Monday, August 29, 2011

Natural Parenting - Back to Basics in Infant Care

I came across this wonderful paper the other day. It investigates the (in my opinion) paleo style of parenting, and talks about the sort of parenting practices that babies have evolved to expect. Here's the abstract...

"Abstract: This review examines an age-old approach to parenting recently rediscovered in Western industrialized societies and known by names such as natural parenting, attachment parenting, and instinctive parenting. Its leading principle is utmost sensitivity to the child’s innate emotional and physical needs, resulting in extended breastfeeding on demand, extensive infant carrying on the caregiver’s body, and cosleeping of infant and parents. The described practices prevailed during the evolutionary history of the human species and reflect the natural, innate rearing style of the human species to which the human infant has biologically adapted over the course of evolution. An overview of research from diverse areas regarding psychological as well as physiological aspects of early care provides evidence for the beneficial effects of natural parenting. Cross-cultural and historical data is cited to reveal the widespread use of the investigated parenting style. It is concluded that the described approach to parenting provides the human infant with an ideal environment for optimal growth both psychologically and physiologically. It is yet to be determined how much departure from this prototype of optimal human parenting is possible without compromising infant and parental wellbeing. The review also invites a critical reevaluation of current Western childrearing practices."

What are your thoughts on this? Agree, disagree?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why we bed-share

The short answer is because it is natural and easy.

But here's a story for your reading pleasure...
When I was pregnant, I had a bassinet all set up for my baby next to my bed. I thought that babies were supposed to sleep by themselves, and be "trained" to sleep soundly through the night.
I just thought this was normal, I didn't have any idea how differently I would feel once I had a real live child.

After WildChild was born, everything went out the window.

Accidently passed out on the lounge, WildChild was about a week old
(This is not an example of safe bedsharing, but luckily my dad was nearby so no worries)
 I tried to put her in the plastic bassinet that was next to my hospital bed, but I couldn't bring myself to keep her there. I can't even describe the feeling of it, it was something like putting my own limb away from myself. I felt lost and scared and unatural with my baby away from me (which was nothing compared to day 3 when they took her away to test for jaundice, I was crying into my food).
So she slept on the bed with me. I put the side rail up and wrapped her up and slept with her beside me. The nurses occasionally told me it was against hospital policy, but they were very understanding and (several of them) told me they wouldn't tell so long as I didn't tell that they knew.
I guess I was lucky for that because as a new mum I was so impressionable and if someone had screamed about it then I would have overridden my instincts and put her in the cold plastic bassinet to sleep.

So that's how we came to bed-share. It was instinctual and natural, and it was also the easiest things in the world. I did try now and then in the following months to put her to sleep by herself, but she wouldn't have a bar of it, and it killed me to listen to her cry that she was scared and lonely.
I have always gotten as much sleep as I wanted or needed, never having had to get out of bed to feed my daughter. I guess this is why I've never cared that she didn't sleep through.

anyone feel like telling this mum she can't sleep with her baby?

When I thought about it a little, it made sense to me that doing what our species is designed to do will produce the best results. (Sound a little Paleo?)

It was only after being a mum for a while that I found many online parenting resources that document the short and long term benefits of bed-sharing for babies and mothers. Research by Dr James McKenna indicates that bed-sharing protects against SIDS (and other night-time dangers), facilitates breastfeeding, and produces happier, more confident people.* Babies don't know that they've been born into a safe place, they instinctively need their parents close to feel like they aren't in danger. They also need to feed frequently because they have very small stomachs and very quick metabolisms, which in turn helps mums milk supply keep up with her baby's changing needs.

Now that WC is 18months, I'm starting to think about her having her own bed. Although this doesn't seem like a very practical option while I'm living at my parents house, in a rather cramped room, so I'm happy to continue while we're here.
Perhaps when one day we have a home of our own she will have her own room and her own bed, but I won't force her to sleep alone if she doesn't want to, and I won't mind the cuddles at all :)

NOTE: This means safe bed-sharing, where the parent is not sleep deprived, under the influence of anything, they don't smoke, the baby is above the bedding, and there is not chance of baby falling into gaps that could crush a tiny body. There are dangers, just as there are dangers with cots, that need to be monitored and minimized.
However, for us, bed-sharing is lots of reward for much less effort.

Apple & Cinnamon Scrambled Eggs

Yes I know, weird right?

I like to make things that are opposite to usual, this is one of them. Others include tomato and onion pancakes, and zucchini and sausage cake. I'm just weird like that.

So here's this recipe if you are brave enough to try it out. I don't know if it is best as a sweet breakfast, or a protein rich dessert...

  • 3 (omega 3 enriched) eggs
  • 1 apple - diced
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  •  1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Place the eggs, cinnamon and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl and mix together (I use a fork to whip it slightly). Then add the shredded coconut.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a pan, add the diced apple and saute it for 5-10 minutes until the apple is pretty soft
  • Add the egg mix to the pan with the apple and keeping moving it around so that it scrambles. Or cook it whichever way you'd like to, if you'd rather an apple omlette I don't have any problems with that :)
  • A nice touch could be to sprinkle cinnamon sugar on before eating (like sprinkling salt on regular eggs). I'm trying to cut out refined sugar so I didn't, but I'm sure it would be yummy.
  • If you ususally put milk in your scrambled eggs, use a little bit of coconut milk or almond milk before you whip the eggs. My preference would be coconut.
  • I found that I couldn't eat too much of this for breakfast, not sure if it was because of the sweetness or because of the chewy coconut... But I ended up cooking some bacon afterwards and ate that too. 

Let me know if you tried it, if you liked it, if you made any changes that worked out amazingly, and/or if you just think it's plain bizarre.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

(I added the 's' because the Indigenous peoples of the world are not a single homogenous group, there are many many different cultures, nations and histories and they deserve to be considered as seperate unique groups.)

The theme of this celebration is Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting our own future.

To contribute, I'd like to offer some resources for educational experiences relating to Australian Aboriginal Peoples (yep, there are many different cultures, nations and histories within this group too).

  • 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning - Aboriginal Pedagogies. Arguably the best way to learn and share Indigenous perspectives is to make use of, and credit, their processes, not just teach the content. Also working with local Indigenous Elders, communities and resource people is essential. This site is incredible, I can spend hours here.
 Below links are interesting, but should only augment, rather than form the main part of, experiences:

    I believe for anyone to consider themselves truely patriotic they must honour and value the First Peoples of their land.

    I love the quote "Indigenous Success is Australian Success" from the 8 Ways Wiki site, and believe it can be applied to any nation.

    Feel free to share any resources and I will add them to the post :)

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Breastmilk Cholesterol!

    Everybody knows cholesterol is bad, BAD, BAD, don't they? 

    How do we know?
    How did I know? well, the TV told me. There is ad after ad of product designed to "lower cholesterol", "improve heart health". (Ususally a product made of grain, soy or canola......hmmmm wait a sec)
    We've all heard of LDL ("bad" fat) and HDL ("good" fat) haven't we?

    So anyway, I came across this article yesterday (I highly recommend you read) which I found hugely interesting. It basically says that Newborn babies are born deficient in cholesterol and they recieve A LOT from breastmilk in the first 6 months of life.
    Here's the deal:
    • Newborn (cordblood) cholesterol: 70.3 mg/dl
    • Exclusively breastfed infant at 6 months: 194 mg/dl
    • Partially breastfed infant at 6 months: 162 mg/dl
    • Non-breastfed infant at 6 months: 140 mg/dl
    This would put all of the babies, were they adults, in the "at risk" category for doctors looking at heart health, and most of all the breastfed infants.

    This, when you think about it, is very very strange.

    In exclusively breastfed infants, 6 months is around the time that that the gut closes and immune function matures. If the baby is not exclusively breastfed for at least 6 months, the immune system can take much longer before it functions properly. Low LDL cholesterol levels after birth means reduced ability to make antibodies. HDL is also important for immunity. Non-breastfed infants, recieve less cholesterol (among many other things), and are therefore at an elevated risk of suffering from allergy, obesity, heart disease, lower cognitive outcomes, infection, the list goes on. Study after study shows that breastmilk protects the health of children, and the longer they recieve it the more protected they are. 

    So why would something that is considered soo nasty and threatening later in life, be so very good for us when we are the most vulnerable and new?
    Something to ponder...

    Now, I am not recommending that you go out and stuff yourself full of animal fats right now without looking back. I know that the body is a very complex creation and many factors influence it's proper functioning. There are certain things that many people eat a lot of, like lectins found in grains, that oxidise LDLs and actually make them harmful to you.

    What I am saying is, my personal ideas about cholesterol have changed a lot since learning about the paleo way of eating and living. In fact I'm no longer scared of fats, animal or otherwise, at all. I've learnt so much about the benefits of fat (eg. the brain is made almost entirely of fat and requires a fair amount of the stuff to grow, or even function correctly). And the fact that breastmilk (read: perfect food) is high in cholesterol has completely convinced me that it need not be a bad thing.

    If you would like to learn a little more try visiting Robb Wolf, he is a biochemist-come-health-expert who says "Reducing inflammation through a clean, Paleo diet, abstaining from smoking and excessive exercise, minimizing alcohol consumption, and engaging in stress-lowering habits.  When these variables are in order, we do not need to be so caught up with (worrying about) saturated fats."

    Note: These are just my opinions and musings on information from more knowledgable others that I have (tried to) understand. It is entirely possible that I may have misinterpreted some of the facts, and if I am totally incorrect please feel free to help me out.

    What's your opinion? Are you scared of fats, or embracing them?

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    Welcome! So what's this all about?

    Hi, nice to meet you, I'm Jayne :)
    I was born in the Northern Territory in Australia and currently live in the Gold Coast, but that is probably changing soon.
    This is Lionel, Elsie and I at the Lincoln Memorial in June

    This is my opinions, ideas and experiences.
    I try to live in a more instinctual, natural, healthy way which involves eating the way I believe humans are designed to, being fit and strong, and being an 'attached parent' to my daughter Elsie.
    What does that mean for us?
    It means my family eat a paleolithic diet high in grass-fed meats, fats and vegies, with moderate amounts of fruit and nuts, and (almost) no grains or dairy.
    We keep fit, strong and healthy with crossfit, incidental exercise and a fun outlook on movement and activity.
    It means Elsie still recieves breastmilk from me  and will continue to until she is at least 2 years old unless she decides to wean earlier. She is 17 months old at the time I'm posting this. Human milk for a growing human child :) there is nothing healthier, and no food that could possibly be considered more 'paleo'.
    We bed-share, and have done so since she was born. I went with my instincts, and I can tell you Elsie and I both were never sleep deprived, even with me starting studying full time the same week she was born. For the first year of my course, I also took her to class with me in a sling :)
    I'm studying a Bachelor Degree in Early Childhood Education, and am highly passionate about children's issues. Elsie goes to a long day care service 3 days a week while I'm in classes. I don't consider this ideal, but it's the only option we have.
    I'm also very interested in Australian Aboriginal perspectives, cultures and teaching pedagogies. After I graduate I hope to return to the Northern territory to teach in a remote community.

    Right now, I live with my parents, and Lionel lives in the US (he is a US citizen, I won't go into specifics). I consider myself very lucky because I have the ultimate parenting resource (my mum) around all the time and so much help with Elsie; I also think it's great for her to have a multigenerational environment and multiple familial caregivers.

    So that's me, and the future blog content convered, what about you? Have you heard of paleo? Do you practice attachment parenting? Do you have any experience with Indigenous education? Please tell me about yourself :)