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.