Getting it right: Birth & breastfeeding in Jane the Virgin

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Monday, August 1, 2016


Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

I've been bingeing on Netflix's Jane the Virgin lately. Have you seen it? My roommates and I watched lots of cheesy telenovelas in college so watching this is just like old times. It's full of drama and humor. And I love the main character! Here's the rundown: basically, Jane gets accidentally artificially inseminated by some guy's sperm when she was supposed to be only getting a pap smear! (reason #57 to skip the pap!) This guy turns out to be her new boss which she kissed 5 years ago, then she meets her dad for the first time, she falls in love with her baby daddy, breaks her fiance's heart...oh and there is a drug lord taking over the hotel she works at and yep...it's a true telenovela.

Aaaaanyway...my point in writing this is that she is pregnant and has her baby in the first season and is raising a newborn in the second. The series perpetuates a few myths about birth and breastfeeding that I want to address!

1. Doulas. This subject is actually done okay. She learns about doulas from a "natural mom" at Target. Her family makes fun of the idea. But she considers how nice it would be to have someone there just for her, to guide her through the birth process. She doesn't end up hiring one.

2. Babywearing. I was just bothered by the "natural mom's" wrapping job. This mom gives Jane some advice (in a snotty tone that I didn't appreciate) about natural/modern parenting. And really? They couldn't have someone come on the show and teach this lady how to actually wrap? The baby is falling out of her wrap. Sigh.

3. Lactation class. Jane wants to go to a lactation class and her mom and Rafael laugh about it and "why would you need a class for that?" Uh. I had this same attitude! Sad. Anyway, she goes to the class with her mom and the teacher gives some good advice untilllll she tells her to lean over the baby so it doesn't choke on her milk. Um, what? That makes no sense. The opposite is actually true. Leaning over your baby is just going to give you a backache. Leaning back, however, allows baby to latch easier and slows down your milk so your baby doesn't choke/struggle with a heavy flow of milk.

Lactation class round 2. Shortly after Mateo is born, she is having some struggles breastfeeding and they go back to the lactation class. She tells the lactation specialist that she is struggling and in a room full of other moms, the lactation specialist asks to see her nipple. In real life, the lactation specialist would have given her privacy and one-on-one attention for her specific issue. However, after this visit, she says the latch is improved. So, props for lactation professionals!



4. Birth. I thought this was actually done pretty well. Jane's birth experience really resonated with me and my experience giving birth to Riah. Lots of "I can't do it" with deep breathing. Thank goodness the "hee-hoo-hee-hoo" breathing of the past is gone! Of course, it's made super dramatic as her labor starts suddenly on the bus while in traffic, yada yada.


4. Asking for help. Loved how Jane accepts help from her mom and her mom dives in.

4. Scheduled feeds. Jane is an organized person and they make a big deal out of Mateo eating every 3 hours. Scheduled feeds are actually connected with slower weight gain and early weaning. Letting baby set his own pattern and feeding on his cues is the recommendation for successful breastfeeding. That is, as long as baby is eating 8-12 or more times in a 24-hour.

5. Cluster feeding. Newborn Mateo is feeding every half an hour and all the women in the house are perplexed. Jane is frustrated and doubting herself. Rafael enters the room and proclaims that Mateo is probably cluster feeding to encourage her milk to come in. "I read it in the book," he says. Go dad! Happy to see a dad supportive in word and deed of breastfeeding. The next scene is great when her mature milk comes in and leaks through her shirt. She dances back to her baby. Cute moment.

6. Pumping and dumping while drinking. Jane goes out to a club with her friend Lina for Lina's 25th birthday and she brings along her pump. Love that they normalize pumping and the need to express milk when away from baby. There was cute moment between Jane and Lina sitting on the bathroom floor while Jane was pumping. However, she proclaims that she will be "pumping and dumping" so she can drink with her friend. This actually isn't always necessary. Since alcohol (and anything else the mother ingests) goes through our digestive system BEFORE affecting our milk, she would not have needed to dump the milk she pumped at the club. Depending on how much she drank, she would only need to avoid nursing for a few hours after her last drink. The usual recommendation is that if you are sober enough to drive, you are sober enough to drink. Kellymom has more about this.

7. "He's weaned off of me!" Jane goes to an overnight writer's retreat and Rafael keeps the baby. She forgets the pump cord and Rafael comes by to drop it off. Since Mateo is hungry when they get there, she decides to feed him instead of pump. But Mateo will not latch after almost an hour of trying. In frustration, they give him a bottle and he drinks hungrily. She is noticeably upset that he couldn't latch after only being away from her for several hours. Instead of working on getting baby back to breast with a lactation professional, she pumps exclusively for several months. By pumping every 3 hours (night and day) Jane becomes a slave to the pump and it literally runs her into the ground. Exclusive pumping moms are awesome. But I wish the show would have taken the opportunity to show the benefit of lactation support. Which would have made total sense because Jane had already benefited from lactation support before. After several months of pumping, she and Rafael decide it's okay for her to stop pumping. She is very relieved. I wish they could have ended this subject on a better note but it was nice to see a mom and dad making such a tough decision together.

What do you like or dislike about Jane the Virgin? I could do without some of the characters (Louisa!) and naughty stuff!

Nutritious Movement

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Kids are such good examples of nutritious movement. Just look at Bridger's squat!
So here is what has been blowing my mind lately...

Nutritious Movement!
Listened to her podcast today about periods and wow! Going to save that one and listen again when mine comes back with a vengeance in a few (hopefully several) months, to remind myself this is part of being a healthy woman!

Also, I've just been really interested in pelvic health and Katy has lots of great stuff on that.

And listening to her podcast on restrictive clothing helped me realize that hey! Comfy clothes aren't really about being lazy! They are about being able to move in the ways that you need to and not being constricted by your clothing. So, good news. I don't have to worry about fitting back into my favorite shorts. Just ordered some new yoga pants. Sweet. It's about movement, people, okay? But really, when I squeeze into my old skinny jeans, I can't move around and play on the ground with the boys. I can't just stop, drop and yoga (like Bridger suggests all the time) if I'm wearing clothes that prevent me from moving.

So here's to more squats, more walking and less sitting!

Riah's Birth Story

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Monday, May 30, 2016

All photos by Cate Johnson.

Riah Dianne Parr was born on Saturday May 14, 2016. She weighed 9 pounds and 5 ounces and was 22 inches long. She was born at home surrounded by loving support. We are so in love with her! Her name is derived from my middle name, Moriah. Her middle name is after my mother, Karen Dianne. Just days before her birth I was DONE and telling everyone that birth was a fairytale and that I would be pregnant forever. Now she is sleeping on my chest as I type this. I'm excited to share her birth story...

Pregnancy
I usually gloss over this section when reading birth stories so I'll try to keep it short. Since learning more about birth over the last few years and having had healthy pregnancies, we decided together that a homebirth would be a great option for us. Nate and I went to a Meet the Midwives event to interview homebirth midwives. I researched a handful before going and looked up reviews. At the meeting, I was instantly drawn to Karla Bennett, CNM. She seemed like a sweet motherly figure with great credentials and experience. She is unique in that she is a certified nurse midwife but only attends homebirths. Most CNMs attend hospital births. I was excited to start care with her!

Since I was making a lot of demands for this birth (homebirth, doula, photographer), I conceded on one thing that Nate really wanted: to have the gender be a surprise. We found out Riah was a girl ourselves when she was on my chest!

Quick note about prenatal care with a homebirth midwife: I can't say enough just how awesome it is to have direct access to my care provider. I call and get her, not a receptionist or a nurse or hold music. I text her anytime and get a quick response. She came over on a holiday weekend to check on the baby simply because I was worried. Of course homebirth or birth centers aren't for everyone, but I have thoroughly enjoyed this particular aspect. My prenatal check ups were in my home. She engaged with the boys each time and made them feel important and helpful. It was so nice to avoid dragging them to an office for my checkups.

One of the most frequent questions I got was if I was going to give birth in the water. I think water birth is awesome and I wish more women had that option. But it did not appeal to me really! Probably because my labors are pretty short and my pushing stages are pretty short. And I hesitate to say this because I don't want to offend anyone who has had a waterbirth (really, I think you're awesome!) but it just kind of grosses me out. I've seen too many birth photos of moms sitting in bloody water. And I really like physical contact during birth and that can be harder to do when you're separated by a tub. But now I'm thinking waterbirth might be a good idea for me next time since pushing was so hard this time!

An obstetrician might describe my pregnancy as "uneventful." I am blessed to have normal, healthy pregnancies. First trimester was marked by morning sickness and fatigue. Second trimester was glorious! Lots of energy. Third trimester I was big, tired and grumpy. The end is just so hard. I'd give birth 10 more times but I think I can only mentally handle one more pregnancy. The only real complication was another kidney stone. This time I was 36 weeks. Super lame. I spent a night at labor & delivery for fluids and meds. (Loved getting that bill.) Once it passed, I was super grateful to be past it and tried to enjoy the last few weeks of pregnancy. I took the boys to the park and the Tulip Festival. Holly and Amy took me out for a pedicure. I snuggled the boys close and tried to hang on to Colden's babyhood for a few more days.






Cate literally sent me over 400 photos! She is amazing. I'm terrible at editing out photos so get ready for 400 photos! ;)

The Food Nanny has changed my life

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

A few weeks ago my sister Mitzi called asking if I had any food/dinner prep system that could help her feel more organized. I had little to offer and told her to share with me if she found anything good because I needed help too! Fate was listening because just a moment after our conversation, she was at a friend's house who told her about the using Food Nanny's meal planning system. Mitzi quickly shared with me what she learned and within a few days, I had started a new meal planning system. I am so grateful we had that conversation because I feel so much less stress about dinner now!

My new meal planning system
I took the Food Nanny's basic ideas (using a 2 week meal planner with themed nights/meals and a shopping list) and changed it a bit to fit our family.

While I do like using my iPhone for lots of organizational things like to-do lists and calendar items, I have so far really enjoyed printing hard copies of these lists and putting them on a big clipboard to keep at home and when I go shopping.

As you can see, I have left some room to add more recipes as we try out new things.
1. The very best thing I did was make a list of all of our favorite meals. I made a list of basic themes that our meals generally fall in to and then went through all my recipe boards and cookbooks and added our favorite regular meals to the master list. This is the most important part of my new meal planning system because having all our meals in our list is so helpful! I've done various types meal planning before but was always having to flip through all my books and boards to find what we like and would get overwhelmed very quickly. Now I can scan through our favorites easily since they are all in one place!

I need to start doing this in pencil!
2. After using her meal plan once, I made my own to fit my big handwriting. :) It's actually exactly like hers, just less fancy.

This list is about halfway done.
3. Again, after using her shopping list once, I made my own shopping list too. After a couple of years of going to the same grocery store, I have a pretty set pattern that I follow. So having my own categories made more sense. 


The result? I have meals planned out 2 weeks in advance! I grocery shop less. (One big trip every two weeks and 1 smaller one each week for produce, milk and eggs.) I'm not panicking every afternoon about what we are going to eat for dinner. I just look at the plan and set out anything that needs to thaw. I even plan out our "simple nights" of grilled cheese or whatever, thus there is no guilt that I'm not feeding my family super well because I know that tomorrow night will be fancier/healthier. And if I don't feel like making the meal I have planned for that night, I have several others to choose from. So I don't stick exactly to this plan, but I know I have everything in the house I need for all the meals on the plan. I feel so much less stress about meal planning now! The next things I want to add to my system are a weekly planned baking day for bread and granola, a planned day to do in-advance meal prep like frozen dinners etc and a night for Nate to cook :).

What things have helped you feel less stressed about dinner and meal planning?

Nursing in Public

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Monday, January 18, 2016


The discussion around breastfeeding in public is making the rounds again in social media thanks to some social experiment videos made by Joey Salads. I'm not linking to them because he doesn't deserve the page views. In the videos, a mother is shown breastfeeding her baby and the reactions to those around her are documented. Most of the reactions are negative. I'm upset because these videos are super staged and I'm convinced all the negative reactors are actors as well. These videos are only discouraging new mothers from doing what is natural and necessary for themselves and their babies.

I felt motivated to write this post to those new mothers who see these videos and reconsider breastfeeding in public. A poll on a local mom forum asking about this issue quickly collected more than 60 responses with the vast majority saying they had never had such an encounter. There have been documented cases in Utah where mothers were asked to leave a public place to breastfeed privately but these are the minority. And usually the employee requesting was out of line and the store/venue/whatever later apologized. But these cases usually do not involve the blatant rudeness and harassment acted out in these videos.

I've had nothing but positive experiences when breastfeeding in public with or without a cover. And I support moms who breastfeed either way. But the more new mothers see breastfeeding uncovered, the more comfortable they will feel in doing so and the more they will know about breastfeeding! These are nothing but good things. Any nay-sayers can look away. And if anyone is worried about seeing a bit of boob then they should never go to a mall or turn on the TV! The primary function of breasts is to nourish and sustain the life of children. Our society is the first in history to have sexualized the breast so much that its primary function is so often disregarded. Is it any wonder that breastfeeding rates are as low as they are in the U.S.?

Everyone can help change this by simply not reacting to a woman feeding her baby. Nurse on mamas! You are life-givers!

**Edited to add some of my favorite commentary on the subject:
4 Reasons Why Women Should Never Breastfeed in Public (satire, of course)
10 Things That Have Nothing to Do With Why I Breastfeed
Just because a body part is at some moments in time sexual, does not make it sexual at ANY GIVEN MOMENT.
Why I'm Glad Someone Told Me to Stop Breastfeeding in Public
Breastfeeding in public, a man's perspective. Disclaimer: He is crass, but his point is spot-on!



Best of the birth world this week!

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Saturday, January 9, 2016


I loved this poster created by Salem Birth Support. Again, families need support after birth!! I've been so lucky to receive loving support after each baby!

A giant study was published this week about the safety of home birth. It was thorough and the commentary was fair and without judgement. Commentators on both sides of the issue applauded it. Forbes did a great write-up as well as Science and Sensibility.

With my own upcoming birth, I've been getting really into emergency preparedness lately! Especially preparing for childbirth in an emergency situation; whether that by during/after an earthquake or simply a precipitous unassisted birth. I printed out this free emergency childbirth guide and have started collecting items. I think I'll keep the kit in the car for now!

How the system fails breastfeeding families. On a birth/breastfeeding page this week, a community member explained that her family doctor prescribed her cold and asthma medications incompatible with breastfeeding (her child was under 1) and when she pointed this out to her doctor, she (the doctor) shrugged and told her she would need to stop. Um, what?! First of all, you don't "just stop breastfeeding." It's not that easy for mother or for baby. And if this doctor really wanted to promote the health of her patients and society at large, she would have taken a couple of extra steps to find her an alternative that was compatible with breastfeeding. One commenter stated that she takes Thomas Hale's book with her to all doctor appointments now. Smart! But too bad mothers are the ones that have to educate their care providers on evidence-based information. Not all doctors of course. But I see and hear this kind story too often. If we want a more healthy population, we have to start at the beginning and actually support families in their breastfeeding goals. But for now...be your own advocate! And know your stuff! 

I found two great articles this week about informed consent in childbirth: No Thank You and 10 Responses to Pressure to Consent.

And lastly, I am really loving this Dr. Seuss inspired meme about breastfeeding anywhere!


My career and my calling

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Friday, January 8, 2016


This week I've been thinking about my chosen career and motherhood. And I have discovered something life-changing (thanks to a sweet mama who shared thoughts from her sister on a birthy FB group I'm in).

My career and motherhood are two separate things! My chosen career is homemaker. But motherhood is my calling. It is part of who I am, just like I am a daughter, sister, friend and wife. If I had chosen a career outside the home, maybe the difference would have been more obvious to me. If I had a different career, maybe I would have seen the difference earlier and known that my relationships with my children would come before my career when possible. But as a homemaker, I have been combining my career and motherhood as one thing! But they're separate! 

My job as homemaker does not make me a better or worse mother. I get to set my own hours and do as much or as little work as I want in my job. No one is threatening to take over my job if I perform poorly one week (or string of weeks...I'm looking at you first trimester!). So the state of the house should not be more important than connecting with my children. Because our relationships, not our careers, are what matter. Even when you're a homemaker. 

I haven't written out a list of New Year's goals yet but when I do, I want them to center around this thought. That connection with others trumps every household task and is the foundation of a good life!

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