Saturday, January 22, 2011

674 Ounces Donated!

Is it good enough?

I used to worry that reading my experience would scare expecting moms.  But now I realize that while breastfeeding skill doesn't always come "naturally," if you are on the lookout for these "Breastfeeding Booby Traps,"  you have a better chance of overcoming problems. Here's my list of tactics for pre-emptively overcoming the "breastfeeding booby traps" at your birthplace (in my opinion, the place where we need the most help).

You call your hospital and ask about lacation consultants.
Their answer: "Yes, we have a lactation consultant."
Is it good enough?  No. You need to hear, "Yes, we have full-time international board certified lactation consultants available to you around the clock during your stay." 

You ask them about breastfeeding after Caesarian, and what their intervention rate is.
Their answer: "We don't have a protocol to support breastfeeding; the doctors treat the babies on a case by case basis.  Our intervention rate is average."
Is it good enough: No.  You need to hear: "Yes, our breastfeeding after ceasarian protocol is to give no baby any nutritional supplement, unless medically indicated and approved by you or your representative.  And the chance of your having a Caesarian to begin with is much lower than average."

You ask if they routinely give healthy babies formula or other supplements.
Their answer: If it's anything other than a resounding, "No," it's not good enough.

If their answers aren't good enough, call around to see if there are other hospitals in your area that give better ones.  If there aren't, plan to to find supplemental help on your own from a traveling lactation consultant and be vigilant and unapologetic when asking everyone caring for you and your baby to abide by your requirements--verbally and in writing when possible, and plan to have your partner, doula, or support person be responsible for tracking what's happening with your baby at all times.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What Gerber doesn't want you to know

We never bought a single jar of baby food for Sam.  And given the aggressive marketing by baby food manufacturers (just search for "baby food" and see what comes up), they don't want you to figure this out: you don't need it.

Since the World Heath Organization recommends exclusively breastfeeding for six months, solids need not be introduced until six months at the earliest.  And until one year, breast milk or a substitute is still the biggest source of nutrition for baby.  That means eating solid food under the age of one is just for learning.

What, then, is the point of teaching them to eat mashed "baby food?"  The object of feeding solids initially should be to develop motor skills, teach chewing and swallowing, get a feel for different types of foods, and have fun.  This means we should serve babies soft foods mashable by baby's gums in non-chokable-sized pieces.  You don't even need a food processor or ricer--it's quite easy to do with a fork right at the dinner table off your own plate.  Caregivers can do this easily, or stick to milk during the time the baby is in their care.  An added benefit is that you are in complete control of all ingredients in your baby's solid food. 

Then, by the time baby is one, ideally, he will be well practiced with feeding himself and be accustomed to different flavors and textures, rather than expecting only certain flavors and textures to be delivered all the way to his mouth.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

OT: A note on diapers

I couldn't say my blog on babyfood was complete until I covered all points of the infant digestive system, so I thought I'd post a note on diapers.  Or, maybe it will just be fun!

Having a baby is, generally, a pretty environmentally unfriendly thing to do.  Reusable cloth diapers have been a manageable way for us to reduce our load on the planet, since disposable diapers have a big "footprint." 

Sam in his handknit wool soakers, 5 months old.
We started out with simple "prefold" diapers (Gerber) underneath plastic pants (Prorap seconds) or wool "soakers" that were knit for us by Sam's crafty grandmother.  These were inexpensive and didn't leak, but we had some problems with diaper rash, and they took more time to put on than disposables.

Later we tried something called a pocket diaper (Fuzzibunz) that had a waterproof outer part sewn to a soft fleece inner part, and between them you stuff a prefold diaper or special absorbent insert.  These were wonderful for quite awhile--very soft on baby, comfy and no rashes, easy and quick to put on--but once he started moving, they were a little bulky.  Sadly, the fleece eventually got some kind of buildup presumably from our hard water and now they repel the pee, and I haven't figured out how to "strip" them to make them absorb again.

After the repelling problem we started using Gdiapers, which are a sort of fabric undies with a little waterproof sling inside that holds something absorbent, either a washable insert or a compostable absorbent pad.  (There are a small truckload of these in my compost bin right now; we will see how well they degrade.)  The Gdiapers have been great--no leaks, quick and easy, and slim and unbulky for my crawler/walker.  Downsides: probably a pricier option than some, they still use resources to make the compostable inserts, and I sometimes worry that the velcro or snaps on the "Gpants" are uncomfortable for him.

I also made my own baby wipes from cut squares of old cotton baby blankets and a solution of water, shampoo and olive oil.  The wipes work better than store bought and get washed up with the diapers.

As for washing, all the diapers go into a separate laundry bin and get washed in hot water, one or two extra loads per week, no soaking or dunking or spraying.  And we keep a pack of unbleached disposables (I like Seventh Generation) for moments when the clean diapers haven't made it to the drawers.  Cloth diapers have been easy, especially compared to other parts of being a new mom, and I would do it again in a minute.

A great resource on cloth diapering is Karen's Cloth Diapering site.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Resolution: Keep going

Most people's new year's resolutions have to do with making some kind of positive change in their lives.  My resolution is to keep things the same--to keep pumping breast milk for my 15 month old son.  But in other ways, it is like other resolutions, there are strong forces fighting against the thing you are trying to do--otherwise you wouldn't need a resolution to do it!  The main force I am dealing with is a constant evaluation of how much Sam needs his milk versus how inconvenient and uncomfortable I am.  I often think how wonderful it would be to slip into bed at night without having to sit up for 20 minutes, or to get that extra sleep in the morning, or to quit washing pump parts day after day.  Comfort and convenience are strong forces!  But I resolve to fight them for awhile longer and keep bottle-feeding breast milk, because Sam still loves and will benefit from breast milk.