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Breastfeeding Bicolanas and JCI Naga spearheaded Bicol Latch Na 2023

By Kyna de Castro

With the theme, “Nanay, Ika’y Sapat”, the Bicol Latch Na 2023 transpired last April 15, 2023 at 3rd Level Activity Center of Robinsons Place Naga, Naga City. In celebration to promote and support the breastfeeding community, the Breastfeeding Bicolanas (BFB), in partnership with JCI Naguena and Robinsons Mall Naga, conducted the Bicol Latch Na 2023 in participation of The Global Big Latch On where people gather together to breastfeed, offer peer support to each other and to empower the breastfeeding or lactating mothers.

The Bicol Latch Na adopted The Big Latch On which is being done simultaneously worldwide among 42 countries. This is not just being done in the Philippines. For the past years, it is being done in all the regions in the Philippines every August. This year, it was conducted on April. This is the first time again that The Big Latch On launched this kind of gathering again after the pandemic.

Around 23 dyads of mother and baby/toddler attended and participated in the simultaneous latching or breastfeeding exercise during the “Sabayang Hakab” which is the main highlight of the event. Moreover, this event advocates in normalizing breastfeeding in public place as well as educating and raising awareness that breastfeeding is something that mothers should not to be ashamed of.

There are three registered host in the Philippines in conducting such event and according to Ms. Marife Dia, founder of Breastfeeding Bicolanas, “We are proud that Breastfeeding Bicolanas is one of those. We are conducting this to let every breastfeeding mother know that they are not alone. They have the drive to keep going and get support. There is a network for them because it is not simple being a mother. You need all the support and strength you can get. Every mom should be looked up as a Wonder Woman for their dedication and strength especially those mothers who just gave birth. We should really be providing support to them and be taking good care of them.”

Ms. Kristina Daquioag, Operations Manager of Robinsons Naga and Ms. Caryl Chiu, Proprietress of Lokwan Dimsum shared about their breastfeeding journey to the attendees of the event. Furthermore, Ms. Marife Dia, founder of Breastfeeding Bicolanas, Ms. Renelyn Imperial from Department of Education (DepED), and Dr. Laddale Sy, a pediatrician and lactation specialist, shared their knowledge and experience to educate the breastfeeding mothers, expectant mothers, and first-time moms on the benefits of breastfeeding, the importance of mental health or psychosocial needs for mothers and strengthening the awareness as well as knowledge of the local community of their relevant role in providing support to establish a mother-baby friendly community. Thus, advocate the importance of exclusive breastfeeding to infants to help lessen malnutrition among infants.

“It is not enough that you are tied up to just being a mom. Being a mother is a hard work. But if it is all hard work and no play, then they’ll end getting worn out and really tired. Mothers also need an outlet for them to grow and learn, to network and socialize. This is it. Breastfeeding Bicolanas and Bicol Latch Na is that event giving them the support they needed.” Ms. Marife also shared.

Among the main topics discussed included a focus on the mental health of mothers. After giving birth, some mothers would go through postpartum depression and anxiety which also affects the well being of mothers and their capability in producing milk for their baby. Consultations on proper breastfeeding also plays an integral role in improving the nutrition of the children. In addition, there were discussions on retail therapy for moms, tips on how to de-stress, best way to respond to body-shaming comments and self-care tips. A panel Question and Answer Forum was also conducted to address and answer some of the questions of the mothers in the audience about breastfeeding and share some of their experiences and challenges in their breastfeeding journey.

Ms. Rose Lara of JCI Naguena also shared that, “We chose this to be our project in JCI because we have mothers in our batch and because someone from our members also suggested it. When holding such events, we knew it is hard to reach out to mothers as they don’t know who can watch the kids for them so we came up with setting up play and art area for kids for this event with the help of Mary Bree Montessori who also provided their services in putting up a sensory and education play.”

In holding such events, the organizers already thought of mothers who can’t seem to attend because no one will be watching their kids. With this, JCI Naguena together with Mary Bree Montessori Inc, LOTZ of LAV, HeArt Co and Phi&Piks helped in setting a recreational sensory activity area such as sensory play, practical life play and other art activities for the kids to keep them entertained as mothers attend the event. Also, instead of keeping kids entertained through gadgets, the event gave them an educational atmosphere where they can learn and play at the same time. This also gave the mothers the opportunity to focus on listening during the discussions and lectures without worrying where to leave their kids or who will be watching them while at the event.

“Breastfeeding is economical and a form of bonding with baby. The Breastfeeding Bicolanas is already a community that is offering support group to mothers because no mothers should be left alone. Being a mother is 24/7 responsibility especially to your children. There’ll be times that you’ll feel alone especially if you didn’t get any support from family and friends. There are mothers who are going through different things. We know that there are single mothers, mothers whose husbands are working overseas. There are different family set up these days. We need to reach out to all mothers because they need to realize that they are not alone. The more they hide what they truly feel, it leads to more stress and this escalates to postpartum blues and eventually escalates to depression.” Ms. Rose added.

The Bicol Latch Na event revolves its theme on mothers being “enough”. Never put a self-doubt in a mom. Through this event, the organizers were able to reach out and provide the support in assuring mothers of their worth as breastfeeding mothers and that their breast milk is enough as well as their unconditional love for their children will always be enough to nourish and nurture their family.

The Bicol Latch Na event of Breastfeeding Bicolanas and JCI Naguena are just among the many programs and events being implemented to bring a positive social impact to the local community.


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