By Maria Antoinette M. Valdez, Ф2019, Class 2023
Milk Matters, the flagship project of the Phi Lambda Sorority, holds milk drives concurrent with public health lectures (PHLs) in partner communities so as to educate mothers about the importance of breastfeeding, how to properly express milk, as well as give them the opportunity to donate their breastmilk to the babies of the Philippine General Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (PGH NICU). For this year’s Service Month, another Milk Drive was held last October 5, 2019, at the Risen Christ Parish Church, Silang, Cavite, in the spirit of Phi’s commitment to this advocacy.
The day started on an energetic note as a PHL for the mothers on breastfeeding and immunization was hosted by Marie Pauline Adame Abilin Ф2019 and Nicole Rose Inos Alberto Ф2019. Proper latching for breastfeeding was first taught to the mothers through the acronym “G.A.T.A.S.”, after which mothers were encouraged to actively participate in synthesizing their learnings through a fun-filled game of pictures of latching to which they shout “Tama” o “Mali” to indicate a proper or improper latch. Next was the demonstration of the different breastfeeding holds, namely the cradle hold, cross-cradle hold, football hold, and the side-lying position by Isabelle Rose Inos Alberto Ф2019.
It was also important to clear up any misconceptions the mothers may have regarding breastfeeding, which was achieved through active participation of the mothers in another round of ‘Tama o Mali’. Most of the statements centered on when or when not to breastfeed, as well as debunking traditionally held beliefs such as avoiding breastfeeding when tired or sick. Next up, the entirety of WildPHIre, Batch Ф2019, touched on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding. Each member held up a poster as a visual aid as they expounded on each.
A segment on vaccination was then added to this year’s PHL. Given the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases nationwide, it was important that mothers vaccinate their babies early and that they be able to recognize that vaccines are in fact, safe and effective. Thus, an active Question and Answer-type discussion regarding the different vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, hepatitis B, and tuberculosis was conducted by the hosts, along with educating the mothers about the life-threatening manifestations that each may have. Stephanie Isabelle Cruz Paredes Ф2019, and Mary Grace Li Enriquez Ф2019, then stepped in to discuss to the mothers the multitude of benefits that come with vaccinating their babies. During their discussion, cards containing the DOH Immunization Schedule were distributed to the mothers which they could conveniently refer to in making sure that their babies have been given the shots needed at particular ages.
Finally, the hosts also mentioned that although breast milk has the capacity to protect babies from certain illnesses, vaccination remains superior in terms of effectivity in protecting their children from life-threatening illness that cannot be cured once acquired—only managed. Thus, the PHL was then closed by asking the mothers to repeat the hosts’ chant of “Basta kumpleto, protektado!”, in the goal of emphasizing to the participating mothers the importance of practicing timely and complete vaccination for their children as an endnote.
The breast milk expression station was then opened to the mothers, with the PGH NICU nurses facilitating the milk expression. All sisses present during the event were also given the opportunity to facilitate milk expression firsthand. As the morning came to a close, a total of 2 liters of breastmilk were collected; around more than 30 mothers, with some carrying their babies, left with smiles on their faces; and the whole resident body, ended the milk drive with an intensified desire to keep on holding more in the sorority’s years to come.