Monday, July 22, 2013

Breastfeeding: Myths, Tips, And More Pt1

I've been wanting to do a post on breastfeeding for a long time. It's hard work, there's a lot of area to cover! But in this I aim to present you with all the facts. The myths about breastfeeding you may believe, especially those that can hinder nursing or stop it altogether, tips to a more successful journey, physical issues that can inhibit it, the "nursing in public" issue, modesty, and much more.

This is part one of The Crunchy Mama's series on breastfeeding!

(read part two, Lies You May Believe HERE and part three, Tips Tricks and Extras HERE)

My Start

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. It was something I grew up knowing, even though I was formula fed nearly from the start. I knew it was the most natural, normal way, and I knew it was incomparable, even before I began my reading about it. And when I got pregnant, I knew without a shadow of a doubt I would breastfeed my babe.

Some women begin producing colostrum (liquid gold, its the good stuff!) while still in pregnancy, I did around 17 weeks. When my daughter was born, we did immediate skin-to-skin contact, and tried feeding within the hour. It wasn't easy though. She latched on quickly, but not properly, and being a tired newborn quickly fell asleep. She slept a lot. My mother in law worried at the time, and because I was a brand new mom I worried too. She didn't eat a lot, and my milk hadn't come in yet, and I was freaked out.

{As I've come to learn, this is fairly normal, especially for shoulder dystocia babies like mine. The birth process is incredibly wearing and they are exhausted! While emotions run high in pregnancy, birth, and parenting, remember not to read into everything. Some babies latch on soon, are alert or hungry right away, and some aren't.}

My in-laws, bless their hearts, were freaked out enough to run to the store for bottles and formula. But this scared me. I knew the catastrophic cycle that could come from offering a bottle of formula... nipple confusion and preference, trouble latching on to the mother's nipple and frustration at the slower flow, leading to a frustrated mom and another bottle... and so on and so forth until the breastfeeding journey is forfeited.

{One thing we have to remember, is breastfeeding is an art, one that must be learned by mother and child.}

So my midwife kindly offered to try wet nursing, to see if our issue was latching or just a really sleepy baby.

Bree didn't take the breast, or the bottle of formula for that matter. As my milk hadn't come in yet, I pumped colostrum and droppered into my daughter's mouth (a great alternative if the baby isn't taking the breast yet and you don't want to offer a bottle). Colostrum is much thicker and denser than just breastmilk, and can be harder to come out, which is why many moms struggle in the first few days, waiting for their milk to come in. But it is the PERFECT first food for your baby, and the strength needed to suckle for it is great preparation for your baby to learn how to eat.

Luckily three days after giving birth my milk came in. I drank tons of fluids and mother's milk tea and was engorged! It was hard getting my tiny little one latched on to my veryyyy full breast, but we did it! It took us around seven weeks to fully get the hang of it, and still struggled on occasion. We discovered later on that the reason behind this was an upper lip tie (we will discuss lip and tongue ties in another part of this series), and we pushed through and have a successful breastfeeding relationship despite it, nearly ten months in.

My reason for telling you my story is this: Breastfeeding can be easy for some, and very difficult for others. But it is totally worth it to push through the circumstances if you can and not give up! There are sooo many wonderful benefits to mother and child from breastfeeding, and that is what we will be discussing next.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Dr. Sears states 7 ways breastfeeding benefits moms, although I believe there are countless benefits. Let's read some, straight from his website:

  • Reduces the risk of breast cancer. Women who breastfeed reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 25 percent. The reduction in cancer risk comes in proportion to the cumulative lifetime duration of breastfeeding. That is, the more months or years a mother breastfeeds, the lower her risk of breast cancer.
  • Reduces the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer. One of the reasons for the cancer-fighting effects of breastfeeding is that estrogen levels are lower during lactation. It is thought that the less estrogen available to stimulate the lining of the uterus and perhaps breast tissue also, the less the risk of these tissues becoming cancerous.
  • Lessens osteoporosis. Non-breastfeeding women have a four times greater chance of developing osteoporosis than breastfeeding women and are more likely to suffer from hip fractures in the post-menopausal years.
  • Benefits child spacing. Since breastfeeding delays ovulation, the longer a mother breastfeeds the more she is able to practice natural childspacing, if she desires. How long a woman remains infertile depends on her baby's nursing pattern and her own individual baby.
  • Promotes emotional health. Not only is breastfeeding good for mother's body, it's good for her mind. Studies show that breastfeeding mothers show less postpartum anxiety and depression than do formula-feeding mothers.
  • Promotes postpartum weight loss. Breastfeeding mothers showed significantly larger reductions in hip circumference and more fat loss by one month postpartum when compared with formula-feeding moms. Breastfeeding mothers tend to have an earlier return to their pre-pregnant weight.
  • Costs less to breastfeed. It costs around $1,200 a year to formula-feed your baby. Even taking into consideration the slight increase in food costs to a breastfeeding mother, the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that a breastfeeding mother will save around $400 during the first year of breastfeeding.

  • {Let me just say that the "child spacing" benefit, does not work for everyone. My period returned the week after my post partum bleeding stopped. While in many cases, full exclusive breastfeeding will delay the return of fertility, it is not a guaranteed means of birth control. I breastfed exclusively without introducing a pacifier until my babe was 2 months old, nursed on demand, and through the night and it did not work for me.}

    The benefits for baby are innumerable. Stronger immune system, great brain development and function..... the list is huge and long. 

    Check this link out, directly from Dr. Sears again! Benefits for babies from breastfeeding:

  • Brain. Higher IQ in breastfed children. Cholesterol and other types of fat in human milk support the growth of nerve tissue.
  • Eyes. Visual acuity is higher in babies fed human milk.
  • Ears. Breastfed babies get fewer ear infections.
  • Mouth. Less need for orthodontics in children breastfed more than a year. Improved muscle development of face from suckling at the breast. Subtle changes in the taste of human milk prepare babies to accept a variety of solid foods.
  • Throat. Children who are breastfed are less likely to require tonsillectomies.
  • Respiratory system. Evidence shows that breastfed babies have fewer and less severe upper respiratory infections, less wheezing, less pneumonia and less influenza.
  • Heart and circulatory system. Evidence suggests that breastfed children may have lower cholesterol as adults. Heart rates are lower in breastfed infants.
  • Digestive system. Less diarrhea, fewer gastrointestinal infections in babies who are breastfeeding. Six months or more of exclusive breastfeeding reduces risk of food allergies. Also, less risk of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis in adulthood.
  • Immune system. Breastfed babies respond better to vaccinations. Human milk helps to mature baby's own immune system. Breastfeeding decreases the risk of childhood cancer.
  • Endocrine system. Reduced risk of getting diabetes.
  • Kidneys. With less salt and less protein, human milk is easier on a baby's kidneys.
  • Appendix. Children with acute appendicitis are less likely to have been breastfed.
  • Urinary tract. Fewer infections in breastfed infants.
  • Joints and muscles. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is less common in children who were breastfed.
  • Skin. Less allergic eczema in breastfed infants.
  • Growth. Breastfed babies are leaner at one year of age and less likely to be obese later in life.
  • Bowels. Less constipation. Stools of breastfed babies have a less-offensive odor.

    This article from Neuroscience News  shows the immense benefits to brain development the longer you breastfeed...

  • Support for the developing brain.
    MRI images, taken while children were asleep, showed that infants who were exclusively breastfed for at least three months had enhanced development in key parts of the brain compared to children who were fed formula or a combination of formula and breastmilk. Images show development of myelization by age, left to right. Credit: Baby Imaging Lab/Brown University
    "The study showed that the exclusively breastfed group had the fastest growth in myelinated white matter of the three groups, with the increase in white matter volume becoming substantial by age 2. The group fed both breastmilk and formula had more growth than the exclusively formula-fed group, but less than the breastmilk-only group."

    Babycenter tells us "Your breast milk is specifically tailored to your baby. Your body responds to pathogens (virus and bacteria) that are in your body and makes secretory IgA that's specific to those pathogens, creating protection for your baby based on whatever you're exposed to. Breastfeeding's protection against illness lasts beyond your baby's breastfeeding stage, too. Studies have shown that breastfeeding can reduce a child's risk of developing certain childhood cancers. Scientists don't know exactly how breast milk reduces the risk, but they think antibodies in breast milk may give a baby's immune system a boost. 

    Breastfeeding may also help children avoid a host of diseases that strike later in life, such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and inflammatory bowel disease. In fact, preemies given breast milk as babies are less likely to have high blood pressure by the time they're teenagers.

    For babies who aren't breastfed, researchers have documented a link between lack of breastfeeding and later development of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis..." 
    Check out the link to read more!

    Another fabulous source for breastfeeding is evidence-based parenting website KellyMom, where there are a TON of resources and articles regarding breastfeeding, Birth Without Fear, and of course, Dr. Sears.

    Obviously there are many benefits to breastfeeding, and I hope you learned something new today! Part 2 of the breastfeeding series coming soon!

    ~The Crunchy Mama

    More links and resources for you to read:

    And remember to look for us on Facebook, where I share random awesome stuff I find.

    Thursday, July 18, 2013

    What Do You Make Time For?

    I've always been an avid reader and writer. Books, reading and writing them, were my escape from life and my favorite pastime. No matter how horrible my day was, I could escape to Neverland, or Middle Earth, or Narnia.

    Even now as an adult I love reading. I still enjoy the fantasy/sci fi books, but I've broadening my horizons to include more "grown up" reading material.

    Since my daughter was born, however, reading time has been fairly scarce. I've been busy! Nursing, changing diapers, teething, playing, trying to get a cranky and overtired infant to sleep... Not much time for reading.

    My daughter is now nearly ten months old, and other than finishing the last Harry Potter when she was a newborn, I really haven't read anything for pleasure. As I sit and nurse I'll read a scientific study or psychology article on my Kindle... and then I have to cook or clean dishes.

    Last week I decided I wanted to change that.

    We have a really nice library not to far from our apartment, a lovely walk on a nice day. So I walked up there, Bree in the carrier tied to my chest, and got a library card! I'm sure I looked ridiculous, strolled through the aisles of books, reveling in the quiet atmosphere and the smell of paper and ink. It was really nice, and something I haven't done since pregnancy.

    So, I got a book and discovered that lo and behold, you could borrow library books on the Kindle! That was an exciting prospect, as Bree could make it difficult to hold a large, hardcover book.

    I scrolled through the books on the E-book website and found (don't laugh) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I'd seen the previews and honestly the movie seemed ridiculous, BUT I am a sucker for a good vampire story AND books are always better than the movie..... so I decided to give it a go.

    AND HOLY COW! The book is fantastic. It reawakened my hunger for books and I'm sad to be nearly through with the story. (For future reference, the book is quite well written and surprisingly realistic. The movie isn't worth bothering with. It's nearly an entirely different story and I turned it off 30 minutes in.)

    Because of my action to read this book, I realized... I could have been reading this whole time. Maybe not literally this whole time, but I had opportunities and it is my fault I didn't take action. I've had a kindle since April, and it's sole purpose til now was reading "mommy blogs" and facebook. No more! If I can make time for blogging and Facebook, I can make time for a book! (A much better use of time.)

    This got me thinking. So many people say they don't have time for one thing or another. "I don't have time to go to church." "I don't have time to play with my kids." "I don't have time to write my book."

    Granted, most peoples' lives are busy! Completely understandable. But, look at your priorities. What could you make time for, but just don't? TV shows and other similar distractions can get in the way of more important things in life and people don't realize they CAN give them up (or record them on the DVR....)

    There are things in life that are definitely worth prioritizing for. If you have to give up watching a show or hanging out with friends to do something more fulfilling, it is okay. If you can make time for Duck Dynasty or Facebook, you can make time for your kids or family, yes?

    I've noticed Bree looking at me sometimes as I'm on the computer or Kindle. She's playing on the floor, looking at me and my choosen device longingly. (As I write this she is cuddling with Daddy.) I don't EVER want her to think cell phones or tablets or computers or TVs or ANYTHING is more important than she is. I don't want her to think it's okay to "socialize" with people while everyone has their eyes on a tech device instead of eachother. As I'm constantly learning, we are the ultimate example. Parents, grandparents... what she sees us do, she will do (scary idea right?!)

    Your challenge is to step outside and look at your life, see what you make time for versus what you should or want to make time for and make a change, re-prioritize. I definitely am.

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    DIY Wooden Sign, Painted Chairs, & An Easy Table Centerpiece!

    I've been in a hugeee craft mood lately, and have recently made some really great projects I thought I'd share with you, and they're all pretty easy.

    First off, I made a centerpiece for my dining room table.

    I found this milk bottle box at Hobby Lobby, as well as the chevron burlap (which came in a variet of styles and colors). I used spray adhesive on some old pasta jars I'd saved and wrapped some cut piece of the burlap around it. After that, I tied the loose tops with some twine I had at home. I placed the wrapped jars in the box, added the respective silverware... and voila! An easy homemade centerpiece that's very simple, tastefully, and attractive. Plus, everyone sits down, forgets the silverware in the kitchen, and no sweat, there's some waiting on the table.

    I also made a DIY vintage sign, an idea I found on the Diddle Dumpling blog. It worked really well and was super easy. (And don't worry, I noticed the spelling error after taking the picture and fixed it!)

    Basically, you take a piece of wood, it can be painted or plain (matte paint I think works better, I've not tried a gloss paint, but I could see how the ink may not transfer), and print off a saying or phrase in black ink. The important thing is to flip it backwards before you print.

    You then take the printed phrase and place it on your wooden sign-to-be ink side down. Moisten it (not soaking or the paper will tear) thoroughly and then use the bottom of a sharpie marker to draw on top of the ink which you can now see through the paper. Do it carefully, every little bit and then lift the paper. The ink transfers lightly to the board! It looks awesome, but definitely read the original tutorial before attempting.

    My project I did over this past weekend was refurbishing some old wooden chairs. They were from our old kitchen table, and my dear Hubbs broke one of the chairs. When we moved we got a nice new set of table and chairs, and so used these for outdoor porch chairs! They quickly got weather worn and began to peel so I decided I wanted to paint them. I am a fan of yellow chairs for some odd reason, and rather than spend money on a can of paint, I decided to give spray paint a try.

    I got indoor/outdoor rustoleum spray paint, 2-in-1, it's paint with the primer in it. I got a matte in a nice creamy yellow. It took a can per chair to be sure that they were thoroughly covered, and they turned out lovely! After they dried I used some clear sealer spray on the seats of the chairs, just to make it easier to wipe down and to divert paint flakes from peoples' clothing.

    I'm pretty proud of my work, and I'm excited to make more things for our home! Go get crafty people!

    Sunday, July 14, 2013

    My Take On The Princess Situation

    I've grown up watching Disney movies all of my life. Even as an adult, I LOVE Disney. Just today at my cousin's grad party I was singing songs from various Disney movies with a friend!

    And, as my the majority of my formative years were literally a combination of Tangled and Cinderella combined, I can relate. Princess movies were an awesome escape for me.

    For a good while now, I've noticed a lot of Facebook posts and blog articles about the potential harm Disney Princesses can cause little girls. Unrealistic expectations, rebellion towards parents, you have to be beautiful to be important, wanting to enter relationships too soon, thinking you need to be dependent on a man... etc. And I can totally understand that point of view.

    Girls in our society are obsessed with image and the idea of relationships. In raising a daughter, I realize the importance of building up character and encouraging the intelligence and strength in our daughters, not just their beauty and marriageability.

    This awesome post, How To Talk To Little Girls touches all those points. When we talk to little girls, we usually always comment on their looks, not so much their personality. And that isn't a good thing to start putting in their innocent little minds too early. I absolutely believe that. However, I also believe little girls should grow up confidently in their bodies and knowing that they ARE beautiful. We should build them up and remind them that they are beautiful daily. We already do that with our nine month old. I also want to build up her amazing genius, and her warrior strength. Fully rounded confidence in every aspect of her being.

    For me, growing up with an emotionally and verbally abusive parent, I had all of those above issues. And not because of Disney Princesses.

    I was constantly knocked down about my looks, put on diets by age nine, called fat and ugly. I was a size 6 most of my teen life. I had an hourglass figure. I was not fat or ugly.

    But I believed I was. I saw the magazines telling you how to lose those pounds, get a flatter tummy and a fuller butt, how to catch your man and the sex moves to keep him.  I watched the tv dramas and chick flicks about the awesome guy who came to the heroine's rescue. I watched the talk shows. Our society conditions us from a very young age, it isn't just a bunch of princesses.

    There's a Facebook page I like, called A Mighty Girl. This page is all about empowering girls and encouraging their intelligence, bravery, and confidence. I really like most of what this page posts. More unisex toys, not all pink and princessy for girls and blue and sportsy for boys. And I love that!

    But, it is okay for a little girl to play pretend as princess too. I think as parents we need to remember not to lean so far to one side of things that the other side is absolutely not allowed or neglected, balance is needed, like with most things in life.

    I adored the Disney Princesses, and still do. I grew up pretending to be a princess. I also pretended to be a gypsy, a mermaid, an orphan, a warrior, a sword-wielding elf, a witch, a world-renowned pianist... and many more things. The issues I had with my weight, my looks, boys... were because of my upbringing, and the way our society runs. Not because of Disney movies.

    And despite my crappy childhood, while I on occasion had unrealistic expectations of men... who doesn't?  It happens to everyone, even married grown women. Women are built differently than men, we think differently, act differently... it's okay. We're wired that way to better work together. We internalize and overthink, and men generally are pretty upfront and straightforward with their thoughts. It's okay to own your femininity or masculinity. You don't need to be a gender neutral being. Your likes and preferences, whether it be princess or soldier... have nothing to do with your gender.  You can encourage femininity or masculinity without going overboard. Girls can play with matchbox cars (totally did) and boys can have tea parties.

    Our society conditions kids growing up. Whether we like it or not. How you raise your children can challenge it though. If you encourage and build, Disney Princesses or Transformers won't matter. It's the rest of the world that they're seeing. Disney movies aren't realistic, and your kids can grow up enjoying them and understanding that life doesn't turn out that way. Moms with an unhealthy body image will do more harm to their daughter than a Disney movie. Teaching them it's okay to call yourself fat or point out flaws will hurt their esteem, not Aurora's flowing locks.

    On the other side of the spectrum, look at what Disney movies can teach. Mulan shows us how bravery and breaking social norms can do great things. Merida from Brave shows us it's okay to stand up for what you want, even to your parents. The Little Mermaid shows us that hiding things from your parents... going behind their back doesn't just hurt you, but really hurts them too. Cinderella teaches us that even in morose circumstances, you can still be happy and have friends. A Bug's Life... come on, I don't even need to say all that movie can teach. Totally awesome. Beauty and the Beast.... books are awesome and you DON'T need to marry the town hottie... someone unexpected and unorthodox might come your way. Give them a chance, and they'll be great friends and even maybe steal your heart.

    Kids definitely don't need to be tied to gender-specific roles, movies, or toys. But it IS okay to encourage them to be who they are. Balance guys.... it's all about balance... and the example you set too.

    Sunday, July 7, 2013

    Find Me On Pinterest!

    Life has been busy and hectic, and there really hasn't been much to talk about! But in case any of you are interested, I am on Pinterest if anyone wants to follow me there. It's my personal page, and I pin a lot of things relevant to the blog, so if you come here and can't find anything, check out the Pinterest page!!!