Saturday, December 29, 2007

Discussion Groups

The following are parent-to-parent closed (non-public) discussion groups on Facebook. Read each group's description prior to joining (in the 'about' section at the top righthand side of the group).


Exploring Peaceful Parenting: FB.com/groups/ExplorePeacefulParenting (for families striving to parent in baby/child-friendly ways)


Peaceful Parenting Supporting Members: FB.com/groups/PeacefulParentingMembers (Find details on becoming a member and joining this group at: http://www.drmomma.org/2007/02/peaceful-parenting-membership.html


The Breastfeeding Group: FB.com/groups/Breastfed (for nursing women and female supporters)


The Baby-led Weaning Group: FB.com/groups/BabyLed (for families practicing baby-led weaning and natural 'child-led' weaning)


The Birthing Group: FB.com/groups/Birthing (for birthing women and mother/baby-friendly female birth advocates)


The Babywearing Group: FB.com/groups/WrapMyBaby (for babywearing families)


The Car Seats Group: FB.com/groups/CarSeats


The CoSleeping Group: FB.com/groups/CoSleeping (for cosleeping families)


The Cloth Diapering and EC Group: FB.com/groups/DiaperDays (for cloth and EC using families)


The Homeschooling & Unschooling Group: FB.com/groups/PPHomeschool (For families homeschooling or unschooling children).


The Natural Immunity Building Group: FB.com/groups/ImmunityBuilding (for families raising children with an emphasis on building strong immune systems via natural measures; for families forgoing or delaying artificial vaccination)


Saving Our Sons: FB.com/groups/SavingOurSons (for families with intact sons and those advocating for genital autonomy for all)


Peaceful Parenting Network local chapters and state discussion groups: www.PeacefulParentingNetwork.org



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Friday, December 21, 2007

Circumcision Choices For Jewish Parents

By Julia Bertschinger, C.C.E.
Midwifery Today, p. 22-23, no. 17, 1991

Author's note: I am not trying to convince Orthodox Jews not to circumcise. I am trying to show that circumcision can be done in a much less radical and painful way and still fulfill religious obligations.

About four thousand years ago, the original Jewish circumcision consisted of cutting off only the tip of the foreskin, the floppy part that extends past the glans in the normal male infant. Called milah, the procedure left most of the foreskin alone. Sometimes another procedure, called periah, was performed after milah. Following amputation of the tip, periah consisted of forcibly retracting the infant foreskin. (The infant foreskin does not normally retract [Gairdner, 1949]; four percent of foreskins do not fully retract until age 17 [Øster, 1968].)

Two thousand years ago, Jewish hellenists, wanting to assimilate characteristics of the Greek way of life, obliterated the sign of their "tip" circumcisions. Most of their foreskins were still intact, so they found ways to lengthen them, to make it look as if they had not been circumcised at all. This practice was unacceptable to ancient rabbis, who decided to begin cutting all of the foreskin off in infancy. Babies circumcised in this manner could not possibly later hide the fact that they had been circumcised. Ever since, Jewish boys have endured - and sometimes died from - total foreskin amputation.

Significantly, most rabbis today erroneously refer to total foreskin amputation as milah. Do Orthodox Jews have a choice in how or whether their sons will be circumcised? According to Jewish sources, the history of circumcision indicates that the practice has gone through many changes. Orthodox rabbis have debated as to whether to perform just milah, or to also perform periah. Some considered it essential to have the mohel (ritual circumciser) suck the blood from the boy's penis after the circumcision (Jakobovits, 1959). There have also been debates as to whether circumcision was valid if a metal knife was used instead of fingernails or flint.

Circumcision causes babies intense pain and suffering. Expectant Orthodox Jewish parents may therefore be interested in exploring true brit milah (tip amputation only, as originally performed by Orthodox rabbis). Non-Orthodox parents should be aware of two other options: brit shalom (the naming ceremony) with no circumcision (Bivas N, 1987) or brit with lancing of the foreskin so that one drop of blood is shed. All three options are far safer than total foreskin amputation, which, of course, was invented by mortal rabbis and not by God.

Further resources by/for Jewish parents: http://www.drmomma.org/2009/06/circumcision-jewish-fathers-making.html



Common myths about circumcision:

Myth #1: Unmyelinated nerves do not transmit pain, and therefore...

Myth #2: Babies don't feel pain because some of their nerves have not become myelinated (developed) yet.

Myth #3: Local anesthetic makes the circumcision painless.

Myth #4: The baby's intact penis is harder to keep clean and take care of than a circumcised penis. 

Myth #5: There are sound studies proving that circumcisions prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). 

Myth #6: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reversed its stand against circumcision.

Myth #7: By age five the foreskin should retract on its own.

Myth #8: It is difficult to teach a boy to keep his intact penis clean.

Myth #9: Male family members will have psychological problems if some have circumcised penises and others have intact penises.


And some facts:

Fact #1: Not only do unmyelinated nerves transmit pain, they actually transmit the most excruciating type of pain. Therefore...

Fact #2: Babies do feel pain, especially since they have more unmyelinated nerves than adults have. Also, while it's true that some nerves are not yet myelinated in an infant, the fact is that most of the unmyelinated (undeveloped) nerves will never become myelinated. Adults have plenty of unmyelinated nerves also.

Fact #3: Injecting the anesthetic into the genital area is painful for the baby. Once the anesthetic has taken effect, the baby's screaming from pain during the surgery is only reduced and by no means eliminated. Because the anesthetic wears off soon, the postoperative pain that lasts for days is just as bad for a baby that had anesthetic than for one that had none.

Fact #4: Because of the extra care that one must take in caring for and bathing a circumcision wound that is in the process of healing, and because of the frequent complications such as meatal ulcers that occur in circumcised penises, the intact infant penis is actually much easier to care for. It basically needs no care, no retraction, no nothing.

Fact #5: The highly publicized studies "proving" that circumcisions prevent UTIs have many flaws. No major scientific body has accepted these studies as proof that circumcisions prevent UTIs. In addition, contradictory studies also exist, showing no correlation between UTIs and circumcisions. 

Fact #6: While the AAP has softened its stand against the surgery, it has not by any means endorsed the surgery.

Fact #7: The normal, spontaneous, and sometimes gradual full retraction may take up to 17 years to complete. Note: under no circumstances should the infant foreskin be retracted, even in a gentle manner. It is simply not necessary.

Fact #8: A girl's genitals are more difficult to keep clean than a boy's intact penis. Boys, like girls, can easily figure out for themselves the details on how to clean their own genitals.

Fact #9: When England abruptly stopped circumcising most of its population, there were no psychological problems reported about the circumcised fathers and intact sons. Many American families have a mixture of circumcised and intact penises and the family members have no psychological problems.


References:  

Bivas, Natalie. Alternative Bris Support Group.

Briggs, A. "Circumcision: What Every Parent Should Know" 1985.

Gairdner, D. "Fate of the Foreskin." Brit Med J, 1949, 2:1433-1437.

Jakobovits, Immanuel. Jewish Medical Ethics, 1959.

Øster, J. "Further Fate of the Foreskin." Arch Dis Child, 1968. 43(228):200-203.

Roth, C and Wigoder, G. The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia, 1970.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mother's Skin-to-Skin Goodbye Saves 20oz Baby

By Danelle Frisbie © 2007
Interview with Isbister and quotes by Lucy Laing


Not all prematurely born babies need to be hooked to machines to survive - in fact, they may just do better skin-to-skin on Momma's chest. It is a technique as old as humanity ~ to hold your baby close and regulate all the newborn systems ~ something we now refer to as Kangaroo Mother Care.

When Carolyn Isbister held her 20-ounce newborn daughter close to her chest for the first time she believed it was the only time she would ever snuggle with her beautiful, beloved baby. She breathed in each moment holding her daughter close, as doctors told her to let go because her daughter only had minutes to live.
I didn’t want her to die being cold. So I lifted her out of her blanket and put her against my skin to warm her up. Her feet were so cold. It was the only cuddle I was going to have with her, so I wanted to remember the moment. Then something remarkable happened. The warmth of her mother’s skin kick started Rachael’s heart into beating properly, which allowed her to take little breaths of her own.
We couldn’t believe it - and neither could the doctors. She let out a tiny cry. The doctors came in and said there was still no hope – but I wasn’t letting go of her. We had her blessed by the hospital chaplain, and waited for her to slip away. But she still hung on. And then amazingly the pink color began to return to her cheeks. She literally was turning from gray to pink before our eyes, and she began to warm up too.
Despite all the doctors' disbelief - when all the 'experts' said there was no hope - Rachael's mother held her close, and gave her life. Her mother, however, remembers clearly that everyone gave up on her tiny newborn,
They didn’t even try to help her with her breathing as they said it would just prolong her dying.
At 24 weeks, a uterine infection had led to her premature labor and birth, and Isbister (who also has two children Samuel, 10, and Kirsten, 8) said, "We were terrified we were going to lose her. I had suffered three miscarriages before, so we didn't think there was much hope." When Rachael was born she was grey and lifeless. Ian Laing, a consultant neonatologist at the hospital, said that, "All the signs were that the little one was not going to make it and we took the decision to let mum have a cuddle as it was all we could do. Two hours later the wee thing was crying. This is indeed a miracle baby and I have seen nothing like it in my 27 years of practice. I have not the slightest doubt that this mother’s love saved her daughter." Rachael was moved onto a ventilator where she continued to make steady progress and was tube and syringe fed her mother's pumped breastmilk.
The doctors said that she had proved she was a fighter and that she now deserved some intensive care as there was some hope. She had done it all on her own – without any medical intervention or drugs. She had clung on to life – and it was all because of that cuddle. It had warmed up her body and regulated her heart and breathing enough for her to start fighting.
At five weeks, Rachel was taken off the ventilator and began breastfeeding on her own. At four months Rachel went home with her parents - weighing 8lbs - the same as any other healthy newborn. Having suffered from a lack of oxygen so early in life, doctors feared damage had been done to Rachel's brain. A scan, however, showed no evidence of any problems, and today Rachel is on par with her peers.
She is doing so well. When we brought her home, the doctors told us that she was a remarkable little girl. And most of all, she just loves her cuddles. She will sleep for hours, just curled into my chest. It was that first cuddle which saved her life - and I'm just so glad I trusted my instinct and picked her up when I did. Otherwise she wouldn't be here today.

Holding a baby on one's chest, skin-to-skin, is referred to as Kangaroo Mother Care. However, it is a practice that all mammals participate in (just watch a cat with her new kittens or dog with her newborn puppies). Kangaroo Mother Care benefits ALL babies in several ways.

*KMC babies stabilize faster with skin-to-skin care than in an incubator (very few newborns stabilize well within an incubator during the first fragile hours of life).

*KMC babies have stable oxygen rates and breathing thanks to the steady regulation of mother's respiration.

*A KMC baby's heart rate is stable (mother's heartbeat regulates baby's heartbeat).

*A baby's temperature is most stable on his mother - in skin-to-skin care mother's chest automatically warms to warm a cold baby, while her core temperature drops if baby is too warm and needs to be cooled.

*Sleeping within an arm's reach of baby (as long as a parent does not smoke) also regulates all of his physiological needs in the same way ~ they are kept steady thanks to Mom's warm, even-paced body. We lose far fewer babies to prematurity, irregularity of breathing or heartbeat after birth, and SIDS all with the natural help of skin-to-skin holding, or Kangaroo Care.


Read more about the skin-to-skin benefits for all babies (full term and premature) at KangarooMotherCare.com.

Good books related to Kangaroo Mother Care:
The Premature Baby Book
The Vital Touch
Kangaroo Babies

Read more about the benefits of sleeping within an arm's reach of baby ('sharing sleep') at Dr. Sears' site, in these excellent baby sleep books, at Dr. McKenna's baby sleep site and library, or any of the links at the Baby Sleep Resource Page.

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