The history, pros, and cons of the pacifier
Pacify: v. "quell the anger, agitation, or excitement of"
Pacifiers seem to be one of the number one baby items given to and accepted by new parents. Almost every baby you encounter has one in their mouth a vast majority of the time.
There is a time and a place for a pacifier, and there is a time when pacifiers can be detrimental and should be avoided.
The History of the Pacifier
The first soothing items used by parents for centuries were water or honey dipped knotted rags, "gum sticks" made of stone, coral, or bone, and wooden beads.
It wasn't until 1901 that a "new and original design for a baby comforter" was introduced by Christian W. Meinecke. This pacifier resembles most modern pacifiers, made of a rubber nipple attached to a shield.
These initial pacifiers were definitely not up to today's standards and were commonly processed with sulfur, tinted white with a lead-containing compound, and the disk shields were made of ivory, aluminum, and sometimes bone.
By the 1940's latex and silicone nipples with a plastic shield were the norm, produced primarily by Binky Baby Products of New York.
Babies experience a primal inherent need to suck. This need stems from the evolutionarily tuned desire to find the breast, nurse, and receive nutrition. This is a wonderful reflex that helps to bring in the mothers milk and sustain her supply.
Some babies do appear have a more persistent suck reflex than others, insisting on sucking for a soothing, comforting, non-nutritional purpose.
The Pros of the Pacifier
Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding a pacifier can be useful.
Breastfeeding - your baby has a seemingly insatiable need to suck. This can be exhausting to a nursing mother who's baby cries when not sucking on the breast. A pacifier can act as a replacement and allow the mother a break.
Bottle feeding - Bottle fed babies are at greater risk of being overfed, and therefore overweight if they are continually given a bottle of milk when their soothing suck reflex is confused with a hunger suck reflex. Pace feeding can help this issue, but if not, a pacifier at the end of a feed will continue to allow the soothing sucking reflex without overfeeding the baby.
The Cons of the Pacifier
There are times when a pacifier can be detrimental.
Breastfeeding - nipple confusion can be a reality and a challenge for some parents. Not every baby will have an issue going between breast and artificial nipple. Since we can not know which baby will or will not have a problem, it is best to err on the side of caution and wait until the baby is a least 4 weeks old, or better, until the mother's milk supply is well established at 6-8 weeks.
Artificial Nipple - Extended use of a pacier can deform the palate and cause oral and dental issues later in life. Additionally, pacifiers may contribute to an increase in ear infections.
You should never feel judged for using a pacifier. If it's what's working for you and your family, then you should certainly feel great using one! If issues arise, they can be dealt with and solutions can be proposed to move forward. You are not ruining your child forever by using one.
Nor should you feel pressured into using a pacifier so the baby "isn't pacifying at the breast." If you love snuggling with your baby all day, every day, and have no issue with the amount of time your baby is on you, then go for it! A baby does not NEED a pacifier. You are not ruining your child forever by not using one.
Tips and tricks for flying with child under two
My daughter has flown 5 times in her first year of life, and I have to tell you; It's been really easy. 3 out of the 5 times, I have even been by myself.
Through these travels, I have discovered some helpful tips and tricks for flying with a baby.
Most importantly, it is only a slight amount of time in your life. You are a strong person and an incredible parent. You can handle this. Wrap your baby up in a carrier, snuggle and kiss, hum a song, rock back and forth, and just stay in your own little world with your child.
Unsolicited ad for Southwest: We now never fly anything besides Southwest (when available). You get two checked bags for free. There isn't a fee to use your airline credits if you have to reschedule your flight. Families with a child under 6 can board together between the A group and the B group. They've taken to presenting their safety announcements with humor, which starts the flight off on a good note. I feel all of these components make them very baby and family friendly.
Bodily Changes After Pregnancy
The Mulligrubs: The thing my mother has been warning me about for many, many years. The squishy, scarred skin on your stomach, with lumps, and grumps, and general displeasure. Generally happens after you've had a baby.
I gained 30lbs through the pregnancy of my daughter and am now 10lbs under my pre-pregnancy weight; my stomach shows this progression.
I now have the mulligrubs.
My stomach has never been flat, will never be flat, and I've never truly been happy with my body. Some days, when I catch my image in the mirror, and think how could anyone my age possibly find me attractive looking like THIS, it can be really difficult to not think: I'm ruined. But then my baby crawls over, pulls up on my leg, and gives me a hug; I'm reminded that in a way, my body is not my own anymore.
Through pregnancy, nursing, snuggles, and hugs, my body has made itself perfect.
With my grubs, came a type of peace with my self-image. I carried my baby nine long months. I felt my skin break when she stretched and kicked. I felt my body make room and adjust around her. I earned my Tiger Stripes.
My marks are almost completely faded, my daughter isn't on me quite so much, but my mulligrubs remain and will get worse when we decide to have another baby. I think I'm ok with that. I'd sacrifice anything for my children, especially something as insubstantial as the idolized perception of how a woman should look.
The Modern Father - expanding gender roles
Gender Roles: "a set of societal norms dictating what types of behaviors are generally considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for a person based on their actual or perceived sex."
Have you seen this new hashtag? #MDRNFTHR ? The Modern Father.
An Instagram feed showing the masculine member of the household doing a typically feminine task. Started by Little Boogaweezin aiming to develop a brand for the modern members of a family in today's world.
The feed so far shows fathers
This movement speaks to me on so many levels.
I've posted a few photos of my husband wearing our daughter and a very typical response is "You're so lucky he does that".
I am not lucky my husband takes care of my baby.
I am not lucky my husband does the dishes.
I am not lucky my husband helps with the laundry.
I am not fortunate my husband works and allows me to have my job.
I am not fortunate my husband doesn't expect me to stay home.
I am not blessed my husband treats me so well.
I am not anything because my husband.
It's not about luck, fortune, or blessings. It's about the roles my partner and I have established for our relationship and how we do what works for us and our family.
We've removed the expectations typically defined by Mother/Father, Male/Female, Husband/Wife gender roles. We've moved past shoulds and should nots. We've created an existence that allows for the perfect amount of support for each member of our household.
I am thankful for my husband and everything he does for our family, for our daughter, our corgi, our marriage, our household, our life. But I am not lucky; it is not expected that he or I be the primary person responsible for a task typically assigned to one gender.
Whoever comprises your household, remove all preconceived expectations and feel how liberating it can be.