Monday, May 31, 2010

Winner of the Boppy Giveaway!

I'm very excited to announce the winner of the Boppy Giveaway!!

This Boppy is going to...


Thank you so much to everyone who entered!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Movie: Birth in the 1800's

This video is the third in the Mother's Advocate series The Timeless Way.
Birth Images from the 1800's shows us imagery collected in the 1800's by Anthropologists of birthing Native North American women, Native Africans, American Pioneer Women, and European women.

Part One: Ancient Times and Part Two: European 1500's

Birth Images from the 1800's

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Why I Became a Doula

Recently I was asked, by someone I haven't seen in a very long time, the question I get a lot: "What made you want to be a doula?"

I get this question a lot, particularly because I am unmarried and have never been a mom. Though I fully have plans of being married and a mom one day, now just isn't the right time. So why do I want to learn so much about pregnancy and birth? Why do I care about something that hasn't personally happened to me yet? I've answered this in pieces before, but here is a full answer! :)

 I grew up with little knowledge of birth, the different ways to give birth, and all the different aspects of being a childbearing woman. All that I knew came from TV and movies, and the vague memory of the fact that my mom had my little brother in a hospital. I first heard the term "doula" when I took a Comparative Healing Systems Anthropology course in undergrad, which prompted me to ask my mom more about her birthing experiences. Before taking this class, and reading Brigitte Jordan's "Birth in Four Cultures," I never realized that there were differences in birth experiences. I didn't know that you had a choice in where you could give birth, who attended your birth, that there were different positions you could give birth in, that in some countries medication is NEVER given, and so forth.

I learned about how birth could be different from the Western Medical version (the only way I knew), how doctors treated birthing women differently from midwives, how treatment varied by country and culture. I became fascinated by all the things that young women in America are rarely taught, and I wanted to learn more.

Learning about myself as a woman, learning about a situation I hope to find myself in in the future, and learning about the capabilities of women around the world has made me determined to share knowledge, options, the reality of birth with others! And one of the best ways to both learn more and help women is to be a doula!

I had a period last year where I was applying to go to grad school and job-hunting but feeling dissatisfied that no jobs available really had to do with my interests. It was actually my boyfriend of now 4 years who suggested that since I love reading about doulas and birth so much, maybe I should do the training and certification! So that's how I got officially started.

And I've been absolutely LOVING it. Doula-ing satisfies my desire to help make a difference in women's lives, to be active in women's health rights and feminist issues, and to be a life-long learner. I hope to be able to make a difference in the birthing world in my own little way.

This coming fall I'll begin studying Applied Anthropology and Maternal and Child Health (dual MA/MPH), which is a way I can apply the knowledge I've learned from being a doula to my life goal, and hopefully use my degree to help solve contemporary problems in maternity care. 

And, for now, I am one of the most knowledgeable never-been-pregnant women ever!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Placenta Rituals Around the World

Eat it, bury it, make art with it, burn it. Or, just throw it away. These are a few things that women in "Western" culture do with their placentas after their baby is born. Here are some other world culture rituals and beliefs regarding the placenta and umbilical cord (via

  • A tribe in Arizona dries the cord, and places beads onto it so the child can rub or bite it when teething.
  • Aborigines used to make necklaces from the cord for the child to wear, representing growth and aimed at warding off disease.
  • In Kenya, Masai midwives chew the cord with their teeth to separate the cord from the placenta. The midwife then pronounces, 'you are now responsible for your life as I am responsible for mine'.
  • In Yemen the placenta is placed on the family’s roof for the birds to eat, in the hope that it will guarantee the love between the parents.
  • In Malaysia the placenta is seen as the child’s older sibling and thought that the two are reunited at death. The midwife carefully washes the placenta, cord and membranes and wraps them in a white cloth to be buried.
  • In Nepal, the placenta is given the name ‘bucha-co-satthi’ – meaning ‘baby’s friend’
  • The Tanala people of Madagascar observe strict silence throughout the labour and birth and as the placenta is being delivered. When the placenta comes, everyone present claps and shouts “Vita! Vita!” – meaning ‘finished’.
  • In Sudan the placenta is considered to be the infant's 'spirit double' and can be buried in a place that represents the parents' hopes for their child (e.g. close to a hospital to become a doctor).

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    Hello, hello!

    Hello new followers! Welcome! I'm so excited to have so many fans!

    Speaking of fans, if you haven't already, please "like" my brand new Facebook Page. Its a great way to keep up with my blog posts, goings ons that I may not write about here, and another place to comment or share posts.

    Also, I hope everyone has seen that I am hosting my very first ever blog Giveaway of a Boppy! Leave a comment to enter. The Boppy makes a great gift if you know any new or expecting moms, or it can be used for personal use. It is also great to use as a doula to help a new mom get comfortable while breastfeeding.

    Though I've been posting nearly every day since the inception of my blog, things may slow down a bit because I have a busy summer ahead of me! I hope I can still keep everyone interested :)
    Whether you're reading because you're pregnant, a mom, being informed about birth and babies, or are curious to see what the experience of a new doula is like, I hope you learn something new and interesting.

    If you're curious how pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and parenting are done in different world cultures, click on the "culture" label in the sidebar!

    I realize I write a lot about breastfeeding because the more I learn about it, the more of a breastfeeding enthusiast I become. I have learned a LOT about how amazing breast milk is, and I hope that my excitement will rub off ;]  I have almost as many breastfeeding posts as I do about my doula journey!

    In case you've missed it, at the top of the page I have a link to a page with some Favorite Posts. Check these out if you're new here, and if you've been following a while let me know if you have a favorite of your own that isn't listed!

    This is a new blog of a new doula and I am always learning. I love sharing what I've learned with you, and I hope that my readers will also share their knowledge with me. Feel free to comment, explain, discuss, etc on all my blog post topics. I welcome the feedback!

    Best wishes,

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    Wait to Cut Umbilical Cord, Study Says

    Another study says that delayed cord clamping is a good idea!

    A review article from the most recent issue of the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine was cited in the following MSNBC article [all emphasis mine]: 

    Wait to cut umbilical cord, study says
    Baby may benefit from not clamping until cord quits pulsing

    Usually within the first minute of birth, the umbilical cord running between mother and infant is clamped. But this may be too fast, researchers say.

    Waiting until the cord stops pulsing could give the newborn significant health benefits, suggests a review article in the most recent issue of the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. 

    "Ob-gyns and parents should think about giving the cord blood to the baby," said lead researcher Paul Sanberg of the University of South Florida. "It only takes a few minutes." 

    The umbilical cord carries nutrients and oxygen from mom-to-be's placenta to the developing infant's abdomen. (It leaves a life-long impression in the form of the belly button.) When the practice of immediate cord clamping first began about a half century ago, the value of cord blood, especially its stem cells, which can develop into a suite of other cells, was not known. But now we know that stem cells have many therapeutic properties, Sanberg told LiveScience. 

    "It is not just regular blood going in," he said. "It is nature's first stem cell transplant.

    Common problems in newborns are usually related to their underdeveloped organs, which might be helped by the regenerative properties of stem cells, Sanberg theorized. 

    After reviewing the majority of research in the field, Sanberg and his colleagues concluded that delaying cord clamping could reduce the infant's risk of many illnesses, including respiratory distress, chronic lung disease, brain hemorrhages, anemia, sepsis and eye disease. 

    The risk of such problems, and thus the potential benefit of delaying cord clamping, is particularly significant for premature babies and those born malnourished or suffering from other complications.
    Still, the researchers suggest delaying cord clamping may be beneficial for healthy, full-term babies as well — after all, it may be what we have evolved to do. 

    "Evolutionarily, there is clearly value for this," Sanberg said, explaining that all mammals, including most humans through history, allow the maternal blood to finish being transferred before severing the cord. The squatting birthing position, only recently out of vogue in the West, may have even facilitated this transfer by harnessing gravity. 

    "Only in the last half century or so has mankind started cutting the cord early," Sanberg said.

    Evidence-based medicine, people! :) 

    This makes me curious as to why doctors even began immediate clamping. I know there is the argument that not clamping the cord may deprive the baby of oxygen, but was lack of oxygen happening in such a way that doctors thought the cord was the connection? It seems like it may have just been more for convenience... if we disconnect mom and baby ASAP, the faster we can whisk baby away from mom to do our newborn checks, and the faster we can get on with our lives (or for legit emergencies). I guess it caught on because it didn't seem to have negative effects on the baby (babies still live, after all, despite quick clamping and cutting). But now that we know it an have positive effects, it is worth changing practices!

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Maternal Impressions and Reincarnation Theory

    Can a mother's experiences affect her fetus physically? What about the baby's soul? Mary Roach, author of Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife explores some cultural beliefs about how a child ends up with birthmarks or birth defects, and what it means. Its very interesting!

    Among cultures that believe in reincarnation, congenital abnormalities are commonly viewed as clues to the child's past life. Often they are tied in with the death of the supposed previous personality. Ian Stevenson's Reincarnation and Biology contains ten examples of children with birthmarks or birth defects corresponding to the place their alleged previous personality was shot or otherwise fatally wounded.

    The birthmark business has a historical corollary of sorts in the theory of maternal impressions. A surprising majority of sixteenth and seventeenth-century physicians believed that a child's birthmarks or abnormalities are caused by the mother having undergone a memorable fright during pregnancy. A baby is born with a missing arm; the mother recalls being set upon by a one-armed beggar. A child's "fish scales" - a skin condition now known as ichthyosis - are blamed on the mother's fear of sea serpents. 

    By some accounts, mom didn't need to be frightened but merely focused a little too long in one place. In a famous case detailed by Jan Bondeson in A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities, a thirteenth-century Roman noblewoman gives birth to a boy with fur and claws; the authorities lay blame on an oil painting of a bear on her bedroom wall. The event prompted Pope Martin IV, clearly a tad hysterical, to have all pictures and statues of bears destroyed. Crafty moms tried to work the phenomenon to their favor. In the early 1800s, Bondeson writes, it was common for pregnant noblewomen to be wheeled into the Louvre to spend an hour or so gazing at a portrait of some handsome earl of archduke of yore, in hopes of influencing their unborn progeny. 

    Reports of maternal impressions peppered medical texts from Pliny and Hippocrates clear through to the 1903 edition of the American Textbook of Obstetrics, which cites maternal impression as the likely cause of John "Elephant Man" Merrick's deformities - as well as those of the lesser-known traveling spectacle, the Turtle Man. 

    In many of the birthmark cases in Reincarnation and Biology, Stevenson points out that the mother saw the corpse of the slain man whose soul eventually turns up in her unborn child. Stevenson doesn't believe all birthmarks are caused by maternal impression, but he is open-minded to the possibility that some are.

    Adherents of maternal impression theory hold that the skin is uniquely vulnerable to emotional imprinting. Stevenson describes a half dozen dermatological conditions thought to be open to psychological influence. These range from the relatively mainstream (emotionally induced wheals and blisters) to the distant borderlands of scientific acceptability (stigmata, wart-charming, hypnotically-induced breast enlargement). I suppose that if you believe that hypnotic suggestion can expand a bosom, it's not a big leap to suppose that a profound fright might affect the skin of a developing fetus.

    I love stories about reincarnation - children remembering people, things and places that they never could have known about except from a paste life... spooky but cool! These stories about a mother's fright causing a baby's birth defect seem odd to us, but aren't so different from many pregnancy superstitions that we may hear coming from our own cultures or others.

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Pregnancy Beliefs Around the World

    Babies Around the World Fact: According to a Chinese tradition, a baby's skin tone is influenced by more than genetics. It is believed that fair skinned babies have light pigmentation because their mothers ate light-colored foods during pregnancy.

    More Pregnancy-related Beliefs, Customs and Superstitions in Different World Cultures
    from BabyCenter

    There's a widespread belief that exposure to computers, microwaves, and cell phones can lead to miscarriage or birth defects, according to BabyCenter editor Joy Jia. As a result, many pregnant women buy "antiradiation vests" to protect their developing babies. In fact, the vests are recommended by some Chinese doctors and pregnancy books, Jia says. Once they learn they're pregnant, many women also turn off their cell phones and don't use them until they give birth.

    There are many widely held food taboos, says Joy Jia. For instance, people believe a pregnant woman should never eat crab, because, according to traditional Chinese medicine, crab is a "cold-natured" food that will cause miscarriage in early pregnancy.

    Chinese women used to be encouraged to eat a lot during pregnancy, especially protein. They also gained a good deal of weight. This is beginning to change, particularly in urban areas, because China has seen a rise in pregnancy-related diabetes. Jia says doctors now caution moms-to-be to follow a moderate diet during pregnancy.

    In China, once a woman becomes pregnant, the focus of the entire family is on her and her baby. According to Vidya Sen, the same holds true in India. Everyone in the family makes sure the mom-to-be is eating well and is protected from any hazards.

    People in India also believe in the evil eye and they ward it off by burning red chilies and camphor. They also believe that during an eclipse, pregnant women should remain inside the house or their babies will be born with a cleft lip or other deformity. "Even educated people hold this superstition," according to BabyCenter editor Vidya Sen. "The attitude is, 'It may not be true, but why test nature's fury?'"

    Vidya Sen says that in southern India, a woman lets her family know she's pregnant by asking for sour and tangy foods, like raw mangoes or tamarind (a sweet and sour fruit). "This is how the elders of the household (especially in rural areas) learn that she's pregnant," says Sen.

    In Mexico and other Latin American countries, many believe that if you don't eat the food you crave during pregnancy, your baby will have a birthmark shaped like that food.

    In Mexico, If you experience a lot of nausea during pregnancy, your newborn will have a full head of hair.

    People in many Latin American countries share a belief in the "evil eye" — that is, the power of an evil or envious person to cause harm to a pregnant woman or her baby. In Cuba, pregnant women won't let anyone they don't know or trust touch their pregnant belly. In Panama, moms-to-be won't reveal how far along they are in their pregnancy, and they're especially cautious around anyone who may be holding a grudge. Women believe that sharing this information puts them at risk for birth complications or an ugly child. New babies are dressed in red from head to toe, because red is thought to ward off the evil eye.

    Spain/Latin America
    Stylish and sassy maternity clothes are coveted by pregnant women, because, says BabyCenter editor Isidra Mencos, "We Latin women like to dress up!"

    Switzerland and the United States
    In both these countries, people say you can tell whether you're having a girl or boy by looking in the mirror. "A boy is said to enhance his mother's beauty, while a girl weakens it," according to BabyCenter editor Claudia Starck.

    A new bra — either a larger one or special maternity one — is a pregnancy gotta-have, according to BabyCenter editor Cordula Zastera.

    Maternity jeans are at the top of the list for most newly pregnant women, according to BabyCenter editor Danielle Townsend. "Australians are obsessed with denim," she says.

    "You can certainly expect to be given a seat on public transportation," says Carina Westling. "At the same time, it's not polite to assume that a pregnant woman needs lots of attention. In Sweden today, people are accommodating but don't see pregnancy or motherhood as defining you. That would be considered rude."

    Pregnant women don't receive much special treatment, according to Sasha Miller. "There's little respect or reverence," she says. "You can be standing on the bus, and people will stare at their newspaper and pretend they don't see you."

    According to British folklore, pregnant women often crave coal. But Sasha Miller says that in general, the idea of cravings during pregnancy "has pretty much gone out the window. Now people just see pregnancy as a good excuse to eat ice cream at midnight."

    Sometimes women or older men will give you their seat on the streetcar, says BabyCenter editor Ann Elisabeth Samson. "One challenge is making sure that they know you're pregnant, particularly in winter when you're wearing a bulky coat," she says. "I've been known to unbutton my coat and show my belly in order to get a seat."

    Saturday, May 22, 2010

    My First Giveaway!

    I am very happy to announce Doula Ambition blog's very first ever giveaway!
    Hooray for reaching 200 blog posts!

    A Boppy Pillow!

    I'm moving in a few months, and as I began thinking about packing I realized I have a perfectly good brand new Boppy nursing pillow (still in packaging) that I haven't yet used. I realized that rather than packing it up and moving it, I should give it to someone who can get some great use out of it!

    The Boppy is a infant support pillow for use when breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or for baby to lounge on.

    Features of the Pink Bubble Dots (pictured above) Boppy Pillow and Slipcover:

    • The Boppy pillow supports baby as you nurse and also as your little one rests, plays and learns to sit up
    • Expandable "Miracle Middle" to fit more waist sizes while still retaining its shape for the multiple other uses
    • The pillow shell is a cottony soft fabric wrapped around polyester fill
    • Boppy Bare Naked is the famous Boppy pillow in solid white; a removable slipcover simply goes in the wash when it needs cleaning
    • This whimsical slipcover displays a mod dot print in hues of pink, lavender, yellow and more
    • Both pillow and cover are machine wash
    This Boppy would be great for personal use, to give a new mom as a baby shower gift, or even as a doula to help moms learn to breastfeed in a more comfortable position. 

    The first time I ever heard of a Boppy was at a baby shower. When the pregnant mama opened the wrapped Boppy pillow, she was so excited because she had heard they were the best. Its true that the Boppy has won the America's #1 baby product Award six times.


    EACH OF THESE count as one entry. Make sure you leave a separate comment for every single entry opportunity. Remember to leave your email address in the comment or make sure it is available through your profile.  

    Required initial entry:
    • You must be or become a follower of my blog, either through Google Friend connect (in the sidebar) or another RSS feed, and leave a comment letting me know. 
    Additional entries:
    • Leave a separate comment telling me about why you'd love to win the Boppy (personal use? give as a gift? etc)
    • Follow me on twitter @AnthroDoula and tweet about this giveaway.
    • Become a fan of ("like") my brand new Anthro Doula Ambitions Facebook page! 
    • Post a link to this giveaway on your facebook page or personal blog. Copy and paste a link to that in a comment here in my blog's comment's section.
    • If you've used the Boppy before, tell me what you thought of it!
    • Recommend a post topic for me to write about.
    Entries will be closed on May 30th, at midnight - the EDD of my next doula client!

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Tampa, FL School Tells Mom Breastfeeding is Inappropriate

    Tampa Public School thinks that Breastfeeding is "Inappropriate"
    A Tampa, FL mom was asked not to breastfeed in the lobby of a Hillsborough County Public School. 

    While Melissa was waiting for her older daughter in the lobby of her elementary school, she breastfed her 2 year old daughter. She's breastfed her 2 year old daughter in public many times. This time, however, she was called to the principal's office, told her breastfeeding in the lobby was inappropriate, and offered a private location to nurse in. 

    Melissa refused. She did not think it was right that the reason she had to move was simply because she was breastfeeding. She cited Florida law, which states:

    Florida Statue 383.015  Breastfeeding.--The breastfeeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values, and in furtherance of this goal:
    (1) A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding. 

    Melissa decided to write a letter to the the principal, her supervisor, and eventually the school board. The school board's lawyer wrote back: "The Florida law does not, however, contain a right to breastfeed “wherever and whenever” a mother wishes."

    Melissa is not arguing the point for attention or personal gain. She is a lactation consultant and childbirth educator who knows how difficult it is to receive support for breastfeeding. She writes in her blog, "If I were a first time mother new to breastfeeding, or even worse, struggling with breastfeeding, who knows how this would affected the nursing relationship with my child." She writes that she is, "doing this because I want to protect the right of women to breastfeed without harassment. I’m doing it to ensure that this does not happen to other women, and especially to my children when they are older."

    She wrote all about her experience on her blog, and the local Fox News also covered the story.

    "It’s clear from the responses... that they all equate breastfeeding to a sexual act. One mother said that if her daughter saw someone breastfeeding, she would want to be the one there to explain what was happening. But I’m wondering, what’s to explain? It’s breastfeeding, the mother is feeding her baby, it’s that simple. The fact that they feel it’s something that should be talked about at home suggests it is something dirty or sexual. Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s both have showed breastfeeding mothers on one or more episode, obviously the producers of these shows did not feel it was something that should only be discussed in private." 

    Some took issue with the fact that she was feeding not a newborn, but a two-year-old. 

    Comment on her blog:
    "Its really creepy to see a woman with a toddler attached to her breast. Plus you were around young children who had quite possibly not seen that and it could have damaged them emotionally or mentally."

    Comments on the Fox News article:
    "DHR needs to investigate her. She has got to be getting something out of it herself, a two year old breast feeding. Maybe her baby daddy stop doing his job."
     "This lady needs to get a life the kids two years old and should not be breastfeeding She needs to see a doctor and then to but into the faces of small children is wrong"

    This isn't a new subject, and my readers know how I feel about it. I'm a tolerant person, and I feel women should be able to do what they want with their bodies and parent how they wish to parent. The big issue here, is really that people see nursing a toddler as something sexual.

    Many people argued that children, but especially young boys, should not be exposed to that because it is a sexual and inappropriate stimulus. Other commenter writers argued back "what about Victoria Secret ads?" and so forth. I believe its true that boys and men do see a breast, even breastfeeding, and sexual thoughts are triggered. I think this is a result of our society. Does this mean we have to hide all the breasts in order to keep these sexual thoughts, especially in young boys, at a minimum? No, that is not the answer.

    A good solution to the problem would be for women to breastfeed in public and in front of young children more.  Children learn what is culturally appropriate by viewing. The more children, and especially boys, who see women using their breasts for what they are naturally intended for, the more children who will grow up to be respectful. They will be used to seeing breasts feeding babies and toddlers and not blink an eye. Its only when we make it a "private" act that it turns into the sexual; when we teach our children that doing something as natural as feeding our babies from our mammary glands is inappropriate. 

    The preamble of the Florida breastfeeding statute states:

    WHEREAS, the social constraints of modern society militate against the choice of breastfeeding and lead new mothers with demanding time schedules to opt for formula feeding for reasons such as embarrassment and the fear of social ostracism or criminal prosecution, and

    WHEREAS, the promotion of family values and infant health demand putting an end to the vicious cycle of embarrassment and ignorance that constricts women and men alike on the subject of breastfeeding and represents hostility to mothers and babies in our culture based on archaic and outdated moral taboo, and

    WHEREAS, any genuine promotion of family values should encourage public acceptance of this most basic act of nurture between mother and baby, and no mother should be made to feel incriminated or socially ostracized for breastfeeding her baby.

    Click over to her blog to find out what the school board consensus was. 

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    Breastfeeding While Pregnant

    You're happily nursing your young one, and both of you are loving it. You and baby have a fabulous breastfeeding relationship, and you plan to nurse a little while longer, maybe even until baby self-weans. Then you find out you're pregnant. Can you continue to breastfeed? Yes!

    Though it is unlikely that you will become pregnant during the early months if you're exclusively breastfeeding, pregnancy while nursing a toddler is a possibility and a real occurrence for many mothers. It is definitely possible to become pregnant while nursing, especially after the first 6 months!

    The human body is amazing. Your body can nourish your new baby in the womb as well as your nursing child, and both will receive adequate nutrition. Once the new baby arrives, your body responds and makes an increased amount of milk, just as it would if you had twins or multiples.

    If you have had healthy, basically normal previous pregnancies, nursing will not put your expected baby at risk. There is a link between nipple stimulation and labor contractions, so there is a possible worry if you are at risk of premature labor. Sometimes the hormones released during nursing can trigger labor, but only if your doctor has informed you that you are at risk for preterm labor. Otherwise, the hormone level is quite small.

    You will notice some changes if you choose to continue to nurse while pregnant. Many women experience renewed nipple tenderness. If this occurs, you can limit the length of the feeding or adjust the latch. Another potential problem as your tummy begins to grow quite large is finding a comfortable position to nurse in!

    Additionally, nursing may trigger a sensation of nausea, but it has been known to decrease total overall pregnancy morning sickness

    Milk supply will also decrease slightly in early pregnancy, and milk may taste different. The milk changes to colostrum at the end of pregnancy, and a toddler may get frustrated at the change in quantity and quality. Your child may end up weaning him or herself! If not, you may end up nursing both your newborn and your toddler. This is what is referred to as tandem nursing.
    If you and your child are still enjoying your nursing relationship, and your pregnancy is healthy, there is no reason you must wean when a new baby is on the way!

    Changes in milk composition from Kellymom

    One study compared changes in the milk of two lactating pregnant mothers through the first two months of pregnancy to daily changes in the milk of two women who were gradually weaning (Prosser, Saint & Hartmann 1984). Milk composition and volume changes during pregnancy were similar to those during gradual weaning, but the changes during pregnancy occurred despite continued or increased nursing, rather than in response to a decrease in nursing frequency.


    Gradual Weaning

    Increased sodium, protein Increased sodium, protein
    Decreased glucose, lactose, potassium Decreased glucose, lactose, potassium
    Changes were not related to nursing frequency Changes were closely correlated to the decrease in nursing frequency

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    How Breast Milk Changes

    Breast milk varies from woman-to-woman, according to the mother's diet, during a feeding, throughout the day, and during the entire nursing period. Amazing, huh? It also varies depending on the baby's gestational age.

    Formula doesn't change at all and it always tastes the same.

    (from Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding)

    A mother's diet influences the concentration of various components in her milk. For example, a mother who is a vegetarian has different amounts of fatty acids (building blocks of fats) in her milk than a woman who eats meat. A woman who eats a lot of fish will also have different fatty acids. When a woman eats garlic, as another example, the milk tastes and smells different. But why would we consider that garlic is not a normal part of breastmilk, if garlic is a normal part of a mother's diet? Since it is possible that garlic helps prevent atherosclerosis and may have some immune-boosting qualities, maybe formula companies should be adding garlic to their modified cow's milk.

    It is often said that these dietary additions to the milk, such as garlic, are bad for the baby. But, in fact, they are not, except in rare cases. Babies who are breastfed usually accept solid foods better than do artifically fed babies, presumably because they have been exposed to a variety of tastes throughout their breastfeeding experience. When they start eating solids, they are already used to these tastes. Formula, on the other hand, always tastes the same.

    The appearance in the milk of things the mother eats can also decrease the risk of allergy in the breastfed baby. 

    On the other hand, the total amount of food the mother eats does not matter as much. Even women who are eating very little seem to produce good milk, though the quantity may decrease a little. This decrease, though, is not usually significant enough to result in insufficient production. 

    There are some foods or herbs that may increase or decrease the amount of milk a mother has, but there is no research to back up what may only be a myth.

    Breastmilk changes during a feeding. The best-known change is in the fat content. As the baby takes milk from the breast, the concentration of fat increases. At the beginning of the feeding, the milk may contain 1 percent fat, but by the end it is 5 percent or more, and the overall average amount the baby gets is about 4 percent. We don't know why this should be, but it may serve as a sort of appetite control for the baby.

    Breastmilk composition varies widely throughout the day. For example, there is more lactose in breastmilk in the late afternoon than in the early morning. The amount of fat is highest in the morning and lowest in the late afternoon. The amount of protein is lowest in the early morning and highest in the evening. We don't know why this happens or whether this benefits mother and baby. But these variations may be more significant than we know. So which milk would the formula companies copy? The milk produced at 6 am? at 6 pm? At midnight?

    Throughout the entire nursing period:
    It is obvious that the milk of the first 3 or 4 days - which we call colostrum - is different from the milk that comes later. Colostrum is different in color from more mature milk. It is also stickier and thicker. It is wonderful stuff, and it is too bad that the majority of breastfeeding babies in North America don't get any, or don't get much. It is loaded with many, many white blood cells. There are up to 5 million white cells in each milliliter of colostrum, and the average is 1 million. One million cells in each milliliter is 100 times more than in your blood. And it is jam-packed with antibodies. It is also a laxative, which is important for clearing out the babies intestines, reducing the level of jaundice and preparing the baby to digest breastmilk. 

    After 3 or 4 days, breastmilk changes and becomes "traditional milk." The milk becomes whiter, but has a slightly golden color, indicating that there is still some colostrum mixed in. After about a week or two, the milk could be called "mature milk" and is a bluish-white color at the beginning of the feeding, and white later in the feeding.

    But milk continues to change in ways that are not obvious to the eye. For example, the number of white cells in breastmilk decreases over the first few months, but even six months after the baby is born, the mother's milk will have an average of 100,000 cells in each milliliter of milk, or 10 times more than you would have in your blood. Many of the other immune factors also decrease in concentration, but some actually increase.

    Lysozyme, one such immune factor that attacks the cell walls of bacteria and kills them, is present in the milk in greater concentrations after the first year than before. It should be noted that a decrease in immune factors does not mean an absence or insignificant amount. After all, formulas have NO immune factors at all (except for nucelotides, which are not really of much significance), yet when we talk about the immune factors in breastmilk decreasing, people see mto think this is a serious concern. Yet nobody worries about the virtually total absence of immune factors in formula. 

    It has been shown that an exclusively breastfeeding five-month-old who is gaining weight well is not getting that much more milk than an exclusively breastfeeding one-month-old baby who is gaining weight well. He generally takes only about 10 percent to 20 percent more milk, even though he may weigh twice as much as the one-month-old. In other words, the 5 month old is getting only about 60 to 70 calories per kg per day, whereas the formula-fed baby of the same age is getting 90 to 100 calories per kg per day. Why is it that formula is needed in such large amounts, relatively speaking? The requirements of the appropriate constituents of breastmilk are somehow better and more efficiently used than the substitute constituents found in artificial baby milks. Could this be one of the reasons why studies find formula-fed babies more likely to grow up to be overweight as adults? Perhaps they have gotten used to eating large amounts of food in order to get the nutrients they need.

    Anyone who says there is no value in breastmilk (unfortunately this seems to include many physicians, and even pediatricians) doesn't understand that the milk is different, but certainly hasn't changed to white-colored water. Breastmilk is still valuable from the nutritional and immunologic points of view, and, let us not forget, breastfeeding still has bonding, psychological and emotional benefits! 

    Depending on gestational age:
    A baby who is born prematurely has different needs from those of a baby born at term, depending on how much he is premature. Interestingly, the milk of the mother whose baby is born prematurely is different form that of the mother whose baby is born at term. A premature baby needs more protein and more sodium than a baby born at term. Well, ilk of the mother who delivers prematurely has more protein and more sodium. A premature baby is at greater risk of developing an infection. Well, milk of the mother who delivers prematurely has more white cells and antibodies. The baby born prematurely has missed out on some of the long-chained polyunsaturated fatty acids that are important to the development of his brain and vision. Well, milk of the mother who delivers prematurely has more of these fatty acids. 

    Other variables:
    There is evidence that if the mother offers one breast twice in a row to the baby, the milk of that breast will be different the second time than if she had offered the other breast for the second feeding. Specifically, the second feeding on the same breast will have a higher concentration of fat.

    If the mother breastfeeds for the normal period of time - that is, 3 or 4 years - the milk will vary with her menstrual period. Many mothers claim the supply is down during the bleeding phase, but the components of the breast milk change also. On average, a woman who breastfeeds a baby longer than a year will get back her period about 13 or 14 months after the baby's birth. 

    There is also evidence that milk is different if the mother has had several previous pregnancies than if this is her first pregnancy. 

    What is missing from infant formulas?
    There are no antibodies in infant formulas. No lysozyme, no epidermal growth factor, no white cells, no oligosaccharides to help white infection. No lots of things. In fact, there are dozens of components in breastmilk, all with their own functions, which are not present in infant formulas. What functions? We don't always know. Some components have multiple functions. For example, lactoferrin is probably responsible for the fact that so much of the iron in breastmilk is absorbed by the baby. But it also denies iron to bacteria, which need it to multiply, and thus decreases their rate of growth. It works together with white cells and antibodies to kill bacteria more effectively. And maybe it has more functions as well. We are only beginning to discover the wonders of breastmilk. 

    Isn't breast milk amazing? I really think its quite incredible. It is exactly the right amount and right composition for your baby, at any age. It changes in flavor based upon what mom eats, unlike formula which will always taste the same. Your body which grew and nurtured your infant before she was born continues to nourish your infant after.

    To people who tell you that breastmilk has no benefits after 6 months:
    In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
    29% of energy requirements
    43% of protein requirements
    36% of calcium requirements
    75% of vitamin A requirements
    76% of folate requirements
    94% of vitamin B12 requirements
    60% of vitamin C requirements 

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    My Review of the Babies Movie


    I just (finally) saw the Babies movie! I have to say it was highly entertaining. I knew from the trailer that I would probably love it (a cross-cultural look at moms and babies? yes!) but I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Turns out this documentary is a comedy! 

    The movie follows four babies in four different countries for about an hour in documentary format: Ponijao, who lives with her family near Opuwo, Namibia; Bayarjargal, who resides with his family in Mongolia, near Bayanchandmani; Mari, who lives with her family in Tokyo, Japan; and Hattie, who resides with her family in the United States, in San Francisco (only one boy!) 

    The movie has no narration and very little dialogue. Director Thomas Balm├Ęs explained that, "The specificity of documentary is reality. My way has been to narrate through the choice of a subject, a casting of characters, a very strict form in the filming and editing. By avoiding the usual narration, I leave each viewer creating his own." Narration is not necessary; the babies play, learn, experience and grow as they live their first year of life and we are entertained by it all. 

    How were the babies selected for the film? Well, actually, the pregnant moms were selected! Balmes said that, "The idea was to have a variety of different environments, not to pretend to cover all continents, but to show levels of relationship with modernity, from the traditional Himba tribal life to the Neons sounds of Tokyo."  

    He notes that it was actually easier to film in Namibia and Mongolia, where the babies spent a lot of time outdoors. "Shooting in tight quarters in Tokyo and San Francisco were much more challenging.  The director had to keep in mind that filming in a small Tokyo apartment or SF house is much more "intrusive and disturbing for the privacy of the families than filming in the Steppes of Mongolia or the Namibian desert." The making of the film required 400 hours of film footage!

    Each baby has its own personality, and its easy to fall in love. Bayar, the Mongolian baby, was very smiley and happy no matter what he was doing, except maybe when his sadistic older brother was repeatedly hitting him in the face with a piece of cloth (but he recovered quickly). His older brother provided a ton of comedy in the film. It was a scene with Mari, the Japanese girl, that made me laugh the hardest... She tries repeatedly to put a toy stick into the hole of a ring and when her efforts fail she flings herself onto the ground in a melodramatic tantrum. You just have to watch to see what I mean. Hattie, the San Franciscan baby, decides she doesn't want to be at her "Earth is our Mother" sing-along anymore and gets up and walks out. And Ponijao goes on so many adventures it leaves you amazed at learning what a baby in an African desert can get up to on her own! 

    I loved witnessing the cultural differences, not only in the moms and babies lives but also in the parenting styles, foods, baths, and toys. Balmes said that doing a film about raising children in different cultures, "kept on convincing me of the necessity to shift perspectives on everything we believe in and always keeping in mind that there is not "one good way" of thinking, doing, etc... but as many as there are yet different cultures on this planet." 

    Some parents may shake their heads or worry about the antics that the babies' parents let them get into, such as letting them roam freely in the cow pasture or chewing on anything she finds on the ground. There are a few moments where you gasp when you worry about a baby's safety. Balmes says, "I was very clear with parents that they keep on behaving as when I was not there and that I was not babysitting. I felt that if parents felt comfortable with kids doing this or that I should not interfere and in fact everything went fine."

    It is important to understand that different parenting style does not mean it is worse. Some babies were left to their own devices to entertain themselves, others were given lots of toys or taken to "mommy and me" type classes.  Some walked around half naked, others had fabulous outfits. Some were bathed in the shower, others in a tub outside, and some with their mother's saliva and red ochre paste. All babies were happy and healthy!

    From Balmes: "In Mongolia the father slept in a bed with the older boy & mother slept with Bayar. Mari's family used a bed just for her - unusual in Japan where families sleep with kids for a long time for space reasons. Hattie's parents were stricter with naps and nights which we had to respect. Poni stopped napping early and spent all day exploring the neighborhood." 

    "Himbas [tribe] mothers feed kids on demand. They are also fed by different family members. You see Poni breastfed by her older sister. Hattie's mom used a pump to collect milk later given by bottle. In Japan babies are fed almost standing to digest better. Without much water or creams, Bayar's mom used her milk to hydrate and clean his face." 

    I loved the Babies movie and I highly recommend it. It is poignant and funny, aww-inducing and educational. I love seeing how mother's in other cultures live - how they dress, do their hair, feed their babies, play with their babies, and basically go about their daily lives. Its great to see how the babies interact with their siblings, their animals and their food. Though it seems simplistic, a documentary about babies can really open our eyes to the beautiful spectrum of human culture. 

    (Of course, the movie also raised some unanswered questions: How were the babies birthed? What is maternity care like? What is it the Namibian women cover their hair with? How long did all the moms breastfeed? Why did it seem that dads were mostly out of the picture in Mongolia and Namibia? Is it a cultural thing that as a girl, Poni had her genitals covered in front, but none of the little boys had theirs covered? What did the Mongolian mom say to Bayar when she got so upset with him for spilling the water pail (no subtitles) Why is our culture so extremely worried all the time about things like hand-sanitizer before holding baby, when Namibian babies can eat rocks and bones and be just fine? Did Bayar's brother push him out in the stroller and leave him because he doesn't like him? and so forth)

    Have you seen the movie yet? What did you think? What questions did it raise for you? And what was your favorite part?! :)

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    Saturday Movie: A Biologist's Tribute to Mom

    This is so hilarious! And creative! A science-themed Mother's Day song.

    I'm a nerd :P

    Friday, May 14, 2010

    Friday Movie: Breastfeeding in Public

    Cafe Manager Berates Breastfeeding Mom
    on ABC News, via Bellies and Babies

    What an interesting social experiment! What runs through your mind when you see a woman nursing in public? I can't say that I've seen very many, actually.
    How do you think you would react if you saw a nursing mom being harassed by a store manager? Would you say nothing or stick up for her? Be honest now...

    Want to know what happens next? You can watch What Would You Do on ABC News tonight, May 14, at 9 pm.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    A Round Up of Really Great Links

    There have been a lot of really great articles and blog posts in the past week that I've been reading, and I'd like to share them with you all in case you've missed them! While I'd love to devote a post to every one to reflect on each of them, I realized that I had quite a few and that was never going to happen. So please, even though I know it means clicking away someplace else and taking some time to read, check them out!

    1. Why we still need to “Watch our language” from Breastfeeding Medicine (physicians blogging about breastfeeding)

    • Breastfeeding is not an "optional extra credit assignment for over-achievers," it is the "biologic norm." The writer encourages physicians to tell their patients that there are risks to formula feeding, but not to say that breastfeeding is the "best" "optimal" or "ideal."

    2. PhD in Parenting shares a Fox News video on Bed-sharing (or Co-sleeping) that is, maybe surprisingly, very well-balanced, honest, shocking, informative, and eye-opening. 
    • Many are saying all bed-sharing is dangerous, because a few babies have died. What is the one factor that all bed-sharing death situations shared in common? Adult had been drinking, Other children in the bed, Baby was Formula fed, or Adult and baby were sleeping on a Sofa? The answer may surprise you! 

    3. Doulas are for Women Who... Want Epidurals. Birthing Beautiful Ideas is posting several "Doulas are for women who..." series posts this month for International Doula Month. 
    • Many women believe that they will not need a doula if they plan on getting an epidural, because they think that doulas are only for women who want an un-medicated birth. This isn't true! This post talks about all the great ways a doula can provide support for mom and dad who plan on getting epidural anesthesia during birth. 

    4. Manly Men and Blundering Dads: On Men's Guides to Childbirth from First the Egg
    • Molly is a doula, a feminist scholar, and has a PhD in English. In this post she analyzes several men's guides to childbirth that she read and how they focus on "maintaing masculinity" in the birthing room which is an "unsettlingly feminine" place. One shocking quote: "Lloyd and Finch claim that, if a man expresses emotional needs, he must have a “huge vagina” (90-1). They treat the female body as so alien and incomprehensible that they literally refer to the cervix as the “wombhole.” Click over to read more!

    5. Dou-la-la writes a long post on Dr. Wonderful, an obstetrician who trusts birth! He is an incredible and caring doctor who goes above and beyond. The story and photos about him are amazing. 

    6. A Message to Dads-to-Be on Taking a Natural Birth Class from Banned From Baby Showers
    • What's the point of sitting through and paying for a 12 week natural birth class? Haven't women been giving birth since the beginning of time? Number one best reason: "It is not just another day in your life. It does matter how the baby gets here" -  I highly recommend you read this one - its full of really great points! 
    7. Doulas are For (Women Who Have) Birth Partners, another one from Birthing Beautiful Ideas
    • Along a similar thought-process as the above post - Moms and Dads-to-be may wonder why they need a doula... Haven't women been giving birth since the beginning of time? This post puts forth all the great things that I've tried to say here on my blog about the importance of doulas even with a partner present, ie Doulas Support Partners as well as Laboring Women, and more, such as a Doula can help you have a more intimate birthing experience, etc. Clicky! 

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    My Fifth Baby

    "Congratulations on delivering your fifth baby!" is what my mom said on the phone when I told her I was on my way home from a birth. Technically, I did not deliver any babies, but this was indeed my fifth lifetime birth attendance!

    This birth occurred on friday morning and it was quite an adventure. Since I was away camping in the mountains for the weekend, I haven't been able to type it up until now. It is the birth story of the Multip who I had just had my first prenatal visit with the evening before, who was worried that she would have the baby while I was gone over the weekend. I had gathered some on-call doula contacts for her to call if she went into labor while I was gone, but we didn't need them!

    On the morning of May 7th my phone rang at 6:00 am. Your husband told me that you had been having strong contractions since about midnight, and that your water had been steadily leaking since 2:30 am. You had called your friend to have her come get your sons, and you were wondering what you could do to slow labor until they were picked up. I suggested that you get into the bathtub and I would be on my way to your house!

    I pulled into your driveway at 7:15 am and my phone rang. I picked up and said, "I just pulled in!" and your husband said "Oh, we just pulled out!" We must have just missed each other! You were getting out of the bath when your water had broken and you suddenly had the urge to push. You gathered the kids in the car, who hadn't yet been picked up, and rushed off to the nearest hospital. It was not the hospital you had planned on delivering at, but it was too late to drive to the further one. Your husband was amazing - he had me on the phone giving him directions to catch up with him, was helping you, and driving all at the same time! He was reassuring your sons that mommy was ok, she was doing exactly what you have to do to get the baby out. He was rubbing your back and reminding you to breathe and reassuring you that you were doing great. I had him remind you that you were doing it all for your baby, who you would see so soon!

    We were 4 minutes from the hospital and we were in slow-moving traffic on a one-way road when your husband saw an ambulance in front of him. You were exclaiming "the baby is coming!" so he pulled in front of the ambulance, jumped out, and asked if they could help you get to the hospital because you were having a baby. I was only a few cars behind you in the lane, so I threw on my hazard lights and ran up to where you were. You held onto me and your husband as the emergency techs prepared a stretcher for you. We reassured you that you were ok and you were almost there! You asked if I could go into the ambulance with you and it hurt me to not be able to... my car was parked in a travel lane and I had to move it! I ran back to my car to find a place to park it, but the ambulance had pulled away already. I got into my car and made my way to the hospital, a few minutes behind you.

    In the hospital parking lot I saw your friend standing with your kids at your car so I knew that had been taken care of! I rushed into the Emergency door but didn't see you. I asked at the security desk and he said he'd have to find out a room number before I could get a badge. I told him that you had just come in pushing and probably didn't have a room yet. He sent me to registration, who was also unsure what to do since you hadn't stopped to register with them either. I told her you were brought in by an ambulance, and you were pushing already, could she please just show me the way to labor and delivery?! Finally she said she'd walk me there. Over the loud speaker I heard a call go out for "Any OB in the hospital" and I knew which room you must be in!

    I rushed in and found you on the delivery bed with your husband by your side. The room was full of nurses and they had put monitors, an IV, and an oxygen mask on you. They prepared the lower part of the bed for pushing. Your husband and I were holding your hand and reassuring you, listening to you. You were moaning and grunting, but just breathing and resting in between urges to bear down. A nurse shoved me out of my place by your head and said, "Ok now you're going to hold your breath and push as hard as you can and DON'T MAKE ANY NOISE."

    What?! Preposterous! Don't make any noise?! That doesn't make sense at all. I was so frustrated. I decided that since I didn't know these women and were never going to have to see them again and my job was to help my client first and foremost, I was going to ignore them and give you my own instructions even if they went against the nurses. The nurses were all yelling at her to push push PUSH Harder! And I was reminding her to breathe. When I said "You can do some nice low sounds... Ok blow it out..." that kind of thing, the nurse yelled "DON'T BLOW IT OUT! If you're making noise you're not PUSHING!" GAH!@#%$^!

    Why are they in such a rush to get the baby out anyway? A mother having her third baby, with no drugs or epidural anesthesia KNOWS how to birth her baby, how to follow her urges to bear down, she does not need to be directed! And she certainly does not have to hold your breath and remain silent to push! Purple pushing is the WORST. Mom responded to their orders to push, but she took a breath when I told her to as well.

    You told me later that you were listening to me and not to them. Your baby crowned quickly and suddenly an OB arrived. She caught your baby, cut the cord, and he was whisked away crying to the warmer. Again, I'm not sure what the reasoning for this was. Your baby was clearly breathing and he pinked up quickly. He received an 8 and a 9 on his Apgars. I grabbed my camera and encouraged dad to go over to see his baby. He took some photos and we showed them to you. Your baby was 5 lb 10 oz born at 8:09 am. You had no tears to repair - yipee! 

    The OB began to massage your uterus and tug on the cord a bit to get the placenta to come out. She said, "put your hand down," and you thought she meant onto your stomach. When you put your hand down on your stomach she jerked her hands away and angrily said, "Uch! You touched my glove! Now I have to go get new ones!" because they were contaminated from your hands, and told you in an annoyed voice that you didn't mean put your hand down there! Wow was she pissy. This hospital gets a very bad score in my book. Placenta came out fine a few minutes later. They wrapped the baby and got you settled in bed.

    Your baby was handed to you and you were so happy! Unfortunately, because you weren't registered with the hospital, your husband had to run down to the car and all around with your paperwork getting you into the system. I took a ton of pictures. Your friend brought your sons up to meet their new baby brother! This is getting to be one of my favorite parts - when the siblings meet the new baby! 

    Luckily all the nurses who tended to you postpartum were very nice. You had the shivers so I made sure the nurses brought you socks and warm blankets. I assured you this was normal and I rubbed your cold feet. We encouraged your new son to latch on at the breast, and he began to nurse very well! I reminded you of a few breastfeeding tips and stayed with you a while until your husband came back. I held your hand while the nurse palpated your stomach to encourage it to contract. I brought you some apple sauce. The nurses waited until you were done nursing and then took the baby to the nursery to do some tests and wash him. Your husband went with him. After your husband returned, you were cleaned up, and moved to the postpartum room, I congratulated you and left. 

    This was my third "fast" birth! I am getting all the quickies! And because of my late attendance it doesn't count towards certification. I am grateful for the experience and being able to help my clients. I am also thinking maybe I should only work with first time moms, lol ;] 

    Its crazy to think that I only met this client one week ago! I visited them for their postpartum visit yesterday evening. I brought her homemade roasted red pepper and tomato soup, which I looked up the recipe for, to meet her non-gluten/specific carbohydrate diet! I chatted with mom about the birth, held the baby for awhile, discussed breastfeeding, gave her some samples and brochures I have. Dad took a photo of me, mom and the baby together which I can't wait to put up on my business site!

    Each birth, each client and each postpartum visit creates more things that are new to me and that I have to research. For instance, today she asked me about gas/burping a breastfed baby. My newborn care expertise is spotty, but I was under the impression that keeping a baby propped upright after feeding was sufficient to quell spit-ups and gas, and that in general breastfed babies have less gas and spit-ups than formula fed babies. She seemed concerned that he wouldn't burp after each feeding and then he'd make noises later that sounded like he had some air coming up. I looked it up just now... and found that I was right. Breastfed babies won't burp after every feeding. Sometimes they get gassy one hour after feeding. Generally its just the result of an immature GI tract, and it will get better over time. Now we've all learned together!

    While I was at their home, client's mom thanked me for everything I did, saying it sounds like I was a big help. Its so nice to hear that, especially coming from her, because it means that my client told her mom that my presence was definitely appreciated. Also, my client told me that when I rang the doorbell, her 8 year old son looked out the window, saw me, and called, "Its Your Birth Sister!" (my business name), which is just so funny!
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