Monday, November 15, 2010

In the Spirit of Full Term Breastfeeding

This morning, Lydia has been falling down a lot. The living room is cluttered because I've been focusing on helping Charlotte feel better. She is also not the most coordinated child in the world. She has been running to me to ask me to "make it better" with some "nahs."

I thought I'd share a picture of us tandem nursing. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Full Term Breastfeeding: Why I Refuse to Force Wean

Lydia is still nursing. She will be three in January. This is not something I broadcast to family, since I fear some of them may be uncomfortable with it. I'm sure they all know since she often asks to nurse and I will tell her, "later" or "when we get home." I have family and friends who are supportive, which is great and I appreciate thoroughly. I've decided that this is too wonderful of a relationship between my child and I to keep it "hush hush" anymore.

It's very important that every family choose to wean when it is right for them. If you are sick of weaning and despise the child's presence at your breast, maybe it's time to look into some gentle weaning. (La Leche League can help with that). If your child is done nursing, of course pushing them to continue is not a good idea. There are many reasons I have decided that self-weaning or child-led-weaning is best for our family.

The top reasons are:

1. It's a pick-me-up for both of us.
This weekend, Charlotte has been fighting an awful case of croup (she's on the upswing as I write this), and Lydia has been left to Daddy. They both enjoy this time together, but since every day is usually the three of us girls for most of the day, she understandably starts to miss me. Yesterday, she got very weepy for a while and was throwing a fit. I handed the baby off to Don and picked Lydia up to nurse. Her mood changed almost immediately. This has been a great mood booster for both of us many times over.

2. Pain relief and much much more during illness for the child
When Lydia had this bug that we've all passed around over the last couple weeks, she nursed a ton, but didn't eat much solid food. She didn't lose weight or get dehydrated. Breastfeeding is a natural pain reliever for nurslings, even the AAP recommends using breastfeeding during small procedures to provide analgesia to your child.

3. Less sibling jealousy
We have yet to have an instance of sibling rivalry or jealousy displayed from Lydia. She has not had her comfort taken from her. We do have etiquette rules, or nursing manners, that we expect her to follow. If she's latching lazily, she has a few tries to not hurt me or she's done. She has to stop if the baby is done and needs to burp.  The mere fact that she hasn't had to stop completely has made her accept and love her new baby sister tremendously.

4. Quiet time
It is so nice with two kids to have a few minutes here and there that we all just sit and rest. Toddlers are very busy and sitting down for a while to nurse can be as good as a long nap.

5. Nutrition
Most toddlers are picky eaters. There are products made by companies like PediaSure on the market to "fill in the gaps" of your child's nutrition. The commercials talk about how picky kids are. These are great products for kids who really need the extra boost. Luckily for us, my milk has everything Lydia needs in it. The beauty of breastmilk is that it's been proven to not only provide tons of nutrients, but to change as your child grows and to be specifically formulated for each individual child.

6. It's NORMAL!!
In most of the world, the average age of weaning is four years old. The World Health Organization recommends nursing until 2 years of age MINIMUM.

7. Reducing my risks of cancer and other diseases.
Every month a woman breastfeeds, she lowers her risk of breast, uterine, ovarian, and endometrial cancers. This of course does not mean women will be in the clear, and should not keep you from doing self exams and having regular mammograms. It helps to prevent osteoporosis and much more.

8. It's good for her social development.
 Nursing promotes bonding. It has been proven over and over again by psychologists such as Erik Erikson that trust and bonding in the early years are imperative to future social and emotional development. If a child is given the bond and nurturing they need for as long as they are asking for it, it stands to reason they will benefit socially in the long run. There are studies to show this as true.

9. She doesn't get sick as often
Statistically speaking, children who are breastfed have higher levels of immunity. When a mother is exposed to an illness her body begins producing antibodies. These antibodies are put into her milk and work together with the antibodies that the child is already producing to prevent and treat illness. When she does get sick, it is usually less severe and for a shorter duration than her weaned peers.

10. It makes us both happy.
We really enjoy our time together and she's going to grow so quickly, she's already grown so quickly, that I'm savoring every moment of the bond we are creating. Oxytocin floods each of our brains while we nurse and it lowers our stress levels. It's not a picnic every day and, as in every relationship, there are ups and downs, but it's more good than not and we are completely happy.  After all, a happy family is all that matters in the end.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Lesson in Thanksgiving

"Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'" Matthew 19:14

Earlier this week, I was doing a Thanksgiving craft with Lydia and she showed me the child's faith that we are all supposed to have. Prior to this project, when asked what she's thankful for, she would say silly things that didn't make sense. This time, I said I was thankful for Lydia and she then went on to tell me what she was thankful for. Here is her list, of her own creation:

I am thankful for our baby who came out of your tummy.
I am thankful for mommy's milk. 
I am thankful for Daddy.
I am thankful for Mommy.
I am thankful for our house.
I am thankful that God lives in my heart.
I am thankful for our kitties.
I am thankful for Daisy.
I am thankful for all our pets.
I am thankful for Charlotte.

What a beautiful list of things to be thankful for!! I am always amazed by the heart of this little toddler who is so kind and loving. She's such a blessing.

For anyone interested, the craft is as follows (I will post pictures of our final product later):

Materials needed-
spray bottle
construction paper in fall leaf colors
pen or colored pencils
yarn, string, or twine

spray construction paper 
crumple the construction paper up, then unfold it and let it dry (this takes a few hours, we let ours dry overnight)
cut out leaf shapes
write down what family members are thankful for
tape leaves to yarn, string, or twine to make a garland
hang up wherever you wish.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Adan + Anais Swaddle Wraps

I've seen these beautiful muslin wraps on sites like Moms Milk Boutique and other natural parenting/cloth diapering stores. I saw them in package at The Little Seedling in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I thought they were pretty and was really interested in trying them, but my only knowledge of muslin was the thicker muslin my husband uses for backdrops in photography. I couldn't imagine them being very comfortable and the nearly $40 price tag for three blankets was something I was unable to afford. Yesterday, I saw a four pack for $29.99 at Target. I got them since the price was better fitting for me. I do not know how I lived without these!!!

I am not being paid to review these blankets, but I know a lot of mommies and want to share my love for a really great product. Right out of the package these were extremely soft. Charlotte will be four months in a couple days and loves holding blankets while she sucks her thumb. Most are a bit bulky and cause her to get really hot quickly. These are lightweight and breathable so they don't heat her up. She spent the day chewing on, snuggling, and loving the one I pulled out first. The softness and light weight of these blankets makes them wonderful for covering up while nursing around people who don't want to see my breasts.

Charlotte has always slept better swaddled, but can get out of all her Summer Swaddle Me's now that she's a bit stronger. We stopped using those about two months ago. Tonight, I swaddled her in an Aden + Anais blanket and not only does it fit around her 15 pound self with plenty of room to grow, but it holds her arm still. We leave one out for her to suck her thumb, but if the other is free she wakes frequently. She is comfortable and sleeping well thus far with her new blanket.

We have used it for tummy time as well, since she likes to lick whatever is under her. It is so big that it provides lots of room to roll and play. These blankets (the ones specifically marketed through Target) are 44"x44". The more expensive swaddle wraps sold on the Aden + Anais store and other online retailers are 47"x47". I would love to one day get the larger ones, but thus far, the Target size seems very generous and as if it will last us for a long time.

The beautiful prints available are, of course, a plus. I purchased the "Jillaroo" which has a white, pink and brown circles, pink and brown stars and triangles, and pink and brown Aden + Anais logo print.

These blankets will most definitely be a staple baby shower gift from here on out! I don't think we could live without them ever again!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Charlotte's Birth-FINALLY posting!

Now that she's nearly four months, I'm posting Charlotte's birth story.
We could not have asked for a better experience than we had! Everything was perfect. Shortly after putting Lydia to bed on July 6, I began labor. I had been having irregular contractions for a few days, but knew this was IT. I spent some time in the shower, squatting while Don held the shower head on my back. That really helped the bit of back labor I had as she turned into an optimal position.

I told Don to call our midwife and the rest of our birth team so they knew what was going on. Goldie, our midwife, decided to come over right then. I continued in the shower and walking to get things moving.

I decided I wanted to watch a movie, so we popped in "How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days" while I sat on my yoga ball. I'd heard lots of people enjoyed the yoga ball during birth. I did NOT! It made everything painful. So, I leaned my upper body on it while on my knees on the floor. That felt good.

Goldie got to our house and told me I should try and rest since it was late at night and I had a lot of work ahead of me. I propped myself on the couch with pillows and blankets and started focusing.

I had read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth a couple times, so I concentrated on keeping my throat open, following sphincter law. I knew if I relaxed my body would do the work with less pain. I had intense contractions, but not much pain for most of my labor. At one point, I looked at Goldie and said "I'm afraid I'm not relaxing enough." She assured me I was doing fine and I was able to relax even more then.

Goldie went into the spare room to get some rest while Don and I stayed in the living room. I drifted in and out of sleep for a while. I slept between contractions, then woke up and focused on my relaxation. It was all very peaceful.

After a while (I have no idea timelines because I was in labor-land the whole time), I began to tighten my throat, so I began to vocalize. Moaning a low and deep moan allowed me to keep my throat loose. I knew I was getting too tense when my voice was higher. I told Don to go get Goldie up because I was getting closer to transition and wanted to get into the birth pool.

She came out and had Don help her get everything ready. Our birth team began to arrive and get settled in. At one point, I came out of labor-land enough to announce that I was NOT in pain and my noise was for concentration only. My sister-in-law assured me that I didn't sound like I was in pain, I sounded great.
I got into the pool and things started moving quickly after that. During transition, I decided I was done and wanted drugs. I just couldn't do it anymore. After that contraction, I knew I was ready and nearly there. I was aware that I would have to feel at my limit before the baby would come. I reached my limit, had a rest, and with the next contraction the hardest work started.
I began to push without trying as my breath
ing adjusted itself, turning to a pant when I needed to slow my pushing in order to stretch. I asked for someone to get me a cool washcloth and my sister-in-law obliged. My best friend took some beautiful photographs as we welcomed Charlotte Josephine into the world at 5:30 am on July 7, 2010. I could not be happier to have had such a wonderful birth. I was not bothered in my own process, we never checked my dilation or anything. I was free to birth how I wanted. I am forever indebted to my wonderful midwife and family for the support they gave me.