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Booster Shots


My husband picked our baby as she crawled across the room. He called out to me asking that she should be cleaned up right away. Amused by his overprotective nature, I washed her with soap and water.  I was aware that my baby’s immune system was still maturing which means her antibodies may not be quite strong enough to beat all sorts of bugs. It was important I boost my baby’s immune system that’s why I chose to breastfeed.   Breastfeeding helps defend against infections, prevent allergies, and protect against a number of chronic conditions.


I also made sure to follow the immunization schedule recommended by my pediatrician.  Once my baby got a vaccination, her immune system allowed her antibodies to kick in and start defending against the nasty virus or bacteria.  Vaccinations protect against potentially fatal diseases and boost your baby’s immune system in a big way.


“Are vaccines safe?” You will need to weigh the pros and the cons because the advantages of vaccination far outweigh the risks of side effects.  It is important to remember that vaccines are not only there to protect your child but the people within your community.


Here are the vaccines given in the Philippine Expanded Program of Immunization (PEPI) of the Department of Health for 2014:

1. BCG (Bacille-Calmette-Guerin) vaccine

2. DTwP-HiB-HepB

    Diptheria and Tetanus Toxoids and Accellular/whole cell Pertussis vaccine (DTP)

    Haemophilus influenzae type B Caccine (HiB)

    Hepatitis B Vaccine (HepB)

3. Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV)

4. Measles Vaccine

5. Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine

6. Rotavirus (RV) vaccine

7. Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV)  vaccine

8. Tetanus and Diphtheria (Td) Vaccine


BCG given at earliest possible age protects the possibility of Tubercolisis (TB) meningitis and other TB infections in which infants are prone. An early start with DPT reduces the chance of severe whooping cough (pertussis) and extends the protection received from the mother against tetanus.  Measles vaccine is needed as measles can be a major cause of malnutrition, poor mental development, and hearing and visual impairments. An early start of Hepatitis B vaccine reduces the chance of being infected and becoming a carrier, prevents liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, which are more likely to develop if infected with Hepatitis B early in life. At least 85% of measles can be prevented by immunization at this age. Your pediatrician will give you the immunization schedule and even discuss the benefits of the vaccines and booster shots. There are other recommended vaccines but you will need to discuss this with your pediatrician as they know what is best for your baby.


I cannot stress enough that immunization is urgent.  The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reminds us that “every child should complete the recommended series of immunizations. Early protection is critical; the immunizations in the first two years are particularly important.”


It’s been 28 years, and my baby is now a lady. Indeed, she got protected from all these potentially fatal diseases.

Breastfeeding 101


Breastfeeding may seem like a difficult task not just for first time moms but also for experienced ones. Despite the different challenges mothers encounter, take heart and know that it definitely pays to weather such tests. With the numerous benefits breastfeeding offers, you’ll find the experience is undeniably worth it. To name a few advantages, breast milk contains antibodies that will boost your baby's immune system and help reduce the risk of many diseases. It helps you lose weight, minimizes breast and ovarian cancers, and lets you share a special connection with your baby. So how do you prepare for it? Here’s a basic guide to breastfeeding to help you get started.


Knowing What To Buy

Although breast milk is free, investing in products to aid you will make breastfeeding easier. A nursing pillow supports your baby and makes you more comfortable in different positions. Nursing bras give you extra support and added convenience when nursing. Nursing covers are an advantage for breastfeeding discretely. When it comes to leaks, washable breast pads are more cost efficient as you may re-use them. A breast pump, manual or electric, plus containers to store your milk are particularly important for when you plan to give breast milk on a bottle.



Practicing The Latch

There may be pain during the first few weeks of nursing but don't worry, it should diminish in the weeks to come. Having a good latch will be the main basis of your comfort.



Signs of a good latch include painless tugging and swallowing motion throughout the nursing session while your baby sucks with a wide-open mouth. To achieve this, bring your baby to your breast aligning her nose to your nipple and brushing her lower lip to encourage her to open wide. Help your baby get as much of your areola into her mouth by placing her jaw beneath the nipple. You can gently push her jaw down to make her open her mouth wider. Tilt her head forward to bring your nipple as far back into the soft part of her mouth as possible. Her lips should be flanged. If it isn't, gently tug on her chin to flick her lower lip out. That should aid in lessening any discomfort.


Finding The Right Position

Experiment in different positions until you find the one you both are most comfortable in. Try some of these time-tested positions.

1. Football hold - Carry your baby like a football under your arm while she nurses at the same side.

2. Side-lying position - Lie on your side and bring the baby close, facing towards you, and allow her to latch on to the breast that is closest to the mattress.

3. Cradle hold - The classic nursing style in which the position requires you to sit down and cradle the baby in your arms while supported with pillows.



Dealing With Issues

1. Engorgement

After birth, milk production increases and causes breast fullness, which can be painful. Manage engorgement by feeding your baby 8 to 12 times a day or as needed. Apply warm compress or take a hot shower before feeding to aid with the milk flow, and cold packs after feeding to reduce swelling.


2. Sore Nipples

It is normal to have tender nipples at the beginning of breastfeeding, but cracks and bleeding are not. A good latch is the key to healing sore nipples. You can also benefit from the curative properties of breast milk and leave it on your nipples after feeding. You can use soothing but safe nipple creams as well.


3. Mastitis

Mastitis is a condition in which there is infection in the breast often preceded by untreated plugged ducts. The mother experiences fever, weakness, and a swollen reddish breast that is hot and painful to touch. Consult your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms, as mastitis often requires antibiotic treatment.

Cry for Help


Bundled in white cloth, I watched her small eyes flutter as she tried to look at the light of the delivery room. That’s my baby girl. Before I knew it, tears streamed down my face as a wave of love and delight filled my heart. My husband named our bundle of joy, Lauren.


I cannot begin to tell you the fear that overcame me when I brought Lauren home. Yes, I read child care books but I had no one to help me at home, not even a “yaya”. It was just the three of us. I felt sorry for myself. What were then tears of joy a few days earlier turned to tears of anxiety and fatigue.


My thoughts turned to going back in time that I was never ever pregnant. I daydreamed that I was with my husband on romantic dinner dates. I envisioned myself at the beach with my siblings, basking in the warm sun with no cares in the world. That wasn’t possible because a small baby needed me. I felt horrible and ashamed to admit these anxieties.  These “baby blues” felt like an emotional roller coaster ride of emotions ranging from joy to fear.


Mind you, I loved my baby Lauren and taking care of her. I sang, rocked, and bounced her around and never thought of anything to hurt her. I just thought about wanting my life to go back to normal.


The hard realization was that having a baby in my life is my new normal. Not all women see it that way. It is important for moms to realize they are not alone.  Our life went from a very quiet routine to pampering this little baby where we were not even sure half the time if we were doing it right.


In the good old days, women lived close to their family of origin so it was easier to cry out for help and talk about these anxieties.  I found out talking helps. It is important to reach out to another parent, a friend, or a family member and talk about what you’re feeling.  I was glad my sister and I both had babies at the same time so it was great to exchange notes.  The frequency of my anxieties lessened by the time Lauren turned a month old.  Things got even better when I hired a “yaya” to help me out and take my place when I wanted my me time.  Such times meant a short walk around the neighborhood or an uninterrupted warm shower which did help me cope with stress.  If you're still overwhelmed by the end of the first month or so, it is important to visit your doctor to find out if there may be postpartum depression.


Trust me, life gets better as you move on to this new normal.  As you get more comfortable with taking care of your baby, you'll probably feel more confident and in control.