• Award-winning actress, TV host, product endorser, and book author Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo isn't quite ready to make a showbiz comeback just yet. After giving birth to daughter Juana Luisa, or Luna, last January 8, she's taking the break she so deserves, savoring every moment she can with her husband Ryan and their two older kids, Yohan, 11, and Lucho, who is almost 5. 

    At the launch of the Absolute Mommy Welfare Month last August 23, Smartparenting.com.ph caught up with Judy Ann who shared that she is one with Absolute Distilled Drinking Water in its advocacy to care for mothers, because she believes that when moms are taken care of, they have a bigger capacity to love and to nurture their child, which are the strong foundations of a beautiful and enriching motherhood.

    In this exclusive interview, she happily told us about her birthing experience with Luna and how different it was from the first time, with Lucho.

    Q: Did you encounter any difficulties during your pregnancy with Luna?
    Judy Ann:
    I did. And it was very different with Lucho. With Lucho kasi lumaki lang ang tiyan ko but I never really had any difficulty standing, or sitting up, I could even sleep on my back. Lahat ng sinabi nila na "mahihirapan ka", wala akong naramdaman na ganu'n at all. Kahit ako nagulat na I could still stand up nang hindi kailangan magpa-alalay. 

    Luna was heavier. Mas marami lang yung bedrest ko. I don't know... maybe because of age also. Kasi I took the same supplements when I was pregnant with Lucho. But I enjoyed na lang the journey with Luna. I didn't want to think na pinahihirapan nya ako.

    Q: What about giving birth, how different was your experience with Luna from Lucho's?
    Judy Ann: 
    With Lucho kasi nag-labor ako sa bahay, then I got to the hospital ng mga 10 am. Mga  4 pm, he popped out already. 

    With Luna, it was very minimal na labor, mga 2 to 3 hours, but since hindi s'ya nag-e-engage, and [also] nadi-distress na s'ya, ang bilis na ng heartbeat nya. My pedia asked me and gave me options: we could wait for 20 more minutes and maybe try for a normal delivery, or we could opt for a C-section (CS) para ma-prep nang maayos kesa mag-emergency CS. We had to decide already. Sabi ko, okay, let's just go for the CS, because I was after the safety of Luna. Inisip ko din, 'wag na nating ipilit kung hindi talaga kaya kasi baka makasama pa sa baby. True enough, when Luna was born, marami na syang nakain na poop. We had to stay in the hospital for one more week for antibiotics.

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    I would say it was harder with Luna because I didn't know what to expect with a C-section. Hindi sya pumasok sa isip ko kasi alam ko normal [delivery] ako kay Lucho. So everything that I experienced after that operation was totally new to me, everything! Sasabihin ng doktor, you have to sit down in two days, or dangle your legs, kailangan maglabas ka ng hangin bago ka kumain. Kaso the day I gave birth to Luna hindi ako nag-breakfast so I was really hungry. With Lucho I was able to eat pa before I gave birth. Super opposite talaga 'yung dalawa.

    With Luna, I had a hard time understanding my body. I had a hard time breastfeeding because nagco-contract 'yung sugat pag nagla-latch sa akin si Luna. There was so much pain and my nipples were cracking already ... parang lahat ng pain na pwede kong maramdaman, naramdaman ko na! I was already thinking, sana Mahal na Araw na ngayon para tapos na yung penitensya ko. (laughs)

    I also had a very low supply of milk, which was also the same case with Lucho, although mas madami nang konti ngayon. But I was hoping that I could breastfeed Luna for at least 6 months, kasi si Lucho one month ko lang s'ya na-breastfeed. Nung kay Lucho, yung pain, zero. With Luna, it's 152 percent! (laughs). But only because I didn't know na pwede pala yung painless na CS, na pwede sanang option yun. I just wasn't able to ask anymore because I didn't know na possible pala yun. Akala ko pag CS, CS lang, and that you just have to live with the pain. Kaya naman ['yung pain], pero pwede naman palang hindi ka nagtiis. 

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    Q: What's the most challenging part of your recovery?
    Judy Ann
    : It was having to control myself from moving a lot. When I got home from the hospital, I had to stay in my room for a week! Hindi ako pwedeng bumaba ng hagdan, ang taas pa naman ng hagdan namin sa bahay. At the back of my mind, I knew I was strong enough to do so many things -- I wanna carry Lucho, I want to play with my kids -- pero hindi ako pwedeng gumalaw kasi baka mabinat ako. Yun yung pinaka-struggle ko talaga, I can't walk around too much kasi baka duguin daw ako. But other than that, wala naman talaga. Waking up in the middle of the night is not a big thing for me -- actually yun pa nga yung nilu-look forward ko palagi. Ang kalaban ko talaga yung sarili ko, na kailangan ko i-remind yung sarili ko na you cannot move, you cannot do the cooking just yet, not go up and down the stairs.

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    I had to entertain myself. Inisip ko na lang, iche-cherish ko itong panahon na nandito lang ako sa kwarto. I turned it into a positive experience. I didn't want to dwell on the pain. I had no control over things so I just had to enjoy what was happening at that moment.

    Q: Speaking of cooking, now that you have three kids in different ages and stages, how challenging is it to prepare food for them?
    Judy Ann:
    It's not as challenging as people would think. With Lucho and Yohan, nagawan ko na ng paraan na isa yung path nila sa pagkain. Trained sila to drink fresh vegetable and fruit juice every morning after breakfast. Ang naging choice ko lang naman sa kanila is either they drink their fruits and veggies, or they eat them. Medyo strict, pero 'yun 'yung options nila. Basta kailangan ma-consume nila every day. They opted for the drink. So kahit di sila kumain ng vegetables buong araw, na-consume na nila yung quantity needed for that day.

    Kay Luna naman, balik ako sa pagmi-mix and match ng veggies and fruits, cereals, organic produce. It's actually more exciting now kasi mas marami na akong alam with food, with nutrition, what the baby needs. Syempre din, pag mas bata masarap pasubukan ng food kasi wala pa syang tanggi, kain lang siya nang kain. Naisasabay ko siya sa pagpe-prep ko ng mga pagkain ng mga bata.

    Q: Knowing what you know now, what would you advise women who are giving birth soon?
    Judy Ann:
    1. A birthing plan always helps for your peace of mind, but you can never really tell kung ano yung pwedeng mangyari. You can never plan ahead. I have a birthing plan, pero wala namang nasunod, but at least, your doctor and the nurses would know what you prefer. 

    2. Stop over-analyzing things. When you're about to give birth, just enjoy the ride. Calm yourself and think happy thoughts. Totoo yun e. 

    3. It's also important na yung husband mo hindi kinakabahan. Nung kay Lucho, tawa lang kami nang tawa ni Ryan habang nanganganak ako. Hindi ko alam kung iiri ako o tatawa ako. It helps a lot when your husband knows how to handle that moment with you. Nare-relax ka. 

    4. Do whatever will calm you. Whether it's listening to music, reading a book, praying, talking to someone, or Snapchatting even, it's up to you, as long as you're comfortable and mawawala yung tension mo dahil iniisip mo na manganganak ka na.

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    5. Trust your doctor. Your doctors know what they're doing. Whatever happens, you just have to enjoy the moment. It's the most wonderful experience that a woman could ever have. So cherish it, kasi when you get pregnant again, ibang experience na naman yun. Etong moment na ito, hindi na sya mauulit.  

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