Milky Way

Birth Visualization II by Michelle Abernathy

I love your milky smile
I love your milky breath
I love your milky song
When you're nursing at my breast

I love your little milk dance
When you wiggle your arms and hips
I love your little milk signal
When you lick your little lips

I love it when you're milk drunk
When you nurse by day
And how your little head falls back
In its own little milky way

I love it when you nurse by night
In its dark and deep
We join together for a moment
And fall back into milky sleep

~ Michelle Abernathy


Read more by Michelle Abernathy:

Breastfeeding Loss: A Grandmother Still Mourns

by Debbie Page, RN, IBCLC, CEIM

Janie Rezner (not the Gma in this story) with her grandson

The other day I met a man who was intrigued by my company name, The New Born Baby - he wanted to know more. I talked to him about new mothers learning to breastfeed and how most need tremendous support in order to have a satisfying breastfeeding relationship. He was amazed. "I didn't know there were companies like this," he said.

He went on to say, "I just have to tell you that my wife still feels sad that she couldn't breastfeed." Looking at his white hair and beard, I figured his children must be grown. "Tell me what happened," I asked.

"Well," he continued, "the interesting part is that I wasn't married to her when she had her children 38 and 42 years ago, but she still talks about how she had wanted to breastfeed. Someone told her her she couldn't because her milk was sour. From time to time she brings up how sad she feels that she wasn't able to breastfeed. I don't know what to say to her."

Losses don't go away. They hang around and resurface from time to time, though usually less frequently as time goes on. These losses were four decades ago and yet this woman remembers them often enough that it has made an impact on her husband - he recognizes her sadness when she talks about it.

Breastfeeding is a powerful part of who we are as women, but everyday women are being deprived of the joy that comes from the natural extension of pregnancy. It's much more powerful than most people realize. When a woman doesn't breastfeed, her body thinks the baby has died, thus the emotional effect is tremendous.

Many times when a new mother comes in for a consultation, her mother accompanies her. The grandmothers often pause to look at the stunning photographs hanging in my hallway and office (thanks to Barnes Portrait Designs) of Nancy breastfeeding her five month old daughter Jamie. Tears, even soft sobs, are heard as some new grandmothers reminisce about how they had wanted to breastfeed, but "could not." They are thrilled that their daughter has found someone to help them. They are committed to doing everything they can to help her in her journey. These are healthy tears, but some women express their loss of a breastfeeding relationship with resentment and anger. The loss is real - it doesn't just vanish.

Have you ever asked your mother or mother-in-law about her decision to breastfeed or not? Did someone convince her she couldn't or wouldn't want to nurse her baby? Maybe this even happened to you, too.

For additional breastfeeding books, websites and articles, see the Breastfeeding Resources Page

Debbie Page spends her days assisting and encouraging mothers and babies as they master breastfeeding. Knowing the benefits of breastfeeding for mother, child, family and society fuels Debbie's passion to help women with their breastfeeding problems. She maintains a busy private practice as a board certified lactation consultant, consulting with women in-person as well as online.

Baby's Beneficial Bacteria Depend on Birth

By Rachel Ehrenberg for Science News
posted with permission

Water to water: baby enters the world vaginally into warm waters and his mother's waiting arms. Photograph by Sandi Heinrich. Property of Natural Blessings Doula Services, used with permission.

It’s the journey, not the destination, that determines the quality of bacteria a newborn encounters in life’s first moments.

A new survey finds that babies born via cesarean section had markedly different bacteria on their skin, noses, mouths, and rectums than babies born vaginally. The research adds to evidence that babies born via C-section miss out on beneficial bacteria passed on by their mothers.

“We know from lots and lots of other ecosystems that how you set up the house has a real impact for all the later guests,” says medical microbiologist David Relman of the Stanford University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.

Previous research suggests that babies born via C-section are more likely to develop allergies, asthma and other immune system–related troubles than are babies born the traditional way.

The new study, published June 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers a detailed look at the early stages of the body’s colonization by microbes, critters that shape the developing immune system, help extract nutrients from food and keep harmful microbes at bay.

Babies born vaginally were colonized predominantly by Lactobacillus, microbes that aid in milk digestion, the research team from the University of Puerto Rico, the University of Colorado in Boulder and two Venezuelan institutes report. The C-section babies were colonized by a mixture of potentially nasty bacteria typically found on the skin and in hospitals, such as Staphylococcus and Acinetobacter.

The new work may improve understanding of the early immune system, says Gary Huffnagle of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. While C-sections can be lifesaving in rare cases when truly needed, the procedure appears to shift a baby’s first bacterial community. A better understanding of this early colonization, which is also influenced by events such as breast-feeding, may lead to medical practices for establishing healthy bacterial colonization.

“This isn’t damning the C-section, but it may be important to make sure your child gets a mouthful of vaginal material,” says Huffnagle.

The study included nine women and their 10 newborns (including one set of twins) born at the Puerto Ayacucho Hospital in the state of Amazonas, Venezuela. The mothers’ skin, mouths and vaginas were sampled an hour before delivery. Babies’ mouths and skin were swabbed immediately after birth, and their rectums were swabbed after their first bowel movement. DNA analysis revealed that the four babies born vaginally carried bacterial populations that matched those of their mothers’ vaginas, while the C-section babies had a more generic mixture of skin bacteria, similar to that found on the skin of all the moms.

“The vaginal birth was like a fingerprint of mom,” says study coauthor María Domínguez-Bello of the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan.

First-comers to the body are critical for establishing the microbial scene, says pediatrician Josef Neu of the University of Florida in Gainesville. “It’s like a garden where few, if any, seeds have been planted. If you push in one direction you might get a lot of weeds, a lack of diversity,” Neu says. “That can be associated with immune system problems.”

Some work suggests colonization may begin even earlier. While the paradigm has been that babies are sterile until birth, Neu’s recent work found a microbial community already dwelling in the first poop of some babies born prematurely. While a baby is in the uterus, it typically swallows 400 to 500 milliliters of amniotic fluid per day, which may harbor some of the mother’s microbes, Neu speculates.



Delivery mode shapes the acquisition and structure of the initial microbiota across multiple body habitats in newborns

Study Authors:

Maria G. Dominguez-Belloa
Elizabeth K. Costellob
Monica Contrerasc
Magda Magrisd
Glida Hidalgod
Noah Fierere
Rob Knight


Upon delivery, the neonate is exposed for the first time to a wide array of microbes from a variety of sources, including maternal bacteria. Although prior studies have suggested that delivery mode shapes the microbiota's establishment and, subsequently, its role in child health, most researchers have focused on specific bacterial taxa or on a single body habitat, the gut. Thus, the initiation stage of human microbiome development remains obscure. The goal of the present study was to obtain a community-wide perspective on the influence of delivery mode and body habitat on the neonate's first microbiota. We used multiplexed 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing to characterize bacterial communities from mothers and their newborn babies, four born vaginally and six born via Cesarean section. Mothers’ skin, oral mucosa, and vagina were sampled 1 h before delivery, and neonates’ skin, oral mucosa, and nasopharyngeal aspirate were sampled <5 min, and meconium <24 h, after delivery. We found that in direct contrast to the highly differentiated communities of their mothers, neonates harbored bacterial communities that were undifferentiated across multiple body habitats, regardless of delivery mode. Our results also show that vaginally delivered infants acquired bacterial communities resembling their own mother's vaginal microbiota, dominated by Lactobacillus, Prevotella, or Sneathia spp., and C-section infants harbored bacterial communities similar to those found on the skin surface, dominated by Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium, and Propionibacterium spp. These findings establish an important baseline for studies tracking the human microbiome's successional development in different body habitats following different delivery modes, and their associated effects on infant health.

To view Full Text of this study, visit the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Exclusively Breastfeeding Less than 6 Months Increases Serious Lung & Intestinal Infections

By Miriam Falco

New research provides more evidence that when moms exclusively breastfeed their newborns and infants for the first six months of life, they significantly reduce their baby's risk of serious lung and intestinal infections.

Researchers in the Netherlands looked at data from more than 4000 infants. They found that babies who were exclusively breastfed for more than four months had a "significant reduction of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases in infants." They also found that being breastfed until six months of age seemed to be even more protective and even appeared to reduce the number of infections for the next six months of the child's life.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.

The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months – where a baby is only given breast milk, no formula or solid food or fruit juice or even water – have been known for a while. In this study, the benefits of breastfeeding come from what's in the breast milk (which can be fed to the baby by nursing or pumping the milk and then bottle-feeding the infant).

Breast milk not only provides all the nutrients a baby needs but moms are also passing along antibodies,which help protect their little ones from infections that cause diarrhea and pneumonia, the two leading causes of child mortality worldwide according to the World Health Organization. More than 1 million child deaths could be avoided each year if more babies were exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life according to the WHO website.

"We've had various evidence for years that infectious diseases are minimized," says the Dr. Ruth Lawrence, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding. "But we haven't had as much data in a developed country." Lawrence says this new study confirms what the AAP and WHO already recommend – breastfeed six months exclusively if possible.

In addition to the WHO and AAP, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants until approximately six months of age.

However, according to the CDC's 2009 breastfeeding report card, while nearly three-quarters of babies nationwide start out being breastfed, only one-third of moms were exclusively breastfeeding their babies at three months and only 14 percent were still exclusively breastfeeding at six months.

Pediatricians recognize the challenges new moms face. "It really takes a lot of dedication from the mom's standpoint [to breastfeed] day in and day out for six months," says Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. Esper and Lawrence as well as the CDC and WHO agree more needs to be done to help mothers continue to breastfeed in the United States and worldwide.

DrMomma's Note: Full text of the above mentioned study can be found here.

Breastfeeding in Church: A Picture of Christ's Sacrificial Love

By Ruth Engelthaler © 2010
Mother nurses her child in church. The stained glass window of Lansdowne Church in Glasgow, Scotland by Scottish artist, Alf Webster

As a mother of three children, all of whom I nursed in church, I would like to share my perspective on breastfeeding.

A factor I see coming into play with regards to breastfeeding in our culture is the over-sexualization of women. They are constantly depicted as objects of men’s desire, for their pleasure, rather than as coequals in Christ. Since men in our culture are constantly bombarded with sexualized images of women, including pornographic images, I can understand their knee-jerk reaction to viewing a woman’s breast, as well as those of a protective husband who does not wish to have another man lusting after his wife. Men have been conditioned to responding to a bare breast in a lustful way through this media bombardment.

However, I would like to propose that allowing women to breastfeed openly in church is a way in which the dignity of woman can be reclaimed. For the very dignity of woman is in her ability to give of herself. There is a very special grace given to women in that only they have the physiological ability to give over her very own body to the growth and development of a human child.

The very act of nursing an infant is a sacrifice. Believe me, after nursing three children, they don’t always cooperate with a woman’s desire for modesty nor do they time their demands to suite a mother’s convenience. Viewing the act of a mother nursing an infant provides the opportunity to explore an image of self sacrifice that God encoded into our very DNA.

Each person’s human dignity and wholeness is rooted in our ability to give of ourselves. We are called to follow Christ’s way of the cross. We are called to live his life, death and resurrection. “No greater love has anyone than to lay down their life for another.” Nursing by its very biology is a laying down of one's life. It takes a tremendous amount of physical energy to nurse a child. In the act of breastfeeding a woman is making her body available to nurture another life that is completely dependent on her. She has to die to herself again and again in order to respond to the constant needs and demands of a breastfeeding infant. Any woman who has breastfed knows the sleepless nights and the patience required to be available around the clock. She is familiar with how much time in her day ends up being devoted to a child who’s demands necessitate her constantly setting other priorities and tasks aside in order to care for the needs of her infant.

If pastors could be more open to exploring this image of self sacrifice, they could be influential in desexualizing the image of a woman’s breast and putting the men in their congregation at greater ease. Possibly men could even find that by understanding the purpose of breastfeeding in God’s design as a picture of His sacrificial love, they could reprogram their responses to images of women’s breasts, and in turn gain a greater appreciation of the dignity of the woman as created in the image and likeness of Christ.

The Holy Family by Luca Signorelli, 1490

Ruth Engelthaler is a writer by trade and is in the process of transitioning back into her professional career now that her children are older and her youngest is becoming self-sufficient. Engelthaler holds an MA in creative writing and enjoys research involving mothering and women's dignity issues within Catholicism.

'Jesus nursed in public' shirt from


Ten Fluoride Facts

The following information is being reposted upon request from the Fluoride Action Network

1) 97% of western Europe has chosen fluoride-free water. This includes: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, and Switzerland. (While some European countries add fluoride to salt, the majority do not.) Thus, rather than mandating fluoride treatment for the whole population, western Europe allows individuals the right to choose, or refuse, fluoride.

2) Fluoride is the only chemical added to drinking water for the purpose of medication (to prevent tooth decay). All other treatment chemicals are added to treat the water (to improve the water's quality and safety - which fluoride does not do). This is one of the reasons why most of Europe has rejected fluoridation. For instance:
In Germany, "The argumentation of the Federal Ministry of Health against a general permission of fluoridation of drinking water is the problematic nature of compulsion medication."
In Belgium, it is "the fundamental position of the drinking water sector that it is not its task to deliver medicinal treatment to people. This is the sole responsibility of health services."
In Luxembourg, "In our views, drinking water isn't the suitable way for medicinal treatment and that people needing an addition of fluoride can decide by their own to use the most appropriate way."

3) Contrary to previous belief, fluoride has minimal benefit when swallowed. When water fluoridation began in the 1940s and '50s, dentists believed that fluoride needed to be swallowed in order to be most effective. This belief, however, has now been discredited by an extensive body of modern research (1).

According to the Centers for Disease Control, fluoride's "predominant effect is posteruptive and topical" (2). In other words, any benefits that accrue from the use of fluoride, come from the direct application of fluoride to the outside of teeth (after they have erupted into the mouth) and not from ingestion. There is no need, therefore, to expose all other tissues to fluoride by swallowing it.

4) Fluoridated water is not recommended for babies. In November of 2006, the American Dental Association (ADA) advised that parents should avoid giving babies fluoridated water (3). Other dental researchers have made similar recommendations over the past decade (4). Exclusively breastfed babies need no liquids other than their mother's milk to drink (or eat).

Babies exposed to fluoride are at high risk of developing dental fluorosis - a permanent tooth defect caused by fluoride damaging the cells which form the teeth (5). Other tissues in the body may also be affected by early-life exposures to fluoride. According to a recent review published in the medical journal The Lancet, fluoride may damage the developing brain, causing learning deficits and other problems (6).

5) There are better ways of delivering fluoride than adding it to water. By adding fluoride to everyone's tap water, many infants and other at-risk populations will be put in harm's way. This is not only wrong, it is unnecessary. As western Europe has demonstrated, there are many equally effective and less-intrusive ways of delivering fluoride to people who actually want it. For example:
A) Topical fluoride products such as toothpaste and mouthrinses (which come with explicit instructions not to swallow) are readily available at all grocery stores and pharmacies. Thus, for those individuals who wish to use fluoride, it is very easy to find and very inexpensive to buy. 
B) If there is concern that some people in the community cannot afford to purchase fluoride toothpaste (a family-size tube of toothpaste costs as little as $2 to $3), the money saved by not fluoridating the water can be spent subsidizing topical fluoride products (or non-fluoride alternatives) for those families in need. 
C) The vast majority of fluoride added to water supplies is wasted, since over 99% of tap water is not actually consumed by a human being. It is used instead to wash cars, water the lawn, wash dishes, flush toilets, etc.

6) Ingestion of fluoride has little benefit, but many risks. Whereas fluoride's benefits come from topical contact with teeth, its risks to health (which involve many more tissues than the teeth) result from being swallowed.

Adverse effects from fluoride ingestion have been associated with doses atttainable by people living in fluoridated areas. For example:
a) Risk to the brain. According to the National Research Council (NRC), fluoride can damage the brain. Animal studies conducted in the 1990s by EPA scientists found dementia-like effects at the same concentration (1 ppm) used to fluoridate water, while human studies have found adverse effects on IQ at levels as low as 0.9 ppm among children with nutrient deficiencies, and 1.8 ppm among children with adequate nutrient intake. (7-10)

b) Risk to the thyroid gland. According to the NRC, fluoride is an “endocrine disrupter.” Most notably, the NRC has warned that doses of fluoride (0.01-0.03 mg/kg/day) achievable by drinking fluoridated water, may reduce the function of the thyroid among individuals with low-iodine intake. Reduction of thyroid activity can lead to loss of mental acuity, depression and weight gain (11)  
c) Risk to bones. According to the NRC, fluoride can diminish bone strength and increase the risk for bone fracture. While the NRC was unable to determine what level of fluoride is safe for bones, it noted that the best available information suggests that fracture risk may be increased at levels as low 1.5 ppm, which is only slightly higher than the concentration (0.7-1.2 ppm) added to water for fluoridation. (12)  
d) Risk for bone cancer. Animal and human studies – including a recent study from a team of Harvard scientists – have found a connection between fluoride and a serious form of bone cancer (osteosarcoma) in males under the age of 20. The connection between fluoride and osteosarcoma has been described by the National Toxicology Program as "biologically plausible." Up to half of adolescents who develop osteosarcoma die within a few years of diagnosis. (13-16)  
e) Risk to kidney patients. People with kidney disease have a heightened susceptibility to fluoride toxicity. The heightened risk stems from an impaired ability to excrete fluoride from the body. As a result, toxic levels of fluoride can accumulate in the bones, intensify the toxicity of aluminum build-up, and cause or exacerbate a painful bone disease known as renal osteodystrophy. (17-19)

7) The industrial chemicals used to fluoridate water may present unique health risks not found with naturally-occurring fluoride complexes . The chemicals - fluorosilicic acid, sodium silicofluoride, and sodium fluoride - used to fluoridate drinking water are industrial waste products from the phosphate fertilizer industry. Of these chemicals, fluorosilicic acid (FSA) is the most widely used. FSA is a corrosive acid which has been linked to higher blood lead levels in children. A recent study from the University of North Carolina found that FSA can - in combination with chlorinated compounds - leach lead from brass joints in water pipes, while a recent study from the University of Maryland suggests that the effect of fluoridation chemicals on blood lead levels may be greatest in houses built prior to 1946. Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems in children. (20-23)

8) Water fluoridation’s benefits to teeth have been exaggerated. Even proponents of water fluoridation admit that it is not as effective as it was once claimed to be. While proponents still believe in its effectiveness, a growing number of studies strongly question this assessment. (24-46) According to a systematic review published by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, "The magnitude of [fluoridation's] effect is not large in absolute terms, is often not statistically significant and may not be of clinical significance." (36)
a) No difference exists in tooth decay between fluoridated & unfluoridated countries. While water fluoridation is often credited with causing the reduction in tooth decay that has occurred in the US over the past 50 years, the same reductions in tooth decay have occurred in all western countries, most of which have never added fluoride to their water. The vast majority of western Europe has rejected water fluoridation. Yet, according to comprehensive data from the World Health Organization, their tooth decay rates are just as low, and, in fact, often lower than the tooth decay rates in the US. (25, 35, 44)  
b) Cavities do not increase when fluoridation stops. In contrast to earlier findings, five studies published since 2000 have reported no increase in tooth decay in communities which have ended fluoridation. (37-41) 
c) Fluoridation does not prevent oral health crises in low-income areas. While some allege that fluoridation is especially effective for low-income communities, there is very little evidence to support this claim. According to a recent systematic review from the British government, "The evidence about [fluoridation] reducing inequalities in dental health was of poor quality, contradictory and unreliable." (45) In the United States, severe dental crises are occurring in low-income areas irrespective of whether the community has fluoride added to its water supply. (46) In addition, several studies have confirmed that the incidence of severe tooth decay in children (“baby bottle tooth decay”) is not significantly different in fluoridated vs unfluoridated areas. (27,32,42) Thus, despite some emotionally-based claims to the contrary, water fluoridation does not prevent the oral health problems related to poverty and lack of dental-care access.

9) Fluoridation poses added burden and risk to low-income communities. Rather than being particularly beneficial to low-income communities, fluoridation is particularly burdensome and harmful. For example:
a) Low-income families are least able to avoid fluoridated water. Due to the high costs of buying bottled water or expensive water filters, low-income households will be least able to avoid fluoride once it's added to the water. As a result, low-income families will be least capable of following ADA’s recommendation that infants should not receive fluoridated water. This may explain why African American children have been found to suffer the highest rates of disfiguring dental fluorosis in the US. (47) 
b) Low-income families at greater risk of fluoride toxicity. In addition, it is now well established that individuals with inadequate nutrient intake have a significantly increased susceptibility to fluoride’s toxic effects. (48-51) Since nutrient deficiencies are most common in income communities, and since diseases known to increase susceptibility to fluoride are most prevalent in low-income areas (e.g. end-stage renal failure), it is likely that low-income communities will be at greatest risk from suffering adverse effects associated with fluoride exposure. According to Dr. Kathleen Thiessen, a member of the National Research Council's review of fluoride toxicity: “I would expect low-income communities to be more vulnerable to at least some of the effects of drinking fluoridated water." (51)

10) Due to other sources, many people are being over-exposed to fluoride . Unlike when water fluoridation first began, Americans are now receiving fluoride from many other sources* besides the water supply. As a result many people are now exceeding the recommended daily intake, putting them at elevated risk of suffering toxic effects. For example, many children ingest more fluoride from toothpaste alone than is considered “optimal” for a full day’s worth of ingestion. According to the Journal of Public Health Dentistry:
"Virtually all authors have noted that some children could ingest more fluoride from [toothpaste] alone than is recommended as a total daily fluoride ingestion." (52)
Because of the increase in fluoride exposure from all sources combined, the rate of dental fluorosis (a visible indicator of over-exposure to fluoride during childhood) has increased significantly over the past 50 years. Whereas dental fluorosis used to impact less than 10% of children in the 1940s, the latest national survey found that it now affects over 30% of children. (47, 53)

* Sources of fluoride include: fluoride dental products, fluoride pesticides, fluorinated pharmaceuticals, processed foods made with fluoridated water, and tea.


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49. Marier J, Rose D. (1977). Environmental Fluoride. National Research Council of Canada. Associate Committe on Scientific Criteria for Environmental Quality. NRCC No. 16081.
50. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) (1993). Toxicological Profile for Fluorides, Hydrogen Fluoride, and Fluorine (F). U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Public Health Service. ATSDR/TP-91/17.
51. Online at:

52. Levy SM, Guha-Chowdhury N. (1999). Total fluoride intake and implications for dietary fluoride supplementation. Journal of Public Health Dentistry 59: 211-23.
53. National Research Council. (1993). Health Effects of Ingested Fluoride. National Academy Press, Washington DC.

Fanatical Breastfeeder Part One

by Stephanie Cornais, of Mom and Baby Love

This week I have been on vacation in Atlantic Beach, near Jacksonville. My daughter, Penelope, has received a lot of attention from the other guests. One woman struck up a conversation with me by saying how beautiful Penelope was. She went on to say that the reason she was here at the hotel is because her daughter-in-law had just given birth six days ago and they were visiting their new grandbaby.

Me (being me) responded with, "Congratulations! How are Mama and baby doing? How is breastfeeding going?" To which she replies with: "Oh, breastfeeding has been a nightmare, she can't get the baby to latch and now she is pumping all day and all night, getting no rest and she is having a hard time with her supply."

I say, "I am so sorry to hear that, I know exactly how she feels, I had to pump, and in fact, I still pump 3 times a day for Penelope even though she can comfort nurse now. I remember how tired I was and how I thought, I hate all those people who say sleep when the baby sleeps, because I never could -- I was always pumping."

She replies, "I just don't understand why she is putting herself through all that. My daughter recently had a baby as well, and she is giving her baby formula and her life is so much easier."

And I replied, very casually, without so much as a fanatical vibe in my voice, "Oh, because breastfeeding is so good for the babies. What it does for their health it makes it worth it."

She responds, in a nasty tone, "Yeah, that is what all you breastfeeders say. You all are so fanatical about it. Women in my generation [she was about mid-fifties] didn't breastfeed and our kids turned out just fine."

I didn't really process it all quickly enough. She just called me fanatical for choosing to breastfeed, so I didn't give her the response I should have. I simply switched the subject and started talking about things her daughter-in-law could do to increase her supply and left it at that.

I have thought about this poor mom all day, hoping to run into her mother-in-law again so I could offer her my left over milk stash, since I don't have a freezer here and it will go to waste. I am so mad at myself for not thinking quick enough to offer it right then and there...then she would have really thought I was a fanatical breastfeeder!

While I do consider myself pretty fanatical about my determination and dedication to keep pumping in order to give Penelope my breastmilk, I choose to breastfeed to provide her with the health benefits (and for bonding, but more about that in a future post). All the health benefits of breast feeding - discovered by massive amounts of scientific research. I made an educated and informed decision to breastfeed - i.e. not a fanatical one.

I also don't get in people's faces about it. I like to vent and share my joys about my breastfeeding experience, but I am not wildly waving my hands in the air and yelling on street corners to get people to breastfeed. One of the reasons I was so sad that Penelope couldn't nurse at first, is because I was excited to nurse in public. It was going to be my quiet, peaceful demonstration to the world.

Part of the reason I am who I am today, is because of the positive women/mama role models I have come across in the last 10 years - not fanatics in the least. Before I even became a doula, I was dating a guy in college, whose older sister was a natural parenting, breastfeeding, cosleeping mama. I saw her quietly sling her baby and breastfeed on demand. I saw how peaceful she and her baby were. I made the decision then and there, not even 20 years old at the time, that I was going to mother like that. She was not fanatical. She was just going on about her business and being a mother. And yet she made a huge impact on me.


For more from Stephanie Cornais, visit her blog at Mom and Baby Love or find her on Facebook.

For further information on breastfeeding, see Breastfeeding Resources (some of the best books, websites, articles).


No Induction is Normal

By Carla Hartley,
Founder Ancient Art Midwifery Institute (1981) and Trust Birth (2005)

chart from Birth International

There are many conversations going on everywhere I look about due dates, postdates, induction, "natural" induction. There is only one safe way that labor should start and that is for the baby to do it.

How I wish that everyone would wait for their baby to begin labor when s/he is ready, and not before. What makes us think that we can begin to comprehend all the intricacies of that incredible mother-baby dance? I am convinced that we are messing with things "way above our pay grade" when we try to start something that is not ready to be started...or something that has already started in exactly the manner, and at exactly the pace, it is supposed to be going, and then we screw up the timing - get things off track - and make it harder for everything to get back on track.

I am very concerned about the number of women I talk to who do not realize that their birth became a medical event the minute that someone decided that the baby was not doing her job and somebody else needed to tell her that it was time to get out!

Don't let anyone give your baby an eviction notice and don't believe that you need to either.

With every fiber of my being, I believe that those last few days and hours when the baby and mother are essentially ONE are more precious than we could possibly imagine. It is during this time that conversations are taking place that are as important as any other event that will take place after mom and baby have separated physically and baby has an official birth day.

As Sheila Kitzinger states, babies cannot tell time. They do not know anything about calendars.

One of my kids, however, disagreed. When he was about three years old he told me that he did in fact know that he was getting out early and that it was his decision. (Sam was born almost a month before his "EDD.") Sam explained that he decided to get out early because he was bored. As serious as a three year old could be, expressing great annoyance and disappointment with me as his mom, he asked why I didn't swallow a truck or something for him to play with?! For if I had only done that one thing, he would have stayed in longer.

Who am I to question that kind of logic?

"It Hurts Down There" A Lesson in Disposable Diapers

climbing a homemade slide clad in a
Blueberry Minky One Size Bamboo Pocket Diaper

My toddler and I recently traveled the country, living primarily out of our suitcase and hotel rooms as I had the annual opportunity to lecture on the prepuce and intact issues at several universities. Since leaving the collegiate world full time to raise my child, I've been blessed with this opportunity to get back into the classroom, dip my toes into some research, and do it in a way that is also baby-friendly for the sake of my child(ren).

One thing I came to find during these travels that I did not expect to learn is the value that cloth diapers have played thus far in my son's time earthside.

You see, we started our cloth venture primarily for three reasons:

1) Money. The amount that would be needlessly spent on plastic throw-aways is monumental compared to the investment we made on our pocket diaper stash.

2) Cuteness Factor. Is there anything more adorable than a chubby little baby running around in a soft colored diape?!

3) Tree Huggerness. My husband and I (more so myself - although maybe he'd say the same) have a hard time not recycling anything and everything that can be recycled, so the thought of throwing away mountains of chemical-laden, feces-filled plastics each year to just sit and sit and sit and sit and clog up the earth just a bit more... I'm not sure I'd be able to stomach it.

So for those reasons, we procured our little stash of Blueberrys, Wonderoos and Dilley Dallys and happily EC/cloth diapered our way through the months, never giving much thought to how friendly this method also was to our son's sensitive bum.

I've heard the horror stories from parents of plastic-clad kids - the awful chemical rashes that seem to spring up overnight. The blistering bums. The rash filled genitals. The nonstop painful crying when nothing is working to heal a baby's ultra sensitive skin - because a disposable is a disposable is a disposable. They are all filled with much the same toxic thing, even those that make an attempt to be a little more 'green.'

baby with chemical burns from Pampers disposable diapers

Reuters recently wrote about P&G facing a backlash from parents who find their infants with chemical burns and rashes due to plastic diaper technology. But could it really happen as quickly as everyone says it does?

chemical crystals that fill plastic diapers to absorb

One member of the Facebook page, Pampers bring back the old Cruisers/Swaddlers, submitted pictures after wearing a Pampers' diaper on her knee for 90 minutes:


15 minutes:
60 Minutes:
90 Minutes:

But still, I never thought it would happen to my little diaper-free/cloth-diapered babe. Until we started this trip. We packed some of our cloth stash and planned to use them at various locations where wash machines would be available. However, as time crunches were made and our adventures got rolling, it seemed easier to suck up my environmental concerns and plastic up my little guy.

Still not thinking much of it, except for the $9 I did not really wish to spend on garbage (that is where they are headed, right?), I was slightly surprised to find after just 2 changes my son had redness on his inner thighs and bum area where the diaper sat. I pulled out our trusty Calmoseptine (which I'd recommend to anyone, for just about anything) and we slathered it on.

Day two - my son brought me the Calmoseptine from the bathroom counter in our hotel room. Never had he done this before. He wanted me to put some on him. Yikes. He went diaper free the rest of the day during the hours we could manage to do so (slightly more challenging away from home).

Day three - and still no easy access wash facilities - I slathered on the Calmoseptine which had done wonders the day before, went diaper free as much as possible, and reluctantly placed another disposable on his skin during the hours it was necessary.

Day four - more of the same, still red. But we'd be in a new location soon.

Day five - His sensitive little areas were redder than I'd ever seen them before. My poor baby. Could 'nice' disposable diapers really do this much damage in this short amount of time? How does any baby handle it? My son signed to me that he 'hurt' down there - something he has never before experienced. I was surprised (again). And rather appalled. We got out the cloth diapers (and he lit up to see them), slathered on some more Calmoseptine, and made our way to our next destination - with laundry facilities.

We only had enough of our cloth stash with us for 2 days worth, but we made it work. My son never 'hurt down there' again. And I now have a reason #4 for doing a mix of EC and cloth diapering - the health and 'happiness' of my baby's skin and his comfort.

I'm fairly certain I will never look at plastic chemical diapers the same way.

sliding down the homemade slide (ala bookcase shelves)


Pampers Diapers are now being changed after thousands of babies have been reported as getting blisters from the "Dry Max" diapers formula. According to a Procter & Gamble representative, thousands of parents have complained to U.S. and Canadian safety commissions about rashes, sores, and chemical blisters on their youngsters after using the "Dry Max" diapers.

As a result, P&G has said they have lost many customers over the past year, and all the while the price for disposable diapers is increasing. Pampers and Huggies manufacturers have both made statements about their expectations that parents will be willing to spend more on a more "quality" diaper. "The task has become tougher as parents look to save money in the face of rising food and gasoline costs, and as a slower U.S. birthrate puts pressure on the diaper category," says one P&G rep.

An idea? You may want to put your money into a reusable, re-sellable, non-chemical investment instead and get some good cloth diapers. Tips on making the switch to cloth, and ideas for selecting what is best for your family can be found in the related articles at the bottom of Diaper Days: Our Cloth Stash.


10 Things You Should Know Before Moving Next Door to Us

By Alicia Bayer © 2010

We have new neighbors next door and they include a 9-year-old girl and a 12-year old boy. The girl was playing in our yard today and it occurred to me that we should probably come with warning labels. She’s already quite wet and slightly blackberry stained. :)

So here, I offer up my list of cautions for potential neighbors…

1. Your children will probably always come home wet, dirty or covered in paint. I highly advise having them change into play clothes the minute they set foot in our yard.

2. You may hear wolf howls, badminton games, and games of tag way after dark. Yes, we have blinking badminton birdies for precisely this purpose.

3. We have weeds. We will not spray them. We will do crafts with them, dig them up, ignore them and do experiments on them, but don’t even think about asking us to dump chemicals on them.

4. Expect to hear screaming pretty much all day long, especially in the summer. Mostly it’s happy screaming, but it will still probably make you want to duct tape several layers of feather pillows around your head some days. Sorry.

5. Our children climb trees, throw spears, whittle with pocket knives, ride skateboards and do other dangerous things — often. We teach them to do things safely and they (mostly) listen.

6. Daryl bellows and I holler. We’re very nice anyway. If you had these four kids, you would too.

7. We occasionally have opossums in our garage. We will feed them, follow them around and befriend them. They are fantastic for homeowners and we just plain like them. Don’t worry — opossums move on after about two weeks.

8. Our yard is frequently full of obstacle courses, homemade water parks, tires, 8 million bikes, log structures and assorted contraptions.

9. If any of your family members venture outside, they will probably be recruited to take part in messy science experiments, monster parades, mud pies, tea parties, video shows, make believe games, nature crafts, role playing, long conversations and general mayhem. My kids like adults, so that includes you.

10. Your children will probably start pestering you to homeschool them.

Alicia Bayer lives with her husband, four kids, four cats and an occasional opossum in rural Minnesota. She has run the web site, "A Magical Childhood," since 2001 and writes daily at the following sites:

The Magical Childhood

Human Milk Kick-Starts Babies' Immune Systems

Editor's preface: Our one qualm with this article is that it (once again) presents human milk as "best" - as "above the grade" - compared to artificial feeding, when actually breastfeeding is the only normal way to achieve a baseline level of health for a human baby. Anything else is sub-par. The article would be best re-titled, "Artificially fed babies do not get the kick-start to their immune system that normally fed babies do." And instead of "researchers hoping to gain" by improving artificial feeding liquids, why don't we stress the importance of what we are discovering to be true about mother's milk (there is no possible artificial substitute) and pour our resources, time, energy, and money into making sure all mothers, and all human babies, have easy access to human milk. [Breastmilk donation options.]

Human milk best because it kick-starts babies' immune system
Breastfed babies are better at fighting off infection than bottle-fed infants because their mothers milk kick-starts their immune system, scientists have discovered.

By Kate Devlin

Now researchers have found that human milk activates the body’s natural defenses in a way that formula cannot. Breastmilk triggers a reaction in the gut which helps to defeat infection. It had long been known that breastfed babies have a lower risk of developing a range of illnesses. Breastfeeding has been linked with fewer chest infections, ear infections and general sickness. In the long-term it is thought breastfed babies are less likely to be overweight, have high blood pressure, or develop eczema or asthma.

Women are recommended to breastfeed exclusively for at least the first six months of their child's life.

Some researchers hope that the breakthrough in understanding could lead to the development of infant formula that will give a boost to the immune system as mother's milk does.

The team found that breastmilk triggers changes in the gut linked to genes.

Sharon Donovan, a professor of nutrition in the University of Illinois, who carried out the research, said, "For the first time, we can see that breastmilk induces genetic pathways that are quite different from those in formula-fed infants. The intestinal tract of the newborn undergoes marked changes in response to feeding. And the response to human milk far exceeds that of formula, suggesting that the active components in breastmilk are important in this response.”

She added that while experts had known for decades of the importance of breastfeeding babies, "what we haven't known is how breastmilk protects the infant and particularly how it regulates the development of the intestine."

[80% of the immune system is housed in the human gut.]

Dr. Donovan also would like to learn how bacteria in the gut differ in formula and breastfed babies and this technique should make that possible. She said, "Now we'll be able to get a complete picture of what's happening in an infant – from the composition of the diet to the microbes in the gut and the genes that are activated along the way."

The study examined the effect of feeding on 22 healthy infants, 12 breastfed and 10 formula fed. The technique involved isolating intestinal cells shed in the infants' stools, then comparing the stimulation of different genes between the two groups. The study was published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Physiology, Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.

Research Citation:

Chapkin RS, Zhao C, Ivanov I, et al. Noninvasive stool-based detection of infant gastrointestinal development using gene expression profiles from exfoliated epithelial cells. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2010: 298: G582-G589

"NOT ON MY WATCH" Campaign to Reduce Healthcare Associated Infection

When someone develops an infection at a hospital or other patient care facility that they did not have prior to treatment, this is referred to as a healthcare-associated (sometimes hospital-acquired) infection (HAI).

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a global crisis affecting both patients and healthcare workers.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at any point in time, 1.4 million people worldwide suffer from infections acquired in hospitals. As birth advocates at, we know that newborns and their mothers are significantly more likely to suffer HAIs when birthed in a hospital setting than if they are birthed at home. HAIs truly are an epidemic in the United States. A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report published in March-April 2007 estimated the number of U.S. deaths from healthcare associated infections to be 98,987 during ONE year alone. Unfortunately, those numbers have continued to rise in recent years.

Afflicting thousands of patients every year, HAI often leads to lengthening hospitalization, increasing the likelihood of readmission, and adding sizably to the cost of care per patient.

Financially, HAIs represent an estimated annual impact of $6.7 billion to healthcare facilities, but the human cost is even higher.

Until recently, a lack of HAI reporting requirements for healthcare facilities in the U.S. has contributed to less-than-optimal emphasis being placed on eliminating the sources of healthcare associated infections. Growing public anxiety regarding the issue and resulting legislation on state and local levels demanding accountability is serving to accelerate initiatives to combat HAIs. It cannot happen quickly enough.

Types of Healthcare-Associated Infections

Ventilator - Associated Pneumonia (VAP)
VAP is the source of the highest morbidity and mortality of all Healthcare Associated Infections.

Surgical Site Infections (SSIs)
Any breach of patient skin can lead to a surgical site infection.

Cross Contamination (Contact Transfer)
Contact transfer (touch contamination) is the number one source of Healthcare Associated Infections.

Prevention Campaign

To protect patients by reducing the risk of HAI, healthcare professionals must continually update their knowledge of infection management.

As part of an ongoing commitment to quality care and infection prevention, doctors and hospitals nationwide are partnering with Kimberly-Clark to deliver continuing education programs on HAI prevention to staff and management. As simple as education sounds, busy doctors and nurses often find it difficult to take advantage of scheduled programs within their hospitals.

The HAI Education Program is part of a national infection awareness campaign for healthcare professionals called “Not on My Watch” and provides facilities with a toolkit that contains informational flyers, patient safety tips and posters.

The "Not on My Watch" campaign provides accredited continuing education (CE) programs based on best practices and guidelines, as well as research available on reducing the incidence of healthcare-associated infections.

To learn more about the impact of healthcare-associated infections for both medical professionals and patients, please visit


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