the unnatural mother

embracing mother-ing and all its glory – from wet diapers, spit-ups, tantrums to first smiles, hug-a-bugs and sweet cuddles

Nursery NON-essentials November 4, 2012

Filed under: Parenting,Pregnancy,Toys — reeseyenko @ 8:25 am
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There  is an abundance of lists for nursery essentials – most of them sponsored articles or articles written for marketing purposes – so the list gets pretty long and the sum total sky rockets.

So I decided to come up with a list of non-essentials – things that you don’t really need, things you can live without if you’re going for bare minimum or like us, on a budget financially and space-wise. But of course, I can’t leave you hanging – I’ve also listed down alternatives for your convenience.

  1. Changing table. This is a purely western concept and you don’t need it.

    You don’t need this!

    Even if you have a fat bonus, this will be the last item you would ever buy because a) it takes up space b) if you had the money, hire a yaya instead and she’ll be doing the diaper changing. Instead, you can use this which costs about Php 150-Php 200 depending on the size.

    This is a rubber mat you put baby on to protect your bed from ‘accidents’. You can also use it to lay down baby after a bath. I remember this from my childhood days when aunts or uncles had a new baby.

    It is usually sold rolled up. It can be bought at SM department stores or Landmark department stores. You would need 2 in case baby soils it and you would have to wash it.

  2. Crib. The number of mothers I know who used this and did not use this are split in half. There are those who used it successfully because they were too scared of sleeping with the baby and there are those who did not. Yet, a crib is not all that safe. If you would research, there are statistics that identify the number of deaths per year due to crib accidents. So what’s the alternative? Co-sleeping of course! I did it with all my 3 children and we’re still doing it! Besides, this is the ideal sleeping arrangement for breastfed babies because it has proven to increase the mother’s milk supply.
  1. Bassinet. This has become popular in the recent years and I would have wanted one if only there was no problem of storage after the 3 weeks baby uses it. Yes, baby outgrows it in 3-4 weeks. But, it is a good resting place for baby – so as not to get lost in the big sea of bed – when he/she is still tiny and especially with older siblings who may or may not trample on the baby when they are rolling around like hotdogs in a pan.

    Too cute! but storage becomes a problem after 4 weeks of usage.

    Get a native hammock! This will only cost you about Php 200 or make one yourself out of blankets or bedsheets – just make sure it doesn’t unravel!

  2. Pacifiers. Since breastfeeding is now the NORM (I claim it) and pacifiers are a big hindrance to the success of breastfeeding, this is now a big NO-NO. Why do mothers give it? I heard it is used to keep baby quiet or to give baby something to suck on while waiting for the next feeding. Why curb the baby on the breast and give it a feeding scheduling?  Let the baby suckle on the breast for as many times as it likes and for how long. The baby has instincts on how much he or she needs. If the parents have decided to give an alternative milk and decided not to breastfeed, parents can give a clean finger for baby to suck on when very young or an age appropriate toy when a little bit older.
  3. Bottle warmer. Bottle warmers are used to uhm… warm bottles – warm the milk in bottles.

    I’ve been using ours for 2 years now. It was a gift but if I were to buy one, I would settle for something more practical.

    Why would u want to do that in our warm climate? Since I go to work and express milk while I am away, I keep baby’s milk chilled in the refrigerator. Although at this age – 10 months, baby can tolerate cold drinks and food, we still warm her milk to melt the fat that sticks to the bottle. Yes, I use a bottle warmer because it was a gift from my parents for my 2nd son. It is useful and sturdy – using it for my 3rd child now – but it costs around Php 1900 if I’m not mistaken (it was a gift!). An alternative is to use an electric kettle (Php 300- Php 500) to warm water, put the warm water in a big mug and put the bottle of milk in it. And the kettle can used for other purposes as well.

    Use this to heat water for warming up baby’s milk.

  4. Wipes warmer. Really? in the Philippines? You don’t need this.

    This is used to warm wipes.

  5. Bouncer.  A very nice toy indeed – colorful, attractive and baby would spend hours in this – costs about Php 2500 – Php 5500. Sure, if you have the money!

    Expensive chair!

    I was actually pondering to get this but since this is our 3rd child (and hopefully the last) and we lack space, I decided on the alternative – something we already have… a yaya and some toys! A bouncer is just a toy when you come to think about it and it’s not supposed to be a place where you can leave a very young infant or even an infat at that.

  6. Stroller. You may be thinking.. “what, you don’t need a stroller?”. You just have to get one and realize how infrequent it is being used. In our family, we rarely go to the mall – we’re not every-weekend-in-the-mall type of family. When we’re with the kids, we just go to Church, hospital, restaurants and my in-laws. Hospital hallways and waiting areas are quite cramped – especially the elevators – so bringing of strollers is really your choice. We once went to a restaurant where our stroller couldn’t fit and the waiting staff were all holding their breath to see how we could manuever it. So that’s that. Our stroller stays at home as baby’s chair. Alternatives? – Slings of course! or structure baby carriers! Keeps baby close enough to kiss – who wouldn’t want that?
  7. Playmat. I would have loved to have this just for the heck of it. It’s colorful, it’s cute and it claims to stimulate baby senses and encourage the development of motor skills.

    This would have been a nice toy if we only had the extra space to store it properly afterwards.

    But, it’s just way too bulky and pricey. After 6 months or so of baby using it, where am I supposed to pack it away? If you want baby to look at something, you can opt for a mobile – way smaller than it – and a baby quilt or comforter. If a playmat would cost about Php 2500 – Php 3500, a good mobile would cost about Php 500- Php 700 and a comforter Php 800- php 1000. Still cheaper and easier to pack than a playmat, plus a comforter can be used as baby’s mat until the age of 3.

    The design can actually stimulate baby’s eyes and if the design is embossed, baby can touch it.

    This one is from here but there are lots of variety in our local department store.

  8. Diaper genie. A diaper genie is a contraption that wraps a dirty diaper in plastic.
    An expensive way to throw diapers.

    An expensive way to throw diapers.

    I don’t think I’ve seen one in the Philippines and if ever there is, I’m sure its expensive. Just buy a dedicated trash bin with a lid that goes up when you press a pedal. It doesn’t contain the smell but make it a habit of emptying it everyday and cleaning it with soap and water at least once a week and the smell would be tolerable.

  9. Frogsuits and a lot of receiving blankets. Frogsuits are one-piece baby overalls that have the baby’s feet and, sometimes, hands covered. I see some babies in these suits – in the malls, in hospital corridors – and I can imagine how difficult it is when changing diapers. I know because I’ve tried it and it is hassle much!

    Cute but too much of a hassle to use.

    As for receiving blankets, these are hooded blankets used to swaddle babies.

    Essential only in the hospital and if you live in cold climate.

    I was never good at swaddling babies (even after 3) and I didn’t really see the need to be. I just swaddled my babies for the first 2-3 days at home and that’s that. Besides, it is so warm in our country, I don’t believe in swaddling to keep baby from the cold. Instead, hug and hold baby all the time to give her/him your warmth.

And so I must end here. 11 non-essentials to avoid and keep your money’s worth. Enjoy shopping for your little ones with 11 less confusing items to decide on.


Pregnancy nutrition April 19, 2012

Filed under: Food,Pregnancy — reeseyenko @ 7:23 pm
Tags: , , ,

I believe eating healthy during pregnancy is a must regardless of the mother’s age, medical history and background. Some would say that since they don’t have a history of diabetes or heart problem in their family, it is acceptable to binge on ice cream or burgers during  this time. But let it be known that it is during pregnancy that all those that were harmless prior to pregnancy are exacerbated just because the mother is pregnant. This simply means that if a mother is not diabetic before she became pregnant, there is a risk of her being diabetic during pregnancy only (gestational diabetes) or diabetic for the rest of her life after pregnancy. And not only is there concern for the mother’s safety and well-being, it is mostly also for the precious life inside her.

So what is a good pregnancy eating habit? And how much should I eat if I’m pregnant? Different sites recommend different caloric requirement for pregnancy and there are a number of factors that would affect the number like age, lifestyle, activities. To make it simple, my take on it is that you DO NOT really need that much more calories during the 1st trimester (and with morning sickness, pressuring yourself to make up for lose due to vomitting won’t help) . The saying “eating for double” is a misnomer and a pregnant woman should only eat (healthy) until she is satisfied. For the 2nd and 3rd trimester, my research ( tells me that you need 300 more calories a day and that should be about a sandwich. As for the weight gain, my doctor recommends 2-4 lbs a month.

Below is a list of healthy foods and eating practices:

  1. Brown rice instead of white rice; wheat bread instead of white bread
  2. Skim or non-fat milk instead of full cream milk
  3. Snacks such as nuts or whole-grain cereals (sans the sugar) is good to munch on in between meals so you don’t starve yourself to death and binge during mealtimes.
  4. Increase fluid intake especially during summer months. Mineral water is good to deter cramps. Fresh fruit juices or shakes without the sugar is healthy.
  5. Substituting more vegetables for another half cup or a 2nd cup of rice to satisfy your hunger is good
  6. Fresh fruit or non-fat yogurt instead of cookies or cake 🙂 I found this very hard to do since I’m a chocoholic! but fruits are very nutritious and easy to come by in the Philippines so remember to eat your pineapples (they say for baby’s good skin), not too much mangoes and bananas (as they are jam-packed with sugar and calories), watermelons (for the extra fluids)
  7. Eat your vegetables – broccoli, kangkong (watercress), beans, cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, okra and eggplant
  8. Take your prenatal vitamins – multivitamins with folic acid, iron supplement, calcium supplement. Some naturalists would say that vitamins are not essential if you eat a healthy balanced diet – TRUE. But busy working mothers do not always have the time to search out a balanced diet and may have to rely on supplements to avoid the risks of lacking one or two nutrients
  9. Frequent small feedings is a good practice whether pregnant or not.
  10. This is a chart I often referred to while pregnant and I actually found it fun to make sure I eat the foods listed on.

Here is a list of foods to avoid:

  1. Raw fish or meat. This means any type of sushi or medium-rare steaks.
  2. Salty foods – french fries, canned goods, instant noodles, chips, bagoong, chicharon
  3. Unpasteurized milk or cheeses. It is healthier but you run the risk of getting bacteria.
  4. Exotic foods – dinuguan, frogs legs. It’s just better to be safe than sorry.
  5. Foods prepared in unsanitary places. I personally have a more sensitive tummy while pregnant and cannot take vegetables that are not washed properly so I always take my vegetables cooked during this time.
  6. If you have the luxury of preparing your food yourself or at home, do so. You can never be too sure what other’ ingredients restaurants put in the food (like MSG).

So hope this helps and if I missed out anything, please do tell me.


Baby #3 March 15, 2012

It’s been a long time since my last post! I have a lot in draft form but I realized that I’m trying to put in so much information in one post that I can’t possibly finish it in one session and with so many things (& kids) on my lap (literally), I never get back to it. So for 2012, my posts will be shorter with one or two main points in it!

I gave birth prematurely last November 28 after 2 weeks of in and out of the hospital and a ton load of shots that were just downright painful! I’ve gotten used to the needles and though I’ve been scared of ’em my whole life, I decided to suck it up and just take the leap BUT the medicines in those shots were the killers!

Here are the learnings:

1. when having premature contractions (before 36 weeks; i started having mine at 33 weeks), your doctor would give you the option of having steroids shots to hasten the development of baby’s lungs. This is given in 2 doses – 12 hours apart. It would be good if you check-in the hospital so you don’t have to go back and forth especially if you live quite far (like us) and with manila traffic and pre-term contractions, you’d be more comfortable.

2. what does a contraction feel like? and how does it differ from Braxton-Hicks contractions? Contractions are 3 things in my experience – tightening of the uterus/tummy AND pain in the area a palm above the pubic hair AND pain in the lower back.  Braxton-Hicks are practice contractions of the uterus and does not signify pre-term labor. It is only tightening of the tummy (feels like a watermelon) area WITHOUT the pain. ALTHOUGH, extreme tightening of the uterus to the point of being uncomfortable  is a  valid concern you should talk to your doctor about.

3. it would be better to wear a sanitary napkin when you’re having premature contractions. This is so you can measure the amount of blood (if there is) and show it to the doctor.

4. Special ultrasound procedures can ascertain the well-being of the baby in terms of heartbeat, amount of fluid in the uterus and the opening of the cervix. It would be wise for your doctor to recommend this. I would personally suggest to veer away from Intravaginal procedures as this worsened my contractions.

5. always have your bag, baby’s bag  and your partner’s bag ready by the 7th month! i did this for my first 2 pregnanies but delayed it with my 3rd and up to the last minute, I was not prepared. Good thing I had a yaya (nanny) who prepared everything by phone.


When in doubt or uncomfortable, always tell your doctor. She/he can’t always be sure or explain to you what or why it is happening but there are ways to make you and the baby safe.


Third time’s a charm September 27, 2011

So it’s my third time around and surely, I have some credits in OB-GYN “patient-ing” if there was a course! Let me share with you my usual pregnancy woes and remedies that I found very useful.

I was still breastfeeding SKY and was only contemplating lessening my pumping sessions when I learned about the pregnancy. I didn’t want to stop and knew from many BF advocates and real-life stories  that it IS possible to breastfeed while pregnant. However, my morning sickness got the better of me.  I was physically drained. I am on the petite side with an average weight of 103 lbs pre-pregnancy. Pumping at work, breastfeeding at night with no appetite and vomitting is not really a good combination for the demanding fetus in me. I had to stop and I did it rather quickly – in a month’s time. Though I did extend a couple more weeks because I kept getting engorged or when we didn’t know what else to do when SKY was being fussy.

The 2nd and 3rd pregnancy was plagued by morning sickness and this time, the vomitting extended until the 5th month. Though by the 4th month, the nausea was significantly less and only the vomitting persisted when the lingering taste in my mouth didn’t agree with me. Some things I did to abate the nausea:

1. Smell something you agree with. For me, it was anything citrus-y: calamansi, lemongrass, orange peel. If I was really dizzy, I would sniff amonia to get me on my feet. On the other hand, avoid scents that you don’t like, of course.

Human Nature Body Scrub in Lemongrass

Human Nature Body Scrub in Lemongrass. I love sniffing this. It relaxes my nerves.


Lemon. You can pack along lemon skin when you travel during these difficult times.

2. Don’t starve yourself. On this 3rd pregnancy, I found it really helpful to munch on Skyflakes plain at the first hint of hunger. I realized that the more hungry I got, the more nausea came.

3. Eat small meals. Always have healthy snacks on hand – nuts, fruits, raisins, cereals.


Cereals. Keep in an air-tight container on your desk to munch on at the first sign of hunger.

4. Avoid fatty and oily foods. For me, this goes hand in hand with #1. The smell of anything oily or fatty just doesn’t work with me.

5. Take your prenatal vitamins and iron later in the day. I made the mistake of drinking all my vitamins at breakfast when I was in my 1st trim with SKY. As morning sickness was something new to me then (as I never had it with my 1st born, NY), I ended up vomitting gloriously! Iron supplements are especially tough on the stomach for some reason so take this in the afternoon or at night.

6. Get lots of rest. If like me, you still have a 1-yr old who wakes up at night, get cat naps anywhere and everywhere. If your office has a clinic, this is the best time to take advantage of it. Otherwise, sleep at your desk! 🙂 If your boss is a man and doesn’t understand, give him the evil eye and say “No uterus, no opinion!”. As for the lady boss, any woman who has been pregnant will and should understand your predicament. Of course, make sure you complete your day’s goals as well.

For other tips on morning sickness remedy, click here.

After the morning sickness during the 1st trimester comes the constipation during the 2nd trimester. For some women, this comes earlier than the 2nd trim and for some comes only during the 3rd trim. For all my 3 pregnancies, they came at different times. If you’re OC about doing #2 at a certain time of day everyday(like me), a couple of things to remember: First thing about constipation is that you should never exert effort to move your bowels during pregnancy at any time or trimester! Second, a good balanced diet really helps improve this pregnancy torment. Here are some foods that helped me:

1. Eat fruits. Almost all our Philippine fruits are high in fiber but the most effective for me are: Papaya, Pineapple, Grapes. I need to eat 2 servings of papaya – a serving would be 2-3 “boats” – everyday (at breakfast and dinner).


Papaya. 2-3 boats of papaya per serving; 2 servings a day helps me.

2. Eat Oatmeal. I used to eat the readily available, instant Quakers oatmeal but as I made homemade baby food for SKY, I learned that the instant type has been processed so much that the benefits are minimal (plus it has added sugar which is another pregnancy restricted element) . I switched to Bob’s Red Mill Organic Old fashioned Rolled Oats (available at Healthy Options for P265 for 2lbs). The 2 lbs pack would last me 2 months or more so the price is good enough. Since it takes time to cook (10-15 mins on a stove top) and am usually on a rush every morning, I cook 1 cup in advance and put it in the ref. I only have to add a little water and pop it in the microwave for a good reheat and this batch lasts me 5 days.

Rolled Oats

Bob's Red Mill Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (from Healthy Options)

3. Yogurt. Yogurt is healthy for anyone at any age (starting 1 yr old up). Though the effects of yogurt in bowel movement is not explicitly discussed by Dr. Sears in this article, I think it has something to do with the friendly bacteria present in it. Aside from that, yogurt is a good source of calcium which is essential in pregnancy. No need for fancy imported yogurt. Nestle Fruit Selection yogurt retails for about Php 25-26 for the 1 serving size. I buy the big one which is 4x more than the small one – it’s P108 in most groceries but I chanced upon one that sells it for P101. My kids and I all eat yogurt so buying the big one is worth it (plus buying in bulk equals less trash) .


Nestle Yogurt

4. Drink an adequate amount of water everyday. Water is good for you. It helps moves your bowel. Enough said. Dr. Sears recommends at least 8 x 8oz glass of water everyday. That’s about 2 litres of water (1 litre = 34 fl oz). And in tropical countries like ours, I would suggest more.

5. Prunes. I almost forgot about prunes. When I had it really bad with NY, I’d drink half a glass of prune juice. ACK! Let me warn you… it’s too sweet and sour at the same time. Try munching on the dried pitted prunes instead – it’s yummy to some extent – like dates or a big raisin.


Prunes. Munching on these is better than drinking the juice.

For a more comprehensive list of constipation remedies, click here.

As the 3rd trimester sets in, I find myself getting bigger and heavier. The growth rate of my baby is now on a steep curve as it packs up fat for the outside world. New & other troubles during this time would be back, knee, foot pains, trouble in sleeping, trouble switching sides while sleeping or getting up from bed, walking,urticaria,cramps,  frequent urination.. and the list goes on. Again, some troubles start earlier in the pregnancy and this post is by no means a standard (this is only my experience and it has been different in all 3 pregnancies).

Remedies for these? The thought that a little sweet smelling bundle of human awesome-ness is about to arrive 🙂 But seriously…

1. For body pains and aching joints. Try moving slowly and steadily – no one expects you to be nimble and speedy at this point. Try some stretching exercises while standing and raise your legs while sitting at your desk. Avoid sitting, standing and walking for long periods of time. The good thing nowadays is that they let cars with pregnant women park at the handicap slots in malls – I’ve tried Ayala malls (Trinoma, Market Market) and they do allow this; have not tried SM; Robinson’s Galleria does not.

2. Trouble sleeping. A nice foot and back rub before going to bed usually helps to keep me asleep through the night. Have not tried arometherapy/lavender oils but they say, it also helps.

3. Trouble switching sides in bed or getting up from bed. Pillows help a whole lot. At this point, you shouldn’t be sleeping flat on your back so it’s presumed that when you do lay down, you are on your side. Put a baby’s bolster pillow under your belly to support the weight.  It will make picking up your belly to switch to the other side easier. When getting up from bed, ask help from your better half. Even if he’s sound asleep in the middle of the night and you need to get up to go the bathroom, wake him! – it’s the least he can do for putting that baby in your belly.

4. Urticaria. Urticaria is like a skin allergy except that in pregnancy, it isn’t really caused by anything. I got this during my 1st pregnancy and it was the worst! I was itching in the lower portion of my back, butt and back-side of my thighs.  My skin felt immensely hot – almost feverish. I’m not sure if the heat was causing the allergy or the allergy was causing my skin to be hot. Either way it was uncomfortable, giving me sleepless nights. The only remedy I could do was rub ice on the affected portions. At one point, a dermatologist gave me oral steriods but I did not take them for more than several days.

5. Cramps. This can happen at any point in the pregnancy. Being a person who is predisposed to cramps (inheritting it from my father), I get cramps all the time regardless if I’m pregnant or not. The most common remedy would be eating bananas but as bananas are high in sugar, I don’t want to indulge on that while pregnant. What works for me is drinking milk or taking calcium supplements (if you’re lactose intolerant like me). I used to take Calciumade (Ca 600 mg, vit D2 5 mcg (200 iu), Mg 40 mg, Zn 7.5 mg, manganese 1.8 mg according to MIMS) for Php 6.5/pc at Mercury. Now, I take Kirkland Calcium Citrate (Vitamin D3 800 I.U. , Vitamin B6 10 mg, Calcium 500 mg, Magnesium 80 mg, Zinc 10 mg, Copper 1 mg, Manganese 1 mg, Boron 1 mg). The values for Kirkland is for 2 tablets (so you need to take 2 for one dose) but for Php 800 / 300 tablets, that’s only Php 2.66 /tablet.

Caclium Citrate

Calcium Citrate (Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, etc)

6. Frequent Urination. There is no escaping frequent urination during pregnancy and this happens all throughout. As we all know, the dangers of stopping our urge to go is UTI; this is even more harmful in pregnancy as it can cause bleeding. So if you have to go, go. Go before leaving the house and go upon reaching your destination. Most malls nowadays have separate bathrooms for the handicap and pregnant people are also entitled to this – no long lines!

7. Swelling / Edema. “Manas” as I’ve been told is not normal in pregnancy (but others would say it is). It is a symptom of something wrong. It’s usually a sign of too much salt in the diet which is not good in pregnancy – it leads to preeclampsia which from my understanding is hypertension during pregnancy and can cause childbirth difficulties. Luckily, this is the only thing I didn’t get in my past 2 pregnancies and I hope not to get it this time around. My doctor just reminds me to avoid salty food and in my list, these are:  french fries, fast food, canned foods, chips, chicharon, patis, suka, bagoong. For more information on swelling, click here. (Quick note: to know if you have “manas”, pinch the flesh above the  bone/”bolt” on your ankle. If it indents, you probably are “manas” and should tell your doctor if he/she doesn’t check)

French fries

French Fries is a big "no-no" for me during pregnancy.

So that’s most of my pregnancy woes and remedies that aren’t really out of the ordinary. But just to put it out there for first time mommies or planning to be mommies, you can never be too prepared. If you’re experiencing any of these, make sure you take it up with your doctor – he/she could really give some good advice if not from personal experience and medical studies but from other patients as well. As a rule, never self-medicate! Always try the natural way to relieve anything. God bless!