Who is this person in the mirror wearing mommy’s sweats?

Did becoming a mother turn your world upside down and backwards? Jodi, a mother in University City shares, “After I had Sammy I woke up one morning or afternoon, really who knows what time it was.   Everything blended into one endless round of feedings and laundry, and catching sleep whenever I could.   So I get up to wash my face and I look into the mirror.  I don’t recognize the image in front of me.  Who is this desperately tired person?    She has deep circles under her eyes.  She has a flabby belly.  She is wearing mommy sweats.   I don’t know her.”

Research shows that despite all preperation parents today are actually under prepared for the transition into parenthood.  Many mothers find that their friendships, their marriages and their essential sense of self has changed.  We are not prepared for this isolating upheaval and in modern life without our “tribe” right next door.

So what’s a girl to do?  Join  Baby Maven’s Mother’s Circle! This new group is a place for mothers to connect, share and learn.  Classes are forming now at So Childish (1947 30th Street) call 800.383.1790 or info@babymaven.org for exact times and registration.  $60 for a 6 week series

More about Mother’s Circle:

This dynamic class will integrates each mother’s personal goals to develop a balance of education and support.   The small group will strive for a judgment free zone where you can voice your concerns, and make meaningful connections. Mother’s circle welcomes all mothers including expectant, adoptive and second time mamas.  You will learn:

–         What is the best way for everyone to get some sleep?

–         Should I let my baby cry and will I spoil her if I don’t?

–         How can I start early to raise a happy and independent child?

–         I wonder if my baby is developing normally?

–         My spouse and I are fighting more and I’m overwhelmed, what will help?

–        How can I keep the spark alive in my marriage after having a baby?

Space is limited call today to register 800.383.1790

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Film for Families

Supreme Court to hear prop 8 on March 5, 2009.  Where is the equality in forcibly breaking up love and families?


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Six Valentine’s Day Tips That Won’t Break The Bank

Perhaps you are considering opting out of Valentine’s Day this year because in these times of economic contraction you don’t have the time, the energy or the money.   How can you think about going out when your “free time” is spent pouring over bills? To the rescue: Here are six fantastic ideas for Valentine’s Day on a shoestring.

Free Couple’s Massage Date:

Is your spouse a little stressed?  Would you love to buy him or her a massage this Valentine’s Day but it’s not in your budget? Why not give them a massage yourself? Do your homework by checking out a book from the library about massage and if you want to splurge a little invest in some massage oil.  Once you have the oil you might be inclined to make massage more regular.  In fact the research shows that couples who take turns massaging one another for just 15 minutes each day have lower levels of depression greater relationship satisfaction.

Date Your Friends:

Sara, a working mother of one, looking for ways to get social with her spouse started a monthly couple’s gourmet night.  Sara had a full social calendar before becoming a mother and she knew she was happier when she had that social dimension to look forward to regularly.  Sara set up her group so that each couple takes turn hosting a potluck dinner with a theme.   For the time and price of making one course, you enjoy a multiple course meal with good friends.  Soon you’ll be looking forward to a regular gourmet event on the cheap.  Their first dinner was a Valentine’s Day them of Love Food.  Sara was the host made a main course of heart shaped ravioli, while everyone else was assigned a course.     Sara said, “I think everyone left feeling the same.  Full. Not simply full of food but full of feeling good.”

Have a Date At Home:

The important part of date night is not that you go somewhere exciting but rather that you get excited about time with your spouse.  Pick up a cheap bottle of wine and have a date at home. Get the kids to bed early or arrange for sleepovers.  Set the stage with some candles and music.  Put your everyday stress to bed with the kids and focus on the positives of your relationship.  Start by sharing how much you cherish your partner.  Let them know something specific that you have appreciated.  Research shows that happy couples regularly exchange giving and receiving compliment with one another.   Plus, giving the gift of a compliment to your partner is free!

Date Child Swap:

In my practice I hear the same stumbling block to dates over and over again.  “Finding a trustworthy babysitter is too expensive.” This holds especially true for coveted holidays like Valentine’s Day.  Why not try a date-childcare swap with another couple where you work out an equitable arrangement to exchange care for one another?  Couples tend to feel less guilty about indulging in a lingering last lick lemon sorbet together if they are not checking their watches and calculating the cost in childcare.

Free Dates Out:

Be a tourist in your own town!   With a little research you’ll find there is much to enjoy right in your own backyard.  One of the best things  about living in San Diego is that there is so much to do and see without spending a lot of money.   Like what?  How about going to the beach at sunset?  It never gets olds.  Or put on some walking shoes and pick a new neighborhood to window shop, from high end boutiques to antiques there is a culture to fit each couple.    How about an old fashioned meandering drive?  Who said a date must happen at night?  If you live in, here are some unique ideas for dates and if you don’t leave me a comment with some of your favorite ideas.

Nature Culture Date:  Learn about the indigenous people on the Trails of the Kumeyaay, at Mission Trails Regional Park http://www.mtrp.org/index.asp

Musical Dating: Enjoy a free concern at Balboa Park’s Organ Pavilion each Sunday at 2pm.  Then take a walk through the The Japanese Friendship Gardenhttp://www.mtrp.org/index.asp

50’s style date: Park with your sweetie and enjoy the view at Sunset cliffs.  http://www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/parks/shoreline/sunset.shtml

Arty Date: On the first Thursday of each month www.mcasd.org host’s a Thursday Thing.  This Thing is all about art with a dash of wine and a pinch of music thrown in.  Sounds like a recipe for free fun.

Redefine A Hot Valentine’s Date:

A date with someone you had the potential to care about used to require research and planning.  Now that you’ve got the one you care about, keep planning!  Get inside your partner’s head and orchestrate a hot date that shows them that you really know what they love.  Carmen, a busy mother from Clairemont shared her most memorable Valentine’s Day date.  “My husband used to love to golf but we have neither the time nor the money for that now.  So, I planned a scavenger hunt for him with very personal clues that showed I knew him and was paying attention even when we were busy.  The final clue led him to a mini golf course.  The whole date cost $12 but he really loved it and we both had a blast.”

Even in lean times dates are essential.  The research is clear that happy couples have one thing in common, they put their relationships first.  As they say, the best things in life are free.

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To Vac or Not to Vac

Every parent today has questions about vaccines. Are they safe? Is there still mercury in some? What are the potential side effects? Can I delay some shots? Are all the diseases still common? Do vaccines cause autism? You want to know the answers before your baby’s first checkup and shots, but you have nowhere to turn for unbiased advice. Your doctor tells you that all vaccines are perfectly safe, that the diseases could kill your child, and that you have to vaccinate or else you are putting your child, and everyone else in the country, at risk. On the other hand, the anti-vaccine books, websites, and some of your friends tell you that vaccines are dangerous, the diseases are harmless, and that you are crazy to vaccinate. All these uncertainties boil down to the one all-consuming question of the decade that every parent agonizes over – Should I vaccinate my child?  Here is an email interview with Dr. Sears in advance of his new book release THE VACCINE BOOK.
Childhood Vaccines – Making an Educated Decision for your Children

By Dr. Bob Sears

Every parent today has questions about vaccines. Are they safe? Is there still mercury in some? What are the potential side effects? Can I delay some shots? Are all the diseases still common? Do vaccines cause autism? You want to know the answers before your baby’s first checkup and shots, but you have nowhere to turn for unbiased advice. Your doctor tells you that all vaccines are perfectly safe, that the diseases could kill your child, and that you have to vaccinate or else you are putting your child, and everyone else in the country, at risk. On the other hand, the anti-vaccine books, websites, and some of your friends tell you that vaccines are dangerous, the diseases are harmless, and that you are crazy to vaccinate. All these uncertainties boil down to the one all-consuming question of the decade that every parent agonizes over – Should I vaccinate my child?

I’m going to share with you some of the questions I asked myself as an author, doctor and parent, the answers that I found, and what I’ve learned from parents, medical research, and colleagues over the years. I hope at the end of these few pages you’ll feel more equipped to make an educated decision for your child.

What diseases are the most common and serious for infants?

Some diseases are very common, and some are rare. Some are very serious, even life-threatening, and others are fairly mild. Obviously, a disease that is both common and potentially severe would be very important to vaccinate against. A disease that is mild and rare would be less so. In addition, some diseases are only serious during infancy, but not later on. Knowing at what age each disease poses the greatest risk is important as you decide when to do each vaccine. The diseases that are mainly serious during infancy, but not beyond age 2 or 3, are HIB, pneumococcal disease, pertussis, rotavirus, and the flu. All these diseases, except for HIB, are still very common, so vaccinating against these during infancy is fairly important.

What diseases are more serious and common for teens and adults?

The diseases that are fairly mild if contracted during young childhood, but become more serious for teens and adults, include chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella, and hepatitis A. Diseases that virtually never occur in kids, but do occur in teens and adults and are potentially serious, include hepatitis B, HPV, and tetanus.

What about diseases that are fairly mild or extremely rare? Are those worth vaccinating against?

The main reason we keep vaccinating against mild or rare diseases is to keep them that way. If we stop vaccinating against polio, for example, before it is eradicated from the world, the disease could begin spreading around the world again. Plus, even diseases that are usually mild will cause an occasional complication or fatality. If some of these rare or mild diseases run rampant though our country, more complications would occur.

How common are vaccine side effects? Are they worse than the diseases themselves?

We know that all vaccines can cause some standard side effects, such as fever, fussiness, pain and swelling, and various body aches. Such reactions are expected, and I consider them to be harmless in the long run, as long as they aren’t too severe. But it’s the more serious, life-threatening reactions that have most parents worried. How common are such events?

According to my research, the likelihood of a severe vaccine reaction that results in a sudden, life-threatening event, a prolonged hospitalization, a permanent disability, or death, is about 1 in 100,000 doses. Kids get about 39 vaccine doses over their childhood, so the risk of a severe reaction over the entire vaccine series is about 1 in 2600.

What about the risk of catching a severe or life-threatening case of a vaccine-preventable disease if you are unvaccinated? This risk varies greatly among the various diseases. For some it is as rare as 1 in a million. For others it is a very high 1 in 100 risk. Grouping all vaccine-preventable diseases together, the risk of a severe case during the first 12 years of life is about 1 in 600.

It seems that statistically the diseases pose more risk than the vaccines. But if long-term problems, such as ADD, autism, and other chronic diseases, are ever proven to be associated with vaccines, then it’s a whole different story. In The Vaccine Book I help parents understand the risks of each disease compared to the risk of its vaccine so you can make an educated decision about each shot.

What are some of the legitimate worries of our current vaccine schedule?

My first worry about vaccines is that babies can get as many as 6 simultaneous injections at each checkup at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. Although there’s no definite proof that this is harmful, I acknowledge that theoretically the simultaneous exposure of the various chemical ingredients and germ components may not be ideal for such small babies.

One particular vaccine chemical that I am most concerned about is aluminum. While this metal is harmless if ingested into the gastrointestinal system, when injected directly into the body it is toxic and damaging to the brain and bones. The FDA carefully regulates the amount of aluminum that is allowed to be injected each day into hospitalized patients through IV solutions and medications to avoid toxicity. But vaccines are exempt from this limit. Aluminum is present in 6 of the childhood vaccines, 4 of which are given simultaneously at 2, 4 and 6 months. Depending on which brand of vaccines are used, a baby could get as much as 60 times the FDA’s known safety limit of aluminum at each of these visits. Why is this allowed to happen? Well, it’s the same thing that occurred with mercury. As more and more vaccines were added to the schedule, no one realized what was happening. I hope to change that.

Another worry that I have about so many simultaneous shots is that this may trigger more adverse reactions than would happen with only 1 or 2 shots. Many babies react to each round of 6 shots with days of fussing and fever, signs that the vaccines are irritating the immune and nervous systems. When a baby does suffer a severe adverse reaction, it would be prudent not to repeat that vaccine again. But if 6 shots were given together, there’s no way to know which one was the culprit. And most doctors would likely just continue all the shots and hope for the best, instead of stopping all 6 suspected vaccines. With my schedule on only 2 shots at a time, it’s easier to sort out which vaccines are causing severe reactions. Fortunately, such reactions are rare.

My Alternative Vaccine Schedule circumvents these potential problems and allows babies to become fully vaccinated in a more gradual manner that may decrease risk.

Are there some differences between the various brands of vaccines that parents should be aware of, so they can request safer brands from their doctor?

It’s important that parents understand how each vaccine is made, what the ingredients are, how the various brands of each vaccine compare, and what ingredients may be risky. Some brands of vaccines have mercury, while others don’t. The aluminum content of certain vaccines various between brands. There are many other variations in ingredients that parents should be aware of so they can choose the safest brands. In The Vaccine Book I discuss each vaccine in such detail that you can fully understand exactly what is in each shot you are choosing for your child.

What about delaying vaccines. Is that an option?

Anything is an option when it comes to vaccines. But parents need to make sure what they choose to do makes sense. A common recommendation among vaccine critics is to delay vaccines until a child is two years old. Theoretically this allows time for a child’s immune and nervous systems to mature and handle the vaccines better. I haven’t found enough research to prove or disprove this claim, so I can’t say whether or not delaying vaccines is the right choice. But I would like to point out that some of the diseases we vaccinate against are only serious or mainly occur during the first year or two. So, if you wait until age 2 to vaccinate, there are some vaccines your child wouldn’t need anymore. The way I see it is that infancy is when the diseases are the most risky and severe. So, parents should either vaccinate their babies during that time when the shots are most needed, or skip some of those vaccines altogether and move on to choosing only the vaccines that are needed to protect against any common or serious diseases that may occur during the rest of childhood.

Talking to your doctor about vaccines

Some doctors, unfortunately, are so pro-vaccine that they will kick you out of their office for even asking questions. However, new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics were published in the 2006 Redbook of Infectious Diseases which discourages this practice. The AAP suggests doctors take a non-judgmental, approach, inform parents of the risks and benefits of each vaccine and disease, and develop a schedule that spreads out the vaccines if parents are uncomfortable with so many at once. If the parents still decline vaccines, this decision should be respected (unless there is a current epidemic that puts the child’s life at significant risk) and doctors should avoid dismissing parents from their practice solely on this basis. Since these guidelines are new, most doctors may not know about them yet.

More importantly, don’t ask your doctor about vaccines at your baby’s checkup. There simply isn’t enough time. If you have several complicated questions, or you want an in-depth discussion, schedule a separate vaccine consultation appointment. This gives the doctor and you the time you need to have a complete discussion.

Do breastfeeding and choosing a stay-at-home lifestyle for your baby decrease the risk of diseases?

Parents should assess their own baby’s risk of diseases as they consider vaccines. A formula-fed baby is much more likely to become ill when he inhales or ingests an infectious germ. A baby who is in a group daycare or frequents nurseries (such as church, synagogue, or health clubs) is more likely to be exposed to infectious diseases far more than a stay-with-mom baby.

When parents of a stay-at-home breastfed baby tell me they want to delay or decline vaccines, I worry a bit, but not too much, since I know this baby’s risk is low. I also tell them they better plan to breastfeed for at least a year, and two is better. On the other hand, if a mom tells me she just weaned her two-month-old, is planning to put him into daycare next week, and she’s thinking about skipping the vaccines, I cringe. This baby is virtually guaranteed to come across at least one serious vaccine-preventable disease.

Should you vaccinate your baby?

This is not a question I can answer for you in just one magazine article. I’ve tried to wet your appetite and give you some interesting ideas to ponder as you consider vaccines. I do feel vaccines are important, and as a pediatrician I vaccinate most of my patients. But I do so using a safer schedule than the standard one most doctors follow (see The Vaccine Book for my Alternative Vaccine Schedule). I also have patients that delay or decline shots. I have written The Vaccine Book to give you everything you need to know to make an educated decision for your children. I have also created TheVaccineBook.com as an interactive, blog-based website where you can ask questions, discuss issues with other parents, and find a doctor near you who feels comfortable with parents who want to vaccinate differently.

Dr. Bob Sears is a father of three, pediatrician, and author of The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for your Children. He received his medical degree from Georgetown University and trained in pediatrics at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. He practices in Dana Point, CA. For more information, visit www.TheVaccineBook.com

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Strollers that don’t stress out

If you are on the market for a new stroller you may want to think about one that faces you.  A new study shows that babies pushed in strollers that face towards the parent/pusher and allow for eye contact have great advantages that impact a child’s language development, relaxation response and happiness.

Previous studies of babies who spend significant time being worn in baby carriers have shown that being at conversational level increases babies communication skills.  This new study indicates:

– Parents are two times as likely to talk to their child when the child is facing them.
- Children in front facing strollers are significantly less likely to laugh with their parents.
– Babies heart rates are measurably lower when facing their parent.
– Children are more likely to fall asleep in strollers that face their parents.

Of course more studies need to be done on this subject but initial findings were collected  in two studies one with over 2,000 children and another with only 20 children.  Suzanne Zeedyk of Dundee University’s school of psychology in the UK concluded that, “At an age when the brain is developing more than it ever will again then this (facing away) has to impact negatively on their development.”

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High on Pecan Pie

Today while riding in the car, my four year old asked when it was going to be Thanksgiving.   When I broke the news that it was tomorrow she started bouncing up and down in her five point harness.
“Yippee!  I’m going to be really crazy tomorrow because it’s Thanksgiving!”
Yippee, a four year old high on pecan pie.
Holidays.  It used to mean a break; time off from school or work.  For families with young children the holidays now seem to be synonymous with stress.  You lay up at night thinking about  having to separate your two year old from her beloved blankie as you are forced to wrench it from her death grip and hand it over to be x-rayed at the airport.  You cringe at facing  the inevitable issues with the in-laws and frankly, you are considering of opting out of the holidays this year.  If you can’t opt out but you could use a few more tools to make it to the new year here are two resources:
First join us December 9th from 6-8pm at Java Mama for a class helping families with young children in a crash course just in time for the holidays www.friendswithclass.com to register.
If you can’t make that check out this article for from last year’s holiday issue newsletter for some take home tips.
Good luck wrangling your own high on pecan pie Pumpkins and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
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Bookmark this page!  I’ll be updating & if you have a resource to share please comment.

Social Networking
http://www.parentricity.com parent resources & social networking.  I write a blog and answer questions as a parenting expert, ask me a question online.http://citymommy.com/ invitation only local social networking site.  For Baby Maven grads in San Diego type in code: sdmom

www.urbanbaby.com social networking & articles on parenting sign up for daily emails

ProActiveDads.com – Dedicated to showing the world that Dads are not second-class parents!

Prenatal/ Birth Resources:

alohabecky@cox.net wonderful labor doula

http://www.sandiegoborn.org/ Birth organization resources network

www.dona.org international assoc of doulas

http://www.beststartbirthcenter.com/ San Diego Free Standing Birth Center

Carol Yeh-Garner Hypnobirthing instructor and fellow LCSW 858-837-1259 www.AWellLivedLife.Net She also has a great resource list online

http://www.babyreference.com/SDAP.htm Dr. Linda Palmer’s site for local resources for the attachment leaning parent. Her book is “Baby Matters”
Babies In Bloom-   Rochelle is a fantastic resource for breast feeding, cloth diapers, products usually only found online and child prep/ post natal classes.Babies Little Log Book-  Alexis wrote this fantastic little book to help new mother organize and record baby’s eating, sleeping and miliestones.  This book makes a perfect gift.

Essential Baby Planner- Carrie is San Diego’s most connected Baby Planner and Shower Coordinator (read: can get you all the insider deals)- Tell Carrie Baby Maven sent you for special pricing.

Happi Tummi- All I can say is it works!  Nannett helps Babies feel better.

My San Diego Doula – Kayti is one  dynamic doula!

Miss Organized- Tracy’s specializes in helping women get and stay organized.

San Diego Bargain Mama- If you haven’t subscribed to this blog or newsletter yet do it now.  Stacey has a bargain for every budget.

Additional household Helper Services & Finders:

http://www.munchkinminders.com/ This former nanny former head hunter finds short term and long term child care help.

Seaside Nannys & Seaside domestics. – Newly expanded to help families find help they can trust, Dara is the one to call.

Crunch Care- nanny,  doula and caregiver finders.


Beach Community Acupuncture $20 treatments!  http://www.beachacu.com/

Lisa – An acupuncturist specializing in women’s health email her: pugliese@pacbell.net.  I know many a mama she’s help to get pregnant, helped increase milk supply, helped with anxiety and ppd.

http://www.osteopathiccenter.org/ osteopathic center for children check out the site, a description is difficult

Dr. Merelli -http://www.drmaryanne.com/index.html

http://www.aksdrsears.com Pediatric info including the ever helpful medicine dosing chart.

Other therapists in San Diego & NYC:

Roots and Wings – Aisha practices in East county check out her services.

Mary Obata – has advanced EMDR training.

Andrea Blumenthal - office in NYC

Elizabeth Clements-  offering a unique blend of coaching and mediation

Susan Greenberg – New York City and Mount Kisco

Breastfeeding Support:

http://www.lllusa.org/wbw/ Breast feeding La Leche League Yahoo Groups:

SanDiegoNaturalFamilies-subscribe@yahoogroups.com – message board for “Natural Families”Classes:

www.sochildish.com- boutique & classes Leyla makes every new parent feel special.

http://www.friendswithclass.com/ unique classes adults & kids

http://www.javamama.com mama friendly coffee house & kids classesttp://www.nextgenerationyoga.com/ yoga for kids, Jodi is a contagiously creative teacher.  Learn to talk on your foot phone at her fantastic classes.

http://www.healthycreations.com/ organic meal prep kitchen in North County San Diego, the owner’s mama is a midwife and they treat new and expectant mom’s to free assembly.

Sites to Save:

http://www.postpartumhealthalliance.org/ Post Partum Depression

http://www.aap.org American Academy of pediatrics


www.sids-network.og ( sudden infant death)

http://trickmycrib.shutterfly.com/Nursery Custom Designs mention Baby Maven and get 10% off.

New York and National:

Metro Mini’s- classes and products for new parents.

Find a doula in NY – serving new parents

A child grow in Brooklyn – Blog rich with info

Amy Wright Glenn – doula, yoga teacher, educator an an   amazing woman I’ve known since 1992!

Slings in the City- meetups, education and support for babywearing.


Further Reading By Dr. John Gottman: Raising an Emotionally intelligent child   Seven Principals of Making Marriage Work  And Baby Makes Three

After the fight: using your disagreements to build a stronger Relationship by Dan Wile

http://www.brainchildmag.com/ The New Yorker of parenting mags

Parenting from the Inside Out Dr. Daniel Siegel

The Baby Book & The Vaccination Book Dr. Sears

Happiest Baby on the Block Dr. Karp (the video is better)

Child Health Guide Holistic Pediatrics by Randall Neustaedter OMD

No Cry Sleep Solutions   Elizabeth Pantley

http://www.littlelogbook.com Alexis wrote this fantastic little book to help new mother organize and record baby’s eating, sleeping and miliestones.  makes a perfect gift. 

Raising Your Spirited Child Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

Unconditional Parenting Alfie kohn

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Boob Docs Part II

You are that mama who is trying her very best and is more tired than she can imagine.   Did I say that already?  Sorry, I am tired.  You are that mama who beats herself up black and blue feeling bad about having trouble feeding her baby. In your mind how can you ever hope to be a good mother when your first and most natural job is to feed your baby and you can’t even do that? This rant is because it is not your fault.  We need boob doctors.  Let me explain.

If you are lucky you have support.  You know where a good breast feeding support group is located or your best friend just had a baby or your mom was a hippie and she doesn’t live 1000 miles away.  Either that or you’ve found the modern answer… lactation consultants.*

Good ones are gold but they are not empowered to write a prescription.  So when a mama runs into trouble, she falls into this DMZ zone between docs.  Your baby’s pediatrician cannot treat you. Your regular GP hasn’t a clue and your OB only knows how to deliver babies.

Say for example you get thrush.  I’m sorry.  It sucks.  Often you get thrush after  getting mastitis (sorry again) and being put on antibiotics. This thrush decided it likes the southern California weather and sticks around being passed back and forth between you and the baby like some hot potato for MONTHS.

For months said one mama, “It felt like he was trying to suck shards of glass out of my nipples.” You are suffering as everyone is commenting about the wonder of breastfeeding.

And all the lovely oxytocin hormones that make you feel ooogie and blissful when you are breastfeeding, the happy-natural-legal drugs that are the only thing between you and a straight jacket, the happy-natural-legal drugs helping you survive the sleep deprivation, survive the nursing around the clock every two hours, the salvation that allows you to relax and let down both your hair and your milk, those hormones, the ones that make it all worthwhile…  THEY ARE GONE!  Crushed into slivers of nothing but the pain of sucking glass through your nipples. That?  That is thrush.

So after scouring every source, (check out ww.kellymom.com) after painting your  nipples and the baby’s perfect pink rosebud mouth with gentian violet (and along with his little mouth, the sink, your new white sheets, pajamas yours and his and the onsies and everything the baby spits up on is now a  shade of angry violet) after removing every source of sugar or anything that could ever possibly become sugar (read: everything) from your  diet and after suffering blood sugar crashes each morning, so staggering you almost pass out, after trying tea tree oil, then vinegar wash, then  grape seed extract and some voodo mojo STILL,   months later, you are suffering from sucking glass through your nipples.  You go for the big guns.

The RX. First of course you tried the standard Nystatin.  But why you may ask is the baby’s nystatin is in a sugar solution when you have worked so hard to get rid of sugar?  We know that thrush grows back within two hours in, what?  SUGAR!  Just as logical (not) as baby’s reflux meds being flavored with peppermint when we know that mint exacerbates heart burn …why sadistic medicine makers?  Why?

So what next?   This very happy to over stay her welcome resistant thrush is not even tempted by nystatin.   Um thanks says the thrush but no thanks, I like this weather just fine.  So, on to diflucan. The lactation consultants and internet sources were clear that you needed a gazillion times more than someone who had a vaginal yeast infection. No, one day 100 mg dose would kill this sucker.  But who would give it to you?  Your OB said it was beyond her scope of practice.   She looked it up and was worried about liver damage.  After some serious hair pulling and cuticle biting you call your GP to say you have thrush from breast feeding.  He said,

“You mean in your mouth?”
“Um no,” you say, “my nipples.”   So, liver damage be dammed it was this or bust. You get the Rx and blissfully soon the pain recedes and you stop resenting your baby as that oogie good feeling comes back.

This rant is in honor of Worldwide Breastfeeding AwarenessWeek http://www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org/and for all the mamas who tried and didn’t have the resources or enough support.

*I have to ask again, why don’twe have breast doctors? Why don’t we give lactation consultants the ability towrite prescriptions?  To find a list alactation consultant sees my resources page.

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Rant: Why are there no boob doctors?

Really, I’d like to know.  I mean there are penis doctors.  Last I checked penises don’t lactate and with breast augmentation and breast cancer I’d imagine a breast doc could be as busy as she wanted to be.  But instead of readily available, up to date, actual scientifically proven real medical information, breast feeding is a hidden art and to get the wisdom you need a secret password.

So many new mama’s are surprised that it’s not as easy as they imagined, nothing about breastfeeding feels natural and in the beginning, it’s a multiple person job.  You need about sixteen separate pillows, each folded into a kind of pillow origami perfection under this elbow here and that shoulder there.  Then one pair of hands holding the baby’s flailing but powerful little arms away from the action.  Another pair of hands holding the boob and it’s even better if a third person can tease the baby’s mouth into a wide open baby bird O shape then smash their face fast into your perfectly compressed C hold nipple.  Then you have to remember to uncurl your toes from the pain of let down and uterine contractions that Mother Nature so kindly connected to early breast feeding.  Then remember to lower your shoulder and breath and relax but as soon as you are comfy you remember that you need water or the baby needs to burp or you have to switch sides start over again.

So what about when there are not three sets of hands to help and you are that mama who can’t remember which side she last fed on and you get engorged and now you are sleep deprived and in pain? Or maybe you have a plugged duct that before your eyes is sprouting red spots and streaks and all of a sudden you feel feverish and weak and just as fast as you can say snap you have mastitis.  And who you gunna call?  Pediatrician?  OB?  GP?  Where is the boob specialist when you need one?

Now you have a new baby without the right doc and you feel like you have been run over by a loaded up semi and oops look at that, it’s backing up again to slowly crush your already broken body.   Grownups should not get fevers of 104 and what do you mean there are no sick days anymore now that you are someone’s mother?

Stay tuned for part II…

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Coping with Colic

Coping with colic taxes the whole family system. The piercing cry of a baby with colic is a disturbing sound. In fact, the sound of a colicky cry has been studied and found to be a more distressing cry than that of a baby without colic.

A study in Child Development finds that colicky infants produced cries at frequencies of more than twenty one hundred hertz or nearly 25% greater frequency than non colicky babies. According to a recent article in The New Yorker, “The sound of a crying baby is just about the most disturbing, demanding, shattering noise we can hear. The United States military has reportedly used the sound of wailing infants as an instrument of psychological stress, piping recordings…into the cells of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.” If it’s stressful to listen to the noise of an unknown baby crying, one can only imagine how much more stressful it is to hear one’s own child crying inconsolably.

New treatment of colic acknowledges that the baby’s symptoms do not happen in a vacuum. At the colic clinic at Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk they have found that it’s critical to examine not only how colic affects the baby but how it impacts the parent-child relationship. While colic usually diminishes between 2 and 6 months of age, the impact that it can have on a parent child relationship can be lasting.

Parents are often filled with self doubt and guilt about their basic abilities to nurture and provide comfort for baby with colic. It can be especially difficult for parents to stop themselves from wondering if they are doing something wrong when they may be surrounded by friends or family who have “easy” babies.

Moreover, research indicates that parents of colicky babies are at risk for depression. It can feel not only exhausting but also isolating to be alone in the experience of parenting a difficult to sooth infant. This emotional isolation, coupled with feelings of self -consciousness about taking a crying baby out in public, causes many parents of colicky babies to become physically isolated. Unfortunately, they tend to withdraw at the very times when they need the most support.

Dr. Linda Palmer, author of Baby Matters, shares more about this problem and some possible solutions.

Interview with Dr. Linda Palmer:

Baby Maven: What is Colic?

Dr. Palmer: Colic is simply excessive, inconsolable crying in a young baby. Historically, it has been defined as crying for more than 3 hours a day at least 3 days a week for at least 3 weeks in a row.(1) If a baby stops crying when it is picked up, fed, or a wet diaper removed, this is not colic.

When a baby is crying excessively parents and health care practitioners will want to evaluate why? The most common cause for colic is intestinal upset due to intolerance of cow’s milk proteins or other food proteins in mother’s milk or formula.

Baby Maven: What is the difference between Colic and Reflux or GERD?

Dr. Palmer: Today many crying babies are diagnosed with GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease) and prescribed the new proton pump inhibitor drugs. Current studies reveal that there is not enough standardization used to diagnose GERD and that while the drugs will reduce acid in the stomach and esophagus they do not reduce baby’s colic symptoms or other symptoms. In addition, GERD drugs increase intestinal infections and pneumonia.

Baby Maven: In your book, Baby Matters, you talk about how Colic may be related to diet. Can you tell us what parents can try to help their babies?

Dr. Palmer: Once their child has been examined for uncommon disorders, parents need to decide whether baby has any of the usual symptoms of food intolerance: bouts of loose stools, excessive gas or spitting up, rashes, fussing at the breast or refusing feeds, blood in stools, green stools (bile) or black in stools (digested blood), sleeplessness or waking with screams, arching back, stuffiness or excessive mucus. Sometimes constipation is a symptom as well.

If baby has any of these signs, or baby is just apparently in pain and parents can find no other cause, parents will want to first try removing all dairy proteins from the child’s diet. If baby is breastfed, mother will need to read ingredients of all foods she consumes and look for casein, whey, butter or cream (trace proteins remain), cheese, etc. Some of the most often misunderstood foods are those labeled “non-dairy.” These are simply lactose-free yet and are usually full of milk protein.

There’s a really big bonus for a mom doing an elimination diet. Concurring with the fact that food intolerance is often hereditary, at least half of my moms mention having found answers to their own digestive tract challenges through elimination dieting for baby, even though they seldom disclose these complaints to me at the onset of our collaboration.

If baby is formula fed, a switch from milk formula to soy formula is the first step, followed by a try of hydrolyzed milk formula and finally elemental formula if nothing else is tolerated, although it’s often difficult to get a baby to accept the taste of elemental formula. (2) Today’s elemental formulas all seem to contain corn ingredients, another common allergen, and I’ve worked with families who have had to become very creative in finding a way to keep their very food sensitive baby happily fed. Especially in infants less than 8 weeks, finding some donor breast milk from a mom who is avoiding major allergens can provide a big bonus for the child, helping to speed the recovery of the intestines and provide some more-easily digested and absorbed nutrients for baby who is having formula tolerance problems.

Baby Maven: What percentage of colic and reflux can be cured by eliminating dairy?

Dr. Palmer: With true diligent efforts to find and avoid any irritating foods, it’s well over 90%.

Baby Maven: If a mother is breast feeding, how long would it take to see results with an elimination diet?

Dr. Palmer: Results can be apparent within two or three days or can take up to two weeks. Usually after this point one will want to try a more complete elimination if sufficient recovery isn’t seen.

Baby Maven: How strict does an elimination diet need to be? Can one still have some dairy such as butter or milk cooked in bakery?

Dr. Palmer: Because even trace amounts can cause symptoms in baby, early elimination efforts need to be very strict or the results will most likely not be meaningful. Unless the child’s symptoms were rather mild to begin with, it’s best to stick with strict avoidance for at least three weeks to give the intestines a chance to recover and to reduce antibody levels in the body. After this time, the mother can begin to experiment by adding back a single food at a time and waiting several days to note a reaction. Often if a food is avoided well then one small exposure will not produce any reaction. It may lead to the development of antibodies however and then a second or third exposure within a few days will then reproduce the symptoms.

Baby Maven: In addition to dietary changes, you suggest that certain types of parenting styles may help. Can you say more about what types of parenting styles and techniques can help colicky babies?

Dr. Palmer: Babies are designed to be next to their parents most of the time, both day and night. Carrying, slinging, cosleeping and otherwise fulfilling baby’s needs for human contact can go along way to reduce crying in general. Jiggling or bouncing on a birth ball with a baby helps to add further input and many babies respond positively. It can also help to break up gas bubbles or override pain signals. Some mothers are taught to remove baby from the breast after a designated length of time. Yet, especially for difficult to sooth babies, allowing them to comfort nurse can aid in pain relief and reduces the releases of stress hormones.

Baby Maven: What other less traditional remedies can help?

Dr. Palmer: While the prescription drugs are shown to provide little if any benefit, the more common over-the-counter colic drops don’t seem to do much for most babies either. There are more specific herbal and homeopathic tinctures that may help provide some relief but it’s usually rather mild compared to the level of pain that can develop when baby is not tolerating foods.

There are studies that show that probiotics like acidophilus can reduce some of the actual food reaction. Different studies support different bacteria so I generally recommend just finding a product with a wide variety of bacteria. Breastfeeding moms can increase the amount of these healthy bugs passed on in their milk when they take supplements themselves. Liquid infant versions are available as well.

There are also studies that show that the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA can help reduce a body’s reactions to allergens. Again, a breastfeeding mom can take fish oil or vegan algae extracts herself to increase the levels provided in her milk and liquid infant supplements are available. Consuming the DHA/EPA precursors, as found in flax and walnuts, does not significantly raise end-product levels and is not found to be very effective in studies.

Baby Maven: Is there anything else that parents should know?

Dr. Palmer: In general, breastfed babies have less colic than those fed formula. Many times breastfeeding moms are advised to switch to a hypoallergenic formula for colic but this is very sad advice. First, the baby is being robbed of all the factors that will help his gut to heal; secondly he’ll suddenly be vulnerable to more other illnesses; and finally there are times when none of the formula options work well.

Notes from Baby Maven’s research on colic:
(1) In 1954, Morris Wessel a pediatrician at Yale, introduced the concept of the Rule of Threes noted above.
(2) Up to 60% of those suffering from milk allergies also have soy allergies.

For additional support coping with colic:

1.   Access Dr. Palmer’s website: www.BabyReference.com

2.   Find a professional (pediatrician, osteopathic doctor, doula, lactation consultant, or other health or mental health professional) in your area who has expertise in colic or pediatric allergies.

3.   For breastfeeding mothers, a strict allergy and colic elimination diet suggests avoiding the following for two weeks: All dairy products also called: actoglobulin, Casein, Lactalbumin, Sodium Caseinate, or Whey.

Caffeine Soy Products Peanuts Tomatoes
Shellfish Chocolate Citrus Wheat
Chicken Beef Eggs Nuts
Corn Broccoli Cauliflower Cabbage
Onions Green Peppers Iron in Prenatal Vitamins

4.   If you are interested in joining a Parents of Colicky Babies support group or would like help coping with colic email info@babymaven.org. As both a professional and the mother of a formerly colicky baby, Carrie’s Baby Maven Services provide support and resources for the entire family.

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