Breastfeeding Affirmations

Last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I came up with the idea to make a list of affirmations, or positive statements, for myself to help keep my spirits up in the days when breastfeeding is extremely difficult. (Believe me, there will be those days!) I searched the internet for a list of breastfeeding affirmations (the ones in italics) and picked the ones that I like the best for me to refer to when the time to nurse Little C comes, but I also decided to add some of my own.

  • My body is ready to nourish my baby.
  • My baby and I are learning to nurse together.
  • It's okay if my baby nurses frequently. Babyhood passes fast and this time together is worth it.
  • When my baby fusses, it is not a reflection of my parenting or my ability to nurse.
  • Women have been nursing their babies since the beginning of time. There was no formula two hundred years ago, but the human race survived, didn't it? 
  • My body is complete. It was made to carry my baby in my womb for nine months and now, I trust my body to provide the nourishment that my baby needs. 
  • My milk is the liquid form of the love that I have for my baby. Therefore, I will always have more than enough milk for his needs.
  • My baby is healthy and is gaining weight as he is supposed to. 
  • All my baby needs is me and my milk.
  • My milk is better than any other vaccine in the world and protects my child from as much harm as I possibly can.
  • If I need help, there are people I can call to give me advice and support.
  • (And for really rough days!) This too shall pass. 

As many mommies can attest, the success of my breastfeeding journey will be largely affected by my mindset. I know that there will be days that my resolve will waver, and I will question whether I am providing all that my baby needs. I hope that reading through these affirmative statements will take me back to this time, to this very moment, when all I am is excited about nursing Little C and convinced of my ability to succeed in this, and all the doubts, fears and negative energy will be replaced by optimism and confidence.

Interesting Reading for Expectant Mommies

For mommies who are interested in learning more about Essential Intrapartum Newborn Care, here is an interesting blog referred to me by Jenny of Chronicles of a Nursing Mom. Check out EINC Bulletin. I've only started reading it last night, but I already found lots of good reading material. Some examples include a patient's own experience with EINC in St. Luke's Global City and how some hospitals are making changes in their procedures to consider EINC. It also has articles on new discoveries that resulted from research on EINC. For instance, I never knew that footprinting and suctioning after birth is unnecessary and may cause more harm than good to babies.  Expectant mommies who have time are recommended to read through this blog so that you can discuss your concerns with your OBs. :)

Here's a very useful form that I found on the EINC Bulletin blog, that I'll definitely be printing out to serve as my guide in the first week of nursing Little C. From experience, I know that the first few weeks are the scariest and most nerve-wracking, especially for new mommies and I think if I had this when I was nursing J, it would have been a good way to reassure myself that I was on the right track.

Upcoming Activities at the Medela House

Hello all! Just received an email from Maricel Cua of the Medela House. For interested mommies, here are the schedule of activities for the year. A membership fee of  P500 will get you entrance to the 3 breastfeeding classes and all fun mommy and child activities. :)

Breastfeeding Classes:
Breastfeeding 101 (Beginning Breastfeeding): May 5 (9-11am), September 15 (2-4pm)
Breastfeeding 202 (Sustaining Breastfeeding): June 9 (9-11am), October 6 (9-11am)
Breastfeeding 303 (Breastfeeding and Beyond): March 3 (9-11am), July 7 (9-11am), November 3 (9-11am)

Mommy and Child Activities:
Babywearing and Top Breastfeeding Tips Special Summer Event: April 28, 2012 (1-3pm)
Annual Baby Shower: August 4, 2012
Annual Christmas Party for Breastfed Children: December 1, 2012

Upcoming Yaya Training Sessions:*
Infant Care and Breastfeeding Support: March 3, 2012 (1-4pm)
Toddler Care: April 21, 2012 (2-4pm)
Basic First Aid/Safety Concerns/Crime Prevention: May 5, 2012 (1-5pm)

*Different class fees for these modules. For more details, please email

On Raising Awareness/Breastfeeding 303 class at Medela House

Just wanted to write a quick post about one of my previous entries. It was only published today, but I've already gotten several heartwarming and encouraging texts or calls from fellow mommies and mommies-to-be. Apparently, I've touched on a subject that is near and dear to the hearts of fellow moms, especially those who have gone through the same experience that I did.

Part of the reason why I am so reluctant to use the magic words "legal action" is because I understand that a big part of the reason why I can't have Little C with me right away is hospital policy. I also understand that milk companies have a lot of pull in the medical industry, which is why it's so hard to make headway when it comes to asserting our rights as moms to breastfeed our babies.

I wrote about my experience because I want to raise awareness for mommies of how things can go once you're in the hospital. I do understand that realistically, my birth plan may not happen. But I've learned that knowing how things won't go my way in the delivery room will help me make contingency plans to ensure that my breastfeeding relationship with Little C will go as smoothly as possible. Part of this is to educate myself as much as possible on how to deal with nursing Little C even with the possibility that we won't be together in the time frame that I'm expecting.

And in the interest of educating myself, and for other moms to educate themselves, I'd like to invite all of you to attend the Breastfeeding 303 class at the Medela House, which is happening this Saturday, March 3, 2012. It's from 9:00 - 11:00 am. As per the Medela Moms FB Page the topic for that session is Breastfeeding and Beyond, and it covers the "ins and outs of breastfeeding a toddler, weaning, attachment parenting, first foods, special cases (cupfeeding and relactation) and playgroups, among other interesting topics for couples planning on long-term breastfeeding. Speaker is PGH-certified lactation counselor Abbie Yabot." You can register by emailing or texting your name and contact details to 0917-5614366.

Medela Moms will also be hosting a babywearing and breastfeeding tips event on April 28. More details to follow as soon as I have them. Looking forward to meeting more fellow mommies!

Breast Crawl

For expectant mommies, here's the video of the breast crawl that they showed us during the L.A.T.C.H. session. You can also go to YouTube for more videos, but this one made in the Philippines is the one that I liked the best. You can't help but be moved by the inexplicable bond between mother and child. 

Breastfeeding and Philippine Hospitals

"A nurse helping my 1 day old son nurse while I was in the ICU following his birth. At this point I was a quadriplegic and could only feel his soft hair and skin when he was placed by my neck to cuddle. Breastfeeding is the reason he was allowed to stay with me in the hospital for 5 months while I lived on the physical rehabilitation unit learning how to walk again (complications from when he was born). It's amazing how much baby stuff you can fit in a hospital room. We are still breastfeeding strong at 16 months! If this is not a success story I don't know what is. :D"

This picture was posted by one of my favorite online sellers, Lei of Caleb's Closet Ecostore, on her FB page. While I do not envy this mommy's particular circumstance, I do admit that I envy the support that she received from the hospital where she gave birth. Had this happened in the Philippines, I would bet that this little boy would have never tasted even one single sip of his mother's milk. This post prompted me to share my experiences with asserting my rights as a breastfeeding mother after giving birth to J and as I prepare for Little C's birth.

Towards the end of my pregnancy with J, I heard of the Unang Yakap program while attending a talk facilitated  by L.A.T.C.H. in Medical City. They showed us a video of the breast crawl, and maybe it was just hormones, but watching the way the baby in the video instinctively moved to his mother's breast just moved me to tears and I was determined to have the same experience for myself and J. I immediately discussed it with my OB, who assured me that the hospital (Capitol Medical Center) fully supports the Unang Yakap program and that they let the babies do the breast crawl right after birth. Needless to say, that made me very happy.

Fast forward a few weeks, and there I was in the delivery room. To be fair, they followed most of the guidelines stipulated by the Unang Yakap program. J was laid down on my chest directly after delivery by the OB reliever (my regular OB had to leave the country on an emergency) and he was dried thoroughly, his head covered by a cap. His cord was clamped accordingly and we waited for him to crawl to my breast and latch. 

Unfortunately, he was only given a few precious minutes to spend on my chest while my OB was stitching me up. The guidelines for essential newborn care say that the baby should stay with the mom for a least 90 minutes to initiate early breastfeeding. I doubt that I even got 15 minutes with my son. Far sooner than I would have liked, he was taken away from me and I was whisked away to the recovery room, where I fidgeted impatiently to be taken up to my room so that I could see J and feed him. 

While I made it clear that I wanted J roomed in with me so that I could breastfeed, I was told that since I had given birth late at night, I would be allowed to see J the next morning, at 6 a.m. when the nursery opens. I woke up early the next day and demanded to see my child, and if I remember correctly, had I not threatened to walk down to the nursery on my own, I probably wouldn't have seen him until much later. 

We were provided with a wheelchair and Big C and I went down to the nursery. To our disappointment, daddies aren't allowed in the breastfeeding area. I think I felt even worse than Big C did, since I considered that our little family's very first time to be all together. I still feel robbed at the thought that Big C wasn't there to see J nurse for the first time. 

Inside the breastfeeding room, I was told to sit and wait while the nurse brought J out. At this point, I would like to say that on the whole, I found the nurses at Capitol very polite, kind and caring, but when I asked the nurse if J was latched on properly, she gave me a very vague answer that was not helpful at all. Since J fell asleep after that first nursing session, I just assumed that we did okay and went back to my room to wait for J to be roomed in with me. FYI: I gave birth at 9:02 pm on November 5, 2010. J was only brought to my room the next day around lunch time.

That first night was a nightmare. J wouldn't stop crying the whole night and would only quiet down when I put him to my breast to nurse. In the middle of the night, in a panic, I called a pedia resident to come see if J was nursing properly. She watched him nurse and said, "O ayan, sumisipsip naman e. Malakas naman sumipsip, so siguro may nakukuha." But he still wouldn't be comforted and only finally fell asleep when I laid him down next to me on the bed, at close to 6am. (At that time, I thought it was because he was so exhausted and hungry that he finally fell asleep, but in hindsight, it might have been the comfort of being next to me that soothed him. My mistake might have been insisting on placing him in the isolette every time he quieted down and it was possible that he kept waking up because he was looking for me.)

The next morning, after much pressure from my mom, which played on my uncertainties and fears as a first time mom, I agreed to give my baby formula. When the reliever OB visited me, she commended me for finally giving my baby formula. I don't think I'll ever forget her words. She said to me, "You know, I'm all for breastfeeding, but sometimes you have to give them formula na. Baka wala pang milk na lumalabas. Tingnan mo yang anak mo, nanghihina na kasi gutom." The pedia didn't help. She prescribed formula instead of assuring me that not all breastfeeding relationships went smoothly and encouraging me to keep at it. She basically said that if I was insistent on breastfeeding, I could have J latch and just give him formula after so that he could sleep.

Much as I don't like to blame things on other people, the experience of my first night with J, combined with pressure from my mom, plus the admonishment from my OB and lack of support from my pedia drastically sabotaged my attempts to breastfeed.

This time around, with Little C, I brought up the importance of the first latch again with my OB (the regular one this time. She'll be here when I deliver, I checked!). I asked her if Little C could stay longer with me this time, maybe even at least 30 minutes just so he could latch properly. She repeated that the hospital supports the Unang Yakap program but that it is against hospital policy to allow babies in the recovery area. If I wanted, I could sign a waiver that says I am to be taken to my room immediately after delivery so I can room in. But she emphasized that hemorrhages often occur in the first two hours after delivery, which is why moms are left in the recovery room. If I choose to go to my room, I wouldn't be monitored as closely. The best that she can promise me is to make arrangements with the pediatrician to ensure that Little C would be cleared as early as possible for rooming in. 

I brought this up with some other breastfeeding moms and I was advised to remind the hospital that I could take legal action against them. I was told that by impeding my efforts to breastfeed and by not providing a supportive atmosphere (from the doctors and nurses especially), the hospital was in violation of the Milk Code and the Rooming-in and Breastfeeding Act, and that their status as a breastfeeding/mother-and-child friendly hospital will be in question. While I do want to have the whole experience with Little C, I am a little unsure about this course of action and I feel a little uncomfortable entrusting my life and my son's to a hospital that I essentially threatened. 

So to our mommy readers, were you able to reap the benefits of the Unang Yakap program when you gave birth? What was your experience like? And what would you do in my situation? I'm giving birth to Little C in three months and I still don't know what to do. Let's see what my fellow mommies have to say!

Our Journey to Cloth Diapers

When we were expecting J, the thought of using cloth diapers never even crossed my mind. I was hell-bent on using disposables, which I saw as the epitome of convenience, another thing that would make my life as a mom easier. My conviction strengthened when I saw J's poop for the first time. I think being a parent stretches your tolerance level for gross bodily excretions to incredible levels, but I mean, come on. It's poop. It's gross whether it comes out of a huge, hairy adult, or a tiny, adorable baby. And meconium? It has a sticky, tarlike consistency which is hard to scrub off a baby's butt. I couldn't imagine trying to scrub it off a cloth diaper.

Fast forward to a year later. We've become pros at diapering our wriggly baby boy. (Except for Big C, who, to this day, has never changed a single diaper. I do give him credit for helping me clean out J's butt in the hospital the first night.) But budget-conscious me, was ever so aware of the mounting costs of convenience. We tried all the diaper brands in the market, in the hopes that we could switch to cheaper brands and save a little money. But as you have it, all the diaper brands we tried didn't work for J. Some weren't absorbent enough, some would chafe him in the hips and thighs, and some just wouldn't fit well and leak no matter what we did. In the end, we had to stick to Pampers Active. Mind you, not Pampers Comfort, which I think is a local brand and is more affordable. Oh no, my son's butt needs the expensive diapers. Drat.

At the end of J's first year, I went through our books and summed up how much we spent the last year, just on diapers alone. The total? A whopping P14,775 for the entire year. That is money that my son literally pooped and peed on.

Added to that was my mounting guilt at the amount of trash we generate at home. I think the tipping point was that one morning when I ran into the yaya who was taking out the trash from the previous night. She was holding a plastic bag stuffed full to bursting with disposables. See, even at 1 year old, J was still taking 3-4 bottles of milk at night. I think he's so busy playing and exploring during the day that he makes up for it by stuffing himself during the night. So since he drinks a lot of milk, he also pees a lot.

Anyway, when I saw that huge bundle of trash, I felt really, really guilty. I mean, I'm not exactly what you would call an environmentally conscious person, but at that moment, I pictured in my head, a huge mountain of soiled disposable diapers that came from our house and I just felt bad. So I looked into cloth diapering and I discussed it with J's yaya. I took the time to do so, because for one thing, she would be the one doing washing the diapers, and she has enough to do during the day. Fortunately, the yaya was supportive of my idea.

So I looked into the whole idea of cloth diapering. I have to admit, I had a lot of misconceptions about using cloth diapers. In my head, cloth diapers equaled the diapers used when I was a kid, the ones that had to be changed after one pee, and would leak through right away. Fortunately for us modern-day mommies, cloth diapers have evolved.

The posted picture show samples of the actual cloth diapers that J uses now. As you can see, the cloth diapers of today are made out of two parts: an inner pad to absorb baby's pee and a waterproof outer shell. What you're supposed to do is insert the inner pad into the pocket of the waterproof shell. The inner cloth layer of the shell is supposed to stay dry even when the inner pad is wet already, since the inner pad is supposed to absorb the moisture. When it's time for a diaper change, more often than not you just have to change the inner pad and you can reuse the shell if it doesn't feel wet. This means that you only have to wash the inner pad for the time being. In our case, we found that it works better for J if we just place the inner pad on top of the shell, because we end up having to change the whole set.

Also, contrary to what I expected, you didn't really have to change the diaper after every time that the baby pees. With J, it was a bit of trial and error. In the beginning, since we were used to disposables, we'd wait a really long time before changing, up till the point that the diaper would leak through his clothes. Since then, we learned that what worked best for us was to make sure we changed his diaper every hour and a half. With that time interval, the inner pad would be wet, but not wet enough to soak through the shell. This means that the shell can be continuously reused for most of the day.

Up till now, we still use disposables, but only when J takes a nap, at nighttime and when we go out. We tried using cloth diapers on him during his daytime naps, but I think he pees more when he's asleep, so he ends up leaking through and waking up because he's uncomfortably wet. Since J sleeps so little during the day (just an hour, two at the most), I don't like it when his daytime naps are disturbed by wet diapers. Even so, with diapering just half the time, it still reduces our diaper expenses. By how much, I'm still waiting to see. I'll give you an update as soon as I've worked out the numbers.

The diapers I use are Next9 one-size cloth diapers. The one-size cloth diapers are good for babies from 7-35 lbs, which means you can use them from birth. Each diaper costs P350 and comes with one inner pad. I just bought extra inner pads for P100 each. Right now, we have 7 outer shells and around 12 inner pads. you can also get a set of 3 for P1000. So far, I have spent around P3,000 pesos on all of these. For now, what I have at home is enough for J's use, but if all goes well, we'll be adding to our collection in preparation for Little C.

I got three sets first and only got more when that worked out. I suggest you do the same. Get one or two sets and see how they work out for you and baby. Next9 diapers are the only ones I've tried, but there are a lot of other brands out there for mommies who are willing to experiment. Other diaper brands that I know of include Charlie Banana, Bamboo Dappy, and Baby Leaf. I decided on Next9 because they're the most affordable. I also think it's a plus that Next9 diapers are made and marketed by a Filipina mommy, so in addition to cutting back on diaper costs and lessening my contribution to garbage, I also get to help a fellow mommy with her business endeavor!

I don't think I'll be using cloth diapers on Little C right away though. I'm thinking of waiting until things settle down a bit for us to normalize the routine here at home before we make the shift. But I am eager to get him on cloth diapers as soon as possible. When Little C is here, I was thinking that J could be transitioned to cloth diapers at night, since Yaya will have to get up every two hours or so for Little C. We can add J's diaper change to the routine. Fingers crossed that my plan works and Little C will be on cloth diapers as well!

So mommies, here's a link to my favorite online store for cloth diapers. Caleb's Closet Ecostore is run by Mommy Lei, who is super accommodating and always takes the time to answer my questions about cloth diapering. I like how she really gives assistance to her clients. I remember the last time I ordered, she didn't have stocks, but she knew how urgently I needed the extra diapers (because of the rains in the past few weeks), so she was kind enough to text me as soon as new stocks arrived. Plus, Mommy Lei lets you buy a set of diapers in a combination of colors. For other sellers, you can only get one color per set, or get individual diapers at a higher price if you want to mix and match your diaper collection. She also carries Charlie Banana and Bamboo Dappy diapers if you want to try those.

The Joys of Receiving a Balikbayan Box

It's finally here!

After almost two months of waiting, the balikbayan box jammed with things for Little C has finally arrived. All the stuff we bought is actually available in the baby stores in Manila, but based on our calculations, the price difference, including shipping costs, will still save us a considerable amount. Big C and I decided that since we had enough time before Little C gets here, it was more prudent for us to order baby stuff from the US and have it shipped, instead of purchasing it in Manila. Here's a glimpse of all the goodies we got for Little C, with a little surprise smuggled in for big brother J.

Just to give you an idea of how much we were able to save by doing this, here's a breakdown of our costs for the items we purchased for J and Little C.

Item Qty Purchase Price Peso Price Manila Price Savings
Fisher Price Booster Seat 1 29.99 1,289.57 2,500.00 1,210.43
Sophie the Giraffe Teether 1 16.92 727.56 1,080.00 352.44
Kiddopotamus Swaddler (Large) 2 22.04 947.72 1,600.00 652.28
Sony Baby Call Nursery Monitor 1 32.99 1,418.57 3,000.00 1,581.43
AVENT 2-pack Newborn Nipples 2 8.48 364.64 599.50 234.86
AVENT 2-pack Slow Flow Nipples 1 4.02 172.86 299.75 126.89
AVENT 2-pack Fast Flow Nipples 2 8.04 345.72 599.50 253.78
Summer Infant 3-Pack Swaddle Me 1 22.45 965.35 2,400.00 1,434.65
AVENT BPA Free 11oz Bottles (3pk) 2 37.38 1,607.34 7,798.50 6,191.16
Minus Shipping Costs -2344.13
Total Savings 9,693.79

The prices in green are estimates of how much these items cost in Manila. I remember checking out the booster seat in Baby Company and I put an estimated price since there are a lot of kinds. However, the prices start at P2,500 each. As you can see, we got the booster seat at half the price. If you recall from a previous post, this is the second booster seat we purchased. We got this one for Little C, since J is still using his. (That's how highly Big C and I think of this item!) Same goes for the baby monitor. There are a lot of different kinds, and P3,000 is actually a very conservative estimate of the price. I checked, and I found a pre-loved Avent Baby Monitor that was being sold for P2,200. Otherwise, the brand new ones that are made by reliable brands will cost you at least P4,000 - P5,000. The rest of the prices are based on the costs of the items from leading baby stores in Manila, such as Mothercare and Baby Company.

Here are some tips for expectant mommies, and mommies in general, when purchasing items online for shipping. (These tips are based on my experience or tips given to me by my extremely frugal, bargain-loving husband.)

1. This is the most important step. Find a reliable shipper from the US to the Philippines. These shippers have an American address where you can have your items shipped. This is because shipping to an American address will usually be free, as compared to asking the store to directly ship it to your Philippine address. In that alone, you save money already. The shipper will accept your products for you and pack it all together in one box and ship it to your Manila address for a standard fee, depending on the size of the box that you'll be using. This works especially well if you're ordering items from different sellers.

2. Browse different baby stores based in the US. My favorite is, of course, Babies R'Us, which is a one stop shop for mommies. I remember going to a Babies R'Us store in Canada and I told Big C, "Yeah, just come back for me before we got home." I swear, I could spend the day there. (As you might have noticed, baby stores are my new happy places.) You can browse through the items there and make a list of the stuff that you want. Then go to and look for the same stuff. Comparison shop. This is easier to do, since you're doing it electronically and you don't have to walk from store to store. I recommend buying things from Amazon, because Babies R'Us usually requires an American credit card, while Amazon will let you charge it on your local card or on your PayPal account. Also, from experience, if you're patient and persistent enough to browse through the listings, prices in Amazon can sometimes be cheaper.

3. Look for deals on shipping. You don't want to get the item cheaply, but spend a ton on getting it shipped. Case in point: the Kiddopotamus Large-sized swaddler. While all the other items qualified for free shipping because they were bought directly from Amazon and met the minimum total purchase requirement of $100, the large swaddlers were bought from another seller who charges shipping. The true cost of the item was $6.00 if I remember it correctly, but the shipping was around  $5.00. This brings the total cost of each swaddler to $11.00, which converted to pesos is still cheaper than buying it in Manila. In this case, the shipping cost is worth it.

4. DON'T BUY BABY CLOTHES, especially the basics that baby will use at home. I considered ordering some stuff for C online, but the prices of the onesies and other stuff from US stores is often the same as the prices of the stuff we have here, which means  that the cost of shipping them isn't worth it. Better to buy from  SM, and you get the pleasure of picking out all sorts of cute things for your little one to wear.

5. Lastly, do this only if you have the time to wait for the package to arrive. We ordered the items for Little C in early January, which was 5 months away from my due date. The box generally takes a month, two at the most, to arrive in Manila, because it's shipped, so you have to take this into consideration. Don't do this if you're a month away from giving birth. You don't want to have to bring your baby home and not have the essentials.

That's it for now. Happy online shopping, mommies!

Tidbits from Today's Mommy Meeting

Just got home from a La Leche League meeting in the Bonifacio High Street branch of Mothercare. Breastfeeding mommies meet there every third or fourth Saturday of the month to share their concerns and learn from the experiences from other mommies. Aside from that, the meetings are moderated by Abbie Yabot, who is one of the most popular lactation consultants in Manila, so the mommies also have a chance to ask advice from an expert. Today's topic was especially interesting for me, because it was all about support during breastfeeding.

In my previous post about the lessons I learned during my first breastfeeding experience, I emphasized the importance of your support system. While breastfeeding, support will come from different places, most immediately, your husband and the people who live with you. But support (or lack thereof) can also come from other sources, such as the medical community (the hospital where you gave birth, your OB and of course, your pediatrician) and the resources that you have at your disposal (lactation counselors, etc.). Basically, some tidbits that I took home from today's meeting:

1. Know your legal rights as a mother. We opened today's meeting by sharing our experiences in hospitals and what kind of support you received from the medical community when you gave birth. Legally speaking, hospitals are obligated to follow the protocols outlined in the Unang Yakap program of the Department of Health, which supports breastfeeding. Highlights of this program are the following:

  • Immediate and thorough drying of the baby (within 30 seconds of birth)
  • Early skin-to-skin contact between mommy and baby 
  • Properly-timed cord cutting and clamping (within 3 minutes of birth)
  • Non-separation of mommy and baby for early breastfeeding (within 90 minutes of birth)
  • Other procedures which the doctors need to do, such as suctioning, eye care, injections, and footprinting can be done at a later point in time, after the first instance of breastfeeding.

This program was only formally launched by the Department of Health in December 2009, but further research will show that there was a law passed in 1991, which is Republic Act 7600 or the Rooming-in and Breastfeeding Act, which outlines the basic rights of mothers to have their babies roomed in immediately. In the case of NSD or normal deliveries, the babies should be roomed in within 30 minutes after the birth, while in cases of C-sections, babies should be roomed in with their mommies within 3 to 4 hours, except those babies or mommies with special medical considerations.

In my case, I tried to bring this up with my OB at my last pre-natal check-up, only to be shot down. More on that in a separate post. :) In the meantime, here are some links you can check out on your rights as a mother after you give birth to your baby.

Republic Act 7600: The Rooming-In and Breastfeeding Act

Essential Newborn Care Guidelines for Nurses (Downloadable)

The Basics of the Unang Yakap Campaign

Laws Related to the Unang Yakap Campaign

2. Insightful comment from Mommy Charmaine who breastfed all three of her children (including twin boys!): At the end of the day, her biggest supporter was herself. She advises moms to be confident of their decision to breastfeed and learn to shut their ears and distance themselves from the negativity of naysayers because the stress sometimes affects her milk supply. She found that when the atmosphere was too negative, she would bundle her baby (or babies) up and find a dim, quiet room and nurse, and the milk would flow, just as it should.

3. Massages have proven to be effective for some moms, because it relaxes them enough to help increase their milk supply. Two highly recommended names are Lita Neri and Lizette of Mom Massage. A caveat though, I have yet to try either of them, but I am considering it. I will post a review if and when I do avail of the services to let you know how it goes.

4. The next La Leche League Manila mommy meeting will be held on March 17, 2012, again at Mothercare Bonifacio Hight Street. The topic is Breastfeeding Basics and I'm hoping that I can convince my mom to come with me, because I'm hoping she'll be my staunchest supporter when I start breastfeeding C. (My campaign to convert my mother into a breastfeeding advocate, for the sake of my two sisters who have yet to get married and have kids, has officially begun! *insert diabolical laugh*) Click here to be directed to La Leche League Manila's FB page and learn how you can register for the meeting. There's no attendance fee and all mommies (expectant mommies, breastfeeding mommies and all mommies who have breastfeeding experiences to share) are invited!

Mommy Must-Haves

Two of my friends have recently become expectant mommies like me: a former co-teacher and my cousin's wife. It made me remember the joy I felt when I found out that I was expecting our first child, and I remembered along with the joy was the excitement to start purchasing items for my little one.

First time mommies tend to go a bit overboard with buying things for their babies. At least I did. When I went shopping, it kind of felt like my baby will need everything in the store and I ended up buying a lot of things that we didn't get to use. I have now resorted to selling J's unused stuff. Some of the items are unused because he didn't like them, while others are unused because they weren't really needed. For instance, when J was born, I was ready with about four or five adorable baby hats to keep his head warm. Little did I know that my rugrat would be born with a full head of hair, and that any kind of head covering would be unnecessary, not to mention unwanted. At less than a day old, he'd find a way to remove anything I placed on his head. After that, it was frogsuits that he grew out of in less than a week, sippy cups that he didn't like, spoons that were only used for banging on furniture and a host of other "necessary" goodies that I bought that J virtually ignored. 

Now, when I shop for C, I do it with a lot more restraint, and I like to think a lot more wisdom. Clothes are chosen because of durability and practicality. (Although I have allowed myself one indulgent purchase for C. Translation: something he doesn't really need, but is irresistibly adorable. I have yet to make that purchase, though.) All the clothes I bought so far are to supplement what we already have, or to replace the ones that were torn or too worn out to be used again. No new toys yet, because I'm waiting to see what he likes. Besides, J has a buttload of toys for his little brother to choose from. If he's anything like J, C will ignore all the educational toys we got for him and instead will be contented with plastic cups and empty mineral water bottles.

However, I do realize that there are some things that made my life as a mommy much easier and to expectant moms, you may want to consider adding these things to your list when you start buying baby things. These are my Mommy Must-Haves and the pictures I've included below are the actual ones that I have here at home.

1. Booster seat - While vacationing in Canada, I got to spend some time with a cousin's wife who had an eleven month old baby. They had one of these and they brought it everywhere with them. We decided to get one for J as well, and this is one of my favorite products. It takes the place of a much more expensive and bulky high chair, so it's perfect for those who live in condos and have very little space to waste. Plus, because it's portable, we take it whenever we know we'll be eating out with J, whether it be to his grandparents' house or to restaurants. We've trained J to sit on this seat ever since he was four months old so whenever he sits in it, he knows he has to behave and stay still because it's eating time. 

2. Baby Sling or Carrier - I actually have two carriers: one backpack type and this Saya baby sling. The backpack type didn't last very long, although I used it a lot when taking J for walks to his grandmother's house when he was about four months old. Babies grow pretty quickly though, and even though the backpack carrier was adjustable, it just didn't have enough room for him. The Saya is made of a flexible fabric that stretches really well, so it kind of grew with J and I used it up until he was more than a year old. We only stopped using it because he doesn't like to be carried as much since he learned how to walk, so now it's just waiting for C to arrive. I got it from one of my favorite online stores, Mama.Baby.Love, and for its price, which is approximately P950 to P1200 (depending on what kind you get), it's a good buy. Case in point: last New Year's eve, I had to carry J in my arms for about 4 hours straight to help him sleep through the fireworks. Take note, J is no lightweight (at the time, he weighed almost 25 lbs.) and I was already 16 weeks pregnant with C, so you have no idea how grateful I was for my Saya sling.

3. Breast Pump - Ask any breastfeeding mommy and they'll tell you that a good breast pump will be one of your best investments. I started with a Medela Swing single electric pump, but in an effort to squeeze out as much milk as possible for J, I switched to a Medela Pump In Style Advanced double electric pump. Because J self-weaned from nursing at 4 months, I think mostly due to nipple confusion, I had to rely on my breast pump to provide what little there was of my precious breastmilk for him. 

4. Baby bouncer or jumper - These things are really expensive and I was lucky to get mine at a really good price at a baby fair. The retail price is around P3,500 each, but I got this for P1,500 and believe me it was worth every centavo. It gave C and I much needed time to sit together and we loved watching J jump and spin around and learn how to play with the toys. The day we saw him spin the froggy by himself was a proud moment for both of us.

5. Playpen - Last, but certainly not the least, I would recommend that you get a playpen instead of a crib. Most playpens these days come with a bassinet, a changing tray and a handy rack for bottles, diapers and other essentials, so your baby can use it from birth. In our case, we had a crib that was handed down through all the kids in the family, so it was already 14 years old by the time J used it. It was lovingly repainted by Daddy and it was still in pretty good condition but J outgrew it too quickly. He literally ran out of space to move around (he's a wriggly baby), so at a little over 2 months old, I switched him to a playpen. No need to get expensive brands like Graco though. A tip from a fellow mommy led me to the Disney/Aprova-branded playpens from Baby Company. Despite the cheaper price, the quality's pretty good. J still uses it up to now and it's waiting for Baby C to arrive. This is another great buy for families who live in condos since it's a major space saver: no need for a separate crib!

These are the things that I would tell all my expectant friends to buy, but since parenting is a unique experience that differs from family to family, other mommies might have different suggestions. So for all expectant mommies, before going shopping for baby, I recommend asking your friends who have kids about the things that they found essential as parents, to help you save space and money. Happy shopping!

For a list of the things that I am selling to make room for C, click here!

Four Lessons I Learned From My First Breastfeeding Experience

This February, it's the Milk Mama Diaries Festival, and this year's theme is "back to basics". Participants share advice - either the best breastfeeding advice they received and/or the best breastfeeding advice they can give to new moms. This post isn't an official entry into the festival, but it does contain some of my thoughts on breastfeeding and the things I learned from my first experience.

1. Use the time before the birth to learn all that you can about how to breastfeed.

With J, I attended just one seminar on breastfeeding. It was the one sponsored by L.A.T.C.H. at Medical City about breastfeeding basics, such as positioning, the correct latch, how to store milk and the basic signs that indicate whether your baby is feeding or not. As a session it was very informative, and you do learn a lot from it. In addition, I read several articles on the internet about breastfeeding, mostly about its benefits. That was a mistake, not because the session wasn't good. It just wasn't enough. I needed to learn more.

In preparation for my second time to breastfeed with C, the articles I read are no longer about the benefits of breastfeeding. Now, the articles are about how to increase milk supply and how to breastfeed the right way (latch, positioning, etc.). I also looked for videos that showed how to latch babies properly and I read blogs that detailed the experiences of other moms who breastfed their kids. I also started attending  more breastfeeding classes at the Medela House* as a refresher course, and I found an excellent support group of moms who get together once a month to share their experiences with breastfeeding. This support group is organized by La Leche League Manila* and the moms meet every last Saturday of the month at Mothercase BHS. I'm attending my second support meeting this Saturday and I'm really looking forward to it, because while I learn a lot from the classes, I find that what you learn is enriched by the stories of moms about the struggles they faced, especially in the early days, and the different ways they overcame these difficulties. It was also a very big relief for me to learn that I'm not the only one who had trouble. You know this in your head, but when you have a crying infant in your arms and absolutely no clue about what to do, you won't be thinking that this is hard for everyone. In my case, I felt very alone and I felt like a failure as a mother, so to know that mine was not an isolated experience is very reassuring.

Lastly, I also looked for breastfeeding counselors, who could help me when my time to breastfeed comes. While I feel that I'm using my time more wisely this time around by learning more about breastfeeding, I felt better knowing that if I do run into a monster roadblock like the way I did the last time, I'd have an expert to help me through it. Below are two links, from one of my favorite mommy sites by J of Chronicles of a Nursing Mom, who breastfed her firstborn and is now breastfeeding her second baby. (Breastfeeding moms should definitely check this one out since J is very detailed about her experiences with breastfeeding, along with the various mommy products she tries.) This link contains a list of IBCLCs or International Board Certified Lactation Consultants and a list of breastfeeding counselors in the Philippines.


Breastfeeding Counselors

*Keep updated on the activities on Manila's breastfeeding moms through the following FB accounts: Medela Moms or La Leche League Manila

2. Breastfeeding, just like everything worth doing, is hard.

It didn't really take much to convince me to breastfeed. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, it was an automatic decision for me that I would breastfeed my baby. But silly me, I thought breastfeeding would be like the way they do it in the movies. You labor for hours and push the baby out, you put the baby to your boob and it starts nursing like a champ and you can finally get some rest. WRONG.

When I attended the breastfeeding class conducted by Abbie Yabot at the Medela House, she told us that although it seems like nursing from their moms is an automatic thing, it's actually a skill that babies have to practice. It will take them some time to get the hang of it, so we mommies should be patient and not get discouraged. Like I said, silly me expected that it would be easy. Now I know that it will not be, but that the rewards of breastfeeding my son will be worth all the difficulties.

Bearing in mind that I attended the class/session with the experience of someone who has tried to breastfeed and was largely unsuccessful, I wrote down in my notes, "Shoti will not know how to do it automatically. Be patient. Wait for him (and for you) to learn how to nurse properly." By writing these words down, I hope that seeing them again will give me the encouragement I know I will sorely need if things go roughly the second time around.

3. Your support system is key to your breastfeeding success.

During my first breastfeeding experience, apart from my husband, I had zero support from the others around me. My MIL was indifferent, and I'd have to say that helped a lot. My mom was another story. She's one of those typical Chinese grandmothers who insist that their grandchildren are perpetually hungry. Less than a day old, she insisted that my son's crying was due to the fact that my milk wasn't enough. My pedia and OB didn't help. (If you're still shopping around, try to find an OB or a pedia that encourages breastfeeding. I've found that younger doctors are generally more receptive and supportive of breastfeeding.)

Let me tell you, all the cliches/myths/wrong assumptions that people have about breastfeeding? I heard them all from my mom the day after my son was born. (i.e. "If you have milk, how come nothing is coming out?" or "If you have milk, then why does your son keep crying?" or "See? He fell asleep agad after the formula? Gutom na yan e. Ginutom mo kaya iyak ng iyak.") You can just imagine what that felt like for a first-time mom, who wanted nothing but to see her son happy and contented. That really messed with my resolve to exclusively breastfeed my son. Within two days of his birth, my son was on mixed feedings, and I now know that contributes to lessening your milk supply. Fortunately, I was stubborn enough to keep pumping milk for my son, and although my overall contribution was way less than his formula intake, I comforted myself with the knowledge that a little breastmilk is still better than none.

This time around, I'm marshalling my support system for my second attempt. Since my mom was my biggest detractor the first time, I'm planning to bring her to the classes and sessions I'm attending in preparation for C's birth, so that she can understand why I'm doing this, and also so we can find a way for her to still be involved. I do understand that my mom comes from a generation where everyone was formula-fed and I also realized that my insistence on breastfeeding pushed out the grandmother-and-baby-time that she was craving, so I'm hoping that by showing her how much her support means to me, and how much it can affect my success as a breastfeeding mom, I can get her on my side this time.

4. "The days are long, but the years are short."

This is another quote that I read from another article written by a fellow mommy. Breastfeeding my baby was incredibly tiring and it was hard, and sometimes it took all my strength just to get through each day, but for the short time that I was able to nurse my son, I loved knowing that we had this special time together, that there was this one thing that no one else in the world (or at least in the house) would be able to do for him. I especially liked being able to hold him in my arms and just stare at him to my heart's content, while he nursed from my breast and fell asleep. I'd count his little fingers and toes over and over again and I'd kiss his little cheeks or his forehead and just breathe in his little baby smell.

I take comfort in these memories and it makes me look forward to my second journey as a breastfeeding mom. Last night as I was falling asleep, and often in the past few weeks since J learned how to walk, I lamented the fact that my very active fifteen month old toddler no longer likes cuddling with Mama, since it gets in the way of his play and exploration time. Even the briefest of hugs and kisses seem to be such an annoyance for him. The days and months just flew by, and now my baby is becoming a little boy. Before I know it, he will be a school boy, then be a teenager, and he'll be embarrassed when I show him affection. I won't be able to get back the time that I had with J when he was a newborn, but I think knowing how fast time passes and how quickly our children grow up will remind me to treasure the very special time that I will spend nursing C at my breast. While he was at my breast, nothing existed but J and me, and I loved that, and I'm hoping for the same experience with C.

To end this post, I'd like to share a quote I read from another breastfeeding mom's entry to the Milk Mama Diaries Festival. It's a quote from Grantly Dick-Read, who is the father of the natural birth movement (I think!). He says: "A newborn baby only has three demands: warmth from the arms of its mother, food from her breasts and knowledge in the security of her presence." 

To read some of the other entries to the Milk Mama Diaries Festival, click here. The entries are at the bottom of J's post. 

The Human Teether

I am a human teether.

At 15 months, my son has four teeth up top, and two at the bottom. In the past week, two more tiny, little baby teeth (I dare you to look at his bottom teeth and not use that description. The top teeth are another story, however. They're HUGE.) are on their way out, and my little one's gums are in a sorry state. Which means that my usually cheery little one has morphed into an irritable little dude, who drools non-stop and gums on everything in sight, including me.

I have a tiny bruise on the inside of my forearm, where JTK took a loving nip yesterday morning. A loving nip means he bit down with all the might in his little body in his quest to relieve the soreness in his mouth. Last night, the poor little dude accidentally hit his mouth against the back of the chair, which meant huge teardrops from him and lots of hugs and kisses from Mama. Before he went to bed, he took another loving nip, this time on my forehead (which thankfully did not leave a bruise). This morning, he found my Bratz jammies fascinating (or he found the little cartoons annoying) and took more loving nips on my right knee, which by now has a nasty bruise.

So in addition to the stretch marks on my tummy, I have new additions to my collection of mommy-battle scars: bite marks from a teething toddler. Here's hoping the rest of his teeth magically appear overnight. (Don't I wish!) :)