Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Breastfeeding supplements

So, someone recently asked me what kind of supplements I am taking to increase my milk supply, since I mentioned it in this post.

And I thought this would be good place to document what I am taking, for my own records as well as y'all's edification.

Here goes:

Calcium citrate with magnesium - Two caplets per day - This is the form of calcium that is most easily absorbed by the body and the magnesium helps.

Alfalfa - Two capsules three times a day - A galactogogue among other things.

Milk Thistle - Two capsules three times a day - Ditto.

Goat's Rue - Two capsules three times a day - This was new to me, but is also a galactogogue and is marketed as such. The previous two are marketed as other things.

Soy Lecithin - One capsule two or three times a day. This is an emulsifier, but also keeps the breastmilk from getting "sticky". I found it useful last time in helping prevent plugged ducts. I am taking it prophylacticaly now.

Probiotic - One capsule three times a day. Just to help keep yeast at bay. I use a shelf-stable probiotic so that I can add it to the pill container.

I am also continuing to take my prenatal vitamins.

Now, some of these have special instructions. The Goat's Rue is supposed to be taken with very little water. The probiotic is supposed to be taken on an empty stomach. the milk thistle and the alfalfa have no special instructions. The prenatal should be taken with food so as to minimize any reactions to the iron. WHATEVER. I have to take them all at the same time or there is no hope that I will remember to take them all. So, the "with food" and "without food" get taken at the same time. And when I have to take nine or eleven capsules, you know darn well that they are getting taken with more than a little water. But I figure something is better than nothing.

And the galactogogues seem to be working. It appears that I have more than enough milk for the baby. In fact, I have even managed to pump a bit, which is good since I want to get at least a couple bottles worth saved in the freezer. I have a colonoscopy next week and will be unavailable to my voracious baby for about three hours. I am so happy that he will have a bottle of breastmilk instead of formula. YEAH!

Ok, speaking of the voracious baby, my brief window with two hands to type appears to be over.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Photo updates 1

Since this blog started out as a way for me to record my thoughts and memories of the kids, it occurred to me that I needed to have more pictures.

So, I am going back through and uploading some relevant pictures. I just added one that I just got ahold of from our photographer. It shows me in the threws of irritation at the length of my pregnancy. So, it got put in the post that makes the most sense. Pretty funny.

Will update with more photos as it hits me.

And I have a rant coming up about vaccines, one in particular. And another about why making a big deal about your faith means that you need to make your faith a big deal.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A post that isn't about my kids...

So, this is a facebook thing, but since I don't "get" facebook, I am going to do it here. And besides, I can do this one-handed, which is all I have right now. H/T to Sherri for this.

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.

1) Look at the list and put an 'X' after those you have read.
2) Add a '+' to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen X+
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien X+
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte X
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling X
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee X
6 The Bible – X
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte X
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell X
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman *
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens X
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott X
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy X
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller X
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare X
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier x
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien x+
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger X
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot *
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell X++
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald X
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens X
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams X
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh *
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck X
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll X
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame X+
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy X
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens X
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis X+
34 Emma - Jane Austen X+
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen X+
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis X (was this not included in 33, though?)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini *
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden *
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne X+
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell X
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving X (ugh)
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery X+
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding X (also ugh)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert X (eh)
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen X+
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens X
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley X
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck X
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov X
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas X+
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding X+
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville X
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens X
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker X+
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett X
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce X (only b/c I love Ireland...)
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens X
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert X (but I don't remember it. odd.)
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White X+
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Alborn
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle X+ (all of them!!)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery X+
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas X
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare X
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl X+
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo X+

Total: 58

You can do this if you like. No pressure.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Adventures in babywearing

**Updated on 4/10/09 to link this to Stephanie's babywearing carnival!

Apologies (or royalties, not sure which) to Stephanie for the title of this post!

So, what does one do with a five week old other than nurse all the time? Well, anything one wants or needs to, as long as you can have more than one hand free.

With my first child, I was content to nurse him for 45 minutes at a stretch and then let him sleep in my arms. I didn't get a whole lot done, but I wasn't worried. I bought a sling and a Moby wrap and settled on the latter for occasional use. I tried the sling, but the baby didn't like it, and I couldn't get it to work to my satisfaction. And in any case, for the most part, the baby bucket and a stroller sufficed nicely.

However, now that I have two kids, the luxury of cuddling the baby undisturbed is nonexistent. And I never have two hands free until the evening when at least one child is asleep. And this empahsizes that which I have suspected for a while. Casual baby-wearers become rabid baby-wearers with the birth of the second kid. It is a matter of survival.

Take this weekend. I took both boys to church by myself as my poor husband was quite sniffly and sick. And the baby was asleep so I took the bucket in with me from the car. Phew. Bucket and baby, toddler and diaper back-pack, purse. Oh yes, and I did have the foresight to pack the sling. Phew. We barely made it into the church and to the nursery, what with the toddler losing his shoes and all when he fell on the sidewalk. Anyway. Somewhere in the middle of the worship, Thomas awoke and needed to nurse, so I slipped out to do that. And then put him in the sling in the hopes that he would go back to sleep. And so he did. And it was quite freeing to go get Jonathan from the nursery in time for communion and even be able to carry him on my hip with the baby in the sling on my front. We did quite well for the rest of the service and the reception that followed. The trouble only started when I needed to strap the baby into the bucket to leave. And trying to chase down Jonathan while carting the horridly UN-ergonomic bucket was decidedly NOT freeing.

So, my husbands choice du jour is the Moby. Mine is the sling. For now. The ergo will be back in use as he grows since that is less fiddly than the wrap. I am really tempted by some of the beautiful woven wraps out there, and those who are better at the baby wearing thing than I am (hi Sherri!) sing the praises of the versatility of a woven wrap.

That might be something I explore in the next few months. But, all I have to say is, my back is happy that the sling and the Moby work. Phew. And, I have sortof figured out how to nurse in the sling, which might make that easier, too. I haven't figured out my bad configuration of a laptop, which means that, whenever I am holding the baby in any way, I am required to type one-handed. So, the babywearing doesn't help with that. But still.

Babywearing? Life-saving.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Breastfeeding is not for wimps.

So, what have I been doing with myself since my last post two and a half weeks ago?

See the title to this post.

Seriously, if I wanted to blog, I would have had to have given up sleep or typed it with one hand while nursing. Seriously. I have a child who wants to nurse all the time, and only sleeps in snatches. I have been actively trying to write something since Wednesday of this week and have not had more than five minutes. Thomas is a good sleeper at night though, at the moment, so I am not really complaining.

Ok, onto the subject of the post, since that is my life right now:

Breastfeeding is a rewarding activity. You can feed your child, bond with him, and lessen your risk for all sorts of diseases, all at the same time. And it is a miracle, that a mother's body provides everything that a baby needs, from the moment of conception, through at least the first six months of life (and longer for some babies who aren't really interested in solids for much of the first year.)

For some women, breastfeeding comes easily. Their milk comes in quickly and without much discomfort; the baby latches correctly and without much pain; neither mother or child is susceptible to yeast or is intolerant of certain foods; the mother has no pressure to return to work and so is spared the need to pump on command. But even in these "best of circumstances", breastfeeding is demanding. There are very few babies, who are exclusively breastfed, who are on any sort of schedule in the first few months. That means that the mother and baby are together all the time. And the second the baby can be diverted away from the breast, the mother needs to do everything that she can, so that when the baby wants more food, she can attend to his needs.

I think that the mothers described above who are the most satisfied with that situation are those that have accepted that their child will be just as attached to them in the nine months following the birth as the prior nine months. These mothers find work-arounds for the inconveniences and embrace their choice.

But these moms are the ones for which things are going well.

For many other mothers, breastfeeding is challenging. Perhaps they have low milk supply (which was/is a difficulty I know a little something about). Perhaps they have over supply (which presents equal and opposite difficulties). Perhaps the baby has a poor latch, or the child is allergic or intolerant of many of the mother's favorite foods. Of perhaps the baby doesn't nurse well for any number of reasons. Perhaps the mother is extremely uncomfortable nursing in public and has a baby who wants to eat often and therefore she feels house-bound. Perhaps there is an illness or a sudden hospitalization. There are any number of reasons for a challenging breastfeeding situation.

Most of these can be remedied in one way or the other, and depending on the mother's (and father's - let's not forget the dads because most women need that support to continue to breastfeed) persistence and desire to breastfeed, those remedies can result in a good breastfeeding relationship with the child.

Breastfeeding is very important. I can't believe that it is even a question these days, whether an infant should receive his nourishment directly from his mother. I can't believe than anyone bought the lie that science trumped nature and that a factory could create a substance better able to nourish a child than the mother. But for a couple generations, women bought that. At the same time, our culture shifted a bit in several different ways. And the result was that it became normal to see breasts in a skimpy bikini at the pool and abnormal to see a woman feeding her child from her breasts. That 'controversy' is enough for a whole other post. The reason that I mention it is that it is part of the problem. We have lost the "institutional memory" of women. The WWII generation of women may have worked in factories, but they didn't breastfeed. So when their daughters were born, they were unable to pass along the knowledge of how to do it. And when their granddaughters were born, there was even less knowledge.

Yet now there is much more science to "prove" that breastfeeding one's child is nearly the best possible thing that one can do to prepare one's child for life. And therefore now women are told to breastfeed, although the wisdom now has to be gleaned in bits, from books, and the internet, and friends, and support groups, and a new line of professionals called lactation consultants.

At any rate, there are plenty of women, myself included, who go to great lengths to breastfeed. And not a little expense. A hospital grade double electric breast pump (which you need if you are trying to build up a flagging supply) is about $75.00 a month; supplements (galactagogues, vitamins, other "helpers") are several dollars a day (I am taking at least eight different pills each morning, noon and night). But the lengths are more than money. A baby can drink a bottle of formula (or expressed milk) in minutes. Most breastfeeding sessions take at least a half hour. Ten or twelve times a day. Several of which take place in the middle of the night. We can all do the math.

Don't get me wrong. Breastfeeding is great. And I am doing my part to give my child the best start to his life. But it is work. And don't let anyone tell you that we are doing the easy thing, or not working. Breastfeeding moms are not lazy, even though they may be sitting down on the job. Parenthood, is, as they say, the toughest job you'll ever love. (I could throw in a couple more cliches, but I will quit while I am ahead.)

Anyway, that is what I have been doing. And I have been reading my favorite blogs, and Twittering (which one can do with one hand), and trying to update my Facebook status with something that doesn't have to do with my baby (which is hard). If you are wondering where I am, give me a call or an email, I will be sitting here, with maybe one hand free.