Fed is Best

We went to the pediatrician’s this afternoon for Cortez’s monthly check-up, and I expected to be in and out after the routine length and weight check and vaccination. To my surprise, I was stopped at the hospital entrance and asked to surrender the milk bottles I had with me.

Apparently, the #OurLadyOfLourdesHospital (#OLLH), where my kids’ pedia holds clinic, has been accredited by the #DepartmentOfHealth (#DOH) as a mother-baby friendly hospital and as such, cannot have milk bottles brought inside its buildings.

I explained that my 5-month-old son was due a feeding in about 30 minutes and asked if there was a waiver that I could sign. The answer was no.

I was told that I was, of course, free to come to the lobby to retrieve my child’s food at any time and feed him outside the hospital.

I began to seethe.

Now I purposely waited several hours before writing about what I feel about this unreasonable, illogical, stupid and discriminatory directive, in the hopes that my rage somehow dims. It hasn’t.

This mother-baby friendly hospital only welcomes mothers who directly breastfeed their babies.

No, it doesn’t count if you express milk and have your child drink it from a bottle. And God forbid that I actually feed my child formula. Without a doubt, I must be the worst kind of mother there is! I should be grateful they let me in at all!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to question the pros of breastfeeding. I am all for it and have great respect for mothers who breastfeed. I would do it if I could, but unfortunately, my breasts refused to cooperate.

Hardcore breastfeeding advocates can argue until next year about how anybody can produce milk if they only try hard enough, and they may even be right, but the fact remains that one can hardly will one’s empty breasts to produce milk on demand.

I would like to believe that each mother does the best she can for her child, and at the top of the list is making sure her child does not starve.

Yes, direct breastfeeding is ideal, but guess what, ideal is not always doable for everyone.

Ideal is not always doable for mothers who work, and the next best thing may be expressing milk and having their babies drink it from a bottle. 

Ideal is not always doable for mothers who, like me, have little to no milk at all and so must supplement with formula which their babies drink from a bottle.

Ideal is not always doable for mothers who, for reasons known only to them and we must respect, choose to feed their babies formula from a bottle.

Ideal is not always doable for mothers who have had double mastectomy, OFW mothers who have no choice but leave their infants, and fathers whose wives died in childbirth.

I can go on and on, but I guess mother-baby friendly hospitals would rather babies starve rather than have them feed from milk bottles.

They wanted me to feed my child outside, like it was something dirty, lest I taint their mother-baby friendly image with my evil milk bottles.

Milk bottles aren’t the enemy here, it’s small minds who think up these blanket discriminatory rules and laws that pass judgment on people.

UPDATE: Apparently, and somebody correct me if I misunderstood, this law under the Milk Code is an old one and it is in accordance to the #WorldHealthOrganization (#WHO) policy under the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes wherein the Philippines was one of the signatories. [Please read: http://www.wpro.who.int/nutrition/documents/docs/wpro_breastfeeding_obstacles.pdf ]

I don’t think anybody is disputing the fact that breast milk is best. It is. But it is also a fact that it is not always doable to breastfeed, directly or indirectly.

I think we can all agree that DOH’s interpretation is extreme. What they should do is strengthen their campaign so mothers can make informed choices, not force everyone to comply regardless of circumstances.

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Lago Update

Hello, it’s been a while. I’ve popped out a whole new human being since I was here last, and we are now a family of four!

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(L-R) Jona, Cortez, Roque and Alvin

Roque is now 4 and starts Kindergarten in two weeks, Cortez is semi-brand new at 3 1/2 months, and Alvin and I are trying our best to remember what babies need and when they need them.

It’s amazing how much a person forgets in four years! When I was nine months pregnant and almost ready to pop, I frantically tried to recall all the things we had to prepare for the baby and all I could come up with were tie-sides, milk bottles, and mittens; I had to Google ‘newborn checklist’ and ‘what to bring to hospital for delivery’.

The first day Cortez was given a bath at the hospital, Alvin and I watched how it was done as if we had never bathed a newborn in our lives.

Having a second child feels very different from having the first. Yes, I’m more physically tired because there are two to take care of, but, somehow, it’s not as mentally exhausting because even if I had forgotten the little everyday details needed to care for an infant, I feel that I am a more capable mother now than I was four years ago.

When I was pregnant with Roque, one of my sisters and I gave birth within a few weeks of each other. The big difference was while it was my first pregnancy, it was her third. I remember Roque and I visiting her and her baby, and being amazed at how calm she was while her tiny daughter bawled her lungs out.

Now with Cortez, I get it.

When I had Roque, I spent the better part of my 2-month maternity leave trapped on the sofa, unable to even put him down to pee because I was too scared to wake him up. The slightest whimper sent chills down my spine and I ran as fast as I could to his side, afraid something was the matter. Before he left for work, Alvin would make and leave sandwiches for me because all I could manage come lunch time was a quick sprint to the refrigerator to get them.

While I certainly can’t claim to be supermom, I can safely say that with Cortez, I am a more relaxed one. Babies cry, that’s what they do, and I have learned to be okay with that. I am not as anal about feeding times and nappy changes and poop color, and these days, I only worry about ruining my kids’ lives a couple of times a week instead of every day.

I am also more optimistic about being able to blog again, which I really missed. I know this sounds strange because how could I possibly find time to write with two kids when I couldn’t with one? But I feel like a part of my brain that had been holding its breath for the last four years was finally given permission to exhale.

Cross fingers that my optimism holds and translates to actual paragraphs.