Tag Archive for Carnivals

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

A Present of Presence

An 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…

Attachment Parenting: Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting

On a mom support/discussion site I started a group for talking about attachment parenting. I’m no expert on the topic, but I love chatting about it with other moms. A mom-to-be asked us what AP is all about, and lots of the group posters responded. This got me thinking–it would be fun to have a big discussion about each of the eight principles of AP as laid out by the API.

Then I thought it would be fun if I could get some additional people involved in the discussion by posting on my blog.

If you would like to share an understanding of the Attachment Parenting principle, please either comment or leave your link in the comments. Next week, I’ll move onto the next principle and also link back to anyone who posted on their own blogs. If you have a blog, could you also link to this post (or the post with the principle you are writing about) so others will join in.

It will be like a carnival of attachment parenting, I guess, but with less structure.

The last talk about what is attachment parenting got me thinking–since the philosophy is very much open to interpretation, maybe it would be interesting and enlightening for us to look at a principle (from the API) each week or so and say what it means to us and how we do that…

This week I’m talking about:

***1. Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting***

The rest of the principles are:

2. Feed with Love and Respect
3. Respond with Sensitivity
4. Use Nurturing Touch
5. Engage in Nighttime Parenting
6. Provide Consistent Loving Care
7. Practice Positive Discipline
8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

Here are my thoughts:

For me this means taking the time to educate yourself on your options and weighing the risks and benefits of your choices. It means considering the fact that your body is in a symbiotic relationship with another human being and trying to foster that relationship.

The way I personally, specifically take action on this one:

  • I watch what I eat during pregnancy…though I actually eat a fairly good pregnancy diet the rest of the time, anyway.
  • I should exercise–but chasing a toddler counts, right?
  • I try to listen to my body…though that was easier before I gave birth to my little Hurricane…
  • Last birth I listened to hypnobirthing tapes. This birth, I am torn. I would like to have a better and more natural experience, but I also have the concern that we could have a repeat of the heart condition, which might necessitate medical intervention. I’ve been talking with DH about what role I would like to see him play (actually, it comes out more like, “Guard the door and keep people the hell away from me unless I ask for them.”) I feel lacking in this department, but also unsure of where to look next.
  • I feel fairly well prepared for parenting. I anticipate the major decisions and discuss them with my husband. We’re on the same page and he backs me up on the decisions I make as the primary caretaker and I don’t give him too much grief about minor changes in routine that he does when he watches her (like dumping syrup on pancakes for breakfast when I usually give her oatmeal and fresh fruit–it’s only once or twice a week). I kinda figure they don’t come much more high maintenance than my little diva and I’ve read and researched and I’m pretty happy with the way things are going so far. The next one simply HAS to be more mellow…right?

Please feel free to jump in, however you like!

Wordless Halloween Wednesday: Mmm…Brains

Happy Halloween!

Don’t worry…they aren’t actually brains…just freeze-dried strawberries

Check Out Other Wordless Wednesday Participants

Going Green for Halloween

Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year and October is one of my favorite months because it has my birthday and Halloween.

Crazedparent at Maya’s Mom (love that tag) asked that we visit Green Halloween for Blog Action Day. Even though I missed the Blog Action Day fun, I thought I would still share some ideas for an eco-friendly Halloween. Besides, I can share this post in Scribbit’s Winter Carnival.

This is a great month to think about the environment because it is harvest time! I am living in an agricultural area and we’ve had a great time visiting local farm stands and going to corn mazes. I think one of the best things parents can do for the environment it to show their children the joy and beauty of our planet. And buying local helps the local economy, saves gas for transportation in huge refrigerated trucks, and encourages you to work with produce that is in season.

Hiking through the never ending corn maze.

Checking out the pumpkin patch.

Here are some ideas if you want a Green Halloween:

  • Focus on the harvest aspect of the month with your child: Visit local farm stands, talk about where your food comes from and how buying local reduces the stress on the environment (with older children, this is a great opportunity to do some practical math). Collect leaves and create art projects. Learn how to dry and press flowers. Find out how cider is made. Make some preserves before those local berries go completely out of season. Prepare your herb and vegetable garden for the winter or consider planning one to plant next spring.
  • Make Paper Bag Masks, Hats, and Headresses: Check out this cool book: What Can You Do with a Paper Bag?
  • Avoid Plastic, Go Re-Usable: On Mamanista, I already mentioned how you can Trick or Treat in Eco Friendly Style with this Cute Kitty Cat Trick or Treat Bag ($16.95). This felt bag is designed to last for years, saving both money and landfill and it also comes in Frankenstein, Skeleton Bones, Miss Pumpkin, or Mr. Pumpkin styles.
  • Think About the Animals: Adopt a Vampire Bat, a Meerkat (my favorite), or any one of over six dozen animals through the Word Wildlife Federation ($50 or $100) and you’ll get a FREE Trick or Treat bag and a soft plush version of the adopted animal. Make your donation by 10pm EST, Wednesday, October 17, 2007 for delivery by Halloween. Later adoptions may arrive in time, but order now to be on the safe side.
  • Shop around local thrift stores (or Grandma’s closet) for costume inspiration: Be a hippie, a mod maven, a gangster, a Southern belle, or whatever strikes your fancy when you browse the racks. Also try Freecycle or Craigslist since most kids’ costumes are only worn once!
  • Candy Alternatives: Try to convince your kids to take just one or two pieces of candy from each house (good luck with that) and to trick or treat for UNICEF. It is hard to avoid all of the individually wrapped candy or cheap plastic toys for trick or treaters, but try to limit it at the party if you are hosting one. Get local apples for caramel apples, make pumpkin bread and toasted seeds from the inside of your jack o’ lantern.
  • Make your costume yourself: check out this link for some ideas for DIY costumes, like giant bag of jellybeans.
  • Re-use household materials for decorations: old pillow cases or plastic supermarket bags turned inside out become ghosts (just tie them tight so they don’t fly away and cause more garbage), old clothes are perfect for a scarecrow, use toilet paper rolls to make a bat or a pumpkin, just look around for inspiration and I’m sure will find some. HGTV also has some ideas for crafts and costumes.
  • Re-use cans and jars for a candle-lit path: cut the tops off cleaned out tin cans or use cleaned glass jars. If you use tin cans, you can use an old-fashioned can opener to make a spooky face. Use small votive candles and melt the bottom a little to make sure the candle is stuck to the bottom. Make sure not to place on a stable surface and avoid over-dry grass.
  • Creepy Glassware: While you are at the thrift store, pick up cheap glasses and paint the outside with non-toxic paint (spiders, ghosts, etc.). For adults and older children, you can serve the beverages in these cups. For younger kids, you can fill with water and food dye and place high up out of reach. Light from behind and it becomes a decoration. These are reusable year after year!

Don’t forget to check out some more of my Halloween recipes and ideas and share your Halloween Recipe at Mamanista for our carnival–I need some new recipes to try and we’ve got prizes, too.