Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On Promoting Breastfeeding

"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (July). For this month, we join the National Nutrition Council - Department of Health in celebrating Nutrition Month with the theme "Isulong ang Breastfeeding - Tama, Sapat at EKsklusibo!" Participants will share their experiences in promoting breastfeeding or their tips on how breastfeeding should be promoted. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants."

Honestly, I’m bothered by the fact that in our country, many Filipinos, most especially the marginalized ones, consider formula feeding as some sort of a status symbol.  Imagine, most of them hardly have enough to pay for one decent meal in a day, and yet they would rather buy a can of expensive milk instead of making use of something that they can get for FREE.  And we aren’t even talking about the benefits of breastmilk as opposed to formula milk.

According to the UNICEF data of 2005-2009 (for some reason, I couldn't find a more recent data), only 34% of the newborns are exclusively breastfed below 6 months.  For a population of about over 92Million (for 2009), that is such a small number. 

I believe that our government really has to work on educating the masses about this.  I am also very much disappointed at the celebrity moms whom I thought were breastfeeding advocates but later ended up endorsing a certain milk brand.  Regardless if the milk they endorse is not for newborns, I still feel that they could have used their position of influence over their followers to do something good– like educating them on what’s good for the health of their children and their pockets as well.  I’m pretty sure these celebrities can very well afford to give up one endorsement in exchange for heeding one’s social responsibility.  What a big loss in opportunity.

One night as I was watching TV, I chanced upon a show of Gladys Reyes where Bianca Araneta-Elizalde was a guest and I admired her for being vocal about her breastfeeding advocacy.  Maybe it was just me but I felt a bit of tension between the host and Bianca since the former was an endorser for formula milk for children.  If only Bianca had mass appeal, I’m sure a lot of people would be inspired to breastfeed their children as well.  Which leads me to thinking, why can’t we encourage these celebrities (especially the ones who have a huge following with the masses) to go public with their choice to breastfeed?  I know government cannot afford to give them talent fees as big as the milk manufacturers but if it’s for a good cause, I’m sure some of them would have the conscience to agree.  Sure, Lea Salonga, Tintin Bersola and many others have been more vocal.  But comparing them to Judy Ann Santos, Claudine Barreto, or even Kris Aquino (had she decided to BF), etc. the latter would surely be able to convince more people than the former.  As they say in Filipino, “sayang talaga.”  If they had only stuck to advocating breastfeeding and declined on accepting formula milk endorsements, they could have helped a lot.  I distinctly remember Angelina Jolie's breastfeeding photos were a hot topic back then, as well as that of Salma Hayek breastfeeding an african baby.  Imagine the impact this would have on the Filipinos of something like that were to come out featuring today's hottest stars.  I'm sure it'll become an instant fad!

They really should get a celebrity endorser.  Or better yet, they should come out with a big billboard along EDSA that boldly proclaims Breastfeeding as the cheapest and healthiest milk for babies.  (I got that idea from a n@wie that suggested there be a billboard that says Babywearing Rocks!).  Wouldn’t it be nice if that billboard should show breastfeeding mothers of all sorts including the “artistas”.  That would surely catch the eye of a lot of people (although on second thought we might get into trouble with the MMDA for indecent exposure or something).

Maybe they can get Andi Eigenmann (now that she’s pregnant) to be one of their model endorsers?  Personally, I think the billboard would be a good idea.  I’d even volunteer to be a part of that if they push through with it, seriously!

Taken during Janina's 1st birthday party
But knowing that change always starts from within, for the meantime, I try do my own share in promoting breastfeeding.  I’ve never hesitated to declare to anyone and everyone that I breastfeed and I like talking about it and sharing my experiences with it.  If I can, I’d gladly encourage anyone to breastfeed.  Which is also why I am not shy about openly breastfeeding even when we are not at home.  I’ve fed my babies in the mall, at church (many many times), in a restaurant, at a party, in the car, in the office, while waiting for my turn at the doctors and even while in a business meeting (with my friends), and in many other places that you wouldn’t imagine.  I know it isn’t much but it’s something and most importantly, it’s a start.  I may not be a poster girl or a movie star but maybe, just maybe, by breastfeeding in public, I can encourage at least one more mom to consider breastfeeding her baby instead of giving formula milk.

So while we wait for the more influential people in the government to be able to do something about promoting breastfeeding, I will still do my share – I will share to whomever wishes to listen about the benefits of why I chose to breastfeed my kids.  Hopefully I’ll be able to fulfill my social obligation.  

I hope you check out the other wonderful mommas participating in the carnival, please check out these links:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Guest Post on Chronicles of Nursing Mom

I am proud of the fact that I have been able to breastfeed both my babies.  So when Jenny asked if I could write about breastfeeding a special needs baby, I didn't hesitate.

For the Breastfeeding Carnival for July, we updated my earlier post on breastfeeding to include the syndactyly release.  Incidentally, that post was also submitted to the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action and was part of their April newsletter.

Here's my guest post on Jenny's blog: Chronicles of a Nursing Mom

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Little Big Brother

This is Nina's big brother or "kuya".    I've always been proud of the fact that from the beginning he has always acted like a big responsible brother, always on the lookout for his baby sister.  There was one time when we had just woken up and he got down from the bed to go to his room to get his toys.  When he came back, he brought with him a toy for himself and another one for Janina!  (Without my even having to tell him to do so).

Sometimes when we're in the grocery, he would point to something and say "Gusto ni Nina yan" (Janina would like that.)  I know that at times, he merely projects what he likes and declares it as something that his sister would like but even during those instances, he would always offer it to his sister first.

One time while we were at school, his grandma gave him some Skyflakes to munch on.  He got one piece and when he was about to take another, I told him to finish off the first piece before getting another one.  He told me in a matter-of-fact tone, that the other cracker was for his dad.  True enough, he hung on to that piece until it was time for us to go home.  At that time hubs was on the night shift so when we got home, daddy was still asleep.  Kuya was so excited to wake up his dad just so he could give his "pasalubong".  When his dad was finally awake, he proudly presented the half eaten cracker.  Although kuya had wanted to finish the whole piece, he really tried to keep himself from eating it whole just so that he could give something to his dad.  Sweet right?

And it didn't end there.  Yesterday, I bought him a bag of peanuts.  Again he got some in his hand and declared that these were for daddy.  When we got home, I saw him holding on to one nut, nibbling on the skin.  I asked him why he didn't eat it and he said it was because for Daddy.

I don't know what we did to raise such a thoughtful young boy, I wish I knew but I sure am proud that we did!  I hope he stays that way even when we are no longer around.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Still a very lucky girl

During the surgery for Janina’s fingers, the doctors had to place a pin on the left ring finger just to give the bones a little support after the split was made.  That pin is actually a wire with the end bent into a loop to avoid any injuries.  As an added precaution, the surgeon also gave us a plastic cap to tape on top of the finger. 

We initially thought the pin came out when the bandages were removed but after the scabs had fallen off, we found out it was still there – which was a good thing.  Because Janina now actively makes use of her hands, we need to be very careful that the cap stays on at all times.

Well tonight, I feel was a very lucky night because as I was putting both kids to sleep, I decided to look for the TV remote somewhere in the bed.  I was struggling because the room was dimly lit and Janina was latched on while her big brother had his leg on top of me.  It was while I was groping around that I found that the cap had fallen off!  I shudder at the thought of what could have happened had I not found that.  Thank God our guardian angels were working double time tonight.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Paranoia or Just Thinking Ahead?

We were at church this morning and I noticed two kids in front of us who were looking at Janina and whispering to one another.  Immediately, my mind raced ahead to what I would tell them if they said anything mean or to how I would try to teach them about being kind instead of being cruel.  I guess that's the paranoia and the stage mother in me reacting.

I realized later on that they were not saying anything cruel about her (well, at least nothing that I could hear) so I had no reason to worry.  Thank God.

I know I still am a bit far off from that time when Janina will have to mingle with classmates and schoolmates.  I dread that time when my daughter will have to experience funny stares and harsh remarks and teasing from other children.  As a mother, I can only do so much to protect her from bullies.  No matter how hard I try, there will be some things that she will have to deal with by herself.  I guess the best that I can do is to give her enough self confidence and love so that even in the face of these, she can simply shrug her shoulders and let the comments pass from one ear to another.

How do I do that?  I have no idea yet.  Any suggestions?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dear Nina

Dear Nina,

In a few months you will be turning 2.  It's hard to believe how fast time has flown.  Has it really been two years since you gave us a big fright?

Seriously though, your dad and I would never trade that day for anything.  Just like what I whispered to you earlier as you slept, your coming into our lives has given us this unexplained joy.  You make us proud to be part of your life, to be witnesses to your milestones and achievements and to simply watch you do all your antics.  Thank you for coming into our family, thank you for being who you are.

You are one amazing baby and you really continue to make Daddy and Mommy very proud!

We love you!