Unsolicited Advice

Advice– especially the unsolicited kind– is one of those things I see other pregnant ladies/moms routinely complain about, right up there with leg cramps and strangers touching your belly. Until this week, I had been entirely spared.  There are some areas where the language barrier can be advantageous.

But last Sunday, at church, one of the Romanian ladies, who speaks decent English, launched into a dissertation about how important it is to schedule feedings for the new baby, so as not to spoil them or have them nursing all the time. I did my best smile-and-nod, and fumed to my husband on the way home: the science says breastfeeding on demand–ESPECIALLY in the early days and weeks– is what establishes a good milk supply. Scheduling feedings, when a baby wants/needs to feed more often, leads many an insecure new mother to believe she is defective, and cannot produce enough for the baby’s needs. It’s a quick route from there to formula. Sure, it doesn’t always end that way, but why risk it?

Tangent: anything that might lead me to formula-feeding here is not just undesirable: it’s dangerous. I haven’t a clue how I would go about sterilizing bottles and bottle parts, in a city where the tapwater is not safe to drink. Two days ago I discovered tiny, tiny little worms crawling in the drainboard, which holds nothing but clean dishes, ever. Were they larvae from something that laid eggs there because it was wet for so long, or did they actually come from the rinse water? I don’t know. But I’ve seen how long it takes for anything plastic or jar-like to dry after I’ve washed it…  (shudders). Breastfeeding is not just a good idea: it’s the only safe option, here. And this is a major metropolitan area, not some rural third-world backpacker experience. The Chlorinated States of America should be ashamed for so heavily exporting its formula-feeding habit to the rest of the world. That stuff may be safe in the US, but it could easily kill my baby here. Anyway, stepping off my soapbox…

Advice: It’s not all bad. This morning one of the maintenance ladies spotted me coming down the stairs from the roof with the laundry, and let me know by way of encouragement that the exercise is good for me, and will help the baby to move downward and maybe arrive sooner. I knew this already, of course, but the maintenance ladies don’t speak any English, so I am actually grateful for all these small exchanges on familiar topics– they help my vocabulary. They also give me a bit of practice/confidence with responding intelligibly.

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