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It’s no secret: I nursed both of my kids.
According to the Internet Moms of today, this is the Correct Way Of Doing Things. I don’t really care about the Correct Way Of Doing Things much (perhaps it’s the Catholic schoolgirl in me still being a bit rebellious), but I did find myself, over the past three years, having to defend my decision to nurse my kids. While I never got kicked off a plane or humiliated in public, I did have to deal with a family for whom breastfeeding was not “normal,” and the few disgusted looks occasionally thrown my way in public. Still, I nursed my eldest until she self-weaned at 19 months of age, and I intended to nurse my youngest until he weaned as well.
I was pretty certain he’d wean early. Already at 9 months he was an amazing eater of solid foods, cutting back on his milk feedings, and eating as much as his 2 year old sister at mealtimes (sometimes even more, if she were going through a spontaneous picky stage. Actually, he often finished her meals, too). What I wasn’t prepared for was for myself to be diagnosed with a condition for which medication was not nursing-safe when he was only 11 months old.
Infants and toddlers love to swim, and today’s babies are introduced to the pool earlier and earlier. With all the kicking and splashing, it provides exercise that they wouldn’t be getting elsewhere. It also helps them develop a love for water and shows them when and how to be cautious around it.
Taking your baby for a swim can be a lot of fun, but there are a few things you need to know before you both get in the pool.
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that a baby should be taken into a pool no earlier than two months of age. A baby’s temp can change quickly, and a baby is not big enough to regulate her body temperature until she’s around a year old, therefore the pool needs to be on the warm side when you go in.
“I use an Ameda Purely Yours with 25 millimeter flanges, but the white valves need to be replaced and it wouldn’t hurt to get a spare set of diaphragms as well.” If you haven’t clicked away from that mess of words already, and you are new to the world of breastpumps, you probably are wondering what on earth everything is! Since most people have had absolutely no reason to research breastpumps at any point in their lives before they had children, the lingo can be mysterious and confusing! Why are there tubes? What is a flange? Will I feel like a cow being milked? We will explore the basic parts of a breastpump below.
Many years ago, breastfeeding was on its way “out.” Advances in the nutrition and development of commercial formulas meant that children who needed to be on formula, whatever the reason may be, were able to thrive on good nutrition. However, with these scientific breakthroughs, and due to an enormous number of factors that I won’t do into in depth here, the general American public came to see formula as “better” than breastmilk, and women who chose to breastfeed were seen as weird, perhaps even “backwards.”
Shortly before her second birthday, my daughter became intensely interested in using the potty. She followed us into the bathroom to watch us go. She started pulling at her diapers after she peed. She sat on her little plastic potty and read books. One day after watching my husband use the bathroom, she ran around naked pretending to pee standing up with various “Wissssssssssssh!” sound effects. It was really the perfect time to start potty training her.
Her brother didn’t agree. I went into labor with him on my daughter’s birthday and all thoughts of potty training went out the window for all of us. I suppose it was for the best, since she probably would have regressed with a new baby in the house anyway, but I was slightly irritated at having lost the “window of opportunity” to train her. A couple of months later, when the water bill showed up and we were somehow shocked at learning that cloth diapering two full time uses much more water than only cloth diapering one full time, I bribed my daughter onto the potty with a couple of M&Ms (no judgment!) and suddenly, boom, she wanted to use the potty! Now that I had forced open a new window of opportunity, I found myself with another issue—what kind of training pants to use?
I’m a scientifically minded person. This is probably because ever since I was a little kid I drove my parents and teachers crazy by asking WHY…but I needed detailed answers. “Why is the sky blue?” could not be answered with, “Well, that’s the color the sky is, the light makes it look blue”–no, the whole concept of the color spectrum and so on had to be explained before I was satisfied. Perhaps this expectedly also got me in trouble with the nuns at the Catholic school I attended for asking too many theological questions, but that’s another story.
Anyway, this means I question a lot of things. If I read an article on a news site that says “New Study Reveals Yogurt Cures Feline Leukemia,” the first thing I will do is read the article, point out all the factual errors, and question statements about the results that aren’t backed up with statistics or other links, then hunt for the original study in a scientific journal and point out that the study showed that at 10am on a sunny Monday in March, a cat ate yogurt and tested negative for leukemia three days later which means nothing scientifically and the article was dumb. Yes, really, I do this all the time, probably much to the annoyance of everyone in my life. Anyway, THIS means that I naturally tend to be skeptical of alternative medicines and cures. Sure, millions of people might swear by taking a certain herbal supplement to prevent the flu or something, but if there are no studies proving so, it wouldn’t even cross my mind to try it.
I’m aware that nursing your baby exposes them to antibodies and other compounds that aren’t in formula. But everywhere, people were touting the healing properties of breastmilk. It cured pinkeye! It cured cradle cap! It cured diaper rash! It cured everything! The skeptic in me kicked in, even the entire nineteen months I nursed my daughter. Sure, it’s good nutrition for a child, but as a remedy for a bunch of different things? Bah.
I admit, I’m kind of a disaster freak.
Not like, “Oh no, the apocalypse is coming, gotta store 500 lbs of wheat in my cellar” type of disaster freak (mostly because we live in a top floor apartment in the middle of a large metropolitan city). But, you know, I live in the Pacific Rim of Fire and that top floor apartment gives me a dead on view of a volcano that’s been overdue for an eruption for a few hundred years now. I will at least get a National Geographicesque high-resolution closeup view of a volcanic eruption before I die a terrible, burning death.
However, more realistically, my decision to live a life on top of the area where two giant continental plates smash against one another means I’ll probably get caught up in an earthquake one of these days. The county has a suggested disaster preparation list of things that every family should have on hand in case of a disaster, tailored slightly to earthquakes for the area. You’ve got your usual water bottles and emergency blankets and ponchos, emergency food bars (have you ever actually eaten those? They’re, uh…definitely only something I’d eat in an absolute emergency), and then, almost as an afterthought, the list adds “specialty items for kids and pets.” This is important, but it begs the question of what the absolute essentials are for children in a time of disaster.
We knew at the beginning of my pregnancy that the chances of getting cholestasis again were very high. Some studies say the chances are even as high as 90%. So while I was hopeful to avoid it, I knew that more likely then not, we would be dealing with it again. The first time I had it was during my pregnancy with my fourth child, I only had to deal with the itching for a very short time, I was diagnosed and induced the very same day. It really did not prepare me for what I would be experiencing this time around.
The itching began weeks before I was diagnosed this time, my official diagnoses came around the 33 week mark. They got me on medicine right away but nothing ever fully took away the itching. I now have scars on my arms, legs, feet, and chest because I would scratch so much.
My induction date was set for February 7th I spent the four weeks beforehand at a lot of doctor visits with extra tests. Due to the complications the condition can have for an unborn baby, I needed a lot of extra monitoring. I felt like a living pin cushion from all the blood tests they were doing. The Tuesday before my induction date was my final doctor visit. She wanted to see if I was favorable for induction and I was not. I was barely dilated to a one, 30% effaced and my cervix was very high. My doctor wanted to try cervical ripening the night before. I was upset by this news, it was another night away from my older children and more intervention that I did not want.
Thursday night I went in around 7pm and they started the cervidal. The night was pretty uneventful, I did contract every two minutes most of the night but they were not very painful. I tried to get some sleep and hoped that by morning something would have happened. By morning I was only a two and 40% effaced, it was pretty disappointing to hear. A pitocin drip was started around 7 am and I spent the afternoon walking the halls, getting the pitocin upped, more walking, more pitocin. They checked me a few times during the afternoon and not much was changing. By 3pm I was sitting at a three and 50% effaced. My doctor wanted to break my water and that is when I made the choice to get an epidural. I did not have the energy to labor all day and all night, I had not slept well in so long from the itching and I was just wanting things to be over. I wanted a natural labor, I was pretty upset with how everything was going. They let me off the monitors for awhile, I sat in the bath and waited for the anesthesiologist. While in there I broke down and cried, my husband was sitting with me and he just held me, kept reassuring me that it was okay and telling me that no matter what, I was still strong and we would have our baby soon.
What is Cholestasis?
Cholestasis, also known as ICP is a rare condition that usually occurs in late pregnancy. For reasons unknown, bile secretion is interrupted and starts backing up into your blood stream. This triggers severe itching, especially on the hands and feet. The itching often gets worse at night and very little helps.
Symptoms include –
Severe itching (this is often the only sign)
Dark colored urine (even when drinking large amounts of fluids)
Pale colored stools
While ICP does not usually have any long term side effects to the mother, it can harm a baby. It has been linked to increased risk of still birth after 37 weeks so early delivery is usually recommended. That is why it is a condition that needs to be taken very seriously. If you have any signs of Cholestasis, you need to get a blood draw. A doctor will need to check your liver function and your bile acid levels.
I had Cholestasis with my fourth child. When I was just over 36 weeks pregnant, I started to notice I was itching all over. I brushed it off because at the time I was house sitting for my parents. They have a small farm and I figured it was just from being out there. A couple days after I got home the itching got really bad, I stayed up all night itching. I made my legs bleed, my hands were raw, and I knew something was wrong. In the middle of the night I got online and started doing some research, desperately looking for relief, that is when I found information on Cholestasis. I did not fret much since it was such a rare condition and I had none of the risk factors. I called my doctor right away in the morning, he also was not very concerned but went ahead and ran a blood test. A couple hours later the liver function test came back and it was pretty bad. Since I was 37 weeks at this point, the best option was to induce right away. I went in that night and Amelia was born early the next morning. Her birth was not like we planned at all. I ended up with a hemorrhage that was most likely caused by Cholestasis. My doctor had never dealt with it before and did not know that is was recommended to give the mother a vitaman K shot. Cholestasis affects your ability to properly absord vitaman K (and other vitamins).
After Amelia was born, we were unsure if we wanted anymore children. I had a very high chance of getting Cholestasis again. We decided to wait and make a final decision when Amelia was closer to four. That did not end up happening. I got a surprise BFP shortly before she turned two.