Friday, May 30, 2008

Now Up to Almost 7 Years

My youngest is two years old today, which puts my total years of nursing babies/toddlers to almost seven years! She's still going strong, which is good because we are going ahead with our plans to adopt a new baby :) Hopefully, things will move along at a pace that will allow me to breastfeed the newest addition to our family too.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Better and Better

Read about a new Canadian study that links higher IQ to exclusive breastfeeding that is apparently the largest ever conducted.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Plastic Nature

I was flipping through Wondertime magazine yesterday and came across an ad for a "European Inspired" baby bath. It was so gimmicky that it made me a bit sick, but that phrase was nothing compared to the tag line at the bottom of the ad. It claimed that the bath made the baby feel like she was back in her mother's womb. Really? Do babies need to feel like they are in the womb to have a bath? Did my womb feel like a plastic bucket full of soapy water? How many babies did they survey to come up with their claims ;)

It constantly surprises me that a country so firmly entrenched in unnatural baby and child rearing practices still tries to claim that it wants natural experiences/products for their babies and children. Is it so important to a mother who feeds her baby synthetic food out of a bottle that bath time remind her baby of before it was born?

On a related note, I read an article about the negatives of Similac's organic baby food. Apparently, it's the only formula on the market that uses cane sugar to sweeten it. Pediatricians are horrified because it makes the babies only want super sweet things, it's worse for their teeth, and because an early sweet tooth can lead to childhood obesity. There are claims that they are doing it to get babies addicted to the sweetness and beat out the competition (Baby Crack anyone?). The mother they profiled in the article was a joke. In the first lines, they say she is a natural mother and proud of it. They go on to say that as soon as her baby was born, she went straight for the organic Similac because it was natural. WHAT? If she was truly a natural mother and she had a real, pressing reason to feed her newborn anything other than breastmilk, wouldn't she have mentioned it? If it were me, I would have felt obligated to lay out my medical reasons for having to choose formula because otherwise the term "natural mother" would seem like a lie...

Friday, May 23, 2008


Check out this video about a Chinese police officer who has nursed several earthquake victims to save their lives...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Shocking Acts of a Loving Mother

I think I reached a new pinnacle of breastfeeding this past weekend at our local movie theater. The older kids and their nine year old cousin were all excited to see Prince Caspian, and so were Mom and Dad. We tried to plan our outing around which time would give us a chance of Grace falling asleep during the film. That all went out the window because she fell asleep in the car on the way (it took us two hours to end up at the theater twenty minutes from home, but that's another story). We bought our super-expensive tickets (the matinee now costs what the night show used to!) and hoped for the best. That was our first mistake...

Even though we were there thirty minutes before our movie's start time, the seats were packed. The only row that would fit all six of us was all the way at the top. We've sat that high with Grace before, and it was perfect. She could walk back and forth between her Dad at one end and me at the other without disturbing any strangers. With that in mind, I chose the seats that had others in front of them rather than the first two that opened directly onto the steps. That was our second mistake...

I took the two youngest to pee before the movie began. Grace is smart enough to know that if she says she has to pee, we will take her the bathroom whether we believe her or not. The last movie she saw was Horton Hears a Who, which she enjoyed watching. I hoped that the talking animals in Caspian would hold her interest, but they did not. Just before the movie began, a teen aged couple came to sit in those last two seats above the stairs. That's when my error became apparent. Every time Grace asked to use the potty, we had to cross in front of the couple to walk down the stairs. Had we been sitting in those seats, it would have been an easy escape without bothering anyone.

About twenty minutes into the movie, Alexander whispered that he had to pee, even though he went just before it began. Grace had already forced her father to take her out, so I had to tell my son that he had to hold it because I couldn't leave the other kids to take him to the bathroom. I was secretly hoping that my husband had given up and wasn't going to bring Grace back up to our seats, but alas, he showed up a minute later. She immediately began saying, "Uh Pee!" in a loud voice. I grabbed her, crossed in front of the young couple, and headed out of the theater with Alexander in tow. In the bathroom stall, he peed. I then asked Grace if she had to go, to which she said no. I sat down to pee, and Grace said, "Uh oh!" and looked down. Apparently she had had to go because the evidence was dripping out of her Cinderella panties.

I threw away the panties because I had nothing with me in the bathroom to put them in. The little pants that matched her dress were a different story. I couldn't throw them out, so I rinsed them in the sink and dried them with the hot-air dryers. The entire time, Grace stood beside me lifting up her dress to expose herself. I kept muttering to Alexander to help keep his sister covered up, but she was relentless. Once her pants were dry, we started walking back to the theater. Grace was protesting the whole time, so I decided that I wasn't going to bring her back to our seats. I watched Alexander walk to the family to make sure that he was safe, and then I took Grace back out.

We spent the next hour walking up and down the hall of theaters. Hearing twenty movies playing but not getting to watch any of them is a form of torture I'd never considered before. Even the teen aged employees had it better than me because I saw them occasionally ducking in to watch a few minutes of a show. Grace got tired after a while, so we sat on a bench. She seemed calmer, so I thought that maybe I'd be able to stand inside the theater and watch some of the movie. That lasted about a minute before she was calling for her Daddy and squirming, so back to pacing the hall we went.

Eventually, Grace got sleepy and cranky (her car nap had been too short). Where was a nursing mother to sit? Normally, the movies are great for that because the theater is dark. I have always taken babies to the movies without bothering people because they nurse to sleep in my lap. This was the first time that I was stuck on the outside with a sleepy/hungry baby. The toilets had no lids to sit on top of, and I was afraid of causing a commotion by going back into the theater. We ended up on one of the benches lining the hall. Since I'd expected to nurse in the dark, I wasn't wearing a tank under my shirt or anything. I sat sideways on the bench so that my exposed side was towards the wall. Grace's body covered everything else. I was feeling a bit like I was being risky, but the hall was empty. Just when Grace entered that dangerous phase of being mostly asleep but awake enough to freak out if I pulled my breast away, Speed Racer let out...Fifty people, many of them with small, excited boys, trooped past me. I had no bag next to me (why that would have made it more comfortable, I don't know, but it would have), no person with me except for the nursing/sleeping toddler, a spotlight above my head. I didn't make eye contact with the families, but I heard some moms saying nice things or saying how cute Grace was. I know from seeing pictures of myself nursing that they probably had no idea that she was breastfeeding.

I sat on display for about five minutes. I am proud to say that I didn't stop nursing, and that I had started knowing full well that there might be a deluge of people to witness it. It's all very well and good to say that breastfeeding is better, that letting a toddler self-wean is natural, that I have nothing to be ashamed of, etc. but it's another thing entirely to practice what you preach.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Potty

For months now, Grace has demanded to sit on the potty. I found it to be a drag because she didn't "do" anything on it, and she usually wanted to be naked to sit on it. That meant getting her dressed and undressed several times a day for no reason. She's not even two yet, so I didn't feel like she was ready to actually learn to use the toilet instead of her diapers.

A couple of days ago, Grace refused to wear any clothes. Since we were going to be home all day, I indulged her. She ran to the potty every time she had to go. She even did the amazing "poo in the potty" that day. That makes her the youngest in the family :) At that point, I realized that her desire to stop wearing diapers wasn't something I should stifle. She's been either nude or in tiny panties ever since. We don't do POTTY TRAINING, and I will not have a child sometimes in and sometimes out of diapers. I've known people who were training for over a year, which is crazy. Let them use the toilet when they are ready and be done with it!

Even though she still nurses to sleep and sometimes at night, Grace's diapers have been dry. That's one of my biggest indicators that she's really ready to use the toilet. The whole night-trained vs day-trained thing is silly, in my opinion, and neither of my other kids used the potty regularly until they were already waking up dry.

This means that I am now on my second breastfeeding and potty trained baby. Before I had kids, I never imagined someone nursing a baby who didn't wear diapers anymore. Through my experiences I've learned something about the different effect of cow's milk rather than breastmilk on a small body. Alexander nursed to sleep and at night after he was out of diapers. He never once wet the bed. After he was weaned, he started to enjoy the occasional glass of chocolate milk. Anytime he had one after about 5pm, he would pee sometime in the night. It's gone on now for years, and he's only staring to grow out of it at age five and a half. This leads me to believe that all of the moms out there with one and two year olds drinking bottles of cow's milk instead of breastfeeding (who are day-trained to use the toilet but not able to hold it at night) are doing this to themselves. Maybe a cow milk drinker cannot hold it at night until they are much older, which is why you end up with giant-sized-night-use-only diapers...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Balancing Act

I once posted a comment on a message board about certain people's unnatural approach to parenting and was accused of being so one-sided that I must be raising my kids with a skewed view of the world (although my accuser didn't put it quite that way). I was even on a natural parenting site and totally agreeing with the original poster, so I'm not sure why I was singled out.

A conversation my seven year old initiated last night contradicts that rather excitable (and defensive) person very well. We were watching a show about two families who have sextuplets. Kathleen turned to me and said, "Well, that mom has a good reason to give her babies bottles." She wasn't so "brainwashed" by my views to think that everyone who uses formula is "bad". I've always tried to teach her that there are reasons for people to use formula, but that most people do it because they want to without knowing that it's not the same as breastfeeding. We went on to discuss how hard it would be to nurse that many babies and that she wouldn't be able to make enough milk for all of them because people don't naturally have six at once. I pointed out that another mom of sextuplets I've seen on TV did manage to nurse hers for a while (with bottles of formula to supplement). I mentioned that rarely, a mom dies and formula is needed for her babies, and Kathleen chimed in that adopted babies need it too. I'm proud of the fact that she understands the difference between needing formula and choosing formula. I don't believe that a child whose mother was one-sided and judgemental would have come to that realization at the age of seven.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I was just reading a well-researched blog entry about the presence of BPA in almost all formula containers currently on the market. The blog, Z Recommends, has long championed the cause of removing BPA from bottles and sippy cups. My question is, has anyone compared the potential harm the BPA in formula cans can do with the harm that the actual formula can do? I'm guessing that the bloggers don't want to start a controversy, and they are trying to serve the interests of formula-feeders, so they will never run that analysis. It just seems a bit strange to focus so much on the harm that formula cans and the bottles used to deliver the formula to the baby can do but to never mention that there is an alternative which is healthier in all respects.

It's sort of like warning people that eating fast-food burgers out of a certain kind of package can cause heart disease but never bringing up the fact that fast-food burgers themselves can cause heart disease. Don't get me wrong, I think the bloggers are doing a great job informing people about which companies are BPA-free and working tirelessly to bring the issue to the forefront. I just wish that they would occasionally mention that not everyone formula or bottle feeds. If you only read their blog, you'd come away with the idea that it's not in the realm of possibility for anyone to feed their infants anything else.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Either Way, We're Smarter

I just read the following article about a new study that claims to show more proof that breastfed infants are smarter than formula fed ones. It was interesting to see that babies who were given any formula at all ranked lower than ones who were exclusively breastfed. The study's authors don't claim to know exactly what makes the difference, whether it's in the milk itself, the act of nursing, or the fact that mothers who breastfeed long-term interact with their babies more and are themselves, better educated than formula moms. What's missing is something I've commented on before: breastfed babies aren't smarter than formula fed babies. Breastfeeding is the biological norm, so breastfed babies are of normal intelligence. Formula fed babies are less smart than breastfed babies. Until we start using phrases like that and drawing attention to the issue, people will continue to make excuses for their choices.

Here's the article I read:

Breast-fed Children Smarter
A new study provides some of the best evidence to date that breast-feeding can make children smarter, an international team of researchers said on Monday. Children whose mothers breast-fed them longer and did not mix in baby formula scored higher on intelligence tests, the researchers in Canada and Belarus reported. About half the 14,000 babies were randomly assigned to a group in which prolonged and exclusive breast-feeding by the mother was encouraged at Belarussian hospitals and clinics. The mothers of the other babies received no special encouragement. Those in the breast-feeding encouragement group were, on average, breast-fed longer than the others and were less likely to have been given formula in a bottle.
The children in the group where breast-feeding was encouraged scored about 5 percent higher in IQ tests and did better academically, the researchers found. "Mothers who breast-feed or those who breast-feed longer or most exclusively are different from the mothers who don't," Dr. Michael Kramer of McGill University in Montreal and the Montreal Children's Hospital said in a telephone interview. "They tend to be smarter. They tend to be more invested in their babies. They tend to interact with them more closely. They may be the kind of mothers who read to their kids more, who spend more time with their kids, who play with them more," added Kramer, who led the study published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry. The researchers measured the differences between the two groups using IQ tests administered by the children's pediatricians and by ratings by their teachers of their school performance in reading, writing, math and other subjects. Both sets of scores were

significantly higher in the children from the breast-feeding promotion group. Kramer said how breast-feeding may make children more intelligent is unclear. "It could even be that because breast-feeding takes longer, the mother is interacting more with the baby, talking with the baby, soothing the baby," he said. "It could be an emotional thing. It could be a physical thing. Or it could be a hormone or something else in the milk that's absorbed by the baby."
Copyright Reuters

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Nursing Milestone

We just returned from a whirlwind road trip to Georgia for a surprise baby shower, and I noticed a shift in Grace's nursing. Until now, every trip we've taken has evenings filled with engorged and sore breasts because she didn't nurse as often during the drive as she does at home. I wasn't looking forward to experiencing it again, but apparently I was worried for nothing. The pain and over-filled breasts didn't happen. I realized that Grace has slowed down to the point that going five hours between sessions didn't have an effect on my supply. While it was nice to skip the discomfort, it made me a little sad. I know that it's the natural pattern and that she will still have days where she nurses often, but it's just one more change as she moves from baby to kid.

On a happier note, it was yet another vacation where I breastfed in public in a new city and didn't face any discrimination or even dirty looks. I can't decide if it means that people are more tolerant or if I'm so discreet that they never know what I'm doing!