Sunday, December 26, 2010

Work in progress: deodorant

In my quest to rid myself of chemical-laden beauty and skincare products, I have arrived at deodorant.  I've been a Degree user for years, and have recently run out of that and switched to Tom's of Maine Supposedly 24 Hour Odor Protection.  I'm unimpressed.  I smell horrible at the end of the day and it's goopy/sticky when I put it on.  Gross.

I'm just starting to research homemade deodorant, and thought I'd share.  Those of you who are looking for a finished product/recipe sort of post, this is definitely not it!

In every deodorant recipe I've seen, there are two key ingredients - baking soda and cornstarch or arrowroot.  The baking soda is, strictly speaking, the deodorant.  The cornstarch or arrowroot serves two purposes - 1) they can act as a bit of an antiperspirant because of absorbency (I gather that cornstarch works better, but that it can be irritating to some people's skin) and 2) to dilute the baking soda, which is a weak base and can irritate skin.

The big differences from recipe to recipe are the ratio of those two ingredients, what (if anything) is used to deliver those two ingredients to one's armpit, and whether it is scented with essential oils.

The carrier and the essential oils can help with deodorizing (because they can be antibacterial) and/or with skin conditioning.

I think I am going to go with the coconut oil as a base because I keep it around anyway.  My concerns with coconut oil are staining (I'll need to be sure it has absorbed before I put my shirt on, because it definitely does leave oil stains otherwise) and the fact that it liquifies at 75 degrees - I'll have to keep my deodorant in the fridge all summer!

Here are two recipes I've found that use coconut oil (and a stick deodorant container):  one, two 

The other base I've seen is shea and cocoa butters, and those are used in a jar:  one, two

There is the option of using no base, no scents, no nothing extra (as done here), but I envision that getting messy and my underarms getting caked with the stuff because I have no sense of how much to use and would inevitably use more than needed!

On coconut oil, I feel obliged to tell you that I've recently finished reading a book of natural beauty products that included information about all of the ingredients, and I'm apparently using very subpar coconut oil.  The good stuff (organic, extra virgin, can't remember what else because I don't have the book handy - I'll post all this another time!) should have a faint coconut smell (mine is odorless) and is much better all around.

So maybe I'll try making deodorant with my subpar coconut oil so I can finish the vat and buy the good stuff!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I write elsewhere...

I am a regular contributor to the BABS Blog.  I can't currently put into words what makes me think certain posts/topics belong on that blog and which belong here.  I guess there I'm reaching out specifically to mothers and mothers-to-be, but I know that is also who largely makes up my readership here (though I have also LOVED that many people who are not parents have read and commented!).

Anyhow, I don't intend to do this often, but I thought I'd link you to my most recent post on the BABS Blog, and you can choose to follow that blog and read my at-least-once-a-month posts there.

If you're friends with me on Facebook, I will continue linking the BABS posts there.  If you would like some other way to know when I write for BABS, please let me know.  The only way I can think to easily facilitate that without linking everything here or depending on all of you being my personal Facebook friends (which I know you aren't!), is to start a Facebook page for this blog?  Anyway, I welcome your input!

I will be writing about my pregnancy and birth experiences over on the BABS Blog - I will probably talk about them through a different lens over here, but I have so much other stuff I'd like to discuss on this blog!

Without further ado, here is my latest post, High Risk for Preeclampsia:  Just the beginning of my story

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Book Review: Sleeping With Your Baby


This is a great book for anyone debating where their baby should sleep, or wanting to know how to make bedsharing safest.  It could also be given to family members who are balking at bedsharing or roomsharing.  It's a quick and straightforward read - the meat of the book is less than 100 pages!

Having already bedshared with a baby, I read it mainly because I was interested in whether there was some way to make it safe (or possible...) to nurse Squeak while I snuggle Bean down for a nap, or nurse both boys while I lay down, etc.  No such luck - and one of the safety tips is that you need to be sure an older child won't be able to crawl in bed with you while you're asleep with a baby.


However, I really appreciated the tone of this book.  It wasn't insisting that babies MUST be sleeping in the same bed as their mothers, but saying that bedsharing was a safe option.  It wasn't saying every mother SHOULD want to sleep with her baby, but that those who do could and should follow guidelines to ensure the baby's safety.

Sleeping With Your Baby isn't a book that I think would make anyone defensive who doesn't co-sleep, as McKenna basically says that not being comfortable with it is a reason not to do it.  For that reason (and it's length and straightforwardness), I think it would be a great book to hand to anyone who doubts your decision to sleep with your baby.   If anything, it is a little defensive on the side of the co-sleeper because he talks quite a bit about the indictments of bedsharing by the media and even legal entities.

This book is a manual on how to bedshare safely, and a little bit about how babies and mothers are designed to breastfeed and bedshare.  It is not about how to get better or more sleep, how to get your baby/toddler/child out of your bed, or what bedsharing might look like at various ages.

If you're looking for help getting more sleep for yourself in the family bed, tips and tricks for getting your child our of your bed, or for comfort in the stories of other bedsharing families, I'd recommend Good Nights.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Something has changed...


While I was pregnant with Squeak, I worked out regularly right up until I went on bedrest (at about 31 weeks).  I had been envisioning myself walking or working out on the elliptical daily right up until delivery - I really hoped that it would keep me off bedrest longer (or entirely) and make delivery and recovery easier.

Right before I got pregnant, I had also found a running moms group online and several of us found ourselves pregnant with October 2010 due dates.  So I had a whole lot of like-minded friends all talking enthusiastically about when we were going to run our first postpartum races!  And then I read Born to Run.  I found myself excited about running like I hadn't been in awhile.

I've officially re-discovered a love of running, and this time it has come with a sense of adventure.  It's a chance to get away from the literal noise of my life (there is no quiet with a toddler/preschooler and a baby!) and to come back with a sense of accomplishment and a sense that I've done something for myself and for my family.  I run without music or an iPod or anything.  I hear my own thoughts (sometimes the only chance I get!) and enjoy my own company.

It's divine.

As someone who hated running and really anything that felt remotely like a competitive sport as a child (last to be picked in gym class, thankyouverymuch!), and having grown up in the desert and complained about how cold it was, I would never have been picked Most Likely to Run in the Snow.  Heck, a year ago I don't think I would have run in the snow...

Today it was 23 degrees and snowing when it came time for my run.  It was snowing pretty hard, actually.  Huge white flakes that gathered on my eyelashes.  I went out anyway.  I went out giddy with excitement.  Could I do this?  Or am I too much of a baby?

I went out dressed in the garb pictured above and thought for a moment that I was too much of a baby.  My legs were just too cold and I was positive I wouldn't be able to get them to turn over long enough to warm them up.  I came back in and grabbed my cheap, old, damaged pair of Gap wind pants.

And then I ran.

What caused me to end my work-out a little early was that my toes and fingers were numb, while the rest of me was sweating.  Almost all of me felt good, but I didn't think it was a good idea to keep going with numb extremities.

As I neared home, I ran up a hill and noted that the sidewalks were now covered in just enough snow to make them slightly slippery - another indicator it was time to come home.

I'm getting warm running gear for Christmas - specifically wool running socks and a great pair of gloves that will solve today's problem.

I'm psyched.  This is a challenge I can conquer!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Commercialism Conundrum


You may have gathered by now, from two posts dealing with marketing and specifically marketing to kids, that it's one of my biggest concerns as a parent and pet peeves as a citizen.

I try to be realistic.  I'm raising kids in the United States of America of the 21st century; there is just no way to keep them from unhealthy foods, media, advertising, and commercialism.  And it wouldn't be healthy or fair for them if I did keep them from learning about these things.  They are, after all, 21st-century Americans and will require at least a little fodder for small-talk.

I'm constantly asking myself what I would/should/could compromise on, and just how much bending constitutes being flexible and realistic versus rolling over, belly-up, saying "fine!  Have your way with them!  I just want a nap!"

I had one such moment at the pediatrician's office this past week.  What happened is such a small problem, but the potential fix is also so small and would make me feel so. much. better. One less place to worry about my child being primed as a target for advertising?  What a load off!  Not to mention making it easier to adhere to some of the very suggestions about food and media that pediatricians are making to all of us parents!

So, here it is, the letter I've written to the big pediatric practice in town:


Dear [Person I Really Hope Doesn't Toss This Letter Before Reading it...],

I brought my two-month-old for his well-baby visit today with my 2.5-year-old in tow. At the end of the visit, my older son was offered a sticker.  The woman giving him the sticker said “boy” (to herself) while determining my son’s options for stickers and then gave him the options of Elmo or Spiderman.  I wanted to express my concern over two aspects of this occurrence. 

First, that these stickers are considered gender-specific.  Why can my son not choose from certain stickers because he is a boy? He didn’t really care what was on the sticker – only that it was sticky!

Second, I am bothered that he only had licensed characters to choose from – and that licensed characters were an option at all. Familiarizing kids with these characters (my son is only familiar with them through marketing, toys, and books that he sees elsewhere – we don’t watch television) opens them up to so much marketing – and it’s mostly marketing of things that are not good for them like junk food and toys that inhibit imaginative play!

This is such a simple and relatively small thing, but it is also a very simple fix. Just as I hope the young girls in the practice got to take home the small cars my son once did, I want my son to have the option of choosing a shiny pink sticker if that’s what he wants. And stickers with butterflies, dinosaurs, geometric designs, etc are just as enticing as Elmo, Spiderman, Dora, Shrek, or any of the other numerous licensed characters out there also selling toys, books, backpacks, bedding, and junk food.

Also, I hope this policy will be extended to any toys, books, band-aids and anything else that is distributed to kids in your practice. They are so bombarded with marketing and expectations of them based on their gender – and from such a young age! Please make [your practice] a marketing-free zone for our kids!

Thanks,
["That" Mom]

Top Eleven Tandem Nursing Questions


My post about tandem nursing is, by a fair margin, my most-viewed post.  So I thought I'd answer some questions I've been asked, and I'll soon write a follow-up post that's a bit more narrative.  These are in a sort of chronological order from early pregnancy to late to birth to shortly after.  They're compiled fom my memory of what people have asked me via email and in person.

All answers are based on my personal experience.  By my understanding, there is a very broad range of both physiological and emotional responses to nursing during pregnancy and tandem nursing.

1.  So...you just kept making milk through pregnancy?

Nope, not exactly.  I couldn't say when my milk disappeared, but it was sometime around the middle of my pregnancy.  Bean didn't seem to be swallowing anymore, and I couldn't stand to nurse him often or for long.  That improved whenever it was that I started producing colostrum.  Again, I couldn't say when that was exactly, but I think it was early in my third trimester.  I had thought the time when I had very little or no milk was the most likely time he would wean on his own or as a result of my limiting him....but obviously that didn't happen!

2.  Doesn't nursing during pregnancy cause pre-term labor?

I have been asked this question (and, actually, told that it's a fact) by medical professionals who were also nursing mothers (note: plural!).  There is a very common sense reason that this is thought to be a potential problem:  oxytocin.  Oxytocin has a role in every step of the reproductive process.  It is released during female orgasm;  it is what causes labor contractions; it is released during breastfeeding. It's actually released just from snuggling.  It's powerful stuff!  So, the concern is that breastfeeding will release oxytocin and cause labor contractions.

For those who are high-risk for pre-term labor, it is a definite concern.  And I did sometimes have "nursing contractions," but they were not even as noticeable or as long as many Braxton-Hicks contractions I had.  Heck, at the end I was so desperate that not only did I nurse Bean but I hooked myself up to a pump to try to get labor going!  And I didn't have a single contraction.

Some science:  It appears (and this I'm recollecting from Adventures in Tandem Nursing) that the uterus's oxytocin receptors aren't really all that receptive until you're about term!


3.  What about nipple tenderness during pregnancy?

I definitely experienced this, and at times I thought it would lead to Bean's weaning because I was limiting his frequency and duration of nursings.   I had soreness before I could even get a positive pregnancy test, but it was worst at night (one of several reasons I night weaned Bean petty early on).  Toward the end I was counting to three or ten for every feeding, or I was only singing one song or even one verse.  This got better when my milk came in - though I still struggle sometimes just because of Squeaks sometimes-painful nursing challenges.

4.  What about colostrum ("first milk")?  Did you just never make colostrum for Squeak? 

I started making colostrum in my third trimester, so Squeak definitely got some.  My understanding on this is that your milk often comes in earlier with subsequent children, plus I had no interventions this time (some of which could delay milk coming in).  Amount of nursing, as far as I understand, doesn't really bring your milk in sooner, as the hormonal shift that brings about production of mature milk is triggered by the detachment of the placenta.  In any case, my milk did come in at least 24 hours earlier than with Bean, possibly a full 48 hours (it was hard to say because I didn't get so engorged this time!  (And, of course, any time I'm talking about what triggers human lactation, I must refer you here.)


5.  Do you make enough for both kids?

And then some!  A metric:  by two months old, Squeak has gained 1lb 6oz more than Bean had at two months.  So, Squeak is gaining faster than Bean did.  I also have at least 30oz in the freezer.  "Enough" is not an issue!


6.  Isn't the toddler "stealing" from the newborn? 

Actually, given the nursing struggles we've had, it's likely that Bean is doing all the work for Squeak in terms of maintaining my supply.  Squeak just has to show up and swallow.  In fact, to really make Squeak work and help him learn to nurse effectively and efficiently, I have to either pump or nurse Bean first.  I really just make plenty of milk!

7.  Any jealousy over nursing?

Though I know moms whose older child had a hard time sharing nursing with their new sibling, we've had not a single issue of the sort.  If I'd only been nursing the baby, I think Bean would have been jealous.  Bean is very sweet to Squeak and is even usually ok if I kick him off my lap but keep nursing Squeak.  If squeak falls off (which happens all too often - ugh), Bean will gently help him back on mimicking what I do - and he does that whether he's also nursing or whether he's just standing nearby.  So no jealousy around that.  Bean just wants Squeak's wrist rattles and stuffed animals!

8.  Don't you just want your body back?

Sort of.  I often want some personal space back, for sure!  Bean is climbing all over me, jumping off the couch as I'm nursing the baby right next to him, wrestling his dad, looking like he's about to topple the heavy rocking recliner while standing in it, roaring like a dinosaur as he attacks my leg (and I'm saying "pretend bites, please!") and generally doing all he can to make my hair go gray. Invite him for a nurse and get him to sit still and shut up?  Yes.  And I usually can get him to snuggle sweetly afterwards.  It feels to me like reclaiming space, if only because I get to hear myself think!

9.  How often does Bean nurse?

I have no idea.  I don't know how often Squeak nurses either.  I hardly remember how often I've eaten today.  Everyone's alive and only slightly traumatized?  Everyone's peeing and pooping and gaining (or in my case losing) weight as expected?  We're good!


10.  How did you prepare yourself for nursing through pregnancy and for tandem nursing?

Mainly, I read Adventures in Tandem Nursing.  I appreciated the information in the book as well as the range of experiences catalogued.   

I also made mental note of anyone who had done this or was  doing this so I could ask questions and get support. And ask questions and seek support I have done!

11.  Did you plan to tandem nurse, or did it just happen?

I pretty much planned on it.  I liked the idea from the moment I heard it was possible and that it could reduce sibling rivalry and jealousy. Though I was pretty sure I'd end up tandem nursing, I also gave myself permission to change my mind at any point, and reminded myself that Bean could decide to wean on his own at any point as well.

As an aside to that, Adventures in Tandem Nursing mentions that there are a few points at which the nursling is possibly more likely to wean:  when milk changes/diminishes/disappears, when colostrum appears (they may not like the taste), when the milk comes back (they may not like the taste), when they become a big sibling (they may make it their own rite of passage).  Though I suspected Bean would keep nursing though all of this, I did try to keep myself mentally prepared!
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