UP Open University

UPOU Office of Gender Concerns and L.A.T.C.H. Los Banos launch “WONDERFULLY MADE: Empowering Mommy, Nurturing Baby”

WonderfullyMade OGC 69x

In celebration of the International Week for Respecting Childbirth, the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) Office of Gender Concerns, in partnership with Lactation. Attachment. Training. Counselling. Help or L.A.T.C.H. Los Baños recently launched “WONDERFULLY MADE: Empowering Mommy, Nurturing Baby” A Breastfeeding Awareness and Respectful Birth Campaign on May 20-21, 2016 at the UPOU Headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna.


Wonderfully Made Public Forum

The Wonderfully Made:Public Forum entitled "Respecting  Childbirth. Protecting Breastfeeding. Working Together Towards Genuine Mother- Baby Friendly Care" was held on 20 May 2016 at the Centennial Center for Digital Learning (CCDL) Auditorium. This forum was held to bring forth access to quality health care and reproductive services while ensuring the health, safety and rights of women and newborn children.

Dr. Jean A. Saludadez, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration of the UP Open University was happy for the activity and emphasized the importance of empowering families being the basic unit of society. On behalf of UPOU and Chancellor Melinda dP. Bandalaria, she thanked the speakers and the organizers of the event. Ms. Armi Shyr Baticados, L.A.T.C.H Los Baños Coordinator, also delivered a message and shared some of her experiences in giving birth and breastfeeding.

The topics of the Public Forum included “My Birth Story Matters: On Human Rights in Childbirth” by Irina Otmakhova, a Women's Right Health Advocate and Birth Doula of Conscious Birth Manila; “Protecting Breastfeeding, Nurturing Baby: Making our Laws Work” by Dr. Wyda Beriña, the Maternal, Neonatal, Child, Nutrition(MNCHN) Program Coordinator of DOH Region IV-A; “Unang Yakap Protocol and Breastfeeding” by Noelle Pollack, a Birth, Post-Partum, and Fertility Doula, and Breastfeeding Counsellor of Pinay Doulas Collective; “The Milk Code and Protecting Breastfeeding” by Jia Rubio-Monserrat, Breastfeeding Counsellor of LATCH Los Baños; “Having a Family-Centered Birth - Why and how” by Betty & Manny San Luis, Childbirth Preparation Educators of Birthing is a Blessing; “Women’s Voices Unheard: An Argument for Justice in Childbearing” by Jeri Gunderson, Executive Director of HELP International Ministries and Co- Director of Shiphrah Birthing Home; and Deborah Gustafson, Midwife and Director of Shiphrah Birthing Home, discussed the following topics- (1) Effort in birth preparation reduces hours of birth time: Proper fetal position for birth and (2) The power of the love hormone: Oxytocin and birth.

The open forum at the end of the event, helped to initiate dialogue especially regarding the legality of home births in the country. One of the participants, a city councilor of Los Banos, mentioned about a municipal ordinance banning the conduct of home births. He went on to say that a forum such as this one could have provided them with the knowledge to make an informed decision before passing the said ordinance. This could be the beginning of more discussions on gentle birth, bringing forth more choices especially for women without access to hospitals and birth clinics around the country.  


"Kaya Mo" Exhibit

The forum culminated with the the formal opening of "Kaya Mo" Birth Photography Exhibit by Artist Isabell Steinhert. A volunteer at Shihprah Birthing home, Steinhert discovered her love for birth photography. The beauty and strength of a woman in labor, the support and love shown by her birth team, and the joy that floods the parents‘ faces when they finally hold their newborn child in their arms - these are the moments she loves to capture. The exhibit is housed at the Galeria Sinag of the UPOU Community Hub. The exhibit includes photos and videos about water birthing, the belly casts art works by Doula Irina Otmakhova of Conscious Birth Manila and breastfeeding paintings by Jia Rubio-Monserrat of LATCH Los Baños. The exhibit is open to the public from 20 May to 17 June 2016.


Best Beginnings in Breastfeeding

The Wonderfully Made Campaign also included a Breastfeeding Class which was held on 21 May 2016 at the UPOU Audiovisual Room. Fifty mother and fathers attended the morning class which covered the topics on Intrapartum & Newborn Care or “Unang Yakap” Protocol, The Benefits of Breastmilk and the Dangers of Breastmilk Substitutes. The afternoon session focused on the Best Practices in Breastfeeding such as proper positioning, and tips on how mothers can go back to work while still continuing to breastfeed. Common myths and traditional beliefs about pregnancy and breastfeeding were also tackled during the latter part of the afternoon session.  

The UPOU OGC is mandated to promote gender-mainstreaming in the University through teaching, research and public service.  L.A.T.C.H. Los Baños. on the other hand, is a non- profit organization that offers quality lactation education and peer counseling to mothers who wish to breastfeed. The activities were attended by Medical practioners such as medical doctors, nurses, midwifes and doula; expectant mothers and fathers, politicians and hospital staff also attended the forum, exhibit and breastfeeding workshop. (Criscelle Moya-Pobre, Anna Cañas-Llamas and Fides dela Cruz-Rabena)