Most of us didn’t need to read a scientific review to know that breastfeeding is beneficial. We lose weight, our babies become brilliant, we bond with our infants, yadda, yadda, yadda. Breastfeeding is a no-brainer, right?
Still the latest results of this close look at breastfeeding are pretty astounding. The study, published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine, followed mothers at high risk of developing breast cancer for nearly a decade. Participants had a “first-degree” link to the disease, meaning that either their mother or sister had contracted it. Among the high-risk women who chose to breast feed, breast cancer rates decreased by a whopping 59 percent.
Researchers aren’t sure why the data is so significant. It could be that formula-feeding moms experience inflammation from engorgement that leads to breast cancer. Or it could be that the act of breastfeeding brings about mysterious benefits for women that researchers don’t yet understand.
Still, at 3am when I’m tired and smell a bit like sour milk, it’s nice to know that all those efforts have so many payoffs both for baby and for me. I have two dear aunts who have struggled with breast cancer. Each of them has battled it, won, and had it return to their bodies. They’re both thankfully healthy at this point, but it makes me all the more aware of the risks for my mom, my daughter and me. Anything I can do to reduce my own chance of contracting the disease seems worth it–and breastfeeding has so many secondary benefits that it’s an easy decision.
Do you have a history of breast cancer in your family? Did it affect your decision to breastfeed?
I have a feeling I’m going to lose this battle, but here it is: I don’t like the idea of giving food as a gift for new parents. Joy loves the idea so much that she wrote a post with food ideas, and the comments were overwhelmingly positive. It seems that almost everyone enjoys giving freezable meals to worn-out parents and that worn-out parents enjoy receiving them.
Here I was, whipping up nutritious dinners just moments after giving birth.
Not me! Why not? Well, that takes us back to another classic Green Baby Guide Battle: I don’t like to buy food in bulk and prepare big batches of meals to store in the freezer. Joy does. Casseroles and other “frozen delights” just don’t appeal to me. Yes, I realize they are quick and convenient, but every time I’ve frozen something ahead of time, I find I am loath to defrost it and heat it up for dinner.
Another reason I don’t like getting food as gifts is because I am a bit particular. (For starters, I don’t eat meat.) I think my friends and family know this. Maybe that’s why I didn’t receive any tuna casseroles or beef briskets as gifts when our baby was born! The only food I remember getting were whole grain cinnamon rolls without frosting, made by my aunt. Now it just so happens that I love these particular cinnamon rolls and hate anything frosted, so I was very happy.
Here’s the last reason I disapprove of the whole freezer food phenomenon: I like to cook! Those first few weeks and months with the baby actually afforded me more time than ever to whip up tasty lunches and dinners.
I like the basic idea behind freezer food as gifts: Friends and family come together to help out a family going through a major life transition. So why am I even writing this post? Before I gave birth, I was told I’d barely have time to take a shower or brush my teeth, let alone concoct flavorful dishes from scratch. I dreaded the thought of weeks on end of freezer meals and was happy to find I was able to carry on as normal in this one small corner of my life. As I said . . . I’m pretty sure I’m alone on this one!
This post is a part of Works for Me Wednesdays over at We are THAT Family.
In my hometown public breastfeeding is no biggie–but I’ve heard that in other parts of the country it’s taboo for a mom to feed her baby unless she has ducked into a nursing lounge or locked herself in a bedroom. What a drag! As an extrovert, I would resent being sent away every few hours feed my baby.
My husband’s parents, who are originally from Thailand but have resided in Maryland for decades, were shocked when I told them I’d be feeding my baby while we ordered dinner at a restaurant. In fact, my mother-in-law brought a bottle of my pumped milk just because she was sure I’d be using a bottle. When I whipped out my “Hooter Hider” and put my baby to breast, everyone seemed a bit stunned. (For those who don’t know, a “Hooter Hider” is a great draped piece of cloth that is easy to use for public nursing. They’re expensive but I received one a as a gift. Check out their site here.)
I’ve heard other stories of people being appalled by moms who are discretely feeding their babes under a blanket, commenting “Everyone know what she’s doing in there!” It just seems illogical that feeding a baby would be considered somehow scandalous.
Have you had any trouble breastfeeding in public? Do you have family or friends who find it offensive? Please share your survival stories with other new moms!
On a whim, I picked up a pack of Eco-Safe compostable bags. I’ve been home composting my table scraps for years, and I love how it keeps my garbage light and smell-free. Thanks in part to composting, we have once-a-month garbage pick-up, which saves us $108.00 a year on our trash bill. I keep my compost in a little push-pedal garbage can and take it out to the big compost bin once it fills up. In the summer I can just hose it down and pour the water into the bin to keep it moist, but in the winter this isn’t necessary. Plus, it’s kind of a pain.
Enter the compostable garbage bags. I thought I could line my little bin with the bags and toss all my scraps—bag and all—into the bin. I am not really sure what these bags are made out of (the box says “compostable plastic”), but they never did break down in my bin—and that’s with frequent aeration. I finally had to pick them out of the bin and throw them out because I could barely turn the compost with a pitchfork with all the bags sticking to the prongs.
So much for that experiment in green living. How do other people manage their compost? I know Joy’s husband runs their table scraps out to the compost bin every day, but I’m really not that energetic. Any method that allows me to compost without exerting too much energy will suit me just fine.
Having our first child was a completely humbling experience. My husband and I, two normally competent people, found ourselves up to our elbows in parenthood and more exhausted than we ever knew we could be. Now with our second we know it’s possible to be even more bedraggled and groggy.
It’s so hard to manage a newborn and an almost three year old! Our little one needs to be held ninety percent of the time while our older son is struggling for attention and challenging his limits. In the midst of this happy/crazy drama, cloth diapers need to be washed, the compost needs to go out and the garden has to be watered.
We have a ridiculous amount of support. My husband is home with me this summer and my son still goes to daycare since we have already paid for it through September. Yet even with all this help, I can’t believe how tired we are! How do some of you manage to single handedly manage a green lifestyle and caring for multiple children? How did people do it years ago when their spouses didn’t help? How do single parents do it? Once again, I find myself smack in the middle of a fresh batch of humility. Kudos to all of you who don’t get applause for the heroic feats you manage on a daily basis!
This post originally ran in April of 2008. Now that We are THAT Family is hosting an “organization edition” of Works for Me Wednesday, I thought I’d rerun it. (Edited to add: Actually, it’s the “back to school edition.” I am NEVER going to get this right! Maybe next month. . . .) How do you keep your baby clothes from bursting out of the drawers?
Do you have hundreds of miniature socks, pants, and pajamas oozing from your closets? Before my baby was even born, I found myself with more baby clothes than I knew what to do with. My daughter never even wore half of the adorable little outfits I’d folded and stored in her dresser. Many of the clothes never fit (short-and-wide onesies didn’t work on her tall-and-skinny frame, for example) or weren’t appropriate for the season.
The clothes my daughter wears fit into two drawers on her dresser. (The third drawer is reserved for cloth diapers and diapering paraphernalia.) Everything else gets relegated to the dreaded basement. Although I’ve written about the ersatz landfill that my basement has become, I’ve managed to keep the baby clothing archives relatively organized.
Limiting my daughter’s garments to just two drawers helps me weed out the old and make room for the new. I can usually find what I need because I don’t keep all of her clothes–outgrown, unsightly, off-season, or impractical–in a closet. If the clothes aren’t in the two drawers in my daughter’s nursery, they’re in one of the following labeled boxes:
Outgrown (keep). Once she’s outgrown something I want to hang on to, it goes here. If I were super-organized, I could subdivide this category by size, so if I had another child, I could easily find what I needed. Too bad I’m not super-organized!
Too Big. At my baby shower I received clothing in sizes ranging from newborn to twenty-four months. Anything that doesn’t fit her right now goes in the “too big” box. Now that my daughter is over two years old, she has fewer items in this stash. When she was smaller, I kept her too-big clothes organized by size. It gets a little confusing because you’ll find that your kid will fit in all sorts of sizes at one time. My daughter can fit in everything from three to twenty-four months! (Don’t the pants in this photo fit like a dream? No? Okay, into the “Too Big” box they go.)
Giveaway. Clothes that my daughter outgrew or never wore for some reason might go in this box or the next box.
Sell. I live next to a bustling consignment shop, so I try to store the nice clothing I don’t want to keep in a “clothes to sell” box. Once I have forty items (the limit at my shop), I take it over and get credit to spend on secondhand clothes and toys. If I were super-organized, I’d subdivide this category by season–no consignment shop wants a heavy winter coat in June or a Halloween costume in December.
As a part of my cleaning efforts, I’m going to rifle through my daughter’s wardrobe, arrange everything in the correct boxes, and make a trip to the consignment shop. With my store credit I’ll fill in any holes that may exist in Audrey’s wardrobe. I think she needs a summer-weight power suit for casual play dates and some understated accessories to celebrate summer.
After three summers without s’mores or hot chocolate, we finally burst back onto the camping scene this week! How did we manage camping with a six-week-old baby and an almost-three-year old? We cheated.
Instead of pitching the tent and stringing tarps across tree trunks in case of rain, we simply rented a yurt. What is a yurt, you say? It’s a rustic shelter that makes “roughing it” outdoors a bit less rough. Ours housed bunk beds, a small table, and two chairs.
It means you don’t have to pack or pitch a tent—or deal with airing out wet tarps after the trip. The yurt also provides soundproofing between you and the other campers when your baby screams at 2am. Plus, since yurts come with insulation and heat, renting one can stretch the camping season to year round here in Oregon.
It felt great to give our son a sense of the outdoors without feeling too overwhelmed by the prep or cleanup. And since we wanted to start small, we just went for one night and made it back happy and looking forward to our next mini-trip.
Have you made it outdoors this summer for a camping adventure with baby? Please share or adventures (or misadventures) with us! For more information on heading outside with baby, check Outdoors Baby, a great website full of ideas for people who are far braver than we.
With the sun shining and temperatures soaring, there’s really no reason to use the dryer. Sure, it can be somewhat of a hassle to work hanging your wet clothes on the line into your schedule, but think about the advantages!
So get out those dryer racks or set up a clothesline. Hanging even one load a week will make a difference!
(Look here for all of our laundry posts.)
Did you buy cloth diaper wipes? Last week’s post generated loads of positive comments about using cloth diaper wipes over disposables, but do you have to buy expensive fabric wipes or spend hours hemming tiny squares of organic flannel? Hardly.
In truth, cloth wipes are simply small pieces of fabric. For very little cost and time you can make your own set of wipes or purchase a discount pack of baby washcloths and get the same effect for a whole lot less money.
Making diaper wipes:
Rebecca expertly cut up some of her husband’s old t-shirts into precise rectangles that she neatly stacked by the diaper table. Since cotton jersey fabric doesn’t fray, there was no need to hem the wipes and they worked great for the full two and half years that her daughter was in diapers. Other moms have used receiving blankets or jersey sheets and gotten the same great results without spending a dime.
Buying something similar:
I bought some packs of baby washcloths at a dollar store. The small wipes are perfectly sized, easy to clean, and came at a cost of just six bucks for 36 wipes. We’ve used them for over a month now and they’ve come out clean in the laundry every time without extra rinses. (The same has been true for Rebecca’s jersey wipes.)
What have you used for cloth baby wipes? It’s nice to know you can take the leap on cloth wipes without investing huge amounts of time or money. Tell us what low-cost solutions you’ve tried!
The recipe couldn’t be simpler, with just three ingredients: water, lemons, and sugar. Still, most people resort to the canned or even powdered version of this classic summertime refreshment. Start making it homemade, and you’ll not only save money, but the packaging that comes along with the premade juices. Also, most frozen juices contain high fructose corn syrup, while the homemade version contains nothing but sugar. (Okay, sugar is not exactly a health food, but it is better than corn syrup.)
How to Make Lemonade (whether life hands you lemons or not)
4 cups water
1 cup lemon juice (about four lemons’ worth-or use lemon juice from concentrate)
½ cup sugar (or 1/4 cup honey)
Stir until sugar or honey is dissolved and sweeten or water down to taste. Enjoy!
Making lemonade from scratch works for me! For more WFMW tips, head on over to We are THAT Family.