Secrets of Mom Search Results

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Breast Feeding vs. Infant Formula

  Whether you choose to breast-feed your infant or not, is a very personal decision. When I first started working on a Postpartum unit the lactation specialist gave me a list of 101 reasons why women should breast-feed. Most of them were completely ridiculous and several of them were listed two or three times. You have to choose what will work for you, your baby and your situation. I don't believe that you should let anyone try to convince you to do anything that you're not comfortable with or won't work for you and your infant. I'm not writing this post with the intent to make anyone feel guilty about their decision, but to go over some the facts about each side of the issue.

 The Case for Breast Feeding
  • Breast milk is perfectly designed for your infant at each stage of his/her development.
  • Breast milk is much cheaper than the alternative. (I won't say that it's free, because it requires way to much work to qualify as such.)
  • Breast feeding helps the mother's body to heal. It makes her uterus reach its pre-pregnancy condition more quickly.
  • Breast feeding decreases a woman's risk of breast, cervical and ovarian cancer. I mention this one because I've heard it numerous times and I feel that this fact is very misleading. Research shows that if a woman breast-feeds for 14 years of her life, it decreases her risk of cancer by 20%. So if iI have 7 kids and breast-feed them for 2 years each I will decrease my risk of cancer of my reproductive organs by 20%?! That doesn't seem like really good motivation for me.
  • Breast feeding burns calories! During pregnancy our bodies are designed to store fat, so that we can feed a baby. What better way to get rid of those extra pounds?
  • Breast feeding promotes bonding between mother and infant.
  • Breast feeding provides infants with immunity against illnesses. It provides immunity against diseases that the infant is too young to be safely vaccinated for and for other diseases that the mother has immunity against where there are no vaccines available.
  • Breast-feeding is environmentally friendly. Little or no packaging or containers required.
  • Breast-feeding decreases a child's risk for allergies and auto-immune diseases.
  • Breast-feeding makes for overall healthier children. I breast-fed Thing 1 & Thing 2 and the first time that I had to take either of them to a doctor for anything beyond a well-child check was when Thing 2 needed stitches at age 2.
  • Infant formula just does not taste or smell that good. Yes, I have tasted it. I make it a point of tasting anything I force my patients to take (within reason).
  • Breast-milk has antibiotic properties.
  • Breast-feeding means fewer bottles to wash. (Unless you work and pump. Then you have to wash your bottles and your pump parts. :S)
 The Case for Infant Formula
  • Infant formula has improved dramatically since it was first developed.
  • It is very physically demanding to breast-feed an infant.
  • It is sometimes inconvenient to breast-feed an infant. 
  • Breast-fed infants are often resistant to taking a bottle when mother is unavailable.
  • Breast-feeding is very time-consuming.
  • Society (and sometimes family and friends) are unsupportive of breast-feeding moms. They are often intolerant of breast-feeding in public, yet most establishments do not provide a clean place to breast-feed in private.
  • Some women for physical reasons can not breast-feed.
  • Some women can't breast feed for a multitude of other reasons.
  • No one is ever offended if you bottle-feed your infant in public.
  • Some infants don't take well to breast milk.
  • It's easier to wean infants off of formula versus breast milk. (Or so I hear.)
  • Formula fed infants are less likely to come down with jaundice.
  • Mothers of formula-fed infants have no additional dietary restrictions.
 I think that more or less covers it. Can anyone think of any points that I left out? And you don't have to be strictly one or the other. You can breast feed sometimes and bottle feed at others. It's up to you. I choose to breast-feed because it makes my children healthier. There is something so adorable about watching my babies breast-feed. I love it. I love to snuggle with them every few hours and listen to their satisfied eating noises. And it saves me a lot of money. I breast-feed exclusively because I have not been able to convince any of my babies to take formula on any occasion after my milk came in. Ever. (The first day that I went back to work after having Thing 2, it took him 11&1/2 hours before he was desperate enough to even drink pumped breast milk from a bottle, let alone formula. He always was a stubborn child.) Breast-feeding Cindy Lou-Who, with all of my diet restrictions is one of the most difficult things I have ever done, I have a hard time coping without food  but I do it because I love her and I feel breast milk is best for her. But after this experience I have new empathy for mothers who throw in the towel and switch to a bottle. I feel that breast is best, but there are plenty of good reasons not to breast-feed.

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Food Storage Friday: Plum Sauce

     Several weeks ago we found ourselves with a surplus of plums from our Bountiful Basket. I remember when I was growing up my mom and grandmothers canned plums and I thought that they were gross. But I decided that there had to be something delicious that I could do with these. The answer: Asian Plum Sauce.  Now this recipe itself calls for both fresh and food storage ingredients, but the real beauty of it is that once prepared it makes preparing quick and healthy meals  with food storage a snap. It goes well over stir-fried vegetables and rice.

    Asian Plum Sauce
    Food Storage Ingredients:
    3 Tablespoons soy sauce
    1 teaspoon canola oil
    1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 Tablespoon cornstarch + 1 Tablespoon water

    Fresh Ingredients:
    3 lbs plums, pitted and chopped
    5 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 oz ginger
    1 small onion, minced
    2 cups water
    1/4 cup lemon juice

    1. Puree fresh ingredients. 2. Combine all ingredients except cornstarch and Tablespoon of water. 3. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes. 4. Mix water and cornstarch, add to sauce and simmer until thickened. 5 Can in a water bath according to canner directions. (The recipe I found said 10 minutes, I felt more comfortable with 20.) Makes 4 pint jars

    I served this over brown rice I had prepared in my crockpot and four cups of chopped and stir-fried mixed veggies. My husband added some stir-fried tofu to his, but you could just as easily stir-fry some chicken or pork and add that.

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    Varicose Vein Surgery

     When I was nineteen I started developing varicose veins. It's genetic. I started wearing support stocking religiously, but let's face it, I picked the wrong profession if I wanted to protect my legs and veins. And having three babies didn't help either. When I had Thing 1, I was told that I needed to wait until I was done having children before I did anything about fixing them. Technology has advanced since then. (Which is good because after my pregnancies and standing on my feet for so many years not only do my legs look terrible they hurt a lot too. Lots of burning, aching and cramping.) The first time I saw my OB he told me that I needed surgery on my legs and there wasn't really another answer. As soon as I could get in (after my pregnancy) I went to see a vascular surgeon. He said I that I have venous reflux disease and it's actually better to take care of it sooner versus later. What has been happening is that the valves in some of my veins aren't working effectively, which causes the blood to back up and some of the smaller veins to swell to the point that they are completely ineffective and not to mention ghastly looking. The longer I let it go the more damage will occur to the small veins.
     The solution is the VNUS close system. The surgeon inserts a catheter into the ineffective veins and irradiates them and as he pulls the catheter out they seal shut. That's procedure #1. On the second day he fixes the smaller swollen veins that possibly can be fixed and cuts out the others. They don't use general anesthesia, so there is less risk (and cost) to the patient. Just a Valium, a Keflex, a Percocet and some Lidocaine. (Although I still fell asleep half way through each surgery.) Each procedure takes less than an hour and has a pretty short recovery time overall. (It used to be that surgical intervention involved 'vein stripping', where the vein is literally removed through incisions in the groin and knee areas. It required general anesthesia and involved a long and painful recovery. Currently there are other options besides the VNUS procedure, but this is the one my surgeon prefers because it has the best outcomes.)
     So that's what I was doing Tuesday on my husband's lunch break. When I laid down on the table the tech said "Now there is proof positive that nurses don't just sit on their butts."  (That's right!) I felt very loopy for the rest of each day, but I was functioning fairly well by Thursday. Ok, ok my house was sliding even further down hill and I couldn't stand for very long, but my kids were happy and taken care of and that's what matters, right? I have to say that now my leg feels sooo much better. No more cramping, aching or burning. The staples and stitches are annoying, but they'll be gone soon. I've known people who have had it done and the scarring is pretty minimal too. So we're going to do this party again tomorrow! That's not the way I planned it, but while I was on the table the nurse mentioned to the surgeon that he had a cancellation that they needed to fill and I said that I would take. Probably crazy after the week I just had, honestly worst week in recent memory, and it had little to do with my surgery but my surgeon is good, busy and really hard to get into. Not to mention if I do it now, versus next February when he has openings it would save me several thousand more dollars. Yup, tomorrow is good for me.

     So here are some tips and lessons I learned from the experience:
    1. If your varicose veins are causing you pain, you don't have to wait until you're done having kids to get relief. And you don't need an extended recovery time either.
    2. Choose the surgeon that is hardest to get in to see and pray that someone cancels. He's the guy who knows what he's doing. I've heard scary stories of people who went to surgeons with less experience because they were easier to get into.
    3. If your baby has reflux and you're having surgery, live it up and eat what you want. You have to pump and dump anyway, why not enjoy what you are eating for a couple days? (Although don't go to overboard, small amounts of those irritating foods will stay in your system for more than a few days.)
    4. My surgeries on my leg didn't hurt nearly as much smashing my toe this weekend did. That's the real reason I walk with a limp.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Postpartum Depression

     Postpartum blues effects up to 85% of women in the period after they have given birth. Postpartum depression is a more severe condition that effects up to 25% of women. "Symptoms include sadness, fatigue, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, reduced libido, crying episodes, anxiety, and irritability." No kidding. Suddenly you have a bundle of joy who needs constant care and attention, doesn't let you sleep, siphons off your energy, doubles your load of housework and reduces the time that you have to do it. Not to mention it's a pretty big change for your body. Giving birth/having surgery and recovering from it is very physically demanding, and then there's the hormone imbalances too. And if you're like me there's a pretty big change in routine. I went from working full-time to spending my days sitting on the couch breast-feeding. Instead of seeing friends, coworkers and other people on a regular basis you stay inside because you don't want your baby to get sick and you feel like you are constantly breast-feeding. And you can kiss your personal time goodbye. No wonder women get depressed after having babies. This motherhood business is a challenging undertaking.
     I share my story in the hopes that it will help someone else. The first couple weeks after I had my baby I was feeling pretty good. I was so excited not to be pregnant anymore. No more sciatic pain, no more gallbladder issues, my back injury resolved, my varicose veins were improved, and no more of all those other pregnancy inconveniences. Not to mention my baby is so sweet and beautiful and I am so excited to have her here. At about two weeks things became more difficult. My baby stopped sleeping through the night, my three year old was turning from mischievous to terror. I was dropping weight fast because while trying to meet the demands of three small children I just didn't have the time time to make myself three balanced meals a day. People were complimentary, and I would be polite, but think 'Are you crazy? It's not healthy to drop 26 pounds in two weeks.'   I was discouraged with my inability to keep my house clean, and take care of the needs of my family. I thought 'What is wrong with me that I can't do this? Many of my friends have more kids, and they can still maintain a clean house.' I adore my children, but was struggling to cope with them. I craved peace, quiet and enough time to sit down and eat. At work at least there are federal laws that demand that I get a lunch break. One day I calculated I had about 700 calories in the entire day. (And normally I eat a lot more than that. In high school my husband nicknamed me "The Vortex" because I could eat him under the table at a time when he had regular swim practices.) That same day someone called to check on me and gave me some unrealistic advice. Not very helpful. It just made me feel frustrated and that people didn't understand what I was going through and had higher expectations of what I should be doing than I could possibly achieve right now. I started having thoughts of killing or hurting myself on a regular basis. I wasn't prepared to take any such actions, I just felt unstable. I thought about calling my doctor, but decided against it because I work with him on a fairly regular basis and I'd rather he didn't think that I was crazy. Besides that I was pretty certain that my problem could be better fixed by methods other than taking medication.
     I talked to my husband and let him know that I had a problem. I told him I needed more help with the kids and the house and that I just needed to eat better. He made a point of helping me out more and regardless of the chaos going on made sure that we had a regular date night. I found that as long as I could get three healthy and satisfying meals a day and few good snacks, I was happy and doing ok, with or without sleep. I made some energy bars and some meals with leftovers that could be reheated quickly (and also supplemented my diet with a daily dose of ice cream). When my baby was almost four weeks old, I started taking my kids to a weekly play group again. (With work, it had been over a year since I had had time for that.) It felt so good to talk to other adults again. I discovered that my neighbor who I have always thought of as one of those "supermoms", had struggled with postpartum depression too.
     Just when I thought I had this business under control my baby developed reflux. She was vomiting quite a bit and irritable. There's something about being covered in vomit on a daily basis that's just depressing. And there's something so frustrating about having your baby cry all the time and not being able to fix it. So I cut out all of the "naughty items" from my diet. There are more things that I can't eat, than items that I can. (This included my energy bars, because those had cranberries, peanut butter and chocolate chips.)  Once I made these adjustments she was a significantly happier baby, throwing up less and sleeping more, but I felt like I was starving. I looked at my very well-stocked pantry and felt discouraged because I could eat almost nothing in it. The few things I can eat are pretty bland and tasteless. Once I woke up to feed her in the middle of the night and cried myself to sleep afterwards thinking about the mint brownie ice cream in the freezer that I couldn't eat. Sometimes I would think about slashing my wrists or hurting myself in other ways, but would step back and realize "I don't really want to do this. I'm just losing my mind because I'm hungry." Not to mention that would just be an extra mess to clean up.
     Last week I had my six week check-up and mentioned that I was having struggles with postpartum depression. My doctor made a few jokes and asked if I wanted a prescription. I don't need drugs. I need FOOD and CHOCOLATE. Can you write me a prescription for a chef and a maid? Do you think you could clear that one with my insurance? (Not that there is anything wrong with taking medication if that is what you need, but I'm pretty sure that I need calories, not pills.) Oh well, too bad for me. My baby is seven weeks old and my diet is still a huge stumbling block. It's hard to have energy and feel happy when getting balanced nutrition is so difficult, but I am pulling through. Now that we have her reflux under control I am able to eat a few more things. I'm coming to terms with the fact that food is more about the nutrition it provides than actually having any taste. I don't feel like hurting myself anymore and  I know that I can get through this.

    Here are some things I recommend trying if you are having struggles with postpartum depression:
    • Talk to someone, your spouse, a friend, your doctor, someone. Talking helps. (If you have no one else, shoot me an email. I'll listen.)
    • Get some sleep. Let your house go a little. It's ok. When your baby is sleeping, squeeze in a nap. Your physical and mental well-being are more important that the state of your house. (This one is hard for me. I have a hard time relaxing when my house is a mess.)
    • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of water. If you are breast-feeding, you should continue to take your prenatal vitamin, drink two liters of water and eat an extra 300 calories per day.
    • Don't try to be perfect. No one is. Supermoms are a fairy tale.
    • Get out of the house. I highly recommend joining a playgroup. In talking to other moms you will discover one of three things: 1. The other moms are going or have gone through the same thing. 2 Other children are more difficult than your own, consider yourself blessed. 3. Your children are more difficult than your average child, consider yourself strong. 
    • Exercise. I know this is hard to find time for this and I personally don't do enough of it, but if even if you can put your baby in the stroller and go on a walk, it helps. (Although don't overdo it, you just had a baby.)
    • Try to do something for yourself on a weekly basis. I would say daily, but if you're like me that just ain't happenin'. Take a long bath, paint your toes, read a book, have a bowl of ice cream.
    • Remember that this condition is temporary. If it doesn't go away, get some professional help. There is no shame in getting help so you can take care of yourself and your family.
    If you are having problems with postpartum depression, let someone know. You need help and support (not to mention food and sleep). Being a mom is hard work. Being a mom to multiple small children is even harder.  Don't be discouraged if you can't do it all, because no one can. Find a friend, family member or neighbor who can listen, give you a break or even just do lunch with. It's amazing how therapeutic it is just to talk to someone else about the problem. For other resources go to or

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    Preparedness Wednesday: September in Review

    For those of you just tuning in, every week I try to do something to get my house in order (fix things, get out of debt, etc) and purchase something to add to my emergency supply. If you want to follow my deals as I find them, I post them on my public facebook profile. For those of you who have been reading for awhile you know that I have an adorable new baby with reflux. The upshot is that I am no where near as productive as usual, so there was a lack of getting things in order this past month. It was all I could do to maintain things, and even that was questionable. But look how cute my baby is!


    • Paid off one of my husband's student loans- the big one with the higher interest rate. Hooray!

    Emergency Preparedness/Food Storage:

    • Made and canned Asian plum sauce (recipe to follow in an upcoming post)
    • Canned homemade salsa
    • Canned apple pie filling
    • A case of instant oatmeal from Smith's- $18
    • #10 cans of powdered eggs @ Costco- $12.47 (Best price I've ever seen, I highly recommend you take advantage of this if you can.)
    • Vital Wheat Gluten @ Walmart- $6 for 15 oz (although I discovered you can get 27 oz for $8 at the local Bosch store, so if you live in St George, I recommend that.) Wheat gluten is a great shelf stable source of protein. Unopened it is good for 10 years.