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Categories: Breastfeeding

Radical Parenting

March 4, 2010 7 comments

Tonight I took some time to watch a special on Discovery Health called “Radical Parenting”.  I found out about the special through my Twitter feed because someone I follow, FeministBreeder, was featured on the show.  I have followed her blog for a while and was excited to see what she would have to share.  The special was interesting and I was glad to see many of the parenting styles that we have chosen being highlighted and shown to the world.  And I chuckled to think that any of the items were really considered “Radical”.  I learned some things from the show too.  The main styles of parenting that were highlighted were “unschooling”, attachment parenting, full-term breastfeeding, elimination communication, and gender neutral parenting.  Personally, Aaron and I have experience with attachment parenting including co-sleeping and baby wearing, full-term breastfeeding, and gender neutral parenting somewhat.

The first segment on unschooling followed a family with two children who do not attend any form of school.  Their learning is solely based on life experience.  Personally, what I found to be the most radical part of this family’s approach would be their non-discipline cooperative style of living.  They go far beyond not sending their kids to school to allowing their children to make almost all of their own choices (when to go to bed, when and what to eat, what to learn and how, etc).  They have a household with no rules or discipline.  There are safety guidelines, but that is about it.  I have to say, their kids seemed well adjusted, well behaved, and very bright, but this would never work for me or our son.  I think that some kids can thrive in this environment, but that some need boundaries and structure.  I agree with respecting the needs and voice of the child.  I agree with working with, instead of against, them.  I agree with avoiding power struggles.  The thing for me is that this seems like it is a major swing in the opposite direction of the “helicopter parent” and both seem to have some pitfalls because they are both an extreme.  What it really boils down to is the need to parent the child you have.  Each one is different and has different needs.

The second family was focused on attachment parenting.  I was so pleased to see them discuss full term breastfeeding and its importance and relevance.  I also loved to hear her talk about not using commercial baby food.  I was so disappointed in the “expert” who tried to say that her experience shows that children that nursed for years and years felt different from their peers.  Every ounce of evidence I have seen has supported completely opposite findings.  I have to say that this female expert definitely seemed to be the most biased against the various “radical” styles of parenting.  She made a statement about attachment parenting being “demanding on the parent”.  This really didn’t sit well with me.  So should we instead demand things of our children that are not developmentally natural?  I think that is a very bad way of looking at it.  Yes, we do have to be aware of our own needs and limits, but to use that as an excuse to not be an attached parent is a cop-out to me.  I love when the father said this: “They’re telling us when they are done being breastfed, done being carried, ready to move in their own bed.”  That really is what sums up attachment parenting to me.  It is about having that dialogue and raising your children in an environment where they know you are there to be the one to meet their needs while they have them.  So many parents spend their kid’s childhood battling with them to get them to move on to new things and new stages before they are ready.

Finally, Gina’s segment was on gender neutral parenting.  I honestly hadn’t heard this term much prior to this show.  Little did I know that this is something that we already kind of do.  A and I have agreed early on that we should not impose things on M.  We should support his interests no matter what.  Now, yes A will joke about not letting him have dolls or other “girly” things, but the reality is that he is pretty supportive.  He does have a comfort zone, but does recognize the importance of not making M feel negative about any of his interests.  M has walked around in my heels for as long as he could walk.  He loves ponies and to cook in his kitchen and ours.  He also loves to use tools and play football.  He sees both mommy and daddy use tools around the house, do the dishes, and cook.  We recognize that he will be a better partner and father if he is comfortable in many roles and comfortable in his own skin.

Overall the show was pretty good.  I was disappointed with the one “expert” and her consistent negativity and ‘Debbie downer’ role.  And of course I was annoyed with the formula commercials aired during the show.  But any time these parenting styles are shown and talked about the parents on these paths gain validation and a greater chance of support.  The reality is that none of these parents were really radical.  They all looked pretty normal.  And the real triumph… it was great to see so many happy, healthy, and well adjusted kids and families on TV for once!!!

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The Best for Babes Campaign Codes

December 17, 2009 4 comments

I LOVE the Best for Babes ad campaign and want to do all I can to promote it! So, here are codes you can use to include an ad on your blog. Best for Babes has a page with information about this and examples. Once you have decided which you want to use, just copy and paste the code into a text or html widget/post on your blog or website! If you have any questions about this code, email me at crystald.gold [at] gmail [dot] com. Questions about the campaign can be directed to Best for Babes.

140 width online ad

<a href="http://www.bestforbabes.org/2009/12/how-you-can-help-run-our-ad-campaign-on-your-blog-or-website-and-get-a-magnet"><img src="http://www.bestforbabes.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/bestforbabes140w.jpg" border="0" alt="Best for Babes" align="center" /></a>

150X150 online ad

<a href="http://www.bestforbabes.org/2009/12/how-you-can-help-run-our-ad-campaign-on-your-blog-or-website-and-get-a-magnet"><img src="http://www.bestforbabes.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/BfB_OLA_150x150.jpg" border="0" alt="Best for Babes" align="center" /></a>

180X240 online ad

<a href="http://www.bestforbabes.org/2009/12/how-you-can-help-run-our-ad-campaign-on-your-blog-or-website-and-get-a-magne"><img src="http://www.bestforbabes.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/BfB_OLA_180x2402.jpg" border="0″ align=" alt="Best for Babes" /></a>

700X100 online ad

<a href="http://www.bestforbabes.org/2009/12/how-you-can-help-run-our-ad-campaign-on-your-blog-or-website-and-get-a-magnet"><img src="http://www.bestforbabes.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/BfB_OLA_700x100.jpg" border="0" alt="Best for Babes" align="center" /></a>

700X300 online ad

<a href="http://www.bestforbabes.org/2009/12/how-you-can-help-run-our-ad-campaign-on-your-blog-or-website-and-get-a-magnet"><img src="http://www.bestforbabes.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/BfB_OLA_700x3001.jpg" border="0" alt="Best for Babes" align="center" /></a>

Baby smothered on airplane

December 2, 2009 1 comment

Yesterday, one of my feeds brought to my attention the November 25th incident of a mother falling asleep on a plane and waking to find her baby had smothered. At first I didn’t know if it was true, but quickly realized it was as Twitter and the AP started posting various articles about it. It is so heartbreaking! PhDinParenting did a great post today about the incident and shared many of the comments and points I had intended to share. Please take a look at her post.

When I saw this yesterday, my first comment on twitter was:
@cindyambrose I saw ths earlier & hadn't had time 2 verify so I dnt post it. How horrifying!! ive 2 wonder if it was blankets arnd the baby

I was thinking exactly what Annie from PhDinParenting stated in her post. It is a disgrace what these airlines (malls, stores, businesses in general, ladies walking by, etc) are asking women to do.

Breastfeeding is the most natural progression after giving birth! How many more babies have to die (from formula, blankets, or anything else) before we open up our eyes and accept that women are made to nourish and protect their children themselves!

We don’t need to cover that up!

This article just makes me so sick and so sad!  And I felt just the same about how the article was worded. It felt like another example of media twisting a situation for shock at the cost of another human being’s feelings and emotional state.  This article did a somewhat better job (but is still placing blame on the mother, as if she did it on purpose.  Better would be something to the affect that it is a tragic accident.)

And, once again, breastfeeding does not smother babies! Correct positioning ensures that babies noses are not touching the breast. No mother (whether bottle feeding or nursing) should fall asleep in a chair or couch due to the risk of the child falling from the chair, into a crack, or otherwise entangling in blankets. This has NOTHING to do with the act of breastfeeding!  And this isn’t about co-sleeping either.  Even the most avid co-sleep activists will tell you that there is a safe way to do it and then there are ways that are not safe.

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Holiday Weaning

November 24, 2009 7 comments
Santa Nursling from EnchantedDandelions

photo courtesy of EnchantedDandelions

A phenomenon has been observed by many breastfeeding supporters… holiday weaning.  The holidays are a time full of events, obligations, cooking, cleaning, visiting, shopping, etc.  What about mothering?  It is so easy for mothers, even brand new mothers, to get caught up in obligations and to-do lists.  Pressure from themselves and family end up ensuring that they aren’t nursing often enough and encourage them to supplement with a bottle.

How do we let this happen?  There are many common reasons.

  1. Offering bottles while tending to to-do lists (shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc)
  2. Offering bottles while with family so that they can feed the baby, hold the baby
  3. Offering bottles while with family so that mother doesn’t have to nurse in front of family
  4. Delaying feedings while busy, etc
  5. Offering bottles so that mother can drink alcohol
  6. Mother not getting adequate rest and fluids
  7. Older children can become distracted and not request to nurse as often

New mothers, at least those that feel they can function, often feel driven to take on just as much as they had previously and the holidays make this desire more pronounced for some.  However, if there has ever been a time to sit back and let everyone else do the work, now is the time!  Did you know that just offering one bottle can affect your supply if you are not also pumping when that bottle is being offered?  Many La Leche League leaders have observed that the new mothers in their monthly meetings often dismiss the idea of “holiday weaning” when it is discussed.  Then, after the holidays, those same women often return and share their stories of finding themselves on the brink of sabotaging their nursing relationship, all without meaning too!

image provided by @crunchynurse

So, how can you avoid this accidental weaning or even just a dip in supply?  It is simple, put mothering first this holiday season.  Offer your baby the breast often, sit and relax as much as you can.  If you are going to be around family that doesn’t support breastfeeding, prepare yourself mentally.  Enlist your spouse to be a barrier.  Excuse yourself and nurse in a separate room if you are more comfortable.  Don’t be afraid to take your baby back if he or she is being held by others.  Remember, your baby needs to eat and you are one with the food.  Babies can also easily become overstimulated during the holidays, so the break to nurse will be good for them for that reason too.

We all love our families, right?  But that doesn’t mean that they are perfect and never offer uninvited advice on your parenting!  Have a code worked out with your spouse that tells them if you are tired, or uncomfortable.  That way they can help excuse you without making a scene.  Family gathering can be difficult anyways, but add to that a new mother and a new baby, you have a perfect opportunity for unwanted advice or hurtful comments.

So, before you sign up to make that pie… and potatoes… and green beans… oh and the turkey (or even host the whole darn thing!) think about it first… what would you like your holiday to look like?  Stress and time away from your precious baby?  Or would you rather be snuggled up next to a fire or a tree and nursing your little one?  There will be many more holidays to come, maybe these first few years can be about you being a new mother and less about you being a hostess.

La Leche League makes these recommendations to help you avoid inadvertently weaning your baby during special occasions:

  • Let friends and family members know that you cherish your breastfeeding relationship. Don’t present it as a problem. For example, when aunts or grandmothers want to help, give them a task—not the baby.
  • When family members ask to feed the baby, tell them, “Thank you, but I’m breastfeeding,” and smile.
  • Use a sling or other carrier to keep baby close to nurse.
  • Work around nap times and other times when baby is sleeping.
  • Avoid long car and plane trips if possible. If it’s unavoidable, make sure to take plenty of time for nursing breaks.
  • Choose clothing that provides easy access to the breast for the little nursling.
  • Shop for gifts online or from catalogues. Keep “real life” shopping trips short or take plenty of breaks to breastfeed.

(This list is from How to Avert Nursing Strikes during Special Occasions)

I hope that anyone reading this will keep it in mind during their own holidays, making sure they aren’t falling victim themselves and also support their family and friends so that they do not either.  After all, breastfeeding truly is the BEST gift you can give your little one!

Also, if you take any great holiday nursing pictures, let me know!  I would  love to feature them on the Breastfeeding Imagery page of this site!!

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Response to PhD in Parenting about Nestle

November 18, 2009 6 comments

A blogger that I really admire and many of you follow too, Annie at PhD in Parenting, played a major role in the Twitter storm surrounding the Nestle Family blogger event.  How did one woman make such a big splash?  By standing up and asking her fellow bloggers one question really.  She asked them how they “feel about supporting a company that puts profits ahead of the lives and health of babies.
What followed was a fantastic series of questions presented to Nestle, which they, in turn, “answered”.  I use quotations because I can’t really say that double-speak is an answer.  She has provided the full text of this conversation on her blog and is finally nearing the end.  As she prepares to respond to their final message she is seeking comments from her fellow bloggers and I decided to offer my thoughts here.  Here is what she posted:

As a follow-up to the Nestle Family event and a lot of the misinformation and doublespeak that Nestle passed along to the bloggers, I decided to send them some follow-up questions.
The last question on the list was:

Moving forward, what steps do you plan to take to use social media and engagement with bloggers to get input into corporate policies and practices? Or are you looking to social media simply as a cost effective marketing tool?

Nestle’s answer to this question was:

We are always looking for ways to engage in meaningful dialogue with consumers and others interested in Nestlé. Certainly, engaging in social media will continue to be one of many ways we try to do that. We welcome ideas from you and your readers. We hope you’ll visit us at http://creatingsharedvalue.org to share your comments, opinions and questions.

I should also add, for context, that Nestle deleted its @NestleFamily twitter account and has directed people to send their questions to @nestlecsv instead.

What do you think?

What do you think of Nestle’s answer? What do you think of its track record surrounding the Nestle Family event? How do you think Nestle should be using social media?

So what do I think?  Is it possible for a company that has made no real attempt to offer true, honest, and verifiable answers to make any positive use of social media?  Is it reasonable for me to even think they could or should?

It is obvious to me that any corporation worries first about their bottom line.  If it hurts the stock or value, it isn’t good for the company.  But shouldn’t we be holding corporations to the same ethical standards that we hold individuals to in this world?  If a doctor or any person knowingly manipulated another human being in a way that caused them death or serious illness there would be an outcry against them.  We have become more upset as a nation about a man stealing life savings from people than we have about a corporation peddling formula to women who can’t afford it and can’t prepare it safely, knowing that after the free trials are gone, so is their own milk supply.  So, is it realistic to think they will change?  The skeptic in me says no.  But, is it OK to sit by and not say anything?  My whole heart says, NO!

I think that Nestle has proven through their interactions with this blogger that they are not interested in any form of “meaningful dialogue with consumers and others interested in Nestlé”.  Actions speak louder than words!  They are very willing to assign someone to communicate their talking points and attempt to save face, but not to have a true dialogue.  If they were really willing to sample the blogging community for input, they would have taken this opportunity and run with it. Instead they pulled the @nestlefamily  twitter account, as it was overrun with negative comments.  I truly believe that their involvement in social media will continue to be a safe and protected display of their company.  They will not ask difficult questions or offer real insight.  They will continue to spin the realities of what they are doing and pass blame and responsibility elsewhere.  And all the while, children will continue to die.  It will require governments to step up and create meaningful and supported legislation to get this company to do what they should be doing in the first place.

So, Annie, to answer your questions… Will Nestle use social media the way I think they should?  No, not at all.  They have proven that.  I think this event was evidence that Nestle is only interested in their bottom line, not in the lives of their consumers or the world they have such a large impact on.  I think that their answers were contrived and I agree that they were mostly double-speak and missed the heart of most of the questions.  I think that they will continue to use social media as only a marketing tool, not a platform for effective dialogue.  I think that they will continue to pretend that this unrest and boycott don’t truly exist.  And the saddest part for me, is that I don’t know how to change any of it.  I can choose not to support their company (which is very difficult when they own so much) and encourage others to do the same.  However, for me, the biggest change I can make is working towards a movement in our world that empowers women so that they do not need Nestle to do for them what they can naturally do themselves.  By supporting breastfeeding worldwide, by giving to causes that raise awareness and provide resources, I can make a difference.  The fewer women that use the formula that is pushed on them, the fewer babies that die.

So, I may not be able to change the culture of a company, but I CAN and WILL play a part in changing the culture of the world!

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Response to a Weaning “Guide”

November 13, 2009 11 comments

I was monitoring my twitter account today and kblogger posted this: “Hi Sofia, Quite a bit of misinformation in that article. 😦 @ssofia: just wrote: When & How 2 Stop Breastfeeding http://cli.gs/2sYaH”  I took a look at the article and was stunned.  So, I had to share my thoughts with the author.  I just couldn’t let this type of information go without speaking up.  Here is what I submitted, in case it is not approved as a comment.  Please share your thoughts on the article, and also here to ensure they are posted.  I would  love to hear what you think of the article and what I wrote in response.  Thank you all!


Submitted as a comment to http://momsnbabies.com/when-and-how-to-stop-breastfeeding-2/ on November 13, 2009 at 11:28pm EST

 

After reading this article I have several items to comment on.  First of all, it is unclear who wrote this.  At the top it states that it was written by Sofia S, but the bottom states that it is by Alan Murray.  What are the credentials of the person who wrote this?  I ask these questions for several reasons as stated below.

I feel that every person that writes about breastfeeding has an obligation to be informed about the facts because breastfeeding is closely tied to the health of a baby/toddler. Yes, breast milk is necessary for optimal health of toddlers too.  Unfortunately, your author is misinformed about the benefits and necessity of extended nursing.  La Leche League International, an organization that disperses widely used and valued information on breastfeeding, states “All the benefits of human milk—including nutritional and health—continue for as long as your baby receives your milk. In fact, as your baby takes less human milk, these advantages are condensed into what milk is produced. Many of the health benefits of human milk are dose related, that is, the longer the baby receives human milk, the greater are the benefits.” http://www.llli.org/FAQ/bflength.html The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “Exclusive breastfeeding for approximately the first six months and support for breastfeeding for the first year and beyond as long as mutually desired by mother and child.” http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/feb05breastfeeding.htm The World Health Organization recommends “Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.” http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/
You will notice that no one recommends weaning due to breast milk eventually getting ” to a point in which is does not matter whether or not the child takes breast milk or regular milk.”  This is a complete fallacy and goes against all scientific studies.

I also have a very big issue with any article about babies and toddlers which refer to the child as “it”.  These children are people and not things.  This shows a level of respect for the child missing in the article.

I do appreciate the attention to weaning slowly, as it IS very important for a mother to wean in a gentle and slow manner, preferable led by the child.

It is also not very helpful to encourage women to wean to a bottle, requiring them to wean yet again.  Since the author is talking about weaning to “regular milk” (by the way, human milk would be the “regular” milk of a human being, but I understand that in this article the author is referring to  cow’s milk as “regular milk”) I can assume that the author is talking about children over the age of 1 year since it is widely accepted that cow’s milk should not be introduced before the age of 1.  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002448.htm It is also recommended that bottle use be discontinued by 12-18 months of age, so this is again, poor guidance.  http://www.ucsfchildrenshospital.org/education/baby_bottle_weaning/#2 And it is also worth pointing out that many pediatricians will tell you that your toddler does not need cow’s milk at all.  http://www.askdrsears.com/faq/fn1.asp

I believe that by providing inaccurate information regarding breast milk the author of this article is doing a great disservice to the mothers and babies he or she is reaching.  Inaccurate breastfeeding and breast milk information can easily equate to shorter lengths of breastfeeding and, in turn, higher risks of health issues for the child.  I hope that in the future the author will take their responsibility to mothers and babies personally and research thoroughly before providing advice or any type of “guide”.

Thank you.
Crystal Gold
TheVervePath.com

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