The Effectiveness of Anesthesia for Circumcision Pain

By Danelle Day, Ph.D. © 2008

How often is anesthesia used during circumcision, and how effective is its use in warding off the otherwise unbearable pain of having one's genitals probed, sliced, and cut away?

Frequency of Anesthesia

Because physicians in the United States are not required to keep records of when and how circumcision is performed, we do not have concrete numbers on the exact percentage of times anesthesia is used during infant circumcision. University of Alberta research (Edmonton, AB) estimates that the majority - 96% - of physicians in the U.S. and Canada do not using anesthesia prior to circumcision, even when parents are told otherwise.

Nursing staff in recent years have come forward (sometimes by name when they have left a job, at other times, anonymously) to admit that they typically are instructed to tell all parents their newborn babies will receive anesthesia, or "pain relief" prior to circumcision, but more often than not this is no more than a sucrose (sugar) dipped pacifier and/or topical EMLA Cream.

Sugar Water

Sugar has been demonstrated to be ineffective in pain reduction. While this seems commonsense to adults (would you cut your genitals with a scalpel, or have amputative surgery performed on your body, while you are given nothing more than a sugary sucker?) it piggy-backs a long held myth that "babies don't feel pain." Certainly, nothing could be further from the truth. Research now confirms  that while sugar in the mouth may change facial expressions during inflicted pain, it does not reduce the neurological brain response (significant cortisol spikes) that takes place, or the body responses (rapid heart rate, respiration, and occasional intense trauma responses - shock, heart failure, seizure, coma, stroke) that may occur.

EMLA Cream

Like sugar, EMLA Cream used as "pain relief," or as an anesthetic, is equally ineffective. This is yet another experiment any consenting adult can try on him/herself: rub some EMLA Cream over your genitals, or any part of your body, and make a pin prick with a needle or a slice with your razor. Feel it? So do babies - with even more intensity. In fact, not only is EMLA ineffective at blocking pain in the many dermal layers of the skin, it does nothing to block the deep and highly sensitive nerves in the penis - the majority of which are concentrated in the foreskin. And even when used in an ernest attempt to reduce pain, physicians are not waiting the recommended 1-2 hours after application of EMLA to begin cutting of the exterior layers of the penis (the only tissues that would be numbed by EMLA Cream).

In addition to its ineffectiveness, EMLA cream is not to be used on infants or the genitals of children. The EMLA Cream manufacturer's insert cautions:
EMLA is used to temporarily numb the surface of the skin. It is used for pain relief on the skin prior to procedures such as needle insertion and minor skin surgery in adults and children over 12 months of age. Its effectiveness is lessoned in children under 7 years of age. 
When using EMLA Cream, it should not be applied to the following areas: 
• cuts, grazes or wounds
• skin rashes or eczema
• in or near the eyes
• inside the nose, ear, mouth, anus
• on the genitals of children
In addition, the following warnings have been issued for professionals using EMLA cream in their practice:
  • EMLA cream should not be applied to open wounds. 
  • Controlled studies of EMLA Cream in children under the age of seven years have shown less overall benefit than in older children or adults. These results illustrate the importance of emotional and psychological support of younger children undergoing medical or surgical procedures. 
  • During or immediately after treatment with EMLA Cream on intact skin, the skin at the site of treatment may develop erythema or edema or may be the locus of abnormal sensation. 
  • Blistering on the foreskin in neonates about to undergo circumcision has occurred. 
  • In patients treated with EMLA Cream on intact skin, local effects observed in the trials included: paleness (pallor or blanching) 37%, redness (erythema) 30%, alterations in temperature sensations 7%, edema 6%, itching 2% and rash, less than 1%. 
  • EMLA Cream must be applied to intact skin at least 1 hour before the start of a routine procedure and for 2 hours before the start of a painful procedure.
Despite its continued use in U.S. hospitals on neonates, EMLA Cream is ineffective and counter-indicated to be used in this fashion.

Dorsal Penile Nerve Block 

Logic would suggest that if we cannot reduce the pain of genital cutting by sugar water or EMLA Cream, a block to the dorsal nerve in the penis may be the solution. However, studies demonstrate that even a nerve block is ineffective when it comes to the intense pain of genital cutting. In a study conducted in part by the University of Iowa College of Medicine, approximately half of newborn males were circumcised with a local dorsal penile nerve block (experiment group), and the other half (control group) were circumcised without anesthetic. Adrenal cortisol levels in the brain (neurological indicators of extreme stress exhibited when humans are in pain) were compared. The findings indicate that neurological and physiological response to pain of the surgery was not significantly reduced by the administration of the penile nerve block. All infants showed trauma-induced stress responses. 

Research conducted by Dr. Paul D. Tinari and colleagues suggests this neurological shift in functioning to withstand the pain of circumcision has a lasting impact on the brain. Studies that look at infant pain and its relation to adult perceptions of pain, and neurological response in adulthood, would support these conclusions -- extreme pain in infancy impacts the brain and body for a lifetime. 

In the following case examples (videos below) from clinicians, anesthesia is used prior to circumcision. Hundreds more examples can be found today online in educational videos made for medical students, and on YouTube videos (occasionally uploaded by well meaning parents in the U.S. who were never told that circumcision is unnecessary, risky, painful and removes the important, purposeful prepuce organ that all mammals on earth are born having, and the majority keep happily for a lifetime). 

Watching these examples contributes to the ubiquitous realization that circumcision surgery is extraordinarily painful, and is not remedied with anesthetic in the majority of cases. Only under full anesthesia would an infant not experience pain during genital cutting. And because general anesthesia is counter-indicated for newborns unless there is a life-threatening reason to us these operative means, rarely would they be implemented. Even in cases that general anesthesia is used, a baby does not have the means to have adequate post-operative pain relief during the healing stage -- something a consenting adult can choose to self-medicate for if s/he opts for any form of genital cutting later in life. Should we find a way to make circumcision 100% pain free during and after surgical amputation, we are still permanently removing important parts of the human body, forever impacting a child who will grow to be an adult, unable to get back pivotal parts of the penis that were removed. 

To learn more about the most common forms of circumcision today, see: 

New to this topic? Find more: Should I circumcise my son? 

Questions? You're welcome to write to or join the Exploring Peaceful Parenting discussion group:



Motrin's apology on their site

After having their entire site down for the night, Motrin just posted this apology, directed at the onslaught of mothers who wrote in regarding their anti-babywearing (and I would say un-baby-friendly) advertisement. The ad was put out in both print and video forms.

With regard to the recent Motrin advertisement, we have heard you.

On behalf of McNeil Consumer Healthcare and all of us who work on the Motrin Brand, please accept our sincere apology.

We have heard your complaints about the ad that was featured on our website. We are parents ourselves and take feedback from moms very seriously.

We are in the process of removing this ad from all media. It will, unfortunately, take a bit of time to remove it from our magazine advertising, as it is on newsstands and in distribution.

Thank you for your feedback. Its very important to us.”

Kathy Widmer
Vice President of Marketing
McNeil Consumer Healthcare

Motrin Makes Moms Mad

I have to second what other mothers have wondered, "WHAT was Motrin thinking?!" If nothing else, the misinformation put forth regarding safe and effective babywearing in this ad is cause for concern.

Wearing your baby correctly is comfortable for both mom and baby. It leads to a much happier couple. There should be no pain - or need for Motrin - involved. If anything, babywearing reduces any "pains" of early babyhood.

Our son is currently pushing 19 pounds and has been worn since birth. He has never once been in a stroller or left in a carseat outside the car. As a professional mother making attempts to juggle a career (that I stepped down within at his birth), and as a current 'single' mom as my partner has been deployed around the world for 7 months, babywearing throughout the day (and sleep sharing at night) is life-saving. My son's comfort, security, safety, development, and happiness - completely void of the need to cry - as well as the secure attachment and bonding between the two of us, is natural, normal, primal, instinctual, and the furthest thing from pain-causing that I could imagine.

There are many mothers that Motrin did not interview when tossing together this baby-unfriendly advertisement...I am just another one.

Thank You, Dad: For keeping me whole!

I came across a thread of messages from people thanking their husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, etc., who were cut at birth for keeping their baby boys intact. It is beautiful and heartwarming. I have mountains of respect for my (cut) partner for his wisdom in researching things fully before making decisions and not just blindly jumping onto bandwagons, even when it goes against his previous life experience.

View the whole thread at:

BlessedMommy2006 Wrote:

This is something that has been on my heart today and I just wanted to share.

Thank you so much for courageously choosing to look at the facts and choosing what's best for your son, even though it was different from what your parents chose for you. Thank you for being man enough not to feel that your manhood was challenged by your son's intact status. Thank you for not jumping into the "everyone's doing it" boat and using social reasons to justify circumcision. Thank you for being willing to stand up to criticism from your parents if needed.

To all men like this (including my wonderful DH who's total on board with intactness, should we have a son this time), I say thank you. You are making a huge difference.

Freebirth on Discovery Health

I am reposting this message pertaining to a show that would be worth checking out for all you birth-advocates. Freebirth is of course more controversial than homebirth with an experienced midwife. It is not something I chose to do with my first baby, but is still interesting and I have a lot of respect for women who do choose to birth this way.

It airs on Discovery Health at 9pm (EST) today (Tues), 12am Wed 10/22, 11am Sat 10/25

Dear Friends,

Oct. 21st at 9pm (EST), “Freebirthing," the British UC documentary that was originally titled “Outlaw Births,” will be airing on the Discovery Health Channel in the US. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it isn’t a bad program, as far as these things go. There was actually much I liked about it, but of course there are negative comments throughout from medical professionals who don’t approve.

I’ve blogged about the program several times. Here is my most recent posting:

Be sure to read the comments below it. Heather B., who is prominently featured in the program, shared her thoughts about the way her story was presented. Heather is also prominently featured in the promos they’ve been showing on Discovery Health. I’ve turned to the station 3 times in the last few days, and within 15 or 20 minutes saw the promo each time.

Here is a page I put up with video clips from the British version. It’s essentially the same as the one I put up for “Outlaw Births” –

To read what Discovery Health says about the show click here -

In other news, we have another tentative date for the “20/20” childbirth show – Oct. 24th. The show has been bumped several times and could be bumped again. But if it does end up airing, this could be a big week for UC! I’ll keep you posted!

With much love,


Laura Shanley

Bornfree! The Unassisted Childbirth Page

Six Reasons Not to Get the Flu Shot

By Sheryl Walters
More from Walters at: Young Living Guide

Every year it is recommended that people get a flu shot to avoid spending time feeling horrendously bad over the winter. Elderly people are especially warned that without a flu shot, their health could be in serious jeopardy. In recent years, this warning has been extended to children, and more recently even teenagers. Yet there is mounting evidence that flu shots do not guarantee a healthy winter, and in fact they cause far more harm than good.

Here are 6 reasons to avoid getting a flu shot.

1. There is absolutely no evidence that flu shots actually work. The flu shot is only able to protect against certain strains of the flu, so if you come into contact with a strain that you are not protected from, then you will still get the flu. This is in fact not uncommon. In 2004, The National Vaccine Information Center reported that the vaccine given that year did not contain the flu strain that caused the majority of flu outbreaks that year. A study published in the Lancet in August revealed that there was no correlation between the flu shot and reduced risk of pneumonia. Further, a large study of 260,000 children between 23 month and 6 discovered that the flu vaccine is no more effective that a placebo. This was reported in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

2. The flu vaccines, as well as all other vaccines contain mercury, which is a seriously health compromising heavy metal. Vaccines contain Thimerosal, which is made up of mercury. The amount of mercury contained in a multi-dose flu shot is 250 times higher in mercury than what is legally classified as hazardous waste. Side affects of mercury toxicity are vast and include depression, memory loss, attention deficit disorder, anger, oral cavity disorders, digestive disorder, anxiety, cardiovascular problems, respiratory issues, thyroid and other glandular imbalances, and low immune system to name a few.

3. The flu vaccines contain antibiotics such as neomycin, polymyxin B and gentamicin which are added to eliminate stray bacteria found in the mixture. Evidence shows that antibiotics wipe out beneficial bacteria that is needed for optimum health. Antibiotics ironically lower the immune system and cause Candida overgrowth.

4. Vaccines contain Polysorbate 80 as an emulsifier. This highly toxic agent can seriously lower the immune system and cause anaphylactic shock which can kill. According to the MSDS sheet at Science, section 11, polysorbate 80 may cause reproductive effects, cancer, and may be a mutagenic, (change the genetics), in animals. According to PubMed.Gov, neonatal rats that were injected with small doses of polysorbate 80 had serious damage to their reproductive organs, often resulting in infertility. Imagine that they are recommending this for young girls! It's no wonder that the infertility rate is skyrocketing each and every year.

5. There is growing evidence that flu shots contribute to Alzheimer's disease due to the aluminum and formaldehyde combined with mercury since they are even more toxic together than they are alone. Some research suggests that people who received the flu vaccine each year for 3 to 5 years had 10 times greater chance of developing Alzheimer's disease than people who did not have any flu shots.

6. With so many potential side effects, it seems clear that the flu shot is potentially dangerous while not making a difference anyway. In addition, it is also completely unnecessary. Everything that we need to enjoy amazing health is right here on planet earth. Nothing man made is ever, ever needed in order to ward off illness and live vibrantly.

Here are some powerful ways that you can ensure you don't get the flu this year without injecting yourself with the toxic flu shot:

·Make sure that you get plenty of sunshine over the winter research continually indicates that the winter flu is often a result of vitamin D deficiency from lack of sun. If you live in a place without sunshine, take cod liver oil, find a place that offers sunshowers (natural tanning beds), and if it is sunny go outside as much as you possibly can no matter how cold it is. Raw, unpasteurized milk is another vitamin D abundant food.

·Exercise, exercise, exercise! When you get out and get your body moving, you are much less likely to get sick. Yoga, for example is a fabulous way to get fit, relieve stress and boost the immune system.

·Eat plenty of immune boosting foods such as garlic, vitamin C containing fruits and fresh green juices (broccoli, cabbage, cucumber and celery.) A diet rich in live foods is a sure way to stay healthy all year long.

·Cut out sugar. Sugar suppresses the immune system and causes disease. Today there are so many wonderful healthy alternatives such as agave nectar and xylitol that it is totally unnecessary to ever consume sugar.

·Deal with emotional stress. Anger and stress suppress the immune system. Yoga, meditation, counselling, natural therapies and plant medicines can transform stress and help you live with abundant health in mind and body.

·Get plenty of sleep. A lack of sleep suppresses the immune system, but is a reality for millions of people. Find ways to make life less hectic so that you have more time to catch those zzzzs.

Sheryl Walters is a kinesiologist, nutritionist and holistic practitioner. Her website provides the latest research on preventing disease, looking naturally gorgeous, and feeling emotionally and physically fabulous. You can also find some of the most powerful super foods on the planet including raw chocolate, purple corn, and many others.


Giving Birth Naturally

Packed with ACCURATE information,
many citations and documented research.

Plus, much useful info for pregnancy and birth choices.

Outsmarting the Bratz Dolls

By Emmanuelle Goodiern
posted with author's permission

I hate Bratz dolls. I really do. Everything about them bugs me, from their huge heads to their gigantic eyes loaded with makeup, to their sultry lips, next-to-nothing clothes, and overly sexualized bodies. As the mom of an innocent and pure four-and-a-half-year-old daughter, I especially despise the shallow messages implied in the marketing of Bratz dolls, the skewed concept of beauty they encompass, and most of all, I hate the fact that millions of little girls seem to be infatuated with them.

When my daughter came back from a birthday party with a Bratz loot bag and told me all about those really cool dolls that she couldn't wait to own, I was shocked. I couldn't believe that someone had thought it was appropriate to give any Bratz paraphernalia to a four-and-a-half-year-old girl. I was furious that in a society where more and more young girls grow up hating their bodies and start dieting at an early age to fit some unrealistic ideal of beauty, some parents would allow Bratz dolls and other similar accessories into their daughters' worlds. I was especially distraught that Jaime was instantly attracted to the dolls. At the precise moment Jaime declared she wanted to own Bratz dolls, I declared war.

Over the next couple of months, I was relentless in the battle. Whenever the word Bratz was uttered, I reciprocated with, "Ugly," "Mean," and "Bad." I told Jaime I would never buy her a Bratz doll. Period. End of argument.

Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy to discourage Jaime from her interest in the dolls. You see, I have a very spirited daughter who is both stubborn and passionate about what she likes and cares about (some say she takes after her mother). So instead of engaging in meaningful dialogue, we both locked down on our positions, and our conversations were far from productive. It usually sounded like this:

Jaime: "Bratz are so beautiful."

Mom: "No, they're not. They're ugly."

Jaime: "No, they're not. I love them and I want one."

Mom: "Yes, they're ugly, and I think they also look mean. I will never buy you one."

Jaime: "No, they're not. They're beautiful, and I still want one."

And so it continued until one of us (usually me) tired of the conversation.

This battle of wills lasted a few months until the parenting genie decided to hit me with one of those powerful light bulb moments. In the middle of one of our familiar arguments, I suddenly realized that the more I hated the Bratz dolls, the more determined Jaime would be to love them. I needed a much better strategy to get through to Jaime and to win this fight for good.

I also realized I wasn't being an effective role model of communication for Jaime. In my fear that Jaime would grow up with a concept of beauty that would prevent her from growing into a self-loving and self-confident young woman, I had forgotten how to use powerful communication skills as tools to help her develop inner wisdom, inner strength, and self-esteem.

With the best and most loving intentions, many of us often try to shield our children from what we believe are negative influences, things and issues that can harm them or hinder their development. Some of us choose to ban television or certain programs, video games, toys, books, foods, or other things in this effort to protect our children. But when we do this, are we really fulfilling our role as effective parents, that of the guide whose sole purpose is to prepare children for adult life? How can we raise children into confident adults ready to face life if we have only exposed them to selective bits and pieces of what we hope life to be for them?

Let's face it: life isn't lived in a bubble. As nice as it would be, it's simply not realistic to expect kids to transform into smart-thinking, independent, successful individuals if they haven't grown up exposed to the full picture of what the world is really about?the good, the bad, and the ugly?and if they haven't been given the tools necessary to make sense of it all.

From my conversations with Jaime about the Bratz dolls, I also realized that beyond failing to communicate effectively with her about the dolls, I was actually imposing my biases on her. I wasn't explaining much about my issues with the toy. Worse, I wasn't listening to the reasons why she was so drawn to the dolls. Instead of modeling communication and listening skills, I was simply imposing my biases.

What I discovered was that my fear of the power of these dolls over my daughter was preventing me from truly preparing her for the world. Fear is a powerful motivator but not necessarily the smartest one. So I decided to take the power back into my own hands by letting go of my fears of negative influences in my daughter's life and seeing them instead as opportunities to teach Jaime powerful life skills: critical thinking, communication, listening, and the ability to debate effectively and to make informed decisions.

Whenever the Bratz (or any other negative influences) make their way into conversation now, our dialogue has metamorphosed into this:

Jaime: "Mom, did you see these Bratz dolls in the catalogue?"

Mom: "Let me see. Wow, which one do you prefer?"

Jaime: "I like this one because she has long hair. I think she's pretty. Which one do you like mom?"

Mom: "I think I like this one better. She looks like a very kind person and I think that makes her look beautiful."

Jaime: "You're right mom, she does look kind and beautiful, but I still like this one best."

Mom: "That's OK. I'm glad you can explain why this one is your favorite."

With each of these conversations, I press Jaime to explore her likes and dislikes. I encourage her to think about her world and communicate her views effectively. I provide her with a different perspective. I show her that it's OK to disagree with me, and that I don't always agree with her either, but that I respect why she likes something and that I'm proud that she can explain her reasoning. When we disagree on a subject, I make sure I listen to her arguments, and that she listens to mine. I teach her respect by listening and thanking her for explanation. I play devil's advocate to make sure that she can truly explore different sides of an issue before making up her mind.

In other words, I am raising her to be an adult who will think for herself, have the confidence to debate her points of view, have the ability to be compassionate and respectful of others' opinions and, most importantly, who will always think critically about issues rather than passively accepting them.

By taking the power back from the Bratz, I have learned to be a proactive parent, not a reactive parent. I am role-modeling to Jaime the importance of confidence in one's opinions and the value of respect. I have developed trust and faith that with the right tools, Jaime will grow up to be a confident, self-empowered young woman even if it means that I won't always agree with her choices. Just as the loving gardener would do, I am letting Jaime blossom by gentling guiding her growth.

Emmanuelle Goodier is a doula and childbirth educator near Ottawa, Ontario and the proud mom of three smart, spirited, and powerful little debaters.

Smear Campaign Against Missouri Midwives

On June 26, 2008, the Missouri Supreme Court declared that professional midwives can now assist births within the state. Due to lack of validity of their arguments, physicians' attempts to block the law were dismissed by the Court. This is excellent news for mothers who have had to either have illegal homebirths or birth in a different state to avoid unnecessary medical procedures.

In response, the coalition of physician groups that tried to block the legislation began a smear campaign suggesting that midwives would be able to perform abortions.

The group Citizens for Midwifery used the following quote in a recent press release:

"To suggest that CPMs [Certified Professional Midwives] are trained to do abortions—or that they would even want to—is beyond the pale. CPMs are all about delivering babies - abortion is not within their scope of practice. Abortions are performed by obstetricians, not by midwives," said Mary Ueland, grassroots coordinator for Friends of Missouri Midwives (FOMM).

"This interpretation is incorrect and obviously so," stated Susan Jenkins, legal counsel for the National Birth Policy Coalition and a member of the legal team for FOMM. "The new law clearly references the federal Medicaid statutes to define the scope of practice for which CPMs are certified and, as everyone knows, the federal Medicaid program does not cover abortion, except under rare circumstances as defined by the Hyde Amendment. More importantly, CPMs are not certified to provide abortions by their certifying body, the North American Registry of Midwives, and this statute is directly linked to CPMs' certified scope of practice. The basic certification of CNMs does not include abortion either."

You can read the release in its entirety here:

Mothering Magazine Discount Sale

If you are a parent, or are thinking of becoming a parent, this is BY FAR the best mothering/fathering magazine out there. Packed with excellent info and up to date research on pregnancy, birth, and baby/child rearing - Mothering Magazine has repeatedly won awards for excellence and is the only magazine I have found to be reliable and sound in presentation of "the facts." It is a joy to read each month and is exceptionally well done.

If you haven't yet subscribed -- here is a great offer -- for either print form or digital.
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One Family - Hospital Birth & Homebirth Experiences

This is video of ONE family's experience with their Hospital Birth (first baby) and their Homebirth (second baby). Many, many differences between the two.

Babies Breathe Better During Sleep When Rocked

By Danelle Frisbie © 2007

Researchers at the Pediatric Sleep Unit of the University Children's Hospital in Brussels, Belgium, have found that infants who experience rocking motion have fewer interrupted breathing episodes during sleep. This important research adds to the growing information base that vestibular motion activities (such as rocking and wearing your baby) decrease SIDS risk by helping the infant body to regulate breathing.

For this small study, eighteen infants who had documented obstructed sleep apnea (i.e. they had regular and frequent episodes during sleep where they momentarily stopped breathing) were studied. Eight of the babies were premature with persistent bradycardias, and ten were full term babies who were admitted to the Children's Hospital after an apparently life-threatening breathing event. There was no physiological cause for the apneas found in any of the eighteen infants.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea and is known by its repetitive pauses in breathing during sleep. Typically OSA is also associated with a reduction in blood oxygen saturation (i.e. less oxygen is moving throughout the body during sleep, and less oxygen is therefore feeding the brain). Apnea means "without breath" and these pauses in breathing often last 20 to 40 seconds.

On two successive nights for this study, babies were randomly assigned to a rocking or nonrocking group. The infants who were assigned to rocking one night, were non-rocking the next night, and vica versa. Rather than being held and rocked in arms while they slept (an upright position that has been shown in previous studies to also increase normal respiration and decrease SIDS risk) the babies assigned to the rocking group were placed on a rocking mattress while asleep.

When researchers examined results of each group between the two nights, no significant differences were found within groups. All the babies in the rocking group each night had the same basic results, and all the babies in the non-rocking group had the same basic results for both nights. Within groups, there was no significant difference in total sleep time, non-rapid-eye-movement and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, number of arousals (normal and beneficial for babies), the number and duration of central apneas, the frequency of periodic breathing, the level of oxygen saturation (amount of oxygen present in the blood/flowing through the body), and heart rate.

However, between groups, a significant difference was found in the frequency of upper-airway obstructions and apnea. Babies in the rocking group, during both nights, had fewer non-breathing episodes. In seven of eight of the preterm babies, and in nine of the ten full term babies, rocking was associated with a significant decrease in OSA. During rocking, preterm infants fell from a median of 2.5 episodes per hour to 1.8 (P=.034) and full term infants reduced apnea episodes from a median of 1.5 per hour to 0.7 (P=.005).

Researchers concluded that gentle rocking is associated with a significant decrease in the frequency of babies' sleep apnea episodes. This reinforces information we have suggesting peaceful rocking with our infants, and wearing our infants - both activities that increase normal vestibular system function, lead to regulated respiration and decreased episodes of non-breathing - which in turn decrease SIDS risk.


Groswasser, J., Sottiaux, M., Rebuffat, E., Simon, T., Vandeweyer, M., Kelmanson, I., Blum, D., Kahn, A. "Reduction in Obstructive Breathing Events During Body Rocking: A Controlled Polygraphic Study in Preterm and Full-Term Infants" Pediatrics, Vol. 96, No. 1; 64-68.

Related Information:

The Attachment Parenting Book

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

The Science of Parenting

The Premature Baby Book

Healthy Infant Sleep (articles/resources)

Sleep Training: Review of Research (articles/resources)



I never cease to be amazed at the ignorance surrounding this topic among parents about to give birth. Cutting off the organ of an infant seems to cry out to a parent to RESEARCH it before making the decision... But too many people (50%) in the U.S. still blindly go into this choice with no background knowledge on the extreme decision they are about to make... I ignore and delete most list-serv messages sent my way (constantly annoyed at the ignorance and pettiness of the conversations) but this particular topic is just too important to ignore. So here is my response from today's list-serv round-robin:

I would HIGHLY suggest people investigate ALL aspects of circumcision -- AND the many purposes and functions of the foreskin BEFORE their baby arrives. There is a LOT of good information out there -- as well as videos you can watch of circ being done. The U.S. is thee ONLY nation in the world that circumcises for NO medical reason. Our rate is now 52% of baby boys in the U.S. being circumcised (as of Jan 2008) but this is still far more than Canada (9%) England (3%) and most other developed countries (1-2%).

NO HEALTH ORGANIZATION IN THE WORLD recommends this procedure be done. And there are many, many reasons for this.

It is a very painful procedure for a brand new baby boy when he has just entered the world and cannot be administered numbing drugs. Working in L&D, many babies are seen crying so hard that they slip into comas. They cannot handle this terror.

The tissue removed (tissue that is exactly the same as if we cut off a baby girl's clitoral hood at birth) HAS purpose and function both in infancy (lubrication, natural antibodies, protection of the glans/head, tactile stimulation) and in adulthood (lubrication, antibodies, glans protection, and increased sexual stimulation with partners).

Circumcision removes the skin with the highest concentration of nerve endings of ANY male body part. It constitutes 1/3 of the newborn penis. And it can never be replaced.

If a boy/man wishes to be circumcised later in life, he is then able to CHOOSE this for himself, and be fully numbed for the procedure.

As more and more parents learn just what is involved, it is not surprising that people come to see this as a human rights violation, genital mutilation, and infant abuse. It is simply NOT something most parents would choose to do to their newly loved infant if they were fully informed and aware of the implications.

Resources for further information on this topic are linked here: Are You Fully Informed?

The following video is of genital cutting being performed (recent U.S. hospital Plastibell method) with statistics from the outstanding film, Birth As We Know It.

PLEASE research this for the sake of your new little loved one.


Animal vs. Human Birth

by Beth Barbeau
Excerpt from "Safer Birth in a Barn?" Midwifery Today, Issue 83
posted with permission

The protocols in the world of animal husbandry to protect an offspring at the time of birth—no strangers, dimmed lights, freedom of movement, familiar environment, unlimited nourishment, respectful quiet, no disruptions—are done without hesitation because to do otherwise invites "unexplained distress" or sudden demise of the offspring. These thoughtful conditions are the norm, along with careful observation to determine when to use the technological expertise in true emergencies. When we have veterinarians in our childbirth education classes, they always start to smile and nod when I tell this story. These are givens—instinctive givens, even, for animals of all descriptions!

Yet what are the "givens" for the human who births not in a barn, but in a "modern and advanced" hospital? In many cases, 100% the opposite! Usually a minimum of a dozen strangers pass through the world of the laboring mother in her first 12 hours in the hospital—security officer, patient transporter, triage secretary, admission clerk, triage nurse, resident and/or doctor on call, admitting nurse, first shift nurse, break nurse, additional nurse at delivery, doctor or midwife plus possibly students, anesthesiologist, pediatrician, etc. Bright lights in the triage and labor rooms are challenging to dim. Mothers are tethered to monitors or IV poles and are moved through a bright hall with unfamiliar sounds to a new room in a building devoted to illness/trauma that most have visited once briefly if at all. They receive poor quality "clear liquids only." They are exposed to voices of others in the hall or chatting by the attendants during contractions and endless disruptions throughout! But then, do we ever find that we have an offspring experience "unexplained distress?" Of course, and at frightening rates! Yet, oddly, many of these disruptions are promoted as minor inconveniences or necessary to "protect" the baby.

Curiously, while veterinarians commonly have to defend interventions in light of the additional cost and the risks associated with interfering with nature, providers caring for human mothers within the medical system more commonly are forced to defend why they did NOT intervene! Consider the high rates of inductions, epidurals, artificial rupture of membranes, immediate cord cutting, cesareans and the vigorous defense necessary to fight for anything different, especially if time is involved (time to go into labor, to progress, to push, to allow the cord to stop pulsation or to get "done" bonding). I've recently seen outstanding CNMs and obstetricians sacrifice their own political reputations and suffer departmental reprimands for births with great outcomes where they protected the mothers' yearning for privacy, allowed extended pushing time with great vital signs or, during a healthy normal birth, followed their intuition and honored the mother's begging to check heart tones frequently by hand during pushing instead of what the mother considered the massive intrusion of wearing the monitor belt. Interventions are considered to be the ultimate protection from litigation in human care, yet they contribute mightily to the high rates of distress in mothers and babies!

In animal husbandry, the first line of defense for protecting the unborn is to protect and nurture the nutritional needs and comfort of the birthing female. In the case of institutionalized birth for humans, however, in spite of evidence to the contrary, the norm is to act as if the nutritional needs and the comfort of the birthing mothers are of concern to, at most, the marketing and public relations department! It's an affront to common sense that as a society we are currently more accepting of the needs of foaling mares, whelping poodles and high-producing cows than of our birthing humans. From the high rates of fetal distress, meconium staining and breastfeeding problems, the consequences are clearly devastating to our infants, just as any decent horseman would predict.

"I'd take birthing in a barn over birthing in a hospital any day..."

Posted by Creeping Starfish on Jul 6, 2008

Homebirth Waterbirth VBAC of TWINS after C-Section

I continue to be blessed by other mother's who have shared their stories, videos and pictures with me. This is a beautiful one to tell...

With a personal friend who just experienced a wonderful VBAC birth of her big, healthy baby at home, I am more inspired than ever to share with other people that you CAN certainly birth naturally, normally, healthy and safely no matter what - even after a previous c-section or doctors telling you that you "couldn't".

Ricki Lake, Abby Epstein and Jennifer Block Respond to AMA

June18, 2008

Dear BOBB Friends and Supporters:

We wanted to make sure you are all aware of the news story that has exploded over the last 24 hours regarding the recent AMA Resolution against homebirth and Ricki's response to being named in it.

In February of this year, one month after the premiere of BOBB, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) reiterated its long-standing opposition to home births. In an obtuse reference to The Business of Being Born, ACOG stated, "Childbirth decisions should not be dictated or influenced by what's fashionable, trendy, or the latest cause célèbre." If that wasn't enough, ACOG, this past weekend, introduced a resolution to the American Medical Association (AMA) at their annual meeting. The resolution commits the AMA to "develop model legislation in support of the concept that the safest setting for labor, delivery, and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital...". The reasoning for this resolution begins, "Whereas, There has been much attention in the media by celebrities having home deliveries, with recent Today Show headings such as "Ricki Lake takes on baby birthing industry: Actress and former talk show host shares her at-home delivery in new film...". (Resolution 205, click here to read).

Since when did Ricki become an evidence-based data point? What are they so afraid of?

Just last week, Medical News Today reports that "about 8.2% of infants born in the US in 2005 had low birth weights, the highest percentage since 1968." US infant mortality rates in the hospital continue to rank us below 30 other countries, 22% of pregnancies are induced, and most worrisome of all, in the last 4 years, the maternal mortality rate has risen above 10 per 100,000 in hospital births for the first time since 1977. To us, these seem like the troubling trends, not home birth.

News outlets including the AP quickly picked up this story yesterday as it hit TMZ, E! USA Today, Daily News, FOX.

Ricki will be featured on Good Morning America this Saturday discussing the controversy. (If you Google "Ricki Lake, AMA" you will see the bloggers are all over this!)

Filmmakers Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake teamed up with journalist and Pushed author Jennifer Block to pen the response (following at the end of this email).

Late yesterday, the AMA changed the final wording on resolution 205 to omit the mention of Ricki. (Hmmm...) The AMA says that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) drafted the initial statement so any issues should be taken up directly with them.

Stay tuned for more news to come...

The BOBB Team


Ladies, the physicians of America have issued their decree: they don't want you having your babies at home with midwives.

We can't imagine why not. Study upon study have shown that planning a home birth with a trained midwife is a great choice if you want to avoid unnecessary medical intervention. Midwives are experts in supporting the physiological birth process: monitoring you and your baby during labor, helping you into positions that help labor progress, protecting your pelvic parts from damage while you push, and "catching" the baby from the position that's most effective and comfortable for you-hands and knees, squatting, even standing-not the position most comfortable for her.

When healthy women are supported this way, 95% give birth vaginally, with hardly any intervention.

And yet, the American Medical Association doesn't see the point. Yesterday it adopted a policy written by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists against "home deliveries" and in support of legislation "that helps ensure safe deliveries and healthy babies by acknowledging that the safest setting for labor, delivery, and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital" or accredited birth center.

"There ought to be a law!" cry the doctors.

The trouble is, they have no evidence to back up their safety claims. In fact, the largest and most rigorous study of home birth internationally to date found that among 5,000 healthy, "low-risk" women, babies were born just as safely at home under a midwife's care as in the hospital. And not only that, the study, like many before it, found that the women actually fared better at home, with far fewer interventions like labor induction, cesarean section, and episiotomy (taking scissors to the vagina, a practice that according to the research should be obsolete but is still performed on one-third of women who give birth vaginally).

Which is why the American Public Health Association and the World Health Organization supports midwife-attended home birth. The British OB/GYNs have read the research, too, and have this to say: "There is no reason why home birth should not be offered to women at low risk of complications... it may confer considerable benefits for them and their families. There is ample evidence showing that labouring at home increases a woman's likelihood of a birth that is both satisfying and safe."

The other trouble with the American MDs is that they seem to have lost all respect for women's civil rights, indeed for the U.S. Constitution - the right to privacy, to bodily integrity, and the right of every adult to determine her own health care. The "father knows best" legislation they are promoting could indeed be used to criminally prosecute women who choose home birth, say, by equating it with child abuse.

Research evidence be damned, the doctors want to mandate you to go to the hospital. They don't want you to have a choice.

We think they're spooked. The cesarean rate is rising, celebrities are publicizing their home births (the initial wording of the AMA resolution actually took aim at Ricki for publicizing her home birth on the Today Show!), people are reading Pushed and watching The Business of Being Born, and there's a nationwide legislative "push" to license certified professional midwives in all states (The AMA is against that, too, by the way).

The docs are on the defensive.

After all, birth is big business-it's in fact the most common reason for a woman to be admitted to the hospital ($$). And if more women start giving birth outside of it, who will get paid? Not doctors and not hospitals.

"The AMA supports a woman's right to make an informed decision regarding her delivery and to choose her health care provider," the group said in a statement. But if it really supported women's birth choices it wouldn't adopt a policy condemning home birth and midwives.

Because if U.S. women are to have real birth choices, everybody needs to be working together to provide them, not engaging in turf wars at their expense.

By Ricki Lake, Abby Epstein and Jennifer Block

Pushed: The painful truth about childbirth and modern maternity care (2007) by Jennifer Block
Born in the USA: How a broken maternity system must be fixed to put women and children first (2008) by Dr. Marsden Wagner (former Director of Women's & Children's Health of the World Health Organization).
MOTHERING magazine - thee best pregnancy, birth, and parenting magazine out there. Far superior to all other "pop" baby magazines.

Interview with BUSINESS OF BEING BORN Midwife - Cara Muhlhahn

An ACNM member featured in Ricki Lake’s new birth documentary talks about the film and shares her personal calling to midwifery.

Why did you decide to become a midwife?

I knew from a very early age that I was destined for a medical profession. A series of events led to the decision, but the first birth I attended is what got me hooked. So much of what we do is helping women navigate their own process by giving them reflection and feedback about the normalcy of what’s going on from the outside—when they think they’re dying, splitting apart, falling into oblivion.

You started your career as a lay midwife in your early twenties. What made you decide to become a certified nurse-midwife?

When I was apprenticing for home birth I heard about a maternal death at home. I immediately thought, “I need to pay attention so I’m doing the safest thing.” I knew there was more education I could get. I also wanted legitimacy and legal protection. I didn’t want my entire career to be at risk in the event of an unavoidable bad outcome.

Cara’s Home Birth Stats:
Years of Midwifery experience: 17
Years in homebirth: 13
Births attended: 750+
Transfer Rate: 9%
C-section rate: 4%

Did you ever consider becoming an ob/gyn?

When I went to college, everyone wanted me to be a physician because I was first in my premed science classes. I did consider becoming an ob/gyn for a while, but the one thing that held me back was that I did not want to do surgery. I was worried about becoming inured to the sacredness of the body and possible intervening unnecessarily in a natural process. Midwifery seems to be a better fit for me.

What made you choose to practice in a home setting?

I worked in a freestanding birth center for four years in New York. I loved the birth center, but I had to leave that setting in order to graduate to midwifery based on experientially honed clinical judgment call, rather than what I view as restrictive protocols. Adherence to institutional protocol can be a first step, an essential one for securing safe outcomes while working as a novice. Practicing at home allows me to make clinical birth plans based on the unique circumstances of each birthing woman’s labor and contributes to lessening the interventions that often make up the slippery slope of the descent into resolution by cesarean section.

How do you view your colleagues who practice midwifery in hospitals?

I’m not interested in promoting a division between home birth and hospital midwives. All midwives are making headway in the battle to bring the power of birth back to the woman—who is actually doing most of the work. If we legitimize home birth and hospital birth, people are going to naturally find their comfort level. Opponents of midwives will just use the old “divide and conquer” to keep us from our deserved triumph.

How did you get involved with The Business of Being Born?

Abby Epstein, the film director, approached me by telephone and said she was working with Ricki Lake. Synchronistically, a couple of weeks earlier, I said to one of my student midwives who had just gone to film school that we needed to make a film. Abby and I first met at a neighborhood café, Ciao for Now, and talked about the proposal. And I said “The film you are proposing is the one I wanted to make, but not being a filmmaker, I’d rather you do it.”

What was it like making the film?

It took us over two years. I created a persona that could completely tune out the cameras most of the time. If I hadn’t been able to do that, I can imagine things would have been quite difficult. Allowing the filmmakers into such an intimate personal and professional space was clearly an act of faith. At the end of it all, I can pretty much attest to Ricki and Abby´s adherence to portraying midwives as we would like to be seen.

How do you feel about how you are portrayed in the movie and what would you like to have changed?

First of all, I want to say that I’m very grateful for this film. However, it leaves some questions unanswered. One is that there is no clip of me listening to the baby’s heart beat in labor. I’m one of the stricter home birth midwives in terms of how closely I follow ACOG guidelines for intermittent fetal heart rate monitoring. It would have been better for the public to know that we do check on their babies when they’re in labor.

Abby ends up being one of your clients in the film, but it looks like she visits several care providers during the course of the movie. Were you Abby’s prenatal care provider?

I was not until very late in the game. I had two prenatal visits with her and another scheduled two or three days after she went into preterm labor at 35 ½ weeks. At 32 weeks, I knew the baby was breech.

The film ends with a lot of drama when Abby goes into preterm labor at home. What do you think about the emergency transfer scene?

They don’t show all of the clips of me executing the decision to go. They don’t realize the drama in the lobby scene makes it look like I was not in charge of the transport. We were only at the house for about an hour, and Abby and I arrived at the hospital before the physician. I was in the operating room during the cesarean section at Abby´s head. Click here for more on The Emergency Transfer Scene: What the Cameras don’t Show.

What do you envision as a positive future for midwifery?

The Business of Being Born can help initiate a necessary conversation between the birthing public and birth professionals. Here is an opportunity for an honest exploration and evaluation of what home birth midwives really do instead of reliance on the convenient and self serving projections of a suspicious and undereducated governing body. We need to make a stance and we need to make it strong. The women of this country desperately need midwives on their behalf to help them birth normally.

**The Emergency Transfer Scene: What the Cameras don’t Show**

If you’ve seen The Business of Being Born, you probably have some questions about the preterm labor and emergency cesarean section at the end. ACNM member Cara Muhlhahn, CNM shares the details that didn’t make the final cut.

What do you think about how you are portrayed in the movie and what would you like to have changed?

First of all, I want to say that I’m very grateful for this film. I feel that midwives are portrayed in a very positive light. However, there are a few lapses that leave some questions unanswered. One is that there is no clip of me listening to the baby’s heart beat in labor. I’m one of the stricter home birth midwives in terms of how closely I follow ACOG guidelines for intermittent fetal heart rate monitoring. It would have been better for the public to know that we do check on their babies when they’re in labor.

Abby Epstein, the film director, ends up being one of your clients in the film. But it looks like she visits several care providers during the course of the movie. Were you Abby’s prenatal care provider?

Not until very late in the game. She was undecided about her choice of birth site and provider until after 28 weeks. Her early prenatal care was done by the physician in the film, Dr. Moritz. I had two prenatal visits with Abby and another scheduled two or three days after she went into preterm labor at 35 weeks. At 32 weeks, I knew the baby was breech.

Can you explain the events that led to your decision to do an emergency transfer to the hospital?

The night Abby called me, she didn’t sound like she was in labor on the phone. She said that she might be having contractions, but she didn’t know. Since I live in the neighborhood, I decided to walk over and spend some time with her face to face. When I got there, I checked the baby. The baby was fine, but still breech. Abby was lounging in the tub, but I was watching her contract and saw that her affect had become less rational. When I examined her, she was already 3 – 4 centimeters. I also knew that Abby’s mother had a six hour labor with her first child, which meant that Abby was likely to progress quickly. So that’s when I said, “Let’s get this show on the road.”

The emergency transfer scene seems pretty rushed. What are your thoughts on that scene?

Of course documentaries are edited for dramatic effect, which may be the source of my discomfort with how Abby´s labor transfer is portrayed. It appears that we were home for hours, which isn’t true. She had a precipitous labor for it being her first baby, which didn’t give us a lot of time. But they don’t show all of the clips of me executing the decision to go. They don’t realize the drama in the lobby scene makes it look like I was not in charge of the transport.

You and Abby take a taxi to the hospital. Why didn’t you call 911 instead?

911 is a slower transfer. It takes the ambulance an average of eight minutes to get to the house and a lot of important time can be lost just registering the patient to EMS. EMS would also take Abby to the hospital of their choosing, allowing institutional protocol to outvote my judgment call as an experienced midwife.

After Abby’s water breaks, you do not appear on camera during the rest of the emergency transfer and cesarean section. Were you still with Abby?

Yes. Abby’s water broke in the driveway of the hospital. I examined her in the wheelchair on the elevator ride so that I could hold the head up in the event of a cord prolapse. (The baby ended up having the cord around his neck, which is why he didn’t turn vertex.) Abby and I arrived at the hospital before the physician. I was at Abby’s head in the operating room during the cesarean section.

Although Abby’s baby boy arrives safely, the physician says that Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) occurred. Do you want to talk about that?

In the film it appears like the baby was starving, everybody missed it, and the doctor saved the day. But the situation was misconstrued because of a critical detail that was lost during the emergency transfer. The physician who received the transfer was under the impression that the baby was 40 weeks. Abby’s baby was actually born at 35 ½ weeks. A 3 lbs, 5 ounces baby at 40 weeks would have been much more serious than at 35 ½ weeks.

* Original Interview Published on ACNM site Here: *


My Sugar Free Son

By Sarah Kamrath
posted with permission

When I tell people my five-year-old son, Lukas, has never had any refined sugar, some look at me as if I have two heads and ask me how I could be so cruel. But many are curious how it is possible. Lukas is a very social child who attends school, has playdates with friends, loves a good party, and even went to a summer camp where at the end of each week the kids had a big scavenger hunt for candy. So, as with all children, there are plenty of occasions during which he is around sugar.

I will be the first to admit that completely avoiding all refined sugar is not the easiest thing to do. I also understand that it might not be desirable for every parent—a little sugar here and there isn't going to do any real harm, however, I have also found that most parents would like to avoid sugar as much as possible in their children's diet.

So for anyone who is interested in trying to limit empty, sugar-filled calories and get their children to eat more nutritious foods, the following are some practices I have found useful.

1) Start early.

Really early. A mother's nutrition during pregnancy influences the long-term health of her child by shaping her baby's metabolism and food preferences. A child's sense of taste actually begins to develop prenatally, with taste buds emerging at 7-8 weeks of age. Research shows that both flavors and smells from the mother's diet can pass into her bloodstream and then into both the amniotic fluid and fetal blood. An unborn baby is actually able to taste the different flavors of foods his mother eats and will swallow more amniotic fluid when the mother consumes something sweet.

In a recent study by the Monell Institute of America, researchers found that babies whose mothers had been given carrot juice regularly while pregnant preferred the taste of carrots far more than babies whose mothers had not. This study and others like it show that you can actually program your baby to be a healthier child and adult by the choices you make while pregnant. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I ate tons of broccoli—I was probably craving the extra calcium. After my daughter was born and I started her on solids, she had such a strong affinity for broccoli that her dad would joke that she was going to be the first human to weigh 50 pounds from eating solely breastmilk and broccoli!

The days when people believed that pregnancy was a license to eat whatever you want are over. We know now that if there is ever a time to be overly cautious about what you put in your body, it is when you are pregnant; your choices either nourish your baby or not. Just as you avoid things such as alcohol and tobacco that are bad for your unborn child, you might also consider avoiding sugary foods that are packed with lots of calories, few nutrients, and also encourage the development of a sweet tooth later in life.

When I first introduced foods to Lukas, I avoided all sweet fruits and focused on nutrient-dense, dark, green vegetables. If given the option, who wouldn't choose a banana over broccoli? Lukas' first solid food was avocado, followed by plain, steamed, mashed vegetables. When I went to our local health food store, I would get a large cup of juiced green vegetables and share it with him. One of my in-laws' preferred stories is when they asked Lukas at two-and-a-half what his favorite food was, and he replied, "Kale."

2) Only offer healthy options.

We have a rule in our house that you have to try something before you say no. When Lukas says he doesn't want a certain food and I make him try one bite, many times he'll look at me and say "Mmmm, I like that." If he doesn't, I won't force him to eat it, but I will continue to re-introduce it to him one bite at a time. By repeatedly offering healthy foods to children, the foods eventually become more familiar and your child is likely to develop a taste for them. In fact, research shows that it can take up to 10 times of tasting the same food before this happens, so be patient.

Also, if your child complains about a certain food and refuses to eat it, try not to quickly substitute it with one of his favorites. If he knows that when he complains and makes a fuss that you will simply prepare him something else to eat, then be prepared to do just that. If you explain to him that this is dinner and if he doesn't eat it then he will be hungry (and you are consistent with this message), then he is much more likely to give it a real try. Don't worry—he won't starve!

In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers note that the reluctance to try new foods may have had an evolutionary advantage in preventing exposure to potentially toxic foods. Keep this in mind when you think your child is trying to drive you crazy! It may be hard work, but your investment now will pay off for your children throughout their lives. Also, offer new foods when your child is hungry and more willing to try something different.

It's also helpful to familiarize your child with lots of fresh vegetables and fruits before she reaches an age when she doesn't want to try anything new. As I mentioned, at two-and-a-half, Lukas' favorite dish was steamed kale, broccoli, and cabbage in a miso dressing, but if you tried to give him a bite of pizza he acted like you were trying to feed him a mud pie. The only possible explanation for this strange rejection was that he was simply avoiding something unfamiliar. This demonstrated the importance of first foods in developing food preferences and the need to make those first foods the most nutritious options. One food which he has always happily eaten is avocado—his first food!

3) Eat and discuss.

Help your children understand why certain foods are good for their bodies, while others are not. From the time Lukas first started eating (he breastfed exclusively until 9 months), I have always explained to him how the protein in certain foods makes his muscles strong and how the vitamins in others helps his body fight germs. As he gets older and understands more, I can really see the pride he takes in eating foods that he believes are keeping him healthy. He tells me that he eats fish and flax seeds to make him smart, and he eats dark green vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli to make him strong. He also understands that sugar is not good for his teeth. I had a good laugh as I was writing this article, and Lukas came up to me with his belly sticking out as far as he could and said, "Hey Mom, look at my big belly! I ate some donuts like Grandpa."

4) Ignorance is bliss.

Don't let them know what they are missing for as long as possible. I believe a part of my success in avoiding sugar for as long as I have is that he doesn't crave what he hasn't tried. Lukas has still never had a donut, ice cream, or any candy. For now, as far as he knows, a donut may taste like his whole grain bagel, and ice cream may be no tastier than his fruit smoothie popsicle. Now that he is older, he does eat cookies, cakes, and popsicles like all other children his age—only Lukas' treats don't contain any refined sugar. Today there are several healthier sweeteners available other than refined sugar such as fruit juice, honey, molasses, agave, maple, stevia, and so on. Here [1] are some of our favorite recipes for homemade sugar-free treats.

5) Cook together.

Shopping and cooking with your children can be a lot of fun and also a great learning experience. You can start teaching your children to read labels and help them begin to understand that most of the long, difficult-to-read words are probably ingredients that shouldn't be in their bodies. At the store, let your children choose a new vegetable that they think looks good, and then try to prepare something with it together. Whenever we make a meal together, Lukas really takes pride in what he has made and is much more likely to eat and enjoy it. It always surprises me how much more willing he is to try new healthy foods when he has helped prepare them (even if a recipe doesn't turn out as tasty as I hoped!). Another important thing you can do for your child's health, as well as for your own, is to concentrate your grocery shopping on the outer aisles of the store. Most of the sugar and preservative-laden foods are in the middle of the grocery store—the whole, fresh, live foods are along the periphery.

6) Spread the word.

Make sure you communicate to the people who may be caring for your children what you prefer them to eat. It is also helpful if your child can articulate what he eats and doesn't (this is also important if your child has any allergies). Early on, I let my family and friends know that Lukas does not eat sugar. When he goes on playdates, I discuss this with the parents and I have yet to have any problems. What I am finding is that most people have read or heard enough about nutrition and the negative effects of sugar that, even if they themselves choose to give their children sugar, they respect the fact that I do not. As far as childcare providers and schools are concerned, I would hope they are not using sugar as a way to reward, discipline, or pacify your child.

7) Plan ahead.

It does take a little extra time in the kitchen planning and preparing foods for when we are away from home and on special occasions. That said, the additional time it takes to pack a cooler or some small snack bags when we are on the go is worth it because of the satisfaction I feel when my children are enjoying their treats instead of the sugary, preservative-laden foods available at most convenient locations. It only takes a couple of minutes to grab some fruit (apples, grapes, bananas), nuts, cut veggies (carrot sticks, peppers, celery), muffins, whole grain bread with almond butter and jelly, hummus, avocado, and so on.

8) Practice what you preach.

I really try not to eat anything around my children that they can't eat as well. You send a very mixed message to your children when you tell them they can't have certain foods, and then you eat them yourself. Remove temptation—keep sugary foods out of the house and find alternatives to satisfy you and your child's sweet cravings. As your children watch you nourish your body with wholesome foods, you are teaching them by example.

My sister and I were raised in a sugar-free home, however, when we reached the age where we were making our own decisions about what to eat, we went through phases where avoiding sugar was not a high priority. I'm sure there will come a day when Lukas will do the same from time to time, however, as my sister and I proved, and as studies support, most children return in adulthood to the way they ate as a child. Habits formed early in life can last a lifetime. The best we can do for our children is to give them a healthy foundation and the knowledge to make educated decisions about their own health as they get older.

Human Ovulation Clearly Photographed for First Time in History

By Danelle Frisbie © 2008

The photos you are viewing here are history in the making – literally!

Captured by Dr. Jacques Donnez for the first time in clear photograph, these images show ovulation just as it occurs in the human female. Because ovulation happens so infrequently (13 times per year in the average American woman), happens rather quickly (max of 15 minutes from beginning to end), and because we never know for sure when ovulation will exactly take place, it has been very difficult to clearly video or photograph this event. The release of a mature egg from the ovary in a woman’s body is so sensitive to hormones and various factors at play, that to perfectly photograph the spectacular event is, so far, a once-in-human-history type of occurrence.

These images were taken when Dr. Donnez, department head of gynecology at UCL in Brussels, Belgium, accidentally happened upon ovulation occurring while preparing to perform a partial hysterectomy on his 45-year-old client.

Side Note: Hysterectomies continue to be the most common (some claim, unnecessary) surgery performed upon females (as adults) in North America. While circumcision is the most common, unnecessary surgery performed upon males (as newborns) in the United States.

Donnez' photos will be published in the professional journal, Fertility and Sterility. They provide us with new information on human ovulation. Prior to this series of images, it was still commonly believed that ovulation took place quickly - in an almost explosive manner. Donnez' images capture the event occurring over a series of almost 15 minutes, from beginning to end. "The release of the oocyte from the ovary is a crucial event in human reproduction," reports Donnez. "These pictures are clearly important to better understand the mechanism."

Dr. Alan McNeilly of the Medical Research Council's Human Reproduction Unit in Edinburgh, UK reported that, "[This] really is a fascinating insight into ovulation, and to see it in real life is an incredibly rare occurrence. It really is a pivotal moment in the whole process, the beginnings of life in a way." McNeilly stressed that up until Donnez' images, we've only successfully (clearly) photographed ovulation occurring in other animal species - never in humans. Images we previously used to study human ovulation were fuzzy at best.

In these photos you will see the mature follicle - a fluid-filled sac on the surface of the ovary containing the ovum (egg). Shortly before the ovum emerges, enzymes break down the tissue of the follicle leading to the ovum's release. We then see a red-colored ballooning and a miniscule hole that appears at the top of the follicle. The ovum leaves the ovarian follicle, protected by a sac of support cells. It travels into the fallopian tube where it makes the journey into the uterus.

After the release of a ripe ovum, about 24 hours exist before it is no longer viable. It is only during this 1 day that a woman may become pregnant. However, if live sperm were already present at the cervix or in the uterus before ovulation occurred, pregnancy could take place without consecutive sperm introduction. Sperm typically remain viable for about 72 hours (3 days) within the confines of a woman's body.

More on Dr. Jacques Donnez for those interested:

Photographer of these landmark images, Donnez graduated from the Catholic University of Louvain in 1972. He completed his internships in obstetrics and gynecology and surgery there in 1978, and went on to complete his residency internship in the Department of Gynecology. Currently, Donnez is Professor and Chairman of the Catholic University of Louvain and is Department Head of Gynecology.

Donnez has authored more than 800 publications in the field and is a reviewer for a number of journals including Fertility and Sterility, Human Reproduction, Journal of Gynecological Surgery, Gynaecological Endoscopy and Références en Gynécologie Obstétrique.

Donnez was a founding member of the International Society for Gynecological Endoscopy, the European Society of Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology, the European Association of Gynecological Laser Endoscopy and the European Society for Gynecological Endoscopy. He is a member of a number of other organizations, both locally and internationally. As an acknowledged expert in his field, Donnez has been invited to speak at universities all over the world.


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