Friday, December 19, 2008

Sew your own cloth diapers

Here are some various cloth diapers I have made over the last year. I have finally perfected my patterns to fit Selena just right.

This was the best free tutorial I found on how to make a cloth diaper cover. I use fold over elastic and aplix. I really recommend using aplix or touchtape since anything else does not last very long at all.

Her method for drafting a fitted diaper is ok too, but I tweaked mine so the shape isn't very similar. Mine is more similar to the shape of a GAD pocket diaper. When I make pocket fitted diapers using the pattern I use fold over elastic on the pocket opening so I don't have to account for the pocket in the pattern.

Childbirth survey

Here is a neat survey. I think the information regarding reviews of hospitals and maternity care providers will be so useful once they release it. Anyone who has given birth in the last few years should take it so it can provide useful information to future moms.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Weaning a toddler

Welcome, Carnival of Breastfeeding readers!

So at 20 1/2 months Selena has weaned. When she was born I knew I was going to breastfeed but I didn't know for how long. I really didn't even know how long a baby would minimally need to be breastfed even though I did some reading about breastfeeding before (a baby needs breast milk or formula for at least a year). I had read that it was hard, but I didn't really understand what made it hard. It seemed like if you could get a good "latch" then it wouldn't be that hard.

Well I have inverted nipples and Selena was born early and thus her suck might not be as strong as a completely full term baby, so the lactation consultant/birth assistant gave me a nipple shield. She didn't really even give me a chance to try without it, but the shield did make it very easy to get a good latch. I experimented getting rid of it a couple days after Selena was born and she did pretty well but it took more maneuvering on my part. And then my milk came in... that was not a pleasant experience for me. My breasts swelled to the size of grapefruits and were rock hard. They squeezed against each other and made it so I couldn't put my arms together out in front of me. Apparently this sort of engorgement is not common and happens in less than 10% of women. But it happened to me and I did not like it. Even when Selena nursed I got just the barest amount of relief and only on one side. Since she didn't even empty one breast she wouldn't take the other one. Because my breasts were so hard the nipple shield became a must. Advice in my books and online was conflicting. Sometimes they said to pump a little to get some relief, but then it said if you pumped it would just cause you to make more milk. I decided to avoid the pump as more milk was the last thing I wanted. But things subsided in a couple days and while I was still engorged the discomfort was manageable.

But nursing was still hard. Selena was kind of a lazy nurser and would nurse for at least an hour and only give me an hour to an hour and a half between feedings--which meant I was literally nursing all day long. Consequently I was perpetually thirsty and hungry. The big appetite was actually kind of cool. I've never been able to eat a lot of food at once, but after she was born I could and needed to eat a ton. I went from barely being able to eat a whole hamburger to eating a double patty hamburger plus some. As soon as Selena weaned, my appetite immediately diminished, even though I'm pregnant I once again get full fast. Nursing was physically and emotionally draining, and very time consuming. I then understood why it was considered so hard, and I can totally understand why so many women give up. But everything I read said it got better at around 6 weeks so I decided I could persevere for 6 weeks and reevaluate then--and six weeks came and it was immensely better.

I continuously tried to get rid of the nipple shield as it was kind of messy (as in milk leaking everywhere), a pain to keep clean, and hard to nurse discreetly while using it. Around 3 months old Selena decided she might not need it anymore. There was a week or so where she would use it, and then cry, and I would take it off, and she would nurse without it, and then she would cry. She couldn't make up her mind whether she wanted it or not. But by 3 1/2 months she decided she didn't need it anymore. Ironically my engorgement problems pretty much disappeared when we stopped using it. Most of the literature says that a nipple shield can possibly cause a decrease in milk supply, well mine had the exact opposite effect. Selena also became an extremely efficient nurser at this time. She went from taking about 45 minutes to eat, to about 5 minutes. Nursing was really easy at this point. I could nurse in public discreetly, it didn't take that long, I didn't have to wash anything. It was pretty great, and well worth persevering through the difficult parts.

So Selena got to be 6 months and things were going smoothly. We introduced solids and she loved them and has always been a great eater. She didn't really cut back on the number of times she nursed a day. At least I don't think she did, I never really kept track, I just nursed whenever she seemed hungry. Some days she nursed more than others, but on average I think she stayed the same. I assume she just drank less milk during each session. When things were hard, I had considered weaning at 6 months, but when 6 months arrived there didn't seem any point.

When one year rolled around she was eating a lot of solid food including table food, but she was still getting at least half of her nutrition from breast milk and she didn't seem inclined to stop so I figured I would wait a while longer. We went to Hawaii when she was 15 months old and I was kind of hoping she would cut back due to all the action, but she did the opposite and nursed more frequently. Probably because it was too much stimulation, and she needed the calming, predictable action of nursing. Well around this time we were thinking about getting pregnant again, but I still hadn't started ovulating--which I honestly think is one of the greatest perks of breastfeeding. But right when I was getting a little concerned about how nursing was affecting our plans I ovulated.

My supply diminished when I got pregnant and this upset Selena. She often would wake up in the middle of the night to nurse and then go back to sleep after 5 minutes. While this wasn't the most ideal situation it worked pretty well. Well when my supply decreased she wouldn't go back to sleep and she would want to nurse and nurse and nurse until more milk came in, usually an hour later. This was not okay, and one night I had enough and told her she couldn't have anymore till the morning. She cried and I comforted her, but I wouldn't give in--and that was the end of our night nursing. She handled it pretty well at night after that. She would ask I would say wait to the morning and she would go back to sleep. But during the day she would ask and ask and ask to nurse all day long. She would cry if I let her and there wasn't any milk, and she would cry if I didn't let her--I was crying too because I felt bad. It was like she was in a panic that the milk was going to disappear. It took us about two weeks to get her down to nursing 3 times a day, and then we were both happy. My supply could handle that and so could she. Logically I really wanted to wean. I was afraid that she wouldn't wean and I would end up nursing two, which I really didn't want to do, but every time I thought about it I would get all teary. But from what I read, a pregnant woman's supply really disappears in the second trimester, and this is when most nurslings will wean, so I decided to see, and not force the issue till I got to the second trimester. This period of night weaning ended up being the hardest part of the whole process. Every once in a while I would mention that the milk would go bye-bye soon and she would say "no mama, no."

Sure enough when I was about 14 weeks pregnant my supply pretty much disappeared. Selena was maybe getting a few drops. She didn't seem upset about it though. But then I got what is known as a pregnancy aversion to nursing. I had read about it, and thought it sounded really weird and didn't make any sense, but sure enough every time Selena tried to nurse I did not like it and did not want her near me.

I figured Thanksgiving would be a good time to wean, since we could let her nap in the car and thus miss her pre-nap nursing and if we left late she would fall asleep in the car on the way home and miss her pre-bedtime nursing. So nine days before Thanksgiving we started talking about the milk going bye-bye in nine days (9 is Selena's favorite number). We didn't talk about it around the time she normally nursed. Just in the middle of the day. After a few days she started making stories up about the milk going bye-bye. She said it was going to put on it's shoes and go "vroom in the car." I added that it was going to find a new baby. So on Thanksgiving morning she nursed the last time, and right before we left to family we said good-bye and I got in the car and drove around the block to take the milk to the bus stop. As predicted she missed her first two would-be nursing session by falling asleep in the car. But even when she woke up the next morning I reminded her we said bye-bye and she pouted a little but fell back to sleep. Asked again when she woke up for good, but was okay when I said it went bye-bye. She asked every time for about 4 or 5 days but never cried when I said it had gone bye-bye. A couple weeks later she still talks about it going "vroom in the car", and sometimes even pretends to nurse, and will point to me and say "milk, mmmm" but she hasn't really complained. Overall I am really happy how it went. I had a lot of anxiety over it, especially after how stressful night weaning went. I think it helped that she really didn't get much milk for the two weeks before we weaned.

So while it went smoothly and I was definitely ready for weaning I still feel a little regret. The more I researched when was a good time to wean, the more I decided that humans are supposed to nurse for a long time, probably 5-7 years. While the majority of cultures in the world do not do this, most non-Western cultures do nurse for 2-3 years. So I can't help but feeling like she is missing a key component in the natural biological maturation of a human and thus her immune system might not be as strong as it could potentially be. While I wasn't a mom who absolutely loved nursing I do think breast milk is really cool. It is naturally antibacterial so it can be used to cure all sorts of random ailments like acne, warts, sties, and is also being researched as a cure for cancer. I loved how if Selena would decide that she would only eat cheese all day I could still feel like she was getting adequate nutrition because she was getting the best "vitamin drink" available. I also loved how it was like a magic potion. I could get Selena to fall asleep immediately by nursing her. If she was getting whiny I would nurse her and she would become a happy child again. If she got hurt, nursing would make it all better.

So we are done and I am happy, and I have a few months before I will do it all over again. Once again I am so glad that I have prior experience to draw from as I have so much less anxiety. This time I know it might be draining in the beginning, but will get better. I know some tricks to try to avoid using the nipple shield, but if I need to I can use it. I also will research some ways to avoid the crazy engorgement I had before.

Here are links to other people's stories for the Carnival of Breastfeeding.

Weaning a toddler

Sticking with it - our breastfeeding story

Life, Death, and Nourishment

The Story of Hannah's Weaning

Flying Breastmilk

GrudgeMom: Breastfeeding Failures and Success

Baby Carriers Down Under

Ben's Story

I told you so

Breastfeeding is not easy

They said the latch was fine

Can Early Public Breastfeeding Sightings Shape One's Future Breastfeeding Practices?

Zen Mommy

Nursing after breast reduction surgery

Nursing in Public

Found Memory

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Recently Passed Act Regarding Childrens Product Safety Might Have Horrendous Consequences

Here is a public service announcement for the day. This has been copied from an email sent by Tree City Diapers.

In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production violated the public's trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small part, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick.

The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.

While we all applauded efforts by the federal government to tighten the safety standards for toys, we all got much more than we bargained for. The law that was passed extends to all products directed to children 12 years of age and younger, and includes such things as clothing & toys and much more, with very few exceptions or exemptions. That wouldn't be so bad, but there are a few requirements that, if left as is, will force most small businesses (and many medium & large sized businesses) out of business....including retailers, and work at home moms.

How this affects retailers and manufactures:

1. Existing Inventory: The law states that any affected product that does not meet the new standard (with the exception of phthalates) cannot be sold from the shelves after February 10th 2009. The problem is that the law includes many new items that have not been under a previous regulation, and have not been tested. To test these items now, on the retail or wholesale level is prohibitively expensive, and/or simply not possible. So it is very difficult to confirm compliance (although most items in most companies would be compliant), and at the same time, penalties for selling anything that doesn't meet the standard are very stiff. The options for anyone with inventory are not pleasant.

2. 3rd Party Testing by SKU: The law will require 3rd party testing in the future for each sku (or style). The large pair of jeans have to be tested separately from the medium size of jeans...even though all materials are the same. This makes testing prohibitively (impossibly) expensive. There are other ways to form a testing regimen and be just as satisfied with the results.

3. Markings: All products manufactured after August 12th, 2009 must have markings on the package and permanent markings on the product indicating where, by whom, and when the product was made. Large corporations can afford purchasing multiple dies to do this. Small companies cannot. European companies with limited sales to the USA likewise cannot.

4. Complexity: The law is extremely complex. Needlessly so. It is requiring companies to hire lawyers just to get a grasp of what is required of them. Also, the requirement of including certificates of compliance of each product shipped, with each product is overly burdensome. Electronic certificates has been approved, and will help, but even then there is a substantial cost to the additional administration---which does very little, if anything, to improve the safety of our toys.

5. Frequency of Testing: We are still trying to get a clear grasp of this. However, it is very possible that each batch must be tested/certified. This is fine for large companies running 10,000 or 100,000 pieces per batch. For small manufacturers, with small runs, it multiplies the enormous cost from point #2, even higher.

What this means is small, innovative companies that typically make niche products, will be forced out of business, or forced to narrow their product range and sell to the mass market. Product availability and selection will diminish. We will be primarily left with imported plastic toys from China. Yes, quite ironic isn't it.

If you have a favorite company that makes children's products or you enjoy shopping on websites like Etsy or Hyena Cart then this act could put them out of business. Contact your representative before February (this is when the law states that any product not in compliance cannot be sold) and let them know that they should revise the act to make it more sensible and feasible for manufacturers to comply.

How to find your representative

If your representative is on the Committee on Energy and Commerce they are very involved in this piece of legislation.

For more info see and National Bankruptcy Day.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sew your own baby carrier

Sewing different baby carrier's are fun and are really great baby shower presents. The benefits of these kind of carriers versus carriers you can buy in the store is that most are made so that the baby is facing the parent which in general is more cozy and less stimulating for the infant so they will like being carried for longer periods of time. Also most commercial carriers are designed so that all the baby's weight is being supported by their hips, and this isn't the best position for a baby to be in for long periods of time. Most of the carriers on this page have been used for centuries in various cultures.

I've made some slings, mei tai's, wraps, and soft structured carriers. My favorite carrier for nursing is a sling. For carrying an infant I liked a wrap. For a larger infant a mei tai (Asian Style baby carrier) in a front carry, and for a toddler a soft structured carrier in a back carry. Here are a few carriers I have made. I've made more but unfortunately I didn't always get picturees before I gave them away.

The best sites I have found to get help and free patterns for sewing is Jan Andrea's website. And's Do It Yourself Forum.

Specific free patterns that I have tried and liked:
Wrap - I used knit t-shirt fabric and just cut it and didn't sew anything.
Mei Tai (ABC) - I made one with this pattern and one with my own pattern and this was easier.
Sling - I've used a lightweight denim and knit t-shirt fabric and liked the knit one better but it doesn't work as well for older babies.
Soft Structured Carrier - The one I made in the pictures was my own pattern. I am in the process of making this one, but so far it looks better than my own pattern.

Wrap or SPOC (Simple Piece of Cloth)

Soft Structured Carrier

Mei Tai or ABC (Asian Baby Carrier)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sew your own soft sole baby shoes

So these are so cute, really quick to make, are a great way to use scrap fabric, and are really useful. They help keep a baby's socks on their slippery feet and are good for feet as they are learning how to walk.

My favorite free pattern is from StardustShoes but it doesn't enlarge very well, so for bigger feet Tacky Living's pattern is good.

I used jiffy grip slipper fabric on the bottom of some, and scraps of PUL (waterproof diaper cover material) with the plastic side out on others.

Sewing Baby Items

So this is way overdue. I really wanted to post pictures of all the different crafts I've done over the past 20 months, but I just haven't gotten around to it. So I'm going to start trying to play catch up now. :)

Here is a link to all my crafts. :) Enjoy