The One About “The TIME Breastfeeding Cover”: Manila Bulletin, May 19 2012

Here’s an article that came out on the Manila Bulletin on May 19th. Jenny of Chronicles of A Nursing Mom and myself were interviewed on our thoughts about extended breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and that controversial Time breastfeeding cover. Original article here.

Note: I have something to say about this part of the article: “It’s a well-known fact though that not all mothers can or want to breastfeed, and Teacher Eli believes they shouldn’t be condemned for it.” For me, it’s actually a MYTH that some mothers believe they can not breastfeed. I learned in breastfeeding class that only about 1% of mothers are actually not physically able to breastfeed, due to a medical condition. For a lot of women who believe they CAN’T breastfeed, most of the time it’s due to a lack of information, guidance or support. I can’t emphasize this enough: If you want to breastfeed, do your homework while you’re pregnant. Most of the problems we encounter as counselors occur from not knowing what to do or expect in the first few days after giving birth.

Anyhoo. Here’s the article! I would love to hear your thoughts!

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My Way

By REGINA G. POSADAS
May 19, 2012, 4:23pm

MANILA, Philippines — Breastfeeding is a practice widely praised and applauded by many.  But when TIME magazine displayed on its cover a skinny young woman with her almost-four-year-old son suckling on her breast alongside the provoking question, “Are You Mom Enough?” for its attachment parenting feature, numerous moms reacted negatively.

“I was a little appalled at the cover,” admitted my friend, Beng Meneses.  “It was very controversial, actually, and of course, received a lot of attention and publicity, good and bad.  It was shocking to see an almost four-year-old boy still breastfeeding, because honestly, I can’t imagine my kids doing the same.  But as is the case with everything else, the point of the article, which is “attachment parenting,” is a growing trend.  Whether it will have lasting power or is just a fad, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”

Eliza Santiago-Ypon or Teacher Eli, another friend of mine who teaches at Gymboree and has a two-year-old son, had this to say, “At first it was, “Oh great!” and then it was “Oh no.”  I loved the picture.  I thought it was great that extended breastfeeding was being put into the spotlight, but combined with the headline of “Are You Mom Enough?”, it became inflammatory.  I didn’t think it was appropriate for attachment parenting at all.  No mother should be made to feel she’s inadequate, no matter what parenting style she chooses to practice.  I think it’s journalism meant to pit moms against each other, which I don’t agree with.  I don’t like mommy wars.”

Different strokes for different folks

My two mommy-friends have dissimilar experiences when it comes to breastfeeding.  Beng recalls that she did breastfeed her firstborn Justin, but due to some health issues, she didn’t produce enough milk to sustain him.  “So my experience with breastfeeding was not really extensive,” shares Beng.  “Although looking back, I wish I would have been able to breastfeed my children for nutritional value, since mother’s milk is reputed to be healthier than formula.”  This working mom, whose kids are now grown-up and in college, is also not a fan of extended breastfeeding.  “No, I don’t think I would have breastfed them until they were four.  That’s simply too big already for me.  As for attachment parenting, I think my kids turned out pretty well adjusted and normal for being raised the old-fashioned way.”

Teacher Eli, on the other hand, totally enjoys breastfeeding and intends to do it for several years.  “Breastfeeding Basti to four years was always my intention, even when I was still pregnant.  Attachment parenting supports extended breastfeeding.  In fact, there are times that we already look like like the couple on the cover (of TIME),” she says.

The experience of breastfeeding wasn’t smooth-sailing in the beginning for Teacher Eli, but she kept at it nevertheless.  “Now at two years old, I would have to say it’s probably one of the biggest and best choices I’ve made for Basti.”

It’s a well-known fact though that not all mothers can or want to breastfeed, and Teacher Eli believes they shouldn’t be condemned for it.  “No one should be made to feel they’re less if they don’t breastfeed.  As a breastfeeding advocate, I will always try to promote breastfeeding and its benefits to anyone I meet, but at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to be good parents.  I’ve met some who express regret and guilt that they didn’t breastfeed but have learned to move past it.  They have great, healthy children.  No one should make them feel they didn’t do the best they could.”

To new mothers who plan to breastfeed, Teacher Eli gives this valuable advice: “Educate yourself.  Be informed on the basics of breastfeeding, know what to expect, involve your support system in the decision, and keep a positive mindset.”  If breastfeeding is a constant struggle for you, “Don’t hesitate to ask for help,” says Teacher Eli.  “We’re fortunate that breastfeeding advice is so easy to find these days.  Organizations like L.A.T.C.H., La Leche League, and the growing number of breastfeeding moms are all sources of help, guidance and information.  Breastfeeding may be natural, but it’s a skill that needs to be learned and mastered by both mother and child.”  In addition, she lauds moms who are already breastfeeding their babies, congratulating them on doing a good job, and urging them to “Keep it up!”

Parenting, Pinoy-style 

 On attachment parenting, Teacher Eli gladly observes that many Filipinos already practice it.  “Attachment parenting is actually not uncommon to us Filipinos.  When I was reading on it, the practice sounded very Filipino and much like the way I was raised.  We are a breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping family.  Those three are the most obvious ways we “practice” attachment parenting, but there’s so much more to it than just that.  It’s a whole philosophy built on positive discipline, nurturing, empathy, and balance.  It doesn’t mean that if you don’t breastfeed, babywear or co-sleep, that you’re not an attachment parenting advocate anymore.  That is what I don’t like about the TIME cover.  It suggests that people who don’t do otherwise aren’t sufficiently parenting.  It’s preposterous.”

Is EB for you? 

Only a few mothers would continue to breastfeed their children well into their preschool years, or beyond the age of three.  But while it is ultra challenging, extended breastfeeding can also be tremendously gratifying, according to Atty. Jenny Ong, a L.A.T.C.H.-accredited breastfeeding peer counselor, lawyer, and government employee.

Jenny, who is currently breastfeeding her five-month-old son Erik, recounts that she breastfed her firstborn Naima until she was three years and five months.  She says that her daughter, now four, still breastfeeds occasionally –once or twice a week for five minutes or less – usually when she sees her brother breastfeeding.  Here, she shares the pros and cons of extended breastfeeding.

Pros:  “A big pro is the comfort that I am easily able to give my child.  We love traveling and she doesn’t have any difficulty adjusting when we go to new places or meet new faces.  She also easily sleeps at night, which I attribute to nursing.  I also believe that she has grown to be a confident little girl because of attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding.  This summer, teachers at her art school and ballet classes informed me that my daughter comforts other four-year-old classmates who are crying or do not want to be left alone during class.”

Cons:  “Acrobatic positions.  My daughter nurses in whatever position she feels like.  Plus since she can walk and move independently, one con was when she wanted to nurse in public – she simply lifts my shirt or pulls down my top.  Dealing with comments from people around me, particularly from colleagues at work, is another…what I dislike most is the comment, “She’s still nursing until now?!” with raised eyebrows and an incredulous voice.”

Jenny’s advice to moms who plan to breastfeed for as long as possible is to “Take it one day at a time.  Don’t compare yourself with other moms.  Each mom has a different parenting style and we all parent the best way we can to our children.”  She adds that preparation, patience and perseverance are the keys to breastfeeding success.  “It pays to be well read, well researched and well-informed so you can properly address the issues raised by naysayers.”

So What’s Up With FAB (Filipino Association of Babywearers)?

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that some of us have come together and formed FAB, or the Filipino Association of Babywearers. Let’s go quick and simple on what’s been happening since Babywearing Meet 4, yuh?

1. We’ve got a logo and a Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/FABabywearers. Go ahead and “like” it, you know you want to. Har har. In just a couple of days of being publicly published, the page has 183 likes already. Super cool.

2. Some of us held pocket meetups here and there. More coming soon.

Jen Tan of next9 held a hangout session with some ringsling enthusiasts at Starbucks a few weeks ago. Buding and I hosted a SaYa Salo-Salo for some ladies from GirlTalk, a Facebook forum I was added to by one of our Babywearing Meet participants, Kariz. Thanks Buding, for giving everyone Babylegs as a take-home present! We had a lot of fun.

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For moms in the Davao area who are interested in babywearing and cloth-diapering, Jen and Jenny will be hosting a meet on May 26, 10am at The Pod. Check out the event here: Babywearing and Cloth Diapering 101 in Davao

If you have a group of parents (I emphasize PARENTS – dads babywear too!) who would like to get together and learn more about babywearing, shoot me an email thru my Contact Page and let’s arrange something! You could be 5 or 20, North, South, East or West – lezzdoit!

3. FAB goes to the Sky Fun Club event in Market Market!

This Saturday, May 19, Jen, Buding, Abie and Clarice (Tickled Moms) and myself will be at the FAB booth from 1-5pm. The event is open to SkyCable Sky Club subscribers, but we were given a limited number of tickets to giveaway. Send a private message on FAB’s Facebook page to ask for one! Please come if you want to see and try different types of carriers and get coached on with your own if you need help. See you there!

More Mother’s Day Treats: My Azta Urban Salon Mommy Makeover

My hair started falling out 4 months after Basti was born, and it has not been the same since then. I’ve chopped it off, grown it long, had it relaxed, layered, trimmed…. and it was still a pathetic mass of fibers on my head.

So when Azta Urban Salon invited me for an afternoon of pampering, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. I’ve been to Azta salons more than a few times in my life. I used to visit their Metrowalk branch all the time, and went to Katipunan a few times as well. It was my first time to visit their Eastwood branch.

Before anything else, here’s the “Before” shot.

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Don’t say anything about the hair. Kaya nga “before” eh. My stylist-slash-stress reliever for the day was Angie. A mom herself, she understands all too well the effects of hormonal changes on hair. Add that to the fallouts of childbirth, along with saggy tummies and stretch marks (which I am taking care of as well. More on that later). Angie recommended a shorter cut, a color and a treatment. With that in place, I settled back with my iPad and some magazines. (Free PLDT WiFi zone connection, all ye mompreneurs who need to work all the time!)

While waiting for my treatment, let’s take a look around Azta, shall we?

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It’s a very well-appointed salon, with lots of space, great lighting and pictures of young people jumping for joy with such youth and vigor. Now, Azta may strike you as a place that caters to young people (read: younger than me), but the place is very inviting and appealing to all ages. Azta’s prices are very inviting too. Here’s their current menu of services. (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Azta Menu of Services

Service is very good, and very considerate. The stylists never leave you without saying when they’ll be back, and they always explain the treatment as you go along. They offered me a cup of coffee, and when it came, the mug had a cover so hair wouldn’t fall in it while my hair was getting cut. It’s in the little things, I tell you.

The color they used on my hair was a new brand from Taiwan that uses MLV-Tech. It’s a low-ammonia, semi-permanent cream. I haven’t had my hair colored in about a decade, so I was pleased to see that Angie chose a classic golden brown and copper for me. My cut was a layered bob and side bangs, and she used the two different colors on different areas to create highlights and lowlights. Description pa lang, glamor na!

I also got their Lycopene treatment, which is a procedure that’s just the thing for colored hair.

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It contained mint and was the best part of that very hot summer day. That, combined with Angie’s assistant Richard’s exceptional head and back massage almost had me in tears. You know that feeling when you’re so super stressed and super tired then finally given a moment of comfort? THAT.

Around the salon, I observed little touches and a glimpses of their other services.

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  • I love the tipping box and the very friendly tipping system. I don’t know about you guys, but I find it awkward to hand tips to the stylists, especially when they’re already attending to another client.
  • Human hair extensions, hmmm. This is something I once considered when my hair was in its awkward stage of cut-or-grow.
  • A 3-Day Service Assurance Policy! Love it!
  • Hair Tattoos. A fun way to express yourself without the needles and the pain.

One more special service that Azta is promoting is summer braids! French braids, side plaits, hair twists, cornrows.. you name it, they can do it. Supervised by their Miami-based creative consultant Shiela Gomez, braids are a good idea for a big event or just to add a special twist to your, or your little girl’s hair! I had braids done by Sheila herself years ago in 2005, when she was still Manila-based. Gosh my hair was so long.

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So what’s the end result of my afternoon in Azta? See for yourself. Here’s the “salon” version, which I never believe.

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The true test of a good haircut is when you’ve washed and styled it yourself, and lived your actual life in it. Here I am with the #RealMom ladies a couple of days after at Expo Mom.

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All in all, a fantastic job! My hair now looks the way I feel. Thanks Azta Urban Salon for my early Mother’s Day treat!

You can book yourself (and your mother!) for your own Mother’s Day of pampering in any of Azta Urban Salon’s branches:

  • KATIPUNAN AVENUE: 2nd level, SMRC Building, Katipunan Avenue, corner B.Gonzales Street Loyola Heights, Quezon City (In front of Miriam College); Tel No. 4346733
  • ROBINSONS METROEAST: Body Senses, 4th Level, Robinsons Metroeast, Marcos Highway, Pasig City (beside Sta. Lucia, East Grand Mall); Tel No. 6822107
  • EASTWOOD CITY: 3rd Level, City Walk 2, Eastwood City, Bagumbayan, Quezon City (above Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf); Tel No. 6876527
  • ALABANG TOWN CENTER: Service Town, Basement Level, Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa City; Tel No. 6592249
  • ROBINSONS FORUM: Mezzanine Level, Forum Robinsons, Pioneer St. Corner EDSA, Mandaluyong City; Tel No. 6873289
  • SM CITY SAN LAZARO: 3rd Level, SM City San Lazaro, Felix Huertas cor. A.H. Lacson St., Sta. Cruz Manila; Tel No. 3531344
  • TOMAS MORATO: 282 Tomas Morato Ave., Sacred Heart, Quezon City (In front of Johnny Rockets); Tel No. 9904234
Follow them on Twitter: @AztaUrbanSalon

Full disclosure: I was generously treated to all the services by the management of Azta Urban Salon. Much appreciated!

 

It’s My Time, It’s My Life to #LiveMore: A Smart LiveMore Post

Check out the new song for the Smart LiveMore campaign.

The song was composed and mixed by the impressive duo of James Banbury and Pete Davis. On their own, they boast an impressive resume; Banbury has worked with U2, Snow Patrol and Depeche Mode, while Davis did work with Gwen Stefani, The Spice Girls and Bjork. As collaborators, they’ve done work for Marriot Hotels, Tropicana and Cathay Pacific. They team up again to compose this song for the Philippines’ biggest network, Smart.

I first listened to it with my eyes closed (I got distracted by the words onscreen) and let my brain run free. Some of the images and thoughts that came to my head: running really fast; jumping off a cliff; a really strong and steady heartbeat; standing on top of the tallest building ever and seeing the world spread out below my feet; Basti’s laugh; my husband at the studio; scuba diving in washing-machine-currents; lying flat on my back in a field of flowers.

The lyrics are simple, but the message is crystal-clear. I love it for its positivity and joy, and it’s a great affirmation to my personal statement to focus on the more important things in life.

So for my time to #LiveMore, I’m going to strive to:

    • Let go of the little things and shrug off the mountains that are actually molehills. My energy is best spent on better things.
    • Focus on what really matters with the things I believe in and let go of the technicalities. To help women into breastfeeding with compassion and not by lecture; to share babywearing in the spirit of love and enjoyment of your baby; to appreciate motherhood, mothers and achieve balance.
    • To teach my child the value of fun. Not everything has to make sense, and not everything is built on rules.
Smart is very, well, uhm, SMART with this campaign. A good connection is practically a necessity these days. Communication plays such a huge part in our aim to get our lives going, no matter where we are at the moment. A great connection gives us one less thing to worry about and more time to just LIVE. And #LiveMore, at that.
I have to admit, the song gave me LSS*. If you’re like me, and the only way you can appease LSS is by listening to the song again and again, here’s the good news for you: Smart subscribers can download this song for free! Just log on to  http://m.smart.com.ph/livemore and click on “download”. Smart subscribers can also get this as a ringback tune FREE for 30 days by texting LIVEMORE  to 2728. Enjoy!!
*Last Song Syndrome

 

What Really Happened at the #RealMom Shoot for Mommy Matters

I posted the final shots for the Mommy Matters #RealMom campaign the other day. We were all laughing at how calm and effortless all the shots looked when the reality was far that. In the spirit of being a #RealMom, let me tell you guys a few snippets of what really went on behind the scenes.

  • I was really late and I went there looking like I got run over by a bus on the way. Sweaty, dirty and smelling like stale yogurt (which Basti had spilled on me on the way there of course)
  • The toddlers were running around and the whole studio was filled with shrieks, some crying, sound effects of iPad apps (our vain attempt to get the kids to stay put) and few “Bastiiiii!!!”s, “Vitoooo!!!!”s and “Sjofnnnnnnn!!!”s here and there. Little Nala was probably rolling her eyes at us in her mind.
  • For the group shot, the kids were pulling on our shirts and skirts and crying, trying to get our attention. There were even a few shots with little hands at the bottom reaching out to the mommies.
  • The food arrived while were taking the last few shots and Sjofn (Paola’s little girl) was able to grab a chicken leg from the table without anyone noticing. That’s how she was found – munching on chicken, sitting in a corner of a studio somewhere.

Not saying we didn’t have fun. It was absolute chaos but it was also absolute pleasure! That’s what being a #RealMom is about I think. We may complain and gripe about needing to juggling everything for every member of the family while needing time for ourselves, or being so exhausted and harrased all day, everyday, every night.. but admit it: at the end of the day you take a deep breath and think how much you love it all. Being a #RealMom is all that and owning the emotions that go with the day-in-day-out challenges and tiny triumphs we encounter each day. It’s laughter and guilt and insomnia and exhaustion all wrapped in a home, a household and a hug.

The shoot was a tiny peek into the everyday lives of real moms. Inspite of the chaos, the outtakes were precious. Here are shots taken by our photographer while the kids were playing on the set:

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Thank you to our wonderful photographer, Sheila Catilo (a #RealMom herself) for the wonderful pictures!
So what does being a #RealMom mean to you?