Organic Melinda

healthy living with a Latin twist


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Day 11 – 18 Months of Life

Dear 18 Month Old Baby of Mine,

Look at you! Growing steadily and flourishing.  I cannot believe it has been a whole year and a half since you came into my life to stir it all up into a wondrous existence.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of watching you play with my mother.  You bring joy to us in ways that we could have never imagined possible.

Love does not even fully encompass the deep emotion that I feel for you as I watch you develop into your own being.

I cannot help but stare at you as you sleep. You look so at peace and comforted as you breathe steadily on my lap.

Your rising and falling chest speak to the miracle of presence in this world.

I never imagined that I would become a mother, some day, but, alas, here you are.

Every day you challenge me and force me into becoming a stronger and happier human being.

Today, we danced in the living room as I tried to teach you how to jump.   I held you in my arms and jumped with you as you cackled in laughter.

You remind me  of the simple pleasures of life – to enjoy being in the present moment.

For many years, September 25 was a difficult day for me as it is the anniversary of my father’s death, but you have given it new meaning.  On this day, I can now celebrate another month of your life.

You have changed many aspects of my life and have brought me back to center.

I feel so lucky to be able to watch you grow, sing, dance, and play.

My favorite part of today was when you and I sat together on the living room floor and you were babbling a story to me. I could make out a word here and there. I continued to ask you follow up questions and you would begin to laugh. I think you were telling me a joke or just celebrating life.

Then, we took out a piece of paper and you began to scribble on it. You handed the pencil to me, and I wrote our names.  I asked you what was in the picture and you babbled to me, once again.  There was a ball, a banana, and daddy.

After we talked about the picture, you began to dance again, so I joined you.  We hopped. Twirled. Stomped our feet in jubilation.

Your hair is growing in, now, and curls that speak of your Afro-Caribbean ancestry have begun to form.

I cannot help but wonder what you will look like as a young woman.

But, there is no rush to be a big girl.

Day by Day, Week by Week, Month by Month, Year by Year – I feel blessed to be here to watch you blossom.

Amazed Every Day,

Mami Loves You

 

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About this Series:

In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.

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Providing Breast Milk Against the Odds – Iris’ Story

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, which was August 1-7, 2013, I want to share Iris’ breastfeeding journey, because, in spite of many challenges, she has been dedicated to ensuring that her daughter, Baby Z, is provided the best nutrition.

Baby Z was born 10 weeks premature, and had to stay in a neonatal intensive care unit for 37 days.  I remember Iris’ stress the day she went into labor as she worried that her milk supply would not come in.

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Baby Z in the NICU

Iris knew that she wanted to breastfeed her baby long before she discovered that she was pregnant.  She was breastfed as a child, and her maternal and paternal aunts also breastfed their children.  She recalls, I grew up watching my little cousins being comforted and fed in my aunts’ laps, both in the home and out at public functions.”

With the unexpected early birth of Baby Z, Iris had to now figure out how to feed her baby.  Due to Baby Z’s delicate medical condition, she would most benefit from receiving colostrum, which is the first milk a mother makes and provides antibodies to protect the baby from diseases. Because newborn babies have immature digestive systems, mother’s milk is best for them, as many children face difficulties digesting cows’ milk.  When a child is born prematurely, their digestive system is further compromised, and the need for mother’s milk is heightened.  For this reason, I quickly volunteered to donate milk if Iris’ supply did not come in.  However, since my daughter was well over a year old at the time, I no longer produced colostrum.  Luckily, Iris’ colostrum came in just in time to feed Baby Z.

Because Baby Z “had great difficulty latching, I continued to pump rather than feed from the breast directly,” remembers Iris. Like Iris, some women experience difficulties with newborns latching on for various reasons.  In Baby Z’s case her mouth was too small.  A lactation consultant can usually help with non-medical latch difficulties.  Iris was able to help Baby Z latch twice by applying a nipple shield, but she has to pump breast milk in order to feed Baby Z.

“Not being able to feed a child directly is a huge blow to a mother. It’s not something you expect when dreaming of having a baby. Exclusively pumping is extremely tiresome as you have to wake up every 3 hours to feed your child and sit up pumping for another 45 minutes to make enough for the next feeding.”

Iris has experienced many challenges to providing her daughter breast milk. She has to pump milk multiple times a day and laments, “While breastfeeding in public is becoming more widespread and accepted, I still have to take my plastic funnels and machine to a nearby bathroom or closet.

Recently, after exclusively pumping for two months, Iris experienced a drop in her milk supply. She tried to supplement with baby formula, but Baby Z was unable to properly digest it. Thus, Iris opted to join the growing number of women who are using donor milk.

“My milk supply began to dwindle around the time my daughter was going through a growth spurt. Unable to keep up with her appetite, I chose to supplement her feedings with formula. After a few days I noticed that she was extremely irritable, gassy, and miserable. With a google search, I discovered quite a few groups online where mothers could find breast milk donors. I loved the idea of relying strictly on breast milk, so this immediately became my number one option. Soon after posting a short description of my situation and location, I was bombarded with messages from women who wanted to help.

“The love was overwhelming. I did not have any fears because it is my belief that it takes an incredibly selfless and wonderful human being to offer their milk to a stranger. So far, I have used donor milk from two mothers and a co-worker has offered hers after I run out of my current stash. My daughter does not seem to notice the difference between my milk and the donors and I am glad she is back to her usual cheery self.”

With the security of having donor milk during supply drops and being able to provide Baby Z with her own milk, Iris is free to enjoy the “the best cleavage I have ever had!” (Her words, not mine!)

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Iris and a flourishing Baby Z

Baby Z is thriving and has more than doubled her weight since birth.  She is an active little girl who enjoys cuddling with her Mom and sleeping on her Daddy’s chest.

I share Iris’ story to let women know that there can be many barriers to breastfeeding your baby, but there are also many solutions.  For mothers who want to feed their babies human milk and cannot do so, there is the option of receiving milk donations as well as having a wet nurse.

Resources on Breastfeeding:

http://www.lalecheleague.org/

http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/

http://kellymom.com/

Groups for Milk Donation:

http://www.eatsonfeets.org/

http://hm4hb.net/


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On Breastfeeding a Newborn turned Toddler

I know women who have fantasized about breastfeeding since they reached puberty, and I know others who don’t want a baby anywhere near their breasts.  I, on the other hand, never thought about breastfeeding until I discovered that I was pregnant in August of 2011. Being the researcher that I am, as I own a research and editing company (http://researchandediting.com), I began to do just that – research.  I read about the benefits of breastfeeding and joining Facebook groups, such as The Leaky B@@b.   I learned about some of the dangers of breastfeeding with an inadequate diet, and, in many ways, the journey from non-pregnant to soon-to-be lactating momma is what really led to what is now Organic Melinda.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has tons of benefits for both mom and baby.  First of all, it is FREE, and when you’re living on a budget, what could possibly beat free? Second, it is perfectly design for YOUR baby.  Third, it requires no preparation.  Feeding is as easy as lifting up your shirt and propping your little one on your breast.

Of course, breastfeeding experiences vary from woman to woman, but I have had the ideal breastfeeding experience. My milk supply has always been ample, my daughter latched on as soon as I gave birth, and at 16 months old, she is still a big fan of the tittie.

Here are a four breastfeeding benefits from the Natural Resources Defense Council:

  1. “Breast-fed children are more resistant to disease and infection early in life than formula-fed children.
  2. “Significant evidence suggests that breast-fed children develop fewer psychological, behavioral and learning problems as they grow older. Studies also indicate that cognitive development is increased among children whose mothers choose to breastfeed.
  3. “Breastfeeding helps a woman to lose weight after birth. Mothers burn many calories during lactation as their bodies produce milk. In fact, some of the weight gained during pregnancy serves as an energy source for lactation.
  4. “Women who breastfeed avoid the financial burden of buying infant formula, an average expense of $800 per year.”

My Breastfeeding Experience

I requested that my daughter be placed directly on my chest the moment she was birthed, and thanks to an excellent team of midwives that was made possible.  I, immediately, presented my breasts to my daughter when she was placed on top of me. She fed from the right breast first and then the left one.  She still, somehow, prefers the right breast over the left 16 months later.  I read that immediate skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth are vital to a great breastfeeding experience.  Not women are able to do this because they have C-Sections or other medical problems, which prevent breastfeeding immediately or at all, but if you are able to breastfeed and willing, I believe this small step went a long way in my journey to successful and long-term breastfeeding.

The first three weeks of breastfeeding were definitely the hardest.  When the milk came in my breast were super-engorged. I was sure that my body thought I had birthed triplets.  My tiny baby of 5 pounds and 9 oz was not able to empty them out, so I would pump at night or take hot showers and manually express the milk.  I won’t pretend that there weren’t many sleepless nights those first weeks because there were more than I want to remember.  However, I was determined to have a positive breastfeeding experience in spite of people constantly suggesting that my milk supply would be inadequate.  It wasn’t, thankfully.

I breastfed my daughter exclusively and on demand the first four months of her life.  At four months, she began to sprout teeth and I introduced a mashed up fruit here and there.  It wasn’t very frequent, because the recommendations were to exclusively breastfeed until 6 months old.  However, at four months, she began to show some interest in my food and trying to grab it. I began with an occasional banana or avocado once a week or so.  At 6 months, I started introducing solids about 3 times a week and slowly began to increase her food intake.  I was still breastfeeding on demand but would give the solids first.  I allowed my daughter to lead the process and would often just let grab food out of my plate.  She only ate fruits, vegetables, and nuts for the first year of her life.  After the first year, I introduced eggs and tried other meat products. Even though I am a vegan, her father is not, and we decided to raise her omnivore.  She has never really taken to many meat products and really loved vegetables at first.  But these, days, she is in a crunchy phase, which provides new challenges for me to be more creative in the kitchen with food preparations.  At 16 months, she is mostly vegan with occasional meat since I am the one doing all of the cooking in the household.

My daughter is still a big fan of the tittie milk.  She feeds anywhere between 6 to 8 times in a 24 hour period.  When she’s sick, she breastfeeds more and almost exclusively. She has never been ill for more than 3 days, and had one fever since she was born.  She has yet to experience any major illness, and I pray that she never does.  I should perhaps mention that my daughter is not vaccinated, which is a private decision her father and I made.  As I have explained, I try to live life as naturally as possible, and at this point, we do not want to vaccinate our incredibly healthy daughter.

Myths about Breastfeeding

Some of the most prevalent myths I heard about breastfeeding came from people who had never actually breastfed or known anyone to breastfeed long-term.  Here are three of the myths I heard most often while pregnant that caused fear and confusion in my heart.

  1. You will not make enough breast milk.
  2. You need to use formula for your baby to be full.
  3. Breastfeeding hurts.

Myth 1 – FALSE

While some women will experience ebbs and flows in milk supply, this is usually a natural part of the breastfeeding process.  When your baby is experiencing growth spurts, you will make more milk to meet her demands.  When your baby remains at a steady size for a while, your milk supply will regulate.  Many women confuse this for a drop in milk supply and turn to formula.  In most cases, formula is not necessary.

As I have stated above, there are exceptions.  Some women do experience drops in milk supply which can be caused by many factors, including stress and diets.  When this happens, it is not necessary to turn to formula, immediately.  First, you can try Mother’s Milk tea. I took it about 5 times a day when I was having surgery and needed to store milk for my daughter.  In about 4 days, I was making more milk than I could pump.

If you milk supply does drop or diminish and you cannot build it up, you can get donor milk from a few sources likes Eats on Feets and Human Milk for Human Babies. Please read their protocols for accepting donor milk to ensure a safe and viable product for your baby.

Myth 2 – FALSE

Breast milk was intended for human babies while the formula industry is about 150 years old.  Believing that a child needs formula to be satisfied is denying the evolution of nature.  Prior to the development of Nestle’s first formula, human babies consumed human milk.  The development of formula was intended to be used by mothers who could not breastfeed. It was not meant to be a complete alternative to breastfeeding.  Formula use became as prevalent as it is, today, to mass marketing campaigns which convinced generations of women that breast milk was inadequate.

Myth 3 – FALSE

Breastfeeding has never hurt me.  Sure, you might get the occasional bite, but you can get your kid out of that habit pretty quickly by simply saying “No” and putting the boobie away.  If you do get any sort of chafing, bruising, tenderness, or cuts from breastfeeding, just express some milk from your breast and rub it on your nipple and areola.  That cured any ailments I had.

What if I don’t want to Breastfeed?

Clearly, breastfeeding is your choice. If you feel uncomfortable breastfeeding your child, no one should force you to do so. However, I would strongly advise that, at minimum, you breastfeed for the first 6 months and, most definitely, for the first week of life to give your child the benefit of colostrum.

If you have any questions about breastfeeding, email me at organicmelinda@gmail.com and I would be happy to answer them for you!