Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Am a Strong Woman!

          As modern women, we tend to want to do it all: have and care for children, keep up the house, spend time with our husbands, volunteer at church, and still work outside the home! Usually, one of two scenarios ends up happening. In scenario one, we say yes to everything and end up overtired and stressed out. In scenario two, we realize we can't do it all and end up feeling bad about ourselves for that. I currently fall under scenario number two. I breastfeed Daniel, make him homemade baby food, and cloth diaper him. I try to spend as much time playing with him and reading to him as possible. I also want to be able to keep my house spotless, the laundry hamper empty, have dinner ready for my husband when he gets home, have time to spend with my husband every night, make time to read the Bible and pray every day, pump milk to store and donate at least once a day, write blog posts at least every couple of days, volunteer at church, become certified and begin teaching Bradley method childbirth classes, train as a lactation consultant, help my husband with our Amway business, and still have some "me" time to read or just relax and I want to all of this without ever leaving Daniel with a sitter!
          Obviously, I'm not superwoman so I never get everything accomplished and I tend to beat myself up about it so much. I feel like I'm failing as a wife and even mother when I can't keep the house spotless or all the laundry done. I forget to pump all the time and haven't found anyone to donate to yet. I feel bad when I don't spend enough time playing with Daniel or forget to read him a story or when he cries for me to pick him up when I'm in the middle of writing a blog post. I ended up not going to Bradley training this year and will now have to wait till next year and I'm not sure I can fit in lactation consultant training at the same time. I don't volunteer at church. Actually, we are trying to find a new church close to home(our old one was about 45 minutes away) and are not doing so good at finding one. I don't always get around to reading the Bible or talking to people about our Amway products every day and I definitely don't get "me" time most days. Many nights, my husband falls asleep before I'm able to spend anytime with him. The only thing on my list I can say I accomplish every single day is praying. So I tell myself that I'm doing a horrible job at the things that I am doing and, in turn, doubt my ability to accomplish the things I haven't started doing yet.
          As you can probably imagine, this type of negative thinking has gotten me nowhere. It hasn't helped me accomplish more or do better at the things I already do. Instead, it leads to me feeling down about myself. So I have decided to end this vicious cycle and start by convincing myself that it's okay to not do everything. It's okay if I don't get all the laundry done. After all, I do have to wear my baby and walk down the stairs and halfway across my apartment complex while carrying the clothes, quarters, and laundry detergent in order to do it. I should be proud of how much of it I actually get done! I am blessed to have a great husband who cleans and makes dinner quite often when I can't and I am so thankful for that.It is okay to wait for Bradley and lactation consultant training, it'll be easier for me when Daniel is older. The same goes for volunteering at church. It is also okay to not pump or read Daniel a story every single day. Instead I will focus on making more time to read the Bible, spend time with my husband, play with Daniel, write my blog posts and talk to people about Amway and have some time time to myself to relax and unwind. But, if I don't always accomplish those things 100% , I will not beat myself up either, it is okay.
          I will remind myself everyday that I am only human and can only do so much in 24 hours and that my worth isn't measured by how much I get accomplished. I will also remind myself everyday that I am a strong woman. I have held a very demanding job in the past. When my marriage was struggling, I stood up for it, prayed, persevered, and never gave up until I saw God's power of restoration over it and now I continue to find time to work on it.  I grew a baby in my womb and gave birth to him with absolutely no medication even after a 24 hour labor and at least 3 hours of pushing, without freaking out. I didn't give up on breastfeeding and overcame tons of struggles and now we are doing great at a little over 8 months into it. I continue to persevere in my faith even in times of struggle. I am doing the best I can at keeping up the house even when I have to wear the baby in order to do it. I am doing my best at being a good wife and mother and I am still trying to make time to help others. I am a very strong woman but I often forget that and let the negative thoughts take over. From now on, everyday I will tell myself that I am strong and will remind myself of the reasons why and all of you should do the same. Stop doing too much and becoming overburdened or beating yourselves up for not doing "enough" and start reminding yourselves of what you have accomplished and how strong you are each and every day!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wisdom From the Marsupials: Why You Should "Wear" Your Baby

         During those last few weeks of pregnancy, parents want nothing more than to finally hold their new baby in their arms. Once the baby is born, nothing feels better than those newborn snuggles. But newborns are born with a strong need to be held and it can get very tiring for mom and dad to have baby in arms for most of the day. That is why many parents choose to "wear" their babies. There are many different types of carriers for that purpose: slings, wraps, soft structured carriers, etc. No matter, what carrier you choose, wearing your baby will not only be an experience you'll cherish for years to come, but it will also benefit you and your baby greatly.

Babies who are worn:

  • Learn more. Babies who are worn and have all of their needs met spend more time in a state of calm, quiet alertness which is the ideal state for learning. In addition, worn babies go throughout an entire day with caregivers and learns from that caregiver's activities and interactions with others.
  • Are happier. Babies who are worn cry less and are less likely to suffer from colic. A study in the journal, Pediatrics, found that wearing babies for 3 hours a day reduced crying by 43% overall and 54% during evening hours when most babies tend to be at their fussiest.
  • Are more organized. When you wear your baby, your warmth, heart beat, breathing, and movement help regulate baby's emotional, intellectual and physiological systems and organize his or her behavior.
  • Have stronger bonds with their parents. Babies who are worn experience more skin-to-skin contact with mom and dad, are close enough to listen to the calming rhythms of parents' heartbeat and breathing, and have all of their needs quickly met. This enables baby to enables to develop trust toward the parent as well as a healthy attachment.
  • Talk better. Babies who are worn spend more time at voice and eye level and are in the middle of any conversations their parent or caregiver engages in. By listening to the sounds their parents make, babies learn words and sounds earlier. Babies also learn communication skills such as turn taking and making eye contact.
  • Have all of their needs met faster. When you wear your baby, you are continually available to meet his or her needs. When baby is hungry, you can quickly offer the breast. When he or she needs changing, you can quickly do that as well. When you are there to meet your baby's needs, he or she is content and ready to learn from the world around them.
  • Sleep better. In the comfort of a baby carrier, close to mom's body, babies tend to sleep more than when put in the crib for naps. 
  • Grow better. Premature babies and babies with illnesses grow better and gain more weight when held close to their parent's bodies for most of the day.
  • Are less likely to be abused. Wearing baby promotes strong attachment and helps parents become more intuitive and responsive making it less likely for baby to be neglected or abused.

Parents who wear their babies:
  • Get more accomplished. Babywearing frees parents' hands for cleaning, cooking, working, etc. making life easier for busy parents. 
  • Breastfeed easier. When wearing baby, he or she is always in close contact with mom making it easier to breastfeed. Many carriers also make it easier to nurse baby discreetly in public. 
  • Are more confident. When baby's needs are consistently met, baby is happier which makes parents feel better about themselves and helps them develop trust in their parenting abilities and instincts.
  • Have stronger bonds with their babies. When you wear your baby, you spend more time in skin-to-skin contact with him or her and, therefore, develop a stronger attachment with baby.
  • Are more responsive. Parents who wear their babies spend most of their time in close contact with baby which makes it easier to respond to babies needs faster.
  • Learn to read their babies better. When parents spend a lot of time in close contact with baby through baby wearing, they learn to read babies cues better, which in turn helps babies cry less. When mom is always around, she can pick up on babies early hunger or sleep cues and fulfill babies needs before baby is upset enough to cry. This develops better communication and bonding between babies and parents.
  • Get more exercise. While wearing babies, parents get more exercise. A walk with baby in a carrier can be a great form of exercise while also helping baby to calm down and fall asleep.
  • Are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression. Developing a stronger bond with baby as well as feeling more confident helps reduce moms' risk of postpartum depression. Wearing baby also helps moms produce more oxytocin which has a calming and mood lifting effect on mothers. If baby wearing mothers do become depressed, wearing baby offers a way to still meet babies needs with minimal effort.
  • Have more fun. With baby in a carrier, parents can go anywhere while still effortlessly caring for baby. Babywearing parents can also go places where it might be difficult to push a stroller.

          Just as marsupials carry  their babies in their pouches, nurturing them and meeting their every need, babywearing parents help their babies achieve optimal development during the "fourth trimester", the period of time during which baby is getting adjusted to life outside the womb. While wearing their babies, parents keep them close and are able to meet all of babies' needs, helping them develop the strong sense of trust and security needed to thrive. I started wearing Daniel in a Moby Wrap when he was about a month old and I can say from experience that it is awesome. I am able to get things done around the house while keeping my baby close and meeting all of his needs and our relationship has grown a lot stronger because of it. We are both happy since our needs are being met and we have great communication with each other. There is no greater feeling than that of seeing your baby thrive and knowing it is because you are doing everything in your power to enhance their growth and development. I wouldn't trade that feeling for anything in this world!
Me wearing Daniel in the Moby Wrap at 6 weeks old.
Me wearing Daniel during our first family vacation in Orlando. (7 months old)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Breast Milk, God's Super Food for Human Babies

           I would like to say that I've always valued breastfeeding and planned to breastfeed my babies but that is just not the case.  When I thought of having a baby, I never envisioned breastfeeding. The women in my family and all around me used formula, my dolls came with bottles, and women on TV all bottle fed their babies so I took this to be the "normal" way to feed a baby. Little did I know that I was as far from the truth as I could be. It wasn't until I got pregnant that I gave the topic any serious thought. From the minute I read how good breastfeeding was for the baby, I decided I'd do it. Since then, breast milk hasn't ceased to amaze me. Let's take a look at the benefits of breast feeding to mom and baby as well as the many amazing yet little known qualities of breast milk, God's super food for human babies.

Benefits for Baby:

- Optimal nutrition. Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby and contains all the nutrients he or she needs for the first 6 months of life. No water, juice, formula, or solids are needed during this time. Breast milk has a unique composition and it's components are not all known so there is no way for formula manufacturers to duplicate it. No matter what you read on the labels, breast milk is superior.

- Higher IQ. Breastfed babies have an advantage of 10-12 IQ points over formula fed babies.

- Better dental alignment.

- Stronger immune system due to antibodies passed on through breast milk.

- Fewer speech problems.

- Better emotional development. Breastfed babies exhibit self-confidence and trust.

- Healthier skin.

-Decreased risk of infections such as: ear infections, repiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, haemophilus influenza(Hib), herpes simplex, respiratory synctial virus (RSV), necrotizing enteral colitis (NEC),  h. pylori, infectious diarrhea, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and meningitis.

- Better response to vaccines.

- Better digestion and absorption due to enzymes found in breast milk. Breastfed infants also have less digestive discomfiorts such as gastroesophagal reflux, constipation, vomiting,  and diarrhea.

- Increased bonding and attachment to mother as well as increased skin to skin contact with mother.

- Baby can nurse for comfort when upset or hurt.

- Decreased risk of obesity later in life. Breast feeding teaches babies how to eat frequent small meals and to stop eating when full both of which are necessary tools for life long healthy eating.

- Healthier balance in gut flora. 

-Possible protection against AIDS.

- Fewer colds.

- Healthier hearts.

- Breastfed babies are hospitalized 10 times less than formula fed babies during their first year of life.

-Better social development.

-Better psychomotor development.

- Prevention of dental malocclusion.

- Protection against botulism.

- Better brain and nervous system development.

- Increased bone density.

- Less stress on baby's kidneys and liver.
- Decreased risk of:
  • pyloric stenosis
  • acute appendicitis
  • celiac disease
  • Crohn's disease
  • diabetes mellitus
  • breast cancer later in life
  • childhood cancers
  • Hodgkin's disease
  • SIDS
  • multiple sclerosis
  • undescended testicles in boys
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • eczema
  • inguinal hernias
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • Vitamin E and Iron deficiency anemias
  • ulcerative colitis
  • leukemia

Benefits for Mom:

- Reduced risk of breast, ovarian, uterine, cervical, and endometrial cancers.

- Reduced postpartum bleeding.

- Better postpartum emotional health.

- Faster postpartum weight loss.

- Delay in fertility which aids in spacing of children. Breastfeeding is an effective method of birth control as long as baby is younger than 6 months old, mom has not started having periods again after the birth, and baby is being exclusively breastfed (no water, formula, juice, or solids).

- Decreased risk of osteoporosis later in life.

-Reduced need for insulin among diabetic women.

- Lower blood pressure.

- Less risk of metabolic syndrome. 

-Increased bonding with baby.

-Breastfeeding releases prolactin and oxytocin  which promote relaxation and warm, motherly feelings.

-No need to get up and prepare bottles in the middle of the night or pack bottles when going out.

-Saves money. It is estimated that the average family spends about $800-1,200 a year on formula.

- Breastfeeding mothers have more self-confidence and trust in their own intuition.

- Baby's diapers smell better. Exclusively breastfed babies' poop doesn't smell as offensive as formula fed babies'. 

-Baby will be easier to comfort.

-Saves money on health care costs for baby.

-The satisfaction of knowing you gave your baby the best possible start in life!

Other interesting facts about breast milk:

- Breast milk contains all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals your baby needs for optimum growth and development during their first 6 months of life.

- Breast milk is made up of the perfect combination of sugars, fats, and proteins your baby needs at any point in his or her development.

- The content of your breast milk changes as your baby gets older to meet his or her needs at each particular stage. As baby grows into a toddler and drinks less milk, the nutrient content per ounce increases.

- Breast milk can be applied to the eye with a dropper to cure eye infections.

- Breast milk can be applied to baby's bottom to treat diaper rash.

- Adoptive mothers can take medication to induce lactation in order to breastfeed their babies.

- Breast milk can be used to heal sore or cracked nipples.

- Breast milk is made up of fore milk and hind milk. When baby first latches on, he or she drinks "skim" fore milk which is very low in fat. As baby continues to drink longer, the milk's fat content increases until it reaches a fatty cream like state which is the hind milk. Fore milk can satisfy a baby's thirst but it is the fatty hind milk that keeps baby full and satisfied. Hind milk is also the one responsible for babies growth, weight gain and optimum brain development.

- Researchers in Sweden recently discovered a substance in breast milk, known as HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells), which has the ability to kill 40 different types of cancer cells. Further research is being conducted with the hopes of possibly developing the substance into an anti-cancer medication in the future.

- The fat content and calories in your milk change throughout the day. Most women produce the most milk and milk has the highest fat and calorie content in the middle of the night, especially during the hours of 1-5 am. This milk is also rich in Omega 3 fatty acids such as DHA which are necessary for baby's brain development. It is very important for moms to breastfeed their babies at least once during those hours in order to maintain proper milk supply and for baby to have optimal growth, weight gain and brain development.

          As you can see, breast milk is simply amazing! It was designed by God as the normal, natural, and healthiest way for babies to be fed and He thought of every single detail, even changing the content of the milk as babies get older! There are a wealth of important benefits of breast feeding to both moms and babies. For that reason, the American Academy of pediatrics now recommends exclusive breastfeeding (no water, formula, juice, or solids) for the first 6 months, followed by breastfeeding along with the gradual  introduction of age appropriate complementary solid foods for the second 6 months (until 1 year of age) and continued breastfeeding thereafter for as long as mom and baby feel comfortable. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, followed by breastfeeding complemented by solids until at least 2 years of age and continued breastfeeding thereafter for as long as mom and baby want.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Free Baby Sling

Seven Every Day Slings is offering a free sling (usually $39.00) if you use the code mothering at checkout. Just pay $11.95 for shipping and handling. They don't state when the promotion will end but order yours ASAP before they run out!

Free Nursing Cover

For a limited time, Udder Covers is offering a free nursing cover (normally $32.00)! Just pay $9.95 for shipping and handling. Click on the link above and use the code mothering at checkout. .The promotion doesn't say when it will end so order yours ASAP before they run out or cancel the offer.