“We Did It!”

A few months ago, I was surprised to receive a text message that was obviously from the US (based on the country code that registered on my phone). I excitedly told my husband about it, letting him confirm my guess. Richard Klein, who I later found out through several text messages, was based in the US; however, his wife Dailyn was in Bislig, Mangagoy. At that time, he was looking for a Web site that would lead them to a doctor who can assist them in making Dailyn have a VBAC. They found my VBA2C story. I gladly told Richard that I’m willing to meet Dailyn if she comes to Davao for prenatal checkup and will tell her all I know about VBAC.

So a few days later, Dailyn called me on the phone. We talked for a while, and I encouraged her to see my OB here in Davao. She was a bit apprehensive because the birth spacing from the first child and the second was quite close. I told her it’s okay to try than go through an elective C-section right away.

It was really a challenging situation for her to be traveling from Bislig to Davao, but she was so determined to have a VBAC. So for several months, she was traveling to and fro for checkup; but when she was six to seven months pregnant, they got a place here in Davao in preparation for her childbirth.

When she was settled in Davao, we finally saw each other and had lunch. I just told her my experience and how I did it. I also gave her a copy of my birth plan. I was just happy to share what I know in the hopes that she too will have her own VBAC experience. We met a couple of times just to chat and see how she was doing. The week when we were to see each other again with Richard, she was too lazy to go to the city. A few days later, I got a text message already, telling me that she already gave birth–VBAC! I’m so proud of her inner strength and the wonderful partnership they both have for each other. Their love and support for this one goal made it all possible for Baby Nathan to be birthed naturally. I’m so in awe of this miracle. So far, this is the fifth VBAC story this blog has featured. May it inspire more women to go for VBAC!

So here’s Dailyn’s story as told by her loving husband Richard:

Seven months into my first pregnancy, my doctor informed me that I would have to have a C-section. The reasons she gave were my high blood pressure and the fact that the baby had its umbilical cord coiled around her neck three times.

Having the C-section was a terrible experience. It felt like a complete violation of my maternal instincts. I felt that I hadn’t really experienced childbirth, that in some important way I wasn’t really a mother. I didn’t get to experience the pains and the triumphs of labor and delivery. They just numbed me, cut me open, and pulled out my baby.

Furthermore, as is often the case with C-section deliveries, my baby showed no interest in breastfeeding. So I was denied another important experience that I felt should be a normal part of childbirth.

With my second child, I really wanted to have a normal delivery. I wasn’t even sure if such a thing was possible. My husband and I did some online research, and before long we were reading article after article discussing the pros and cons of VBAC.

One thing was immediately apparent: We would have to find a top-notch hospital, one that was able to transition instantly from a vaginal delivery to a C-section in case something went wrong. Since the closest major city to my hometown is Davao, we began to google “VBAC Davao,” and very quickly found the Milklady’s blog.

The Milklady mentioned in her blog that her ob/gyn was Dr. Darleen Estuart. We looked up the address and phone number of Dr. Estuart’s clinic in Davao and made arrangements for our first appointment.

I was very nervous before that first appointment—so nervous, in fact, that my husband practically had to drag me to the clinic. Our research had indicated that a woman trying for VBAC should wait at least a year, and preferably longer, before getting pregnant again after her C-section. We had waited barely eleven months. I was so afraid that this, or some other circumstance, would cause the doctor to declare that I was not a candidate for VBAC.

At that first appointment, Dr. Estuart was very kind but noncommittal. After all, she had just met me, didn’t yet know if I was a candidate for VBAC, and didn’t want to get my hopes up. She did comment that eleven months was too soon to get pregnant after a C-section, but that this wasn’t necessarily a show-stopper.

She then measured my blood pressure and found it was on the high side. This did concern her quite a bit. She prescribed a low dosage of aspirin to bring it under control. She explained that the low dosage was safe for the baby. She also put me on a strict diet of fish and vegetables so that the baby would be as small as possible during delivery. She explained that this would minimize the risk of uterine rupture.

At my second appointment, Dr. Estuart performed a sonogram. She determined that my C-section scar was a low transverse one, which is the ideal type of scar for a woman contemplating VBAC. Furthermore, the scar had healed nicely and was thick, indicating that a rupture along the scar would be unlikely. All good news!

Subsequent appointments confirmed that my blood pressure was under control, and my baby was maintaining a relatively small size due to my diet. Halfway through my second trimester, a sonogram revealed the sex of my baby. I was going to have a baby boy!

In the weeks that followed, he proved to be a very active and fussy little guy. He kicked me whenever he was hungry or too hot and kept up the kicking until I ate something or turned on the aircon. “He’s just like his father,” I thought. “I’ll bet he looks like him too!”

Halfway through my third trimester, another sonogram revealed that the baby had its umbilical cord coiled once around his neck. My heart sank. “Don’t worry,” said Dr. Estuart, “it’s not a big deal. We’ll just slip the cord over his head when it emerges from the birth canal.” What a relief it was to hear that!

Three weeks before the baby’s delivery date, I started getting Braxton-Hicks, or “false labor,” contractions. These were contractions that were mild, infrequent, and irregular. One week before the delivery date, the contractions became much stronger and much more frequent, although they were still quite irregular. These were the so-called “early labor” pains.

On the morning of Saturday, May 31st, I woke up with intense contractions that had a different quality about them. I looked at my husband and said, “I will be giving birth in the next few days.” He replied, “How do you know?” I said, “I just know.”

The contractions continued to become more intense over the next couple of days, and on Monday, June 2nd, we went to see Dr. Estuart for a checkup. My husband told the doctor that I felt that delivery was imminent and asked if a woman can really know such a thing. “Oh yes,” Dr. Estuart replied, “if a woman is in touch with her body, she absolutely can know when she is about to give birth.”

The doctor then examined my cervix and found that it was dilated 2 cm and partially effaced. “You should give birth within the next few days,” she announced calmly. “If that doesn’t happen by the afternoon of June 5th, give me a phone call.” My husband and I left the clinic in a daze, happy but a bit apprehensive. We both knew we would not have to make that phone call.

By noon the next day, June 3rd, I was clearly in active labor. By 3:00 p.m., the contractions were coming five minutes apart, so we called a taxi and headed to Brokenshire Hospital. Upon arriving at the hospital, we checked into the emergency room. They called Dr. Estuart, admitted me, and escorted us (with me in a wheelchair) to the ob/gyn wing of the hospital. Once there, we changed into surgical scrubs and were escorted to the labor room.

Shortly thereafter, Dr. Estuart arrived and gave me another cervical exam. I was now dilated 5 cm. The contractions were now very strong, but oddly enough, I found them quite bearable. I noticed that the contractions were a lot less painful when I was in a sitting or standing position. Other than that and squeezing my husband’s hand with ever-increasing pressure, I didn’t use any special techniques to manage the pain.

When I was dilated 7 cm, my water broke, and the contractions became much more painful. The nurses told me this was normal. With the amniotic sac gone, the baby’s head was pressing much more deeply into the cervix, causing the dilation to proceed much more forcefully. Soon after this, I was taken to the delivery room.

The nurses helped me get onto the delivery table and attached a fetal heart-rate monitor to my belly. At the first sign of fetal distress, Dr. Estuart was prepared to abort the VBAC and perform an emergency C-section. However, the baby’s heart beat continued at a more or less normal rate through my contractions.

After a half-hour or so, I got a sudden urge to push. “I want to push!” I exclaimed. Dr. Estuart quickly checked my cervix. “You’re only at 9 ½ cm. I need you to wait until you’re at 10 cm.” I found that this took some concentration, but was not too difficult.

Finally, after a few more contractions, Dr. Estuart checked my cervix again and told me it was now okay to push. She explained how to do it. “Wait for a contraction. Give me a really hard, sustained push. Pause. Breathe and then give me one more follow-up push.”

When my next contraction began, I pushed with all my might. While doing this, I squeezed my husband’s hand really hard and cried out a bit. My husband thought I must be in a great deal of pain, but I explained to him afterward that this wasn’t the case. I was exerting myself strenuously, but I found the pushing phase to be quite a bit less painful than the transition phase (the dilation from 7 cm to 10 cm).

Overall, it was an amazing experience. It felt like nothing else in the universe existed except for me and my baby.

After about three of these pushes, Dr. Estuart exclaimed, “I can see his head!” She continued to encourage me, and after three more pushes, I could hear our little Nathan crying lustily for the first time! The nurses quickly suctioned his nose and mouth, cut his umbilical cord, wrapped him in a blanket, and placed him on my chest.

His head happened to be facing my husband rather than me, so my husband actually got to see the baby’s face before I did. He told me afterward that he was stunned to see that Nathan looked exactly like him! He said it was like witnessing his own birth. Amazing. At that moment though, my husband and I just looked at each other. I was too tired to speak, but my gaze said it all. “We did it!”

Nathan            Nathan2

Nathan3              dailyn

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Cesarean Birth Complications

When a mommy is confronted with the decision of whether to have a C-section or not, most of the time when the baby’s health is on the line, the mommy chooses her baby’s health instead of hers. This one decision changes her life, her body—totally! I know that my 2 C-sections did major changes to my body—physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

Other than the basic changes that the C-section would entail, there are several complications unique to a cesarean delivery based on a study conducted by Childbirth Connection in 2012 entitled Vaginal or Cesarean Birth: What Is at Stake for Women and Babies?

1. Operative maternal injury (bladder puncture, bowel injury, or injury to a ureter)

2. Surgical cuts to the baby

3. Reoperation

4. Persistent pain at the site of cesarean section

5. Cesarean scar endometriosis

6. Ectopic pregnancy/early placenta accrete

7. Dense intra-abdominal adhesions

Of course, not all women who went through C-sections go through the same complications as mentioned above. But unfortunately, my friend from Cebu had a life-threatening experience when she gave birth to her third daughter via cesarean surgery last 2009. She thought everything went well until she had excessive bleeding. This bleeding made her weak and pale, so she needed to have blood transfusion. After a series of tests, the doctors found out that her bladder was injured during her C-section. This resulted to her having another operation to solve this complication; hence she stayed for two weeks in the hospital. Due to this, she wasn’t able to enjoy her newborn baby and even failed in her breastfeeding due to the pain she was experiencing during the first two weeks.

The whole childbirth including the complication cost about P500,000. That was why, she had to prepare about the same amount during her fourth childbirth because she had to hire a urologist in case there are complications connected to her third childbirth.

When I asked if they filed a lawsuit against her OB (for her third baby), she said she didn’t take legal actions to avoid more hassle. She just wanted peace of mind, so they let the doctor go.

Hence, one lesson I learned from my experience is unless it’s medically necessary, I think it pays to get a second opinion before deciding to have a major surgical operation. Once you have one, it’s a little more difficult to have a natural childbirth in the next baby. Although there are also several complications unique to vaginal childbirth, if given the chance to choose between C-section and vaginal childbirth, I would definitely choose the latter. That’s why I really fought to have a VBAC, and I am so grateful that I was able to go through such a wonderful experience.

 

 

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Jake’s Story of Courage

It took me a while to share this successful VBAC story, but here it is. Mommy Jake is one of the mommies who always wanted to have a natural childbirth but was disillusioned when she got a C-section with her first child. After five years after giving birth, she became pregnant again. This time she didn’t want it any other way but natural childbirth. Through a lot of reading and research, she stumbled upon this blog and got inspired to go for VBAC. Her husband and relatives were really against the idea because of fear for her and the baby’s safety. But armed with a lot of knowledge, prayers, and determination, she pursued her dream of having a natural childbirth. It was a blessing that she found Dr. Beulah Zaragoza, who she said was a bit old but was a very supportive OB. And so, last November 8, 2013, she gave birth to a healthy seven-pound baby girl.

jakesbaby1        jakesbaby2

Here’s her story as she related it to me:

I really want a normal delivery ever since because I believe it’s the true essence of a woman and also since my mom had all four of us by normal birth. All of my husband’s relatives were not supportive, especially my mother-in-law. They were all negative, and all discouraged me to do it. And my husband was not so supportive at all. The thing he said was very clear to me until now: “Kung kaya mo bahala ka. Delikado yan. Matigas ulo mo.” That was what he said.

But for me, hindi ako nagpadala of all the negative response; after all, it’s my body, and it’s my baby, and at the end of the day, my decision will matter, not them. So I prepared my body and my state of mind—through research, books, and Internet. Gladly, I stumbled upon your blog, and up to now I am so thankful. Your posts gave me strength and inspired me a lot. Thank you. Thank you again. 😊❤️😊

It was November 7, 2013. I was forty weeks pregnant. I have labor pains, which is tolerable. So what I did, I just walked around to ease the pain, and then I practiced my breathing exercise, which I learned from YouTube. After walking for a while, the pain went away, and then I decided to go grocery shopping alone. I was so happy just walking around, and when I went back home, suddenly my labor pains kicked in again, but again it was tolerable. Afterward, I relaxed on my core ball and practiced my breathing again. Then I had my dinner and went to bed. At 11:00 p.m., I woke up. I can’t sleep, then at around 1:00 a.m., my labor pains started to kick in again, but it was not pretty. I tried to relax and practiced my breathing, walking and relaxing at the core ball, but it did not help. It was close to five minutes, then to three minutes and then to thirty seconds. I was shouting my heart out in a pillow because everybody was asleep. The pain is humungous. I went back to the bathroom again and again, and suddenly, there was blood on my urine. I was so afraid I woke up my hubby and told him it was time to go. My baby kit/bags were ready already in our car days ahead, so I just had to bring my tote. We arrived at 2:00 a.m. and was headed at the delivery room. My husband was there. My OB let my husband be with me in the delivery room, wearing mask and scrub suits with gloves. I was lying and waiting, watching the news of typhoon Yolanda entering our country. My doctor was waiting, and she was very calm. We were talking the whole time until I was 100 percent dilated. After a while, my water broke. The whole time I was in the delivery room, I was praying to Jesus, three Our Fathers, three Hail Mary’s, and three Glory Be. I was praying to HIM that I can do this while my hubby was holding my hand the whole time. He was the one shouting, and I was calm and practicing my breathing exercise when it was time to push for the big one. At 4:00 a.m. of November 8, 2014, I delivered a healthy baby girl weighing seven pounds through natural birth with no drugs at all. I was so proud and relieved. My patience and determination had paid back. I was so lucky that my hubby was able to cut my daughter’s umbilical cord, and he was there with me the whole time around, which we did not experience it on my son’s birth (CS). When I heard her first cry, it was so precious. She was so malikot and was crying the whole process while her pedia was cleaning her. Her name is Francheska Athena. As soon as I was done in the delivery room, I was brought up to our private room to rest; and after a while, my baby Cheska was brought up to our room. I immediately breastfed her so she will get her first colostrum. I breast-fed my son for three years and four months exclusively. Now I’m planning to do the same with my baby girl. And within that same day, we went home. My other relatives and friends were not able to visit me because we went home early already.

The difference with my CS and natural birth is quite outstanding. With my CS, I felt I was “raped” (in Webster Dictionary, it means “an outrageous violation and forceful act”). I’m saying this because my first b—— OB (I termed her like this because I hate her so much; she was my CS OB), and we agreed before the whole trimester until it was my due that I will have a normal birth. When I had painful contractions and it was before my due date, I was brought up in the hospital with my hubby and in-laws. After a day of labor, my OB decided to have a C-section and telling me that the umbilical cord of the baby was around his neck, and she was asserting me to have it done. It was my first time to deliver a baby, and nobody guided me, not even my mother-in-law because she had four CS before and had no experience to help me at all, which only worsened the scenario. My mom who was in Cebu was so worried. I think doctors should be honest in advising and guiding their patients and should not only be after the fee. Their service should be pure. As for me, I feel I was ransacked. I wasn’t able to hug my baby after my CS. When I woke up in the recovery room, a baby was at my breast, breast-feeding, and I asked the nurse who the baby was. The nurse told me he was my son. My tears went down my eyes, and the feeling of something important was missing. He was out of the world for the first time, and I didn’t even know because the doctor put me to sleep wherein she even did not ask my permission to sedate me. Days after my CS, I went into depression and baby blues/postpartum. I was angry with everybody, even to my husband. It was only now that I had a natural birth with my baby Cheska that my confidence is back again, and my self-esteem is high. With my natural birth, I had a fast recovery—only weeks. Compared with my CS before, it took me months to recover. My lesson is that you should be fearless and know what you want by finding helpful people to guide you. You should be firm, and self-study is one key because without knowledge, you can’t defend yourself. Because of natural childbirth, I’m still planning to have more babies—three or more.

—–

Not all childbirth is perfect. It’s really just a matter of perspective. With Jake’s first childbirth, the experience was traumatic, and somehow she had to fight her way to natural childbirth for her second child. Thank God VBAC became possible for her. Her faith and courage really saw her through this challenging but life-changing event in her life. I’m truly honored to be part of this miracle!:)

 

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Review on Power to Push VBAC Booklet

I’m so glad to come across this short yet informative e-booklet.

Power to Push image

It encouraged me to really go and write my own VBAC book. This booklet, however, is more on VBAC facts that can be useful for mommies who are contemplating on having a VBAC but still have doubts and fears. The statistics shown in the booklet are taken in British Columbia, Canada. I don’t think there is an updated information like this in the Philippines. I have yet to find out, and I haven’t gotten around to doing an extensive research because I don’t know where to source it out.

Anyway, here are the key points that I want to highlight on the e-booklet:

1. On page 3, the booklet says that 75 out of 100 women who plan a VBAC are successful. This statistics somehow gives mommies who underwent C-sections hope that there more women who had successful VBAC than those who didn’t. Most of the time, the negative news are highlighted rather than the positive ones.

2. On page 6, the risks of having a repeat C-section are discussed, some of which are  infection, breathing complications for the babies, placenta problems, and even death. In my experience in talking to several doctors before finally deciding on a VBAC-supportive OB, the doctors would most often than not point out the risks of having a VBAC rather than the risks of having a repeat cesarean. They would say that the risk is too high for the baby to die due to uterine rupture. And yet on the same page in the booklet, the death due to cesarean birth is higher than having vaginal birth. In page 7, uterine rupture happens in 1 out of 200 VBACs. In fact, uterine rupture even happens prior to labor, even if the mommy is planning for a repeat cesarean.

Of course, the booklet is saying that there are rare instances when uterine rupture becomes fatal to the mom and baby. But if you are going for VBAC, usual procedure in the hospital is that the mommy’s and baby’s health are closely monitored.

In my experience, I asked my OB how soon can she perform the surgery in case I need a C-section, and she told me three minutes. When I heard that, I became all the more determined to have VBAC. It was an assurance that if anything happens that is not according to plan A, I have an alternate plan.

3. On page 15, the booklet tackles the topic “What Matters Most to You?” On the next page, there is a tool that somehow allows the mommy to enumerate possible reasons on why she should consider VBAC versus repeat cesarean. Using a scoring system, the mommy will see which option is more beneficial to her and her baby.

I can’t forget my friend who recently chose to have cesarean over VBAC. After trying to convince the couple to try VBAC, somehow the benefits of having a scheduled cesarean appealed more to them. If I were to rate them using the scoring system, this is how it will appear:

Reasons to . . .

Have a repeat CS How much does it matter to you? Have a VBAC How much does it matter to you?
Can have baby on husband’s birthday

* * * * *

Want to try natural childbirth

* * *

Can have a discount on the OB (relative)

* * * * *

Want to avoid high expense

* *

Have a smaller chance of having a uterine rupture

* * * * *

Want to breastfeed baby right away

* * *

Avoid labor

* * * * *

My husband can be part of my birth

* *

Avoid the long wait/not knowing what the outcome is

* * * * *

Fast recovery

* * *

TOTAL

25

 

13

Although a lot of women still opt to have cesarean these days, more and more women are getting more aware of its risks. One mommy from Batangas came across this site and was so inspired to choose VBAC despite all the discouragements she got from her family. Even her husband wasn’t supportive. That must have been tough! But thank God, she had a successful VBAC last November to healthy baby girl, and she plans to have more babies in the future. Thanks to having a successful VBAC, her self-esteem is back, and she’s loving every minute of being a mother and a woman once more. Check out her VBAC story in my next blog :).

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Planning Your Birth

For the past months, I’ve been getting a lot of emails from potential VBAC mommies. One thing that they want to know is how to make a birth plan. Personally, I really believe that having a birth plan is like having a master plan for your dream house—you can’t do without it!

I had one when I was pregnant with my first baby, but since I had a C-section, I wasn’t able to use it. At that time, my OB wasn’t supportive with my birth plan, so I thought I didn’t need one.

I was so blessed with my third OB because she was the one who suggested I prepare a birth plan when I told her I want to have a VBA2C with my third baby. I was thankful I did because I was able to actually use it. I gave it to her a month before I gave birth, and we discussed it openly. I was very glad that my OB was so open, treating me not as a patient but as a partner in this journey.

I can vividly recall that during my last stage of labor, I was waiting for the delivery room to be ready since the staff had to prepare a double setup for me just in case I needed an emergency C-section. I was so thirsty due to my blowing and huffing to cope with the contractions, so I asked the nurse for water. She told me I wasn’t allowed to take in any liquid anymore since I was about to give birth already. I answered her that I had a birth plan, and it was approved by my OB. So she looked for it, and true enough, my OB signed it and endorsed it in the nurse station. When the nurse saw it, she allowed my husband to bring water to me. Also, almost all the things that I requested and put in my birth plan were granted. In order to encourage more mommies to make their own birth plan, I want to share my own birth plan here. Hope this will help you in your own journey of having a natural childbirth. Feel free to copy it and tweak it to adjust to your needs.

CATHY’S BIRTH PREFERENCES

 

PREADMISSION/ADMISSION

  • Heplock instead of IV
  • No telephone calls in my room

DURING LABOR AND BIRTH

  • I would like to experience the most natural, intervention-free birth experience possible
  • I wish to be able to move around and change positions at will throughout labor.
  • I don’t wish to have pubic shaving.
  • I don’t wish to have episiotomy.
  • I wish to be able to labor in water either tub or shower throughout labor.
  • I would like to eat and drink normally through labor and I will make easily digestible food choices.
  • I prefer intermittent Fetal Monitoring that will allow me to be mobile or upright beside the bed.
  • Only necessary staff or observers in room. We ask the staff to honor our need for quiet.
  • No references to “pain,” “hurt,” or “hard labor”; instead inquiring about “comfort level” as needed
  • No offer or suggestion of anesthetics or analgesics or labor enhancing procedures unless requested.
  • No blood pressure cuff between readings.
  • Minimal number of vaginal exams.
  • To use natural oxytocin (nipple) stimulation in the even of a stalled or slowed labor.
  • No AROM (Artificial Rupture of Membrane).
  • Use mirror to see crowning and birth.
  • To delay cord clamping until it stops pulsing.
  • To have baby place on my chest following birth.
  • To have father cut the cord if possible.
  • To avoid routine Pitocin unless I’m showing true signs of postpartum hemorrhage.

CESAREAN DELIVERY

  • To avoid a cesarean delivery unless the baby’s life is in imminent danger.
  • If my primary care provider determines that a Cesarean delivery is indicated, I would like to obtain a second opinion.
  • I do not wish my labor support persons to be removed from the room during any surgical preparation.
  • I wish my labor support person(s) to take pictures and/or video tape the delivery.
  • To have at least 1 arm free/not strapped down to table.
  • To be placed at a slightly raised angle.
  • For anesthesia to be monitored/adjusted to prevent feelings of suffocation.
  • To have screen lowered during baby’s birth.
  • To see the baby immediately following delivery in order for us to announce the sex.
  • To have baby placed on my chest immediately following birth.
  • To have baby in recovery with us.

FOLLOWING BIRTH

  • Allow vernix to be absorbed into baby’s skin; avoid vigorous rubbing and delay cleaning.
  • I would like to delay the eye medication for until a couple hours after birth.
  • We do NOT consent to circumcision.
  • We do NOT consent to the HEP B vaccine.
  • We will decide after birth whether to administer vitamin K.
  • Immediate and exclusive breastfeeding. I do not want the baby to be given a pacifier or any artificial nipples.

_______________________________

(Care Provider Signature)

Of course, not all of the items in my birth plan were followed; that’s why I titled it “Birth Preference.” Notice that the general attitude here is openness and respect. I wanted to respect the hospital rules, but at the same time, I want to tell them what I want/what I prefer. My OB and I had to discuss which ones she will allow and which ones are very important to comply. But the beauty of having a birth plan is having a clear vision of what you want to happen during one of the most memorable events of your life, not just leave it to chance. If you notice in the last part, there is a space provided for your OB to sign. This will give the nurses in the labor/delivery area a heads-up that your care provider approved of your birth plan. Personally, this really worked for me, from the time I labored, to my husband cutting my baby’s umbilical cord, to breast-feeding my boy and rooming him in. It was a “perfect” VBAC birth for me, and I attribute its success to having a birth plan. Even in childbirth, Benjamin Franklin’s words ring a bell: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” To read my VBAC story, click here.

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Winning in Weaning

I’ve never thought weaning Super, my eighteen-month-old baby, can be this hard. I’ve had sleepless nights for the past weeks because he just wouldn’t take no for an answer. It’s as if he transforms into a different baby even if I gently tell him, “Super, Mommy has no more milk already. Go back to sleep.” I offer him water instead because I know he’s not really hungry—he’s tummy is full—it’s really more out of a habit of sucking. Sometimes he says yes to my offer of water, but oftentimes he just cries aloud. He goes back to my side and, with his hands, searches for the source of his milk. I tell him to hold only but no more drinking. He agrees, but after unleashing my ribbons, he would slowly take a peek to see if I’m looking, then he would dive in. But I’m faster, so I close my nightshirt again. This makes a frustrated baby.

For the past months, I’ve only fed him once in the morning and once in the evening. But recently, I’ve decided to slowly take off the evening feeding. I have initially planned of exclusively breast-feeding him till he’s two years old. The reason for this is my husband and I have decided that he will be our bunso already. Also, since he’s my VBA2C baby, somehow I just want to have an extended bonding moment with him.

But my plans changed when I noticed that I’m in my prepregnancy body already. I’ve received comments that I’m payat, and to me, being payat is not very good. I would want to have some bits of fats here and there, but it seems that I lose my voluptuousness a few months after giving birth. My babies seem to manage sucking not only my milk but also my fats. To other mommies, it’s a blessing, but for me who wish to have a more voluptuous body, I find it a challenge to keep up with my dream body.

I tried to recall how I weaned my two older kids. With Uno, he also protested when I refused to give my breast for a couple of nights. My hubby was very supportive though. He was the one that slept beside my boy till he fell asleep. With my daughter, it wasn’t hard to wean her. At nights, I was already mix feeding her with a soya-based milk, so when I totally stopped on breast-feeding her, it was easy.

Now with Super, I find it a bit challenging. Maybe because he’s been breastfed longer than his two siblings; hence it’s longer to get off the habit. Even if I give him a bottle of soya milk before sleeping, he would still hold my breast for comfort. And if you’re tired and sleepy, it’s never comfortable to have a baby’s hand pinch you every now and them or plays with your breast in the middle of the night. When I get frustrated and he cries, I feel like a bad mom for feeling that way. At times, I feel sorry, so I give in and breast-feed him again.

I guess the reason why I haven’t completely and successfully weaned him is because I haven’t decided yet that I really want to stop breast-feeding already. Perhaps there’s still a part of me that wants to continue doing it, but I know a part of me already wants to stop. Some say it should be baby-led weaning; others say it should be mother-led. I think it should be mutual weaning. Until it becomes a mutual decision for both me and Super, then weaning will never be successful. Now I’m down to one feeding already. Hopefully before the end of the month, he’s fully weaned, and hope that decision will make both of us happy.

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Raising Healthy Babies

In our weekly mommy get-togethers, I brought Super’s baby food for lunch. Since most of the babies there are on their fifth or sixth month, the mommies got into the conversation about baby food. One of the mommies shared that her doctor told her to feed her sixth-month-old baby with one to two spoons of baby food once a day from six to eight months. The idea behind this is that the baby will still get the main nutrients from breast milk, and the solid food will only be secondary. But my mommy friend shared that she thought it’s not enough, and her baby tends to want more. I agree with her on this because when my kids turned six months onwards, I was feeding them three times a day already, with a bowl full of baby food (depending on their appetite, i.e., teething or not feeling well), and still feeding them with breast milk after that. And they turned out to be great. With my eldest Uno and my second child Alpha, I breast-fed them till they were one year old. With my third child, my VBAC baby Super, I’m still breast-feeding him until now, every after he eats his meals. He eats really well, and yet his appetite for breast milk didn’t wane. In fact, I feel he is more insatiable now than before.

Just to share some of my ideas on baby food, I learned from my research that it’s best to eat uncooked food because cooking/heat kills the enzymes. We got into the habit of eating raw food when I gave birth to Uno eight years ago. In fact, his first baby food is ampalaya juice. Of course, I had to make sure I got organic vegetables for him. Though organic produce is more expensive, especially in Manila, where we lived for two years, I made it a priority in my budgeting because we want to give our son the best food (pesticide free). So why ampalaya, you might ask? Because I learned that babies don’t have “judgment” on what is sweet or bitter since their taste buds are still “naive” (as compared to being an expert). I had to refrain from making a weird face when I fed him, even though I can clearly smell the bitterness of the ampalaya. But good thing he just continued to open his mouth and finished the small bowl. From that day on until now, he loves eating ampalaya and different kinds of vegetable. Compared to my daughter who is picky with her veggies, Uno loves green salads and even our native pechay and kangkong.

With Uno, I gave him a no-cook diet (except for his oatmeal or boiled kamote during breakfast) until he was two years old. Personally, I refrained from buying commercial baby food as these have preservatives and other ingredients I’m not familiar with. My sister, who used to work in a company that sells bottled baby food, gave me a supply, but I just gave them all away because I didn’t want to feed it to my baby.

Usually, I just used cardava (as base) and carrots and other blanched leaves. Contrary from what others think that uncooked cardava can cause constipation, my son had a regular bowel movement. I also remember feeding him banana, papaya, and most especially avocado (as a source of good fats, vitamin E and B-complex vitamins among others). Whenever avocado is in season, I usually incorporated it in his diet. My kids love this so much.

And though we don’t eat an all-raw-food diet presently, I picked up some of the values in this. I see to it that I let my kids eat fruits every day especially during breakfast, and I see to it that I make fresh carrot-pineapple-cucumber juice every week. This really helps in detoxifying the body, and it really works great wonders with my daughter Alpha, who sometimes has bouts of constipation even with our high-fiber diet.

To make it less stressful in preparing my own baby food, what I usually do is plan our menu and saw to it that we have vegetable soups. If we have ginataang mongo with kalabasa and malunggay, that will be a perfect baby food. I just blend it with rice and add a little water. I usually make two batches—one for lunch, one for dinner. I just let my yaya put the container for dinner on top of the cooked rice before she feeds my baby for dinner.

Tinolang Manok with Sayote and Malunggay (plus potato because we had lots of supply)

Tinolang Manok with Sayote and Malunggay (plus potato because we had lots of supply)

All the vegetables with the chicken stock and rice

All the vegetables with the chicken stock and rice

Blend for a 20 seconds or more or until you see all the leaves in small pieces

Blend for a 20 seconds or more or until you see all the leaves in small pieces

Two batches—one for lunch, one for dinner. The dinner is usually more in quantity so we won't wake up in the middle of the night for another feeding:)

Two batches—one for lunch, one for dinner. The dinner is usually more in quantity so we won’t wake up in the middle of the night for another feeding:)

So here are some ideas for baby food, and hopefully it can help you figure out what your baby needs or likes. I suggest sticking to the same kind of food for three days to one week before shifting. That way it can save you from hassle of thinking what to prepare next. You can also catch any allergies your baby might have. Of course, the idea here is that your family is also eating/enjoying the same kind of food because it’s one thing to feed the baby good and nutritious food, and it’s another thing to really practice and instill a healthy diet for the whole family. For me, my husband and I had to practice and believe in healthy eating before we were able to teach it to our kids. That way, we won’t have a hard time telling them to eat their vegetables because they see it in us. So, Mommies, happy eating . . . and feeding! Cheers to healthy and happy babies!

Basic Ingredients:

Rice (if possible, brown/organic rice)

Vegetable soup (preferably no salt/seasoning, not overcooked)

Water (if needed)

Vegetable I usually use:

Squash (utan bisaya or ginataan)

Malunggay (present in almost all of my recipe)

Sayote (tinolang manok)

Potato

Carrots (for corn soup)

Corn

Baguio beans

Pechay

Mongo beans

Stringed beans

Okra

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