Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Breastfeeding Poems


A mother's breast
A child's rest
For comfort or food
Anywhere, in any mood

A newborn baby or an older child
Just for a sip, or for a long while
Black babies, white and asian too,
latino, indigenous be it many or few

All have one thing they want and adore
Milk from their mother, ever more, ever more-


Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
I drink Mommy's milk
Do you drink it too?

When I wake up, or when I fall down
Up in a plane, or strolling in town
On my bed or while riding in the sling
Nursing is one of my favorite things...-


Come little child, sit in my lap
It's time to nurse to sleep and go down for a nap
O little one, suckling of mine,
Won't you stay small for all time?
Come little babe, there is no hurry
I watch no clock, why should I worry?

My breasts have purpose, not just to tease
My breasts work hard to nourish with ease
And when you reach their journey's end, 
Your sibling will from you them lend

Ode to my nursling

It's the way they gaze into each other's eyes, a stare that knows no comparison in tenderness, like a complete relenting and yielding to the love that flows between mother and child, flowing freely like the milk from ones' mother's breasts.

Nursling, Nursling,  O Nursling of mine. Won't you come for a sip tonight? It's late, and we're sleepy, but who's watching the time?
You sleep next to me, I sleep next to you. In my arms and near my heart is the spot I hold solely for you
You wake, you slumber, you nurse one cue, this is how us nursing moms do
We awake in the morning feeling fresh as the dew, not worrying if you nursed much or if you nursed few
You go on with your day, and I go on with mine, confident in the fact that mommy is there both in the day and during the nighttime
I treasure these moments not because I have to, but because in the blink of an eye, you'll grow up and I'll miss you
Love and cherish your nurslings, O mothers, all of you, for these moments are transient and far too few

On the bus, and on the train
During the sunshine and in the rain
On the beach, or on the streets
My dear mommy, can I have a treat?
Yes you can, my dear child, would you like some candy in a while?
No my momma, candy I refuse
Your milk is what I both love and use
In my tummy, straight to my bones, don't you know mum mums taste better than 10 ice cream cones!
O my dear child, whether together or apart, mama's milk will always come from her heart

Dear little brother, born just last night, do you know what makes me drift off to sleep so tight?
Dear little brother, come take a sip, mommy's milk is good, it makes you strong so you won't get sick
Dear little brother, are you nearly done? I'm worried I will get none!
Dear big sister, mommy says baby first, she let's me drink when I'm hungry, and also to quench my thirst
Dear big sister, now it's your turn! Let's drink together, from you I will learn!
My dear little nurslings, don't worry, everyone will get enough! Mama's milk is full of good stuff!
My dear little nurslings, share you must, nursing together fosters love, happiness, and builds trust

Father, father, O father of mine, you cradle me in your arms all the time 
Some people say, it's only mommy that holds me all day! But silly they are, if they only knew, what would they say!
When mommy is resting, you and I play, when mommy is nursing, you help right away!
If I whine or whimper, you rush to my side, if I'm thirsty or hungry, to mama's breasts you lay me by
You love and protect me, both day and night,
You are there both when I sleep and when I rise
Who is a daddy, a daddy like mine? Both loving and caring all of the time!

A gentle caress, to dispel all your stress, like milk from my breast, we both take a rest
It's easy and simple and natural to do, nursing is normal , you can do it too!
Awake or asleep, at night I will keep, offering the breast until you drift back to sleep
No worries, no fears, even at night my mommy is right there
An arm's reach away, both dark and day, why should I cry, right here I will stay
My instincts guide me, like this I was made, created so perfectly despite what others think or say

Thoughts on parenting and breastfeeding

Sometimes I sit and think to myself about all the things going on around me, that touch the lives of our babies, our generations to come. I reflect on the widely self-sparing attitude of parents nowadays, and it elicits both feelings of anger and sadness. Anger for the fact that the victims are often silent, innocent babies who unwittingly must bear the brunt for frustrations and difficulties experienced by the parents. Anger because these same babies are given an unfair disadvantage in life, because of being raised amidst belligerence, ignorance, and a self-preserving attitude. Sadness because all babies, born to mothers of all ages, cultures, races and intellect, deserve the same thing - Love

Some random observations of parenting

Sleep Training
When we look at adults and work, we'll observe many times that everything will revolve around a work schedule even changing our circadian rhythm completely to adapt and yet, when these same parents have a baby, it is expected of him to prematurely conform his sleep patterns to his unrelenting parents. The fact of the matter is that your job will go on whether you exist or not. Sadly... we cannot say the same for our children...

What are the decades of our lives we'll spend working compared to the months our children will spend as infants?

The use of formula or rice-cereal to 'promote better sleep'
When you want a snack before bedtime, do you prepare and eat a whole big meal? No. You stick to something light, because you don't want to go to sleep with such a cumbersome and heavy meal on your stomach especially since digestion slows at night, so why do we insist on 'topping' our infants 'off with formula or rice cereal' a soi-disant aid to promote better nighttime sleep
One of the reasons some may think formula is the equivalent to breast milk is because they see it only as a 'feeding-method'. Breastfeeding is not just a "feeding choice", it is a relationship, a bond, one that cannot be recreated or simulated with a plastic feeding device. Expectant mothers who view the act of breastfeeding in its rightful light, will usually end up having a more enjoyable nursing relationship, not due to its ease or convenience but rather due to its value

When our families, the nucleus of society, get the attention and love they merit, we as human beings are giving back to ourselves. Love given, is love received because true love, never returns void

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fundacion Pro Lechi Mama Aruba, what do we do?

                                          Board members from left to right;
Minouche L, (former) Jonnie T, Xochi W, Sharine H, Caroll K, Wendy M, Ruschlenda M, (missing Noortje v. P, Marieke v/d L, )     

Fundacion Pro Lechi Mama Aruba is a non-profit non-governmental organization, or NGO, founded in January of 2002. We have as mission to Empower women through education and practical support to breastfeed for the recommended minimum of 2 years, with the first 6 of those being exclusively by mother's milk. We also have as mission to provide our community as a whole with correct breastfeeding information and to educate health care providers. We are an organization of humble means and work solely with volunteers, with zero income. Our passion for breastfeeding and for lending support to mother's is the driving force behind our volunteer work. Many times we spend hours by a new mom trying to fix a problem to get the breastfeeding dyad back on track. Our three main activities of dispensing information and lending practical support are accomplished by the following;

Help Line: Moms or anyone looking for information about breastfeeding are free to call any of our help lines. New mothers experiencing breastfeeding trouble are urged to call or have your health care provider contact us via one of the three phone numbers available 24/7. We try our utmost to resolve certain problems by phone

House Visits:  For problems our issues requiring 'hands-on' assistance, we go to the mother's home and give practical support, a listening ear and many times, a shoulder to cry on. I must admit that even though house visits are the most energy taxing, they are also the most enjoyable and satisfying part of the job when a mom overcomes her obstacle and calls you to let you know how they did it!

Monthly breastfeeding support groups: A very popular and well received part of Pro Lechi Mama's activities are the breastfeeding support groups. Most of the times we see many expectant parents visiting us and listening in. We encourage peer counseling and active participation from our parents that are present and welcome the exchange of opinions, support, and the forging of close bonds. These are held once a month, usually on the third Thursday of the month. Why don't you join us sometime?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Yeast Infections and uncommon (but effective) treatments

Yeast infections can be real pain in the... well..
Vaginal yeast infections are a part of nearly every woman's life at some point or the other. It happens during periods of high stress, problems with diabetes management, or maybe even undiagnosed diabetes. Wearing tight clothes with no room to breathe can also host a yeast infection.Yeast infections are not something shameful or uncommon as they can happen even with babies and little girls due to anti-biotic use. It's something annoying, but normal and happens when there occurs an imbalance of healthy vs unhealthy bacterium in the vagina. This also tends to occur more frequently during pregnancy. If both you and your partner are experiencing recurrent bouts of yeast infections, you may be passing it on to each other over, and over again.

Many times a woman can catch and nip a full blown yeast infection in the bud. At that very first tingle, itch or sign of labial swelling, it's good to try some simple, and relieving tricks before going to the doctor. These methods are also very desirable to use during pregnancy because they pose absolute no harm to your baby. Let's see common home remedies

Home Remedy # 1 Garlic Cloves

Garlic kills yeast. Those who bake bread know not to add garlic while the dough is rising or it will kill the yeast. Instead, garlic is added to the dough after it has risen, just before baking it in the oven. Garlic will also help in killing a vaginal yeast infection.


Take a clove of garlic and peel off the white paper that surrounds it. If you have an advanced yeast infection you may consider cutting the garlic in half. This increases the strength of the treatment. Before bed at night, insert the garlic into the vagina (high enough that it doesn't slip out with one cough) and remove it first thing in the morning. It is recommended that garlic be used at night because it tends to make the mouth have an unpleasantly strong smell of garlic ( but I personally didn't experience this). If you're afraid that it might get "lost" take a needle and thread and pass it various times through what will be the bottom part so it can serve as a string to gently tug it out. If in any case you are having trouble retrieving the garlic, squat and bear down a few times and it will pop out. I must say that the first time I tried it, it took some getting used to but it didn't hurt in any way or form.

Home-remedy # 2 Unsweetened yogurt

Some unsweetened yogurt contain live active cultures, such as acidophilus,  that can help you re-establish the healthy balance of bacterium in your vagina. You may choose to eat it, or you may choose to go the more direct way. You can do this in two ways.


Take a tampon and dip it in the unsweetened yogurt (and do not use sweetened yogurt because yeast feasts on sugar!) and insert it in the vagina at night.

Another way is to freeze the yogurt in little cubes. I personally found this the most relieving option because the cold from the frozen yogurt really appeases the itching, burning and swelling from an infection. So all you do is freeze the yogurt (I froze half cubes) and then at night, insert the cube high into the vagina and wear a pad to bed. Repeat as needed. If by day 3-4, you haven't found relief or a complete curing of the yeast infection, you may choose to visit your doctor to get a conventional treatment to rid the yeast.

Do you have any other home-remedies that you use? What have you found relief with before going to your doctor?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Highlights from the moedergroep of April 15th 2010

Last night, April 15th, we held our monthly breastfeeding support group. Just like last month, we boasted an attendance of 19 mothers, fathers and mothers-in-law! As usual, we had a lot of pregnant moms there, which we absolutely enjoy and encourage! It's essential to educate and relate to other moms and parents. We originally had planned to speak about pumping, working and breastfeeding, but decided to do a free-style after all. The discussion was lively and believe you, everyone got their chance to ask and be answered.

What was touched on a lot though was how to manage breastfeeding and working outside of the home, of which a mom there was experiencing some trouble with. It was concluded by all in the group that although it's more challenging, what are the months of pumping and nursing, compared to the rest of your life you'll spend working? Our babies deserve the best, and if it puts an inconvenience on us, we do well to keep the big picture in sight. After all... we are not just women anymore, we are mothers. We are strong, we are fragile, we are tenacious, we are cooks, breadwinners, nurturers, referees, teachers, love givers, and best of all, love receivers from all ends.

We spoke a lot about the lactating breast and how it works. We explained how supply and demand sits in each other, and the avoiding of scheduled feeds. Another important thing we discussed was infants sleeping at too early of an age through the night. It is known that a newborn baby must wake to feed, especially during the night. This is not just to protect his mother's supply but also to protect his blood sugar levels from plummeting and further preventing him from waking up. Breastfeeding can be exhausting... if a mother has to get out of her bed, pick the baby up out of the crib, nurse, put the baby back to bed, and repeat. Breastfeeding is easy. Co-sleeping, or more precisely, safe bedsharing, is a wonderful parenting tool that gives mom much needed rest during those first months. It was also noted that in lands where bedsharing is the norm, SIDS rarely occurs, it doesn't even have a name. This shows us that bedsharing is inherently safe and a natural biological response to a certain need.

Needless to say, we really enjoyed ourselves. I always feel so privileged to be in the position to educate and inform mothers about breastfeeding, and most importantly to learn about others' experiences and the hardships they've been through. I think that despite as much as I may educate myself in this field, I will always continue to learn from those around me and new ones I come in contact with. I will never be too high, or "know too much" to think I know it all, because that isn't what taking care of mamas is about. All breastfeeding mamas are professionals in their own right and I commend all of them!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hyperemesis Gravidarum and Helicobacter Pylori

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis of case-control studies revealed a possible link between hyperemesis gravidarum, or severe nausea and vomiting that causes weight loss,  lasting beyond the first trimester and the gastrointestinal bacterium named Helicobacter Pylori. According to the Helicobacter Foundation, H. Pylori is:

 "a spiral shaped bacterium that lives in the stomach and duodenum (section of intestine just below stomach). It has a unique way of adapting in the harsh environment of the stomach.
The inside of the stomach is bathed in about half a gallon of gastric juice every day. Gastric juice is composed of digestive enzymes and concentrated hydrochloric acid, which can readily tear apart the toughest food or microorganism. Bacteria, viruses, and yesterdays steak dinner are all consumed in this deadly bath of chemicals. It used to be thought that the stomach contained no bacteria and was actually sterile, but Helicobacter pylori changed that.
The stomach is protected from its own gastric juice by a thick layer of mucus that covers the stomach lining. Helicobacter pylori takes advantage of this protection by living in the mucus lining.

Once H. pylori is safely ensconced in the mucus, it is able to fight the stomach acid that does reach it with an enzyme it possesses called urease. Urease converts urea, of which there is an abundant supply in the stomach (from saliva and gastric juices), into bicarbonate and ammonia, which are strong bases. This creates a cloud of acid neutralizing chemicals around the H. pylori, protecting it from the acid in the stomach. The reaction of urea hydrolysis is important for diagnosis of H.pylori by the breath test.
Another defense H. pylori has is that the body's natural defenses cannot reach the bacterium in the mucus lining of the stomach. The immune system will respond to an H. pylori infection by sending white cells, killer T cells, and other infection fighting agents. However, these potential H. pylori eradicators cannot reach the infection, because they cannot easily get through stomach lining. They do not go away either, though, and the immune response grows and grows. Polymorphs die, and spill their destructive compounds (superoxide radicals) on stomach lining cells. Extra nutrients are sent to reinforce the white cells, and the H. pylori can feed on this. within a few days, gastritis and perhaps eventually a peptic ulcer results. It may not be H. pylori itself which causes peptic ulcer, but the inflammation of the stomach lining; i.e. the response to H. pylori.
H. pylori is believed to be transmitted orally. Many researchers think that H, pylori is transmitted orally by means of fecal matter through the ingestion of waste tainted food or water. In addition, it is possible that H. pylori could be transmitted from the stomach to the mouth through gastro-esophagal reflux (in which a small amount of the stomach's contents is involuntarily forced up the esophagus) or belching, common symptoms of gastritis. The bacterium could then be transmitted through oral contact."

A few years back my mother started suffering from upset stomach, and heart burn rather frequently. She was diagnosed with GERD, and was sent to do a gastroscopy to check things out. Her test came out inconclusive and she was subsequently diagnosed with H. Pylori. She was put on treatment, which is simple antibiotics, and experienced much relief afterwards. Her test still says inconclusive but she's experiencing much less stomach problems now.

Now, what about this link between hyperemesis gravidarum and H. pylori? The findings are as follows:

Objective. To summarize the evidence from epidemiological studies examining the association between Helicobacter pylori infection and hyperemesis gravidarum. Design. Systematic review and meta-analysis of case–control studies. Material and methods. We searched the Medline/PubMed, Embase, Cinahl, ISI Web of Science and Biological Abstracts databases from 1966 to 17 June 2008 and finally Google Scholar. A total of 25 case–control studies were identified. Both fixed-effect and random-effect models were used to synthesize the results of individual studies. The Cochran Q, τ2 of between-study variance and index of heterogeneity (I2) were used to evaluate heterogeneity. Heterogeneity between studies was examined by subgroup and random effect meta-regression analyses. Publication bias was evaluated. Results. Publication bias was not observed. The random model pooled estimate was odds ratio = 3.32, 95 % confidence interval (CI): 2.25–4.90. A high heterogeneity was pinpointed (I2 = 80 %, 95 % CI: 65–89). Subgroup analysis and meta-regression showed a weaker association in studies with a clear definition of hyperemesis gravidarum compared to studies without this condition, and weaker association in recent studies compared to earlier studies. Meta-regression showed that these two study characteristics explained 40% of heterogeneity between studies. Conclusions. Exposure to H. pylori appears to be associated with an increased risk of hyperemesis gravidarum. The residual heterogeneity might have different reasons. Given the high prevalence of H. pylori, the public health consequence of H. pylori with regard to hyperemesis gravidarum may be important.

The results of this review suggest that H. Pylori infection is a significant risk factor for hyperemesis gravidarum. Since H. Pylori is a common infection that can be treated with medications that are safe for use in pregnancy, the results of this review provide important clinical information for maternity care providers and women experiencing severe, persistent nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, as diagnosis and treatment of H. Pylori may provide relief from that condition.

Now that I look back, knowing this, during my mother's last pregnany, she experiences severe and persistent vomiting and gained only 9 pounds (of which my sister was 7) throughout her whole pregnancy. I wonder if maybe it could have been this?

If we, in the future, encounter any client going through this ordeal, perhaps we could suggest her getting tested (it's a simple blood test) for H pylori. As was mentioned above, the treatment is simple and safe during pregnancy and can provide a world of relief

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Seven random facts

This is very unlike me, and unlike the gist of this blog, but it's cute and Leigh at Marvelous Kiddo did a good job at convincing me to join in

Here are my 7 random facts

1. I am dead afraid of butterflies

2. I have an obsession with crunchy sounding paper

3. I refuse to deem any article of clothing as dirty until a stain appears on it, or until when I put it to my nose I say to myself  "That smells too psychedelic even for me" (disgusting random fact)

4. When I was a little child, I ran behind my 6,5 years older brother with a big yellow knife

5. I let my baby sister roll off the bed ( I was just a kid!)

6. I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses

7. I love my husband and daughter to death and plan to have a mess-load of kids

                   This is me and a high-school friend Jaleesa at a school dinner (I was 16). I looked like a girly girl, but that was the time period I had my ears stretched out to gage 0 ( see that big purple thing in my ear lobe? That's a hole) and I played in an all female rock/metal band named Black Pearl

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Could Lacto-engineering replace Human Milk Fortifiers in the future?

Breast is Best.

This is the phrase that has been resonating for many decades since the fall of the popularity of breastfeeding. With the rise of technological advancements and research, men are now "proving" and validating what creation attests to and what women have always known - any other method of infant feeding is suboptimal.

In the ideal situation, an infant would receive nutrition solely from his mother's breasts, because nothing more or less, is necessary. There are situations, however, that do require intervention and careful consideration to special circumstances of each individual infant where mother's milk is concerned. A few such instances are rare conditions such as phenylketonuria, galactosemia (with exception to duarte's variation.), and in some cases of LBW ( low birth weight ) and VLBW* infants.

There is no question of the value of human milk for a sick baby. With its immunological properties that ward off countless infections, there should be no doubt that a preterm infant who needs more of these, should receive it's mother's milk. Human milk has the ideal protein balance for babies who weigh 1500g or more. On the other hand, concern has risen over whether the total volume of protein and minerals such as calcium and phosphorous found in human milk is sufficient for preterm infants. At issue are the calcium and phosphorous requirements for the VLBW baby's bone growth. Without enough of these minerals, VLBW babies are at risk for osteopenia of prematurity. VLBW babies also require a higher amount of fat-soluble vitamins because they have not laid down adequate stores before birth. One solution is to supplement the baby with Human Milk Fortifiers (HMF.)

Many breastfeeding advocates propose lactoengineering for preterm infants. The science of lactoengineering, the engineering of human milk, holds much promise. Lactoengineering provides increased calories, carbohydrates, and proteins through the mother's hindmilk. Creamatocrits estimate the fat and energy content of milk. (1) The hindmilk that rises to the top is skimmed off and given to the baby to increase his fat intake. Mothers can learn to do this, thereby increasing their participation in their babies' care (2). Low birth weight infants in Nigeria grew well through lactoengineering (3) One researcher added isolated human milk protein to mother's milk for four babies with good results. (4)

Some argue that the focus with human milk fortifiers is often on weight gain rather than brain growth.(5) However, this focus ignores the fact that human milk  is clearly the nutrition of choice to promote neurodevelopment. Researchers can also separate the proteins and calcium in human milk.(6) (7). The goal is to develop human milk fortifiers for infants that are made from human milk, not from the milk of other species.

 The field of lactoengineering is a field with many opportunities that has yet to be explored, with unequivocally good results. Hopefully in the future we will see more advancements that propagate breastfeeding and raise it back to the pedestal it once occupied.

* Low Birth Weight (LBW) : Under 5 lb, 8 oz (2500g)
   (March of Dimes 2003)

*Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW) : Under 3 lb , 5oz (1500g)
   (March of Dimes 2003)

*Extremely Low Birth Weight (ELBW) : Under 2 lb, 3 oz
  (Siva Subramanian, 2002)


 (1) Meier P. Supporting lactation in women with very low birth weight infants. Pediatr Ann 32 (5): 317-325; 2003.

(2) Griffin T et al. Mothers' performing creamatocrit measures in the NICU: Accuracy, reactions, and cost. JOGNN 29 (3): 249-257; 2000

(3) Slusher T et al. Promoting the exclusive feeding of own mother;s milk through the use of hindmilk and increased maternal milk volume for hospitalized, low birth weight infants. (<1800g) in Nigeria: A feasibility study. J. Hum Lact 19 (2): 191-198; 2003

(4) Lindblad BS et al. Blood levels of critical amino acids in very low birth weight infants on a high human milk protein intake. Acta Paediatr Scand Suppl 296: 24-27; 1982

(5)Ebrahim G. Feeding the preterm brain. J Trop Pediatr 39:1430-1431: 1993

(6) Li C. Variations in the composition of breast milk and its fortification for Pre-term babies. Amarillo Conference, Human Lactation: Current research and clinical implications, breastmilk for Pre-term babies; October 22,2004

(7) Kent J. Breastmilk calcium for the preterm baby. Amarillo Conference, Human Lactation: Current research and clinical implications, breastmilk for Pre-term babies; October 22,2004

Friday, April 9, 2010

Raising a multilingual child

While browsing through my blog roll I happened upon Hobo Mama's participation in a blog carnival about multilingualism. At first it didn't register in my mind, but then I followed some links and thought more about it. The reason I didn't pay much mind to it is because in Aruba everyone grows up speaking at the least, three languages, those being, Papiamento (our native language) English that we learn first from T.V. and then in school, and Dutch which we start learning in kindergarten( our whole school system is in Dutch.) Most people also speak Spanish, and those who excel a little bit more in school, attend a higher high-school level that offers French. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn French and I excelled at it (because we all know I sucked eggs in physics and math.) So in effect, I speak 5 languages. This is very handy, but in Aruba we hardly think anything of it. When you look at the diversity of the culture here, we truly are a melting pot. It's no wonder that we know so many languages because otherwise how would we communicate with each other, haha!

One of the links I read, spoke about how the parent's child mixed two languages a lot with each other. And that's what caught my attention. My 2-year-old daughter does it a lot too. As a baby we always spoke English to her because, even though I am Aruban, my maternal grandparents are from the tiny windward island of Saba and raised my mother in a solely English speaking family, and thus we were raised like that too. The local language, Papiamento, is something everyone learns on the street, or in my daughter's case, at day care. At first, she spoke predominantly Papiamento, but now she is speaking more English. She is singing her ABCs in English but she cannot count properly to ten yet. She does count to ten in correct sequence in Papiamentothough. She also sings a lot of children's songs in Papiamento. I'm working on helping her out with Dutch but not focusing too much on it because in a year-and-a-half she'll be in kindergarten and will automatically start learning it. Looking at it from a monolingual viewpoint, it is pretty neat to have a toddler that effortlessly speaks two languages, but I don't let it go to my head, after all, it's the norm here, it's not that big of a deal.

Sometimes you'll hear people cautioning about introducing or "mixing" languages with babies and young children because it may delay, impair, or confuse the child when it comes time to actually choosing and speaking a language, but the exact opposite is true. Some years back I saw a program on National Geographic that explained that the earlier on in your infant's life you introduce a second or subsequent language, the easier and quicker it is for them to pick it up and speak it when the time comes. It had to do with brain activity and also showed that as the years went on, the more difficult it is for humans to learn a new language (which is obvious in the difficulty we as adults have in learning a foreign tongue). Food for thought...

What about you, do you speak more than one language at home? What about your baby/child, is he/she exposed to more than one tongue?

Progression of Engorgement

Here is a simple, easy reference diagram to keep handy in your pocket, or blow it up and show it in your class about the steps of engorgement

Babywearing Classes

I've been giving babywearing classes these past months and it's only until now I got around to posting pictures about it. Yesterday we enjoyed a private class with just one couple, of which the dad was very excited to try out different carriers. We arrange for one hour of "theory" and another of "practice", but it usually ends up being much longer because the parents are often very anxious to get their hands on the various carriers there.

First half of the class - Info & Theory

Noortje explaining how Babywearing Aruba came into existence

We esteem the pictures our local babywearers send in to us and we include them in our classes (keep 'em coming!)

We offer private classes too

A big focus of our classes is pictures that help the parents to learn how to identify incorrect positioning

Clearly, our clients enjoy the second half a lot! It's sling meet time!

Besides giving babywearing classes and providing general education about the proper and safe use of slings and wraps, we offer a sling rental service that allows the parents to rent any carrier they'd prefer testing out for a few weeks before committing to buying one. The carriers we have thus far are:

  • Didymos Aqua Waves Size 6
  • Didymos Eva Size 5
  • Arawak Mums Mei tai
  • Maya wrap ring sling in black
  • Slinglings Pouch sling blue/green paisley
  • Arawak Mums pouch sling pink & purple flowers
  • Arawak Mums pouch sling cotton stretch pink flowers
  • Tricotslen stretchy newborn wrap dark blue
  • Metal Frame backpack carrier (Can't remember which brand right now) black and grey

We will soon have an Ergo & Water mesh sling/wrap. For more information, visit our Facebook Fan Page, Babywearing Aruba, and contact us 

Lastly, we offer private in-home consults, sell Arawak Mums carriers, and aid in the ordering of slings/wraps online either from the U.S. or The Netherlands (whichever is most convenient for the client)

Because Babywearing Aruba is a fledgling business, we kindly accept donations in monetary form and donations of baby carriers, new and used. Please contact Wendy Martijn on Facebook if you have any carriers sitting around collecting dust, and would like to donate it to for the specific use of furthering the education and preservation of babywearing on the island of Aruba. 

Reverse Pressure Softening techniques

It has been observed that many mothers who receive IV fluids in a hospital birth have edema in their breasts and extremities. This will often result in the flattening of the areola, similar to engorgement. Reverse Pressure Softening techniques helps remove pressure and fluids away from the areola so that baby can comfortably latch on. This relatively simple and costless technique can easily be used to help with engorgement as well.

Note: It's good to use these techniques right before latching the baby on the mom's breast.

Soft ring method. Cut off bottom half of an artificial nipple to place on areola to press with fingers

Two step method, two hands, using straight thumbs, base of thumbnail even with side of nipple. Move 1/4 turn, repeat, thumbs above and below nipple

Two step method, two hands, using 2 or 3 straight fingers each side, first knuckles touching nipple. Move 1/4 turn, repeat above and below nipple

Two handed, one-step method. Fingernails short, fingertips curved, each one touching the side of the nipple

Two handed, one-step method. 

One-handed "flower-hold." Fingernails short, fingertips curved, placed where baby's tongue will go.

"Flower-hold" from other Angle

RPS Techniques are effective and easy for mom to learn. Engorgement or edema of the areola can be distressing, but by equipping moms and dads with these tips and tricks, can instill a sense of confidence in a woman's body.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Will breastfeeding affect your income?

After enjoying PhD in Parenting's recent post, The Economics of Breastfeeding: A Cost-Benefit Analysis, which scrutinized Hannah Rosin's latest rant on breastfeeding , I started wondering if we Aruban breastfeeding mothers fared the same, where our income and decision to breastfeed is concerned. 

In the states and many other countries, a breastfeeding mother must sometimes ultimately choose between her salary or her milk. The laws protecting and granting breaks for nursing mothers are few and far between. We know all too well what usually ends up happening, and who ends up getting the short end of the stick. The baby. 

Since facts and figures on breastfeeding and its duration applicable to Aruba is not available, I'll use stats from the U.S.

A dismal 2009 breastfeeding report card from the CDC found that only 74 percent of women start breastfeeding, only 33 percent were still exclusively breastfeeding at three months and only 14 percent were still exclusively breastfeeding at six months.

A big factor in these appalling numbers is the return to work. Many mothers are either not aware, or willing to go through the trouble to combine work with breastfeeding. Although I don't have concrete numbers, I do know that the breastfeeding rates in Aruba are about as dismal as the States'. I ask myself 'why!'... Unlike the states, what Aruban mothers do have is a law that protects them, all they need now is information and (some) a backbone to stand up to an employer who is either unaware or unwilling (incredible right? despite us having legal rights) to cooperate with this law.

For clarification, let me go through our system's laws:

12 Weeks 100% paid maternity leave granted by SVB. This can be taken either 4 weeks before a woman's EDD with 8 weeks after (this is ridiculous though, because we all know about the lie of the EDD) or it can be taken 6-6. 

A mom who chooses 4-8 has at the most 10 weeks with the baby (because no one wants a baby born at 36 weeks) which in my honest opinion, is absolutely not enough, but in any case. So, what usually happens is the mother has 7 weeks with the baby, and after that has to return to work. Here's the beautiful part. Upon returning to work, a lactating woman is granted 100% paid breastfeeding breaks that account for 25% of her daily work hours, excluding her lunch break. So if a woman normally works 8 hours a day with a one (1) hour lunch break, she is entitled to 2 hours to either express her milk or nurse her baby live. This continues up until the first day of the baby's tenth month of life. Nice eh?* What usually happens, if the mother uses the law the to full, is that, once 10 months hit, she discusses with her employer if he/she would be kind enough to cooperate and extend it to one year. By then, the baby will be taking in enough solids to meet his needs in the absence of his mother. Most mothers then just have one nursing/pumping session in her lunch break. Of course, it could always be the case that the baby is still very much an avid nurser and eats very little solids, which is perfectly normal. In such a case, I think, individual circumstances would dictate that a mother may or should ask for an assessment and cooperation on behalf of her personal situation and the employer may choose to be more lenient. 

This became a mandated law May 19th 2008. It is for government workers as well as workers in the private sector.  And yet, did you know that so many employers are unaware or unwilling to cooperate? Did you know that many mothers are unaware of their rights, or are unwilling to stand up to an uninformed boss? 

Going back to our main thought, whether breastfeeding mothers really end up earning less than their formula feeding counterparts. I don't agree. Not on Aruba at least. With legal protection, women can go back to work and feel secure that they don't have to choose between feeding the family, or feeding the baby. We just don't. Whether you're going back to work because you want to or because you have to, I encourage all Aruban mothers to make full use of your rights. Get to know what is expected of you and your employer where combining breastfeeding with work is concerned. Don't wait until the day you go on maternity leave or worse yet, the day you come back to work! Discuss it respectfully but firmly with your boss even if you're sure or not, if you'll breastfeed, and do it as early as possible Nobody waits to learn how to operate a parachute right before they jump out of a plane...do they?

*Footnote: While this law is a generous and a well deserved one, Fundacion Pro Lechi Mama Aruba continually strives to remind mothers that it is a law protecting the baby, and not the mother. It has been brought to our attention, as we have also personally heard, of such instances of a non-lactating mother abusing this law. We constantly reiterate and ask mothers to show empathy and proper judgement when making use of this right, so that it not be taken away from those who sorely need and long to use it in a proper fashion. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Party in my pants

No... this post has no sexual connotations or innuendos. I'm talking about menstrual pads. Not the throw away kind. Yeah, you got it, I'm talking re-usable style! Now before you cringe in horror, imagine these funky, chic looking things in your underwear....

I don't know about you, but every month, I throw away a fortune in pads, tampons and the like. I dread each period for the leaks, stains and cash I flush down the toilet (you're allowed to flush the stick ones right?)
I haven't tried them yet, but I will very soon. Concerned for my wallet, our earth, and the embarrassing trip you make each month to the grocery store ( 'cause you know the teenage packing boy is diggin' on your maxi over sized, triple extra large wings while he's putting it in your re-usable tote). 

Of course, you could always make your own re-usable cloth pads, but for those out there like me that are as crafty as american cheese, there are major brands out there offering quite a variety of sizes, colors and designs( some patterns so beautiful, I feel ashamed to use it for my period!)

One such brand is Part in your pants or PIMP. Yes. After you take a look at all the stunning cloth pads they have, you will rightly conclude and agree that, when in use, you got a party in your pants...

They also sell cloth nursing pads! 

They have a vast selection of kits of different sizes. They have organic, flannelette, and cotton ones. They even  have postpartum pads! 

Here are some common concerns about cloth pads, and what PIMP pads have to offer

Party In My Pants have a waterproof bottom shield that protects against leaks. We use a specially designed high-tech nylon – not PUL (Polyurethane Laminate). This nylon is a breathable fabric with a special hydrophilic layer that allows your body to breath while stopping your period from leaking through.
What's more, PIMP cloth pads are more absorbent than the disposable menstrual products you´re used to. It's virtually impossible to leak through a pad. However if you wear a pad too long, you may leak off the sides. When you first start using PIMPs it´s best to be a little more vigilant about checking your pad. After a few times you´ll be an absorbency pro and will know when to change a pad based on its size.

 I have a super heavy flow. Will PIMPs work for me?
Absolutely! You´ll probably need our Overnight or Queen pads on your heaviest days. PIMP cloth pads are so much more absorbent than disposables; they may even make things easier. More awesome: You'll spend less time changing your pads or tampons and worrying that they'll leak. All women using cloth pads for the first time should be a wee bit more vigilant about checking their PIMP. After a cycle or 2, you´ll be familiar with the absorbency of a particular size and will know when to change it.
In some extreme cases, PIMPs might not be enough. If you have tidal flooding because of menopause or fibroids then you might need to pair your pad with a menstrual cup or sea sponge. No menstrual product – cloth, cup, sponge or disposable – is designed to hold such an amount of fluid by itself.
You bet. Many women wear PIMP pads with thong underwear. Our narrow pads work best, such as the Mini Liner & Small. If you´re a thong lover with a very heavy flow, you may need to change your pad more frequently since these PIMPs are less absorbent than our larger sizes.

Unless you are wearing skin tight or semi-translucent clothing, it's unlikely that anyone will be able to see your pad. PIMP cloth pads aren't bulky like lots of conventional pads or even other reusables, so you don't have to worry about extra bulge in your pants, skirts, or shorts.

Yes. We recommend our Queen and Overnight pad for postpartum bleeding. New moms report that they change their pads more frequently than during a menstrual period. It's possible that you´ll have to change your pad every few hours during your most heavy postpartum bleeding. Check out the Mama-rama Kit and snag a deal designed just for new moms.

How do I wash & dry my pads?

Washing your pads is as easy as washing any other piece of clothing. Just pop ‘em in the washing machine and toss ‘em the dryer. You can also wash your pads by hand. Some women soak or rinse their cloth pads beforehand, but with Party In My Pants it's really not necessary.
To wash your pads you can use most any detergent, as long as it doesn't contain bleach. We recommend a product called Oxo Brite, an environmentally friendly detergent and stain remover. It works by dissolving proteins so it won't fade your pad’s styling pattern. You'll find Oxo Brite at most health food stores, co-ops, and Trader Joe's. Some women make their own detergent that contains Borax as a cleaning booster. While these homemade types of detergents may be perfectly safe, we don't know the long term effects of Borax on the pad's nylon shield. For that reason, we recommend sticking with a commercial detergent.
There are only two big rules for washing your pads: don’t use super hot water or bleach. Both will damage the waterproof shield and bring about your PIMP’s untimely demise. Stick with warm water and if you want an extra fresh pad, try adding a little plain white vinegar to your wash water.
Drying your pads in the dryer is ideal – just make sure it isn't set on high. High heat can sometimes melt the nylon shield and ruin your pad. Use low or medium heat instead. If you choose to air-dry your pads, know that they won't come out nearly as soft. When fiber is moistened, it relaxes. If it's air-dried in one position, it holds the shape and becomes fixed in that position to some degree. That's why you get that stiff feeling with air-dried clothing: all the fibers are locked in position, whatever position they were dried in. If cloth is agitated as it dries (such as being flopped around in a dryer), it doesn't dry in any one position and is more flexible.
A PIMP typically lives for 5-7 years under normal use – using a particular pad once per cycle. If you don't typically wash and reuse any pads mid-cycle, your collection will last for years and years. You'll probably be lusting after some new, fabulous pattern long before any of your PIMPs bite the dust. However, a pad's longevity can be shortened if you usually wear and wash a pad more than once during a cycle. Like anything, the more you use it the faster it wears out. But having fewer pads and washing and reusing them more frequently doesn't mean you don't get your $'s worth since your initial investment was smaller. Think about it this way: A pad will last for about 75 washings or 5-7 years – whichever comes first.

How much $ will I save by switching to cloth pads?
Click here and get an estimate of how much you will save with cloth pads. From menarche to menopause, women typically bleed for 35 years and disposable menstrual products can cost a woman nearly $3,000 dollars over her menstruating years. If you buy organic disposables, you're probably spending twice as much. That's a trip to Greece! That's a fancy-schmancy bike! Maybe that's money you didn't have in the first place. By switching to Party In My Pants pads, you'll spend a fraction of that amount. Every woman and cycle is different, so click here and get an estimate of how much you will save with cloth pads. Maybe you'll be able to afford a few more student loan payments or keep yourself in a lifetime supply of chocolate.

 I don't think I can handle washing my pads. Isn't that a lot of extra work?
Washing your PIMPs might seem like a drag if you've never tried it, but it's really simple. PIMP pads don't need any special treatment. The best way to wash your pads is to pop 'em in the washer and toss 'em in the dryer.
Don't get around to doing laundry as often as you’d like? No problem. You don't have to wash your pad the moment you’ve finished using it. Just snap 'em up and throw 'em in the hamper. Wash your PIMPs whenever you happen to do laundry next. Now with all the anxiety that’s floating around about menstrual blood, it might seem a little odd at first. But this routine is tried, true, and the ladies of Party In My Pants swear by it.

Do you use cloth pads? Are they home made or bought online? Which brands do you recommend?