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Should You Restore Your Son’s Foreskin?

This post was written by N.O.R.M. North Houston coordinator Eric Smith (known to this blog as The Designated Dad). We both receive questions from parents who regretfully had their sons circumcised and want to know if they can or should attempt to restore his foreskin. The following information addresses this question.

For a reminder about what foreskin restoration is and how it can benefit men, read about it here, here, and here.

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Jaundice & the Breastfed Baby

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Newborn jaundice is normal in most cases, appearing within 2-3 days post-birth, and affecting up to 60% of full-term babies.

Physiologic jaundice is caused by a buildup of bilirubin, which is produced when red blood cells are broken down. The liver is responsible for eliminating the bilirubin, but a newborn’s liver is often too immature to efficiently handle this process yet. This causes a yellow cast on the skin (which can be trickier to detect in dark-skinned babies) and the eyeballs. This resolves itself in a week or two as the baby matures further and red blood cell levels have lowered.

In a breastfed baby, jaundice is more common and tends to persist longer than a formula-fed baby (as breastfed babies are the standard, this means it’s the norm). True breastmilk jaundice, which only affects 0.5% to 2.4% of newborns, sticks around longer than one or two weeks, sometimes up to twelve (now, this shouldn’t be confused with breastfeeding jaundice, which is caused by starvation/lack of proper milk intake). Bilirubin levels might even increase at the two-week mark. None of this is a cause for concern in an otherwise healthy baby.

On how breastmilk and formula compare in causality of newborn jaundice, Dr. Sears says:

“The difference is thought to be due to an as-yet unidentified factor in breastmilk that promotes increased intestinal absorption of bilirubin, so that it goes back into the bloodstream rather than moving on to the liver. Higher rates of jaundice in breastfed infants may also be related to lower milk intakes in the first days after birth, because of infrequent or inefficient feeding.”

Hence, why medical treatments should be avoided unless truly necessary because they threaten to interrupt breastfeeding further. As breastmilk helps move the baby’s bowels to remove excess bilirubin, frequent feedings will hasten the normal bodily process.

If bilirubin levels have reached more than 20 milligrams, a health provider might recommend treatment with phototherapy (ask about fiber optic blankets, an especially good option for nursing moms).

What not to do: do not supplement with sugar water, and do not restrict the baby from breastfeeding.

Links:

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Encouragement For Full-Term & Tandem Breastfeeders

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🌻 These two milk siblings, blood brothers, M and J. Just over 5 years and almost 2 years old, respectively — the former the same age as my nursing journey overall and the latter the same as my experience in tandem nursing. Such tiny numbers really. Hard to imagine we were nothing and growing and birthing and birthed and empty and nourished more than once over in that amount of time.

M and J don’t like to be separated. Though they annoy each other and feel overwhelmed with the art of sharing from time to time, as siblings do, they prefer each other’s close company. J learns a lot from his big brother (like how to get dressed and sing) and M never hesitates to include J in his activities.

Their bond began when J was in my womb, every day growing stronger until one day he’d feel ready for life Earthside. From age 2.5 to 3.5 years, M watched my belly swell bigger and bigger. He knew his little brother was inside ‘swimming in water.’ He knew J could hear him so he spoke to him often. He said “Good morning!,” and “Good night!” every day for months, with a morning kiss and night kiss (and lots of extras in between).

He saw J for the first time around midnight, about an hour after he was born. I was laying in our bed with J on my breast. M gave J a kiss — a real, live, salty, good morning and good night kiss — right on his freshly born little head.

M had the honor of separating his little brother’s cord. We chose a Sacred Severance ceremony involving quiet, meditation, and burning of the cord instead of cutting. M, his dad, and our doula held candles to the cord in gentle recognition of this significant alteration. M was not present for the birth so this was his special contribution to our welcoming of J into the land of lung breathers.

J has known M his whole life. Though M was Earthside 3.5 years longer, it seems he’s known J just as long. Continue reading

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No More Babies: How I Really Feel (Last Child Grief)

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Thoughts at 4 Months Postpartum

I only have two children, and two will be my only. We always planned to have two kids for the usual reasons: financial resources, practicality, health reasons, familiarity, and so on.

This pregnancy and postpartum were much different than the first. I suspect it has much to do with knowing they’ll be my last.

I feel the postpartum slipping away. My youngest is now four months old, which means a little more than a trimester ago he was playing, breathing, wriggling, and listening in my womb.

For these past months I’ve watched my body turn into something blooming and abundant to swollen and rumpling to deflated and limp, stressed from constant demands upon it and weak from the the endless drill of late nights and early mornings. I’ve felt unmotivated to move into a new chapter, for I know once that happens, I won’t get to call myself ‘newly postpartum.’ In my case, not ever again.

This is now the body I’m left with. Rather, this is the body I get to keep. I’ve got more skin than I had before, a herniated navel, and my hair seems to be grieving with me as it sheds like a willow in the fall.

I think I’ll say I’m no longer ‘postpartum’ when my linea nigra disappears. The first time it took a year. I think that’s when I’ll stop telling people “I just had a baby…”

Right now my body is a signpost of declarations that say this shop is closed, be back soon. I know better because my intentions are steps ahead; I know the shop is closed indefinitely. Continue reading

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22 Tips For Breastfeeding In Public With Confidence

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Self-conscious much?

A recent Centers for Disease Control public opinion study found “only 43 percent of U.S. adults believed that women should have the right to breastfeed in public places.” Theoretically, every time I go out with my baby, I can count every two people we pass and justifiably assume the next three people do not approve of my child breastfeeding there.

With this in mind, in my early public nursing days I felt too embarrassed to be seen struggling to breastfeed my little baby, especially with postpartum depression at a high, an anxiety disorder, and being the first among all my friends to become a mother.

I wanted so badly to live in a part of the world that was acclimated to the sight of normal infant feeding.

The sprawling, diverse metropolitan area where I live isn’t even a major hotspot for public breastfeeding oppression. That’s the frightening part. A quick Google search will guide you through countless stories of mothers across the nation being harassed, shamed, bullied, and discriminated against by strangers, coworkers, relatives, acquaintances, anyone with an opinion… because they breastfed their children in public.

With my first baby I started out nursing in my car. At the time, to me it felt pretty ‘public.’ I quickly realized this could only be a temporary solution to calm my nerves. Not only was it terribly inconvenient to retreat to my car for privacy multiple times per excursion, but it was also completely unnecessary. (And far from foolproof! Do you know where we were the first time I was harassed for nursing? Sitting in the front seat of my parked car minding our own business).

Out of the car and into actual buildings I emerged. I only felt at ease enough in low-crowd places and often found the corner of rooms to nurse so I could have privacy. Then I felt like a professional NIPer after working my way up to nursing on-the-go while babywearing.

Things became easier when I expanded my potential nursing spots to, well, anywhere we happened to be. I wore covers at first (I ditched them for good after that car harassment incident, and life got less complicated when I put those annoying things in storage).

It didn’t take long before I wasn’t giving a second thought to when and where I’d nurse my child because it was not an isolated event — it was just part of the flow of life, which doesn’t stop when you become a mother.

Four and a half years later, through babyhood, toddlerhood, another pregnancy, and tandeming, I don’t think a week has gone by that I haven’t nursed in public, and it’s been nearly that long that I’ve done so confidently.

Twenty helpful tips I learned along the way, in no particular order:

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If I Could Give Only 5 Pieces of Breastfeeding Advice To a New Mom

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If you could give only five pieces of breastfeeding advice to a new mother, what would you say? Here’s what I’d tell her.

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Is Infant Circumcision Incompatible With Breastfeeding?

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Is circumcision the ‘Voldemort’ in a conversation about early breastfeeding difficulties? Though it’s a studied certainty that infant circumcision can have ruinous effects upon breastfeeding, it seems only the rare or high-profile breastfeeding expert dares to mention this risk by name, much less maintain an official protocol for assistance if challenges arise.

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