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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Signed IRR for RA10028 - a setback!

One year after Republic Act No. 10028 or the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 was signed in to law, the Implementing Rules and Regulations have been signed! But there was a major change made in the signed IRR. During the Breastfeeding TSEK launch, advocates from various groups talked about writing a letter to speed up the issuance of the IRR. Then we received information that the IRR was to be signed shortly, pending a single change to be made. Early this week, I received a copy of the IRR with advocates highlighting the major changes - which was deemed as a setback to the cause.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What a Busy Weekend!!

The LATCH class which was supposed to have been held last March 12, 2011 has been moved to this Saturday, 26 March 2011! This is a free class on a first come, first serve basis. Classes will be at the 4th Floor, Conference Room 1, The new Medical City - entrance is beside Starbucks. Topics include Breastfeeding Benefits, What to expect in the first week, Position and Latching through breakout groups, Back to Work and Busting Breastfeeding Myths. For inquiries, you can call TMC at 635-6789 local 6444. Click here to know what to expect for the LATCH class. This class is perfect for pregnant moms and dads (and yayas and grandparents!)

Meanwhile, if you are already a nursing mom with specific questions and concerns, you may want to attend the La Leche League Meeting (The Breastfeeding Club) at Mothercare Greenbelt 5, Saturday, 26 March 2011 at 11am. Class will be led by La Leche League Leader Abbie Yabot. Attendance is free but please pre-register by texting 0922-8292268 your name and partner's name, other companions if any, baby's age or edd. Topic for Saturday will be nutrition and solids. There is no fixed structure for the meetings and moms are free to ask their questions/issues on the topic. If there's time after, moms can raise other breastfeeding issues and questions. Setting is quite relaxed and this is a great opportunity to meet other breastfeeding moms and share tips, support and concerns. Read about my experience at La Leche League meetings here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Red Cross and Juday

I want to share 2 things I read about last week that made me quite sad

On Red Cross and Bottlefeeding:

what message do you think this poster sends?

I first read about Red Cross' poster over at Blacktating. When I saw this poster - the first thing that came into my mind is - how the heck are they going to clean that bottle?! I am again reminded of previous experiences on emergencies in Haiti and in the Philippines, during Ondoy.
As Tanya over at Motherwear blog shares, in times of emergencies, it is more important to feed the nursing moms so they in turn can feed their babies -- rather than providing them with boxes and cans of milk and bottles.
Two years ago (2009), World Breastfeeding Week's theme was Breastfeeding, a crucial priority for child survival in emergencies. Since then, the world has faced several more emergencies - Haiti, Ondoy, Indonesian earthquake, New Zealand earthquake, conflicts in the Middle East and now the tsunami and earthwake plus potential nuclear disaster in Japan! Even locally, there are tornadoes in Lanao del Norte and floods in the Visayas.
Despite several issues on sanitation, water supply, it seems that the message being sent out by donation agencies is still "send us milk"! According to this report, breastfeeding rates in Japan are lower than the US. I wonder how the rates will be after this emergency?

*On 21 March 2011, UNICEF released a Joint Statement with the Nutrition Cluster which you can access here. Although the statement is focused on emergencies in Northern Africa, the same points are applicable in the Japan situation. Emphasis on the critical protection from infection conferred by breastfeeding in environments without safe water supply and sanitation. Further, IT IS NOT TRUE that during emergencies, mothers can no longer breastfeed adequately because of stress or inadequate nutrition.

Juday and Lactum
I was even more disappointed to see this paid advertorial entitled "Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo, now a 100% panatag mom".
A friend told me that while she was pregnant with Lucho, she had already signed a contract with Mead Johnson and among the terms of the contract was that she will not promote breastfeeding. But I know for a fact that she DID breastfeed Lucho and she requested a breastfeeding class to help her successfully breastfeed.
I posted this on my FB page and got varied reactions. Several pointed out that the milk being promoted is for her 6-year old daughter and not her baby son. My position is that she could have chosen to promote breastfeeding to her legions of fans and by choosing to endorse a formula company - even if it is a kid formula, she has effectively shut the door on her being called on and be considered as a breastfeeding advocate.
Then again, if Mead Johnson paid P2M to partner with a nutritional organization, it makes me wonder how much they paid Judy Ann for this endorsement. You can just imagine how much Mead Johnson pays for their advertising and marketing - aside from Judy Ann, they have other panatag moms - Carmina Villaroel, Jodi Sta. Maria and Claudine Barreto. Milk formula is a huge $$$ business!

*Update: Here's a link to the column of Ricky Lo. At 5 months, Juday is mix feeding Lucho with breastmilk and formula.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Please think before you comment

Welcome to the first Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (March). To celebrate National Women's Month, our participants share how breastfeeding has changed them as a woman. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants.

Naima is now 38 months and still nursing. The weaning has not been quite successful and because we are going on a long-haul three-week trip this summer, I don't want to be without my magical defense against hunger, boo-boos etc. - and thus, active weaning is temporarily on hold. After the challenges we faced in our early breastfeeding relationship, I never realized that we would still be nursing beyond 2 years old!

In the early days, I remember walking about topless - to air out my sore nipples and allow Naima easy and frequent access to milk. I didn't think what my relations thought (I lived with my aunt and her family back then). As Mi'Ann of Babymama shared, breasts became like feet - purely functional and, in my case, visible to everyone at home.

And as we reach the toddler nursing stage, I'm again faced with new challenges, such as how to be nice when answering statements as - "she's still nursing?!" or "you still have milk?" accompanied with an arched eyebrow and incredulous voice. Comments such as these started when Naima turned two and I get them everywhere - from my relatives, officemates, strangers, etc. etc. And I find it strange that I have to hear these comments when I see 4, 5, 6 year olds still being bottle-fed!

I had long been planning to share my thoughts on this matter and found the perfect opportunity when Mec suggested the topic for this month's carnival - how breastfeeding has changed me as a woman. Let me start by saying that when I was single, I probably had the same reaction as the people around me. I probably would have encouraged nursing moms to use their breastfeeding cover or lactation rooms in the mall. But all these changed when I had Naima.

So has breastfeeding changed me as a woman? Yes, I say but I'd like to add that breastfeeding has changed me also as a person and has opened my mind to the choices made by each individual. I've learned that some moms may say that they want to breastfeed but do not truly believe in it while others really tried their best but failed at it. I'd like to think that I've learned to keep my mouth shut in front of formula feeding moms and be more circumspect in my comments.

As much as I hate people coming up to me with that "she's still nursing?!" statement, I know that formula feeding moms or mixed feeding moms also feel upset when they hear comments about exclusive breastfeeding, etc. I try to keep my comments to a minimum, unless I am posting in this blog or on my Facebook page or attending a breastfeeding event. I believe that if you are on my blog FB page or at the breastfeeding event, then you are interested in breastfeeding and would be open to comments.

Whether or not you are a breastfeeding mom, this statement applies to you: "please think before you comment": When you talk to a nursing mom, don't ask her if her milk is enough or why her baby at age xx is still nursing. When you talk to a non-breastfeeding mom, don't ask her why she didn't breastfeed or go on about how breastfed babies are better, healthier than formula fed babies.

A lot of breastfeeding advocates may disagree with me but I still believe that breastfeeding is a choice. Rather than disparaging her choice not to breastfeed, let us educate the woman in making the choice. Like me, she may most likely not have been educated about breastfeeding or exposed to the formula-feeding culture. Again, before you comment about that breastfeeding picture or that nursing toddler or that formula feeding mom, think before you open your mouth. And if you've got nothing nice to say, then don't say anything.

Happy International Women's Month, everyone!

Do check out the posts of other Milk Mama Diaries Carnival Participants:

Breastfeeding Changed Me at Apples & Dumplings

The Choice to be More Than a Woman at Mec as Mom [@delisyus and Facebook]

Breastfeeding made me a better and stronger mom...and woman at Ethanmama: The Working Mom...Finding Balance [@ethanmama and Facebook]

Feeling Fab at 40 at I'm Perfectly Created

Supercow Isn't Sexy at Rainy Days and Mom Days [Facebook]

Of Nursing and Self-Awareness at Changing Nappies in High Heels [@Lilly_pad and Facebook]

Same Old Brand New Me at the odyssey of dinna

Juggling Mommy Act: Fully Breastfeeding while Caring for "ME" at Handy Mommy

Breastfeeding and my self-image at Topaz Mommy [@FrancesASales and Facebook]

My Breastfeeding Story at Manila Fashion Observer [@cd_mfo]

Breastfeeding and My Career at Soprano Mom Writes [@touringkitty]

Joining the milkwagon at domestication of dotty b

A Love Story at Misis Teapot [@stellapastores]

Breastfeeding Has Made Me a Better Woman at Truly Rich Mom [@tinasrodriguez and Facebook]

Please think before you comment at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom [@MamaBabyLove and Facebook]

Monday, March 14, 2011

School Rants

With the proliferation of all sorts of schools in Metro Manila, I find it really difficult to sort out the bad apples from the good ones. Last year, Stan and I were hunting for a school for Naima near our place. We found a supposedly international school in Malate with tuition at P150,000. Honestly, tuition WAS steep but given its proximity to my workplace and my mother-in-law's house, we thought that we could work out the tuition and just tighten our spending on unnecessary shopping.
So off we went to the school for a school tour. First danger sign - the school was not at all associated with Harvard University but upon entry, there was a huge sign of "HARVARD" in the foyer. Apparently, the directress studied in Harvard - though I wasn't sure if she studied Masters or just took some certificate course (like Sen. Miriam). But I really found it in bad taste for the school to be plastering "Harvard" signs when it was not at all accredited with that school. Next, during the school tour, the directress was in school but she never met us. It was just a receptionist (with bad English at that!) who took us around the school. Third warning sign - I was able to get their brochure and noted how they were affiliated with about 5-6 international organizations. One of the organizations was based in Cavite so I called this organization and asked if XXX school was appreciated. The organization was shocked because it was the first time they heard of that school and they confirmed that the school was not a member.
Acting on my suspicious, I emailed another organization (listed on the Malate school's website) based in Washington, D.C. and the organization replied that the school was not at all accredited! But I wanted to give the school a chance since I really wanted to put Naima there. So I emailed the directress to seek a clarification. No reply - so scratched that school off my list.
Next school rant - this time, it's a school in Mandaluyong City. I had a relative who was diagnosed as a high-functioning Asperger's individual. He was about to enter grade school so we were trying to look for a school he could go to. I suggested this school in Mandaluyong because it was highly recommended by friends. So late last year, we did school tours and obtained details on application. Early this year, the dad asked the school again if they were still accepting applications for special students. He was informed yes and the student will be assessed if he will be suitable. We were also informed that the school has an attached preschool and students from that school will be given priority for entry into the grade school. However, he was assured that applications were still being accepted. So off we went to complete the requirements, doing several tests and evaluations, on hearing, from the developmental pedia, recommendations from his old school, etc. etc.
After completing the requirements, the dad submitted them to the school (in mid-February) along with the P500 application fee. A week after, the dad followed up the schedule for assessment and was informed that the directress received the application and wrote "QUOTA FOR SPED IS FILLED FROM XXX PRESCHOOL". We were surprised since the dad had confirmed that slots were still available. I asked a friend to intervene and this friend emailed the directress. The directress told her that the student did not pass the initial assessment. Again we were surprised since this was different from what the admissions office told the dad when he followed up.
So I wrote an email to the directress with the following excerpts:
Anyway, I just want to emphasize my concern. My concern is not that STUDENT was rejected or what but the reason for rejection. You see, non-acceptance because the student was not qualified v. non-acceptance because the slots are filled are two different things.

If you had written on the application form that STUDENT did not pass the initial assessment, then that would have been crystal clear that STUDENT was not made out for THIS BIG SCHOOL. Instead, however, you wrote "QUOTA FOR SPED IS FILLED FROM AFFILIATED PRESCHOOL".

This was why I was dismayed. It appears then that even if the quota is already filled, you would continue to accept the applications and P500 payment - because apparently, the quota is really not filled but instead, STUDENT just did not make the cut.

I do believe it would've been crystal clear to us if you had instead written that STUDENT did not make the initial cut, rather than writing down that the "Quota for SPED is filled."
The directress replied, excerpts below:
After reading his report, we determined that he was not qualified to be a candidate to meet the quota for SPED students for the Prep program.

There are currently 5 SPED applicants from AFFILIATED PRESCHOOL. As I wrote, there may be at the most, 3 slots for children with SPED needs in PREP. That number is determined by the number of sections in the Prep program. We may have 2 or 3 sections next school year. Currently, the 5 SPED children from AFFILIATED PRESCHOOL are more qualified than STUDENT. Also, only 2 or 3 of those children will be accepted in THIS BIG SCHOOL. (emphasis supplied)
However, I still was not satisfied so I requested for a clarification by sending a follow-up email:
Saying:
"After reading his report, we determined that he was not qualified to be a candidate to meet the quota for SPED students for the Prep program. "

has a different meaning from:
"QUOTA FOR SPED IS FILLED FROM AFFILIATED PRESCHOOL".
I wanted to emphasize to the directress that their admissions procedure was very UNCLEAR and I really felt that my relative had been fleeced of the P500 application fee. If there were more than enough students from AFFILIATED PRESCHOOL for the SPED quota of BIG SCHOOL, then why did they still accept applications from new students, along with the P500 application fee?

I'm really frustrated with my experience with these 2 schools. I've also heard and read about other horror stories from other parents. And this makes me wonder if DepEd is regulating schools in the Metro, given the high charges and fees that these schools charge parents. There should really be a consumer hotline for parents to report unethical practices of schools!

*Please private message me if you want to know the names of these 2 schools.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More March activities

*Update - LATCH March 12 Class is moved to March 26, 2011!

Best Friends in Breastfeeding will also be holding its monthly support group meeting this Saturday, 12 March 2011 at 1030am at the Baby Company, 2/f Podium Mall, Ortigas Center. Topic will be on breastfeeding difficulties to be led by Jane Cacacho, Xavier School, High School Principal. Click here to read a recap of my experience at a similar meeting.
Anyway, what makes this meeting different from the LATCH seminar is just that - this one is a meeting and the other is a seminar. The LATCH activity is specifically targeted towards pregnant moms and is purely a class with opportunity to ask questions. It is essentially a breastfeeding lecture and is pretty structured. Meanwhile, the support group meeting is for moms who are already breastfeeding - new moms or moms with older babies or toddlers. Some pregnant moms benefit from attending because they learn or hear about the experiences of the other moms. But if you are looking for a class with a lecture on breastfeeding basics, pumping at work, milk storage, etc. this is not the meeting for you. During the support group meeting, a topic is put out - then moms share their experiences or ask questions about that topic. If there's time, you can ask your questions which are not about the set topic. LATCH seminar lasts 3 hours while the BFB (LLLI) meeting is about 1.5 hours.

Aside from breastfeeding seminars/meetings, there is another activity over at The Medela House. Read Maricel's email below:
This March 12, we will be having another MedelaSupports event at the Medela House. A free talk by The Learning Library on How to Choose Books for Your Children to get them to love reading as well as how to read to your children will be held from 9am-12noon. It will be a back-to-back English-Filipino talk. If your child is 3 years old and older, they will also conduct a free reading assessment so you know at what level your child’s at. In addition, you get a recommended reading list which is a helpful guide when you visit bookstores. Finally, the Scholastic bookfair will also grace the event and provide immediate selections for purchase depending on your child’s reading ability! So you can go home and practice all that you’ve learned that same day :)

This event, due to popular request, will also be opened to non-MedelaMoms’ customers for an entrance fee of P100 per person. Everything is free for MedelaMoms’ Pump customers :) Please register thru Medela Moms or via 0917-5614366 with your name, your child’s name and age, and whoever else might be accompanying you to this event.


Finally, check out this parenting/breastfeeding class for a series of 3 weekends, beginning 19 March 2011. Brought to you by MotherCo and Bosom Buddy. See the flier below for more details (click poster to read).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

LATCH Class this Saturday - 12 March 2011

This Saturday, 12 March 2011, L.A.T.C.H. will be conducting a breastfeeding workshop information at The Medical City from 9-12nn. This is a free class on a first come, first serve basis. Classes will be at the 4th Floor, Conference Room 1, take the entrance beside Starbucks. Topics include Breastfeeding Benefits, What to Expect in the First Week, Positioning and Latching, Back to Work and Busting Breastfeeding Myths. For inquiries, you can call TMC at 635-6789, loc. 6444.

Click HERE to know what to expect for this class.

*Update: 10 March 2011 - Class has been moved to 26 March 2011 due to scheduling conflicts at The Medical City

Friday, March 4, 2011

We Love DwellStudio!


I first discovered DwellStudio at Kidsteals and purchased the Chocolate Dot backpack for Naima. At that time Naima just turned 2 and had been in playschool for 1 month. In choosing products for Naima, I make sure that they are safe and non-toxic. Which means much as I want to get those Cath Kidston bags, I've held off as most of them are PVC-coated (read HERE about the dangers of PVC).
From DwellStudio's FAQ, the products are "made of the highest quality cotton and linen available. DwellStudio prints are all low-impact fiber-reactive dyes. They contain no heavy metals or other known toxic substances, are AZO free and formaldehyde free, and meet all criteria for eco-friendly pigments." Although not all DwellStudio products are organic, the products are free from toxicity from chemical finishes. If you're not too concerned about the toxics/chemicals in our homes, read this CNN Special Feature.
What I love about DwellStudio are their fun prints and the fact that the items are really well-made. I would think that Naima (or I) will tire of the items first before they get broken or torn.
DwellStudio is locally available through Quirks Marketing Philippines. I've been wanting to complete Naima's Chocolate Dots collection for sometime now but find DwellStudio quite expensive. Happily, I was able to take advantage of the DwellStudio Sale early this year and purchased several pieces in preparation for our long-haul vacation this summer! I also got her a Scribble Kit in Paper Dolls (not pictured) for plane and car use.

KidzBox - one of the products I'd like to buy from DwellStudio.  Placemats made from silky food grade, hand silk-screened silicone that's free from BPA, lead, latex, phthalates and other harsh chemicals 
There are still several pieces that I'd like to purchase but I'm still waiting for the next big sale! I do believe that Quirks Marketing Philippines initially started with DwellBaby and has now expanded their line to include kitchen and beddings from DwellStudio.

*DwellStudio is available locally through Rustan's, Gymboree (Cebu), Toys @ Work (Banilad Town Center and Ayala Center Cebu) and Baby & Beyond (San Juan).

*This is not a paid post and I purchased all products listed either through online shopping or through the DwellStudio sale. I'm not employed or compensated by Quirks Marketing Philippines or DwellStudio.

*All photos taken by Stanley S. Ong.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Join the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival

Since late last year, I've been toying with the idea of hosting a local blog carnival. I've participated in a breastfeeding and natural parenting blog carnival - both hosted and organized by non-Filipino moms. With the growing number of Filipino breastfeeding bloggers, I think that it's high time that we have our own carnival and share our thoughts about issues and topics relevant to local nursing moms.
What is a blog carnival? Wiki has an explanation but basically, it is a compilation of blogs written about a specific topic which has been previously set. The blogs are submitted to the host (that will be me for this carnival) and will be published on a stated date. The published blogs will include links to the posts of other carnival participants. What I like about carnivals is that it helps me meet like-minded moms and allows me to discover new blogs I haven't previously encountered.
Since March is National Women's Month, what better time to start this carnival, than now? Plus Mec over at Hope to Help You (our co-host for this carnival) suggested a very apt topic!
Our topic for this month's carnival is "has breastfeeding changed you as a woman?" You can write about whether or not breastfeeding changed your views about your body and how? Did you become conscious about nursing in public? In front of family? Did breastfeeding results in changes in your hygiene, (beauty) rituals, wardrobe? How has it affected the roles you play as a woman?
Please include this short blurb on the top of your post: "Welcome to the first Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (March). To celebrate National Women's Month, our participants share how breastfeeding has changed them as a woman. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants."
For samples, you can check previous entries to the Carnival of Natural Parenting or the Carnival of Breastfeeding.
If you don't have a blog but would like to join, please email me so I can arrange to have you hosted as a guest blogger.
Submissions are due by March 14 and the carnival will go live on March 18. To join, please fill up this FORM in order to join. I will email you by March 17, 2011 with instructions for posting.

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