Guest post: Diane Wiessinger in Israel on Breastfeeding Language

Hi, readers of Crunchy Domestic Goddess. My name is Hannah and I blog at A Mother in Israel about life with my six kids, parenting, and homemaking, along with social commentary about life in Israel. I also volunteer as a breastfeeding counselor. Last week I attended a conference with breastfeeding expert Diane Wiessinger. You can read my introductory post here.

Israel, aside from being a center of international conflict, is a developed country of seven million with a high birth rate. A lactation consultant told me that in her town of 30,000, enough children are born to fill six kindergarten classes every month.

In Israel breastfeeding is the default option, at least in theory. You don’t hear much about the choice to breast or bottlefeed, and mothers are expected to nurse in the hospital. But hospital routines are rigid, and in some cases babies still sleep in the nursery at night–with the mother needing to request a wake-up call that may or may not happen. Babies often get one or more bottles in the hospital. Outside of hospitals formula companies promote their products freely, even though Israel is a signatory to the WHO Code of Marketing Substitutes.

Israeli mothers receive 14 weeks of paid maternity leave, up from 12 thanks to a recent law. Fathers can replace mothers at home after the first six weeks. Mothers also get a “nursing hour,” working one hour less daily, for an additional four months and in some cases up to a year of age. (Bottle-feeding mothers get it too.) La Leche League and other volunteer organizations are active, and the number of IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants) has grown exponentially, but medical professionals lack knowledge and most mothers don’t make it past a few weeks or months.

A few years ago, several babies died because one type of imported soy formula lacked Vitamin B1. This caused a temporary upswing in breastfeeding rates. Unlike in the US, nursing in public is barely an issue.

One of Wiessinger’s talks is called, “Watch Your Language.” When discussing the talk with friends, I found that moms get defensive when they hear about the risks of bottle-feeding. But by exploring the connection between language and breastfeeding, we don’t mean to chastise mothers for giving formula. Mothers are subject to many pressures and make decisions that work for their families. Mothers who wean early are the last ones we should blame.

We need to change the way our culture looks at breastfeeding. The breastfeeding rates of the United States and Israel are behind those of other western countries. Since babies and mothers are fundamentally the same, the problem must lie in the culture.

In her talk Wiessinger showed how the language used to talk about breastfeeding ultimately harms mothers and babies. We use imprecise language because we are afraid: Afraid of making Continue reading Guest post: Diane Wiessinger in Israel on Breastfeeding Language

Guest post: Learning from Experience: Tips for New Organic Gardners

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9 , I’m featuring several guest bloggers. Today’s post is from Meryl who blogs at My Bit of Earth.

My grandfather was an avid gardener. He grew tomatoes, beans, peas, corn–he even had a small orchard from which he would pick fruit for my grandmother’s fabulous pies. He gardened for 70+ years, all within 100 miles of where I live today, making any advice he could have given me invaluable as it would have been both well-tested and specific to my climate.

Unfortunately, my grandfather died years before I caught the gardening bug, so I’ve had to learn the hard way–experience.

I am now in my fourth year as an organic gardener–mostly veggies, but some flowers too. I have a 10×10 plot in my local community garden, as well as a mostly-container garden at my house. Here are seven bits of wisdom my experiences have taught me.

1. If it’s worth planting, it’s worth writing down.

Keep a paper journal, start a blog, do what you must, but make a record of your garden. At minimum, it should include the specific variety of what you plant, when you planted it, any problems you had, and how your harvest went. Pictures are a nice bonus.

Review your record before you plan your garden each year. Not only will it help you to remember the name of that fabulous tomato you planted last year, it will keep you from making the same mistakes over and over again. For example, because I wrote down when I planted “Ideal Market” beans last year, I now know that if I plant them in April they’ll just get eaten by bugs and I’ll have to plant anew. But if plant them in May, I should avoid the boom of bean-eating bugs and get a good crop.

2. Buy (at least) one good book.

I love the internet as much as the next person, but I’m convinced that it’s still worthwhile to have one great gardening reference book to help narrow down your searches when you have a problem. This year my Brussels sprouts were being attacked by red bugs, and I couldn’t figure out what the bugs were by searching online. (“Red bugs” isn’t much to go on!) So I looked up Brussels sprouts in my book, and found that they are commonly attacked by Harlequin bugs when the weather gets warm. Sure enough, when I did an image search for “Harlequin bugs” the results looked just like the bugs I had in my garden.

The specific book you buy will depend on what you’re growing, but look for something like an encyclopedia. Something that lists good practices for the crops you want to grow, as well as what to do when things go wrong. For vegetable gardening, my trusty book of choice is Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver.

3. Make friends.

It’s always so nice to learn that someone I know is also a gardener! Partly because I know I won’t bore them with discussions of cabbages and coneflowers, but also because other gardeners–especially if they’ve been gardening for a long time in your specific area–are a wonderful mine of knowledge.

In the community garden where I have a plot, there’s one lady who’s been there for years and, as such, is an absolute treasure. A few weeks ago, when I was having the aforementioned trouble with my Brussels sprouts, she told me to sprinkle them with cayenne pepper. I followed her advice, and a day later my bugs were gone.

4. Visit your garden often, and while you’re there….

Because one of my gardens is not at my house, I don’t always get to it every day. But I’m there every other day, at least. While I think this is necessary for all gardeners to some degree, if you want to garden organically it’s essential.

When you don’t allow yourself to drop a chemical bomb on every pest that comes along, you have to catch little problems before they become big problems. Last year, I started noticing little bronze eggs on my pumpkin leaves in mid-July. I didn’t get on top of it as quickly as I should have, and before I knew it my whole crop was decimated by squash bugs. If I had picked the eggs off the first time I saw them, it would have been a minor blip on my road to Halloween jack’o’lanterns and pumpkin soup.

While you’re doing your walk-through, take five minutes and pull as many weeds as you can. Like pests of the insect variety, weeds will creep up on you until all of a sudden getting rid of them without chemicals is overwhelming. Catch weeds when they’re small and scratch them out with a hoe before they start to take over.

5. Raise your soil right, feed it well, tuck it in.

When I initially started container gardening at my house, I thought of it as kind of a temporary thing until I had space to plant a proper “in-the-ground” garden. After a few years though, I’m convinced that raised beds are the way to go.

In my neck of the woods the problem is clay, but, whatever deficiencies your soil may have, it’s easier to fix them if you raise everything off the ground a bit. Even just logs or landscaping timbers pushed together in a square–which is exactly the set up in my community garden plot–helps make digging, mixing in compost, and planting much easier.

When you go to fill that raised bed, think compost, compost, compost. My city does a free compost give away every year, and I always take advantage of it. Get as much as you can, and mix it in well with your existing soil. If you want your plants to feed you, you must feed them, and they crave compost!

Lastly, cover your soil. You can use pretty mulch if you want, but this year I experimented with newspapers and straw. I put down about six layers of newspaper (black and white only), sprayed it with water, and spread one or two inches of straw over the top. When I went to plant my veggies I just used a shovel to poke a hole through the paper. It’s kept the weeds down, let water in, and whatever is left of it next Spring can easily be tilled into my soil.

6. Keep things in perspective.

There will be setbacks, there will be loses. If you’re committed to going organic, you should realize that sometimes a problem is going to get away from you. You’re going to see visions of your entire crop being ruined, and you’re going to be sooo tempted to resort to a chemical spray. When this happens, step back and regain your perspective.

Yes, yes, I know. You worked hard for that plant, whatever it is. You dug and toiled in the hot sun–perhaps were even devoured by mosquitoes as you regularly watered.

But, if you’re a small scale gardener, is it really worth it? Do you really need that eggplant that’s probably half-chewed on by bugs anyway? Or can you accept that nothing is a failure if you enjoyed the learning process, put down the nasty spray, and pick up your eggplant at the farmer’s market this week instead?

Good for you, that’s what I thought.

7. Grow what you love, but love what you can grow.

If you can be perfectly satisfied with a garden of tomatoes and peppers, go for it. If you’re intrigued by exotic varieties of garlic, plant yourself some. If you just can’t stand life without that pretty kind of rose that’s named after you, figure out what it needs to thrive and make it happen. To me there is no point in having a garden if you don’t grow the things you absolutely love.

With all that being said, however, over the past few years I’ve found the plants I truly love are the ones that don’t need much fuss, and are happy in the climate and space that I have to give them. I’ve killed four beautiful rose bushes to date, and none have made me as happy as the beautiful ‘Diablo’ cosmos that are popping up almost unbidden all over my garden right now. Like clockwork, every year I decide to try a pretty flowering hanging basket. After the last one didn’t live a week–the darned things need a crazy amount of water–I bought a sturdy fern that looks better at week four than most of the flowers did on day two. The ugliest thriving flower looks better than the prettiest dead one–work with what you’ve got!

I hope my experiences are helpful to you–best of luck in your garden!

Meryl Carver-Allmond writes about gardening, photography, crafty stuff, dogs, and whatever else happens to tickle her fancy on any given day at My Bit of Earth.

Guest post: The emotional aspects of being a doula

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9, I’m featuring several guest bloggers. Today’s post comes from Sheridan of Enjoy Birth.

The Trust Birth Conference was very interesting. It was fun talking with other doulas there. We had one group discussion and someone talked about how our work as doulas can be effected by our births.

It made me think of my 2 cesareans I have attended as a doula.

I always was nervous how supporting a mom with a cesarean would effect me, because of my first birth. I had an emergency cesarean at 34 weeks. It was scary, my baby was in the NICU, I didn’t get to hold him for 24 hours. It was medically necessary, but still not anything I would want any mom to experience.

So I was talking to this doula about this and came to realize how God had really helped me deal with the ability to suport moms during cesareans, while not letting my emotions from my birth get in the way. He did this in an interesting way.

My first cesarean was Mom B and it was not an emergency situation. It unraveled over 24 hours. A long induction for a first time mom. Exhaustion was the real reason for the cesarean. She was well supported and respected and made the best choice for the situation she was in. It was still hard for me to accept in some ways. It was still quite devastating, because I knew what she was losing and gaining in her choice.

Since it happened slowly, I had time to come to grips with the situation and help support her through that. It wasn’t really until afterwards that I broke down. (There were many facets to that, it was the end of being away from my house for pretty much 57 hours for 2 long inductions.) But driving home I called Jenn, my good friend and all I could say was, “She got a cesarean.” and then started crying and couldn’t really stop. Jenn is a cesarean mom too, so she understood. I still tear up thinking about it and it was 5 months ago.

Fast forward to 2 months ago and I am at another birth. Mom K is on pitocin after supposed PROM. OB checks her and she has bulging forewaters, so she goes to break that, without even planning on telling mom. I jump in to say, “Looks like OB is going to break your water!”

Baby doesn’t tolerate it well at all, they try changing positions, then try amnioinfusion. I can tell things are getting dicey. Suddenly OB is in there and without telling K anything, putting in an internal monitor. I am calmly telling mom what is going on. Then OB goes for second Internal Monitor, I say to K, “It looks like you might be going for a cesarean.” OB calls Code Green, room fills with people. No one is talking to K at all. The room is in chaos. I feel totally calm. I say to K, “Go to your special place. You and your baby will be fine.” Mom and Dad are gone within minutes.

I am left alone in the room. I still feel calm. This was the situation I was most afraid of. Being in a situations close to Devon’s birth. But in reality I think that first birth with B, helped prepare me for this cesarean. It helped me deal with a lot of my emotions regarding Devon’s birth, so that I could be present and calm for K when I needed to be.

K and baby were fine. I loved that she was able to recover back in her room with baby in the room with her. She was holding him skin to skin within an hour after he was born.

It was a much easier birth for me to deal with as a doula. It was medically necessary (though I see very clearly different interventions may have caused that necessity). I was able to provide support before and after. I didn’t shed any tears, though I do feel sorry for K that she joined the sisterhood of the scar. It is something I do not wish for anyone.

Written by Sheridan Ripley –Hypnobabies Instructor, Hypno-doula, Proud VBAC mom, Loving Lactivist, Positive Birth Story Collector and mom of 3 Busy Boys.

Her OC Hypnobabies Website is Her Positive Birth Stories Website is

Her Blogs and

Guest post: Saved by the Fire Fairy

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9, I’m featuring several guest bloggers. Today’s post is from Stacy of Mama-Om.

Saved by the Fire Fairy
by Stacy
Originally published on Mama-Om.

The other day I was talking to a friend about her young daughter’s Waldorf-inspired daycare. Each day for their lunch, they light a candle and eat together. The candle flame is a “fire fairy.”

For the last month or so, our family has been having a candle at our evening meal. My son Orlando (four and a half) always wants to blow out the candle, often before we are finished eating.

I have struggled, almost daily, since the birth of my second child, to remain patient and compassionate with my kids; to parent in the way I believe.

And here I am, being impatient, uncompassionate, and definitely not peaceful.


“I wanna blow it out!”

“No! We’re still eating.”

All the while he is trying to lean closer and I am moving the candle away. I am saying NO. NO. NO.

Everything about me is saying NO, and not in that firm no-nonsense way of a mother that usually, as a result of its own clarity, gets an immediate response.

It is NO in a desperate attempt to revert to the past or some ideal time when no child of mine would try to blow out a candle before dinner is done.

Really smart.

And so not effective.

The more I say NO in this clenching rather than clear way, the more crazy he gets to blow it out. We are literally fighting over fire.

Then I start feeling sorry for myself: Why is everything such a struggle? An immediate battle?


Because I make it that way?

Suddenly, inspiration strikes.

“But if we blow out the candle now, the fire fairy won’t have time to get back home!”

“The fire fairy?”

“Yes,” I say, and I look my child in the eye. “The fire fairy is in the flame -– let’s have her stay with us a bit longer.”

His eyes are wide. His face is solemn. “The fire fairy is inside the flame?”

“Yes,” I say. “Yes.” Then I pause. “Will you wait and blow out the candle when we are done eating?”


And just like that, we are no longer fighting. We’ve gone from No to Yes.

Orlando sits back down. We continue eating, and stay at the table for a long time.

I feed him bite after bite. He leans against me (he scoots his chair as close as possible to my chair during meals, which I have lately been responding to with stress, yet tonight I am grateful for this mellow closeness). We are as relaxed as if we were sitting in front of a roaring fireplace.

Finally, it is time for the fire fairy to fly away home. Orlando and I blow out the flame.

+ + +

Stacy is the mama behind Mama-Om, where she writes quirky, vibrant, honest and insightful posts about (trying to) parent peacefully.

Guest post: ‘Poo-free hair care – no bubbles required

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9, I’m featuring several guest bloggers. Today’s guest post is from Jenny who blogs at Babyfingers.

‘Poo-free hair care – no bubbles required

Do you already have a hair care army living in your kitchen?
I had never heard of ‘poo free hair care until some friends at our local babywearing group brought it up at a meeting. One lady mentioned how pleased she’d been with the condition of her hair since she quit using shampoo. Perplexed, several of us asked “what do you use?” The answer was simpler and cheaper than I expected: baking soda and apple cider vinegar!

Because I’d been told some people experience shampoo withdrawal I placed the commencement of my ‘poo free hair care on the back burner. Shampoo was working okay for me. Still, I often looked in the mirror to see a brown mop of unruly hair which was three times as voluminous as I desired. The frizz was worse on wash days (I only shampooed every other day) and was especially bad during times of high humidity in the summer or high static in the winter. I identified with Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and had my shampoo to thank for it. When it dawned on me that quitting shampoo could possibly remedy my lifelong hair troubles, I got started.

For about five dollars I purchased a half-gallon of apple cider vinegar and a box of baking soda. I looked around my kitchen for containers and found two sippy cups. Squirt bottles of some sort (recycled, if possible; you might use your old shampoo bottles) are best because they make it easier to coat the hair without wasting materials or accidentally pouring into your eyes. After a little trial-and-error, I now put about a tablespoon of baking soda in the first cup and fill the rest of it with water, then put the cap on and shake it. I fill the second cup with about 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and fill the rest of it with water. There are exact measurement suggestions here. I massage the baking soda solution into my wet hair. Next I add the ACV solution, leave it in for a few seconds, and rinse. It smoothes my hair out and makes it easy to brush. I end with a cold rinse. My friend Julie, who got me started on ‘poo free hair care, also recommends using lavender water in a spray bottle. I use locally made lavender linen spray (not just any lavender linen spray works; it must be made with real lavender oil and water). You can also buy your own lavender oil and mix it with water. Spraying this on freshens up ‘poo free hair between washes. For the first couple of weeks you may need to do more frequent washes or rinses. Alternatively, you could skip the extra washes and wear a hat, scarf, or ponytail.

Eventually my hair began to feel dry, probably because I was using too much baking soda. I tried a deep conditioning treatment of mayonnaise and avocado, which came highly recommended by several sources. To make this treatment you mix one mashed avocado with ½ cup of (real) mayonnaise. Squish it through your hair, put on a shower cap and leave it in for 30 minutes. Rinse well. After this treatment my hair was a little too moist! It became limp and stringy, and it didn’t smell like a rose either. If you try this one, I’d recommend applying it only to the ends of your hair on the first try. Also be careful not to leave it on too long! Another similar treatment I’ve read about and would like to try is half of an avocado mashed with an egg rather than the mayo. It’s similar, because mayo does have eggs in it, but using an egg instead eliminates a ton of oil, which is the first ingredient in mayo. Therefore, it may be better for all but the driest hair. I have used a beaten egg on my hair as a mask and have been pleased with the results even when I was still using shampoo. Besides, if you have extra, the vitamins in eggs (and possibly avocados) will also work wonders as a mask on your face!

My favorite occasional treatment is the sugar scrub, suggested by Julie. It’s useful if you have dandruff or hair that feels dirty or stiff near the roots. For this one you need honey and brown sugar (it doesn’t dissolve as easily as white). Get a small handful of sugar and squirt approximately the same amount of honey on top of it. Rub your hands together, lean over so the length of your hair is hanging down, and massage it into your scalp. It works best if your hair is wet but the shower is off; you don’t want the sugar to dissolve too quickly. It’s the perfect exfoliant because when you are finished the warm water melts the sugar and it rinses out in seconds! This scrub feels wonderful and restores bounce to hair. Follow it with your regular baking soda and vinegar routine.
There are many other inexpensive, natural treatments with which to supplement your baking soda and ACV. If your hair is dry you can condition it with sweet almond oil, coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil (see details here). Some people choose to continue using regular conditioner sparingly; I still have a bottle of conditioner I bought at Whole Foods but haven’t had to use it yet.

Of course, where there’s a need, there’s a product! Terressentials, an organic body care company, makes delicious-looking Pure Earth Hair Wash, which was honored in 2004 as a top product in the Green Guide. I’m hoping to try it soon; although baking soda and vinegar are easy on our budget, sometimes I long for a yummy scent such as lavender or mint. I’ve also read that this hair wash adds shine and makes hair softer. (If you’ve tried it, please tell us how you liked it!)
‘Poo-free hair care is individualized just like shampoo. How many people can say they’ve used the same kind of shampoo their whole life? I can’t; I’ve been through dozens of brands! In the end, though, I have been happier after a month’s experience with baking soda and ACV than I have in years and years of shampoo-sampling. The hardest part of the ‘poo free experience is getting over the idea that bubbles are required to clean hair. Not only are they unnecessary, but they wash out your hair’s natural oils! The ultimate goal is to gently clean dirt and impurities out of your hair while leaving the oils your hair needs. Once I stopped trying to shampoo and blow-dry my hair into submission, I was able to find a balance and embrace its natural body and texture.

For more information on ‘poo free hair care and other reasons giving up shampoo is a good idea, visit this informative post at Babyslime.
Are you ‘poo free? What techniques have worked for you?

Jenny lives in South Carolina with her one-year-old daughter Suzi and husband Jordan. She enjoys practicing attachment parenting and is especially interested in babywearing and breastfeeding. She blogs (and sometimes rants) at Babyfingers.

Guest post: Gradually Going Local

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9, I’m featuring several guest bloggers. This guest post is from Ami who blogs at Writing: My Life.

I first heard about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) several years ago in a magazine article. I immediately loved the idea of paying a local farmer in exchange for a weekly share in whatever he or she produced. What better way to really know where your food is coming from? Unfortunately, by the time I’d learned about CSA the deadlines to sign up with any of the local farms had passed. I planned to check into it again the next spring, but kept letting those deadlines pass me by.

The desire to start eating more locally kept building, though, as memories of homegrown tomatoes and carrots straight from the garden came back to me. Then, in the spring of last year, I read a book that changed my perspective on food tremendously. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle reacquainted me with the natural order of food. It reminded me that eating a tomato in January (unless it comes from a jar you put up in August) is not natural. It made me take a second look at my banana-eating habits. And it taught me that local eating can be healthy, good for the environment and really flavorful, too.

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I started running into articles on local eating and Community Supported Agriculture everywhere, and I began thinking much more consciously about where my food was coming from. Yet again, I was too late to join a CSA for the year, but I shopped mainly at the farmer’s market that spring, summer and fall. I spent my weekends prepping and cooking fresh produce. I did some freezing and drying to preserve a bit of what I brought home. I even tried growing my own tomatoes, which unfortunately succumbed to the beaks of the pigeons and blackbirds before I could enjoy them. I also did a little local-eating experiment, and I learned a lot about how difficult our current food system and lifestyles can make eating locally.

The difficulty didn’t discourage me, though. I did my best, and this year, I was a little more prepared. I joined that CSA and was at the farmer’s market on opening weekend ready to eat with the seasons again. I got a newer refrigerator, with a freezer that could hold more produce for the winter months. I joined the One Local Summer Challenge, with the goal of eating at least one completely local meal each week. I planted an herb garden in my tiny backyard.

One day I hope to have a garden to tend with berries, squash, peppers, juicy tomatoes and more. But for now, I support my local farmers and try to keep my eating as local as possible. Sure, my behavior hasn’t completely changed. I still spend money at the grocery store and I haven’t started canning and root cellaring yet. And eating local certainly isn’t the easiest eating option. But I feel good knowing that my money is supporting local agriculture. I’m happier knowing the farmer that grows my vegetables at the CSA. I see him regularly when I pick up my share and he sends us a farm and harvest update every week. Even the farmers at the market are open about their growing practices and I’ve come to know several of them by name. These days, I know where my food is grown and I trust that it’s being done with conscious concern for the land and the people who will consume it. Of all the benefits of eating local, I think that’s the best one.

Ami is a technical and freelance writer trying to live a healthier and greener life—and some days she succeeds. Read more about her local eating escapades at Writing: My Life.