Friday, January 29, 2010

Be your OWN mother!

I've been struggling with a bit of anxiety this pregnancy. Money issues, running a home business, having a willful two year-old - these things all add up. So like many women, I run to my mom for advice. For the purpose of argument, let's do a little poll.

Raise your hand if you call your mom for advice. Keep it raised if your mom's advice often conflicts with your parenting philosophy. Keep it raised if you let this bother you or challenge your ideals. Hopefully you put your hand down at some point. If not, read on.

The thing is that on the parenting spectrum my mom and I stand on opposite ends of the spectrum. She's pro-CIO, crib-sleeping, bottle feeding, and disposable diapering, and, as you might have guessed, I am not. Now when it comes to those big parenting issues, I am able to easily overrule her in my mind. It's the more subtle issues she seems to have influence over.

In my mind I can hear her reminding me that my husband would be happier if the house was cleaner. My son could potty train if I really stuck to it. It's less important to take my toddler out for activities now, because he won't remember them anyway. And, of course, I need to just buckle down and get to work at all times. - if I'm too pregnant to carry a laundry basket up and down the stairs all day without tiring out than I can just take a load down in 2 or 3 trips.

This is a constant commentary running through my head. And when I compare her home to mine, mine always falls short. I'd love to have a really neat, clean home all the time.

Here's the thing though. I have a toddler. I'm pregnant. I have other interests. I don't like to be home all day while my husband is at work.

So where does that leave us? In the land of mommy guilt - you've been there. This is the place where you compare yourself to other moms and come up lacking. And while I find my other mom friends have many strengths, it's always the expectations of my mother that get me down - or at least, the expectations I imagine she has.

And I've let myself become overwhelmed by them. I'm literally making myself sick over it. Now my husband knows me and he felt the need to bring this up at our prenatal appointment with my midwife yesterday.

Well, my midwife is a gem and never minds playing therapist a bit at appointments and she told me about the book My Mother, Myself. The basic premise? We view ourselves in terms of our own mothers. The advice? We have to stop thinking like our mothers and start thinking like mothers. Instead of thinking about what our mothers would say or seeking their advice, it's important we start to think in terms of what we would tell our daughters. Important because it helps to establish authority over our own lives and because it will help us establish the relationship we want to have with our daughters rather than being doomed to bring our own mother-daughter relationships into the equation.

So the next time, your mom's voice starts to run through your head, hit the stop button and switch tracks and ask yourself, what would you say to your daughter?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Putting the Haute in Hot Mama!

I can't sing the praises of Hot Mama Gowns loudly enough, but I'll try.

When I delivered my son after a 30 hour induction, which included spending all 30 hours in a scratchy, uncomfortable hospital gown splayed on my hospital bed, I felt anything but hot. Since I wound up with a cesarean (gee, a 30 hour induction didn't work?), I was stuck in those awful hospital gowns for four more days. I struggled with breastfeeding as a result of my surgery and spent literally hours in bed in that gown, breasts hanging out, trying to nurse correctly. I'm pretty sure that everyone who worked on that floor walked in to a view of my cha-chas at some point.

So when I stumbled across Hot Mama Gowns, I was instantly smitten. What some might see as a splurge, I saw as a necessity for upcoming births. There are few times in a woman's life when she is more vulnerable, joyful, exhausted, and overwhelmed than following the birth of a child, and few times more people will want to visit her! I've had the opportunity to check out Hot Mama Gowns in person and they are well worth the investment. Why not have something fabulous to wear on some of the most important days of your life?

And a Hot Mama gown's usefulness extends long past your recovery time in the hospital. Because they are so comfortable and stylish, it's the perfect thing to slip on at home to nurse your little one or to receive more of your baby's admirers. It's much more practical than 95% of the nursing gowns I've used in the past, and much prettier than the old robe most of us subject ourselves to wearing during those long first few days and weeks.

But one of the reasons I love Hot Mama Gowns so much is their commitment to gentle mothering. Unlike some of their competitors, Hot Mama Gowns has committed to making their gowns using organic cotton fabrics AND producing them in the U.S.A. So when baby is spending precious time bonding with mom, they're doing so against the softest and safest material possible. And I'm so thrilled to announce that this year through the hard work and determination of their owner and Hot Mama Gowns' designer, they've been able to honor that commitment while lowering prices. Major kudos!

So even though we are planning a homebirth with this baby, I still want a Hot Mama Gown. I expect I'll want something fabulous to slip on even at home. After all, I'm sure to have lots of people visiting to check out new baby Sydney!

So to wrap it up, Hot Mama Gowns feature:
-100% Organic Cotton dyed using only 100% natural or low-impact dyes

- Short sleeves and a full coverage snap-open back

- Two ribbon-tied panels allow for quick and easy access for discreet nursing
Prices range from $119-$130

Say hello to my (not so) little friend!

With less than eight weeks to go, I'm gearing up to start breastfeeding again. I have to say I am thrilled and nervous at the same time. I miss breastfeeding and I know it will be an amazing experience to share with my daughter. This time I'm not worried about my ability to breastfeed, but I am nervous about how my son will react to the amount of attention Syd will receive when nursing. I've taken the opportunity to attend some LLL meetings to discuss this issue, and all in all I'm feeling good about it.

Of course, my whole family knows to expect me to breastfeed Sydney, so I shouldn't have been surprised when the subject came up in conversation with my mother. Now I'd like to say that my mother recognizes how amazing my son is and attributes it to my less than conventional parenting style, but sadly, she realizes he is amazing but obviously thinks it is a total fluke. However, nothing prepared me for her announcement that my Dad and brother would appreciate me not breastfeeding openly around them.

Now I am not what you might call a timid person, but I was so surprised that I didn't know what to say. Apparently 2 years of openly breastfeeding my son had no affect on any of them. Breastfeeding is still immodest and uncomfortable in their eyes.

At first I thought I would make a nursing cover. In fact, I had previously bought material to make a nursing cover, thinking there would be occasions when I might actually use a good one. But as my anger over this grew, I suddenly didn't want to make one anymore. In fact, I don't really want to take the baby to their house anymore. You see I'm a firm believer that breastfeeding should be about what makes mom and baby comfortable. The most important aspect of the nursing relationship is mom and baby's ability to bond and nurse easily. That's a little hard to do with a blanket covering one of us up. The only persons who should have a say in how, when, and where breastfeeding occurs is mom and baby. If someone who is not part of that relationship is uncomfortable, let them leave.

Now I'm not going to stage a nurse-in at my parents' house. I'm respectful of the fact that this is their home and not a public place, and I'll be respectful of any of my friends and family who don't want me to breastfeed at their homes. I just won't bother to visit their homes. It's really the only way to respect the privacy of their home lives and my own convictions.

But what really grinds my gears is the whole "breastfeeding makes me uncomfortable" thing. There are few more pointless things in the world to get worked up over. Modesty may be the most ridiculous of all human evolutions. Does anyone bother to throw a Hooter Hider over a new litter of nursing puppies? Does the zoo draw a curtain in the primate exhibit when a new mama monkey is nursing her baby? (They don't - I have pictures) So why for goodness sake have we allowed ourselves to get so bent out of shape about women breastfeeding?

For a long time I thought it was because breastfeeding had been perverted into something sexual. After all, we're told all the time to cover up for modesty's sake, but, you know, there's less brouhaha over a celebrity in a string bikini at the beach than a photo of a celebrity nursing in public - guess which celebrity has more clothes on in this scenario? It's not because breastfeeding is sexual that people are uncomfortable, it's the opposite. Breastfeeding is distinctly unsexy. It is natural, instinctive, and maternal. It reminds us of the purpose of our breasts. It reminds our husbands. And if those who are made uncomfortable at the site of a breastfeeding mom really stopped to think about why they were uncomfortable, could it be that they have been trained to view breasts sexually that their own natural impulse to view this as a normal, biological event is so in conflict that they don't know how? Or simply don't want to? As though a 19 year old, catching a glimpse of his sister's breast will somehow ruin his enjoyment of a Victoria's Secret ad. Moms and average women should be modest so that breasts can remain sexy in tv, movies, and photo spreads.

It's time we get over it. We get over modesty and fear of our own bodies. We need to admit that we have bodies that perform a series of biological functions - sex, lactation, flatulence - you get the idea. If we want to raise children with healthy attitudes toward their bodies and themselves, if we want women to feel comfortable breastfeeding, and if we want to change the dominant attitudes toward sex and child rearing in this country, than we need everyone to say hello to our little, medium, and large friends - our breasts - without fear of recrimination or judgment but with pride.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Final Frontier: Mama Cloth Tutorial

Note: This tutorial was originally posted on my sister blog, EcoMomics. As luck would have it, I found out I was pregnant a few days later, so I haven't gotten to test these out quite yet!

Two years ago, I wrote a blog post for another site declaring my intention to cloth diaper. I called it the final frontier of Attachment Parenting for us. This month I'm embracing the final frontier for my family's switch from paper/disposable good dependency to reusable items: making mama cloth.

I feel the need to preface this by admitting that I've been apprehensive about the switch. I felt like mama cloth was sorta gross. I mean didn't women endure "the rag" for years? Why in god's name would I want to deal with that? Don't we have advances in technology and industry so we don't have to deal with these inconveniences? And then I realized, these are all the arguments people use to justify disposable diapers! It was like a slap in the face. Suddenly it only made sense to me.

I'm starting out slowly. I made some pantiliners for this month. I'm hoping that I will get addicted to mama cloth and become obsessed with making it (fingers crossed). My mama cloth skills need some work. The tabs are a little crooked and the shape is off, but it's a start.

So without further ado, here are some simple directions for making mama cloth. I used a serger, turned the pad, and then top-stitched to prevent funny bunching. Remember, you can always sew the outside with right sides together, turn right side out and top stitch with your sewing machine if you don't have a serger.

I used a pad I had around the house to sketch a template for the mama cloth.

I cut two, so that I could trim one down to pantiliner size. The original will serve for making full pads later.

Since it is so lightweight, I was able to layer all the cotton print and cut the pattern at once. I repeated this step with the bamboo fleece I used for the inner lining.

Taking the ad, I traced wings from the pad and cut out a layer from both the cotton and bamboo fleece.

I serged the tab pieces together first.

Turn the tabs and then place the print side on the right side of the cotton print pad cut.

Then place the fleece cut wrong side up over the pad cut and tabs.

I serged it all together, leaving one end open to turn it right side out.

Then serge the open end, lock your blade and repeat the serge.

Top stitch with your sewing machine along the length of the pad.

Use a snap press to add snaps to the wings to hold it in place. Don't have an industrial press? You can use velcro, sew in snaps from the notions aisle, or buy a hand-held press and metal snaps in the notions aisle!

I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!

About the Connected Mom

The Connected Mom is a pro-AP and natural parenting blog. It's all about breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, eco-friendly living and more. Follow my homebirth journey, read up on the latest natural parenting news, learn how to make your own family-friendly items, and check out cool new products for the crunchy parenting set.

I'm PR friendly. If you have a product, event, or website you think my readers should know about please feel free to use the Contact button to let me know!

Occasionally I receive products for review. These reviews are not paid reviews although products are supplied for my use. If a product doesn't meet my standards for review, it is returned with an explanation. You can be sure that all my reviews are honest reflections on the usefulness and quality of the product!

Jennifer, Connected Mom

New Research Shows Why Every Week of Pregnancy Counts

This time of year, some hospitals see a small uptick in baby deliveries thanks to families eager to fit the blessed event in around holiday plans or in time to claim a tax deduction. Conventional wisdom has long held that inducing labor or having a Caesarean section a bit early posed little risk, since after 34 weeks gestation, all the baby has to do was grow.

But new research shows that those last weeks of pregnancy are more important than once thought for brain, lung and liver development. And there may be lasting consequences for babies born at 34 to 36 weeks, now called "late preterm."

[Why Every Week of Pregnancy Counts] Getty Images

New research shows that the last weeks of pregnancy are more important than once thought for brain, lung and liver development.

A study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in October calculated that for each week a baby stayed in the womb between 32 and 39 weeks, there is a 23% decrease in problems such as respiratory distress, jaundice, seizures, temperature instability and brain hemorrhages.

A study of nearly 15,000 children in the Journal of Pediatrics in July found that those born between 32 and 36 weeks had lower reading and math scores in first grade than babies who went to full term. New research also suggests that late preterm infants are at higher risk for mild cognitive and behavioral problems and may have lower I.Q.s than those who go full term.

Read the rest of the article here.