Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Best Breastpumps

I've only used and heard rave reviews about Medela's Pump In Style. I've purchased and was gifted the original and the backpack version. Both come in sleek well constructed black bags and include an ac adaptor plug, batteries, 4 bottles, a couple of bottle stands and all the other bells and whistles that make the thing go. Both retail for about $300 a pop.

On the latter version I purchased for my second child almost 4 years ago, there were adjustment nobs to control the strength of the suctioning. Some moms with difficulty lactating have said they get better flow from a stronger suction while others prefer a lighter suction because they get sore nipples easily.

These days, many hospitals rent pumps for use for between $3-20+ dollars a day depending on the hospital, region of the country and insurance plan. Ameda makes the hospital grade commonly used in many hospitals.

Medela also makes a manual pump that I've heard is pretty good, but I used with great success the Avent Isis. These days, they sell them with a storage back that looks like a lunch kit. This was great when I had to travel for business and wanted and NEEDED to express milk out. If it was a short trip, the milk may have been salvagable. The manual pump is also good for short overnight or on the road with the baby when a bulky electric pump may not be practical.

The Problem with Creating A Birth Plan...

Is that pregnancy isn't the type of thing that one can really plan per se. Let's start with the fact that planned pregnancy is an oxymoron in of in itself. Getting pregnant is unpredictable. Sustaining and maintaining a pregnancy it is not always an easy feat. Ask the thousands of women who struggle with that each year. And then once you're over three months into it, you never know which of the myriad of possible symptoms will befall on you. Finally, there is no real predictor of when you will actually go into labor. That whole 40 weeks thing and "Due Date" business is all guesstimation. Isn't that why God invented planned inductions in the first place?

All jokes aside, I do believe there is some value in creating a birth plan, which is essentially a wish list of what ideally you would like to see happen during labor and delivery of your baby. It usually covers the labor, monitoring, anesthesia, delivery and post delivery periods. It is a good idea for the doctors, midwives, nurses, caregivers, hospital workers, pediatricians and such to know the details of your wishes in advance.

But at some point my over educated, over planning, control freak sisters have got to let go and realize that the whole "Birth Plan" thing is a fiction.

They can take it from my sister who worked the Labor and Delivery and Mother Baby After care that most of those "plans" go out the window the minute a woman starts to feel regular contractions. She's given me the whole gambit of stories during her career working in some the most prestigious Delivery rooms in the area. She says that many women say they will not opt for certain medications or want to control the medical pain options administered to them, when nine times out of 10 they, especially those first time moms, cannot fully comprehend the level of "watermeloness" that will be bearing down in their nether regions itching to come out and will not truly appreciate how much they will welcome an anesthesiologist until the time comes. Most times, there is one anesthesiologist and s/he is usually 10 doors and 2 other administrations away from you by the time you realize that you've officially abandoned this pipe dream of an all natural delivery, you are left to suffer until your turn comes.

So you say you want to walk around, but what if your water breaks and you have to be strapped up to a monitor to make sure the baby doesn't go into distress cause of lack of amniotic fluid? What then?

You want to pipe your own music in the room, you demand, assuming you're not gonna want to hurl the tape of Barry Manilow singing his hits across the room after two songs.

No episiotomy? Have you examined the cranium of the men on your husband's side of the family?

You prefer to touch the baby's head when he is crowning? Er, you sure you wanna go there?

I mean there are so many unknowns, it just seems a mom (and dad) can lose out on the chance of getting lost in the moment of giving birth being so consumed with making sure everything goes according to plan.

There is a benefit in the birth plan also in that it can be considered like a right of passage. You force your partner to read all the various options available and for the sake of going through the exercise, you elect the ideal one for you. You pen it down, or check the box, depending on how lazy you are (being that you downloaded a checklist version or used an online version somewhere) and you give it to your doctor, who smiles at you and promptly shuffles it to the back of your chart never to be seen again!

Go ahead, do your plan. You may feel better after you do, but I recommend using that time to make and enjoy some chewy brownies while you still have an excuse to be a glutton!

photo credit: The Ultimate Birth Plan site

Friday, February 27, 2009

To Room In Postpartum or Not

After I gave birth to my first child, I was one of those moms who would read every childbirth, infant care, motherhood preparation book around. I was a typical neurotic over educated first time mom in America. I joined online communities of mothers having babies the same month as I was to and it was during the various discussions that once in a while a controversial topic would crop up. There were many: To circumcise or Not. To Breastfeed or Not and how long is too long? To succumb to in utero genetic defect testing or Not. It never ceased to amaze me how passionate women could be. Yes the issues were complex and multidimensional, but Geez Louise!

Seemingly nice and sensible women would get all crazed and judgmental when they'd discover that some in their comfortable circle were choosing a path different from their own. Women would label others, call names, banish and shame folks out from the communities; some would self-exile themselves or break out and form other boards. Imagine, all this stress from a bunch of women who never ever met each other most times!! Things would seriously get heated and passionate many times. It's interesting because though that was nearly 8 years ago, I have seen and heard of similar instances since then among the dozens, might I say hundreds of similar online communities that have emerged since those days. Besides the occasional melo- and sometimes over-dramatic rift every now and again, those communities were the best places to get educated, share resources and knowledge and go through the overall experience with others in their same shoes.

Anyway, at some point, the topic of "rooming in" cropped up.

rooming-in /room·ing-in/ (rldbomacm´ing-in″) the practice of keeping a newborn infant in a crib near the mother's bed instead of in a nursery during the hospital stay.

On one side of the argument was that right after birth, an infant needed to have constant access to his/her mother to encourage bonding and ease the baby's assimilation into the outside world. The advocates for rooming in were usually the same ones who would admonish a mother for even thinking about allowing a newborn to be nursed by formula or even breastmilk through a bottle. To the women in the "au naturale" corner, I will call it, the mom had to be in a coma for it to be okay for the baby to receive nourishment through a latex nipple. So naturally, according to the moms in this corner, it would not even make sense to have the child stay in the nursery. You had to be there in an instant to hear her stirring from hunger so you could pick her up and immediately stick a breast in its mouth. No matter if you are struggling to produce milk, that your milk hadn't come in yet or you were suffering from extreme fatigue and other effects of having had a c-section for example. They'd point to articles like this one from the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health sclaiming that rooming in mothers had higher instances of maternal attachment to her child

On the other side of the argument were those who felt that a mother needed to use all the luxury and comfort of having a 10+ nursing and hospital staff at her beck and call to take care of her and her baby. These "Posh moms" as they were sometimes mockingly referred to, did not see the rush to have 24/7 access to the baby when they could be using the 2-5 days postpartum in the hospital stay to rest up, heal and get prepared for life after the hospital. They'd have thousands of hours of uninterrupted sleep to expect in the coming months ahead and those initial days post partum were the ABSOLUTE best time to get some much needed mom time. Take advantage of the support as not everyone could afford a baby nurse or nanny at home.

I admit for my first child, I was wholly in the Au Naturale corner. I planned on breastfeeding and did not want baby to spend too much any extra time. When he wasn't sleeping on my chest, baby was laying in the bassinet and if he but let out a wimper I would have my nose pressed against his bassinet looking for signs of distress. A wet diaper? Hungry? Hot? Cold? Whatever.

I barely slept. I was on edge and anxious. I was recovering from surgery and dealing with all the discomfort and pain from that, but yet I had a new un-selfish role and I had to be ready and able to take care of my child. Whenever a nurse asked if I wanted him to stay in the nursery so I could get some consistent sleep, I always declined. My new role as a mom would be secondary to anything else.

Needless to say, 4 days later when I got home, it was more of the same in terms of lack of sleep. But it was okay. I was doing my job. I was/am a good mom.

Well my has my tune changed three kids, three hospitalizations and three c-sections later. For my second son, I was a less anxious mom because I knew what to expect. I knew no one was going to kidnap him in the nursery. I knew he would get excellent care, be bathed and monitored appropriately in the nursery so I was less at edge with him spending extended periods of time in the nursery. If the time did come when I'd let him hang out at the nursery so I could rest, towards the end of my nap, I would wake up a bit panicky missing him dearly. I'd buzz the heck out of the nursing call station for them to return him to me. But it was all good, because I let myself let go and sleep once in a while. I appreciated them more because I knew what awaited me when I would be discharged.

With my third and last child, boy had my tune turned 180 degrees. I FINALLY realized the importance of taking advantage of the enormous support the hospital staff gave. Imagine, there were 5-10 persons including a lactation consultant, a primary nurse, a vital signs nurse, a baby nurse, a pediatrician, doctors, neonatal physicians, a home care instructor and others all on staff answering my beck and call and making sure I was comfortable and taking a load off.

Boy was I a nut to refuse all that help before! In short, the thing is there is such a thing as "balance." A new mom can bond with her baby and even do some kangaroo care. She could nurse exclusively, if she wanted. And she could have the baby spend the night in the nursery. All she has to do is buzz when the baby is hungry and they'd happily return your screaming and wailing baby back to you.

It is not a condemnation or commentary on a mother's value and worth as a mother, on her commitment to raise her child from birth to not be within arm's reach of her baby that soon all the time. Now I think it is shameful for those who insist on judging others and condemning those who do not agree or make the same choices.

It is a personal choice and a mom's choice should be respected either way. But without the judgmental neurotic condemning mother, how fun would those mom online communities be? ha!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Coming up this week on Bellyitch

JJ takes on the following issues:

The Rooming In Story - Do you keep the baby in the room with you or keep her in the nursery during the 1-4 days post delivery? My story. My take on it.

The Birth Plan - What is it? Why do it? Why NOT do it? What to expect.

Breast Pumps - My recommendation for the best manual and best electric pump

Baby Preparation Books Library - The good, the bad and the waste of money

stay tuned.....

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bellyitch Supporter is Pregnant

I must give a shout out to Tanyetta, one of Bellyitch's staunchest supporters, as she is HAVING A BABY!!!

I've been in my own world and just happened upon this news yesterday! Congrats Mama! I'm guessing it's a girl! Hmmm???

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hairstyles for the Colorful Baby

Of course, I am now weighted with the challenge of coming up with unique styles for my daughter. Her hair is kinky, and has tight curls. It is coarse, but can easily be softened after a wash and drenching her lochs in a softening product. These days I am twisting her hair and applying a balm with shea butter on it to encourage hair growth, keep her hair soft and limit breakage. So far so good.

In my search for more tips on the internet, I discovered recent sites that have cropped up to help out parents like me:

I also discovered in my search, this boy, above who was apparently threatened with expulsion in 2007 from a school for wearing his ethnic hair in cornrows, essentially for having nappy twisted hair! How racist is that?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sterilizing bottles and babies clothes before Use: Why it's so important

I was disturbed to see my newborn barely 3 month old nephew covered in the rash this afternoon. I quickly and very easily diagnosed its source for the mom: Un-pre-washed baby clothes!

Folks who are having their first baby are bombarded with advice and tips. They read and everyone tells them that they should wash the baby's clothes before wearing it on him. Few may wonder if it is just a right of passage or if there is reason behind the advice. For several reasons it is a good idea, including (1) the fact that many hands touch children's clothes in stores before they are bought and (2) there are many allergens, agents and other chemicals that are used at manufacturing, shipping and packaging plants that transport clothes. It is so easy and very common for a baby to develop a rash on account of having their sensitive skin exposed to un-pre-washed clothes.

Dreft and Ivory Snow make mild detergent that is great for washing clothes of babies, and especially those with allergies or prone to break outs, or with extra sensitive skin.

Similarly, it is so easy to want to cut corners and save time and skip sterilizing the baby's bottles ever so often after a use or two. Little babies immune systems aren't developed enough to fight off the friendly bacteria that grows inside moist bottles after time. Case in point, my nephew (again, my infant example for everything these days) caught an awful cold. Of course, her mom blames me and my kids who came to visit that weekend, but that I am defending the kiddies on this one and pointing the finger at lax bottle sterilizing.

The absolute best and my favorite tool for quick easy sterilizing is Phillips Avent Express Microwave Sterilizer. The product is marketed with the Avent bottles, but the contraption itself can be used with any brand bottles, but especially the shorter smaller bottles.It retails for about $50.00 and is a MUST ADD baby registry item, if you ask me. You load up the washed bottles, add water and pop it in the microwave for several minutes. Voila! instant sterilization. Now, if you are one of those folks concerned over the latent or unknown future effects of microwaves on plastics, you may want to stay away from this product made of sturdy plastics. I swear by it and used it for all three children and even gifted my last kid's to my ungrateful baby sister too soon. But I digress. ha!


Monday, February 16, 2009

M.I.A. Gives Birth to Baby Boy

according to RTE
Singer MIA has given birth to a baby boy, just days after performing at the Grammy Awards.

Reuters reports that the British-born, Sri Lankan-raised singer, whose real name is Mathangi 'Maya' Arulpragasam, experienced contractions while performing at the ceremony last Sunday.

She gave birth on Wednesday with the singer saying on her Myspace page that her son was "healthy, fine, beautiful and the most amazing thing ever on this planet".

MIA's partner is the musician Benjamin Brewer.

my baby loves music

i am so happy. i smile when she smiles whenever she hears music. that's my GG!

music is universal poetry!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Salma Hayek Breastfeeds Sierra Leonean Baby

Being from Sierra Leone, a country with the highest maternal mortality rate and an almost equally high infant mortality rate, I welcome the attention to the plight of my beloved native land brought on by American and European celebrities. Who'd care otherwise?

There's been much a buzz about Salma Hayek's decision to breastfeed (and on video) a one week old baby that was born ironically on the same day as Hayek's own one year old daughter. But I say it takes a very special woman to nourish a child like that because I do not believe many people would do that, for their own varying respective personal reasons of course.

Breastfeeding is so looked down upon by many in our culture. I did a post on it a little while ago about how negative people react when they learn I am still nursing my now 13 month old child. I am of the opinion that it is natural and cow's milk is for calves, not humans. I nursed all three of my children beyond their first birthday and hope to pass on my immunity to them and good antibodies. Yes, I may have pancake boobies right now, but that is a story for another Victoria Secret Push Up bra day. In any event, I do hope her actions call attention to the importance of nursing a child for as long as possible notwithstanding pressure from a spouse to quit for his own selfish reasons.

So while I know people are lambasting her and calling it a PR move, I say that while she may have gotten publicity out of it, a wonderful by-product is that people are looking at Sierra Leone and maybe Googling about and wanting to know more about my impoverished country again. The last time we were in the news, it was because drugged up young soldiers were brutally amputating innocent civilians over Blood Diamonds.

Maybe, this time, like last, folks will reach out to see what needs to be done to alleviate the high infant mortality rate or do something to combat infant malnourishment issues. It is unfortunate that this is one of few ways we get attention to our issues, but whatever. Beggers can't be choosers.

Tomorrow, I will give a Keynote speech at a Valentine's Day event where a portion of the proceeds will go to a non profit that I co-founded that helps my native Sierra Leone. I think the story is very timely and I will have to somehow weave it into my address because it goes to the heart (pardon the pun) of what is needed more in the world, especially in these hard times when ordinarily affluent and privileged people are now feeling the pinch of what it means to go without and to suffer a little bit. Very fitting indeed!

Kudos to you Ms. Hayek.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wild Child and My Photos from the Grammys

GG is a certified "tom boy". I just got back from the Grammys. (Check out my pics below) and discover that these days, my "wild child" loves to be tossed in the air, very HIGH up there too. She laughs and thinks that is fun. Oh my!

She also enjoys standing or sitting on the bed and flinging herself backwards!! What Tha?

And she does forward rolls. Yes, like a flip. The stuff gymnast do and older kids, not 13 monthers!!

She doesn't liked being covered up in bed and prefers to sleep with her legs strewn over the covers. I think this explains a lot about her personality.

As soon as I settle (which I hope to be sometime in April...can u believe that), I'm going to take professional photos of her and enroll her in Gymnastics.

Anyway, here are my photos from a few Glam events I was involved in (Grammys and The Inauguration (I organized a couple of balls)

These are in Random order because I have no time to be organized at the moment.

fabulous women in ball gowns at one of the balls I organizedmore ladies in waiting...waiting on their cabernet to kick in that! i crack me up!
that's me rocking a cutesy brown frock! check out Shireen from Digital Sistas over there far right
isn't this a stylish possee?
i am feeling this photo...narcissm...a sin no?
at the inauguration. we woke up at 10am and said what the heck, let's go join the masses! we got there too late to actually get on the Mall so we all huddled around this woman who had the foresight to bring a tv to the event...that is our JumboTron
me and the hubby...
me and my old college friend Kiddya at a party at the House of Amour in Baldwin Hills, Cali...
me and my friend and client, Grammy Nominated Singer Songwriter genius phenom, Wayna!
Wayna's entourage...check out her fabu Red Carpet dress. her stylist Cathy Freeman in the purple is the absolute best in the business
i really don' t like LA, but I do love seeing the beautiful couple, like this actor/actress couple her fabulously dressed and styled...
this was me doing my best impression of being a "suit" at the Grammy's. we couldn't find a cab in LA so we had to take Lincoln Town Cars everywhere...poor me! LOL!
this is us at the Radio Killa party for the Dream at hot spot STK...
i stayed in Korea town at this hotel named for me! okay on the real, i was the only bBlack person staying at this hotel and my room mate, Fiona Bloom of The Bloom Effect, Wayna's publicist was the only White Person there. Seriously, if your last name is not Kim, you might want to pick another hotel...
my fabulous client and friend, Wayna...she was the best dressed. Solange Knowles came in second!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Celeb RoundUp: Beyonce Preggers? M.I.A. at the Grammys, Halle Berry's Bump and more

rumors are circulating that Halle is already pregnant with her second child or trying to conceive one....

So, we've heard the speculation and rumors that Beyonce is knocked up. When I saw her during an inauguration event, she had her hair pulled back looking not so fabu as usual. Her absence from the Grammys this year also lends to speculation that she may be suffering from morning sickness. Who knows....I'm keepin my ears to the Grindstone. Someone told me Jay Z himself confirmed the pregnancy at a recent event.

But M.I.A. didn't stop the fact that her baby was due on the same day as the Grammys stop her from not just attending, but performing!!! She crooned the hook to the T.I., Lil Wayne, Jay Z and Kanye West performance of Swagger Like Us, which is a line from her Grammy nominated Best Record "Paper Planes."

The Jay Anthony Twins are looking cute these days. They are featured inside the February 16th edition of In Touch Weekly. The twins turn 1 on February 22, but Jlo and Marc Anthony are planning a big birthday bash for them on February 28 at their LA home. The magazine is reporting that JLo wants another baby soon.Pro Golfer Tiger Woods and wife Elin Nordergren-Woods have announced the birth of their first son, a baby boy named Charlie Axel Woods, born on Sunday, February 8th.
Actress Tisha Campbell-Martin and her husband, actor Duane Martin, are expecting their second child together. Tisha, who is two months along, already has a son Xen, 8, with husband Duane.
Kimora Lee is looking radiantly glowy these days. She and Djimon Hounsou are expecting.Bobby Brown and his girlfriend Alicia Etheridge have confirmed to various news sources that they are indeed expecting a baby together. Bobby’s representative Ravi Dabiesingh confirms, “Yes, Bobby is expecting his fifth child from Alicia." In all, Bobby has five children:15-year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina with singer Whitney Houston. He also has two children with ex-girlfriend Kim Ward and a son with ex-girlfriend Melika Williams. This will be Etheridge’s first child. On the real, I know there are a couple dozen other mini Bobbys running the globe.
Actress Nicki Micheaux showed up to the 40th NAACP Images Awards nominee luncheon (February 7th 2009) with what appears to be a baby bump. Nikki has starred in various television shows including The Shield, Six Feet Under, and Soul Food. She is currently starring on ABC Family’s Lincoln Heights.
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