Archive for Parenting

Baby Too Fat for Health Coverage?

REALLY?

They denied a newborn health coverage because the baby is “overweight”? And this baby is breastfed and was a good size at birth, so its weight is completely normal. In fact, a chubby, breastfed baby is likely to grow into a thin, healthy toddler.

This is just absurd. What a stupid company.

Can We Help Baby Jaeli? YES, We Can!

Have you heard about baby Jaeli?

We hear a lot about how important breastmilk is for babies–but here is a baby for whom mother’s milk is literally a life and death issue.

Jaeli has a rare genetic condition and will not tolerate formula. Her mom is breastfeeding and pumping but it is not enough. What baby Jaeli needs is time and calories and that is what breastmilk will give her.

But her mom’s state Medicaid will not cover this need and banked breastmilk, especially the high-calorie milk Jaeli needs, is costly.

But we won’t let a baby suffer and starve. Oh, no we won’t.

Ange England took up the cause and issued a challenge to the netizens of the social media world: Will you feed this baby? Moms, dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other caring people answered her call and donated enough for baby Jaeli to have milk through the end of October.

Baby Jaeli needs more.

Do you know someone at a company that could sponsor a week’s or month’s worth of feedings?

Working together, we can give provide sustenance to a baby.

Find out more:

Why I Stand By Medela

Full disclosure up front: Medela sponsored my co-editor at Mamanista.com for BlogHer. And Medela has also sent me a Freestyle for review. It is a single-user pump and I have kept it and used it several times. I don’t pump often, as my babies seem to hate bottles, but I did find it very helpful when I needed to pump during my son’s recent nursing strike.

The WHO International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes has established a set of rules restricting marketing of formula and feeding bottles and teats.

(Keep in mind that the WHO Code is just a code from a non-governmental organization and only becomes law if adopted as such by individual nations.)

Because Medela has offered giveaways of its bottle system and included bottle feeding of pumped breastmilk as an idealized image in an advertising campaign, organizations have declared that Medela is in violation of the code.

Medela argues that the WHO code is about breastmilk admits that its actions may be viewed as a violation of the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.

There is little funding for promoting breastfeeding, when stacked up against the billion dollar budgets of the formula industry.

One approach to leveling the playing field is to place restrictions on how the makers of not only formula, but also manufacturers of bottles, market to new moms.

As much as I sympathize with the desire to keep aggressive marketing away from emotionally vulnerable new moms, this seems to be a very paternalistic response.

Instead, I prefer to work with the companies that sell breastfeeding accessories to get the financial backing for promoting breastfeeding and restoring breastfeeding to its place as the normal, default option.

As admirable as I find the spirit of the WHO Code, it puts formula on the level of a drug and bottles on the level of syringes, and meddles too much for my taste with consumer choice.

According to the WHO code, to remain in compliance, a company can manufacture and sell bottles and teats/nipples but cannot advertise or promote these products to the general public, provide samples of the product, “distribute to pregnant women or mothers of infants and young children any gifts of articles or utensils which may promote the use of breastmilk substitutes or bottle feeding,” or “seek direct or indirect contact of any kind with pregnant women or with mothers of infants and young children”.

The only issue I really have is with the tagline in the Medela commercial: “When you choose to breastfeed, you’re doing what’s best for your baby. When you choose Medela breastfeeding products, you’re doing what’s best for you both.”

I can see how that rankles a little. I believe that breastfeeding is usually what is best for both mom and baby.

However, rare is the modern mom who never has call for a pump. Even though my babies hated bottles, I still used a pump during my daughter’s heart operation and during both of their nursing strikes.

Medela justifies its change in its marketing by pointing to consumer questions over the BPA-free status of its products.

And while surely the company is also looking at its bottom line, I do believe it is legitimately addressing a consumer demand in advertising its bottles. Arguments that moms “already know” about Medela bottles if they use Medela pumps seem to assume a level of consumer savvy across the board that I’m not sure exists. Active in moms’ groups on and offline, I can tell you that moms who do not venture online as often just are not as aware of consumer information as those who do.

And, ultimately, I just do not have a problem with a breastpump company marketing its bottles.

In today’s world, a company that does not reach out directly to its consumers, through store displays, through events, and yes, through social media is not going to maintain its profile and market share for long.

A stronger, more responsive, more involved Medela is a company that is better able to work with advocates to promote breastfeeding as the best option. And Medela has shown itself to be a responsible and zealous partner in the past.

Although I appreciate the principled stand of severing ties with any company judged to be in violation of the WHO code, I would urge those looking at this issue to consider Medela’s marketing in the context of both the current consumer climate and Medela’s strong support of breastfeeding mothers.

How to Breastfeed (Or Just Look Like You Know What You Are Doing)

Welcome, Carnival of Breastfeeding readers!

As a mama who has had one breastfeeding champ who instantly stepped up to the bar for her first drink of milk and another who took his time learning to latch, here are my tips about “How to Breastfeed.”

1. Nothing Beats a Live Demonstration

Breastfeeding, like much of parenting, is one of those skills you mostly pick up on the job. It never hurts to prepare a little, though, and get comfortable with the idea.

Most hospitals offer classes where you can pepper the lactation consultant with whatever questions pop into your head.

And, of course, KellyMom is a treasure trove of information for first timers and old pros, alike.

I find that breastfeeding is something that is easiest to understand when you actually see it done. In fact, I’m convinced that one of the reasons we struggle with breastfeeding so much as a culture is because it has become rare and hidden. Fortunately, you can easily find breastfeeding tips on video on YouTube.

2. Relax
When my son was born, we were separated for a few hours after his birth as I needed some surgery following the delivery. When he came to me, he was sleepy and the doctors were concerned about his blood sugar because of his weight (over 10 lbs).

I could not understand why what had been so simple with my daughter was so hard with my son. And the nurses who were pressuring me and insisting a baby that large needed formula if he didn’t breastfeed RIGHT NOW were not helping matters much.

He would fuss, I’d try to feed, he’d cry, I’d get stressed, he’d pick up on that. The harder you try, sometimes, the harder it becomes.

As difficult as it can be, take a deep breath and relax.

With all the articles about the benefits of breastfeeding, it can be easy to become goal oriented about it. Remember, though, that the point is not to force feed your baby, but to establish a beautiful bond that will grow with your relationship.

3. Get Back to Basics

As part of relaxing, pare down. Send everyone away (unless they make you feel relaxed), turn off the lights, get close and cuddle skin to skin with your baby, do whatever makes you feel most relaxed.

Offer the opportunity to breastfeed but do not push it.

As soon as you can, learn to breastfeed lying down–you’ll get a lot more rest if you do.

4. Be Flexible

I’m guessing many lactation consultants will disagree with this, but if you are having trouble with getting started, my personal opinion is to just let your baby latch however works for the two of you. There is a lot of emphasis on correct technique, which I do believe is important for a successful breastfeeding relationship, but sometimes it is just good to start nursing so both you and your baby know you can do it. You can always fix the positioning and latch later.

5. Reach Out

One of the many remarkable things about becoming a mother is that you gain a new understanding of the importance of community. I encourage you to reach out to other mothers even while you are pregnant. If you find you are having difficulty breastfeeding, I strongly recommend asking for help from someone who has experience coaching new moms with breastfeeding.

With my first, I was desperate to learn to feed her in a sling so I could continue whatever I was doing if she got hungry while we were out. Our hospital offered the services of a free lactation consultant and she helped me figure out this neat and convenient technique. If you do not have access to a lactation consultant, La Leche League is a great resource–you’ll find experts and experienced mamas and other new mothers just like you.

To all the mamas out there, I wish you the best as you begin your beautiful relationship with your child. I hope that breastfeeding becomes a joyful experience that helps you build that bond.

I’m writing this post for the Carnival of Breastfeeding.

Don’t miss these posts from other bloggers (updated throughout the day):


Photo Credit: The Blessed Virgin Breastfeeding

The NYT is Good for Something, Or Why I Got Roses Just Because

Newsflash: The New York Times still serves a valuable purpose in the lives of ordinary Americans.

My husband came home one day this week and presented me with a lovely bouquet of flowers. Why? Just because…

He explained he was reading this article about how children increase marital tensions and he just wanted to let me know that he appreciates me and all I do for our family.

The articles discusses how children bring happiness, but they can also bring stress into your relationship with your spouse.

My husband and I love each other, and we adore our children. Sometimes all of the juggling of doctor’s appointments, and household chores, and daily routines on top of our careers can become overwhelming. It is definitely important to have a reminder now and then that we need to set aside quality time for each other.

How about you? Do children bring couples closer together? Or did you have more time and energy for your mate before the babies?

Baby Signing Cuteness

Little Diva walks over to Junior and grabs his hand, gently squeezing:

“Squeeze hand for milk. When you want milk, squeeze hand.”

She knows how to help a brother out.

It is a sign that would have come in handy today. I think Junior is about to bust out with his first tooth. From 2:30 pm until about 6:30 pm he nursed almost continually, for an hour without break at one point. If he fell asleep and delatched, he started screaming. This is a baby who never cries and it frightened me a little. Since nursing settled him down, though, I’m guessing it is just a tooth. He’s been chewing on his hand like crazy for the last two weeks.

It has been an AP kind of day. Diva has been wanting to spend more time cuddling on the big bed since brother gets to have full access in his little sidecar co-sleeper–which I must agree only seems fair. But our bed was one of those really high, giant, four poster monsters that seemed like a good idea in the BC (Before Children) Era.

DH was about to dismantle the bed and then decided to remove the box spring to lower things and add in a piece of plywood for support when he had the time. Well, the bed beat him to the punch. We were getting the kids in for nighttime and I was on the bed with Junior. I asked DH for a hug. He obliged. And one of the slats cracked. So now the big wood frame is dismantled, the box springs are back, and the mattress (supported by box springs) is on the floor.

A much safer and happier arrangement for all involved.

To Sling, Or Not to Sling

Every time I take my babies out, I have a choice: Sling or stroller.

I’ve seen parents carrying young infants with neither option, but I cannot imagine that and there is no way I’m carrying my 18 pound infant in a car seat without a stroller.

Let’s do a case study:

Slinging It:

Today I took my toddler to the doctor and I placed Junior in the sling. While we were waiting for the doctor, he fell asleep and continued to sleep through the entire exam.

I brought them to “Toddler Tango” at the library and held Junior in the sling while I danced with my daughter. Junior flirted a bit with the ladies and then passed out. Another mother’s infant woke up from a nap in the travel system and she commented that she did not have her Bjorn with her. I whipped out my spare pouch sling (hee, hee) as a loaner and now she wants one, too.

Strolling:

We went to a craft program. I decided to place Junior in the stroller, hoping he’d fall asleep and I’d get a little break. I maneuvered our Sit N’ Stroll into the elevator along with another adult and toddler. Then, a Dad came along and we held the door for him. He came in with toddler and his stroller.

The doors closed and…the elevator did not move.

We pressed buttons, the doors stubbornly refused to reopen.

Three adults, three toddlers, two strollers, and one infant stuck in an elevator for 15 minutes.

When maintenance finally got us out, I placed Junior in the sling, left the stroller, and walked down the stairs. We arrived in time for circle time but missed the craft.

Now, in the stroller’s defense there are times when I need a little more freedom of movement (like undressing and dressing the toddler for swimming). And sometimes I want to move faster than the toddler can walk. So, strollers definitely have their uses. After the elevator experience, though, I am even more convinced of the benefits and convenience of my slings.

How about you? Any stroller or sling experiences that made your day or drove you crazy?

Toddlerism: Princess Obvious

Toddler: (climbing off her toddler bed; whump; falls on floor; cries a little)

Me: Are you okay, sweetie? What did you hit?

Toddler: The floor!

Ba-dum-cha!

In other baby news, Junior started his swim “lessons.” They offer free lessons from two to six months’ so he goes in the pool when his sister has her lesson. It is so funny to watch them together. Who would have thought that the same parents and the same parenting could produce two such different children?

Junior just chills. Someone is holding me and it is not mommy? Oh, well…she seems nice. She’s lifting me up? Nice view. Now I’m under water? No problem.

He’s now three months’ and 18 POUNDS. Not sure how tall, but really tall. I’ll find out in a couple of weeks. Pictures coming soon.

Chubby Jokes

While most of us prefer to lose, rather than gain weight, chubby is good for a newborn–allowing one of the few acceptable opportunities for otherwise un-p.c. jokes.

Junior’s large size (10 lbs, 4 oz at birth) has prompted a number of zingers. The best one, so far, comes from one of DH’s co-workers.

How big was he at birth again? And how big was the baby he ate?

Hahaha.

Got your own chubby baby joke?

Or do you want to hazard a guess about how big he’ll be at his two month appointment on 10/30? Here are some clues: He weighed in at 13 lbs, 10 oz and measured 24.25 inches at his one month appointment. And here are pictures of him from a week ago on 10/23 (I’ll even include one with me and with an infant car seat for reference).

I’ll post his weight early next week…



A Present of Presence

baby presentAn invitation to a party is always welcome–especially a carnival! So, when Amy let me know about the Attachment Parenting International Carnival, I was jumped on over right away.

(Okay, so this is of the bloggy variety and not one with balloons and rides and sinful cotton candy, but still, a carnival nonetheless.)

During the seconds it took to load the page, I became increasingly excited. What would the topic be? On which loving aspect of attachment parenting would we focus?

And then, my grin dropped and my eyes narrowed: Presence…how I give my children my presence.

Presence is one of the most important aspects of parenting mindfully and it does not cost a dime. Being present is also one of the hardest things to do in this fast-paced, hectic, go-go-go world.

Confession: sometimes I get fixated on the details and lose the big picture.

There are tummies to fill, errands to run, and events to attend. Not to mention work to be done. The house starts to feel more like a triage unit than a home.

And, just when everything seems to almost be under control, I add another challenge to my already full schedule.

My husband has lately been calling me out on my overuse of the word “need.” We need air, sustenance and shelter, not a finished basement and more clothes and a bigger car, he points out as I try not roll my eyes and pout like a teenager.

No that there is anything wrong with gymnastics lessons, foreign language instruction, and fancy toys–but children, especially young babies, don’t need those things. Children need their families. Children need love.

And in trying to squeeze an ever increasing amount of errands, tasks, and work into day that just refuses to stretch any longer, it is easy to forget this simple truth.

Fortunately, confession is good for the soul. Even better–group confession. Like this fabulous mother, I have to be honest and admit that there are distractions. Honey, I promise I’ll read you that book as soon as I publish this post.

When I hear another new mother trying to wrap her mind around the challenges of parenting, I try to reassure her that motherhood should be about enjoying your family, reveling and rejoicing in this special bond, not about checking off a list or adhering to a strict set of rules. We should be committed to parenting, not committed to an institution because of parenting.

What a wonderful way to kick off an Attachment Parenting Carnival–by sending the message that the most important thing we can do for our children is to just be there with them. Everything else is icing.

So, I’m committing to slowing down and being present with my children.

When they are both awake, I’ve been fighting the urge to “get things done” and instead concentrate on doing things with the kids.

I turn the computer off during our play time.

My new baby eats constantly, but I try to find the joy of gazing into his eyes while feeding him, instead of reading a book–at least while he is awake.

When I’m with my children, I remember that part of the joy of parenthood is being able to experience the world as a child does, once again.

I remember that we’ll only be here, in this moment just once.

Some time and space has to be sacred, dedicated to the family.

Life is always a balancing act, especially for women. And I still will have to work and meet deadlines and accomplish. Sometimes I will be a better parent and a more productive worker when I compartmentalize and set aside times for each. I can type and think more freely when I am not mothering and I can nurse and nurture a lot more wholeheartedly when I am not trying to work.

Other times, I can work with my children. Perhaps it will take an hour to fold the laundry with the toddler’s “help,” but we will be together–learning, laughing, and loving.

Find out how other parents are giving their children their presence and share your own story…