Monday, May 24, 2010

I've Got Two Boobs...One...Two...

They can help baby eat. Perhaps if Elmo added this to his cute, little song, people would be reminded that breasts are a part of a female's anatomy that serve a real purpose. Instead we've become uniquely hung up on the issue in America. It's strange to me that women have to think about where to breastfeed or plan breastfeeding in advance by wearing certain outfits or bringing along special covers and blankets. Where did this hang-up come from anyway? And how is it that we are desensitized to the covers of magazines and Hooters billboards, but the site of a woman breastfeeding can still stop some people in their tracks?

If you watched the story about the woman in Tampa I linked to earlier than you might have noticed words like "discretion," "modesty," and "agenda" thrown around. The teacher from the school actually says "she doesn't have the right to impose her agenda on other people's children." Ok, I hate to break it to everyone but 99.9% of the time, breastfeeding moms are just trying to feed their child. The other 1% of the time, moms are participating in nurse-in's (not an actual fact, but sounds about right). So why are we hearing such harsh, judgmental, and often condescending language from those opposed to nursing in public?

I have a theory (warning: here be some religion discussion). I once sat in a high school English class observing a particularly cool teacher. I cannot for the life of me recall the book they were discussing; however, I remember a particular point. The teacher was trying to express how sexually hung-up Americans are. One of his students was a European foreign exchange student. He asked the student about beaches in his country and what people wore. The young male answered nonchalantly, something about swimwear, sometimes nude or topless. When the teacher informed him that women were always expected to wear a swimsuit, the student exclaimed, "Even the top?" To him the idea was ludicrous, because to him there was nothing shameful or dirty about it. It was just a fact. Women might or might not wear a top at the beach. It made no difference to him. Being forced to wear one to him was strange. The teacher than noted that America was founded by the Pilgrams. Our first ancestors over her were conservative protestants. It's a little humorous that in history class our founders are sold as being progressive for pursuing religious freedom, when their ideals have left a lasting conservative impression on this nation.

Because here's the thing. Breasts are beautiful and no amount of shame or forced modesty can change that. They're so beautiful that an entire industry has sprung up to sell them to us. Another industry exists to make them perkier, fuller, and better looking under an unbuttoned blouse. There's even an entire campaign to save them. We love boobs in this country. So where's the disconnect? Why are women expected to cower in a corner while nursing their child?

Somewhere along the line breasts became equated with sex, and sex has become the enemy of family values (explaining the irony behind that is another blog post). It is therefore okay to see breasts in a sexual setting (a woman dressed in a low-cut top on a date, an actress in a revealing top on the cover of Cosmo, a Hooters girl). However, an infant belongs solely to the realm of family values and therefore can't have anything to do with sex (once again, hard to ignore the hypocrisy here). So breastfeeding is a private experience because breasts belong to sex and sex is a private experience. We should therefore cover up or stay home or go to the bathroom, according to a now retracted part of an article from Better Homes and Gardens:

Yes, I have seen table-side breast feeding at a four-star restaurant. If at all possible, take it to the ladies room. (Note: most upscale restaurants have really nice restrooms!"

Why was that article's thoughts on breastfeeding retracted? Because in less than a week of its appearance, over 1000 people, men and women, joined a group to boycott the magazine on Facebook. Today Better Homes and Gardens issued an apology, calling the section "patently inappropriate." But the point remains. The real advice it conveyed to breastfeeding moms? There are still people out there who see breastfeeding as disgusting or sexual, and don't kid yourself people like that think sexual = disgusting. And that's why it is so important that we keep nursing in public, "forcing our agenda."

Because our agenda is one of purity. I want my son's first exposure to breasts to be from a breastfeeding mom, whether myself or another mother. I want my daughter to nurse her dolls. I want to divorce breasts from dirtiness. It's our first step in divorcing sex from the taboo and therefore allowing ourselves to accept our bodies with love and admiration. And if that doesn't sell you, imagine never going swimsuit shopping again - wouldn't that be nice?

Part of the Big Deal about Boobs blog hop!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Can we plan a nurse-in?

In front of this news anchor's dressing room? He gets my blood up! I may be poor, but I am rich in righteous indignation.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Dirty Little Secrets - the truth about Cloth Diapers versus Disposables

Pampers recently called into question whether sustainable diapers are a better choice than disposables for the environment.  Sustainable diapers, like traditional cloth diapers and newer hybrid diapers such as G-diapers, have been a subject of some controversy lately.  Why?  Because more parents are making the switch to cloth diapers from disposables.  The combination of greater eco-consciousness and better cloth diaper designs has made cloth diapering an increasingly popular choice.  Cloth diapers are sustainable diapers making them both an earth friendly and budget friendly choice.

So naturally a smear campaign has begun.  In actuality the debate regarding cloth versus disposable diapers is pretty simple.  Pampers has a few arguments in favor of disposables that boil down to the following ideas (read their fact sheet here)

According to Pampers: 
Disposables are healthier for baby than cloth.  MYTH!
Disposables have to be changed less than cloth diapers but that doesn't mean your child isn't urinating just as much!  Pampers "keep babies' skin dryer and more comfortable by reducing leaks and locking wetness inside the diaper in."  So would you rather your child sat in their own excrement for a couple extra hours because they couldn't feel it thanks to a chemically produced gelatinous substance and a layer of paper or that you had to change them into a soft, dry diaper? Advances in cloth diaper design also call this fact into question.  Try an All in One with a microfleece liner and microfiber insert, like Fuzzibunz, and see which comes out on top in the cloth versus disposable diapers debate!

There's no clear winner in terms of environmental friendliness!  MYTH!
Pampers cites a UK study of the environmental effects of cloth versus disposable diapers here.  In a nutshell this is one of the most flawed studies ever produced on the subject as it focuses primarily on cloth diaperers who use a commercial diaper service.  Let's just be honest here if the average child uses over 7000 disposable diapers in their lifetime and they are all going into into landfills, well, you get the point.  Cloth diapers can have an even smaller carbon footprint if caregivers wash during low energy use hours and primarily line dry.

"Pampers diapers are made of materials that are also frequently used in a wide range of other consumer products."  Ok, this may be true, but it shouldn't make you feel better!

But perhaps my favorite Pampers argument is "biodegradability does not provide a meaningful benefit, since the preferred method of disposal for household waste in the U.S. is landfill or incineration. Very little degrades in a landfill no matter what it is made of – even newspaper – since landfills are designed to contain waste, protect the ground water, and keep air and water out" (  Where do you even begin with this?  If everyone jumped off a bridge....

Here's some fun facts about the cloth versus disposable diapers debate Pampers isn't highlighting.
- Bowel movements need to be dumped in the toilet according to Pampers instructions, because established health standards from WHO and APHA show soiled diapers can contaminate ground water supply.  (Pampers instructons, click here.  APHA policy statement on disposal of diapers)

- There is a group of over 1000 parents united on Facebook claiming Pampers dipers gave their baby bleeding, blistering diaper rash.  Pampers claims none of the materials in their new revolutionary, Dry Max technology are new (insert head scratch here) and that this is simply diaper rash and competitors lying. Nice.  Well, dear Pampers, my mother warned me back in my disposable diapering days that my kid sis, who is now 21, would bleed if she was put into pampers.  My mom said it was like the diaper was sucking the moisture from her skin.  HMMMMMM.... (Check out the Facebook group here)

- The material list for Pampers:
• Petrolatum – skin protectant
• Stearyl Alcohol – Enhances the smoothness and softness of the special formulation and helps condition the skin.
• Aloe Extract – moisturizer
• Polyethylene (a moisture-proof material) – A moisture-proof material used on the backsheet (outer cover).... See More
• AGM – absorbs fluid and keeps it away from baby’s skin
• Polypropylene – a synthetic material for the inner layer
• Polypropylene and Polyethylene – inner layer top sheet
• Masking Perfume (small amounts) – Added between the core and backsheet to mask the natural odors of diaper ingredients.
• Pigment/colorant – for leg cuffs and ears
• Elastic – Spandex elastic that is covered with polypropylene-based nonwovens to provide a snug fit around the legs.
Sure doesn't sound very natural or safe for the environment.  By the way, try finding this on their website!
The bottom line is that cloth diapering should be the norm.  We can't get trapped by the myth of convenience when it comes to cloth versus disposable diapers, or parenting in general.  We need to start realizing that being a conscientious parent is about making the best choices not the ones sold to us as convenient options.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nobody puts baby in the crib!

I wrote this in response to Authentic Parenting's call for posts for a blog carnival on the subject of Radical Parenting.

My 2 year-old recently informed me that "Sydney doesn't have a bed."  I'm not entirely sure if this is his own observation or the result of overhearing conversations with my mom.  Regardless, my response was "No, Syd sleeps with mommy.  When you were a little baby you slept with mommy too."  Occasionally he still does, although he is relegated to Daddy's side for safety's sake.  But he's right, we don't even own a crib.

The lack of bed seems troublesome to many.  My son was content enough with my answer.  I guess it made sense to him.  Others have more adult concerns.  How can I sleep?  Isn't it dangerous? Will she ever sleep on her own?  And....insert hushed will we ever have sex again?  The answers are pretty straightforward.

I sleep great.  It was much harder for me to sleep the first month James moved into his own room and he was almost 2 at that point.  I don't believe it is dangerous if you employ some common sense and some safety measures.  Syd sleeps beside me and I sleep between her and my husband and/or son.  I'm careful with my pillow and I have a special co-sleeping bolster that prevents roll off. As far as sleeping on her own, my son is sleeping on his own upstairs, so yeah, she'll sleep on her own.  Although my son is always welcome to come into our bed if he needs the comfort.  And sex?  Yeah, not an issue.  As I once told someone that asked this question, not everyone has sex at night or in bed.

But why is sleep sharing so important to me?  Well, I won't lie.  It is convenient.  It's a lot easier to soothe, feed, or change the baby.  But it's more than that.  Sleep sharing is supremely natural.  My child belongs with me.  She needs me in the most basic, simple, yet all-consuming way that she will ever need.

As humans, we feel some desperate need to separate ourselves from animals.  We're intelligent, we tell ourselves.  We have more demands, more capabilities, more know-how.  Whatever floats your boat.  It seems to me we could learn a thing or two from animals.  When was the last time you saw a mama cat stick her newborn kitten in a little cage for the night?  Yeah, never.  We could do this with damn near every animal on the planet, but we won't.  You get the point.

Now somewhere along the line we convinced ourselves that letting our babies sleep in bed with us would cripple their development.  They would become dependent, unable to sleep on their own, clingy.  But if I could go back to my animal analogy, I'd like to argue the opposite.  Those same animals that bunk down with their little ones, send their babies off into the world much earlier than us.  They are nurtured carefully during their developmental stages in preparation for going out into the world.  It's logical.  An infant of any species needs to feel secure when they are at their most vulnerable to ensure their ability to grow and prosper.

Imagine, if you will, that you have lost your ability to speak, walk, sit up, even form rational thought.  All you have is pure, visceral basic needs and emotions.  You know you are hungry.  You know you are uncomfortable.  You know you have soiled yourself.  You know you are scared.  You know you are alone.  You know you need.  You don't know someone is in the next room.  You don't know someone will come for you.  You can't remember that.

Now imagine in this vulnerable state that you awaken in a dark room in a box with bars.  You cry out not to alert someone to come don't have the capacity to do that.  You cry out in fear - pure, basic fear.

Fear is crippling.  Fear can stop grown adults from facing obstacles.  It can send them cowering away from a difficult task.  If you start your life in fear and impotence, how do you learn to be independent?  or even to ask for help? If you had to choose between fear and security, what would you choose for yourself?  your children?  By removing fear, we stop wasting energy on it.  We have the capacity to channel our energy into growth.

Now ask me why I don't put my babies in cribs.

Thoughts from Inside the Bubble

I feel like I am getting deeper in the Bubble these days.  Since my daughter's birth I've made a concerted effort to participate in groups like ICAN and Holistic Mom's Network.  Having made the transition from a very crunchy town to a bigger metro area that feels less crunchy, I was so caught up in my new pregnancy that I didn't reach out.  Getting my homebirth was all that mattered, so, of course, when that didn't happen, I felt a little lost.  Foolish even.  I was so focused on this one event that I missed out on forming meaningful relationships with other like-minded people.  I can count on one hand the people in my life with similar sensibilities which I knew before her birth.  I'm happy to say that number is now growing.

However being part of the bubble isn't always easy.  I often feel like the great pretender.  Everywhere I turn in the bubble people glowingly report beautiful home births, water births, natural births.  They often use terms like determination when they speak of their experience.  Believe me if it was all about determination, I would have VBACed at home.  I've got determination in spades.  But while their success stories are shared out of their own (well-deserved) pride, I find myself feeling inferior to their successes as though they did some better than me.  I vacillate between bitterness and acceptance.  I think what bothers me the most is how dismissive some other HBACers can be whether or not they realize it.  Often they talk about how they "educated" themselves and were "determined" to have a different experience.  The sober fact is that sometimes no matter how educated or determined you are, you still don't get the birth you want.

So as I descend deeper into the bubble, I find myself explaining myself and my births as though I need to apologize for them.  I know rationally I don't need to do that and that I was educated and determined.  But somehow bed sharing, breastfeeding, and babywearing still isn't enough to qualify me in my own mind, because deep down I believe people who don't know my story would dismiss me as another one of those uninformed moms who wound up with a section.  And I have to tell you, that sucks.

I've had to come to a realization about the issue.  I can't change my births.  I shouldn't apologize for them.  I did try.  I tried hard.  And perhaps most importantly, my past does not dictate my future.  I can still be a holistic mom and a c-section mom.  I can still be a homebirther and c-section mom.  My experience is different than others, but that difference can actually be valuable.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quick and Dirty Bibs

The fastest DIY bib you don't have to sew unless you want to!  All my tutorials will be hosted at Spoolish from now on, but I will post links here!


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!


She came tonight as I sat alone...
The girl I used to be...
And she gazed at me with her earnest eye
And questioned reproachfully:

Have you forgotten the many plans
And hopes I had for you?

The great career, the splendid fame,
all the wonderful things to do?

Where is the mansion of stately height
With all its gardens rare?

The silken robes that I dreamed for you
And the jewels in your hair?

And as she spoke, I was very sad
For I wanted her pleased with me...

This slender girl from the shadowy past
The girl that I used to be.
So gently rising, I took her hand
And guided her up the stairs

Where peacefully sleeping, my babies lay
Innocent, sweet, and fair.

And I told her that these are my only gems,
And precious they are to me;

That silken robes is my motherhood
Of costly simplicity.

And my mansion of stately height is love,
And the only career I know

Is serving each day in these sheltered walls
For the dear ones who come and go

And as I spoke to my shadowy guest,
She smiled through her tears at me.

And I saw the woman that I am now

the girl I used to be.
~~ Author Unknown ~~

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Kid's dream playroom - inspiration board

Last summer, I started working on a lot of handmade toys for James.  Then I got pregnant and morning sickness took over our lives.  So here is my inspiration board for our play room.  Maybe I can undo the tv addiction and encourage more creative play :)

From Out of the Crayon Box

From Homemade by Jill

Lots of fun food
A felt play house
Like from This & That

more to come :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Milwaukee's Fox 6 News has a Surprising Take on Bedsharing

Watch this first:,0,7099533.story

This video makes a couple of great points.
1) The "official" stance on bedsharing, shared by many health agencies, to discourage what they see as a dangerous habit does not fit every family.
2)  Breastfeeding is the key component to safe bed sharing.

Dr. Sears, a renowned pediatrician and practitioner of Attachment Parenting, makes these recommendations for safe sleep:
  • Use an Arm's Reach® Co-Sleeper® Bassinet. An alternative to sleeping with baby in your bed is the Arm's Reach® Co-Sleeper®. This crib-like bed fits safely and snuggly adjacent to parent's bed. The co-sleeper® arrangement gives parents and baby their own separate sleeping spaces yet, keeps baby within arm's reach for easy nighttime care. To learn more about the Arm's Reach® Co-Sleeper® Bassinet visit
  • Take precautions to prevent baby from rolling out of bed, even though it is unlikely when baby is sleeping next to mother. Like heat-seeking missiles, babies automatically gravitate toward a warm body. Yet, to be safe, place baby between mother and a guardrail or push the mattress flush against the wall and position baby between mother and the wall. Guardrails enclosed with plastic mesh are safer than those with slats, which can entrap baby's limbs or head. Be sure the guardrail is flush against the mattress so there is no crevice that baby could sink into.
  • Place baby adjacent to mother, rather than between mother and father. Mothers we have interviewed on the subject of sharing sleep feel they are so physically and mentally aware of their baby's presence even while sleeping, that it's extremely unlikely they would roll over onto their baby. Some fathers, on the other hand, may not enjoy the same sensitivity of baby's presence while asleep; so it is possible they might roll over on or throw out an arm onto baby. After a few months of sleep-sharing, most dads seem to develop a keen awareness of their baby's presence.
  • Place baby to sleep on his back.
  • Use a large bed, preferably a queen-size or king-size. A king-size bed may wind up being your most useful piece of "baby furniture." If you only have a cozy double bed, use the money that you would ordinarily spend on a fancy crib and other less necessary baby furniture and treat yourselves to a safe and comfortable king-size bed.
  • Some parents and babies sleep better if baby is still in touching and hearing distance, but not in the same bed. For them, a bedside co-sleeper is a safe option.
Here are some things to avoid:

  • Do not sleep with your baby if:

    1. You are under the influence of any drug (such as alcohol or tranquilizing medications) that diminishes your sensitivity to your baby's presence. If you are drunk or drugged, these chemicals lessen your arousability from sleep.
    2. You are extremely obese. Obesity itself may cause sleep apnea in the mother, in addition to the smothering danger of pendulous breasts and large fat rolls.
    3. You are exhausted from sleep deprivation. This lessens your awareness of your baby and your arousability from sleep.
    4. You are breastfeeding a baby on a cushiony surface, such as a waterbed or couch. An exhausted mother could fall asleep breastfeeding and roll over on the baby.
    5. You are the child's baby-sitter. A baby-sitter's awareness and arousability is unlikely to be as acute as a mother's.
  • Don't allow older siblings to sleep with a baby under nine months. Sleeping children do not have the same awareness of tiny babies as do parents, and too small or too crowded a bed space is an unsafe sleeping arrangement for a tiny baby.
  • Don't fall asleep with baby on a couch. Baby may get wedged between the back of the couch and the larger person's body, or baby's head may become buried in cushion crevices or soft cushions.
  • Do not sleep with baby on a free-floating, wavy waterbed or similar "sinky" surface in which baby could suffocate.
  • Don't overheat or overbundle baby. Be particularly aware of overbundling if baby is sleeping with a parent. Other warm bodies are an added heat source.
  • Don't wear lingerie with string ties longer than eight inches. Ditto for dangling jewelry. Baby may get caught in these entrapments.
  • Avoid pungent hair sprays, deodorants, and perfumes. Not only will these camouflage the natural maternal smells that baby is used to and attracted to, but foreign odors may irritate and clog baby's tiny nasal passages. Reserve these enticements for sleeping alone with your spouse.
Parents should use common sense when sharing sleep. Anything that could cause you to sleep more soundly than usual or that alters your sleep patterns can affect your baby's safety. Nearly all the highly suspected (but seldom proven) cases of fatal "overlying" I could find in the literature could have been avoided if parents had observed common sense sleeping practices.  Source:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Good news for Breastmilk lovers: It cures cancer!

Substance in Breast Milk Kills Cancer Cells, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (Apr. 23, 2010) — A substance found in breast milk can kill cancer cells, reveal studies carried out by researchers at Lund University and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Although the special substance, known as HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made LEthal to Tumour cells), was discovered in breast milk several years ago, it is only now that it has been possible to test it on humans. Patients with cancer of the bladder who were treated with the substance excreted dead cancer cells in their urine after each treatment, which has given rise to hopes that it can be developed into medication for cancer care in the future.

Discovered by chance

HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. Further studies showed that HAMLET comprises a protein and a fatty acid that are both found naturally in breast milk. So far, however, it has not been proven that the HAMLET complex is spontaneously formed in the milk. It is speculated, however, that HAMLET can form in the acidic environment of the babies´ stomachs. Laboratory experiments have shown that HAMLET kills 40 different types of cancer, and the researchers are now going on to study its effect on skin cancer, tumours in the mucous membranes and brain tumours. Importantly, HAMLET kills only cancer cells and does not affect healthy cells.

Studying the integration of the substance

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg are focusing on how HAMLET can be taken up into tumour cells. The researchers, Roger Karlsson, Maja Puchades and Ingela Lanekoff, are attempting to gain an in-depth understanding of how the substance interacts with cell membranes, and their findings were recently published in the journal PLoS One.