Tag Archives: Breastfeeding

But you just seem so normal!

13 Aug

Fair warning – this post is equal parts ranting, judging, whining and pontificating. I even swear.  Enter at your own risk.

Remember when Joaquin Phoenix was doing that “documentary” movie about becoming a rapper and no one knew exactly what to think?  He went on Letterman and people were all “what the heck” and after it was revealed to be hoax people laughed and were like “typical” and smiled indulgently?

I feel like Joaquin a lot of the time.

On the outside, I look relatively “normal”.

On the inside, I get the sense that people think of me, more specifically my parenting, as an odd anomaly that is best smiled at and overlooked due to my relative normality in other aspects.

Case in point:

A friend was over and somehow Alicia Silverstone came up in conversation.  There was a video a few weeks back of Alicia feeding her kid chewed food from her mouth.  I don’t know about anyone here, but I don’t know enough about this practice to label it “good” or “bad” but anyone who hasn’t worried about their kid choking and grabbed food, chewed it up, and then handed it to their kid is lying.

So we then get to talking about Mayim Bialik’s new book which said friend says is because “sleeping with your kid is falling out of favour”.  I reminded friend that that’s what we did and I got it.  THE LOOK.  And the “oh Jenn”.

I interpret the “oh Jenn” and THE LOOK, both which I have experienced many, many, many times from many, many, many different people to mean “you seem normal, so we’ll forgive you this odd eccentricity”.

The funny thing is, I don’t particularly consider co-sleeping to be eccentric.  I consider it normal.  Moreover, I consider it the right thing to do.  Oh, I get it, some people can’t due to various reasons, but there are degrees to co-sleeping, going from side by side, to side car sleepers, to crib beside bed, to crib in room, etc.  Eventually, people sleep in their own beds.

Co-sleeping wasn’t something that I set out doing, it was something I fell into.

I had every intention to be the most “normal” parent who ever existed.  Then Alex was born and I wasn’t much interested in what was “normal” and a lot more interested in what was “right”.

I research the crap out of my decisions.  When all those “co-sleeping is unsafe” advertisements came out, I renewed my research vigor and was completely satisfied with both my research and the safety.  These crib people really are biased let me tell you.  😉

I get why conventional wisdom is so popular and prevalent.  It’s NORMAL after all.

What I don’t get is why people who think I’m otherwise intelligent and well read, think I’m a fucking idiot or “crazy hippie” when it comes to parenting.

If I had a dollar for the amount of times someone has said “you totally don’t seem like someone who would breastfeed that long” to me, I would have somewhere between 20 and 50 dollars. 😉

The thing I hate the most?  When people make comments about my breastfeeding or co-sleeping or anything, and when those comments are uneducated, and borderline rude – I say almost nothing.  I FUCKING hate that I let people say dumb shit to me and I do the indulgent smile right back.  UGH.

I am well researched and confident in my decisions,why do I become a bumbling idiot when it comes to defending my position.

As my kids get older, it doesn’t get any easier. The argument turns from breastfeeding and co sleeping, to homework and playdates, dating and alcohol.


How do we sabotage our babies intuitive eating?

25 Apr

This post is based on my opinion.

The website IntuitiveEating.org defines intuitive eating:

The underlying premise of Intuitive Eating is that you will learn to respond to your inner body cues, because you were born with all the wisdom you need for eating intuitively. On the surface, this may sound simplistic, but it is rather complex.  This inner wisdom is often clouded by years of dieting and food myths that abound in the culture.  For example, “Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full” may sound like basic common sense, but when you have a history of chronic dieting or of following rigid “healthy” rules about eating, it can be quite difficult. To be able to ultimately return to your inborn Intuitive Eater, a number of things need to be in place—most importantly, the ability to trust yourself!

Intuitive eating seems to be everywhere these days.  Mindfulness in general is gaining in popularity and it is only fitting that people bring that mindfulness to what, and how, they eat.  Proponents of eating intuitively consider this way of eating to be both normal and natural, a sort of “anti-diet”.  Others on the other side of the debate consider it another diet, another lifestyle change, and another way of eating to mitigate the amount of harm in one’s body.  Either way, being more mindful of when we eat and why we eat, is a sound idea for several reasons, both physical and emotional.

According the blogger Mary Claire at My Intuitive Eating Journey:

Think of a baby. They know when they’re hungry. They cry. We feed them…when they have had enough they turn away, or throw the food away. They won’t eat no matter how much you try to force it down their throats. They haven’t been brainwashed by society into thinking they need to eat less to be thin, or eat more to make someone happy (or because there are starving children somewhere).

Maria Von Trapp, who sang the immortal lines from “Do Re Mi” in the Sound of Music had the right of it.

“Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. When we read we begin with ABC…”

To look at intuitive eating, we need to start at the very beginning.

With a baby.

As a mother, I am constantly reading and researching topics pertaining to children.  One thing I hear a lot of is that children today are significantly more overweight and showing markers for diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis at shockingly young ages, compared to only one generation ago.

This discussion could go on because there are so many factors contributing to childhood (and adult) obesity.

I am going to discuss infant feeding, and the role that it plays in this discussion, because it is so important to go right to the beginning in looking at this issue.

I want my children to be healthy and fit, and to have a healthy relationship with food.  I want them to trust in their own bodies and minds.  Through my years of research (AKA – being my kid’s mom), I have found several things that I believe will contribute to my children ultimately having a positive relationship to food.  I fail a lot, but I continue to try to achieve a healthy balance.

Mary Claire asserts that babies eat intuitively.

I agree.

Sort of.

1.  Breastfed babies eat intuitively.  In order to successfully get milk from the mother’s breast, the baby must latch on.  The process of latching and then sucking the milk takes effort.  Essentially, a breastfed baby must work for their food.  It is relatively easy for a nursing mother to know when baby is actively sucking for their food, or passively sucking for comfort.

Conversely, the bottlefed baby (be it breastmilk or formula in the bottle) does not exert the same effort.  Bottle nipples are free flowing, and though they come in varying sizes and flow rates, the method of getting milk from it  is the same.

2.  A breastfed baby controls their intake.  It is impossible to force a baby to latch onto the breast and actively suck, particularly when baby is not hungry. Babies may eat many, many times a day.  They may eat for an hour.  They may eat for 5 minutes every 1/2 hour.  They may be easily distracted and delatch to look around.

Here is the key – they are controlling their own intake.  Yes, it is hard and exhaustive for the mom, but it gets easier and it creates a much more positive relationship with food in later life.

The caregiver of a bottlefed baby controls the intake.  While the baby may turn their head or indicate that they are done, the caregiver may continue to feed the baby until the bottle is empty (in an effort not to waste the milk or in an attempt to “top the baby up”).

This early step of “force feeding”, immediately takes away the autonomy from the baby – they are no longer in control of their intake.  Furthermore, when feeding is “scheduled”, the baby does not eat according to their needs, but according to a time table designed by someone else.

3.  Breastmilk is designed so that the lower calorie, “thinner” or “more watery” “foremilk” is what comes first and the calorie and fat rich “hindmilk” comes later.  (Kellymom explains this much better than I do).  Generally, the baby gets satisfied off the foremilk and only has a small amount of hindmilk.

The calories are evenly distributed via bottlefeeding.

This small difference may play a larger role in later life.  This article (with citations, is quite interesting and explains things well).  It is important to take note of this though, because babies who are being exclusively breastfed are often told they are “too small” because the chart that they are being weighed against is a chart for babies who are fed formula.  Ensure that your baby is being measured by the WHO chart for breastfed babies and look at other cues such as growing in the positive direction on a curve, output and mood.

4.  Early introduction to solids can contribute to later problems with weight and lack of intuitively eating.  The guidelines for most major paediatric associations state to wait until the baby is at least six months old before introducing solid food into the diet.

5. Baby led weaning or baby led solids allows a baby to control their own food intake and choices.  If we want our kids to have a positive relationship with food, this can begin right when solid foods are introduced.  In the first year, solids are mainly for “testing” and tasting, not for sustenance.  The baby should be offered solid foods when they are interested and they should be allowed to feed themselves.  For someone who practices baby led solids,  scooping rice cereal into baby will not usually happen and instead baby will play with foods of soft textures in their hands and then eventually pick food up and eat it.  Additionally, breastmilk and formula should be offered before solid food, not after.

 The conclusions to a study published in the British Medical Journal 2012 states:

Weaning style impacts on food preferences and health in early childhood. Our results suggest that infants weaned through the baby-led approach learn to regulate their food intake in a manner, which leads to a lower BMI and a preference for healthy foods like carbohydrates. This has implications for combating the well-documented rise of obesity in contemporary societies.

6. Bottlefeeding after 12-18 months of age.  Babies who get milk from a bottle past the age of 12-18 months show an increased risk for later obesity.  A recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests  that parents tend to allow the child to use the bottle and walk around with it, and often use it as a behavioural technique, associating the food with comfort and feeding an emotional need.  Breastfeeding is not included in this as breastfeeding can meet an emotional need with limited increase in calories and children associate breastfeeding differently.

By nature, babies do eat intuitively, but, in the same way that we sabotage ourselves, we can sabotage our children’s ability to eat intuitively.

If a baby is bottlefed, be sure to feed on demand and, even if milk will be wasted, to stop when the baby indicates they are done.  Follow the cues of your baby and let them set their own feeding schedule (or not).  Rather than feeding a baby solids via a spoon, allow them to explore the food and feed themselves.

I look to my son as a sort of “test case” for this.  My son is a very intuitive eater.  Although he had a very minimal amount of formula after birth, he was cup fed and nursed exclusively following release from the hospital.  My son was not a huge eater of solid foods in his first year and we very much followed a baby led solids approach, although it was difficult for me to put aside preconceived notions of “right and wrong” with respect to feeding.  When I returned to work at twelve months, my son experimented more with solid food, but we reversed cycled at night with nursing – another sign that my son followed his own cues as to when he needed nutrients.  Yes, I was tired at times, but I believe that due to the small period in which our children are young, we need to set aside our own wants at times for their needs.  

My son is a small four year old, weight wise, but he is a mighty and healthy child, meeting and exceeding developmental milestones.  Watching him eat is a pleasure.  He eats slowly and methodically.  He goes through periods where his hunger is high and periods where he needs little.  He asks for a wide variety of food from sweets and chocolate to salmon and carrots.  He is not a perfect eater, but he developed, from an early age, the ability to eat intuitively, and I hope that he continues to have a positive relationship with food as he gets older.

Tips for (working) moms. In a list no less!

18 Apr

I love lists.

I also love attempting to be organized.

Thus, I have combined both of my “loves” into …

Jenn’s tips for getting things done in a good way as a working mom who needs more time and hours and wants to spend as much time as possible with her kids:

1.  Do everything the night before.  By everything, I mean EVERYTHING.  Make all the lunches the night before. Pick out clothes the night before. And that’s for you too, not just kids.  Pack backpacks the night before.  Make sure shoes, and coats, and hats, and sunscreen, etc, are all ready and easy to grab. Give kid’s baths and showers if they are young enough. Comb out long hair and put in a braid while sleeping so it’s easier to “do” in the AM. Does this list sound daunting?  Yeah, I think so too. So do it the night before instead of when you’re half asleep at 6AM.

2.  Run errands during the day.  This can be anything from buying groceries, to picking up prescriptions, to mailing letters, to getting your nails done, to having coffee with a friend, to going to the dentist. If you can fit it into a lunch or break from work, do it. If you can do it before picking up the kids, do it. A fun for the kids trick I have is trading off with another mom. Usually one Thursday I take her brood  the following Thursday she takes mine.  This gives me a about two extra hours to get stuff done.  Instead of always taking full days off from work, I often take an hour or two toward the end of the day once every few weeks and use that time to do a big grocery shop, or something else that needs to be done.

3.  Grocery Shop on Wednesday or Thursday.  Strange, right? I just discovered this one.  I used to shop on the weekends and that is all kinds of crazy. When I shop on Wednesday or Thursday, I always have food for the weekend, I avoid the crowds, and my weekends are less stressful.  Wednesday my kids have an after school activity so I get them an hour later and I use that time to shop. Or, if I wait until Thursday, my son and I go when my daughter is at dance.

4.  Meal Plan. Everyone says it, but seriously do it. Do it. I meal plan for six suppers a week, knowing we will either eat out or just scavage for the seventh.  I also plan for lunches (left overs or otherwise).  I am not tied to doing one thing on any night, I just know that we are having x, y and z at some point in the week depending on what I feel like that night.  Saves extra grocery trips and makes sure I have enough food.  It also saves money.

5.  Go out for dinner. I have a few busy nights each week where cooking is tough.  I pick the hardest night and grab dinner out. My healthy “fast foods” are pitas and subs.  Kids have some a relatively health dinner of turkey, veggies, cheese and bun/pita, and I have a salad with chicken.

6.  Kids can be like mini slaves if you train them well enough. 😉 Making lunches is a lot more fun if you do them at night with the kids involved. Same goes for planning outfits.  Even the littlest kid can be nipping at your ankles, standing at the table, and helping you prepare dinner. Make doing laundry into a game.  If your kid is a toddler, give them a towel to “fold” while you fold the laundry. My son is four. He turns on the machines and helps moves clothes from the washer to the dryer.  My nine year old daughter folds towels and her clothes.

7.  If you can afford occasional cleaning help, get some.  I have a woman who come every two weeks to clean.  I love her.  She does all the deep cleaning so I can spend my weekends focused on my family and not on scrubbing my house.  It makes day to day cleaning/tidying easier.  The housekeeper doesn’t have to come often.  Even a monthly deep clean cuts down on a lot of weekend cleaning.

8.  Clean a little bit every day.  Sweep, put away dishes, wipe counters and toilets and sinks every day.  It takes barely a few minutes and then your house is clean and tidy.  If you don’t have an occasional cleaner, keeping up day to day cuts down on that huge weekend clean.

9.  Do one load of laundry a day.  I don’t do this one.  I should. I want to. I don’t.  I hear it works really well and I keep trying.

10. Spend the weekends with your kids.  From Friday night to Monday morning, my kids have me 100%.  Sure, I occasionally go out at night, but the weekend days are reserved for my kids as much as possible.  If you don’t work on the weekends, do what you can to make the most of those days when you aren’t working.  Go out, stay home, just hang out and have fun.  If you have things to do, bring your kids. Some things may take longer with the kids, but it’s the weekend so who cares?!

And that’s my list.  

Don’t get me wrong. I often scramble in the mornings, and grocery shop on the weekends, run errands with two kids climbing on me, etc, but when I do my best with the list, I find that life runs much smoother, my kids get more of my attention, and I am happier overall.

I want to know what you do!  I am always looking for tips to make life easier so please share!

Vaccination. I just don’t know. Do you?

21 Feb

I am pretty passionate and pretty vocal on a lot of parenting subjects or issues.  I’m not sure if you quite got that from my blog so far? 😉

Attachment parent. Lactivist. Co-sleeper. Baby-wearer. Delayed solids. Early education. 

Everything I do, I tend to do by both instinct and research and I always feel like I am learning. Where my kids are concerned, I am NOT apathetic. I feel like I owe it to them to do the best for them. To do the best, I need to research.

One thing that I have never been able to decide on, or feel confident about, is vaccination.

On the one hand, I believe in herd immunity, and on the other hand, have you HEARD of all those vaccine injured kids?

What to do?

When I had Alex, I was young – 24 – and the only one of my friends who had a baby. I had no one to ask about vaccination so I started reading about it online – on message boards, on websites, in books, in pamphlets. I talked to my doctor, my chiropractor, my massage therapist.

No one agreed. SURPRISE!

I am uncomfortable vaccinating my children. I am equally uncomfortable not vaccinating them.

On the non vaccinating side there are websites like Mercola and whale.to and message boards with tons of people who are anti-vax who will spout statistics until they are blue in the face. They will tell you that doctors get kick backs and are duped and that the government has a conspiracy and that the evidence isn’t really evidence.

On the vaccinating side there are websites like the CDC and message boards with tons of people who are pro-vax who will spout statistics until they are blue in the face. They will tell you that non vaxers are crazy fear mongerers with no medical knowledge to back them up and no real evidence to support their claims.


Who to trust?

I know it sounds silly. Like wouldn’t I just trust the doctors? Because they are doctors.

But kids have DIED from vaccines. They have suffered very serious consequences.

It’s funny because I have friends and family who are doctors and they are intelligent and know what they are talking about and I also have friends who are into natural healing and who are intelligent and know what they are talking about. AHHHH. Confusion reigns supreme.

So back to the I. Don’t. Know.

Because I don’t. Know that is. 

So I just sort of do a bit of this and a bit of that.

I delay and I don’t vax according to schedule, but I do vaccinate. I don’t like the idea of babies who are 2 months or whatever the recommendation is to get a shot of five vaccines at one time. No thanks. I hadn’t done much research at the time, but as soon as my doctor said “five at once”, I was like “stop the presses, hang tight here, let me think”.

So my doctor thought I was some sort of a crazy hippy. So what? I wasn’t doing THAT to my baby at that time. I needed to think. I needed to read. And I eventually did it. Just at a (much) older age.

Additionally, I didn’t do chicken pox and didn’t do many of the ones that are “new” and not on the schedule. I’m not so interested in my kids being the test generation of a new vaccine.

And I delayed the MMR until well after two years. I get that the study was shot down  and not well done in the first place but just in case… I wasn’t taking any chances.

My kids are pretty caught up at this point. I did get the letters from public health and Alex was almost medically suspended from school at one point (I really do delay), but they are now at the point where they can attend school without me using an exemption.

And soon enough, I will need to decide about Gardasil. Once again, my gut says “no way, not a chance”, but really, I just don’t know.

How do YOU feel about vaccination? What do you do?

Panic Attacks. Post Partum Mood Disorder

8 Feb

My son was around 6 weeks old when my friend panic returned with a vengeance. I was getting on so nicely and I thought I was in the clear. I really did.

Then Santa brought me the gift of more panic attacks for Christmas 2007.

I could not sit still. I could not relax.

I remember being at the dinner table in my mom’s living room on Christmas day literally willing the minutes away. I just wanted to be somewhere under a blanket without people talking to me and asking questions.

And then it happened again at New Year’s. And again. And again.

And it was spectacularly awful.

All panic attacks are spectacularly awful for people who have them. For me, I felt like I couldn’t breath. I could not physically get in a breath, no matter what I did. I would bend over in the hopes of getting that air in. My heart pounded. I wanted to ask people around me – “can you hear that pounding? Can you SEE my heart beating really fast in my chest?”

I twitched, involuntarily. It is as though my jaw and lips moved of their own accord. My muscles were always tense as though I was on guard for something. I was nauseous and had stomach issues.

One night I tried to “sneak out” of my condo with my son by telling my husband I was going to the walk in clinic due to a sore throat.  I was really going to the hospital. His friend was over and our daughter was sleeping so we left his friend to watch our daughter while we (and our son) drove to the hospital and sat outside. And waited. I was really concerned about what his friend would think of me. I still wonder.

“If anything bad happens, we are right here at the hospital”, my husband told me.

You are a fucking asshole, I thought. “You don’t know how I’m feeling”, I would scream at him.

“I know I don’t know what you’re feeling, but I know what’s happening to you, and I’m here for you”.

I really hated my husband in that moment.

We ended up going for a walk around. And then we got ice cream. And then we went home.

Two days later I went to the hospital for real. I went with my son, sure that something was terribly wrong. They ran all the tests and they were all normal.

I followed through with my doctor and it was clear to him and to his resident that I was not well. He increased my meds (I had checked with mother risk for breastfeeding compatibility) and I had an appointment to return the following week.

I was back at the ER before that next appointment. This time, after all the tests had been run, they asked if I wanted to speak to the people in psychiatric services. I’m not sure if it was the baby, my hysterical crying, or the fact that I was begging for help that tipped them off, but needless to say, I said yes.

I remember saying “please don’t take my baby, I’m really not that bad”. The thought of removing me from my child made me feel so much worse.

The nurses and doctors were AMAZING. They took me to a room in the ER that was quiet and private and let me talk and they adjusted my meds and referred me to a group run in the hospital. It was really a turning point for me. They were totally non judgemental and not frightening in any way. It was validating to me that despite the fact that I was sick, I wasn’t alone.

I realized at that point, that while I did not have post partum depression, I did have a Post Partum Mood Disorder (anxiety and panic).

Part 6 coming soon.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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