Friday, November 04, 2011


"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (November). For this month, participants share their experiences on extended breastfeeding. This includes tips to moms with young babies, as well as barriers and myths which discourage extended nursing. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants."

I breastfed my now 6-year old daughter C until she was 2 years old. I am still breastfeeding my baby B who is now 14 months old.

Whether one is breastfeeding an infant or a toddler, one thing has remained the same--breastfeeding benefits the child and the mother. Having this evidence-based fact in mind, I made a conscious decision to breastfeed for as long as possible.

The issues and concerns that I have in breastfeeding a toddler are the same and yet different from the concerns I've had while breastfeeding an infant. 

Pain. With my baby B, I dealt with sore nipples for the first two weeks due to improper latch. When he started teething at around 6 months, I had to endure the occasional bites until he learned that he is not supposed to "bite" the "goose that lays the golden egg", or in this case, the mom who produces the liquid gold. (Sorry, my Tax Law Review class is about to start. I've been reading a number of cases where the Supreme Court used this idiom.)  

Now that B is more than a year old, he has suddenly transformed into a Manny Pacquiao boxing wannabe and a football striker, rolled into one. My days and nights of reading while breastfeeding have ended. I have to be alert to make sure that B does not get a lucky kick straight to my jaw. Gentle hands and gentle feet, something that I've learned from my daughters' pre-school teachers, has become a favorite reminder to my baby B.

Supply. "Is my baby getting enough?" This is one of the common concerns of breastfeeding moms, especially during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. Fortunately for me, this was not a problem. That was until my daily yield of expressed breastmilk (EBM) went down from 24 ounces to 15 ounces when B was around 9 months old. The decrease, coupled with the fact that B is not as chubby as his formula-fed counterparts, made me question myself if B is getting enough milk and nutrients. 

But my worrying about my milk supply in relation to B's weight gain was short-lived. Why should I needlessly fret when B is an active, healthy toddler who drinks breastmilk and eats complementary solid food, and is regularly seen by his pedia? And instead of using the growth chart in B's free baby book which is most likely based on the growth of formula-fed children, I used the WHO growth chart after learning that this new chart "makes breastfeeding the biological 'norm' and establishes the breastfed infant as the normative growth model."

Besides, a study showed that in the second year (12-23 months) of life, 448 ml (about 15 ounces) of breastmilk provides:
  • 29% of energy requirements
  • 43% of protein requirements
  • 36% of calcium requirements
  • 75% of vitamin A requirements
  • 76% of folate requirements
  • 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
  • 60% of vitamin C requirements

Time. As a full-time working mom who is usually out of the house from 6 am to 8 pm every working day, I need to express milk several times in the office. I need to do this in order to maintain my milk supply and ensure that B will have something to drink while I'm not with him. It's a good thing that Republic Act No. 10028, otherwise known as the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 (EBPA), grants nursing employees paid lactation breaks of not less than 40 minutes for every 8-hour working period. And as I've written in my previous post, nursing employees who are breastfeeding children up to 36 months of age are entitled to this break. Yes, up to 36 months!

Support. I am fortunate to have supportive family, friends, employer and co-workers who never questioned or commented on, no matter how well meaning the comment may sound, my decision to breastfeed my daughter C until she was 2 years old. I even brought C, who was then 17 months old, to an out-of-town strategic planning session. 

If you don't have a support group, then this is a good time to join one. You'll be surprised at the number of local breastfeeding support groups we have here in the country! 

Breastfeeding in Public. It is possible, however, that you may get unsolicited comments and stares while breastfeeding an older child in public. You may consider these suggestions from

  • If you're bothered by unsolicited comments and stares, you might find it easier to nurse your child at home before heading out to the store or the park. Some moms find it more acceptable to nurse at set times during the day — like in the morning, before naps, or before bed — and teach their toddlers to drink from a cup during meals and snacks.
  • If you don't care what people think or say, then have some snappy responses ready when someone asks you the inevitable question: "Is she still nursing?" Sometimes a simple "yes" is the best conversation stopper. Or, the next time you're nursing in public and someone asks, "Are you ever going to stop breastfeeding?" say, "Yes, in about ten minutes."
Now, I happen to fall under the second category!

What about you? What concerns did you deal with or are dealing with in breastfeeding your child beyond 1 year?

Please do take the time to read the posts of the other blog carnival participants:

J and the Three Boys - No more "de-de"
Life of a Babywearing and Breastfeeding Mommy - Still breastfeeding after 2 years
Got To Believe - Breastfeeding Room Story
Homeschooling Mommy - Yes, I've Got Milk


Thursday, September 15, 2011


I just discovered photo books. And I'm hooked.

Just like most moms, I've taken lots and lots of pictures of my three children. But in this age of digital photography, most of our pictures have not been printed, much less placed in albums or scrapbooks. They are just posted on Facebook and saved in my computer's hard disk.

That was until I found out about photo books. To put it simply, a photo book is like a coffee table book and a personalized photo album rolled into one. And since my baby B's first birthday is fast approaching, I felt that this a good time to give photo books, which I intend to show around during the party, a try.

Edit Your Pictures. I read somewhere that it is important to edit your pictures before using them for your photo books. I edited mine using Picasa, a free photo editing software from Google. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a techie. The extent of my editing prowess is limited to crop, highlight, fill light, increase shadow, and sharpen. But the pictures came out a lot better even with my minimal editing.

For my initial venture, I tried two photo book makers, one of which is Photobook Philippines.

1. Software. As a newbie, I want a software that is ultra user-friendly. Photobook's software meets this criterion. In fact, it even offers a number of ready books--photo books that have pre-designed templates.

A sample of a ready book. All you need to do is add your pictures.

Since I want a personalized photo book, I decided to make my own from scratch. I never had trouble with Photobook's software. It was very easy to use. The instructions were clear and even a non-techie like me had no trouble following them.

Just drag the page style of your choice to the page you're making
then add your  pictures.

This is another page style that I like.

It was also easy to insert text. Just click then drag the text icon (A+)
to the page you're editing. 
You can also change the color of your page background.
You can also use a picture as your page background.
Unfortunately, and this is my only beef so far with Photobook, it does not have readily available page backgrounds to choose from. (Or it may have but it was not apparent to me.) I still need to ADD images that I can use as background. Contrast this with Picturebook, the other photo book maker that I used, which has lots and lots of available backgrounds in solid colors and in prints. But I guess this is a small price to pay for a stable and error-free software.

Just drag your chosen background (right side) to the page
you're editing.
Picaboo, another photo book maker, also has lots of wonderful backgrounds. However, I didn't want to pay US$24.99 for shipping alone so I said adios to it.

The other thing which I wish Photobook has is the online sharing capability that Picturebooks and Picaboo have. The best that Photobook could suggest is for the client to create proof files which can be combined into a PDF file and then emailed to family and friends.

A sample of a proof copy.

But as you can see, with the words "Proof" prominently appearing on the page, it was easy to understand why I decided not to email the proof files.

 2. Customer Service. I am pretty impressed with Photobook's service. I called its Philippine office and requested if it's possible to have my photo book delivered by Friday, or barely 4 working days from the day I sent my order online. The girl I talked to politely said that it normally takes 7 working days to finish the book and another working day to deliver it. However, she said that she would take note of my request.

And guess what? My photo book has just been delivered to our house this afternoon, 3 working days from the day I made my order. That was fast, really fast!

I can hardly wait to see my photo book!

(To be continued. My next post would be about the photo book's quality.)

*I added an image zoom effect on the pictures. I hope it works. (It does work!)
** I paid for the product mentioned here. I don't personally know anyone from Photobook Philippines. I have not received any compensation to write this post.
*** I've already discovered how to download the frames and images which I could use for the background. Upon opening the Photobook software, click the "Check for Updates" tab, then click "Start". A list of frames, images, etc. will appear. Just click those you want to download. Note that you have to be connected to the internet to do this. (Updated on 08 November 2011)

Monday, September 12, 2011


Disregarding tradition, my baby B had his first haircut yesterday, a week before he officially turns 1 year old.

Getting ready for his haircut.

What will happen to me?

"Excuse me, but what are you going to do to me?" 

The barber had an easy time. B was so well-behaved!

Call it overacting but I really felt emotional about it. It was like I was saying goodbye to his "babyhood". Unlike my experience with my two daughters whose hair I just trimmed myself, the change B's first haircut brought was so drastic. 

B with his new look!

All of a sudden, I now have a little man!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I just wrote in my previous post that a number of local publishers are selling storybooks that are written both in Filipino and in English. I also mentioned that these storybooks are relatively inexpensive compared to those written by foreign authors.

Guess what I saw on FB this morning:

Adarna, the publisher of some of the storybooks that my children love--Isang Mayang Uhaw, Si Pagong at Si Matsing, and Papa's House, Mama's House--will be selling bargain storybooks at PhP35.00 each and brand new storybooks at PhP55.00 each. Great!

This book fair is so timely! I, together with my batchmates, intend to help Bautista Central School, a public elementary school in Pangasinan, have a library full of books. The fair would certainly be a good opportunity for me to check out and buy books at low prices!  

Come September 14, I will definitely be going to the MIBF!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Raising FILIPINO-Speaking Children

August is not just World Breastfeeding Month. For the Filipinos, it is also Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa (National Language Month). 

When I gave birth to my first child 8 years ago, my husband and I made a decision to raise her as an English speaker.

Our mistake was in thinking that in order to raise an English-speaking child, she should not be exposed to any language other than English. (What were we thinking?) We instructed the yayas not to speak to her in Filipino or in any local dialect. All the educational materials (books, DVDs) that she was exposed to were also in English. We reasoned out that she will eventually learn Filipino when she starts mingling with the other children in school.

Not knowing any better, we repeated the same mistake with our second daughter C.

It was a wake up call when I heard my then 5-year old daughter sing "Bayang magiliw, Perlas ng....what's that word again?" And we're talking about the same girl who knew the entire lyrics of Camp Rock's "This Is Me".

What have we raised? Mga banyaga sa sarili nilang bayan. (Foreigners in their own country.)

As a result of our folly (and I can't even claim the folly of youth), we now have an 8-year old girl who has to double her efforts in preparing for her Filipino class. My 6-year old daughter hardly understands, much less speak, Filipino.

Our situation is not so peculiar. Other Filipino families are experiencing the same problem. Friends have posted in FB videos of their children singing what sounded like the Philippine National Anthem. Well, the melody sounded like it's Lupang Hinirang but the lyrics were definitely not those of our anthem! And just in case you're wondering, I also have a similar video of my daughters singing our national anthem, or what sounded like one.

Having realized our error, we introduced three important changes in our household. Hopefully, the Filipino adage, "Huli man daw at magaling, naihahabol din," will hold true for us.

1. We started talking to our children in Filipino. We assumed that our children will learn Filipino from their friends and classmates. Big mistake. Most, if not all, of my children's classmates are also English-speaking kids.

We experienced difficulty at the start especially with our second child. Whenever I talked to her in Filipino, she would just stare at me as if she didn't hear anything. I had to translate everything in English. But our efforts paid off. While C is still having a hard time talking in Filipino, she could now at least understand a little Filipino.

I and my husband have also been talking to our 11-month old baby B in Filipino and in English.

2.  Make learning Filipino words fun. Our family loves to play "I spy with my little eyes something that is..." Instead of doing this in English, we started doing it in Filipino. And so I spy became "Ang aking mga mata ay may nakikitang...ano ito?" This is actually more fun than merely saying chair is upuan.

3.  We began buying Filipino story books and read them to/with our children. In my previous post, I mentioned that my husband and I are trying to raise readers. Unfortunately, while we do have lots of children's books in our home, almost all of them are written in English.

So we started buying children's books that are written both in Filipino and in English. I usually let my children choose the stories that they like. And unlike the books written by foreign authors, the books by Adarna, Lampara, Hiyas and other local publishers are relatively inexpensive. Here are some of the Filipino story books my children like:

This is a 2-in-1 book. Aside from learning Filipino,
my second daughter C also learned the importance of
sleeping early.

This book introduces problem-solving
and how to count in Filipino.

I like Dr. Gatmaitan's stories. This one illustrates a father's love
for his disabled daughter. It actually made me cry. 

When my first daughter chose this, we had a discussion on the
difference between fiction and non-fiction. And then she asked me,
"What's fiction in Filipino?"

(Picture taken from Adarna's website)

My daughter F just bought this book from her school's book fair yesterday. This book "reminds us that children who grow up with two parents in one home are raised and loved no differently than those who have two homes." (From Adarna's website) And should you need to discuss the sensitive topic of separation in a manner that children can understand, reading this book is a good starting point.

What about you? Is your child having problems speaking in Filipino? What have you done to help your child? Please share some tips.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (August). For this month, we join the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action in its "Talk to Me!" theme where participants will share personal experiences, insights or recommendations in communicating breastfeeding intentions and goals to their support system. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants."

"Ma, did you breastfeed me when I was a baby?" my second daughter asked me one afternoon.

"I did. I breastfed you for two years."

"What about me?" my 8-year old firstborn inquired.

It took me a while to answer her. The truth is, I breastfed her for a few days only. Due to delivery-related complications, I was given medicines that the doctors said were not safe for a newborn. My first month after giving birth was spent confined at a hospital, and going back and forth the emergency room due to high fever, vomiting, and severe allergic reaction to medicines. By the time it was safe to breastfeed my daughter, my milk had dried up and she absolutely refused to latch.

So, how does one discuss breastfeeding with a child who was formula-fed? How does one emphasize the importance of breastfeeding to a daughter who, in a brood of three, happens to be the only one who was not breastfed?

I distinctly remember that while I was thinking hard and fast on how to answer her, there were three things that I wanted to be clear about. 

First, I love her very much and my actions and decisions have always been guided by that unconditional love. 

Second, breastmilk is still the best for babies under most circumstances and had it been medically safe for her to have my breastmilk, I would have willingly and lovingly breastfed her.

Third, while I intend to breastfeed B, her youngest brother, for as long as possible, my breastfeeding goal is not limited to that. As a mom of two girls, it is my long-term goal to raise daughters who, when the time comes, would choose to breastfeed. But I know that it would be difficult to do that if F perceives breastfeeding negatively as a result of her being the only one who was not breastfed. 

With the "what I want to say" being clear in my mind, I began to answer her question both in words and in deed. 

1. Honesty is still the best policy. "Yes, I breastfed you but for a few days only," I told F. I could have just answered her yes because technically, that is true. (Ah, have you noticed how lawyers often resort to technicalities? But I digress.) I've always tried to be honest with my children. I wasn't about to start lying to her by omission.

2. It's all about love. I emphasized to her that I love all three of them--her, my firstborn, her little sister and the bunso. Because I love all of my children, I want to give them the best milk. And breastmilk is still the best for babies under most circumstances. 

This, I told her, is the reason why I breastfed her sister for two years and am still breastfeeding her baby brother who is now 11 months old. And my unconditional love for her is also the reason why I breastfed her for the first few days of her life. 

3. I never assumed that she would not understand me. I explained to her that while I've always intended to breastfeed her, I would never knowingly put her at risk. Unfortunately, because of all the medication that I was taking after giving birth, it was not advisable for me to breastfeed her (or at least that's what my doctors told me).

"I get it. You were sick and you didn't want me to get sick also," she said.

Come to think of it, that perfectly summed it up.

4. I let her (and my other daughter) be a "part" of my breastfeeding relationship with baby B. I always make sure that she feels welcome to stay with me while I'm breastfeeding B. I also pointed out that my breastfeeding B benefits not only the baby but the entire family, including her and her sister. How? Since breastmilk is free, she knows that Mom and Dad don't have to buy formula milk. Instead, we can use the money to watch movies or buy her favorite Geronimo Stilton books.

5. I discuss breastfeeding with her and correlate it with her experiences. For example, last December, she and my second daughter had a terrible bout of cough and cold which necessitated frequent visits to the doctor. She had to drink nasty-tasting antibiotics in order to get well. And then she remembered that B did not get sick at that time. She concluded that it must be because B was drinking breastmilk!          

I am happy to say that most of my breastfeeding pictures were taken by my daughter F. And when she started doing this, I knew that she understood my message--that breastmilk is still best for babies.

But more importantly, she knows that I love her, breastfed or not. 

*On hindsight, how I wish I knew then that relactation is possible. This is why being informed about breastfeeding is so important and crucial to a successful breastfeeding experience.

**My daughter is not only a part of my support group. Had she felt bad knowing that she was the only one who was not breastfed, it would probably be difficult for me to continue breastfeeding B openly.

Please do read the posts of the other blog carnival participants:

Communication and First Time Breastfeeders 
Creating a Pro-Breastfeeding Culture in the Family
How to get others to support you in breastfeeding
Pre-Natal Pediatric Consultations Are Necessary
On breastfeeding: Say it, claim it, get support!
My Best Breastfeeding Support System — My Husband
Communication through Breastfeeding
Escie's World: Ready, Get Set, Go! for Breastfeeding
I'm breastfeeding, and that's that.
BreasTALK : Text, Retweet, Share your Knowledge and Experiences
A Shout out to My Breastfeeding Buddies
Talk and Make It Happen
How I Taught the Family to "Breastfeed"
Effective Communication Bucket List
6 persuasion tips for breastfeeding moms and advocates
How I recruited my top breastfeeding buddies
Couple's Decision and Communication: Key to Successful Breastfeeding
A-S-Ks (On Breastfeeding Questions, Help, Support)


Monday, August 08, 2011


A non-essential but a must-have? Isn't that a contradiction?

If you are a nursing mom like me, you most probably have experienced hair pulling, arm pinching, and having little hands touching your nose, your lips, you name it. Not to mention the times when you have to deal with a fussy, distracted baby. 

That was until I discovered the Mommy Necklace, a stylish but SAFE accessory that is both Mommy and baby-friendly.

Why non-essential? Because even without it, I CAN still breastfeed B.

But with the Mommy Necklace, this Mom gets to be more fashionista-looking without compromising the safety of her baby.

Wearing the dangling donut necklace.

With the Aurora Flat Rock.
I like it so much that I wear it even though B is not with me.

Wearing the Allure Flat Rock in the office.

Aside from being nice, the Mommy Necklace is functional. No more hair-pulling and arm-pinching while nursing. And it also helps keep B quiet and busy.

B is playing with the donut necklace while nursing.

Most importantly, it is SAFE for babies. No lead. No phthalates. And it's guaranteed from breakage.

No wonder that my Mommy Necklace has become a non-essential nursing must-have!


Note: All of the necklaces shown here were paid for. I decided to write a post about the Mommy Necklace since I've been receiving a number of comments and questions about it.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Oh no! I left my electric breast pump at home!

Every working day, I bring to my office two containers--a Coleman soft cooler where I put my storage bottles, breast pump flanges and ice packs, and a white plastic box where I put my electric pump. While I always check if the green and white containers are in the car, I failed to do it this one time. Then, Murphy's law struck!

I have no choice but to learn how to hand express breastmilk. And I had to learn it fast.

Fortunately, I came across this video on the Marmet Hand Expression technique.

After watching the video twice, I was more or less confident to give the Marmet technique a try. I am happy to say that after expressing twice (one at 12 noon and the other at 5 pm), I was able to express 8 ounces of breastmilk. Not bad for a first timer!

Of course, this was way below my usual yield when using my ever reliable electric pump. But at the very least, I didn't have to endure the discomfort (and even pain) of engorged breasts.

Here are the things I learned while doing the Marmet technique:

  • When done properly, it is NOT painful at all. The only discomfort I felt was in my right arm, the one I used  to express milk. I was able to lessen the ngawit by placing my right elbow on an arm rest. (I guess with more practice, I would be able to learn how to use my left hand effectively.)
  • Use a wide-mouth bottle to collect the milk. I could just imagine how difficult it would be to collect the squirting milk with the more common narrow-mouth bottles.
  • I was able to collect more by expressing alternately from right to left breast.
  • Have clean tissues near you to wipe off milk drops. It is extremely difficult to get a good positioning of your fingers when the skin around/under the areola is wet. Without good positioning of fingers, you will not be able to express milk effectively. 

Hand expression of breastmilk is one HANDY skill to learn.

  • This is especially important for moms who have just given birth and who, for one reason or another, cannot directly feed their babies yet. I found this video from Stanford School of Medicine's site showing how hand expression can be used in getting the much-needed colostrum. (If only I knew about this! In the hospital where I gave birth, I had to go to the nursery to breastfeed my baby during the first 24 hours. Now this was extremely difficult for someone who has just undergone a cesarian operation.)  
  • For moms who are suffering from sore nipples, hand expression will buy you some time to rest and at the same time, you will still be able to feed your babies with expressed breastmilk.
  • For stay-at-home moms who need to express milk occasionally only, why buy pump when hand expression can do the job?
  • For working moms who have limited budget, why waste your money on a bicycle horn pump? True, it is inexpensive. However, it is not efficient at all and is even painful to use. Some experts discourage use of the bicycle horn pumps because they may be difficult to clean and dry. (Source: US FDA
  • For working moms who have efficient pumps, in cases of emergency (e.g., you left your pump, some parts are missing, etc.), hand expression will save the day! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


"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."


I don't nurse in breastfeeding rooms. Never did. Never will.

Don't get me wrong. I laud the malls' program to put up breastfeeding rooms. In a country where malls spread like mushrooms and where malling has evolved into a national pastime, providing rooms where moms could breastfeed in relative peace is indeed commendable. 

But I don't nurse in breastfeeding rooms. And my decision has nothing to do with their location, size or cleanliness. (Considering how bad I am with directions, B might already be howling in hunger by the time I find the breastfeeding room.) 

It's about promotion. As an advocate of breastfeeding, I've been religiously writing blog posts about it. I talk to my friends and colleagues about it. I even wrote an article about my experience as a full-time working and breastfeeding mom in a local newspaper! But I know that nothing beats seeing a breastfeeding mom in action.

So when I'm in the mall, I don't nurse in breastfeeding rooms.

I breastfeed in cafes. 

While nursing B in a cafe...

Guess who passed by less than 2 meters away from me? 

I breastfeed in restaurants.

Breastfeeding while waiting for our food.

I love this red breastfeeding boncho!

Look how stylish it is!

With the SaYa carrier which doubles as a breastfeeding cover.

Come to think of it, I have nursed practically anywhere as long as there is a chair I can comfortably sit on.

Hmm, I think this was in Tree Top, Subic.

At a hotel-resort. (I just pull the boncho a bit to make sure that
B can breathe properly.)

By the beach.

Besides, breastfeeding in public places has become an opening (no pun intended) to a number of interesting conversations. One lola, seeing me breastfeed B, said that B is very lucky. Why? Because he's drinking breastmilk. She said that her apo drinks formula because her daughter-in-law is a working mom. Aha, you could probably guess where our talk led to.   

I understand that there are some moms who may feel uncomfortable nursing in public, what with so many prying eyes. But there are a number of ways in which moms can breastfeed in public discreetly. Here's an informative post on nursing in public.

I do not know what really happened. But somehow, formula-feeding became the norm. Ask yourself. When you are in the mall, how often do you see babies and young children drink formula from bottles? Now, how often do you see moms breastfeeding their babies and young children? 

More than ever, our generation needs to reclaim what has been lost. We need to send the message that breastfeeding is as natural as breathing. We need to educate the younger women that breastfeeding is normal and is not something to be ashamed of. We can only do that if people begin seeing moms breastfeed their young ones anywhere and everywhere. 

For in the end, actions speak louder than words. 

And this is why I don't nurse in breastfeeding rooms. 

*Please read the breastfeeding stories of other gorgeous moms here:



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