Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hi, My Name is Jenn and I'm Overweight.

Like a lot of women, I spend more time than I care to admit worried about my weight, and while I cringe at Victoria's Secret ads, I don't think I'm all that caught up in comparing myself to the images of women we see in the media.  I've had two kids.  Nothing short of a time machine is going to make me look like Katy Perry, and to be honest I don't want to look like Katy Perry.  So while I hate catching the reflection of an undiscovered fat roll in the mirror, I've been unmotivated to lose weight.  My husband thinks I'm hot and I've proudly carried two children, but....there's always a but, isn't there?  I'm increasingly aware of how my weight affects my health.

In 2006, a week before we found out we were expecting our son, my mother suffered a heart attack.  She was 45 years-old and had low blood pressure and low cholesterol.  The morning of her attack she was driving my siblings to school.  She felt so awful that she made my 15 year-old brother turn around and drive back home.  He called to ask me what an anxiety attack felt like.  After getting some more info, it became clear this wasn't anxiety and I told him to take her to the hospital.  Thankfully they called my dad first and he called for an ambulance.  They told us later she would never have made it to the E.R.  She had a heart attack and 12 stents were needed to save her.  12.  My mom, who is a bit overweight, but eats pretty well and walks everyday almost died at 45.

My husband was freaked and brought home garlic pills, red wine, and baby aspirin.  We were going to take care of my heart now.

I got a positive pregnancy test a week later.

So now four years after my mother's heart attack, to the date I think, I'm still overweight and very much at risk.  The facts about women and heart disease are grim:

  • Worldwide, 8.6 million women die from heart disease each year, accounting for a third of all deaths in women. Three million women die from stroke each year. Stroke accounts for more deaths among women than men (11% vs 8.4%) with additional risk for CHD unique to women related to oral contraceptive use in combination with smoking.
  • 8 million women in the US are currently living with heart disease; 35,000 are under age of 65. Four million suffer from angina.
  • 435,000 American women have heart attacks annually; 83,000 are under age 65; 35,000 are under 55. The average: 70.4.
  • 42% of women who have heart attacks die within 1 year, compared to 24% of men.
  • Under age 50, women’s heart attacks are twice as likely as men’s to be fatal.
  • 267,000 women die each year from heart attacks, which kill six times as many women as breast cancer. Another 31, 837 women die each year of congestive heart failure, representing 62.6% of all heart failure deaths.

    To learn more visit Women's Heart Foundation
I have two beautiful children, and I would like to have more.  I know I can't avoid taking action any longer even though it's scary!  I really don't want to go to my doctor and get bad news, but I know I have to.

So I'm going and I want to start exercising.  About an hour ago I pulled out my old sports bras, they were a bit snug but that might actually help.  I'm also going to scrounge up the money for some new running shoes that fit my post-pregnancy feet.  My idea is to do the Couch to 5k program, but I'd love suggestions if you have them.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Things that make you go $%&#*@*#&*!

Hey, everyone!

I first want to take a moment to say "Thank You!" to those who have emailed me or commented on Connected Mom regarding the loss of my grandfather. It has been a hard week, but I'm working on moving forward and concentrating on family and my caking.

This weeks' post was the first that has come somewhat easily to me. I've been playing catch up the past few days and running lots of errands; all that driving has given me quite a bit of time to think.

I've been thinking heavily about circumcision this week. I read a quote by Guggie Daly that made so much sense--

‎"I did not "choose" to keep him intact any more than parents "choose" to let their newborns keep their legs, arms, nose, etc. It's a non-decision."

Wow. That seems so simple, doesn't it?!

I thought about coming here and beginning this post with a sarcastic epiphany that would read somewhat like:
"Hey there! (Fill in here about my week, all those niceties, etc.)
I think I've come to a realization-- I've decided that after reading all the arguments 'for' & 'against', that circumcision really is the best and should be done as soon as possible after birth. Unfortunately, I chose to leave my son and daughters intact. Thanks to sites such as, with their many helpful brochures available on a plethora of subjects in many languages, I have come to realize the immense benefits of circumcision.

I've decided that 8 months is too long to have ignored the risks of not having my son circumcised and he has an appointment with a urologist to have it done tomorrow. Finally he will 'look like his dad' while they stand side by side & compare for years to come. It's healthier & cleaner, and we all know that kids, let alone boys, need all the help they can get with that. Oh, & the locker room-- I'm sparing him the embarrassment, since everyone's doing it.

After a lengthy talk with my husband, we both feel that this is best for our son and have done extensive research. Actually, in doing all this research, we've come to realize that we really should consider circumcision for our other two as well. It took some digging, but I found someone who realizes just how important this opportunity at equality and removal of a source of distraction is."

I would then go on to tell you not to judge me-- that these were 'my children' and I needed to make these decisions for them.

It wouldn't be long before the intactivists would be crashing the server and trying to change my mind.

However, reading Guggie Daly's quote made me stop and think...

Are such far reaching tactics necessary? Why is the choice to keep our sons intact even a choice? Why is it *OUR* choice?

It is *not* my penis. It is *not* my husband's penis. It certainly isn't my relative's penis! It is Killian's.

The doctor who will perform it at my request is ignoring the fact that it is not my penis. Here's a list of reasons why that doctor shouldn't be so quick to do routine infant circumcisions.

I've done my research and, to me, circumcision is a non-negotiable issue.

However, I cannot write this without acknowledging that had Killian been born in 2002-- i.e., had Chloe been a boy, I would be writing a much different piece.

I would be writing about my struggle with guilt over circumcising one child (born in 2002) and not circumcising the other (2010). I would hopefully stumble upon this post at Dr. Momma/Peaceful Parenting.

If you take no other impression from me than this, please remember that I am not a persecutor-- my biggest hope is that as parents we simply strive to be better than we were yesterday.

I am a Christian. I am politically a conservative. I am straight and married. I am a stay at home mom. I eat fast food a *lot*-- I love a burger or a steak, too! I am a lactivist (pro-breastfeeding) and intactivist (pro-keeping our sons intact).

If you scroll down my Facebook friend list, you'll find wiccans, agnostics, catholics, etc. This is their choice.
I have my share of liberals and anarchists on that list along with other classifications that I don't even know, since my political savvy is a recent (since marriage) venture. This is their choice.
You'll see people who identify as things other than straight, who are single, divorced, or state "it's complicated". This is their choice.
A lot of my friends who are moms work outside the home. This is their choice.
I have vegetarians and vegans on my list. This is their choice.
For each of these instances, the choice belongs to that friend. It impacts that friend. Sure, there's a ripple, but in the grand scheme of things, it's a small one that can be changed with minimal effort if so desired.

On this list, in the grey area, are my friends who do/have formula fed by choice. I post pro-breastfeeding links and blurbs here and there, and that's about all I can do. At the end of the day, I too was a formula feeding mom once. I get it. Whatever your reason/argument/issue, I get it-- I may not agree, I may try to persuade you otherwise (especially if you've been misled by an ill informed nurse/doctor or friend), I may shake my head, but I get it.

The area on this list, however, that is a struggle for me is those that choose to circumcise.

Those that list their status as "poor baby--- has to go get circumcised today" or "just waiting on them to circumcise him then we can get discharged. poor little guy". Things like this make me want to scream "Don't you know--- you don't have to allow this!" or "Will you be watching!?" (I am a firm believer that you should at least have to watch a video with sound before allowing this to be done-- even better would be if it was necessary that you watch your little baby have this done.)

These moms, who buy 'the best' car seats, 'the best' diapers, 'the best' clothes, 'the best' stroller... don't make the best decision.

At the risk of losing half my friend list-- a circumcision performed as a routine surgery on a newborn is never the best decision.

You are changing something that is not yours to change. You are taking away something from your little boy that you can't give back. You are projecting your preferences on him and his future girlfriends/wife. You are choosing to ignore-- and allow your husband to ignore what was done to him and you are choosing to perpetuate that cycle.

You think sugar water makes this hurt any less-- did there really need to be a study to tell us that it doesn't dull the pain? Do you think it really hurts worse as an adult (often the response about why parents should have it done to their baby ASAP) or is a grown man just better able to vocalize in a manner we must pay attention to?

Cut off a piece of skin from your most sensitive area and stick a lollipop in your mouth-- all better right?

Not hardly!
The good news is circumcision rates in the United States dropped to 33% in 2009, a steep drop from 56% just 3 years ago! Something to consider for those 'what will the guys in the locker room think' arguments!
Times they are a changin'-- which percentage are you contributing to?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It Is Lactivist To Support All Women

Last Wednesday Abbot Laboratories announced that it was recalling some of its Similac brand powdered infant formula. After one of their production plants found that a beetle infestation had contaminated the production line.

Shortly there after, social networks lit up with chatter about the recall. Much of this chatter was from a few in the breastfeeding community who used it to attack the formula company. Unfortunately, as often happens in these instances, the attack turned personal.

I understand the sentiments. I understand that the idea of a child, or anybody, unknowingly ingesting insect parts is shocking and nauseating to many of us. I understand that the marketing campaigns of these companies that continually misrepresent their products as ‘just as safe’ and ‘just as healthy’ as breast milk are frustrating and understand the instinct to point our fingers and say ‘There! You see!’

But I also understand that the way many chose to express these sentiments was hurtful to mothers who choose to feed their babies formula.

Yes, this recall does present a valuable opportunity for lactivists. Not the opportunity to say ‘I told you so’ or to use words like ‘poison’ or ‘evil’, it is not an opportunity to guilt women for their choices with comments like ‘Isn’t it great that MY baby has NEVER had formula’. These comments do nothing to promote breastfeeding, they do nothing to support women, and they do everything to perpetuate the stereotype of the smug and judgmental ‘breastfeeding Nazi’.

The opportunity that this recall presents is much more positive. This recall has presented the opportunity to educate women who cannot or choose not to breastfeed of feeding options other that artificial milk. It is the opportunity to call attention and support to programs like milk share and human milk banking.

This recall is the opportunity to fight for higher health and safety standards for the producers of artificial human milk, to ensure women who don’t have a human milk option can still have access to a safe alternative. It is the opportunity to further stress the importance of the WHO code. By limiting the marketing of artificial human milk, and preventing formula companies from handing out millions of dollars worth of free samples, they could bring down the cost of formula and make prepared formula (a more sterile but also more expensive formula option to powdered formulas) more accessible to lower income families who may need it.

I think we can all agree that taking this opportunity, and others, to speak and act in a more positive and understanding way would be a much more productive course of action. Breastfeeding activism, as Connected Mom Jenn stated on Twitter not long ago, is not about shaming women, it’s about giving women the resources to succeed. If a woman chooses not to breastfeed, then she still deserves the resources to provide her child with clean, safe, and healthy food choices. We CAN fight for both. We CAN put an end to the hurt and misunderstandings. We CAN come together to ensure that every woman has the opportunity to feed her child however she chooses without booby-traps, without judgment, and without guilt.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday School: Resources for toddlers and preschoolers

If you have a little one under five at home, Sunday School is your ultimate resource for activities, projects, and resources from our pre-homeschooling home to yours! Whether you plan to homeschool/unschool or not, here's some ideas for the week. Check back next Sunday for more fun ideas and information!

Toddler-friendly crayons
We recently featured this tutorial on making crayon discs - your toddler will love them!
Story Blocks from My Magic Mom
Make these darling story blocks with your little one and encourage them to use them to tell stories with you!

1,2,3 bowling - Using bottles from your recycling bin, set up "pins" and bowl with your little one! Count how many they knock down and how many are left standing. Start with 3 and add more as your child becomes more comfortable with her numbers. Not only is it a great way to learn numbers, it helps teach basic addition and subtraction, and it's great for a rainy day.

Observe, Compare, Contrast - Find two similar, but different items in your house. We used bowls.

Observe - What color is it? What shape is it? How does it feel? What is it for?

Compare - What is the same? Lead more to help them discover the differences. Point out the same colors, same uses, and same shapes.
Contrast - How are they different? Lead your toddler. Is one rough and one smooth? Are they different colors? Are they different shapes?
Left foot, right foot - Ever get to the grocery store and realize your son is wearing his shoes on the wrong feet? Who hasn't? This activity is fun and will help them remember which foot to put shoes on. Trace your little's ones feet onto a sheet of paper and let them color it or decorate, then label it left and right. Hang your sign on ground level in his bedroom for easy consultation. Your toddler can use it to match his feet and his shoes correctly.

Instrument Dance Party - Pop in a toddler friendly CD and dance. Help your child identify instruments being played in the songs and mimic how you play the instruments as you dance.

The Letter "A" is the official letter this week. We're building a letter border in our sons room using fabric art. Each week, we'll make one letter, hang it and use it to guide activities. What are some great letter "a" activities?

Create a streaming, kid-friendly radio station on Pandora. Ours is based on the music of the Laura Berkner band!

Toddler Tube
Other than being a deconstructionist's nightmare, Word World on PBS Kids gets a stamp of approval here. Unlike many so-called educational shows, Word World delivers actual educational programming. Kids actively build-a-word with characters to create needed objects on the show. P I E becomes a blueberry pie for instance. You can easily extend the build-a-word idea into early reading activities. Big Bonus: it's low on the annoying factor!

Website of the Week
No Time For Flash Cards
An incredible resource for parents of preschoolers and young children. Hundreds of activities and ideas! I know we'll be using this site a lot in the Connected house!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Smithsonian Museum Day TODAY! Free tickets to local museums

I wanted to make sure you all knew that today is Smithsonian's Museum Day.  Go to their website to get a free ticket to a museum local to you!  We're going to the local children's museum in Kansas that has all sorts of fun, hands-on activities.  Check it out on their website.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Blame It On The Sleep Deprivation

I feel kind of guilty that I don't have a great post to share today. Things have been exhausting around here. Holliday is teething, and we haven't had normal, or even close to normal sleep in 2 weeks. We have been up with him about 5-8 times per night after he retires at about 11. Lastnight was the best yet. With a midnight bedtime he slept until 8. I felt slightly refreshed this morning, but found myself selfishly wanting more.

Tolliver woke with a cold. A girl in his gymnastics class showed up sick on Tuesday, and voila! here we are with a sick, snuggly toddler.

Times have definitely been trying as of late. I have found myself in tears, frustrated, exhausted and amazed at all the dips and dives of parenthood. In all of this, my husband has been nothing short of amazing. He may not have the right words to calm me when I am in tears, but his actions are definitely making up for it. He has been up with Holliday almost as much as I have. Generally I try to be the one to wake with Hobby in the night, since Shane has to wake for work. Lately my exhaustion is showing, and without complaints, Shane is springing up to soothe our pained boy.

I really am lucky to have such a supportive and involved husband. I know there are so many mamas out there that aren't as lucky. Shane is so hands on, and takes on just as much weight as I do. He doesn't think twice about staying up until midnight with Holliday so that I can try to get an hour or two in before the nightly battle begins. He really does get it. We didn't create a family for me to raise, it's a joint effort. I am amazed by my mama friends who do it all. Most are so used to it that they don't even complain. I'd complain. I rely on the help and boosts of sanity from my husband; I couldn't imagine doing it all myself.

Sorry for the disappointing post, readers. My hope is that things return to normal and I can get back on track for next week.

Tammy, Connected Mom

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just do it: Bedsharing and Sex

Photo credit: Fabrizio Salvetti
It's pretty obvious I'm a fan of the family bed if you read this site. Now I've talked about safety, breastfeeding, the psychological bonuses, etc, but there's one topic that I get a lot of whispered, flustered questions about: sex.

Fair warning this post will talk about sex in frank and often humorous ways. It's pretty PG-13, but if you don't like to talk about sex or don't want to think about Josh and I playing hide the sausage, see ya tomorrow!

Ok, now that my mom has been warned, let's get down to business.

I've been given laundry lists of reasons why bedsharing is a bad idea. I've been told it doesn't teach baby how to sleep. I've been told it's dangerous. I've been told I'll never get my kids out of my bed, but more than anything I've been told it will ruin my marriage.

Now other than wondering how having happy, well-rested kids will ever hurt my marriage, I have a feeling this is really about SEX.

But nowadays, what isn't?

My mother warned me that having a baby in bed meant I couldn't keep my husband happy. Ignoring all the anti-feminist sentiments there, let's focus on what she was really saying: you can't have sex if you bedshare.

I have living proof that she's wrong sleeping on my lap.

Sex is the glue of some relationships, the perk of others, and the cherry to some. The first thing we have to accept is there is no average amount or set location for sex for couples. If you think that's a lie, you have bigger things to worry about than bedsharing. I'm as guilty as anyone. After 5 years of marriage and over a 12 year relationship, I sometimes hear someone talking about nightly sex and get jealous. Seriously? Nightly?! Have they discovered the Fountain of Teenage Sex somewhere? Draw me a map. But then someone admits they do it once a month and I feel better.

We have sex about twice a week. I'm averaging that out. Some weeks it's zip, others it's 3 or 4 times. The point is we have sex, and we bedshare full-time.


Well, we aren't very sexually-repressed so that helps and we aren't constrained by the idea of appropriate times and places to have sex. We rarely have sex at night in bed. We might grab a quickie while our kids are playing in the living room. The key to this is to wait until your toddler is thoroughly engrossed in a game or to pop in a favorite movie. The baby goes in the exersaucer. It gives us about ten-fifteen minutes. After 12 years, we can get to the point in ten minutes :) Or we sneak into the bathroom, laundry room - you get the idea. Our toddler goes to bed in his own room and often joins us later in the night, and I can lay the baby down to sleep in the bed or in her swing if we want more than 10 minutes or if the mood strikes.

The point is we have sex. When we have a dry spell, it has nothing to do with bedsharing. It's usually the result of money issues, work schedules, illness, this blog - but not bedsharing. As Rachel of Free Childhood notes good-naturedly, bedsharing didn't kill her sex life: "That would be exhaustion from toddler parenting and pregnancy." Wendy of ABCs and Garden Peas says having a new baby is more likely to have an effect on your sex life, but she thinks bedsharing actually helps it: "I think bedsharing can make for a satisfied, fulfilled mom, and that kind of mom is more likely to have a healthy libido."

Photo credit: Ed Wolstenholme
How to have great sex life as your relationship grows, as you add kids and stress and work and life is a whole different issue. My suggestion? Take a look at what's really keeping you from having sex. Don't get so caught up in the "right" time to have sex, and take the time to initiate (even if you don't really feel like it). Let's face it, moms, a lot of us just get too caught up in everyday stresses and responsibilities to find the time or energy to want to have sex. The great thing about sex, though, is that it usually winds up changing your mind about wanting it pretty quickly.

Oh, and when your mom asks you how you will ever have sex with your husband if there are kids in your bed, tell her what I told my mom, "Mom, not everyone has bed."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: 6 months

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Who Cleans The Mess?

I am a Homebirth Midwifery Apprentice. As of right now I am doing self-study and shadowing a midwife that I love! I attend the prenatals, the birth, and the postpartum checks, and mainly am in an assistant setting, all the while learning as I go.

I was never pro-homebirth. Growing up, I thought only hippies still did it, if people even still had babies at home at all. My mother had cesarean sections with my brother and me, and even though she labored with me, I never once had a second thought about having surgery to give birth. It was normal to me.

I had a cesarean section with my daughter, and a lot of problems ensued, from PPD to PTSD from her NICU stay, and not knowing what was missing from our relationship.

About a year later I was set on the path to becoming a midwife for homebirths, and I never had the thoughts that people do concerning birth.

I researched like crazy, I learned everything I didn't bother learning when I was pregnant with my daughter. Since I was researching birth on my own, I didn't have others suddenly talking about it with me. I didn't have the questions people do since I dipped my own feet into the topic. I wasn't worried about safety or the mess or emergencies.

The midwife I am apprenticing with was a guest speaker at a college class last week, and a lot of the questions were so surprising to me. Since I have been studying nothing but pregnancy and birth for the last two years, I had forgotten that the very vast majority of people don't have the same grasp on the subject as I do, and even then my grasp isn't as large as others.

A few questions were always on safety, especially dealing with emergencies. Birth is seen as a very dangerous time in our culture, which has changed from how it used to be. Yes, people used to die a lot more in childbirth, but not all of those would have been saved with our current technology. Our maternal and infant mortality rates prove that.

There were a few questions on tears, a few on transfers, and then one question came up that I had never actually ever considered.

A girl behind me raised her hand and asked very worried, "Who cleans up the mess?"

I feel bad, because I wasn't speaking, I was strictly there as a guest, and I instantly burst up and semi-yelled, "Me!" It got a laugh, and the midwife introduced me as her apprentice and that I was very good at getting blood out of carpet. Which got even more laughs.

The midwife started discussing what really happens at a homebirth, and how long she stays after the birth. Since I have been apprenticing with her, the soonest we have left after a birth is three hours. And we never *ever* leave a house dirty.

The last birth I assisted at, we drained the birth pool, I cleaned up the few spots of blood that were on the carpet from when the mom went from the pool to the bed, we put in a load of laundry, made sure mom was fed and had something to drink, we repacked the bags with all the birth items, and we went home. When we walk in for a birth, we always walk out with it looking like a baby hadn't been born there.

I guess I take it for granted. I never thought of who would clean after, even at the first birth I helped at, I started cleaning without even a second thought. The mom and dad have a new baby, the midwife is helping them and making sure things are okay. Unless I was needed, cleaning was a way for me to help the family so they didn't have to worry about anything.

When you have a homebirth, at least with my midwife and many others I know, you aren't supposed to be worried about how your home looks. You aren't supposed to be worried about if the blood on the carpet will be there in the morning. Your only job (and I am strictly speaking to the mother) is to nurse your baby. Cuddle your baby. Enjoy this period. It is not your job to do laundry, or cook, or clean.

So, to those that are worried about the mess from a homebirth and using it as a reason to not have one, just know this.

Yes, birth can be messy. I have actually seen it more messy in the hospital, but don't fret. Your house will not have blood stains. You won't have to worry about people knowing what you "did" in your living room or bathroom or bedroom. You don't have to worry about the towels we used or your sheets if you give birth on your bed.

Birth is a beautiful time, and it isn't your job to worry about what it looks like, besides that gorgeous baby that you will be holding.

Leave the mess to us, and seriously, you won't even know if there were any accidents anywhere.

5 Easy Steps To A Healthier More Sustainable Diet For Your Family

Copyright All rights reserved by dwinning
We all want to give our families the best, and making changes to our lives now to positively effect the future of the planet is in ours and our children’s best interest. But at the frantic pace that family life seams to move in this day and age it’s not always easy to do so.

There has been a lot of hype recently about eating locally, and cutting down on the processed goods in our diets. Both of these trends can have major positive effects on your family’s health, and the carbon footprint you generate.

This came as a jarring realization to me personally. The journey my food took to my plate never registered with me past my involvement from grocery shelf to refrigerator. But from the resources needed to ship ingredients, to the chemicals and practices used to process and package convenience foods, the decisions we make about our diets have huge impact on the world around us.

I have since found that eating a local whole food diet can be really rewarding, and experiencing what your local economy has to offer from season to season is exciting. But it can also be rather daunting.

In many parts of North America, my own included, there are long seasons where nothing grows, followed by short bursts of productivity and only one big harvest per year, so having fresh local ingredients through the winter means a lot of planning, preserves and a large freezer.

In many places the way agricultural systems are set up makes it less profitable for farmers to sell their produce locally. For me in Canada, this often means that the ‘fresh’ produce, like corn for example, at my local super market was grown in the United States even when the local corn crops are in harvest, which results in having to make several trips to different locations to obtain all of the local goods I need.

The same systems that effect who farmers sell their produce to can also drastically affect the variety of produce in a hundred mile radius; If your local farmers rely heavily on profits made from say, soy beans it stands to reason that diversity will be set aside for the sake of profits, so locally grown ingredients other than soy beans may be more elusive.

Many people who wish to eat a more sustainable local diet have great success growing their own ingredients in their gardens. This is an awesome resource if you have it, but with more and more people living in urban environments and policy trends towards privatization resulting in the loss of public land including community gardens, this is not always an option for people interested in eating their way to a smaller carbon footprint.

So how can you and your family eat a more local and whole food diet despite the obstacles? I have 5 suggestions:

1. Talk about it!

In my case this step was a series of discussions, mostly in the super market, with my husband. Oliver isn’t yet old enough to give us his impute past ‘mmmm’ or ‘ick’, but if your children are older it is important to involve them in the decision to change your family’s diet.

Talk to them, in an age appropriate way, about the importance of choosing foods that are good for their own health and the health of the planet. It will be much easier to make changes when the whole family is on board, and many children will be more open to change when they are prepared and involved.

Even if a switch to locally grown goods wouldn’t mean a big change in the kinds of foods your family eats (you’d be surprised what you can find locally with a little bit of detective work), it is still really important that we talk to our children about the effects that our choices have on the environment.

2. Set a standing dinner date

Schedule a little adventure and pick one night every week to try new things. In our house we aim for Wednesdays. Every Wednesday we explore our local farmer’s market and find something fresh and local to eat for dinner. On those days we aim to have everything on our table come from the province that we live in, though occasionally small additions from within Canada are made. (As Oliver grows we plan to involve him by allowing him to choose new ingredient from the market.)

Committing to just one day a week is a really easy way to get the ball rolling, as you start to explore new ingredients and recipes the feedback you get from your family, and your own taste buds will guide you. When you find a dish that the whole family likes, add it to your regular menu and all of the sudden you’re eating a local whole food diet twice a week!

Just one meal a week WILL make a difference! According to World Watch the ingredients in the average American meal typically travel between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometers to your plate. According to the American Census, in 2003 the average American commute to work was about 25 kilometers one way. Eating local whole foods for just one meal would save as much fuel as walking or biking to and from work every day for about 50-80 days!

3. Make it fun

When I was talking about our local food nights with a friend of mine the other day she seemed amused. “That may work now, but good luck getting Oliver to eat any of it in a year or two” I understand where she’s coming from, I’ve personally tried feeding her child, he’s a pretty particular little guy, and when I cooked for my family as a teenager I remember the upturned nose of my baby sister and the frustration that resulted very clearly. (She’s now 16 and still turns up her nose at my cooking, some kids are just stubborn)

But one way I plan to capture Oliver’s interest in whole and local foods is to involve him in the process. By letting him choose or grow his own ingredients and help with the preparation, I hope that he will have a sense of pride and ownership over his meals.

I also think it’s very important not to make food a battle ground. Food is for nutrients yes, but it is also pleasurable. Food should be fun, and part of keeping meal time fun and light is remembering that some people just don’t like certain foods. There is nothing wrong with that, and it is important to understand and respect this fact. Eventually, in their own time, they may even come around about foods they claim to hate. (For example: I only started eating asparagus a year ago, I was convinced it was gross and now it’s one of my favorites)

Have a particularly picky food critic? Let him be a critic! Give him a crayon or pencil and have him write or draw what he did and didn’t like about the meal, get him to score it like a food network judge, and make suggestions about what could have made the meal better.

What if he thinks that your roasted chicken would have been better with rainbow sprinkles? Then serve it up with a small shaker of rainbow sprinkles on the side next time. (If you can find locally made sprinkles that’s great, but I am sure you could make an exception for a pinch of rainbow sugar) He’ll quickly realize that those two flavours don’t really go together, or maybe he’ll think it’s delicious, there’s nothing wrong with letting kids explore with taste and texture. Food is FUN!

4. Make it easy

Let’s face it, there’s a reason many of us keep reaching for the convenience foods even when we know the harm they cause to ourselves, our family, and the planet. It’s because they’re convenient! (Crazy I know, how could I have guessed?)

At the same time that I try to make health and planet conscious decisions when putting food on my table, I am not ashamed to admit that there’s a box of Itchy Ban Noodles sitting in my pantry waiting for a busy day when neither my husband nor I feel like cooking.

One way that I’ve found to resist the appeal of those types of convenience foods is to make my local ingredients into more convenient options. If every dish you make on local whole food night takes 5 hours of slicing, dicing, cooking and seasoning then there’s no way that healthy choices will compete with processed convenience food after a long day. I have two ways in which I try to make local whole foods more convenient.

First, I find that making double batches of our favorite local/whole food recipes and freezing individual portions is like having the best ever TV dinner at your finger tips. Thawing out a container of hardy chili or soup is just as easy, if not more so, than boiling up a pot of starchy noodle goodness.

Second, I avoid recipes with more than 3-4 steps unless it’s a special occasion. Most foods are tastiest and healthiest in their natural state. The more saucing, steaming, or combining you do the more nutrients you loose in the process and the natural flavours of your ingredients start to fade away. While my family never shies away from the spice cupboard, I try to remember as often as I can that the flavours nature intended are often just as delicious and satisfying as the most balanced curry or elaborate sauce.

5. Eat out!

As eating locally becomes more and more popular, I am finding that more and more restaurants in my area are featuring locally farmed and produced options on their menus. You may have to do some searching, but you might be able to find one or more of these establishments in your area too. If you do, support your local economy by making it your go to date night spot, or your family’s special occasion eatery for birthdays and achievements. There’s nothing better than eating great healthy locally grown food that you didn’t have to prepare yourself!

Even if you haven’t found a way to eat locally grown whole foods at home on a regular basis, treating yourself to local fair while you’re out is a great option when you think about the impact that just one local meal can make.

Do you know where your food comes from? Would you like to learn more about whole foods? Join me on The Connected Mom Community! I have started a thread under ‘Nutrition for the family’ called ‘Sustainable Nutrition’. Come talk about making healthy and sustainable food choices for your family!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Toddler Time: Toddler-Friendly Crayon Tutorial

My local library has these awesome disc crayons at one of their play stations, and I just love them.
1. They're a mix of colors, so they make cool pictures
2. They're easy to grip
3. They don't break into teeny tiny pieces as easily if you step on them in the dark

So we made some. School supplies are on sale, so the entire project cost 50 cents! I used about 30 crayons for 6 discs. Or use up all those bits of crayons from the ones you stepped on in the dark!

First you need to peel the wrappers. I used a craft knife to slice a line down the wrapper. About half came out easily this way. If I had thought of it I would have popped the crayons into my freezer to help loosen the wax from the wrappers.

Then I broke them up into colors families. Connected Son has his own muffin tin for his kitchen, so we used it. I would probably use a nonstick pan or muffin cups if you don't have a play tin, because it will leave some wax on non-coated pans.

Bake for about 25 minutes at your oven's lowest setting. My midwife made some this summer by leaving the pan in her car!

Let cool and pop into freezer for 30 minutes. They'll pop right out with a little help from a butter knife.

Connected Son was awed when he saw his. He absolutely loves them.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Surf: Unschooling, breastfeeding and birth - oh my!

How about a good read, a good laugh, and a good time this week?

My favorite grown unschooler, Idzie, addresses the myths about unschooling.  A must read if you are interested in what unschooling is and how it can work.

Citizen of the Month has a funny, fresh take on nursing in public - written by a man - titled The Inconsiderate Breastfeeding Woman

Check out this positive choose-your-own natural birth adventure.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday Snuggles

I hope you all have had a good week! Most of the kiddos are back to school (whether at home or otherwise) and starting to get back to a routine.

I had the pleasure of making a cake for my grandparent's 50th anniversary and spent the day with them.

Marley is doing well with preschool two days a week and I've adjusted pretty well, too! My sister in law is great at keeping in touch with me and letting me know how the day went, but allows the other teacher(s) in the class to be Marley's 'buddy' at school. It's great because it has meant that family time remains family time.

Killian and I are getting accustomed to some one on one time, but he sure is happy to see his sister at the end of the day.

Chloe seems to be adjusting to 3rd grade seamlessly, and her teacher is very nice.

"Back to school" of course means change of seasons & allergies along with germies in general. Mo has the sniffles, so do I, and Chloe has that plus a cough. Killian has 'teethed' on his middle finger until he developed paronychia. After a few mommy tricks, it wasn't getting any better & now he's on antibiotics.

As usual, one of my 'mommy tricks' was breastmilk. There's not much that happens around here that I don't try milk for.

Just a few months ago, Chloe was complaining of an itchy eye. It had her miserable and whiny and finally I convinced her to try 'boo'. She freaked at first when I walked in with the dropper, "I don't want boo juice in my EYYYYYYYYYYE!", but begrudgingly admitted that it helped. When she woke up in the morning --miracle of miracles-- her eye was fine.

Not long after that, my mom sent Ben home with a proposed barter. Deviled eggs from her in exchange for boo. *Uhm-- I can get with that!!* I expressed into a medicine syringe and he walked it down the street. He returned with deviled eggs as promised. :o) Turns out she was having some issues with vertigo and had heard me say that breast milk could help with ear infections. I couldn't turn up anything for vertigo specifically on Google, but she claims it did help.

I've been known to leave in my contacts longer than I should and irritate my eyes. I find even drops marketed for sensitive eyes to sting me, so whenever that happens, I use boo.

Stuffy nose on a baby? Squirt some boo up there. Scraped knees? Boo on a bandaid. I began breaking out on my face something terrible so ya know what I did? Oh yeah-- boo.

Today I found myself Googling 'breast milk wart' as Chloe has her second one. The first was a tiny little thing on the inner rim of her ear which was frozen at home without incident. This one has proven much more difficult. Evidently, there has been some research about breast milk and warts and even a cream at one point.

I find myself having moments of worry-- what about when I don't make boo anymore? What will we do for a case of after hours pink eye?

My mom & I joked about freezing bags full of tiny cubes that could be removed as needed. I'm still waiting for the day when Ben has to ask for a boo cure!

Do you use breast milk for things other than nourishment? How far do you take 'human milk for humans'? Do you pump for kiddos that have weaned and now eat solids and use a cup? (I admit-- I've added Ovaltine to boo once for Marley.) Is it for immunity or nutrients? Do you or someone else in your house drink/use it? Have you used breast milk for a remedy I haven't listed?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Impossible Love

I never knew if I wanted children. Growing up I never had a great relationship with my mother. That mother-daughter bond was never there, and she never really had an appreciation for her children. I can't recall a time when my mother was truly and genuinely happy being a mom. Those little moments of sharing an ice cream cone or dancing silly. Those moments never happened for us. My mom didn't have an easy childhood. She came from a family of 16 children and true poverty. For this, I believe she learned to be selfish at a young age, and it certainly followed her into adulthood. When there were onlookers, she would pretend. She pretended well, but when the show was over, so was the fun. I don't have many good memories of my mother growing up.

My dad has always played a very intricate role in my life. My dad was always the one that took interest in my activities, the one to motivate me into doing activities, no matter how loopy or short lived the interest was. He would wake up at the crack of dawn to drive me to the barn so I could ride. He would delay paying bills, fixing the vehicle or cancel a fishing trip to make sure his kids were taken care of and had what they needed. That was natural to him, and he would never think twice about doing it. I won't say my dad did everything perfectly and never made mistakes, because he did. We all do, both as children and as parents. I can't say that I always recognized and fully appreciated his efforts and sacrifices; does any child? It wasn't until adulthood, and more so parenthood, that made me realize how much my dad did for me. He is an amazing person with a heart so big that it is often taken advantage of.

When my husband and I met we both stressed we didn't want marriage or children. Drink, party and fun. That's what our life was. My husband, a hip and handsome band guy, also lacked the bond with his father that I lacked with my mother. I am sure this also played a role in his decision to not wanting children. His dad was always in the background, while his mother and step-father were the ones who raised him. They did a wonderful job, but I am sure my husband always longed for his father to invest interest in him as I always longed for it from my mother. In us lacking that important bond, we both feared having children of our own. How could we possibly become a mother and a father when we didn't learn first hand how it was to be done?

My husband and I found ourselves unexpectedly pregnant just before we married. We were shocked, terrified, then incredibly excited. Not too long after finding out, we found ourselves in the situation of a great loss. I had miscarried and it destroyed us. It tested our love for each other as we hit a path of depression. We didn't plan it. It wasn't an intentional pregnancy, but that pregnancy became so wished upon and loved. That event brought us even closer together, and showed us that despite our fears, we did want to become parents.

After we married we knew we wanted to have a baby. I believed it would be simple. I mean, we found ourselves pregnant without trying. Month after month, nothing. I would POAS (pee on a stick) every month only to be disappointed. I would see others who weren't trying, finding themselves pregnant. I was jealous, discouraged and unsettled. Was there a higher power telling me it wasn't meant to be? Is this a sign that I'm not fit to be a mom? We pushed forward. After about 9 months of trying, it happened!

We had been out on the boat all day with my husbands family. Tubing, water skiing and some beer drinking. I had stopped POAS at this point because the disappointment was unbearable. While my husband and I were tubing, I jokingly said "it would suck if I found out I was pregnant" because bumping around on the tube, drinking beer and eating junk really wouldn't be ideal to say the least. I knew I was late, but I often was. That evening I decided to get a home test. I expected it to be negative, hence the tubing and beer drinking, but it's almost an obsession when trying to conceive. You have to pee on that stick. I peed, waited 30 seconds, and squinted and hoped to see those lines. Almost immediately they were there! Positive!!! I ran out to my husband with a giant smile and shared the news. We were over the moon!! We laid there telling each other not to get too excited yet. You never know how things could turn out. Who were we kidding? We were already discussing names! I photo messaged a picture of the test to my SIL, who was about 3 months pregnant herself. I had to tell someone! My husband and I would say that this was the most wanted pregnancy in the world. We were walking on clouds.

After a pregnancy full of every symptom and ache and pain you could imagine, my son was born. Love at first sight does exist. The love for my son consumed me. From that moment on, I was to be known as Mom. My husband and I would stare at him and tears of love, joy and relief would fall from our eyes. There he was, our life. Spewing those words "My son..." the first 1000 times gave me a rush. My son! I have a son, my baby, my pride, my everything! Amazing.

In having experienced bringing life into the world, it has led me to even more questions about my mother, my ability to parent in a healthy fashion and how my boys will reflect on their childhood. While I will always question how a mother can live every day not knowing how her child is, or knowing who her grandchildren look like, I know that my ability to raise my children into well adjusted, loving and emotionally stable adults, is more than apparent. I will never be the perfect parent. I will make mistakes I wish I could redo and fix. I will question myself on more than 100 occasions, but I can promise myself, my husband, and most importantly my children, that I will always and forever give it my all. I will be a better parent than my mother, I will always put my children ahead of me, and they will always have the necessities in life, no matter what my husband and I have to do to ensure this. Cancel a hair appointment? Done. Delay a bill payment for a month? No problem. My children will never have to question whether or not their parents love and adore them. They will never have that feeling that they don't get enough hugs and kisses, or that we don't care. Because of how we were raised, we overcompensate. We snuggle, tell our children we love them hourly, and more importantly, act in ways to show our true devotion to our children.

In the end, your childhood doesn't have to reflect on who you become as a parent. It is up to you to make decision to give your children everything you have to offer. Bond (with your parents) or no bond, it doesn't matter. If you want to be a supportive and loving parent, you can be. As adults we make choices. The choice I made was to be the best parent I can be, and it has been the most rewarding choice I have ever made. Hug your babies, sing a silly song and make memories. That's what life is all about.

-Connected Mom, Tammy

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

School's Out Forever

ABC's The Middle
Tonight my husband flipped on an episode of ABC's The Middle, which I think is supposed to be a quirky look at middle America. Not just the Midwest or middle-income family, but true mediocrity at its finest. The story chronicled the parents' ambitions to help their lazy teen son do better in school, return their youngest's library books, and help their middle child, a girl, get on a team at school. All of the teams and clubs have rejected her. It's supposed to be funny, but it's a painfully awkward show and I suspect my husband only liked it because it starred the Janitor from Scrubs.

The mother's closing voice-over intoned how hardworking people with average kids trying to get by and help them grow up isn't ordinary, but extraordinary. It's not a horrible sentiment, but I wonder who relates to this show. Mostly because the characters' are social skills cringe-worthy. In another episode, the mother sends the youngest, an isolated book worm, to social skills classes to prove to the father how his poor social skills are affecting his son. And all I could hear as I watch this was my mother-in-law demanding to know how our children would be socialized if we homeschooled.

Now this is not a mother-in-law bashing article. I like my mother-in-law. She's an educator by trade. I taught before I decided to stay home. I have deep respect for education. I love teaching. I just happen to believe sitting at a desk with thirty other kids and a set schedule isn't going to do as much as I could for them by homeschooling. But inevitably the question I am repeatedly asked is how I can expect to socialize my children.

Well, if your only image of homeschoolers involves awkward, unfashionable kids with stern, conservative parents, you're missing out. Anyone who knows me understands I'm a diva-hippie-rockstar cross breed of a mom (at least that's what I'm going for), but that's not the point. Tonight as I watched The Middle, I watched this girl struggling to make a friend and find a spot to fit into and I sort of wondered how my children will be socialized if they attend school. Is it really so desirable to help them achieve status quo amongst a group of kids from roughly the same income, same racial groups, and same neighborhoods? What do we learn from merely fitting into a puzzle comprised of too similar pieces? And what about those awkward kids struggling to achieve even that? What does school socialization accomplish for them?

James hanging out at a drum circle
The world is much too big and exciting to waste time in a classroom reading about in books and watching it on movies. Don't worry about my kids coping in the real world. They're already in it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What You Need to Know If You're Going to Breastfeed

Sydney nursing in the hospital
I was going to have a natural birth, and I was going to breastfeed, maybe babywear, but not co-sleep. That was the plan and as I soon learned of hospital birth, your plans don't mean much. Despite having a rough start breastfeeding my son, I nursed him for two years and never supplemented once we left the hospital. He's a healthy, hyper three year-old now. I had a nine month break before I began nursing my daughter after a planned homebirth ended in another c-section. Now nearly six months later I feel compelled to share what to expect if you want to breastfeed after a hospital birth, and how to navigate a system that isn't always set up to help you succeed.

If you are planning a natural birth or homebirth, I strongly encourage you to read this. As a member of our local ICAN, LLL, and Birth Network, I hear too many women say, "I never read about c-sections or breastfeeding or induction, because it wasn't going to happen to me!" Well, one of the best ways to prevent problems during and after birth is to be educated and informed so you can recognize the warning signs and advocate for yourself. Not only can this help you avoid unnecessary interventions but if the unthinkable happens and you wind up in an emergency situation, you'll know what to expect from breastfeeding. I had three things on my side regarding breastfeeding after c-section: a supportive partner, a lot of info on breastfeeding, and someone to call for moral support. All those things helped me fight to breastfeed in a formula friendly hospital, but this is what I wish I had known.

All that said, breastfeeding is an art. To many it takes practice and patience and to others it comes more naturally, but all breastfeeding moms evolve with the particular demands of their breastfeeding relationship. After two years of breastfeeding with little issues after preliminary problems, you can imagine how surprised I was to have to be hospitalized for mastitis after my daughter's birth. Breastfeeding and breastfeeding support doesn't fit into one neat category no matter who you are! So the best defense against breastfeeding problems is to go in with a game plan, know what to expect, and who to call.

First and foremost do not expect the hospital to be as invested in breastfeeding as you are. Doctors and nurses are not required to take any classes or complete any training on breastfeeding. Most hospitals have a Lactation Consultant (LC), but in my experience, they aren't always helpful. My first hospital birth the LC popped her head through the door, said things looked fine, and left. Things weren't fine. My son had a bad latch, but she didn't know that because she was never withing 10 feet of me. The second hospital's LC was nice and helpful and I didn't need her too much, which is good because she was only available during business hours and was stretched between all the other women on the floor.

My first hospital was a formula-friendly hospital, which means they pushed supplementation early and often. They brought me a fancy diaper gift bag full of formula, tried to sell me on how healthy organic formula was, and simply would not listen to me when I said it was normal that my milk wasn't in on day 2. Imagine how they treated me on day 4 when my milk wasn't in yet. The pestering turned to threatening. I was endangering my child who needed to eat. Some moms couldn't breastfeed and that was ok. Well, geez, with help like that...

Now listen up, this is important. At the time I believed there was a correlation between my induction, c-section, and the pitocin/fluids I was given and the fact that my son peed on everyone who touched him for the first few hours of his life. He came out peeing and he didn't stop. That's not particularly normal. Nor is it normal for a baby to look swollen. I know now that the excessive amounts of intravenous fluids I was given artificially inflated his birth weight. Henci Goer confirms this in The Thinking Woman's Guide to Better Childbirth. What does this mean for breastfeeding? Inflated birth weight (aka water weight) means as baby loses the swelling, his weight goes down. The sad thing is that nurses don't get this (well, one of mine at my second birth did), so alarms start going off. Baby is losing weight! Doom. Gloom. Unfortunately, this is when they start pushing you to supplement. They may be gentle or they may threaten. Both of my children were down about 10% of their birth weight by the last day in the hospital. Both of them were content, easily woken, and healthy kids. Neither screamed for food or acted unwell. So I fought supplementation. The first hospital threatened to not let me go home if I refused to feed my baby. Apparently sitting for hours with him nursing colostrum was not feeding him. So my husband finger fed him an ounce of formula and we left. It's the only formula he ever had. By the way I had to walk out of the hospital after major surgery, take a different elevator and catch up with my husband, son, and nurse, who had left carrying my baby without waiting for me or offering a wheelchair. E! True Hollywood Story, folks. Paints a picture, doesn't it?

James shortly after birth
The second hospital was much more breastfeeding friendly but just as uneducated. When my daughter who was also born swollen after 2 days of IV fluids began to lose weight, the nurses started in on the supplementation thing. They were kinder but try as I might to explain everything was fine, they were concerned. On our final night, my husband fed her a little formula by finger to preempt any threat they wouldn't let us leave. I wish I had spoken to our hospital pediatrician, because it turns out he wasn't concerned. Her bilirubin was normal and she was content. She was latching and he assured me once my milk came in everything would be fine and to just pop by my doctor for a weight check at the end of the week.

So check with your doctor, consider if baby is seriously jaundice (most cases of jaundice are better treated with breastfeeding than supplementing) and trust your instinct. If baby is latching and happy, hold out for your milk to come in!

My milk came in on day 5 after my first induction/c-section, and day 4 with my second. I've since checked with countless other c-section moms, induced moms, and moms where there was interventions and they all gave 4-5 days as the average time frame. I also noted that the first 24 ours after my c-section with both births that my nipples did not want to easily respond to latch. The nurse after my first birth told me I had flat nipples, which isn't true, and the second time they asked if I did. I told them I did not and that this happened after my first birth as well. This surprised them, which surprised me. To me the correlation was obvious. My body was so relaxed from pain meds it wasn't responding properly. A lot of other mothers report that, despite what a doctor will tell you, pain meds and pitocin can inhibit a baby's natural rooting and sucking instinct. These are all issues that can be conquered with time and patience and since you know this now it will make it much less stressful for you to stick to your guns!

There is a bit of a window to work in if you can. After my son's birth it was hours after he was born before I was given him to nurse. I was too out of it to ask and they waited until I was out of recovering. After we left the OR with my daughter, I was encouraged to nurse immediately. Before they bathed her or put her in a warmer. A nurse helped me onto my side and we nursed within the first hour of her birth. If you have a c-section insist they let you nurse before all those unnecessary procedures. If you have a vaginal birth, try right away. The first thing your baby is going to want to do is root for your breast. It's instinctive. If you can't nurse that quickly, you can still breastfeed, but try to aim to nurse in the first hour if you can.

Hospital birth and postpartum care also foolishly subscribes to the idea that you can schedule and chart everything. They are literally obsessed with wet and poopy diapers. They will make you write it all down and cluck over it. God forbid you forget to write one down. My husband and I admittedly mostly make it up because we always forget. We never lied, we just were never sure on the time or the amount or the color. Here's what's important for a breastfeeding mom to know. It's my opinion that nurses expect babies to poop or wet more because babies on formula poop and wet more. It is completely normal for breastfed babies to have far less wet diapers in the first few days after birth while milk is still coming in. It is not a good indication of whether or not baby is eating enough until milk has come in! La Leche League explains that breastfed babies will have only 1-2 wet diapers while they are receiving thick colostrum aka the superfood. Colostrum is so important that it really upsets me that more moms feel pressured to get their milk going. Babies needs colostrum! If you are feeling pressured and begin pumping to help start up your milk, make sure you give your baby all that colostrum through a Supplemental Nutrition System.

For the first twenty-four hours a nurse will likely come in every two hours to wake you up and tell your its time to breastfeed! This is supposed to be helpful. Personally it makes me stabby. I subscribe to the feed on demand philosophy. I let my baby feed as long as he/she wants and I bedshare. None of these things really fly at the hospital. First, they freak a little if you sleep with baby even propped up on your chest. Second, in my experience, even if you tell them your just nursed and baby is now sleeping contentedly, they want to see it! This is so frustrating because baby and mom need rest, but it is one of the hiccups in breastfeeding at a hospital. So if you are looking forward to getting some rest at the hospital before you head home, I wouldn't count on it. Try to be gentle with your nurse. I sort of threatened to strangle my first night nurse after my second c-section at 4 a.m. In my defense, I was hungry and sleep-deprived and we had called an hour before to let her know we had nursed and she could skip her visit. She didn't. They are doing what they think is best and until hospitals get with the program and require breastfeeding training, you are going to deal with this. Remember, you shouldn't schedule nursing. Listen to your baby and listen to yourself. Some breastfed babies get right down to business, nurse and are done. Others linger. My first would nurse for 45 minutes every two hours (1:00-1:45, 3:00-3:45). My daughter is content after ten minutes and just nurses whenever.

Avoid pacifiers and bottles as they can cause bad latch. If the hospital insists after making you labor for two days without real food and your baby is born with low blood sugar (how could that happen?!) that they have to give him or her glucose or formula, ask for it to be fed by syringe as quickly as possibly. At my first hospital, they gave bottle without informing me and when I sent my husband to tell them to stop, I was quickly treated as a difficult patient. At my second hospital, the nurse shot the glucose into her mouth as businesslike as possible. You want your baby's first feeding experience to be special moment for you both - don't let a bottle prevent that. For my second birth I took a sign that affixed to my baby's bassinet that reminded everyone (I'm a breastfed baby! Please no pacifiers or bottles!) The nurses there loved it. Although they did say that when she was in the nursery, they had to hold her if she got upset since they couldn't give her a binky, so someone was always holding her (score!!!!) They didn't mind too much, she's a cutie. If you are considering circumcision, and I hope you will leave your son intact, they will offer you a pacifier with sugar water to calm the baby. Unfortunately this doesn't do anything to alleviate the pain, it only stifles the cries. You should try to avoid artificial nipples until your supply is established and your baby is latching easily. I would suggest using a SNS if you need to supplement at all.

You may have a fantastic nursing experience. It might be easy for you, or it could be hard. The best thing you can do is be prepared! Have a game plan. Read a really good book or two on nursing. I suggest The Breastfeeding Book by Martha Sears. Consider hiring a doula to make sure you have support during and after birth. Go to a LLL meeting and get some phone numbers to call for help if you are struggling. Share your desire to breastfeed with your spouse/partner and share this info - a supportive partner is really helpful when things get stressful. You are not alone and there are women all over the world who want you to succeed, know you can, and will help you do it.