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It's okay not to be okay, Mom!

By LAI S. REYES, The Philippine STAR Published Oct 19, 2020 5:00 pm

Are you okay?”

Moms often ask this question — but not to themselves. They are so used to taking care of their loved ones that they often forget to look after their own well-being.

Motherhood can be quite stressful and overwhelming, but that’s not an excuse to take your emotional and mental wellness for granted.

“When that stress gets out of hand, it can trigger anxiety attacks, even depression,” notes Dr. Anna Bondoc, a pulmonary and critical care specialist. “That’s why it’s important to hit the pause button once in a  while to check if you’re still okay.”

Breastfeeding woes

The list of things moms have to do is endless, and many even have to do so while breastfeeding, despite the unique sets of challenges that come with it.

“I conduct breastfeeding sessions live and online,” notes Dr. Bondoc, who is a breastfeeding advocate. “And one of the frequently asked questions is ‘Is my supply of milk enough?’”

As rewarding as breastfeeding can be, it takes time and effort.

“You’re not going to have gushing waterfalls as soon as you give birth,” Dr. Bondoc says with a hearty laugh. “Your baby will consume what he/she needs. And as you continue to breastfeed, you will gradually build up your supply.”

Dr. Anna Bondoc
Dr. Anna Bondoc

Remember, latching is key. As long as the baby is latching well, your body will produce as much as what the baby needs.

Interior stylist Leona Laviña Panutat, a hands-on mother to her two boys Wyatt and Walt, shares that she had an abundant supply of milk when she had her first child. But it was the exact opposite with the second.

“For my first son, everything was easy. He latched right away and I was able to build up my (milk) supply. It was quite abundant that I would wake up in the middle of the night because I was leaking milk,” shares Leona, who is the co-founder of Project Lilo (Life, Love and Little Ones), a website that takes a peek into the lives of inspiring and accomplished women through candid conversations about raising children, marriage and work-life balance.

Leona thought that breastfeeding her second child would be easy.

“But when I was faced with that situation, I didn’t know what to do,” she adds.

According to Dr. Bondoc, mothers should not be afraid to ask for support when they feel overwhelmed, especially now that we’re living in uncertain times.

“You can’t get everything right all the time. You will make mistakes, and that’s okay,” says the former Pampanga representative. “You’re not alone in your struggle and it’s okay to not be okay. What isn’t good is to just keep all these overwhelming emotions to yourself. Seek help and let others support you and lighten your load.”

Dr. Bondoc shares her knowledge on the major struggles and misconceptions breastfeeding moms encounter at the recent “Sekaya Prescribing Nature Series: Mommy Are You Okay?,” a virtual discussion that focuses on moms’ emotional and mental wellness, paying close attention to breastfeeding moms.

As a flagship brand of Synnovate Pharma Corporation, the natural products company of Unilab, Sekaya is intent on Prescribing Nature through plant-based functional products that take advantage of all the benefits that nature provides, while backing these up with strong scientific research and pharma-grade processing.

Dr. Bondoc is joined by dynamic urban moms Leona Laviña Panutat, child advocate Paula Peralejo-Fernadez and Robyn Chua Rodriguez, who also shared their personal approaches on navigating motherhood, breastfeeding and caring for themselves.

Paula Peralejo-Fernadez

Speech Language pathologist Robyn Chua-Rodriguez reiterates the importance of seeking professional help “if you feel like you’re not producing enough milk for the baby.”

“Giving birth to my daughter Haniah was easy,” Robyn relates. “But during her first week, I got anxious because my baby had mild jaundice. The doctor advised me to monitor her urine intake because she wasn’t getting enough milk from me.”

And that’s when Robyn’s friend recommended a lactation consultant.

“I’m glad I heeded her advice,” says Robyn. “The consultant gave me a lactation massage, and I was surprised because while she was doing it, the milk was squirting out. I was so relieved.”

Robyn Chua Rodriguez

For Paula, breastfeeding can be difficult and even downright painful.

“Breastfeeding is a natural process so it’s ought to be easy, right? “Wrong!” exclaims Paula Peralejo-Fernandez, a hands-on mom to her three-year-old son Pablo. “I learnt it the hard way.”

Prior to giving birth to Pablo, Paula read books about breastfeeding and learned that malunggay (moringa) helps increase a breastfeeding mother’s daily milk production. She even took up breastfeeding classes.

“All these paid off. I was able to breastfeed my son smoothly. But after two weeks, breastfeeding became painful and stressful,” relates the doting mom.

Paula and her husband Charlie brought their son to his pediatrician for consultation. Apparently, Pablo had tongue-tie, a condition in which an unusually short, thick or tight band of tissue tethers the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth.

“That’s why he had a hard time latching,” notes Paula. “The doctor fixed it and breastfeeding became a breeze again. At that time, I stopped taking malunggay because milk supply wasn’t a problem.”

However, the same problem occurred when Pablo turned four months old.

“I developed mastitis, an inflammation of the breast brought about by clogged ducts. Breastfeeding was so painful and I started having chills and fever,” shares Paula.

Her immune system was totally down.

“And that’s when I decided to take malunggay again, because it helps boost the immune system,” shares Paula, who still breastfeeds her three-year-old son.

Nature's natural immunity booster

Traditionally used as a natural immunity booster, moringa contains vitamin C, calcium, potassium, amino acids and even anti-inflammatory compounds, making it a good complement to mom’s diet.

“We always think of moringa as a breastfeeding supplement. Well, it’s important to note that moringa is a super food. It supports women in different stages of motherhood,” shares Dr. Bondoc. “I take moringa even if I’m not pregnant.”

However, you should be extra careful where you source your fresh moringa leaves or the moringa supplements you’re taking.

“Moringa leaves easily absorb toxins in the environment like pesticides and heavy metals,” warns Bernice Gonzalez, Sekaya marketing head. “Moms that ingest low-quality moringa supplements may consume these toxins and could even pass them on to their breastfed babies.”

Sekaya Organic Moringa is safe for lactating mothers because it’s the only 500mg. moringa supplement in the country that is certified organic.

“Aside from helping the milk supply of nursing moms, it also provides whole-food nutrition to help moms in every stage of motherhood,” Gonzalez adds.

Sekaya Food Supplements Organic Moringa is available at Babymama.ph and Allganic retail stores.