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Monday, December 23, 2013

Upcoming Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Trainings

It all started with a private message on Facebook.  In 2012, the very first Arugaan peer counsellor training for mothers was held and organised in my home city of Davao.  Since then, Arugaan has trained several more peer counsellors, including my office's Peer Mom group - in Metro Manila and Cebu.

Although 2013 - with WABA theme - Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers - is ending, Arugaan is busy in the first quarter of the year conducting peer counsellor trainings in Davao City, Cagayan de Oro and Bacolod City.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Baskets: Sharing our Blessings

I have never spent Christmas in Manila. Even as a student here, I have always spent it at home, in Davao, with my family. And when Stan and I got married, we would just shuttle between Cebu and Davao. Though we are not around, we always make sure that we prepare a noche buena pack for the people in our condo --- the security guards, janitors, gardeners and administration personnel who help maintain our amenities. They do make our lives easier so Christmas is a chance to make them feel special and let them know how thankful we are for their services. This is what we put into the pack:
mini grocery bag

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rubella and Breastfeeding

Sorry I haven't been posting as much.  We're leaving for the holidays and I am in a packing frenzy.

This is just a quick post to reply to a message sent to me via my Facebook page.

 Query: I've been breastfeeding my five month baby girl. Unfortunately yesterday i found out that i have german measles. I immediately called my pedia regarding breastfeeding her. She said that i have to stop until I'm fully well.

My answer: Baby is already past newborn stage. Rubella is not a contraindication to breastfeeding

Sources:, Rubella

I advised mom to get a 2nd opinion from another pediatrician and she said that the second pediatrician said the same thing as her first pediatrician.  I have to clarify.  She should get the opinion of a pediatrician who is well-versed in breastfeeding.  

Again, no pediatrician will tell you that s/he is not breastfeeding-friendly or pro-breastfeeding.  It is up to you to do your research.  This is just one of the instances where you can truly "test" whether your pediatrician is breastfeeding-friendly or not.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stories from the Nanay Bayanihan Center #yolandaPH

It all started with a private message.  A fellow breastfeeding mom was concerned because she had been seeing calls for formula milk donation at Villamor Airbase.  She had been helping out in Villamor Airbase because she found herself not being able to leave.  Camille Favorito shared that her officemate experienced first hand how it was in Villamor during the early days, when they were waiting for their own relatives from Tacloban.  There was no receiving process - no food, no medical teams.  They volunteered to help and have not left.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Snuggle Wuggle Wee is launching this weekend!

"It's here, it's here, I squeal with glee!"

I stole that line from a project that I had been working on for LATCH since March 2013.  It has always been my dream to have more breastfeeding books for children.  Because breastfeeding brought such joy to our family, I look for this theme whenever I buy children's books for N and E.  I listed some of our breastfeeding books in my post back in 2011.  We have amassed more books since then.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

An Infographic about the Milk Code

Thank you UP Pagsama: Pangkalusugang Samahan ng Mag-aaral for this Milk Code infographic.  It has been my wish that there will be something like this and you have granted it!!  You can see it on Facebook here.  But I decided to dedicate a whole blog post because the Facebook photo is so small :D  Please be informed!

Milk Code
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The scene at Villamor Airbase #yolandaPH

I went to Villamor this morning for a meeting on setting up mother-baby friendly spaces with several breastfeeding groups.  However, we realized that action was immediately needed and ended up talking to and assisting evacuees with babies.

C130 just landed
I also had the chance to see a C-130 land in Villamor and streams of people from varying ages and conditions streamed into the waiting area.  The system at the Villamor Airbase is organized by the Army wives, let by Mrs. Kintanar, Mrs. Ona and Mrs. Rayos.

New arrivals are ushered into the waiting area. People with injuries are immediatel y and people stream into the waiting area - moms babies, families, old people, people with injuries, the latter being directed immediately to the clinic area for medical assistance.

This waiting area is filled with monobloc chairs where they are given food, water, allowed to rest. Volunteer stress de-briefers interview them - 1 per family - name/ages of family members, what area did they come from (Tacloban, Tanuan, Guian, etc).  Then, the volunteers check what their immediate needs are: may sugat, may sakit, may karamdaman, or if with kids, nappies?

breastfeeding mom gets
interviewed by meda
If they have wounds or feel unwell, they are immediately brought to the clinic area where register and then get interviewed by a nurse. then a doctor checks them and prescribes medicines if needed. Then they go to a pharmacy area where medicines are dispensed.   If they need clothes, there is also an area where they can get some clothes - clothes are not randomly given to them but they get to pick what fits them.

Next, if they have relatives, globe/sun/smart have set up calling booths. They call their relatives to get picked up. Some are ferried to bus stations by transport volunteers. Those who have nowhere to go are sent to another waiting area and will be transported to the DSWD shelter in Mandaluyong.

view from the back
So what is needed there? Volunteers to be transport coordinators. If you can volunteer to be one, contact Golda Benjamin 09178117007. Hot food - they are asking if per food donation can be good for 150 people. Sana healthy nutritious food arroz caldo or monggo and not fast food. Clothes for the infants and the children.

Several breastfeeding groups have banded together and will be working with DOH/IYCF Coordinators to set up mother-baby friendly places where moms can get affirmation and breastfeeding counseling. I want to correct the misconception na --pano na mga formula fed babies? mamatay? It is DOH's duty to dispense formula milk to babies who truly need them.   Donations of formula milk are prohibited when made to the general public, when included with the individual relief good packs.  However, if it is found that there are moms in the evacuation centers or crisis area who need it, they can get it from the DOH coordinator.

waiting for transport to
the DSWD shelter
Earlier, we saw several babies and most were breastfeeding. I only saw 2 who were formula feeding and they were already older children - past 1.  The goal for these kids is to help them get past reliance on milk and eat more solids. The babies at the evacuation centers all came with their mothers.

What we want aim to do is to encourage them to breastfeed and not drown them in donations of BM substitutes. Breastmilk given to the kids if needed is pasteurized. Donated BM is not the end. it is a stop-gap. the end is put the babies back to breastfeeding.

There are no numbers of how many babies are currently without mothers - even the Philippine government does not have this figure.  The number we have is that on the ground - in this case in Villamor Air Base.  Babies need medical assistance - medicines which are dispenses accordingly but not formula milk.

If this morning's visit was going to be a barometer, I would say that there were only 2 kids - old kids who could've been recipients of the breastmilk donation.  All the other babies there were breastfeeding.  If you are worried about the health of the milk donor, milk is pasteurized.  In all transport of milk,  we ensure that the cold chain is preserved - milk will not be spoiled.  Spoiled milk will never be fed to the babies.  Again the end goal is put the babies back to breastfeeding.  If you give formula milk, you can never ensure that the powdered milk is clean, that the water used to mix it is clean - that the bottle you use is BPA-free.  Finally, you cannot promise a continuous supply of formula milk for 6 months.

The negative effects of distributing formula milk or breastmilk substitutes have been proven internationally and locally and is evidence-based.  Hindi ito sabi-sabi or gawa-gawa lang.  These are international standards and I am ashamed to say that by allowing formula milk donations on site - given and distributed generally, paatras tayo as a country.

To end, if you want to help this Villamor Air Base activity, here are concrete things you can do:
1. Sign up for a shift at the mother-baby friendly space -
2. Volunteer transportation by contacting the coordinator Golda Benjamin 09178117007
3. Donate hot food - good for 150 people at least.  Pool your resources with your friends.  I'm actually looking for manangs/manongs who cook and sell hot food on the street.  Perhaps we can buy their entire day's sales and ask them to distribute their food in Villamor.  To donate food, please contact COMBI Officer Ms. Rose Villarin 09159299292 or contact Pasay City Health Office 8318201
4. Donate usable clothes for the infants and the children.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Milk Donation for #YolandaPH - Where your milk goes

Let me start this post by listing down places where you can donate your milk.

In Davao City, here are the contact persons:

Moms in Cagayan de Oro can also donate breastmilk and you can see where in the poster below.
Plus more:
1. Favorita Store at 1718 JR Borja Ext., Sta. Cecilia Village Gusa.
2. Ororama Cogon Superstore -store hours

Cebu moms can donate milk to Dr. Lilibeth Espinosa at Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center NICU.

For Metro Manila,drop off your milk at the following locations:
Makati Human Milk Bank
1126 E. Rodriguez Ave. Cor. MH Del Pilar St. Bangkal Makati City

Alay Gatas Headquarters Human Milk Bank
Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City
(02)924-6601 to 25 loc. 288

Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital
Lope de Vega, Sta. Cruz, Manila
(02) 734-5561 loc. 156

The Medical City Lactation Unit
The Medical City, Ortigas Avenue
(02) 635-6789 loc. 6720

St. Luke's Medical Center Lactation Unit
8th floor North Wing, Bonifacio Global City
(02) 789-7700 loc. 7118 

The Medela House,
29 1st St., New Manila, Quezon City
(02) 725-3723

If you noticed, I excluded UP-PGH Milk Bank in the list because they are simply inundated with calls and donations.  In normal conditions, you can donate milk at the UP-PGH Milk Bank. However, during these times, on top of preparing and pasteurizing the milk, they also have to coordinate distribution.  Hence, drop offs will now be focused on other locations and milk will be transported to UP-PGH Milk Bank when they are ready to pasteurize.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Once More: No Milk Donations During Calamities

Every time there is a calamity in the Philippines, I have to share posts on my Facebook and Twitter accounts about the prohibition on milk donations.  This time, I feel that a blog post is in order because I saw these posts on Facebook:

Newborns and infants are, probably, the most vulnerable in times of tragedy.

Let us help some of them who have no access to breastmilk. Since

powdered formula milk is prohibited due to lack of clean water, pre-mix formula 

is the best option. Unfortunately, one of the biggest drugstores here

in the Philippines does not sell pre-mix. 

To our kababayans abroad who have the means to acquire premix formula,
may the spirit of bayanihan be with you. From drop off points, all donations will be sent to Philippine Red Cross. For transparency, please label your donations with your names.

Preferred package: pre-mix formula with disposable teats/nipples

(There is no water and electricity to sterilize bottles.)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Safe Formula Feeding

During the OABPF9 Forum in Luang Prabang, I was happy to have the chance to meet Patti Rundall, one of the founders of Baby Milk Action and primemovers in IBFAN.  Her talk focused on the new marketing strategies being used by formula milk companies to promote their products.  My main takeaway from her talk however was how breastfeeding advocates are concerned not only with breastfed infants but also with formula fed infants as well. Most especially with formula fed infants - breastfeeding advocates are focused that these babies' consumer rights to a safe product is at all times met.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Adoption and Breastfeeding

I am currently part of a breastfeeding study group organized by Velvet Escario-Roxas.  I was fortunate enough to have attended the One Asia Breastfeeding Partners Forum 9 and learned so much from it.  Meanwhile, Velvet has been in so many international conferences - which means that she has so much more information about breastfeeding issues to share.

Our study group actually focuses on the book of Dr. Jack Newman.  However, we discuss a lot of issues which crop up along the way.  One of the topics we recently discussed is adoptive breastfeeding.  Did you know that it is possible for adoptive moms to undergo induced lactation and breastfeed their adopted babies?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Exploring Luang Prabang

When I was invited by Arugaan to join them at the One Asia Breastfeeding Forum 9 in Luang Prabang, I was very excited to say yes but also worried.  It was the first time that I would be traveling away from E who was still breastfeeding often, especially at night.  I was given the option to bring him but of course, I needed someone to tend to him while I was at the forum.  I am really thankful that Stan agreed to come to handle the kids and because N was on sembreak, she came as well.

Monday, October 28, 2013

On the Road to Financial Freedom (a sponsored post)

Regular readers know that sponsored posts are a rarity in this blog.  That is because I choose to write them only if I believe in the product or the message being relayed by the product.  Last year, I agreed to do a sponsored post for Sun Life Financial for their Sun Shorts.   This year, I am doing another one because I believe the message that the company wants to share is of utmost importance.  It also gives me chance to share about a topic which I also love but doesn't fit this blog's theme :D

I work for the government and among the thrusts of my agency is financial literacy and education.  Next year, I will be embarking on a major career change.  In the course of interviews, I was asked whether I would be most interested in policy making or advocacy.  Without hesitation, I answered advocacy.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

LATCH Breastfeeding Support Sessions

As a LATCH peer counselor, I have to be honest that I haven't been doing as much one-on-one counseling as I would like.  Counseling takes time and because I am a working mom, I have decided to limit my counseling activities to emails or phones or SMS as I can be with my kids while counseling others.
Becoming a good counselor takes practice and experience though and this is something that I am sorely lacking in.  Hence, one of the projects I wanted was to have actual breastfeeding support counseling sessions.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Did you get carried away? The F.A.B. Babywearing Fair

What a Saturday!  The tropical storm Santi was within the Philippine jurisdiction and we had 2 events happening that day!  The first activity was LATCH's Save the Best for LATCH which I will post about separately.  This was followed by the F.A.B. Babywearing Fair - Get Carried Away!  Friday night, I was really worried about having to cancel especially since we had paid a non-refundable fee to the venue and supplies.

Fortunately, Santi decided to leave the Philippines earlier.  Weather significantly improved and by Saturday afternoon, it was just drizzling.  Since everything was booked and set-up, we decided to push through with the event.

Monday, October 14, 2013

We Love Mustela!

If you follow me on Instagram, you will definitely notice that my favorite brand of skin care products for my kids is Mustela.
I first discovered this brand when my daughter was diagnosed with lichen striatus.  I was using another product recommended by her pedia-derma.  However, the product did not have any list of ingredients. After further investigation, I found that it contained parabens!!  No wonder the company didn't list any ingredients on its label!  Sadly though, other products under this same brand is being marketed as being the best product for newborns.
Mustela Display at one of the bazaars

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thank you Estee Lauder for this Sibling Date

My sister and I are one-year apart and are very close.  In our home in Davao, although we had separate bedrooms, we never slept apart.  Both of us slept in my bedroom until we moved to Manila for college.  We only started using our separate bedrooms now that we each have our respective families.  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Learn this October - breastfeeding and babywearing!

Just like that, the last quarter of the year is here!  Because I had an office seminar for 3 weeks in September, I felt that the month slipped by.  

October is equally busy!  There are several learning events that you can attend this month.  We will be celebrating October 5-13 as International Babywearing Week and the Filipino Association of Babywearers have organized a babywearing fair! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A low cost lactation clinic in the Philippines?

This merits a special post.  I am writing this post to support Kalusugan ng Mag-ina, Inc. and help them obtain funding from Grand Challenges Canada to establish a low cost lactation clinic in the Philippines.  One of the criteria is vote-garnering using a 2-minute video.

The video voting period is from 12 September 2013 until 15 November 2013.  We need your help!  Here is the write-up of Dr. Lei Alfonso, project proponent:
We need your help to be heard Breastfeeding saves lives. While it is free, our mothers and babies need a supportive environment to receive its full benefit. Our proposed solution - A LACTATION CLINIC that will provide a low-cost, evidence-based, and community-based breastfeeding support for mothers. Increasing the rate of exclusive breastfeeding impacts newborn and infant survival. 
You can vote by visiting this link:

short link -

Then click "LIKE".

I cannot overemphasize the need for trained counselors who are easily accessible by mothers.  With this project, I hope that dream will become a reality.  I have seen Dr. Lei in action and I know that she has the capacity and capability to make this happen.

Will you help?  Please vote, share the link and spread the word!

Edit:  Please note "LIKE" is not enough.  There must be public interaction so please register and comment.  Thank you!!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Do you need to eat healthy to produce quality breastmilk?

One top question that breastfeeding mothers always ask is what do they eat to successfully breastfeed.  I have previously written about the non-necessity for breastfeeding mothers to drink milk.  There are also foods e.g. galactagogues that moms can take to increase milk production and I posted about that here.

For moms with unhealthy diet e.g. loves carbonated drinks, chips, etc., the top question in their minds is whether they should just give their babies formula instead of breastmilk considering that what they eat gets into their breastmilk.  Short Answer:  Breastmilk from an unhealthy mom is still FAR MORE superior than formula milk which comes from cows.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Guest Post: Breastmilk to Fight the Big C!

This is a post that is too good not to share.  Often, talk about breastfeeding benefits is focused around the mother or the nursing baby.  However, there are other family members who can also benefit from the goodness of breastmilk.  This guest post is written by a new mom, Elizabeth Yang Medenilla, who has been breastfeeding her child for just about 2 months.   What makes her story unique is how Beth utilizes her excess expressed milk.  Read her story below:

My breastfeeding conviction started even before I met my husband. A couple of years ago, a friend gave birth and she shared to me the costs of milk formula weekly. I remember telling myself, I will never buy a can of that expensive cow's milk when I can make human milk.

When I got pregnant, I armed myself with all the information I can get my hands on. I also attended seminars about breastfeeding and a friend added me to the Breastfeeding Pinays forum. Then came the day of my baby's birth.

We planned on delivery NSD (natural spontaneous delivery) and without anaesthetics since I was allergic to so many medicines. But our baby had other plans - he had double cord coil and our ob-gyne decided to call for an emergency CS. The ENC protocol was implemented as per my birth plan, 1st latch : baby was too sleepy, attempt failed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Dangers of Formula Milk - It's not about YOU!

I am currently in the midst of a 3-week seminar for work, hence the lack of posts.  However, I want to share this poster:

Whenever I write about the marketing tactics of formula milk companies or bottle companies, I always get criticized - why don't I just write about the benefits of breastfeeding? By writing about the evils of formula milk, I am making formula feeding moms feel bad.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Guest Post: Essentials for a Successful Relactation

All of the relactation stories I have previously shared refer to anecdotal experiences of the moms, wet nurses or the lactation counselor.  For this guest post, I will be sharing the story of Lan Perez.  As with Donna, Lan successfully transitioned from pure formula feeding to pure breastfeeding.

While Donna shared her own experience, Lan has not only written a step by step guide but she has also painstakingly enumerated the characteristics and traits necessary for a mom to successfully relactate.  Let me emphasize - while relactation is possible, it is not easy and the mom must be willing to throw away that bottle, be humble to accept help and milk from other mothers and be open to to change her lifestyle.

Yes, relactation is a miracle but it is not magic that can be done with a snap of your fingers.  Lan shares with us her journey and I hope this will not only inspire fellow moms but will also clarify questions or doubts about relactation.  Click this link to read more about my previous posts on relactation.

I'm Lan Perez, mother to two wonderful kids. My daughter, Andre, is now 5 years old and was never breastfed. My son, 3-month-old Jaden, was initially mixed-fed then exclusively formula-fed. Now he is exclusively breastfeeding. This is my relactation story.

I was 24 when I gave birth to my eldest. As first time parents, hubby and I were really excited to welcome the first baby in our family (she was, after all, the firstborn and first grandchild). We bought everything we believed she would need when she came out. I thought I was prepared, but I was wrong—I didn’t know a thing about parenting. I was exhausted, and I experienced post-partum depression.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Behind the Scenes: Breastfeeding Uncovered

I can't believe that it has just been one week since Dr. Jack Newman came to Manila.  It feels like a long time ago and I am definitely ready for him to come back.  You can read about how we planned to bring him to Manila here.  For this post, I'm not going to talk about my learnings from his talk.  I'll save that for a future post.  But you can read fellow LATCHer Eliza Ypon's post about that here

More than 300 people registered for the Breastfeeding Uncovered symposium.  I have to say that organizing the symposium was truly a labor of love.  LATCH members stepped up and managed to run the event without any professionals or without hiring any events organizers.  I also want to say a special thank you to Benz Co Rana, Nice Print Photo and Bryan Sales for helping us document the event.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Can I ask for your time? Mompreneur Awards

Aside from running this blog, I also have a business - Mama.Baby.Love.  If you've read my about page, you'll know that this blog was initially started as platform to market the business.  However, plans change and the blog has taken a separate identity.  However, let me take this opportunity to blog about my business and ask for your help!

Last year, I attended the very 1st Mompreneur Summit with the theme "Think Big".  My friend Jen CC Tan joined the powerhouse cast of speakers who literally showed participants how to build their business - from branding to marketing to digital presence.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Giving Birth God's Way at The Cathedral of the King

Among the articles I share in my Facebook page are those pertaining to natural birth.  Out of the blue, one of the moms, Lala Espina messaged me.  She had experienced natural birthing at a birthing facility provided by her church in Mandaluyong City.  I was very curious because Lala shared that the set-up was very much like birthing at home.

Lala invited us to visit her church's birthing facility to meet their midwife, Mama Chato.  I went with my breastfriend, Velvet Roxas and her husband, Atan.  Velvet had recently been certified as a birth doula and I will write more about her in a future post.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Symbol of Breastfeeding: Golden Bow

When Stan and I were brainstorming about the poster for his photo exhibit, he asked me what the symbol of breastfeeding was.  I was stumped.  The "pink ribbon" was the widely known symbol for breast cancer however, I couldn't remember what was the symbol of breastfeeding.

A quick internet search brought me to this UNICEF page on the golden bow, which I immediately shared on Facebook.
see the golden bow?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Guest Post: From 40oz. of formula milk to none!

I never get tired of hearing relactation stories.  Because we live in a formula feeding culture, I have met moms who "chose" to formula feed their babies but end up regretting this choice after a month or so.   Is that the end of their breastfeeding journey?  Happily, I can confidently answer NO!  If adopted moms and grandmothers can breastfeed babies then moms can successfully undergo relactation.  However, it is not easy and it will take a lot of hard work and determination.

Metro Manila moms are lucky that there is a center - Arugan Creche - where moms can successfully learn how to relactate from experts in the breastfeeding field - Velvet Escario-Roxas with lactation masseuse Rechilda Talle.  The relactating mom also needs support from other moms in the form of donated breastmilk, to ensure that the baby will not go hungry while the mom builds up her supply.
For this guest post, I would like to share the story of Donna Marie Bondoc who painstakingly chronicled her relactation journey in hopes of inspiring other formula feeding moms that breastfeeding is not a lost cause.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Compilation of Emergency Posts - Again - No Formula Milk Donations Please!

I have written several posts about breastfeeding during emergencies and calamities.  They are spread out through 4-5 years.  In this post, I will attempt to compile them so you can easily click and refer to the ones relevant to you.

For breastfeeding moms, a top worry during storms would be brownouts especially on how these affect frozen breastmilk.  Visit my post "Brownouts and Breastmilk" to read how you can preserve your breastmilk during power outages and information on refreezing milk.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Baby Led Feeding

Starting solids is a milestone in each child's life. I strongly believe that babies should start solids at 6 months or later.  Read this post to know why.  With N, we started solids at 6.5 months and did the regular mashed food route.  We prepared N's food ourselves and she never tried the standard Cerelac or Gerber meals.  At that time, my mother-in-law purchased a blender specifically for N to use.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Effects of Advertising Preschool Milk

Think that the marketing of toddler formula is harmless?  Think again.

I received this message and photo from a fellow breastfeeding mother:
My son is in preschool and they're studying the letter "M" so one of the words they're learning is "milk". I'm really disappointed that the graphic they use for the kids to associate with milk is the one shown in the attached picture. My son wasn't breastfed, but his little brother was and he knows the concept of mommy milk. I feel bad because they could just have easily used a picture of a glass of milk instead of a formula can.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

It's N@W or Never: Breastfeed your Child! A Photo Exhibit

This project is a labor of love from dear hubby Stanley Ong Photography and Newlyweds at Work (N@W). N@W was my lifeline during the early days of breastfeeding N. This group started out as an online forum to complement Weddings at Work (W@W) of Abet and Benz Rana. The online forum has grown into a community - with members becoming real life friends! I met a lot of my breastfriends from this group and continue to meet new friends from among the members.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hakab Na! 2013

Last Saturday, the Philippines held its very first Hakab Na! 2013 breastfeeding awareness campaign.  I was one of the organizers of this event and you can read the background of how we planned and prepared for this event in Rappler.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pofuff - Art Alive!

N takes after her dad and loves to draw. Pack rat that I am, we have folders and folders of her drawings stashed in S' office. N also regularly inserts her drawings in my bag for me to bring to office to be used as decoration for my office cubicle.

So when my college dorm mate Lei contacted me about their new project, I was more than excited to try it. Lei’s project all started last September 2012 when Lei shared with Ziggy (her husband) about how delighted Lilly (their 4 year old daughter) was when Lei used a stuffed toy to animate what she was reading from her story book.  Lei and Ziggy were also encouraging Lilly to draw to improve her fine motor skills and develop problem solving skills. Lilly eventually asked her parents to turn her toys into stuffed toys and so Pofuff was born.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Breastfeeding: The Bond of Love

Since 2009, my husband Stanley Ong has been personally photographing breastfeeding mothers in support of my advocacy.  He has seen me weather difficulties with N, literally cry over spilled milk and wrestle with my acrobatic breastfeeding babies.  He also also experienced the joy seeing me nourish his children as well as enjoyed sleeping soundly at night without having to prepare bottles for them.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Busy Breastfeeding Promotion Month 2013

My favorite month of the year is coming up.  August is Breastfeeding Promotion Month and there are several activities lined up for this month!  This will be a long but informative (I hope) post.  I've collated different activities from various groups.  Please contact the organizers directly if you are looking to join one of the listed events.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Guest Post: Relactation is a Journey from the Heart

One of the practices that we are taught during our L.A.T.C.H. peer counselor training is the concept of YIELD. As breastfeeding peer counselors, LATCHers are the first line of breastfeeding support that mothers contact when they get discharged from the hospital. However, we do know that there are other counselors who are more experienced than LATCHers and hence, we are humble to admit our limitations and will yield to the more experienced counselor.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mom Pop Up at the Fort!

I started my online store because I wanted to promote a natural lifestyle among fellow moms.  From breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, my new focus now is having a green or an eco-friendly period. You can see this from the variety of menstrual products I have in my store - ranging from several brands of cloth pads and menstrual cups.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Milk Sharing on Kape at Balita

Early this morning, I dropped by Kape at Balita to talk about Human Milk for Human Babies - The Philippines.  HM4HB - The Philippines is part of an international group from 52 countries with the purpose of fostering community between local families who have chosen to share breastmilk.

The community provides a space - where donors and recipients can come together to benefit from each other.  No breastfeeding advice is given and HM4HB - The Philippines does not match up donors with recipients nor do they mediate conflicts.  More importantly, breastmilk offered in the page is always offered for free - never for sale or for barter.  You can read more FAQs here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer Series 2013: HongKong with Kids

The last of my summer series is our unplanned trip to HK.  I consider this unplanned because when I do trips, I buy tickets months and months ahead of schedule (think at least 6 months ahead!).  MIL had a business trip in HK which required the presence of Mr. Ong and his sister (from Singapore).  Since SIL's kids will be on vacation then, she was thinking of bringing them to HK or dropping them off in the Philippines.  Because I wanted to have a last hurrah, I subtly suggested to Mr. Ong to have a last summer vacation/reunion for cousins.  
hello HongKong

Monday, July 15, 2013

Milk Code Violation: Gifts of Any Sort

The Milk Code has been in existence since 1986.  Admittedly, it is not an easy law to read and understand.  Further, despite being in force for almost 20 years, violations are still quite rampant.  I previously posted about how marketing of feeding bottles and teats can be considered a violation.  For this post, I will focus on samples and giveaways - how they violate the Milk Code.

Let me again emphasize - the law EXISTS.  What I am attempting to do is provide examples of violations to make the law understandable and more palatable to the general public.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fun and Learning For the Expectant Mom

Ortigas is the happening place for pregnant moms this weekend!  First up is the Belly Blessed Festival which starts today, 12 July 2013 and runs until 8pm on Sunday 14, 2013 at the 2nd and 3rd Level Atrium of The Podium Mall in Pasig City.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Not so good weekend

I wrote this post more than 3 years ago and put it under draft. I just changed some names. But I believe it is time to post this so I am publishing it.

A family member B gave birth yesterday, 8 January 2010 at 723pm. Her baby, A, is 32 weeks and 6 days old. She was 4.4lbs and 19inches. B was admitted to the hospital last Monday (4 January). She was given medicines to slow down contractions. The baby was also given steroids to hasten lung development. Finally, on Friday, her ob-gyne said that the baby could no longer wait and she was to deliver that day.
I took a half-day off work and went straight to Ortigas with N and B's mom (who was supposed to take the afternoon flight back to Davao City). B finally delivered on Friday evening. Baby A is still in the incubator until today. Initially, they were only giving her canula (oxygen). However, her left lung had difficulty expanding so the doctor put her on CPAP (ventilator).
Which brings me to her doctor --- the evil Dr. Q. Dr. Q was recommended by B's ob-gyne as she was a neonatologist. I first met her on Saturday morning. When she came, we were asking her about Baby A's status and she kept using these highfalutin technical medical terms. None of us were doctors there so I kept asking more questions and I could tell that she was getting more irritated. Isn't it supposed to be the doctor's duty to help the patient understand what is happening by explaining or translating medical terms into something more palatable to non-doctors.
Plus - aside from putting the baby on IV drip with glucose water, she told us that for A's first 2 feedings, they were going to give glucose water. I asked her what about colostrum? She told me -- no - she was not going to give colostrum to A, lest she choke. I told her that we were able to collect a couple of drops of colostrum which she told me to throw away because it was too little! I was really unhappy with what she said but I held my tongue as I'm not a doctor.
But in my blog space -- let me rant!! B's mom told me that she was a pioneer in the "neonatology" field. I told B's mom that I don't like old doctors who were set in their ways and did not want to consider change or listen to opinions of others. Dr. Q was such a doctor. It really frustrates me that much as I want B to breastfeed, she ended up with a neonatologist who was not breastfeeding friendly. Since baby A is still in the NICU, I didn't want to pressure B although she does continuously pump every 3 hours. I just wish we found a more supportive neonatologist like Dr. Z (who was no longer connected to the hospital where B gave birth). To think that this hospital prides itself as being breastfeeding friendly!
I also hope that Dr. Q did not read this article I got from my news feed last week. According to Prof. Sven Carlsen of Norwegian University of Science and Technology, breastmilk is not better than baby formula -- he claims that the studies showing that breastfed babies were healthier than formula fed babies are actually because the moms who were able to successfully breastfeed had a healthier pregnancy as compared to moms who failed to breastfeed (due to an "unhealthier pregnancy").
Most concluded that the longer a child is nursed, the healthier it will be. The professor said this may be the case, but it was because of a healthier pregnancy, not the breast milk. His research shows that high levels of the male sex hormone testosterone in the womb affect a woman's ability to produce milk and to breast-feed.
With testosterone levels affected by the health of the placenta, which ferries oxygen and nutrients to the baby, the professor believes high amounts indicate poorer conditions in the womb overall.
This means that any differences in the health of a baby bottle-fed because its mother finds breastfeeding difficult are set before birth, rather than afterwards.
You can read more about this here:
2. BBC
For another blogger's take on this article, read this.

Monday, July 8, 2013

ERGO Review: Performance v. Sport

I purchased my Ergo Performance in Brandsfever Singapore before the brand was brought in the Philippines by Richwell Phils, Inc.  However, when Richwell brought Ergo in, they brought in Original, Organic, Designer and Active.  Performance is not locally available.  Basically, the Original, Organic and Designer all have the same features - the difference is just the material used.  In this page, you can find a technical comparison of the Ergo Original (Standard), Performance and Active.

For this review, I will focus on the specific functions or features that we liked or didn't like about each carrier.  I took the measurements of the body of the carrier. There is a minimal difference - the body of the Performance is a little bit bigger than Active.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Countdown to August

August is my most favorite month of the year and I am sure you can guess why.   It is breastfeeding awareness month and it is the month when I get to promote the reason for why this blog exists.   This year's theme for World Breastfeeding Week is Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers and you can read more about that here
I am pleased to share about kick-off activities that support breastfeeding month that will be starting this July!  There will actually be more activities in August and I am excited to share them with you in a future blog post.  But for this month, let us focus on a peer counsellor training and a milk sharing activity.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

National Savings Consciousness Week 2013 - Teaching your Kids to Save

This week, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas not only celebrates its 20th anniversary but more importantly, BSP has partnered with the Department of Education for National Savings Consciousness Week.
Financial education is one of BSP's important advocacy and BSP believes that the value of saving is best taught during the formative years.  BSP resolves to help create a new generation of financially literate savers - starting with school children.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer Series 2013: Cebu Discoveries

The 2nd of our back-to-back weddings was in Cebu for my college friend, Kelie.  Kelie sang my wedding march (in Italian!) and gamely rendered more songs during our wedding reception.  So there was no way I was going to miss his wedding!

Since Stan's mom is Manila-based, we usually stay in hotels when we go to Cebu.  Staying in his house would require a thorough general cleaning - too much work for 2-3 nights stay.  Previously we stated at Waterfront Lahug.  However, during our Christmas 2012 stay, we found that the smoke from the casino permeated the entire lobby.  After breakfast at Cafe Uno, our hair and clothes smelled like cigarette smoke.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Formula Milk Advertisements for 1-3 years old

For the past weeks, I have received several emails about campaigns by Nestle and Wyeth promoting their products.  Let me share my thoughts about them.

These campaigns refer to advertisements for follow-on milk for 12-36 month old children.

I called the Milk Code Secretariat and confirmed that it was approved by the Inter-Agency Committee created under the Milk Code.  Next question?  Was this legally approved?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Series 2013: Davao Fun

The first of our back to back wedding weekend was in my hometown, Davao City.  Our college friend, Paolo was getting married to his long-time sweetheart Elle.  I first met Elle when Paolo brought her to my house during Stan's pamamanhikan back in 2006.   Initially, I thought about letting just Stan fly to Davao to attend Paolo's wedding.  However, since Paolo accompanied Stan on that 9-hour non-aircon bus ride from Cagayan de Oro to Davao City about 15 years ago when he was still courting me, Stan insisted that we should be present - in full force.  It was also my chance to visit my hometown so I didn't put up a fight ;)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Family Fun - Art with Crayola

Who didn't grow up with Crayola?  I'm sure we all did!  I still remember that 64-crayon box with built-in sharpener that I loved when I was younger.  A couple of Saturdays ago, the #SoMoms were invited by Crayola to introduce their new brand - T-Pencil.  Apparently, Amspec has been making pencils for other brands for several years but finally decided to make their own line, given their long experience in manufacturing kid-safe, quality pencils. 

The event was held in Gymboree Shangri-La.  E is a Gymboree regular and happily, the event was facilitated by someone he was familiar with - his Art teacher - Teacher Rain.  Meanwhile, since N loves art and craft, she excitedly got to work on the materials laid out.
coloring Gymbo with Crayola

Friday, June 21, 2013

Dr. Jack Newman is coming to Manila!

brought to you by L.A.T.C.H.

I cannot contain my excitement!!  Breastfeeding rockstar Dr. Jack Newman is coming to Manila!  If you don't know who he is - well, he is THE breastfeeding expert in North America.  He is a pediatrician who has dedicated his life to helping children breastfeed.

In his website,Breastfeeding Inc., he has several videos especially useful to new moms.  When N was a newborn, I spent many nights watching his videos.  When E was born, I went back to his videos to help me remember how it was like breastfeeding a newborn.  Whenever I counsel or encourage new moms, I always refer them to Dr. Newman's videos.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer Series 2013: Boracay Adventures

This summer, the family was busy traveling.  We started our summer with a trip to Boracay in March, stayed in Manila for April then headed to Davao and Cebu in May then will be ending with a trip to Hong Kong in June.  I will attempt (operative word: attempt) to write a post about one aspect of our summer travels for this summer series :)

The last time I was in Boracay was almost 10 years ago when I was a fun-loving singleton.  I have stayed in resorts from Stations 1, 2, 3 and beyond (Diniwid) - luxury and budget.  Stan and I had been to Boracay together before but that was when we were more mobile, out to have a good time and party.  This trip is the first for both kids - our first trip as a family.  

Thanks to a friend, we were able to get discounted vouchers to Shangri-La's Boracay Resort.  Since the vouchers were good only for 2 nights, we booked 2 more nights at a family-friendly resort in Station 1 - Sur.    Staying in Station 2 would have actually been more convenient since it was closer to restaurants.  However, because Boracay was getting more and more crowded, I wouldn't recommend it if you are with young kids.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Date Nights at New World Makati's Jasmine

New World Makati is always special to me because this was one of the places where Mr. Ong and I dated in the early days of our relationship.  I still remember our "kilig" moments at the now-closed Bocarino's almost 15 years ago.

Recently, the SoMoms were invited to a dinner at Jasmine restaurant to introduce their fine Cantonese signature sets.   Whenever I hear Chinese restaurants set menus, I always think of lauriat meals.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that New World's Jasmine does their Chinese restaurants set menus in style!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day to our Breastfeeding Daddy!

This year marks Stan's 6th Father's Day.  Not because I am being biased - but he is excellent at being a father!  There is a running contest among Stan's barkada about how he is doting dad ideal.  Beyond being a doting dad, there are just so many things that I am thankful for and let me take the opportunity to do so in this blog post.

  • Thank you for overcoming your squeamishness, holding up my legs when it was time to deliver our babies and wrapping up E's placenta for future use.
  • Thank you for changing all diapers - wet and dirty during the kids' first month, allowing me to learn how to breastfeed and to recuperate.
  • Thank you for giving both our kids their first baths, washing their faces, cleaning up their poo and spit-ups and putting them to sleep, giving me a lot of "ME" time.
  • Thank you for attending breastfeeding and birthing classes with me and for never saying No even if you are skeptical of the practices I suggest.
  • Thank you for NEVER suggesting that we switch to formula milk when I was having trouble with N.
  • Thank you for bearing with me when I asked to see several lactation counselors, breastfeeding counselors to get my latch, positioning right.
  • Thank you for taking breastfeeding photographs, for being open to talk about and give breastfeeding tips to families (especially dads) who ask you about it.
  • Thank you for making the kids laugh and scheduling daddy dates without me or the kids asking you to.
  • Thank you for keeping it cool during the times I lose my temper.
  • Thank you for never being a male chauvinist - for stepping up to take care of our children's needs - without thought on whether it is a man's job or a woman's job.
  • Thank you for giving your children their best start in life by encouraging me to breastfeed and adopting my advocacy as your own.

Happy Father's Day to the Number One Dad in our lives!! We love you!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Issues raised about the #beststartswithdad turnaround campaign

When I wrote my last post about #beststartswithdad, several people asked me why I was so bothered when the campaign was for growing up milk?  Was I against thanking the dads?  Am I making formula feeding moms guilty?

I am not against companies thanking dads for their support, etc.etc.  But when the campaign undermines breastfeeding, then I take a stand.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Breastfeeding: #beststartswithdad

I was supposed to start off June with a feel good post about our summer vacation.  However, with the launch of this devious underhanded marketing campaign of Mead Johnson, I have to start June with this not-feel good post.

Some weeks ago, some blogger friends received this invitation and sent it to me.  I was not invited (for obvious reasons!!) and I wasn't the type to crash an event just to find out what was going on.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Reconciling Milk Storage Guidelines - Philippine Setting

I haven't posted anything for more than 1 week!! I started working on this post about 2 weeks ago and really agonized how to make it all come together.  Finally, here it is and I hope this will be helpful and not confusing to breastfeeding moms.

Back in my 2009 post about milk storage guidelines, I referred to guidelines culled from Western countries.  I'm happy to share that there are now guidelines specifically created for the Philippine climate. However, if you notice the charts, the suggested storage guidelines are not the same.  One guidelines were developed by MDs while the other was developed by internationally recognized expert breastfeeding counselors.   

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Quick Reminder: Working Mom May 2013 - Setting up your Lactation Policy

May is about to end and just a quick reminder to grab a copy of Working Mom May 2013.  I have an article there about how we set up our lactation rooms in the workplace and how we are currently working on our lactation policy.

I have a compilation of posts in this blog related to breastfeeding and working and you can see them here.  Meanwhile, you can download and print this very useful guide (PDF) from the Department of Labor and Employment's Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns.
I can, let me reiterate, nothing will happen if you don't take the first step.  So read, research, know your rights and make the move!  You never know - the lactation room/policy may just be a request away. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Online Shopping? Try Taste Central

As a full time working mom, I am addicted to online shopping.  My favorite local deal site is Deal Grocer.  I have booked several vacations through them - from Misibis Bay, Crimson Resort, Taal Vista plus countless of vouchers for lunches and dinners in various restaurants.

I was pleasantly surprised and excited when they launched a shopping site - Taste Central.  I am a huge fan of shopping sites such as Zulily, Gilt and HauteLook.  However, since these are US-based sites, I have to wait for months before I get my purchase.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Sad State of Filipino Families [Formula Milk Marketing]

Photo by Atty. Ipat Luna
I do not consider formula milk as evil or poison.  While I encourage breastfeeding, when moms choose to formula feed, I shut my mouth.  However, what I am up in arms against would be the evils of formula milk marketing.  

Whatever formula milk companies say (we promote breastfeeding, breastfeeding is best, etc. etc.) keep in mind that breastfeeding is their number 1 competitor.  Breastfeeding or breastmilk is free while their product has a huge ecological footprint and also makes a big hole in the consumers' pockets.  What is more sickening is that they target their marketing activities to the poorest of the poor -- to those who cannot actually afford their products.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mom's Perfect Day at Ayala Malls

To celebrate Mother's day, the SoMoms were invited to spend the day at Ayala Malls.  We were also treated to a pre-Mother's day shopping at Gingersnaps.  Gingersnaps is one of my favorite brands for kids and I usually end up buying N or E an item from each of their collections.  The task was to buy a Mom and Me outfit for the high tea party on Mother's Day.  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Long Distance Travel with Breastmilk

Traveling with breastmilk is a top concern of mothers - especially those who have to go out of the country and still want to bring home their milk.  I have previously posted tips on traveling and expressing milk without baby and how to transport breastmilk via air (Asian travel).

My own experiences in transporting breastmilk involved air travel, dry ice and regular ice packs. For this post, I will share some tips on traveling with refrigerated breastmilk with travel time of about 6 hours and traveling with frozen breastmilk using dry ice.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Mother's Day Raffle from Mothering Earthlings

If you've been wondering about where I get the funky shirts and tops for my kids, I get them from Mothering Earthlings.  Rone has gathered the funkiest and coolest items from Philippine brands and made online shopping fun and easy for busy moms like me.

Check out our fun stuff from Rone's shop!
waiting at the doctor's office in an agoo tee

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Last Chance to Make Your Own Havaianas

Tuesday was a special night! Not only was it my first time to attend a "Make Your Own Havaianas" which is now on its 8th year (where was I, the past 7 years?!), I also got to spend a night out with girl friends!

I braved the traffic from Manila to Rockwell - and it was really bad because it was a payday and the eve of a holiday.  I got to Rockwell Tent a little past 7 and the party was in full swing!
this hot air balloon made of slippers
greets you as you enter the venue
I met up with the SoMoms who were also all giddy with excitement.  Most of us were attending MYOH for the first time and for some, it was the first night out (without kids!) for years!!
the SoMoms having fun!
thanks to Mommy Mundo for the photo
When I bought my first pair of Havaianas back in 2004, it was plain aqua blue - no fancy frills.  Since then, Havaianas has expanded its collection - Disney, Filipinas and even UAAP designs!  However, store-bought slippers are limited to fixed designs and there is no opportunity to design your own e.g. change straps or add pins, etc.

After going to #MYOH2013, I know understand why hordes of people flock to it year after year!
shelves full of colors
Yes, you are getting flip flops but there is something special about choosing your own design - personalizing it and knowing that you are making a unique one of a kind pair.
the frenzy begins!
As with every MYOH event, Havaianas partners with an artist to come out with an exclusive design available only during the event. The past collaborations had been with foreign artists but this year, it is with Filipino illustrator Dan Matutina who came up with the very first glow-in-the-dark commemorative pair!
flip-flops for myself and a limited edition pair for Mr. Ong 
One disappointment was that there were no sizes available for kids.  Some of the SoMoms bought the smallest adult size for their child to grow into.  I decided not to because N still has 1 pair of Havaianas that she has yet to grow into and we are running out of storage space in our home!

My fit flops from #MYOH2013 were packaged in reusable tote bags.  The tote bags also come with markers and my budding artist N immediately went to work on them.

This year's #MYOH2013 theme is You + Havaianas and Havaianas Philippines has launched its first ever flip-flops design contest. The contest is currently ongoing and you can join through this link.  Pretty exciting because if your design wins, it will be introduced as a Limited Edition style of the Havaianas 2014 Collection to be named after you!

You have until today to head on to the Rockwell Tent, make your own Havaianas and see what the hype is all about!
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