May 19

Guest Post: Health Tips for Pregnant Moms

Its pregnancy awareness month! Today I would like to share with you an article by my fellow blogger, Katie Moore, about staying healthy during pregnancy. Visit her blog Moore From Katie .
Pregnancy is one of the most important times for a woman to be acutely aware of her health to support the development of her child. It’s very important that an expecting mother maintains or adopts a healthy lifestyle during the pregnancy to help ensure that her child will develop properly. Most of the lifestyle choices made during pregnancy will have a direct effect on the child. It is important that the mother be strong, positive, and stress-free for the well-being of the baby. During pregnancy, mothers should focus on getting the proper nutrition, staying calm and positive, exercising, and eliminating any factors that can affect the baby. Here are some additional tips on how to stayhealthy during a pregnancy. I even provided some of my personal experiences.

A first essential step toward a healthy pregnancy is setting up an appointment with mom-to-be’s doctor.  The doctor will need to begin to monitor the health of the baby and mom and the sooner this monitoring process begins, the better.  Meeting with the doctor early on is also important because the doctor can make recommendations as far as a pregnancy nutrition and exercise plan go Doctors are not only imperative for pregnancy planning, but for delivery day planning as well. Any questions a woman may have about labor signals, delivery assistance, like pain management medicines, and options available for baby following delivery, like umbilical cord blood banking, can all be asked and planned for in advance at her doctor appointments. – It is also important that before getting pregnant, a woman should already find herself a good doctor; one in which she is most comfortable with. It’s difficult to change doctors during pregnancy, especially if it is a sensitive pregnancy.

 

A mother’s nutrition is very important for the development of the baby. While a woman is eating for herself and baby, she doesn’t need to eat double her normal portions. Pregnant women should maintain a balanced, healthy diet and should only consume approximately 300 additional calories a day. Foods rich in iron, calcium, folic acid, and Vitamin A should be consumed during the pregnancy to make sure the baby receives all the vitamins and minerals they need and to ensure that the mother’s body is not depleted of these nutrients once she gives birth.  – Always remember, quality over quantity!

Taking a prenatal vitamin is great way to ensure that a mother is receiving the nutrients she needs that she may not be getting enough of from her diet. Although it seems obvious that pregnant mothers should take the vitamin, many don’t do so because it makes them feel nauseous or they are not receiving prenatal care. Folic acid is necessary for the baby’s development and if the mother does not take a folic acid supplement, the baby is at risk of developing spina bifida. If a pregnant mother cannot tolerate a prenatal vitamin, she should speak to her doctor so they can provide other alternatives.

Physical exercise is also important for a healthy pregnancy and baby. Women that were already physically active should scale down their routine, but continue exercising regularly. Exercise during the pregnancy helps combat stress and depression, reduces the mother’s chances of having gestational diabetes, can reduce some of the uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy, and can help the mother be fit for the delivery of the baby. Exercise during pregnancy should be low-impact and mild in intensity. One of the most recommended exercises for pregnant mothers is yoga. There are many yoga classes available for pregnant mothers that are tailored specifically to their needs.

An additional critical step for a mom-to-be is to eliminate all factors that can negatively affect the health of the baby. Substances like alcohol, several medications, cigarette smoke, drugs, lead, radiation and harsh chemicals should all be avoided or should no longer be used. Use of these substances can compromise the growth and development of the baby causing miscarriages and birth defects. The healthier a mother’s living environment is, the healthier baby’s environment will be.

Prenatal care during the pregnancy is very important for both the mother’s and the child’s health. It is important for the mother to have regular visits so the proper exams can be done to monitor the development of the baby and provide any medications or other support, if needed. With these considerations, a mother can expect to enjoy an easy pregnancy and the joy of a healthy baby.

“Katie Moore has written and submitted this article. Katie is an active blogger who discusses the topics of, motherhood, children, fitness, health and all other things Mommy. She enjoys writing, blogging, and meeting new people! To connect with Katie contact her via her blog, Moore From Katie or her twitter, @moorekm26.”

May 14

Breast Pump Review

I was out of the loop for the past couple of weeks because I was so busy expressing milk for my baby. In my last post, I was asking for advice on which electric breastpump to get. Well, I got myself a Medela Freestyle dual electric breast pump. Before getting the Freestlye, I used two manual pumps. Today I will review these three pumps.

Farlin Manual Breast Pump

 

 

Thumbs up:

  • One of the most affordable pumps in the market 
  • Compatible with standard neck bottles
  •  Available in most malls
  • User friendly

Thumbs down:

  •  Handle is hard to grip. For someone like me who does not have that much milk, it can be very tiring to use this product.
  • Low milk let down. I barely got an ounce for almost an hour and my hands hurt a lot.
  • Breast shield is hard and painful

Recommendation: If you’re on a tight budget and do not intend to use it often, but rather, just a stand-by pump in case your baby did not empty your breast upon latching, then this product will work for you. In my opinon, this pump is not for heavy duty use.

 

Avent Manual Breast Pump

Thumbs up:

    • The handles are soft and very easy to grip.
    • Very user friendly.
    • Available in most malls
    • Very comfortable on the breast since its breast shields have silicon which decreases the pressure on the breast. 
    • Good milk let down
    • Because it is easier to grip, you can dictate your own pressure

Thums down:

  • One of the most expensive manual pumps in the market.
  • Can only  be used with Avent bottles, which are also quite expensive.

Recommendation: If you intend to use a pump at home for moderate use, and has additional budget, then go for Avent. Most of my friends still opt for Avent because of its user friendliness and better milk let down.  It also works for those with sensitive breasts like me.

Medela Freestyle Dual Electric Pump

Thumbs up:

  • The dual pump makes me express twice as fast compared with a manual pump.
  •  It has a good pull which makes the let down easier.
  • Very convenient for moms on the go.
  • Excellent for heavy duty use. I use mine 6-7 times a day.
  • Long battery life.
  • Can fit with standard neck bottles. 
  • Excellent let down. With the proper size of the breast shield, you can actually increase your milk output compared with using a manual pump.
  • Aside from the pump, you get several accessories such as handsfree accessoriers (which makes the electric pump really really cool and convenient), and cooling bag with blue ice (you would not want your precious breastmilk to spoil before you arrive home from work!).
  • It has a memory function which allows you to record the progression of the expression milk that you prefer.

Thumbs down:

  • One of the most expensive electric dual breast pumps but not as expensive as Avent ISIS dual electric pump.                                 
  • Quite complicated to set up and use but after a while you will get used to attaching and detaching the parts.
  • Not readily available in most malls. In fact, I have not seen any Freestyle in any malls. I got mine from the exclusive distributor. I will soon write a post about it.  Medela brand is usually available in Rustans and Ayala Malls but limited products only.
Recommendation: Medela Freestyle is ideal for working moms and for moms like me who has premature babies (because of better milk let down). I consider it as an investment because I will be using it for a while since my baby is not allowed to drink formula milk. If you intend to buy  Freestyle or any Medela products for that matter, I recommend that you buy directly to the official distributor here in the Philippines because it is cheaper compared to mall prices. I will write about The Medela House soon.
 
May 5

Avent or Medela Swing?

In two weeks, maternity leave is over for me. Time to go back to work! Now I have quite a dilemma here which I’m sure fellow moms can help me with. I want to buy an electric pump which I can bring to the office to express milk for my preemie baby. I’m currently using an Avent Manual breastpump and it’s been wonderful. However, I can not bring it to me at work because (1) since I do not have that much milk, it can be very tiring to manually pump to get as much as 2 ounces and (2) it is time consuming as well. Now, with the electric pump, I can stay at my desk and work while expressing milk (with the help of a breastmilk pumping bra of course).
I’ve been scouting for the perfect breastpump and I’m down to two choices; either an Avent Electric breast pump or a Medela Swing Electric Pump.

 

These two are on the same price range. Since an electric pump is quite pricey, I want to make sure that I buy the right one so I won’t go wasting money. Fellow moms, which of the two will you recommend? Basically my concerns are:
1. Which one produces more milk (better let down)
2.  Durability
3. User friendliness
4. Quite motor (some pumps have very noisy motors. How embarrassing to officemates!)

I do hope you can help me out here moms! I will appreciate all your feedback! Thanks.

April 27

A Salute to Breastfeeding Moms

Just like most people, my general knowledge of breastfeeding is that it is very beneficial for babies as it contains antibodies and nutrients that no formula milk can imitate. I also knew that it is the ultimate bonding moment for a mother and her baby. Now that I’m also breastfeeding, there’s one major thing that I realized; BREASTFEEDING IS NOT EASY. Breastfeeding is manifestation of a mother’s unconditional love for her baby.  And with that I have gained a whole new respect for breastfeeding moms.

It took me 4 years of being a mom to realize that. I did not breastfeed my firstborn son because I did not have sufficient breast milk. But with my second son who was born 3 months earlier than his due date, I have to breastfeed because his small tummy can not take in milk formula. Since he is still in the incubator, I express my milk at home and bring it to hospital. The usual frequency of feeding newborns is every 3 hours and that is also what I follow in expressing my milk (except when I sleep at night). That level of frequency means my activities are limited. This afternoon was my first time to go to the mall and I’m literally rushing to go home because I’m late for my milk expressing schedule. I can just imagine how demanding it is when baby is at home and is already latching at mom’s breast. Not only is mom’s activities limited, but so is her sleeping hours as newborns are mostly awake at night. And how about working moms who express milk at work and latches baby at home? Talk about ultimate dedication!
A mom also sacrifices convenience. Breastfeeding can be painful. Breasts hurt when it is full and not expressed; and breasts hurt when being expressed and sucked by the baby. So either way, it can be painful. Also, milk not expressed leaks. Imagine the scenario if mom is out for an errand or in a meeting and milk leaks? You got the picture I guess.
These realizations put me in awe at breastfeeding moms, more so for those who did it for a year or more.  Breastfeeding entails a lot of love, patience, sacrifice and dedication. A mother sacrifices time, sleep and convenience to feed her baby. Breast milk is a product of a mother’s unconditional love to her baby. I never knew that until now. So to all breastfeeding moms, a big salute to all of you!
April 26

A most awaited moment…

Since giving birth to my son a month and a half ago, my daily routine includes going to the hospital and visiting my son Hendrix. Everyday I talk to him, caress his body, watch him sleep, hold his little hands and feet. But yesterday, a big change in my daily visit happened.
The joyous moment of mother holding her baby happens upon birth for most moms, but for me, I waited 41 days for it to happen. And it was just as magical. This time no glass incubator separates us. I held him close to me, kissed him and smelled him. I know Hendrix is happy too because he smiled several times. It was a moment that I did not want to end. It was the day I will forever remember.
In God’s time I know that soon we will be able to bring Hendrix home. I am very much looking forward to that day when I get to hold him and be with him the entire day; singing him lullabies, calming him when he cries and putting him to sleep. Hendrix is getting better and I know the best is yet to come.

 

April 24

Preparing kids to social events

My son Heinel is a very shy boy. He gets pretty stressed out on birthday parties, weddings, school programs and other social events because it means meeting strangers and going to an unfamiliar place. But he was slowly able to get past that. Today I will share with you some ways that helped my son to relax and enjoy social events:
        1. If your child is terrified to go somewhere, ask him what scares him the most, then address his fear.
      My son usually says he does not like birthday parties because he gets shy with other kids and their parents. We tell him that it is alright if he does not want to play with them and if he really feels shy towards the adults, he need not talk but just have to smile. This makes Heinel feel that we understand him and we respect how he feels by not forcing him to do something he is not ready to do.
       2. Go to the venue earlier than the time of the actual event. 
     Arriving the same time as everybody does can be very overwhelming to children because they see strangers and unfamiliar environment all at the same time. Arriving earlier will give them time to have a feel of the place, and explore the vicinity of the area without bumping into other guests. He gets to see slowly how people starts coming in and saying hi to him one by one as oppose to arriving later  and have several people greet them at once. 
    3. A week before the event, prepare your kids by talking to them about it. 
     For our son, letting him know in advance allows him to have time to absorb the idea that for that weekend, we will not be going to the mall. The best method is to show him the calendar and point the date of the event. Then everyday, as I remind him, I show him the calendar again so he can see how many  days more before we go.
     4. Set a positive mood for the event.
     Whether it is a birthday party, wedding, family get together; it is best to create a positive picture on his mind like telling him what is in store for him such as magicians, puppets, yummy food, balloons, etc.. set the mood that the place is fun. 
      5. Be a friend. 
     Go around the area or join games with him. Do not scold him for being shy, it is not his fault after all. 
     6. Bring a favorite toy. 
     Venues are new environments and kids need to feel secure. Bringing his favorite toy can help him feel at ease. It can also start a conversation with a friend or an adult. Before, when we attend birthday parties, Heinel  warms up only to people who talks to him about his toy. Also, if he really does not want to participate in the party, having a toy will distract him so you and dad can join the activities.
Just like in anything, all our kids need is a little time. He will not be super shy forever. Just give them time to come out of their shells. I do hope my tips will be of help to you. Feel free to share yours too!
April 22

Water please!

I have been absent from blogging for quite sometime because I got sick. I had on and off fever for several days coupled by nausea and weakness. When I got confined at the hospital my doctor said that I was dehydrated. And because of it, I also developed urinary track infection (UTI). I had both because of only one reason; I wasn’t drinking enough water.

Considering the very hot weather now here in Manila, it is so easy to get dehydrated. Well, here are some signs that you are dehydrated:
1. Dark yellow urine
2. Dry mouth
3. Weakness in muscle
4. Headache
5. Dizziness
6. Low blood pressure
7. Increased heart beat
8. Fever
9. Unconsciousness

But in order not to experience any of these, it is best to hydrate yourself and drink plenty of water. You wouldn’t want getting sick to get in the way of your daily activities.

Because I am extracting milk for my baby who is in the incubator, getting sick meant no milk for my baby. I am allowed to pump my milk but not to save it for him. It was almost a week of throwing milk. I felt really bad. But good thing I have several reserves inside the fridge so my baby did not get hungry.

Now I’m up and about and fully recovered. As a mom, I realized that, now more than ever, I need to take care of myself for my two sons. Not only am I a mom who takes care of her kids, I am also the only source of food and nutrients of my second born son.

April 8

Faith… Total Surrender

With our Baby Hendrix in the Neonatal ICU, the past three weeks had been a roller coaster of emotions. Some days are up, some are down. There are several instances when we celebrate over some developments then just a few hours later cry over negative updates from his doctor. As a result, despite receiving some good news, I would find myself crying and worrying if it will be followed by disappointing news as well.
Last weekend was definitely one of those days. The Doctor reported a major setback. At that point, additional medicines or procedures were not advisable. The only thing to do is to observe and wait if Hendrix can fight it out.
For someone like me who is used to taking control of things, it is difficult to just wait. I plan everything. And when things do not go my way, I get really upset. And with Hendrix, I already expected a miracle, because of all the prayers we’ve been receiving from family, relatives, friends, relatives, prayer groups, even from people we do not know. I expected his Doctor to tell me “We do not know how it happened, but your son is perfectly healthy!” But it did not happen and I was disappointed. Very disappointed.
In the middle of these emotions, I read the bible to find some comfort. And the verses I read in both books of Matthew and Mark, tell how people’s faith in God allowed them to be healed by Jesus.
Matthew 9:27 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”; and their sight was restored.
Mark 10:52 “Go” said Jesus. “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Reading these verses was the enlightenment that I needed. It made me realize that even thru prayers I was still trying to take control of things. I want things exactly my way; that I refuse “No” as answer. Reading these verses opened up my eyes and heart. I need to have faith and faith means total surrender. I have to believe that God will heal my son; and that God knows what is best for my son.
After reading the bible, I meditated and prayed. And when I opened my eyes, I felt relieved. I felt like a heavy weight has been taken from my shoulders. I have faith. I believe. I surrender.
Hendrix’s condition is improving as days go by. It is not perfect yet, but having that renewed faith allowed me to be thankful and be happy for the good news, and take calmly any problems that come our way. We are taking it one day at a time.
And if you’re wondering about the major setback I mentioned above, yes, Hendrix was able to fight it out. Thank God! A blessed easter to everyone!