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Book Review: Cure Tooth Decay

It’s hard to start a review of this book because there is just SO MUCH to write about! I learned a lot from this book, and I highly, highly recommend it, even if you don’t have any issues with your teeth. There’s great advice about diet and oral hygiene: myths are busted, nutritional details are dissected, truths are discovered. It is not the most exciting or suspenseful read, but still well worth it.

Ramiel Nagel, the author, is not a nutritionist or a dentist or even a doctor, but his interest in curing and preventing tooth decay came about when his daughter suffered from multiple cavities and teeth rotting so badly they were turning black. From fear that she would lose many teeth, Ramiel began researching the works of Westin A. Price and Sally Fallon (author of Nourishing Traditions) for help. What he found he applied to himself and his family and he had such success in turning around their oral health that he passed on his newfound knowledge in his book.

Here are the biggest things I took away from this book:

  1. All grains contain an element known as phytic acid. Phytic acid is a snowflake-shaped molecule that acts as a sweeper arm, attaching itself to calcium, magnesium, and other essential vitamins and minerals in our body and literally sweeping them away so that we cannot absorb them. So even if your grains naturally contain good elements (or are fortified with them, which is a separate issue I’ll get to), they are not absorbed by our bodies because phytic acid steals them. Even the good elements floating around in our bodies are swept away by the cheeky phytic acid. Such a little swipper, that acid! This is the main reason why grains are really not good for us, despite what the grain industry tells us about how many good nutrients are in grains. Yes, the good stuff is in there, no doubt about it, but it our bodies can’t absorb it then it does us no good. Which brings me to my second biggest learning point…
  2. All the elements we consume are not going to serve us unless we can absorb them properly. This one is really fascinating to me. Did you know you can consume all the Vitamin A you want, all day long, but unless it is taken with Vitamin D it is not going to be absorbed? Too much Vitamin A without enough Vitamin D can actually be toxic! This is just one example of how vitamins and minerals need a symbiotic relationship in order to do their good thang for us. They cannot act alone – they need a buddy, a specific buddy, in order to be successful. Also, back to fortified foods – when we add vitamins and minerals to foods that don’t normally have them, our bodies don’t recognize them and don’t absorb them. This is also the case for a lot of vitamins and supplements – when they are not in food, a lot of the time our bodies just don’t understand what they’re getting so they don’t use them. Synthetic vitamins are often received as toxins to our bodies, which is why, Ramiel states, sometimes the odor or color of our urine can be a bit “off” after consuming a multi-vitamin. It’s not that all supplements are bad, but be sure to select one that is food-based, does not have any sugar added, and take in compliment with a rich diet of quality whole foods from which we should be getting the bulk of our vitamins and minerals anyway.
  3. Diet has as much to do with oral health as hygiene. It took me a minute to wrap my brain around the following point – tooth decay is not caused by sugar sitting on your teeth. Tooth decay is caused by sugar replacing the essential vitamins and minerals in our bodies that help our teeth. It is our bodies processing the sugar and using all our good stuff to process it, rather than sending good stuff to our teeth to make them healthy. In other words, when we have a good diet full of good, absorbable vitamins and minerals, our teeth are healthy and strong. When we miss out on those good vitamins and minerals because we’re consuming sugar (and grains), our teeth not only miss out on receiving good stuff but our bodies must also take good stuff that is already there in order to get the toxins out of our systems. When we consume bad stuff we’re hit with a double punch: first missing out on introducing new good stuff, second being robbed of the good stuff that’s already there. Crazy right?
  4. We’re doing oral hygiene all wrong. Brushing teeth is great for removing plaque… but it also pushes plaque up under the gum line. So does flossing – think about it. You’re using a little string to try to pull plaque from a tight space. You’ll get most of it, but the flossing action itself is literally pushing the plaque up to your gums. Ramiel Nagel outlines lots of oral hygiene techniques that serve us much better than the old-school brushing and flossing. I won’t go into the specifics (otherwise you have no incentive to read the book!) but the things I’m starting to try are oil pulling, oral irrigating (Water Pik) with salt water, and herbal powder treatments applied to the gums. Treating our gums well is most important – without a strong neck, the head is floppy. Without strong gums, even healthy teeth can be lost. Also, oral hygiene is not the “be all and end all” solution to oral health that we’ve been taught: “Cleaning teeth will change the environment of your month and it can help slow down the problem [of decay], but it does not stop the original cause of tooth decay.” Caring for your whole self, through a quality, balanced diet and managed self-care is essential to completing the holistic oral health picture. Definitely don’t stop cleaning your mouth! But re-thinking why we use the methods we use and how they are actually successful (or not) is a great step in the right direction.

The only thing I struggled with while reading this book is all the diary. We’re dairy-free right now but Ramiel Nagel recommends lots of raw, grass-fed dairy in order to get a big calcium boost and essential vitamins A and D. There are not a lot of diary-free alternatives given but there are some – diary-free folks are not completely left out of the picture which is really nice. I worry that we’re not able to get enough calcium from vegetables, since we have to consume a ton of calcium-rich veggies to get what we could get from a cup or two of raw milk and some butter. I really hope to get back to raw dairy later this year, if it seems like Kiddo1 can handle it, but until then I guess we’ll just have to really try to get enough veggies. A calcium supplement would be nice, but per #2 above we probably won’t be able to absorb much of it since it will have to be from a synthetic source that does not contain the casein and whey protein that we’re avoiding. (And yes, raw dairy is safe, not scary, contains way more good stuff than pastured, which removes the good and has to be fortified with vitamins… but I digress.)

Overall, this book gives me great hope for the future of our dental health. There are TONS of reviews out there from people who have taken on the Cure Tooth Decay protocol and have seen cavities harden over, dental pain disappear, and dentists who are shocked and amazed at the results from diet and hygiene changes. I’m slowly starting to implement some of these tools with my family – Kiddo1 and I have been taking fermented cod liver oil for a few weeks now and the occasional complaint from him about a sore tooth has gone away. Once he switches up his hygiene routine (it’s taking some convincing) I think he’ll be in even better shape.

Book Review: Long Way on a Little

Recently we changed our source for meat so we’re getting pastured-raised chicken, pork, and beef (and a duck, too!). The chicken was an easy switch, but the pork and beef were, admittedly, not so great. They were turning out kind of rubbery and gamey-tasting. Mr. Handsome said the beef tasted a little like lamb, which he thinks tastes like rotting beef. So there was room for improvement I guess.

I also didn’t understand a few things about our new meats. Why does this meat always come frozen? Why is it more expensive if the cows are just eating grass? Why isn’t it tasting as good as people say pastured animals taste?

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Luckily I bought this copy because the pages are already splattered with cooking grease!

Enter, “Long Way on a Little,” my meat savior. I got this book because I really enjoyed Shannon Hayes’s other book, “Radical Homemakers,” and I was interested in learning about reducing our meat expenses. The book did not disappoint! I have learned so much. And it was a super quick read.

Turns out there are very simple explanations for why pastured meat is sold frozen. There are much more complex reasons for why pastured meat is more expensive, including government subsidies of conventional meat production (and other types of farming). And the reason why my pastured meats weren’t tasting great is because I was cooking them wrong!

“Long Way on a Little” is packed full of recipes for all the parts of cows and pigs, as well as lamb and whole chickens and ducks (there’s also a great explanation on why farms sell chickens whole and why we should buy them whole!). I’ve learned about “super slow roasting” my meats as well.

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Super slow roasted chuck, the best roast I’ve ever tasted!

This photo is of a 7 bone chuck roast I scored from our food buying club (more on that in another post) that I roasted in the oven at 170 degrees (I later found out that my oven goes all the way down to 140 degrees if I use the warming feature, so I’ll be doing a lot of slow roasting now!). It took about three hours to cook up to 135 – the book also explains why lower internal temperatures are not only better for pastured meats but also way more safe than the same temperatures with conventional meat.

I’ve already made three recipes from this book and I can’t wait to try more. I’m very interested lately in finding ways to use the entire animal that we purchase. With whole chickens we’ve been making bone broth, but I’d love to start using the fat from the beef and pork cuts to make tallow and lard. Luckily the methods are outlined very clearly in this book, so I’m sure I’ll be making productive use of all those “leftovers” soon. I’ve got a bunch of fat leftover from the roast that is just sitting in the fridge waiting for me to render!

I love this book very much, I highly recommend it. The pork medallions recipe from this book is the one that Kiddo1 loved a few nights ago. So it even gets his stamp of approval!

The next book up for review is “Making Home” by Sharon Astyk.



Book Review: Radical Homemakers

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these! I have been reading since the last book review, I swear! Not as much as I’d like to, of course. Kiddo1 and I did have a reading contest last month. We raced each other – I read “The Book Thief” and he read “Divergent,” then we switched books. I finished “The Book Thief” first, but now he’s nearly done with the whole “Divergent” series and I haven’t even started the first book yet!

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My copy, which is quickly becoming worn!

In my defense, though, I’ve been distracted by homesteading-type books. This was the first one I read and let me tell you, if you need a motivator to start becoming a productive household, “Radical Homemakers” by Shannon Hayes is probably a good place to start.

I was reading this book when I started writing again last week. I’m sure its influences are in the articulation of my goal. Shannon makes a very compelling argument for homemaking. I’m sure her thesis has appeared in my posts about my goal, so I won’t go into the details of why she thinks homemaking is a critical art that should be cultivated.

The fascinating part of her argument, to me, comes in the evolution of human thought that she points out. Our society has gone from being very home-centered, when accomplishment of domestic tasks really did influence ones very survival, to the industrial revolution and the beginning of abandoning the home, the rise of convenience appliances and foods alongside the rise of “housewife syndrome” in the 60’s, the shunning of domestic tasks with the first wave of feminism, and on and on. It’s funny how one thing, like how Darwin described the roles of women and men in evolution, could so greatly alter how the vast majority of people view the sexes. She has some really great history lessons like these all through the book. I find them so interesting!

Shannon also shares profiles of a bunch of families she has interviewed as part of her research. I love reading real stories about others who have started to blaze a trail to homemaking. This book kind of reminded me of Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, with its second half full of birth stories. That book was very inspirational to me in pursing natural childbirth, and so I find “Radical Homemakers” to be very inspirational in pursing my new goal!

Apparently people have found this book to be controversial. That opinion could be prompted by the author’s disdain for corporate culture. It could be her opinions on feminism or maybe even her interpretation of history, But I found myself nodding along with just about everything in this book so I didn’t find it too controversial! I found myself wanting to be friends with Shannon Hayes, so I can learn everything she knows! She does address some of the controversy in this interview, which I also found extremely interesting!

This is a great book if you’re at all pondering issues of how we got to this modern life, or if you have any interest in homemaking. Next time I’ll review another of Shannon Hayes’s books, “Long Way on a Little.”

Book Review: Breastfeeding Made Simple

PhotobucketBreastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers is by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC. This is the first breastfeeding book I’ve read by actual lactation consultants and, let me tell you, I can tell the difference! So much of what I thought I knew or what I have been told about breastfeeding was clarified or even dispelled by this book.

The authors explain information they’ve gathered into seven natural laws: things that are inherent in every breastfeeding baby, mother and, thus, the breastfeeding couple. What’s so great about this book is all the information about the baby’s perspective. Babies are hard-wired to breastfeed (that’s one of the “seven laws”) so they come with a whole set of instinctual movements and behaviors to facilitate breastfeeding. A touch on the chin will cause their mouth to open wide, a touch on their feet will cause them to push themselves up to the breast, etc. I’ve never read about these things in any other breastfeeding book, and they really can make or break some of those first sessions together! For example, if you’ve got baby’s feet pushed up against something and he or she keeps pushing out of position, that could get very frustrating if you didn’t know why!

Based on some of the baby instincts I read about, I started making just a small change to the way I held Baby2 when feeding her. Suddenly she went from eating five minutes at a time to at least 10, sometimes 15 minutes. I’m not sure if she’s getting more milk (hopefully she’s not just being less efficient!) but I feel better that she’s eating in longer stretches. All I changed was just to pull her belly in tighter to my chest. Her belly was always facing me but we weren’t really smushed together. Now if she slows down or stops eating, I just pull her close again and she gets back to business!

There were only a couple things I didn’t like; one, there were numerous mentions of babies needing to make several “stools” a day. That freaked me out because, at the time, I was in the midst of Baby’s first dry spell (she went five days without a poop!). It is unusual yet completely normal for breastfed babies to go longer between bowel movements (my pediatrician keeps reassuring me). I wish the authors would say that several stools a day is normal but as long as your baby is gaining weight and all other healthy indicators are present, breastfed babies can go up to two weeks without a poop. Baby2 now poops about once every other day (and it’s a whole lotta poop when she goes!).

Also, I think that, while each of the laws are explained in good detail, to a mother who is really struggling with breastfeeding it may seem like an over-simplification of sorts. The authors have an underlying theme that anyone can breastfeed, no matter what, which isn’t always the case. There are a couple ladies in my moms group who have seen half a dozen lactation consultants and nothing is working. So the authors’ assertion that simply obeying the natural laws will solve all their problems may be a little off the mark. I think these two moms I know would find this very frustrating.

But it is great that some of the standard mantras that doctors give nursing mothers are explained and usually clarified as untrue. For example, feeding every two to three hours doesn’t make sense, at least in the first few weeks because milk production is at its peak in the morning and slows at night (which is why so many babies cluster feed in the evenings). That sort of schedule also does nothing to help build supply in the first month, when baby should be eating as often as possible so that the breasts know how much milk they should make. Did you know that supply is generally set as of baby’s one-month birthday? And that babies will eat about the same amount of breast milk at six months of age that they ate at one month of age? I had no idea!

I only wish I had read this book while I was still pregnant, but it’s never too late to learn more about breastfeeding. I feel like I’ve been able to apply the knowledge I’ve taken in order to strengthen Baby2 and my breastfeeding relationship. I’ve been searching for the go-to breastfeeding book and I really feel like this one is it. Highly recommended!

Next review: Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding by Ina May Gaskin

Book Review: Petit Collage Deluxe Baby Book and Memory Box

PhotobucketSince the Humble Bumbles journal didn’t work out, I needed to find a replacement. I really wanted to buy a journal in a store so I could see it and judge it without having to buy it, even though I bought Humble Bumbles from a store and returned it anyway. Alas, I found the Petit Collage Deluxe Baby Book and Memory Box on Amazon after freaking out realizing that Humble Bumbles wasn’t a good fit. To my surprise, it not only arrived just before Baby2 was born but it is exactly what I’ve been looking for! Here’s why…

First, a recap what I’m looking for:

  • The journal needs to look nice, not too girly, not too baby. Gender-neutral is fine but a little girly without going over-the-top is nice, too.
  • Kiddo1’s baby book was formatted like a three-ring-binder, so I could add pages of pictures. It was also in a box so I could throw in other stuff like the hospital bracelet. This baby book needs to have some of that flexibility too.
  • The book can’t be religious, because Mr. Handsome and I aren’t religious and I feel like the book should definitely jive with our philosophical preferences (although that sounds way more heavy than it is, I think!).
  • Preferably only a year’s worth of pages to fill out, but it can go longer as long as the focus is the first year.
  • Also, there can’t be too much to fill out. I’d rather spend my time experiencing baby’s milestones than recording them!

Here’s what I love about this new journal, the Petit Collage Deluxe Baby Book and Memory Box:

  • It’s cute in an OMG-I’m-dying-from-the-cuteness way – super adorable baby bird motif that is not at all “too baby” but perfect for a baby! It could be gender-neutral but I think it leans to girly. Most importantly, it is not pastel pink, thank goodness!
  • PhotobucketThe book rests within a generously-sized box with a drawer to keep all the mementos. It comes with small and large vellum envelopes for giving precious objects a little extra protection. Like the vellum envelope in Humble Bumbles, these aren’t iron-clad containers, but within the protection of the box they just work just fine.
  • There is space for lots of pictures and the picture spots are thoughtfully placed. There’s even a piece of vellum between the month-by-month pages that have pictures facing each other (there’s only one page per month so the pictures could stick to each other without the vellum). There’s also enough room within the box’s drawer for a small photo album, if the picture count gets a little crazy.
  • This book is in no way religious, not even hinting at it. Fantastic.
  • The book only covers baby’s first year! So I don’t have to feel guilty about loosing track of keeping up with each birthday. Whew!
  • There aren’t too many blanks to fill in. Only a few “before baby” pages – one for mom, dad and a couple for the pregnancy. Then there’s a few birthday pages, a few “baby’s firsts” pages, pages for baby’s favorite things and then it’s on to the month-by-month section, with a page for every month containing a picture spot, height/weight and milestone blanks. In the back there are a couple pages for baby’s first birthday and a family tree.

I’m so in love with this journal right now that I can’t think of much I don’t like. One thing that jumps out at me is that, while there is a sheet of vellum between the months to protect the pictures, there isn’t a sheet between other opposing picture pages (baby’s first haircut and first bath pages face each other, for example). I can stick a piece of vellum in there myself, but it’d be nice if it was already attached. Oh, the price was a little steep, too; I found it on Amazon for $31 but suggested retail is $55! I don’t love this journal 55 dollars-worth.

Overall, a great find for blindly trusting the other Amazon reviewers!

Next Review: On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo, MA and Robert Bucknam, MD

Book Review: Humble Bumbles Baby Journal

A good baby journal is a hard thing for me to find. I went to several stores to scope them out and I still didn’t get a home run on my first purchase, even though I tested this one out in the store. I have requirements to fulfill, just like I do for everything. I’m a hard one to please, what can I say?

Here are some of the things I am looking for in a journal:

  • The journal needs to look nice, not too girly, not too baby. Gender-neutral is fine but a little girly without going over-the-top is nice, too.
  • Kiddo1’s baby book was formatted like a three-ring-binder, so I could add pages of pictures. It was also in a box so I could throw in other stuff like the hospital bracelet. This baby book needs to have some of that flexibility too.
  • The book can’t be religious, because Mr. Handsome and I aren’t religious and I feel like the book should definitely jive with our philosophical preferences (although that sounds way more heavy than it is, I think!).
  • Preferably only a year’s worth of pages to fill out, but it can go longer as long as the focus is the first year.
  • Also, there can’t be too much to fill out. I’d rather spend my time experiencing baby’s milestones than recording them!

Sorry I didn’t get any inside shots while I had this!

After perusing the selections at several bookstores, I picked up The Humble Bumbles Baby Journal. Here are some things I like about Humble Bumbles:

  • No pastels! This book has a nice color scheme. It’s also gender-neutral, which wasn’t exactly a requirement for me, but I wouldn’t want the book to be too feminine either.
  • There’s a generous pocket for the trinkets that I would throw in Kiddo1’s box journal. However it is made of flimsy vellum paper and could tear easily. Three-dimensional objects won’t fit too well (you could get a flat hospital bracelet in there but not a little hat or sock or something).
  • There are appropriate blanks to fill out, but there aren’t too many and the blanks aren’t too long. There are only a couple pages that might be meant for pre-birth, which is great because I don’t want to focus too much on that either. It’s a book about the baby after all!
  • The attached growth chart. We always meant to keep one for Kiddo1, but I never thought to keep one on paper. As a child, mine was on a post in my basement. We never moved until I was in middle school. I knew we’d be moving a bit while Kiddo1 was growing (surprisingly enough, though, we’re only on our fourth place since he was born, if you count that apartment will lived in for the first month).

Things I don’t like:

  • The characters and the graphics in the book are a little too… cutesy. Not good cute, kind of cheesy cute. I could look past this because the book is for a baby, after all, but it’s for Mr. Handsome and me, too. Maybe more for us than for her, really.
  • There’s a page in each section for a picture, but it’s a small page. I would like more room for photo and memento space.
  • This book is a little too religious for my taste. The focus of the book is not religion per se, but there are quotes at the bottom of every other page and a good majority of them are bible quotes. There’s a little angel character that shows up now and then; again, not a focus, but it’s there.
  • This is a three-year journal, but the pages for years two and three are minimal, meant to be filled out at the little one’s birthdays. Kiddo1’s baby journal was like this and I never filled these pages out. I guess I had other things going on…

In the end, I couldn’t get over the religious tones of the book, so I ended up returning it and buying another. I was on the fence for awhile but ultimately I need something that suits my family preferences. Still, this would have been a fine book if I had to keep it. It’s good to know there are more options out there!

A note about options, though: it’s really hard to find baby journals at your typical Barnes & Noble-type bookstore. They had a very small section of books at two stores I visited in my area. Ultimately I wound up purchasing a journal at Amazon, sight-unseen. Perhaps a Babies-R-Us-type store would have more of a selection, but then I kind of doubt that too.

Next Review: Petit Collage Deluxe Baby Book and Memory Box

Book Review: Nursing Mother, Working Mother

One of the breastfeeding topics that is important to me is how to handle the delicate balancing act that is breastfeeding while working full time. This is something I struggled with last time and am determined to tackle this time around.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosThis book is fantastic! Nursing Mother, Working Mother by Gale Pryor covers just the niche of this topic that I wanted to learn more about: overcoming the struggle of breastfeeding and working.

The first couple chapters are focused on what it means to be a working mom. Let’s face it, most of our offices are still dominated by men. A woman is rewarded at work by being as man-like as possible: there is an underlying “societal pressure to surrender or minimize motherhood.” Women in the office are taken (or perceived to be taken?) more seriously when we discount our roles as mothers, accept the long hours and over-commitments to our outside-the-home work and generally live two completely separate lives. Why? Is it not possible to succeed in the corporate world as both a woman and a mother? Is it not possible to schedule your pumping time and your going-home time as you would schedule a project review or staff meeting? I could go on about this for awhile, but the book does move on and so shall I.

What I appreciated about this book is not only the commentary about working mothers but also some breastfeeding science that can help with pumping success. For example, milk is most plentiful in the mornings. Being the analytical and scheduled person that I am, without this knowledge I would pump every 2.5 hours exactly. Now I know that maybe I should pump once at 9, at 11 and then at 2 before leaving at 4 to breastfeed at home.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosMs. Pryor gives this schedule to follow, which of course is a bit different for everyone. I will leave my baby at home with Mr. Handsome and drive 45 minutes to work, so I’ll probably pump three times at work rather than two. But I appreciate a broken-down baseline from which I can build my own plan.

There are lots of basic how-tos in the book as well. How to get started breastfeeding just after birth, troubleshoot problems like blocked ducts or mastitis, how to form a plan for returning to work (find a daycare, a place to pump at work, legal rights to pump at work, etc), the best breast pump features, storing milk and combating fatigue (relax while you’re feeding, skip unnecessary housework, trade something like cable tv for an occasional “maid cleaning).

The only thing I didn’t really like about this book is that not enough credit is given to the dads/partners. I realize that I am extremely, extremely, spoiled in that I have a husband that probably does three times the housework I do, stays home with the kids (two kids!) AND works a few nights a week at the restaurant. Not everyone has a partner who not only chips in but basically handles everything. Ms. Pryor seems to lump all partners into the typical “man role” of being the guy who needs to be constantly nagged in order to get him to simply put the seat down or pick up his underwear. Since she focuses so much on how working women are stereotyped, I find it odd that she turns around and does the same thing to working men.

All in all, though, this is a great book. If I had to pick just one book about breastfeeding, this would be it. Of course that’s because I need the emphasis on returning to work, but all the basic stuff is covered too. The parts about mothering in the workplace really sparked my inner feminist and made me think. I’m sure I’ll be picking this one up again as my maternity leave draws to a close.

Next Review: On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo, MA and Robert Bucknam, MD

Book Review: The Maternity Leave Breastfeeding Plan

PhotobucketTo be honest, I didn’t really pay much attention to the title of this book before I started reading it. I kind of thought it had more to do with transitioning from maternity leave back to work and continuing to breastfeed, but supposedly the point of this book is exactly the opposite: enjoy three blissful months of breastfeeding then wean when you return to work.

That isn’t my plan but for some reason I stuck with the book anyway. The thesis of the book pretty much seems to be: give breastfeeding your all while you’re on leave, then don’t feel so bad about yourself if you have to stop when you go back to work. Dr. Wilkoff reminds the reader over and over again that weaning at three months is in no way failing. He believes that taking the pressure off to breastfeed for the recommended year will result in a more relaxed and productive career of breastfeeding during leave.

I’m torn between appreciating his desire to make the reader feel successful, no matter how long her breastfeeding career lasts, and feeling really talked down to and patronized. Like I’m not strong enough to come to grips with my situation of not being able to breastfeed past a certain point. With Kiddo1 I only made it five months but I, like the vast majority of mothers who have to stop short of their goal, realized that my situation couldn’t be changed and my breastfeeding termination was inevitable. Maybe I’m just too/more stubborn than some women and refuse to feel bad about myself.

Needless to say, there are some things I didn’t pay much attention to, like the whole stopping after three months thing. Luckily, Dr. Wilkoff does give a short chapter about continuing to breastfeed after returning to work (he is quick to point out that pumping and working and the energy drain that ensues is a challenge). It’s funny that he’s so intent on not making the reader feel like a failure if she decides to wean upon her return to work, yet he isn’t so encouraging if the reader decides she’d like to continue.

An additional tid-bit I didn’t really like is that Dr. Wilkoff doesn’t give much credit to collostrum (the pre-milk of the first few postpartum days). The Everything Breastfeeding Book and the book I just started, Nursing Mother, Working Mother, seem to think more highly of this substance.

These dislikes aside, the middle of this book contains fantastic tips on getting started and confronting challenges with breastfeeding from the start. Dr. Wilkoff walks through the first few hours, days and weeks of breastfeeding with so much detail that I’ve never received before! Even when I was breastfeeding the last time!

I wanted to jot down a few of my favorite tips. These are more notes for myself to look back on and remember because I’m sure I will forget most of the valuable information from this book over the next few weeks!

  • Accept the uncertainty of nursing.
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Try a variety of positions (this not only enables you to find a few that work but helps empty your breasts and increase production from all ducts).
  • It’s okay if baby wants to sleep a bit more than eat for those first few days (but make sure it isn’t a sign of infection). Wake baby up every few hours to attempt a feeding.
  • If you have to supplement with sugar water until your milk comes in, always offer it after a feeding and offer with a syringe/tube combo rather than an artificial nipple.
  • Nurse on demand for the first couple weeks, don’t worry about any sort of schedule (I was totally obsessed with establishing a schedule ASAP with Kiddo1). The more often you nurse, the sooner your milk will come in and your baby will start gaining weight.
  • Don’t become a pacifier. In other words, don’t let baby associate nursing with sleeping time, otherwise she’ll believe that the only way to fall asleep is to nurse. Allow baby to learn to fall asleep on her own. (This is one of my main baby strategies. I used it with Kiddo1 and he learned to fall asleep on his own very quickly and slept “through the night” ie skipped one night feeding by five weeks old. He’s always been an awesome sleeper.)
  • Growth spurts will shake up the feeding schedule. Go with it.
  • Introduce the bottle at around one month, after breastfeeding has been firmly establish but before baby is so used to the breast that she may stubbornly refuse to take the bottle. Introduce it gradually; eventually she will take it.

Some good stuff in there – so much to remember! Who’d have thought such a natural act could be so complicated?!

Bottom line, the middle of this book is great! But the other parts, eh, I could do without someone telling me how I should feel about myself.

Next review: Nursing Mother, Working Mother: The Essential Guide to Breastfeeding Your Baby Before and After You Return to Work by Gale Pryor and Kathleen Huggins

Book Review: The Everything Breastfeeding Book

Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosSince it has been nine years since my last breastfeeding experience AND I like to be fully prepared for these kinds of things, I’ve started reading books on breastfeeding. The Everything Breastfeeding Book by Suzanne and Ray Fredregill seemed like a good primer to get me reintroduced to this world.

I was correct that this book would be a good reintroduction as it is basically a survey course of all things breastfeeding. The book’s chapters cover topics from supplies needed to common concerns and, of course, diet and exercise. It seems like every facet is addressed, although without too much of the specific details. For some things that I’m really interested in reading more about, such as overcoming challenges related to returning to work, this book barely scratches the surface.

I don’t think this book was a waste of a read at all – like I had hoped, it was a good primer to get me thinking about breastfeeding again – but it did have some pitfalls. For example:

  • There are several different breastfeeding positions covered, each complete with a pretty good illustration except what I would think are the most difficult positions (but extremely useful if needed), the over-the-shoulder and Australian/prone (laying on your back) holds.
  • One thing that I thought was just weird… when choosing which parent will get out of bed to get the baby for a nighttime feeding, the authors actually suggest a game called “I’m sleeping it’s your turn” in which you just lie there and wait for the other person to move. I’m not going to lie, sometimes this is my strategy with our dog (okay it’s always my strategy because I know I can make it way longer than Mr. Handsome) but I don’t think it’s a great idea for a crying, hungry baby. Doesn’t it seem like this would only make the baby more upset and therefore take more time for the baby to latch on and get calmed down? (Of course, I say this now but when it’s the middle of the night and I’m dead tired after a couple weeks of nighttime feedings, we’ll see what happens.) I just don’t think it’s a great suggestion to help ease any tensions about nighttime feedings between two exhausted parents.

These things wouldn’t necessarily keep me from reading this book, in hindsight.

It’s a positive that everything is covered because now I know what kind of information I’m really seeking and can search those books out. I need to know more about fostering positive sleep behavior and successful breastfeeding after returning to work. I didn’t realize those were the things I’d be looking for until I started reading the book and wondering why more detail about them was missing.

Overall a good read but if you’re looking for information on a specific topic or if you only want to read one book on breastfeeding, this book won’t work for you.

Next review: The Maternity Leave Breastfeeding Plan by William Wilkoff

Book Review: Birthing From Within

PhotobucketBirthing From Within is the lucky number seventh book about birth that I’ve read during this pregnancy.

It took me awhile to get through this book, for two reasons. One, being that this is the seventh birth book I’ve read, I’m getting a little restless with birthing so I took my time reading. Two, this isn’t a book you can just whip right through – it requires you to stop and think, reflect, visualize, etc. This latter reason for delay is also what makes this book so great.

I almost felt like I went through a little workshop in the experience of this book. Ms. England speaks of her experiences with leading childbirth classes. One of her favorite ways to help women and couples cope with fears about childbirth and all related things is to make art. She recommends all kinds of subjects for art but mostly about perceptions and expectations of birth. While I didn’t actually make any art, I did take the time to visualize what my art would be like and envision what I thought this birth would be like. I think that alone has helped in working through some of my fears for this birth.

One of my favorite tid-bits from this book was the concept of having a labor project. If you’ve been a reader of my blog you’d know that I love to have a project! Well, Ms. England describes this great birth story of an Amish couple. The Mrs. is basically going about her daily tasks, plus refinishing a rocking chair, while she’s in labor. I love the idea of immersing yourself in some distracting project while allowing your labor to just do its thing. Sure, this isn’t possible in all labors, but I’m willing to give it a try. I need to come up with something to do as a labor project now!

I also like that the benefits of active birth are discussed; very similar concepts that I read in the book Active Birth. I love when a concept shows up in more than one of the books that I read. It gives me the sense that the point is something to really pay attention to, that it has real value.

The section about pain management is great, including the chapter about “surrendering to pain” which kind of sounds easy but, of course, isn’t. It is not about forgetting about the pain or making it go away but rather about working with the pain, being part of it, giving up control and surrendering to what the body needs to do to make it through. Other chapters in this section explain practical techniques such as “Non-Focused Awareness,” breathing exercises, vocalizing, etc.

Honestly, if this book wasn’t good I wouldn’t have made it through because, like I said, I’m tired of reading birthing books! It took me awhile to get into the book but I’m really glad I read it all. I think it helped me to really think about some of my fears, think about letting go of my control issues and giving me productive things to do and think during labor.

Next review: The Everything Breastfeeding Book by Suzanne Fredregill and Ray Fredregill