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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Birthdays and Blogiversary

Can't believe that it's been more than 1 year since I started this blog! My very first post was a compilation of breastfeeding support groups which I thought was very helpful especially to new nursing moms.   More than 100 posts later, I'm still up although not blogging as much as I did in the first couple of months.  From a high of 18 posts per month, I'm now down to a more manageable average of about 8 posts per month.  I'm happy to report that I've been included in a list of top ten breastfeeding blogs and I'm really appreciate all the emails and posts from readers saying how the blog has helped them or how informative the blog is.  
Naima is almost 2.5 years old and still shows no signs of weaning.. so this blog remains as chronicles of a nursing mom :D 
Aside from this blog, I'm sure a lot of readers know that I also have an online store, Mama.Baby.Love,  focusing on nursing moms - with several brands of nursing bras, clothes and accessories plus other fab, fun finds for moms and babes.  May is actually my online store's birthday month with my blogiversary being 2 months earlier.  
However, since I wasn't able to celebrate in March, I'm celebrating my 1st blogiversary with weekly give-aways for the whole month of May!!  Contests will posted every Saturday (that's May 1, 8, 15 and 22).  Here is a sampling of the prizes I have in store for my readers:

Instructions on how to join the contests will be posted every Saturday and will run for the entire week.  So make sure to visit and check out the contest for each week.  Meanwhile, back to regular programming :) 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Compilation of Breastfeeding Quotes

Received this compilation in one of my egroups from Judy of OnePlanetNoah. I thought of posting it in my blog so I can refer back to it whenever I need inspiration.

Top Ten Breastfeeding Quotes
1) A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three. - Grantly Dick-Read
2) While breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it is the best choice for every baby. - Amy Spangler
3) All I ever heard was everyone bitch about it, nobody ever said, 'You are not going to believe how emotional this is. - Jennifer Garner
4) I love that I'm someone special and that I feed him. I'm the milk cow! My theory is that nursing gives you superhuman powers. How else could I be doing all this when I'm usually a sleepaholic? - Gwen Stefani
5) There are three reasons for breast-feeding: the milk is always at the right temperature; it comes in attractive containers; and the cat can't get it. -Irena Chalmers
6) If a multinational company developed a product that was a nutritionally balanced and delicious food, a wonder drug that both prevented and treated disease, cost almost nothing to produce and could be delivered in quantities controlled by the consumers' needs, the very announcement of their find would send their shares rocketing to the top of the stock market. The scientists who developed the product would win prizes and the wealth and influence of everyone involved would increase dramatically. Women have been producing such a miraculous substance, breastmilk, since the beginning of human existence. -Gabrielle Palmer
7) It is only in the act of nursing that a woman realizes her motherhood in visible and tangible fashion; it is a joy of every moment. -Honore de Balzac
8.) People need to understand that when they're deciding between breastmilk and formula, they're not deciding between Coke and Pepsi.... They're choosing between a live, pure substance and a dead substance made with the cheapest oils available. -Chele Marmet
9) Breastfeeding is an instinctual and natural act, but it is also an art that is learned day by day. The reality is that almost all women can breastfeed, have enough milk for their babies and learn how to overcome problems both large and small. It is almost always simply a matter of practical knowledge and not a question of good luck. - La Leche League
10) People say, 'You're still breast-feeding, that's so generous.' Generous, no! It gives me boobs and it takes my thighs away! It's sort of like natural liposuction. I'd carry on breast-feeding for the rest of my life if I could. - Helena Bonham Carter

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Enough please!

Last month, it was all about Daniel Angerer and his breastmilk cheese.  This month, the spotlight is on Abi Blake who claims to be the Nigella Lawson of breast milk cookery. She has more than enough breast milk and sells breast milk cupcakes at various festival to customers who are intrigued by the novelty.  She has even developed a modest menu - from main course (lasagne) to drinks (fruit smoothie) to desserts (milk fudge) - where the main ingredient is her breast milk!  She claims to have gotten the idea during her stay in India where women regularly use breast milk in their cooking. She now regularly serves her breast milk dishes during dinner parties at her home, with vanilla breast milk cheesecake as her specialty.
Some comments in the article are just plain irritating and ignorant but seriously, I think serving food made out of breast milk to adults is just strange.  I have no qualms about serving food made out of my breast milk to my daughter or my niece.  But I believe that breast milk is for babies and there are other better uses for extra milk than making breast milk cheese or breast milk cupcakes for sale!  If you have extra milk, please choose to make food for YOUR baby or donate your milk instead.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

For Exclusive Pumpers

When I was a new breastfeeding mom with latching problems and contemplating exclusive pumping, I was told by one of the lactation consultants I met with that choosing to exclusively pump would lead to a short-lived breastfeeding career. As I grew older (in terms of breastfeeding years!) and wiser, I realized that it IS possible to exclusively pump long-term and I have developed a high regard for exclusively pumping moms.

My own sister-in-law exclusive pumped for 6 months for her son. I have known other mothers who have exclusively pumped for 1 year or more for their babies. There is even a group for exclusive pumpers (or EP-ers). When acquaintances and clients ask me if it is still possible to breastfeed exclusively even without latching, I tell them YES but it takes hard work. Exclusively pumping would mean pumping at least 8x a day, waking up at night even when your baby is asleep, purchasing and using a good quality pump and keeping to the schedule no matter what. I also advise them to read relevant websites and inspiring blogs.

Recently, an article about increasing number of exclusive pumpers came out in TIME. Tanya of the Motherwear blog pointed out some items that needed clarifying - such as same health benefits and bottle feeding issues. For moms who rarely pump and are able to be stay at home moms and directly nurse their babies, fiddling with the pump and taking time to pump and clean the paraphernalia is tedious and time-wasting. However, as a work-out-of-home mom who started with pumping 4x a day at work, I realized that once the routine is established, setting up and cleaning pump parts becomes automatic, leading to less time needed as mom becomes more practiced.

I do think agree with the article that a major reason for the surge in exclusively pumping moms would also be the wide availability of pumps and the marketing efforts by the pump manufacturers. And as emphasized by Tanya, good information and help is essential as well as support for moms who are contemplating exclusive pumping.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Breast Milk can KILL cancer cells

We all know that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and other types of cancer. But a study has come out showing that a particular component of breast milk can KILL cancer cells. Click here for an abstract of the study (Thanks Jenny Ang for the link!). The substance known as HAMLET was found to kill 40 cancer cells in laboratory experiments. As reported in this article:

Although the special substance, known as HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumour cells), was discovered in breast milk several years ago, it is only now that it has been possible to test it on humans. Patients with cancer of the bladder who were treated with the substance excreted dead cancer cells in their urine after each treatment, which has given rise to hopes that it can be developed into medication for cancer care in the future.

HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. Further studies showed that HAMLET comprises a protein and a fatty acid that are both found naturally in breast milk. So far, however, it has not been proven that the HAMLET complex is spontaneously formed in the milk. It is speculated, however, that HAMLET can form in the acidic environment of the babies´ stomachs. Laboratory experiments have shown that HAMLET kills 40 different types of cancer, and the researchers are now going on to study its effect on skin cancer, tumours in the mucous membranes and brain tumours. Importantly, HAMLET kills only cancer cells and does not affect healthy cells.

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg are focusing on how HAMLET can be taken up into tumour cells. The researchers, Roger Karlsson, Maja Puchades and Ingela Lanekoff, are attempting to gain an in-depth understanding of how the substance interacts with cell membranes, and their findings were recently published in the prestigious journal PLoS One.

Earlier, I read that long term breastfeeding is tied to more aggressive cancer. Although breastfeeding was reduces risks of cancer, it also stimulates prolactin which promotes tumor growth. BUT, the study authors themselves admit that "the relation between breast-feeding, prolactin and breast cancer is complex and not fully understood."
Women who breast-feed for six months or more face a higher risk of developing the most aggressive types of breast cancer, but it's not clear whether there's a cause-and-effect relationship, a new study finds.

Researchers also don't know if these women are more likely to die of cancer than others. Overall, breast-feeding is thought to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Aside from fight breast cancer cells and reducing cancer risks, breast milk was found to also fight acne with one of its component - lauric acid.

American scientists found that a component of mother's milk, called lauric acid, which also is found in coconut oil, had acne-fighting qualities.

They found the new treatment has no side effects because it comes from natural products unlike current available treatments which can cause redness and burning.

The miracles of breastmilk are really astounding - from health to aesthetic purposes, new benefits are continuously being discovered - all the more reason to call it liquid gold.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sparing the rod doesn't mean spoiling your child

When I was about 9 years old, my parents went to the US to "land" since my dad's immigrant application had been approved. They stayed for 1 month but decided to stay in the Philippines. While I was growing up, I kept asking them why they had to give up the "American Dream".
My mom believed that America was not a conducive place to bring up children. For one, there were a lot of bad influences. Second, child abuse laws were unreasonable and thus, as parents they could not properly discipline us. My parents believed in spanking using their hands or belts. I distinctly remember my maternal grandmother chasing after my siblings and with a broom when we were naughty. I also remember being punished by kneeling on monggo seeds (somewhat like quinoa but hard) in a corner.

According to a recent study I got from one of my egroups, spanking children leads to aggressive behavior when they are older.

The results reinforce earlier studies which have found that children who are spanked have lower IQ scores and that frequent spanking has been linked to anxiety and behavior problems and higher risk of violent or criminal behavior, depression and excessive alcohol use.

Researchers surveyed 2,500 mothers across the United States.

Nearly half said they had not spanked their three-year-old in the past month, while 27.9 percent said reported one or two spankings and 26.5 reported spanking more than twice.

Two years later, the mothers who had spanked their children more frequently reported higher levels of aggression such as arguing, screaming, fighting, destroying things, cruelty or bullying in their five-year-olds.

The results held true even when researchers accounted for potentially confounding factors such as the presence of aggression within the family and parental stress, depression and drug or alcohol use.

"There are ways to discipline children effectively that do not involve hitting them and that can actually lower their risk for being more aggressive," said lead author Catherine Taylor of the Tulane University School of Public Health.

"So the good news is, parents don't have to rely on spanking to get the results that they want," Taylor said in a press release.

"If they avoid spanking but instead use effective, non-physical types of discipline, their child has a better chance of being healthier, and behaving better later."

Even before this study came out, professional organizations like the American Academy of Pediatricians discourages corporal punishment. However, it was reported that as may as 90% of parents spank their children.

Here in the Philippines, spanking is considered normal in the course of disciplining your child. However, more young parents are eschewing spanking for time-outs. When Naima was a newborn, Stan and I talked about how to discipline her and agreed that spanking wouldn't be an acceptable punishment for either of us.

Naima is now a busy toddler at 2 years and 4 months. I don't know if she is exceptionally well-behaved or if Stan and I just have a lot of patience but she has never been spanked at all. When Naima misbehaves, I usually tell her "If you don't behave I will call your dad" and Stan does the same thing vice-versa. If that doesn't work, we tell her that we will withhold her favorite activity if she doesn't behave. And when she throws a tantrum, we pick her up carry her and ask her do you want mom or dad to cry also? She normally doesn't so she stops crying and listens. Another approach we find effective is to distract her with a toy, a song, flying objects (she loves airplanes, balloons and helicopters).

At this time I am happy (and lucky) that Naima understands and already has a sense of what is right or wrong. This makes discipling her a lot easier without the spanking or a lot of tears. I'm not sure how this will work if Naima becomes a tween or a teenager or if we have a boy for our second child. I still need to check out those parenting books, after all.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Breastfeeding Rooms in the US

Hot on the heels of our own Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 is the US' health care bill recently signed into law by President Barrack Obama which includes provisions on providing non-toilet rooms for pumping moms.

According to CNN, in page 1239 of the health care bill that President Obama recently signed into law, employers are required to provide "a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk." [The local counterpart would be lactation stations mandated by Republic Act No. 10028, which are "private, clean, sanitary, and well-ventilated rooms or areas in the workplace or public places where nursing mothers can wash up, breastfeed or express their milk comfortably and store this afterward" and shall not be located in a toilet.] Noticeable is the fact that the authors of the law have realized how unsanitary it is to express milk in the toilet, yet so many working moms end up doing so because of the lack of available facilities.

However, depiste the grant of the breastfeeding station, the rights given to nursing moms by the law is still limited. Among the limitations enumerated in this New York Times blog are exemptions for companies with less than 50 employees [if company can show undue hardship], no guaranteed pay for time spent expressing milk and no requirement for access to a place where expressed milk can be stored. Also, there is an upper limit that the reasonable break time is only for employees nursing her child for 1 year after birth. I think the upper limit is based on the American Academy of Pediatricians' recommendation to breastfeed babies up to 1 year. But some moms, like me, continue to do so even after their babies turn one. In my case, I continued to express milk for Naima at work until she turned 2 years old. So does this mean that women who continue to breastfeed their babies beyond 1 year are no longer given reasonable break time to express milk for their toddlers?

I'm glad to note that our own law defines a nursing employee as "any female worker, regardless of employment status, who is breastfeeding her infant and/or young child (who is defined to be a child up to 36 months old). Also, the exemption for employees do not specify any number of female employees. Rather it is whether the establishment of the lactation stations "is not feasible or necessary due to the peculiar circumstances of the workplace or public place taking into consideration, among others, number of women employees, physical size of the establishment, and the average number of women who visit." I'm not sure if this is a better provision as it would depend on how the implementing rules and regulations will be construed.

In any case, having the requirement of breastfeeding stations clearly written in law is a major step. Hopefully, a detailed lactation program will be set-up in my workplace by the time I have my second baby.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Breastfeeding Numbers

It all boils down to numbers.

MarketMan recently did a post on income/poverty levels in the Philippines and painted a pretty dismal picture.
Essentially, based on Pulse Asia’s classifications, they estimate that categories “A/B/C” make up just the top 7% of all families in the Philippines, while another 67% fall into the “D” category, and 26% are in the “E” category.
He estimates that a decent lower-middle class existence in the Philippines for a family of 5 costs about P50,000 or about US$1,080.00 (that's $216 per person per month!). He also presents a picture of how much Filipinos are earning per month from P122K for the top 1% to P2,667 for the bottom 10%.

Meanwhile, according to Nielsen, Mead Johnson spent $2M in 2008 and $4M for the first 8 months in 2009 for media, excluding online efforts or direct marketing. I stumbled upon a Twitter post from Elita showing how much Mead Johnson earns from formula sales in third world countries, which includes the Philippines!

The $2.83 billion company gets about two-thirds of its sales outside the United States and its Enfamil brand was the global leader with 11.7 percent of the $22.3 billion baby formula market in 2008, the last year a ranking is available, according to Euromonitor International.

The company is gaining market share in China and is also in a host of other emerging markets, including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. It is starting to move into India.

Formula is used much less widely in emerging markets than in the United States. In China, children ages 0 to 3 years consume about 8.8 kilograms of formula a year, according to Euromonitor International. In India, that figure is only 0.4 kilograms, while in Brazil it is 1.6 kilograms. That compares with 12.9 kilograms in the United States.

A recent study published early this week in the US talks about how U$13 billion could be saved yearly if breastfeeding recommendations were properly complied with. Apparently, there was an ABC News report which presented an unfavorable view of the study.

Interestingly, although the study presented estimates, it was well-supported by experts.

"The health care system has got to be aware that breast-feeding makes a profound difference," said Dr. Ruth Lawrence, who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics' breast-feeding section.

The findings suggest that there are hundreds of deaths and many more costly illnesses each year from health problems that breast-feeding may help prevent. These include stomach viruses, ear infections, asthma, juvenile diabetes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and even childhood leukemia.

The magnitude of health benefits linked to breast-feeding is vastly underappreciated, said lead author Dr. Melissa Bartick, an internist and instructor at Harvard Medical School. Breast-feeding is sometimes considered a lifestyle choice, but Bartick calls it a public health issue.

What is disturbing is the goal of Mead Johnson to increase its market share outside the US - where legislation and enforcement of laws protecting breastfeeding and the implementation of the International Code of Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes is not well established. Actually, I don't see advertisements promoting formula for babies 12 months and below. But for children 1 year old and above, formula companies have bombarded parents with studies, ads by "experts", celebrities etc. In fact, one breastfeeding friend still nurses her 3 year old at night but gives him Enfagrow (a product of Mead Johnson) during the day while she is at work. Companies have realized that formula for toddlers is a huge market here and have exploited this segment, despite the fact that formula milk is no longer required for toddlers.

It makes me wonder how supporting our own Philippine Pediatric Society is towards breastfeeding. Almost all the pediatricians I know give out baby books printed by formula companies. It is certainly quite sad especially when you see the startling differences between the numbers showing poverty levels in the Philippines as compared to the advertising expenses of Mead Johnson.

Family Vacation

Had an excellent family vacation over the weekend. Still on vacation mode and looking forward to another long weekend this Friday! Meanwhile, sharing a video and a photo:Naima, walking outside the villa balcony

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sagging Boobs and Nursing?

Finally, a study entitled Breast Ptosis: Causes and Cure which will come out in the Annals of Plastic Surgery confirms that sagging boobs are not caused by breastfeeding. At every other L.A.T.C.H. lecture, there is always a pregnant mom who will ask whether breastfeeding causes sagging breasts. Just last Saturday, when I was sharing my breastfeeding experience during a Parenting 101 class, I was again asked the same question. I usually just reply that sagging breasts are caused by pregnancy and by genes.
In this study, experts state that significant risk factors for sagging breasts would be age, history of significant (more than 50 lbs) weight loss, higher body mass index, larger bra cup size, number of pregnancies, and smoking history (everyone should really stop smoking!). The authors also clearly state that "history of breast-feeding, weight gain during pregnancy, and lack of participation in regular upper body exercise were not found to be significant risk factors for ptosis."
So much for that old wives' tale and now, I have something to back me up when I tell pregnant women that sagging breasts are NOT caused by breastfeeding! :)
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