Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Breastfeeding struggles

 Ink drawing of “Fangen Moder” by Einar Wullum, Trondheim, Norway (1901)

When I first saw this picture, it was in an article about the impressively high breastfeeding rates in Norway (99% initiation rate mind you!). But the article wasn't praising the ubiquitous and quotidian sight of breastfeeding. It was criticizing it, and how difficult it was to "choose" to formula feed without being discriminated.  

Going back on the breastfeeding art. In essence, I find it beautiful. Sometimes a woman does feel like she's bound to breastfeeding. It's not always a bed of roses... but I also think, it's not a bed of thorns. Everything has its advantages and disadvantages, but then again, don't we all sacrifice our own convenience in many instances for the sake of our children? Why should it be any different with breastfeeding? 

A Midwife's Perspective: Labor and Birth in the Water

                                                    All Images Google Images

Jill Cohen

The benefits of water

It was late in the evening. I sat staring into the fire, waiting as I often do for the phone to ring. Midwives frequently have a sixth sense about birth, and on this particular evening, my senses proved true—at 10:30pm the phone indeed rang. At first all I heard was the echo of deep breaths and water running. I knew this was labor. Water and labor fit hand-in-hand for most laboring women. The shower or bath warms, secludes and relaxes a woman so she can open more easily at her own pace. It creates a womb-like environment in which a woman can feel safe. It may not take the pain away, but it enables a woman to cope through her intense sensations, relaxed and with least resistance, creating more comfort. Water forms a warm, wet buffer around her, keeping outside forces and interventions at bay. Yet if the woman should need assistance or monitoring it can be accomplished easily in her watery environment.

I waited for the contraction to pass as I listened intently for the mystery woman on the other end of the phone to finally identify herself. I could tell by the echo that she was in her bathroom, and could tell by the sound of running water that she was in the bath. The tempo of her breath told me I would be heading over soon... as soon as I could ascertain who she was! After her breathing slowed and she paused to collect herself, I heard her giggle a "Sorry!" I knew right away it was my dear friend Hazel. This was her fourth child—I was out the door!

Laboring in the water

I walked in to find her children sound asleep and her partner sitting at the edge of their large tub, a glass of cold water and bendable straw in hand to help keep Hazel well-hydrated. Before she could utter a word, another contraction arrived and she went deep into herself. Because water can speed labor along once the woman is over 5 centimeters dilated, and I guessed that Hazel was at least that, I busied myself preparing her birthing room. I then settled into the bathroom with my water Doppler and monitored our little friend. All was well. Hazel needed to pee, so she got out and onto the toilet. Another big contraction, wide eyes and pop went the bag of waters. They were clear and smelled sweetly of baby. It was time to decide where this child would be born.

Without hesitation, Hazel chose the tub. As soon as she was situated, I heard the familiar sound of relief I hear so often when women sink into warm water. It is music to a midwife's ears, as is the steady heart rate of a baby about to be born. Hazel pushed with the next contraction as she pulled her legs back and sang that magical birth song, low and deep. With that push we saw the baby's head. Two more pushes and the head was born.

As we waited for the next contraction, we had time to see this little child and appreciate the peacefulness of his/or her entrance. Water is vital to life—we cannot live without it. Its ability to nourish, nurture, propagate and promote life fits so well in the birthing world. I believe that because babies come from a watery environment, when they are born into water it feels familiar to them. Under normal circumstances, babies will not breathe until they hit air. When they emerge into water their house gets bigger, but they still think they are in the womb. This little one was wide-eyed and waiting. It is always amazing to see such peaceful passage.
Within a few moments, another contraction came and the baby was gently born. Hazel instinctively reached down and brought her baby to the surface. There was no need to suction—this little boy flexed, stretched, yawned and pinked up without even crying.


Misunderstandings abound about the use of water in birth, such as risk of infection, risk to the baby, and lack of ability to monitor effectively. There is now much research-based evidence to indicate that with proper preparation and protocol the risks are no more than for air birth. So for those women and practitioners who choose water to facilitate birth, go for it! But first, be informed: Investigate what standards should be used. Plan what kind of tub you will use, where to put it, and find your water source. Remember that water is a different medium to work with. Familiarize yourself with it; think about its potentials; imagine its relation to birth. Merge with it and feel its effects.

For me, the rewards of using water in labor and birth is summed up in that magic sound of relief in a woman's moan as she enters the warm water, and the magic moment as baby comes forth with that peaceful look that tells me the passage has been safe and gentle.
Jill Cohen lives and practices midwifery in the Eugene, Oregon area. She is senior editor of The Birthkit and associate editor of Midwifery Today, where this commentary originally appeared.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Breastfeeding Triplets: Advice from Successful Moms


By Ellen Zagorsky-Goldberg
Web Exclusive

 hi Sheri of Port St. Lucie, Florida, nursed her first child for almost two years. Three years later, when she discovered she was pregnant again, she had no doubts about what her feeding choice would be. Then she found out that she was carrying triplets.

Some of Ingalls's healthcare providers were very negative about even the possibility of nursing triplets. Ingalls, however, was determined to breastfeed, and her perinatologist put her in touch with The Triplet Connection www.tripletconnection.com Despite a rocky start--the babies spent two nights on formula in the hospital nursery and then had terrible nipple confusion when they arrived home--Sheri's triplets breastfed happily until weaning themselves between the ages of one and three.

Ingalls and other mothers of triplets report that the most essential factors in breastfeeding success are becoming educated before giving birth about the intricacies of nursing triplets, and receiving information and support from other mothers who have successfully nursed triplets. It is crucial to remember that nursing three children at once, although more difficult than nursing one child, is possible.

Breastmilk works on the theory of supply and demand: The more you nurse or pump, the more milk you produce. Therefore, if you are nursing all three babies at each session, you will make milk for all three. If you nurse two babies and give the third a bottle of formula, you will only produce enough milk for two babies. Pumping after nursing is a great way to increase milk supply, as well as provide reserves for bottle-feeding. Some mothers of triplets have found that this method enables them to pump up to 20 ounces of milk in only 15 minutes!

Good positioning is crucial for nursing triplets. Some mothers prefer to nurse each baby individually, so that each gets "special time" at least once a day. In the interest of time, many mothers nurse two at once; the third then either gets expressed breastmilk in a bottle or nurses after the first two have finished. Since the composition and amount of breastmilk subtly change over the course of a feeding, always make sure to rotate which baby is first at the breast at each session.

If your third baby will be bottle-feeding while the others are nursing, a hands-free baby feeding system can be useful. Propping a bottle with a towel or one of the specially designed bottle holders that seem to be gaining popularity is greatly discouraged because of the very real possibility of your baby choking on the steady stream of fluid.

Many mothers recommend using nursing pillows like the "Boppy" or the "EZ-2-Nurse" pillow made by the Double Blessings company. Finding positions that work for you and your babies often requires some experimentation. You can try using the "double football" hold, where a baby is tucked under each arm, with only the babies' heads at your breasts. Or one baby can be in the football hold and the other in the cradle hold, with her body across your chest (make sure her tummy is on your chest, not facing the ceiling). You can also try the "double cradle," with the legs on each others'.

Sleeping with your babies can be a real sanity-saver. Shari Lynn-Henry Rife, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, found that putting a bedroll in the babies' room was the only thing that allowed her to get some sleep when her triplets were newborns. "When someone woke up to nurse, I would lay down, put them to breast and go back to sleep. When the next one woke up I would put the first one back in bed, put the next one on the other breast, and go back to sleep until baby number three woke up." Other families work to put the babies on the same schedule by waking all three when the first wakes.

Although it may not seem like a specific help for breastfeeding, finding people to assist around the house allows you to use your energy to make breastmilk, not dinner. Shari Rife's mother-in-law helped keep her house clean. Other mothers of triplets have received help from friends and family on everything from taking older children to soccer lessons to dropping off a casserole for dinner. As Sheri Ingalls says, "It will take all of your precious energy to feed and care for your babies. Sleep is so important and laundry isn't! Let somebody else do it!"

Relaxation and good humor will help during the early days of nursing triplets, since, as Rife says, "no one is going to starve if they have to wait a few minutes to eat." Education, perseverance, and mental flexibility are key to adjusting to life with triplets. Looking back, Sheri Ingalls notes, "I have to say it was very tough, but worth it."

Ellen Zagorsky-Goldberg, RN, MSN, is a pediatric nurse, freelance writer, and homeschooling mother of Batsheva (6) and Chana (4). She lives in Boston.hi

Saying No to Episiotomy: Getting through Labor and Delivery in One Piece


Issue 104, January/February 2001
By Elizabeth Bruce 

Episiotomy--the cutting of perineal tissues during delivery--is not something that most women give a second thought to, at least not until they've given birth for the first time. The perineum is the delicate area between the vagina and the anus. After an episiotomy, even sitting can be painful, and sex can be unbearable. Episiotomy is the most common surgical procedure performed in the US, and, according to Sheila Kitzinger, "It is the only surgery likely to be performed without her consent on the body of a healthy woman in Western society."1 During a typical hospital birth, it's the rare woman who is not cut either "above" (in a C-section) or "below" (an episiotomy). Currently, at least 80 percent of first-time mothers delivering vaginally in the US undergo this painful procedure.2 A research review by the World Health Organization, however, indicates that evidence only supports a 5 to 20 percent episiotomy rate.3

Medical textbooks teach that episiotomies are necessary to prevent tearing and to protect the baby's head. Actually, tears are usually less severe without episiotomy, and the procedure itself can cause further tearing. Furthermore, unless the baby is premature, its head is made to withstand the pressures of delivery. For years, it was believed that an episiotomy protected a woman against future uterine prolapse, although this has since been disproved. As Penny Simkin points out, "The advantages of episiotomy have long been assumed, but never proven."4

One doctor told me that he preferred doing episiotomies because he found a straight edge easier to repair than a "jagged" tear. Christiane Northrup, MD, maintains, however, that vaginal lacerations "are trivial and very easy to repair in comparison to the damage done by episiotomies. They are also far less painful."5 In any event, should the doctor's convenience really take precedence over a woman's comfort? Another contributing factor in the hospital is the general rush to get the baby out once full cervical dilation has been reached, even though there is no evidence to suggest that faster is better. Since an OB is hired to "do something," he or she may feel pressured to do an episiotomy when things naturally slow down during transition.

Complications of Episiotomy

Although episiotomy seems like a simple operation, it carries the risk of complications, including "excessive blood loss, hematoma formation (a form of swelling or bruising), infection, or abscessing. Sometimes trauma from an episiotomy of the anal sphincter and rectal mucosa leads to a loss of rectal tone and, in severe cases, a fistula, or hole, between the vagina and rectum."6 It can also kill your sex life, at least temporarily.
Sheila Kitzinger found that episiotomy harmed women both physically and psychologically. Fifteen percent of postpartum women who had torn described their perineum as "painful or very painful" at the end of the first week, compared to 37 percent of the episiotomy group.7 Moreover, a woman "who has had an episiotomy, especially if her permission was not asked beforehand, may also feel violated. That is a word many women use when talking about their reaction to episiotomy."8 Certainly extreme pain and the feeling of being violated may help explain why some women have no interest in sex after an episiotomy.

Why Do Women Tear?

The myths that purport to explain why women tear during delivery include a)the mother is too small; b)the baby is too large; and c)pushing happened too fast. One of the most important considerations is the mother's position during second stage (pushing). The popularly used lithotomy position (flat on your back with your feet in stirrups--the standard hospital position) is the worst possible position for delivery. Putting a woman's feet into stirrups stretches her vaginal tissues in an abnormal way. The further back her legs are pushed, the more strain is involved. When a midwife notices your tissues looking "white," she will likely tell you to stop pushing, or she will apply counterpressure to the area. In contrast, a physician may figure he can repair the damage later and may continue telling you to push. In her book Gentle Birth Choices, Barbara Harper writes, "The combination of birthing in the lithotomy position and strained pushing will cause the perineum to tear."9

Success Stories

In 1993, I experienced the joy of my first vaginal birth (my first child had been delivered by cesarean section). My 7-pound, 11-ounce baby, born in the hospital, resulted in tears that required stitching. I now believe that the tearing occurred because I was encouraged to push before I was ready. Fortunately, I educated myself before the next birth. During the homebirths of my last two babies, I delivered in a hands-and-knees position. Although I am petite (105 pounds), both babies were birthed without any tears or cutting. My son weighed 9 pounds, 8 ounces. Total pushing time? Nine minutes and three minutes, respectively. The fact that the midwife said, "Push when you feel like it" helped immensely. I'm thankful that she urged me to slow down to allow the perineum time to stretch.

A few years ago, a woman named Gail came to me with a serious concern. During the birth of her first baby, she had received an episiotomy that resulted in a fourth-degree tear into the anus. Now pregnant again, Gail was worried that the resulting scar tissue might not stretch and that she would be cut again. Since the original incision had caused her considerable discomfort, she was anxious to do anything possible to avoid repeating the experience.

We discussed upright positions and the importance of expressing her wishes in a birth plan, and she and her husband used perineal massage at home. Gail birthed a 10-pound baby girl in the side-lying position and was elated at the fact that her perineum remained intact. She was also thrilled with her relatively easy recovery.

How to Avoid Episiotomy

If possible, have a midwife deliver your baby instead of a physician. Although midwives are skilled at performing episiotomies, they rarely find them necessary. Typically, midwives "place warm compresses on the perineum to relax the tissue and make it more flexible, or massage and stretch it out with warm oil."10
Hiring a doula is another way to keep your perineum intact. A doula stays with the mother during her labor and helps the mother and her partner to be comfortable. She helps make sure that the parents' birth plan is followed, and provides physical and emotional support during labor. In one study, the presence of a doula resulted in a 60 percent reduction in epidural requests and a 40 percent reduction in forceps deliveries;11 both procedures are major contributors to high episiotomy rates.

There are situations when an episiotomy may be necessary, but these are rare. A breech birth is the classic example, when time is of the essence to birth the baby's head. Other unusual fetal positions, such as face first or a compound presentation, may necessitate an episiotomy. Premature births sometimes also require an episiotomy to take pressure off the baby's delicate skull.

Women's bodies are designed to give birth without surgical intervention. Episiotomy was invented to facilitate forceps deliveries and has continued mainly out of habit not necessity. If you eat well during pregnancy, move around during labor and delivery, and deliver in a supportive environment, chances are that you won't require an episiotomy or even tear. If you do tear, recovery is almost always easier than with an episiotomy. As with most concerns about labor, often the best advice is to trust the process and to follow your instincts.

1. Sheila Kitzinger, Episiotomy and the Second Stage of Labor (Seattle, WA: Pennypress, 1990), 1.
2. Watson Bowes, "Should Routine Episiotomy Be Performed Routinely in Primiparous Women?" Ob/Gyn Forum 5, no. 4 (1991): 1-4.
3. Marsden Wagner, Pursuing the Birth Machine: The Search for Appropriate Birth Technology (Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia: ACE Graphics, 1994), 165-174.
4. See Note 1, 13.
5. Christiane Northrup, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom (New York: Bantam, 1998), 469.
6. Barbara Harper, RN, Gentle Birth Choices (Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1994), 75.
7. See Note 1, 104.
8. See Note 1, 103.
9. See Note 5, 75.
10. Sandra Jacobs, with American College of Nurse-Midwives, Having Your Baby with a Nurse-Midwife (New York: Hyperion, 1993).
11. Marshall H. Klaus, MD, John Kennell, MD, and Phyllis H. Klaus, MEd, Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth (Old Tappan, NJ: Addison Wesley Longman, 1993).

For more information about episiotomies, see the following past issues of Mothering: "Avoiding an Episiotomy," no. 75; "Episiotomy," no. 55; and "Birth Without Surgery," no. 32.
Elizabeth Bruce, MA, CCE, lives in the Washington, DC, area with her husband, Andy, and their four children, Anders (9), Doug (7), Celeste (5), and Jay (2 1/2). She teaches Birth Works classes and has written for Midwifery Today and Compleat Mother.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Breastfeeding - Precious or Perverted?

 All Images courtesy : Google Images

Some weeks ago my husband and I went to see the movie Precious. I'm not going to even attempt to explain the movie. We got in the car, drove home, and went straight to sleep (not that I actually slept that night). All I displayed on my face was a blank stare. Throughout the whole movie, all I had was a blank stare on my face coupled with streams of tears down my cheek. That movie was emotionally and mentally exhausting and traumatizing. The only positive thing I saw in it, was when Precious had given birth to her second child, a son, (both children conceived by her father) a bottle was nowhere in sight. Precious held her son close, pulled down her hospital gown, and took her breast and fed her son. You could see everything. Nothing was hidden or covered. I thought to myself... 'incredible.. this is inspirational'. A young, single, black mother, with some of the dimmest prospects in life, didn't once hesitate to feed her son by means of her breast. Of course, toward the end of the movie, Precious' mother informs her of her father's death due to AIDS and Precious goes and gets herself tested. She turns out to be positive for HIV... That was shattering... she then tells her teacher "I'm gonna stop breastfeeding Abdul..." Once I regained my composure a few days after the movie, that statement got me thinking.

I recently read an article at Mothering.com entitled HIV and Breastfeeding - The fear. The misconceptions. The facts and I thought to myself... should Precious really stop breastfeeding Abdul? How many people who watched that movie now think and know that when you have HIV you formula feed automatically.... Food for thought.

What definitely caught my attention was what I found while trying to find those pictures of Precious breastfeeding. I found a website that offers parents reviews of films so that they can determine what is or isn't suitable for their children to watch. I completely agree with that thought. Movies nowadays are ladden with violence, anger, discrimination, immorality and so on and so on.

What I found disgusting and appalling on the website though,was the mention of breastfeeding. Not solely the mention, but with what it was grouped together. Take a look. Italics my own.

Content Details

Mature sexual themes pervade this movie about a teen girl who has been raped numerous times by her father (one scene briefly shows this act without explicit nudity). There is also a vague inference that her mother is sexually abusing her as well. Masturbation is implied in a scene where a woman is shown in bed under the covers. Depictions of domestic violence and physical abuse are abundant. A mother frequently hits her daughter, sometimes with objects like frying pans. She also attempts to drop a television on her and her baby after they have fallen down a flight of stairs. In other scenes, characters are pushed or violently threatened in argumentative situations. Language includes countless sexual expletives, scatological terms and other moderate and mild profanities. Tobacco use is portrayed. A mother is shown breastfeeding.

Wait a minute, excuse me?!

"Mature sexual themes pervade this movie, Depictions of domestic violence and physical abuse are abundant. A mother frequently hits her daughter. Language includes countless sexual expletives,....A mother is shown breastfeeding."

First of all, it is absolutely repugnant, offensive and idiotic to "inform" the viewers-to-be that breastfeeding will be depicted in its absolute natural form, along with tobacco use, moderate profanity, and child abuse. This is an absurd and repulsive insinuation, that breastfeeding is considered as obscene, dirty, and inappropriate for children (or anyone for that matter) as the scenes of sexual assault. I am aware that if this movie, Precious, were a bit more demure and contained less profanity and the like, then perhaps they would not have included scenes portraying breastfeeding in all its glory, which is sad when you think about it. Oh yeah.. it's a disease remember, Nipplephobia, coined by Ina May Gaskin in her new (and superb) book Ina May's Guide to breastfeeding.

Nipplephobia must be cured....soon...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Baby wearing around the world

Anytime I go out with my daughter in the sling, I get comments and stares from people. Some look perplexed, some look curiously, and others outright love it. The Chinese women at the supermarket rant and rave about it to anyone near them, and tells them how good it is to wear your child on your body everywhere you go and point at me and Dahlia.

Fastening your baby to your body, or baby wearing as it's most commonly referred to, is nothing new. It's been done for milleniums by mothers across the world. What is new are strollers, car seats, and and infant swings.

I'm glad to see baby wearing get so much attention lately on Aruba also. Since I've come into this 'world' and met so many wonderful baby wearing mamas around the world, I've gained a lot of insight from them also. Because of the Organization I work with, I have the privilege of exposing and introducing a lot of pregnant women or new mothers, to the world of baby wearing. At our monthly breastfeeding support group (where the majority of women who attend are pregnant women) I let them feel the slings, try them out, see how a baby or a toddler fits in them so that they can get an idea of which one they like the best. I recently forged a connection with a lady who owns a local business that teaches prenatal yoga and the like. She expressed great interest in having a sort of 'baby wearing workshop' and feature me as the speaker and so on. I thought it was an amazing idea that can really reach a lot more parents on Aruba. Hopefully next year we can get things moving.

A few weeks back, via a friend on FB I came across stunning pictures of women of all ethnic backgrounds, social standing, and nationalities carrying their baby or child in a carrier on their bodies. The pictures were so vivid and inspirational, drenched with color and imagination. A thank you to Dolores Garcia Rodriguez Dogaro to whom the majority of the pictures belong. Another thank you to all my FB friends who also contributed pictures. The pictures are of women from literally all over the world. From Benin to Europe. From Aruba to Peru....



































Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stay-at-home moms and the mounting criticism

Spurred on by a conversation I had with the administrator of my daughter's daycare center, I stayed thinking about women's roles throughout history. Particularly, recent history. Around the mid 1900s women felt more and more oppressed, repressed, and depressed. Women no longer desired to be the 'traditional home-maker' and wanted to have equal rights and opportunities that men had. They burned their bras and started entering the work force by the multitudes. Some women saw being a stay-at-home wife and/or mother as a burden. They saw breastfeeding and nurturing children day in and day out as demeaning and unsatisfying as compared to having the luxurious careers their male counterparts had.

Some women who chose to stay in their 'old' roles as stay-at-home moms, breastfeeding moms, or even moms who breastfed and took their babies to work were looked on as if they were odd and going against the norm. Today, those moms who did see the value of staying home and fulfilling their role as the primary nurturer of a baby are grandmothers some even great-grandmothers. These women have grown in numbers. More and more women either before or after having their baby, have realized how important their roles as mothers are, regardless of what hardcore opposing feminists have to say about it.

Have women, in searching and fighting for autonomy and emancipation, given up their most unique and fulfilling role as mothers? Have we become so 'career-minded' as women, that we no longer know how to nurture and teach our own children that strangers and institutions are more capable of doing it for us?

Going back on the conversation I had with the administrator. It started off with me asking whether it was true that it is a requirement for toddlers to attend pre-school before they may enter kindergarden. The lady told me it was, but that not all kindergardens require it. Some want at least 6 months to 1 year of pre-school. I then told her that although my 22-month-old daughter is attending daycare, my next (and yet to be conceived baby) will not attend. I will keep the baby home with me or if I am still working part-time, I will bring her to work with me. Her countenance fell, her demeanor changed right away. "Why?!" Then she started listing reasons why I should bring the next to daycare. I told her that, in my opinion, the best people to raise children, is their own mother, and that if a mother is in the circumstance that she does not have to work to be able to eat or provide for her family, then it would be optimal to choose to stay home with the child. She agreed, and then said, "on the other hand, a child who stays home with its mom, becomes overly attached. The child cannot be without the mother, it cannot socialize. At home the child doesn't learn to wait their turn to eat like they learn here at daycare. At home the child doesn't learn to sit and eat quietly without walking around..." I thought to myself...'that's the fault of the mother, not of the arrangement'. I told her that the whole "separation anxiety" thing depends on the child's personality and that not all children are like that. And some in daycare, cry their lungs out every day when their moms leave, regardless. She agreed but then said that you cannot anticipate what kind of personality your next one will have. Well that's alright with me, I'll deal with it accordingly. I expressed my views that when a mother stays home to raise her children, she is also responsible for stimulating them intellectually, and providing them with opportunities to socialize with other children by means of ,for example, play dates. She disagreed and said that even if a child went to a party for one hour every single day, it would not compare to or be as good as if they were in daycare. "Lady!" I felt like telling her. "What if I had a whole mess load of children, like 7-9 kids, and kept all of them home... would that still not be as good as daycare is where socializing is concerned?!?!?!"

I'm not a stay-at-home mom. But I felt so insulted. I felt insulted for all the sahms out there. I got pregnant at 18. I had a job and a partner with no interest in having a baby. When this baby did come along, I took my 12 weeks of paid maternity leave and relished in them and spent every moment with my daughter. I loved my daughter to bits and pieces. I was saddened and grieved at having to leave my daughter (even if it was home with my mom) to go to work. I had to work, not for selfish reasons, but because the financial 'burden' of a child, was mine and not my parents' own. At three months of age my daughter began daycare. One of Aruba's "elite" daycare centers, and surely one of the most expensive too. I would not leave my daughter anywhere else. Eventually, I married a lovely man, who adores my daughter and myself. He agreed that when the next one comes, I'll stay home. He knows it's my innate desire and that a baby deserves nothing less than its own mother, if the circumstances allow it. Thank goodness.

Back to the topic of the feminist movement though. Have women, in searching and fighting for autonomy and emancipation, given up their most unique and fulfilling role as mothers? Have we become so 'career-minded' as women, that we no longer know how to nurture and teach our own children that strangers and institutions are more capable of doing it for us? That's certainly the impression I got from the lady I spoke to.

So what do stay-at-home moms do with their kids all day?!
If the first thing you thought was, put the kids in front of a tv to watch Dora the Exploradora while mom's in another room watching the Bold and the Beautiful, you better get a reality check. Here's what real, responsible and loving stay-at-home moms do.


Read with your children
Rarely does a child (or a baby for that matter) take one look at a book and teach itself to read and to love to read.  It is a habit ,and a desirous one at that, that you must nurture. How? You must set aside time and read for your child, read with your child. Engage the child and ask simple questions even if he cannot yet answer.


With older children, stimulate them intellectually according to their age and personal development
It's very tempting and easy to want to encourage your older child to plop down in front of the tv and watch 'because mommy has dinner to finish'. Women who stay home with older children must challenge them mentally according to their individualistic needs. Do easy puzzles with them, teach them about countries, make a collage with pictures and tell them a story about it. Sing songs together, or teach them life lessons about being kind, being polite, not fighting and about being honest. Do not underestimate the child's mind to soak these things up like a sponge.

Foster your child's sense of play and imagination
Today's toys, even baby toys, are so high-tech, they almost spoil all the fun. The baby that I had to make crying or burping noises for as a child, make it themselves nowadays. Kids have essentially lost their  imaginations and now depend heavily on things that make noises themselves and that light up. I learned it by experience that you don't need to buy your toddler (or child) the most fancy and glittery toys out there for them to be happy. Do you remember perhaps, the episode where Garfield has a hard time sleeping, and Jon goes out of his way to find a bed that can help Garfield to sleep? Well, Jon ends up buying the most ridiculous contraption of a bed which was very also very expensive. When they get home and Jon sets it up for Garfield to sleep in, low and behold... Garfield is fast asleep in the box in which the bed came.....
The point? I sometimes buy my daughter these awesome toys that make even my eyes light up, and Dahlia could not be more content with playing with some ordinary pots and pans... save your money

Teach your son or daughter to cook
Something that is easy and fun to do together is cooking. It can be as simple or as challenging as you want it to be. The child learns a life long skill, which will make her husband or his wife happy if he takes good to it, and helps nurture a child's self-esteem and creativity. Which child doesn't feel good after he made muffins all by himself?? Or the praise a girl gets and feels when her parents delight in even the simplest of meals.


Take a break from the house
Yes, the chores can wait, and you can take a day off of cooking. Take the time to wander outside of the home with your child. If it's a baby, gird yourself and the baby in a sling and enjoy a walk together. Talk about the scenery, educate your child about nature and ask them who they think put all these enjoyable things here on earth. If where you live has museums or the like, take the opportunity to enrich your child's understanding of different cultures and languages.


 Provide your child with ample opportunities to interact and play with other children
Children, regardless of age, sometimes need to have other kids around to play with. This is yet another way how they learn. They can put all the life lessons you taught him at home about sharing and being kind, and put it into practice. Do this often. And no, not with a WII or a playstation

all Images courtesy:  Google Images