27 February 2007

Beyond ProLife: Vaccines

Last year, I wrote a series I called Beyond ProLife that covered issues such as adopting the unwanted and rescuing snowflakes. I have decided to keep adding to this because I think Christians often limit the definition of being pro-life to being merely anti-abortion. I have the desire to see the Church build a culture that affirms life in every area. And it has come to my attention that vaccines are an often overlooked piece of the puzzle.

There are many health reasons not to vaccinate. A great place to begin research on the health aspects are books like How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, Raising a Vaccine Free Child, and What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children's Vaccinations, just to name a few.

I, however, don't plan on discussing the health issues {though I believe they are very real}. What I want to discuss is that many, if not most, vaccines are derived using the cell lines of aborted babies. Most of them use cells of babies aborted 40 years ago. The use of human tissue isn't just in the past. This was pointed out by World Net Daily back in 2001 when the issue was raised in regards to a planned small pox vaccine.

An organization that monitors this situation called Children of God for Life maintains a poorly designed website. It is still a good resource. There is a quick-reference chart that gives the name of each vaccine, the manufacturer's name, which fetal cell line is used in production, and whether or not an ethical alternative is available. I must note here that "ethical alternatives" mean that the vaccine is grown on the cell lines of an animal instead. This is often considered to be more dangerous, especially considering the cancer caused when the SV40 monkey virus got into the polio vaccines in the 1950s.

I have my opinions concerning whether or not it is wise to vaccinate a child at all, but I'm going to try to keep that to myself. This is because I think it is important that each person over 18 do the research for themselves, and each parent do the research for their child. This is what it means to be responsible in this area.

I have quoted Lewis before: "The most dangerous ideas in a society are not the ones being debated, but the ones that are assumed." Vaccines are assumed by mainstream America. And mainstream America appears {from observing all the drug commercials appearing everywhere} to be sicker than ever. Dr. Robert Mendelsohn once wrote, "Have we traded mumps and measles for cancer and leukemia?" Even if the answer is "no," one must consider whether one is unknowingly allowing a drug company to profit off of the murder of a fetus killed 40 years prior.

26 February 2007

Sleep Deprivation Humor

It can be assumed that I don't sleep much. I didn't sleep much during my ninth month of pregnancy, and I sleep even less now. This is not a complaint, but merely a statment of fact. I complained about sleep a lot with Number One and Number Two. But since then I have learned to be a bit more grateful. With babies come lots of smiles in exchange for very little sleep, and I think it is well worth the trade.

However, sleep deprivation can be quite amusing as the weeks go on. This time around, it seems to be disabling my short term memory! Here is a conversation I had on the phone with my sister this week:
Me: Hold on a second. Somebody hurt someone else. I will be right back.
Her: Okay.
Me: {take care of children, come back to phone, and apparently just sit there--I don't remember doing this!!}
Her: Hello?
Me: Hi!
Her: What are you doing?
Me: Waiting for you! You told me to hold on.
Her: No. YOU told ME to hold on.
Me: {confused} I DID?
So if you call me and I seem confused...well...I probably am!

22 February 2007

Birthday Reflections on the HPV Vaccine

Today is A.'s second birthday. Last year's post on this day was cutsie and warm. I'm not exactly feeling more serious, but I was quite alarmed last night when the Laura Ingram Show {yes, I listen to AM radio} implied that I don't really love my daughter unless I make sure she has the HPV vaccine when she is older.

I don't know how many of my readers are following this controversy, but it seems like ever since the govenor of Texas made the vaccine mandatory for schoolgirls, there has been a lot of debate. What made the Laura Ingram debate so interesting was that every party who spoke during the short time I listened claimed to be a Christian.

Ingram's argument was based on personal experience. She said that she had become a Christian at eleven years of age and did not become sexually active until she "made one mistake" {her words not mine} at the age of twenty-five and contracted HPV. I think it is very sad that she acquired an STD at all, but I think one needs to step back and analyze the argument: kids "make mistakes" that can lead to HPV {which can lead to cervical cancer}, therefore parents should make sure their kids are vaccinated against HPV.

HPV has been called "morally neutral" because, unlike other vaccines {such as varicella, Hepatitis-A and the MMR, just to name a few}, it is not derived from aborted fetal tissue. However, I believe that this is where its moral neutrality leaves off.

I could go on and on about this controversy, but I just don't have the time, so let me try to be concise. God designed the world to run according to a certain logic that many call Cause and Effect, but I like to use the New Testament terms Sowing and Reaping. The basic idea is that every action has its consequence.

I think I have said before that I believe there is nothing noble about trying to escape from the consequences of one's actions. A lot of folks arguing about this vaccine are saying that it assumes sexual activity for young girls, therefore encouraging them to engage in such activities. But I say it goes deeper than that, and acts in rebellion to God's design of the universe: it rears its head against reaping what one has sown.

Even in the Garden of Eden, man has tried to avoid his consequences. Remember Adam hiding from God and trying to pass the blame to Eve, who tried to pass the blame to the serpent? This is the beginning of man's knee-jerk instinct of avoiding consequences.

As parents, it is the job of my husband and myself to bring our child into adulthood. I have mentioned before that Webster's 1828 Dictionary defined "adult" as being fully grown and mature, and "mature" as being complete, prepared, ready or advancing toward perfection. How can we do our job of preparing them for the real world, making them ready for life on their own, while telling them that not only will they fail, but that we will help them avoid the consequences of their failure?

I do believe that children will fail in some way. I hope my children do not fail in this area. But regardless of where they fail {and don't call this a "mistake," as if they did a math problem incorrectly and could use an eraser to change their answer}, I will not help them hide from reality. This doesn't mean I won't be there to help them face their consequences. I simply won't help them avoid them. I won't, because I believe that avoiding consequences is rooted in rebellion against God, and reveals a complete lack of godly sorrow concerning one's original sin and failure.

So refusing to give my child the HPV vaccine has nothing to do with believing she is perfect and immune to making sinful choices. It simply has everything to do with encouraging her to live in the best and highest way, which is at peace with God and in harmony with His design for life.

20 February 2007

Frugal Moment: Bottle Feeding on the Cheap

The title may sound a bit foolish, considering that formula feeding can rarely be considered cheap! Cheap is traditional breastfeeding {straight from Mom--no pumps, no bottles, no freezer storage all mean no cost}. But I've mentioned more than once that I have to supplement. And when one supplements as much as I do, it can get costly. This post is about how I make it as cheap as possible.

Bottle Shopping
This time around, I had to switch bottles. The type I had been using was discontinued, so I couldn't buy new nipples. However, I was able to find Playtex nursers at a second-hand children's store. The four-ounce size was fifty cents and the eight-ounce size was a dollar a piece. I also found a nice drying rack for two dollars! The nipples on the bottles appear to have never been used, so I didn't have to buy new ones, either.

If a second-hand store doesn't have them, it still might be worth it to try Craig's List or Ebay. Buying gently used bottles saved me a bundle, and no one is the wiser!

Formula Shopping
Bottles are the initial cost, but formula is the real, substantive, ongoing cost. Formula is pricey to say the least. But my daughter is seven weeks old, and I have yet to pay a dime!

It all starts in the hospital. Hospitals love to send home formula with a new mom. If I make friends with the nurse, I will usually get more than the standard amount {which varies from hospital to hospital}.

Next, pediatricians have tons of samples in their offices. I ask for more at every well-baby visit. I'll confess it's a bit of an inside job because my aunt is a nurse where we go. She brings a huge bag of sample-sized cans every time we're at her office! But I am sure that if a mom asked for more than one can at my doctor's office, she would get it, so moms shouldn't be afraid to ask.

Also, I have thought that if I ever ran low, I would ask friends to ask their doctors for samples. All of my friends with new babies are breastfeeding exclusively, so they could easily get a sample and then bring it to me.

It is hard, however, to get many samples for specialty formulas used when babies have severe food allergies {formulas like Nutramigen and Alimentum}. A friend of mine had a baby that could only drink Nutramigen, and her health insurance didn't cover it. So, she found a whole flat of it once at a second-hand children's shop, which saved her about fifty percent! She also bids for it on Ebay, coming up with some great deals.

The last solution is couponing. I know what type of formula I use, so I sign up for the little club organized by the formula marketers. It's free, and I am constantly receiving coupons in the mail for three to five dollars off the regular price.

In buying formual, going to the grocery store or a place like Target should be a last resort, in my experience. One can save a bundle if one creatively hunts for good formula deals.

10 February 2007

It Does a Baby Good {Part V}

As a review: Part I discussed the miracle of breastmilk and why it is beneficial for both mother and child. It was my attempt at convincing low-milk-supply mommies to keep on nursing, even if they have to supplement. Part II explained different ways of discovering the underlying cause of the low milk supply. I forgot to mention that stress can also be a cause. Part III discussed what I call External Solutions, which are different methods of increasing milk supply. And Part IV was a list {not exhaustive, but still helpful} of Internal Solutions, or basically drugs and herbs that can be taken as galactagogues, as well as a few herbs that should be avoided.

This is Part V. I promised some unsolicited advice, and I aim to give it, all in good fun, of course. I will also try to list different options alongside explaining what it is we actually do around here.

Choosing a bottle
A lot of nursing gurus out there will mention something called nipple confusion when they speak disdainfully about bottles. But when a mom has to supplement, there are very few practical feeding options, and bottles are, naturally, the most popular. Here are the basic options:
  • Medela's Supplemental Nursing System: The SNS, I was once told, was designed by an adopting mom who wanted to be able to breastfeed. This is not a bottle, but something altogether different. I used this with my first child, at the advice of my lactation consultant. Click on the link for information on how it actually works. All I will say here is that it is a real option, it allows for the entire supplement to be taken while the baby is nursing {which can save time}, and I would never do it again. I had major trouble ever feeling comfortable nursing outside of my home with the SNS, and I also found that, if I gathered enough courage to leave my house, it was difficult to do more than one feeding because of the need to thoroughly clean the unit after feedings. I know other women find this to be a great alternative to bottles, which is why I wanted to mention it here, but it was not for me, nor was it for my husband {he hated the way I hesitated to ever go anywhere}.

  • Avent and Playtex Nurser Bottles: I used Avent products with my first two children, and Playtex is what I'm using with Q. right now. It is a long story as to why I switched, and I won't get into it. I will say upfront that I like Avent best because there are four different speeds of flow available, while Playtex only has two. However, they both have nipples that require the baby to latch on the way they would at the breast. This means that baby should have less likelihood of developing nipple confusion. Also, notice I said nursers rather than conventional bottles. So far, experience tells me that nursers have a flow that is more like breastfeeding that conventional bottles, and encourage babies to use the same rythym at the bottle as they do while nursing. Again, this helps combat the whole nipple confusion problem.

When bottle feeding, I make sure that I check my baby's latch to insure that she is practicing doing it right. There is no sense in encouraging a bad latch. Also, I always use the slowest flow the baby is willing to take. For instance, Avent suggests switching from their slowest flow to the next level around one month, but if the baby is willing to use the slowest flow for two months, why change? Moms with low supply usually have a slower flow, and this means the bottle is more like mom.

Choosing a Supplement
  • Donor Milk: With my second baby, many of my friends from church had babies around the same time, and a number of them had a huge excess of milk, especially in the first few months. I gratefully received their excess and fed it to A. as her supplement. It was great to know I was giving her real human milk! With that said, I would caution moms to make sure they really know the person giving them the milk. AIDS and a few other contagious diseases can be passed through milk to babies.

    Another place to aquire human milk is through milk banks. Honestly, I'm not a big fan. First of all, milk purchased through milk banks is extremely expensive. Secondly, most, if not all, of the banks pasteurize the milk, which changes some of the structures and makes it much less nutritious for the baby.

  • Formula: There are two pharamaceutical-grade formulas I am aware of. I use Similac, made by Abbott Labs. The other is Enfamil, made by Mead Johnson, which is owned by Bristol-Myers Squibb. There are other formulas out there, most being what I would call "generic brand," and then there is Nestle Good Start.

    The reason I am differentiating between pharamaceutical-grade formula and everything else is because I believe there is a difference that is important. First of all, my own experience has been that I have seen one too many recalls on generic formula for being contaminated. This may be because they are made by food companies rather than drug companies. For all their bad reputations, drug companies usually contain their products in clean rooms rather than factories, and take great care to maintain the purity of their products. Sometimes, one gets what one pays for. I am wary of giving my child cheap formula to save money and would rather cut corners in other places.

  • Homemade Formula: There are a number of recipes out there for homemade formula. Google it. I've never done this, so I don't have a favorite recipe or anything. If a mom wanted to make her own formula, however, I would highly suggest checking out Dr. Mercola's Infant Formula Fortification Protocol. I would also suggest using goat's milk, if possible, as it is the closest in structure to human milk of all mammal milks.

Warm It Up
Bottles can be heated using a tea kettle, but a warmer designed for the task will save time if one has the extra money to buy one. Either way, if the goal is to get the bottle experience to be as much like breastfeeding as possible, warmth should not be overlooked. The temperature of human milk is the temperature of the mother's body, or approximately 98.6 degrees. A supplement taken straight from the refrigerator may be convenient, but it is quite different from nursing.


Measuring Success
I have a great little mathematical formula that a supplementing mom can use if she really wants to know how much milk she is producing. It is a two-edged sword because sometimes the answer is discouraging. However, I will still share. The average baby should eat around 2.5 ounces of supplement per pound per day. This means that a nine pound baby should eat about 22.5 ounces of supplement. Simply subtract what Baby is actually eating from the total Baby should be eating, and this is approximately what Mom is supplying. For instance, if that nine pound baby is only taking 11 ounces of supplement, Mom can know she is supplying the other 11.5 ounces, or approximately 50% of the baby's total nutrition.

Taking the Long-Term Approach
It is believed that moms produce more milk with each baby. Even low-milk moms do this. However, this only happens if the mom actually nurses each baby. So, if a low-milk mom is planning on having multiple children and wants to nurse, she needs to nurse them all, no matter how little milk she has. I can attest to this. With my first child, I made around one {1!} ounce per day. With my second, I think it was about three ounces per day. Note that even though this is considered extremely low production, it is a 300% increase over the first. Right now, I am producing about seven ounces per day, which is about 30% of my child's nutrition. I am so glad I didn't give up with my first child. So to moms out there I say, "Don't give up, and don't think it will be the same with each child."

09 February 2007

It Does a Baby Good {Part IV}

Yesterday, I wrote about External Solutions for increasing milk supply. Today, I will discuss Internal Solutions. I will divide these into three categories: Prescription Drugs, Herbal Remedies, and Herbs to Avoid. Please note that these are not all the internal solutions out there. They are just the only ones I feel I have any authority to speak about.

Prescription Drugs
Many OBGYNs are unfamiliar with prescription drugs that increase milk supply. In the situation of a drug like Reglan, this is because the increase is actually an unintended side-effect of the drug. This may make it difficult to get a prescription. If an OBGYN has a respect for lactation consultants, he will usually take her word for it and write a prescription for the mother at the consultant's request. Another possible way of getting a drug is to find a lactation consultant that is also a nurse practioner and permitted to prescribe drugs herself. Like I mentioned before, a children's hospital is an excellent place to seek out this sort of lactation consultant. Here are the drugs I am familiar with:
  • Reglan: This is actually an acid reflux drug, but for some reason it increases milk supply, sometimes by as much as 300%. The standard prescription {according to my lactation consultant} is 10mg three times per day. A major side-effect of this drug is depression. I took it with all three children, and only experienced that side-effect with my second child. I threw the drug away after I realized what was happening and was fine again within two or three days.

  • Domperidone: I have never taken this drug, but I have researched enough to learn that it is more commonly used in the UK. It can be purchased in the US right now, but it is usually not covered by insurance, which can be quite costly. I always use Reglan instead, but this is a good alternative for a mother who cannot handle the Reglan side-effects.

  • Oxytocin: Unlike the other two drugs, this is a nasal spray. I took this drug with my second child, and its effects were negligible. It is highly addictive, so a mother should not continue taking it if it isn't working, nor should she take it for very long. Oxytocin tends to work best when the suspected cause of the low supply is a poor let-down reflex. Again, this is very costly. It must be compounded by a pharmacist and is usually not covered by insurance.

Herbal Remedies
Herbal remedies, when being used to increase milk supply, often have to be taken in much larger doses than what is printed on the side of the bottle. Therefore, it is important to contact a lactation consultant and find out what the proper dosage is.
  • Fenugreek: This is probably the most popular herbal supplement used to increase milk supply. Incidently, fenugreek smells like maple syrup and is actually used in pancake syrups to imitate real maple, often listed in the ingredients as "natural flavor." Fenugreek, when taken in the proper dosage, often increases supply within 24 to 48 hours.

  • Saw Palmetto: Most bottles of saw palmetto say that it is not to be used while nursing or pregnant. This means that mothers should be very wise in deciding whether or not to use it.

    Remember in Part II I said that moms should take care to discover the underlying cause of the low supply, if possible? This is why. Saw Palmetto is an androgen suppressant. If blood tests confirm that too-high testosterone levels are the cause of the low supply, saw palmetto can be used in the short term to even them out, and is probably safer than any prescription drugs that would treat the situation. It is unknown how much, if any, actually reaches the milk supply and enters the baby's body, so I wouldn't think long-term use is a good idea.

  • More Milk Plus: This is a combination herbal supplement of very high quality produced by Motherlove. I love this supplement, and it has worked better for me than anything else I have tried. Other than fenugreek, blessed thistle, nettle leaf, and fennel seed are often suggested. I have never tried them individually, but I figured out that More Milk Plus is much cheaper than buying each herb on its own. Anyone buying this supplement should Google it to find the best prices. Ebay Express is also a good place to look. And remember to check shipping and tax to compare total prices before deciding what the best price actually is.

Herbs to Avoid
One can expect that if there are herbs out there that increase milk supply, there are also herbs that can dry a sensitive woman up, especially if consumed in large quantites. Parsley and sage can dry up milk, while basil and aloe vera should be avoided as well. Here is a list of herbs to avoid. I have also read that mint is a bad idea.

In my next installment, I will explain my approach to supplementing and give my unsolicited advice on everything from choosing bottles and formula to measuring success.

08 February 2007

It Does a Baby Good {Part III}

Before I actually talk about supplementation, I thought I would discuss ways of increasing milk supply. I have to supplement every day, every feeding, with every baby {so far}. However, many of these methods of increasing supply work for me, and they should work for other mothers, too.

External Solutions
I call this list External Solutions because they are things a mother does rather than herbs or medicines she can take. See the difference? Often, using some or all of these external solutions will increase the effectiveness of anything the mother is taking.

  • Changing the Hold: There are basically two holds that a mother uses when nursing her child {unless she is bed-ridden or attempting to sleep during the feeding, and then she would use the lying-down position}: the traditional cradle hold and the football hold. Click on that link for information on how these holds work. My point is not to instruct in the hold, but rather to encourage experimentation. I have found that my babies nurse better and longer in the football hold. Also, changing positions about halfway through nursing can help. Some moms find that different holds help keep sleepy babies awake.

    One thing to keep in mind is that if the milk supply is very low, the baby can easily lose interest, so changing holds or figuring out which hold Baby likes most will help keep Baby nursing for longer periods at a time.

  • Breast Compression: Breast compression helps stimulate the let-down reflex, which helps the baby get more milk and helps encourage emptiness {see Part II for why this is important}. Do this with every feeding if necessary.

  • Emptying Manually: Many women are encouraged to use breast pumps after feeding the baby if their supply is low in order to make sure that the breast is emptied. However, if the mom is giving a supplement after each feeding, this becomes difficult. Does she pump while Baby is screaming for the supplement? Does she wait until after the supplement, and then hope that waiting the 20 minutes for Baby to eat doesn't mean that she inadvertantly pumped milk that was meant for the next feeding, compounding the trouble? Besides this, pumping requires an extensive amount of preparation for a mom that is only trying to increase supply over the long haul.

    I have found that manual expression works better for moms who are going to be supplementing every feeding, every day for a long time. They can simply squeeze the little bit of leftovers into the bottle they are about to give to Baby. It only takes minute or two, and though it may not be as thorough as a pump, it is cheaper and more practical.

  • Use a Timer: Emptiness is not the only trigger to "make more." The baby must be nursing an appropriate amount of time each day. This is doubly important if one is relying on nursing for natural child spacing. The difficulty comes when the mom with low milk supply has to balance this with the fact that a newborn will only stay awake for so long, and there needs to be time for the supplement at the end. Also, it is important to train Baby to keep trying. If milk runs out after two minutes, this is not enough time spent nursing to stimulate all of those important nursing hormones that will maintain the milk supply.

    Since the low-milk supply mom cannot trust the baby's judgement on when the nursing session is complete, I suggest using a timer. Figure out how long Baby will stay awake to eat, how long it takes to give the supplement, and then divide the remaining time by two. This is how many minutes to nurse on each side. Right now, we spend about 13 minutes on each side. Notice that this is within the normal suggestion to nurse 10-20 minutes on each side that is often given to normal nursing moms. This is good, because it is an appropriate amount to time to stimulate all the nursing hormones I mentioned.

  • Not Dropping Feedings: A Baby on formula will go longer between feedings because formula digests much more slowly than human milk. However, if the mother is trying to nurse, this is against her. If the supplement consists of formula, the mother should be sure to give the smallest amount possible. I have found that this encourages my babies to be ready to nurse at more reasonable intervals. At one month of age, supplementing mothers must take care to nurse at least seven times per day. Lowering the supplement {while watching for those warning signs I wrote about in Part II} should help encourage Baby to feed more often.

Tomorrow, I will suggest all the Internal Solutions I can think of.

06 February 2007

The Darndest Things {02/07}

27 February 2007: Clean Up Time
We've been working with A. on being more helpful when it is time to clean up. Usually, it is E. doing all the work and A. being destructive while he is doing it. Things only get done because E. is faster at cleaning than A. is at uncleaning. But now I have taught E. to help A. "get it" when I am not there to help {nursing}. He hands her something and tells her where it goes. This keeps her out of trouble and helps her learn the art of tidying up.

Today, I had a couple friends coming over during naptime, and the kids were doing a great job at cleaning. At the very end, I called to A. to come and put away a puzzle she had been working on. She ran into the living room where I was nursing and grabbed her puzzle and began to ran back to the playroom where it belonged. But it was one of those chunky puzzles that need to be carried with both hands. She didn't realize this, and I didn't think to tell her. And so the room ended up with more clutter than it started with! As she was running, pieces dropped behind her left and right, and she was too excited about the task to even notice!

26 February 2007: Technological Expression
E. was tired today. So, naturally, he told me that his batteries were running down and that is why he needed a nap.

20 February 2007: Water Babies
This morning was one of those mornings that happen to others moms, and it is just now starting to be funny. At the time, after a long line of disobedience in the house, I was near to tears.

Anyhow, I had to take E. out of the room to discipline him, and I forgot that this would leave A. alone with Baby Q., who was peacefully sleeping in her bassinet. I also forgot that I never leave A. alone with Q. because A. cannot be trusted as she does not seem to understand that Q. is a person.

As I re-entered the room, I saw A. up on our coffee table {right next to the bassinet}, quickly putting down my water bottle. She's been in trouble for drinking from it, so I asked her if she drank my water. She told the truth and said no. Then Q. began to cry. When I went to check on her, I noticed that she was soaking wet! Poor Q. had been treated to an unexpected bath!

Since she seemed to want to keep sleeping, I wiped her down and let her drift back to dreamland, all the while staring sternly at the Big Monster Sister.

14 February 2007: Allergic to Red
E. is ultra-sensitive to Red 40, which can make a Valentine's Day party interesting. And that's exactly what he went to tonight: a Valentine's Day party at Cubbies. I warned him throughout the day that he shouldn't eat anything red or pink because they both have Red 40 in them. He knows that it is bad for him, so he is usually good to avoid it. But I told him I was afraid he'd get so excited about the party that he'd forget.

As he was getting ready for bed, I overheard him telling Si: "Mom said she was afraid I'd get too excited and eat something red..." {long pause} "...and I did!"

12 February 2007: Escape!
E. had a poor attempt at multitasking late this morning. Granmama was coming over, and E. was excited both to unlock and open the door, and also to give her the Valentine he had made for her and Granddad. He ran back and forth, having trouble deciding which to do. Finally, he ran up to the door, unlocked and opened it, and then ran away to grab his Valentine. A. saw this as her opportunity to finally escape, and she ran fast as she could out the door. I thought she had repented when she turned around and ran back inside, but Granmama informed me that in actuality, her bare feet had simply hit the cold sidewalk and shocked her into coming back home. Apparently, running away is best done on warm days.

5 February 2007: At Dinner
E.: I wish I could see Mary. {long pause} God's parents--
Si: God doesn't have parents.
E.: God's parents--
Si: God doesn't have parents.
E.: Uh huh!
Brandy: You mean Jesus' parents?
E.: Yes. God's parents--
Si: Jesus' parents were Mary and Joseph, but Jesus is God's Son and His real Father is God the Father.
E.: Well, who's God then?
Si: {making a triangle with his fingers} We worship one God. There is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, but They are all one God.
E.: So God's parents--
Si: {the challenge of explaining this to a four-year-old starting to show on his face} God doesn't have parents--
Brandy: Drink your milk.

05 February 2007

It Does a Baby Good {Part II}

Supplementation is necessary for moms like me. I do not produce enough milk. However, not every mother who isn't producing enough milk is like me. Some moms aren't producing due to specific causes, and if those causes are eliminated, milk supply will increase. They may even be able to be their baby's sole source of nutrition in time.

If five days go by after birth and a mother's milk doesn't come in {no engorgement, no leaking, etc.}, this is a warning sign. By this time, there should be other signs as well, including not enough wet and dirty diapers and extreme weight loss. If the baby is dehydrated, this will be accompanied by droopy skin, dry membranes inside the mouth and a sunken fontanelle. This is what my son looked like before he ended up in the NICU. His skin reminded me of an 80-year-old man.

The first thing that should be checked is the baby's latch. A really bad latch is usually identified before day five {due to the extreme pain for the mother}, but if it isn't fixed the baby will have a hard time driving milk in in the first place. An improper latch can cause the breast not to empty properly, and if it doesn't empty, it doesn't get the "make more" signal. Emptiness is key to increasing milk supply for every mom.

If baby is falling asleep while nursing, and attempts to wake the baby fail, a breast pump can be used to make sure that emptiness occurs {and the milk should be saved in case supplementation is ever necessary}. Of course, if there is no problem with the milk supply, there is no reason to do this. All the corrective measures and courses of action I will be discussing in this series are only necessary if there is a problem. Please don't get the impression that this is what is involved in nursing for every mom. It's not.

If the latch is fine and the milk supply is still low, the next step is to find a doctor who will order hormonal blood tests. Not every doctor will do this, so it is important to find one who will. I would also suggest that one know one's exact results and find a lactation consultant to interpret the tests. It has been my experience that doctors will say that a test result is "within normal" when a lactation consultant will say that it is not. Lactation consultants tend to know much more than doctors when it comes to the chemistry involved in nursing.

By the way, just as it is important to find the right doctor in order to get the tests one needs, it is important to find the right lactation consultant as well. The lactation consultant needs to believe that the problem is as bad as it is or she isn't going to be much help. I have had consultants who have told me just to go to bed with my baby and nurse on demand and that will solve the problem. Though this works for some mothers, it will not solve the problem for moms with issues as severe as mine.

If a mother is having trouble finding a good lactation consultant who is able to go beyond the "nurse on demand and have a good latch" solution mentality, she should try calling a children's hospital. The consultants at children's hospitals have much more experience with unusual nursing difficulties, and they tend to do much more research because of this. They will often be more up-to-date on the latest experimental solutions available by prescription. More importantly, they will believe there is a real problem in the first place.

The last step when trying to determine the cause of the short supply is to undergo a breast exam performed by a lactation consultant. About 1% of mothers have what is called Insufficient Glandular Tissue. This means they do not have enough of the proper plumbing to produce a full supply of milk.

Even moms with IGT can nurse {I'm one of them}. In my next post, I will suggest ways to increase supply using herbs, prescription drugs, and other methods.

04 February 2007

News Lens: Think They're Connected?

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked,
for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh
will from the flesh reap corruption...

(Galatians 6:7-8a)

I'm not kidding. These two articles appeared today simultaneously on The Drudge Report:

Sexpresso Coffee Shops Take Seattle by Storm


Drug Resistant HIV Strain Spreading in Seattle...

03 February 2007

It Does a Baby Good

This post is the beginning of a series on breastfeeding and supplementation. Any males who get uncomfortable reading words like breastfeeding or breast can consider that a warning. I try to be discreet around here, I really do. But I can't discuss the topic without using words like that, and I have some important thoughts to share in this area.

I don't know how informed my readers are about the nature of breastmilk, so please forgive me if I am giving out information that has been oft repeated. The first time I learned about breastmilk, I was in awe of God's creation all over again. I was reading the book So That's What They're For! by Janet Tamaro, and it taught me that human milk is truly miraculous.

Some people think I am a crazy lady because I nurse even though I have very little milk. It is a lot of work, takes extra time, and can have many frustrating moments. Of course, this is true of nursing in general, especially for first-time moms who are new at the ropes, but it is moreso when the milk supply is low {or, in my case, practically non-existent}.

I will explain this more in future posts in this series, but for now, I feel the need to give some examples that show why mother's milk is so great. Otherwise, my motivation for sticking with nursing may seem completely illogical. This list is not even close to exhaustive, and I highly suggest So That's What They're For! for anyone who wants more information on any or all of the aspects of breastfeeding.

Good for Baby
  • Human milk is baby's first immunization. It provides antibodies which protect baby from many common respiratory and intestinal diseases, and also contains living immune cells. First milk, colostrum, is packed with components which increase immunity and protect the newborn's intestines. {The Medical Reporter}

  • Human milk has been called environmentally specific milk -- the mother provides it for her infant to protect specifically against the organisms that her infant is most likely to be exposed to. {Dr. Greene}

    I feel the need to reiterate the above because it is so amazing. Human milk is dynamic, meaning that it changes. This is very different from formula, which is the same every feeding. The above quote explains that milk changes based upon what germs and threats the baby has been exposed to. But it also changes in other ways. For instance, there are actually two kinds of milk throughout each feeding, usually called foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is watery and quenches Baby's thirst in the beginning of the feeding. Hindmilk is high in fat and is what eventually fills Baby up and encourages weight gain. See here and here for more information. In addition to the changes throughout a feeding and the changes depending on germ exposure, there is also a difference as Baby ages. Yes, milk is customized for Baby!

  • Breastfeeding's contribution to optimal oral development means less risk of malocclusion -- and perhaps lower orthodontist bills! {The Medical Reporter}

Good for Mom
  • Immediately after birth, repeated bursts of oxytocin released in response to the baby's sucking cause contraction of the uterus. This protects mothers from postpartum hemorrhage (bottle-feeding mothers get oxytocin intravenously immediately after birth, but for the next 24-48 hours during which risk of hemorrhage is highest, they're on their own). {The Medical Reporter}

  • A number of studies have shown other potential health advantages that mothers can enjoy through breastfeeding. These include optimal metabolic profiles, reduced risk of various cancers, and psychological benefits. {La Leche League}

  • As for fertility, the lactational amenorrhea method {LAM} is a well-documented contraceptive method, with 98 to 99 percent prevention of pregnancy in the first six months. The natural child-spacing achieved through LAM ensures the optimal survival of each child, and the physical recovery of the mother between pregnancies. {La Leche League}

    Because of repeated C-sections, this benefit of having the time to recover between pregnancies has become all the more important.

  • Breastfeeding provides a unique interaction between mother and child, an automatic, skin-to-skin closeness and nurturing that bottle-feeding mothers have to work to replicate. The child's suckling at the breast produces a special hormonal milieu for the mother. Prolactin, the milk-making hormone, appears to produce a special calmness in mothers. Breastfeeding mothers have been shown to have a less intense response to adrenaline. {La Leche League}

As I said, this list is not exhaustive. But there is a reason I felt the need to start the series this way: mother's milk is a miracle and God's special creation for babies in general and each baby in particular. La Leche's page quoted above also included this interesting tidbit: "In Western society, the decision about breast or bottle is still seen very much as a personal choice based on convenience." This culture is all about making personal choices, as if each choice were exactly equal. My point in the above is that though all women cannot breastfeed exclusively {like me} and some cannot at all {like cancer patients on certain medicines}, breastfeeding is the superior choice, plain and simple. This is why I work so hard at it. There is value in doing hard things that are best for my children.