Tandem Nursing So Far

At a recent La Leche League meeting, one of the women told me that once you have a second one in your belly, you’re tandem nursing. I hadn’t thought of it that way. Possibly I just thought of pregnant nursing as something separate, but within the same realm.

So thus far it’s been interesting. I figured that Peanut would easily nurse through my pregnancy because she loves it, even if my milk goes away. No obstacle can keep this kiddo from nursing! I hadn’t thought that I could be the obstacle myself. I’m definitely not weaning, but I’m certainly not feeling like nursing. I find myself distracting her from it, telling her in a minute, etc. All these things that I had stopped doing now that I’m home all the time and we have the time to nurse.

As I’ve already talked about, I was hit harder with pregnancy symptoms this time than last. One of the earliest symptoms was sore breasts. Within a couple of days of getting my “big fat positive,” I started to be able to feel every single little movement she makes while nursing. I can feel every tooth. It’s more of a creepy crawly thing than a pain thing, but bleh. Jeepers creepers!

Then there’s the pain. If she pulls in even slightly the wrong direction, it’s gasping pain. I keep telling her that she can’t move around so much while nursing because it hurts mama. Sometimes she listens, sometimes she doesn’t. When she doesn’t listen, I tell her she can’t nurse because she keeps hurting mama. All of the pain and her wiggling around is just adding to my feelings of being “touched out.” Which brings me to point three.

She’s suddenly incredibly attached to nursing. She will stay on for 45 minutes if I let her and not even have a second thought. She doesn’t care what’s going on around her, she just wants to stay on. She doesn’t care if she’s not even getting milk (or much). Then at the end of that 45 minutes when mama tells her it’s time to stop, she Won’t. Let. Go. She has an absolute fit when I take her off. She’s even almost clamped down on my nipple when I stick my finger in to unlatch her and bitten my finger instead. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not letting her every time she asks or possibly point four.

I think my milk supply is already decreasing. I don’t know how quickly it generally decreases, but I’m almost sure mine is going down. She’s been night weaned for a few months now, but I still let her nurse in the morning once 6am hits. It’s always put her right back to sleep and I can get another hour or so of sleep, but lately it doesn’t ever put her back to sleep no matter how long she stays on. Then, of course, because of all of the other problems mentioned above, I can’t go back to sleep while she’s nursing. This is just compounding my already severe exhaustion.

Really though, the majority of the time it’s not a big deal. I’m still handling it. I’m not in tears and I’m not curling my toes. I’m doing my best to explain to her why she can’t do things or why I need to do to things and for the most part she’s accepting of it. I wonder if she’s going through a growth spurt or possibly the idea of a younger sibling is a bit scary. Either way, we’re sticking it out, at least for now.

My major issue with all this is biology. I feel that our bodies tell us what we should do and not do. Obviously the new mom should breastfeed. Her body “tells” this to her by filling her breasts with milk. Obviously we should co-sleep because mama and baby’s sleeping patterns align and babies need to nurse frequently. Our bodies show us what right. I believe that child-led weaning is right, but my body seems to be telling me otherwise. Is my body telling me it’s not good for her to continue nursing while I’m pregnant? Is my body, along with her obvious need to continue nursing, telling me I chose to get pregnant too soon? I don’t know what any of this means. I feel at conflict with what biology is telling me.

I’m trying to get a copy of Adventures in Tandem Nursing. Hopefully that will answer some of my questions. Until then, any advice?

Prenatal Vitamins or Lack Thereof

5 Weeks 0 Days

I’ve decided not to take prenatal vitamins.

I’m not crazy. I’m not purposely putting my baby at risk. I just decided they’re not for me.

I eat a healthy, well-rounded diet. Yeah, I sometimes over-indulge on sugar, but it’s on top of eating healthy things rather than replacing the good for me stuff. I drink green smoothies daily. I eat an apple a day (to keep the doctor away?). I feel that I get the majority of my vitamins that I need without help of a supplement.

Personally, I’ve never really been into supplements. I don’t see why I should take a pill every day to make up for not eating right. I’m reading a book called The Natural Pregnancy Book and thus far I’m really liking it. It stresses that you should be getting the nutrients you need from food rather than supplements and that’s definitely the approach I’m taking. Especially since that pill is synthetic, so I doubt my body absorbs it as well as real food. Really, when did we get to the point where we had to make up for not eating real food? Makes me sad for our country.

Here’s a break down of the essential nutrients that a woman needs during pregnancy and how much (according to this Baby Center chart and which ones they say I should supplement) and how I compensate for the nutrients:

Folic Acid. Pregnant woman needs 600 mcg per day. Sadly, my spinach intake only covers about 1/10 of what I need folate-wise. I also eat other leafy greens high in folate and beans which are too, but I don’t think I’m getting enough for a pregnant woman (though probably enough for a non-pregnant woman). I’ll discuss this further below.  Also nuts are high in folate, but I can’t eat those anymore because of Peanut’s allergy.

Iron. Pregnant woman needs 27 mg per day. I’m not a huge meat eater, but my husband is. That means that pretty much every meal I cook has a good amount of iron in it–especially since he likes red meat. I also eat at least 3-4 cups of spinach a day in my smoothie in the morning (which is about 1/3 of my needed amount by itself) and I love beans. I think I’m pretty iron-riffic.

Vitamin D. Pregnant women need 5 mcg. Guess what, I go outside. What a thought! :-P I also eat other things fortified with it like orange juice and milk (mmmm….), but I’m certain I’m getting enough of this one.

Even if you extend this list to all the things listed in my pregnancy book I’m reading (though their chart is old), I’m still good. Vitamin A I need 6000 IU as a nursing mom (only 5000 IU as non-nursing pregnant mom) which I easily get just from my smoothies. B12 is easily covered by meat. So on and so forth. If anything, I’d say that it’s bad for me to take a prenatal vitamin because I’d be getting too much of some of the nutrients that aren’t water soluble and therefore can hurt me.

That said, I am still taking a supplement. I want to make sure I’m getting enough folate so I found a vitamin that has just that and other B vitamins. B vitamins are water soluble, so there isn’t any harm in getting too much. It’s just two tablets that I can either stick under my tongue and they dissolve (thanks @ToniRaquel for the suggestion!) so if I start vomiting, I’ll still get them down. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but the fact that I feel nauseous most mornings doesn’t exactly seem like a sign in my favor. I’ll continue to take them until I’m beyond the 10 week mark (probably just until they run out) because that’s when all the biggest development stuff is happening. Beyond that, I’ll probably be supplement-free. I’ll let you know when the time comes.

I’m now 5 weeks and 1 day along. Still feeling incredibly tired and semi-irritable. I think I’m getting a handle on each of these things though just by getting used to them. It’s sad that I’m not getting as much quality time with my husband, but we just try to make my pre-tiredness time really count. I’m also more able to “step back” from the situation when I’m freaking out about something regarding Peanut and realize that it’s not her fault I’m so upset. Just acknowledging these things seems to help.

I’m also so bloated I look like I’m 4 months pregnant (see photo above). Seriously. Not. Cool. I’ve heard from other moms that it’s pretty normal in second + pregnancies, but it still makes me sad. When I told the neighbors my due date they looked at my belly like I was lying to them. Oh well. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I’ve always had a bit of what I call a “donut belly,” but I’ve decided to just not care. Out with the feeling fat and in with the loving my pregnant body. I don’t care if my baby is the size of a poppy seed (like it is now according to my books) or a bowling ball, I’m going to love every minute of it. Or at least most minutes. Until next time!

Home Birth Midwife Interview Questions

Today we’re meeting with a home birth midwife to see if we want to go with her. She told me to bring questions, so I took it to heart. I doubt I’ll ask every one of these any many will be covered in the answers of others, but here’s my list:

Regarding her:
What is your philosophy of midwifery care, pregnancy, and birth?
How many births have you attended?
Are you available 24 hours a day at all times?
How many clients do you generally have due in a 4 week period?
What is the plan if I go into labor while you’re with another laboring client?
What is the plan if you are sick or on vacation?
Have you ever missed a birth? If so, what was the circumstance?
Have you ever lost a mother or baby? If so, what was the circumstance?
Do you have any assistants you bring to the labor? If so, how many?
Do you visit my home at any point before labor?
Are you allergic to animals?
What things do you bring with you to a birth?
Do you file with insurance? Do you have any experience with BCBS?
What days and times are you in the Ogden office for appointments?

Regarding prenatal care:
What are your expectations of the pregnant couple?
Do you require that your clients read/watch/listen to any specific materials?
Do you require that your clients take a birthing class?
What do your prenatal check-ups consist of?
What nutrition/weight gain protocols do you follow?
What are your thoughts on a client refusing certain standard prenatal testing? (e.g. ultrasounds, blood sugar testing, etc.)
Are there any specific tests that you require?
What is your plan of action for a baby that is posterior/breech? Do you turn them? Deliver them?
What is your plan of action for group B strep positive mothers?

Regarding birth:
Here is the birth plan from my daughter’s birth, is there anything on here that you disagree with?
At what point in the labor will you come to assist me in my home?
What do you see as your role in the labor?
What do you see as your role in the birth?
What are your thoughts on the husband having a very active role in the labor and birth?
What are your thoughts about children attending births?
Do you have any limits on the number of people that can attend the birth?
What is your approach if a labor is progressing slowly?
How often do you listen to a baby during labor?
How often do you check the mother’s dilation during labor?
How often do you preform episiotomies?
What percentage of your clients tear? What is your protocol to prevent tearing?
What are your thoughts on waiting to clamp the cord?
How long will you wait for a placenta to be delivered?
Do you help with clean up?
How long do you stay after birth?

Regarding emergencies:
What is your definition of high risk?
How do you handle hemorrhage?
How do you handle preeclampsia?
Under what circumstances do you recommend inducing labor?
Do you allow a mother to go past 42 weeks and still have a home birth?
Who do you prefer to work with as obstetrician back-up?
What is your preferred hospital to transfer to?
Under what circumstances do you consider transferring to a hospital?
What is your hospital transfer rate? Does this include mothers who transfer before labor?
What is your plan of action if a transfer occurs?
What is your c-section rate?

What are your opinions on having a professional photographer at the birth?
How do I obtain a birth certificate?
Do you come visit me at home after the baby is born?
How often do you come to see me and the baby (or we come see you) after the birth?
What do these visits consist of?
Do you check the baby during these visits?
Do you do the required newborn screening blood tests?
What are your thoughts on the vitamin K shot and ANTIBIOTIC EYES?
How soon after birth do I need to take the baby to a pediatrician?
Are you a certified lactation consultant? If not, do you have one you recommend to come visit after the birth?

Granola Head’s Guide to Natural Pregnancy

4 Weeks 2 Days

No, I don’t really think I’m a granola head. Actually, there was a whole discussion on this the other day. Squeed’s mama finds it very amusing to call me a granola head because I like to do things like hang my laundry outside in the summer and recycle and buy used things. My lovely husband says I’m not a true granola head because I don’t take it to the extreme. He prefers the term hippie.

Nevertheless, here we are. I’ve decided to do a {hopefully} weekly segment on my blog devoted to my crazy choices regarding pregnancy and birth. Last time around with Peanut, I wasn’t fully there yet. I was sure I’d have a natural childbirth and breastfeed and babywear, but that was about it. I didn’t question the decisions of the doctor (which I was with until my third trimester when I switched to a midwife). I had all tests and ultrasounds done. I took the heartburn medicine for relief rather than trying to find something more natural to cure it. I continued drinking soda and eating yucky foods (though I did make sure to get all the protein that The Bradley Method tells you to). All in all, I just wasn’t the same person I am now.

I’m already the crazy one to many people. I know that most my friends and family see our parenting decisions as a bit wacky and I’m okay with that. I think that I’m going to be pressing that even further during this pregnancy though, so that’s where you come in. I’m probably going to make decisions that are out of the norm. I’m probably going to do some things that will piss people off (like not find out the sex of the baby). And I’m going to use this blog to document all the things I did and why.

So let’s start.

I’m 4 weeks and 2 days along. Due January. Not giving you a specific date (though you could easily figure it out if you are a creepy stalker). I’m actually not giving anyone a specific date. I tried really hard last time not to get upset when my due date came and went, but that was make immensely more difficult by the fact that people kept asking me over and over “when are you due?” “you’re still pregnant?!?” etc. So I’m not giving anyone a specific date to mark off on their calendar like an expiration date for my pregnancy. Guess what? Babies can come anytime during the month surrounding their “due date”, so any time I give birth in January will be fine by me.

I’m feeling pretty alright so far. I don’t have a good record of my last pregnancy (sadly), but I don’t think symptoms hit me so hard so early last time. I’ve been highly irritable, bloated, gassy, super tired, some nausea (bleh, that shouldn’t start this early!), emotional, and food has never tasted so good. My theory on the last one is that pregnancy hormones must make food taste exceptional because I’d never eat if all I had to deal with was the aftermath of number 2 and 3 on the list. Luckily, I’m getting the irritability in check. I keep reminding myself that while January feels forever away, this is the end of my baby being an only child. It’s the end of having mama’s undivided attention. This will be a big change for her too, not just me.

She’s actually been great about it so far though. She seems thoroughly excited. I know some people wait to tell their children until it’s beyond the possibility of miscarriage (which I’m terrified of for some reason), but I wanted to help her get used to the idea as soon as possible. She keeps telling me about the baby in my belly. She drew a picture of the baby in my belly (which, of course for a 2 year old, was just a bunch of scribbles). She wanted to buy some shoes for the baby in my belly at the store today. She even tries to tell me she has a baby in her belly too. What can I say, she’s just awesome.

My biggest thing right now is reforming my diet. It’s been pretty bad lately with me being super stressed about school, but I’m getting better now. I’ve cut out soda for the most part (I’ve had it a few times for “special occasions” like going out to eat), but I really want to get rid of it all together. I hate feeling like I have to have one. I don’t like depending on caffeine. I’m also working on eating more healthy things in general. I’ve been drinking green smoothies from my Vitamix daily and they are great. It actually makes me wonder if I even need a prenatal because all the folic acid I get from shoving handfuls of leafy greens into the mixer. Guess that would be a good think to look into.

So what topics are you interested in pertaining to natural pregnancy and child birth? Anything in particular I should try to cover?

Pumps For Preemies

This is my second year raising funds for the March of Dimes March for Babies. Sadly, last year we were not able to actually walk because we were ill the week of the walk, but I am very excited to this year. I am also excited to beat my goal last year and I count on all of you faithful readers to help me do so.

Peanut was not born premature. Honestly, I only know one person who was born prematurely. Even at that, I never actually witnessed it because we were the same age. Last year when I started raising funds, people were amazed that I was doing so when I didn’t have a personal story.

Do you know why I care? Because I’ve heard stories. I’ve heard of women who have their babies long before they were planning to and the struggles they go through in the aftermath. Of course there are many hardships with having a preemie, but I always focus on breastfeeding. That’s why I have this blog, right?

I’ve heard of moms struggling throughout their entire breastfeeding relationships with pumping and feeding, nipple shields, and even ending their breastfeeding relationships much too soon. Sadly, these babies are the ones who need it the most. These babies not only need breast milk to heal the damage of being born before they’re ready, but they need the kind that comes from their moms. Yes, moms to babies who are born prematurely produce a different kind of milk. The actual composition of the milk is meant for these babies. Here’s a quote from La Leche League

The milk produced by the mother of a pre-term infant is higher in protein and other nutrients than the milk produced by the mother of a term infant. Human milk also contains lipase, an enzyme that allows the baby to digest fat more efficiently. Your breastfed premie is less likely to develop infections that are common to babies fed breastmilk substitutes. He will be protected by the immunities in your milk while his own immature immune system is developing.

That is amazing. Babies born prematurely are at an increased risk to infection and disease, both while growing in the NICU and for the next year or so of life. They need the immunity properties of breast milk even more than babies born full term. They also need that protein and fat to help them grow. It’s amazing how our bodies work to make milk that’s perfect for each of our babies at a specific point in time.

Many hospitals are realizing this and at least offering pumped donor milk to premature infants in the NICU, but this needs to go a step further. As the La Leche League article explains, the milk needs to be as fresh as possible. It needs to come from mom as much as possible. And while this may not be possible for weeks or even months, it needs to come directly from the breast as soon as possible. Moms need extra support to breastfeed their baby in these circumstances, but often we give them even less support than other moms.

This system needs to stop. We need to realize our priorities and get mothers of preemies the support they need to breastfeed. We need to help these tiny babies born too soon so that they can live longer, healthier lives. Whether or not a mom succeeds at breastfeeding should not be determined by protocol or routine. We should give them the absolute best chance to succeed, and then give a little more.

So here’s how you can help. If you can donate anything at all, please do so. Even if it’s a dollar. Anything helps. Here’s the link to our team page. If you’re reading this and you’re in the area, come join our team and walk. Proudly hold our banner saying that preemies need breast milk and we need to work our hardest to get it to them.