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Loving and Not Loving Breastfeeding at the Same Time

by Amanda on September 29, 2009
category: 0 – 1 year (baby),Feeding

Piknikas My baby boy is almost 7 months old and he is still exclusively breastfed. However, I am not loving breastfeeding as much as I did with my first child. With my first child I had planned on weaning her at a year, but I wasn’t ready and ended up nursing her for 14 months. (I wrote about my decision to continue breastfeeding here.) I stopped at 14 months, because I started throwing up every day with morning, noon, and night sickness with my second pregnancy. I think the fact that I have been either pregnant or nursing for the last 3 years is taking a toll on me.

All the reasons why I want my body back are completely selfish. I can’t leave for extended periods of time. My baby is still waking up 3 times a night to nurse. Because he has been waking up around 10:30 p.m., I can’t even go out after bedtime. My nipples still get raw and sore sometimes. Logically I know these reasons are not a big deal.

As much as I selfishly want breastfeeding to end, I selfishly want it to keep going. I love not doing dishes. I love that I don’t have to learn a whole new skill of mixing formula and finding which bottle or cup is best. I also really love the bonding time with my son. It is fantastic that my 2 year old daughter sees her brother being fed and knows that breastfeeding is completely normal. I love it when she offers to feed her brother and pulls her shirt up.

I also love that it is the best possible source of nourishment I can give him. To be perfectly honest, I am terrified of formula. I know some women have to use formula and choose to use it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But for me formula is not really an option.  As long as I can produce milk his first year of life, he will get boobie milk.

I have mentioned before that I am marathon training and this adds extra stress to my breastfeeding relationship. On my long runs I am gone from the house for 4 hours. I nurse my baby before I leave in the morning and he wakes up hungry. I don’t have a pump anymore. I would have to increase demand my pumping daily to increase my supply, because I don’t make extra milk.

I contacted Heather at RunFasterMommy.com, because she has trained for a marathon and breastfed at the same time. I asked her about supplementing formula on the days I have long runs. I also asked Heather if it was selfish of me to supplement. She said that it wasn’t and gave me some tips on how to do it. Heather also pointed out that if I gave up my training that I would grow to resent breastfeeding.  I couldn’t agree more. My pediatrician also said I could keep training and to drink tons of water.

With my pediatrician’s help and some full sized samples from her huge stash of formula, my husband now has a tool in his toolbelt if our boy is crying a lot and can’t wait to be nursed.  We have not had to use the supplement yet, but we both feel better knowing that we have something that we can give our baby if I can’t make it home fast enough. I hope that I won’t have to use the supplement.

For now I am going to keep up breastfeeding and enjoy this precious time, but a part of me can’t help but count down until it is over too.

- photo courtesy of c r z

Healthy teeth, happy mommy!

dentist When I was in college, I started a job at a pediatric dental office.  I continued working there after I graduated, until we moved overseas. I did a lot of admin stuff as well as chair-side (assisting the hygienist or the doctor), and I loved how so many parents brought their kids to our office and asked great questions about dental health. Here are a few things I learned from the doctors during my years there:
1. Limit snacking – This is the main cause of tooth decay. During mealtime, our mouth produces enough saliva to keep our teeth relatively clean (we still need to brush though!), but snacking on sugary foods in between meals will “feed” the bacteria in your mouth, which produce the acid that can eat away at the tooth enamel and cause decay. It’s important to limit snacks to fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, and dairy (plain yogurt, eggs, and cheese are your best choices). Candies are of course on the “rarely/never eat” list, but many parents were surprised to find that even carbohydrates can be dangerous if consumed frequently, especially processed foods which contain refined flour and added sugars. Granola bars, crackers, and other “weak candies” should be kept to a minimum. Amelia had a great post on snacking last year — notice how almost all of her bread-related snacks contain whole wheat flour with little or no added sugar!  In addition, beverages such as juice, soda, iced tea, flavored milks and sports drinks can lead to dental caries.  My boss always recommended diluting juices with water when giving them to kids, and limiting the amount of juice per day.  Teenagers are particularly vulnerable in this category, because many of them have terrible snacking habits.  For them, sodas, convenience foods, and breath mints are the biggest culprits of tooth decay, so try to keep these items to a minimum in your house.

2. Cavities are NOT just the result of bad brushing or snacking habits – First and second permanent molars can be deeply pitted and grooved, and occasionally, during tooth formation, the tooth enamel will not fuse completely, creating small fissures that are incredibly difficult to keep clean.  Even with good brushing and snacking habits, these teeth can get decay.  Some dentists choose to fill these early on to prevent greater problems in the future.

3. Get sealants when your dentist recommends them – One of the things I saw time and time again was a child who had been a candidate for sealants at one visit come back six months or a year later with dental caries on those teeth, and they had to have those teeth filled instead.  Usually sealants are placed on the chewing surfaces of permanent molars and premolars (bicuspids), but occasionally doctors will suggest sealants on baby molars.  Sealants generally last three to five years (although sometimes longer), and they really save you money in the long run by avoiding fillings, root canals and crowns to repair decayed teeth.  Most insurance companies cover sealants, but a few don’t.  Some parents are reluctant to get sealants because their insurance company doesn’t cover it.  I would encourage them to get their child sealants anyway; talk to your dentist about a payment plan if money is a concern.  Most offices are pretty accommodating, especially if you are an established patient there.

4. Braces are bacteria magnets! – Many teens (and preteens) just don’t have good habits when it comes to oral hygiene.   And, as it is practically impossible to give advice to teenagers without getting the customary eye-roll, talk to your dentist about showing them how to keep their teeth healthy and clean while wearing braces.  Children with braces are more likely to develop tooth caries and/or experience early gum recession due to poor brushing and flossing habits.  Personally, I’ve noticed that young teen boys (around age thirteen or so) are the worst when it comes to keeping their braces clean, but I’ve witnessed this in a few girls as well.  As a former wearer of braces, I know how difficult it can be to keep those babies clean, but fortunately there are a wide range of products to aid us in this area.  My personal favorite is Waterpik’s Power Flosser.

5. Children with good brushing and snacking habits usually grow up to be teenagers and adults with good oral hygiene – The earlier your child learns the importance of brushing, flossing, and healthy snacking, the more likely they are to continue these habits into adulthood.

I feel like I could write a whole book on this subject, but I’ll stop for now.  I might continue this post with a second installment if anyone’s interested.  So, what about you?  What are some important lessons you’ve learned from the dentist about your child’s dental health?

For more information:

TMC article: Last June, McKenna wrote about surviving your child’s first dental visit.

Website:  Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Healthy at Kidshealth.org

Book: Eat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide

Photo courtesy of .imelda

Real Food for Mother and Baby: A Book Review

I should be drinking whole milk while I’m pregnant?  And better than that is unpasteurized, raw milk?

I should stay away from a low-fat diet? Especially while I’m pregnant?

What is “carbage”?

It’s okay to feed my baby meat?

So, can I or can’t I eat fish while I’m pregnant?

Industrial fats like corn, sunflower, safflower, and soybean oil are making me fat and causing heart disease and diabetes?  You mean butter, coconut oil, and lard are better choices?

What foods are good to introduce to my baby?

You mean babies don’t NEED cereal when they first start eating? Are you crazy?

41wrrks-eal_sl500_aa240_ I recently read Nina Planck’s book Real Food: What to Eat and Why based on the recommendation of a friend. Thanks Heather!  She also recommended Planck’s next book, Real Food For Mother and Baby.  When she told me that the book explains why mothers need more than iron and folic acid when they are pregnant and even trying to conceive a baby my interest was piqued.

This book will turn many of your thoughts about food upside down.  Nina is aon a mission to help people understand why it is important to eat “real food”.  Real food is food that people have been eating for thousands of years.  The kind of food that is minimally processed–meaning milk that comes straight from the cow, beef that is fed grass not soybeans and corn, grains that have been soaked, plain yogurt with your own added flavor, poultry that is allowed to roam and eat grass and bugs.  You get the idea.  Planck makes the argument that “industrial foods” are ruining our health.  Soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils are commonly added into our foods.  They are also highly processed and increasing our bad cholesterol.  The information in this book will make your head spin because it demystifies so much of our wrong thinking about food.

This book addresses all those questions I wrote above. The first chapter is basically a summary of her first book Real Food.  I highly recommend reading her first book to get more of the science and information behind her food recommendations. It is eye opening.  Chapters 2 and 3 deal with pregnancy and nutrition during pregnancy.  Chapter 4 covers breastfeeding. This chapter may make your eyes get as big as saucers in some parts but it is interesting all the same.  She covers why breastmilk is best for baby, what she would do if she had trouble nursing her baby, how formula is made, some of the basics of getting baby to breastfeed and even some anthropological implications for why we have to nurse so often.  Chapter 5 covers first foods for your baby.  This chapter has seriously made me rethink how I want to introduce foods to any additional children we may have.

This book, along with her first book, has caused me to reconsider the kind of foods I want our family to eat.  One thing that I really appreciate about her approach is that she recognizes that eating a traditional, REAL FOOD diet can be pricey.  Time magazine just had an article covering the benefits of grass fed beef for farms, farmers, and consumers.  The article showed how it is cheaper to buy  unhealthy, industrial food than healthy, traditional foods. Many of us are on strict budgets and have difficulty paying for free range chicken and grass fed beed for every meal.  She encourages people to pick and choose wisely and get the best that you CAN afford.  Can’t find raw milk?  Then buy organic whole milk.  Can’t afford organic?  Then at least drink whole milk.  She does recommend that we stay away from all foods that come with industrial indredients and not to fall prey to marketing schemes that tell us that processed foods are good for us.

When we get to England I am planning on implementing several things in the books I have been reading in the last few months about food.  One thing I want to do is avoid ALL forms of industrial food: corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, white flours, processed grains, powdered skim milk…you get the idea.  It seems almost impossible but I’d like to try it for at least a week and see how we do.  I figure since we are moving to a different country it might be easier to stop buying some of our industrial food culprits.

Other books I’ve been reading on the topic of Real Food:

The Omnivore’s Dilemna

Nourishing Traditions

Real Food: What to Eat and Why

Have you read this book?  What do you think?  Does the idea of drinking whole (raw) milk freak you out? Eating whole, unprocessed, real, traditional foods has been getting a lot more press recently.  What have you heard?

“Stay in Your Seat!” Teaching Your Toddler How To Eat With the Family

by Amanda on August 23, 2009
category: 1 – 3 year (toddler),Feeding

annabellesitting My 2 year old daughter, Annabelle, is a grazer. She doesn’t eat a meal in one sitting. Instead, she takes a few bites, leaves it, plays, and comes back for a few a bites more. It can take her 3 hours to eat 5 chicken nuggets. If we are at a park she will carry her sandwich around with her. Of course, I know this is a problem that I partly helped to create.

I want my daughter to eat and if that means that it took her a few hours to eat, so be it. Right when she wakes up from her nap I would serve her dinner, so she could get a head start. It never seemed like she ate enough, so I let the problem begin by letting her eat whenever she wanted.

We also had a problem with her easily getting in and out of her seat. For a while booster seats and high chairs became like hot molten lava and she wouldn’t touch them. So we let her sit on her knees in a regular chair. When we went to restaurants she didn’t want to stay seated at all. I was so worried one night that she was going to touch her tomato sauce covered hands on our neighbor’s white shirt. We got a booth whenever possible to corral her.

Last week my husband and I were ready to tackle this issue. We have 2 goals to teach our 2 year old.

1. To learn to eat with the family.
2. To stay seated while she ate.

We were ready to stick out whatever tantrums and protests she threw. She needs to learn how to eat with the family.

  • We bought a new booster seat

boosterseat The first thing I did was buy a new booster seat. I decided on a backless seat that does not have a tray. I don’t need the back to support her and she uses the table like the grown-ups to eat. The seat I bought is a Safety First brand for $10.50 at Wal-Mart.

That evening I attached the booster seat to a chair. I had her help me attach the seat. Next, I got some Disney Princess stickers and let her put a few on her seat wherever she chose. The whole time I kept saying in a very enthusiastic tone, “This is Annabelle’s Princess Chair!”

  • Everyone eats together

That same day I waited to feed her dinner until my husband and I could sit down with her. She was so hungry she was already sitting in her chair, before I even served dinner. She stayed seated the whole time! She even ate almost everything I gave her and stayed in her seat until after we left the table. The booster seat was a big hit! Apparently, a part of her problem was that she wasn’t comfortable sitting at the table in a regular chair. Now she calls her seat “Annabelle’s Chair.”

  • Use the “All Done” rule

In addition to the chair, I have reinstated the “All Done” rule. When she was a baby I taught her the sign for “all done.” Now we ask her if she is all done. If she says yes, we immediately take her out of her seat, wash her hands, and put her plate away. I will let her have liquids after dinner, but after that there is no more until the next meal. She remembers this rule from before, so it hasn’t really been an issue.

We were ready for tantrums and protests, but didn’t get any. What a thrill it is to have a tackled a behavioral problem successfully. I know that all them won’t be this easy, but I am counting my blessings for this one!

Have you had a problem with getting your toddler to stay seated? Do they eat really slowly? What problem are you currently tackling?

5 Alternatives to Drinking Alcohol While Breastfeeding

by Amanda on August 16, 2009
category: 0 – 1 year (baby),Feeding,Practical Tips

lemonade I live in San Antonio, TX, home to the Alamo, warm weather, and Mexican food. Naturally, a cold margarita goes with the latter two. When I was pregnant with my first child all I wanted was a cold, sour, lime margarita from Paloma Blanca. So before we started trying for our second child my husband treated me to one of those margaritas, because I knew it was going to be a while before I could have another one after pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Each breastfeeding expert seems to have a different stance on drinking alcohol. March of Dimes says absolutely no drinking. La Leche League says to consider factors such as your weight, the baby’s weight and age, the amount consumed and how long after drinking you nurse. Dr. Jack Newman says some alcohol is okay, “Prohibiting alcohol is another way we make life unnecessarily restrictive for nursing mothers.”  Other folks say as long you don’t feel drunk you are okay to nurse. Each mother needs to weigh the risks and decide for themselves.

In my own experience I don’t drink any alcohol until my baby is sleeping through the night and down to about 2 or 3 feedings a day. This way I can be sure that I am not putting my baby in any unnecessary risk.  While I wait a few months until that time comes I have to find other ways to enjoy a night out, relax, or have fun at party.

Here are 5 alternatives to drinking alcohol while pregnant.

1. Enjoy a non-alcoholic drink.

When I was pregnant and on a date with my husband I sometimes felt silly ordering a virgin strawberry daiquiri. It wasn’t the same. I would suggest ordering a special lemonade or any other kind of fruity beverage. Maybe even the waiter could help choose a good non-alcoholic drink from the bar that is not on the menu. If you live near a Sonic Drive-In, stop by and get a fun beverage before a party.

You can also make your own fun drink at home. Here are 5 recipes from the 734 non-alcoholic drinks listed on drinksmixer.com:

Bora Bora

serve in Highball Glass
Scale ingredients to servings
10 cl pineapple juice
6 cl passion-fruit juice
1 cl lemon juice
1 cl grenadine syrup
Prepare in a blender or shaker, serve in a highball glass on the rocks. Garnish with 1 slice of pineapple and one cherry.


Serve in Highball Glass
Scale ingredients to servings
1 part grenadine syrup
4 parts orange juice
4 parts pineapple juice
Mix. Serve over ice.

Canadian Pride

Scale ingredients to servings
2/3 oz maple syrup
3 oz grapefruit juice
3 oz dry ginger ale
Shake and strain into a collins glass three-quarters filled with broken ice. Add the ginger ale, and garnish with a slice of grapefruit.

Classy Cricket

serve in Collins Glass
4 oz pineapple juice
1 oz creme de coconut
1 splash cranberry juice
2 grenadine syrup
1 oz cherry juice
cherry garnish
In Collins glass, or tall cocktail glass, add all ingredients over ice. Transfer to shaker and shake well. Pour entire contents into glass and serve. You may garnish with a Marischino Cherry if desired.

Lemon Daisy

serve in White Wine Glass
Scale ingredients to servings
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz grenadine syrup
1/2 oz simple syrup
7-Up® soda
soda water
Stir the lemon juice, grenadine and simple syrup together in a white wine glass. Add ice, top with equal parts 7-up and soda water, and serve.

2. Chocolate, Ice Cream or Dessert

Unwind in the evenings with a piece of chocolate. Splurge on a fancy chocolate bar. Make some brownies. Enjoy a small bowl of ice cream. I recently bought a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips. I  leave my bag of chocolate chips in the fridge and I snack on a few every now and then. If you are out on a date get dessert instead of a drink. You may not get to enjoy a fizzy or icy beverage, but you can look forward to the delight of a delicious dessert at the end of a meal.

3. Tonic Water with a Lemon

This tip comes from personaltrainerz.com if you are going out to a bar with friends and you don’t want to make a big deal about not drinking. (Although, I can’t remember the last time I have done that!) The author says, “Take a moment to talk to the bartender, tip him a little and make sure he keeps you full or Tonic Water & Lemon all night. Your buddies will think it’s a Gin & Tonic or Vodka Tonic and won’t give you much lip.”

4. Order an appetizer

If you aren’t into sweets and having a dinner at a restaurant order a yummy appetizer that you wouldn’t normally order. Sometimes, I am bummed that I can’t order a drink while my husband enjoys his beverage.  So I will treat myself to a little something extra to make up for it.

5. Enjoy an activity that relaxes you

Mothers want a glass of wine or a little something to unwind from the day. Instead of using a beverage to unwind find an activity that will help. This could be reading a book, taking a long shower, watching your favorite TV show (*cough* Late Night With Jimmy Fallon), having a quiet time, or taking a walk.

Sometimes it does stink when you want a drink and you can’t have one, but the benefits of breastfeeding is worth it! I am always encouraged that I won’t be breastfeeding forever. While I love that I get to breastfeed, I am glad it comes to an end eventually!

What decision have you made about drinking alcohol while breastfeeding? What do you do instead of drinking? Do ever feel bummed that you can’t sometimes?

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