Sunday, September 26, 2010

World Breastfeeding Week September 27th - October 3rd 2010

It's here! It's here! It's finally here!

World Breastfeeding Week! Aruba, along with Holland and other countries traditionally celebrate World Breastfeeding Week in the 40th week of the year. The 40th week was chosen to symbolize a pregnancy. Aruba was pretty quiet during the rest of the world's WBW, August 1-7 2010. But this time around, we're gonna be out and about!

One of the awesome stuff we have planned is our 2nd annual Quintessence Global breastfeeding challenge! Usually the challenge takes place at 11 am, but due to the hot weather, we've moved it to 5 pm. This year we've chosen a much more family friendly location with exciting things going on throughout the event. The event itself is from 4-6 pm at Wilhelmina Park. Families who attend are warmly encouraged to bring older children if they have any. We'll have a 'poppen kast', story telling,and a Sling Fashion Show in celebration of International Babywearing Week. There will be lots of prizes for the moms who take part in the challenge.

We're extremely excited to bring breastfeeding into the spotlight, where it belongs. The more we speak, the more we fight, the quicker we can raise breastfeeding to its original pedestal, as something normal.

Do you have any events going on during WBW? What about the breastfeeding challenge?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Have you considered renting a sling first?

My modest business, CariBirth, is the only business offering sling rentals. There are so many carriers out there (some really expensive ones too) that it often times overwhelms new parents. Some don't have the time and/or funds to go around and purchase carrier after carrier seeing which fits them best. For this reason, I decided to amass and rent my baby carriers. Recently, the rental has picked up, and the parents are surprised to hear they can actually try out the carrier of their choice for 1,2, and even 3 weeks in their home and out and about. It allows them time and opportunity to test out a given carrier in their day-to-day life without having to commit.

Of course, being the opportunist that I am, I take advantage of my clients allowing me to take pictures of them with the baby in the carrier. Today, a dad let me take many photos of him with the baby, and I relished in it because sometimes the clients are shy!

I now have some pictures of a dad wearing his baby to use in my classes and website.

"Thank you so very much"

Volunteer work holds a near and dear place to my heart. I believe that humans have the greatest capacity to love and do good for their fellow man through kind and sincere acts motivated by unselfish concern. From a young age I made it a point in my life to help others. There's no greater satisfaction than knowing someone else was helped, that you could've made their day a little bit better. 

When I was 19 I gave birth to a daughter. Her birth would open the doors to a world I've never known of before. I breastfed my daughter for a bit over a year and fell in love with my new life as a mother. When my daughter was 4 months old, I decided to further my education and become a certified childbirth educator. This brought me in line to receive an invitation to be on the board of Aruba's only non-profit breastfeeding organization, namely, Pro Lechi Mama. After about a year, and much more education later, I started going on breastfeeding consults. This organization runs solely on volunteers, not even being reimbursed for the long hours they put in. So why do we do it? Well, one of the reasons is because if we don't, who will? Who will attend to these mothers that call 1 o'clock in the morning (it has happened before) desperate for someone to quell their fears and allay their anxieties? We will. 

We also do it because we have been there. All of us at one point has been the anxious mother, with cracked bleeding nipples, begging for help to continue breastfeeding. We know what it means, and we yearn to help other mothers and families succeed. This love is what drives us to leave our jobs at 6 in the evening and come over by you until 11 o'clock at night until the baby overcomes his nipple preference and latches on. This same love is what makes us fight for your rights to nurse in public, to combine breastfeeding and work, to not fall victim to this bottle-ridden society. 

I gain much satisfaction from helping my mamas and babies. This comes at great cost, but is worth my while. You know when I have to fight back tears? When my mamas look at me with a glimmer in their eyes and thank  me. 

Today, on a breastfeeding, turned babywearing consult, turned sling rental, the mom and dad handed me a card. I opened it and nearly broke out in tears. They thanked me for the love and help I gave them with babywearing and breastfeeding and that if there was anything they could help me with to promote these two things, just call them. These tokens of affection are what pumps more energy into us. We ARE making a difference! People DO appreciate our work! 

I may have drastically altered my life when I became a young mother, but I can't help but be grateful to rectify the situation and that it has helped me put my own problems aside and just help someone else. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Breastfeeding Beauties

A photo that is dear to my heart is one of a local mother. Aruban mothers tend to be of a shy nature and don't really take pictures of themselves breastfeeding their children. I find this a shame because Aruba enjoys a vast range of ethnic diversity in its inhabitants. An Aruban can range from white as milk, to black as ebony, with mixtures of latino, asian and anything in between.

This photo was taken by an extremely talented young photographer named Annabelle Quandus. With love for Pro Lechi Mama and breastfeeding, she has taken photos of breastfeeding mothers and dedicated a whole wall of her art to the cause.

Ergo Sport Baby Carrier

It's here! It's here! It's finally here!

After months of yearning for an Ergo Baby carrier, I finally ordered it (with much pain) and got it today after a suspenseful three weeks. I barely got home, when I grabbed my nearly 3-year-old daughter and put her on my back.

IT IS HEAVEN! The thick plush padded straps, the very flattering waist belt ( good for those of us with a pouch ) and the sleeping hood all make this (expensive) carrier worth every penny.

Do you have an Ergo? What do you love about it?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Breastfeeding Beauties

This week's picture for our "Breastfeeding Beauties" series comes from a dear friend of mine, Noortje. I took this picture while at her house conversing with me one day. I never used it and was very happy to "re-encounter" the photo. Here is Noortje nursing her curly blonde haired Zoe

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Aruba's First annual International Babywearing Week

In the confusion and rush of planning the 2nd annual Quintessence breastfeeding challenge, I decided I was nuts enough to take on planning an event during the challenge to celebrate babywearing week. Because this is pure madness on my behalf ( toddler, full time job, side-job, planning the breastfeeding challenge) I decided to keep it  small this year.

I would like to take this opportunity then to invite all Aruban mothers, and even fathers, to participate in this "Sling fashion show" where we show case different style carriers, with different age babies/children. I know some wonderful babywearing moms who I'd love to recruit, but I'm also riding on anyone else who is interested!

You can give me a call at 593-4444 or email at

This is gonna be fun!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Breastfeeding Beauties

Victoria is another wonderful nursing mother I met on Facebook. I couldn't stop staring at her profile picture one day and asked her permission to use it on my blog and in my classes. This is a one-of-those pictures that you keep remembering.

Inexpensive props for breastfeeding classes

The use of visual aids in any class is essential to drive your point home. For visual learners, props help them remember the principles of your theme and may cement a connection between your topic and the object in question, for the rest of their lives potentially. 

I personally love using props because it engages everybody in the class instead of them being mere passive listeners. For my breastfeeding classes I use a few inexpensive but essential props. They are;

  • Medicine measuring cups
  • Newborn Diapers
  • Golf balls/ hazelnuts
  • A pitcher of formula 

Medicine Measuring Cups:

I start off by explaining them about colostrum and the ubiquitous fear of it never being enough to satisfy a newborn.  I give them each a plastic cup of water and ask them to fill it with 15 ml of the water. I ask them to hold it up, take a good look at it. I then go on to explain that the newborn stomach has a capacity to hold only 7-14 ml of liquid at a given feeding. They usually gasp and give me the 'deer-in-headlights' look. 

Newborn Diapers:

I then ask them to fill up the diaper with 3 tablespoons of the remaining water which is about 45 ml. I tell them that this what a wet diaper should feel like. I also ask them how many wet diapers a baby should have on the first, second, third and fourth day of life. 

Golf balls/ Hazelnuts:

Each couple gest a golf ball. I tell them to pick it up and look at it (the same goes for the hazelnut, but hazelnuts aren't easy to find in Aruba unless it's Christmas time). I tell them that on day 10, their baby's stomach is approximately the size of a golf ball. It was the size of a hazelnut at birth. They also gasp and many times I hear them murmur that the amount the hospital packs the baby in with is actually stretching its poor stomach. It's a true "AHA!" moment for all in the class.

A Pitcher of formula:

By far my most favorite part of the class is when I get to dish out formula for the expectant parents to drink. Each couple gets a cup with about 2 ounces and unless medically unable, all are urged to taste a substance that they are considering feeding their infants. This is also the time my husband gets the camera ready to take pictures of them gagging. I try to hold back my laughter but we all end up killing ourselves with the laugh at how bad formula really tastes. It's not just that it's bland and extremely sugary, but it actually tastes bad. I must give credit to the woman from whom I learned this. ICAN President, doula, CBE and friend Desiree Andrews told me once how she gives her couples formula to drink during childbirth education classes and that this usually impresses upon them to breastfeed and discourages unnecessary formula use. I must admit, it works with success. 

You don't always need expensive charts and materials to get yours clients thinking. Sometimes all it takes is a little creativity and imagination

Which props or visual aids do you use during your breastfeeding class?

Breastfeeding Beauties

I always ask my Facebook friends to send in pictures of them nursing to include in my classes and blog. I finally decided to start a series called "Breastfeeding Beauties" which will showcase these beautiful and unique photos I receive from these unique women.

To kick off the series is a picture of a wonderful and awe-inspiring woman I met on Facebook. She has 6 children and has breastfed all of them. She is currently breastfeeding her 15-month-old Tierneigh. Did I mention that this ridiculously gorgeous momma makes ridiculously gorgeous kids?!

Send in your breastfeeding photos to with a short text for the picture and have it showcased in "Breastfeeding Beauties".

ABM's upcoming blogiversary!

Aruban Breastfeeding Mamas is celebrating her first blogiversary in a few days! To celebrate, I want to invite regular, sporadic and one times readers to comment on how they found the blog, which post they liked the most and what they would tell others about Aruban Breastfeeding Mamas.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Public breastfeeding and topless sunbathing - A sexist double standard

Fundacion Pro Lechi Mama Aruba is organizing Aruba's second annual Quintessence Global breastfeeding challenge to be held October 2nd . The Challenge focuses primarily on normalizing breastfeeding by, for lack of a better word, exposing more and more people to this simple and natural act. What goes on is simple. Breastfeeding mothers gather to one pre-arranged place, and at the stipulated time, latch their babies on and raise their hands to be counted in. It's a time of fun, learning, and family. Last year we boasted 24 mothers and 26 babies in attendance, quite a feat for an anti-breastfeeding culture witnessing this event for the first time. People giggled (and so did we a few times) when they heard us announce a breastfeeding challenge. Many times, with smiles on our faces we had to explain that it wasn't an obstacle course that moms had to complete while simultaneously breastfeeding their young. It was pretty cute.

In all the rush of finalizing details and preparations for the event at the end of the month, we had to request a permit to use a public park for the event in question. Our VP of the organization took all the papers to the police station and had an "OH NO you DIDN'T"  moment while there. 

As she handed in the papers, the policeman in question looked over the details (I'm guessing he just glossed over it instead of really reading it) and specifically asked our VP that all mothers bring along a blanket or cover so that no breasts would be exposed. 

Well. She. FLIPPED.

She responded by informing them that the point of the challenge is to encourage breastfeeding at home and in PUBLIC. By the time she was done reprimanding him, he had a change of heart and quickly apologized. 

This incident not only irked me, but also made me put things in retrospect. Aruba is (somewhat) known for topless sunbathing at many beaches. Not that it's a topless beach per se, but that it's widely accepted (especially by gawking men) and tolerated. Recalling this spurred me on to search whether Aruba has any specific laws on toplessness. I found the following statement from Francis Jacobs, the PR Coordinator of the Aruba Tourism Authority with reference to topless sunbathing :

"Topless in Aruba is not illegal, there is no law against it"

Although, I couldn't find judicial papers speaking specifically about breastfeeding mothers and their rights, I think this will suffice for now.

But, going back to the point, would that same policeman, when driving his car along eagle beach, have stopped his car, gotten out and told every or any topless woman to cover her breasts? I doubt it. So why did he feel the need to tell us that we make sure the moms use a blanket? Did I also mention that we live in the TROPICS and that it's 98 degrees IN THE SHADE. 

Coincidentally, I gave a breastfeeding & babywearing class at Prana this past wednesday and we spoke about this very issue. It's a topic that I feel should be addressed in each class, even if only for a few minutes. I ask open end and reflective questions to provoke my clients to think and really reflect on the views they currently hold about breastfeeding in public. I told them that by nursing in public they are breaking down barriers and are doing away with taboos and will make a difference.

But really, why is it ok to sun bathe topless on a beach around kids and other men, but not feed a baby with those same breasts? Breasts are not primary sex organs but secondary ones. This means that breasts are not responsible for the act of procreation. What does this tell us? First of all, although breasts are rightly viewed as beautiful and as a source of satisfaction between a married couple, their primary purpose is lactation. It's unavoidable. A sudden drop in estrogen caused by the birth of the placenta triggers an ingenious hormonal response which results in lactation. So why do people insist on classifying breasts as a primary sex organ and view it solely as such? Why do most western people reject the notion of a lactating breast? It all boils down to the fact that we're around bottles too much. We don't see the breasts in their original function and thus grow up with this distorted image of the breast, much like a boy growing up watching his mother bring verbally abused by his father and thinking that this is the way women are to be treated.

Let's stop this non-sense people, and put our hang-ups aside. Breasts are for making milk, primarily. Let's keep it this way

Friday, September 3, 2010

Forget a plate, I need a buffet to fit all the things I gotta do on it

thank you Google Images

You know the feeling you get when you talk to a person, and they keep inundating you with information ( irrelevant, useless and quotidian information at that) and when the conversation is finally done, you feel like your head is spinning as if you just spun 56 times on a chair? Yeah. That's how I felt when I sat down and looked at the upcoming month. It didn't hit me until my mom asked me how my day went. I then proceeded to explain how hectic the upcoming week would be at work (accounting at one of Aruba's biggest wholesalers) because my colleague is going in for surgery and I'll be handling the accounting for not ONE business, but TWO. If that wasn't bad enough, I've been invited to give my quarterly breastfeeding & Babywearing lecture at Prana this coming week, smack dab in the middle of the week.

My mom was overwhelmed just hearing about it. She exclaimed "Wendy! You got a lot on your plate!" to which I answered, "Forget a plate, I need A PLATTER!"

So why am I so gosh darn busy this coming month? What? Didn't you hear that Aruba is celebrating World Breastfeeding Week in the 40th week of the year?? It's gonna be huge

First up, this coming week Pro Lechi Mama has a board meeting to finalize the last details for our 2nd annual International Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge! I also have to finish translating our project dossier into English this weekend.

Tuesday I have spiritual meetings at the Kingdom Hall. Wednesday is the lecture at Prana. Saturday Pro Lechi Mama along with other health-promoting organizations are part of Aruba's next Ciclovia, which is a few-hour-long sport event consisting of Zumba, Bike rides, mini-walkathons, stands with info and lots of gatorade (from to De Veer & Sons of course). Of course at the Ciclovia each of us from Pro Lechi Mama at our stand takes a break and I always bring my daughter. Last time I went with my roller blades and we had lots of fun. I also wear her and walk around to inadvertently promote babywearing. My husband and I are also planning on going to the Tarrus Riley concert that night.

On Thursday the 16th of September, we have our monthly breastfeeding support groups at Cas di Partera. They're fun, but just as draining. The 22nd, we have a press conference about the upcoming breastfeeding challenge, and all the fun stuff that comes along with it (endless trips to radio stations, tv-stations, many phone calls and the like).

Of course, ridiculous Wendy didn't have enough to do and so she decided to celebrate International Babywearing Week with a BANG, during the breastfeeding challenge. Sigh... Because I am one of the sole promoters of babywearing on Aruba, I'm teaming up with another party to plan this one. I don't know where I'm gonna pull extra time of energy from to do this...

Oh, and did I mention that I'm also in talks of making a commercial?? I have the quote and everything, all I need is the money. I sat down with a producer and laid down my vision, it's all set. I just need to cough up a lot of money. Of course, shooting with babies and small kids takes a lot of patience and foresight, so I'm pretty surprised to see how it's gonna go. This commercial is becoming reality in October, yes, after the breastfeeding challenge.

I also give weekly prenatal bellydance classes, but, after seeing all this going on, I think I may postpone the classes until mid October or else I'm gonna have a stroke.

Do you also plan on being part of this highly anticipated breastfeeding challenge?