of utmost importance but rather it was the information or encouragement to go back to exclusive breastfeeding that was needed by the moms at the evacuation centers. Moms who were exclusively breastfeeding also needed to be praised and protected as there were some ignorant donors who were donating formula milk (see next paragraph!).

  1. Just because they are an international organization doesn’t mean that they know what to do.

Going on breastfeeding missions is not included in the regular activities of LATCH. We are primarily a support group who counsel mothers. We were requested by a big international organization to work with them and the local government units to visit the evacuation centers as volunteers.

We were pretty new at this kind of thing so during our first visit, we were somewhat unprepared. We had our own transportation, made our own visuals and prepared our own giveaways.

For the second visit, we had more time to prepare and were able to make loot bags with laundry soaps, a child’s shirt and sanitary napkin, to give away. One of the LATCHers also prepared bihon for the participants. These may seem meager but money for these goods came from our own or our friends’ and families’ pockets -- and this was after most of us had donated to other civic organizations who earlier called for relief goods donations.

This international organization dictated the places we were supposed to go to. They even asked the volunteers to go to Sta. Rosa which is about 1.5 hours away from Metro Manila. Now, we are volunteer moms who have full-time jobs or run a business or take care of our houses. Some of the volunteers are community moms who need to work to put food on their tables for the next day. Thus, we asked that our transportation fees be reimbursed and that this international organization prepare the loot bags. For the community mothers, we asked that they be given at least P1,000 (roughly USD$20) for a day's work.

The international organization balked. Apparently, they had already given a huge amount to another international children's organization who had no clue about breastfeeding. This international children's organization, in turn, turned to various breastfeeding counselor groups, asking them to work almost gratis. And this international children's organization even had the nerve to suggest formula donations - when the numbers show that the exclusively breastfed children greatly outnumbered the formula-fed or mixed-fed babies! For the initial Sta. Rosa mission, the group agreed to go in exchange for transportation to be arranged by the international organization. They had also promised to prepare the goody bags but since we had been able to solicit and make 500 bags, we told them that for this mission, they just needed to prepare the transportation. Meeting time was 730am on a Saturday to allow the group to get to the site before 10am and be back in the city in the afternoon. 10am - and the group was still waiting for the non-existent transportation promised by the international organization!! Needless to say, the mission for that weekend was cancelled. The mission eventually pushed through about a week later but this time, the blinders were off and we knew and emphasized that this mission is by our group and not in partnership with any other organization.
  1. Don’t go without bringing anything

Finally, we learned that when doing the missions, we needed to bring goody or loot bags to the mothers. These moms lost almost everything and although they were not doing anything, by participating during the talks, they feel that they contributed something and needed to be "paid." During the first mission, it was quite chaotic since we brought whatever we could find - mix of clothes, bedsheets, toys, soaps and toiletries. The moms wanted to exchange what they received and kept comparing what their neighbors got. For the next missions, we knew better and prepared standard loot bags for the moms.

Most of the evacuation centers have been cleared out as the government has implemented a "Balik Probinsya" (return to the province) program. As a result, there were a couple of missions cancelled because the evacuees were no longer there or were too busy packing. With more typhoons predicted to come to the Philippines, I expect that we might be called to volunteer again in the future. Our experience with Ondoy has opened up our eyes to several realizations and prepared to us better for future missions. But for now, our organization has decided to move on and focus on our primary mission/purpose which is to counsel and support breastfeeding moms.

Friday, October 30, 2009

What I Wish I Knew Then

I missed the October breastfeeding carnival!! I think the deadline was just 1 week from the time the topic was announced. It was quite a busy week at work so I totally missed it. But given that the topic is very interesting AND there are a lot of realizations I continuously learn about breastfeeding, I still thought of making my own list (and hope to add to it as I go breastfeeding-wiser).
  1. You can never over-prepare for breastfeeding
  2. Just because a person is a pediatrician does not mean that they know everything about breastfeeding
  3. There is such a creature as a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician.
  4. There are formula-friendly lactation consultants.
  5. It DOES hurt at the start but it gets easier as time goes on.
  6. Formula milk is not equal to and WILL NEVER be equal to breastmilk
  7. Having a can of formula (or bottles of liquid formula) on the dresser gives you more temptation to mix or formula feed.
  8. A breastpump is not an essential breastfeeding gear.
  9. Other moms' breastfeeding experiences will vary from yours and it may not be helpful sometimes to compare.
  10. There IS breastfeeding support in the Philippines -- you just need to look for it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Night Nursing

Naima is almost 2 but her nursing sessions are increasing in frequency! During the day, she doesn't drink milk -- just around 80ml. We've weaned her from the bottle so she takes her milk from her straw cup. She's also now able to sleep on her own for nap times with yaya sitting on the foot of her bed with a Tagalog pocketbook.
But during weekends, it has to be Mommy Jen who has to put her to sleep! And she nurses a lot when we're together. She still doesn't sleep through the night -- boo! Now that she's articulate, it's "milk, Milk, MILK!" in the middle of the night -- not only that, she also insists on having the "o-der side, mommy jen".
I'm really think it's time for night weaning (at least on my part). We've already set up her crib beside our main bed and put her there when she turns in for the night. But after the first waking she always manages to climb up back on our main bed.
Lately, she has also been having night terrors -- she wakes up crying and can't be calmed down by nursing. I've been planning to stop pumping at work when Naima hits 2 but I think the night nursings are still here to stay.
*sigh* i miss my bed and i miss a full night's sleep!

Monday, October 26, 2009

All about L.A.T.C.H.

LATCH is a non-profit organization composed of " group of trained peer counselors offering mother to mother support and services, to take the guesswork out of breastfeeding." It began in 2006 with its 1st batch of 8 peer counselors trained by The Medical City pediatricians.

LATCHers conduct monthly breastfeeding workshops at The Medical City and regularly contributes to a breastfeeding column in Baby Magazine. LATCHers are also invited to become resource persons in talks and workshops in various malls, magazine launches and other similar events.

Early this year, the LATCH co-founders decided to expand its membership and conducted a second peer counselor training in March 2009. With the addition of new members, LATCH now has a wider coverage and has participated in more events.

In the works is a revamp of the LATCH website to include instructional videos by Dr. Jack Newman. A third training session is also being scheduled for 2010. LATCH is also working to add more breastfeeding classes in other major hospitals in Metro Manila.

What makes LATCH unique is that it is composed of volunteer moms with a myriad of talents and skills, who band together to plan, organize and volunteer for various activities and events. Unlike other groups, we each have our own businesses and employments. We also conduct our own fund-raising activities to make things happen.

Currently, LATCHers are busy with relief missions for the Ondoy victims. LATCH will be ending the year with its last breastfeeding basics workshop at The Medical City on November 14, 2009. LATCH is currently a beneficiary of Blissful Babes’ Mother Tongue collection. So please head on over to Made for Mama and purchase for a cause!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Purchase for a Cause

Blissfulbabes, a company owned by L.A.T.C.H. President Buding Aquino-Dee is turning 10 years old in 2010. They are celebrating with a bang and recently launched a line of Graphic Novel-Tees. The collection is called "Mother Tongue" because the graphics used feature the word "mother" in various languages.

So why am I promoting this? Not only because Buding is our President but more importantly, she will donate 20% of the sales to L.A.T.C.H.!! Hooraaaay!! This is very important since our upcoming fund-raising activity - the calendar project was pushed back.

October was supposed to be our marketing month for the project but the organization decided to focus our energies and resources to our breastfeeding missions in various evacuation centers housing Ondoy victims. We are supposed to have another fund-raising project but I'm not sure if our holiday photo project will push through since all the members are busy preparing for the holidays themselves.

So, in the meantime, please help us raise funds for L.A.T.C.H. by buying shirts from Blissful Babes “Mother Tongue” Collection. There are styles to suit every personality and age range so there is an appropriate one for your mom of choice. Shirts come in 4 designs with 2 print styles:



*photos courtesy of Blissful Babes Design, Inc.

You can check out Made for Mama for more information and pictures about the collection. The collection can be purchased soon from Mama.Baby.Love.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Finding a Breastfeeding-Friendly Pediatrician

Naima at 3 months at her pediatrician's office.
In one of my previous posts, I discussed how finding a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician is crucial in establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship with your baby. Apparently, here in the Philippines, this is much easier said than done. Ask any pediatrician and they will tell you that "yes, i am a breastfeeding advocate". Probe much further and you'll find where your pediatrician's "true loyalties" lie.
I asked a pediatrician-friend why a lot of pediatricians claim to be pro-breastfeeding but end up undermining the breastfeeding relationship instead. She shared that most of the time, pediatricians do not truly understand what it means to be "breastfeeding-friendly". For them, by suggesting that breastfeeding is best, they believe that they are already pro-breastfeeding. However, at the first sign of trouble, they cave in and give formula instead -- thinking that it is for the best.
Indeed, this is very disturbing and I had such an experience with one of the pediatricians my daughter and I visited. This pediatrician was highly touted to be a naturalist and breastfeeding-friendly. When I visited her, she told me that I had to wean Naima when she turns 9 months since she needed to be independent. I really got turned off and went to another doctor. Just recently, I heard that she told another new mom to "take a break from breastfeeding" because the new mom was having so many issues/problems with it.
However, I still have a LOT of breastfeeding friends who go to her -- and these friends are extended nursers. I've asked them about their experiences and they tell me that this doctor does not say anything about their babies still breastfeeding even beyond one. In my opinion, going to this pediatrician won't be a problem if the mom has a solid breastfeeding background, with a strong personality (no to independent life force at 9 months) and does not have breastfeeding issues and problems. Otherwise, I think the mom is better off going to a "true" breastfeeding advocate.
There have been several articles and posts written about how to find a breastfeeding friendly pediatrician. Instead of re-writing the tips, I decided to compile all the links here for mothers to easily click on and refer to.
  1. BabyCenter Philippines' tips written by L.A.T.C.H. President Buding Aquino-Dee are organized into steps moms can take and questions they should ask when interviewing a potential pediatrician.
  2. Best for Babes has a comprehensive list on establishing your "A-Team"
  3. Dr. Jack Newman also has a summary of things to watch out for to know that your pediatrician is NOT a breastfeeding advocate.
  4. Parenting.Ivillage has also devised questions based on the "Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding" developed by the WHO and UNICEF in 1990.
  5. You can also read this post by The Milk Mama where she described her experiences with a self-proclaimed breastfeeding friendly pediatrician who ended up threatening her nursing relationship with her son
Meanwhile, if you're a pediatrician or OB-Gyne wishing to establish a breastfeeding-friendly practice, you can check out the tips from Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition (pediatricians, OB-gynes) or download this list on how to establish a breastfeeding friendly practice from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.
I'm not going to recommend any one pediatrician who is breastfeeding friendly. Choosing a doctor for your baby is very personal and no one can make this decision for you. I highly recommend that moms do their homework, start interviewing and choosing their pediatricians even while pregnant to ensure that the pediatrician they end up with will not be a hindrance to the establishment of a successful breastfeeding relationship with their baby.

Monday, October 19, 2009

WABA Certificate

Sharing the certificate that we received from WABA in recognition of our participation in World Breastfeeding Week through our breastfeeding awareness festival.
So what has happened since then? Well, management has instructed the Space Allocation Committee to look for another lactation room in second building. Procurement for a refrigerator with a lock has started and I was able to email a comparison chart of what should be inside a lactation room to our space allocation committee to help them in identifying a proper room and making purchase requisitions for items to be procured for the rooms.
C and I really need to start working on the Lactation Policy. However, things have really been crazy and with the holidays coming I think we will have to postpone the implementation of the policy for next year.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Toddler Moms and Relactation

Since I joined L.A.T.C.H., I have received several inquiries connected with relactation. The ages of their babies vary from 1 month to 16 months. For a mom to successfully relactate, a lot of dedication, special strategies and medication is usually necessary. Thus, I always refer cases like these to the International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) in the Philippines. There are currently just 5 with a couple more applicants trying to complete their certification.

However, I also give the moms some reading materials on relactation so they know what to expect before they contact the IBCLCs. Here are some of the materials I share:
3. Idaho Public Health (PDF)

For moms with toddlers, however, I also advice them not to stress out about relactation anymore. As a toddler, it is more important for him/her to learn how to eat healthy foods and have a balanced diet. In fact, milk is gradually replaced by solids beyond the first year. In fact, some kids completely stop drinking milk by age 2 and get their calcium and other requirements from foods such as malunggay, orange juice, cheese and yogurt. In my previous post, I shared the thoughts of Dr. Francesca Tatad-To, on the importance of having a balanced and healthy diet instead of filling up toddlers with milk. Thus, the best advice I can share to moms with toddlers is to focus on their children's diet and making sure that they are fed with healthy nutritious food, rather than worrying and stressing themselves out with relactation.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Donating Breast Milk

Breast milk donations are very important not only during times of calamities (such as Ondoy) but also during ordinary days to help sick babies whose moms are unable to breastfeed. Aside from PGH, PCMC in Quezon City also has a pasteurizer and is likewise requesting for breastmilk from nursing mommies with extra milk.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mission Accomplished!

*This is an edited version of Velvet’s account.
Six nursing moms went on a breastfeeding mission to ULTRA (a sports arena) in Pasig City yesterday. Pasig City was one of the hardest hit in the typhoon Ondoy flood. Earlier that day, I went to UP-PGH-NICU's milk bank to drop off some of Naima's extra milk and pick-up the pasteurized milk that we were going to use for cup-feeding.
Dr. Zeka had informed me that ABS-CBN was going to be there to cover the pasteurization process. Since I was donating milk, they decided to do an ambush interview! (note the bad hair day!) I agreed to the interview hoping that more moms would donate milk to the existing milk banks. The need for breast milk exists not only during calamities such as Ondoy but also during regular days, to serve the requirements of premature and sickly babies whose mothers cannot fully provide breast milk. If you’re a nursing mom, click here to find out where you can donate your milk.
At the ULTRA Pasig, there were 2 areas (big gym and the covered court that housed the evacuees. We first went to the biggest gym, where there were about 120++ moms and babies including 1 mom who gave birth in the a public school (where they were formerly housed) with her 3 day old baby. Velvet tried to shower her with more gifts compared to the other moms because she was so touched by the baby and mom tandem. The new mom was still experiencing birthing pains and was crying from the pains. However, she was nursing her baby which was a happy sight.
We were very happy to observe that the moms there were mostly breastfeeding. One mom, who was mixed feeding, used to give her baby 5 bottles of formula per day. However, with the lack of clean water, she is trying her best to relactate and is now down to 2 bottles of formula per day.
We brought about 15 liters of pasteurized breast milk from the PGH milk bank but only 1.3L were thawed and used. Velvet was only able to cup feed a few kids. Initially, we were supposed to leave the extra milk for the public health workers to distribute. Since there was a blackout, we had to return the unused frozen milk to avoid wastage and allow other babies to benefit from it.
Since there was no electricity, it was a good thing that it was showering a bit outside to temper the heat. We could only imagine how hot it gets inside the arena at high noon! There was also no megaphone available so we had to shout out our message to the participants.
It was a team effort and as Velvet noted, there was great teamwork! There were 6 moms with an audience of more than 120. Happily, we survived. Judy had the bright idea of conducting a game of "Truths and Myths". With the assistance of Mec, they were able to encourage the audience to participate and ask their questions about breastfeeding. The moms were so happy to receive clothes and toys for their kids.
After the breastfeeding talk, we gave some goodies to the moms. To have more order and prevent the moms with their babies from getting too tired from lining up, Velvet requested that the team distribute soap, napkins, clothes to each and every mom who sat down patiently.
There was a group who wanted to give Bonamil and Nestogen to the evacuees. Eagle-eyed Atty. Booey alerted the group to this activity and she pointed it out to the Department of Health representatives. Dr. Del Rosario of DOH Pasig and Ms. Myrna of DOH-National immediately approached them and asked them NOT to distribute formula as what they were doing is against the law. It was very sad since the donors were doctors! However, they started distributing their goods when we left so I’m unsure if they still proceeded to distribute formula milk.
Two LATCHers, Jenny Medina and Mec Arevalo previously participated in the UP-PGH Breastfeeding Mission but for all the others (except for Velvet), it was our first time to be involved in such an activity. The Pasig BF Mission was a little difficult with its glitches but I believe that we survived it and completed the activity with flying colors!
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