Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Whatcha Readin'? Wednesday: Anna in Charge

Uli's new favorite nap- and night-time read is currently

Anna in Charge
by Yoriko Tsutsui
Illustrated by Akiko Hayashi

My thoughts:

(1)  In the beginning I couldn't read Anna in Charge without first impulsively singing the chorus to Charles in Charge (with Anna substituted for Charles). Now Uli has come to demand the song as an essential beginning to the book's text. So I've been singing Charles Anna in Charge every day for the past several weeks. (If only Scot Baio knew how often I think of him!)

(2) I can't decide whether the book's story is pro-Free-Range Kids (which I am) or the perfect worry-wort's example of what happens if you are "foolish" enough to allow your kiddos some freedom.
Little Anna (from the illustrations she appears about 5-6 years old) is left playing alone in front of her house while her mother runs to the bank. Her younger sister (whom I'd guess to be about 3 years old) is inside napping. Katy wakes up and Anna calms her crying by helping her get her shoes on and brings her outside with her. They start to play a game together but Anna focuses on the game and Katy runs off. Anna searches the neighborhood for Katy, eventually finding her at the park, safe and sound.

In a way, the story shows exactly what a 5 year old can be capable of:  problem solving (Where would Katy go? The park! How do you get there? I remember the way!) as well as understanding the seriousness of the situation (when she hears screeching tires on the main street, she worries that Katy may have been hit by a car and run to investigate, her heart thumping with fear).  In fact, it also shows that a 3 year old can be capable too (I want to go to the park. I remember how to get there!). And it isn't alarmist, rather, it manages to tell the story without implying there's a potential kidnapper/murderer on every street corner.

In another way, it gives a relatively good example of why a 5 year old isn't an ideal babysitter:  Anna became so involved in drawing the train tracks for Katy to play on that she forgot to watch her little sister. (Truthfully, however, surely the 5 years olds of this world aren't the only ones to have their thoughts on something of interest while the little one in their care gets up to something. I can think of several times when I've been on the computer and suddenly there's toilet paper strung around the living room or I hear a shriek because the cat finally fought back...)

Whatever I think (or sing), Uli loves this book. Perhaps it's the toddler version of The Boxcar Children (they can make it on their own!). And I love to hear her "read" the book's title (A-N-N-A  1[one]-N  C-H-A-R-G-E) and pronounce the author's and illustrator's names (which she always does, though her pronounciation is only as good as my example. Man, now is the time for her to be learning a second languge. Mind like a steel trap! )

Monday, March 21, 2011

Supplements During Pregnancy

I don't want to make it sound like my plans for health are based on a pill. Good food trumps supplements every time. Nevertheless, I spend less time cooking whole foods than I should (tell me I'm not the only one!). And the more I read* the more I realize that my diet, while perhaps better than the typical SAD** isn't what I'd like it to be. And so I take vitamins. Especially now, when I'm growing a baby.

Prenatal vitamin
I use Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamins. Recommended for pregnant and lactating mothers, it contains not only the 'usual' goodness most prenatals include, but also has ginger (perhaps the reason I've never had nausea after taking these?) and red raspberry leaf (widely used for toning the uterus) and they're conveniently available over-the-counter (I've found them at my health food store but also at Babies R Us).

Vitamin D
My vitamin D levels were low when tested last year. As in Goodness, you practically have rickets! low. I had one doctor tell me I should take 1,000 IUs each day for the next year and get retested. A second opinion scoffed at that number and demanded I take 10,000 IUs. Ten thousand international units of a fat-soluable vitamin is far higher than most doctors will recommend, so while I did take that initially, when I became pregnant I double-checked the dose with the doctor providing my prenatal care. Without the batting of an eye I was told that 10,000 was fine, but if I wanted to save money on vitamins I could cut the dose in half. So I did.

Cranberry & Garlic
I've struggled with UTIs for years. Miserable. It wasn't until my first pregnancy when my midwives suggested starting a regimen of cranberry and garlic supplementation that I saw a dramatic reduction in infections. In fact, the few UTIs I've had since I started taking cranberry and garlic had been when I've run out of the supplements for a few weeks. Lo and behold, I'd get a UTI! So I'm trying to be good and keep up with the supplements. 

Would unsweetened cranberry juice and raw cloves of garlic work? Yes. But to regularly drink that much quality juice is more expensive than I can manage, and while I love raw garlic and do eat it, sometimes you want a day without feeling like vampires (and your co-workers) are avoiding you. 

Cod Liver Oil
Good ol' Mary Poppins-reminicent cod liver oil, modernized. The new oils are flavored (the Nordic Naturals brand I'm currently taking tastes mildly of orange. We once had a brand that tasted exactly, deliciously, dangerously like lemon merengue. Mmmmm.) and are rigorously tested for contaminants.

Dried Plums
So, yes. Technically, this is an actual real food, not a supplement, but I take a few daily so I consider them part of my pregnancy supplementation plan. Dried plums (or as we all grew up calling them, prunes. Can't fool me, California Prune Dried Plum Board!) are yummy and keep the hemorrhoids at bay. (That's right, I said it. Didn't have a single problem last pregnancy [no plastic donut seat for me] nor do I intend to have any this time around.) And they are sincerely tasty.


And that's that. I'll probably add a regular mug of red raspberry leaf tea in my third trimester, but that is still weeks from now. I've also got plans to add more fermented foods to my diet, which would be a supplement in the same way the dried plums are supplements--food vs. pill--but would still be eaten for a specific purpose. I feel good and, with an extra focus on my diet, am convinced it'll help me give me and my baby the best opportunity to be healthy and well this pregnancy.

What are you taking (or have you taken) as pregnancy supplements? How do you feel about  supplementing during pregnancy (vs. relying on a diet of whole foods)? 

* Recommended reads:  Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and The Vegetarian Mother & Baby Book by Rose Elliot.

**Standard American Diet info from Dr. Sears

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mama's Mini-Makeover

Nothing like the second trimester. Suddenly I have some energy back and am feeling the baby move, but I'm also noticing all my regular shirts are too short and that I've grown out of all my pants. I'm also reacting to other people's pregnancies in strange ways, like when Rebecca over at Girl's Gone Child announced she was pregnantwith twins and I thought, Gee, I sure wish I were pregnant with twins.

(Don't worry Honey, there's just one in there this time!)

So to shake it up, what else could I do but pull on the maternity tops, get out the ol' belly band and, barring any better ideas, chop off my hair.

(A ponytail/bun. Like always)

(A little sassy!)

I'm happy with the change.

Anyone have any other mid-pregnancy pick-me-ups? I'm enjoying my rounding belly, but am feeling more like Blah than Glowing. (Keep in mind that any ideas must be free or nearly so. I blew my budget with the haircut!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Preparing for a Hospital VBAC: My Top 10

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I'd planned a homebirth for my first baby. As sometimes happens, things didn't go to plan. The baby turned breech late in pregnancy, and I ended-up delivering via cesarean. 

Now I'm pregnant again, and this darn scar on my uterus has meant I'm planning my next delivery at the hospital with an MD in attendance. But I'm trying once again for an unmedicated, instinctual birth.

I cannot say that this is the way to prepare for a hospital VBAC, but it's how I'm preparing for it.

  1. My first choice was to find a midwife to attend my birth, but when I was unable to find a homebirth midwife who was both available around my EDD and who was comfortable attending a primary HBAC (homebirth after cesarean), I turned to MDs. I interviewed several doctors and finally chose a Family Practioner rather than an Obstetrician. I've learned that Family Practice docs (who don't themselves perform surgeries) tend to have fewer patients who "need" cesareans than those who see an OB as their labor attendant. It's not a guarantee,  but after several interviews I did find an MD I'm happy with and who seems truly supportive of VBACs and unmedicated labors.
  2. I've hired a doula to assist me during labor and for any immediate post-birthing breastfeeding guidance I may require. (If you're not familiar with why hiring a doula would be on my list of "Top 10" you can click here to see DONA International's list of how doulas make a positive difference in births, including the reduced use of pain medications, less need for tools like forceps and vacuum extractors, and mothers feeling more positive about their births.
  3. I'm researching the best pushing positions that may help reduce pain, allow my pelvis to open, and help me to avoid tearing.
  4. I'm practicing my squats
  5. I'm reviewing my workbook and notes from the Bradley Method natural childbirth class I took during my first pregnancy. (I cannot say enough positive things about that class!) 
  6. I'm reading and re-reading books about natural childbirth. My favorites are Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth, Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz, and Henci Goer's The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. 
  7. I'm preparing a birth plan that will describe my labor wishes to the L&D nurses while keeping in mind the environment in which I'll be birthing. (As my doula told me, "You'll be walking in there with a doula and a Family Practitioner and a birth plan---believe me, they'll know what kind of a woman you are!")  HERE is the finished birth plan. 
  8. I'm trying to focus on eating well to avoid diet-related complications (toxemia/pre-eclampsia) that would affect my and my baby's health and thus the delivery itself (see the Brewer's Diet for a description of a healthy pregnancy diet and click here for checklists with omni, lacto/ovo and vegan variations). 
  9. I'm exercising regularly I'm planning to exercise. This is by far the preparation I've been least successful with, even though I know how important it is to both my baby's health and my stamina during labor. But wintertime in Wisconsin is not an ideal time to go strolling about the neighborhood for a brisk walk, and I was so tired during the 1st trimester I had a difficult time staying up past 7pm much less exercising. However, now in my 2nd trimester I'm starting to get my energy back and have dug out my prenatal yoga tapes and can see a hint of Spring (and the return of evening strolls) around the corner. I will exercise!
  10. Finally, I'm keeping a positive outlook. There's every reason to believe that all will go well. After all, I'm mentally and physically preparing myself and will have emotional support both during and after labor. I will have a VBAC, I just know it!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

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