March is one of the most anticipated months in the Calendar. It signals the great summer season when women like me imagine ourselves in a daring swimsuit and diving into the water of a pristine beach or a swimming pool. Yes, swimming and swimsuits. Sand, surf and sea. They are just about what the great excitement is all about. But can I just confess that for the most part of my life, I didn’t know how to swim? That’s right, back in the day I would often just stay in shallow waters.
For a long time I couldn’t swim, until one summer I decided to take swimming lessons. I actually learned, mind you, except that great feat was edged out by another unforgettable experience – getting a bad case of sunburn. I recall constantly putting ice on my back while taking my swimming lessons that summer! Imagine the pain I had to endure. I finally took a friend’s advice to get a good Sunblock. I had been subscribing to the myth of my youth that applying oil and beer would do the trick. I guess I had to learn the hard way.
Back when I was still working at the Makati Medical Center, they announced one day that we were to go on a medical mission to Aklan and that we might pass by Boracay for some R&R. Fearing that I had to wear a swimsuit, I decided to go on a cleansing diet and do aerobics 3 times a week. To be honest I was actually excited to wear a 2-piece swimsuit and show the world I was comfortable with my own body. And you know what, I actually did it! I succeeded in getting in shape for our outing. Now before I get accused of prejudice, I am not saying only those who are slim have a right to wear swimsuits. I guess the most important thing is to be comfortable with one’s self no matter what the body size is. In my case, I just wanted a picture of myself looking my best in a daring swimsuit to show my future children and grand children. Except the children part hasn’t happened yet. Lol!!!
This summer, I just want to give everyone a gentle reminder that while it’s perfectly okay to have fun and enjoy the outdoors, they should also take extra care of themselves. Take care of your body and your skin. Always be safe.
Sharing a mom’s breakthrough
Recently I’ve attended to a mom who had just delivered her first baby. When she called me for an appointment, she asked if I could see her on the afternoon they arrive home from the hospital. She wanted to make sure she’s latching the baby properly and producing breast milk. Fine I thought. I learned that she and her husband had waited long for a child.
The first session went well. Come our 2nd session, she informed me of the difficulty she was having in latching the baby to her left breast. Despite this, I could see that she was really eager to breastfeed and nurse directly.
That difficulty persisted up to our 3rd and 4th sessions, although according to her there was some improvement, I could see that nursing the baby at night was beginning to take its toll on her. She was wishing she could sleep longer at night, at least 4 to 5 hours straight.
I want the same thing for every mom, to get as much sleep as they can without compromising the baby’s feeding time. There is nothing wrong with giving baby expressed milk (or even donated milk) at night. But in my experience and to the best of my knowledge, it’s still imperative that breastfeeding moms pump at least 3 hours during the night. There are 2 reasons for this: 1) to avoid clogged ducts or lumps on their breasts and 2) to condition their body for producing milk – this is in preparation for the time the baby undergoes a growth spurt. I know how difficult this must be for moms but I can understand their plight. Three hours every night indeed sounds like a tall order.
On our 5th session, we managed to finally get it right, she was able to latch the baby to her left breast, which was a big breakthrough for us! I was really happy she’s overcome the hurdle. I would never judge any mom or think any less of them if any one failed to resist the strong urge and temptation to give up. I often hear moms say “I’ll just try again on my 2nd baby. It’s just too difficult now.” Whenever I hear this I just smile at them and say “Let’s take it one day at a time. We’ll try again when you’ve rested. You’ll never know unless you try. The next day you might be surprised to discover you actually improved and did better than last week!”
Formula vs Breastmilk
There are pediatricians nowadays who would tell their patients “Your baby is getting approximately only 120ml of breastmilk on a 24 hour basis when you nurse directly. The baby needs a total of 540ml of breastmilk per day. So, you need to give your baby 420ml of formula per day.“ I learned of this from a certain mom.
Now, I’m not a doctor and never in my 7 years of coaching have I contradicted or interfered with the way pediatricians manage their patients but on this one I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow.
Really??? I question the veracity of the claim, especially the first part. It just becomes too convenient to make it sound like the mom is producing too little. Why? Is it so that there’s no other alternative but to take milk formula? And to say with finality that a mom can only produce this much amount of breastmilk per day, to me, is too presumptuous. What happened to exploring ways of increasing the amount of produced or pumped breastmilk?
What would that doctor have the mom believe? That breastfeeding is insufficient to fulfill the baby’s feeding needs? And that’s how nature really designed it?
So I asked this particular mom (who feeds her baby with breastmilk and formula to augment the supply shortage) what her doctor told her to increase her breastmilk supply. She quoted the doctor as saying, “you need to pump and take ‘this’ medicine”. Upon hearing this, I had to explain to her the importance of setting a goal if she really wants to take out the formula. I’m fond of the phrase “zero out the formula”. A mom can start giving the baby 50-50 (50% breastmilk and 50% formula). She can, after a while, make it 70-30, until such time she could go 100-0 (100% breastmilk and zero formula). A mom needs to do the power pump at the time she’s partly relying on supplement so she can eventually keep up with her baby’s milk requirement. Taking medicines does her no good if she’s not alerting her body of the milk demand by regularly emptying her breasts as recommended by experts.
Sorry to be ranting now. I do this because of a firm belief that formula milk should not be an option at all. If hospitals claim they are “mother and baby friendly”, then why endorse formula milk? It shouldn’t even be part of the discussion (except maybe in extreme cases), and especially if the mom is open to donor milk.
Another thing, there’s a section in the Breastfeeding Milk Code of the Philippines (Section 6 and Section 7) that says doctors should not be giving out to moms any materials sponsored by milk companies i.e. pens, notepads, pamphlets, etc. But sadly, moms are receiving these items from none other than their doctors, the very first persons who should be promoting breastfeeding. I happen to know of this “baby book” from a big milk company that’s being given away to moms. Don’t get me wrong, this is just an observation of a few known cases. Who knows how widespread this thing is. I am also not saying that doctors in general are guilty. There are those who remain big advocates of breastfeeding. But I bring this up so we can stay vigilant and be wary of ploys designed to make us favor formula milk over breastmilk.
I’d like to close with a pick-up line. Pick up lines are very popular among the teens and young adults these days. I’m sure you’ve come across several of these but let’s see if this one strikes a chord.
“Hindi lahat ng sweet ay loyal. Sweet nga ang candy, pero nakabalot naman sa plastic!.”
Well, “bato, bato sa langit ang tamaan ay huwag magagalit.” 😉