Friday, June 30, 2006

Adventures in nursing

I am forging new ground with the breastfeeding. The baby is teething and crawling, gnawing on everything and not wanting to stand still for a moment. This is when I stopped nursing her older sister. I didn't know how to handle her biting and then she discovered that a bottle was portable. She could eat and cruise around. We were done with nursing. This one, however, might wean when she's 5. She loves to nurse. We got through the biting okay. The first time I yelled-it was a little shocking, as I think I already mentioned. But after that I just paid attention and when she got "bitey", I took the nipple away from her without any fuss. If she was hungry, she went back to eating and if she wasn't, she was done.

Now she's been crawling for 3 weeks. She's everywhere...we usually nurse lying down. She starts on her back with her head turned toward me. Then she rolls towards me. Then, nipple still in mouth, she rolls on her stomach. Fortunately she unlatches before she does a full 360. Any noises, voices and she's looking around. Then, with work, Dad was supplementing with formula and before I knew it, my milk production was down. The last 2 days I been making a concerted effort to nurse her for a long time. We go in a darkened, quiet room and I just let her nurse and sleep and nurse some more. Everything seems to be better and we haven't used any formula. Meanwhile, the Baby That Ate Detroit dive bombs my chest with her mouth wide open whenever I have my shirt off. Like I said, she'll wean someday.

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day

I know I forgot about Mother’s Day. Maybe because everyday is Mother’s Day around my house (why, because I’m the Momma! That’s why). I’ll finish writing about breastfeeding next month. This month, it’s my tribute to Dads.

For the Dad’s who are going to wake up on the 3rd Sunday in June to a breakfast of burnt toast, half-raw pancakes and unpalatable coffee, eats it and say, “That was the best breakfast ever!” If you can lie with a straight face, Happy Father’s Day.

For single Dads, who work all day then cook, clean, help with the homework and everything else, 24/7. For everyone who has to be Mom AND Dad. If you’ve had to talk to your daughter about getting her period, Happy Father’s Day.

For Stay-at-home Dads. For feeding the baby and folding the laundry(even if it’s not the way WE do it). For making the lunches. For putting up with all the late nights your wife stays at work. If you’re Mr. Mom, Happy Father’s Day.

For the Dad’s who keep a bedroom separate for their kids, even though they only see them on the weekend. For the Dads who don’t say bad things about there ex in front of their kids, no matter what that *#$% said or did. If you pay child support. If you’ve fought to stay in your child’s life, Happy Father’s Day.

For those Dads who didn’t know their own Dads, or had an abusive Dad, and are trying to do the right thing with their own kids. If you’re struggling not to make the same mistakes. For all you Dad’s who’ve had to redefine what it means to be a man, Happy Father’s Day.

For those Dads who don’t know where their children are. To those who’ve had a child die. If you’ve ever looked at someone else’s child and thought, “I wonder what my child would look like now?” Happy Father’s Day.

For the traditional and the not so traditional Dads. Whether you’ve taught you kid to ride a bike or how to do yoga. Whether you cook ribs or tofu. If you use cloth or disposable. If you know that being there is what really matters, Happy Father’s Day.

And to my own Hubby: Thanks for all you do. From before she was born you were a good Daddy. Because you play classical music for her, because you learned to use diaper pins. Because you channel your Father’s Intuition. For everything you do for your family, Happy Father’s Day.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Nursing pitfalls

I have encountered and successfully navigated 2 nursing pitfalls, so far, with this little one.

  1. The first weeks, as in "Ow! My boobs hurt!"
  2. The first tooth, followed by the second tooth. See above.

Now I have come upon the third obstacle to nursing nirvana.

3. The little bugger doesn't want to sit still.

This, happening simultaneously with #2, stopped the nursing for good with my first child. I didn't know how to get her to stop teething on my boobs and she discovered that, given a bottle, she could eat AND be mobile. It was a real awakening for her.

This time I handled the teething okay-the first time she bit me I was so shocked I yelped out a big NO inspite of myself. I know you're not supposed to do that, cause it can lead to a nursing strike and you scare the baby. Fortunately, this one won't be discouraged from noshing by a little shout--oh, no, she likes her liquid lunch too much. But after that I just kept a watchful eye and whenever she was done eating and just, you know, playing-I took the nipple away. Or if she was really cranky and teething, as opposed to hungry, I say, "okay, we'll nurse later." Like a dork, but it worked. Sometimes she was hungry and cranky. I learned that if you push towards the baby instead of jumping away when they bite, it hurts less.

But now, she is soooo easily distractible now that she's crawling. I got a nice nursing necklace at a craft fair(3 big hunks of turquise on a cord) and I try to nurse her in a quiet room. It makes nursing in public quite an event, because I'm flashing everyone as this little one squirms and squiggles. Oh well.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Check this out

This is a really great article on breastfeeding(funny, too) over at and check out the rest of site, too. It's got a lot of great stories and info about breastfeeding.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Breastfeeding part 2

Why should I breastfeed?

I love breastfeeding my baby. But it didn’t come naturally, for me or my first baby. While still a few minutes old, I tried to nurse her in the delivery room (despite the nurses telling me it “wasn’t necessary). I put her to my breast and was like, ok kid, go ahead. She just looked up at me, closed her eyes and went to sleep. So much for instinct.

Last month I wrote about why breastfeeding is important. This month I want to go into the logistics, if you will, of nursing. I know that some women will put their baby to the breast and not have one problem. I was not that woman. Breast pain, blocked milk ducts, cracked nipples, lack of sleep, feeling like I always had a baby hanging off me; there were definitely times I thought I’d never be able to do this. In addition, when I was five months pregnant with daughter #1, I had a mass removed from by breast. I didn’t even know if I’d produce milk from that side and no one seemed to have any information on how that would effect my ability to nurse. For six weeks I had pain when I nursed that would curl my toes. The only information I got at the hospital about breastfeeding was a pamphlet. I did, however, get many free formula samples. And nurses who would give my baby bottles of sugar water at night, so I could get my rest .I didn’t even know lactation consultants existed. The fact that I went on to breastfeed her for nine months I attribute to sheer stubbornness on my part.

Part of the problem with why women don’t breastfeed today is that they have few mentors. In 1900, 100% of babies were breastfed, either by their mothers or a wet-nurse. The number hit an all-time low in 1963, when 7% of American babies were breastfed. So who do we go to for advice and support when more than likely our own mothers didn’t nurse us? I joined an online support group. There are plenty of “mommy” sites and they usually have a least one forum for breastfeeding mothers. There are also local groups you can attend, like La Leche League International or Holistic Moms (see below for details). Knowing that other moms are having the same problems can make all the difference to keep hanging in there. Ask your hospital about their lactation consultant and see if they have a support group. I went to one at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital and it was very good. They had moms of preemies, babies with various health problems, twins; you name it-they could help you nurse your baby. Hospitals in the past decade (since I had my first) have come a long way in offering help and support for women who choose to breastfeed.

A word to the Dads: you can make a big difference in if and how long your partner breastfeeds. If you think it’s a good idea, don’t just let her know-offer her support. Bring her a glass of water while she breastfeeds. Tell her what a good job she’s doing. Since she’s doing all the feeding, offer to change more diapers or give the baby a bath so you’ll feel involved and she’ll get a break. If breastfeeding makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself why? Maybe you don’t like the idea of her breastfeeding in public or are worried about losing intimacy between the two you. Talk about it. Issues can be resolved with open communication.

Someone suggested to me that women don’t breastfeed because they feel pressured to do it. Or guilty if they don’t. Yes, your formula-fed baby will in all likelihood grow up healthy, smart and strong. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with formula feeding, but breastfeeding has so many benefits for you and your baby. The American Association of Pediatrics suggests exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months. The World Health Organization says two years. Don’t be pressured-Oh, my God! Two whole years! Try it and see. More importantly, try it for 6 weeks. These are the hardest weeks: your baby needs to feed often, you’re not sleeping well and if you’re going to have problems, it’ll be in the first 6 weeks. By 2 months, it became easier. By 6 months, it was a joy. Remember, any breast milk your baby receives is good, some is better than none. Get all the information you can, stick with it and relax! If you weren’t planning on breastfeeding, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised and if for some reason you can’t breastfeed, you’ll at least know you gave it your best shot.

Want more info? Go to my website for links and articles. Or read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding put out by the La Leche League.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Why Breastfeeding Matters

For years I looked forward to breastfeeding another baby. More than any other thing, like the baby’s health or having a C-section, I worried that I’d be unable to nurse. For no good reason, of course, I nursed her older sister for 9 months without any problems, but that’s how much it mattered to me.

I know that there a women who don’t or can’t breastfeed their babies. People adopt. A small group of women literally can’t produce enough milk to nourish their newborns. An even larger number want to but don’t know how or don’t get good advice. Modern life makes it hard to breastfeed successfully. Bottles are synonymous with babies-look in any Hallmark store. Women only get 6 weeks of disability after a healthy birth. That’s just the amount of time it takes for breastfeeding to come “naturally”. Next month I’m going to talk more about the “how” of breastfeeding, but today I’m going to discuss why I think it matters.

I’ve talked to many women online about this subject and God forbid if you say anything about a women’s right to choose-choose formula, that is. They’re right, of course. It is their choice to give formula, but I think it’s a bad choice or, at the very least, a less-than-ideal choice. Here’s why:

Breastfeeding is an extension of the womb. Before birth, babies are nourished and protected in the uterus. The antibodies that baby received through mom’s blood now get passed through the breast milk, helping to prevent infection while the baby’s immune system develops. Breast milk is so fine tuned for each baby that the mom of a premature baby will produce milk especially for a preemie’s needs, with extra calories, protein and vitamins.

Breast milk is the original “live food”. It is rich in living white blood cells that help destroy infectious agents. In a recent study, breast milk put on cancer cells killed the cancer cells. Last month’s Mothering magazine had an article about putting breast milk on eyes to fight eye infections. Breast milk contains fatty acids that are essential for brain development, the myelination of neurons that continues until a child is seven. This cannot be duplicated in a can. Breast milk contains over 100 different ingredients that aren’t in formula and the ones that are added to formula are better absorbed from mother’s milk-like iron.

Breastfeeding is personal. Your baby gets to know you better through breastfeeding. Before birth, your baby already recognizes your voice. Studies have shown that newborns prefer the smell of their own mom’s milk over milk from other women. What you eat will affect the smell and taste of your milk, helping baby develop a taste for the foods he or she will later eat. We live in a world where people have become dependant on processed food that is often indistinguishable from one brand to the next. High levels of fat, sugar and salt in foods have created an obese nation with diseases that were once rare: diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, not to mention cancer, are epidemic. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop any of these diseases. Give your baby the gift of a lifetime-good nutrition from the very start.

Breastfeeding is political. Some of you may be old enough to remember the Nestle boycott of the 1970’s (I am, too). Basically, Nestle used shameful marketing practices and gave away enough free formula to women in third-world countries, telling them it was better than breast milk. Their milk dried up. Often, they would use more water to “stretch” the formula or they didn’t have proper sanitation to sterilize bottles. Babies starved. This boycott was restarted in 1988. (For more information, go to Moms everywhere have become “Lactivists”, protesting companies that have interfered with a woman’s right to breastfeed. When Barbara Walters and her cohorts on “The View” last year said that breastfeeding was “gross and disgusting”, hundreds of breastfeeding women turned up at ABC studios to protest. Love your body and your baby: breastfeed.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Writer's Block

It must be the weather. I've got 2 articles on the back burner-one about breastfeeding and one for Father's Day. I can't seem to finish either of them and I've got to get at least one to Marilynn. And I'm writing for 2 other blogs. And I'm trying to write up something for work. Plus taking care of baby and the rest of the family, unpacking, running and "thinking" about putting in some hours at the coop. My husband looked at me the other day and said, "Just BE with your baby. You don't always have to do three things at once." Good advice.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wearing my baby

I’m Wearing My Baby (with apologies to Madonna)

Papa don’t preach, we’re not losing sleep.
Papa don’t preach, cause we co-sleep.
And during the day, Iiiiiiiiiii’m wearing my baby.
I’m gonna wear my baby, oooh ooooh.

Don’t laugh. My baby happens to think I’m quite clever. She also thinks I’m a great singer, although her experience is rather limited in that area. This month I’m talking about babywearing. Mothers (and dads, granddads, grandmoms and all kinds of relatives) all around the world carry their young infants and toddlers while they do their daily activities. The Inuit carry their babies in an amautik. In Mexico, it’s called a rebozo. Manta, perraja, podegi, sarongs, kikoy, tonga and mei tai are all traditional carriers. So is the native American cradle board. In every region of the world babies are carried and held close until they are big enough to explore the world on their own.

So why do we put our children in strollers? Maybe, like breastfeeding and co-sleeping, it came to be seen as something common or lower class. Even primitive. But carrying your baby has many, many benefits. Studies have shown that babies that are carried for at least 2 hours a day cry less and have less colic. It is a convenient way to breastfeed discretely. Some babies even prefer nursing while in motion. Sitting up and seeing the world, as opposed to be tucked away in a carrier, is great for baby’s development, both social and cognitive. Being held close, warm and secure is also good for bonding.

Remember, your baby just spent the last nine months in a cozy, little cave. She or he never knew cold, were never startled by sudden movements and could hear mom’s heartbeat every second. Suddenly, they’re out in the big, wide world. To my way of thinking, if it took nine months for baby to come out, it takes nine months for baby to get used to the world (at least). The first few months, especially, baby is essentially still gestating. The brain is still developing and will be for the first 2 years. A newborn has to learn night from day, cold from hot, that mommy is a separate being. It’s a lot for baby to take in. When my daughters would get overwhelmed and fussy, nothing made them calm like being curled up their baby sling and walked around. At first, they’d go in the fetal position, all tucked away, and later they’d sit up and have a look at the world. I’d go to stores and people wouldn’t even realize I had a baby in there.

My favorite thing about my sling is that it has brought all sorts of people into my life. Everywhere I go, people ask me about it. The cashier at the local Asian market smiled and told me how her baby likes to be carried because it keeps her warm. A young, pregnant, Russian woman and her husband came up to me in a restaurant to see where I bought it. Many people in her country use them, she told me, but she had never seen any here. With my little one poking her head out, I get smiles from people of every background and suddenly the world seems like a smaller, friendlier place.

**A wonderful book I found is called: A Ride on Mother's Back: A Day of Baby Carrying around the World by Emery Bernhard. It shows people around the world carrying their babies as they go about their daily activities. I don’t want to endorse any particular style or brand. is a wonderful site with many different types of slings, pouches and gear for carrying your kid. It also has great links and articles about babywearing. This site and (type in “babywearing” in the search area) were used as sources for this article and go into great detail about the studies mentioned above.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The articles

So, after some consideration, I've decided to keep this page and the more personal Pooter page. This site is going to include the articles I've written for the George Street Co-op's newsletter as well as other stuff about Attachment Parenting. Here's the first one:

Why Attachment Parenting?

Fifteen years ago I was pregnant with my first daughter. I knew right away there were some things I wanted to do that were considered different. Breastfeeding was one; I heard my sister and mom talk about breastfeeding and there was never a doubt I’d do it too. I wanted to use cloth diapers. That raised a few eyebrows. I made my own baby food, again with the help of my sister. I found a great “new” product, called a baby sling and “wore” my baby instead of using a stroller. Curled up in the fetal position, sound asleep, my daughter went with me everywhere, tucked at my side while few people even realized I had a baby with me. When they did, the response was overwhelmingly positive and yet, I never did see any other moms or dads wearing their babies.

This past year when I got pregnant again I wanted to do all those things and more. In the ensuing years my awareness of environmental and health issues had grown. As I started to search online about various subjects: vaccine safety, organic foods, home birth, co-sleeping, I found out that there was a name for this type of parenting-Attachment Parenting. Also called Natural Parenting or Instinctive Parenting, Wikipedia has a definition I can’t improve upon, so I’ve included it:

“Attachment parenting describes a parenting approach rooted in attachment theory. The infant has a tendency to seek closeness to another person and feel secure when that person is present. In comparison, Sigmund Freud proposed that attachment was a consequence of the need to satisfy various drives. In attachment theory, children attach to their parents because they are social beings, not just because they need other people to satisfy drives. Attachment is part of normal child development.”

The phrase Attachment Parenting was coined by Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician. He felt that if children were raised with strong, emotional bonds to their parents, they would development into secure, empathetic adults. Although meant to be a loose style of parenting, Dr. Sears’ website includes the 7 Baby B’s:
  1. Birth bonding
  2. Breastfeeding
  3. Baby wearing
  4. Bedding close to baby
  5. Belief in the language value of your baby’s cry
  6. Beware of baby trainers
  7. Balance

Many AP parents also make other alternative health choices, such as naturopathy, anti-circumcision, anti-vaccination, homeschooling, cooperative movements and organic foods. There’s no dogma, though, no rules to follow. Just the desire to develop a close, loving relationship with your kids.

Critics say that Attachment Parenting is too hard for many parents to do, that it’s too time consuming and impractical. Indeed, many parents in the United States go back to work six weeks after the birth of their child, often because they need the double income and/or health benefits. My friend from the Czech Republic says that her country of origin, mothers are guaranteed three years off. Even our neighbor to the North, Canada, gives parents three months off with almost full pay and another nine at reduced pay. Don’t even get me started on Universal Health Care. Here in the USA, a mom gets six weeks of disability after a vaginal birth and eight weeks after a caesarian. Guaranteed by federal and New Jersey law, a woman can get up to another 12 weeks, without pay, of family leave. The guarantee means they won’t fire you and you keep you health benefits for that time period. The law, however, heavily favors the employer and not the parents. Without a second paycheck, many working class families can’t even take advantage of this benefit. Some parents find ways to work out of the home, cut back expenses radically and make use of a large support network. Currently, my husband and I each work part time. It’s a struggle to make ends meet, but we feel it’s worth it. Our baby is always with a parent and in her own home.

Other critics say that it leads to spoiling a child. I could write for a week on that, but suffice it to say studies have been done showing that babies whose needs are consistently met cry less over time. You can’t spoil a baby! From my own experience, I can see the difference in my own baby. When we first brought her home from the hospital, her cries went from zero to piercing in seconds. Now that she knows someone is going to respond to her, she gives little, “warning” yells. She doesn’t start screaming unless one of can’t get to her for more than a few minutes. She is learning to trust, which is the real job of babyhood.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

The first post

Not really sure what is going to become of this, but I love my baby and I love attachment parenting, so here goes. Plus, I haven't seen a ton of blogs on AP, so I'm jumping right in.