Of Breastfeeding and Milk Sharing

My son is 2 years and 7 months old already and I am proud to share that we are still breastfeeding! Breastfeeding a toddler has its challenges but the benefits that we reap far outweigh the difficulties. Being able to breastfeed my son for this long is such a big blessing to our family. It is very beneficial for my growing boy and every feeding is an instant bonding time for us. Also, since I’m a breastfeeding, work-at-home mom, we save a lot of money because we don’t have to buy formula milk, feeding bottles and spend time and effort in washing and sterilising them.

While there is a growing community of breastfeeding mommies and babies, there are mothers who wanted to breastfeed their little ones but are unable to do so. Some cannot produce enough milk for their offspring while others have health conditions that prevent them from giving that precious milk to their babies. This is where the concept of milksharing comes in. If you are a breastfeeding momma who has an overflowing supply of breastmilk, you may want to participate in the upcoming Mommy Milkshare event this coming Saturday, September 5 at New Manila, QC. Read more about it from the press release below.

MommyMilkshare Programme Schedule
MommyMilkshare Programme Schedule

PRESS RELEASE

Mommy Milkshare: A MilkDrive for Moms Who Care

“Breastmilk is the best for babies” — most, if not all, moms have probably heard this at one point in their lives. The statement is 100% true, of course, which is why the World Health Organization (WHO) states the following in its report on “Global strategy on infant and young child feeding”:

Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. 

Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding

continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production.”

Bearing this in mind, two breastfeeding-advocate-minded local enterprises are holding a post-Breastfeeding Awareness Month event to help provide breastmilk to needy babies, namely “Mommy Milkshare: A MilkDrive for Moms Who Care.” This will take place on from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on September 5, 2015, at The Parenting Emporium, 29 1st Street, New Manila, Quezon City.

MommyMilkshare-1

The beginnings of a noteworthy event

“It all started when Jem Perez-Chua and Geraldyn Perez, the owners of Honeysuckle Philippines, approached us with this idea to ‘give back’ by organizing a milkletting activity,” Maricel Cua, co-founder of The Parenting Emporium (TPE) shares.

“We gladly agreed to co-organize because, as part of our advocacy on nutrition, one of our beneficiaries is the TPE Milksharing Hub*. The TPE Milksharing Hub fully supports milkletting activities like this, and responsible milk sharing,” she continues.

“We have participated in several milkletting efforts organized by local governments, hospitals, and even private groups. All collected milk from this particular event will go to the Fabella Milk Bank.”

Jem shares why she and her sister Geraldyn though of holding the MilkShare event. “We’ve been distributing Honeysuckle breastmilk bags for over a year now and given the reception of Filipina moms to our brand, we want to give back as well,” she says.

“We found out that the concept of breastmilk donation is not common knowledge, and some moms actually end up with a lot of ‘old frozen breastmilk’ because their babies simply weren’t able to consume all of their stored milk.

“So we thought — wouldn’t it be wonderful if another baby was able to benefit from that stored breastmilk instead? It could possibly even save lives!”

In addition, Jem and Geraldyn feel that there are “very few brands / organizations that are willing to set up breastmilk drives, because these events are really non-profit.” “So we want to help however way we can in something we feel very strongly about,” she adds.

 

Raising awareness, spreading the word about the advocacy

As self-declared “big supporters of breastfeeding,” Jem and Geraldyn hope they can make the Mommy MilkShare event bigger in succeeding years.

“For this first event, we reached out to The Parenting Emporium for guidance and lots of help,” Jem shares. “We found out that they have so much experience in this type of activity and we have none!

“The Parenting Emporium even took care of looking for speakers exclusively for the mom-donors to listen to,” Jem continues. “So it’s really great that we are both very aligned on this endeavor, because we just really want to help moms in whatever way we can. We hope more brands can join us in this cause in the future.”

 

The Mommy Milkshare MilkDrive: Uniting moms for the “breast cause” ever 

“We know the benefits of breastfeeding extend beyond just the first year of life so we want to raise awareness about the importance of donating excess breastmilk of moms — because there are so many babies who need the milk,” Jem emphasizes.

“We don’t want moms to ever consider feeding their babies with formula milk — especially in the few months, just because they think there is no other solution.”

Jem adds that donating breastmilk is very fulfilling because “you know that you are nurturing the life of another baby in need, on top of your own baby.”

“We hope that we will be able to help a lot of moms and babies with what we can collect and donate, in partnership with The Parenting Emporium,” she concludes.

 

Event details to take note of

The Mommy Milkshare milkletting event is open to all breastfeeding moms who wish to donate their milk. “There is no registration fee, but it is exclusive for breastmilk donors. Mommies should bring frozen milk, expressed within 3 months, and should also be willing to be screened,” Maricel expounds.

Aside from the milkletting activity, participants can expect different activities as well.

“Jem and Geraldyn wanted to help mothers at different levels, so we came up with the idea of free one-on-one consultations for 4 moms (the first 4 to register) with a volunteer International Board Certified Lactation Consultant or IBCLC,” Maricel shares. “There will also be relevant talks and lootbags for donors.” 

Below is the list of talks scheduled for the event:

10a.m.-12nn: Developmental Milestones of Your Infant/Toddler (Speaker: Tanya Velasco of Guru Firm {Early Childhood and Family Life Experts})

1-2p.m.: Time Management Skills for the Busy Mom (Speaker: Candice Cipullo of “The Travelling Maybahay” Blog)

2-3p.m.: Overcoming Breastfeeding Challenges (Speaker: Joyce Martinez, RN, MSN, IBCLC)

3-4p.m.: Managing Mommy Guilt (Speaker: MommyProofing Coach Joy Dejos, Certified Professional Coach)

 

It is hoped that through this event for moms by moms, the message of “growing together as parents” will be shared to all, and that parents — especially mothers — will be encouraged to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, and share what they have with others.

To pre-register for the event, kindly contact the TPE Events Hotline: 0917-8110821. For updates from The Parenting Emporium, please send an email to theparentingemporium@gmail.com or follow TPE on Facebook and Instagram @theparentingemporium. To get in touch with Honeysuckle Philippines, contact them on Facebook and on Instagram @honeysucklephils.

 

*Additional information about The TPE Milksharing Hub 

Even before the official launch of The Parenting Emporium last July 2015, its founders Maricel Cua and Beng Feliciano had already been committed to milk sharing, as one of the advocacies under their former business.

“As breastfeeding advocates and peer counselors, we discovered the need to provide expert-backed information to breastfeeding moms and breastmilk to needy babies,” Maricel shares.

“Through the community that they had built at the time, which was composed of mostly nursing moms, that need was soon answered — through the generosity of the moms who gave their precious breastmilk donations,” Beng adds.

Maricel and Beng emphasize that all donations were — and still are — conscientiously screened and pasteurized to make sure that the milk is clean and safe, especially for sick babies.

“Under what is now known as the TPE Milksharing Hub, pasteurized breastmilk is distributed to babies whose mothers may be unable to provide them with sufficient breastmilk for some reason,” Maricel says.

Beng stresses that they make sure that the mothers who receive breastmilk are given breastfeeding counseling and support so that they will eventually be able to provide breastmilk for their own babies’ needs.

“This is just one way by which we hope to ‘give back’ to others,” Maricel shares.

If you are interested in donating your excess milk to the TPE Milk Sharing Hub, you may contact Maricel Cua at 0917-6247246, or Katrina Mitra at (02) 7253723 / (02) 7386272. You can also send an email to theparentingemporium@gmail.com. *Important reminders: Kindly prepare a Hepatitis-HIV profile that is less than six months old. If you have none, testing will be provided for free. Donated breastmilk should be less than three months old from date of expression.

 

Rustan’s and Philips Avent’s Mom and Baby Care

As I have mentioned in my post about The Working Mom All About Kids Bazaar, we went to an Avent event right after shopping and having lunch. The event was actually a tie-up between Rustan’s and Philips Avent and it was titled Mom and Baby Care which also featured the Joys of Breastfeeding as discussed by Dr Seizan Marie Reyes, OB-GYN.

Photo taken from Philips Avent PH Facebook
Photo taken from Philips Avent PH Facebook

I have always wanted to attend workshops about breastfeeding and baby care so I can get tips and learn more from the experts. If it’s free and the venue is not too far, why not, di ba? I was happy to have read about the Avent event in my Facebook feed because aside from it being free and a bit near, my baby and I are Avent users, too.

We came in a bit late because we were not that familiar with the Rockwell-Makati Ave route. When we got to the venue, Dra Seizan was already starting with her talk. The place was brimming with attendees that the organizers added more chairs behind the glass doors of what seemed like a play area. I have also seen some parents who have Pampers package on their lap. I think we missed a raffle, sayang! Beside the registration booth behind the glass door, a catering table was set up. It was so nice of Rustan’s and Avent to have provided carbonara, pastry and juice for everyone :)

Dra Seizan is a bubbly doctor who is very knowledgeable on the topic of breastfeeding. She reminds me of my own OB-GYN who has Reyes as her last name, too. I think, all Reyes doctors are easy to talk to :) Having breastfed all of her three children, Dra Seizan shared her own tips and insights on feeding, expressing and storing our precious liquid gold. I was not able to jot them down but here are some that I remember:

  • You can enjoy your favorite coffee even if you’re a breastfeeding Mommy. Dra shared that back in the day, she just trimmed down her servings and none of her babies have become jittery or anything.
  • Today’s society is much more acceptable with breastfeeding in public as compared to her time.
  • You don’t need special clothes to breastfeed your baby outdoors. Wear a button down blouse, unbutton from the bottom up to the lower part of your chest and you’re good to go.
  • Do not use ball type/horn type breast pumps, the kind that you find in drug stores worth less than Php200 because they don’t really work. They will just cause breastmilk to back flow, which makes it painful. Plus, it’s difficult to clean, too. You cannot clean the insides of the ball to remove the milk drippings even if you sterilize them. Dra strongly suggests that we invest in gear type breast pumps which are available in manual and electric versions. She says that these are expensive because a lot of research goes into them. During the event, Avent raffled off their manual breast pump. I was hoping to win it, but then another mom got it. Her smile was so big when she got it!
  • Malunggay capsules are helpful in lactation. She tried it, too. She said that Moringa was okay. I bought some last weekend. Will tell you how effective it is when I have finished the 10 capsules.
  • Fathers can help with the feeding, too. She and her husband take turns in feeding their babies. When she is asleep and their baby is hungry, her husband would position the baby beside her and he will watch over the baby as the little one gets milk from her.
  • Freshly pumped milk can last up to 8 hours at room temperature; 5 days when refrigerated after being expressed and 2 weeks when put in the freezer right after expression.
  • No ref in the office? (My question :)) Ask the nearby canteen or any establishment to store the milk for you. Most of them are willing to do it as they know that its for the baby. She once attended a conference and had nothing to preserve her breastmilk. She asked the nearby gelato kiosk to store the milk for her. The attendant gladly helped and her and labelled the milk before putting it in their freezer.
  • You don’t need a special cleaning agent to clean your breasts before and after feeding. Just wipe it clean with a wet (face)towel and use soap and water when taking a bath.
  • Husbands of breastfeeding mothers must support them especially during milk expression. Words of encouragement and a simple “I love you” go a long way.
  • Breastfeeding mommies must not forget the daddies and their needs. Make time for love. However, Dra cautioned that extreme discretion must be applied when the baby is 2 years old and up. She said that toddlers might get confused when they see parents in the act.

These are all I can remember. If you were in the same event with me, you may add what you have learned from that talk in the comments below.

Before the presentation ended, Dra Seizan commended the husbands who came to attend with their wives. After that, attendees were encouraged to ask questions. Dra answered and patiently explained each one of them. There was even one mom whom Dra offered to talk to her husband. That’s because the woman’s husband was reluctant about her breastfeeding in public. Bait ni Dra Seizan :)

That's me asking about milk storage in a ref-less office
That’s me asking about milk storage in a ref-less office

After the merienda, there was a game for dads. My husband raised his hand to join but the emcee just needed 3 contestants. After that, the Aprica stroller was demo-ed. I think that it’s their new model. The event ended with the distribution of Philips Avent gift bags. Take a peek of what we’ve got.

The Avent gift bag
The Avent gift bag

I wish to attend more events like this in the future!

My Breastfeeding Journey

August is not yet over and the campaign for Breastfeeding Awareness is still on. I am one of its many advocates because I am still breastfeeding my baby who is almost eight months old already. Just so it’s clear: I mix feed my baby.

From the moment that I gave birth, up until I was about to go back to work, I direct feed my baby with my precious breastmilk. We only asked our pediatrician to prescribe a milk formula just in case I don’t get to produce enough supply for our baby boy to consume while I am at work. That’s why, days before my maternity leave ended, we trained our little one to drink my milk and the prescribed formula through the bottle. It was a bit of a struggle at first because my baby was not used to silicone nipple. But, he got the hang of it before I began working again. Swakto!

Because we have a baby boy, we know that he has a big appetite. My parents couldn’t believe at how frequent he feeds. Almost every hour! He can consume seven bottles of either 120ml or 80ml each when I am not with him. On the contrary, the most that I can express while in the office and in the car going home is a total of 8 ounces. That is only enough for two feedings. That’s the reason we use formula milk to augment his supply. If not, our poor baby will starve!

Formula milk is just a small portion of our baby’s nourishment. I breastfeed him in the morning and in the evening. There are times when he would ask for milk between 3AM and 6AM. As soon as I get home from work (after I have washed up), I take him to my breast to feed. We are the happiest on weekends and holidays. I can give him my milk anytime and anywhere he wants. I have my nursing cover for feeding outdoors. Sometimes, all I have is just his lampin, his blanket, or my shawl. As long as I keep hidden what must not be exposed, we’re fine. There was one time when I tried breastfeeding my baby without any cover in a restaurant. I was confident because I was wearing a button down blouse and an inner tube top. My husband got worried even though I assured him that I would be careful. He felt better when I finally draped the lampin over my shoulder and across my chest because our baby started to move a lot.

There were days when my supply is really low. I must admit that I feel sad when it happens. Glad that two of my teammates were able to help me (somehow). Blessed to have these men on our team! One brings malunggay leaves from their garden while the other one grinds the leaves and adds fruits to make smoothies and shakes for everyone in our group. Buti na lang health conscious sila! I get to benefit from their healthy lifestyle. Those malunggay concoctions really help increase my milk supply! Also, I have a secret and mysterious lactation aid: the pearl milk tea from Cha Time. I don’t know how it does it but I can really attest to its powers. Yesterday, my initial output was so low. It was less than an ounce! I had rice, drank milk and even had pan de sal for breakfast so I can tell you that I was not hungry when I expressed milk. After lunch, I bought my favorite drink and pumped milk after 30 minutes. My milk flow increased to 2.5 ounces. Amazing, right? I am looking for other ways to produce more milk for my growing baby boy. My goal is to breastfeed him until he is a year old. I am considering on buying Moringga (malunggay pills). The speaker from the Avent event that we attended earlier this month said that it would help, too. I’ll tell you more about that event in my next post.