Thursday, April 26, 2007

Obstetrician Song

It's a riot!

Click here.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New documentary

Actress and talk show host Ricki Lake has produced a recent documentary The Business of Being Born, premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival. It includes the home birth of her 2nd child. You can read a short interview about her film here. I want to see this!
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Fun with placentas

We buried Zari's placenta under a rose bush yesterday evening. It is a Joseph's Coat climbing rose that will grow up the trellises on the southwest corner of our house. The placenta was still mostly frozen, even though I had put it in the fridge early in the morning. Planting it felt slightly anti-climactic...umm, shouldn't I be saying something significant? Guess not, so in the dirt it went!

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Monday, April 23, 2007

May Day Sale!

Free shipping on all of my Second Womb slings now through May Day!

I added many gorgeous new fabrics, so be sure to take a look.
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Friday, April 20, 2007

5 1/2 months of breastfeeding

...will do this to your child:

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Musings about co-sleeping directed to no one in general...

I think it's interesting that co-sleeping was quickly singled out as the possible culprit in my post about Zari's wanting to nurse often at night. I feel that I sleep much better because I co-sleep. (See some interesting research on co-sleeping from Dr. Sears' website.) I can monitor my baby without being fully awake. Sometimes I sleep with my hand on her chest, or holding one of her hands. It's so comforting. I can also nurse her within 5-15 seconds after she starts to stir, all without getting out of bed or out of the covers.

I find it analogous to our medical culture's "support" of breastfeeding?--you know, breast is best but as soon as any breastfeeding difficulties arise, the magical solution is often "supplement!" Poor weight gain? Supplement! Poor latch? Supplement and give your nipples a break!

Breastfeeding interferes with sleeping, because you could have dad formula feed at night. But that is a non-issue at my house.

I did stop co-sleeping last night. With my dog. We all slept much better with our 80-lb dalmatian off the bed. Imagine that!
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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Breastfeeding Carnival

Welcome to the sixth Carnival of Breastfeeding, April 19 2007, sponsored by the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog! My post is about April's theme: "What I didn't expect when I was expecting." See links below for other Carnival posts.

My story doesn't have a sensational ending or plot twist. I didn't struggle with painful, bleeding nipples or low supply or any of the other horror stories you often hear about. Nursing was the wonderful, pleasurable experience I had imagined it to be. I attribute this mostly to the education and preparation I did while I was pregnant. And to a baby who learned well and quickly!

I bought a copy of Jack Newman's The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers and read it cover-to-cover twice before I had my baby. I spent a lot of time poring over chapters about how to get a good latch, since it is the culprit in so many breastfeeding issues. I also watched several of Dr. Newman's online videos about good & poor latches and how to do breast compression. I highly recommend this, as seeing successful breastfeeding in action is different than just reading about it.

I found the number of my local LLL leader in case I needed help. When I had a series of painful plugged ducts a few months postpartum, her advice helped me clear them up fairly quickly.

I planned for a completely uninterrupted labor, birth, and bonding period. For me, that meant choosing an unassisted home birth. I also found a local Baby Friendly hospital in case I needed to transfer, so I wouldn't be separated from my newborn. My labor and birth went perfectly, and I was snuggled in bed nursing my beautiful daughter within 5 minutes after she was born. She nursed for two hours straight.

For the first month, I nursed her in a cross-cradle hold day and night. It was tiring at times, but it was the best position for ensuring a proper asymmetrical latch and for doing breast compression. After a month, we transitioned to the cradle hold during the day and figured out how to nurse lying down at night. I was in heaven!

Co-sleeping has also made night nursing a pleasurable experience. I wake up when my daughter starts to stir, and she's usually nursing within 15 seconds. All I have to do is roll onto my side, scoot her closer, and put my nipple close to her mouth. We often drift off to sleep together. When she's done, I simply scoot her back between me and my husband, just an arm's reach away. She hardly ever cries at night because I can respond immediately to her needs before she becomes distressed.

I firmly believe that doing my homework before the birth helped me have a seamless transition into motherhood and nursing.

Links to other Carnival posts:
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Tell me it will get better!

Ever since her bout with a ruptured ear drum and then a nasty cold/congestion, Zari has started nursing more and more frequently at night. I am tired! She was starting to have one longer sleep session, about 4-6 hours, then nurse about every 3 hours or so until she woke up. Now she'll maybe sleep for 2 hours, then nurse EVERY HOUR the rest of the night. And she's more restless than usual.

I know, you're probably thinking "growth spurt." But it's been like this for a long time. And she's not nursing more frequently during the day. Just at night. Which wears me out.

When my mom was visiting last week, she said "So Zari's sleeping through the night now, right?" I just laughed.

On another note, I went to the fabric store yesterday and bought lots more gorgeous fabrics for my slings. I'll post pictures at Second Womb Slings soon. I also wanted to make myself a few summer nursing dresses and tops. Ironically, it would probably be cheaper to buy them than to make them! I couldn't find any fabrics I liked for the clothes I wanted to make. There was one I could tolerate, but not for $15/yard.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Home Economics

I followed a recent link on Hathor the Cowgoddess' website, to this fantastic article "Home Economics, Sustainability, and 'The Mommy Wars.'" It's particularly interesting in light of our recent discussions about SAHM's and the "feminine mistake."

A snippet from her article:
And all of this focus on the women in question, and the impact of whether women work misses the basic point that for most of human history, children spent much more time with both parents than they do now, and that many of the negatives we attribute to the separation of children from their mothers might equally or more be said of the separation of children from their fathers.
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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sitting up, kind of

She's still very wobbly and tipsy, but practice makes perfect, right?

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Breast is Not Best

Another fascinating article: "Watch Your Language!" by Diane Wiessinger. (A non-pdf link is available here.) She explains the implications of saying "breast is best" versus" formula feeding is worst."
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Food for Thought

I just came across this interesting article, "Drugs, Knives, and Midwives" about the state of childbirth in the US.

Marsden Wagner is a favorite author of mine. He is a neonatologist and worked for the WHO for 15 years as director of Women's and Children's Health. Some of his articles of interest include:
As a side note about the first article, I found the claims at the end of the article a bit exaggerated. The author makes it sound as if women are frequently denied pain medications. I would argue that the opposite is true; it's very easy to obtain drugs while in labor, and many women in fact find themselves pressured by their nurses or doctors to take medications.

For example, a CNM practice at a large university hospital where I used to live had an epidural rate of over 50% (and a C-section rate between 20-25%; they didn't know their actual statistics, but guessed it fell somewhere in that range). I interviewed one of the midwives for a paper I was writing as a doctoral student, and she told me that "the drugs that we use today are very safe for the mom; they're very safe for the baby" (direct quote).

Women who choose to birth in hospital alternative birth centers often do so because they DON'T want the option of immediately available pain medications.

For those of you who birthed in hospitals, what were your experiences of pain medications? Did the staff pressure you into having narcotics or epidurals? Did they try to talk you out of them? Did they suggest other non-pharmaceutical comfort measures, such as showering, hot tubs, birth balls, massage, etc?
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

This is going to ruffle some feathers

Circumcision: I don’t get it. 

I’ve read through all the arguments for circumcising, and the more I read the less impressed I am. 

The very thought of cutting off a part of my newborn baby is physically repulsive to me. Even this post is difficult for me to write, because I am so upset that any mother would agree to circumcise her newborn son. How can our society condone this ritualized violence? 

I can’t write this post without letting emotion leak through. I just can’t. 

Babies need to be welcomed into this world with love and gentleness. Imagine what it must be like for a newborn: he’s been welcomed into his family with excitement and joy. He’s nursed at his mother’s breast. He’s gone to sleep on the warmth of her chest, hearing the familiar heartbeat. Then violence, and pain, and terror. And more pain. 

I can find no good reasons to cut off a beautiful, sensitive, and physiologically important part of a baby. 

I find the following justifications particularly repugnant:
  • I don’t want my son to be teased. Simply put, this is utterly and completely lame. Do we give our daughters nose jobs or breast implants, because we think they might get teased? Do we supply our children with recreational drugs, because their peers would tease them if they said no?
  • I think an intact penis looks “gross.” No matter what we think is aesthetically pleasing, routine infant circumcision is medically unnecessary cosmetic surgery, with its own set of risks, on an unconsenting baby. Parents would be arrested for cutting off any other part of their baby—nose, fingers, earssimply for aesthetics.
  • I want him to look like his father. My husband grew up in a mixed family. His father was intact, the 2 oldest boys were circumcised, and the 2 youngest were intact. It was never an issue. In addition, boys will look different from their fathers in many ways: body shape, vocal tone, body & pubic hair, eye color, and so on. Why is it so urgent to alter an infant’s penis? We don’t perform cosmetic surgery on baby girls to make them look like their mothers—why is okay for infant boys?
  • Intact penises are dirty and smelly. That statement is incorrect. An intact penis is no harder to keep clean than any other part of the body.
  • Infants are too young to remember it anyway. I am not even going to respond to this one because it is so callous.
I know women who feel that circumcision is wrong and barbaric, and who STILL do it to their sons. 

What lessons are we teaching our infants about the meaning of life and human nature when we tie them down and cut off parts of their bodies? This kind of trauma and violation has to leave some kind of imprint. We know that babies exposed to obstetric drugs and operative procedures have higher rates of drug addiction and suicide when they grow up. 

I started to read through this article about circumcision from Men’s Health Magazine (July/August 1998, so the US circumcision rate is lower today). I couldn’t finish it. The mother bear in me wanted to snatch that screaming, terrified baby away. I had to avert my eyes.

I just don’t get it.
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Monday, April 09, 2007

What's in your "emergency" birth kit?

list updated April 10...

Tomorrow night I am giving a short presentation about emergency birth kits, as part of our church women's meeting about emergency preparedness. I will be displaying my birth kit and explaining what the items are for. I'll probably be giving a longer presentation about emergency birth preparedness in the next few months.

Here is a list of items in my kit:
  • 3 Emergen-C packets
  • energy bar
  • bottle of water
  • bendy straw
  • 4 Chux pads
  • 4 packs sterile gauze pads (useful for misc. cleanup/wiping)
  • umbilical cord clamp
  • sterile razor or scalpel blade
  • 2 pairs non sterile latex gloves (for handling the placenta, etc)
  • receiving blanket
  • old hand towel for drying baby/mom off
  • 1 pair cotton underwear for mom (preferably a dark color)
  • 4-6 sanitary pads
  • 2 newborn diapers
  • anti-hemorrhagic tincture (Wombstringe or Hem-Halt)
  • emergency birth manual
  • gallon-sized Ziploc: for the placenta
  • quart-sized Ziploc: for misc items
  • large trash bag
All inside a gallon ziploc bag.

Any other items I've overlooked?
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It's a boy!

My little sis just had a baby boy this morning! Woohoo! She called me about 1/2 hour after the birth and sounded totally wiped out. I don't know many other details except that he looks just like his older brother, and that labor was about 12 hours long. This is her 3rd child; her other two are 4 and 2 years old.

Congratulations from an aunt who is anxiously awaiting pictures.
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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Bottle feeding

The following picture, from the International Baby Food Action Network website, shows a mother feeding her twin babies. She was told that she wouldn't have enough milk for both, so she breastfed her son and bottlefed her daughter (who died the day after the photo was taken).

UNICEF estimates that reversing the decline in breastfeeding would save the lives of 1.5 million children per year.

In many parts of the world, bottle feeding isn't simply a "choice" as it is in rich, Western nations. It is literally a matter of life and death.
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Hats off!

Ever wondered why we put hats on newborn babies? Is it really necessary? Are there risks in doing so?

Read this midwife's response to why she doesn't put hats on newborns.

Of particular note is her last paragraph. By striving to keep the "birth bubble" intact immediately after a birth (having the mother pick up her own baby, no hats, no bulb syringes, staying out of eyesight of the parents, no talking to parents after the birth), she has noted these changes:
I've had a huge decline in hemorrhage. The transition feels more peaceful, more gentle and more aware for all involved. I find myself more often moved to tears by being able to sit back and observe the entire scene instead of being on edge looking for something wrong. I think the babies prefer it, as well. :)
Michel Odent explains why distracting a mother right after birth predisposes her to postpartum hemorrhage:
It is after the birth of the baby and before the delivery of the placenta that women have the capacity to reach the highest possible peak of oxytocin. As in any other circumstances (for example sexual intercourse or lactation) the release of oxytocin is highly dependent on environmental factors. It is easier if the place is very warm (so that the level of hormones of the adrenaline family is as low as possible). It is also easier if the mother has nothing else to do than to look at the baby’s eyes and to feel contact with the baby’s skin, without any distraction.
Oxytocin is the hormone that causes uterine contractions. Anti-hemorrhagic drugs (Pitocin, Methergine) are made from synthetic oxytocin.

Hats off to hands-off midwives and doctors!
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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Are SAHMs making "The Feminine Mistake"?

Jennifer at The Lactivist recently posted about a new book called The Feminine Mistake. You can watch an interview with the author here.

Time is limited, but I wanted to raise the following points in response to the author's argument that women should not stay at home to raise their children, because they will suffer financially if they ever try/need to reenter the workplace:

- Her assumption is that SAHMs operate under a Cinderella fantasy and that they had no idea that choosing to stay at home would limit their income potential. From the women I know--and myself too--we knew we'd be making economic tradeoffs. And we were more than okay with that! It's not something women go into with their eyes closed.

- The author's core beliefs and values center around a person's economic worth, income potential, and career. Given those set of assumptions, her arguments do have logical consistency. But for families who have rejected the idea that money and status are the key to fulfillment and happiness, her argument doesn't hold.

- Her alarmist and imperious approach (your husband WILL die, divorce you, or lose his job; day care is just as good as having a stay-at-home-parent because expert X says so; women who stay at home are just avoiding real life and taking the easy way out; women will wake up one day and be miserable and poor because they didn't go back to work right away).

- Her idealization of the glamorous, fulfilling, high-powered career. At the end of the day, a job is a job. It has good parts, okay parts, and lots of boring parts. I would hope that our core identities don't become that wrapped up in our paid employment. The author herself points out how unstable jobs are (speaking about husbands who lose their jobs); shouldn't we anchor our worth and identity in something more permanent?
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Monday, April 02, 2007

New WHO growth charts

The WHO has recently published new infant growth standards, based on babies who were exclusively breastfed through 6 months of age. Make sure your family doctor or pediatrician uses these new growth charts--they are the only ones based on exclusive breastfeeding, and thus the only ones that reflect normal infant growth patterns.

For fun, I plugged in Zari's numbers. She's around 50% for weight, and 90% for height.
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Zari practicing her newly developed grabbing ability on Eric's hair:

She still loves to sleep with her hands tucked up by her face.
Here are two photos at 7 days old, and 5 months old.

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Electronic books, anyone?

If anyone would like PDF copies of the following, please click on the Resources tab at the top of the page.

Emergency Childbirth by Dr. Gregory White
Come Gently, Sweet Lucina by Pat Carter
The Power of Pleasurable Childbirth by Laurie Morgan
Journey Into Motherhood: Inspirational Stories of Natural Birth by Sheri L. Menelli
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