Tuesday, May 17

Healthy Choices for Baby

I am now 25 weeks pregnant, and I couldn't be more grateful for that. Baby V is moving all around in my tummy, and I can feel her every day now. I can feel her punching, kicking, and doing somersaults, but they are gentle and still somewhat muffled because of the anterior (front) position of the placenta. Our next OB check with my perinatologist is in a week, and we have another detailed growth ultrasound scheduled. I'm looking forward to seeing how much she has developed and grown since the last one at 18 weeks!

Judging by my growing baby bump belly and her activity in there, she is thriving. I pray for her every day, that she'll be healthy and not ever have any of the health problems I've had to deal with. God is in charge of her physical development, and we trust Him to take care of her. Meanwhile, Hubs and I have been discussing the healthy choices we want for our family, so we can give her every advantage from an environmental aspect. I thought I'd share them here with you all.

Before I share my big three, tell me: Do you do any of these things for your family? Do you have any other ideas to add?

Decision 1:

We are going to use cloth diapers and cloth baby wipes with our own cleaning solution, so we have control over the chemicals (or rather, so we can avoid the chemicals) that will be touching our baby's skin every day. Before we were even halfway through this pregnancy, Hubs and I read enough about the [toxic] chemicals in disposables (Dioxin, TBT, SAP) to commit to cloth without looking back.
Plus, the environmental bonus feels good. We won't be contributing to the huge mountains of little "poop bombs" sitting across our country in landfills. Did you know that disposable diapers take 500 years to break down? Yikes! Do you think that at some point our communities need to come together and address the fact that our landfills aren't bottomless pits? Human waste belongs in the sewer where it can go through the proper treatment, not the ground where it can get into our water supply.
Moving on though :) As a one-income household, the financial bonus of using cloth is huge! We'll save thousands of dollars not buying diapers and wipes monthly for those first few years. Plus, we'll be able to keep our small garbage can with the city disposal service. (We pay $25 a month now, and it would cost around $50 a month for the larger can to fit all the disposables in each week - that's a 100% cost increase!) And maybe the best bonus of all: no diaper-stinky garbage cans in the house ;)

Decision 2:

We've decided we'll make our own baby food. It really couldn't be easier to do, and very economical because we'll just be pureeing and cooking the veggies and fruits we buy for ourselves. It won't really be a chore, because I enjoy working with food and cooking. I expect it to be a fun activity, and it will feel GREAT to know what goes in Baby's food - no preservatives or pesticides, or packaging chemicals like BPA. And again, as a one-income family it's a smart and simple money-saving choice for us.

Decision 3:
Of these three decisions, this one is most important to me. My greatest goal as a new mom is to breastfeed my baby. The many benefits, from financial (it's free!) to convenience on the go (no bottles or formula mix or water needed!) are obvious, and then the health benefits for Baby. With all of the auto-immune and inflammatory conditions my body struggles with, I am always interested in research and information about them. Did you know breastmilk can prevent a multitude of diseases, including Ulcerative Colitis (I have that), asthma (and that), allergies (those too), arthritis (yep, got it). I'm committed to do whatever it takes to make breastfeeding work!
Part of why it is so important to me is because I was 100% formula fed as a baby, because I was adopted. From the age of ten onward, I've developed one auto-immune disease after another. I can't deny that there seems to be a connection between being formula fed, and my current state of health. So, I've made one single goal for the first month post-partum, and that is to start a successful routine of exclusively breastfeeding my baby. I am going to structure those first few weeks around this one goal.
I'm going to ignore housework, take every opportunity to rest and relax, ask for and welcome help - whatever I can do to succeed at this. It means a LOT to me to try to reach this goal, because I want to give our little one the best advantage I can in case the genes passed on from me are anything but good ones. I am even planning to have a lactation consultant come to our home to work with us if need be.
I know that there are sometimes medical reasons for having to use formula, and we will cross that bridge if we have to. But having this goal in mind and setting us up for success is the best way I can make it happen!

I've been doing a lot of reading, and thinking, and talking with tons of mothers throughout my pregnancy, and I've come to the conclusion that many women do not make informed choices about their labor, delivery, and motherhood. And that's a shame. It's largely a cultural failure I think, because we aren't told the whole story or given options. But I think that as parents we need to know the whole story and be able to make our own informed choices. We need to be empowered with information, and know we're not at the mercy of any (well-meaning but uninformed) doctor, nurse, neighbor or even baby-gadget salesperson. We're going to be parents, and now is the time to ask questions and make decisions for our families with sound reasons behind them.

So get out there, moms and dads, and ask questions, learn, get support, and be confident in your choices! All you can do is give your best, with what you have, where you are. If you're doing that, you should be proud - you are a great parent :)