Sunday, April 27, 2008

how long to breastfeed?

Thumper is 7 months old today and I finally got some chance to research how to feed her. This led me to researching breastfeeding.

Lots of people say breastfeeding is good because:
  1. Babies need the antibodies the first 6 months.
  2. The World Health Organization recommends up to 2 years and longer if baby wants to!
  3. supposedly it helps them not get sick as often
  4. supposedly it cuts down on ear infections
  5. supposedly babies can get what they need nutritionally all from breastmilk for 1st year and 25%-50% second year.
  6. You save on the cost of formula.
Kelly Mom has a whole section on why breastfeeding long term is good.

But I've always wondered about this long term feeding recommendation though. It makes sense for the WHO to recommend 2 years or beyond because a lot of people in this world live in countries where they have poor nutrition. It's conceivable that people feed up to 4-5 years because it helps make the baby feel full when solid food isn't available or enough. It makes sense to think breastmilk would have more nutrition than what the child would eat if they didn't breastfeed. But what about in Western countries where we eat fairly well to begin with and if we try, we can eat really well nutritionally too? Do we then really need to breastfeed that long?

In my search, I came across two articles that I thought were really interesting. The first one is titled Successful Breastfeeding....and successful alternatives. It talks about how nutritionally, breastmilk isn't necessarily as good as people tout it to be, as it DOES depend on the mother's diet. That the Western diet has a lot of transfat in it (pre-packaged food, fast food), which is bad for the baby.

The second article is titled Diet for Nursing and Pregnant Mothers The diet recommendation was an eye opener, much better than the normal "take prenatal vitamins, eat balanced, nutritions meals".

I think I'm going to continue to breastfeed past 1 year, as it's very cost effective to do so. But I need to make more changes to my diet. No more fried food (transfat), no more nitrites/nitrates filled food (hotdog, salami, etc). Back to drinking whole milk and more fish, eggs, and bone soup Fat is very important to baby's diet as it aids brain development.

Yikes! more cooking!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

newborn shopping list after birth.

As I've said before, I hate to buy things for thumper. It's been made easier by the fact that I work from home, so I could afford the time to do things the slower way. We have not bought a stroller nor a high chair yet. We have gotten all our clothes from our friends and family.

Anyways, here are my list of things I've bought after I gave birth, other than toys. Toys are in a separate list I'll keep updating it as I go.

Trying to go for more natural, less plastic, and yet pretty affordable products.
  1. Gerber Soft Infant Spoon (4-10 months)

  2. Silicone tip and metal handle. Easy on the gums, harder to put in than using our metal 1/4 teaspoon because it's bigger. Shallower too.

  3. Innovia Earcheck Middle Ear Monitor

  4. A great product to have when your baby gets sick and you're worried that they have an ear infection but it's after hours or weekends.

  5. Nail clipper

  6. We clipped Thumper's nails by tearing it off for a few months. But eventually I succumbed and bought a little nail clipper. It don't clip the nails that often actually as she somehow always tears them off by herself. But the emery board comes in real handy when you want to file it all the way down. It's hard to clip that close to the finger w/o clipping them.

  7. REI Kid Tag-along backpack

  8. At 17 pounds, Thumper is getting a bit heavy for us old folks to tote her around in the Ergo Carrier. Shocking isn't it? Since the Ergo is rated for minimum 15 pounds. I already have a bad back so it's bad for me to carry her on the front. We've switched her over to the back but that's kind of tough on the shoulders too. So two weeks ago (@ 7 1/2 months), we bought the baby hiking carrier. It's a pain to put on and for quick trips I still prefer the Ergo. But it's definitely better in terms of support and baby can also sit higher and see more.

  9. Toys

  10. I finally succumbed today and bought Thumper some new toys Her toys have been getting pitifully small as I realize that half of them are clothe (and therefore bad if we use bad detergent) and the other half are plastic (bad also since they were mostly gifts and I have no idea what kind of plastic they are).

Friday, April 25, 2008

Why I opted for the Pc vaccine.

"The Natural Mommie" has a pretty good post about what the Pc vaccine is so I won't detail it again here. Simply it's a baterium that can cause meningitis.

My original plan was to get the HIB and not Pc. But after some thinking I decided to get the Pc instead of the HIB early. There are several reasons.

1. I'm traveling soon and will be in contact w/ people. In Asia, where we're traveling, the diseases is pretty endemic AND it's the breeding ground for antibiotics resistant strains.

2. The symptoms are common cold symptoms. A lot of times it can be too late by the time you realize it's something worse.

3. It's still quite common in other parts of the world as it's a pretty new vaccine. We're planning to travel to other countries before Thumper's 2. There is a website out there w/ people's stories of their children dying from the disease. After reading the stories, I decided I didn't really want to take that chance, esp since: (see #4)

4. There are lots of strains that are antibiotics resistant. Getting this vaccine will expose the child to the bacteria. Way better than them getting really sick and then having the antibiotics not work.

5. Though the vaccine only treats 7 strains out of the many out there, it also does a partial coverage for another 5.

One thing I think people don't think about when they do delayed schedule is that if your child gets really sick from the disease, you will end up going to the hospital and get lots of antibiotics, plus IV. IV also has aluminum in it! So you may think you're avoiding aluminum by not getting the vaccine, but then if your child gets really sick then they'll be exposed to it. I would have to read up on what the dosage is on IVs, but I don't think it's a good trade-off. You get aluminum either way, plus the possibility of your child dying, and endless worrying on your end.

And you also get drugs in the child's body. I don't like drugs in children in general. And since Pc is more likely to occur in children than HIB, I opted to get this vaccine.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

thoughts on vaccines

There are so many things I could write about, like sleeping, eating, costs of "stuff", but I've decided that I have more to say about vaccines because it's such a controversial topic.

As you know, I decided to put Thumper on an alternate vaccine schedule because of my concerns w/ the aluminum in vaccines. A parents mailing list I'm on recently had several posts on this subject. Since I didn't want to get into the fray of the discussion, I thought I'd post my thoughts here.

There were two posts, one was a parent wondering why pediatricians don't support her desire for no vaccines, and the other was about whether or not non-vaccinated children affect vaccinated children. The majority of the emails were from pro-vaccine people. Most of them had the view that non-vaccinated children are doing so on the backs of vaccinated children (due to the herd effect); that non-vaccinated children make vaccinated children unsafe; and that vaccines are there to save lives.

I think I take the middle of the road approach on this. It's kind of sad that pro-vaccination people and no-vaccination people are very adamant about their point of views and can't see the other side. One reply was from a doctor, who said that he's seen his share of children suffering from meningitis or rubella; things that could have been saved from vaccination. He also said that there's the "let parents be the ones who can make the best decisions for their kids" argument, which is hard for pediatricians to accept, given that they see their share of neglectful parents. And finally, that pediatricians think of themselves as caring for children, rather than "serving" the parents.

I liked his arguments for vaccination alot. When you browse the web for advice, a lot of parents like to use the, "you know what's best for your children, trust your instincts" line. If we knew what were best for our children, we wouldn't be asking for advice would we? While I also think that "experts" aren't much of experts, I do think that there are some ways of doing things are better than others. And sometimes there IS a right way and wrong way of doing something. Would one say that the parents who decided to pray for their children instead of seeking medical help is actually the right way, and that they should trust their instincts?

Anyways, I totally understand where pediatricians come from and that's why I don't really begrudge them when they try to convince me to follow the vaccine schedule. It doesn't mean I think they're totally right, but that I understand their motivation.

Then there's the "your un-vaccinated child has an effect on my vaccinated child". That many children died from these diseases before we had vaccines. That in other parts of the world, un-vaccinated children continue to die from these diseases. I don't think it's that black and white. I think it depends on the specific vaccines and your lifestyle.

And here's my main point. First, we don't know if vaccines cause autism. But supposing there is some sort of link. Then, how many children actually die from chickenpox, vs how many children are affected by autism. We keep seeing ads about how every 26 minutes a child is diagnosed w/ autism; or something like that. That just seems like such a high rate compared to the # of unvaccinated children in the US that get sick and die.

I know that I take my chances when I don't vaccinate my child on schedule. But I'd rather take that chance than to take the chance of having an autistic child. Having an autistic child is something you have to live w/ that child's whole life. That is so much harder to deal with than having a child die. Yes, probably an unpopular sentiment, and not that I want my child to die. But if you could do something to decrease your chance of having an autistic child, wouldn't you take it? Esp since in the current environment, my child is not likely to die from things like polio or HIB AND I'm going to vaccinate them when they start childcare?

Of course, there's the argument that we don't know if vaccines cause autism. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. Better safe than sorry I say. I'm also making sure my child eats well, live in not as polluted are, and not touch a lot of plastics, in case other environmental factors play a role. I try to make sure I eat well, both during pregnancy and breastfeeding phase.

On the other side, the pro-vaccination people keep forgetting that it's not that black and white, even w/o the mercury or aluminum issue. It IS true that sometimes vaccines have weird effects on children. And it is also true that there are lots of unvaccinated adults (since they were on a different vaccination schedule) that could transmit these diseases. AND, sometimes you can get the disease even when you vaccinate! Vaccination isn't a cure-all.