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Join LATCH!: LATCH Peer Counselor Training Batch 5

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My journey as a peer counselor with LATCH started two years ago when I went through the training seminar as part of LATCH Batch 3. Since then, my life has been intertwined with LATCH in more ways than one.

Apart from the talks, classes, breastfeeding testimonials, projects (Snuggle Wuggle Wee, Nanay Bayanihan and Dr. Jack Newman, y’all), there’s something about belonging in an organization full of like-minded women who care about a cause as much as  you do. We are all different, but all sisters in the name of breastfeeding.

We did LATCH Peer Counselor Training Batch 4 recently in Cebu.

The excitement and fire from the participants prompted us to schedule the Manila training leg sooner than later.

So do you wanna be a LATCHer? Check out the details below. The LATCH peer counselor training will be held on two whole Saturdays this March. (Click on the image to enlarge)

There will be an interview and all applicants will go through a screening process. As with all organizations, it’s good to know whether LATCH is a fit for you and what you represent and how you want to be represented. Let’s talk! Sign up to be on the candidate list on http://bit.ly/LatchManila5.

I hope to see your name on the list!

Nanay Bayanihan

I’m sure I don’t need to explain why I haven’t been writing lately. My thoughts and emotions have been on a roller coaster. I’m sure you guys can relate. Every since the weekend of Typhoon Yolanda, all of us have our own stories to tell. I’ve shared bits and pieces of Nanay Bayanihan on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and I finally have the mojo to actually write about it.

Nanay Bayanihan all started with a mother’s concern. Camille was in Villamor fetching survivors and found herself in the midst of the action. In the early days of the relief operations, there was hardly anything. She saw the babies, she saw the formula donations, she saw the arbitrary distribution without assessment and decided to sound off to Jenny of Chronicles of A Nursing Mom (see Jenny’s own post on Nanay Bayanihan here). Mommy Camille asked if LATCH can send counselors and facilitate donated breastmilk. Jenny contacted Doc Lei, who contacted Doc Mianne and they agreed to mobilize. Doc Lei and Doc Mianne also have an organization – Kalusugan Para Sa Mag-Ina, Inc. – and their expertise and knowledge was essential in putting up the facility at VAB. Along the way, there was a call for formula donations from the DSWD, which frustrated Doc Mianne and prompted Dr. Zeka Tatad-To call out for donations that initiated The Cold Chain Project. It is meant to facilitate the point-to-point transport of donated breastmilk to the frontline of the disaster-stricken areas and make breastmilk available to those who need it. The Cold Chain Project evolved into Bayanihan Para Sa Mag-Ina, the blanket organization that embraces both the Cold Chain and Nanay Bayanihan. Along with LATCH, the entire breastfeeding community moved, from the members of Breastfeeding Pinays, to other breastfeeding advocacy groups, to breastfeeding mothers and community health workers. A single mother’s concern became an entire community of mothers’ concern.

In the weeks that I’ve participated in the effort, I saw how  Nanay Bayanihan truly was moving in the spirit of bayanihan. Both strangers and friends, mothers or not, came together and brought Nanay Bayanihan to life. I’m a little lost for words at the moment, but here’s a slice of my tale in pictures.

There were light and fun times, opportunities to interact with like-minded women.

With fellow volunteers at the Nanay Bayanihan tent. Doc Mianne (in red) giving us a few reminders when handling the mom and baby pairs who come into the tent.

There were times I wanted to cry.

This is baby Andrea, whose mom was rushed to the hospital for a heart complication. She’s only three weeks old. We took turns nursing her until the DSWD fetched her and her dad to be with her mom at the Heart Center. I pray she’s doing well.

There was frustration.

When the order was given to move out of Villamor and transfer to Aguinaldo, the entire operation was packed up and set up. We set up all day in Aguinaldo, resulting in our nicest tent yet. We were told three hours later to transfer back to Villamor. Because all our things were set up in Aguinaldo, we had to scrounge around VAB for any cartons, blankets and whatever we could find just to accommodate the babies coming in the midnight flights.

There was lots of fatigue. But there was also lots of joy.

This baby came in with her mom at approximately 3am. I wore her while her mother slept off her exhaustion from the trip. Babywearing works wonders!

And a little bit of showbiz too!

I couldn’t believe it when they announced over the PA system that Alicia Keys was at the grandstand! I sprinted when I heard her voice over the mic.

Nanay Bayanihan was overwhelmed with the amount of support received in the form of donations, volunteers, and coverage. In light of the many discussions and heated arguments about milk donations and distribution of milk in relief centers, I believe Nanay Bayanihan was able to make a mark and extend the awareness of why the Milk Code, UNICEF and the World Health Organization specify not allowing milk donations in times of crises and emergencies.

The operations have waned but the tent remains. Even after our country has weathered Yolanda, Nanay Bayanihan will still remain. Again, this group has no “agenda.” They are not being idealistic. It aims to protect all babies, breastfed or otherwise and aims to shatter all myths and misinformation about infant feeding and nutrition.

To learn how to help and to know more about the ideals of Bayanihan Para sa Mag-Ina, please visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bayanihanIFE

Milk for Wilbert

Hi everyone! Sorry for the long absence. I’ve been preoccupied with a lot of things, one of them being the Nanay Bayanihan tent in Villamor, something that I will write about a bit more on another post.

I want you guys to meet Wilbert.

He’s one of the babies that we took in at the Nanay Bayanihan tent. He was breastfed from birth, until his mother died during Typhoon Yolanda. He was rescued, floating in the flood waters, and is now being cared for by his aunt, uncle and grandmother in Manggahan, Pasig.

At the tent, we took turns nursing him – me, Mye and Emily – and he fell asleep while I wore him in a sling. He’s a happy, giggly, little boy, and all the volunteers fell in love with him in the few hours he spent at the Nanay Bayanihan tent. His grandmother and his tita were oriented by Dr. Wang on cupfeeding and appropriate infant nutrition for his age and beyond, and his family is willing to do what they can. But Wilbert needs our help!

We are hoping to be able to sustain his breastmilk to at least the 6-month mark. We are accepting pledges for breastmilk donations. The goal of this drive is sustainability, so not all donations will be picked up right away. We want to make sure that Wilbert gets enough breastmilk in the coming weeks – enough for his use, enough to store it properly and enough so that we do not get donor fatigue.

If you would like to enlist yourself as a breastmilk donor, please fill up the Google form below. If you have milk you want to donate right now, do still fill up the form and then please shoot me an email at eliza@painterswife.com and I’ll coordinate with you for the drop-off points.

Note that this breastmilk drive is a straight-from-the-heart donation and we cannot expect the family of Wilbert to replace your milk bags, storage containers or ask them to pick up milk from the ends of the earth. Let’s do what we can to help the family and help them to cope with everything they’ve been through, starting with Wilbert’s milk.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you in advance.

If you cannot see the form below, click on this link: http://bit.ly/BMforWilbert

On A High from Breastfeeding Uncovered!

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The day finally came! It was time to hear Dr. Jack Newman speak!

May I confess that everytime I thought of him coming here I shed tears. Yes, I am very iyakin. It’s quite embarrassing actually. But when I think of how he’s helped over 40,000 babies successfully breastfeed and the hours I spent watching his videos in the middle of the night, I can’t help it. He’s practically Basti’s pediatrician.

And he came, he spoke and we, as my co-LATCHer Em succinctly put it, were Encouraged, Enlightened and Empowered. My passion for the advocacy was fueled even more hearing about breastfeeding straight from him. I have so many thoughts in my mind, but here are a few that struck me:

    1. ON HYPOGLYCEMIA: Colostrum is the best milk to prevent and treat newborns with hypoglycemia. EDIT: Unlike formula, colostrum does not stimulate the secretion of insulin in the baby. (Thank you Doc Zeka! I must admit some of the technical medical jargon was confusing for me. I must review! I just read the slide that said this. Talk about mush brain!) I’ve heard many people tell me they were not able to breastfeed their children right away because of low blood sugar. He also talked about how mothers whose babies are at risk for hypoglycemia are helped to express colostrum so that this may be added to the colostrum baby gets from birth.
    2. ON JAUNDICE: Jaundice is not a contraindication to breastfeeding. Formula is never the answer to jaundice. There is no reason to stop breastfeeding just to diagnose jaundice. The solution: FIX THE BREASTFEEDING. Encourage effective feedings. From a study, it was discovered that there is no evidence that bilirubin levels of 20 mg% are hazardous to healthy term infants. If the reason is ABO incompatibility, it’s still not a reason to stop breastfeeding since this presupposes the notion that jaundice is caused by breastmilk.
    3. The tyranny of documentation and numbers. We should stop worrying so much about the numbers – weights, ounces of milk, how many ounces to consume, growth charts, etc. Focus on the breastfeeding, focus on the baby. Happy, healthy, thriving babies are always a good sign. Let us not create problems when there are none. So throw that feeding chart away, delete that nursing app, and focus on the actual breastfeeding.
    4. The reasons for a late onset of milk supply decrease. Dr. Jack cited reasons for this, such as the use of hormonal birth control, a new pregnancy, sleep training (I am not a fan of sleep training, so this was good news to me!), and frequent bottle use (teaches a baby a poor latch).

All in all, I learned a lot that can help me become a better breastfeeding counselor and educator. And, even if we knew the importance of this before, I am even more driven now to study techniques for proper latching and feeding. All the problems boil down to one simple solution: FIX THE BREASTFEEDING. I was very happy to see health professionals in the audience. More than the valuable knowledge that Dr. Newman shared, I hope they also saw the passion for breastfeeding that was expressed by the lay people in the audience and their need for our medical professionals to be knowledgeable about breastfeeding. I hate hearing horror stories of how medical professionals had influence on breastfeeding failure. It breaks my heart especially when they are in the front line of maternal and infant care.

I am so proud of my co-LATCHERs. Everyone did such a wonderful job.

Standing from L-R: Jen, Amelia, Maia, Iris, Dr. Jack, me, Paola, Ethel, Joyce, Em. Sitting from L-R: Mec, Bessie, Buding, Jenny, Sylvia, Claire.

The moving force behind Breastfeeding Uncovered, Jenny and Sylvia. Thank you for keeping us on our toes!

Dr. Jack is so warm, humble and easy to approach. Meeting him was a trip. Look at how giddy we all are.

He gamely signed books and shirts, and took pictures with the participants, even with the babies.

At the LATCH dinner, he even tried out tinikling! Hehe!

With the LATCHers.

Nanay Ines. Another breastfeeding superstar!

The ladies of LATCH.

We owe the creation of LATCH to these women, the founding members. (We forgot to bring Zeka’s tarpaulin along. LOL)

Top: Ana, Jen, Sylvia. Bottom: Amelia, Corinne, Buding.

Thank you Dr. Jack for coming to Manila and sharing your knowledge with us. I owe a part of this little boy’s health to you!

This is not the end. The road of the breastfeeding advocacy is long, winding and totally uphill. LATCH is dedicated to being even more passionate in constantly offering opportunities to learn about breastfeeding so that we can all be encouraged, enlightened and empowered.  Breastfeeding is for EVERYBODY. It is a life-saving, country-developing, world-changing act that starts with one mother-baby pair at a time.

My ending thoughts as this wonderful breastfeeding-themed weekend comes to a close: I will not be discouraged. I will not be derailed. I will focus on the people who need help, not the cacophony of negativity and whining that surrounds any advocacy. I will not let voices who complain how things cannot be done dis-empower me. We are the mothers, we are the breastfeeders, and we can do this!!!

Give life. Live life. Breastfeed!

Happy Breastfeeding Month! Ready for the Mob?

It’s August and it will be a busy, busy month for breastfeeding advocates and supporters. It’s Breastfeeding Month!

I started today breastfeeding my toddler. I can’t believe it’s been three years! Granted, he doesn’t nurse as much as he used to, of course, but it’s a morning ritual that we both enjoy. It’s been a long journey from this:

To this:

So are you ready for all the activities this month? To start off, there’s a breastfeeding “mob” to celebrate and spread awareness about nursing-in-public. I am a huge fan of nursing anywhere. I think it’s important to normalizing breastfeeding in our society, and a strong statement against the stigma, misconceptions and misinformation about breastfeeding.

The event is organized by admins and members of a Facebook group called Breastfeeding Pinays. It’s a great place to find support, information and guidance from the lactation experts onboard. If you haven’t done so, you may join the group by following this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/breastfeedingpinays/

So come on and join us! It will be on Saturday, August 3, at the Rajah Sulayman park in Manila. It’s the one with the fountains near Aristocrat along Roxas Boulevard. The activities start at 3pm.

You may register for the event on the Eventbrite page: http://hakabna2013.eventbrite.com/

See you there!

 

See You at Breastfeeding Uncovered! {Dr. Jack Newman Giveaway Winner Announcement}

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I have to say. This may just be the most difficult giveaway I’ve ever done. I really wish I could just treat everyone I know to Dr. Jack Newman’s symposium. That’s how important and relevant I think this event is to the breastfeeding community.

First off, I’d like to thank all the people who sent in their entries. I was very touched by each one, and choosing the winners was not easy!

So the two winners for the Dr. Jack Newman giveaway are:

1. Diane Buddahim. May the symposium fuel your determination and kick off a journey into the breastfeeding advocacy.

2. Judea Baisas. I hope the symposium gives you the knowledge and information to rally more support in your company for lactation facilities and encourage other moms in your workplace to do the same. That is your legacy.

But let’s not stop there. It so happens that Unilab, a long-time supporter of The Painter’s Wife, stepped in and pledged FIVE more people to attend the symposium! So the additional five people who get tickets to Breastfeeding Uncovered are:

1. MJ Chua-Ordoña. I am sure your little patients in the NICU and their families will greatly benefit from the information you will gain from Dr. Jack Newman. We need knowledgable medical practitioners on the frontline!

2. Sandy Lorraine Hilario Tad-y. Thank you for sharing your breastfeeding journey so far. You are doing an awesome job and I’m sure the symposium will give you the motivation to go, go go!

3. Gayzell de Jesus. Your story really touched my heart and I celebrate your triumphs! I hope the symposium inspires you and may that fire spread to your co-nurses.

4. Em Alcantara. You deserve this so much. See you at the symposium and see you at the next LATCH training seminar.

5. Sally Abella. I know your heart is so attuned to the advocacy. I look forward to your growth as an advocate and a counselor.

 

To everyone, again, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your entries really gives encouragement and affirms that breastfeeding has support here and there are people out there who are willing to learn, support, and protect breastfeeding.

See you at the symposium!

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Dr. Jack Newman in Manila! {Giveaway Alert}

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Some weeks ago, LATCH posted this on their Facebook page: “Breastfeeding rockstar is coming to Manila!” I can’t put it any better than that, really. Dr. Jack Newman truly is a breastfeeding rockstar. He is considered one of the top experts on breastfeeding, and I would always check on what he says about certain issues when asked or when I myself am wondering. What he says about breastfeeding, goes!

So here’s the deal. He’s coming to Manila on August 31 to have a symposium at The Medical City. Tickets are at PhP1,100.00 if you buy them now, and they’ll be PhP1,500.00 if you get them at the gate. There’s limited seating though, so I really suggest you buy your tickets now! Here’s the poster:

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When I think about meeting him, I can’t help but tear up a little. I think about the coming symposium and all the doctors, nurses, medical professionals, breastfeeding advocates and moms who will hear him speak, and think about the thousands of lives that will be affected. (Whooooozaaaa. Naiiyak na naman ako!)

I am really excited and I hope this really makes a mark on the breastfeeding scene in the Philippines. This is LATCH’s main event for Breastfeeding Month, and we will have our training seminar for new breastfeeding peer counselors soon after. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want to join the next LATCH breastfeeding peer counselor training session, attending Breastfeeding Uncovered is a pre-requisite.

It’s so important to me that lots of mothers benefit from this talk. And so, I want to treat two of the blog’s readers to a ticket. Time for a giveaway! Details are:

1. Open to all mothers, fathers, expecting moms and medical professionals who want to learn more about breastfeeding.

2. Open nationwide, but you will have to get the ticket from me yourself. This is a special event and tickets are limited, so I really want these tickets to go to two people who really want to go and can go. Please please, do not join if you are not available on August 31, 8am – 5pm for the symposium.

3. Contest will run from today until July 5.

4. If for some reason you win and can’t go, I will pick another winner from the entries.

How to win? Write me an email and send it to: giveaways@painterswife.com. In it, please let me know why you want to come to the symposium. I would love to hear about your breastfeeding journeys, your trials, your successes, your failures, whatever. Let’s make it all about breastfeeding – learning it, celebrating it, doing it and rediscovering it all over again.

I can’t wait to hear from you! Please please join!

 

To buy tickets to see Dr. Jack Newman in Manila, please log on to: http://breastfeedinguncovered.eventbrite.com/.

LATCH Breastfeeding Classes and The Importance of Breastfeeding Education

Breastfeeding education is one topic I will never, never, EVER be tired of talking about. Every time I comment, speak or have a conversation with one mom about breastfeeding and feel like I’ve somehow made a difference, I meet 20 other women who have no clue about the basics of breastfeeding, believe in utter lactation myths and half-truths, or being fed absolutely wrong information by friends, family and worst, medical professionals.

I’ve heard this too many times when I tell people that I am a part of an organization that speaks about breastfeeding and conducts breastfeeding classes: “What? There are breastfeeding classes for mothers? You can’t be serious.” And therein lies the problem. More often than not, the breastfeeding problems that I hear of are brought about by the lack of knowledge and information on the basics of nursing. Coupled with lack of support from their family and doctors, this leads to unsuccessful breastfeeding. Most mothers who were not able to breastfeed from lack of information say this: “If only I had known”, or “I didn’t know breastfeeding was going to be like this.”

The statement that saddens me most is this: “I had no milk when I gave birth so I fed my baby formula first while I waited for milk to come.” Worse, some women don’t wait at all, and assume they don’t have milk and will never have milk. The different stages of breastmilk is a basic breastfeeding principle that can and should be explained by a nurse or a doctor at the hospital. Instead, some encourage the mother to buy formula without medical reason and even add a bit of fear by saying the baby is starving because the mother has no milk. While there are many hospitals and doctors already making an effort to be updated on the latest information and protocol regarding breastfeeding, this is still happening everyday.

Every couple of months, LATCH holds FREE breastfeeding classes at The Medical City called “Best Beginnings in Breastfeeding”. It is held on a Saturday morning at TMC’s Center for Patient Partnership conference rooms. The next one is this Saturday, March 9. Check out the Facebook event HERE.

We talk about the Benefits of Breastfeeding, What to Expect in the First Week, Myths of Breastfeeding, Going Back To Work, and break out in smaller groups so we can discuss proper positioning and latching.

The class is run by trained LATCH breastfeeding counselors. We are all mothers who have exclusively breastfed or are still exclusively breastfeeding. Collectively, our experiences range from the most basic and common concerns, to issues such as pre-term breastfeeding and relactation.

 

Em talks about the Benefits of Breastfeeding. Photo courtesy of Claire Mogol.

Claire talks about the basics of latching and positioning. Photo by Bryan Sales.

No I am not sleeping on the job. Sometimes you have to get down and dirty for breastfeeding! Hehe. Demonstrating side-lying. Photo by Bryan Sales.

Working, pumping moms need all the support they can get! Lawyer Fritzi talks about going back to work and sustaining breastfeeding. Photo by Claire Mogol.

Most of the attendees are mothers-to-be, but we do get the occasional breastfeeding mother who wants to brush up on her knowledge for affirmation and confidence. The breastfeeding mindset, after all, is half the battle won!

We love seeing the support system come in with the moms. The support of husbands, partners, lolas and yayas are so crucial to breastfeeding success.

One of the dads takes a guess on a breastfeeding question and gets a gift! Photo by Claire Mogol.

A father assists his wife in learning the proper position for the cradle hold. Great practice for the real thing! Photo by Bryan Sales.

Breastfeeding success lies largely on having the right knowledge and support. Even with the amount of information available online about breastfeeding, nothing compares to hearing it straight from mothers who’ve gone through it and will cheer you all the way. It worked for me!

I hope to see you at this weekend’s breastfeeding class or the classes to come in the future!

Visiting Fabella Hospital

I first heard of Fabella as a new mom from Chuvaness. Reading about the resilience of these mothers, babies and the hardworking staff of the hospital is enough to make you pack up your whining and deal with real life. Fabella Hospital has been nicknamed “the baby factory”, and with as much as 70 births a day, there’s no wonder why.

I’ve been trying to schedule a visit for me and The Painter for some time now, so when Johnson’s Baby Philippines offered us a visit to the hospital and take a look at their Touch Therapy facilities, Orley and I did not hesitate to confirm.

It was a madhouse. Fabella’s nickname “baby factory” is true to the letter. Right from the entrance of the hospital, to the labor and delivery area and the maternity wards, it was a whirlpool of human activity and a cacophony of noise. Inspite of the mayhem, there is an air of excitement laced with joy and a positive vibe still prevails. I guess nothing can damper the joy of a baby coming into the world.

The Fabella maternity ward

We were taken through the labor room, the delivery room, the pediatric ward and the maternity ward. It was very eye-opening and it was wonderful to talk to the moms who had just given birth. They came in all ages, shapes and sizes. From the “seasoned” mother of 5 to the young girls in their very, VERY, early teens.

photo by Lawrence del Mundo

I cast my politics aside on that day (but just so you know, I am happy that the RH Bill passed), and focused on the hospital’s care policies. For simple, spartan hospital, you will be amazed at their implementation of the Essential Newborn Care Protocol or Unang Yakap. Their breastfeeding support is outstanding, and their milk bank is amazing, as reported to us by Jenny Ong.

Fabella practices Touch Therapy, an endeavor that is significantly supported by Johnson’s Baby Philippines. We were taken through their procedures by Dr. Santiago, and it was so enlightening to hear how this humble hospital is at the forefront of implementing a protocol that saves baby’s lives. It was so inspiring to see breastfeeding and babywearing being encouraged and practiced by the moms there.

The Johnson’s Touch Therapy Institute in Fabella

Dr. Pinky Imperial demonstrates their kangaroo care technique at Fabella. Photo by Lawrence del Mundo.

photo by Lawrence del Mundo

Daddy’s turn to administer kangaroo care. Photo by Lawrence del Mundo.

The Painter was so energized. It was a visit the two of us will never forget and hope to do again someday soon.

Thank you Johnson’s Baby Philippines for the wonderful experience!

Why The Milk Monster Bill Is A Big Deal

If you are also a reader of Chronicles of A Nursing Mom like me, you would also now be aware that the breastfeeding groups and advocates are campaigning against a pending bill in Congress. The truth behind the bill is hidden under a very pretty name, “An Act Promoting A Comprehensive Program on Breasfeeding Practices and Regulating the Trade, Marketing and Promotions of Certain foods for Infants and Children.” If you haven’t read the bill, you would think this was a great bill. They used the word “promoting” attached to “breastfeeding practices”, and “regulating” for “trade, marketing and promotions” to lead you to believe that this bill was all about improving and strengthening the laws that protect breastfeeding. In fact, all the bill aims for is to promote the interests of formula milk companies and does nothing for breastfeeding.

Jenny Ong drafted a table outlining the provisions in this proposed bill versus the current Milk Code.

The most alarming provisions in this anti-breastfeeding bill are:

  1. lowering the age limit for advertising formula from 36 months to 6 months,
  2. allowing formula milk donations in times of emergencies,
  3. allowing formula companies to have nutritional claims in their advertising; and
  4. allowing formula companies to conduct breastfeeding seminars.
The argument being used for allowing advertising for formula milk for 6 months onwards is giving mothers an “informed choice.” This goes hand-in-hand with the provision for allowing nutritional claims in advertising. You’ve heard the taglines – “panatag”, “batang may laban”, “gifted child”. How about what they don’t tell us? For example, formula milk companies keep spouting claims for smarter children due to the DHA and ARA content in the formula, but what they don’t say is that artifical DHA and ARA are not readily absorbed by the human body. You could eat tons of this artificial DHA and ARA and never gain an IQ point. DHA and ARA are naturally present in breastmilk and absorbed totally by your baby. They never say in their shiny cans that formula milk is just a copy of breastmilk and fails to replicate it by a mile. They don’t say that in the hierarchy of infant feeding choices set by the World Health Organization, formula milk is the last resort.
A lot of people don’t understand why breastfeeding advocates are against the donation of milk formula in times of emergencies. Some people have gone as far to say that we are being close-minded in our views about breastfeeding and formula milk. But here are the facts:
  • Most of the women encountered in evacuation areas during Ondoy, Sendong and the recent Habagat were already breastfeeding mothers. The need for formula milk was not that urgent and the calls for formula milk donations were not necessary.
  • From the experience of my colleagues in relief operations, even breastfeeding mothers would line up for free formula milk handouts because they thought this was the better solution for their babies due to the claims they hear on the radio and TV. Some of them stop breastfeeding and are not able to sustain formula feeding for their children and resort to other things, like coffee creamer, evaporated milk, condensed milk and growing-up milk.
  • To be able to feed their babies the formula in the evacuation centers, mothers took water from anywhere they could get it – gutters, portalets, drainpipes, you name it. Result? Diarrhea and illness.
  • The formula milk companies take emergencies as an opportunity to promote their products.
  • Donated formula is hard to regulate and monitor in times of emergencies, and mothers end up giving the wrong kind of milk to their infants.
The dangers of formula milk donations during emergencies have been extensively studied by UNICEF and the WHO. We are not being close-minded. Formula donation poses a real danger and does more harm than good. The current Milk Code recognizes this and formula milk during emergencies is only handed by a unit that can regulate and monitor the process. To read more about this, read Jenny’s very informative posts here and here.
In a parenting forum that I follow, the issue of unethical marketing by formula milk companies was raised, and one member said something like, “Why are you so affected? In the end, it’s the consumer’s choice.” Ok fine, let’s talk about advertising and choice. Let’s say you were offered two plates of food that seem to be the same.
*Food photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Which one would you choose for yourself? This is why we work on informing people about breastfeeding. The scale of informed choices is tipped in favor of milk companies because they have the money to run ads. Breastmilk is their direct competitor. Unfortunately, the manufacturers of breastmilk (yes that’s us) don’t have the billions of pesos in profit to run an ad on TV about how our milk is much better than theirs. Formula in itself is not evil. It has its uses. But it needs to be put in its place.
Hey if you choose to give formula, and do not want to breastfeed, that’s your choice. You’re lucky you can afford formula and can sustain it for you child. But for some people, it’s not a matter of just choice, but a matter of life and death. 16,000 infants die each year as a direct result of not breastfeeding, and that’s with the current Milk Code in place. Can you imagine what the numbers will be if they succeed in passing this law?
Breastfeeding doesn’t advertise. It’s not run by a conglomerate and is not out to make a profit. We are opposed to the Milk Monster Bill because it only protects the interests of companies who are out to make money inspite of the fact that their practices endanger children’s lives. The documentary “Formula for Disaster” spells out the effects of formula milk advertising very clearly. If you haven’t seen this film, follow these links to watch it:
 The lawmakers behind the Monster Bill say they are just concerned about the plight of those in the milk industry. I ask, what exactly is the plight of these milk companies? And how do they compare to the plight of thousands of children who suffer from illness and malnutrition because of their lack of concern and ethics?

Two original backers of the bill, Cong. Lani Mercado-Revilla and Cong. Lucy Torres-Gomez, have already retracted their support. However, more help is needed in order to inform our lawmakers that this Milk Monster bill will not improve our country’s health situation, only endanger it. The backer behind the bill, IPNAP (an association composed of formula milk companies) have a lot of money to throw around and are throwing a lot of it in the direction of getting this bill passed.

If you think about it, the real people that the formula milk companies are fighting are you and me. We are the sources of breastmilk, and they are trying very hard to make us believe we are not adequate for our own children.

You can help. Write a letter to your congress representative. You can find their email addresses in the directory on the HOR website. COANM has a draft you can start with, and you can add your own thoughts there.

We have no agenda, no vested interests, and nothing to gain for ourselves. If you believe in the cause, please help. We need all the voices who believe in breastfeeding to speak up.

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