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Monday, May 30, 2011

Guest Post: The Booby Trap

Today's guest post is written by Rachel Bernardino.  She talks about how much commitment is necessary to really succeed in breastfeeding.

Honestly I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I decided to breastfeed.  All I knew it was the most logical thing to do.  My best friends breastfed their children. One of them is still breastfeeding her almost 3yo son.  My sister breastfed my niece for one year.  So I thought if they could do it so can I. 
So, I attended the Breastfeeding Seminar at Medical City last July 10, 2010.  I was engaged.  I asked questions.  I read books about breastfeeding.  I researched and read online.  I thought I prepared myself well for breastfeeding. 
All these resources said, Breastfeeding is a commitment.  What I didn't know is that it was a COMMITMENT with all caps and bold letters if you will. 
During the first 3 months, my son breastfed every hour!  Part of the deal right? Check.  Breastfeeding in the middle of the night?  Check.  I knew this would happen so I just took it in stride as part of the process.
What I didn't count on was that sustaining breast feeding was the bigger commitment.  It wasn't easy at first.  I would get only half an ounce of milk each time I pumped.  Then when I spilled milk.  I cried!!  After that, I was lucky to be able to pump as much as a teaspoon.  Luckily I got great help from Latch Peer Counselor, Jenny Ong and I was back on track in my career as a breastfeeding/pumping mom. 
But getting back to work, I didn't realize what it took to be a pumping mom.  I was pumping milk ALL THE TIME!  After waking up, once I got to the office, during lunch breaks, after meetings, in between meetings, DURING meetings.  I've also pumped pretty much EVERYWHERE:  in the car, in a bus, in a sari-sari store (during fieldwork).  I pumped wherever I was when I had to.  Thus I would try to plan things (time, place, even logistics) so that I don't miss a pumping schedule.  And sometimes when I thought that my milk wasn't going to be enough, I'd even wake up at around 3am just to have extra pumping time.
Yes it was a booby trap I didn't know about.  
But despite this, breastfeeding has been quite LIBERATING.  First of all, it freed me from having to choose which is the best milk formula among those available in the market -- since none beats breastmilk.   I was free from wondering if I'm feeding the right milk to my son.  It freed me from worrying when it's time to feed my son since I breastfed on demand.  Breastfeeding also freed me from my inhibitions.  It just felt natural to me that I will breastfeed my baby wherever I am --- even in public.  So I've breastfed (like other breastfeeding moms) pretty much everywhere:  in the car, in the mall, in restaurants, in the park or even in church. As a consequence, I also had freedom from having the need to carry around bottles, water and powered milk whenever I had to go out of the house. 
Best of all, breastfeeding has created free time for me to spend with my son.  I realize it's so easy to get distracted with the mechanics of being a mom/parent vs. taking time to sit down and just be with my child.  And this is one of the best gifts of breastfeeding to a working mom like me.  It slows me down when I get home and it creates the time for me to just be with my child. 
And this is the peace that I feel with the world coming to a standstill each time I hold my son to my breast.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Our Weaning Story

As we end the Mother's Month of May, my family is celebrating 2 very important milestones.  N has finally completely weaned at 3 years old and 5 months.   Early this year, I wrote about the challenges I had with weaning her. And since she morphed into a different N at night time (despite our daytime agreement to stop nursing) plus we had an upcoming trip in April/May, I decided not to pursue active weaning.
Breastfeeding helped us during our trip - through the long flights plus comforting a feverish N.  It was a big plus and easy source of comfort.  I am still glad though that when it was time to finally and completely wean, the experience was not traumatic for either us.
Her weaning is without reason - as we are expecting baby number 2!  During the last leg of our trip in Vancouver, I had been feeling really under the weather and was late.  As soon as we arrived from our trip, we immediately did a pregnancy test to positive results!  I have to admit that the baby was semi-unplanned - we had been gunning for a dragon baby - but very much welcome!
I immediately visited my ob-gyne who knew that I was still breastfeeding.  After check-up and ultrasound, she never mentioned that I had to wean N.  However, I thought that it was the best time to start as I had been ready to wean since the start of the year.
We told N about the new addition to our family and she excitedly named the baby "FLOWER".  I then explained to her that every time she nurses from me, my tummy will squeeze Flower and that we don't want that because we want Flower to grow in Mommy's tummy until she is ready to come out!  I think this explanation was acceptable to her because she agreed to stop nursing then and there.  I think she was also ready.  Even during night time, when she tries to pull down my shirt and nurse, I'll just gently say, remember Flower, then she'll whimper a bit, toss, turn then fall back to sleep.  Now, she doesn't even ask to nurse.  When she wakes up at night she'll just ask to hold then fall back to sleep.
I recently tried asking her if she wants to nurse and she'll always say "No, Mom, I don't want Flower to be squeezed."  Then she'll tell me, when Flower comes out, Flower will share your milk with me, right? I am really happy with this development since I feel that our weaning experience was pleasant.  So this merry month of May has been doubly happy for me - with the easy and ready weaning of N plus the coming of our 2nd baby, Flower!
How was your weaning journey?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Guest Post: Marshmallow Mama

Today's guest post comes from a fellow lawyer, Joyce Lara-Tioleco.  Atty. Joyce is a full time mom to Joaquin and wife to Paulo, a medical oncologist.  She is also a budding chef wannabe.  Joyce shares why she transitioned from being a hardball lawyer to a marshmallow mama and how she did it.   

While my law school batchmates are climbing up the firm ladder from Junior to Senior Associates, or moving from law firms to corporations as in-house counsels or setting up their own legal practice, I transitioned from being a hardball lawyer to marshmallow mama. My shift from the practice of law to mamahood was, contrary to my expectations, quite stress-free.

First off, I had an uneventful pregnancy – sans morning sickness and unusual cravings (for which I am sure my husband was very grateful). My pregnancy likewise stayed true to the pregnancy basics as discussed in the popularweek-by-week pregnancy calendar, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”

In addition, our little boy made an undemanding grand entrance, hence, an anesthesia-free delivery. The contractions, which I anticipated with fear, turned out to be bearable and our baby was out after merely six monumental pushes.  

Breastfeeding our boy was also established with ease. He latched properly in no time and my milk came in on the fourth day. Of course, it came with the typical breastfeeding issues of sore and/or cracked nipples, nursing Q2, clogged milk ducts and engorged breasts, all of which were resolved with the commitment to nurse our baby. To date, thanks to my number one breastfeeding ally, my husband, our pediatrician friends and mom blogs** I follow, we are nearing the six-month recommended period for exclusively breastfeeding infants.      

Also, I credit my legal training for my almost effortless “makeover” from lawyer to mama. Lawyering and mamahood, I’d say, require similar skills:

1.      Dealing with overzealous clients, like breastfeeding, requires patience;
2.      Drafting and/or reviewing contracts, similar to bathing and grooming baby, demands attention to details; every crease and fold of baby should be soaped and washed;
3.      Handling cases as in changing nappies (particularly, of a baby who is starting to be mobile) demands strategy (i.e., how to change nappies in a jiffy, which toys to use to keep baby entertained); and
4.      As in all other things, one becomes a better lawyer or mother by experience.

Besides the foregoing, my not doing a double take on leaving law practice to attend to our son’s needs was, for me, a given. I would want my son to grow up with fond of memories of his mama cooking for him sumptuous meals, teaching him how to read (with good diction, of course) and construct (grammatically correct) sentences as I do. My brothers and I grew up under the care and guidance of our mother, who put on hold her career as a licensed pharmacist to personally care for us. In fact, until now that we have families of our own, my mommy continues to do what she does best, mothering.

Finally and most important, the champion behind my no sweat “semi-retirement” (albeit too early) from the practice of law is my other half, my husband. Knowing that a one-income family is unviable at this time, my husband backed my decision to stay at home with our son. Staying true to his promise, he more than ably provides for our household, affording us weekly dates and occasional shopping splurges.  

With due respect to my compaƱeras, yes, I would, in a heartbeat, happily trade daily hearings and power dressing for squeals of delight from playing peek-a-boo and singing along nursery rhymes and Disney songs -the simple joys of a stay-at-home mama.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Babywearing Event

Benz of W@W raised the idea of holding a babywearing meet while attending the March warehouse sale.  Within 1 week, Benz and Charmaine were able to organize a babywearing meet with me, Next9 and Maya wrap - all promoted through Facebook and Twitter.
Benz actually had an ulterior motive in organizing the event - she was going to Australia and wanted to master her Maya wrap and Saya carrier so she or her husband John could babywear Laya throughout their trip.   Since the event was organized in a rush, we held it at a Starbucks in Bonifacio Global City. For a rushed event, we were pleasantly surprised to have about 14 moms attending plus several dads and babies!
Abbie demonstrating the back carry with the Maya wrap
We started by presenting the various types of carriers available - between Jen and me, we had amassed several - Ergo, Patapum, pouches, ring slings, hybrid carriers and we didn't even bring our Moby and Sleepy Wraps!  Then we moved on to discussing the carriers we had that were locally available e.g. SaYa Baby Carrier, Blissful Babes Pouch available through my online store, Next9 carriers (ring slings, pouches) through Jen and Maya Wrap through Abbie.
listening and learning
babies in various carriers
Abbie demonstrated the Maya Wrap while Jen went around helping moms use their Next9 slings (there were about 6 moms with her slings!! - Go Jen!).  I went next, describing the Saya with the demonstrations from Saya users - Charmaine, Benz and Cats.
The babywearing meet was a fun and informal event with moms trying out the various carriers and learning how to properly position their babies.  There have been requests for a second babywearing event so stay tuned for further announcements!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spot the Nursing Mom

My employer owns a vast painting collection.  My officemate and fellow breastfeeding advocate Claire belongs to the department who manages the paintings. She compiled several paintings depicting breastfeeding moms and emailed me her collection.  Can you spot the nursing mom?  I already have several breastfeeding photos thanks to Stan but I would love to have a breastfeeding painting!  Calling The Painter's Wife!

Jose Blanco, Puto Bungbong, 1973
Oil on canvas, 121 x 77 cm
Norma Belleza, Savings in a Bao, 1982
Oil on canvas, 76 x 114cm
Vicente Manansala, Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread, 1981
Oil on canvas, 69 x 68cm
Tam Austria, Pauwi, 1982
Oil on canvas, 120 x 180 cm
Angelito Antonio, Antipolo, 1972
Oil on canvas, 112 x 122cm
Aside from my employer's collection, Claire and I found several other paintings by Filipino artists depicting breastfeeding moms.
Ricardo Puruganan, Mother Breastfeeding Baby, 1974
11 x 12.  Available for purchase. 
S Cahooy, Untitled, 1980
27.5 by 27. Available for purchase.
S Cahooy, Mother Feeding Child, 1980
27.5 x 27 Available for purchase.
Demetrio Diego, Mother breastfeeding baby in a banca, 1988
10 x 15 Available for purchase.
Fernando Amorsolo, Under a Mango Tree, 1958
Oil on canvas, 22.5 x 31. Available for purchase.
Balagtas, Fishermen's Life, 2005
15 x 24. Available for purchase.
Which one is your favorite?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Guest Post: A Breastfeeding Story from a Non-Mommy - Part 2

Today's guest post comes from Margaux Ortiz.  Margaux is a colleague who ably helped her best friend and sister-in-law successfully breastfeed their babies.  In the early days, Margaux and I often discussed breastfeeding issues, advice and resources she could share to breastfeeding moms.  To this date, she continues to help her other friends in resolving their breastfeeding issues.  Her experience is proof that a supportive environment can make a difference in the success or failure of a breastfeeding relationship.

This is the second of two parts.  To read part 1, click here. 

I thought that things would be better when my sister-in-law F gave birth to my niece in October 2010. Baby K was born in a BF-friendly hospital, underwent all important stages of the essential newborn care program, was immediately roomed-in, and happily breastfed without any fuss. It also helped that F and my brother had decided months before to exclusively breastfeed their daughter.

But the inevitable hell week* came, and F experienced (what I assume was) the same horrific pain C experienced a week after she gave birth: bleeding nipples, engorged breasts, etc. I totally understand why F’s dad had then suggested that Baby K be given formula.
nursing baby K

If I felt bad when C talked about giving up and disappointing me, I felt worse when it came to my own family. The last thing on my mind was to pressure F into doing something that would traumatize her, and I felt responsible for her pain. To her credit, F bravely decided to accommodate all my suggestions and recommendations: from enlisting the help of an experienced lactation counselor, to allowing my friend C to breastfeed Baby K (C said it was her way of paying it forward) so F could recuperate.

K, almost a toddler
When F finally overcame her nipple and latching problems, we faced yet another challenge: Baby K was brought to the hospital for neonatal sepsis. For a week, I brought donated breast milk from C to the hospital to supplement F’s milk supply. Happily, Baby K recovered. 

I am happy with the way things turned out for C and F. They deserve all the credit for their breastfeeding success. While it may seem that I had a very big role in their breastfeeding story (this is told from my point of view after all, heehee), I was only one of those who encouraged them—the decision was theirs alone (they could’ve given up anytime had they wanted to). We were also lucky to have the support of the knowledgeable and magnanimous people (and online resources!) around us (Jenny, Velvet, Doc Anthony, Abbie, kellymom, Dr. Sears, you have my eternal gratitude).

Ora na azu nwa, so goes the African proverb. It takes a village/community to raise a child. Surely, that village/community has single aunts who help raise the kids their own unique way, huh? :) To other “aunts” (or “uncles”) out there who are afraid to do some coaching (lest they be accused of, “How would you know how this feels?!!!!”), put in mind that just because you don’t have any experience doesn’t mean you cannot help. Sometimes, your word of encouragement, your reassuring smile, or simply your “aura” of determination is enough to get these moms through.
*By hell week, I am referring to the first two weeks after birth. Whenever I talk to other friends who have decided to breastfeed their babies, I warn them about these initial weeks (not to discourage them, but to prepare them for what really lies ahead).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Our Breastfeeding Library

Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (May).  This carnival is dedicated to all moms, celebrating Mother's Day today.  Participants will share various topics covering A Breastfeeding Mother's Top Ten List.  Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants.

Our bookshelves are groaning and we are running out of space!  Thought of getting a Kindle and did a test run on Stan's iPad.  But nothing beats leafing through pages and the smell of new books - so I guess I just need to find space for more books!!

Bookaholics that Naima and I are, I thought of a perfect topic for this month's carnival - A Breastfeeding and Babywearing Family's Top Ten Must Have Books: 

N's books

My books

So what's the Top Ten on our list?

For children's books, top on the list be Mama's Milk.  This is a picture book showing mother animals nursing their babies - with interesting factual tidbits! Did you know that a baby platypus is called a puggle and that baby elephants nurse up to 5 years?!  We donated a copy of this book to N's school and N got another copy for her own.  Mama, Mama is also a great book for toddlers - with simple words with melodious rhythm.  Not really a nursing book but more of the general actions a mom shows in expressing her love for her child e.g. hugging, cuddling (in the animal kingdom!).  N also likes looking at the photos in A Ride on Mother's Back - a babywearing book showing how mothers wear their babies in different countries.  Then N proceeds to wear her own baby in her mini ring sling.  Maggie's Weaning is actually my choice of book.  N is beginning to understand what weaning is and when we get to the weaning party, she always get teary-eyed.   Honestly, this book is not very well-made (easy to rip paper, etc.) but it was the only book I could find about weaning - which could help me explain what weaning is to N.

For my books, the list includes a mix of reference and memoirs.   I'm glad I waited until this year to purchase LLLI The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.  A lot of moms found this book judgmental - after all LLLI discourages moms from returning to work.  What I do like about this book is the pull-out sheets summarizing xxx .  If you hate reading, the choose Breastfeeding with Comfort and Joy a beautiful photographic guide to the basics of breastfeeding - including position, latch, nursing multiples.  I always try to bring this book to LATCH break-outs so I could better illustrate breastfeeding information to pregnant moms. 
Since I am a fan of Dr. Jack Newman, I couldn't NOT buy his book - Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers.  The book is in a question and answer format and contains most of the information found on his website.  Although you can opt to skip purchasing his book if you have constant access to internet, I still recommend that you buy since you will be helping to fund his breastfeeding clinic.  
If you are curious about the history of the milk formula industry marketing and breastfeeding activism, a good book to read would be Politics of Breastfeeding.  This book is quite an eye-opener and I used to wonder why several advocates I knew were against Nestle and really thought and firmly believed that formula marketing was evil.  After reading this book, I realized how subtle the anti-breastfeeding practices and marketing strategies were, undermining moms' chances, even without them realizing it.
Meanwhile, a gift from fellow advocate JenHow My Breasts Saved the World was a fun read.  The author, Lisa Shapiro shared her experiences as a first time breastfeeding mom - which mirrored my own experiences.  Her experiences (and I'm sure that of most first time moms) emphasize the importance of signing up for breastfeeding classes while pregnant and making sure that you have a breastfeeding friend or counselor on speed dial during those early days!
Finally, not really a breastfeeding book but I highly recommend The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears.  I vaccinated N and I liked this book because it explained the vaccines that were going into her body.  I made certain decisions which were contrary to my pediatrician's recommendations (e.g. spacing out vaccines, skipping flu vaccines) based on information in this book and further research.  I know some moms who totally chose not to vaccinate and I believe that this book helps each mom make their own informed choice on what is best for their family.

So how does your bookshelf look like?

Check out the posts of other carnival participants:
Mec's Top Ten Breastfeeding Partners
Ichel's Ten Things a Handy Mommy Can Do While Breastfeeding
Espie's Ten Life Altering Moments of a New Breastfeeding Mom
Dinna's Nurturing Rafael: A Breastfeeding Mother's Top 10 List
Frances' Ten Things I Now Know About Breastfeeding Because I Breastfed
Anthony's 10 Ways to Cheer Up a Breastfeeding Wife ---> our only dad participant!!
Em's Aria's Habits While Breastfeeding
Cai's Top Ten Tips for Pumping and Working Moms
Jenny's Our Breastfeeding Library
Nat's My Top 10 Favorite Foods for the Breastfeeding Mom
Tina's Tips on How to Breastfeed Your Baby in Public (1st of three parts)
Nyssa's Ten Reasons I still Breastfeed (Even as a Low Supply Mom)
Joey's Nursing Must haves and cheaper alternatives
Martine's 10 Things You Don't Say to a Breastfeeding Mom
Joyce's 10 Breastfeeding Nice to Have's

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Guest Post: A Breastfeeding Story from a Non-Mommy - Part 1

Today's guest post comes from Margaux Ortiz.  Margaux is a colleague who ably helped her best friend and sister-in-law successfully breastfeed their babies.  In the early days, Margaux and I often discussed breastfeeding issues, advice and resources she could share to breastfeeding moms.  To this date, she continues to help her other friends in resolving their breastfeeding issues.  Her experience is proof that a supportive environment can make a difference in the success or failure of a breastfeeding relationship.

Moms in Benin. Photo from
This is the first of two parts:

It takes a village to raise a child, so goes an ancient African proverb.  But what if some of the villagers have absolutely no experience in child-rearing? Do they possess the minimum amount of credibility needed to realistically contribute to the well-being of the child?

Such was my dilemma when I first started with my personal breastfeeding mission. Let me clarify at the outset that I am single and without offspring. I know that these facts alone would make my advocacy problematic (I mean, who would believe me?). While I am adept at doing research on breastfeeding FAQs, I eventually learned that breastfeeding is actually a “technical” thing that often needs the expertise of trained counselors. And while it is the most natural thing in the world, breastfeeding is PAINFUL and DIFFICULT, especially for new moms.

I am now godmother and aunt/godmother to two healthy breastfed babies (a boy and a girl, who were born within two months of each other). While I now smile (gloat sometimes, heehee) with pride whenever I see them, let me tell you that the journey toward these twin breastfeeding success stories was not easy. Well, it was harmless enough at the start: my friend C found out she was pregnant early last year and informed me that she was considering breastfeeding her baby. I was happy with her decision and told her I was going to support her all the way. I’ll be her research arm, I assured her.

Fast forward to August 2010: C’s baby boy, JJ, was born. The hospital she chose was not BF-friendly and I had to go to the nursery to ask the nurses to room the baby in with his mom. We were aghast to learn that the nurses had given infant formula to JJ despite C’s request that he be exclusively breastfed. Oh, well. Baby JJ was able to latch on that first day and we were able to heave a big sigh of relief.

nursing baby JJ
A few days later, I received a disturbing text from C. She said it was “okay that I get mad at her” because she gave formula to JJ. Her nipples were bleeding all over the place and I imagined that it was painful beyond imagination. I was taken aback by her text message. Was it all worth it: the advice, the rah-rahs, the encouragements? What if she was suffering and wanted to give up, but didn’t because she did not want to disappoint me?

JJ almost a toddler
I wanted to give up then. I wanted to tell her that it was her choice: that it was not wrong (it isn’t; let me emphasize that breastfeeding is NOT an all or nothing thing) to give JJ formula. I wanted to tell her that I’ll still support her whatever her decision will be. But I did some introspection and I realized that what I was doing was solely for her and the baby. C is a single mom, and breastfeeding would greatly help her cut costs (both formula and infant sickness-related).

I decided to give it one last shot. I told my friend that I would contact a lactation counselor to help her with her nipple and latching problems. She was apprehensive at first (because of the additional costs), but I told her it would be my baptismal gift for my godson. C relented, and a few days later, her BF woes magically disappeared.

(to be continued. Margaux will talk about how she helped her sister-in-law successfully breastfeed in the next post)
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