Archive for July, 2015

Do you Brelfie?

Friday, July 31st, 2015

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So by now we all know what a selfie is, right? I’m sure you’ve seen hundreds of your friends and have probably taken a few yourself. But how about the brelfie? Recently, some social media users have been tossing out the term “brelfie” to refer to their own photos of themselves nursing their babies. Frankly, while I’m not a big fan of funny word mashups, I am a huge fan of these photos.

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In the past few months, the “brelfie” has taken the Internet by storm and has stirred up quite the controversy. Super model Gisele Bundchen shared this beautiful photo back in December of 2013. Doutzen Kroes, a Victoria’s Secret model and a woman who many might say epitomizes the idea that women’s breasts are for sexual appreciation, has also been spotlighted in this discussion, since she has shared a number of photos of herself breastfeeding or using a breast pump. She went so far as to  clearly depict the juxtaposition of what people find acceptable and unacceptable when it comes to her breasts in this particular photo, quoting Iris Marion Young: “Breasts are a scandal because they shatter the border between motherhood and sexuality.”

Kathie Lee and Hoda weighed in on the matter, indicating that they disapproved of the trend. Kathie Lee implied that nursing is a personal, private matter not to be shared with the public. Hoda agreed, calling breastfeeding photos “TMI”. As a result, the Today Show found themselves the focus of a very public outcry and “nurse-in” in Rockefeller Plaza. While each woman is entitled to her opinion on the topic, such public figures speaking out against breastfeeding photos only serves to remind us that we’ve been conditioned to believe that breasts are only to be viewed publicly as sexual objects, not as biological vessels for feeding our children.

Once upon a time, generation after generation was breastfed with pretty much no other option. You could even make a career breastfeeding other people’s babies if you were particularly good at it! Society didn’t see public breastfeeding as perverse, or something to be hidden, because they saw it for what it truly is: feeding a baby. We didn’t shy from it; we painted pictures of it! We didn’t hide away to feed our babies; we went about our daily lives! Breastfeeding was normal.

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Then, in the early 1900s, the breastfeeding mother came under assault. The attackers were well financed formula companies, and they won. Formula, once a fantastic advancement of modern technology for cases when breastfeeding wasn’t an option, suddenly became the BEST option for all moms (according to them). They convinced us that formula was healthier than breastmilk. They convinced hospitals to promote formula over nursing. They convinced society that bottles were normal and breasts were not.

Facebook, which has long been attacked for their weak stance on breastfeeding photos, has finally come out in support of the breastfeeding mother and will no longer remove a photo of breastfeeding (assuming the photo does not violate other standards). This is important, because the removal of breastfeeding photos implies that breastfeeding is something to be done in private, or worse, something akin to pornography. It’s not. It’s biology. It’s nature. Breastfeeding should be so normal to us that we don’t bat an eye at it, and that, right there, is why I love the emergence of the brelfie.

Photos of breastfeeding mothers are our own grassroots, modern-day response to those well financed formula campaigns. They bring nursing back into the public eye. They show breastfeeding for what it truly is: feeding a baby with the means that our bodies gave us. They normalize it. Breastfeeding is not exhibitionism. Taking a photo while nursing is not attention seeking. The brelfie is simply photographic evidence of everyday life for hundreds of thousands of mothers around the world.

So I say yes to the brelfie! Parents, take pictures of your newborn in her crib for the first time. Take pictures of them sleeping. Take pictures of that first spaghetti disaster and of those first steps. And take pictures of your nursing journey. It’s your life, right now, and you probably want to remember it just as clearly as all of those other precious baby moments.

Kate Cunha lives in the Pacific NW and is a huge supporter of the #normalizebreastfeeding movement.

 

Alice’s Birth Story

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Editor’s Note: We are starting to include the birth stories of bloggers here as a way to show a variety of birth experiences. These stories may be graphic in description.  

Dear Alice,

Your birth story begins the Tuesday before you were born. I was already overdue, and woke up at 3am with contractions. I began timing them, and thought they were likely labor contractions, since a glass of wine and a soak in the tub did nothing to stop them. At 7am they were still persistent, so I called the doula, Kathy. We worked through them for a bit, and then decided it was time to go to the hospital. Daddy took sister over to a neighbor’s house and then when he got back, we headed out. I ended up throwing up in the yard right outside the house before we got in the car, further convincing everyone that I was in labor.

As we drove to the hospital, I noticed my contractions all but stopped. This should have made me very suspicious that it was false labor, but I didn’t know that. We got to the hospital and the contractions picked back up. They took me to maternal observation and did a pelvic exam. I was at 2 cm. As soon as they told me that, everything stopped.

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All the pain left. Being overdue already, I was very disappointed. They said they could admit me, and the doula offered me the opportunity to labor at her house just blocks away, but I said no, I just wanted to go home. On the way home, I threw up two more times.

I was so depressed the rest of the day. This labor was starting out just like sister’s—slow. Painfully slow. I didn’t want a repeat of that experience. The rest of the week, I was pretty down. It’s hard to go overdue, and no one tells you how emotionally draining it is. It’s like waiting for a package day after day after day. Every day, you wake up thinking, “Today could be it!” and imagining yourself going into labor during everything you do, picturing different scenarios that will never play out. Even when you decide NOT to try and think about it, you can’t help it.

I had my 41-week prenatal appointment that Friday. The day before, they had me visit a perinatologist and take another peek at you. He scared us to death, saying you could be anywhere from 8-12 pounds, and saying I couldn’t go much longer because of how big you were. When I went to the midwives the next day, I was crying and terrified of being forced into an induction. They reassured me that you were not that big, and we’d be fine. They also recommended a chiropractic adjustment, saying that if I was able to get adjusted and free up a tiny bit more space, that might give you the room you needed to get down and engage to make real labor happen. I went straight there for appointment.

The next day I awoke to a friend’s posting on Facebook with pictures of her new baby girl, born at 2 am that morning. She had been due July 19, just a few days before me, and gone overdue as well. I was making waffles and started crying into the batter. I really felt like I was never going to have you!

That morning, sister and I went to the store, and then I took her into PetsMart to look at the animals. Bebe called, and I told her that no, there was no baby yet. Then we went to the pool with our neighbors and some friends from church. Going to the pool was the only thing that made me feel normal that long, hot summer. We chatted and hung out for a few hours, me doing deep squats in the middle of the pool the entire time to try to promote labor.

We got home, and even though I had just used the bathroom before we left the pool, I felt a serious urge to go again. When I looked down, there was blood. The bloody show. Shortly after, I lost my plug. My heart raced, and I became seriously hungry, like my blood sugar had just vanished. I started eating crackers, and your dad went to go get hamburgers. I still wasn’t sure it would happen today, but I knew this was at least progress.

Within an hour or two, the contractions started up. These were very different from the false labor contractions. Instead of the burning, constant, PMS-like cramps, there were definite waves, with a clear beginning and end.  I called the doula and told her what progress had been made. She talked me through several contractions, agreed that this was it and headed to my house.

I labored in the living room over the yoga ball for a while, rocking backwards and down during each wave. Then I worked on a sewing project for a bit. The doula arrived, and we walked around your room, the old guest room, stomping hard. Sister followed us. The contractions got more intense, and Daddy took sister to a friend’s house to wait for your aunt. While he was gone, my water broke right there in the kitchen and we called Daddy to see where he was. I wanted to get to the hospital soon.

When we got there this time, they did not send us to maternal observation. We went straight to a room where they asked me a million questions and then my midwife checked me. I was at 6 cm. They filled the tub and I began laboring in there while the doula gave me water and juice, reminding me to stay hydrated. Think “Wet and wild,” she said. When they checked me the next time, I was at 8 cm. I got out of the tub and sat on the toilet for a little while. I don’t know why, but that can be very comfortable when you’re in labor. Then I got on the birthing ball. I laid forward with my arms over the bed, and Daddy pulled on them during contractions. The doula sat behind me, telling me that this baby was going to be born at 10pm and that I didn’t have much time to go.

Around this time was when I started giving up and saying I couldn’t do it anymore. The midwife reassured me that me saying that meant I was close to being done. Almost right after she said that, I had a big contraction and felt a pop. It was such a huge feeling that I jumped off the ball and looked down to see what came out. There was nothing there.  I yelled that I needed to push. She checked me and said I was at a 10 and could push. She asked me what position I wanted to be in, and I said I didn’t know. The nurses guided me to my knees and I grabbed on to daddy’s waist as I started to push. The nurses got him a chair to sit in and I leaned over him, grabbing his belt loops while I pushed. I pushed for about 20 minutes, at one point again saying I couldn’t do it. I even pictured myself refusing to do it, and just walking around, continuing life with a baby still in me, still stuck down there. I’m also pretty sure I cussed a lot.

223860_10150254921771065_522296064_7721154_5438106_nFinally, at 9:59pm, you were born. You came out and almost immediately the cord popped before Daddy had a chance to cut it. None of the nurses or even the doula, who has been helping women birth for 25 years, had ever seen that happen. The nurses helped me sit back and they gave you to me to hold. I looked at you and said, “Hello Alice! You’re finally here!” And right about then you began crying.

You were the prettiest little thing—8 pounds even and 21 inches long, really plump and beautifully pink. You were perfectly clean like you had just had a bath. They helped me up into the bed where I birthed the placenta while I held you. After they got me cleaned up ad stitched up, I held you and you nursed like a champ. I held you next to me the whole night, where you nursed all night long. The nurse encouraged me when she came to check on you, saying they had babies under the warming lights who didn’t have as good a temperature as you did.

Your birth was an amazing experience, Alice. It was painful, and it was hard, but I wouldn’t have missed out on it for anything.

Love, Momma

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three daughters. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City. 

Double Strollers That Are Fun and Functional

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

IMG_0202-2When you have more than one little one, sometimes you need a go-to stroller. Since having my son last summer, I have discovered that I never have enough hands free for my kids. I do prefer to baby wear, but sometimes a good stroller is necessary. When I was pregnant, I did a little research on what kind of a stroller I wanted.

Do you buy new or used? Websites likes craigslist and Facebook have many strollers for sale online. What features were necessary for my family and I? For example, I had to have a cup holder. Going on walks or runs with my kids is something I love to do and I sometimes just have to have a Starbucks iced tea along for the ride. Here are my three favorite double strollers.

#1 Joovy Ergo Caboose:

This stroller is a beast. I found mine on craigslist. It was used and still cost me $200.00. It retails for $300.00. Here are some of the features I love about my Joovy:

  • Giant canopy: This canopy is bigger than any I have ever seen. My kids are protected from the weather and sun. The rear canopy is also detachable.
  • Real tires: This stroller doesn’t have plastic wheels. It can handle rough terrain.
  • Easy seatbelt buckles. Lifesaver.
  • Giant basket underneath: I always have too much stuff. I never run out of room with this stroller.
  • Rear infant seat: My son Levi was always in arms reach. He could see me and that made him happy, too. It works  with several infant car seats. We used a Baby Trend.
  • It’s not too heavy. I do not have great upper body strength and I can easily lift this into my Jeep.
  • Fun colors. This stroller comes with optional seat covers. I bought it with the green ones and got the purple ones, too!

#2 In Step Grand Safari Double Jogger:

I recently purchased this double jogger to save my sanity and get in some workouts. Here are the best features I’ve discovered so far:

  • Dual cup holders for mom and dad
  • Dual child trays and cup holders
  • MP3 capability (It’s amazing what a little music does for a cranky baby on a run!)
  • Removable fleece seat pads for colder weather
  • Swivel front wheel
  • Wipes clean easily

This stroller retails for $270.00. The only thing I do not like about it is the weight. It weighs 42 lbs. I have trouble lifting it, but it is great for a good workout and my kids seem to like it so far.

#3 Baby Trend Sit ‘N Stand Stroller

This stroller was recommended to me by several friends. It is a very affordable option for a double stroller. It retails for under $200.00. Here are some of its highlights:

  • Many positions: This stroller’s seats can be positioned in different ways depending on your needs.
  • Cup holds and trays for everyone!
  • Foot activated rear brake
  • Can hold two infant seats (Ideal for moms of twins)
  • This stroller comes in a variety of colors, so you are sure to find one you like.

These are only 3 of the many choices out there in double strollers. I recommend thinking about what you are really looking for and going from there. Price can also eliminate some in your search.

What’s worked best for you, mom?

Karyn Meyerhoff lives, writes, strolls, and runs in Northeast Indiana with her family.

 

Transitioning Out of the Swaddle

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Transitioning from the SwaddleSome babies never seem to need, or want, to be swaddled. Some do, but outgrow the need easily in the first few months. Others, like my daughter, truly need to be swaddled to sleep for an extended length of time to help them sleep. We transitioned away from swaddling when my daughter was 6 to 7 months old. Let me tell you, I was so nervous! She wasn’t a good sleeper as is, and now I was taking away one of my best tools! Thankfully, there actually are a number of good options available to help you transition away from traditional swaddling.

First, make the change gradual. Continue with your typical swaddle routine and blanket or suit, but swaddle baby with one arm out. Give them some time to become accustomed to newfound mobility and the feeling of being able to move an arm as you lower them to the crib, while still providing them with that “hug” the swaddle gives. After a bit of time, move to leaving both arms out while still wrapping their torso. Some swaddle products on the market are particularly well suited for this process. If both of those steps goes well, try putting baby to bed swaddle free! That may be all it takes. At this point I would continue the night time routine you have established, but in the place of getting swaddled, place baby into a sleep sack or wearable blanket. These provide the security and warmth baby has become accustomed to without any of the safety issues of loose blankets in the crib.

For some babies, the swaddle may be necessary for getting to sleep, but not staying there. If you feel that the startle reflex wakes baby when you’re putting him down but that otherwise baby is fine once asleep, try wrapping your baby in a blanket before you rock/feed/lay baby down to sleep and removing it once they are comfortably lying on the mattress. Since loose blankets in the crib can potential increase the risk of SIDS, be sure to remove the blanket as soon as your child is asleep. This is only assistance in getting baby down to the mattress, essentially.

Finally, a third option for babies that seem to struggle with leaving the swaddle behind may be a sleep suit. The sleep suit isn’t a swaddle, but does take the place of any sort of blanket and offers enough resistance to muffle baby’s nighttime movements. The thick fabric creates the cozy, contained feeling that some babies need in order to sleep. This can be used to help move past a swaddle blanket or can be a great resource for parents of baby houdinis who regularly escape their swaddle. As with all swaddle products, this is for use only when baby sleeps soundly on his or her back and is not rolling over in the crib.

Any change in a sleep routine can be a daunting one. Hopefully these tips will help you and have you moving on to swaddle-free sleep in no time!

Kate Cunha is mom to a 3 year old little girl and lives in the Pacific NW.

What is a Limited Edition Cloth Diaper?

Monday, July 27th, 2015

what is a limited edition cloth diaperIf you’re newer to cloth diapers, you may not know the pre-limited edition cloth world. People bought the diapers they liked. End of story. But with the advent of limited edition prints, it hid the fervor of dedicated collecting under the “need” to have more diapers. You know, for the baby.

In the several years prior to 2014, retailers often learned of new prints at seasonal expos. Sometimes there were pre-orders and usually those prints or colors were around for a full season or, at least, a second shipment. Many brands continue to market this way. Last year the diaper world was thrown for a (hook and) loop when limited editions came to larger production brands, namely bumGenius (Cotton Babies brand along with Flip).

To be fair, WAHM brands like RagaBabe already had a corner on the highly-coveted, low-availability market. The shake-up happened, in part, due to bumGenius’s larger availability in stores and their fan base as a top-selling brand across all styles of cloth diapers. Their tiny socialite artist series paled in comparison to the drop-and-gone approach of the later Genius series of diapers in 2013-2015.

We bought an Albert with no difficulty when we first entered the world of children and cloth diapering in late 2011. I thought nothing of it; nobody did. Then at some point between Maathai and Irwin, I noticed the tension. I recall stepping back when I saw small retailers staying up at all hours of the night trying to update their loyal shoppers on when diapers might arrive and how many and of what styles they might get. Even retailers were left in the dark in the limited edition craze of Caroll, Jules, Audrey, and Chaplin.

In the midst of this, the old socialite series was offered in a limited release by some retailers. This was hard to swallow for some who paid double–and triple–for used versions of these hard-to-find prints. Then Cotton Babies/bG re-released Maathai. bG has taken the brunt of some buyers’ hard feelings as some people buy up more diapers than “needed” for the purpose of reselling at exorbitant prices. Websites crashed. Poor reviews were posted on retailer sites. Mamas got mad at mamas. I’d say it was the best of times and worst of times, but I don’t want to buy into the drama.

The world of cloth diapers forever changed after 2013. Some were turned off by limited edition offerings (by any brand that specialized their brand). Others became even more committed to gathering their entire rainbow of one brand; they enjoy the hunt on buy-sell-trade pages for the one or two hard-to-find prints they seek. Given the excitement over prints, families new to cloth diapers got enthusiastic and old regulars became excited anew to see what each creative team would come up with next.

Two years later, most of the limited dust has settled, though it continues. The limited edition craze definitely added spice to a world that maybe was getting too settled in its ways. It pushed creative boundaries and vision of what all a cloth diaper can encompass. It’s good for a business to sell their inventory, so at least for the brand-name business is good. A lot of people have bought in, making them lifetime customers, both inviting brand-loyalty if you want a rainbow and brand-bridging if you want all the cute prints.

Just as before the limited edition craze, brands like Rumparooz and AppleCheeks continue to ramp up their social media for reveal parties of retiring and new colors and prints. Generally, their offerings are not limited. Some brands continue to work under their old model of a monthly or seasonal type of production, often akin to Softbums and BottomBumpers. With a monthly print, you know it’s going to change and there may be a shorter supply or limited availability in that they produce with the expectation of selling for one month.

Blueberry Diapers recently launched their Blueberry and Me website that offers several new prints, available only for a few weeks. It offers some of the high-demand and surprise aspects of limited editions in a predictable, managed way. Blueberry also has “exclusive” prints available through only a select retailer or two. Rumparooz teamed up with Ju-Ju-Be diaper bags. Some other brands offer an exclusive print at a single event, like MommyCon or The Great Cloth Diaper Change.

I didn’t think I was into it all. In fact, I wasn’t particularly happy with bumGenius and the way some small retailers had to handle the challenges of limited edition prints. Then at a diaper swap I eyed an Irwin in the distance. For $2. I don’t think I’ve ever moved so fast across a room. (For the inquiring mind: I paid it forward.)

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.