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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.

SUCKLING AS A SELF-MOVEMENT

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 OF NATURE

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 OF THE SENSES

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.

REFERENCES:

• 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 www.maclaren.us/recall

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.
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