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Sweet Pea Births

Chandler, Arizona

Sweet Pea Births

...celebrating every swee​t pea their birth

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Postpartum Wellness Series: SLEEP

Posted on November 5, 2017 at 9:17 PM Comments comments (75)
Postpartum Wellness Series
 
Welcome to our Postpartum Wellness Series.  Each week we will look at one area you can influence to help the days and weeks after you bring your baby home be just a little bit smoother. 
 
These early days with your sweet pea are the most precious – they will never be this small again. It is a good and worthy endeavor to make these first memories as well as they can be made for your family. My goal with this 8-week series is to offer some practical tips that you can employ without any extra purchases outside of your normal postpartum needs. Hopefully all that these tips will require is a little attention and a slight shift in perspective. It is my intention that you can find at least one small thing each week that will improve your postpartum experience.
 

 
Week 1: Sleep
 
The ever-elusive sleep.  The “good” baby that sleeps. What if we shift that focus? How about this:  Good healthy babies wake up several times throughout the day and night to ensure their big people know they are there.  Good healthy babies demand attention to ensure they stay alive when they are the most vulnerable.  Waking is protective and desirable, so if your baby is not sleeping, then they are a GOOD baby!!
 
The favorite resource we share with our students is a series by Psychology Today that share the evidence about infants and what “normal” is for infants.  HERE (https://goo.gl/kzl64G) is a summary in case you don’t want to click on the link:
 
“Infants whose primary source of energy is breastmilk will often wake frequently to nurse, something that is essential for the breastfeeding relationship to continue (Ball, 2009). However, regardless of feeding status, many infants wake regularly during the night (Weinraub, Bender, Friedman, Susman, Knoke, Bradley, et al., 2012).  Waking through the night is normal and biologically adaptive.  In fact, though it is often reported that sleep patterns consolidate in the second year, the pattern differs in breastfed children.  
 
Breastfeeding moms may wake more often, but report greater total sleep.  For example, in a study following breastfed children for 2 years, it was found that these children continued to wake frequently throughout the second year of life, a pattern more in line with cultures in which co-sleeping and full-term (aka “extended”) breastfeeding are more common (Elias, Nicolson, Bora, & Johnston, 1986). “

Normal, Human Infant Sleep: Feeding Method and Development, Psychology Today, Feb 2013
 
Speaking of breastfed babies, their sleep patterns differ from formula-fed babies. If your friends are formula-feeding, you will be having different sleep experiences.
 
What are some practical tips to help you sleep when your baby is sleeping?

Here are some ideas for you to consider...
 
Set clear boundaries
Ideally, the MotherBaby should spend the first 1000 minutes together so that they can get to know each other and get breastfeeding established. Yes, really! Click HERE (http://ninobirth.org/nino-overview/) for the evidence.  Have you done the math yet? That’s 16 hours and 40 minutes.  What do we do in our culture? As soon as the baby is born, people feel like it’s time to come over and hold the baby.  Just say WAIT. It’s not NO forever, it’s just wait for now.

That continues to the time you have at home.  Visitors should be kept to a minimum. The more the mother is apart from her baby, the harder it is for both to get organized and do the work of adjusting to postpartum. If people come over, they come over with a purpose – to bring food or other supplies that you need, and then go home so that everyone with the new baby can rest and recover and find the new normal.
 
Wear a bathrobe
…Or go topless the first few days. The point is, you are recovering from birth.  This is not the time to learn how to entertain with a newborn.  If the people in your life haven’t gotten the hint when you asked nicely for them to wait to visit, then the bathrobe (or your bare chest) sends a clear visual message that you are all about resting right now.
 
Avoid caffeine
This is a no-brainer…if you want to sleep, avoid stimulants. So where are the hidden places you might be getting caffeine without realizing it?  Not all teas are caffeine-free – be sure to read the labels. HERE (https://goo.gl/mCki2N) are some other foods to consider: decaf coffee, chocolate, ice cream and yogurt that have coffee or chocolate in them, protein bars, non-soda colas, candy bars and so called “fancy water”.
 
Turn off the screens
Turn off your screens at least one hour before bed, and even two hours before you are planning to go to bed. Did you know that the light from the screens changes your brain chemistry and actually makes it harder to sleep?
 
“The consensus is that the blue light that LED screens give off can slow or halt the production of melatonin, the hormone that signals our brain that it's time for bed.”

CNET, March 2016
https://goo.gl/cZjCkR
 
Turn down the lights
Electricity is one of the worst things that happened to our sleep patterns. Change that by trying to mimic the light of sun rising and setting. Open your shades and curtains in the morning when the sun comes up, and start turning off lights around the house when the sun sets. This will help teach your baby their circadian rhythm.
 
Establish routines
The evidence shows that babies who are “sleep-trained” and babies whose parents do nothing in the sleep department are all sleeping the same way at six months.

The Wait-It-Out (WIO) Method
› WIO means not implementing any sleep training. At 6-month follow up, there were no significant differences in babies’ sleep improvement between CIO group and WIO group. (Durham University Parent-Infant Sleep Lab)
 
So instead of fretting over a baby who is or isn’t sleeping, think about what will work for your family in the long run.  What is something that you can do with this child, and with future children to let them know it’s time for bed? 

Common elements of a bedtime routine are things story time, a rhyme like Teddy Bear (https://goo.gl/EMh1uR), bath time, infant massage, bedtime songs. You can add in lavender at any point along the way…lavender soap for the bath, lavender massage oil or lotion after the bath, a lavender pillow or toy for bedtime, or lavender essential oil in a diffuser if you use one in your home.
 
Ask for help
Identify the people in your life who can respect your boundaries, and know how to make a good quick visit.  Some things that you might want to ask for help with in the immediate postpartum: housework, homemade meals, adult conversation when your partner goes back to work, someone to hold the baby so you can sleep for an hour, help with driving and/or running errands. Now with many grocery chains offering order pick-up, you can make your list, order and pay, and then arrange for someone to pick it up for you. 
 
If you have older children at home, maybe arrange for someone to run any errands with them so they get some special big kid attention, and maybe also someone who will keep them on their “regular” schedule so that their routine isn’t thrown off. Also think about people who can respect your space and your needs and who would be happy to visit and entertain the older children so that you and baby can get special bonding time and your older children get to feel like the center of attention. Or maybe switch roles – someone to come hold the baby so that you can be the one giving the big kids dedicated time and attention.
 
We are in an era where many families are spread apart and a grandparent or aunt or uncle isn’t available to help with any of this list.  Consider asking your friends.  Or is there someone in your faith community who is also in their childbearing years who you can connect with? When you identify that person or two who you would be comfortable inviting into your postpartum space, ask to trade help. They would help you during your postpartum, and you will return the help when they welcome their next Sweet Pea.
 
Baskets for the win
This tip is especially helpful if you have a two-story house – we had an upstairs basket and a downstairs basket that we reloaded every morning before Coach Bruss went to work.  Gather the most-used items that you need when you sit down to feed your baby so that you don’t have to get up and find them, or have someone bring them to you.  This is what I kept in my basket: water, one-hand snacks that do not need to be refrigerated (bars, nut packs, fruit leather, etc.), diapers, wipes, change of clothes for the baby, burp cloths, bottom cream and nipple cream. 
 
 
I hope that out of these 8 tips, there is at least one that you can embrace whole-heartedly.  I invite you to jot down or type yourself a note of one small thing you can do to make that tip happen for you this postpartum. Try to start one journal page or virtual note that you can add to as we progress through this 8-week series for a better postpartum experience.
 
 
Coming up next week:
Nutrition
 
And check back for the rest of the series:
Exercise
Physical recovery
Social Support
Practical Support
Emotional Support
Medical Intervention
 
 
Disclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale

 

Q&A with SPB: Crying It Out

Posted on November 24, 2015 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (494)
It is so tempting to an exhausted parent...putting their Sweet Pea in a crib and closing the door to let them cry it out so that they can all get some sleep.  We encourage our students to nurture instead of ignore their infant's cry in class, and in today's VLOG we share why we suggest our students find other options:

What We Know About Crying It Out

This video was reported and taken down from YouTube today.  In it, I present information as we do in class: here is some information, here are some options. We trust that our students/readers/viewers are responsible adults that will make the best decision for their family. It is crazy that instead of engaging in a conversation about Crying It Out, someone in the Thought Police decided it was better for this information to be stuffed away into cyberspace.  I hope you can see it, and that the information in the video and the blog gives you a viewpoint to consider before you choose one way or another.

Posted by Sweet Pea Births on Tuesday, November 24, 2015























Here is the presentation we share in class:

For more reading on biological infant sleep patterns:
"Normal, Human Infant Sleep"  via
 Psychology Today http://bit.ly/QkH2Dr


Links to explore:
•Co-sleeping resource: Dr. McKenna http://cosleeping.nd.edu/

•Dr. Sears’ Website: http://www.askdrsears.com/

•Dr. Jay Gordon’s Sleep Information for Night Weaning AFTER ONE YEAR: http://drjaygordon.com/attachment/sleeppattern.html




Disclaimer: 
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonThe material included in this video is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The viewer should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog and video contain information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained in this video and on our blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
 







WW: Co-Sleeping

Posted on August 14, 2013 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)
Since it is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, our Wordless Wednesdays are featuring choices that promote the MotherBaby breastfeeding relationship.  One of those choices the option to sleep share to promote proximity and skin-to-skin contact.  This *is not* a choice for all families...each family needs to do what is right for them.  Interestingly, neither Cassandra or I had many pictures of us sleeping with our nurslings, we have lots of photos of our nurslings with their daddies after we roll out of bed!

Coach Bruss liked having our nurslings sleep on his chest - you will see lots of those pictures, too.  Once they started rooting around, he knew where to pass them!  

I feel that having partner's in close proximity with the nurslings also helps them bond.  That in turn makes them more supportive of the breastfeeding relationship.  They get to be "inside the circle" as Coach Bruss likes to say, and jealousies about the amount of time that MotherBaby spend together are minimized, if they don't disappear altogether.

For more information about safe sleep sharing, please visit this site:
Safe Co-Sleeping Guidelines

So anyway, not so "wordless" - please leave us a comment and let us know how you made your decisions about sleep sharing in your family.

Cassandra & T
Cassandra & T
T & Daddy
T & Daddy
T & Daddy
T & Daddy
T
T
Coach Bruss & Puma
Coach Bruss & Puma
Abuela & Night Owl
Abuela & Night Owl
Coach Bruss & Night Owl
Coach Bruss & Night Owl
Coach Bruss & Charger
Coach Bruss & Charger
Otter & I
Otter & I
Coach Bruss & Otter
Coach Bruss & Otter


To see what co-sleeping looks like when you move to the "family bed" phase, visit today's post over at Sweet Pea Families.


Please leave us a comment - it will be moderated and posted. 

Next week's #WW theme (8/21): Daddy-Nursling bonding time

Do you have a photo you would like to share?  Please email it to:
[email protected]

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonDisclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.


Dreams of the Sandman

Posted on November 13, 2012 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (30)
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson

Ahh – today’s blog post is inspired by the class on postpartum we just taught and two of our sweet students who are going through some sleepless nights with their daughters.  Warm thoughts and wishes for the sandman are being sent for them.


Instead of CIO, sleep with your baby - yes, that can be an option! A common suggestion when babies are sleepless is to let them cry it out, also known as CIO.  I cringe when I see those words.  I believe that babies are meant to be with their mamas for the first nine months of their lives – you can read more about why I believe that
HERE, and the babies that inspired this post are still under nine months of age.

As part of that MotherBaby dynamic, I believe babies cry because they want comfort - not to manipulate. Adults in relationships like to sleep next to their partners.  It is incredible to me that children and babies are expected to be okay sleeping alone. They are less emotionally mature and we ask them to do things that their adult parents (assuming they all live together), supposedly fully functioning and emotionally intact, do not do. 

I want to remind sleepless parents and readers of how amazing their infant child is.  When they are first born, literally EVERYTHING is new.

  • They have new sight...your child has never seen before without the filter from skin, muscle, fat and amniotic fluid.  They are truly experiencing the bright, white light for the first time.  All the sights they see are accosting their newborn, blurry vision.
  • They are hearing for the first time without the muting from skin, muscle, fat and amniotic fluid.  All the sounds they are hearing are bombarding their sensitive ears.
  • They smell and taste everything for the first time.  Literally, everything, for they have never smelled nor tasted anything except the amniotic solution they were floating in for their gestational period.
  • They are feeling everything for the first time.  They were protected from direct impact by mama’s wonderful protective design of skin, muscle, fat, uterine walls and amniotic fluid.  Their skin, covered with sensory receptors is electrified every time they are touched.

So this little person, who has so much change thrown at them in the split second that they are born, is in the process of learning about the world around them.  They crave the warmth of their mother’s body, or another comforting body, since they cannot regulate their body temperature on their own yet.  They are soothed by the rhythm of a beating heart, a sound that was a permanent part of their environment since the day they could hear in utero.

A baby who is crying is a baby who has a need that has not been met.  We are all familiar with the common ones: Are they wet? Hungry? Tired?

Then there are the reasons that we seem to have forgotten about as a culture…could they be lonely? Scared? Seeking reassurance? Craving safety in a parent’s arms? Growing?  Teething? These are no less important than the common reasons. 

It is easy to be seduced by all the toys, sleep aids and gadgets that promise a child will sleep through the night.  News flash:  babies are wired to cry when they need help…HERE are some great links to reasons from a developmental standpoint as to why babies *should not* sleep through the night.

So just how long does it take that little bundle of newness to be independent?  I am sure we will all have a different answer.  And along the path to independence, there is the discomfort of teething, growth spurts, psychological expansion from the mama as the center of the universe, to the rest of the family and then the realization that the world really is a very BIG place.

It works for some families to co-sleep, and for other families it is better to have the baby/child sleep in their crib/bed.  Or, you can do a little of both, which happens to be our choice.  Or...the list could go on and on.  There are always lots of options for a family to explore as they find the right path for them.

Here are my beliefs: 
1. Being a parent is not about you.  It is about the child.  Whether the child was planned or not, you brought the child into the world.  They are here now and plainly crying for your attention. I look at the current culture of parenting and wondering if the selfishness some people see and complain about in today’s youth might start in the early years when we expect them to fend for themselves instead of giving them the very best of us as parents, no matter what time of day or night they cry for help.

2. In addition, (again, assuming that a couple is raising the family), nighttime waking is not the exclusive territory of one parent over the other.  It is okay to wake your partner up so you can sleep.  Because our family's choice is to hold and interact with our children, even when they wake in the middle of the night, at one point, we had to figure out how to sleep in shifts.  This, too, passed, and for the most part, we all have the same bedtime *for now*! (Thanks to L.B. for that great phrase)

I implore you to examine your paradigm.  I suggest that our task as a parent is not to get our child to sleep through the night from the earliest moment possible.  Our task, our gift, is to respond to a child’s needs as they need to be met so that we create confident, loving and independent adults who are ready to meet the challenges they face in the world and leave their world a better place.

TO BE VERY CLEAR: I am not saying that all children who CIO cannot grow to be wonderful people.  To be wonderful is a choice that we can all make.  Andeach family has to choose what is RIGHT FOR THEM.

What I am suggesting is that we examine our parenting choices and make the best choice putting our child’s developmental needs first.  You will sleep again.  This season shall pass and you will wonder where your baby went, and what that rambunctious (toddler)(child)(adolescent)(adult) did with your sweet baby.    

Dare I ask…
How did you make it through sleepless nights with your baby?


Disclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
me

In Their Own Words: Shara

Posted on August 31, 2012 at 3:02 PM Comments comments (2)
This post was written as part of Sweet Pea Birth’s "In Their Own Words" series. For more info on the ITOW or if you want to participate, contact Krystyna Bowman: krystyna{at} sweetpeabirths {dot} com. Today's post is about breastfeeding after a cesarean.  The breastfeeding ITOW series runs through the month of August.    

Shara Cohen-Sandhu is fun-loving, red-headed mama to two lovely girls and wife to one busy Coach.  She is an advocate of breastfeeding, co-sleeping and attachment parenting, and she is active in the Phoenix-area ICAN chapter.   

 There's something magical about looking into your baby's eyes for the first time while nursing.  Nursing my second little girl shortly after having her was amazing.  It came so naturally, like we had shared years of experience, but it was also so new and exciting.     

 Leila was my second baby and second cesarean section.  She was my second attempt at a natural labor; this time I thought I was so much more prepared.  The hurt of still not being able to bring my baby into the world the way I was made to was lingering.     

 However, nursing my little Leila was so very healing.  Looking into her big brown eyes helps to heal my disappointment even today because I know that regardless of how she came out of my body, her body is beautiful and healthy thanks to the breastmilk I provide for her.  Other than healing emotionally, the beauty of breastfeeding is that it helped to heal my body faster by shrinking the uterus naturally.   

 After having both babies via cesarean births, there were some things that I had to take into consideration while nursing.  Here are the lessons I learned with Jasmin, my first baby, that I was able to use again with Leila: 

POSITIONING:  I learned quickly that nursing while lying down was extremely beneficial since I had to let my body rest.  So I propped her up on a pillow parallel to me and had my head on the same pillow, so my top breast was at her level.  I curled my body around her, which prevented her from moving, and had a pillow between my legs and one behind me, which prevented me from rolling either way.  I would let the baby nurse for a long time on the one side, then I'd have my husband help me switch the pillow to the other side.     

 Not only did this allow my body to heal, it also encouraged our bonding and eventually led to co-sleeping, which I did not think I'd do prior to having kids.  I learned that it is the best way for everyone in our family to get rest and also helps the children learn how to sleep.     

BABY CARRIER: With my second, I didn't have much down time because my first needed my attention, too.  So I found a baby carrier that I could nurse in easily.  This allowed me to be able to still have the same interaction with my first, while having the same bonding with my second.  It also was a lot easier on my body because I didn’t have to carry the heavy and clunky car seat.     

SUPPORT GROUPS: With my first, nursing didn't come so easily.  I found a breastfeeding support group and it made the difference for us.  I was determined, yet I needed help and encouragement. At the weekly meeting I learned that I could share my accomplishments and struggles with other moms and learn from them as well; all while watching our babies grow, and become playmates.    

 I decided to attend the same support group with our second baby.  Today Leila is 5 months old.  Nursing couldn't be better.  We nurse on demand and she is happy and healthy, and so am I.   

 I also had the aid of my encapsulated placenta after my second cesarean.  I noticed it helped bring my milk in faster, helped with postpartum weepies, and the lochia (postpartum “menstruation”) stopped after only 3 weeks. 

Parting thoughts:  There are so many beneficial things about breastfeeding.  Regardless of what struggles a mom has, if there is a will there is a way.  I've learned through trial and error while having wonderful support.  I have to say there is nothing in the world as rewarding as giving my babies what they need: love, nourishment, and security in mom's arms.         

Find a list of breastfeeding support groups click here

Read more about placenta encapsulation here and here

Visit the ICAN-Phoenix Chapter website   

Disclaimer:  
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson  The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®. 

Motherhood Evolved

Posted on July 26, 2012 at 1:49 PM Comments comments (1)
"This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Blog Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Timbra Wiist landslidephotography {at} hotmail {dot} com. Today's post is about how becoming a mother evolves our motherhood. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed in the comments section at www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com The Carnival runs July 16th through the 31st!"   

What I imagined motherhood was going to be: A pipe dream.  A nightmare of watching other happy families while I tried to put a smile on my face.  I had been told that I was probably not going to be able to have children when I was twenty years old.  My husband and I were open to adopting, however we hoped and prayed for one child of our own.    

 Then I got pregnant!  I was going to be the perfect mother – loving, encouraging, building his/her self-esteem, never going to raise my voice, not going to spank. We were going to be so happy!!   I planned to breastfeed our child until his/her first birthday (we did not find out the gender).  I created a well-appointed nursery with refurbished second-hand furniture in which our baby would sleep and play.  I believed in spanking when it was appropriate.  As a working mom, I was willing to use shortcuts in the kitchen to get food on the table, so our pantry was well stocked with canned beans and goodies from Trader Joe’s to make quick suppers.   

 Eight years later, we could not be further from this picture if we had tried on purpose.  We now have four children and I joyfully left my career to take be a work at home mom. 

My mantra is this: 
  •  Be Blissful 
  •  Listen 
  •  Say Yes   


 I raise my voice although with the help of Lotus Wei products, I am doing it less and less. I really, really make an effort to take a deep breath before I say something.  I do not believe in spanking these beautiful gifts that I have been given.  Instead, we have appropriate consequences that honor their personhood.  

Here are some other things that have changed: 
  • Co-sleeping 
  • Duration of breastfeeding
  • Food habits   


CO-SLEEPING 
 When our daughter was born in the hospital, they wanted us to put her in the bassinet to sleep next to the bed.  I jut could not bring myself to put her away from me – I just wanted to look at her and hold her and look at her some more.  As it turns out, it was easiest for me to breastfeed in a semi-reclining position, so we just fell asleep nestled together.   

 This continued when we got home.  My husband and I made up the downstairs guest bedroom to be our “nest” while we bonded as a family.  It was close to a bathroom and our kitchen, and I did not have to bother with climbing the stairs for about a week.  I look back at those times fondly.   

 Our nursery was upstairs, and once I felt comfortable enough to climb up the stairs, baby stayed with me.  I thought her nursery was too far away and she liked sleeping on her tummy.  We listened to our pediatrician’s admonitions “back to sleep”.  The minute we put her on her back, she woke up.  We decided we preferred to sleep, so our choice was to hold her on our chests when she slept so she was not technically sleeping on her tummy and we all got more rest.   

 I started reading the co-sleeping articles given to us by our Bradley™ teacher and looked for more info on my own so we could make an informed choice, and also to learn about safe co-sleeping practices.  My feelings about having children in our bed were shaped by a co-sleeping article that made this observation: many adults dislike sleeping alone, so what makes us think that our children would enjoy it or that they should be forced to separate from their sleep companions?   

 Our sleeping arrangements grew to a family bed – she only slept in the nursery occasionally for naps, and by the time she was eighteen months old, she could climb out.  The crib became more of a hazard than a helper and it became more of an accessory than a functional piece of furniture.  We liked the family bed so much that each baby has slept with us until they are about a year old, and beyond that we call them “flexible arrangements”.  Our children start the night in their own beds, or asleep together on the couch – where everyone wakes up is a different story.   

BREASTFEEDING 
 Neither my daughter nor I were ready to end the nursing relationship when we reached the twelve-month mark.  So we blew past that milestone and we explored and enjoyed extended breastfeeding.  She nursed until she was twenty-two months old.  It was a mutual, gentle process.   

 Now I am exploring new territory.  I have a son who is about to turn three in four days who is still nursing along with his baby sister who is almost ten months old.  I was thinking about starting to do a more forceful weaning with him – after all, he is going to be three, right??   

 Wrong.  He has pinkeye right now.  It reinforces even more why we are still nursing.  He can get the benefit of power-packed milk to help him through this little bump and hopefully speed the healing process.  So for now, I will continue to be a tandem nurser, and we will wait it out and work it out together.  

NUTRITION 
 “I am never going to feed our kiddos hot dogs.” 
 “Our children are not going to drink sports drinks.”   

 I wonder if every “crunchy” mama says that to herself.  This is the first year our children have ever eaten a hot dog.  One child at 7 years, one at 4 years, and the youngest hot dog eater is 2 years old.  Will it really make a difference?  I do not know.  It is a every once in a while meal.  They think it’s a treat – I still call it junk food!   

 We have used sports drinks when the kiddos get dehydrated.  A natural alternative that we are now using is coconut milk and/or trace minerals depending on the kiddo.  Which brings me to the next point: there are easy choices - there are natural choices...and sometimes they converge.   

 Our two oldest children have had since birth or have developed food allergies, which have brought us back to the point where our children, for the most part, eat primarily fruits and vegetables along with free range meats.  No more shortcuts or canned foods.  No more foods that have chemicals or ingredients that we cannot pronounce.  If it is not a whole food or a grain product with whole ingredients, they are not eating it.  Unless it’s a hot dog.   

 Is it a commitment?  Yes.  Is it worth it?  We decided it was a yes.  There are so many children’s diseases on the rise in our country: autism, diabetes, ADD, ADHD, cancer, leukemia…the list goes on.  Our choice was to do our part to reduce the pesticides, other chemicals and plastics in their bodies.  We will take the extra time and money to invest in their health by buying organic foods and preparing those for snacks instead of the commercial foods sold as “snacks”.  

EVOLVED
 These choices work for our family:  what I have learned as a mom for the last few years is that I can only make choices for my family.  We all have different realities to deal with and different parenting dynamics.  The beautiful thing about children is that they are resilient despite our learning curve.  As long as a family is not making choices that are abusive, I believe that we as a mom-tribe need to hold each other up.  We need to honor that each family is doing the best they can with the information they have, even if those choices are vastly different from ours.  We need to resist the forces that tear us apart if our choices are not the same, because at the end of the day, we only have to answer for our children.  We can pray for those we can't see and peacefully set an example for other parents; they may, or may not, take it to heart.  They may just say we are loonies, and that is okay, too!

 Here are a couple of illustrations to close with: 



    

For more information from EWG and to sign up for updates, go to http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/   

Has your motherhood in action changed from what you envisioned before you became a mother?  How?

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