I have been pondering this question a lot lately as I have met with a few minor parenting challenges. (Listen to podcasts on raising compassion in my son.) When I was pregnant with both of my children, I often wondered what they’d look like, what types of personalities they’d have and when people asked me what I wanted, I always answered with the oh so politically correct, “I just want a healthy baby”.
What a load of crap! I want so much more for my children. It’s only now that they are school aged and going out into the world that I realize this and have begun to really contemplate what I want for them.
As I stated in the podcasts, I want for my son and daughter to be compassionate people. No, I don’t want them to be gullible or to bring home every stray. But I want them to be compassionate towards their classmates, their teammates and other people with whom they live, work and play. I have been so proud of my daughter who has a little friend who has Down’s Syndrome. She said to me one day,
“Yeah, Claire has Down’s Syndrome so somethings are hard for her. But we (She and another friend) don’t mention it because we don’t want her to feel badly. Besides, we like her just like she is.”
Moments like that make me stand back and go, “Yes!”
I want my children to be critical thinkers. There is so much flotsom and jetsom in our world these days. Mass media has gone overboard in my opinion when it comes to “reality” entertainment. I don’t think that I need to know ever little facet of Kim Kardashian’s life, yet there it is for the world to see. I have noticed my daughter reading the magazines at check out lines and I asked her, “What do you think of that?”
“Well, I don’t think it’s so bad,” she began. “But I wouldn’t want to end up like that.”
I am proud to say that my children care about their world. No two little people “remind” their parents more about recycling then those two. And it was heartening to see them so appalled and motivated to buy shoes for children in Africa as part of my church’s program, Shoes for Orphaned Souls. They just couldn’t believe that children their age had no shoes. They were shocked that their parents didn’t have the means to buy shoes and were insistent that we buy a pair of shoes for a boy and a girl to donate.
I love that my children love learning. They both love books. They love to run and play outside. They both love music. My son seems to love to cook. My daughter loves to draw. And most of all, they still believe that anything that they want to do is well within their grasp. That by far is one of the things that I cherish most.
These attributes of my children are all things that I am so pleased that they possess, but I have to say, I in no way planned for them or even contemplated them while I was pregnant. I believe that pregnancy is a golden opportunity-whether on bed rest or not-to begin planning the lessons and customs that you want to impart to your children. What family legacies do you want to pass on? Which ones do you want to break? While your children will come here to this realm with gifts, talents and a divinely inspired plan for their lives, I still believe that we as parents can also instill in them some wisdom, some expectations and some attributes that we hold dear and hope that they will adopt.
So Mamas on Bedrest, What do you Expect?
Thanks to the wonderfully kind folks at WhattoExpect.com, we have 6 copies of the best selling pregnancy book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting to give away. Share in our comments section a well thought out expectation, hope or aspiration that you have for your baby and we’ll send gift 6 lucky comments a book. You can also share your thoughts on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter, @mamasonbedrest.
This post was originally a podcast that I produced in 2008 after interviewing Julie Jumonville, creator of MilkScreen (TM). Jumonville noted that following the birth of their babies, many women wanted to have a drink and were concerned about the baby receiving alcohol. She faced this very issue following the birth of her own children and hence Milkscreen (TM) was born.
While I am not advocating for or against alcohol while breastfeeding, here is simply another piece of information and another resource for mothers to consider when trying to make the best decision for themselves and their babies.
This is such a difficult question and the answer will vary depending on who you ask. Whether or not a woman decides to have a glass of wine or a beer while nursing depends on her own moral values, the importance she places on nursing, and her personal views on alcohol. For me, there was never a question. I did not drink alcohol while I was nursing. Alcohol is not an important part of my life and even when I am not nursing, I often don’t drink in social situations. Furthermore, I had such difficulty sustaining a pregnancy that when I did finally carry a pregnancy to term, there was nothing that I was going to do that would even give the slightest harm to my baby. Now many people may think that I was over reacting and they are probably right. But again, for me, my values and my situation, alcohol had no place.
As a trained clinician, I also have difficulty rationalizing drinking alcohol while nursing. Americans have “challenges” when it comes to alcohol; we tend to drink too much and experience some major calamities as a result. Accidents and fatalities as a result of being under the influence of alcohol cannot be ignored. More pertinent to this discussion, we know that mothers who drink while pregnant risk their babies developing fetal alcohol syndrome with subsequent developmental abnormalities and delays. But what about once the baby is born? Is an occasional glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage dangerous to a baby?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding alcohol while nursing, because alcohol passes through breast milk to the baby. A newborn has a very immature liver, so minute amounts of alcohol place more of a burden upon their livers. Until about 3 months of age, infants detoxify alcohol at approximately half the rate of an adult. An older baby or toddler can metabolize the alcohol more quickly. The AAP has this position statement on the AAP’s webpage on breastfeeding and diet (www.aap.org),
“If you choose to drink alcohol, drink it just after you nurse rather than just before.”
Many women drink a bit of alcohol with the mistaken belief that it will increase their breast milk production. This wives tale has been disproven. Julie Mennella, PhD, of Philadelphia’s Monell Chemical Senses Center tested alcohol to see its effect on breast milk production. What Mennella and her colleagues found is that in women who drink moderate amounts of alcohol (0.4g/kg) their milk production actually goes down because levels of oxytocin, a hormone responsible for milk production and subsequent ejection, dramatically drops in response to the alcohol. Additionally many women in the study reported feeling more relaxed and had increased breast fullness after they drank moderate amounts of alcohol. Mennella explains that these effects are due to increases in the hormone prolactin which increases significantly with alcohol consumption and causes sensations of sedation, dysphoria and drunkenness in addition to the feeling of breast fullness. The effects of alcohol peak approximately 45 minutes after alcohol consumption.1
Nursing mothers also need to know that breast milk containing 30 milligrams per deciliter or more (0.03%) of alcohol causes infants to drink less breast milk and to sleep less and awaken more frequently. Although most women clear alcohol from their breast milk in 30-90 minutes, these facts are not well known and sadly many women dump their breast milk for hours after they drink not knowing that their breast milk no longer contains harmful levels of alcohol. In an effort to bring clarity to this issue and more importantly, to extend the life of breastfeeding for many mothers, Milkscreen™ was developed.
Milkscreen™ was created by Julie Jumonville. In October 2002, Jumonville was battling post partum depression following the birth of her son and her doctor had recommended a trial of the antidepressant Zoloft. Jumonville was very concerned about the effects the medication would have on her baby and was unwilling to take anything that could be passed through her breast milk and have even the tiniest negative effect on her child. A civil engineer, Jumonville researched the medication thoroughly and once convinced no harm would come to her baby, she agreed to take the antidepressant for a limited amount of time.
But medication was not Jumonville’s only hurdle when it came to breastfeeding. She often attended business functions and was offered wine or other adult beverages. She knew the dangers of heavy alcohol consumption on an infant but wondered if the occasional glass of wine was in anyway detrimental. Looking for answers she found that breastfeeding guidelines are sketchy at best and most women err on the side of caution, pumping their breast milk and dumping it if they have consumed alcohol. Some women, confused by conflicting guidelines and strict dietary restrictions stop breastfeeding altogether. Jumonville wanted answers and the engineer in her wanted concrete facts. When Jumonville’s research revealed the aforementioned facts, she set out to educate nursing mothers and in the process developed the Milkscreen™ tests.
Milkscreen™ is simple to use. After drinking alcohol a woman tests her breast milk alcohol levels by expressing a few drops of breast milk onto the test strips (mothers can also dip the test strips in expressed breast milk.) If after two minutes the test strip turns from off white to light brown, the alcohol levels in the breast milk are too high (higher than 0.02%) and baby should be fed stored breast milk, formula or wait to nurse until the alcohol levels in the breast milk are no longer a cause for alarm. The amount of alcohol passed through to breast milk varies among women as does the time it takes for alcohol to completely leave a woman’s system. With Milkscreen™, a woman has a definitive indicator of when she can safely nurse after drinking alcohol. The tests come in packages of 3, 8 and 20 and can be found at stores like Babies R Us and online at stores like Target.com.
Now I want to be clear. I am not advocating drinking while nursing or trying to get women not to drink alcohol while nursing. The decision to drink alcohol while nursing is very controversial and each woman has to examine her own values in order to reach the decision that best suites her needs. But what I wanted to do here, as I always try to do is educate women and offer solutions. For women who decide to have the occasional glass of wine or beer, Milkscreen™ provides the reassurance that their babies will remain alcohol free. It’s just one more tool in a busy mom’s arsenal.
1. Julie A. Mennella, M. Yanina Pepino and Karen L. Teff. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 90, No. 4 1979-1985. Copyright © April, 2005 by The Endocrine Society
The first time that I heard a variation of those words come out of my mouth I cringed in utter disbelief. Even the thought of them now makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up on end. How many times had my mother said those words to my sisters and I when we deigned to question a command? How many times did we chide behind her back, “No good reason, eh?” Yet there they were, a variation of those most annoying and seemingly lame words rolling right out of my mouth.
I have made a conscious choice not to use the phrase “Because I said so” with my children. Even if I want them to simply do what I say and not question my instruction, I try to give reasons for my directives. Children are not stupid and often when they are asking the reason for doing something, they aren’t even being confrontational. As I have found with my own children, sometimes they just want to know why it’s important that they do something that they’d really rather not do.
What has become an interesting problem is dealing with my mother as I mother my own children. Being that she is in her 70′s and reared us with the “Do as I say” mentality, she gets a bit put out with me when I dialogue with my children about things. We spent the better part of the summer with her and more than once she jumped in when I had instructed on of my children to do something with,
“Because your mother said so!”
At one point I had to remind her, “Ma, these are MY kids and I’ll speak to them as I choose.” Although I am nearly 46 years old, she wasn’t happy that I had “back talked” her.
For my mom and many of her generation, the belief is that children should respect their elders and often should be “seen and not heard”. While I agree with that on a few levels, I wholeheartedly disagree on most other levels and have some caveats. Children should be kind and speak respectfully to everyone and that is something on which I work very diligently with my children whether they are speaking to their teacher, other older adults or to a friend on the playground. As much as possible, they should use kind words.
However, I do not ascribe to the notion that children should respect any and all adults simply because they are adults. While I don’t advise my children to “talk back” if an adult is rude to them, I do tell them to tell me or their father so that we can address them-adult to adult and not put my children in a potentially disadvantageous (harmful) situation.
I am a firm believer that respect must be earned. There have been many adults and authority figures in my life that while I spoke courteously with them, I in no way respected them. These people were often rude, brash, condescending and quite often wrong in their ideals or opinions yet doggedly argumentative that their position was the right position. We all have and are entitled to our beliefs. At the same time, that does not give any of us the right to be rude or to speak in a manner so as to belittle another person. I believe that this is true whether we are speaking with another adult or with a child. If you are not kind, why should you expect others to be kind to you, much less respect you?
So my children ask lots of question, sometimes at inopportune moments when I would rather they just take my directions and run with them. But at the same time, I have learned from my children and in one case, my daughter presented such a well thought out counter argument to my directive that I apologized to her and we carried out the situation as she suggested.
Children learn what they live. I want both of my children to grow up to be confident, well spoken people who can intelligently discuss a topic, even differ in their opinions from their companion, yet be respectful and be respected at the same time. When we shut them down with “Because I said so”, I believe that we teach them not to critically think, not to have original thoughts nor to be able to formulate an opinion. I believe we teach them to become “followers in the herd” because they don’t develop the confidence to identify what they want or need, to openly state when something is wrong or doesn’t resonate with them and to subsequently voice those opinions. The “herd mentality” teaches our children that it is more important to be “in the crowd” than to be an individual. I fear that it is this thinking and this “fear of being different” that leads many of our children to try drugs, alcohol or other risky behaviors-because everyone else is doing it.
We adults are not always right. While many of us easily admit that, many others won’t admit that sometimes a child-in particular their own child-may have a different, valid and perhaps more right opinion.
So Mamas on Bedrest, how will you mama your children? Will you allow them to learn and grow according to their own inner trajectory with gentle guidance and correction or are you more inclined to impose your preferences upon them, to be right and demanding rather than commanding their respect? Share your parenting opinions below, on our Facebook page or on Twitter, @mamasonbedrest.