Thursday, January 31, 2008

Circumcision in America

By Debra S. Ollivier
First published by Salon (1998). Reposted with permission.
Read more from Ollivier here at Salon.


PART ONE

When I told people that our newborn son would not be circumcised, I didn't realize that a tiny but vital part of his penis would touch off deeply held convictions about cultural mores, aesthetics, psychology, hygiene, father-son relations, American identity and thousands of years of biblical traditions. In fact, I hadn't given penises much thought since my teenage years, when every penis was a circumcised penis and the only issue of overriding concern as the tentative probings of adolescence bloomed into full-blown sexuality was: "How does this thing work?" Years later, I was given a detailed, hand-etched poster called "Penises of the Animal Kingdom"; in this vast forest of mammalian genitalia the only thing more striking than the banality of man's penis next to that of the 20-foot gray whale was the fact that all of them, including man's, were intact. Aside from this brush with reality, however, the mushroom leitmotif of the circumcised penis remained the unequivocal, unquestioned status quo of my youth and of all my peers. It was the uncircumcised penis, with its strange fleshy retractability, that was somehow freakish, a slightly vestigial aberration, like being born with a tail or a set of gills.

Years of living in Europe and being married to a French (intact) Catholic changed all that. Because only Jews and Arabs practice routine circumcision in Europe -- in fact, the United States is the only country in the industrialized world to practice it across the board -- I eventually grew so accustomed to the intact penis that a circumcised one now looks startlingly bereft. Still, when I told people in the States that our son would not be circumcised it was as if, in keeping his little foreskin intact, I was committing a perfidious impropriety: refuting both my Jewish and American identity and, in so doing, robbing my son of both. For all those who expressed their convictions, however -- the astonished Jewish relative, the slightly repelled girlfriend, the perturbed American husband -- a number of questions hung in the air, unanswered. Why, exactly, do we circumcise? How did circumcision evolve from a strictly Jewish and Muslim ritual to a standard medical procedure performed on a vast majority of American males, irrespective of religion? Why is the United States the only Western nation in the world to practice it routinely, despite overwhelming evidence debunking medical claims and enduring myths? More important, what exactly is the foreskin, what happens when we remove it and why do we continue to opt for circumcision?

It doesn't take much to realize that nature didn't intend the foreskin and the penis to be separated at birth. Try retracting the foreskin of a newborn's penis and you're struck by the steadfast, tenacious grip it has on the glans, or head. The foreskin is sealed to its bounty like a silo, and only slowly, over the years, yields to full retractability. But it's far more than just a sheath. The foreskin contains thousands of highly sensitive sensory receptors called Meissner corpuscles, which are more abundant there than in any other part of the penis. Richly endowed with a profusion of blood vessels, it also has a ridged band of peripenic muscles that protects the urinary tract from contaminants, and an undersurface lined with mucocutaneous tissue found nowhere else on the body, which contains ectopic glands that produce natural emollients and antibacterial proteins similar to those found in mother's milk. With its frenar ridges and its thousands of nerve endings, the foreskin not only protects the glans, which in an intact male is extremely sensitive, it also accounts for roughly one-third of the penis' sexual perceptivity. In short, evolution has seen to it that the penises of all mammals come protected in a remarkably fine-tuned and responsive foreskin.

After nine months of infinitely complex and elegant work at literally becoming whole persons, however, the majority of American newborn males have their foreskins removed. [Editor's Note: The CDC reported the rate of male circumcision dropped from 56% in 2006 to 32% in 2009. Today the majority of newborn American males remain intact.] Curiously, in a culture where the rights of every living thing are vigorously endorsed by the vox populi, most parents opt neither to view nor to question the mechanics of this procedure. Dr. Hiram Yellen, one of the two inventors of the Gomco Clamp, a tool used in circumcision, describes the standard procedure for circumcision in the following passage:
"... the prepuce is put on a stretch by grasping it on either side of the median line with a pair of hemostats. No anesthesia is used. A flat probe, anointed with Vaseline, is then inserted between the prepuce and the glans ... In cases where the prepuce is drawn tightly over the glans, a dorsal slit will facilitate applying the cone of the draw stud (the bell) over the glans. After anointing the inside of the cone, it is placed over the glans penis ... The prepuce is then pulled through and above the bevel hole in the platform and clamped in place. In this way the prepuce is crushed against the cone causing hemostasis. We allow this pressure to remain five minutes, and in older children slightly longer. The excess of the prepuce is then cut with a sharp knife."
Within minutes, three feet of veins, arteries and capillaries, 240 feet of nerves and more than 20,000 nerve endings are destroyed; so are all the muscles, glands, epithelial tissue and sexual sensitivity associated with the foreskin. Finally, what nature intended as an internal organ is irrevocably externalized.

Perhaps for parents who don't watch a circumcision (the majority don't; the minority that do wish they hadn't), the reality here -- the strapping, forcing, cutting, bleeding, stripping, slicing and creating of immeasurable pain -- is a little like the Bomb: something you'd rather not think about unless you absolutely, positively must. But the fact remains that millions of American newborns routinely undergo this procedure, and most parents don't really know why. How did this come to pass?

Research into circumcision's history suggests that it dates back to around 3000 B.C., when it was performed in ancient Egypt as a mark of slavery and as a religious rite. Aside from Jews and Muslims, however, people considered circumcision to be a repugnant form of genital mutilation, and both the Greeks and Romans passed laws forbidding its practice. Thus, for a few millennia at least, most men worldwide enjoyed the virtues of an intact penis. In fact, routine circumcision didn't take off in America until the Victorian era, and didn't reach cruising altitude until the Cold War years, when technology, medicine and big business came together in the interest of institutionalized birthing.

The systematic removal of the foreskin owes its ubiquity in America to one man named Dr. Lewis Sayre, once known as the "Columbus of the prepuce" by his colleagues. In 1870, Sayre drew a correlation between the foreskin and an orthopedic malady in a young boy. Through a series of bizarre medical experiments, Sayre and his colleagues eventually determined that links existed between the foreskin and a vast range of ailments that included gout, asthma, hernias, epilepsy, rheumatism, curvature of the spine, tuberculosis and elephantiasis. But what drove circumcision deeper into the bedrock of pediatric medicine was the strident belief that masturbation, thought to be the root of everything from bed-wetting to intractable forms of insanity and mental retardation, could be "cured" with circumcision.

Dr. Peter Charles Remondino, a well-known physician, public health official and champion of universal circumcision, typified the Zeitgeist. Remondino wrote that the foreskin, which he referred to as an "unyielding tube" and "a superfluity," made the intact male "a victim to all manner of ills, sufferings ... and other conditions calculated to weaken him physically, mentally, and morally; to land him, perchance, in jail, or even in a lunatic asylum."

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a well-known fundamentalist health reformer and medical journalist (his 1888 "Plain Facts for Old and Young" included roughly 100 pages dedicated to "Secret Vice [Solitary or Self Abuse]") who went on to create the world's preeminent corn flake, was more direct in his approach. "A remedy for masturbation which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision," he wrote. "The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment. In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement."

As astonishing as it may seem, Kellogg's views were shared by most prominent practitioners of the time. In Robert Tooke's popular book "All About the Baby," published in 1896, circumcision is recommended for preventing "the vile habit of masturbation." And Dr. Mary Melendy, author of "For Maidens, Wives and Mothers," wrote that masturbation "lays the foundation for consumption, paralysis and heart disease ... It even makes many lose their minds; others, when grown, commit suicide." Appealing to parents who might question the protracted afflictions associated with masturbation, Melendy warned, "Don't think it does no harm to your boy because he does not suffer now, for the effects of this vice come on so slowly that the victim is often very near death before you realize that he has done himself harm."

Circumcision was not only bound up with deeply irrational fears about masturbation at the turn of the century; it was also tied to sociocultural changes as vast waves of immigration flooded American cities. Circumcision became a mark of social class that distinguished gentrified, "real" Americans from the "insalubrious" immigrant masses at a time when cleanliness was synonymous with godliness. Eventually, circumcision staked its claim on the American male and his problematic penis, and became so accepted as the norm that by the early 1900s standard medical textbooks depicted the normal penis without its foreskin. In this highly charged atmosphere, American parents who chose not to circumcise their sons were almost criminally negligent, if not freakishly nonconformist.

By the Cold War era, roughly 90 percent of American males were systematically circumcised at birth. It was simply something you did -- a medical procedure as unquestioned as the cutting of the umbilical cord -- and so deeply entrenched in America that it was upheld as standard practice long after the theories by which it was justified were debunked. People had long forgotten that circumcision was not based on any supreme medical imperative but rather on the fantastically phobic mores of a Victorian society, and the medical establishment did little to clear the smoke on what had become a profitable business. Was this a perception/reality problem, or a morality/reality problem?

It wasn't until the '70s -- after French obstetrician and natural-birthing pioneer Frederick Leboyer's "Birth Without Violence," after extensive studies discrediting longstanding medical claims, after lawsuits that forced hospitals to obtain parental consent before circumcising, and after millions of foreskins had been left on the cutting-room floor -- that Americans (and Jews all over the world) began questioning circumcision.

By 1975, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) had reversed its pro-circumcision stance in "Standards and Recommendations for Hospital Care of Newborn Infants," by stating: "there is no absolute medical indication for routine circumcision of the newborn." And in 1984, it published "Care of the Uncircumcised Penis," which, clearly supporting the intact penis, concluded by saying, "The foreskin protects the glans throughout life." But despite a slow decline in the circumcision rate, accompanied by a new awareness of the rights of newborns -- and despite rigorous campaigning against circumcision by doctors worldwide, in the form of international symposiums, in-depth studies, human rights legislation, information resource centers and more -- circumcision remains the most commonly performed neonatal surgical procedure in America. And in this, America stands alone.


PART TWO

Why is the most "advanced" nation in the industrialized world alone in practicing a disturbing archaism from less enlightened times? In "The Saharasia Connection," Dr. James DeMeo, who calls circumcision "an ancient blood ritual ... that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with medicine, health, or science in practically all cases," puts forth this hypothesis: "The fact that so many circumcised American men, and mothers, nurses, and obstetricians are ready to defend the practice in the face of contrary epidemiological evidence is a certain giveaway to hidden, unconscious motives and disturbed emotional feelings about the penis and sexual matters in general."

It remains to be seen to what extent "unconscious motives" are responsible for the perpetuation of circumcision today. However, "emotional feelings about the penis" may very well be knit into the fabric of certain long-standing myths that persist in the United States despite logical or empirical evidence to the contrary. After much verbal intercourse with friends over the years about near misses and close calls with the intact penis, it seems evident that three persistent myths or biases dominate.

The mother of all myths, now locker-room gospel, is that a circumcised penis is more hygienic than an intact one. This comes as no surprise in a culture where the art of sterilization is so pervasive that certain foods have a half-life that probably exceeds that of plutonium. Still, doctors discredited hygiene as an advantage of circumcision years ago. When I asked our pediatrician what I needed to clean my son's intact penis, he replied: "Common sense." The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) put it another way: "Good personal hygiene would offer all the advantages of routine circumcision without the attendant surgical risk." (This, of course, is the case for both sexes: Leave any body part unattended for too long and things get, well, unpleasant.) Yet another doctor posited in "Circumcision: A Medical or Human Rights Issue?" that removing the foreskin for hygiene's sake is like removing one's eyelid for a cleaner eyeball.

Another popular and profoundly baffling myth is that circumcision is painless. Studies indicate that those babies who appear to sleep through a circumcision have most likely slipped into a semicomatose state, and a slew of recent studies on newborns, traumatic experience and sensory perception support this hypothesis.

Equally strange is the cultural bias for the aesthetics of a circumcised penis. In moments of free-associative candor, girlfriends have compared the looks of an intact penis to everything from an elephant trunk to a dachshund. The queerness of it was reinforced by the unsettling feeling that it required at best a refresher course on basic anatomy, at worst a whole new sex education, as if an intact man were some sort of Minotaur. To the extent that the circumcised penis is endorsed largely through culturally determined views about hygiene and aesthetics, one wonders if it's not in some odd way a metaphor for America itself: sleek and streamlined, the way we like our cars and buildings, connoting speed and unimpeded verticality; but also surgical and sanitized, and thus thoroughly modern. By contrast, the intact penis is a little too unruly, too Paleolithic, a little too, well, animal. (If penises could walk and talk, the circumcised penis would be a suit and tie, a clean shave and a shoulder-high salute. The intact penis would be a rumpled shirt, a five o'clock shadow and a finger flipping you the bird.)

Either way, passing judgment on an intact penis in America is like passing judgment on a real nose in a country where rhinoplasty is imposed at birth. Quite simply, most Americans have forgotten that an intact penis is actually the norm, and that for thousands of years the only people who were circumcised were Jews and Muslims.

Which leads me to a word about Jews and the penis. When I mentioned to certain relatives that my son would remain as nature intended him, the conversation, once the shock wore off, went something like this:

"But honey, what about the, er, Covenant of Abraham?"

"What exactly is the connection between the Covenant of Abraham and my son's penis?"

"Well, I'm not sure. Let me put Sam on the phone."

Sam wasn't sure about the God-penis-Covenant connection either. Neither was Ruth. Nor Morley. Nor were any of my Jewish friends or relatives.

In fact, the Covenant was a pact between God and Abraham, an expression of both faith and tribal belonging that set the "chosen people" apart, and which has been passed on to all Jews. Jewish identity, however, is not determined by circumcision nor is it passed through the penis. As most Jews know, Jewish identity is passed through the mother, hence the traditional and immemorial Jewish concern about assimilation through intermarriage. The "Encyclopedia Judaica" reaffirms this: "Any child born of a Jewish mother is a Jew, whether circumcised or not." I'm reminded of a Jewish friend who insisted that his son be circumcised despite the fact that his wife was Catholic. "Circumcision," his rabbi reminded him, "will not make your son Jewish." (His wife's conversion to Judaism, however, would.)

Despite all this, the issue of Jewish identity, in which circumcision is inextricably bound up, remains one of the most complex, thorny and eternally debated subjects around. Volumes have been written on the subject, and everything is up for personal interpretation. With this in mind, and given that a vast number of Jews do not know what the Covenant really is -- their sons are circumcised in hospitals without a bris; they are not Orthodox, and do not keep kosher -- one can only surmise that circumcision is not an act of religious conviction but rather one of deeply entrenched cultural conformity rooted in the deep past. In fact, a cruel irony lingers here: Originally, biblical circumcision involved cutting only the tip of the foreskin (called brith milah), which still left enough foreskin for certain Jewish men to stretch it forward and pass as gentiles. This gave rise to a rabbinical movement called Brith Periah. Much more radical in nature, Brith Periah essentially removed the entire foreskin, making it impossible for Jews to emulate gentiles. Modern circumcision is based on this much more radical procedure of Brith Periah -- a strange medical twist that has leveled the playing fields of the penis among Jews and gentiles alike.

Jew or gentile, to the extent that "God" is behind circumcision and the oft-cited Covenant, one can only wonder: Why ordain the removal of such a fundamental part of the penis? And why the penis? Here the views of Moses Maimonides, a medieval Jewish philosopher, rabbi and figure in the codification of Jewish law, are enlightening in a more universal context. In "Guide to the Perplexed," Maimonides wrote that the commandment to circumcise "has not been prescribed with a view to perfecting what is defective congenitally, but to perfecting what is defective morally." Celebrated for his chastity by the sages, Maimonides elaborates: "With regard to circumcision one of the reasons for it is, in my opinion, the wish to bring about a decrease in sexual intercourse and a weakening of the organ in question, so that this activity be diminished and the organ be in as quiet a state as possible ... The fact that circumcision weakens the faculty of sexual excitement and sometimes perhaps diminishes the pleasure is indubitable. For if at birth this member has been made to bleed and has had its covering taken away from it, it must indubitably be weakened."

Maimonides' views evoke not only the Victorians, the doctrines that underlie female circumcision and the "unconscious motives" Dr. DeMeo wrote about: They also hark back to the forbidden fruits of sex and religion that have festered in the gardens of earthly delight ever since Adam and Eve discovered the apple.

Considering the troubling history of circumcision in light of my own son's corpulent little penis, I'm reminded that it is the choice -- and in some cases, the courage -- of American parents that will determine whether the next generation of American men reclaims what is rightfully theirs to begin with. In this regard it might be the late Dr. Benjamin Spock who stands for conventional wisdom at its best. When asked about circumcision in an interview with Redbook in 1989, he said quite simply, "My own preference, if I had the good fortune to have another son, would be to leave his little penis alone."

Photo courtesy of peaceful parenting mom, Christina King. 
Intact related onesies and tees available at Made By Momma.

Additional resources (scholarly books, articles, websites) on the prepuce, intact care and circumcision at Are You Fully Informed?




The Original Happy Meal





Move over McDonald's!
You did not have the first, or the most popular, 'happy meal.'
One that's as healthy as you can get and never ceases to fulfill. 


See the Breastfeeding Resource Page for related information.


~~~~

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Homebirth of Andrew - as told by his Momma

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…aww heck–I think someone else already used that…

Seriously though–here's my version of events.

Most times have been omitted to protect those of us who never have watches on and never know what time it is.

Let's start at the beginning. Okay, maybe not the beginning–that is a bit private and all that. Let's jump to April 17, 2006.

Sunday Night/Monday Morning:
I have some contractions in bed that are uncomfortable, and feeling different than Braxton-Hicks, but sure don't feel like they are doing anything major.
I slept through them, except when I had to roll over, since that is when they seemed to strike.

Monday:
The contractions continue through the morning and now I'm conscious enough to pay attention to them. They don't happen at any regular interval, but they are definitely not Braxton-Hicks. I get BH contractions across the whole of my uterus, but mostly across the top. These were very much at the bottom and more concentrated than BH.

But of course, I didn't call my midwife, because I was going to see her on Wednesday, and as the day wore on, they pretty much died down unless I was too active. Of course I had to put that to the test by going outside with Dan and the kids, but hey, no one ever said I was the brightest bulb in the pack.

Monday Night:
Everything was fine that night though. I was beat and crashed sometimes around 10:30-ish….I think. Dan came in to bed about an hour later, shortly followed by *E* coming over from his bed and shoving Dan off the bed.

I noticed when Dan got into the bed and I moved over that I had another contraction, but didn't think anything of it–since they had been that way the night before. But once *E* got in the bed, they kept coming and coming and coming–
it seemed like they were every time I closed my eyes to get some sleep.
I tried to watch the clock, but I couldn't see it well without my glasses.
And I was sure they couldn't be as frequent as it looked to me.

Besides–I still had a month 'till Maybaby was due.

The Countdown Begins:
I had to go to the bathroom. And the feeling wasn't going away.
Drat.
I hate getting up at night to go potty.
Means I wake up and it takes me forever to go back to sleep.
But I had more contractions as I got up.
hmmm. This could be for real.

I knew that for some people a bath will slow labor, so I decided to go to the main bathroom that has a big tub.

Once I was there though, I kept having contractions. Every time I would stand up, another one would start and I'd have to sit back down. I did not want to spend the rest of the night on the toilet. Nope. sorry. Our toilet seat is just not designed for a comfy labor.

I managed to time things just right and went in bedroom to tell Dan I was getting in the tub–and that we might need to call my midwife…I was in the tub for, I think, about an hour hoping Dan would come in. He is a heavy sleeper, but I made sure he understood I was going in the tub before I left the room. I figured it would rattle around in his head and he would eventually come in.

But once I was in the tub I was a little more concerned about things. I couldn't get up and he wouldn't hear me call from so far away.

Whose bright idea was the bathtub again?Nevermind–don't answer that.

At around 2:30, Dan came in and wondered how I was. I told him we need to call my midwife.

D-Day:
2:45 Dan dials the phone, our midwife answers, and *E* starts crying for me. Dan went to the bedroom to go get *E* as I talked to the midwife, who was very much asleep and absolutely not expecting my call (My edd was May 10)

She thought the contractions were about 3 minutes apart at that time. She got her stuff together and came right over.I couldn't believe how fast she was there beside the tub.I was so glad to see her We talked for a few minutes–just babble really–about the bathroom and why it looks like a construction site

That was at 3. And that is when I really lose track of time. According to their records, our midwife called her assistant shortly after and she got there at 3:45

But it only felt like minutes before they were both there.

And it seems like they were at the house for hours.

The contractions were bad, but they were short and I really could feel a difference in my body this time around. My goal for this labor/birth was to stay calm and relaxed. I lay there in the tub, with each contraction coming on stronger and stronger. I had a cup I used to pour water over my belly. At first it was just to keep warm. It quickly turned into a way to keep my hands busy.

I was determined to keep my mouth loose and relaxed (a la Ina May Gaskin) and pretty much oooh ahhhh'd my way through each contraction.
It wasn't something I planned or rehearsed.
It just happened and it worked.
The rhythm of it was perfect to focus on—push the air out this way, breathe in, push the air out that way.
Now start again.

And I found myself starting each contraction looking at the blue tiles on our bathroom walls. They are strategically staggered with while tiles, providing a nice contrast. I was staring at them, playing the little pattern games I used to play when I was a kid–what ways could this pattern be interpreted.

If my midwife or her assistant were in the room with me–which they were for most of the contractions–they were such a calming energy. They sat and nodded their head–calm as could be, but understanding. They helped me to stay grounded–to remind myself that what goes up must come down and every contraction has an end.

*E* was still running around through all of this. He came in a few times with Dan, which I was also grateful for. I'm glad he wasn't kept out–he seemed really comfortable with everything. Of course he also kept asking to get in the tub with me–poor kid

I'm guessing it was around 4:30 when things were really feeling different. My back hurt, the contractions weren't the same, and I was almost dozing off between contractions–things were still going strong, but calmer.

I suppose I ought to mention that through my pregnancy we'd only been able to hear the baby's heartbeat once and we couldn't get a heartbeat at all while I was in labor.

We had already figured I had an anterior placenta–which basically means nothing other than the placement of the placenta muffles sounds and makes it harder to hear a heartbeat. I wasn't worried, my midwife wasn't worried–we knew the baby was doing good and was still moving around lots.

Anyhow–around 4:30 I asked my midwife to check to see how dilated I was.
My intuition was telling me that I was complete, but I didn't feel pushy I was a little worried that I might be wrong and I could still have a ways to go.

My poor midwife –our bathroom is so small!But she managed to check and said I was complete–might have a tiny lip, but was ready to go if I felt like pushing.

I want to add that this was the one and only internal check I had through the entire pregnancy. How awesome is that? I never knew that pregnancy didn't have to mean everyone and their neighbor looking up and touching every private part of your body.

So I was right–I was complete. Things were going to be over soon. We really were going to have MayBaby in April. My midwife asked if I wanted to get out of the tub (it is a really narrow old cast iron tub. Deep, but narrow). I told her I was worried. I was doing okay in the tub and was scared I wasn't going to be okay out of the water.

She told me that chances are I would be fine–things were really just about over and would be about the same regardless of where I was.I rotated in the tub a few times–but nothing worked well for a position. So finally said lets go in the bedroom.

Around 4:40 Dan helped me out of the tub and to the bed. I never knew the bedroom was so far from the bathroom (it is right next to it!!), but I was okay in Dan's arms. Next thing I know I was clambering up onto the bed.
(me? on the bed?? I had sworn no more kids on dry land! (*E* was a waterbirth back in 2003))

I was on my hands and knees, but definitely not comfortable. Dan grabbed my exercise ball and I propped myself up on that. Things were definitely getting serious at this point. I was ready to be done and to meet Maybaby (who I was talking to through most of the labor–even if it was just a "come on, baby, work with me here")

A few minutes later–much to my relief, my water broke. The relief was short lived though, as the baby was now *right there* with no cushion.

I started to lose it at that point.
I lost my rhythm and was stuck in the sudden intensity of it all.
Then I heard the midwives saying to get me back to what I was doing in the bathroom--the breathing….
they got me back together–for the moment at least

Dan was there, at my head. I was glad to have him there with me, unfortunately he brushed my hair out of my eyes and the lights were just too bright. I shook my head to get my hair back–but couldn't get any words out about needing him there AND needing my hair over my eyes. I was worried though that he was going to get the wrong idea and think I didn't want him there (yes, I was actually worried about this while I was trying to push the baby out...)

Next thing I remember is just making a very high pitched cry. Funny how you read about people saying "Was that coming from me?" But I really was wondering that..and really annoyed at myself for hurting my ears so bad. Inside I was saying "omg–come on baby! This hurts!!!!"

I pushed for all I was worth and suddenly felt MayBaby's head come out. Just to be sure, ever insecure about where things were at, I asked, "That's his head,right? It's out, right?"
Yup. It was.

"Good. Get the rest of it out NOW"

And I pushed again….desperate to have some relief.

Andrew was officially born at 4:54am

We snuggled on the bed and I delivered the placenta about 15 minutes later, at which point we cut the umbilical cord. After some complex mathematical computations we determined he was 6 pounds 6 ounces and 19.5 inches And at some point, they told me Andrew was born with his left hand up by his head.
Not that I think it would have been painless without that, but geeeze no wonder it hurt!

And somehow, no tears or stitches needed! Wooohooo!

At some point, (I believe right before I got out of the tub?) Dan had taken *E* downstairs to my mom. After Andrew was born, he went down to get *E* who was so sweet. *E* then ran upstairs to wake *A*up to let him know he had a brother. *A* seemed a little shy about it all at first, but then again, he has never been known to be much of a morning person–nevermind at 5:30 am

The sun was coming up as we got settled into bed and got some much needed and well deserved rest. (Well, as we slept…as Dan took *E* for a car ride in hopes that it would help him conk out. He was too wound up to sleep on his own and Dh desperately needed some sleep too)

Interview with Homebirthin' Dad - Kenneth

How did you make the decision to birth at home?
C had the idea early on and I didn't object to it at all. I wanted to avoid the hospital due to unnecesary interventions or possible infection.

When you made the decision, what was your prior knowledge or experience with home birth (or birth in general)?
None. Only stuff I'd seen on tv basically. We learned a whole lot more due to the 6 weeks of birth classes that we took.

What did your family and friends think about your decision?
They thought it was a strange and bad idea, dangerous even. I didn't care what they thought. Everything they said just strengthened my resolve and we knew what we had fully researched birth options. We knew what was best.

Did you have any concerns or hesitations about birthing at home?
Yes. There was anxiety over the unknown and concerns about surprises that may occcur. I was hesitant about birthing in a hospital actually due to the horror stories I've heard commonly occur in that setting. What concerns me most is knowing that a lot of people walk into birth without knowing any information about it.

How do you feel about the prenatal care you and your partner received?
It was great. Very thorough and informative.

Did you feel actively involved in the process of the pregnancy and birth?
Yes I did. I wanted my role to be helpful. During labor I was active at making and keeping C as calm and comfortable as possible.

Thinking to the day of the birth, were you ever worried that something would go worng?
Yes, of course. I was worried about the big unknowns. I was concerned about C having an emergency... just anything. What if there was too much pain? What if C changed her mind and wanted to go to the hospital? I focused on avoiding panic, 'cause things can quickly and easily go into panic-mode. There was a general fear of things going wrong but C hadn't had any health issues so I wasn't really worried about anything in particular. At one point, I was concerned about fatigue and having to go to the hospital due to it. There were times the baby was close, but not close, so I was afraid we would end up having a longer day by going to the hospital.

Overall, what is your general feeling about the home birth?
It was great! Things went exactly as we wanted. We even had wine at the end :) The home birth went as well as it could have. Everyone was happy and healthy. I also thought it was great that our midwife and her assistant took care of everything and even cleaned up the apartment.

In retrospect, is there anything that you would have done differently?
Have more food in the house :) Snack foods, really. And caffeine! Stock up on everything you may need and keep in mind the time. Our daughter was born at 7:26pm, so we were able to order pizza. But what if it was in the middle of the night??

Would you choose homebirth again?
Yes!

Any words or wisdom for other dads?
READ. Find out why you would want to home birth. Research hospital policies to see if the hospital seeting will work with you. Beware of extreme advice. You don't want partisan information, it's just not helpful. Try to get the little errands around the house done beforehand (dry cleaning, take out the garbage). You won't want to do anything for a couple of days afterward. Also, designate people to make calls for you to let others know what's going on and invove them in the birth. Oh... and babies are a lot of work.

The day of the home birth. In his own words....
If you have taken a class, you kinda just go along with what you've learned and just go through the motions and don't think too much about things. I felt in control. Going to the class really helped because we got a lot of useful information. When our midwife arrived, I was still feeling as in control as someone could feel in a birth :) Our midwife was very hands-off, which was helpful. I had a front-row seat to my daughter's birth. When she was born I was amazed. I thought, 'wow, we have a baby!'.

Monday, January 28, 2008

How Male Circumcision Impacts Your Love Life

By Dr. Christiane Northrup
Posted with permission. 
First printed (2004) in Men's Health Magazine.


Circumcision, the surgical removal of the male prepuce (foreskin), usually during the first few days after birth, is an emotionally charged subject that most people are reluctant to discuss openly, let alone objectively.



I know. As an obstetrician-gynecologist, I've performed hundreds of circumcisions, and I've been on the front lines of the circumcision debate for more than 25 years.


Though I've provided information on circumcision for expectant couples for years, it long ago became clear to me that the decision about whether or not to circumcise a boy is made from an emotional not a rational place. Still, the tide is turning as more and more people, both within and without the medical profession, rethink the entire subject.


In the spirit of science and compassion, I urge you to read this article with an open mind. It may well change the entire way you view circumcision.


A Risky, Painful, and Unnecessary Procedure
 
The sad truth is that throughout most of the 20th century, the American medical community has focused on finding reasons to remove the foreskin of newborn males instead of acknowledging Mother Nature's wisdom in including this highly sensitive tissue. Happily, more and more individuals are questioning circumcision's necessity and acknowledging its potential harm. Since 1980, the national circumcision rate has dropped by 30 percent, and an increasing number of physicians are finding the courage to refuse to perform the procedure.



This is precisely what happened in England, a nation formerly obsessed with circumcision. In the 1940s, following the release of information that supported leaving male babies fully intact, England's circumcision rate plummeted almost overnight to less than I percent. Similar information is beginning to gain ground here in the United States, so I'd like to share it with you.

To start with, babies feel pain the same way adults do. But the prevailing wisdom at medical schools has long been that newborns can't feel pain and therefore don't experience it during their circumcisions.


When I was a medical student, this is what I heard from my professors as well, although common sense told me it wasn't true. I watched placid newborns begin to scream and gasp in pain as the circumcision procedure began. Fortunately, it is finally accepted as a medical fact that circumcision is extraordinarily painful for newborns, who are born with full nocioceptive (pain sensing) ability.


Furthermore, routine newborn circumcision has no health benefit. Though a wide variety of health advantages have been attributed to circumcision--decreases in the incidence of cervical cancer, AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and male urinary tract infection--the most up-to-date research has refuted all these justifications. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement in 1999 saying there is not sufficient scientific data to recommend routine newborn circumcision. Given this, the number of insurance companies willing to pay for the procedure is also decreasing.


Though circumcision is relatively easy to perform, like any surgical procedure it has risks. The most common complication is hemorrhage, which is reported in as many as 2 percent of cases. Though rare, more disastrous complications can and do occur: "degloving" of the penile skin, which requires skin grafts and results in loss of sensation; destruction of the penis; and death from hemorrhage or infection.


Because there are no proven benefits for the procedure in the first place, these complications are all the more tragic. As respected obstetrician and gynecologist George Denniston points out, "Circumcision violates the first tenet of medical practice: 'first, do no harm.' According to modern medical ethics, parents do not have the right to consent to a procedure that is not in their son's best interest. The removal of a normal, important part of the male sexual organ is not in their son's best interest."


Intact is the Norm

The vast majority of the world's men, including most Europeans and Scandinavians, are intact. And before 1900, circumcision was virtually non-existent in the United States as well--except for Jewish and Muslim people, who've been performing genital cutting for hundreds of years for religious reasons.


Believe it or not, circumcision was introduced in English-speaking countries in the late 1800s to control or prevent masturbation, similar to the way that female circumcision was promoted and continues to be advocated in some Muslim and African countries to control women's sexuality. As the absurdity of this position became apparent, new justifications, such as the prevention of cervical and penile cancers, received the blessing of the medical establishment. But these are justifications that science has been unable to support. Nor is there any scientific proof that circumcision prevents sexually transmitted diseases.


Also contrary to popular belief, the intact penis requires no special care. Many parents get hung up about how to "clean" the intact penis in an infant. Some are even told to retract the foreskin. This can cause pain and scarring, and it isn't necessary. The foreskin often does not retract naturally until a child is older--sometimes not until he is a teenager--but a boy can easily stretch and retract his foreskin gently over several months' time.


The Pleasures of Natural Sex
 
I've always felt that the male foreskin, one of most richly innervated and hyper-elastic pieces of tissue in the male body, is there for a reason. Until recently, I didn't know exactly what that reason was. But now, thanks to Kristen O'Hara's well-researched book, Sex as Nature Intended It, I finally understand the reasons for the design of the penis and foreskin and how this design ensures optimal penile function, including this organ's ability to satisfy the female sexually. Most American women have not personally experienced the sensation of sex with an uncircumcised man because the majority of men in this country, especially those born before 1980, have been circumcised. But Kristen O'Hara's long-ago affair with an uncircumcised man was the spark that touched off years of research, the result of which is her eye-opening book. Consider the following:



The primary pleasure zones of the natural (intact) penis are located in the upper penis, which includes the penis head, the foreskin's inner lining, and the frenulum--the hinge of skin that connects the foreskin to the head of the penis. When a male is circumcised, some of the most erotically sensitive areas of the penis are removed: the foreskin that normally covers the head of the penis (the glans) and some or all of the frenulum.


The frenulum contains high concentrations of nerve endings that are sensitive to fine touch. The glans was designed by nature to be covered all the time except during sexual activity. Upon erection, both foreskin layers unfold onto the upper penile shaft, leaving the highly innervated frenulum, glans, and inner lining exposed and readied for sexual activity. This is one of reasons why the penile tip is the focus of sexual excitement.


New scientific evidence shows that highly erogenous tissue equivalent to the female clitoris is located in the core of the penis, beneath the corona (the hook-like head of the penis) and coronal tip. This sensitive tissue extends all the way down the length of the penile shaft to the pubic mound, where it branches and continues into the pelvis and onto the pelvic bone in a manner analogous to the anatomy of the female clitoris. Though the penis contains nerves that are sexually excited by pressure, its tip contains the greatest density of these nerves and is therefore the most sexually responsive part, just as the tip of the clitoris is the most sensitive part. And like the tip of the female clitoris, the tip of the penis is sexually stimulated by the pleasurable sensations created by the massaging actions of the movement of the foreskin upon it during intercourse.


During intercourse, these exquisitely sensitive nerves of the upper penis both excite a man sexually and control the rhythm of penile thrusting. "When the natural penis thrusts inward, the vaginal walls brush against the erotically sensitive nerves of the glans, the foreskin's inner lining, and the frenulum, causing these nerves to fire off sensations of pleasure;" writes O'Hara. "The inward thrust of the penis keeps these pleasure sensations ongoing, but after these nerves have fired, the penis senses a reduction in pleasurable feelings, so it stops its inward thrust and begins its outward stroke in search of stronger sensations.


"During the outward stroke, the foreskin's outer layer slides forward to cloak the nerves of its inner lining, while the inner lining itself covers the frenulum" she continues. "Once covered, these nerves are allowed to rest from stimulation until the next inward thrust. As the foreskin moves forward on the shaft, it bunches up behind the coronal ridge, and may sometimes roll forward over the corona, depending upon the length of the stroke. This applies pressure to the interior tissue of the corona and coronal ridge where nerves that are excited by pressure send a wave of sexual excitement throughout the upper penis. The natural penis receives pleasure sensations from one set of sensory nerves on the inward thrust and a different set of nerves on the outward stroke. It can maintain a continuous stream of highly pleasurable sensations by maintaining the right rhythm."


And intriguingly, because the area of sexual sensation is so localized in the tip, the penis only has to travel a short distance to excite one set of nerves or another. In other words, it doesn't have to withdraw very far to receive pleasure on the outward stroke. This allows the penis to stay deep inside the vagina, keeping the man's pubic mound in close and frequent contact with a woman's clitoral area, which increases her pleasure and a sense of closeness.


As part of the research for her book, Ms. O'Hara surveyed approximately 150 women--enough to make the study statistically reliable. Here's how one survey respondent described sex with a natural partner:


"Sex with a natural partner has been to me like the gentle rhythm of a peaceful but powerful ocean--waves build, then subside and soothe. It felt so natural, as if it were filling a deep need within me, not necessarily for the act of sex, but more in order to experience the rhythm of a man and woman as they were created to respond to each other."


The Sexual Consequences of Male Circumcision
 
After circumcision, the exposed head of the penis thickens like a callus and becomes less sensitive. And because erotically sensitive areas of the penis have been removed, the circumcised penis must thrust more vigorously with a much longer stroke in order to reach orgasm through stimulating the less sensitive penile shaft. In her study of women who have had sexual experiences with both natural and circumcised men, O'Hara notes that respondents overwhelmingly concurred that the mechanics of coitus were different for the two groups of men. Seventy-three percent of the women reported that circumcised men tended to thrust harder, using elongated strokes; while intact men tended to thrust more gently, to have shorter strokes, and to maintain more contact between the mons pubis and clitoris.



O'Hara's research makes the following sexual comparisons between the natural and circumcised penis.
 
The natural penis may be more comfortable for the vagina than the circumcised penis. The coronal ridge of the natural penis is more flexible; O'Hara likens it to the resiliency of Jell-O. The circumcised penile head is considerably harder--overly firm and compacted like an unripe tomato. This is because circumcision cuts away 33-50 percent of penile skin. As a result, the skin of the penile shaft can get stretched so tightly during an erection that it pulls down on the skin covering the glans, compressing the tissue of the penis head. The abnormally hardened coronal ridge can then be very uncomfortable to vaginal tissue during intercourse.



Women sometimes experience a scraping feeling with each outward stroke and even report discomfort after intercourse or even the next day. The brain makes pain-relieving endorphins that may partially block any discomfort during intercourse itself. As a gynecologist, I can tell you that painful intercourse is a very common symptom in women, many of whom blame themselves or who feel that something is wrong with their sexual response.


The give of the natural penis, by contrast, allows for more bend and flex of the organ in the vagina, adding to a woman's pleasure and comfort. The abundant skin of the natural penile shaft further cushions the force of the coronal ridge in the vagina. In addition, the mobile skin of the penis is "grasped" by the ridges of the vaginal mucosa and held in place. The bunching and unbunching of penile skin during intercourse enhances a man's pleasure, but it also excites the woman. As one of O'Hara s survey respondents reported: "What I noticed was that my natural man got a lot of pleasure from deliberate, slow insertion and backing out because his foreskin would fold back and forth, which would excite me also."


Circumcised sex may cause the vagina to abnormally tense up and decrease its lubrication. Women report more problems with lubrication when having sex with circumcised men, possibly because of irritation from the harder tip and involuntary tensing against it, and also because the longer stroke length tends to remove lubrication from the vagina. Often an artificial lubricant is necessary.


Intercourse may also be painful for the circumcised man because his penis scrapes against the ribbed structure of tensed-up vaginal walls and becomes over stimulated from constant pressure. The degree of discomfort, if any, will depend upon the tightness of the man's shaft skin, the vigor of his thrusting, the duration of intercourse, and the amount of lubrication.

Circumcision may cause a man to work harder to achieve orgasm, resulting in emotional and physical distancing from his partner. When a circumcised man has sex, he may have to concentrate intensely on the erotic sensations he is receiving while simultaneously blocking out any uncomfortable sensations. Survey respondents often reported that their circumcised partners seemed to have to work too hard to achieve orgasm. And because of the erotic tissue that has been removed, he can't enjoy the sensations leading up to orgasm or his partner's responses.


O'Hara makes a compelling argument that circumcised intercourse may frustrate the primordial subconscious that seems to know "real sex ain't this way." She also suggests that each circumcised experience has the potential to buildup negative memory imprints so that over time, repeated sexual encounters with the same partner may lead to negative feelings between the two that carry over into everyday life. If this sounds like an extraordinary leap, consider the question that O'Hara asks in her book: "Other things being equal, which couple is more likely to stay together--one enjoying delicious, satisfying sex or one whose sexual pleasure is being compromised in many ways?"


The Solution: Foreskin Restoration
 
Fortunately, there are alternatives for men (and their partners) who want to experience natural sex. This quiet revolution, called Foreskin Restoration, can be achieved through plastic surgery or non surgical methods. The latter work on the principle that skin stretches and grows under pressure just like abdominal skin when it stretches to accommodate pregnancy. According to O'Hara, whose husband stretched his foreskin over the course of several years, their sex life is better than ever, and neither can believe the difference that foreskin restoration has made. Many other men and women attest to this improvement as well. 


For more information, the following resources can be helpful.


National Organization of Restoring Men (NORM) Web site: http://www.norm.org

The Joy of Uncircumcising! A restoration manual and more, by Jim Bigelow, Ph.D. (Contact UNCIRC, POB 52138, Pacific Grove, CA 93950).

Restore Yourself! A Handy Kit for Circumcised Men from NOCIRC of Michigan Web site: www.RestoreYourself.com

Non-Surgical Foreskin Restoration, a Canadian Web site with a great deal of information: http://infocirc.org/top.htm
 

What about Religious Circumcision?
 
I am not Jewish (or Muslim), but I can assure you that many are rethinking circumcision. As a matter of fact, two of the most well-researched and eloquent books on the harmful nature of circumcision have been written by Jewish men. For more information, I urge you to read Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma by Ronald Goldman, Ph.D., (Vanguard, 1997), Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy by Edward Wallerstein (Springer Publishing, 1980) and watch CUT: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision. For additional information on the Jewish perspective, see these links. For the Christian perspective, see these links. For circumcision within Islam visit
http://www.quranicpath.com/misconceptions/circumcision.html and http://www.quran.org/khatne.htm.
 
Judaism and Circumcision Resources Page


I hope this has been an eye-opening article. I realize that circumcision may not have been the topic uppermost on your mind before you opened your issue [of Men's Health] this month, but it's my mission to bring you timely, life-enhancing information. My hope is that you'll weigh it and then make the wisest choice for yourself and your family.


For more on how male circumcision impacts women's sexual health, see the articles on this page.

For additional information on the prepuce, intact care, and circumcision see, Are You Fully Informed?



~~~~

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dr. Marsden Wagner on Hospital Birth

I love Dr. Marsden Wagner.

Such a smart, well-researched man - and a profound leader in the fields of birth and babies. His book, Born in the U.S.A. is an outstanding must-read for anyone working in or around childbirth.

As previous director of Women's and Children's Health of the World Health Organization, Wagner sums up his vast years of expertise with this advice, "If you really want a humanized birth, the best thing to do is get the hell out of the hospital!"

Your Body Within 1 Hour of Drinking Soda

By Danelle Frisbie


I have to admit, as a former teacher, I used to cringe when I saw the amount of soda my students could put away in a day. We may as well have installed a soda fountain instead of the water fountain. Later, as I worked with parents of infants, I almost choked on my lunch one day to see a baby's bottle filled with Coke. Since that memorable day, I have met others who regularly purchase Pepsi for their tots and think nothing of it when they stock the fridge with Mt. Dew for school days. But there is one thing I know for sure: soda in no way benefits your baby, your child - or you!

According to the Nutrition Research Center, this is what happens to your body within one hour of drinking a can of soda:

- 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system, which is 100 percent of your recommended daily intake. You'd normally vomit from such an intake, but the phosphoric acid cuts the flavor.

- 20 minutes: Your blood sugar skyrockets. Your pancreas attempts to maximize insulin production in order to turn high levels of sugar into fat.

- 40 minutes: As your body finishes absorbing the caffeine, your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, and your liver pumps more sugar into the bloodstream. Adenosine receptors in your brain are blocked preventing you from feeling how tired you may actually be.

- 45 minutes: Your body increases dopamine production, causing you to feel pleasure and adding to the addictiveness of the beverage. This physical neuro response works the same way as it would if we were consuming heroin.

< 60 minutes: The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, which boosts your metabolism a bit further. High doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners compound this effect, increasing the urinary excretion of calcium. The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (You have to GO!) Your body will eliminate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was otherwise headed to your bones. And you will also flush out the sodium, electrolytes and water. Your body has eliminated the water that was in the soda, and in the process, it was infused with nutrients and minerals your body would have otherwise used to hydrate your system or build body cells, bones, teeth.

> 60 minutes: The sugar crash begins. You may become irritable and/or sluggish. You start feeling like crap. Time to grab another?



~~~~

MGM/FGM A Visual Comparison

By Joseph Lewis
Read more from Lewis at Joseph4GI

I've taken the pictures from the recent NY news report, and the blog commentary on the Turkish Circumcision Palace, to create a second visual comparison.

Now, what kind of ignorance, denial and double-think does it take to insist that the following pictures are NOT the same thing?



Just what is it that makes them "different?"

Indeed, the sexes of these individuals may be "different."


But isn't the principle of taking a helpless individual and forcefully cutting his/her genitals the EXACT SAME PRINCIPLE?


And, do the ages of the individuals really matter?

Is the equality situation immediately self-evident?

Or do people continue to delude themselves with double-think?


Question circumcision.


The principle of forcefully cutting up a person's genitals is the same, no matter what age, no matter what sex.


For more information on the prepuce organ ('foreskin' or 'hood') and circumcision, see scholarly resources (books, sites, articles) at Are You Fully Informed?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Artificial Colors Increase Hyperactivity


The Lancet
released a study that found artificial colors and sodium benzoate increase hyperactivity in both 3 year olds, and in 8 and 9 year olds.

The study included 153 3-year-olds and 144 8 and 9-year-olds. The challenge drinks contained one of two artificial food color additives (Mix A, Mix B) and sodium benzoate. Mix A and B were compared with the placebo mix. The outcomes were measured by a global hyperactivity aggregate (GHA), scores based on parent and teacher observations, and for 8 and 9 year olds, a computerized attention test.

Mix A significantly increased hyperactivity among the 3 year olds when compared with placebo, although this was not measured as significant with Mix B. Eight and 9 year old children experienced a significant increase in hyperactive behavior when given Mix A or Mix B.


Source:

"Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial."
The Lancet, Vol 370, Issue 9598, Pages 1560 - 1567.

Read Full Text Here


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Human Milk and Formula Ingredient List

Now also available in Romanian at: Lapte matern vs formula de lapte praf

These two lists were developed by Cecily Heslett, Sherri Hedberg and Haley Rumble as a student project for the Breastfeeding Course for Health Care Providers at Douglas College in New Westminster, BC, Canada in 2007. You can view the full pdf poster students created here. Note that we are still discovering new 'ingredients' in human milk each year. The science of lactation is relatively new and there is still a significant amount that we do not understand, and have not yet solved. It is very possible that the ingredient list for human milk is three times this length, with special factors we may not unfold for years to come.

Above: Human Milk


FORMULA INGREDIENTS

Water
Carbohydrates
Lactose
Corn maltodextrin Protein
Partially hydrolyzed reduced minerals whey protein concentrate (from cow’s milk) Fats
Palm olein
Soybean oil
Coconut oil
High oleic safflower oil (or sunflower oil) M. alpina oil (Fungal DHA)
C.cohnii oil (Algal ARA) Minerals
Potassium citrate Potassium phosphate Calcium chloride Tricalcium phosphate Sodium citrate Magnesium chloride Ferrous sulphate
Zinc sulphate Sodium chloride Copper sulphate Potassium iodide Manganese sulphate Sodium selenate
Vitamins
Sodium ascorbate Inositol
Choline bitartrate Alpha-Tocopheryl acetate Niacinamide
Calcium pantothenate Riboflavin
Vitamin A acetate Pyridoxine hydrochloride Thiamine mononitrate Folic acid
Phylloquinone
Biotin
Vitamin D3
Vitamin B12
Enzyme Trypsin
Amino acid Taurine
L-Carnitine (a combination of two different amino acids) Nucleotides
Cytidine 5-monophosphate
Disodium uridine 5-monophosphate Adenosine 5-monophosphate Disodium guanosine 5-monophosphate
Soy Lecithin


HUMAN MILK INGREDIENTS

Water
Carbohydrates (energy source)
Lactose
Oligosaccharides (see below) Carboxylic acid
Alpha hydroxy acid Lactic acid
Proteins (building muscles and bones) Whey protein
Alpha-lactalbumin
HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumour cells)
Lactoferrin
Many antimicrobial factors (see below) Casein
Serum albumin Non-protein nitrogens
Creatine
Creatinine
Urea
Uric acid
Peptides (see below)
Amino Acids (the building blocks of proteins)
Alanine Arginine Aspartate Clycine Cystine Glutamate Histidine Isoleucine Leucine Lycine Methionine Phenylalanine Proline
Serine
Taurine
Theronine
Tryptophan
Tyrosine
Valine
Carnitine (amino acid compound necessary to make use of fatty acids as an energy source)
Nucleotides (chemical compounds that are the structural units of RNA and DNA) 5’-Adenosine monophosphate (5”-AMP)
3’:5’-Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (3’:5’-cyclic AMP)
5’-Cytidine monophosphate (5’-CMP)
Cytidine diphosphate choline (CDP choline) Guanosine diphosphate (UDP)
Guanosine diphosphate - mannose
3’- Uridine monophosphate (3’-UMP) 5’-Uridine monophosphate (5’-UMP) Uridine diphosphate (UDP)
Uridine diphosphate hexose (UDPH)
Uridine diphosphate-N-acetyl-hexosamine (UDPAH) Uridine diphosphoglucuronic acid (UDPGA)
Several more novel nucleotides of the UDP type
Fats Triglycerides
Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (important for brain development) Arachidonic acid (AHA) (important for brain development) Linoleic acid
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Conjugated linoleic acid (Rumenic acid)
Free Fatty Acids Monounsaturated fatty acids
Oleic acid Palmitoleic acid Heptadecenoic acid
Saturated fatty acids Stearic
Palmitic acid Lauric acid Myristic acid
Phospholipids
Phosphatidylcholine Phosphatidylethanolamine Phosphatidylinositol Lysophosphatidylcholine Lysophosphatidylethanolamine Plasmalogens
Sphingolipids Sphingomyelin
Gangliosides GM1 GM2 GM3
Glucosylceramide Glycosphingolipids Galactosylceramide Lactosylceramide Globotriaosylceramide (GB3) Globoside (GB4)
Sterols Squalene
Lanosterol Dimethylsterol Methosterol
Lathosterol Desmosterol Triacylglycerol Cholesterol 7-dehydrocholesterol Stigma-and campesterol 7-ketocholesterol Sitosterol
β-lathosterol
Vitamin D metabolites Steroid hormones
Vitamins Vitamin A
Beta carotene Vitamin B6
Vitamin B8 (Inositol) Vitamin B12 Vitamin C
Vitamin D Vitamin E
a-Tocopherol Vitamin K
Thiamine Riboflavin Niacin
Folic acid Pantothenic acid Biotin
Minerals Calcium
Sodium Potassium Iron
Zinc Chloride Phosphorus Magnesium Copper Manganese Iodine Selenium Choline Sulpher Chromium Cobalt Fluorine Nickel
Metal
Molybdenum (essential element in many enzymes)
Growth Factors (aid in the maturation of the intestinal lining) Cytokines
interleukin-1β (IL-1β) IL-2
IL-4
IL-6
IL-8
IL-10
Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) Macrophage-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF)
Platelet derived growth factors (PDGF)
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)
Hepatocyte growth factor -α (HGF-α)
HGF-β
Tumor necrosis factor-α
Interferon-γ
Epithelial growth factor (EGF)
Transforming growth factor-α (TGF-α)
TGF β1
TGF-β2
Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) (also known as somatomedin C) Insulin-like growth factor- II
Nerve growth factor (NGF)
Erythropoietin
Peptides (combinations of amino acids) HMGF I (Human growth factor) HMGF II
HMGF III
Cholecystokinin (CCK)
β-endorphins
Parathyroid hormone (PTH)
Parathyroid hormone-related peptide (PTHrP) β-defensin-1
Calcitonin
Gastrin
Motilin
Bombesin (gastric releasing peptide, also known as neuromedin B) Neurotensin
Somatostatin
Hormones (chemical messengers that carry signals from one cell, or group of cells, to another
via the blood) Cortisol
Triiodothyronine (T3)
Thyroxine (T4)
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) (also known as thyrotropin) Thyroid releasing hormone (TRH)
Prolactin
Oxytocin
Insulin
Corticosterone
Thrombopoietin
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)
GRH
Leptin (aids in regulation of food intake)
Ghrelin (aids in regulation of food intake)
Adiponectin
Feedback inhibitor of lactation (FIL)
Eicosanoids
Prostaglandins (enzymatically derived from fatty acids) PG-E1
PG-E2
PG-F2 Leukotrienes
Thromboxanes
Prostacyclins
Enzymes (catalysts that support chemical reactions in the body)
Amylase Arysulfatase Catalase Histaminase
Lipase
Lysozyme PAF-acetylhydrolase Phosphatase Xanthine oxidase
Antiproteases (thought to bind themselves to macromolecules such as enzymes and as a result prevent allergic and anaphylactic reactions)
a-1-antitrypsin
a-1-antichymotrypsin
Antimicrobial factors (are used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects, such as bacteria and viruses.
Leukocytes (white blood cells) Phagocytes
Basophils Neutrophils Eoisinophils
Macrophages Lymphocytes
B lymphocytes (also known as B cells)
T lymphocytes (also known as C cells)
sIgA (Secretory immunoglobulin A) (the most important antiinfective factor) IgA2
IgG
IgD
IgM
IgE
Complement C1
Complement C2
Complement C3
Complement C4
Complement C5
Complement C6
Complement C7
Complement C8
Complement C9
Glycoproteins
Mucins (attaches to bacteria and viruses to prevent them from clinging to mucousal tissues)
Lactadherin
Alpha-lactoglobulin
Alpha-2 macroglobulin
Lewis antigens
Ribonuclease
Haemagglutinin inhibitors
Bifidus Factor (increases growth of Lactobacillus bifidus - which is a
good bacteria)
Lactoferrin (binds to iron which prevents harmful bacteria from using the
iron to grow)
Lactoperoxidase
B12 binding protein (deprives microorganisms of vitamin B12)
Fibronectin (makes phagocytes more aggressive, minimizes inflammation, and repairs
damage caused by inflammation) Oligosaccharides (more than 200 different kinds!)

See Also:
Microscopic View of Human Milk, Cow's Milk and Formula



~~~~

Is Cow's Milk Necessary For Toddlers?

By Debbi Donovan, Board Certified Lactation Consultant and retired La Leche League Leader. For over a decade, Debbi counseled and taught classes to couples during the childbearing years, in addition to attending births as a professional labor assistant.



Question: 

My one-year-old son is nursing. At his one year checkup the pediatrician said he should be drinking whole milk. We reminded him that our son is allergic to dairy and he suggested a soy formula. I told him I was still nursing but he said there was no way to know how much breastmilk he was taking in. I don't want to feed my son artificial baby milk. Is it necessary for a child who is still nursing to drink supplemental cow's milk or soy milk?


Answer:

Congratulation on continuing to nurse your baby! If your baby still breastfeeds regularly, and is expanding his interest in solid foods, he does not require any additional milk (cow's milk or soy.) Your milk remains absolutely perfect for your baby as long as you continue to nurse.

Adding healthy foods such as broccoli, spinach, kale, apricots, figs, beans and chick peas to your baby's diet will help to assure that your baby meets his daily calcium requirements. It is highly unlikely that your nursing toddler would suffer from calcium deficiency even without the addition of these calcium-rich foods.

Many societies throughout the world remain very healthy without ever drinking cow's milk once weaned from the breast. Remember that milk is species specific. Cow's milk is intended for baby cows, who grow much faster than human babies and have very different nutritional needs. Because your baby has already exhibited signs of allergy, I would not recommend the addition of any dairy products to your baby's diet at this time. Soy [and other nut] products are also highly allergic, particularly for babies who have already shown a sensitivity to cow's milk.

Just as you did not know the exact amount of your milk that your baby was taking in his first year of life, you do not need to know the precise amount now. In the first year you watched your baby's output and pattern of weight gain, growth and development. This assured you that your baby was receiving the amount of your milk needed for optimal health.

If your baby's pediatrician is still concerned, ask that he schedule more frequent checks of your little one's growth and development throughout his second year of life. If your baby begins to fall to a lower percentile on the growth charts over a period of several months, this may be a red flag, indicating the possibility of a nutritional deficiency, otherwise, everything is as it should be.

A healthy and varied diet of nutrient dense foods, in addition to breastmilk, provides your baby with everything he needs. Best wishes!

Warmly,
Debbi


Related Reading: 

The Baby Bond [book]

The Baby Bond [website]

The China Study [book]

The Deadly Influence of Formula in America

Don't Drink Your Milk [book]

The Downside to Feeding Your Child Cow's Milk

Dr. Sears on Cow's Milk

Should Children Drink Cow's Milk?

Whitewash: The Disturbing Truth about Cow's Milk and Your Health [book]




Image from Health 101

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