Monday, February 20, 2012

full baby weekend!

Having had a 3 day weekend, I should have taken time to stock up on some blog posts... but alas, I spent Saturday at childbirth class, Sunday at a baby shower, and today shopping the Natick Malls.  Thus, no blogging for this little mama.

For now, you'll just have to be entertained by this pic of my cousin and me.  She's gonna be induced in 10 days if she hasn't popped before then.  Doesn't she look like she's smuggling a watermelon?!?!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mother's Milk Bank

So unfortunately, I don't qualify to donate to this milk bank due to the fact that I've traveled to England for too long... but I really hope the rest of you young moms check this out.  If you've never heard of this, it's a GREAT way to give back to community without costing yourself anything other than a little time and energy.

Mother's Milk Bank of New England

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Delayed Cord Clamping

I could write an entire post on Delayed Cord Clamping and what I've learned.  I could describe what I feel are the benefits, many of which are at least peripherally highlighted in my other posts this week about vitamin K, eye ointment, and hep B.  I could site sources about animal birthing patterns, non-western culture, midwifes attending homebirths, etc, etc, etc.  But the truth of the matter is I'd be wasting my time and yours.  Instead, I'm just gonna highly recommend that you watch this video:

Delayed Cord Clamping Grand Rounds

It's a bit long (50 minutes total, I think), but worth every minute if you'd like to hear a real professional talk through the evidence base regarding when to clamp the cord, clinical benefits, and possible theoretical outcomes.  I learned SO MUCH.

If you take the time to watch, I'd love to hear what you think about it!  Also, tell me what your experiences are with cutting the umbilical cord!  Who did it for you?  When did they do it?  Was it something you thought about at all, or was it just 'routine?'

Monday, February 13, 2012

Saying No, Part III

Okay... when researching Hep B vaccines, I quickly got entrenched in dozens of sources fighting the battle of the standard vaccine schedule vs. various "alternative" schedules vs. avoiding vaccines all together.  And honestly, I haven't read enough about it to definitively make a statement pro or con about any of those 3 things.  So I'll keep things short and sweet, since I'm not ready to engage in the entire debate about vaccines.  Here's what I know thus far:
  • The standard vaccine schedule for children aged 0-6 (approved by the CDC and others) recommends 25 shots in the first 15 months of life.  Alternative schedules typically spread the same shots over 5-6 years.
  • The standard schedule of Hep B shots is given at birth, 1-2 months, and 6-18 months
  • Dr. Sears (the famous alternative immunization schedule guy) recommends Hep b at 2.5 years, 3 years, and 3.5 years instead.
  • most places require it for school entry (and require you to be on track for day care entry)
  • hep B, if contracted, is typically symptomless in infants, but still dangerous both to the carrier infant as well as anyone else they could expose 
  • Infant infections are typically found only in babies born to a Hepatitis B-positive mother (which I'm not), in which case it's important to get the vaccine in within 12 hours after birth.
I think that Ben and I will decline the Hep B shot while admitted at Mount Auburn, and this is approved by my midwife.  However, we will likely get our little girl the shot at some point in the future.  The question is whether we do it in the near future or the more distant future.  But I think the risks of Hep B certainly outweigh the consequences of pain from a few needles at some point down the road.  I'm really looking forward to figuring out what point down the road that is for us.  

I'll probably rely heavily on the advice of our pediatrician... which brings me to a whole separate issue.  Finding a pediatrician we like. ;-)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Saying No, Part II

As promised, I wanted to talk more about saying no, specifically when it relates to labor and delivery.  I don't have as MUCH to say about eye ointment as I did about Vitamin K.  But I feel equally strongly about it.

Similar to my last post, I'm not going to include all of my citations here.  But I will let you know that this page at as well as some info at was very helpful.  I'd strongly encourage you to do your own literature based, evidence based reading before you say no to anything yourself.

Eye Ointment
Why do all the pictures of 12 hour old babies always look a little greasy around the eyes?  Because for decades, it's been standard practice in the US (and many other westernized cultures) to use an eye ointment to reduce the risk of or prevent bacterial infections which could, theoretically, lead to infant blindness.  BLINDNESS?!?!  NOT COOL!  Most moms would hear that little information and say, "where do I sign for the eye ointment?"  But I'm sorta a black sheep when it comes to trusting medical professionals... I think it comes with the territory when you work in the medical field and learn how unscientific many of the 'scientific' things we recommend are.  Thus, I wanted to learn a little for myself.  He's what I've learned thus far:

  • gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause blindness in infants when they'd get exposed to the illnesses in the birth canal during delivery.
  • back in the day, the treatment for infants essentially included washing out the eyes with sterile water... you can imagine how useful that was.
  • In more modern times, if a child is infected with gonorrhea or chlamydia in their eyes, we'd treat them with antibiotics, which typically resolves the infection in less than a week.
  • The standard prophylactic for eye infections at birth used to be silver nitrate, but now the standard is Erythromycin... an antibiotic... wait, didn't we say in yesterday's post about vitamin K that antibiotic exposure would limit/reduce the uptake of vitamin K in a newborn?  hm...
  • Even if mom tests negative for gonorrhea and chlamydia (which, btw, I have multiple times in my life), physicians will still administer the prophylactic because sometimes screening tests for STDs are wrong/false negative.
  • Another "scare tactic" is that gonorrhea and chlamydia can lay dormant in a woman for years without symptoms... thus worrying us all that our children could get it in their eyes with no symptoms.  But it doesn't work that way.  If an infant gets an eye infection from gonhorrhea or chlamydia, you'd know immediately by their swollen, puffy, red, eyes and face.  One site even talked about "oozing."  Now what kind of mother would I be if I miss "oozing" from my child's eyes and face and don't take them IMMEDIATELY to the docs office for diagnosis and treatment?
Thus, given that I'm 100% positive that I'm in a monogamous relationship where neither my spouse nor I have either of these STDs, given that I plan to pay close attention to my child's eyes and face immediately following their birth (and probably for the next 18 years after that), and given that I don't believe in prophylactic antibiotics, I plan FIRMLY on declining the eye ointment at birth unless my midwife can make a REALLY good argument otherwise in the moment.  And at the present, my midwife agrees with me!

Stay tuned for part 3, where I discuss Hep B shots... 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saying No, Part I

Sometimes I think my "green" and "crunchy granola" personality gets hidden behind societal norms and my personality traits of "frugal" and "cheap-skate."  It's actually quite convenient that the two go hand in hand so often (except, sometimes, when buying organic groceries).  But I really have been motivated on saving our planets resources since I was a little girl.  I remember doing science experiments at home to see how long it would take rubber bands to rot away due to bad stuff in the air and having celery soak up food coloring to discover about how our plants are affected by what's in the water and the soil.  Did anyone else own this book: 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save The Earth?  I think the cover's changed a few times since I was in elementary school.  But I will never forget that book.

So along with having to say no to myself about all sorts of things I want to buy, but don't, as we're trying to get out of debt, I am aware that saying no as a mother will be important too.  And I think it starts long before one's child is old enough to do something naughty.  As babygirl Warren grows and kicks more, I've been thinking about labor, delivery, and child birth and all of the things I might want or not want to be a part of that process.  You know I've been working with a midwife and my goal would be to have as natural of a birth as I can safely manage (though Ben swears at least one of us will be drugged for the process).  I'm not opposed to pain killers, epidurals, pitocin, IVs, fetal monitors, or even c-sections if my midwife thinks these are necessary to keep myself and my little one safe, but I'm not going to pursue them as "the standard" like many American women do.

Along with that, there are a variety of medical interventions that Americans perform/do/provide to their infants within the first few hours of life that I am wondering if I should say no to as well.  I had a chance to talk with my midwife about these at Thursday's appointment.  And I'll be honest, even though I knew I was working with a "crunchy granola" midwife, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly she told me it was okay to say no.

The first one she said I could say no to was really more of a "maybe," which I think is fair.  It is: VITAMIN K.  In the US (and many other western countries) babies are given a shot of Vitamin K during the first few hours of life to help with blood clotting.  I was concerned, though, because I believe the research that outlines how you want to minimize traumatic experiences as much as possible with little ones, especially brand-new-day-one little ones.  A shot, no matter how routine, is a traumatic, painful event.  So I wanted to look into the whats and whys of vitamin K shots-- to determine if it's really necessary.  Here's my own brief summary of what I learned:

  • Vitamin K shots became common in the 40s (when "twilight sleep" labor was common) when most women were so knocked out that they had to use forceps to deliver the baby and therefore, head traumas were very common.
  • Vitamin K literature is skimpy with regard to what the "right" dose should be -- it's never been thoroughly tested
  • The only reason they give it by shot (rather than by mouth, which has been shown in the literature to be effective as well) is to "ensure that the baby actually gets it."  Really?
  • Babies often "loose" or "miss out" on 40% of their blood volume at birth by clamping and cutting the umbilical cord immediately after birth (rather than waiting until it stops pulsing, about 5 minutes).  
  • The reason people clamp and cut so early is so that they can take the baby across the room, away from mom, to perform other interventions... many of which have to do with being in distress because there's not enough blood (do you start to see the circular reasoning here???)
  • Vitamin K is passed to the baby better in breastmilk/colostrum than it is through the placenta.  However, many babies aren't nursed immediately and miss out on the early doses of colostrum which are high in Vitamin K.
  • Vitamin K uptake is reduced/limited when mothers or babies are exposed to antibotics during 3rd trimester or labor/delivery
I read a lot of websites and articles, but I won't bother siting them all here.  My favorite one was at if your curious to read it in someone else's words.  But if you're really considering saying No yourself, I'd also encourage you to look at something with evidenced based citations, which that site is missing.

So, when I asked my midwife about skipping out on vitamin K, her response was that it was reasonable if I don't have a traumatic birth (aka, if I don't need a c-section, forceps or vacuum delivery, lose a lot of blood, baby immediately in distress, etc-- all those things that I am hoping not to need anyway).  She said that Mount Auburn would administer it (if we consented) after the baby was taken to the nursery for her exam and bath and Ben went with her, so Ben would have to know what our plan was.  I thought that was all quite agreeable. 

Having researched it now, my hope (but not expectation.  I know I can't expect perfect) about vitamin K is that 
  • I have an easy, natural birth without trauma,
  • Baby is well enough that she can stay with me for at least the first 5 minutes until the cord stops pulsing before we cut it,
  • Baby is well enough to stay with me for the first 2 hours in the labor/delivery room so that we can start nursing ASAP,
  • and therefore we'll be able to decline the vitamin K shot.
On a related note, I also found conflicting information about ways that mom can consume vitamin K to best help baby.  A couple places talked about how vitamin K isn't passed well through the blood, so there's not much I can to do help.  But a couple other places talked about how increasing my vitamin K could help.  One source discussed a small study in ?Norway where they tested vitamin K levels during the 3rd trimester, which were gradually dropping in all of the women, presumably because the baby was taking the vitamin k that he/she needed, leaving low levels for mom.  

Now I'd say, even if the vitamin K doesn't pass through my blood to my baby, I still don't want low vitamin K levels for myself... I need good clotting too, right?  I mean, first of all, I've always bruised easily, second of all, I'm gonna have a lot of blood loss during labor/delivery, and 3rd, it can even contribute to silly little things like increased gum bleeding when I floss!  Thus, I want to keep my vitamin K levels high, if I can.  So the first thing I did was look at my prenatal vitamin... not a single drop of vitamin K in it!!!  I was stunned!  If we're in such a rush as a society to give it to baby immediately after birth, why aren't we, as a society, trying to pump it in during pregnancy?  That led me to looking for other, more natural ways to get vitamin K. And really, if I'm eating well, I should be getting plenty of vitamin K. Take a look at this list of vitamin K rich foods:

"Excellent sources of vitamin K include parsley, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, green beans, asparagus, broccoli, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, collard greens, thyme, romaine lettuce, sage, oregano, cabbage, celery, sea vegetables, cucumber, leeks, cauliflower, tomatoes, and blueberries."

Again, I won't bore you with ALL the links I looked at, but this site seemed to be a pretty good summary of what vitamin K is, what it's helpful for, how to get it, etc.

What vitamins and minerals are you most on the look out for in your diet???

p.s., next post - eye ointments and hep B shots for newborns... stay tuned!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Maybe THIS is nesting?

I still struggle with knowing whether or not I'm "nesting."  It might have started when I was painting every room in the house... but that was just finishing a project from before I was even pregnant.  Or it could have been the day of winterizing the windows, but we do that every year.  The next "nesting" thing that I'm doing isn't really nesting either. 

So Ben and I receive veggies every other week from this awesome program called Boston Organics.  We get awesome food that we love to eat.  But sometimes (especially when pregnant) I feel lazy about the foods and don't get enough of them fixed up and they go bad in our fridge before we can get to it all.  Well this week, I've been making a STRONG effort to use up the veggies! 

Simultaneously, though, I've been thinking about some of the "Once A Month Cooking" I've read about online and also thinking about mommy-blogs who talk about how hard it is to get the motivation to cook in the first couple weeks home from the hospital after giving birth.  Thus, I'm trying to kill two birds with one stone and cook up those veggies in ways we'll appreciate and then freeze the results for consumption in April and May!

Take a look at my results thus far:

This is a carrot/parsnip soup I was working on Thurs night in the crock pot.  Threw them in there with some water, seasonings, celery, onion, garlic, and curry... tonight's project will be to puree it and get it in containers for the freezer.  Then it's just a thaw-and-eat that Ben and I can pull out whenever!

Here's some zucchini bread muffins.  The zucchini was actually already in our freezer, pureed/chopped up from last summer/fall, but I got it out and made the muffins on Thurs night as well.  After they flash freeze on the pan (so that they're all separate), I'll throw 'em in a gallon sized ziplock and they can be brought out a few at a time for re-heating in the toaster oven.  Yummy breakfast and snack foods!

And here's the two soups from earlier in the week.  On the left side is the chicken soup- just add noodles when you defrost it and that container will make 4-5 servings of yummy, organic chicken noodle soup with carrots, celery, and onion.  And on the right side is a baked potato soup.  The advice I got online was to freeze it without the dairy products, 'cause it would re-heat better.  So it needs a bit more work on defrosting.  But I think Ben will like it more, so it's worth it. :-)

I'd like to start working on some other items besides soups too-- maybe some pre-seasoned meats that could just be dethawed and cooked by Ben or even some other bread products.  All of the Once a Month Cooking websites talk about premaking and defrosting pancakes and the like... but I'm worried they just won't turn out.

Anyone have personal experience or advice for me?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Maternity Clothes

In my group of friends, recycling is pretty common.  But Recycling is only one piece of the puzzle.  It's definitely better than landfills, don't get me wrong.  But it still has a financial impact on society when you think about collection, plants for breaking down the goods, and energy to rebuild the raw materials into something new.  We all need to be doing our part to Reduce and Reuse as well if we're going to make an impact on our limited resources.

That's why I'm SUPER PROUD of my newest addition to my house.  I've joined a listserv of moms in the Jamaica Plain area.  It seems to be a good, supportive forum for moms to ask advice, get advice, etc.  But they also have a "classifieds" area where folks will post cheap and free items to be reused by other families in the area.  Most of the stuff is kid toys/clothes/etc.  But this week, a mom posted about free maternity clothes in my size!  All I had to do was pick the stuff up at her house and I could prevent all those items from being in a landfill, make 'double' use of items which took energy and economic resources to create, and also build my wardrobe while saving myself a pile of cash!

Check out the loot:

8 pairs of black pants and khakis
1 pair of black sweatpants
2 pairs of jeans
9 long sleeved shirts
6 short sleeved shirts
2 tank tops
2 cardigans (one cream, one black)
2 skirts
2 dresses
3 swim suits
3 shorts
4 capris

Even when you "subtract" the items that I've gotten which aren't gonna be seasonally appropriate for me, I'd say I still SWEPT UP!!!


This basically doubles my maternity wardrobe.  It means I can put away all of the non-maternity clothes which I've been trying (only partially successfully) to stretch over my growing belly and feel confident in the clothes I have that fit me.  It also means that in the next couple weeks as my belly officially out-grows my scrub bottoms, I have enough stuff to wear to work without needing to make any purchases!

I'd count this one as a success.  It'll be a double success when I can hand these items down to someone else in the future, as well!