Archive for the 'women' Category

Food Storage With Pregnant Women, Infants and Young Children

Sharon March 25th, 2008

This week I’m going to spend a lot of time on specific needs, and how to adapt your food storage to meet those needs.  Among the most common special circumstances is a childbearing woman, infant or young children.  Even if you personally are male or past childbearing, you may end up being the place of respite for family who have these issues in a crisis, and it is, IMHO, important to think about them.  I have encountered many people over the years who never expected to see their children suddenly arrive back home, to end up raising their nephews or grandchildren, or never expected to get pregnant (or pregnant again) and did.  Do not think that this information could never be relevant to most of us.  Remember, plans are good - but plans go awry regularly.

The first, and probably most essential component here is water.  I know a lot of people respond to my discussions of storing water as “ok, we’ve moved into total whack-job territory.”  And yet, I’m going to say that this is particularly important if your household includes or might include pregnant women, infants or very young children who are especially vulnerable to disease, parasites and chemical contaminations.  They also all have very little toleration for dehydration or water stress.

 So if you have or might have young children, pregnant women or infants, store water, and have a way of filtering water in the long term.  If you have a limited supply of filtered or known safe water, and are worried about contamination, the last people to touch potentially contaminated water should be children or pregnant women - lifelong consequences are possible. 

Pregnant women need more water and more of some nutrients.  Storing a pregnancy multivitamin if you could potentially become pregnant is not a bad idea.  Regular multivitamins will mostly suffice, though, if a varied diet is possible.  Folate (found in eggs and greens) and protein are particularly important - make sure pregnant women get more of these foods.

One issue for pregnant women may be nausea - on a food storage diet it is particularly difficult to deal with food issues.  To the extent you can, women in early pregnancy suffering from nausea should be accomodated in any way possible - the reality is that hunger makes the nausea worse and can result in a “death spiral” of being unable to eat or keep anything down long enough to deal with hunger induced increases in nausea.  This can cause dehydration, occasionally even death.  So if you are relying on food storage and have a sick pregnant woman, do the best you can to find something she can eat, if you know you plan to be pregnant and have specific triggers you might consider storing them, also if you plan to be pregnant, sea bands or ginger might work (nothing worked for me ;-) but I mention it). 

Otherwise, pregnancy doesn’t require special foods.  But infants do.  Infants under 4 months (6 months is considered ideal) should be exclusively breast-fed whenever possible.  Breastfeeding is essential - and in a crisis, it can actually save lives.  Formula often becomes unavailable in a crisis, and a nursing mother can not only keep her own infant hydrated (even if she is suffering from dehydration she will continue to make some milk) but potentially other infants as well who can drink expressed milk in a bottle or cup or be taught to nurse (sometimes).  While not every woman can nurse, far more can than do, and for longer than most American women do. There’s more on the value of this here:

http://casaubonsbook.blogspot.com/2007/12/52-weeks-down-week-30-nurse-and.html

But what about women who can’t nurse, or those who adopt? And, for that matter, I’m going to say something that most mothers don’t like to hear.  We aren’t immortal or invulnerable - trust me, I know how it feels to believe that you have to be ok, because your children depend so much on you.  But things happen sometimes to mothers.  And the survival of our babies and children shouldn’t depend on the ability of any one adult to be present and to feed them.  So having some kind of backup situation makes sense. 

That backup situation could be another lactating woman in close proximity, it could be a goat (not a cow), or it could be a store of infant formula.  I know that we should whenever possible, store what we use and vote with our dollars.  But every time I had a baby, before I gave birth, my husband and I bought a six month supply of generic, cheap infant formula.  It lasts about 2 years in storage (and unopened can be safely used for another year or two, but will lose nutritional value and may not adequate, so do this only in a dire emergency to keep a baby alive - a wet nurse or goat would be better) and before it expired, we would give it to our local food pantry that always desperately needed formula. 

I am a passionate advocate of breastfeeding - but I care much more that babies live even if their Moms aren’t around, or can’t nurse them, and someone be able to take care of the babies around them. Only you know if your circumstance merits doing this, but it is something to think seriously about - I think of it as a charitable donation, one I hope never to need myself.

Once an infant is 4 months old (again, six is considered optimal, but by 5 months my kids were always grabbing food out of my mouth at the table, so thought they were ready), you can gradually begin transitioning them to mashed up solids.  (Actually, when I was an infant, solids were begun as early as 6 weeks - this is not recommended now, but if formula or breastmilk were in short supply, it could be considered - again, do it only if you have to.)  Waiting longer is considered better, particularly if you have a family history of food allergies.

Babies don’t need “baby food” per se, although it is good to start them on mashed up very simple, low allergen foods like white rice, greens, potatoes or orange vegetables.   But again, they should be primarily getting their food from mother’s milk, goat’s milk or formula until nearly a year - babies need a high fat, high protein, high quality diet.  If you think they may come into your orbit, store for them.

Young children, under 2, need more fat than most people, so storing some extra high fat food is a good idea.  Fish oil is a particularly useful thing if you can keep it cool, because it enhances brain development. Otherwise, they simply need a balanced, healthy diet.  But this can be tough with young children, since toddlers often are extremely picky eaters.  This means that storing familiar foods and getting kids familiar with whole foods used in storage is especially important. 

Toddler pickiness has some evolutionary advantages - as they get more mobile, they get more choosy about what they eat, which is protective.  It is helpful to recognize that this is a passing stage, and just concentrate on finding foods they like.  Remember also that toddlers often have to encounter an unfamiliar food over and over again before they will try it - keep trying.   Generally speaking, if they aren’t making a radical dietary transition - that is a complete break from familiar foods - which they shouldn’t be, since we’re all trying to eat what we store - kids won’t generally do themselves any harm.

For healthy older children, I think a low-tolerance policy towards picky eating is important - I’ve written more about getting over picky eating here.  And again, kids make it extra-urgent that you begin eating out of your food storage regularly.

I’ll post some kid friendly food storage recipes in one of my next posts - more coming soon!

Sharon

Everyone Talks About their Period, but Nobody Does Anything About It…

Sharon February 18th, 2008

…Except Crunchy Chicken. One of the things I like best about Crunchy’s writing is her straightforward bluntness on bodily issues. In fact, she rather puts me to shame - I was once famous for that sort of thing. When I was doing AIDS education, I used to do a “15 ways to put a condom on a banana (or a partner)” demo that managed to embarass almost everyone. But since I’ve become a staid peak oil and climate change writer, I’ve hardly even mentioned bodily fluids or the orifices from which they flow. This is a pity, and must change.

Well, Crunchy has done me one much better - she’s not only talking about menstruation, she’s making change in the world. Millions of young African women miss school because they have no menstrual supplies. Commercial makers of disposables are supplying some of them - and getting a lot of advertising credit for it, but the pads are then burnt, and the free supplies are a temporary measure, designed to create a market for disposable products many poor women and girls can ill afford. Crunchy has started a non-profit, working with aid agencies, to get women to sew or donate reusable pads to these women - and asked me if I’d help. Not only do I want to help, but I can’t say enough how much admire Crunchy’s passion - and her speed. It was less than a week before she had a project up and going.

So I strongly recommend that all of my readers read Crunchy’s posts on this matter:http://crunchychicken.blogspot.com/2008/02/last-monday-i-posted-about-how-i-was.html and http://crunchychicken.blogspot.com/2008/02/using-your-sewing-skills-for-good.html and visit her new website here: http://www.goods4girls.org/ and make a donation, either of your time or money. I will be.

You will also soon be able to donate through this site, but as you all know, I’m a techno-moron, and the addition of something as complex as a donation button to my blog is way, way beyond my skills. So I’m relying on a kind friend to help me.

And, as long as we’re talking bodily fluids here, may I also recommend that everyone think seriously about their own, as well as the menstrual needs of the world’s poor. Disposable menstrual products bite - they aren’t as pleasant or comfortable as the reusable ones, they cost tons more, and they add to landfill waste and used ones produce methane, an greenhouse gas with many times the warming power of carbon. While teenage girls may not yet be ready to carry around used pads (although it is perfectly possible to do so very discreetly), all us grownup women have no excuse.

You have a whole host of choices here - long lasting, very comfortable cups like the Keeper and the Diva Cup (I have a diva):http://www.gladrags.com/category/menstrual-cups, and various cloth pads that can be made: Note, the ppatterns Crunchy is using work well for ourselves too: http://www.goods4girls.org/2008/02/sewing-patterns.html or bought: http://www.moonpads.com/ or some other site - my own come from gladrags, and I’ve been very happy with them:http://www.gladrags.com/ but She Who Must Be Crunched has a list here:http://www.goods4girls.org/2008/02/how-to-donate.html.

While you are doing good in Africa, if you aren’t using reusable menstrual supplies, do good here, for us and the entire planet, and switch over.

And men, I don’t want to hear any whinging about this post. In fact, unless you are gay or celibate and never interact with women under 60, you should be reading this with some interest. Perhaps you have a daughter, a friend, a sister, or a wife who might be interested in this information. There are lots of women out there who might be nervous about doing this because they’ve been taught that menstruation is dirty or bad. It helps to have a husband or friend who deals matter of factly with your period, and who (if the relationship is intimate enough to allow for this) is gently encouraging (without pressure) to make the conversion.

And please, folks, donate to Crunchy’s project. It is such a little thing - and a huge thing - women’s education is enormously important for their political and social status, their reproductive future (education is tightly correlated with birthrates) and their economic and environmental security. It would be easy to underestimate how important this is. Fortunately, Crunchy hasn’t!

Goods for Girls

And next on the bodily fluids parade: the reusable condom, its engineering and the future of sperm (which isn’t actually a joke - I’ve written about this: http://casaubonsbook.blogspot.com/2006/09/hey-engineers.html)

Cheers,

Sharon