Archives for December 2011

Ecological Breastfeeding: Part 4

Before you read this post be sure to catch Ecological Breastfeeding Part I, Part II and Part III!

I know mothers who follow all of the ecological breastfeeding standards except the two that we are going to talk about today.  And guess what?  They don’t benefit from the same blessings that following the entire plan give.  Of course, following five of these principles rather than none is definitely a good thing, but you and your child are still missing out on ecological breastfeeding and the gifts it can give your family.

So, I ask that today you keep an open mind.  Don’t immediately disregard this phenomenal method of parenting your baby until you have heard all the facts.  I know that many people will read the next two standards and think “There’s no way I’m ever doing that.”  But just wait, make an informed decision; you owe it not only to your child but to yourself as well.

Standard #4: Sleep with your baby for night feedings.

The story is old and worn and well known by all Americans… “I got pregnancy insomnia, and then after he was born he wouldn’t sleep for three months!  Now he only needs one or two feedings a night, which is better, but I feel so exhausted all the time…”  If you are like many families and have children in close succession, this could mean literally years and years of being sleep deprived.

Whether you believe in birth control or not – it was obviously not a part of God’s original plan for growing families.  This leaves me with one of two conclusions, either God intended for mothers to be useless and sleep deprived for all of their childbearing years (which for some can literally be decades).  Or… God had another model that prevents unnecessary sleep deprivation for mothers.  I tend to go with the latter.

And honestly?  I think I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have been sleep deprived since becoming a mother.  Currently nursing and growing a baby does make one quite tired… but I got ten hours of sleep last night.  Yup, ten wonderful… amazing… needed hours of sleep.  When people ask me how Evie sleeps I always tell them that she started sleeping through the night at four days old… that’s not exactly true, but it’s easier than explaining the reality that I started sleeping through the night again when she was four days old.

I am actually not sure when Evie started sleeping through the night… and honestly I didn’t care when she did, because I didn’t need to care.  When she wakes up and needs to nurse I just have to readjust and help her latch on; normally I never even remember doing this.  See?  Feeding your baby is so easy you can do it in your sleep! Haha…

But in all seriousness, this one practice of having our baby sleep in our bed with us has given us so much more rest and sanity than many young parents I know have had in years.  It’s terribly sad to me that our society has lied to mothers telling them that cribs are the safest and only place a baby should sleep, not even stopping to consider the mental and emotional toll it takes to raise a child that way.

Think about it.  While breastfeeding, chemicals such as oxytocin are released into your bloodstream.  These are very helpful in bonding with your child, but they are also deeply relaxing.  Many moms find it difficult to stay awake while nursing, and it isn’t just because it’s 2am.  Nursing induces sleepiness.  Why would our benevolent and omniscient Creator make our bodies want to fall asleep at the very time that it’s dangerous to do so?  It doesn’t make sense.

Sleeping and nursing go together – it’s natural!  And also completely safe.  Ads like this one make me furious.  They are misleading and inappropriate to say the least.  Many babies in our country DO die every year from dangerous co-sleeping situations, but not from sleeping in safe environment with a nursing mother.

Instead of pushing the crib habit, the government should be focusing on giving real information about co-sleeping that is helpful.  Information like, don’t sleep with your child if you are impaired with drugs or alcohol, don’t let your baby sleep near a crack or on the edge of the bed, don’t fall asleep in awkward places like your recliner, etc.  Asserting flat-out that cribs are the only safe place for babies is not founded on science and is simply untrue.  In fact, it is actually safer to co-sleep in a proper family bed under the right circumstances than to place your baby alone in a crib.  This is a very good summary of how to co-sleep comfortably and safely and is very similar to what we have done as a family.

Not only does co-sleeping give you more rest, but it ensures that your baby always knows he is safe and taken care of.  No one should have to sleep alone, especially not babies who do not have the ability to understand why they are all by themselves.  Low serotonin levels have been scientifically linked to a higher risk of SIDs, and high levels of stress induce such dangerous chemical imbalances in the brain.  What could cause a high level of stress right before sleep?  Being left abandoned in a dark place, all alone, where no one responds to your cries of terror.  This is what an infant experiences when parents unwittingly use the “cry it out” method to get their babies to sleep on their own.

Even with gentler crib sleeping practices, a crib is still not as safe as being next to mom in bed.  Carbon dioxide has been shown to cause the inhaling reflex in infants.  If you are sleeping facing your baby (as you would be nursing while you sleep) your constant breathing rhythms help to regulate your child’s so that his body continues to breathe safely through the night.  Not to mention that forcing yourself to stay awake in a rocking chair or elsewhere while nursing can lead to the more dangerous sleeping-while-nursing scenarios that we want to avoid.

So, what does all of this have to do with making sure that your baby continues nursing through toddlerhood and receives all the nutritional benefits he needs?  Well, a lot actually.  If you don’t sleep with your child there is a necessity to begin limiting nighttime nursings, scheduling, etc., which inevitably limits how much your child nurses.

Putting any limitations on nursing at all can cause your child to wean early and lose many of those nutritional benefits he could have been reaping his entire life.  Furthermore, nursing at night is many times nursing for comfort.  This is an important part of the nursing relationship and, if you cut it out, he will to learn to go to other sources for comfort causing weaning to begin much earlier, whether you are ready for it or not.

Standard #5: Sleep with your baby for a daily-nap feeding.

I won’t delve into the safety issue much here as I covered that already; but sleeping with your baby during the day is more or less the same as sleeping with your baby at night, and just as important.  Not only does laying down with your baby for naps give more opportunity for nursing (which is important for extended amenorrhea and a long nursing relationship) but it also gives you more opportunity for rest.

Becoming a new mother is exhausting and simply sleeping through the night may not be enough.  You need to give yourself permission to take naps, and the best time (if not the only time) you can do this with a newborn is while he’s napping.  Because of our body’s natural tendency to get tired while nursing a babe to sleep, this is a perfect opportunity for you both to bond, rest and benefit from the nursing relationship.

This is probably one of the easiest standards to shrug off because so many of us are not used to the luxury of napping daily.  And, you might say, if I am already sleeping with baby at night will this really make a difference?  The answer is, yes.  Just as with any of the seven standards, you lose one and you’re done.  Fun rhyming eh?  Ok… too many bad puns in one post will lose me my readers, sorry, I’ll stop.

Now with me and Evie, and with most I’d wager, we don’t take naps together every day.  In fact, I only napped with her on a daily basis for maybe the first two weeks.  After that it depended on whether or not I was tired enough to sleep.  If I wasn’t tired, I would get up after Evangeline fell asleep and go do something else.  If she woke up before I knew she was ready I would nurse her back down, and sometimes then I’d be ready for a nap too.

Even still today I nurse her to sleep for bed and for her naps every day.  I usually don’t nap with her, although with the pregnancy it’s become more tempting… When I am not tired enough to sleep I will lay down with her and nurse her till she’s fast asleep and then I’ll leave.  When she wakes up I (as Jake fondly refers to it) nurse her back to life.

She always needs to breastfeed upon waking.  I’m not sure what it is about that transition period, but it’s what we’ve always done and it’s become one of my favorite nursing times of the day.  I think it started when she was smaller and woke up two or three times during her nap; I would nurse her just to see if she would fall back asleep, so even when she was ready to get up we would still nurse.  In any case, it’s been an enjoyable bond between us.

I think I’m going to wrap it up for tonight, but as always if you have any questions on this or any of the other previous breastfeeding posts please comment or shoot me an email.  At the end of this series I am going to have a Q&A and I would love to tackle anything you’d like to throw at me.  Blessings on this, the 4th Day of Christmas!

Oh and umm… Go Broncos!

Nursing Toddlers are Cute

Merry 1st Day of the Christmas Season!!


Christmas Traditions

Jake and I decided early on in our marriage that we wanted to celebrate all twelve days of the Christmas season.  We loved the idea of being able to relax a little more on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, toning down the presents and lifting up Christ.  It’s not that we wouldn’t exchange gifts just that, with twelve days at our disposal, it would be much easier for the gifts to be a very small part of our Christmas traditions.

Also, as a soon-to-be pastor’s family, we knew that the Advent leading up to Christmas would be a hectic time, not a time of rest.  Since Christmas Day itself will likely be a work day, having the rest of the season as a family would be important.  This is our first real year in “Church work” mode.  Jake is a vicar rather than just a student, so he’s actually in the thick of it as far as working alongside Pastor this Christmas.  And I’m so glad we have our twelve days…

Tonight there are two Christmas services, one at 5:30 and one at 7:30.  If we were laypeople we would just go to the 5:30 service and get home in time for enjoying pie and opening gifts from extended family and friends before bed – one of the traditions we want to continue from my childhood.  But Jake will be in both services, and Evie usually is down by 8pm.  There’s no way we’ll be able to fit it all in tonight.

So perhaps this year is my lesson in being flexible… one of many to come I’m sure.  But I’m not fretting about it; there are twelve days in this Christmas season, and plenty of time to eat pie and open presents.  We’ll get around to it.  In the meantime we are going to enjoy our Christmas services, receive forgiveness for our sins, revel in the miracle that is our salvation in Christ and look forward to the day we can finally meet Him face to face.

Blessings on you and your family this Christmas season,


Sorry kiddo… not this year…

Best Turkey. Ever.

img_1102I guess this week is the week for “Ever” posts.  But seriously… this is the best turkey I have ever had.  Yes, it was my first try at turkey, but I have been a turkey consumer for much longer than I have been a turkey chef… and let me tell you it was AMAZING.  Ok so the picture isn’t great… but it tasted good!

I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging about my cooking ability (I’m not).  As you can tell from the lack of recipe posts I write, there are few things I make that I feel are actually worth sharing with the world – but this is one of them!  Obviously I knew nothing about how to cook a turkey a month ago.  So, I asked around at Church, talked to my mom, got on good ole Google, and gleaned from the experts.  What do people who DO know how to make turkey do when they cook turkey?

And I found some good stuff… so I’m going to share that with you wonderful people because, in full disclosure, my morning sick self unfortunately thinks this aromatic, delicious, juicy turkey actually smells quite disgusting.  Sadness…  So you are more than welcome to use this for your Christmas dinner, just make sure you started thawing your turkey out like… yesterday :)

What You’ll Need

  • 12 lb turkey (or adjust recipe for appropriate size)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • several fresh basil leaves
  • freshly ground pepper
  • salt
  • chicken broth
  • stuffing and/or vegetables (optional)
  • roasting pan
  • turkey bag

What To Do

  1. Begin defrosting your turkey several days prior to the feast.  If you only have a couple days to defrost, use cool water to quicken the process.
  2. Prepare your Turkey the day before you want to eat it.  This way you will have a lot less to do tomorrow and it will give the seasoning time to settle in and give the turkey a richer flavor.
  3. The day BEFORE, take your thawed turkey out of the refrigerator.  Prep your turkey by rinsing, taking out any gravy or giblets packages and placing it in your roasting pan breast up.
  4. Loosen the skin on your turkey by gently massaging in between the meat and the skin.  Loosen as far back on the breast as you can (this may take some time) and down to the end of the drumstick.  You will want to work your fingers in a downward motion as to not tear the skin.
  5. After your turkey is ready you can begin to make your seasoning concoction.  First, finely chop your rosemary and your basil.  You will want about two tablespoons of the first and about one tablespoon of the later.  Set aside extra sprigs and leaves for later.
  6. Melt your butter and add the chopped rosemary and basil.
  7. Add about a tablespoon of Italian seasoning.  (If you are changing the recipe due to turkey size just keep the approximate ratios.  Equal parts basil and Italian seasoning with approximately twice as much rosemary.)
  8. Ground some black pepper into your butter mixture and add salt to taste.
  9. Mix well and using a pastry brush, your fingers or another gentle method, spread butter mixture in between the meat and skin.  Make sure to generously cover the entire breast as well as the legs and thighs as much as possible.
  10. Make sure to completely recover all the meat with skin, use toothpicks if necessary.
  11. Pour leftover butter mixture over the top of the turkey and tuck the extra rosemary and basil into the sides of the bag.  Now your turkey is ready to sit overnight!
  12. The next day (the day of the feast) finish any preparations for your turkey.  Add any vegetables or stuffing that you want to cook with the turkey to share its flavor.  If you are stuffing your turkey, make sure the stuffing is HOT going into the oven so you don’t have to worry about it coming up to temp if your turkey is already done.
  13. Add some chicken broth to the bottom of the turkey bag to ensure there are enough juices throughout the cooking process.  This is especially helpful if you over-rinsed all your juices out of your turkey.
  14. Cook the turkey at 375 for 2-4 hours or until your thermometer reaches a temp of at least 180 or there is no longer pink meat when cutting into the breast.

And that’s it!  You should have a yummy turkey in no time.  One thing I did not do this year that I didn’t find to be necessary, but would make a nice addition to the meal, is to use carrots to lift up the turkey.  If the turkey is sitting off the pan it can cook more evenly.  Instead of using a metal grate or something else inedible, try using several large carrots underneath the turkey.  That way when your turkey is done you will have a tasty and juicy vegetable to go along with it!

Enjoy! And if you happen to try it, let me know how it goes!

Happy eating!

Disclaimer: If you happen to find another recipe online that is very similar to this one… I did warn you that these weren’t exactly my ideas didn’t I?  Although… I will take credit for the chicken broth…

My Favorite Wordless Wednesday. Ever.


Ecological Breastfeeding: Part 3

Like I promised… I am finally getting around to Part III of my Ecological Breastfeeding Series.  If you haven’t yet, read Part I and Part II first.

Today I wanted to talk about the 2nd and 3rd Standards of Ecological Breastfeeding.

Standard #2: Pacify or comfort your baby at your breasts.

Some people may be surprised to find that nursing is not just for nutrition.  Babies are naturally comforted by nursing.  The sucking motion helps to relieve tension, and the closeness of the baby to his mother encourages a feeling of safety.  Some may already know this but think that breastfeeding for comfort is dangerous, or a bad habit, and that you should only feed your child when he is hungry.  There are some misconceptions about this and, I think, it is mostly confusion caused by the widespread use of bottles as a substitute for a mother’s breast.  One of the biggest concerns is that if you nurse for comfort your child will learn that eating is for comfort, which will lead to overeating and other bad eating habits later on.

Now, if your child is using a bottle with either breastmilk or formula, than giving the child a bottle to pacify them does lead to this problem.  When a child uses a bottle, it is merely a feeding; using food to comfort your baby when he is not really hungry will lead to bad habits and possible overeating, especially if this continues throughout toddlerhood.  However, breastfeeding is different, it is not just food.  In fact, Sheila Kippley in her books suggests that parents do not refer to nursing as “eating”, because it’s not.  Nursing and eating are different – bottlefeeding and eating are much the same.

While a child is nursing, many things are going on simultaneously.  The child is recieving nourishment from the breastmilk, but he is also feeling the warmth, protection and comfort afforded by skin to skin contact with his mother.  The mother and child are bonding through touch, smell and through visual contact.  The child can hear his mother’s voice and interact with her.

More effort is given to the sucking motion, since it is more difficult to get milk from a breast than from a bottle.  This helps in two ways, first by exaggerating the sucking and jaw motions, which release chemicals that relax the child, and second by regulating the amount of milk the child is getting.  Because of this a baby can be on the breast for extended periods of time without overeating.

The slow release of the milk regulates how quickly the child eats, and the supply regulates how much milk there is to be given.  Bottles afford none of these benefits.  The milk or formula comes out quickly and is not self-regulating.  If a parent is in the habit of offering the bottle for comfort reasons, the child will get much more than he needs and will learn to overeat.

Furthermore, bottles can only provide comfort in two ways: the sucking motion and through food or drink.  The sucking motion does not give as much comfort with a bottle, since little jaw-work is needed – so the primary comfort is in the food.  This can cause serious issues for the child later on.  With nursing, there is comfort on many levels, and the amazing craftsmanship of the breast has built-in ways to prevent a child from eating too much.

Now that I have alleviated the concern for breastfeeding for comfort, I want to explain a little more about how it works.  It’s actually, in my experience, a much simpler and easier way to mother a child, than if you are only nursing for nourishment (which is a principle I have found true throughout my ecological breastfeeding journey).  It makes sense, and it makes my life so much easier.

Instead of having to always find ways to placate your baby, all you have to do when your child is upset or fussy is nurse him.  There is no attempting to make up fun distractions or problem-solving; you just put him to the breast and let him be comforted.  Of course, if your baby really needs something like, to go potty or to be burped, etc. you should pay attention.  But if it’s just comfort he is needing (which is often the case with small children) all you need do is nurse.

This has alleviated so much stress and frustration on mine and Jake’s part and so much crying on Evie’s.  There is no need for her to cry or for me to be stressed, because I always know how to comfort her quickly and easily.  Evangeline will be two in March, and she is still happily nursing.  She loves food, but also still gets much of her nutrition from nursing.  Her nighttime nursings and nursings during naps tend to be the longest and where she gets most of her nutrition from.  Otherwise she only nurses when she is upset, thirsty or needing comfort, and those are usually very short (less than a minute) feedings, and she’s off again.

Standard #3: Don’t use bottles and don’t use pacifiers.

The third standard, like the others, is a pretty simple instruction.  But for many, this is easier said than done.  As mothers, our society has taught us that we are not enough for our children.  Although the medical and scientific communities have recanted much of their prior rhetoric, such as the outlandish claim that commercial formula is healthier for a baby than breastmilk, (ugh…) there are still many lies out there.

Pampers is intent on convincing you that the longer your child wears diapers the better off he will be.  Government and society want you to believe that you are not capable of teaching your child, and that only a certified school teacher has the capability to properly raise him.  The medical community passive-aggressively whispers to you that you need to come to them to learn how to keep your child healthy… or else.  Society tells us that we should have careers and lives outside the home, that our children should not be such a consuming vocation.  They promise that providing your baby with mothering substitutes is just as good as giving yourself to him, and that it’s better for the family as a whole.

The world wants us to depend on them to raise our children.  They want to incapacitate us and make us think that we need their help, so that they will be in control and we will always be slavishly chained to the services they offer.  Perhaps this sounds a little overly-dramatic, but I see it everywhere ladies.  And it needs to stop!  You are more than capable of raising a healthy, intelligent, socially adept child and guiding him to reach his full potential.  In fact, you are the best person on the face of the planet to do so.  No one else knows your child as well as you do.

Don’t believe the lies that you need all this outside support to be a good mother.  God gave you this child and He will provide you with the abilities, knowledge and skill to raise that child physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.  Believe it!  When somebody tells you that a pacifier, bottle or even one of those teddy bears with mommy’s smell and the sound of a beating heart, is better for him than you – don’t buy it!  These things are a mere shadow of the warmth and love in a mother’s touch.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  If you do use bottles, pacifiers or one of those fancy teddy bear things, it doesn’t automatically put you on my “bad moms” list.  It simply means that, for whatever reason, your child is getting less than he could be.  I realize that in many cases mothers have no choice but to use these substitutes.  Our society has been built around them, and it creates a kind of dependency that is very difficult to break, especially if you need to work outside the home to support your family.

But here is my challenge to you – realize that these are substitutes for you, nothing more.  You are better for your child than any substitute, and when you give him a bottle or binky instead of your breast, you are giving him less than the best.  Don’t wallow in guilt, but consider the reality.  If you do work, pumping is the second-best option for the physical health of your child.  Many moms can work part-time and successfully pump and keep their milk supply, although it doesn’t always happen that way.  If you are in a difficult situation such as this contact your local La Leche League group for support and council.

If you are a stay-at-home mom and have used these tools for convenience, or because someone told you that it would be better for you or your baby, reconsider.  A case can be made that these things only cause more inconvenience and expense and, as I’ve already stated, there’s nothing better for your baby than you.  And there’s nothing better for you than doing what’s best for your baby.

Evangeline has never used a bottle or a pacifier.  We never had to spend money on those, or their accessories.  It’s cheaper to breastfeed and it’s easier than keeping track of a bunch of substitutes.  If it’s not attached to my body I will probably lose it… so there ya go, now you know.

I admit, sometimes it was REALLY tempting to just put a bottle in her mouth.  Some of the most difficult times for me early on were road trips.  I am a full-blown attachment parenting mommy for babies.  I cannot stand to hear the sound of my baby crying, (I assume God put that instinct in me for a very good reason…) and so I always comfort her when she does.  But you can’t exactly cuddle a baby who’s strapped into a carseat can you?

Like I said, our society has grown into this dependency on substitutes.  That’s just how we have developed.  But I’m stubborn, and you can be to.  Here’s a secret: You can nurse your baby in the carseat.  Yup, it’s true.  I’m not saying it’s comfortable or fun, but it’s a heck of a lot better than listening to eight (or more) hours of screaming.

That’s what we did on one road trip in particular from Indiana to Missouri.  We didn’t stop for Evie once, but she nursed probably six of those eight hours.  Afterwards my back and neck hated me, but my little girl still knew that her mommy would always be there for her.  And that, my friends, is priceless.

Ecological Breastfeeding Standards 2 & 3

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