Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to feed your newborn.

Isn't this the most precious little face ever?

We didn't plan to have three kids. In fact, we were pretty done with two - I mean, it's been five years since we had a baby and we finally have two school-aged kids who are pretty independent.

We are thrilled for this new life, though, and he is pretty cute, so I guess we'll keep him. I mean, seriously, how cute is he?

Being pregnant had it's craziness, but having a newborn is just confusing as far as cultural norms go. I never know where I stand, and when I think that I'm doing things right, I get told that no, sorry, that's not the way to do it. I've mostly learned to turn off my ears when people start to give advice - not because I don't respect their opinions, but because in the end, we are the parents and we need to make the decisions that are right for us.

Amely's first day home.
And therein lies the rub. I am pretty well-saturated in information about what I believe. (Wow, that sounds pompous. It's not meant to be). I read a lot before making a decision. My husband is a crap-shoot. Sometimes he believes what the old-women say, and sometimes he gets on the internet and searches. So, one day he can be completely ¨Haha, so and so tried to get rid of hiccups by putting a thread on the forehead. Does that work?" And the next day, he'll be "OMG baby has hiccups, why didn't you put the thread on his forehead, that totally works. My grandmom told me."

I did get lucky in some respects - most Dominicans don't understand that exclusive breastfeeding is a real option for feeding a baby, but my in-laws are supporters of EBF mostly because it's all they've known. Their mom gave birth in a house with no electricity or running water and had no option but to breastfeed. The neighbor ladies divvied up the first 30 days of a baby's life and picked up the cloth diapers to wash in the river every day. No, I'm not joking.
Baby Samil

My two big kids were exclusively breastfed for one year and eighteen months (respectively). So far,
Adiel only knows the boob juice (well, except for the formula they forced on him in the clinic, but that's a story for another day).

The day I got home from the hospital, I started being force-fed malta with oatmeal, bacalao soup and chocolate de agua. I say force-fed, but the only really gross thing is the malta - it's got all the hops that beer has, but none of the delicious-ness of actual beer and none of the alcohol. Amalio put oatmeal in it which made it more drinkable, but still not enjoyable. Cod fish soup and hot chocolate made with water (not milk) are good. Not my favorite foods, but not terrible either. Milk production is serious business, and the food that is meant to help it along are all a mom is supposed to eat for the first few days.

I actually deal with the breastfeeding side-eye much better than I ever dealt with pregnancy advice (and MUCH MUCH better than I deal with other newborn advice), but it can get tiring. I imagine that the reason a lot of women don't even try to breastfeed here is because every five minutes someone is in your face with a new reason why breastmilk is terrible and how you're messing it up somehow.

My favorites:
+ You cannot eat or drink two hours before breastfeeding. The fat will leak into the breastmilk and cause baby to have green poop.
+ You can definitely NOT eat or drink WHILE breastfeeding because baby will probably die. (Or just get some crumbs on his head, but no big deal, right?)
+ You CAN drink alcohol while breastfeeding because beer helps production! Rum makes baby strong!
+ Baby cannot drink milk while laying down.
+ Baby cannot drink milk while sitting.
+ Baby can only be breastfed in traditional cuddle position.
+ If you are sad, angry, stressed, etc... your breastmilk will turn salty or sour and baby will not drink it.
+ If you are happy, breastmilk tastes delicious.
+ If you want to wean baby from breast, you need to express a cup of milk and throw it on the sidewalk so people can walk on it.
+ If you breastfeed at night, your baby will never.ever.sleep. (which might be true because Amely is still a terrible sleeper. Not Samil though. I guess it's a crap shoot).
+ Breastfed babies are bad sleepers in general.
+ Breastfeeding overheats babies. So, if it's hot outside when they are born, it is better to bottle feed to avoid death by overheating.
+ Only poor women breastfeed.
+ Women don't produce enough milk to exclusively breastfeed anymore because they work outside of the house. (I've also heard that women have more c-sections nowadays because they spend so much time sitting down).

A friend of ours came over today to visit. He claims he didn't know the baby was born yet, but we'll forgive him because at least he came. A friend of mine was over as well, and as we sat on the porch, he leaned over - all confidentially - and whisper-asked me if it was true that we don't buy milk. Like it was a big secret. I told him no, and his jaw dropped. "Women still do that? Well you all can keep having kids because they don't cost you anything!"
I found this image on google. It's a snap-shot
from a YouTube video of a baby
playing with his milk cans from his first year.

The idea that "milking" a baby has to be expensive is rampant here. A lot of newborn feeding decisions get made based on social-appearances more than anything. It is a status symbol to be able to feed your baby can after can of expensive formula. And pediatricians don't help as Nestle, one of the worst formula-pushers in the market, has most of the medical professionals in their pocket.

I've seen pictures taken at first birthday parties with the child and every single can of formula he drank in his first year. A pyramid of milk cans. And that's great, but where do you store all of those cans for a year?? It's also great if you can afford suffi
cient milk for your child, but the fact is that milk is expensive and most people don't make enough money to properly feed their child with formula. Add that to a contaminated water supply and it can get tricky.

So, I stick to my guns and do what I have to do. Adiel has already gained enough weight to feel heavy in my arms and grow longer. I drink my tea while he suckles (I kind of hate that word), and eat toast that drops crumbs on his precious little head and all of the neighbors stare and whisper. But, I figure, they're going to stare and whisper anyway, so I might as well give them something to talk about.



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