Crunchy= natural, green, environmental, granola.
Cradle= birth, baby, breastfeeding, pregnancy.
Catholic= One, Holy, Universal, and Apostolic Church

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Third Trimester

Ah, the third trimester.  The homestretch.  Almost there.  And yet the uncomfortableness of pregnancy can be almost unbearable. 

I think that the uncomfortable things about pregnancy help a woman to prepare for life as a mother.  When I was pregnant with our first baby.  People kept telling me that everything would change.  Our lives would be so different with a baby.  And of course I knew that things would be different, because, after all, we would have a baby!  But I didn't realize just how different things would be. 

Being a mother does change everything.  Life is no longer about you or you and your husband, it becomes about baby and family.  Even the simple things like going to the post office or grocery store become an event.  You can't just run in and run out.....you have to get the baby ready, the diaper bag, the carseat, the baby carrier- and try to carry all of this and open doors and lock the car and carry your packages into the post office.....I'm panting just thinking about it.  Q: How in the world can women make this transition to motherhood?  A: The third trimester.

Ok, so I might have to explain my thinking a little bit.  During the third trimester you really start to realize that life isn't just about you anymore.  It hard to move, to eat, to breathe, to go to the bathroom, to put on your shoes!!!  It's hard to sleep and you have to get up every few hours to go to the bathroom.  I think that this is nature's way of preparing you for the baby that is about to come.  This little 7 pound bundle of joy will demand most of your time and energy.  This little baby will want to eat every 2 hours, even during the night!  See, you're already ready for this because you've been getting up at night for several weeks prior to your baby's arrival.  All the parts of your life that seem difficult because you are big and pregnant will still be difficult when you have to do them all and also take care of a baby who is dependent on you for everything.

I used to hear women talk about not even having time to shower, and I thought, "How can you not even have time to shower? Doesn't the baby nap?"  Then I found out the answer, when I was also napping right along with baby.  Suddenly the whole day had gone by and I had not found time to take a shower.  Wow, my life had changed and more than I thought.  But all of these changes ultimately were good changes.

I realized that yes, the discomforts of pregnancy had prepared me for some of the discomforts of motherhood.  But despite the changes in my life and the juggling of baby and packages and groceries, I had become a better person.  I learned how to truly give of myself.  I learned that I had been a lot more selfish that I realized.  This little baby was so special that I would do anything for him.  I learned how to love more deeply than I knew I could and the joy, peace and love that he brought to our family is priceless.

I just smile to myself when I hear women talking about the discomforts of their pregnancies because I know that they are being prepared for a special journey-motherhood.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Many women during pregnancy become anemic and/or have low iron levels.  Low iron leads to true anemia which is a low red blood cell count.  Hemoglobin carries oxygen in red blood cells and your body needs iron to produce hemoglobin.  Why is this so common in pregnant women?  Pregnant women increase their blood supply by up to 50% while pregnant, and all this extra blood producing takes requires iron.  So, why do women need to increase their blood supply so much?  For one thing they are now circulating blood to the maternal side of the placenta and to the growing uterus.  It is also a protective mechanism so that the mother can compensate for blood loss after birth.

Iron supplements can be hard on the stomach and cause constipation.  Here are a few things to help increase your iron without upsetting your stomach.

  • eat foods that are high in iron: red meats, organ meats and dark green vegetables for example
  • cook with a cast iron skillet (learn how to season it properly so that your food won't stick)
  • Floradix-this supplement is available at health food stores.  It is a liquid with herbs and vitamins added for easy absorption.  It does not cause constipation or stomach irritation.
  • alfalfa-this is helpful in late pregnancy to help with digestion and also to increase levels of vitamin K which help with blood clotting and prevent blood loss and subsequent anemia post-partum
  • vitamin C-helps with iron absorption so take it or drink OJ with your other sources of iron
  • nettle tea
  • multi-vitamin with vitamin B12 for absorption
  • Slow Fe or iron in the form of ferrous gluconate which is easier to absorb than ferrous sulfate
  • chlorophyll-helps to make more red blood cells
  • don't drink milk with your vitamins-the calcium binds with the iron and then your body can't use it
Other suggestions are welcome in the comments!

New iPhone App


I don't have an iPhone but this looks like a great app and I will be getting the DVD when it comes out in January.

Monday, December 14, 2009



This article is lengthy, but I found it very interesting.  There is much controversy over autism and its causes, but as stated in this article there are many factors to consider.  Events surrounding birth are also included.....food for thought.

Friday, December 11, 2009

7 Quick Takes

1.  trying to blog regularly
2.  blogging is difficult with 3 small children
3.  I get writer's block when the kids are sleeping and I'm sitting at the computer
4.  I have great ideas to blog about when I'm no where near the computer or pen and paper
5.  I usually forget my great ideas when I finally get to the computer
6.  it's Friday and I've blogged twice this week
7. I also did some updating to the look of my blog=good week :)

The Movies

Don't forget to see my website: www.passion4birth.com

I just saw the movie Four Christmases.  It is a good example of the misinformation about birth and breastfeeding that is so prevelant in America. 

I find it ironic that women are afraid of being in labor for hours and hours or even days, and yet on the other hand people get nervous when you are out in public near your due date.  I personally experienced this when near or on my due date, store clerks or passers by at the mall seemed to get very nervous as if my baby might be born right then and there.  The babies that you hear about who are born in the car or on the airplane are the exception and not the rule.  But I digress...

The fear of pain in labor is perpetuated by the horrible labor scenes in so many movies and TV shows.  There was no labor scene in Four Christmases, however, but a comment by the main character, Kate, to her sister.  Kate asked, "Don't women want a natural birth?"  Her sister replied, "Only with their first, after that they schedule their C-section." (These quotes may not be the exact line from the movie, but close enough to get the point across). 

It seems that this trend of scheduling C-sections if becoming more and more common.  The C-section rate in the US is almost 32%.  The World Health Organization has stated that an acceptable rate is 10-15%.  After the C-section rate climbs above 15% the mortality rate of Moms and Babies also starts to climb due to complications from unnecessary surgery. 

The references to breastfeeding in this movie also portrayed it as trashy.  There were two women in the movie who mentioned breastfeeding and I felt both were distasteful references.

There was one other reference to labor in the movie that mentioned a vacuum as if this were common protocol.  The truth is that birth is by itself a normal and natural process.  Any use of a vacuum or other device is interference in the a beautiful life event.  I had three natural births all at hospitals, and I can tell you that they see very few natural births there.  While the nurses who worked with us were great, it was obvious that they did not know much about normal birth without any intervention.  During my last labor, my doctor had not arrived yet and the nurse just sat on my bed holding the fetal monitor and saying, "Don't push, it's not safe."  What is not safe about birth?

I've been a nurse for 6 years, I know that bad things can and do happen, but most of the time birth is perfectly safe.  The problem is we don't know what a normal birth is like.  There is that fear, that a woman might have her baby right in the middle of the mall!  What would you do?  Hopefully, nothing.  Women's bodies are very capable of having babies even without hospitals or doctors present, just look at the population of the earth.  Babies and mothers are surviving even in third world countries.  As a matter of fact the US has some of the worst startistics in the developed world for maternal and infant mortality.

Ok, back to the topic at hand.  We fear birth because we don't know what it is really supposed to be like.  We have a viewpoint of fear and pain that we have seen repeated in the movies and on TV.  Part of my goal with this blog is to dispell myths about birth.

I like to think back and remember each of my labors and births.  Each experience was as unique as my 3 children and just as wonderful.  I can't say that labor was pain-less or easy, it was definitely hard workand at times very uncomfortable.  But, I also don't think it was a horrible painful experience that I don't like to think about.  I love telling others about my labors and births because I think of them as good experiences in my life.  Birth is not supposed to be scary or very painful.  I like to think of it as a rite of passage into motherhood. The feeling right after each baby was born was so amazing.  I will never forget the overwhelming love, sense of accomplishment and pure joy that I felt the first time I held each baby.  This is what I hope to share with those taking my classes and reading this blog, that birth is beautiful and your baby IS worth a natural birth.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My personal experience with co-sleeping

When you are pregnant for the first time. You think of all the things you want to do different than your parents did. You want to be a great parent or "the cool mom". You start listening to advice from everyone who offers it. And no one is shy about telling you how you should raise your baby. I think everyone would be better off if they just listened to their heart and to their baby.

I heard many people say things like: that you shouldn't sleep with your baby, you shouldn't nurse the baby to sleep, don't hold the baby too much, he needs to learn to soothe himself, and on and on and on....
Since this is my blog, I'm going to give my own advice and if you don't like it-don't read it! I read about attachment parenting when I was pregnant and this theory seemed to make the most sense to me.  Babies want to be held and I believe they need to be held, often!

It just seems natural that since babies need to breastfeed often, as much as every 2 hours or more, they also need to be held this often. Breastfeeding also allows mom to get rest that she needs in those early days.  Speaking of rest or sleep, most new parents are often asked how much (or how little sleep they are getting).  And while I cannot claim to have gotten 8 hours of sleep every night, I feel I got more than many other new moms I talked to.  What was my secret?  Co-sleeping or bedsharing. 

That's right my babies slept in bed with me and my husband.  Nursing in the side-lying position is great for nighttime feedings.  None of my babies even had to cry to let me know they were hungry at night, I would wake when they woke because they were sleeping right beside me.  Crying is a late sign of hunger, babies have a rooting reflex when they are hungry.  This rooting reflex includes lip smacking, licking, or sucking on fingers.  I would wake when I heard the baby rooting. I did not have to get up out of bed, walk to my baby's room, calm him down from crying and then feed him.  No, I only had to lift my shirt and pull him close.  My babies did not sleep through the night at 6 weeks, but it didn't matter because we were getting plenty of sleep together.

There are many objections to this style of parenting and I do believe that this is not the solution for everyone.  But it worked for our family and allowed every to meet their needs for sleep, feeding, holding, etc.
Co-sleeping is safe, if you look at the statistics it is safer than a baby sleeping alone in a crib.  The AAP has recently changed their recommendations as well, that baby should sleep in the same room as his parents.  The AAP however does not endorse co-sleeping.

I never feared that I would roll over onto my baby.  There is an awareness of the baby being present in bed, just as you are aware of the edge of the bed or of your partner sleeping next to you in bed.  The risk comes for parents who are bottle feeding, obese, smoke, using drugs or alcohol.  See article in earlier post for references and recommendations for safe co-sleeping.

The other criticism I often encountered was that my children would never want to sleep in their own bed.  Speaking only from personal experience, this has not been the case.  As my babies weaned and no longer needed to feed often during the night, they also seemed to need more space for sleeping they would perhaps fall asleep in my bed but then we would move them to their own bed where they seemed more comfortable.  My children, despite being nursed to sleep for the first year or so of their lives have all learned to fall asleep on their own and rarely wake up at night and come into my bed.  I believe this to be so because I met their need for shared sleep, holding, and feeding when they were babies.

What about intimacy and privacy with your partner?  Again, this was not a concern with our babies, as they were too young or sleeping to be aware of anything else going on in the bedroom.  I heard someone say once, that it would be better for a child to walk in on his or her parents making love than to witness them fighting.  I think the reverse is probably more often the case.

Listen to your heart, listen to your baby and find the solution that works for your family.  Don't worry about what others might think or say.  Parenting requires you to make many decisions that not everyone else is always going to agree with.  You need to do what is best for your baby. 

I like Dr. Sears' book, The Baby Sleep Book for more information or see www.askdrsears.com

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Shunning the Family Bed. Who Benefits Most?

December 08 2009

bedsharing, bed-sharing, co-sleeping, cosleeping, family bed, SIDSAccording to Dr. Jay Gordon, babies sleeping on a safe surface with sober, nonsmoking parents respond to their parents, and the parents respond to them. The chance of SIDS occurring in this situation are close to zero. Babies in a crib or in a room away from their parents, on the other hand, will breastfeed less and are at greater risk of infections, including life-threatening ones.

The medical profession, as it often does, is approaching the entire idea of the family bed backward. A baby in the same bed with his or her parents is surrounded by the best possible surveillance and safety system. It must be the responsibility of the manufacturers and proponents of cribs and separated sleep to prove that such disruption is safe, not the other way around.

Newborn babies breathe in irregular rhythms and even stop breathing for a few seconds at a time. To put it simply, they are not designed to sleep alone.


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Back in 2002, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association (JPMA, the crib manufacturers' lobby) launched a campaign to discourage parents from sleeping with their infants.

They also warned about allowing babies to sleep alone in adult beds.

Both warnings were based on data that, presumably, showed infants had a small risk of dying in adult beds.

The Dangers Infants Face When Sleeping in an Adult Bed

For example, an article in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine stated that, based on records from the CPSC dating from January 1990 to December 1997, there were a total of 515 deaths of children younger than 2 years who were placed to sleep on adult beds.

Of those, 121 were caused by a parent or sibling lying on top of the child, and 394 were due to entrapment in the bed structure, causing suffocation or strangulation.

In conclusion, the authors stated:

“Placing children younger than 2 years to sleep in adult beds exposes them to potentially fatal hazards that are generally not recognized by the parent or caregiver.

These hazards include overlying by a parent, sibling, or other adult sharing the bed; entrapment or wedging of the child between the mattress and another object; head entrapment in bed railings; and suffocation on waterbeds.”

However, the recommendation to avoid co-sleeping with your infant has been heavily criticized by many child health experts who believe bedsharing is the healthiest alternative.

And some who have taken the time to review the data further have come to an entirely different conclusion than the CPSC, raising the question whether perhaps this recommendation was more about benefitting the juvenile products industry than promoting the safest sleeping habits.

Statistics Show Co-Sleeping is Likely Twice as Safe as Sleeping in a Crib!

In an article for Mothering magazine, Tina Kimmel dissected the statistics from an 18 year period (1980-1997), showing how co-sleeping with your infant may actually be twice as safe as letting them sleep alone in a crib.

Interestingly, the CPSC never actually presented the relative risk of each sleeping scenario, which may lead parents to think that letting their child sleep alongside them is the more dangerous alternative.

However, when the relative risk of each is assessed by dividing the measure of danger for each situation by the prevalence of that situation, and then comparing them, it turns out that infants are more than twice as safe in adult beds as in cribs.

In fact, using the CPSC’s own data for measuring the danger of each situation, and data from the CDC's Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) to ascertain the prevalence or frequency of each sleeping scenario, Kimmel found that crib sleeping had a relative risk of 2.37, compared with sleeping in an adult bed.

Clearly, looking at the relative risk of each situation makes more sense than basing your decision on an arbitrary assumption that bedsharing is dangerous. Especially since it’s not necessarily true.

Bedsharing May Be a Safer Option for Breastfed Infants

Interestingly, in one British study, breastfeeding mothers who shared their bed with their infants were found to sleep in a characteristic manner that promotes safety for the child, whereas mothers who bottle-fed their babies did not.

The researchers explained:

“The mother spontaneously adopted a distinctive lateral position facing the infant, with her knees drawn up under the infant's feet and her upper arm positioned above the infant's head. This position facilitates the baby's easy access to mother's breasts, and babies orient themselves towards their mother's breasts for most of the night.

It also provides several safety benefits:

  • the baby is flat on the mattress, away from pillows

  • the baby is constrained by the mother's knees and arm so that it can't move up or down the bed

  • the mother controls the height of bed covers over the baby

  • it is very difficult for the baby to be rolled on by either parent, as the mother's elbow and knees are in the way

  • the mother is close enough to monitor the baby's temperature and breathing continually ·

Bedsharing families who did not breastfeed slept together differently, particularly with respect to the physical orientation to the infant.

Mothers who had never breastfed did not curl up around their infants for sleep and did not, therefore, use their own bodies to make a constrained space in the bed for the baby.

These mothers primarily positioned their infants at face height in the bed, either between or propped up on the parents' pillows. Mothers also spent a much smaller proportion of the night facing their infants, and although infants were still oriented towards their mothers for the majority of the night, the mother's position meant there was less face-to-face orientation.

It seems that the mothers who didn't breastfeed slept with their infants as if they were sleeping with another adult (faces at same height, no protective sleeping position, less persistent orientation towards infant).”

Safe Bedsharing Guidelines

Naturally, no single sleeping arrangement is 100 percent safe as there are many factors that can play a role. For example, as the study above discovered, whether or not you breastfeed your child may influence the instinctive positioning of your baby in relation to yourself, making bedsharing more or less safe.

Alcohol consumption and whether or not you smoke would also be factors to take into consideration. But overall, according to the research of James McKenna, Director of the University of Notre Dame's Mother-Baby Sleep Laboratory, infant deaths are far more common in cribs than in beds shared with parents.

The single most dangerous thing you can do is to leave your child alone during sleep, he says.

There are a number of studies, several of which are discussed in McKenna’s paper “Why babies should never sleep alone: A review of the co-sleeping controversy in relation to SIDS, bedsharing and breastfeeding,” that show bedsharing, or sleeping in close proximity, actually protects against SIDS rather than cause it.

That said, there are certain common sense guidelines to keep in mind if you decide that bedsharing is right for you and your child.

Safebedsharing.org offers these sensible safety guidelines:

  • Never leave an infant or toddler unattended on an adult bed. Co-sleeping or family bed sharing consists of an adult and a child. Babies can roll off of beds (even when using a co-sleeping device), can become tangled in blankets, or otherwise need the attention of an adult. We recommend babies not be left unattended in the early months.

  • Never sleep with your baby on a water bed or on a couch. Water beds and couches are associated with suffocation of babies.

  • Avoid adding railings or putting furniture next to the side of your bed. Baby could become lodged next to railing or furniture and suffocate

  • Avoid pushing your bed against a wall. Baby could also be lodged between the bed and wall causing suffocation.

  • Never let another sibling sleep next to your baby. Children sleep deeply and may roll over on baby. Baby is best placed next to Mom or Dad only.

  • Never sleep next to your baby if you are intoxicated or have been using drugs, are taking medications, are overly tired or in any other way feel that your ability to be aroused could be affected.

  • It is not recommended that you bed share if are currently smoking. This has been associated with higher incidence of S.I.D.S.

  • Use a firm mattress for bed sharing. Soft mattresses can allow baby to accidentally roll over causing suffocation.

  • Make sure all bedding fits snuggly on the mattress. Fitted sheets that come loose could cover baby's face.

  • Make sure mattress is flush against head- and footboards. If there are any gaps baby could become lodged between head or footboard and mattress and cause suffocation.

  • Always place baby to sleep on her back. This has been shown to reduce the risk of S.I.D.S.

  • Avoid over-dressing your baby. Overheating is also associated with an increased risk of S.I.D.S.

  • Avoid strings or ties on night clothes or blankets. These could cause strangulation. Be sure to remove toys or other objects from bed before sleep time, to avoid suffocation.

  • If you have long hair tie it in a pony tail or braid it. Long hair could cause suffocation or strangulation.

Other Options, if Bedsharing is Not for You

For some people, the idea of sleeping with a baby beside them is just too worrisome. But there’s no reason to despair. The choice to share your bed with your child or let them sleep on their own is yours, and yours alone. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

However, avoiding sharing your bed for fear that it’s a more dangerous choice is most likely unwarranted. The research points to the opposite being true.

If you want your baby close but are still worried about accidentally laying on her, you could remove one of the side rails and place the crib level with your mattress. This way, your baby will have a space of her own, but you’ll still be in close proximity. Just take precautions to secure the crib to your bed so your baby can’t fall through the crack.

In addition to the benefits already mentioned, another one is psychological, as co-sleeping tends to enhance bonding and feelings of safety and comfort. Another option to achieve enhanced bonding is to wear your baby in a pouch or sling for several hours during the day.

Babywearing International is an interesting resource to learn more about the many benefits of cradling your baby close during those first few months of life. They also offer helpful tips on how to choose a suitable baby sling or carrier.

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