How Being YOU Can Reduce Stress

I always joke with my coworkers that they have to watch what they say around me because I believe everything that I hear.  And, although I think it is important to draw on other people’s experiences to shape your own success, at the end of the day you are the only person who knows what is best for you.  As a follow up to last week’s stress-free blog, I’d like to leave you with four more tips focused on how being YOU can lead to a productive and carefree school year. Continue reading

“Can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?”

Last semester, I overhead some students talking about how Tori Spelling got pregnant one month after giving birth even though she was breastfeeding. I’ve never really understood breastfeeding-as-contraception, so I did some research about LAM, aka Lactational Amenorrhea Method.

My hope is to provide an overview of LAM to folks who are unfamiliar with this method and blew it off as just another sexual health acronym (IUD, NFP, PID, HIV, HPV, HSV, etc). If you are interested in using this method, please consult your health care provider for more detailed guidance. Check out my last blog entry Are you pregnant or parenting at UNC? for more info on resources available UNC.

What is Lactational Amenorrhea Method? Lactational Amenorrhea Method is a contraception method where a woman relies on exclusive breastfeeding to change her body’s hormonal balance to prevent pregnancy. This method can work up to the first six months of the infant’s life, which is also the duration for which the WHO and American Academy of Pediatricians recommends exclusive breastfeeding.

How does LAM work? Time to get your Anatomy & Physiology extra credit! Continue reading

Are you pregnant or parenting at UNC?

What an impressive juggling act! Hats off to you. You’re doing important work!

Let me tell you about a few of the resources available for you locally:

UNC Student Parent Association
UNC Parenting Resource Guide is a great way to get oriented about services available to you through UNC and in the community at large.
List of lactation spaces on UNC Campus
La Leche League of Chapel Hill is a group where experienced mothers support women who are figuring breastfeeding out.

Personally, I didn’t really know much about breastfeeding until I trained as a doula (a doula stays with a laboring woman, not as part of the healthcare team, but as an attendant who provides emotional, physical & informational support). I was blown away when I learned about the emotional, nutritional, and health benefits for women & children that come through breastfeeding.
• The physical contact helps women and babies bond.
• The baby receives IgA antibodies through the mother’s breast milk that provide a natural passive immunity while the baby’s own immune system gets up & running.
• Babies instinctively drink the right quantity of breast milk, so they reduce their risk of over-nourishment.
• When babies latch on to the nipple, breast milk goes right down their throats without lingering in the mouth so the risk of dental cavities is reduced.
• Breastfeeding helps women lose weight after pregnancy and reduces risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Even if you aren’t thinking about having kids right now, it’s valuable for everyone to understand breastfeeding and benefits in order to be more supportive of nursing women. Breastfeeding can be challenging; many women have a difficult time with various parts of breastfeeding including latching, production, emotions, balance, and more. In other words, nursing women need all the support they can get!

FYI, in North Carolina it’s legal for a woman to breastfeeding in any public or private location without being in violation of indecent exposure laws. On top of that legal foundation, I hope we can have a culture on campus where all nursing Tarheels feel comfortable and respected breastfeeding their children.

Stay tuned for more! My next project is to examine a birth control method I’ve never understood: LAM, aka Lactational Amenorrhea Method, aka breastfeeding-as-contraception.

How To Have a Stress-Free School Year

I know what you’re thinking:  “I don’t need advice on a stress-free school year.  I have all my notebooks, matching pens and pencil case, post its and baby stapler with little baby staples all ready for my first week of class.  It’s all smooth sailing from here.”  But I would be willing to bet that I will see you the night before your first exam in 3 weeks in the library frantically scribbling important topics on your post it notes with empty coffee cups and baby staples strewn about.  In fact, I guarantee it.

So, please read this stress-free blog.  If nothing else, you’ll know where to come back and post a comment to prove me wrong. Continue reading

Food & Finances

I rarely buy anything fun for myself.  If I do splurge, it’s always something on sale.  My point is that almost all of my money is spent on food — and coffee.  So, why is it that when I’m at the grocery store, I have an inner struggle paying $20 for dinner ingredients that will feed me and my roommate a home cooked meal AND leave leftovers for us both, but I don’t think twice about dropping $9 for one meal at school that is made from processed ingredients that has been sitting under a heat lamp for 3 hours?   Why, you might ask, will I debate paying $10 for a pound of coffee that will yield 48 cups, but I will unconsciously spend $2.24 a day on ONE at school?  It leads me to wonder how much being lazy is actually costing me in terms of calories AND cash!

My personal rule is that you can eat anything you want IF you prepare it on your own.  That way you have control over the distribution of calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fat that will be most beneficial for you and your needs.  For example, if you prepare a hamburger and French fries at your own house instead of grabbing one from the drive through, you can save yourself over 600 calories and 40 grams of fat!  And although we think fast food is so inexpensive, preparing this meal at home will also save you over 3 dollars!

My original motivation for writing this blog was based on a delicious yogurt parfait at school that I keep purchasing despite its ridiculous price of $4.08.  I knew that if I replicated this creation at home that I could reduce the price. Imagine my surprise when I found I could make it for ½ the cost.  I wish I could say this revelation means the café will never get 4 dollars and 8 cents of my money again. Realistically, this just means that I’ll think twice and might avert a few purchases in the future with my newfound knowledge.  Stay tuned for my next blog where I will divulge some quick and easy DIY calorie and money savers.

(Calorie counts were determined using NutritionCalc Plus and pricing was determined using Harris Teeter express lane.  Also, I’m from Pittsburgh where we drink pop and not soda in case you needed any clarification!)

The Pleasure of the Journey

As you may or may not have heard or seen, the Sexual Wellness Specialists (formerly CHECS) and Project Dinah recently held an event entitled “Orgasm? Yes Please!” As one of the CHECS counselors, I was tasked with standing in front of a crowd of nearly 350 students alongside my fantastic co-workers and fellow bloggers David Andrews and Laetitia Lemoine. Over the 4 months leading up to the event, we put countless hours in to writing the script, planning the event, and rehearsing every line. At the end of the night though, after the crowd had stopped laughing and clapping and all the chairs stood empty, I stood and wondered about the irony of the evening. I reflected particularly on the question that I heard so many times in the months leading up to the event, the curious and soft-spoken question – “Why exactly are you having a program on female orgasm?”

Continue reading

Women and Alcohol: Anything you could do, I could do better… except drink alcohol.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health (fancy, right?), alcohol affects women differently than men. What?!?! I didn’t like it either (FYI, I identify as a lady). I had a knee-jerk reaction stemming from my devotion to feminism and deeply held belief in the equality of all genders. [Note: There is an unfortunate lack of information on the physiological effects of alcohol on people who identify as intersex, trans, or gender queer. Come on, science!] So I was skeptical, picturing ol’ boys’ club researchers bent on proving that there really are innate differences that render women the fairer (read: weaker!) sex. But the fact is that there’s a lot of quality, well-executed (meaning well-funded!) research to back this up. Women process alcohol differently than men. Not better or worse, just differently. And this is an important difference that can’t be ignored. Continue reading