Sunday, September 12, 2010

Breast feeding tips and advice

La Leche League will tell you that as long as the baby is latched on right, breast feeding does not hurt. That's bullshit. For the first couple weeks, it hurts like a bitch. First it causes cramps (to prevent uterine hemorrhaging and also to return the uterus to its pre-pregnancy shape and location) and then there's just sore nipples. But after the first 2 weeks or so, it doesn't hurt at all unless the latch is wrong, and sometimes not even then. But if you're just starting and it hurts, and some idiot tells you that means your doing something wrong, ignore them.

Your breasts make colostrum before the baby's even born: yellowish sticky droplets that look nothing like real milk. This is all you'll make for the first 3-7 days of the baby's life and when other moms are shoving 2 ounces of formula into their babies you might feel like your baby can't be getting enough. Wrong. A newborn baby's stomach is literally the size of a marble, and it doesn't stretch. Most of those 2 ounces of formula generally gets spit up, while the colostrum that newborns need gets swallowed and digested and absorbed. Also I have heard mothers say that they had to supplement even before they left the hospital. Who lets them think that's right?

Breast fed babies eat every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Formula fed babies can go 3 hours between feedings, but not because formula is any better than breast milk. In fact, it's just the opposite. Formula is chemicals, synthetic vitamins and minerals created in labs, and it's hard to digest. For this reason it sits in the stomach longer, making the baby feel full for longer, and causing the baby to skip meals. Breast milk is absolutely ideal and perfect for babies and is digested quickly and efficiently, giving the baby space in her stomach for the next meal to go. Nothing is worse than hearing a mother say that she supplemented because the baby ate too often, except to hear that she "scheduled" feedings every 3 hours or more.

Breast feeding is easy. Formula moms will tell you they used bottles because of the ease, but they're misguided. Formula has to be purchased, measured, mixed, warmed, and the bottles and nipples have to be sterilized. Boobs get washed in the shower (but don't use soap; it can dry the nipples and dry nipples can get sore from nursing) and that's it. No supplies to carry around in the diaper bag (except maybe a blanket if you're shy) and milk is always warm enough, never goes bad, never needs to be mixed or measured, and in the middle of the night you can nurse while you lay down and doze. In the very beginning, and usually only with the first child, it's all about how long on which side, foremilk and hindmilk, proper latch, and remembering which side you nursed on last, but after a month or so it becomes second nature and is the easiest thing in the world.

Breast fed babies have less colic, fewer ear infections, and carry their mothers' immunities longer than formula fed babies. They also test higher in school later on, probably because of the species-specific fats and proteins in breast milk. Also, formula fed babies are more likely to suffer stomach problems in infancy due to the cow-specific fats and proteins in formula. Obesity is more frequent in formula fed babies, too. To put it bluntly, nature intended human babies to drink human milk; cow's milk is for baby cows who are supposed to put on hundreds of pounds right away. We are the only species that, as a common practice, feed our young the milk of another species.

Breast feeding does not cause sagging. Pregnancy does. Breasts grow during pregnancy, and engorgement happens whether you nurse or not, both of which cause stretch marks and sagging. Nursing slows the shrinking back of breast tissue, often giving the supporting muscles and tendons time to adjust. If you just let your milk dry up right away the tendons and muscles can have a hard time keeping up. Also, women who nurse are more likely to wear a bra (often even to bed) in the beginning, helping to prevent sagging.

Nursing burns around 500 calories a day, helping women to lose pregnancy weight faster.

Formula, while generally safe, is always vulnerable to manufacturing errors, product recalls, and bad water. If your city is under a boil order and you don't find out until morning, all those bottles you fed your baby during the night become dangerous. If there's a problem at the formula factory and they recall a billion cans, how much of that formula was already eaten? Breast milk is safer from outside contamination. As for inside contamination, the myth that nursing mothers have to eat the perfect diet and abstain from all alcohol or medication is just wrong. Just like during pregnancy, a nursing mother should take a multi-vitamin and whatever nutrition she doesn't take in will be given to her milk rather than to her; the species is designed to propagate itself even at the expense of the mother. As for alcohol, one drink is metabolized per hour, from the blood and the milk. If you finish your beer at 6:00, you are free to nurse guilt-free at 7:00. And many medicines are considered safe while nursing, including many pain medications, cold and flu remedies, sleep aids, and antibiotics. Even a lot of birth controls are fine to take, depending on how the hormones might affect milk production.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Last church post, I hope

After my last rant against churches, having offended someone I seriously do not want to offend, I have given more thought to the church issue. I have figured out what bothers me and hope I am better able to articulate it now.

I read an article once that said the problem with churches today is that they water down the message to just "Be a good person", and there's more to Christianity than that. I disagree. I think there is nothing more than that. At it's core, I believe Christ's message was to be a good person. Don't judge, help the poor, go out in the world and give of yourself and be a good person. The problem is that too many churches, and too many individuals for that matter, have watered it down to just "Accept Jesus as your savior". People believe (not all of them but a lot of them) that as long as you believe that he existed and was the son of God and has the power to save you, then you're doing what you're supposed to. He said "follow me and you'll get to the kingdom" not "worship me and you'll get there". Follow, as in follow his example. Churches could be gathering places to incite revolution, to make people excited about doing things, not just talking about things. If every Sunday were a food drive, or collecting clothes for the homeless, or anything more than sitting around talking amongst themselves about how great Jesus was and how great it is to be Christian and how to always pray and give thanks. It seems to be very much about how to be a Christian even when just sitting rather than to be about not just sitting.

It's great to give a tithing every week and listen to sermons and make every third post on your facebook status about God, but how many of those people volunteer for charities?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

*sigh* I'm old

Is it sad to embrace age? I started this blog when I was turning 30 (and having a hard time of it) and envying an "exciting" friend I don't talk to any more, and while I'm not saying I won't have an equally bad time (or worse) turning 40, my main problem with aging now is worrying about where the line is between being comfortable with my age and "letting myself go" in Tom's eyes.

I have gray hairs. Now, let me preface this by saying that Tom is just plain gray. Not even salt and pepper anymore, but gray. A beautiful shiny silver that I love. Like Richard Gere (growl and waggle eyebrows). But I have gray hairs that society tells me I must dye over. I could go on a rant here about chemicals and the stink of hair dye, but the fact is that I dyed my hair for over a decade. But, I like gray. I'd love white, but I'll be happy when the gray grows out and I can actually see how much there is (scraggly bar-hag grays or actual streaks?). The way I see it, little kids know that some day they'll grow old and be gray and wrinkly; it's only the delusional an denial-ridden who grow to think they can avoid that fact.

I'm always cold. I used to puff out my chest and think that it was because I was so thin, but the fact is I just get cold. So I wear a sweater. It's a shapeless old cardigan grandpa sweater, but I love it. It does, however, make me feel like my grandmother when I wear it. I have even been known to shove tissues up the sleeves on occasion. Hopeless, I know.

I'm stuck in my ways. This is another example of me not knowing where the line is. Where does "routine" end and "rut" begin? When I was pregnant and had diabetes, I ate oatmeal every morning. Real, old-fashioned, unsweetened oats that had to soak overnight on the stove. After Danny was born, I was glad to be done with all the dietary rules, but soon realized that a fear of weight gain and Type 2 diabetes scared me away from a lot of foods. So now, every morning, I eat real, old-fashioned, unsweetened oatmeal. Only now, I splurge and put milk in it. It's not my only routine, but who wants to read (or publish) a list of ridiculous habits?

I try to "act my age". You know that lady at the store (or bar or PTA meeting or whatever) who wears shorts so short you can see her episiotomy scar? The one with her stretch marks hanging out of her crop top who pulls into the parking lot with Lady Gaga blaring out of her 2 door car with booster seats in back? Yeah, I don't want to be her. I wear long pants most of the time, I stopped going braless years ago (when there developed a noticeable lag between when I turned around and "they" did) and I shun all sparkly, sequined, glittery, or foil-printed clothing. I am an adult and I will dress like it, even if it makes me look like I'm 60. I'm a firm believer that, "There's nothing tragic about being 50, unless you try to be 25." I'm not 50 yet, but I think it's true for most ages that it just looks pathetic to try to be younger than you are.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

a problem with churches today

I don't trust fat preachers. There's just something about representing yourself as a role model in Christianity while also being a walking billboard for gluttony that screams "Hypocrisy". I also don't trust extravagant or fancy churches. No matter how many paintings we have of Jesus in white robes with whispy blond hair, the fact remains that he was a wanderer in the desert who bathed in rivers when he came across them and gave all he had (including his life) to those in need. I cannot reconcile this with mega-churches or churches with indoor basketball courts and state of the art technology. Not only does it reek of pride, but it also diverts funds from charitable Jesus-like purposes to rather selfish ones. The Vatican is of course, the worst, but there are plenty of evangelical churches here in the US almost as bad.

There's a church here in town I just hate. hate with a passion! Electronic church bells that blare musak Christian rock, a gymnasium, a fat preacher, all of it. How many mosquito nets could that money have bought for malaria-ridden countries? How many AIDS medications could have been purchased and sent to Africa? How many hungry people could have been fed with that money? Jesus made bread and fishes for the masses; he didn't just feed his own little group fancier food.

I hate most churches, but I do hold a soft spot for the little one-room churches with old basement kitchens and no air conditioning. They somehow seem more sincere, a little less arrogant, more humble. They seem closer to God than the ones with plush carpet and padded pews and wide screen plasma TVs.