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Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Holidays from Chronicles of a Nursing Mom

I'd like to share this painting entitled "Savings in a Bao" by Norma Belleza from my employer's painting collection.

This was used by Claire's group for their Christmas card this year. As Claire shared, "the culture of breastfeeding and culture of saving are both depicted in this wonderful work of art." Thank you for posting this Claire! As Dr. Mianne says, truly the art of breastfeeding!
Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

HMO and breastfeeding friendly pedias

The search of a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician is a challenge to every nursing mom. No pediatrician will say that they are not breastfeeding friendly. Instead, it is up to the mom to find out if their pediatrician is REALLY an advocate or a "poser". This is why I highly recommend that moms (and dads!) interview prospective pediatricians for their children as early as the second semester of pregnancy. Instead of being limited to the partner of your ob-gyne, why don't you take time to determine if Dr. xxx will be match for your family. You can check tips in my previous post on finding a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician.
If finding a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician is already a challenge, much more so is finding one that is accredited with a health care or health plan. One of my office perks is a health plan for my beneficiaries (e.g. Naima and Stan). However, I was limited with my choice of doctors, as my preferred pediatricians for Naima were not included in the plan. I asked a doctor-friend why it was so difficult to look for a good doctor who was accredited with a health plan. According to her, health plans do NOT treat the health providers well, which is why a lot of preferred doctors are not included in the "accredited doctors" list of your health plan. Doctors get paid merely P150-P200 pesos per consult! After four years of medical school plus another 2-4 years of specialization, what doctor will agree to P150-P200 pesos per hour?! Perhaps new doctors who have yet to build a "patient base" would do so?!
So what do I do? I still go to my preferred doctors and pay out of pocket. But I also maintain a "health card accredited" pediatrician so in case Naima needs to go through a procedure, I can get a referral from the accredited pediatrician so the procedure is covered.
That said, my sister was quite lucky to have found a health care card accredited pediatrician who was breastfeeding friendly. However, one disadvantage here is the queue and the waiting time - which is anywhere from 1.5-3 hours! Luckily, they live near the doctor's clinic and are able to go home after getting a "waiting number".
Anyway, if you are still in search for a breastfeeding friendly pediatrician, L.A.T.C.H. has compiled a list. Please don't ask for xxx health plan or health card accredited pediatricians though as L.A.T.C.H. does not have that. Instead, just be resourceful, call the doctor's clinic and ask them directly if they are accredited.
Kindly note that list is not being published as it is constantly being updated, after receiving reports or feedback from moms who have been referred to these listed doctors. You can email L.A.T.C.H. though and ask for a list of breastfeeding friendly doctors in your preferred hospital/clinic to be emailed to you. L.A.T.C.H. however asks that you do not publicize the list emailed to you for reasons stated above. Instead, if your friends or relatives ask you for referrals, you can just refer them back to L.A.T.C.H. so an updated list can be emailed to them.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Milk Banks, Milk on Motorbikes and BPA-free bottles

Benz' milk stash for Laya

Remember the FB milk sharing group Eats on Feets (we have a Philippine chapter!)? Well, it has gotten both praises and criticisms. But the good thing about this is that it has made the US FDA sit up and take notice of the dearth of milk banks in the USA. Locally, the main milk bank we have is that of UP-PGH while other milk banks available are the PCMC and Fabella (where you can buy breastmilk for P200 per 200ml. Check out my post about milk banks in the Philippines here.
Dr. Jessa Sareno of the UP-PGH milk bank has raised that sometimes they have mothers who are willing to donate but are unable to bring their milk to UP-PGH. I'm sure she'd be interested in this news about volunteer bikers transporting milk for the National Health Service in the U.K. Wonder if any of our local biker groups are willing to take on this advocacy?
Finally, Massachusetts is the newest addition to the list of US states to ban BPA in bottles. Canada was the first country to ban BPA, followed by the European Union. Are you using bottles to feed your baby? Have you checked if they are BPA-free?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ideal Workplace Lactation Room

My office already has 2 lactation rooms. Although they are not our ideal rooms, we're happy that management took time and resources to outfit our office with 2 rooms. We are working towards the
establishment of a third room in another building. Sometime in June, a reader, Bing emailed me and shared that her office will be moving to a new location with a lactation room and she was being given to opportunity to "outfit" the room on behalf of nursing moms! Lucky her!
In one of my email groups, the moms came up with a wish list of items they want in their lactation rooms. I chose my own wish list and split it into needs and wants

Friday, December 10, 2010

Naima's Triple Treats!

My online store is having a promotion for Naima's 3rd birthday. Last 2 days remaining. Please read promotion details HERE. Just a reminder - we will closed from Monday, 20 December 2010 until Monday, 3 January 2011. Orders must be completed by Sunday, 19 December 2010 for shipping on Monday, 20 December 2010. We will re-open on Tuesday, 4 January 2010. Happy holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Physicians vs. Breastfeeding

It has more than 1 year since I started volunteering as a breastfeeding peer counselor. A common complaint I have received from moms who were having breastfeeding problems is the lack of support from their pediatricians. Just recently, I received a complaint from a mother who gave birth at a hospital along Edsa sometime in June 2010. She shared that as soon as she gave birth, her husband was ordered to buy Enfalac A+ (the doctors specified the brand!), without any consultation or concern on their preferred feeding. The mom was also not instructed or advised on latching her baby. What's worse, it took 2 nights before her baby was roomed in. She had been constantly requesting that her baby be roomed in but was rebuffed by the nurses. One nurse even told her that she might regret her request to room in because she can't send her baby back to the nursery! Further, her ob-gyne and pediatricians did not offer any advice on direct breastfeeding and instead told her to use a breast pump. The pediatrician also issued an order directing them to feed the baby 1 oz. of Enfalac A+, every three hours!
I am really appalled by the ignorance and the audacity of her doctors to recommend formula AND specify a brand of milk! Mead Johnson must be paying their marketing people really well!

The experience of these parents are not uncommon in the Philippine setting. In fact, based on the numerous complaints and stories I've heard, this experience is a "norm" in our local birth setting. The parents are hell-bent on filing complaints against the physicians and hospitals. I've given her options of what steps she could take and sharing these steps here for other interested parents.

First, even before you go to the hospital, print a copy of this Department of Health Press Statement released on 21 May 2010, entitled "DOH Releases Guidelines on Physicians on Breastfeeding" Salient points of the guidelines would be:
Responsibilities of Physicians:
  • Counsel pregnant women on the merits of breastfeeding starting at the first encounter, and reinforced with every subsequent visit;
  • Prescribe non-human milk only when there are valid medical reasons and with information on the inherent hazards and risks of non-human milk;
  • Strongly advocate for the adoption of essential newborn care, rooming-in and breastfeeding standards as mandated by law.
Prohibitions on Physicians:
  • Accepting gifts or any sort of material or financial inducements from manufacturers of breastmilk substitutes and other products covered by the Milk Code;
  • Accepting samples of non-human milk or similar products unless approved by the DOH, nor giving out samples or gifts of any sort coming from milk companies to pregnant women, mothers, and members of their families;
  • Displaying, promoting or distributing non-human milk and other breastmilk substitutes in their offices or clinics.

Second, read up and be aware of the Essential Newborn Care Protocol which lists down 4 steps that need to be immediately undertaken to prevent newborn deaths which INCLUDES non-separation of newborn from the mother for early breastfeeding initiation. Check out this slideshow being used in the trainings and promotion for the ENC, prepared by Naima's pediatrician, Dr. Mianne Silvestre. Meanwhile, you can download Administrative Order No. 2009-0025, Adopting New Policies and Protocol on Essential Newborn Care HERE.

If you have been placed in a situation where your doctors refuse to listen and insist on giving formula and want to complain, then make sure you get a copy of their WRITTEN order, prescribing the artificial milk. Often, parents are berated by doctors when they insist on breastfeeding - and usually, parents don't argue (because as a culture, we, Filipinos are raised to believe that doctors are intelligent, always right, etc - and in fact, it is a common refrain/hope for parents to wish that their kids become doctors!!!). Once you have a copy of that written order, keep that for further action.

First step would be for the parents to write a complaint letter to the head of the hospital where you gave birth - include the particulars - name of the doctor, date, incident report AND a copy of the prescription. Don't forget to state your rights as provided in the ENC and DOH Protocol and Press Statement above.

Then, you can proceed to file a complaint against the doctors with the Philippine Medical Association. Call 929-6366 to check if the doctors are members of the PMA. If they are, write a notarized letter of complaint with supporting documents addressed to Dr. Nimfa Baria, Chairman, PMA Commission on Ethics and mail or personally deliver the letter to 2/F PMA Building, North Avenue, Quezon City. You can also file a complaint with the Professional Regulation Commission with the procedure outlined HERE. You can also file a complaint against the hospital with the Department of Health's Center for Health Development. You can download the flowchart of how to file a complaint HERE.  (*The links to CHD are broken.  You can access their Facebook page instead.) 

I would like to emphasize that filing a complaint means that you are serious and willing to follow through. It is not simply submitting the letter but you must be willing to testify during hearings if deemed necessary by the decision makers. I know that this will entail a lot of time and effort from the parents but steps like this will definitely make a huge impact in reforming the physician culture in the Philippines and hopefully, make it more breastfeeding friendly.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Milk Code Violations

UPDATE 1 September 2012:

The Department of Health has launched an online portal where you can report Milk Code violations! Visit this page:

Last Tuesday, I read about how religious organizations and the UNICEF teamed up in an effort to promote exclusive breastfeeding in the Philippines. I'm glad to read that these organizations recognized that their goal of improving lives and welfare of children can be done "by supporting the national breastfeeding policy as a means to improve child survival and nutritional status."

Despite policies and efforts by various groups in promoting and supporting breastfeeding, success is not easily attainable due to the marketing efforts and machinations of milk companies. Let me share with you two photographs from local supermarkets of blatant Milk Code violations:

As fellow mompreneur Jane says, here's what you can teach your toddler - "ARTIFICIAL MILK" - point out the words written on the can, "Breastmilk is best for babies up to 2 years and beyond." Help him write them down on that piece of paper to help him make better progress :D
This one was taken by breastfeeding advocate Velvet. The sign on the photo says" WE WELCOME CHILDREN BELOW 7 YEARS OLD WHEN ACCOMPANIED BY THEIR PARENTS OR GUARDIANS." After taking the picture, she saw a child (about 9-11 months old) with her dad, taking a sample for her to drink. Check out the little boy on the right side of the picture - potential captive consumer for Nestle?

Let me again emphasize the need for volunteers to police and report Milk Code violations. There are groups who do this but they need all the help they can get. Violations are just so numerous that sometimes, we think they are already the norm.

If you want to know how to report violations, check out this previous post.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Do we need HB3527?

About 2 weeks ago, I read an article in the Manila Bulletin about 2 solons filing a bill to encourage breastfeeding in the workplace. I didn't pay much attention to it because what was quoted in the news was already covered by Sen. Pia Cayetano's Expanded Breastfeeding Act of 2009. Last week, a researcher from Unang Hirit contacted me and asked me about this new bill. I asked her to send me a copy so I could compare the two bills.
The new bill filed by Malabon City Rep. Josephine Veronique R. Lacson-Noel and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez is HB3527 or The Breastfeeding Act of 2010. HB3527's history shows that it was filed on 14 October 2010 and is currently with the Committee on Health as of 15 October 2010. According to the news, the main provision is "the mandatory creation of lactation facilities in all offices, both public and private, where nursing mothers can feed their children even during working hours".
However, let me quote Section 11 of Sen. Pia's bill:

"Sec. 11. Establishment of Lactation Stations. - It is hereby mandated that all health and non-health facilities, establishments or institutions shall establish lactation stations. The lactation stations shall be adequately provided with the necessary equipment and facilities, such as: lavatory for hand-washing, unless there is an easily-accessible lavatory nearby; refrigeration or appropriate cooling facilities for storing expressed breastmilk; electrical outlets for breast pumps; a small table; comfortable seats; and other items, the standards of which shall be defined by the Department of Health. The lactation station shall not be located in the toilet.

In addition, all health and non-health facilities, establishments or institutions shall take strict measures to prevent any direct or indirect form of promotion, marketing, and/or sales of infant formula and/or breastmilk substitutes within the lactation stations, or in any event or circumstances which may be conducive to the same.

Apart from the said minimum requirements, all health and non-health facilities, establishments or institutions may provide other suitable facilities or services within the lactation station, all of which, upon due substantiation, shall be considered eligible for purposes of Section 14 of this Act."

Doesn't that provision already cover the creation of lactation facilities in all offices? I checked HB3527 again to check other differences. I noticed that HB3527 is a mish-mash of both the Expanded Breastfeeding Act of 2009, The Rooming-in and Breastfeeding Act of 1992 (R.A. 7600) and even the Milk Code!

The novel provision I found in the proposed House Bill is that nursing in public is not indecent exposure:

Section 7. Not indecent exposure – No provision of law or ordinance on indecent exposure shall apply to breastfeeding an infant. A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, even if not done discreetly, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.

I know that advocates in other countries would be quite happy with this provision as several of them have encountered complaints/oppositions when they nurse in public. However, as I explained in the previous post, I generally have had good experiences when I nurse in public.

There is an interesting provision about the provision on weaning - Section 16, which states:

"Mothers shall be responsive to the needs of the child and shall allow their child to wean naturally. Weaning, as a personal decision to be made by each mother based on her particular family situation and individual circumstances, is recognized. Young children who nurse past their infancy have their own developmental timetables."

I'm happy that the proposed bill recognizes that weaning need not happen when mother goes back to work and that babies/children CAN nurse past infancy.

Now, let me get to the provisions of HB3527 which I don't like. First would be Section 8(d) on breastfeeding in the workplace. Under the proposed bill, "[e]mployers shall provide mothers with reasonable unpaid break time to express milk or breastfeed" Now, why would you take out a benefit which has been granted to moms in the current law? Under R.A. No. 10028, nursing employees are granted PAID milk expression time"

"Sec. 12. Lactation Periods. - Nursing employees shall granted break intervals in addition to the regular time-off for meals to breastfeed or express milk. These intervals, which shall include the time it takes an employee to get to and from the workplace lactation station, shall be counted as compensable hours worked. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) may adjust the same:Provided, That such intervals shall not be less than a total of forty (40) minutes for every eight (8)-hour working period."

Whenever I talk about breastfeeding and the workplace in L.A.T.C.H. seminars, this is the provision that I emphasize one and what I believe is most applicable and helpful to working and breastfeeding moms. So I don't understand why the proponents of HB3527 seek to remove this benefit.

Another provision that I'm not too happy about is Sec. 28 on advertising - which specifically states that advertising for products intended for infants 0-6 months shall not be allowed BUT advertising for infants 6-12 months shall be allowed upon review and approval of the IAC. This is a dangerous provision - particularly now that milk companies are very careful. In fact, you do not see a lot of advertisements for formula milk for 6-12 month old babies. With this statement that formula ads for 6-12 month old babies are allowed (albeit with prior permission of the IAC). And for sure, the IAC will be inundated by applications for ads!

Finally, I'm a bit if-fy about this provision:

"Section 6. Mother's prerogative - Breastfeeding is the most elemental form of parental care. The decision to breastfeed is the sole prerogative of the mother. The decision to do otherwise must be based on an informed choice. In health care facilities, bottle feeding shall be allowed only after the mother has been informed by the attending health personnel of the advantages of breastfeeding and how to encourage and maintain lactation. The proper techniques of infant formula feeding shall be provided only after the mother has opted to adopt formula feeding for her infant."

I believe moms should be informed that it is their RIGHT to breastfeed and to obtain information how to be successful. It is difficult to protect breastfeeding when there is such as provision saying "the decision not to breastfeed must be based on an informed choice." Determining that a mom choosing to formula feed has made an "informed" choice is difficult. How many local hospital pay lip service to breastfeeding and just tell moms - hey breastfeed without telling them how or why? Recently, I know someone who gave birth to triplets and asked to see a lactation consultant at the hospital only to be told that the hospital had none. Her pediatrician was skeptical when she said that she would be breastfeeding the triplets. If this mother chooses to formula feed, can you then say that she has been given an informed choice?

I don't think that this new bill is necessary for the success of breastfeeding in the country. The Expanded Breastfeeding Act of 2009 has good provisions which just needs to be applied. In fact, almost 9 months after it has been signed, we are still waiting for the implementing rules and regulations to be released. Maybe focus on that and proper implementation is a more worthwhile experience for our politicians.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Breastfeed Anytime, Anywhere!

Last Tuesday, the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund/Philippines launched the Spotted: Mommy, Mama, Inay and Me, a photo exhibit to support, promote and protect exclusive breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding for a healthy child, family and community.
L.A.T.C.H. was one of the co-sponsors and I was able to get my husband Stan to take photos for the exhibit! It was no easy task since there were permits to get, schedules to coordinate BUT with Buding, Zeka and Anna at the helm of it, things fell into place and Stan was able to get wonderful photos of breastfeeding moms! I've heard to many moms say that they wish they could bring back their breastfeeding days and somehow have some memento of it. I'm proud to say that Stan has amassed more than a hundred photos of breastfeeding moms as I've emphasized that he needs to ask nursing moms if they'd like a breastfeeding photo every time he is commissioned for a family or portrait shoot.
I love the message being promoted by the exhibit - breastfeed anytime, anywhere. If we can eat anytime and anywhere we feel hungry, then there is no reason that nursing moms need to "hide" in bathroom to meet their babies' needs! The exhibit runs until 26 November 2010 at the SM Mall of Asia, Entertainment Mall (near Selecta Kids Station). Aside from Stan's photos, there are also photos taken by photography students of mothers in daycares and markets - doing their everyday activities, yet still being able to nourish their babies.
Meanwhile, I'm sharing a slideshow of "behind the scenes" photos and some of the photos not used for the exhibit.
L.A.T.C.H. has some more future projects involving photography and breastfeeding - so "LIKE" and stay tuned for further announcements in the L.A.T.C.H. FB page!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dental Benefits of Breastfeeding

Guess what I found in my work email inbox last Wednesday from our medical/dental department?
I'm definitely glad that I'm part of an organization that supports breastfeeding!! Our next project? - on premises daycare for 0-6 children!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Breastfeeding Calendars for 2011

It's that time for the year again - for the hunt for new calendars! I was hoping that L.A.T.C.H. would be able to have its own breastfeeding calendar but events last year (Ondoy flood) cancelled those plans and this year, well, we were busy with other things. But - my husband has taken breastfeeding photos of several L.A.T.C.H.ers and I hope this calendar does become a reality soon!

Meanwhile, here are some of the breastfeeding calendars you can choose from for 2011.

Velvet & Vo'Gel
Top of the list would be Baby Milk Action's IBFAN 2011 Breastfeeding Calendar. Pinay breastfeeding advocate Velvet is featured in April 2011, with her then 1-year old daughter Vo'Gel. Each calendar is available for GBP9 (about 630pesos) for delivery outside the UK.
2011 Beauty of Mothering Calendar Inside Preview
Another lovely calendar is The Beauty of Mothering calendar which is a collection of images of breastfeeding mothers and babies, paired with breastfeeding quotations and lunar cycles. The calendar costs USD$14.99 plus shipping of $4.99 within the US. I'm not quite sure if they ship internationally.
Over at Cafe Press, I found 2 interesting calendars. The first is a vertical wall calendar costing AUD26 made by Birth, Breastfeeding & Babywearing is more of a motherhood calendar of abstract images of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
The second calendar is from Cafe LaLeche's Breastfeeding & Advocacy Shop. This calendar costs AUD23.50 and is filled with pastel paintings of nursing mothers and their babies.
Another Australian calendar is from the Australian Breastfeeding Association costing AUD16.95. What I love about this calendar is that it includes images of fathers (not breastfeeding of course :D) and families which were chosen from shots submitted to the Association.
Like the Australian Breastfeeding Association's calendar, the Sonoma County of California's 2011 Breastfeeding Calendar also comprises of submitted images from the Sonoma County 12th Annual Photography Contest for Positive Images of Breastfeeding. However, I don't think the calendar is available for online purchase although if you are from Sonoma County, you can get the calendar in 2011 at local community clinics, health provider offices and the Sonoma County's Public Health Office. There is also the breastfeeding calendar from the Prairie Village (Kansas) La Leche League Association which is their fund raiser for the fall. The calendar costs USD$18 and documents a "beautiful year of breastfeeding all age children, pumping and babywearing." Finally, Bosom Buddies of Mid-Essex has a 16-month calendar (July 2010 - December 2011) called The Breast of Essex to support the launch of East England Breastfeeding Framework. The calendar costs GBP5 and can be purchased through Paypal.
With all the variety of calendars available, you can certainly have 1 new calendar for almost each month of 2011! I would most likely buy IBFAN's calendar. Which one would you choose?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ameda Elite Review and Blog Contest!

Congratulations to our winners!
Katherine Sicat
Cheng Duran
Laura Merwin

Thank you everyone for joining the giveaway!
I will email the winners for details on how to claim their certificates.

My first experience with the Ameda Elite was because of Naima's jaundice/hospital stay. In Naima's hospital, moms could use the hospital-grade Ameda Elite pump to express milk for their sick babies. The Ameda Elite is attached to a stand that is wheeled over to the mom and is parked inside the baby's room for the duration of the hospital stay. The hospital also gave me two sets of flanges to use during the stay (and bring home).
Let me go over the features of the Ameda Elite pump and why I love this pump.

Long-Term Use
I bought my Elite off Ebay for about $275 back in October 2008. I had been back to work for about 3 months and got tired of lugging my portable Lansinoh (*see note below) to and from the office. According to Ameda's website, the Elite has "perfect engineering for long-term use, including establishing and maintaining milk product". The Elite is generally for hospital use but moms with preemies or multiples also usually purchase the Elite for home use.
In my case, my Elite was used from December 2008 - December 2009 - daily pumping (except weekends) for about 4 times, gradually winding down to once a day. My Elite is now with my sister who started using it in January 2010 and still uses it until now. I have to emphasize that since I purchased the from Ebay, it is a used item (previously owned by a hospital) so I'm not sure how long ago the Elite was purchased. However, according to my sister, it still works great until now. Compared to my Lansinoh portable pump, I will definitely say that the Elite is more durable and better for exclusively pumping moms wishing to establish and maintain milk supply.

*Note: If you are wondering why I bought Lansinoh pump when I used Ameda Elite in the hospital, it was because Lansinoh Double Electric Pump and Ameda Purely Yours (the portable pump of Ameda) used to be both manufactured by Hollisters. Lansinoh costs $125 (even $105) at Amazon while PY costs $150. Babymama carries both Lansinoh and Ameda PY pumps.

Custom Control
The Elite has two dials - one for vacuum and cycle. Vacuum refers to the strength of the sucking while cycle refers to the speed. There is no automatic setting as you start the pump by turning on the dials. According to Ameda, the purpose of the separate dials is to let "mothers 'follow their flow' to find their own most effective pump settings every time, and like a breastfeeding baby, achieve a "multi-phase" experience. Indeed, some days, I find myself putting the cycle on high while the vacuum stays low while some days, both are on high speed. Customized controls allow the moms to have complete control of her pumping experience simply through a slight turn of the dial. The Elite also allows you to single or double pump - which is quite helpful, especially if my daughter just nursed on 1 boob.

Powerful but Silent
I have pumped with a sleeping baby, sleeping siblings and husband, sleeping brother in law - all in the room - with the pump not raising any peep! Very quiet - a huge difference from my Lansinoh pump. The airconditioner and electric fan are noisier! You can hear the piston moving back and forth but that's about it - no motor sound at all. And despite being whisper quiet, it is one powerful pump with vacuum strength from 30-250mmHg and cycle speed of 30-60 cpm! When using my Lansinoh, I usually set the cycle/vacuum dials to full speed. But with the Elite, cycle is around 3/4 while the vacuum is midway. At my peak, I used to get a total of 4-6oz from both breasts with regular pumping intervals. I also love that the suction is not painful since I am able to adjust the strength to a tolerable level.

Power and Weight
Since my Elite was bought in the US, it needs to plugged on 110volts - so make sure that you tape the plug to a transformer - lest it be mistakenly plugged into our standard 220volts outlet. It also comes with a car adapter - which you plug into the lighter receptacle if you need to pump in your car. One disadvantage I can think of is the size and weight of this pump. The pump weighs about 6 pounds and with the carrying case, it is the size of a document box - about 5x9x12 - definitely not something you want to be lugging to and from work every day! If that is an issue, then you would be better off purchasing Ameda's Purely Yours pump - which is more portable.

Maintenance and Other Features
The Elite itself is very easy to clean. I just wipe it down with baby wipes at regular intervals. Meanwhile, since my pump was purchased 2nd hand, I had to purchase the flanges and milk collection kit. However, the purchase of a brand new Elite includes 1 set of HygieniKit Milk collection system. This is also another great thing about the Elite - moms can safely share 1 Elite pump, as long as each mom has her own HygieniKit.
In laymen's terms - the HygieniKit consists of 2 25mm breast flanges, 2 silicone diaphgrams, 2 120ml bottles, 4 white valves, 2 adapter caps, 2 silicone tubings, 2 lock-tight bottle caps plus instructions! Whew! That looks like a long list of equipment for this pump - but it is there for a reason! Ameda touts its HygieniKits as being "the world's first milk collection system with a Proven Airlock Protection barrier" - which means that the diaphragm keeps the air from your pump from coming in contact with the milk! Indeed - I've never had to clean the tubing of my Ameda (and Lansinoh pumps) as neither milk nor moisture has ever gotten into the tubing.
Also, don't be overwhelmed by the number of parts to clean! Check out my tips on how I cleaned pump parts while expressing milk at work.
What moms need to be concerned of when using the HygieniKit though would be those white valves. Just a little tear on those valves results in a drastic change in suction and resulting milk output! This is why there are 4 valves included in the kit, although you only use 2 at a time. I highly suggest that moms keep extra valves on hand. Some valves last me 3 months only while the longest I have used valves without changing would be 8 months.
The Elite also comes with 2 bottle holders which are perfectly sized for the Ameda collection bottles but are too big for my Snappies. When using the Ameda bottles, you won't have to worry that your bottles will topple over, resulting in spilled breast milk (wah)!

I am excited to announce that the Ameda Elite is now locally available at an introductory price of P50,000 through Babymama! As the authorized dealer, the Ameda Purely Yours pumps come with a 1 year warranty while the Ameda Elite has 3 years warranty. Plus, Babymama carries not only the Ameda pumps but accessories as well!! To celebrate the launch of Ameda in the Philippines, Babymama is sponsoring this blog contest with three winners! Each winner will get a Php1,000 gift certificate which they can use for their Ameda purchase over at Babymama.

How to join this contest?
To enter, fill out the form below. You can also get extra entries (total of 4 entries) by:

  1. Becoming a fan of Chronicles of a Nursing Mom and Babymama on Facebook.
  2. Tweeting this giveaway (copy and tweet this: @crazydigger Win a Babymama P1000 Gift Certificate
  3. Blogging about the giveaway (please leave a link to your blog entry)
You only need to fill up the form once, as long as you filled up the relevant boxes. For example, if you like the pages, become a fan and blog, you need to fill up all the boxes in the form for your entries to count. I know that this is a bit tedious but it helps me validate the entries correctly.
This contest is open to readers within the Philippines and the certificates will be shipped to you using local courier. Contest will end on 4 December 2010 at 11:59PM. Names of winners will be posted in this entry and will be contacted by email. Please respond within 48 hours – otherwise, I will choose another winner. Three winners will be chosen using Naima tambiolo.
Now, go enter the contest!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Operation Foster Milk and Eats on Feets Philippines

When Naima was younger and my milk was plentiful, I used to donate milk to various persons/organizations, foremost of which is the UP-PGH's Milk Bank. I recently received an email from Dr. Jessa Sareno asking for milk donations for their NICU babies.
Dr. Jessa is one of the fellows at the PGH Neonatology Unit. I asked her why they had so many patients needing milk and I was wondering where the mothers were. She shared that usually, the mothers are discharged before the babies and go home - often to the South, e.g. Cavite. These moms are asked to express milk at home then visit their babies daily so they can leave the expressed milk and directly nurse their babies.
Sadly, however, the moms are unable to scrape up enough money for even just the jeepney fare to PGH. Thus, it often takes a week or so before the mom can come back to visit her baby. I would also imagine that even if moms are asked to express milk at home, most of them are not able to do so because of lack of storage facilities or the need to go back to work (with no milk expression time/facilities) to provide for the needs of their other children. Thus, the never-ending request by the UP-PGH to ask lactating moms with excess milk to donate to their milk bank.
Meanwhile, for moms needing breastmilk, I was able to get some information about Fabella Milk Bank. You can purchase milk from their milk bank at the cost of P400 per 200ml. However, breastmilk is not always available as this depends whether they have ward mothers donating breastmilk. The milk is pasteurized and tested. Before you can buy however, you need to bring a medical abstract of your baby. The ward mothers are eager to donate breastmilk because donors receive a huge discount off their hospital bills. Sometimes, they only pay P50! To get in touch with the Fabella Milk Bank, call 734-5561 local 156.
Finally, because of this blog, I have been receiving numerous requests for milk and offers of excess milk. I had previously toyed with the idea of having a milk share page, where moms can meet up to discuss milk requirements - but never found the time to do so. I stumbled upon the Eats on Feets Global Network and with the help of the global founder, Emma Kwasnica, I was able to set up Eats on Feets Philippines - a facebook page. The Eats on Feets GLOBAL network chapter pages provide an online space to facilitate woman-to-woman milk sharing. Through this page, moms can post their requests and offers for milk and hook up with one another. I'm still looking for an administrator and if you're interested in becoming an administrator of this page, please do contact me. Check out the press release sent out by Emma early this morning:


Emma Kwasnica
Eats On Feets GLOBAL
(514) 656 1560
Montreal, CANADA

World's Largest Breast Milk Sharing Network Spreads Across Facebook: "Eats On Feets" Goes Global

Within a matter of days, women around the world have mobilized on the social networking site Facebook to organize an international, woman-to-woman milk sharing network. Human milk is for human babies, and formula-feeding is associated with risks to both the mother and infant. Women today are aware of this fact and are taking their life-sustaining power back into their own hands --they are now converging on Facebook to freely share their breastmilk with one another.

Montreal, Canada, November 7, 2010 - The announcement last month from internet health guru, Dr. Joseph Mercola, of his plans to launch his own brand of powdered infant formula onto the US market, has spawned the Eats On Feets GLOBAL breastmilk sharing network. In retaliation against yet another needless and harmful artificial breastmilk substitute to hit the market, mothers on Facebook from around the world have come together to take a stand for infant health. They have now established the world's largest human milk sharing network, an initiative spearheaded by Canadian lactating mother and passionate breastfeeding activist, Emma Kwasnica.

The "Eats On Feets" name is the brainchild of Phoenix, AZ midwife, Shell Walker. A mother to young children in the '90s, Walker and her friends had this thought: "Hey, why don't we just become wet-nurses? Instead of 'Meals on Wheels', we can call our business 'Eats On Feets'." Walker took this idea and made it a reality in July, 2010, when she created a Facebook profile page under the same name, and began a free, community-based breastmilk sharing network for mothers in Phoenix. She has since been successful at matching up local women who have an excess, or are in need of, human breastmilk.

Meanwhile, Kwasnica has also been using her personal profile page and her large network of international birth and breastfeeding activists on Facebook, in order to match up human milk donors and recipients around the world. One such story involves a fellow Canadian friend, living in Bandung, Indonesia; the school teacher and single father to a newborn son wondered if he could source human milk for his baby instead of feeding his son a powdered breastmilk substitute. Aware of his situation, Kwasnica put the call out to her vast network via a simple status update on Facebook, and a breastfeeding peer counselor in a neighbouring city in Indonesia responded. A string of lactating women on the ground was assembled to provide human milk locally for the infant boy. Now three months old, this baby has never tasted anything other than human milk.

The announcement of Dr. Mercola's plans to market formula was the final catalyst that spurred Emma Kwasnica on to convene with Shell Walker and launch Eats On Feets GLOBAL. Regarding the inception of this initiative, she states: "Shell Walker is a friend and the midwife in Phoenix, AZ who came up with the name 'Eats On Feets'. She graciously allowed me to use her catchy name in order to launch the global initiative: a woman-to-woman, grassroots milk sharing network here on Facebook. As for Dr. Mercola, he should be injecting his burgeoning wealth into breastfeeding support, not trying to make more money off a product that is harmful to infants and their lifelong health."

With the help of nearly 200 women online from the global mothering Facebook community, the initiative has taken off. Donor and recipient milk matches are being made right now all over the world on the pages of Facebook. There are now 87 Eats On Feets chapter pages spanning 18 countries (a quick Facebook search for "Eats On Feets" yields dozens of results). This movement is proof that Facebook can, indeed, be used for the good of humanity. By encouraging the biologically normal way of feeding babies, and reviving an age-old practice of human milk sharing, it is clear that social networking has the power to revolutionize infant health.

ABOUT Eats On Feets GLOBAL - The Eats On Feets GLOBAL network chapter pages on Facebook provide an online space to facilitate woman-to-woman milk sharing. We assert that women are capable of making informed choices and of sharing human milk with one another in a safe and ethical manner. Eats On Feets GLOBAL does NOT support the selling or corporatism of human breastmilk.

For a current list of all of the Eats On Feets chapter locations in operation around the globe, or to find your local Eats On Feets Facebook chapter page, please see this document at the following URL:

To listen to the radio show podcast (from October 30) where Emma Kwasnica discusses the events that lead to the launch of Eats On Feets GLOBAL, and how the ethics of Dr. Mercola were the catalyst for this initiative, visit: and click on "Momma Rap".


Update: 3/24/2011
Eats on Feets Philippines is now Human Milk for Human Babies - The Philippines. Check out the Facebook page for milk offers/requests. To read why there was a name change, click this LINK.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Anyone in the same boat?

Baby Blues - 5 November 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Images of Breastfeeding

Two weeks ago, I got into a discussion with a colleague about the Philippine Daily Inquirer headline below showing breastfeeding moms at Fabella hospital with the caption "Too Many Mouths to Feed".
She was quite bothered by how the images of breastfeeding in the Philippines was always linked with poverty. It was ironic how that banner photo was matched with a headline on the controversial RH bill. I typed "breastfeeding" and "philippines" in the image search of Google and check out the photos I got. Most were actually photos of mothers at Fabella Children's Memorial Hospital, such as the photo below of a nursing mom taken on 24 September 2008.
L.A.T.C.H. is currently working on a project to change the image of breastfeeding. Meanwhile, I came across this project by the United States Breastfeeding Committee. They have been contracted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "to create a library of images of how communities across the U.S. support breastfeeding mothers and babies." Once completed, I think this will be an excellent resource for images for breastfeeding promotion.
I've never thought about the images of breastfeeding in the Philippines. I have always encouraged my husband (who takes maternity/newborn/children's photographs) to always ask his breastfeeding clients if they'd like a breastfeeding shots. I feel that getting this shot is a excellent memento of each mom's breastfeeding relationship with her child. But most of these photos are private - although L.A.T.C.H. has used some photos in our projects (with permission of course).
How do you think breastfeeding has been portrayed in the Philippines? Would you or do you have a breastfeeding photo of you and your nursling?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Birth Experiences and Its Effect on Breastfeeding

Welcome to the Carnival of Breastfeeding for October. This month's topic is about birth and breastfeeding - on how your birth experience affected your breastfeeding relationship with your child. Please scroll down to read the entries of the other carnival participants.

breastfeeding cousins
Picture this:
Mom A gave birth to a full-term baby girl through normal delivery with epidural. Baby Girl A is 6 pounds, 5 ounces and healthy. She was whisked off for about 10 minutes to be checked, weighed and wiped down. Baby Girl A was returned to Mom A's arms and she was able latch within 1 hour from birth, roomed-in and constantly experienced skin-to-skin contact.
Mom B gave birth to a premature baby girl through normal delivery with epidural. Baby Girl B is 4 pounds, 4 ounces and born at 32 weeks, 6 days old. She was whisked off by the neonatologist and placed in the NICU. She was never roomed in and separated from her parents for 2 weeks. Mom B visited her at the NICU for breastfeeding opportunities but only after 1 week. Prior to that she was fed with glucose water intravenously as neonatologist thought that she would choke on colostrum.
One month later…
Baby Girl A is now being mixed fed. At 2 weeks, she was diagnosed with jaundice and pediatrician recommended that she be given formula for at least 24 hours. Since then, Mom A started having supply problems. Mom A was able to recover and up her supply only when Baby Girl A was 7 weeks. Earlier on, Mom A also experienced sore and bleeding nipples due to improper latch.
Baby Girl B is still exclusively breastfed. After having latched at 2 weeks, she was nursing like a champ. Mom B never experienced sore nipples. Mom B also had supply problems but received breastmilk from relatives and friends. Baby Girl B is exclusively on breastmilk and has never tasted formula.
At 6 months…
Baby Girl A is back to being on exclusive breastmilk and has started solids. Mom A is back to work and has sustained milk supply to be able to meet Baby Girl A’s needs and donate extra milk.
Baby Girl B is still on exclusive breastmilk and has started solids. Mom B is back to work, still has milk supply issues but managed to meet Baby Girl B’s needs.
I think by now you may have guessed that I’m talking about me and my sister’s birth experience. I have previously shared about my experiences and my niece’s birthing story. However, for this carnival, I’d like to emphasize that whatever the birthing experience of the mom, there are other more important factors that will impact the breastfeeding relationship.
Top most of these important factors would be INFORMATION. When my daughter’s pediatrician suggested that I give her formula for jaundice, I didn’t know better. I never attempted to find a breastfeeding friendly pediatrician (I assumed that all were BF advocates) and thus get a second opinion.
Meanwhile, my sister immediately switched to breastfeeding friendly pediatrician when my niece turned 1 month. Their old pediatrician had mandated a 1 kilogram weight gain each month. My niece gained about 800 grams per month which was okay with the new pediatrician. The new pediatrician understood that babies grew in different ways and watched the developmental milestones instead of the weighing scale. Had they stayed with the old pediatrician, my niece would’ve been prescribed formula to up her weight.
Why did we make the choices we make? I didn’t know better and was ignorant of available resources. Meanwhile, my sister already learned from my experiences and was also able to read breastfeeding books and research on breastfeeding friendly pediatricians.
Another factor is SUPPORT.
When I gave birth, I only had my husband, Stan with me. Although there were lactation consultants that we visited, we didn’t really get relevant and helpful information. One LC even gave us free Enfamil 2oz. bottles! Meanwhile, when my sister gave birth, she already had a knowledgeable nanny, my mom turned advocate and of course, persistent sister with breastfeeding experience (although I have to admit that it was more difficult to counsel my sister compared to strangers and friends). Plus, my sister had a network of friends and relatives to turn to when her milk supply was low. She also had a very supportive doctor who worked with her and encouraged her to continue giving breastmilk to her daughter.
Let me conclude by saying that the birthing experience can have a ripple but not lasting effect on your breastfeeding relationship with your child. However, in the long run, other factors such as information and support are more effective in enabling mom and baby to bond at the breast and establishing a successful and enduring breastfeeding relationship.
Here are the other carnival participants. Links will be added through the end of the day:
Crib Keeper @ Tales from the Crib: On Not Being Discouraged
Suchada @ Mama Eve: Birth and Breastfeeding
Christina @ Massachusetts Friends of Midwives: Early Intervention Lactation Help
Jenny @ Chronicles of a Nursing mom: Birth Experiences and Its Effect on Breastfeeding
Michelle @ Mama Bear: Long, wide shadow of bad births
Sarah @ Reproductive Rites: Fighting for Breastfeeding
Tanya @ Motherwear Blog: The Birth/Breastfeeding Continuum
Andi @ Mama Knows Breast:
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