Attachment Parenting International Announces New Parenting Education Program

April 2, 2008 | 1 Comment

attachment parenting internationalLast year on the show, I was honored to interview Lysa Parker, cofounder of Attachment Parenting International.

Attachment parenting was a word I heard a Mom say over 9 years ago at a meeting for parents who had taken Bradley Method childbirth classes. I thought it sounded so strange, but then I realized it embodied what I believed and what I had been doing with my young baby: cosleeping, nursing on cue, responding to baby’s needs, wearing him in a soft cloth carrier, etc. 

API has some exciting stuff going on right now to help parents learn and keep the principles of attachment parenting and I’m happy to help them spread the word.

What Is Attachment Parenting International?

API is a non-profit organization that promotes parenting practices that create strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents. Some of the changes they would like to announce include:

  • A newly redesigned web site and new logo at Attachment Parenting.org;
  • Attachment parenting worldwide support forums;
  • Parent Education Program - a comprehensive series of classes for every stage and age of child development from infancy through adulthood;
  • A new book based on API’s Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting by API co-founders Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson which is expected to be available this summer;
  • A series of podcasts, webinars, chats, and forums with API Advisory Board members and other supporters of AP. Future events are scheduled with Dr. Bob Sears, Dr. James McKenna, and Kathleen Kendall Tacket. Check out the events page for more information.

These are just a few of many exciting things going on at API. I hope you’ll stop by and check it out for yourself.

Breastfeeding and Yeast Infection - Taming the yeast beast

March 30, 2008 | 9 Comments

Now that it’s getting warm out, it’s time for me to write about an issue that might be affecting a nursing mommy out there: breastfeeding and yeast infection (thrush). Troubles with yeast are more common in the warmer months because yeast loves to hang out in damp warm sweaty places.

Thrush is one of those things that can creep up on a nursing mother and cause pain, even lead to her giving up breastfeeding. Sometimes women have no idea that a yeast infection is what’s causing their pain. It’s not understood very well and many women don’t even know that yeast infection of the breast exists. But it does!

I struggled with it for a long time when my oldest was born. At first it was just painful nipples, but because I didn’t know how to resolve it, it got much worse. The pain was very bad - I felt as if someone was sticking ice picks into my back. (This is because the yeast can colonize the milk producing glands high in the breast.) Even my shirt rubbing across my chest hurt. It felt like sandpaper.

I wonder how many moms have given up breastfeeding because they thought it was “supposed” to hurt like this?

I finally kicked it, but me, my baby AND baby daddy had to be treated. (Yes, it can be passed through THAT kind of contact too, and men are usually asymptomatic.) He and I took Diflucan, and that was enough to stop the cycle of transmitting it back and forth.

I have thrush and it really sucks!

As was mentioned before, sometimes a breastfeeding mother will suffer from pain during nursing which she thinks is “normal”. But breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt. Repeat after me: pain with breastfeeding is common, not normal. If everyone knows what they’re doing and there are no anatomical anomolies (I just love saying that!), then there won’t be any pain. I had no pain nursing babies 2, 3 and 4 because we didn’t have this issue.

What often precipitates yeast troubles is that mother takes antibiotics around her birth (often in the case of a Cesarean delivery or a postpartum urinary tract infection) and comes down with symptoms. The baby may have thrush in his mouth, or he may not. He may have a diaper rash or he may not. But the baby and Mom pass the yeast infection back and forth. Baby may even be fussy at the breast. Mom thinks it’s “her milk”, and weans. This is a sad outcome.

While it is “normal” (again - in the sense of common) to experience some soreness with the initiation of breastfeeding, especially in the first time Mom, this should be little more than a temporary discomfort that goes away after the first few days or weeks. The tissue is becoming used to a new activity. It Mom is having PAIN, that is not normal and is a sign that something is wrong. Normal soreness typically only hurts when baby first latches on, then subsides as the feeding continues. Yeast hurts all the time, even when baby isn’t feeding and gets worse over time.If Mom has seen a Lactation Consultant or La Leche League leader and corrected any problems with latch on or positioning and baby’s anatomy is normal, she should suspect yeast.

This is especially true if Mom has had antibiotics, eats a high sugar diet, baby has any signs of thrush (white patches in the mouth, crying/fussing when feeding, diaper rash) or Mom’s partner suffers from yeast related symptoms (itching in the boy bits, although as I said, men usually get off scott free in this area).Keep in mind that weaning won’t make the yeast go away. It will just move to the vagina or gut if Mom weans the baby (it’s probably already there anyway), and the baby will have pain in his mouth when he bottle feeds also. Better to just get rid of the yeast altogether. Shall we?

Natural Treatments For Breast Yeast And Infant Thrush

Baking soda
Baking soda can be an effective treatment for thrush. It changes the ph of the skin, inhibiting fungal growth. You can make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to Mom’s nipples. Rinse off before feeding the baby. Baby can also take baths with a little baking soda sprinkled in the water, which will soothe any yeasty diaper rash (it looks bright red and hurts).

Vinegar
Vinegar also kills yeast by changing the alkaline/acid balance of the skin, in the opposite way that baking soda does (obviously you would choose one or the other, not both treatments!). It can be irritating to the skin however, so care is needed. One  tablespoon added to a cup of water and applied to Mom’s nipples several times a day with a cotton pad can help.Olive Oil and Coconut Oil
Olive and coconut oil are highly nutritious for lactating women and should be used daily in the diet. Both have antifungal properties and coconut oil in particular is excellent for immune system health. Coconut oil is delicious for baking, added to smoothies, used to cook eggs, etc. Olive oil is delicious in soups, casseroles, used to cook meats, etc. Olive oil and coconut oil can also be taken straight from the spoon.

Some moms have had success applying a bit of oil to their nipples. both for pain and to help heal the infection. I wouldn’t recommend leaving it on if the baby is a newborn, but it’s fine for older babies who are eating solid foods.

Don’t shy away from healthy fats if you’re in your reproductive years ladies. These two fats don’t make you fat. Nursing Mothers all over the world since the beginning of time have thrived on high fat diets. Low fat is not healthy for the lactating or pregnant woman. And eating cheap oils means the fat in your breastmilk is of lower quality.

Strict Hygiene
Fungus is very hardy. Good hygiene is important if you want to prevent reoccurence. Wash your nursing bras and pads, panties and cloth diapers in hot water and do a double rinse. Add vinegar to the first rinse to help kill yeast and prevent irritation from detergents. Wash your hands well with hot soapy water after using the toilet or changing diapers.

If you’re using any bottles or pacifiers, boil them before use. Throw away nipples and pacifiers after treating the thrush and buy new ones. Or better yet don’t use them if at all possible. Be sure to sanitize your breast pump parts too if you use one.

Avoid plastic backed nursing pads. They create moisture and heat which yeast loves. Use cloth nursing pads instead. Go braless when you can to let the breasts air out. And don’t use any type of soap on the breasts, ever.It’s a good idea for Mom and baby to use their own towels and washcloths for awhile. Launder them separately, using the vinegar rinse mentioned above. If it’s hot and sunny out, hang them in the sun to help kill yeast.

Wipe baby’s mouth with a clean wet washcloth or cloth napkin after feeding.

Herbal/Supplements
Garlic and Pau d’Arco have antifungal and immune building properties. Native Remedies is a good source of these and other anti candida supplements. Caprylic acid and oregano oil are also antifungal, and they’re found in Yeast Assassin.

Nutrition
Another thing that will help is supplementing with probiotics. Eat plenty of plain yogurt, kefir and cultured veggies like homemade sauerkraut. These kinds of foods contain lots of beneficial bacteria that help keep the yeast in check in the gut. It’s also very important to eliminate sugar while treating yeast infections. This will be hard because you’ll crave it something terrible! But stay strong and remove sugar, white flour, all junk food and simple carbs (white rice and even fruit) for awhile. Eat plenty of meat and protein, and tons of vegetables while you’re clearing the infection.

There are some prescription medications that you can get for yeast troubles from your baby’s Pediatrician or your OB/GYN. One is Nystatin. It’s commonly prescribed as a liquid suspension. It’s sticky and full of sugar. I hated using that stuff. It didn’t work, and it only made me and the baby and my clothes stick together like glue. And the sugar content - hello!

Another old fashioned remedy is Gentian Violet, sold in some pharmacies. I tried this one too and it’s messy to work with because it stains everything bright purple. I couldn’t take my baby out for a week because he looked like Papa Smurf. And I had to wear an old purple T shirt so as not to ruin my entire wardrobe. But it is pretty effective. There are some concerns about Gentian Violet being carcinogenic with long term exposure, but it typically only has to be used for a day or two to work so most people who care about babies and mothers say it’s ok for this short term use. It’s also very inexpensive and available without a Doctor’s prescription or even a visit to the office.

Diflucan was the ticket for me. Along with the nutrition and other self help measures listed above, we finally kicked it for good. The thing with Diflucan is that a lot of Doctors who are ignorant of how breastfeeding works will tell you that it’s not safe for nursing moms. That’s pretty ridiculous because Diflucan is prescribed for premature infants! Medications and Mother’s Milk is considered the authoritative source on the safety of various drugs for breastfeeding women and Diflucan gets the ok. As for me, we had tried everything else first and the meds helped me get relief, fast so it was worth it.

Have you ever had breast yeast and what did you do about it? Do tell!

I Love It When I’m Right: Nursing Moms, Eat What You Want

January 8, 2008 | Leave a Comment

I find certain things really, really irritating. One of these things is when people blame every little thing a breastfed baby does on its mother.

Did the baby hiccup? Must be something you ate! Does he have gas? Uh-0h. Better go on a strict diet cutting out all dairy/corn/wheat/gluten/soy/bad ingredient du jour. Did he poop too much/too little/too often/too infrequently? It’s your fault. You have to give up your favorite beverage!

Feh.

I read an article today that the pendulum is swinging back the other way. Apparently the AAP has reconsidered their previous advice telling third trimester and nursing moms to avoid certain foods. There’s just no evidence that it works to prevent baby’s allergies.

Man, they could have saved all that time and embarrassment if they had just asked me. ;)

Cute Nursing Shirts

December 21, 2007 | Leave a Comment

I never wear nursing shirts anymore since my youngest almost never needs to nurse in public, but oh my goodness when I browse the cute styles available nowadays I almost want to buy some!

These are so cute you could totally wear them whether you were breastfeeding or not. Enter:


This looks like something Gwyneth Paltrow would wear.  

And this one is simply dreamy with its filmy look.
I love that the new styles aren’t cut for maternity - duh - like we want to look pregnant once the baby’s out! More pretty nursing shirts

I’m for Breastfeeding, Not Nitpicking

December 6, 2007 | 7 Comments

Here’s something for Think About it Thursday.

The other day I was reading Jennifer Laycock’s The Lactivist blog. Jennifer is a wonderful blogger who is obviously devoted to the cause of breastfeeding. But lately she’s under fire from a few nitpicky mothers who want to strip her of her lactivist title… because she’s weaning her two year old.

Yep, you heard that right. Jennifer is referring to the backlash as “Weaner Gate“. Turns out you can’t be a lactivist unless you allow your child to decide everything about the nursing relationship! Bet you didn’t know that did you? :-)

Last time I checked, giving a child 2 years of breast milk was a pretty darn good accomplishment. After all, according to recent stats, only about 12% of tots in this country get breast milk at one year of age, and it’s probably far less for 2 year olds. Instead of getting a pat on the back, Jennifer is getting criticism.

Hmm.

I probably wouldn’t have posted about this except today I got an email from a woman who subscribes to my newsletter. She had a problem with my mentioning that Tylenol would be ok for a nursing mom suffering pain from mastitis. She said:

“I would appreciate a correction of this statement to use tylenol.  It’s simply not good advice.”

While she did say that she “loved my work.  I felt all of your other tips were wonderful advice.”, she still felt the need to comment that:

“I disagree with your suggesting a mother take tylenol for the pain of mastitis.  That is not anything close to a natural handling and is actually destructive advice.  Tylenol has known to cause liver damage and even death from a regular dose.  It’s dangerous.  Have a look on mercola.com for more data.  Also, the baby would get the drug in the breastmilk and a young baby does not have a fully developed elimination system to metabolize the drug in his or her liver… I know of the dangers of drugs from my work.”

Now, I am not picking on this woman in any way. I actually agree with most of what she’s saying. I personally don’t take Tylenol for aches and pains and don’t give it to my kids either. However, I also know a couple of things from my work.

I know that most nursing mothers have an overly cautious view of using medications while breastfeeding due to the ignorance of the health care community. Time and time again I’ve heard moms say that their Doctor gave them that old knee jerk “pump and dump or wean” response when they were faced with having to take some medication. Many people in the health care community (erroneously) think that NO meds are safe for nursing moms - and weaning is recommended as the answer. That’s very rarely true.

In fact, many medications can be used during lactation. There are several factors to weigh including the age and weight of the baby, the seriousness of the mother’s health condition, the emotional effects of weaning, and the individual nature of the drug in question.

The comprehensive resource for this would be Medications and Mother’s Milk by Thomas Hale. It’s not a bad idea for a nursing mom to keep a copy of this book around, or at least have the phone number of a La Leche League leader who owns one.

Point two: For some women, especially those susceptible to it, breastfeeding pain will trigger postpartum depression. Mastitis can be awful. I had a bout with it several months ago when my youngest went on a nursing strike and I felt like I had the flu. My entire body hurt. I shook in bed all night long because of the fever and chills. But I knew what was going on and knew how to solve the problem so I chose to tough it out.

I would much rather see mom take a dose of an over the counter pain medication to feel better fast and then tackle the problem than to give up because nursing hurt. This is what so often happens:  Women start out breastfeeding, run into a problem they can’t solve, and quit.

I’m for breastfeeding, not perfection.

There are those who think you’re not a “real” nursing mom if you do this or don’t do that. I’m for stopping this elitist type of thinking and celebrating any amount of breastfeeding.

Marni Matyus - Babywearing and Kangaroo Care

November 30, 2007 | 7 Comments

Carrie: You’re back with Carrie at Natural Moms Talk Radio and I’m joined this week by Marni Matyus from The Sling Station and Peppermint.com.  Good morning, Marni. 

Marni: Good morning! 

Carrie: How are you today? 

Marni: I’m great!  How are you? 

Carrie: Very good.  I think it’s finally cleared up here.  We’ve had a couple days of sort of pseudo rain, which is kind of good, but we need so much more.  We’re having a bad drought right now.  It’s nice to see the sun, but I wish it would just really drench and give us some rain.  Well, we’re going to talk about kangaroo care.  Now, you’re obviously a baby-wearing expert with your website and your business.  First of all, for those who aren’t familiar with you and what you offer on your website, tell us about The Sling Station and Peppermint.com. 

Marni: Okay.  With both websites, we offer a wide variety of baby carriers.  We represent many of the major manufacturers and in addition to all the different types of carriers, we also have people on our staff who are baby sling experts, who have used the carriers with their own children and they are available by phone and by live chat or email to help moms design which carrier is best for their needs and also to use the carriers if they’re having trouble using their carrier after they received it. 

Carrie: And I’m sure that’s an issue because I know I’ve heard that from many moms, “Oh, my baby doesn’t like it,” or “I can’t get it to work.” 

Marni: Right, right, and that’s what we really try, to provide the service to those moms because when you first get it out of the package, it can be a little intimidating, but if you’ll just step through it and give it a chance and look at our videos on our website and we also have some printable instructions in addition to what’s provided by the manufacturers.  Most people, once they give it a try or give us a call and we can give you help based on your baby’s age and your particular situation what carrying position might be best for you or some tips to help you use your carrier. 

Carrie: Oh, that’s great.  Okay, so on the topic of kangaroo care and I’m sure most of our listeners are familiar with that, but if you want to just explain briefly what kangaroo care refers to. 

Marni: Absolutely.  Kangaroo care really is skin to skin. What happened is in the 1970s in Columbia, they didn’t have the money to buy incubators and they were having a lot of premature babies that were dying. So they tried using the mother as an incubator, so when these babies were born, they literally put the baby on the mother’s chest, skin to skin, the baby’s only wearing a diaper and actually inside the mother’s gown or shirt and the mothers wore the babies 7 x 24 and they actually slept in a semi-upright position with the babies tied to their chest. 

They found that those babies did better than the babies that were in the incubator and the hospital on the top of the hill, they did have money for incubators.  Surprisingly, first of all, these babies were surviving and then as we did more and more research and in other countries, kangaroo care is really implemented much the same as it was in Columbia back when it first started where the babies are held for most of the day on the mother’s chest. 

So, what we found out is their heart rates are more stable, their breathing is more stable, their cortisol levels and their stress hormone are at the 10x lower than a baby who is in an Isolette or an incubator.  The babies that are held skin to skin and held close to their mother were getting out of the hospital faster, they were nursing better, they were gaining weight better, and they have actually a higher survival rate. 

Carrie: Wow.  You know, I had read about the benefits of kangaroo care before, but listening to you tell that story, it occurred to me I wasn’t aware of the fact that they actually encourage the mothers to have the baby sleep on their chest. It made me think that kind of decries the whole “co-sleeping is unsafe” thing and I wonder how many women have done this.  Is it a large enough group of women that we could use those statistics to disprove some of the co-sleeping detractors? 

Marni: You know, I’m really not sure.  I do know that Niles Bergman who provided most of the information that I know of, they’re very specific on the way that the babies are tied onto the mother when they are sleeping, especially that they want to make sure particularly that the baby’s airway is protected.  That is a big concern to them, especially with premature babies. 

Carrie: That would be kind of an interesting thing to investigate just as a side point. 

Marni: Absolutely. 

Carrie: Well, you mentioned some of the benefits to the baby, but what about the moms and dads too?  Dads participate in kangaroo care as well, don’t they? 

Marni: Absolutely.  I mean it’s often focused on the mother because she’s obviously there.  She’s nursing the baby in a lot of cases, but when the mother cannot hold the baby or kangaroo the baby, obviously the dad is the natural choice.  For the mother particularly — for the mother, for me, it was getting my life back when I’m dealing with a newborn — when I had my first baby it was difficult to even get a bite to eat and with the baby held tight to my body, I could now fix myself a meal, I could actually eat using two hands, walk around, things that were difficult with a newborn that wanted to be held constantly. 

Now, with kangaroo care, we’ve actually found out that some mothers have a lower incidence of postpartum depression.  Bonding is easier and they are able to get to know their baby’s needs faster to understand what the baby is needing and obviously respond to their cries faster and then obviously just to be able to do some things that they might not be able to do otherwise. 

Carrie: Yeah.  I know I always felt sorry for moms with preemies and one of the biggest reasons why is because when you see these pictures or footage of babies in these little incubators and the mommies cannot touch them and hold them, it always made me feel so sad for the mom because it’s just an instinct to want to just be close to that infant and protect them and everything and I thought, “Oh, that’s got to have some kind of emotional repercussions.”  So, that makes total sense to me that it would impact postpartum depression rate. 

Marni: Absolutely.  I think we have a physiological need to be with our babies because they have a need to be with us.  It’s a very natural phenomenon and it’s so much easier for the moms even in hospital setting if they can use a carrier to kangaroo their babies, they’re more likely to hold them longer to give them more skin to skin time, which the babies really need if they can sit there and read a book or if they can walk around the hospital a little bit.  Even if the babies have to be connected to breathing machines or IVs, the mom still has a little bit more freedom with physically having to hold the baby with her arm, so that babies tend to get more mom time, more skin to skin time.  Kangaroo care is not just for premature babies.  They’re also for newborns.  They experience the same benefits for newborn babies, which also have a need to be close to their mother.  They actually have the same benefits to a full-term baby as to a premature baby. 

Carrie: Right.  Well, back to that thing that we were talking about earlier about moms who say, “Oh, well, you know, I tried that (babywearing).  My baby just screamed.  They didn’t like the sling.  They didn’t like the carrier…” What suggestions do you have? 

Marni: First of all, starting early.  A lot of times, if you carry a baby from their very early weeks, they don’t know any different.  It’s very natural to them.  That’s a very natural place for the baby to be, so obviously it’s what they are used to. 

A lot of babies also are particular about the positioning.  So, with the newborn, the best position we found is upright on the mother’s chest.  So, with the baby’s head above in between the breasts you want to hold the baby high so that you can reach down to kiss the top of their head.  A lot of babies don’t like to have their heads covered and a lot of babies don’t like to be in a reclining position, especially if you have a baby who’s colicky or reflux, it may hurt them to be in a reclining position.  They do much better sitting upright and you want the baby to be facing you, so they’re leaning against the mother.  That way, they’re not having to support their own weight or their own spine. 

You want to fully support them so they’re leaning against you and then usually there’s fabric behind the baby’s back.  Now, when you have a little bit older baby and you’re just getting into baby wearing, you may need to show them that the sling is a nice place to be.  So, obviously, put them in a carrier and, again, for most babies, we still recommend almost at any age when you’re just starting to wear your baby upright, leaning against the mother, facing the mom.  Put the baby in the carrier, make sure they’re comfortable and walk around. 

So, the first thing you should do when you get the baby in the sling is take a walk, if the weather is nice preferably outside.  I found that just walking around and patting the baby, often they’ll calm down because for an older child that’s not used to being in a sling, it might be just something different, something they’re not used to.  So, they may be a little apprehensive.  If you can calm them down, they’ll soon learn that that’s exactly where they want to be is in mom’s arms.  So, the sling is a way for them to get what they want basically. 

Obviously, the other thing to think about is if the baby just is not happy in the sling, put it away and try it another day.  The other thing you can do to make the baby more comfortable is to make sure you’re comfortable with the sling before you put the baby in.  So, practice with a doll or even with a sack of rice and make sure you understand how the sling works before you actually try it with your baby.  That way, they’re not picking up on your apprehension or any insecurities you may have with the sling because they do pick up on our emotions. 

Carrie: That’s right.  You know, my oldest was a very high need baby and I picked up a sling when he was about 5 weeks old at a consignment shop and it was the worst sling for my body that I could have chosen.  That was one thing.  It was the wrong kind of sling for me because he was tiny and I’m kind of petite and I got a NoJo at a consignment shop.  I didn’t know that there was a difference among all the slings and it just so happened that the NoJo is about the worst possible sling for my frame.  I needed a Maya or something that I could adjust the tail independently to get him nice and tight, so that was one thing.  Secondly, for me, what worked with him was I had to put him in it and immediately start moving, almost be bouncing while I’m adjusting it and take off walking. 

Marni: Absolutely. 

Carrie: And that really helped us, but it was a lifesaver for me.  I always say that I was blessed with a high need child first because everything after that seems easier.  It was trial by fire. 

Marni: That’s absolutely correct. 

Carrie: Oh boy.  The sack of rice thing, I’ve not heard that.  I’ve heard of using a Cabbage Patch doll, but I think a sack of rice is better because it’s heavier and fluffier. 

Marni: Absolutely and if you’re afraid of your baby falling out of a sling, when you put a sack of rice in there, it’s slippery and it’s heavy and it has no arms and legs and if you can keep the rice in there, it probably is not going to be an issue to keep your baby in a sling or a wrap. 

Carrie: Right, yeah.  The thing about going outside is great.  Sometimes I would have to do that too.  I can immediately walk outside because most babies tend to calm down the moment they get outside in the fresh air.  Yeah, that was a great tip too. 

Marni: Absolutely. 

Carrie: Well, you actually had an opportunity to educate some folks in Dallas, medical staff, about kangaroo care.  Tell us about that. 

Marni: I did and it was a fantastic opportunity actually and we had nurses, physical therapists, midwifes, like patient consultants and a few doctors that actually came to our workshop.  Obviously, most of them know about kangaroo care in general because they have lots of workshops.  They understand the value of kangaroo care for the baby, so we were able to show them how to use a carrier to implement kangaroo in there in a hospital setting and they are working with not only premature babies, but also special needs children. 

So, in the child life centers, they’re dealing with children that may have cancer, may have breathing difficulties, may have brain damage or brain trauma, and they found that the carriers are very calming to the babies that when they’re held, when they’re carried they’re much happier.  It’s sometimes easier to work with them with certain physical therapy activities or when they undergoing medical treatment.  We have had a great response.  The staff was very encouraged about what we had to show them and made it easier for them and easier for some of the parents and they are able to now go and teach the parents how to use baby carriers and to encourage them to do more kangaroo care with their babies. 

Carrie: That’s great!  You know, I’ve never thought about that, babies with special needs and how they could also benefit from baby wearing.  That’s great.  Well, what kind of slings or carriers do you recommend for that? 

Marni: Well, I showed them all of the carriers and my suggestion is typically a wrap and without fail, that’s always their first choice to use once they see the benefits and learn how to use it.  Some people are a little bit intimidated by a wrap at first, but really we find that the easiest carrier for moms to get the babies in comfortably and securely is also the most versatile when dealing with babies with special needs because you can position the baby exactly where you need them and then tighten the wrap around them.  You can also vary the carrying positions depending on the baby’s needs. 

Carrie: Well, that’s really interesting.  That’s good to know.  Well, Marni, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing that with us.  I know I’ve seen your banners from Peppermint.com, especially all over the Internet, especially the blogosphere, and you’ve got just a wonderful variety and great articles and stuff on your site, so I encourage our listeners to check you out and see what you have to offer.  Thank you so much for sharing this information with us today. 

Marni: Thank you for having me.

Bad Mastitis Advice

November 28, 2007 | 5 Comments

Susan over at 5 Minutes for Mom blogged about her bout with mastitis last week. She mentioned that her Doctor told her to stop nursing on the affected side and to pump and dump… and that made me really mad. :-) She got a ton of comments to that post from other mad mommies who knew that was bad advice.

So I decided that since this bad advice was still being proferred by medical folks who don’t have a clue, and to participate in the Motherwear Carnival of Breastfeeding, I would share some mastitis tips here. Mastitis is very common at this time of year, for reasons I’ll mention below.

nursing mom- mastitis tipsTo treat mastitis, it’s important to get lots and lots of rest. If at all possible, go to bed with baby for a day or two. Get help with your other children if you can. Increase your fluid intake and sleep and nurse as much as baby will let you.

It’s important to keep nursing, offering the affected breast first. This might be a challenge because the affected side will be sore. If you can’t bear to nurse on that side first, then don’t, but make sure you nurse on that side often enough for it to stay soft. You may want to hand express or pump if baby is unwilling to nurse. While you nurse, try to massage the sore area if you can feel a plugged duct.

The reason to keep breastfeeding is because weaning now will only make you much more uncomfortable, and it’s an extreme measure for a simple problem. If you got a cold, would you cut off your nose? Didn’t think so. ;)

Breastfeeding improves the flow of blood to your breast, and the presence of your milk itself also helps to clear milk ducts of infection. Your baby will not be harmed by your milk when you have mastitis. Your baby has already been exposed to whatever caused the infection in the first place, and if you wean her, you’ll deprive her of the antibodies that are present in your milk and the other benefits of nursing.

Before putting baby to the breast, use a warm compress and massage the affected area which will help with milk flow. Try the same treatments mentioned for clogged milk ducts. Nurse baby soon after you do this, and don’t worry about baby getting the thickened milk, it won’t harm her!Using these self care measures usually means you’ll be feeling better in a day or two.

If you call your Doctor s/he may prescribe antibiotics, which is fine (although unnecessary). Most antibiotics are safe for nursing Moms, but double check with your health care provider, La Leche League leader, Lactation Consultant or Poison Control Center. It’s also ok to take a Tylenol for the body aches and discomfort you feel during mastitis.

Another thing: Often mastitis happens around busy time (like the holidays) when you’re busy, distracted, and running around. Baby might not be nursing as frequently, leading to a plugged duct which can get worse, causing mastitis.

Be sure to take nursing breaks when you are traveling or enjoying company! If baby won’t settle down easily, take her into another room away from the hustle and bustle, use a sling or a nursing cover to help her focus. Mastitis is especially common at around 9 months when babies start getting more interested in crawling and discovering their surroundings, so take precaution.

Another common problem is when other family members develop colds and flus. For some reason, the nursing mom in the family will sometimes come down with mastitis. So be sure to drink fluids, eat well, sleep enough, etc and take care of yourself. If you get mastitis frequently, suspect underwire bras. Some nursing moms just can’t wear them, so find a good softcup bra that’s supportive.   I hope those tips are helpful. To recap:

Avoiding Mastitis:

  • Nurse often
  • Drink and eat well
  • Get enough rest
  • Avoid underwire bras

Treating Mastitis:

  • Nurse often, on the affected side first if possible
  • Massage
  • REST REST REST
  • Warm compresses

More on mastitis:

What is mastitis?
What are the symptoms of mastitis?

Mothering Monday: Kids School Lunches and Big Bird on Breastfeeding

November 12, 2007 | 3 Comments

Jen talks about how she gets her daughter to eat all her lunch.

Super cute video of a nursing Mom on Sesame Street, hat tip to Melodie. According to Big Bird, breastfeeding is sweet. :)

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Alyssa wants to know: “What’s a natural Mom?”

November 6, 2007 | 5 Comments

alyssa.jpgAlyssa of LifeFromMyLaptop (which, by the way Alyssa is one of my favorite domain picks, ever) invited me to do a little cross blog conversing with her. She asked me this question on her blog to kick things off:

My first question for you is about natural parenting. Carrie is the host of Natural Moms Talk Radio so I know she practices this, but frankly I have never really understood all the ins and outs so I know that Carrie can clear this up.

What is it like to be a “natural mom”?

When I first read this, I thought you were asking what a natural mom IS… which is also a great question! So I’ll answer that first. There probably isn’t any real definition of that term, and it means different things to different people, but for me, being a natural mom means tuning in to your (and I believe they are God-given) instincts first and when you’re in doubt.

It doesn’t mean I’m the expert of everything or that I don’t look for expert opinions. It does mean that I’m the one who loves my children the most and it’s also my responsibility to care for them, and since I also spend the most time with them, I’m the expert of them.

One thing that I used to tell moms all the time when I was a breastfeeding counselor is to trust your instincts - you are the expert of your baby. Anthropologists will tell you that “breastfeeding difficulties” are a purely Western, modern phenomenon. We think breastfeeding will be hard and so it is, but it’s not true for native women who do what comes naturally and don’t have anyone telling them they don’t know what they’re doing!

Women doubt themselves so much, and it’s true we’re not animals that are guided solely by instinct… but I believe women have a special sixth sense that alerts them to danger, and we should use that to protect our little ones. Have you ever read The Gift of Fear? It has nothing to do with parenting, but it illustrates this instinct that mothers have beautifully. I think that gift should be used. I believe that mothers go against that inner voice and they and their children sometimes suffer as a result.

So there are some behaviors that come out of that philosophy. As an example, cosleeping. While the experts debate whether it’s “safe” to do so, my strong feelings, and the behavior of my child, tell me it’s a good choice for us. I don’t need someone else’s opinion to make that decision.

You know at one time in this country and all over the world, women were told that formula feeding was “better”, “cleaner”, more “scientific”, more “advanced”, the thing that wealthy women did (and in some countries, the way WHITE woman did things which was obviously insulting to mothers) and the way of the future. :) Obviously those experts were wrong! One of the reasons I don’t go with the status quo automatically but question the way things are done is because I have seen how that “sheeple” mentality so often turns out.

Being a natural parent also means doing things in a natural way as much as you can. When I was pregnant with my oldest, my Mom talked to me about how much she enjoyed using cloth diapers with me. I thought it would be a great way to save money, so I started looking around at diaper services and cloth diaper systems. People laughed at me, but 4 kids later I still love cloth diapers.

A lot of natural parents reject circumcision because it’s a painful, unnecessary (for health anyway) surgery and vaccination because they’re unconvinced that the shots are effective or safe, and they prefer to build their child’s immune system naturally. Most natural parents reject spanking. They often prefer a gentler discipline style. Many of them are homeschooling. Most of them are interested in nutrition.

But we’re not all the same. I know moms who are far more crunchy than me who vaccinated their kids - I didn’t. I know other moms who had their babies at home but who wouldn’t use a cloth diaper if they were paid to. And I know moms who are NOT natural in any way but who I admire for some of their mothering skills.

You know as I type this I realize that natural parents do what they do for slightly different reasons. Some are motivated by environmental concerns, some by politics, some by findings in the field of psychology and some by philosophy.

For me, it’s largely from my belief that when God made moms and babies, he didn’t make a mistake. :-) I trust that a woman’s body is capable of birth and of feeding her baby. I trust that a baby’s cry is supposed to be uncomfortable so it will motivate the adults listening to do something instead of it being ignored. I believe that people are more important than things and that things can’t replace human contact. So that belief is reflected in my parenting choices.

I’m sure that after I write this I’ll think of a hundred more things to say. I hope that makes sense for now :)

Ack! Sorry Alyssa, I forgot to post your question. I was trying to get this published while getting the kids ready to walk out the door. So here goes:

You’ve recently launched a ghostwriting business. Have you always enjoyed writing and what sparked that interest?

Plas-Tek. Plas-Tek!

September 8, 2007 | 2 Comments

Tiffany has posted another awesome and informative article about safe bpa free sippy cups. I didn’t use sippy cups with my kids because my oldest started biting me when he nursed after exposure to a sippy cup, and the same thing happened with kid number two, and I didn’t feel like repeating the experiment with 3 and 4. LOL! Plastic has always given me the creeps and I didn’t want my babies eating on a plastic plate. Now I know why… more and more research is coming out showing the link between plastics and health problems.

If you use sippy cups, read her post to learn more about what bpa is and why it’s wise to keep it away from babies.

I read an article the other day that I feel compelled to share. Do you remember that scene in Indian in the Cupboard where the boys have taken the cowboy and indian to school with them and start fighting over them? Their teacher confronts them and Omri starts shouting: “They’re only Plas-Tek. PLAS-TEK!” to signal to them to pretend they were just toys?

That’s what this article reminded me of. We’re all turning into plastic. There’s plastic in our lungs, livers, and in our breastmilk. The sea is turning into plastic. Did you know that there is a floating mass of plastic in the ocean that is twice the size of Texas? That’s scary. It’s killing and deforming the sea creatures.

sea-turtle-deformed.jpgNow, I’m not a big “scare tactic” person. I prefer not to focus on all the bad stuff in the world. If I can’t fix it, it doesn’t do me any good to bring it into my conscious awareness. I don’t watch the news for this reason. I can’t do a thing about the fact that women keep throwing their babies into dumpsters or let their creepy boyfriends molest their kids. And my personal belief system is that man is not going to be able to turn this around on his own. It will take divine intervention to fix it. I believe that we’ll have a thousand years to clean up the planet, with God’s assistance, and turn it back into the paradise he gave us initially. The problem is simply too large for us to solve on our own. At the same time, I also believe that it’s my job to do what I can not to contribute to the ruining of the earth, and that those who willfully do so out of greed will be punished.

So after reading this article I’m committed to doing several things. Some of these I already do, but now I’m committed to doing them.

  • Always always have a reusable bottle of water in the car so I’m not tempted to buy water in plastic containers
  • Always keep my coffee travel mug with me so a run into Starbucks doesn’t mean one more plastic lid floating around
  • Take the plastic bags I already have to the grocery store and when they run out, use cloth
  • Using cloth menstrual products (I like my mother of eden and glad rags pads).
  • Buying food in glass containers even if I have to pay more (since glass is infinitely recyclable!)
  • Avoid plastic toys as much as possible and go for cardboard, wood and cloth (my kids like to make toys out of natural things too, like shells, rocks, sticks and mud, which I’m glad of). One exception would be Lego, because of their environmental stance and the fact that Lego do not lose value, which means when your kids are done with them, you can resell them on eBay for almost retail (sometimes more!) and keep them out of the landfills.
  • Make my own stuff if I can’t find it in glass (like ketchup, here is a recipe)
  • Making my own household cleaners instead of buying them in plastic (the detergent I buy comes in cardboard but I also want to try this recipe which is DIRT cheap)

What about you? What do you do to reduce, reuse and recycle the plastic in your life?

 

 

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