Sunday, October 25, 2015

Couple loses baby boy to circumcision death; hope it never happens to another

Another beautiful baby has lost his life due to circumcision. Ryan Heydari died from hemorrhage after being circumcised - a heart-breaking and tragic loss that happens far too often in the United States and Canada. Babies only need to lose 2.3 ounces of blood to pass away as the result of hemorrhage.

National Post reports:

An Ontario doctor has been cautioned after a 22-day-old baby bled to death from a circumcision gone horribly wrong, underscoring the heated debate over a simple yet contentious procedure. Another physician involved in the case was urged by a medical governing body to be “mindful” of the operation’s dangers. But Ryan Heydari’s parents say the regulators who handled their complaints have shed little light on what led to Ryan’s death – or how to prevent similar tragedies in future.

They say they did not even want the newborn circumcised — a view in line with longstanding recommendations from the Canadian Pediatric Society — but were persuaded to do so by a family physician. “We are so shocked that we will not have an answer to bring us some peace for our broken hearts, to prevent other cruel deaths like Ryan’s and to ensure that doctors take proper care of their patients,” mother Homa Ahmadi told the National Post.

In fact, the case only became public because the couple appealed the original Ontario College of Physician and Surgeons rulings, which were rendered in secret. An appeal tribunal upheld this month a decision by the College to caution the doctor who saw Ryan in the emergency department hours after his circumcision, his diaper stained red with blood. The Health Professions Appeal and Review Board also confirmed the college’s separate advice to the pediatrician who conducted the procedure to be aware of its potential hazards, and document his efforts to get informed consent. The pediatric society said in a recent report that death from bleeding caused by circumcision is “extremely rare,” though it’s not completely unheard of. A five-week-old B.C. baby bled to death after being circumcised in 2003.

Ahmadi gave birth on Jan. 3, 2013 to a boy who loved attention, cried relatively little and seemed to actually smile. “He gave us the most amazing moments of our life,” says Ryan’s mother. She and husband John Heydari, who immigrated from Iran about 12 years ago, opposed having him circumcised, convinced that “mother nature created us the way she intended us to be.” But their family physician persuaded them it was a good idea for medical reasons, despite contrary advice from pediatric specialists.

Once carried out on most Canadian boys and still common as a religious rite for Jews and Muslims, circumcision has generally fallen in popularity. Ahmadi says she and her husband knew almost immediately after their son’s procedure that something was seriously wrong. The previously unfussy baby “was crying so much, so hard, and he wouldn’t stop,” she recalled in written answers to questions. “He was bleeding, and it only got worse over just hours … It was so obvious from the blood his tiny body had lost that he was in danger.”

The pediatrician who did the circumcision told the College he conducts many of them, that Ryan’s was uneventful and there was no bleeding when he checked the dressing before the family left. The parents called about bleeding later that day, though, and he advised them to take Ryan to Toronto’s North York General Hospital, which they did. “We … waited for care that could have saved his life, but that level of care never came,” says Ahmadi.

A sparse outline in the board’s decision says Ryan was eventually transferred to Sick Kids hospital, but died there seven days later. Pathologists said he succumbed to “hypovolemic shock” caused by bleeding from the circumcision, which emptied his body of 35 to 40% of its blood.

The doctor at North York General — whose name has been withheld according to College policy — was cautioned for failing to recognize the seriousness of the boy’s condition or treating “compensated shock” – the first stage of the condition. But the process left the family little further ahead in fathoming how Ryan could have died, said Brian Moher, their lawyer. “My clients felt that there was a big gap in what the College had done with the investigations, essentially missing the point around the infant’s death.”

The devastated parents, meanwhile, have not had other children. “The loss of Ryan, our only child, has made us realize that we can’t possess anything, even our hopes and dreams,” Ahmadi says. “We hope that this never happens to any other baby.”

Related Reading:

Death From Circumcision:

The Perils of Plastibell:

Death From Circumcision Higher than Neonatal Suffocation and Auto Accidents:

Healthy Newborn Dies Post Circumcision:

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Ask the Experts: Dr. Sears on Jaundice and Breastfeeding Babies

Question: I was told my newborn's bilirubin levels are 15.8 and that we need to be admitted to the hospital. Is this justified? What is causing this and is there anything else I can do?

by Dr. William Sears (read more from the Sears family of pediatricians at

Jaundice tends to be more common in breastfed babies and may last a bit longer. In most cases, it is harmless, but jaundice phobia on the part of parents and healthcare providers often creates obstacles to successful breastfeeding.

Here’s some background on jaundice and ways to minimize interference with breastfeeding.


Jaundice (also known as hyperbilirubinemia) is the cause of the yellow tinge that colors the skin and eyeballs of newborn infants, especially in the first week or two. Jaundice happens because babies are born with more red blood cells than they need. When the liver breaks down these excess cells it produces a yellow pigment called bilirubin. Because the newborn’s immature liver can’t dispose of bilirubin quickly, the excess yellow pigment is deposited in the eyeballs and skin of the newborn. This kind of a jaundice is called physiologic jaundice, because it is part of a normal body process.

Once the newborn’s bilirubin-disposal system matures and the excess red blood cells diminish, the jaundice subsides – usually within a week or two – and causes baby no harm. Jaundice is more common in premature infants, who are less able to cope with excess bilirubin. In some situations, such as an incompatibility of blood types between mother and baby, jaundice may be the result of problems that go beyond the normal breakdown of excess red blood cells.

In rare instances, the bilirubin levels can rise high enough to damage baby’s brain. For this reason, if the healthcare provider suspects that something more than normal physiologic jaundice is the cause of baby’s yellow color, bilirubin levels will be monitored more closely, using blood samples. If the bilirubin level gets too high, your doctor may try to lower the bilirubin level using phototherapy, special lights which dissolve the extra bilirubin in the skin, allowing it to be excreted in the urine.


Bilirubin levels average 2-3 milligrams higher in breastfed infants than in formula-fed infants (14.8 milligrams versus 12.4 milligrams). The difference is thought to be due to an as-yet unidentified factor in breastmilk that promotes increased intestinal absorption of bilirubin, so that it goes back into the bloodstream rather than moving on to the liver. Higher rates of jaundice in breastfed infants may also be related to lower milk intakes in the first days after birth, because of infrequent or inefficient feeding. It is normal for jaundice to last a bit longer in breastfeeding infants, sometimes until the third week after birth. While most newborn jaundice is harmless, common medical remedies for jaundice can interfere with getting breastfeeding off to a good start. Therefore, healthcare providers and parents should be cautious about treating a condition in which the cure can create more problems than the disease. Watch out for what we call the “yellow flags” that signal an overreaction to jaundice in the breastfeeding baby.

  • In most cases, it is not necessary to treat jaundice when bilirubin levels are less than 20 milligrams. 
  • Most jaundiced infants do not need supplements of water, sugar water or formula. 
  • Avoiding breastfeeding for a day or two is not usually necessary to bring down bilirubin levels. 
  • Shake off any suggestion that something about your milk is bad for your baby. As long as your baby is otherwise healthy, jaundice is short-lived and harmless. If your baby’s jaundice is related to other health problems, your milk is very valuable for him and you should continue to breastfeed. 


Lowering baby’s bilirubin levels also helps to lower the worry level of both parents and healthcare providers. The things you do to get breastfeeding off to a good start will also help you avoid problems with jaundice.

Early, frequent, unrestricted breastfeeding helps to eliminate bilirubin from baby’s body. Bilirubin exits the body in the infant’s stools, and because breastmilk has a laxative effect, frequent breastfeeders tend to have lots of soiled diapers and thus, lower bilirubin levels.

Be sure that your baby is latched on well and is sucking efficiently. See the Breastfeeding Latch Trick for tips on getting baby to nurse well. Jaundice sometimes makes babies sleepy, so they nurse less enthusiastically. You may have to take the lead and wake your baby during the day to encourage her to nurse. See "Waking the sleepy baby" for suggestions.

If phototherapy treatment is necessary because of a high bilirubin level, talk to your healthcare provider about alternatives to placing baby in the hospital nursery under phototherapy lights. For most babies a photo-optic bilirubin-blanket (phototherapy lights that wrap around the baby) works well. You can hold and breastfeed your baby at home while the lights dissolve the bilirubin.

Giving breastfed babies bottles of sugar water in hopes of reducing bilirubin levels has been shown to be ineffective. It may even aggravate the jaundice, because babies whose tummies are full of glucose solutions may nurse less often, reducing their milk intake and the opportunities for bilirubin to be excreted in stools. Giving sugar water and formula also interfere with the "virgin gut" and thereby further impacts immunity.

If your doctor advises giving formula supplements to provide more fluids and calories and decrease the intestinal absorption of bilirubin, work with a lactation consultant to give supplements via a supplementary nursing system, syringe, or finger-feeding methods. This will avoid problems with nipple confusion.

Don’t worry, make milk. If your baby is jaundiced, be sure you understand what type of jaundice your baby has. If it’s normal physiologic jaundice, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. If it’s jaundice due to a medical cause, such as a blood group incompatibility, be sure you understand that this is easily treated and should not interfere with your breastfeeding. Worry may cause you to make less milk and doubt your ability to nourish your baby at the breast. This gets in the way of breastfeeding success.


In some breastfed babies, bilirubin levels may exceed 20 milligrams and jaundice may last well into the second week of life or longer. It was once thought that this was a distinct type of jaundice, called breast milk jaundice, that was found in a small group of mothers whose milk contained a substance believed to interfere with bilirubin absorption. Treatment for this type of jaundice involved taking baby off the breast for 24 to 48 hours. This brought bilirubin levels down, but sabotaged the course of breastfeeding.

More recent research suggests that high bilirubin levels and prolonged jaundice in otherwise healthy breastfed babies are just normal variants of ordinary physiologic newborn jaundice. There may well be a substance in the milk of most mothers that inhibits the absorption of bilirubin by the intestines, but whether a baby has a little jaundice or a lot is largely due to individual differences in both babies and mothers.

Nevertheless, some healthcare providers may suggest a period of temporary weaning (24 to 48 hours) to bring down bilirubin levels. Work with your doctor to determine if there are other alternatives, for example, phototherapy, that would allow breastfeeding to continue without restrictions. If you do decide to try formula for a day or two, be sure to pump your breasts every two to three hours so that you will continue to make milk and avoid a breast infection. Formula supplements can be given using alternatives to bottles, to avoid problems with nipple confusion when baby returns to the breast.

Breastfeeding mothers are welcome to join The Breastfeeding Group: where you can connect with other nursing moms and professionals trained in lactation science, build friendships, gain community, and celebrate your breastfeeding days.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Q&A: Baby Cluster Feeding and 'Fighting Sleep'


"Why is my 3 week old fighting sleep and nursing all day long? A friend suggested 'The Wonder Weeks' by Dr. Sears - is there any validity to this?"


The Wonder Weeks is the English translation of Frans X Plooij's (Dutch) book. While great in theory, it has been disproven time and again (including by other professors and scholars who worked with him). Dr. Sears' work is fantastic, but he has nothing to do with Plooij or his book/site. Sears' work on development and infant needs is based in reliable/valid research and human development and well worth review. Sears' The Baby Book ( and The Baby Sleep Book ( or The Fussy Baby Book ( are all excellent and touch on the subjects of cluster feeding and sleep concerns.

At the core, it is normal and natural for babies' sleep patterns to change frequently in the first year of life. Babies each go through their own periods of growth spurts (although these tend to be especially common around 3-4, 6-7, and 9-10 weeks and 3, 6, 9 months). When these times of rapid growth occur, babies will do what they naturally need to do to make more milk --- increase demand! This has to do with the Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation and its impact on mom's milk production: This is a normal, natural, easy way for babies to control how much/how little they need.

Your little one may also be teething (which can and does happen early for some babies; and teething discomfort often begins 6-8 weeks before a tooth emerges). Some ideas for making life easier for baby when this happens:

The foundational solution to all these things? Nurse on cue and allow a baby to snuggle/sleep according to her own perfect timing as well (ditch clock-watching or schedules in babyhood). It can be tough on mom (which is why none of us are meant to mother alone in isolation). Ask a partner to hold/wear/rock baby for 2-3 hours so you can catch up on sleep; or hire someone to help for a couple hours several days a week (just to wear/rock/hold baby) while you nap (or shower or relax). Mothering in community with others, or getting a few hours of help a few times a week has saved many moms in the new months of babyhood. and are two great options for finding inexpensive, but good, help with a gentle sitter to hold your baby while you sleep. Asking a relative, neighbor, friend, church-member, etc., are additional options.

Another key solution is learning early in the newborn days to nurse while laying down with your baby. Safe cosleeping (or co-napping!) is how mothers have survived and babies have thrived throughout all of human history, and in most of the world today. Join a breastfeeding group, or cosleeping group, and ask for tips from others who have been there before you. Sleeping while nursing is another life-saver that hugely benefits mothers and their little ones.

Remember, even during the weary, tired-eyes days and nights of early motherhood, this is a brief and fleeting time and will not last forever. It can seem like this is not the case, especially when your baby is nursing every hour, or cannot leave the breast, but these days and nights will quickly become a distant memory of early babyhood.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Circumcision Regret: Working Through and Rising Above Mistakes Made

By M. Merritt © 2015

I am a mother to three beautiful boys. When I was pregnant with my first son, I researched everything. Well, almost everything. The one topic I ignored was circumcision. Looking back, I wonder why more websites do not touch on the subject. For example, if a new or expecting mama is researching breastfeeding, there should be information pertaining to how much pain impacts feeding for a newborn, but not many sites focus on this,  for fear of upsetting their readers.

In my research, I didn’t look to any specific websites, I just did a lot of Googling. At the time, I was an aide at a local hospital in a U.S. city where circumcision was common, and proper intact care was almost unknown. My job was to watch over the patient who suffered from Alzheimer’s and dementia to make sure they stayed in their beds and did not injure themselves. I witnessed many sponge baths. Many of the men were circumcised, but there were a few who were intact. I can remember one intact patient that was in a comatose-like state. He was unable to care for himself, so he relied heavily on the nursing staff to keep his body clean. At the time, he appeared to have a fungal infection in and around his penis. Every single nurse/doctor/nurses aide who cared for him remarked about his intact genitals. They would say that he was 'dirty' or that it was his own fault that he had infections because he was not circumcised. Because of experiences like these, mixed with the fact that nearly every other male I knew was circumcised, my husband and I decided to have our first son circumcised.

After a somewhat traumatic, induced labor and delivery, a couple doctors came in to my hospital room to ask me why I wanted to have the elective surgery performed on my baby. I feel like it didn’t really matter what I said, because after giving them my reasons, they simply nodded and were on their way. Looking back, I wish those two or three doctors had given me some information about what was going to happen to my son. If they had given me some facts or statistics, maybe I wouldn’t have allowed my baby to be cut...

Fast forward to when my baby was brought back into my room after being circumcised. The doctor (who was also my OB/GYN at the time) made a crude remark about having to use the bigger clamp on him. She said this with a huge grin and a giggle. At the time, I didn’t know what to feel. Was that supposed to make me feel proud? I don’t remember much from that day except that my baby was very unhappy. He did not latch well (if at all) after being cut, but breastfeeding was one of the things I was very adamant on. My baby boy seemed to not know what to do and when he did latch on, he would frantically suck until I began to bleed. It was awful. I would beg the nurses to help me latch him on correctly every hour, and they all said he was latching fine. They got very annoyed with me after a couple hours of this. I cried and cried, telling them I know something was wrong. Looking back, I have NO idea how I did not connect the dots. My baby boy was in pain!

When my son turned 3 weeks old, it was the first time I was able to finally latch him on properly. Up until then, I was pumping around the clock. Our first three weeks as a mother/child dyad were spent pumping, bottle feeding, and being very stressed out. All I wanted in the world was to cuddle and nurse my precious baby boy. My son was clearly upset most of the day and night post-circumcision, and still, I did not understand why.

After he healed (as best one could be after such a horrible surgery), breastfeeding got easier. Once he hit three months, I started 'liking' some parenting pages on Facebook. At first, I just 'liked' random pages, (still being new to the world of Facebook) and it was then that I was first introduced to a group of people who called themselves intactivists. I’m not sure who any of these particular people were at the time, but their comments and posts were absolutely terrifying to me. I witnessed attacking and name-calling, and after viewing many horrible photos posted for shock value, I dismissed the credibility of intactivists in general. From that moment on, I hid or clicked away from any and all information about circumcision. I went on like that, in a state of cognitive dissonance, until about a month later.

I began researching when it would be a wise time to start my baby on solid foods, and came across, and eventually found the Peaceful Parenting Facebook page, too. Once there I noticed that a lot of the posts dealt with the topic of circumcision as well. The only difference was that the information was presented in a gentle, research-based way. The posts were factual and informative. I even noticed that the readers and commenters had a more approachable style with their words. I began to wonder if maybe I had been wrong all along…

I am not sure exactly which post I read that day, but I do know that the words in it were what ultimately got me to the point of wanting to learn about circumcision. Nothing I read made me feel threatened, or scared. It was straight facts and science-based information. I think I sat at my computer for hours that day researching circumcision for the first time. That was the day I had another label to add to my name: regret mom. From that moment, my eyes were opened, I regretted having my son circumcised with my whole heart.

I eventually needed to take a couple steps back, because it was all too painful for me at the time. I wronged my son, and the guilt from that seemed as though it might swallow me whole. One day I was reading the comments of a post about circumcision over at Peaceful Parenting, and I came across a comment from a mother exactly like myself. She found herself consumed with guilt and shame, and did not know where to turn. Someone responded to her, and her words encouraged me to keep on going. She told this mama that there are other people liker her, and that there were things she could do to help herself heal. Because of those words of encouragement, I was able to move forward.

Here is a list of the things I have done/am doing to help with the guilt that comes along with being a regret mama:

1) Apologize to your baby.

It sounded silly at first to me, but doing it felt great. I let out a good cry, and I believe it really helped start the healing.

2) Plan to apologize to your son when he is old enough to understand and process the apology.

This is a huge one. My son is just about 6 years old, and I know the time is quickly approaching. I have decided to wait to speak to him about it, because he is a very sensitive and emotional being. I need to wait until the right time. When that time is here, I will make sure my son knows how sorry I am. I will prepare myself for all the emotions he may have. Sometimes I wonder if he will be angry at me. I know my little boy, and I know how big his heart is. I am sure he will offer up his forgiveness, but it may take him a while. And that is okay. Anything he feels is the right feeling. After all, it was he who had almost half of his penis mindlessly cut off for no good reason at all. He deserves to be angry. But, no matter what, he WILL know that he is a hero to his younger brothers and the countless other baby boys we've been able to 'save' from routine infant circumcision as the result of this experience. It is my hope that he knows I understand how big a deal circumcision is. I will make sure to always be accepting of any feelings he may have regarding what was done to him.

3) Write.

This is something else I struggle with, but writing down my feelings about such a traumatic time has been therapeutic for me. It forces me to really face my fears and look the practice of male genital mutilation right in the eyes.

One thing I suggest to all the regret parents reading this is to never force yourself. Take your time and treat yourself gently. You deserve that, and pushing yourself too hard can actually be counter productive in your journey to healing.

4) Get the word out!

At first, I did not think I was capable to something like this because I am a very introverted person, but I had this nagging feeling that something had to be done, and I was perfectly capable of doing it! It is hard at first, but there are gentle ways to inform expecting mamas, raise awareness and take part in public education. For the most part, people welcome genital autonomy information happily when it is presented in a way that meets them where they are at. Today, I am Co-Director of Intact Rhode Island, our state chapter of Saving Our Sons, and take part in numerous educational expos, demonstrations and events each year.

5) Keep ALL future sons intact.

For me, this was a no brainer. After all the pain my son dealt with, there was no way I could put another child through such a barbaric procedure. My eldest son suffered, and still does suffer, in so many ways because of being circumcised. No child deserves to deal with that. I went on to have two more sons after my first, and keeping them intact has helped me on such a deep level.

Someday, when all of my sons are curious as to why their big brother looks different, I will tell them the truth. I will apologize to them as well. I wonder if they will be upset with me for allowing someone to hurt their brother. I will prepare myself for anger, which ever direction it may come from. Ultimately, I will tell my younger two sons that their big brother is a hero. He and his daddy are their heroes. They both survived male genital mutilation, and lived to save other boys from it. Someday I will make sure they realize how amazingly brave and strong their big brother is. And their daddy, he is the bravest of them all. Admitting he was violated as a baby was not easy for him, and because of his strength, two of his sons will never know that pain in childhood, or that loss in adulthood. That is a hero! ♥

If you're a regret parent, like myself and so many others, who are raising both circumcised and intact sons, you can connect with me at Keeping Future Sons Intact, or in the private KFSI group:

Further experiences from parents with circumcised sons who are keeping future sons (and grandsons) intact:


Monday, August 10, 2015

Why Spanking is Never Okay

By Nestor Lopez-Duran, Ph.D.
Originally published at Child Psych. At Peaceful Parenting with permission.

The most recent issue of the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics included a report on the use of physical violence as a form of discipline (aka “spanking”) and its relation to intimate partner violence. The study examined a large sample of close to 2,000 families participating in a nationally representative study of families across the USA. The authors were interested in examining whether the use of spanking in 3 year-old children was associated with physical violence between the parents.

The results were not surprising:

1. 65% of 3 year old children were spanked at least once by their parents during the previous month.

2. The odds of using physical punishment doubled in households where parents used aggression against each other. This is not surprising since physical punishment is a form of interpersonal aggression.

3. Maternal stress significantly increased the odds of using physical punishment. This is also not surprising since physical punishment is more likely to be used by parents who are angry.

4. Maternal depression significantly increased the odds of using physical punishment.

5. The odds of using physical punishment were not associated with maternal education, but when the father had a college degree both the father and the mother were significantly less likely to use physical punishment. I am curious to hear my readers’ thoughts on this interesting finding.

The authors concluded (CP = Corporal Punishment; IPAV = Intimate Partner Violence):
Despite American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations against the use of CP, CP use remains common in the United States. CP prevention efforts should carefully consider assumptions made about patterns of co-occurring aggression in families, given that adult victims of IPAV, including even minor, non physical aggression between parents, have increased odds of using CP with their children.
Yes, the American Academy of Pediatrics unequivocally recommends against the use of aggression as a discipline method. Why? Because the research on physical punishment is clear: it is unnecessary and is associated with a long list of NEGATIVE consequences. For example, although proponents of “spanking” argue that if you don’t spank, the child will not learn to behave properly, the research actually suggests the opposite. Children who are spanked, when compared to their non-spanked peers, are, among many others:

1. more likely to use aggression against their peers
2. less likely to internalize rules
3. more likely to engage in criminal activity during adolescence
4. more likely to engage in domestic abuse as adults
5. more likely to suffer from depression
and on and on and on.

For those who want to read more about the science behind the negative effects of corporal punishment, visit the research library of Project No Spank;

I unequivocally oppose the use of violence towards children as a discipline method for two reasons. The first is explained above. The scientific research shows that physical punishment does not work in the long run, is associated with an increased risk for many behavioral and psychological problems, and is simply unnecessary given that we have non-violent discipline techniques that are very effective. But I also oppose violence towards children on philosophical grounds.

Although I never talk about philosophy (and especially my views) on Child Psych, this time I want to share them with you. I am a secular humanist, and as a humanist I oppose interpersonal violence except in cases of self defense. I view spanking as a culturally accepted violent act towards a child. We use the words “spanking” or “corporal punishment” as euphemisms so that we don’t confront the reality of the act: when a parent spanks a child the parent is physically assaulting the child. Why do we accept such aggression when we oppose other forms of interpersonal violence? For example, in western societies we oppose marital violence. We believe that there is no excuse that could justify a husband for hitting a wife. A husband can’t argue that he hit his wife because the wife was “misbehaving,” or that it was “just one hit,” or that he used “an open hand,” or that the hit “didn’t leave any marks,” etc. Under all circumstances, we oppose the assault of a wife by her husband. We do not accept the premise that it is “the husband’s right” to hit his wife. Yet, our culture accepts the premise that “it is a parent’s right” to hit his/her child. We allow the use of violence against young children under the excuse that such aggression is “culturally accepted” or even “necessary” to teach the “child a lesson.” But I ask, what lesson? That we can use violence to achieve our goals? That it is acceptable to hit people when they don’t do what we want? That hitting those who can’t defend themselves is okay as long as you are teaching them a lesson?

Children are not possessions. Children are, albeit small in size, real human beings who have the right to live in an environment where they are safe from being physically assaulted. Being free of physical harm is the most basic human right, and children should not be exempt from it.

From a scientific and humanistic perspective, there is no valid argument that justifies the use of violence towards children in the name of discipline. It is unnecessary, ineffective, and leads to many negative consequences. My explicit recommendation to all parents is: Never use violence to correct a misbehavior or to teach your child a lesson.

Three final points. Please don’t confuse a position against spanking with being “permissive.” You can be very strict without the use of violence. You can provide structure, rules, limits and consequences, without being violent towards your child. See below for alternatives to spanking.

Second, be wary of the “my grandma smoked till she was 100″ excuse. That is, some people justify spanking, or even refuse to believe valid science, because “I was spanked as a kid and I’m okay.” That would be the same as believing that there is no association between smoking and cancer because “my grandma smoked till she was 100 and didn’t die from it.” Smoking increases the probability that you will get cancer, even though some people who smoke will be okay. Likewise, spanking increases the probability of a laundry list of negative outcomes, even though some people who are hit as children will be okay in the long run.

Finally, some have argued that spanking is OK in certain cultures as long as you provide nurturance and love. It is true that some studies have shown that high levels of maternal support can reduce the negative consequences of physical punishment. But, from a humanistic perspective, I find the argument that “it is okay to hit my child if I provide love” as invalid as a husband saying “it is okay to hit my wife if I show her that I love her.”


Taylor, C., Lee, S., Guterman, N., & Rice, J. (2010). Use of Spanking for 3-Year-Old Children and Associated Intimate Partner Aggression or Violence. PEDIATRICS, 126 (3), 415-424 DOI: 10.1542/peds.2010-0314

Alternatives to Spanking and Related Reading:

Gentle Discipline Resource Collection

Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain [book]

The Science of Parenting: How today's brain research can help you raise healthy, emotionally balanced children [book]

The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost [book]

Our Babies, Ourselves [book]

The No Spanking Page alternative ideas to spanking

Why Do We Spank Our Babies? 

Infant Pain Impacts Adult Sensitivity

Early Spanking Increases Toddler Aggression, Lowers IQ
Spanking Decreases Intelligence? 

Project No Spank 

Dr Sears: 10 Reasons Not to Hit Your Child

Aware Parenting

Natural Child / Jan Hunt

Love Our Children USA

Support NY Rep Carolyn McCathy on her efforts to ban physical punishment in US schools.


Friday, July 31, 2015

Making More Milk: Breastfeeding, Supply and the Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation

By Danelle Frisbie © 2013

A common concern among new nursing mothers is milk supply. And while it is the case that very rarely does a mother carry a baby to term without also producing the milk this baby needs to thrive post-birth, the worry, "Am I making enough for my baby...?" is ubiquitous.

To maintain a full supply of human milk (and not much is needed in the early weeks or months of babyhood) a mother must drain her breasts often to create a demand. As simple and non-complex as it sounds, that is the very basic, fundamental rule of milk production: increased demand = increased supply.

This basic component of milk production in mammals is termed the Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation (FIL). In Breastfeeding Management for the Clinician: Using the Evidence, Marsha Walker explains, "FIL is an active whey protein that inhibits milk secretion as alveoli become distended and milk is not removed. Its concentration increases with longer periods of milk accumulation, down regulating milk production in a chemical feedback loop."

Unfortunately, when we decrease the demand from the body for milk production by supplementing or putting baby on a time clock (not as much milk is needed to feed baby when s/he is being filled with something else, or when longer intervals pass between feeds) then supply follows the drop in demand and decreases as well. A supplementing mom, or a mother who has been told she should only feed her baby every x number of hours, quickly finds that her milk supply dwindles, and she becomes frustrated and/or sad that breastfeeding "just isn't working out" for her and her baby.

Because of the FIL principle, when products are marketed specifically to mothers who are already breastfeeding their babies, or those who plan to nurse and wish to succeed in doing so, it is an irresponsible and hurtful move to push such items on women already concerned about their babies' wellbeing and their milk supply. Instead, we would empower the next generation of nursing (and pumping) moms, and see more happy, healthy, well-fed babies by understanding and appreciating the FIL process, and encouraging mothers to always listen to their little ones and feed on cue. And in cases where we wish to increase or build milk supply, we must make moves to nurse (and/or pump with a hospital grade pump) completely to empty, at frequent intervals.

When women elect to birth and breastfeed their babies, the female body is a powerfully wonderful, working organism - one which overcomes all kinds of roadblocks along the way. Yet we must provide our bodies with the feedback they need to fulfill what they were designed to do; and in the case of breastfeeding and milk supply, it is all about demand.


1) Walker M: Influence of the maternal anatomy and physiology on lactation. In Breastfeeding Management for the Clinician: Using the Evidence. Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers; 2006:51-82.

Related Reading:

Breastfeeding Made Simple (book)

The Baby Bond (book with excellent research on breastfeeding, among other topics)

Your Baby's Signs of Hunger (article)

Lactation Cookies: Increasing Milk Supply (article)

Nursing Mother, Working Mother (book)

Balancing Breastfeeding (article)

Making More Milk (book)

The Politics of Breastfeeding: When Breasts are Bad for Business (book)

Formula For Disaster (film)

Using Formula Like 'Similac for Supplementation' Decreases Milk Supply (article)

Breastfeeding Advocacy and Formula Feeding Guilt (article)

Helpful Breastfeeding Books

Breastfeeding Resource Page


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wean Me Gently

Photo: Alyssa G. and her baby boy - shared via Woman Uncensored

I know I look so big to you,

Maybe I seem too big for the needs I have.

But no matter how big we get,

We still have needs that are important to us.

I know that our relationship is growing and changing,

But I still need you. I need your warmth and closeness,

Especially at the end of the day

When we snuggle up in bed.

Please don't get too busy for us to nurse.

I know you think I can be patient,

Or find something to take the place of a nursing -

A book, a glass of something,

But nothing can take your place when I need you.

Sometimes just cuddling with you,

Having you near me is enough.

I guess I am growing and becoming independent,

But please be there.

This bond we have is so strong and so important to me,

Please don't break it abruptly.

Wean me gently,

Because I am your mother,

And my heart is tender.

~ Cathy Cardall


This poem is available on a postcard to hang on your fridge or give to a friend.
Request one or several here.

Photograph © Danelle Frisbie


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