Q&A: Breastfeeding vs. Formula

  • January 19, 2012 8:28 am

THE QUESTION:
Hello,

My name is Helene…I wanted to have your opinion on my little issue. I just had my 3rd baby, a little boy, Alexander. Like you, I believe in a sustainable and green way of life. I have been breastfeeding all my babies but this time I’m very tired and I feel my husband wants me to start the formula. I don’t know what to do because even the organic formulas are not a prefect solution. I have read that most of the toxic products come from the can that contains the milk.
Do you have an opinion on this matter ?

Have a nice day and thank you in advance for any piece of advice you can give me.

Helene

THE ANSWER:

Helene,

Sorry for the delay in responding. I know how hard these early weeks can be. I hope you’re managing to get some rest.

Since you–like me–are so devoted to breastfeeding, are there other things you can do to make you less tired? A lactation consultant can help you get your son on a schedule that might give you some time, and help you figure out when to pump so your concerned husband, babysitter, or even older children can help you feed the baby while you get some rest. Can you hire a babysitter to help out a few hours so you can have time to yourself and to rest? These are the things I would try before heading over to formula. At this point–last time I checked–even the staid old American Academy of Pediatrics suggests breastfeeding for a full year (and introducing solids at six months). Here’s a quote from a report they did in 2005: “Exclusive breastfeeding has been shown to provide improved protection against many diseases and to increase the likelihood of continued breastfeeding for at least the first year of life.”

If you are going to introduce formula, can you continue to breastfeed some? Organic formula is absolutely preferable to conventional–especially when it comes to genetically modified ingredients. I think choosing organic and reading ingredients is at least as important as the can linings, which can contain the hormone disrupting chemical BPA. One way to minimize the contents of the can’s lining getting into the formula is to use powdered over liquid. BPA can still be found in the linings of cans containing powdered formula, but the Environmental Working Group says powder is a better choice.

It’s important to consider the water you will mix with the formula. I prefer filtered for so many reasons, including that it helps minimize exposure to excess fluoride in the water, which can lead to dental fluorosis. The CDC says you can use bottled water for this purpose, but  that involves a lot of wasteful plastic bottles, on top of the formula containers.

I hope this helps and that you find your groove and get some rest. I know it was a long time after my daughter was born that I finally got some! This too shall pass.

Best,
Alexandra

Q&A: Mattresses, Mattresses, Mattresses

  • January 9, 2012 11:15 am

I’m behind in answering questions. So here are a few quickies, both mattress-related.

THE QUESTION

Hi Alexandra,

I discovered your website when searching for organic/natural mattresses. Like yourself, I practice green living, and I was appalled at all of the chemicals when my husband and I started searching for a mattress a few months ago. After purchasing and returning a temprapedic, we are still in the market for a mattress. To what extent have you researched mattresses and the wool, cotton, latex in them?
Have a wonderful new year!

Birgit

THE ANSWER

Hi Birgit,
Thanks for getting in touch. It’s great you’ll be replacing the foam. Did you happen to see this earlier post about mattresses on my site? I’ve been writing about mattresses on and off since 2005 when I first researched The Complete Organic Pregnancy. Wool, cotton, and natural latex can all be great alternatives. Hopefully you can find a store near you that stocks these mattresses so you can try them out for softness/hardness. Many stores do now have them.

Hope this helps. Happy sleeping.

Best,
Alexandra

THE QUESTION

Hi ,

I found your blog, when I was searching for the green furniture for my future baby, so I decided to email you. I’m looking for a organic and hypoallergenic mattress, but there are so many options on the market. Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Aleksandra

THE ANSWER

Aleksandra,

See above — hope you saw the earlier post I wrote about mattresses. If you’re buying pretty much any organic mattress, you’re already setting your baby up for better breathing space in her room. That said, you’re right, there are tons on the market. If you have a store near you that stocks them, head on out and ask questions. Push on them, sit on them, see how you feel. Is it too soft? Soft isn’t said to be great for babies. Does it feel nice and hard? Find out what is being used as the flame retardant and what else is in there.

Though I have mentioned brand names in the past, and have linked to stores in some of the links on that last blog, I’m not overly fond of naming names. Manufacturing issues arise and materials can change. It’s always best to zero in on the materials you want (hypoallergenic and organic), then find a brand that sells mattresses made with those materials. From there you can call up manufacturers and ask further questions you might have. Some so called organic mattresses now have third party certification–an added layer of trust since the word organic is really only regulated when it comes to food.

It’s a good problem to have too many organic options to choose from. This wasn’t always the case. This way you’re guaranteed to find the right version for you.

Best,

Alexandra

The Complete Organic Pregnancy on Bob Vila

  • September 16, 2011 12:16 pm

Many thanks to Bob Vila for mentioning The Complete Organic Pregnancy in an article about a green nursery challenge!  See the excerpt below, and/or check out the whole article here.

“As for the paint, I read ‘if you can smell it, it’s probably bad for you’ in “The Complete Organic Pregnancy.” The authors advise latex rather than alkyd- or oil-based paints, and suggest looking for paints labeled zero-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds),  no-VOC, or VOC-free, as they are “almost completely free of carcinogens.”

Tips For A Fussy Baby

  • April 19, 2011 10:11 am

A close friend just had a baby (her third). She’s over the moon. I hadn’t heard from her for a few days, sent a prodding text, and heard back that he had morphed very quickly since I saw them last into a fussy baby.

When I was pregnant and writing The Complete Organic Pregnancy, we collected the following organic tips for inducing sleep from friends and families who swore by them for getting seemingly inconsolable babies to sleep. Little did I know I was soon to rely heavily on them, and other odd things, for shushing/rocking/bouncing my own fusser to sleep. (I think I ate too much spinach and grew a mini Popeye.) Here’s hoping any of these bring her–or you–some relief.

And remember: this too shall pass.

White Noise: Make your own white noise with fans, vacuum cleaners, portable vacuums, electric toothbrushes, bathroom fans, electric razors, or, to save electricity, recordings of them. Fish tanks that bubble, loud clocks, and metronomes have also worked. Tape-record the sound of a shower or water running from a faucet. The repetitive monotony of these noises mimics the sounds of the womb and can soothe a baby for whole a silent room might feel unnaturally quiet.

Music: If you don’t have the energy to sing your baby to sleep, tape yourself singing and press play instead. If you can’t stand singing, test-run some other music and discover what your baby finds relaxing.

Taped crying: A recording of your baby’s own crying, or a recording of another baby crying, can be disconcerting enough to interrupt an upset baby long enough for her to fall asleep.

The birth ball: Recycle your old birthing ball and use it the way you would a glider. Your baby will love the bouncing, the same way she seems to love anything that forces you to get off the couch and work for her.

Drive: When worse comes to worst, a trip around the block in the car is often just what a baby needs to fall asleep.

Movement: As long as the baby is safely buckled in, swings and vibrating bouncy seats can be a great way to doze off. Similarly, a sling Bjorn, or stroller can do the trick.

For more tips, check out The Complete Organic Pregnancy. What worked/works for you and your baby? What did not?

Kids Around Canada Mentions The Complete Organic Pregnancy

  • February 15, 2011 2:25 pm

Thrilled for this delightful mention of The Complete Organic Pregnancy in a baby basics post on KidsAroundCanada.com

“I strongly recommend you get your hands on Alexandra Zissu’s The Complete Organic Pregnancy.  This book preps you for the “before, during and after” of pregnancy and guides parents-to-be through everything from the safest laundry detergent to safe household cleaners, to organic baby food recipes. I promise you won’t let this book stray far from your nightstand.”

Thanks!