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The Definitive Guide To Throwing A Baby Shower People Will Actually Want To Attend

MINA BAIE

The days are getting longer and the weather is heating up, and that can only mean one thing, ladies. Well it actually means a lot of things but none of them are quite so eyeroll-inducing as Baby Shower Season. Yep, it's right around the corner! And yes, these gatherings usually suck and yes, we all still show up. Because we love each other and every soon-to-be-parent should be celebrated.

So if you have the honor of hosting one of these things, and you don't want to make everyone uncomfortable and bored, here is My (Fairly) Comprehensive List of Baby Shower Do's and Don'ts!

1. DON'T play the game where you measure the pregnant belly. Just don't do it, okay? No game in the history of games has led to more awkward silences and nervous laughter.

Do: Ask the guest of honor if they have any specific games they'd like to play at their shower, or if they would prefer to not have games at all. Their answer just might make your hosting duties a lot easier!

2. DON'T put on any games that require extra work or shopping trips for guests. I already have to find time to shop for a gift, get ready, find childcare or get the kids ready and loaded up and buckled in. All of this on a Sunday! Please do not make me find and print out baby photos of myself or go buy packs of diapers in addition to the gift. Ugh.

DO plan some kind of entertainment if you aren't doing games, especially if many of the guests don't know each other. If the mom-to-be is artsy, maybe do a non-cheesy craft station (not onesie decorating, please. The paint peels off in one wash and they usually look like crap even before that.)

If she is more of a laid-back type, I recently learned that Sperm Cornball is a thing, and it looks like the kind of game modern gals can get down with. So there's a thought, ya know?

Get one or two non cringe-inducing games going, slap on a playlist of Mom's favorite tunes, and you got yourself a party.

3. DON'T make me guess baby food flavors. Cuz that means I have to eat baby food, and that stuff is slimy and bland.

Has anyone ever enjoyed this game? Why do people keep doing it?!

DO play the baby animal guessing game. Cuz it's kind of cute and it takes like 3 minutes. But again, ASK! (Your guest of honor might hate baby animals with a passion and totally love puréed green beans or something?)

4. DON'T make walnut brownies and wrap them up in newborn diapers to give as favors. You might be thinking, "hmm, that's oddly specific.", and that's because I actually did this at my poor sister in law's shower, six years ago. I thought it was kinda cheeky and clever, and everyone else thought it was super gross and most likely toxic.

DO stick to consumables like chocolates or cute little soaps when it comes to favors. Nothing baby themed and nothing with names and dates on it. It just becomes clutter or trash.

Alternatively, you can just skip the favors altogether. Your guests are there to visit and support the parent/s-to-be, not get low budget swag.

5. DON'T serve alcohol without mom-to-be's enthusiastic approval. If you ask and you get a "well I guess so...", then simply skip it. There are plenty of other times to show off your bartending skills.

DO serve alcohol if your guest of honor is like, "Ya totally!" Get that enthusiastic nod of approval and party hardy, y'all.

Also DO: whip up a refreshing mocktail for Preggers. I remember tearing up a little when I saw that my aunt had made a mixed berry punch for me at my shower, and a ton of other guests loved it as well. Win.

6. DON'T request 'No children' at a baby shower. Like what on earth? I will never understand throwing a party to celebrate the birth of a child and not allowing actual, already-born children to attend.

*Note: If the guest of honor requests a child-free shower, then you need to be all like, "Oh ya, for sure. No kids. They're so annoying, right?!" Because it's HER day to celebrate and You are an awesome host.*

DO see if mom-to-be would like to invite not only kids, but also dudes! Coed baby showers can take a lot of pressure off of expecting moms. Especially if they don't have a ton of close female friends and family, it can make the event go from unbearable to relaxed and fun. Added plus, guests are way less likely to dread the event if you aren't demanding that they find childcare and spend one of their precious weekend days away from their partner and kids.

7. DON'T: get a cake that looks like a baby sleeping on it's stomach. You know the ones I'm talking about. With the little fondant feet at the bottom.. little fondant toes. It's all fun and games until someone goes to cut the cake and they find themselves dismembering a fondant baby. And they're all, "I mean do I cut over here? or more like along the spinal cord? Which way of cutting this cake will feel the least murdery?"

Nobody wants that. Choose a different cake.

DO get a cake that isn't even vaguely murdery. Mmkay?

8. DON'T guilt trip those who decline the invite. You don't know what they are going through, and why they can't be there. Baby showers can be really tough for loss parents, and those struggling to conceive or adopt.

Do: try to make every guest feel comfortable and welcomed, whether they have five kids, are childless by choice, are waiting and wishing for a child, or are in mourning. I mean really, baby showers are about connection, community, and supporting each other.

Offer activities that aren't hyper-focused on all things 'baby'. Maybe set up a table where guests can write a sweet note, or draw a silly cartoon of their favorite memory with the mom-to-be? Maybe set up a few simple yard games that guests can escape to if the hyper-babyness becomes too much? Like just regular corn hole, without the sperm?

Or whatever. Just give it a thought, you know?

One last DO! (This one is for guests)

DO stick to the gift registry. So many brand new parents find themselves with piles upon piles of impractical newborn clothes that they do not want. When shopping for gifts alone, focus on the registry. If you will be attending the shower as part of a group- like 'work friends' or 'small group from church' or 'college roommates', consider pooling your resources and going in on a big ticket item that they really need/want. Seriously, this is how you win at baby shower gifting. Not that it's a competition.. So get your group organized and then ask the mom-to-be if there is a high-quality stroller, baby carrier, or diaper bag that she would love to have.

What Baby Shower 'Do' or 'Don't' would you add to this list? What did you love or hate about your own baby shower?

Dear Husband, This Is The One Thing I Really Need On Mother's Day

MINA BAIE

Since I'm not big on subtlety, I'll lay it out for you. I just want to be left alone on Mother's Day. I want to know my children are safe and well cared for, and I want that to be done away from me. Or I guess I don't mind if we're together, I just want you to do all of the thinking and calculating and risk management that keeping children alive entails. All of it. Not just the butt wiping and the snack making and the booboo kissing- I want you to make sure their car seat is installed properly, with the chest clip in the right place. I want you to notice which cars in a parking lot have a driver in them that could suddenly back out with no warning. I want you to anticipate and pack up all the crap they (might) need when we leave the house. I want you to carry on nonsensical conversations with them in the car so that I can just listen to music and not be like, "oooh yeah? And then what happened? The pirate stole ALL of the bananas and the whatevers? Wow. Mmm hmm." I want you to be the one who notices that they've been quiet for too long in another room, and then I want you to go sort out whatever mischief they've gotten into. And I want you to keep 'em alive totally on your own. That's the big thing. Mama's tired, k? My mind needs to rest for a full day. More than I need jewelry, flowers, and wine, my mind needs to rest. Don't get me wrong- I totally need all that other stuff- but this is numero uno on the list. 

Okay so that's settled then, right? Cool Thanks! Love ya. 

Moms, what is the One Thing you really want for Mother's Day? Do you want to be with your children, or do you want a rugrat-free day? Sound off in the comments below (and then send a screenshot to your partner for future reference ;)

Yes, 'Fed Is Best'. But There's Something Fishy About That Article

MINA BAIE

Many of us have seen the horrifying story of infant loss that has gone viral this week. I've seen posts on it in several parenting groups, where it has elicited outrage, heartbreak, and fear from readers. Losing a child is every parent's worst nightmare, and I can't imagine the added torture of knowing that your child's death was completely preventable. This story makes my stomach turn, partly because it hits a little too close to home for me.

 My daughter was severely underweight for months due to a tongue and lip tie that went unnoticed by three pediatricians, four nurses, a midwife, and three different hospital lactation consultants. As my baby fell further and further off of her growth curve, despite round-the-clock nursing, she became miserable, stressed, frantic. Those months were harrowing, and I will forever be grateful that we finally went to see an IBCLC, who quickly identified several structural issues that were preventing milk transfer. She was our angel. And my daughter began to thrive almost immediately after our first visit. 

The mother who authored this article, Jillian Johnson, was not so fortunate. Help arrived too late. In the article, she describes the guilt and anguish she still carries with her five years after her baby's death. She agonized over what could have been, if she had just given her sweet baby one bottle of formula. All of the doctors, nurses, and- apparently- even an IBCLC around her in the hospital insisted her baby's latch was "great", while missing several major red flags that indicated problems. 

Johnson even dismissed her own gut instinct that something was wrong, because she believed so strongly that 'breast is best' and felt discouraged from supplementing with formula by staff at the "baby friendly hospital". I feel so deeply for this mother, and I hope that in sharing her story, her grief is lifted from her in some small way. 

Still, after reading the article and a few other connected pieces about the Fed Is Best organization, I am left with several questions, and I don't think we have all the information. Some points of the story don't add up, and there is some bad advice and misinformation being given out which makes me question the organization's agenda. 

Was the consultant Jillian saw in the hospital an actual IBCLC, and not just a 'lactation consultant'? There are lactation certifications that can be earned in a single weekend, but the breadth of knowledge attained in these programs pales in comparison to that of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. 

Why was baby released without sufficient diaper output? While the article describes diaper output as inconsequential- wet and dirty diapers are of huge importance and a baby with low output requires careful monitoring). 

If doctors were aware that the mother was pre-diabetic, had PCOS (a well-known and documented cause of low milk supply), and that she had an emergency C-Section (commonly known to delay milk coming in)- Why did nobody check for adequate milk production? 

If baby Landon nursed 9 out of his first 24 hours (!!!), and cried nonstop, why did nobody stop and think, "hey something might be going on here."? 

There were too many risk factors to ignore in this situation. Each of these signs can be normal for a healthy baby, or they can mean something more serious. And when there a whole bunch of raised red flags, the odds are good that a baby is struggling. 

The article asserts that the baby was closely monitored, but that the medical professionals insisted everything was fine, until he quite suddenly went into cardiac arrest due to dehydration. 

I can't help but wonder whether we are being given the full picture, or if this mother's tragedy is being used to spread fear and doubt among new parents. Healthy, full term babies will give pretty obvious signs that they are slipping into dehydration- rust colored stool, lack of wet and soiled diapers, a sunken fontanelle, reduced elasticity of the skin, listlessness, lethargy, lips and mouth that are dry to the touch, reduced capillary refill, and on and on... Healthy babies just don't go down suddenly without warning signs that are clear to qualified, caring medical professionals. So, was there an underlying health issue? Was the staff in this baby friendly hospital grossly negligent? Did this mother and child fall through the cracks of a bad system? I don't know. But I do know that exclusive breastfeeding did not cause this tragedy. And the suggestion to follow each nursing session with a bottle, as this organization advocates, IS bad advice for almost all parents who choose to exclusively breastfeed. The practice of 'topping up' can undermine the breastfeeding relationship, and is simply not necessary for the vast majority of breastfeeding parents. Situations like these are in the extreme minority, and shouldn't be used for an anti-breastfeeding agenda. 

This is the fact: parents who are committed to breastfeeding should be seen by an IBCLC at the VERY FIRST SIGN of trouble. Unless baby is nursing like a champ, putting out plenty of wet and dirty diapers, sleeping well, and appearing content and alert while awake, a visit from an IBCLC should be- and needs to be- standard procedure. If the nursing parent experiences misshapen nipples, mastitis, chronic engorgement, or severe pain that goes beyond mild discomfort in the first week of nursing, a visit from an IBCLC needs to be standard procedure. 

Unfortunately, doctors, nurses, and hospital lactation consultants are notorious for missing issues that undermine a successful breastfeeding relationship. 

Solid breastfeeding support is part of good perinatal care, and we need to demand it. The US is sorely lacking in this area compared to other developed nations, and sadly, our babies ultimately pay the price. 

But there was something else at play in this situation that I want to address. Something that imposed pressure on this mom to ignore her instincts and push on with exclusive breastfeeding when her baby was clearly distressed. We in the breastfeeding advocacy community need to get a handle on our messaging, and stop moralizing infant feeding methods. Breast is not best for everyone! I think we can safely say that it certainly wasn't best for this poor mother and her newborn, but yet partly out of fear and shaming, she waited to supplement until it was too late. Breastfeeding is the baseline for mammals- in fact, we mammals are even named after our practice of nursing from Mammaries! And this very normal, nourishing act should be supported and celebrated publicly. But! formula is a perfectly good option as well. And it saves lives. And we should all be very grateful to have this source of nutrition readily available- instead of calling it inferior, dangerous, and even poisonous, as I've heard from some in the 'breast is best' movement. You can't continuously call something inferior and then be surprised when stressed out new parents hesitate to feed it to their hungry newborns... you just can't! And as long as supplementing is taboo, there will be babies who go hungry because of it. 

To new parents: if your baby is crying constantly- especially in the first few days- something could be very wrong. Please seek help from an IBCLC, and above all else, feed your baby. 

I sincerely hope that the Great Infant Feeding Debate can be laid to rest soon, so that we can all just get on with it and focus on what's best for our families. 

What are your thoughts on infant feeding support in hospitals and in parenting communities? Did you feel supported? Judged? Fearful? Let us know in the comments section! 

Check out this link for more information on the Fed Is Best organization: 

http://www.acsh.org/news/2016/10/05/fed-best-great-message-not-so-great-science-10240

#fedisbest #breastfeeding