Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Some of the lesser known facts on Breastfeeding

As most of my regular readers know I am very passionate about breastfeeding. I understand that not all moms choose to do it and I understand that it's not always easy. You're entitled to your thoughts and opinions and I'm entitled to mine.

That being said, I think that there are many facts about it that even breastfeeding mothers do not know about. For example, did you know that it is recommended for healthy infants to be put directly skin-to-skin with mother after birth until the first feeding is completed? Even though I knew it was recommended to mothers to do that, I just read that is even recommended to DOCTORS not to interfere with this first feeding. (1) I don't know about other mothers' experiences but a lot of time the mother gets to hold her infant for a few seconds and then the baby is whisked away to be cleaned, weighed/measured, and given medication and other vitamins.

Another interesting fact that I learned about breastfeeding is that breastfed infants not only have higher IQ, their eyesight, speech, jaw and oral cavity development is improved. (2) There are various reasons for this and I won't go into the details but I would like to add that long-term use of sippy cups and soothers may hinder jaw, speech, and oral cavity development. (3)

I recently wrote about the Significance of Feeding and I talked a little bit about the bonding aspect of feeding. Did you know that breastfeeding releases hormones that actually make a mother feel more nurturing towards her child? It is a natural release of oxytocin and prolactin (4). Studies have also shown that breastfeeding mothers show less postpartum anxiety and depression.

World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years AND BEYOND (as long as mother and baby see fit). I have had people tell me this particular recommendation is for Third World countries where the baby is more at risk for diseases etc that the antibodies in mothers milk can help fight. This is completely FALSE. Health Canada also recommends breastfeeding for two years and beyond. Even in a First World country we can see the benefits of "full term" (2 years) or "extended" (beyond 2 years) breastfeeding. (5) Another thing to note on this topic is that many cultures still nurse for up to 4 to 6 years of age. North America is one of the few places where a large amount of babies do not breastfeed and where even "full term" breastfeeding is met with skepticism if not outright rejection.

This is probably my favorite fact of all about breastfeeding... well I shouldn't say that because there are so many wonderful facts! I'll just say that this fact is near the top of the list: Breastmilk kills cancer cells! Well there have been preliminary studies done that show it does anyway back in 1995, in Sweden. (6) I thought this was amazing when I first read about it and am shocked that research on this hasn't been expanded. Is it possible that the number one financial backer of cancer research (pharmaceutical companies) have something to do with it? Even if it is not an "absolute cure" there are still many benefits of breastmilk to a cancer patient, from an immunological and nutritive perspective. (7)

So now that I've said a few words about breastmilk and breastfeeding perhaps you can understand a little more why I am so passionate about it. I could go on for days about all the benefits to mom, baby, the rest of the family, society, the environment etc. But I'll just leave it at this. Hopefully you've learned something after reading this and perhaps it's given you something to share with people that you meet.

Some of my sources:
1. American Academy of Pediatrics
2. Australian Breastfeeding Association & Little Known Benefits
3. Problems with Sippy Cups
4. The Science of Mother Love & Of Love and Milk
5. Health Canada & A Natural Age of Weaning
6. Breastmilk Kills Cancer
7. Breastmilk as Cancer Therapy

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Christmas in February

So last night Caleb brought me a book. "The Stroy of Mary." Apparently he wanted to hear (a few times) about the conception, birth and celebration of Jesus. So as I was reading the book to him I asked him to point out baby Jesus. He loves babies and usually points to them and signs that they need a diaper change. Last night, however, he kept signing "cheese." I thought at first he was hungry. It turns out that he was signing baby "cheesus." So cute!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Blog Design

Just wanted to let you know that I am working on making some changes to the look of my blog. I have very little knowledge on how to do this and am making it up as I go. As you can see, the header changed, It's the wrong size and it's kind of dorky looking (IMO) so I'm working on correcting that. If anyone has a good tutorial or any ideas on how to do some blog design I'd be interested in hearing from you. I have Creative Memories Storybook Creator 3.0 Plus which is what I used to for the header. For now, please be patient with me as I try to educate myself of web design!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hitting and Throwing - What Worked for Us

I feel like I'm constantly talking about discipline. But it occurred to me that, at this age, it seems that a large part of parenting consists of disciplining. He's almost two (yikes!) and is at that age where he's really starting to learn that he can make his own decisions and doesn't actually have to do exactly as mama tells him to (remember that Free Will I talked about last week?). I am sure that most moms (especially those with will boys) have been through this stage as well. Caleb really enjoys seeing what happens when he throws toys. He also gets frustrated and wants to show it in a physical way, i.e. he hits.

Let me first say that I DO NOT believe in the "terrible twos." In fact, I despise that phrase and wish people would stop using it. It seems to me like it is a) giving the child an excuse for their behavior and b) giving the parent an excuse for why they lose patience with their child. Plus, to be perfectly honest, two is one of the most fun stages that you can experience with your child and it's sad that society has devalued this stage to be nothing more than tantrums and frustration. The "twos" is a stage when children are really starting to communicate, interact, laugh at jokes, play pretend and so much more. I prefer to call this stage the "terrific twos."

Sorry, I got a little off-track there. Now that I'm done with my little "rant," let's move onto the topic at hand.

Caleb started throwing toys when he was quite young but he never did it very regularly or with any actual force until about a month ago. Even one of the ladies that watches him at church while I am attend a women's Bible study mentioned it to me one day. That was when I knew that it was getting a bit out of hand and he could hurt himself or someone else. Not to mention that he could break something. It's not that I didn't do anything about it when he threw a toy but I it never really escalated and I thought he might just be doing it at home to get attention. Turns how he was doing it in public with other people's toys. I'll say here what I tell Caleb about this: this is unacceptable behavior.

I started by giving him a warning if he threw a toy. And asked him to show me how to "do gentle touches." (We're really big on gentle touches because we have two cats and he knows what it means.) I'll be honest, it didn't really work :) So I took his toy away. This was when he would got angry, and hit me. He is a very physical little boy and he felt like his aggression could be released by getting physical. The throwing toys I could handle, but hitting me was something completely new. He has never seen anyone hit another person (in my house anyway) and I have no idea where he learned this. But he did. And there was a while when he would clench his little fists and take a swing at me! I tried to tell him "that hurts mama, that's not gentle touches, can you show me gentle touches?" A lot of times this worked. He would caress my cheek or give me a hug to show me that he was sorry. But there were times when he didn't give up so easily. He would turn and hit the fridge or the floor or even the cat a time or two.

So being the average Canadian mom, i went on the Internet to look for tips. I was startled by a lot of them:
- lock them in their room: I did this once for about 60 seconds because I really needed a break and he was scared that I had left him for good. Plus he ate my lip balm in the meantime.
- hit them back: This made the least sense, how can I teach him not to hit if I am hitting? And do I really want to hit my child?
- time outs in the corner: he would never stay in the chair. Again, he thought I abandoned him. And even when I sat with the chair he just wanted to crawl into my lap.
- ignore it, he'll grow out of it: Yeah, right. And in the meantime I'll just let him hurt himself and other people.
- Cry so that he sees he's hurt you: this only works if your child is receptive at that point but a lot of children are unable to focus on anyone but themselves at a time like this.

So I went back to my trusty Ask Dr Sears site to see if I could glean any information from there.

Here's what worked for Caleb and myself in regard to his hitting. I sat on the floor with him and grabbed his hands. I told him "hitting hurts mommy. Hitting is not nice. It is not acceptable behavior. Gentle touches please." I would repeat all those phrases that he had already become accustomed too. Then I added a new one. I told him "if you can't control your hands, mama will help control them for you." If I had just told him that and not followed through with it, I would have gotten nowhere. So for a couple of days I made sure to follow through. Even if it meant turning off the stove while cooking dinner. This meant I sat on the floor holding his hands (bear hugs are great for this) for him until he calmed down enough to reason. One time I held him until he actually fell asleep in my arms(anger can be exhausting!).

Note: For Caleb it was anger that triggered his hitting. Some children do it out of boredom or to get your attention. Try to figure out the reason so you can deal with the root instead of the result.

Flashback to a month later: he barely hits at all. Or throws toys either. If he does, the toy gets taken away for a while. There was a day when I took away quite a number of toys and my linen closet got really full! When I see him raise his hands I remind him "control your hands please. If you can't control them mama will help you." Some days he needs to be reminded several times but I can't actually remember the last time I reminded him. As for the lady at church, she mentioned this past Wednesday that Caleb is such a well behaved little boy and she was surprised how very short-lived his toy throwing and hitting "phase" lasted. It's so great to get the reassurance that he's not just on his best behavior for me but also behaves elsewhere.

So that's my success story with overcoming this stage that can escalate very quickly. Or at least it's on pause right now. But Dr. Sears says that 3 year olds are easier to discipline. So I'll cling to that fact (though I know mothers who would disagree with him on that point lol!) and hope that this issue stays away for some time. Anger is an issue that both Adam and I have dealt with in the past (and we still have our explosive moments) so if Caleb is anything like his parents we're not through with teaching how to express anger in a healthy way and control it instead of letting it control you. But I know that if this problem comes around again, at least I will already have a plan in place to deal with it. For now, I'm enjoying the "terrific twos" with my son.

My favorite part of this stage right now is that he's learning how to play pretend with his Little People (the little girl with glasses is "daddy" (Adam wears glasses)which is hilarious!) and the Little People kiss (sound effects and all) and then he lays them down to go to sleep. So cute!

Please feel free to leave a comment with any of your experiences in what worked or didn't work for you and your family. I'd love to get more ideas.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Perfect Parent - Part 2

So last week I talked about the toddler in the grocery store. I just want to address the comment that was made about the discipline factor involved in parenting. I completely agree that most parents need to be more patient and just accept their children will be children and try things out. But, in my mind at least, patience and discipline go hand in hand. I read a really great post about spanking (can't find the link at the moment) and how it is one thing to spank your child when you're angry. It's completely different to spank your child out of love. If you are angry you are much less likely to be fair and gentle in your discipline. If you are exercise patience, you try to understand the child's motive behind the behavior and thus respond more confidently and in a way that will (hopefully) get the child to understand that you love them but will not accept this behaviour. (This is not a post to encourage or discourage spanking, I just wanted to illustrate).

Now, onto my original thoughts for this post.

We do all the right things (or at least try to) and pray for our children and teach them all we can about Jesus and His love and his Word. We discipline them with love and patience. We teach them right from wrong. We take heart the verse that tells us to "train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

Then we hear from the principle that our child is skipping class. Or was caught smoking.
Or perhaps they have decided to stop attending church when they move out, or marry an unbeliever, or constantly chase after money, or live in any other non-Christian way. Ways that they certainly didn't learn from us!

I often think about how I would feel if, after all of the "good" parenting choices Adam and I make along the way, Caleb ends up going astray. We all know families where all the children were raised in the same household by the same parents yet one of the children becomes a "black sheep." Or some families where it seems that as soon as the children are out the door, the run the opposite direction and never look back.

It's easy for parents to start looking back and pick things out of their history with their child that should have been a "sign" of things to come. Maybe if I had attended more of their hockey games... Maybe if I was a little more lenient/strict with curfews... Maybe if I had paid more attention to who he/she was hanging out with... Maybe if I dealt with that particular incident better... It's a true fulfillment of the saying that "hindsight is 20/20." We can look back and see all the times that we could have done things differently. All the choices that we "should" have made, but did something differently. I know of many parents who beat themselves up by agonizing over every little detail of their child's past to see how they could have prevented things that are happening in their present.

I'm going to be perfectly honest by saying that there probably was a better ways to deal with those particular "hind sights." That being said, you need to consider this. Did you make those decisions based on God's guidance? Did you deal with situations out of love for your child? Or did you make those decisions with the intent that your child stray/rebel? What I'm basically asking is did you push your child in that direction on purpose? I can almost guarantee that the answer to that question is NO.

Since you did not consciously choose to send your child(ren) down a path away from the Lord then it would make sense that you also not blame yourself for their faulty decisions. A friend once told me that you can have a really great child but you can't take credit for all of it. Some children are just easier to parent than others. I always say that God has blessed me with an amazing child. I fully realize that Caleb's personality (that God given design) plays a big role in how easy he (usually) is to parent. On the flip side, we can't blame ourselves when they start making bad choices. God gave us Free Will, and He gave that same Free Will to our children.

Due to the Fall of Man and the introduction of sin into the world, we can't really fault ourselves for not making perfect decisions all the time. And we have to realize that imperfect parents raise imperfect children. No matter how amazing of a parent we are, there's nothing we can do to make our children turn out perfectly. That sounds a little disheartening doesn't it? If that's the case, what point is there in ever trying at all? So where do we find the hope?

The hope lies in God's promise to us in Proverbs 22:6. We sometimes forget that just because we teach a child something and live as an example to them their whole lives. they may not always do exaclty what we want them to do. For example, I have never climbed over the back of the couch. Caleb decided to do this. I was able to catch the little stinker before he fell of the other side and hurt himself. Where did he get the idea that climbing over the couch was okay? I have no idea! It's not quite the same scale as some of the life-altering/threatening decisions that plague older children but the principle is the same. I can tell Caleb that he shouldn't climb the couch, I can explain the results, but he may still end up doing it anyway. The only thing that I can do, as his mother, is be there to comfort him when he falls. But I can take comfort in the fact that no matter how many times he may fall off the couch (even after me telling him not to cimb it) when he is little, he will learn. Eventually. It may not be for another 10 years, but he will learn.

The same applies to teenagers and adult children. If you are constantly there to comfort them when they fall, the will eventually learn that falling hurts. They will also learn that you love them despite their imperfection and you can help them understand the God loves all of us in spite of our imperfections. Note: I'm not encouraging you to "bail your kid out" every time he/she gets into trouble, kids need love, not money and other material things. And we can take hope in the fact that EVENTUALLY they will turn back to the Truth. Once a child of God's, always a child of God's. He doesn't let go of His children.

So that concludes my current thoughts on being a perfect parent. I will apologize for and mistakes of strange phrasing. This has been an interesting post to write because Caleb woke up halfway through, and Adam came in the house so I've been a little distracted and all over the place. And I don't have time to give it a final edit because I'm going on a date tonight!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Just wanted to tell you about a cute thing that Caleb just did:
He was eating cake and decided to completely crumble it. So I put it in a bowl so he could eat the crumbs with a spoon. When you combine a toddler and crumbs there is bound to be a bit of a mess on the floor.
So I swept the floor while Caleb watched. He then proceeded to applaud my efforts! It's nice to be cheered on for doing regular housework :) It would have been nicer, however, if Caleb didn't proceed to grab more crumbs from the table and lay them ever so gently on the floor so I could sweep them up too. But at least I got more applause when I did!


During the time that I was typing this out, all of the crumbs from the table have mysteriously disappeared. I have no idea if he "cleaned them up" or if I did and just can't remember. I lost my brain when I became a mom!

The Perfect Parent - Part 1

I'm going to start by apologizing for the delay in posting up a new entry. Caleb was sick for a few days last week and then there was the day where he woke up with no fever (hooray!) but had a lot of trouble cutting a tooth. (Teething is not a new experience for us but the first half of his teeth came after no fussing but just a 3 hour nap. So the pain that he was in for this particular tooth was a new experience for our family.) I was very blessed to have the freedom to hold my little man the entire time he was sick. But this also means that I'm behind on everything else.

Anyway, onto today's topic. After reading the heading you probably think I'm off my rocker. So I'm going to explain a little bit about where my head is at.

Our society has an epidemic. It's the epidemic of being the "perfect parent." Most of us have heard the phrase "I was a great parent, then I had kids." We all snicker at that because it's TRUE! It was easy for us to watch a toddler throw a temper tantrum in the grocery store and say "my child would never get away with something like that." Or perhaps we see a teenager wearing some... questionable attire and we tell ourselves "I would never let my child leave the house looking like that." Let's face it, before we have children we know exactly how children should dress, act, eat, talk, etc.

Then comes along our first child. And we realize that even our perfectly parented toddler can push other children, or throw toys, or *gasp* throw a temper tantrum in the middle of the grocery store. This is really the moment when we should take a step back and say a mental apology to all those other moms and dads that we have judged in the past. Unfortunately we do something that really doesn't make a lot of sense. We are ASHAMED of our child. We know that there a people staring at us and judging us (the same way that we have judged in the past) and we try to find a quick fix for the current problem so we can walk out of the store as quickly as possible and hope that no one will remember the terrible parent with the obnoxious toddler.

In our heart, we know that our child was probably just hungry, or tired, or just didn't understand the situation (quick example: a child gets crackers as a snack at home, sees a whole row of them on the shelf at the store and doesn't understand why he can't have his usual snack - he's not being a bad child, he just doesn't understand why his favorite snack is not for touching). But we live in a society in which being a "perfect parent" is all about looking good. You and your child can both be torn up on the inside but if things look good on the outside, people think you're doing a good job.

I realize that an epidemic like this cannot be cured by administering a simple antibody. But I do believe it is something that we can, if we choose to, work out of our system. We cannot control how other people view us. If someone believes that you are a "bad parent" because your child is acting like *SURPRISE* a child, that isn't something we can change. We can only control our own thoughts and words and actions. And we can't even do that alone! It's alot easier to ask God for His guidance in this part.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

I think that a really great way that we can put this into practice is how we view other parents. Parents are always in competition with eachother. It's time that we started supporting eachother instead. Or at least not being so verbal about our disapproval. Do we want our child (you remember, the one that just threw a tantrum himself) to grow up and see the toddler in the grocery store only to give that parent the same judgemental and disapproving looks YOU received because "when I have children, mine will never do that."

Picture this: You have a baby on your hip and your toddler is kicking and screaming on the floor in the grocery store.

Scenario A: A mother walks by with her own children and makes an off-hand remark to her own children about how it's such a disgrace that some children are allowed to behave that way in public.

Scenario B: A mother walks by with her own children and, instead of judging you, leans down to help you? Perhaps she offers to hold your baby so you can deal with the toddler. Perhaps she just moves your cart out of the way for other customers. Perhaps she just offers you a smile and asks if there is anything you need. Perhaps she just walks by and tells her children something more like "That little boy is upset. Remember when you got upset the other day? But he'll be okay because his mommy loves him and is trying to make him feel better."

We don't live in a perfect world. And, even if every single person that reads this today puts it into practice, I'm not naive enough to think that enough people read this to make a difference overnight. I do believe that the people who put this into practice will see a difference in their own lives though. It's a pretty simple start to making some big positive changes in your life.

So today I'm asking to you to stop judging other parents and parenting styles (unless of course the child is being harmed). Accept that kids will be kids, not matter how "well" they are parented. And learn to be patient with your children and accept the stages they are going trhough for what they are. We cannot have perfect children because we are imperfect parents. Do what you do out of love for your children, and realize that even though you may disagree, other parents make their choices our of love for theirs too.