*This is an edited version of Velvet’s account.
Six nursing moms went on a breastfeeding mission to ULTRA (a sports arena) in Pasig City yesterday. Pasig City was one of the hardest hit in the typhoon Ondoy flood. Earlier that day, I went to UP-PGH-NICU’s milk bank to drop off some of Naima’s extra milk and pick-up the pasteurized milk that we were going to use for cup-feeding.
Dr. Zeka had informed me that ABS-CBN was going to be there to cover the pasteurization process. Since I was donating milk, they decided to do an ambush interview! (note the bad hair day!) I agreed to the interview hoping that more moms would donate milk to the existing milk banks. The need for breast milk exists not only during calamities such as Ondoy but also during regular days, to serve the requirements of premature and sickly babies whose mothers cannot fully provide breast milk. If you’re a nursing mom, click here to find out where you can donate your milk.
At the ULTRA Pasig, there were 2 areas (big gym and the covered court that housed the evacuees. We first went to the biggest gym, where there were about 120++ moms and babies including 1 mom who gave birth in the a public school (where they were formerly housed) with her 3 day old baby. Velvet tried to shower her with more gifts compared to the other moms because she was so touched by the baby and mom tandem. The new mom was still experiencing birthing pains and was crying from the pains. However, she was nursing her baby which was a happy sight.
We were very happy to observe that the moms there were mostly breastfeeding. One mom, who was mixed feeding, used to give her baby 5 bottles of formula per day. However, with the lack of clean water, she is trying her best to relactate and is now down to 2 bottles of formula per day.
We brought about 15 liters of pasteurized breast milk from the PGH milk bank but only 1.3L were thawed and used. Velvet was only able to cup feed a few kids. Initially, we were supposed to leave the extra milk for the public health workers to distribute. Since there was a blackout, we had to return the unused frozen milk to avoid wastage and allow other babies to benefit from it.
Since there was no electricity, it was a good thing that it was showering a bit outside to temper the heat. We could only imagine how hot it gets inside the arena at high noon! There was also no megaphone available so we had to shout out our message to the participants.
It was a team effort and as Velvet noted, there was great teamwork! There were 6 moms with an audience of more than 120. Happily, we survived. Judy had the bright idea of conducting a game of “Truths and Myths”. With the assistance of Mec, they were able to encourage the audience to participate and ask their questions about breastfeeding. The moms were so happy to receive clothes and toys for their kids.
After the breastfeeding talk, we gave some goodies to the moms. To have more order and prevent the moms with their babies from getting too tired from lining up, Velvet requested that the team distribute soap, napkins, clothes to each and every mom who sat down patiently.
There was a group who wanted to give Bonamil and Nestogen to the evacuees. Eagle-eyed Atty. Booey alerted the group to this activity and she pointed it out to the Department of Health representatives. Dr. Del Rosario of DOH Pasig and Ms. Myrna of DOH-National immediately approached them and asked them NOT to distribute formula as what they were doing is against the law. It was very sad since the donors were doctors! However, they started distributing their goods when we left so I’m unsure if they still proceeded to distribute formula milk.
Two LATCHers, Jenny Medina and Mec Arevalo previously participated in the UP-PGH Breastfeeding Mission but for all the others (except for Velvet), it was our first time to be involved in such an activity. The Pasig BF Mission was a little difficult with its glitches but I believe that we survived it and completed the activity with flying colors!