Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Is Formula just the first McDonalds?

Well, it has been a while! I can't even begin to explain or make excuses. Every time I start with the self-inflicted guilt I know so well, "see...just one more thing you can't get done" I start to wonder if anyone even reads this stuff. Then I remind myself that I write this just to process my thoughts and feelings on a topic that has basically consumed me for the past six years - breastfeeding. From the first time I struggled through it to sitting for my IBCLC exam to continuing to nurse my third and last baby I still marvel at how the struggles of breastfeeding parallel so many other issues or reveal internal struggles in my life. This month is no different so here goes... I recently read a wonderful book entitled, Anticancer, by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber (Dr. S-S from now on). I have also watched Food,Inc in the past year or so. These two works have really upset something deep inside of me. I am disturbed. I grew up expecting that what I ate had substance. I understood that eating fast food would probably mean I was choosing a higher fat meal and would need to keep that in mind when choosing the rest of the day's menu but I NEVER thought that what I was eating could be made from harmful chemicals, pesticides, hormones, even particles from inorganic materials at times! The Western diet is a mess to begin with but to make sense of that many of us try to do things like Weight Watchers, sugar busters,and don't forget about calling Jenny. These have been our main sources of contention when trying to lose a few pounds but what if the problem is deeper? What if we are not just making high calorie choices but that the food we can easily access is made of poor quality and hogwash that makes it fit our busy lifestyle and budget? Ahhh!!! Now comes the link to my world - wait for it- breastfeeding! This same line of thinking is why formula has such a presence in our culture. It is fast, others can help, it doesn't require the pulling out of the boobs, and if you are on WIC you get some for free! Hmmm.... That all sounds legit to me! I followed that line of thinking with my first baby once she got to the six month mark. Formula was enticing to me because it didn't hurt (breastfeeding never should by the way!), Dad could do it when I was at work at night, I didn't have to pump at work, she was going to get teeth soon, and mainly because I felt more in control. Oh, how little I knew!! ;) The question really is though what do we control in our food supply? For infants or for us? It is honestly scary. From after school snacks to the chemicals used to scrub a toilet I feel I have been majorly misled. Anyone out there hear me? I am mad about this. Some enlightened/informed Proverbs 31 wives and mommas learn about how toxic our food supply and environment is and go out there and change their "terrain", as Dr. S-S puts it, and they go write cute blogs about how to cook,clean, organize and do it all within their budget. Then there is me. Just mad. I liked Wendy's cheeseburgers and Chick-Fil-A. Now if I go I will feel that dreaded guilt again and especially if the kids eat it. I spent a fortune today at Earthfare and I'm mad about that too. Come on Trader Joes!!! So I guess that is really the heart of the issue here. Do we care enough to change? Do we eat McDonalds and give our babies formula and just stick our heads in the sand because it is a temporary fix that doesn't require much? (I do know that formula is not cheap nor the devil. It has a much needed place in the absence of mom's milk. Just sayin'). I do feel like formula is a baby's first McDonald's. Think about it. They trust that what they are eating, and the are "lovin' it" by the way! Ha!ha! Had to. Just like we all did when we ate our happy meals in ignorant bliss. I mean did you know that someone did a study on a McDonalds's chicken nugget(that I lived on as a child btw) and the preservatives kept it intact for an insane amount of days? Like 200 or more??? Really? That may explain why they always look "normal" when one finds a piece of an old one in your car or something. I mean not that ever happens to me but ya know! Ha! Dr. S-S did the best job explaining how we got here that I have heard. While Food, Inc. makes the food industry out to be a money-hungry monster, and it may be, Dr. S-S explains it differently. He says this all came about after World War 2 when women needed to work and "keep house." preservatives came on the scene to help women out in the home. Kind of like cigarettes there were no known side effects at first. Ignorant bliss of the TV dinner emerged. The cattle and poultry industries found that their animals would grow larger faster and make more product if they streamlined the type of animal they bred and gave them corn, soy, and grain instead of grass. Then came the hormones. This all seemed genius and was done to help out but we didn't know we were gonna end up in the age of GMO's and McDonalds as a mainstay in the American diet. Can we go back and do we want to? I think this helped me gain perspective on why women choose formula. It is the same as why I have always eaten fast food. It is what I knew and I trusted it. Those days are gone and I am mad about it. Need some help from those over-achieving moms I referenced earlier. I'll post some of their blogs as I research them. If you have any ideas speak up!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Obsessed with a Silent Night

Well, this was intended to be my December post but somehow December escaped me without posting. Oops! So, this is what I was reflecting on throughout the holidays. Also, know that I have a sick, just-turned six month old as I write this and that he is my third so I am living it...really.
So, how many of you have felt or experienced the "your baby should be sleepin" stare? Picture it - three or four moms all talking about their daily grind of infant feedings, blowout diapers, dogs barking during naps, totally forgetting that our children have been prayed for and are gifts from the Lord, and then it happens...the quiet moment when it surfaces...there's a baby in the crowd that doesn't sleep through the night. The other moms put on their "experienced" hats and scramble to advise this mom who obviously has a lot to learn about mothering. After all isn't this the new gold standard of parenting? By the way, I must add I have totally been on both sides of this moment and forgetting what a gift my children are in both instances and daily. Just so you know I'm not "hating" on anybody. There. Right there with ya.
I wish I could have understood the physiology of how babies eat and sleep in the onset of my mom journey. My first was a piece of cake and I thought I had it all figured out when she slept through the night pretty easily and early on. Then came #2 and I have been humbled ever since - ha! She had no interest in sleeping while hungry and kept me on the midnight run for months. I was so frustrated because I had the expectation that this one would sleep as well - after all that is what I had learned to be "normal." And we do NOT know what "normal" really means for newborms anymore!! Our commercial comforts have helped us manipulate babies into certain patterns that create a sense of control that we are desperate for. Babies are not sleep terrorists just waiting to for you to fall into a deep sleep just to be awakened by their ill-timed desire to eat. We mess it up! We don't know what is "normal" anymore and place unfair expectations on babies that leave us feeling inadequate, exhausted, victimized, and basically no longer living like we are taking care of a literal gift/reward from the Lord.
I realize that some of you may be huge on scheduling feeds and sleep schedules, etc...If you are successful at it it is probably because you have a very good milk supply but please be weary of advising friends of your habits. Severe scheduling, expecially in the early weeks, can really kill a milk supply. Term, healthy babies if given the chance - meaning Mom keeps baby close by and does lots of skin to skin care in the beginning - will eat! They really do want to. I could talk for hours about that but maybe will expound later. Huge on a good hospital experience, obviously. =) Kind of what I do! ha!
I guess I need to wrap up where I am going with this and think I can do so easily -- we should chill out!!! Most of us make enough milk, most babies eventually can figure out how to latch, most breastfeeding problems will work their way out in time. Here's the icky part - breastfeeding conversations almost always bring out drama. Kind of the same concept of cheerleading Moms, sorry, had to - not all and just plain funny. More icky - we start to see that our control sometimes just gets in the way of our own physiology, including our milk supply needs as well as babies' nutritional needs. More icky - it may actually just be an obsession?
Here are the basic steps to having a baby these days (with like 100 ommitted):
Step 1:desire/want pray for baby, step 2: find out gonna have baby, step 3: how will I feed baby? step 4: baby prep, step 5:frantic search for all books and persons that will help get you back to a "silent night" of sleep. Guess what? You really do not have to have 8 hours of sleep every night for your whole life. We can actually function quite well if we sleep when the baby sleeps and quit trying to make the baby sleep when we want to sleep. Really? Why does this even seem logical? We expect a helpless human who can barely communicate to live up to a standard? Given there are also many homes where somebody has got to just put their foot down and teach kids self-independence in falling asleep (hence the need for Supernanny - ha!) but this is hardly a good idea for newborns and young infants. There is actually research out there looking at the increased stress hormones (cortisol) in babies if they are left to "cry it out" and how it may affect them and also Mom in bonding (see link to article below). We bond through self-sacrifice. For those of you out there with a Christ-centered parenting style I am talking about really dying to self, daily. Well, we all love our children and are trying our best. Let's keep in mind we have other goals for our children than sleep. I pray His grace to be lavished upon us as we grow in our parenting roles. Let's not be obsessed with a silent night now so that when they drive off and are independent one day we would have learned how to sleep sweetly knowing we have loved them well.
If you have thoughts or resources please share!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gluten and dairy and soy...oh my!

OK. So, this month could be wrapped up in two words when it comes to breastfeeding and motherhood, "I'm STARVING!" OK. A bit dramatic but also totally true at times. My now 4 month old has had bloody stools off and on since about 8 weeks old and has never had the yellow, seedy breast baby poop. Once the blood appeared his doctor and I decided to pull dairy out of my diet and see if it improves. This also means you just need to pull soy most of the time because if they react to milk proteins they usually react to soy as well. So there went dairy and soy. I explained it to my husband, who is a former right-handed quarterback, like this...cooking for me without butter is like you trying to throw a football with your left hand. Then, he got it.=) I am a southern, casserole-making cook WHEN I cook.
A quick science lesson:
Lactose intolerance is an inability to digest lactose (a milk sugar) due to a lack of the enzyme lactase. This is actually pretty rare in infants and there are varying degrees. Milk protein allergy is an auto-immune response to the proteins in milk (casein). This is an allergy. There is a huge difference. To my knowledge the only formula without any milk protein is Neocate, which costs a fortune. If a baby can tolerate Nutramagen and Alimentum they should be able to tolerate breast milk. In theory they should actually get less casein from Mom's milk because her body will process it first before it ever gets to the infant. So, when you hear babies can't breastfeed because they are "lactose intolerant" that is PROBABLY not totally accurate, although rarely it could. Most likely it is a milk allergy and the breastfeeding relationship can be salvaged if Mom is willing to change her diet.
So, after a diet change things should improve, right? Well, not so. On to gluten. There is a condition known as gluten intolerance, which is not yet well understood and then there is Celiac's disease, which is an autoimmune condition that would never change for this little person. Trying to decide which a baby has makes my brain hurt and is definitely a job for a good pediatric gastroenterologist. The baby would need to be screened for Celiac's and you may not truly know how bad the condition is until the baby tries to actually eat gluten (usually oatmeal is first.)
This has been a trying time for me to do some soul searching about how much I can stand to sacrifice for the cause of maintaining breastfeeding for my little guy. I think all of the struggles I have experienced nursing just help me extend compassion to other moms when they feel like quitting. It also motivates me at the same time to keep going because I know when the "dust settles" from one challenge and I get to enjoy nursing again the reward is inexplicable joy. MOST breastfeeding problems really work their way out in some time. Having patience is just so so hard and even more so when coupled with pain, stress, exhaustion and sacrifice!
Many moms have gone before me in the allergy dilemma and thanks to them they have given some very good advice. Below are some blogs with recipes and resources for moms breastfeeding babies with milk protein and/or gluten allergies:
Hope this helps if anyone else is dealing with this issue. Let me know and add in your 2 cents and any resources you can share!
Oh yeah - and I basically live off of Larabars, rice cakes, almond butter, almond milk, baked potatoes, salad, and produce. may help! =)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Let's all Pretend we aren't Mammals

So I am going to just go ahead and say that my goal will be to post something once a month. Mainly because that's what seems to be happening and I don't want to be too ambitious for now. I have no need to explain that my days are gloriously busy because the truth is that all of us are mostly too busy, right? So, not a complaint. Just being real. I feel good about writing once a month=)
This month I want to spend time talking about an experience I recently had. I went back to the gym - there! That's it! JK. This was a major accomplishment for me though. ha! It was a Monday and I fed Ty at 10AM with plans of making it through most of a 12 noon yoga class. I thought he would eat again around 1. So far my planning worked out well and the nursery came to grab me from the hardest part of the yoga class around 12:45 - whew! My next plan was to nurse him in the kid's room and then head to the grocery store. Well, here is where it gets interesting. I was informed that the Gold's does not allow you to nurse your baby in the kid's area. They said that the parents complained when they had to explain what BF was to their kids. They told me I was welcome to feed him in the women's center which sounds totally acceptable... UNLESS you know the layout. The couch in the women's center is actually in a hallway, and not just any hallway, the one that leads to the tanning beds, massage room thingy that I never go to, and ALL of the bathrooms, saunas, and pool. In other words you would feel quite "on display."
I was quite uncomfortable with this request and politely informed them that I am really disappointed. I find it extremely difficult to get a yoga/step/pilates class to fit into my life and I can't always make it here and leave before I need to feed the little guy. They said most moms can schedule their work outs around feedings. I so could if I just needed a treadmill or bike or something I could schedule myself but the classes are the reason I joined and are much more difficult to schedule around. I would have joined Planet Fitness if I just needed a treadmill for $10/month or bought one for my house. I joined for classes and now fear that I am stuck in a contract for another year at a place that wants to cater to 3 year-old curiosity rather than accommodate common sense and health. I mean a gym has members who value health more than most people. Lots of the members BF or have BF. I would expect Moms to be supportive of each other and would expect complaints from men and the general population as they walk by me to the bathroom/tanning/swimming world.
Really it isn't even a tough conversation to have with little ones. Unit study number 1 for Kaitlyn Dean's 4 year-old preschool class involved learning that we are mammals. Mammals are covered in fur or hair, have live babies, and feed milk to their young. There. Done. Why is that hard? It is only the adult's issues that make this awkward. The kids are just gonna go with what you say and how you respond. In other words, if it's a big thing to you then you will make it a big thing to them. It should just be common knowledge and I hope that by the time my girls grow up and need to feed their babies while out in the community it won't cause such a stir.
I do need to add that I asked to feed him in an enclosed area while sitting on the floor and with a hooter hider as a cover. No child or other parent would have even known I was there. In fact, my own 3 year-old didn't. The manager actually agreed with me and pulled up a rocking chair and insisted I feed him so he didn't cry all the way home or make me BF "on display." It was very nice of her. She did say that she would not always be able to do that as some parents she knows would complain. I do not understand why their complaint weighs more than mine though? What about our point of view? Am I not also a paying member with a concern/complaint?
Not sure where to go from here. I have not been back yet. Themanager encouraged me to talk to corporate. Not sure. They claim that they are not allowed to feed the kids anything - snack, bottles, sippy cups, etc...Guessing they have figured out the legal side of this. We are allowed to BF wherever we are in this state but I just don't want to be dramatic about this. It is illegal to tell someone they cannot BF as far as I now. I do just want to go to classes and take care of my baby. Why is it such a big deal? I need your feedback! Help!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The "Guilty Mom Syndrome"

I get it. Moms feed formula to babies for thousands of reasons. I have my own. We are constantly feeling the need to defend that decision. This is not the spirit of this blog or post. My hope is that we can move past the guilty feelings (that do not make us better mothers), clear our minds, and think critically. The goal being to fully understand how this decision is more important than planning a registry around hooter hiders or bottles - you can use both by the way=). This decision has serious health implications for both Mom and baby. Any health care provider who does not inform their patients of this is doing an injustice in my opinion.
After weaning my first baby at 6 months she had formula for the rest of that year. I had my own reasons - working all night, horribly painful feeds for first 10 weeks, several cases of mastitis, dwindling milk supply, overwhelmed with being needed so much, wanting others to help more, living at my Mom's for a brief time, etc...When I had my second daughter I had to decide whether to resume BF or pick up where I left off with formula. For some reason I decided to research and explore the topic more. The more I read and learned the more I felt super sure about the benefits that breast milk provides. I wanted to give that to my baby but was then forced to face the fact that my first did not get all of those benefits.
The guilt invaded and hormones drove me to ask ridiculous questions like "do I love one more than the other? what if one gets a disease the other doesn't - is that my fault? am I just better off doing the same with all of them because that's fair?" In the end and after months of struggling through some ugly thinking I decided to leave my past choice behind, love my babies the best I could in the present, and follow what was newly revealed to me regarding BF. With that in mind I nursed my second for 13 months and enjoyed every minute of it. I realized also the importance of nutrition and lifestyle choices that I had with my now toddler and became excited about teaching her to eat healthy.
Now I am nursing my 3rd and last baby - thanks to a tubal=). He is a new challenge and formula feeding would be easier in ways but I would feel guilty. Even thoughI know all of the benefits the painful feeds that I cannot fix, even after a frenulectomy, make this experience very hard. As a lactation consultant I do actually feel I don't have a decision here. If I can't BF well who can, right? So, after tackling the "guilty Mom syndrome" once it now creeps back in. I will persevere and maybe it is because of guilt but I believe it will be a blessing in the end. Thoughts?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Powdered milk...hmmm

Think about it. For those of you who drink alternative dairy sources - soy, almond, lactaid, coconut, etc...it was probably somewhat of a difficult transition to get used to that particular product. Now, imagine being told one day that you have to open a can of formula then mix it with water and pour it over your cereal. Thoughts? Now I will admit I have never tasted breast milk, which is the baby's alternative here, and we can all assume that the baby's palate does not get excited until solids are introduced. Neither option sounds appetizing atop my frosted flakes but at least we know for sure that babies love breast milk and were made to drink it. We know a lot about it. It has been researched extensively. The proteins, fats, and other components are made by Mom just to match her baby. We know it is safe.
Now...what is in formula? DHA? "gentle tummy" proteins? Who knows? That's what the cute commercials say. True that we all feel it is the best alternative when babies cannot receive Mom's milk. Question is...what is in formula? Is it truly safe? Who regulates it? Is it continually regulated by quality control or only approved when introduced to the market? Why is it constantly recalled? How do we find this out? I guess I am wondering who holds these mega-corporations responsible and how? Respond if you can help! Off to research it myself. Seem to remember learning about some opiate-derivative to make them sleep more but not sure about it. Will let you know. Hurry. Anxious to hear feedback!