Cuddling Babies Positively Alters Genes

By David Neild for Science Alert
Published to Peaceful Parenting with permission

Cuddling Babies Positively Impacts Genetics

The amount of close and comforting contact that young infants receive doesn't just keep them warm, snug, and loved. A 2017 study says it can actually affect babies at the molecular level, and the effects can last for years. Based on the study, babies who get less physical contact and are more distressed at a young age, end up with changes in molecular processes that affect gene expression.

The team from the University of British Columbia in Canada emphasizes that it's still very early days for this research, and it's not clear exactly what's causing the change. But it could give scientists some useful insights into how touching affects the epigenome - the biochemical changes that influence gene expression in the body.

During the study, parents of 94 babies were asked to keep diaries of their touching and cuddling habits from five weeks after birth, as well as logging the behaviour of the infants – sleeping, crying, and so on. Four-and-a-half years later, DNA swabs were taken of the kids to analyse a biochemical modification called DNA methylation. It's an epigenetic mechanism in which some parts of the chromosome are tagged with small carbon and hydrogen molecules, often changing how genes function and affecting their expression.

The researchers found DNA methylation differences between "high-contact" children and "low-contact" children at five specific DNA sites, two of which were within genes: one related to the immune system, and one to the metabolic system. DNA methylation also acts as a marker for normal biological development and the processes that go along with it, and it can be influenced by external, environmental factors as well.

Then there was the epigenetic age, the biological ageing of blood and tissue. This marker was lower than expected in the kids who hadn't had much contact as babies, and had experienced more distress in their early years, compared with their actual age. "In children, we think slower epigenetic aging could reflect less favorable developmental progress," said one of the team, Michael Kobor.

In fact, similar findings were spotted in a study from 2013 looking at how much care and attention young rats were given from a very early age. Gaps between epigenetic age and chronological age have been linked to health problems in the past, but again it's too soon to draw those kind of conclusions: the scientists readily admit they don't yet know how this will affect the kids later in life. We are also talking about less than 100 babies in the study, but it does seem that close contact and cuddles do somehow change the body at a genetic level.

Of course it's well accepted that human touch is good for us and our development in all kinds of ways, but this is the first study to look at how it might be changing the epigenetics of human babies. It will be the job of further studies to work out why, and to investigate whether any long-term changes in health might appear as a consequence. "We plan to follow up on whether the 'biological immaturity' we saw in these children carries broad implications for their health, especially their psychological development," said one of the researchers, Sarah Moore. "If further research confirms this initial finding, it will underscore the importance of providing physical contact, especially for distressed infants."

The research was published in Development and Psychopathology.

Peaceful Parenting Community


Take Mom's Picture

By Mary Katherine Backstrom
Find more from Backstrom at Mom Babble on Facebook.


Dear men, husbands, people who love us,

On behalf of mamas everywhere, I have an important request: Take our picture.

Even when we complain, even when our hair is a mess. Even when we are wearing a dingy, oversized sweatshirt. Take our picture.

I know this isn’t something on the forefront of your mind, and that’s okay. We don’t need every special moment documented... but, let’s be honest. We spend a lot of time doing just that for everyone else.

Please.

Take our picture.

Even when we fuss about how “chubby” we think we look in our swimsuit. If you see us splashing and laughing loudly with our babies in the heat of a gorgeous summer day—I don’t care if we are nine months pregnant (*ahem*) Take our picture.

Even if we moan that the angle isn’t good or our smile looks a little insane, I promise you this: We want to be seen. We want to be remembered. And it means the world to us when you take our picture.

You may not realize it now, but we’ve taken hundreds of sneaky photos of you and the people you love. When we see you snuggled on the couch with our babies or playing catch in the backyard, our hearts fill with joy and we can’t help but take your picture.

Or maybe you DO realize it, and it’s a little bit annoying. I can understand that, too. But here is a little reminder of these pictures are SO dang important: One day, we won’t be around for our babies. One day, you and I will be gone and what will remain of us will be the memories we’ve captured of this beautiful life we made. One day, our kids will gather around a table and scroll through images of these precious, fleeting days. They will cry and laugh and commiserate. They will say, “Remember that vacation? Remember that day?” And it will be so, so beautiful.

But if every single picture was taken by their mama, guess who won’t be in those memories?

Men, husbands, people who love us: Take our picture.

The mother of your children deserves to be seen, documented, and remembered. Not through posed family portraits or hundreds of selfies. But as who she was—who she is NOW—in those real, special life moments.

I know we don’t make it easy. Love us enough to do it, anyways. For our sake and for yours. For the sake of our babies Take our picture.

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When you yell at your daughter "out of love"


"Every time you tell your daughter you yell at her out of love, you teach her to confuse anger with kindness, which seems like a good idea until she grows up to trust men who hurt her 'cause they look so much like you." -Rupi Kaur, 'To Fathers With Daughters' - https://amzn.to/2zLBNpj

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How to calm an upset baby




Upset baby? Some of the most tried-and-true ways to meet a baby's needs when s/he needs love, comfort, security, snuggling and just to be calm and close to a loving parent.

#1 - Breastfeed! When in doubt, whip 'em out. Breastfeeding is perfect for more than just hunger or thirst needs -- human babies, as part of the carry mammal group, need to nurse for a baseline level of development and secure attachment.

#2 - Have skin to skin time with your baby. Nothing is more soothing and regulating for temperature, hormones, and respiration.

#3 - Babywear. Let friends and family know that you'd like a quality wrap or carrier (Moby Wrap, or similar stretchy wrap for snuggly newborn months; or a Kinderpack, Lillebaby, or Tula for heavier/older babies). This allows a parent to have two free hands, while keeping baby safe and snuggled in their natural habitat - close to a parent's beating heart.

#4 - Dance with your baby. Babies love (and need!) gentle, swaying, calm motion. This not only assists in core strength and development, but soothes a little one who was used to growing up for 9-10 months inside with the constant motion of mom's body. Couple babywearing with dancing, and you've got the perfect pair!

#5 - Sing to your baby. Your baby knows your voice from all their time inside, and this is another centering, calming way to settle your little one. If you're currently pregnant, you can pick a sweet song you love and start singing it now, while baby is growing within -- your baby will recognize the tune when s/he arrives and it will be a fast way to calm while rocking, wearing, and dancing together in the moonlight.

#6 - Take a warm bath with your baby (water only - skip the soap as baby skin does best with only warm water). Your little one grew up close to you in water, and a warm water soak with mom (or dad) revisits this soothing state of being. Don't climb into the bath while holding baby - have a small bouncy chair, or even basket with towel next to the tub for baby to safely lay or sit in while you get in, and then gently lift baby into the water with you. A warm set of towels nearby will help with easy, gentle transfer into a bundle when you're ready to get out. Breastfeeding in the bath is heaven for little ones!

#7 - Take baby for a walk. Whether in a wrap or carrier, or in a stroller, taking a daily stroll with your little one allows for calming motion needs to be met, while slowly exposing your baby to the world around them. Even before they are able to understand, tell your baby stories about what you see on your walk; talk with them about what you encounter. This will stimulate baby's brain development, language comprehension, and double the soothing as your little one hears your voice along your walk.

#8 - Rock with your baby.

#9 - Go on a drive with your baby. While this is not the case for all, many babies enjoy the soothing hum and rhythm of riding in a comfortable car seat in the car. If this is the case with your baby, taking a drive (when you yourself are NOT too tired) can provide a break while calming music plays along the way.

#10 - Have a trusted friend or loving individual step in and implement the above soothing items. When you are taxed, tired, and need a break - for a nap, shower, or just to run errands solo, a mom's helper for even an hour or two can make a world of difference. This is especially the case for those mothering solo. You need a break too, and that's okay. Nurse baby right before, and right after, and ensure you have someone who takes over that is on board with being calming, gentle, and keeping your baby in-arms.


Additional tips and practical solutions for calming an upset baby can be found in Dr. Sears' The Fussy Baby Book. Dr. Linda Palmer also covers nutritional/gut health reasons for potential infant pain, reflux, "colic" and other underlying reasons for crying babies in her fantastic book, Baby Matters -- a must-read especially for breastfeeding mothers or those interested in the science behind infant health and development.




I will not be working to get my body back

Photo by Alli Upham

No, no, you have it wrong, I will not be working to get my body back.
She was never lost.
She was here, giving every moment and detail to this sweet baby.
She was pushed and exhausted, stretched and stripped to make space for a new life.
Please stand back and aside.
For her sacrifice she will not be scrutinized.
She will be loved, and thanked and bowed down to.
She will be allowed her time to heal and be settled into.
This body’s work will not be forgotten, hidden or erased.
And if you feel it should, you understand nothing about the gift she has given.
No, no. Body don’t listen.
Because I see you.
I thank you deeply.
You did so good.

By Mia Car, Snuggle Me Organic

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Pregnant Moms Due This Year (more mainstream)

Birthing (more holistic)



Broken Birth Practices - Hospital Tour: Imma Head Out...


Earth's Natural Touch: Birth Care & Beyond in Bridgeport, Connecticut, put together this meme collection of broken birth practices and the responses from the mother who owns her birth. It's your body, your baby, your birth. You have the right, Momma, to know everything about your birth team, and birth location, and be picky in your selection process.











Pregnant Moms Due This Year (more mainstream)

Birthing (more holistic)

Peaceful Parenting Community

Research EVERYTHING when you are expecting.


The Vulva - A Professional Guide for Girls


Shannon O'Boyle writes:

Here it is. The V word. The G word.

Moms, Teach your girls that they are normal before some adolescent boy who learned from men who learned from porn + few real experiences tell her she is not.

I’m talking to YOU, Midwestern Mom.

I’m talking to YOU, Southern Bell.

I grew up here. Catholic. I know what we know, and it is rarely actual real and valuable information about OUR bodies that are OURS.

Yeah. Your parts are sacred. So, no one taught you to look at them. Look! YOU are your best advocate for health. Teach your partner what normal is. Teach your girls what normal is. LEARN WHAT NORMAL IS WHICH IS PROBABLY ALMOST ANYTHING THAT ISN’T PAINFUL. 

Guys, read this info so you’re not an idiot about it. Jokes on you if you learned about female body parts from porn and magazines... that sh*t is edited for one standard look.

Girls getting genital plastic surgery... Women telling me they need it after one baby... I’m done. You are whole and beautiful, and fortunately (!) of your own beautifully designed, unique mold. Know it.


This Online Vulva Guide Can Help Your Daughter Love Her Genitals: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/online-vulva-guide_uk_5aa79358e4b009b705d5c2bd
By Rachel Moss | Read more from Moss at: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/author/rachel-moss/


In a world where girls as young as nine are seeking surgery to alter the appearance of their genitals, parents may be at a loss as to how to reassure their daughters their vulvas are “normal.”

But now, doctors have created an online booklet you can direct young women to so they learn “vulvas come in a variety of shapes and sizes” and every woman’s “normal” is different.

The booklet, created in partnership with with Brook, a young people’s sexual health and wellbeing charity, features a series of illustrations that detail the changes that happen to a woman’s body during puberty and beyond.

Commenting on the launch, Laura West, participation and volunteering manager at Brook, said: “All young people deserve education, support and advice about anatomy, but unfortunately there is a lack of accurate and sensitive information available as part of the school curriculum and on the internet. This new booklet will help to address this need and will inform doctors, girls, young women and their families, as to what is normal and where to seek further help and support if required.”

The resource was commissioned by The British Association of Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology (BritsPAG), a specialist society of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.


According to NHS figures, in 2015-16 more than 200 girls under 18 had labiaplasty and more than 150 of the girls were under 15. These numbers do not include girls and young women having the procedure privately. BritsPAG say these operations do not have a medical justification.

Female genital cosmetic surgery refers to surgical cosmetic procedures that change the structure and appearance of the healthy external genitalia of women. It includes the most common procedure, labiaplasty, which is sometimes referred to as “designer vagina” surgery and involves the lips by the vaginal opening being shortened or reshaped.

As well as including illustrations of vulvas, the booklet, titled ‘So what is a vulva anyway?’ includes information to clear up the names of body parts for young women who may be confused.

“People call vulva lots of different names: fanny, minge, foof, flower,” it says. “Some people say vagina when they are actually talking about their vulva which is fine, but it’s a really good idea to know the proper names to avoid confusion.”

Dr Naomi Crouch, consultant gynaecologist and chair of BritSPAG, told HuffPost UK as well as being useful for teens directly, the new booklet can help parents when talking to young people about normal vulva appearance.

“It provides accurate and sensitive information about the vulva, how it is unique and it is entirely normal and healthy to change throughout life,” she said.

“Parents can play an important role in ensuring young people have access to accurate information and offer reassurance and emotional support to those who may feel concerned or distressed about how they look or feel.”

The team behind the booklet conducted discussion groups with young women in order to gauge their current level of understanding and whether they felt as though this resource would be useful.

These young women felt there is a lack of understanding about the vulva and that they are not taught enough in school. They said they are likely to conduct their own research online.


The booklet provides girls with a reliable resource to counteract the fact they are presented with so many images of vulvas that are digitally manipulated.

“It’s difficult to know what a ‘normal vulva’ is. You don’t really get to see other peoples so it’s difficult to appreciate that labia come in different shapes and sizes,” the booklet says.

“If you have seen any porn you might have seen vulvas looking a particular way (often with no hair and with very tiny labia - so you can’t see them). Lots of images are photoshopped to look like this - as are boobs, legs and various other body parts. This creates a false image of what is considered normal or desirable.”

The resource also aims to tell young women - and their parents - that if a young person does have concerns about their body, a positive thing to do is to reach out and speak to a healthcare professional, such as a GP.

The booklet will be available on the BritsPAG website as a download for clinicians, including GPs, practice nurses and sexual health staff to be able to give out when meeting young people with genital cosmetic concerns and signpost them to further resources that promote healthy body image.

Louise Williams, clinical nurse specialist at University College Hospital and co-lead of the project, said: “We see many patients in our pediatric and adolescent gynecology clinic who have a poor understanding of the function of parts of the anatomy and also of normal genital variation."

“We hope [this booklet] will reassure young people that vulvas come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and if they need advice and support, they can know where to go”

Dr Naomi Crouch, consultant gynaecologist and spokesperson for the RCOG and chair of BritSpag, added: “There is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the practice of labiaplasty and the risk of harm is significant, particularly for teenagers who are still in stages of development both physically and psychologically.

“We hope this resource will provide information for girls and young women that their vulva is unique and will change throughout their life, and that this is entirely normal and healthy.”





The British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology

A body-positive, gentle parenting community






Grandmother Nurses Her Grandbaby


Vietnamese grandmother nurses her grandchild after relactating, common in many parts of the world today, and throughout human history.

Photo via @melissajeanbabies

Related Reading: 

Induced Lactation: http://www.drmomma.org/2010/04/induced-lactation.html

Breastfeeding my adopted child: http://www.drmomma.org/2009/08/special-gift-breastfeeding-adopted.html

My adoptive breastfeeding journey: http://www.drmomma.org/2010/10/my-adoptive-breastfeeding-journey.html

The Protocols for Induced Lactation A Guide for Maximizing Breastmilk Production: https://www.asklenore.info/breastfeeding/induced_lactation/protocols4print.shtml

The Breastfeeding Community (group)

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Doctor Bans Doulas From Attending Births


As publicly composed by Exposing the Silence

ICAN of Huntsville shared the post circulating the web of the obstetrician's office who posted a sign stating that the practice would not work with pregnant clients who hire a doula (pictured above). In their post, ICAN accurately states how disheartening it is to see care providers assume they have the authority to make a decision like that which drastically affects their clients AND is in blatant disregard to all of the evidence confirming that doulas improve birthing outcomes in general. 

Of course, there is always that one person who has to stir the pot... 

"I don't see anything wrong with this and commend the doctor's office for stating clear as day! They are people too who have their own opinions and the way they want to practice. If you don't like it, then don't go to them! It's really that easy!" 

FIRST: "...who have their own opinions and the way THEY WANT TO PRACTICE..."

Whoa. Did you hear that? This person believes that our care providers have the RIGHT and POWER and AUTHORITY to decide HOW they WANT to practice [upon your body]! Yikes. 

SECOND: "If you don't like it, then don't go to them! It's really that easy!" 

Yikes again. Obviously, this individual is extremely unaware of how insurance coverage in healthcare works, the various geographic challenges pregnant people face, as well as the PRIVILEGE to just go somewhere else...that easily! Good grief. 

As expected, this comment has a massive thread of subsequent comments in response to include...

"Patients don't run the facility, the facility runs the practice. So pick a different facility." 

"It seems most are bashing doctors for doing what they are trained to do. I mean, referring to breaking someone's water as rape is infuriating to me. I know what both are and they are not the same. How dare someone say they are." 

ICAN chimes in with: "breaking someone's water without consent could be considered rape because you are inserting your hand into a person's vagina without consent." 

To which this response follows: "ICAN uh, no. Not even close. That is not rape by any legal definition." (YIKES again!) And: "I am making the argument that doing a cervical check is an established standard of care. It's not rape. And it's also not rape if a nurse or a midwife does it in the context of providing accepted medical care." 

Full stop. Did. You. Read. That. ?? "...AN ESTABLISHED STANDARD OF CARE..." "....IT'S NOT RAPE IF A NURSE OR MIDWIFE DOES IT..." 

It's not just the obstetric model of care we are up against when it comes to basic rights for all pregnant people, folks... The belief that MDs and other medical staff have the authority over our bodies runs deep in our culture. We have generations of conditioning to unlearn. 

In related NOT shocking news, the person who made that last comment is none other than an obstetrician.

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Become Connected

Pregnant Moms Due This Year [more mainstream]: FB.com/groups/DueDateGroup

Birthing [more holistic]: FB.com/groups/Birthing

Peaceful Parenting Community: FB.com/groups/ExplorePeacefulParenting 






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