Modeling AP Values

I spend a lot of time writing and speaking to people about the values I hold as a person who practices attachment/responsive parenting. I try to use facts and logic to respectfully encourage others to research their parenting decisions and embrace ideas that might have been uncomfortable a generation ago, such as full-term breastfeeding and breastfeeding in public, leaving our sons intact, responding to our children with love and respect, and realizing the detrimental effects of physical discipline.

Looking through some recent pictures of my son (Kieran), I realized that we (as parents who share these values) might be doing more just by modeling these concepts to our children. Of course I will continue to extol the value of full-term breastfeeding, and I will defend every mother’s right to nurse in public when, where and how she wants to. But I take immense comfort in the fact that my son might not need to fight these same battles because we are normalizing it for his generation, simply by living.

Here are some examples of how the Eight API Principles are being normalized for my son every day:

Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting

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My sister recently had a baby (this picture is of Kieran with my sister only weeks before she gave birth). Throughout her pregnancy, we talked with Kieran about how babies grow in their mama’s tummies. He loved feeling my sister’s stomach, and he often talked about the baby growing in his own belly.

Someday, I hope that he will experience the pregnancy of his own little brother or sister. I look forward to his thoughts on all of the changes that will occur in my body. We will prepare him for his sibling’s homebirth and allow him to participate as fully as is practical and comfortable for everyone.
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The Composition of Breastmilk, Part 2

Most everyone knows that “breast is best” for baby. But why? What makes it so special? In this two-post series, we’ll take a look at what breastmilk is made of. In part 1, I shared information on colostrum and transitional milk, part 2 will present more on mature and involutional milk.

Mature Milk

Human breastmilk* contains more than two hundred recognized components, and each is specifically designed to the needs of infants. (1) These components include proteins, fatty acids, growth factors, vitamins, carbohydrates, and other substances. (2) Mature breastmilk contains different amounts of these components than does colostrum, transitional, or involutional milk.

Not only do the components of breastmilk change depending on the age and stage of the nursling, variations also exist within each nursing session, with the time of day or night, and to some extent with maternal diet. (3) And while maternal diet does have some effect on the composition and taste of breastmilk, “a mother’s breast milk is adequate in essential nutrients, even when her own nutrition is inadequate.” The volume of breastmilk is also relatively constant, regardless of maternal diet. (4) Continue reading “The Composition of Breastmilk, Part 2”

The Composition of Breastmilk, Part 1

Most everyone knows that “breast is best” for baby. But why? What makes it so special? In this two-post series, we’ll take a look at what breastmilk is made of. In part 1, I’ll share information on colostrum and transitional milk, part 2 will present more on mature and involutional milk.

The Composition of Breastmilk: An Overview

Breastmilk composition is constantly changing. Its makeup and taste depend on many factors, including how and when nurslings nurse, the time of year, where the mother lives, and what the mother eats. (1) Breastmilk contains “growth factors, hormones, enzymes, and other substances that are immune-protective and foster proper growth and nutrition . . . .” (2)

Recent scientific discoveries have revealed that breastmilk is the only adult tissue that has more than one type of stem cell present. The implications of this fact are being explored, but there is preliminary evidence that these stem cells specifically promote bone and muscle growth in nursing infants. Scientists also hypothesize that “a mother’s mammary glands tak[e] over from her placenta to guide infant development once her child is born.” (3)

Breastmilk really is the original super food.

One of the most obvious differences in composition depends on what type of breastmilk we are talking about. There are really four different kinds of breastmilk: colostrum, transitional milk, mature milk, and involutional milk. Continue reading “The Composition of Breastmilk, Part 1”

Healthier Holiday Snacks

Sweet Holiday Traditions from the Past
Many of my holiday memories revolve around food. Aside from my dad’s amazing turkey, stuffing, and gravy, there have always been Christmas cookies, Christmas fudge, stockings filled with candy – it’s no wonder I was a regular at the dentist. And it isn’t just the taste and smell of food that I remember; I reminisce about stirring marshmallow cream into mom’s huge metal pot, licking raw cookie dough off of the beaters, and arranging plates of goodies to deliver to friends.

My food-based memories are not unique. Sugar- and calorie-laden foods are simply a staple of the holiday season. A Google search for “holiday treats” returns thousands of sites dedicated to delivering recipes that will tempt your taste buds and disrupt your healthy habits.

Creating Healthier Holiday Traditions in the Present
Now that we are starting our own family traditions, I am trying to incorporate the fun and pleasure of holiday goodies without the overload of sugar. As a parent, it is my responsibility (and privilege) to nurture a taste for nutritious foods.
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