Breast cancer screening for breastfeeding mothers

Posted by Saraline , Thursday, November 20, 2008 11:27 AM

Getting screened for breast cancer can be difficult for a mother who is breastfeeding. Breastfeeding mothers are often told to wean before having a mammogram due to the difficulty of reading one when a woman is lactating.

When I spoke to a nurse at the breast health center of my local hospital about the possibility of having a mammogram while lactating, she told me that a mammogram of someone in my situation would be 'only about 45% effective' so it wasn't worth having one until after weaning. She delicately suggested that I decide for myself which were more important 'nursing my child or 'having a mammogram you can trust.'

Birth story

Posted by Saraline , Friday, November 14, 2008 6:30 PM

I apologize for not making a post for such a long period of time. I was busy getting ready for this little guy and it's been taking awhile to get some structure in my life since his arrival.

I went into labour the night of the Canadian federal election. I had trouble getting comfortable all night and it turns out that it wasn't just because of Stephen Harper.

PETA asks Ben and Jerry's to replace cows with women

Posted by Saraline , Tuesday, September 23, 2008 6:29 PM

PETA often doesn't treat women's issues very delicately. Apparently we're not as important as animals. There was the ad linking animal abuse to Robert Pickton's victims, and the ad labeling women who don't shave their pubic hair as unattractive, and of course the numerous ads portraying idealistic and unrealistic images of women's bodies. Now they're taking on breastfeeding mothers.

This morning PETA sent a letter to Ben and Jerry's asking them to replace cow's milk with human breast milk. PETA argues that breast milk is better for the health of Ben and Jerry's customers, but they don't take into consideration that mothers may prefer to reserve their milk for their infants.

Animals will also benefit from the switch to breast milk. Like all mammals, cows only produce milk during and after pregnancy, so to be able to constantly milk them, cows are forcefully impregnated every nine months. After several years of living in filthy conditions and being forced to produce 10 times more milk than they would naturally, their exhausted bodies are turned into hamburgers or ground up for soup.

So a better option would be to forcefully impregnate women every nine months and to force them to produce 10 times more milk than they would naturally? Screw you, PETA.

Women's and families' issues in Canadian politics: Part III

Posted by Saraline 1:03 PM

If you're just catching up, here's part I and here's part II.

Since they were left out of Code Blue's child care report card, today I will be discussing the Bloc Québécois. (Please note that some of quotes from the Bloc Québécois website may be bad translations since my French has a lot of room for improvement.)

Women's and families' issues in Canadian politics: Part II

Posted by Saraline , Sunday, September 21, 2008 6:18 PM

A doctor's point of view about children's issues in this election.

It would be wonderful if, over the next few weeks, serious, thoughtful proposals would emerge from all parties, particularly the Conservatives, on the issues that matter to children. It would be great if, rather than simply being the background to another announcement, children became an election issue in and of themselves.
But, as there is no magic wand in my pocket, I really don't think I will get my wish. Instead, I will be satisfied if, perhaps, I could convince Harper that, while I appreciate that a Conservative government would stop candy flavours from being added to cigarillos, maybe there are bigger fish to fry.
Dr. Brett Taylor discusses issues that effect children in his opinion piece. These issues include child care, access to medication for poor or working class families, and access to pediatricians and child psychiatrists. I really like this quote about why child care is important:

Competent daycare decreases the incidence of child abuse and neglect in our communities, and is an enabler, allowing parents (very often women) to seek employment and thus escape from the trap of poverty that so often accompanies single parenthood.
Something else worth checking out is Code Blue's Child Care report card. They've graded the political parties' child care plans. (The Bloc Québécois was left out). The Conservatives, who I discussed the other day, received four Fs and one D-. Let's move on to a party that received two As.

Women's and families' issues in Canadian politics: Part I

Posted by Saraline , Friday, September 19, 2008 12:19 PM

We have a federal election in Canada coming soon, so I'm going to examine what the different parties are saying about women and families. There are other important issues to consider when deciding who to vote for, but due to the nature of this blog these are the issues that I will be discussing.

RIP Sylvia and Katelynn

Posted by Saraline , Tuesday, September 16, 2008 3:37 PM

The other day, I read in somebody's livejournal that she had watched a movie called An American Crime. Afterwards she looked up the true story that the movie was based on and was horrified.

I had not heard about the movie and I was curious, so I looked it up too and learned about the death of Sylvia Likens. (The details of her torture and death may me triggering for survivors of abuse.)

Sylvia Likens was a 16 year old girl in Indiana who, along with her 15 year old sister, Jenny, went to live with a woman named Gertrude Baniszewski and her family in the 1960s. The parents of the Likens girls were travelling carnival workers. When their mother was arrested for shoplifting, their father made an agreement with Baniszewski to board his daughters for 20 dollars a week.

Book review: Opting In by Amy Richards

Posted by Saraline , Monday, September 15, 2008 6:55 PM

In Opting In: Having a Child Without Losing Yourself, Amy Richards explores the relationship between motherhood and feminism.

When I am asked, "Can you be a feminist and a mother?" I answer yes, but not if that means escaping the realities of your own life. Being exclusively a mother can be an easy way out, seeing yourself in a relationship to others rather than figuring out what you uniquely want or who you uniquely are. In fact, the initial tension between feminism and motherhood developed because the former advocates the pursuit of independence, while the latter is based on dependence. In its most basic definition, feminism is about self-worth and dignity, which mothers need in order to parent effectively.

Richards points out that many early feminists were mothers seeking better lives for their families and discusses the way feminism has changed throughout history, and also how feminism has helped mothers. (Maternity leave, focus on "parenting" instead of "mothering," etc.) She also discusses working and parenting, parents sharing responsibilities, how different women feel about their fertility, and how friendships can change once someone has children.

I found this book to be very reassuring. Feminism does not necessarily exclude motherhood, nor does motherhood exclude feminism. I can choose to have a baby and retain my personality, even if everything else in my life changes (including my friendships). This is not a "how to" guide but I would still recommend it to any feminist who is preparing for parenthood.

How much stuff do you really need to buy if you have children?

Posted by Saraline , Saturday, September 6, 2008 1:24 PM

Do you need to be a millionaire to have kids?

Potential parents need to be able to not only afford daycare (which in Vancouver is around $1200 a month, if you can get a place) or a nanny, expensive kid gear like strollers and fashionable baby clothes and the keys to their own house. There's a growing expectation that one parent will take a year off work, and given the cost of living and housing, that means an even higher level of affluence is required.
I guess I'm lucky to be living in Quebec where we have seven dollar a day daycare, although it is difficult to find a spot.

Update: Natural birth in the hospital

Posted by Saraline , Thursday, September 4, 2008 8:54 PM

I had an appointment at the Royal Victoria Hospital today, and after speaking with the nurse and with the doctor, I feel confident that I will be able to have a natural birth there. I was told that episiotomies are not routine, having a cesarean is my choice, and I can sit up when I am giving birth. They do not make a habit of intervening with an episiotomy or cesarean unless it is absolutely necessary. I will need an IV, but I do not have to have one for water.

The nurse told me not be scared because having a child is a natural occurrence and it does not mean that the woman is sick. This is how I already feel about having a baby and it was reassuring to hear that from somebody at the hospital, especially when I have been reading that people who work in hospitals think that they are rescuing women from childbirth.

The nurse also said that she was surprised that I do not want a cesarean, as most people who broach the subject really want to have one. This supports my theory that the cesarean rate in Canada has as much to do with the attitude of the patients as it does with the attitude of the doctors.

Book review: The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

Posted by Saraline , Wednesday, September 3, 2008 9:57 AM

This was one of my favourite books when I was a child. It was written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko.

Princess Elizabeth is engaged to Prince Ronald. When a dragon comes and destroys the castle and kidnaps Prince Ronald, Elizabeth sets off on a journey to rescue him.

She finds the dragon and outsmarts him and then goes into his lair to get Prince Ronald, who berates her for her shabby appearance. Elizabeth decides that it is not worth it to rescue her prince after all and dances off into the sun set.

In a culture where a lot of traditional children's stories put women and girls into a passive role, this is a fresh twist on the "princess in distress" story. Princess Elizabeth is a determined girl who cares more about her dignity than her clothes or her selfish and snobby fiance.

If you are going to a little girl's birthday party, this book will be a better gift than a "bratz" doll.

Home birth vs. hospital birth

Posted by Saraline , Monday, September 1, 2008 4:26 PM

I plan on having a natural birth. That means no cesarean, no forceps, and no epidural. At first I wanted to have an epidural, but then I read in Henci Goer's The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth that an epidural, which numbs you from the waist down, interferes with pushing, and a woman who has one is more likely to need a cesarean or an episiotomy.

Sarah Palin: A friend of the American mom?

Posted by Saraline , Saturday, August 30, 2008 7:45 PM

As I'm sure the entire world knows by now, John McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his vice-presidential running mate yesterday. Palin is the governor of Alaska, married with five children, and presents an image of a strong woman. There has been speculation that McCain chose her in order to win Hillary Clinton's supporters over to the Republican side.

Fat chance of that. Palin is pro-life, against gay marriage, and likes guns. Still, she is a mother. Can other mothers relate to her?

Book review: The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer

Posted by Saraline 7:02 PM

Henci Goer admits to being biased in her introduction to The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. "Yes, I will be trying to convert you with my way of thinking but with a couple of differences," she says. "First, I will play fair. I will lay out the research data behind my thinking so that you can make up your own mind."

Goer's opinion is that a home birth with a mid-wife is a healthy and safe option, while a birth in a hospital with an obstetrician is scary, impersonal, and sometimes dangerous.

She covers many different procedures that are often performed in hospitals during birth and pieces of equipment that she considers to be unnecessary: cesareans, episiotomies, IVs (although she makes an exception for IVs with antibiotics for women diagnosed with Group B Strep), epidurals, forceps, inducing labour, and machines that monitor the heart beat of the fetus while the mother is in labour. (Goer explains that the electronic fetal monitor is the machine that goes "Ping!" in the birth scene in Monty Python's Meaning of Life. She says that the readings from this machine often lead to unnecessary action that could be harmful, such as a cesarean.)

Whether you decide to have a home birth or a hospital birth, this book will provide you with the right questions to ask your mid-wife or doctor, and being able to ask the right questions will help you make decisions about your birthing experience that are right for you.

Pregnancy education

Posted by Saraline , Thursday, August 28, 2008 7:46 AM

Since becoming pregnant, I've taken measures to educate myself on what to expect. I've been reading books, reading blogs, and asking lots of questions while talking to women who have had babies.

While I was reading books on the subject of pregnancy and giving birth, I found out about getting an episiotomy. (For those of you not familiar with pregnancy lingo, an episiotomy is when they cut your vagina open to make it bigger when you're giving birth.) How come nobody told me about this? I had never heard about this before. There was no mention of an episiotomy in the "angry vagina" monologue in The Vagina Monologues or in the monologue about giving birth, for that matter. In sex ed in high school, we learned about the reproductive system and different forms of birth control, but there was nothing in the curriculum about actually giving birth let alone getting an episiotomy. My handy spell check tool doesn't even want to accept the word.


Posted by Saraline , Wednesday, August 27, 2008 8:53 PM

Fetus rights

Here's an excerpt from the article:

The Harper government moved yesterday to extinguish an emerging debate over fetal rights by distancing itself from a Conservative private members' bill that would make it a separate crime to injure or kill a fetus while committing violence against a pregnant woman.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, whose government might go to the polls this fall, said he will introduce his own competing bill that would make pregnancy an aggravating factor for judges to take into account when sentencing those who assault expectant mothers.

But he stressed that he intends to make it clear that the new law is worded in a way that "leaves no room for the introduction of fetal rights."

There's this show that I like called Ghost Hunters and sometimes I'll look up the places that they're investigating to learn a little bit about the history. Once they were investigating a house believed to be haunted by victims of the Manson family. I didn't know very much about Charles Manson at that point, so I googled him and found out about Sharon Tate being murdered when she was eight months pregnant. This was a few months ago, early in my pregnancy, and it really freaked me out. I think that what happened to her is awful.

Having said that, I don't think that it should be a separate crime to kill the fetus because then they could make it a crime for a woman to have an abortion. But I think that by attacking a pregnant woman and killing the fetus, the attacker is taking away the woman's right to choose whether or not she wants to have a baby. "Choice" means that the woman as the right to not have a baby OR to have a baby. I think that the conservatives are looking at this from the wrong perspective. Even making a bill that's more "tame" and making it extra-bad to kill someone who is pregnant without saying why it's extra-bad is alluding to giving rights to the fetus. If a pregnant woman is attacked, she is the one who is the victim.