Wednesday, December 26, 2012

parentood is like learning to play a duet

"parentood is like learning to play a duet"
My son recently started taking piano lessons.  I was admiring his new-found talent and the excitement he had once a new tune was accomplished.  His determination was was a great enjoyment to be able to make a tune.  Then, there was the challenge.  The challenge of playing his piece as his teacher played the accompaniment.  OH MY!  He had to keep his pace and not get ahead of her part.  He had to focus on his goal, not hers.  It took a few times before he could concentrate on his piece and play it simultaneously with hers.  Together, when played correctly, it was beautiful!  It sounded complete!  There was a sense of accomplishment.  Her piece, without his, was unfinished.  His piece, without hers, was missing something, but together, it was pure harmony.  It took effort on both people to come together, to master their piece, to get to the goal.  The goal was not him trying to do her part, or her trying to help him do his, but each went in another direction, with the same ultimate goal-a finished piece.  
 How does that relate to parenting?  In every way.  God gave each of us our own personality, our own upbringing, our own path.  When a man and woman come together to make a family, they have to learn that they are different.  Yes, man and woman are instinctively different, but they are each their own.  When a child comes in the picture, they each have their own ideas of how to parent, how to create a bond with that child, how to create an atmosphere, how to discipline, how to show love, etc.  While the mother may have her own idea of how to handle situations, the father will also have his ideas.  Coming together, with the differences of opinions may in fact help the situation or hinder it.  Each of us can help strengthen the other or balance the other out.  When one is tired and can't figure out how to handle the situation, the other parent may step in to help.  When one parent is better at holding down the bedtime routine...let them.  You may be stronger in another area, such as craft/creativity time, or one may be better at outdoor activities or making sure that their nutrition is kept in line.  One parent may be lax in an area where the other wants to reinforce certain concepts.  Look to each other and write out goals for your family dynamic.  Write down the strengths of each parent and the weaknesses of each (we are all weak in is good to know your boundaries).

As your children get older, create family meetings and find out goals that your family has.  Create a bucket list for the year.  This will help you to see what your child is all about and what is important to them.  Let them also be a part of their discipline.  Be consistent and make sure that your family routine is consistent.  Children often work better if they also know the goal.  What happens if you sway from the goal?    Start over. Get back on track, focus, write ideas down. Remember that each will have their own input, and don't discredit that, but make it work for your family.  Come together with your uniqueness and your family will gain momentum and sound beautiful when you all have the same goal in mind.  It is never to late to learn from each other, build each other up, or to encourage each other to achieve goals.

New Classes, New Location!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Photo Courtesy of Amy N.

Keeping Abreast:  

Baby’s first 3 months

     I have been asked for support many times, for: fussy baby, colic, pulling away from the breast, spitting up, slow weight gain, sore nipples, lack of sleep, etc.  I feel that there are many issues that arise, because of lack of proper breastfeeding support and information.  The first thing I tell moms is that breastfeeding is natural, but it may not come naturally.  What I mean by that is, although we were meant to breastfeed our babies, it isn’t always easy to keep going amidst frustration and sleepless nights. Most moms probably experienced a few bumps in the road before they felt more confident. Breastfeeding can also become an emotional roller coaster ride, because of ridicule and harassment of others.  Have you been there?  You are not alone!  Here is some information that may help calm those fears and help you step into breastfeeding with attitude, what I call mom-a-tude!
     Admittedly, I experienced many of those bumps.  I even gave up on breastfeeding my daughter, because I didn’t get the right information and support.  My daughter was having extremely loose stools.  My pediatrician told me that all breastfed babies have loose stools.  Well, my daughter had explosions in her diaper, at least once per day, and she was very fussy at the breast.  My pediatrician’s advice was to put her on formula.  He said that we wouldn’t experience these issues on formula, that she just may be sensitive to breast milk- a common misconception.  I was saddened, but wanted what was best for her and felt, once again, that the doctor knew more than me, and my gut was probably wrong.
     I feel that something precious was taken from me, and I cried because of the loss of the experience for me and for her.  Her issues cleared up a few days after the switch, but then, she began to have other issues, like diaper rash and constipation.  I traded one set of issues for another.  I stuck with formula because that is what I was told would be best. I knew in the back of my mind that it was misguided information, but I went with it to help her because I knew the label on the formula had what she needed-or so I thought.
     After studying about the correct techniques and anatomy during my training to become a breastfeeding counselor, almost 2 years later, I realized that all of my daughter’s issues were because of improper latch and the way that I was feeding her.  I learned the significance of foremilk and hindmilk, which I now know are vital to the digestion and weight gain in a baby.  I learned the difference between a poor latch and a good latch. I learned that switching breasts during a feeding could have caused most of her problems.  I should have finished a full breast, so that she had the thickness of the hindmilk to help with diarrhea and tummy troubles.  I also learned that the pressure from my doctor and others led me to take a detour that I didn’t want to take.  I learned about the signs, the proper techniques, and the easy fixes for most situations.  I learned that breast milk has NO substitutions, only copycats who often lead moms astray.
     Foremilk is the milk that the baby receives first, at the beginning of each feed.  This milk is low in fat and high in lactose. Hindmilk is the fat-filled milk that produces the increased calorie content. Together, these work to help baby grow and develop.  If the baby gets too much foremilk, they will have problems with digestion, creating everything from spit up or vomiting, colic, diarrhea, loose stools, and poor weight gain, and more.  This imbalance may also be caused by oversupply, which happens when mom doesn’t empty one breast before going to the next, or is feeding infrequently, causing her breasts to engorge.  This can also be caused by improper latch or positioning.

Where and when did it go wrong?

     Moms often tell me that it started out okay, but got harder and more challenging, or it never started out at all well.  Moms often mistake a proper latch, until it is too late and they begin to get cracked or bleeding nipples or engorgement.  This often happens 2 weeks in.  By this time, baby has also been to the pediatrician and may notice a slow growth pattern.  At this point, moms panic and end up gathering advice from the wrong resources. They are also tormented by others who just say “give them a bottle” or “mix breast milk with rice cereal”, or even “formula might be the better option”.  Peer pressure is defined well for school-age children, but what about nursing moms?  It starts with free samples of formula or commercials that state formula is created to be just like the real thing.  Well, if it is ‘like’ the real thing, isn’t it better to use the pure stuff?  I believe so.  No one likes to experience the issues above and hear their baby cry and experience those tummy troubles, but if correct information is given in the first place, moms may not have to see any of these situations. 
     My goal, as a breastfeeding counselor and advocate, is to support moms by educating them before they give birth, and also help with those concerns from the first day and throughout the first 3 months.  The first three months is what my husband calls the “adjustment period”.  These three months are critical to the internal development of baby’s tummy and digestion.  Colic often disappears after 3 months, almost by magic! Why is that?  Because, I believe it is the time it takes for mom and baby to often get to the “aha” moment, if they haven’t done so already. The moment when it all clicks and the kinks have been worked out.  Mom’s milk supply has evened out and baby has figured out the latch and how to get the most out of each feeding.  Babies often sleep longer during the night, so mom and baby are better rested and less agitated.  I do feel that breastfeeding courses are super imperative for moms who want those critical first three months to start out on the right track and to possibly treat the problems up front, rather than suffering from heartache and detours caused by the naysayers.  Moms may not know how to handle the peer pressure, if they aren’t equipped up front with the ups and downs that they may experience.  Don’t give up on breastfeeding.  There are great resources, but I encourage moms to find it before baby comes.  If it is after, please visit with a breastfeeding counselor or group who can support you thru the tough time physically and emotionally.
     Overall moms, I want you to listen to your gut.  Just because someone else did that technique or took that path with their own baby, doesn’t mean you have to.  Take control and stand firm.  Show your mom-a-tude, with pride. Don’t be ashamed of breastfeeding or listen to the ridicule when it comes down your path.  I understand it is hard, but just stand firm and they will eventually take the hint that you aren’t backing down.  Education is the best medicine.  Some people aren’t too keen on breastfeeding in public or at all.  Make it known to them that you aren’t keen to imposters in formula and you want your baby to have the best. Surround yourself with moms and advocates who feel the same way.  Let’s build a better breastfeeding and healthy community!

In conclusion, here is a story from one mom who knew the importance of the great nutrition that was produced in her body and how she clung to that, even under pressure.

     This is a picture (seen above) of the moment after my third child was born on October 6th. After nursing the first my first two it was only natural to put him straight to my breast, he latched ravenously and did not let go. He just glared at everyone. He was less than a minute old, still had his umbilical attached. I was discouraged from nursing right away; he nursed and peed on me, lol. I was told he wouldn’t want to nurse, I just shooed them all away. I knew they just wanted to hold him but he was all mine for those first hours.  He was a surprise baby. Found out my birth control was recalled and my Dr.  I’m pretty sure that’s how we ended up with our blessing. I am the first in my family to nurse a baby, since formula was invented. I have faced criticism from my whole family. Of how it’s bad for baby, to how ugly and saggy my breasts will be (thanks mom) or just how inappropriate it is. I sent this picture without thinking to my family out of excitement after I took it for a first glimpse. I was asked for a different one without my minimal showing breast in it. One they could actually show people is how they put it. I have been banished to the backroom at all family functions and even been brought a blanket to put over my baby’s head on an airplane (I was wearing a nursing top and was at the back alone). With my first baby, she was the hardest. My nipples cracked and bled, I felt like I was nursing a tiny shark. I cried out, I used lanolin; I used cold packs, and nipple shields. I just had to wait for them to toughen up. She had a stuck tongue and narrow palate. I stared at that free can of formula and tried to block out my mother’s offers to fix a bottle for her. I couldn’t do it, open that stupid can, and am glad I’m so stubborn because it’s something I have become awfully proud of. I had no idea what I was doing and the nurse I had was very short with me, I felt manhandled. My second was a breeze, and so is this baby. He’s nine months old now (Vernon Jr.), and his teeth are awfully sharp, but I wouldn’t trade those milky grins for anything.

~ Thank you for sharing Amy!

Permission was obtained to use the breastfeeding story from Amy N.
The remaining material was original work written by Tina Black, however there are many great resources out there to support these issues.   Please check out these sites to help you keep abreast of breastfeeding support and education.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Before the Big Day

Recently, I assisted a new family at their baby's birthday. I love to help prepare families for the birth of their little ones, but I am often discouraged at the lack of resources for families after the birth. I truly encourage families to use a doula for birth, to help during times of needed comfort emotionally, physically, as well as being full of great additional knowledge, but what do you do after baby comes home? Who will help with meals, sleep arrangements, feedings? Who will help when parents are at their wits end with the new routine? Where do you seek breastfeeding support in the middle of the night? Who will help mom when dad is back to work? It is such a blessing to have your little one home, but to save you from much unneeded stresses, plan ahead for this time as well.

'Planning for birth begins before baby arrives. Planning for the first 6 weeks of postpartum care should begin early too.'

Here are some helpful tips to plan for:
1) To Do List: Make a list of To-Dos for dad or your helpers. Remember that they cannot read your mind and will probably not be able to do it as well as you, but at least those items will be listed and they can
help get your needs met. You could hire a housekeeper or postpartum doula to come over and help with other chores.
2) HELP!: If anyone asks how they can help, don't hesitate to ask! Can they cook for you, run errands, or watch your older children for a while? Let them help. I recommend a great website It is a great way for friends and family to join in by bringing in meals. Remember, you will be so busy tending to the needs of your baby, that you may not have time to prepare meals for you or your family.
3) Visitors: Limit visitors. Everyone will want to come and spend time with you afterwards. This may seem like a wonderful idea, but it can be very stressful for the family to create a bonding time and a routine with baby. Ask everyone to call before arriving. They cannot come empty handed
and expect you to host them. Ask them to limit to 1 hour on the first week and maybe longer the second or third
week. You will need your sleep-I promise. If they have been ill in the last 24 hours, have them wait. Skype them and visit, rather than introducing them in person. Have all wash their hands as soon as they enter the home.

'Your family may not be the best resources for specific concerns such as breastfeeding.'

4) Breastfeeding: Contact a breastfeeding counselor or lactation consultant before you need them. Keep their number on your refrigerator. Ask them if they do house calls or if they are available 24 hours for phone call support.
Find out their office hours. Ask if there is a separate entrance for well babies than sick entrances, if they are located at a medical office or hospital. Chances are, you will most-likely talk to them several times after giving birth. Create a relationship first and get a feel for what support they offer. Often times, doctors are not the best resource for breastfeeding; they will often refer you to a lactation specialist for more one-on-one support. Although they intend
well also, your family may not be the best resources for specific concerns such as breastfeeding.
5) Time Out: Yes, it is okay to get a sitter in the first 6 weeks postpartum.
Just one hour away will help. Go for a walk, go for lunch with a friend, go on a quick date with your spouse, get a pedicure, or just get an errand done. You are not a bad mom if you need a break. The first 6 weeks are the hardest. It is common for moms to get the baby blues or have some form of postpartum depression. Taking a breather will help ease the pressure for both mom, dad, and siblings. Sometimes siblings have a hard time adjusting as well. They may feel left out or stressed also. Arrange a play date for them or send them with a friend or family member, where they can be the center of attention for a while. I have often recommended a date night at least 1 time per month for couples. Whether it is for 1 hour or 3-4 hours, it will help secure the relationship and keep burdens lighter.

These are only a few important notes that I think are important to set before baby comes. Sit down with your spouse and write down some other ideas or concerns that you may have about your postpartum period. If your spouse’s idea is to have his whole family over within the first 2-3 days at home and your idea is to space it out, there could be some added stresses. Work it out and keep on the same page. Your little one will be your priority, but little issues like this could hinder your first few weeks of bonding. Talk about routines, bills to be paid, groceries to be purchased, visitors, arrangements for other children or pets, meals, etc. Get a plan and enjoy your new family!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


You’re going to cut my wife where? Let’s take the episiotomy one step at a time,
in a simple, less perplexing way. No pictures…I Promise!
We all know that a baby has to wiggle out of a small space during birth. This space grows
larger with each dilation of the cervix. Dilation is measured by finger-span. One centimeter dilation allows the doctor to measure with one fingertip. Two centimeters, the doctor can measure with two fingers, etc. At ten centimeters, the cervix is about the size of a grapefruit. Wow- crazy, I know. This process of dilation takes time, by once mom is at 10 centimeters,
she is complete and is ready to push.
So, what happens if 10 centimeters isn’t enough? There are gradual ways to help stretch the tissue just a bit larger. It can be done by your care provider. They can use mineral oil or even the application of a warm compress around the area and along with a gentle massage/stretch. If these methods don’t work, there may be risk for tearing of the tissue around the perineum, maybe even leading down toward the rectum. Tears often heal rather well; however, if it is a large tear, there can be severe damage.
What’s a doc to do? Well, that is up to mom. Mom may choose to try the methods above, but she could be open for a little assistance. Doctors can control a tear by cutting. This is called an episiotomy. Unlike a tear, this is a more directed cut that helps to alleviate or prevent a severe tear. You can ask your doctor to cut a little at a time, as needed. The healing of a tear can be easier than an episiotomy; however, both tears and cuts will need to be cared for and given time to mend. Please note that it is possible to get an episiotomy, but continue to tear.
Types of tears:
· Superficial-tears at the outermost layer of the vaginal tissue (no stitches required).
· 2nd Degree-deeper tears into the muscles (stitches required).
· 3rd Degree-vaginal tissue tears, perennial skin and perennial muscle tear
· 4th Degree- tears around anal area and sometimes through the anal area
How do you help your wife try to prevent tearing or the need for episiotomies? Remind
her remember to do her “Kegal” exercises. Kegal exercises decreases risk of developing hemorrhoids and leaking urine in late pregnancy. It also prepares the pelvic floor for childbirth, improves healing of the perineum from episiotomy, and can increase sexual pleasure for you and her. How does she do this? First, identify your pelvic floor muscle. One way to do this for women and men is to contract the muscle that stops the flow of urine. (Avoid doing Kegels while urinating; this can actually weaken the muscle. Only do Kegel exercises with an empty bladder). Contract the muscle and hold for 2-5 seconds, then release it, being careful not to contract the muscles in your abdomen, thighs, or buttocks). She should repeat this 10 times in a row, three times a day.
Please talk to your care provider about your wishes, before the time comes. No one wants to tear or be cut, but discussing alternative options and choices can help tremendously.