Breastfeeding Symbol Pumpkins!

By Danelle Frisbie © 2010

Blue pumpkin hue at night was achieved by placing a small push light inside the pumpkin with blue paper covering it. 
Nothing special ~ but it worked! :) 

We had a blast this week picking out some special pumpkins from a local home-growing venue. One of the prime selections was especially chosen by our two year old (with a little help from mom) for carving up the peaceful parenting breastfeeding advocacy pumpkin this year.

While I am entirely devoid of artistic talent, I decided to give it a shot and see what we could come up with. 

The project was a lot of fun, and the result was surprisingly fitting to display on the front steps at peaceful parenting as well. 

Have your own lactation pumpkin to display? 

Drop a note to us at and we'll add them here...

Coming in 2001 Breastfeeding Pumpkin Carving Contest!!

From Job Description: Mommy

From Kineret Spector, who carved "Boob" instead of "Boo!" on the pumpkin's side.

Baby tee from the Made By Momma Breastfeeding and Halloween collections


Genital Autonomy Child Symbol Pumpkin Carving

By Danelle Frisbie © 2010

Whether or not my son will grow up to be a baby-saver is yet to be seen. But he did a great job selecting the perfect pumpkin for our genital autonomy carving. You can download this version of the pumpkin carving pattern that I sketched by hand for our pumpkin purposes (and had help cleaning up for a final version) here.

a little help from Dad

These tall pumpkins were heavier than first meets the eye...

Helping to clean out the 'good stuff' inside (for pumpkin seed baking!) and the carving begins...

I enjoy keeping the cut out pumpkin parts intact, to replace them for a silhouette style look in the dark. It is something I have fond memories of my dad doing with his funny pumpkin ears, eyes and noses when we were little.

We had a good (not so creepy) time doing a little in-the-dark photo shoot:

Above: GA Child Symbol in place for the lighted silhouette effect

Below: GA Child Symbol removed for the natural fully 'carved' effect

After we finished carving our GA pumpkin here on the homefront, we found that another friend did just the same. Guggie Daly writes at The Daily Guggie Daly and showcased some pumpkins here. Her creation reads, "Circumcision: The more you know...the SPOOKIER it gets!"

Mom to a brand new little boy, born unassisted in water at home under the harvest moon, Daly recently noted that, "I did not 'choose' to keep my son intact any more than parents 'choose' to let their newborns keep their legs, arms, nose, etc. It's a non-decision." Isn't that the truth!

A wise, yet commonsense thought for the season:

"Remember: Carve pumpkins, not babies!"
~ Chris McCaw

For additional resources on intact information, see:

In spirit of the season, Christina of Intact Iowa
shares this photo of her son in his "Cut Pumpkins. Not Babies." tshirt from Made By Momma.


Genital Autonomy Pumpkin Carving Contest!! 

Winner will receive a whole stash of genital integrity items ($20 value) to share in your area and save more babies from this spooky horror.

Request a set of Halloween Info Cards here.

UPDATE: These sketches and pumpkins were carved in 2009. At the time there was no other existing symbol to represent our core beliefs of genital autonomy and advocacy in this area. Pumpkins were carved for fun, as a family, and shared with the community. As of 2013, the NOCIRC Child Symbol is a trademarked symbol. Per their request, please refrain from using the symbol in the future, for any reason, including family pumpkin carving at home, as it is reserved for their exclusive use. 

copyright free symbol, created by Megan Oregon in 2011, and signed into the public domain for use by any and all advocates of genital autonomy is available to use for future pumpkin carving family fun. 

Genital Autonomy Pumpkin Carving Pattern

International Symbol of Genital Autonomy
Pumpkin Carving Pattern

Note: It may be necessary to open the image in a new window, save, and print as large as you need for your individual pumpkin size.

Above: International Symbol of Genital Autonomy (copyright-free). You are welcome to use this symbol in any of your creations - for sale or otherwise - and to represent any group, merchant, school, location, organization or event that holds the values of genital autonomy for all at its foundation. This symbol was created by Megan Oregon and signed into the public domain in 2011. Learn more about this symbol at:


Below: NOCIRC's Genital Autonomy Child Symbol. As of 2013, this symbol is copyrighted for use by NOCIRC and the International Symposium. It is not free for use by all advocates of genital autonomy, unless permission has been granted by the copyright holding body and proceeds go back to NOCIRC and the Symposium. Advocates for genital autonomy have been asked to *not* use the NOCIRC symbol in their awareness raising efforts.  Learn more about this symbol at:  To read of how this version of the pumpkin carving pattern came to be and see some photos of pumpkins other families have made in past years, see: Genital Autonomy Pumpkin Carving.

Killer at Large

By Danelle Frisbie © 2010

Before I became a parent I had a plan. For many things, really. But one was that my children would not be getting heavily processed or sugar-filled foods for the first 5 years of life. I'd met other parents who'd done the same, and I desired equally vibrant, healthy children. I looked forward to nursing my babies for a normal duration of years - allowing them to self-wean in their own perfect timing. I'd taken numerous nutrition and child health development courses throughout my graduate studies, and was certain this was one easy task I would not fail at.

Arrive baby #1. And I learn a big hard lesson: Life rarely goes according to 'plan.'

Our (first) son was exclusively breastfed until 10 months of age. Our initial goal was 12 months, but by the time he crossed that 8 month mark he was walking, and by 10 months he had 8 teeth ready for chewing. Needless to say, he walked over to that first non-breastmilk item (which happened to be steamed asparagus), picked it up with his chubby-baby-fat fingers, and ate like he'd been doing it all along... I'm all for baby-led weaning, and this is exactly what took place.

Until the age of 18 months his diet primarily consisted of momma milk with an assortment of wholesome vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. He became famous for eating all the tomatoes, beans, and broccoli available - and likely would ask for yours as well if you dined with us. He was healthy, happy, and still, my chunky monkey. But despite what people said about his baby fat (and being off the charts in growth - wearing 4T clothes by the time he was 2) I was comforted to know that anything and everything that had gone into his body was pure and good. Up to that point.

And then came the lecture tour. I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to guest lecture at several universities in various states each year, and fortunately, my toddler likes the thrill of tagging along. But unfortunately for us both, this venture resulted in an end to his 'perfect' eating. With time restraints and travel, in and out of hotel lobbies and airports, I did the one thing I said I'd never do: gave my child McNuggets to eat for supper.

And so, by the time his second year of life rolled around, I'd already fallen short of my original aspirations for an ideal diet. This is a subject that weighs heavily (no pun intended) on my mind - always wishing to do not just a mediocre job at mothering, but really, truly, setting my children up on a path that leads to their optimal wellbeing.

There are likely two reasons, then, that this McDonald's ad (above) caught my eye. First, it mimics the act of nursing at the breast - truly a human being's most perfect and vital food for a lifetime of wellness. And second, because it reflects the exact antithesis of human milk and healthy consumption for babies and children.

I'm not entirely certain what the goal was for this ad - surely it is eye-catching in a distorted sort of way. I've heard others suggest that it could be read as "what mom eats, baby eats" (although I doubt that was McDonald's intention). Possibly, it portrays the burger as loving, gentle, and nurturing - filled with goodness and all the nourishment we could hope for - an item we've securely attached to, one that we long for, and depend on. Even as a baby is sustained, with all needs met, at his mother's breast, so are we by McDonald's hamburgers.

I'll leave the ad dissection up to the media lit gurus, but the film in which this advertisement is highlighted (presented as an example of how media images can hurt, rather than help, our children) is worth watching. Killer at Large was released two years ago, but I first viewed the film recently, and was impressed that the authors take it beyond the "eat healthy, exercise more" cliche. They give due time to media outlets and advertising which tends to prey on children's desires, but also zero in on how stress - and the fear factor in America - is intertwined with our growing waistlines.

Hormones are monumentally powerful factors in our lives - controlling and impacting everything from sex, pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding to eating, wellness, energy, and death. Still, there is very little we understand about hormones, and the more we learn, it seems the more we realize how much there is still left to discover. This is especially true when it comes to women's health (as hormones flux drastically on a day to day basis, monthly cycle, and over the course of life change events). Killer at Large includes discussion of cortisol, a stress hormone, and how it has, for all of human history (including the present day), sent messages to the brain to EAT and messages to the gut to STORE. The survival of the fittest depended on it through most of human history - my body, for example, seems to be built to withstand even the most troublesome of famines! And here we see a bit of insight into the complexity of this 'killer at large.' All the healthy eating and exercise in the world may not be enough to save you if you are stressed beyond belief and your cortisol (and other stress hormones) are through the roof.

But I'll let you go give the film a view for yourself... and come back to share your two-cents with me here if you like. The trailer below does not do the film justice, but I include it anyway with links for further investigation, additional good films on (food) related subjects, and some excellent books for checking out.

As an aside - before you click the email button to send me a message reminding me that McDonald's is not 'evil' - let me say that yes, I know this. No one corporation damages the world (although a few may come close...). And, it is my responsibility to nourish my children with hearty homecooked meals and fill their days with outside adventures, or my choice to microwave processed frozen dinners in between t.v. commercials. However, there surely are things in society which make one easier than the other. And the U.S. seems to have perfected this (the hard way) to work out against mothers, and against a healthy population of children. So, for this reason, I believe it is a subject that demands our attention.

Killer at Large DVD

On Netflix

Killer at Large Homepage

Professors/Teachers: Get a free, abridged, 26 minute version of this film to show in your classroom. The contents include enough to give a bit of background on the subject and spur class discussion. Request your DVD copy here. Also on YouTube (second video).

Related Books

1) Fast Food Nation

2) The Omnivore's Dilemma and The Omnivore's Dilemma for Kids

3) The China Study

4) In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

5) Food Inc.: A Participant Guide

6) Food Rules: An Eater's Manual

7) The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight and Saving the Planet

8) Diet for a Dead Planet

9) Second Nature: A Gardener's Education

10) Stuffed and Starved: The Battle for the World's Food System

11) The Future of Food

Related Films

1) Food Inc. ~ Movie Website

2) Fast Food Nation

3) Corn Kings ~ Movie Website

4) The Cove ~ Movie Website

5) Super Size Me

6) The End of the Line ~ Movie Website

7) Food Matters ~ Movie Website


Worcester, MA Baby in Need of Donor Milk

Baby Kareem is thriving by the power of mothers' milk

A two month old Worcester, Massachusetts baby is in need of some loving mothers to donate milk or serve as a wet nurse (nursing him when they are able). His momma, Kelley, is the founder of MilkShare - a location where parents can connect with one another to donate and receive human milk for their babies. Sometimes, however, even founders of monumentally helpful sites need a gracious hand of support as well.

Kelley writes, "I have a congenital anomaly called hypoplastic breasts that prevents me from making enough milk. I make a tiny bit - perhaps 10% - of my children's overall intake. And, to continue to produce, I feed exclusively with an SNS. I am currently tandem nursing my newborn and five year old (who was also donor milk fed via a Lact-aid and still refuses to quit even though I can nurse only on my right side)."

Kelley is a homebirth midwife, single mom, and lactivist who says she "prays that I can continue to receive enough milk for my youngest baby." She currently resides near the Worcester, MA area.

As a single mom to three beautiful little ones, Kelley cannot afford to buy or have (frozen) milk shipped to her. However, baby Kareem will gladly accept frozen milk, fresh milk, or help from moms who will serve as a wet nurse (nursing). If you live in the vicinity of Worcester, please consider helping out Kelley and Kareem.

Drop us a note at and we will connect you with Kelley.

Kelley with her children: Simon, Loren, and baby, Kareem

If you are a lactating mom in another state who would like to help a local mother and baby near you, or if you are a mom in need of donor milk or a wet nurse, please sign up on the MilkShare forum or look at this page for additional ideas on making milk sharing connections.


My Adoptive Breastfeeding Journey

By Teglene Ryan © 2010
Read more from Teglene at The Breastfeeding Mother

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my children. I couldn’t imagine doing it any differently. I was lucky enough to give birth to two beautiful boys and I enjoyed breastfeeding them both. Not that it was easy or without struggle, but it was what I wanted to do and loved doing it. In fact, I liked it so much, and felt so passionate about breastfeeding that I became a La Leche League Leader, so that I could help other breastfeeding moms. I really took to the idea of “Mothering through breastfeeding”. It wasn’t just a feeding method for me, but a relationship with my child.

My husband and I always talked about adopting a child who needed a family. We thought, if we can’t have kids of our own then we will adopt. Even if we can have kids of our own, maybe we will still adopt. After the birth of our second son it became clear that going through another pregnancy was not going to be good for me or our family. My doctor told me not to risk it, that my health was at stake. But we wanted another child. Well, here was our chance to adopt!

We chose to adopt a child out of foster care. We found an adoption agency that places foster children into adoptive homes. We went through all of the training, the homestudy, and all of the waiting. We were open to adopting one or two children (there are lots of sibling groups needing homes) between the ages of 0-5 years old. I knew that I really wanted to breastfeed another baby. I also knew that it was much more likely that we would get a toddler. There was also the issue of would it be okay to breastfeed a foster child? Would I just not tell anyone and do it anyway?

Either way I spent hours researching adoptive breastfeeding. I joined adoptive breastfeeding discussion boards like Ask Lenore and Four Friends. I read every book on the subject, including Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby and Relactation. I read the article Foster Breastfeeding over and over. I tracked down foster moms who had breastfed their foster babies in California (some successfully, and one who described a baby being taken from her home after the baby’s doctor “turned her in”).

On Monday July 6, 2009, we drove to South Lake Tahoe (about a 2 hour drive) to meet with a social worker. We were one of a few families they were considering placing a newborn girl with. We knew that the baby was a “safe surrender” baby, and that she was born premature. They had already asked if we would be able to go stay in Reno (where she was in the hospital) so that we could have daily visits with her in the NICU until she was ready to come home. It would be a few more weeks until she was ready.

We learned at that meeting that we had been chosen to bring her home if we wanted. Also, the hospital had just called and she was ready to go home! The social worker asked if we could go out to Reno, spend the night in the hospital with the baby, and take her home the next day. Of course we said yes (and I cried, a lot!).

At one point in the meeting the social worker looked at me and asked, “Are you going to breastfeed her?” For a moment I wondered if this was a trick question. My heart skipped a beat. But it wasn’t a trick. “We were so excited to see that you are a La Leche League Leader, and were hoping that you would plan to breastfeed her.” I knew this baby needed to be breastfed and I wasn’t going to have to do it “behind closed doors” as many fost/adopt moms told me they did.

I told them that I would if I was allowed. They couldn’t think of any reason why not, but decided that we would not talk about it any more, or put it in writing anywhere. You just never know how someone might react. People can be weird about breastfeeding.

In that meeting we also learned that this little baby was a bit of a miracle. All of the doctors and nurses at the hospital could not understand why she was alive and doing so well. She was born in a campground in the mountains above Lake Tahoe. Her birth mother did not know she was pregnant. In fact she did not know she was giving birth until she heard the baby cry. The birth mother was taken to a local hospital while the baby was flown to the NICU in Reno. To this day I don’t know if the birth mom ever saw the baby, or even knows if it is a boy or a girl. She gave very little information at the hospital when she surrendered the baby (I won’t get into the paperwork mess that her in one hospital and the baby in another at the time of surrender lead to). She said that she drank alcohol about every other week and smoked a half a pack of cigarettes a day. She told them she did no illegal drugs, however she tested positive for THC (as well as alcohol) at the hospital after the birth.

The baby weighed 3 lbs 2.8 ounces at birth. She was exposed and unreachable by rescuers for 30-45 minutes after the birth. (Even a full term newborn can quickly succumb to hypothermia right after birth, not to mention a 3 lb baby.) At first they expected she whould be in the NICU for about 2 months. She surprised everyone when she needed no help breathing and was quickly eating and gaining weight.

When we went to meet her at the hospital she was 17 days old. The NICU nurses were very nice. They had all “adopted” her temporarily. It was clear that she was a very special baby to all of them. However, she was exclusively bottle-fed formula that whole time and I was wanting to breastfeed her. I was told by the NICU nurses to “just shove it in there” when I held the bottle nipple to her mouth, waiting for her to open like she would for the breast. I was shown the “right” way to hold her and give her the bottle, with her on my lap, away from my body.

She was to be fed on a strict every 3 hours schedule. We were told to not hold her too much. “You can’t hold her so much like that when you get her home. You need to put her down so that she can sleep. She really needs to rest.” I smiled and nodded, knowing that we would be leaving in a matter of hours and that when we got home this baby would not get put down for the next several months.

The NICU doctor told us that we MUST keep her on the special 22 calories per ounce formula until she was 12 months old, no matter what her pediatrician said, no matter how well she was growing. Again I smiled and nodded, knowing full well I was going to do everything in my power to get her off of this formula. I had my own “special formula” in mind for her.

We gave her a name we had picked out for a baby girl years earlier. The next morning when we took her home she weighed 4 lbs. 0.8 ounces.

When we got home I called my LLL co-leader and she drove into town and up the mountain to my house to bring me a hospital grade, Medela Symphony breast pump and a Starter SNS. I needed to get started on bringing in a milk supply! I also went on-line and ordered a Lact-Aid, the at-breast supplementer of choice of adoptive moms. On-line I also ordered domperidone (a prescription that has the side effect of increasing prolactin levels, that is not available in the US) from a pharmacy in New Zealand.

I took my baby up to my room and lay back on the pillows on my bed. I took off my shirt and put her in only a diaper. I put her warm, tiny little body on my bare chest. She wasted no time. She threw herself down and latched onto my right breast. She started sucking and her body completely relaxed. She was home. She had found her mommy. Now, I just needed to make some milk!

The first few weeks I tried to put formula in the Starter SNS and then the Lact-Aid and feed her at the breast. She could latch on great, but her suck was weak and she could not get any of the formula through the tube. I went ahead and got a full sized SNS to try as, unlike the Lact-Aid, liquid would flow out just with gravity. I bottle fed, and then tried the SNS a couple of times a day. Eventually she could get an ounce from the SNS. Gradually I increased the number of feedings at the breast. Soon she could nurse with the Lact-Aid and get formula from that as well.

After about a month I did all of the daytime feedings with the Lact-Aid. I ordered more parts so that I only needed to wash and prepare the Lact-Aid supplies once a day. Soon I fed with the Lact-Aid around the clock and completely eliminated all bottles. I stopped pumping at this point, as she was nursing very frequently. I encouraged her to nurse for comfort, or for what little milk she could get between formula feedings.

She was such a good little nurser! She would nurse for a while on one breast, then let go and move to the other side. This is what breastfed babies will do naturally after finishing one breast, but I had to move the tube over to the other side so that she could keep eating. She would nurse and nurse for hours, even when she was getting very little milk. We would often take “nursing vacation” days when Papa took her big brothers out for the day. I carefully watched her weight gain to make sure I wasn’t being too stingy with the formula. I wanted to give her the smallest amount she needed so that she would nurse more and get more from me to help stimulate my supply.

Soon I was able to nurse her first thing in the morning and satisfy her. I would just keep nursing her until it became so frequent that it was clear she needed some formula.

I was so excited when I realized I could go from about 3am until 10 am without using formula. Then I could go until 11am, then 1pm, then 3pm! Before I knew it she would get formula at about 2 am and I didn’t need to give more until about 4 in the afternoon. I could go out of the house with her all morning and not need to bring bags of formula! I was exclusively breastfeeding for more than half the day! She soon gave up her pacifier that she came home from the hospital with. Once you have the real thing, no substitutes will do!

When it got to the point that she needed two, 2-4 ounce servings of formula in the evening I stopped using the Lact-Aid. If I had to fill one more bag or clean out the tubing one more time I was going to go crazy!! She was 5 months old when she was only breastfeeding with the exception of two bottles of formula in the evening, getting a total of 4-8 ounces per day. She would nurse both before and after the bottles of formula. I really wanted to breastfeed exclusively, but this was pretty darn good!

At 6 months old I started to offer her solid foods. She LOVED them! She was on WIC and they gave her an obscene amount of jars of fruits and vegetables and boxes of baby cereal. She gobbled it all up. Within a week we had dropped one serving of formula and the next week we dropped the last one. She was now EXCLUSIVELY BREASTFED! (Well, along with some solids, but close enough!) She never had a bottle again. In fact, the one time I left her at 9 months old for a few hours, she would have nothing to do with a bottle.

I thought that when she turned one year I would stop taking the domperidone. As I tried to wean off of it my supply really dropped. Baby got pretty frustrated. So, I did some more research and decided it was safe for me to continue to take the domperidone longer and ordered another 6 month supply. Making More Milk describes a study showing no adverse effects for people taking 120 mg/day for over 10 years, and although for a while I took as much as 160 mg/day, I am down to only 90 mg/day.

At 15 months old she is still going strong. I really enjoy nursing her to sleep at nap time and bedtime. I love cuddling in bed with her early in the morning and hearing her gulp down my milk. I can’t imagine stopping any time soon.

When I breastfed my boys my goal was to nurse them for at least two years, as this is the suggested minimum by the World Health Organization. I learned about so many benefits of breastfeeding well into toddlerhood, that I really wanted to do this. Sadly, I only nursed my boys 14 months each. We ended early for different reasons with each, but both times I was disappointed that I did not make my goal. I still feel like I let them down, even though I know that I did the best I could at the time with the given circumstances. I am hopeful that I can nurse my daughter at least 2 years, and as long as she wants. I got another chance.


For further information about nursing your foster or adopted baby and induced lactation see:

The Adoptive Breastfeeding Resource Website

Dr. Jack Newman & Enith Kernerman: Breastfeeding Your Adoptive Baby or Baby Born by Surrogate's section on breastfeeding

Induced Lactation

Another mother's experience: Breastfeeding My Adopted Child

Dr. Jack Newman Lactation Aid (homemade instructions)

Ask your local La Leche League leaders and/or lactation consultants for names of mothers who have nursed their adopted children.

Breastfeeding the Adopted Baby, by Debra Peterson
Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby and Relactation by Elizabeth Hormann

Many of the same techniques used to trigger milk supply for working mothers who must be away from their babies all day, every day, are the same gentle parenting measures that will help adoptive moms increase supply as well. For further information on these natural-hormone boosting ideas, see: Balancing Breastfeeding: When Moms Must Work.

For breastmilk donations, look into a variety of resources available.

Additional breastfeeding resources can be found here.


Bumper Stickers: We Need Your Vote!

After many, many, many repeated requests for bumper stickers to share some of the gentle parenting love and information we gather at this site, our Aussie logo designer has come up with three simple versions that will be available in a variety of colors for your choosing.

However, we need your input. Which of the three text styles do you like the best for a bumper sticker?
Please cast your vote in the polling box in the upper left corner of the DrMomma page. Voting will be open for the next 48 hours and then bumper stickers will be printed and available shortly. If you'd like to see a bumper sticker in any particular shade/color, drop it below in the comments.

"Wide Style"

"Medium Style"

"Tall Style" 


Obstetrician and Midwife, Dr. Agnes Gereb, Faces 5 Years in Prison for Attending Homebirths in Hungary

This letter is being posted at the request of the author and in solidarity with those supporting and advocating on behalf of Dr. Agnes Gereb around the world. Gereb is currently being held in a maximum security prison in Hungary, facing a five year prison sentence, for attending birthing women at home. Supporters of birth choice in Europe urge readers to contact your local Hungarian embassy.

It is with considerable dismay that I write to you to protest at the imprisonment in Hungary of Dr. Agnes Gereb, an internationally respected obstetrician and midwife who has resolutely supported a woman's right to birth where she chooses, having attended over 3,500 healthy home births in the past 20 years.

Dr Gereb attended a woman in childbirth and when the baby developed breathing problems she appropriately referred the mother and baby to hospital, both mother and baby are doing well. The Hungarian authorities and medical profession are consistently opposed to home birth and have used this incident as an opportunity to act. Dr. Gereb was immediately arrested by the police and held in custody.

The majority of EU countries follow the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines which advises on best practice. The NICE guidelines clearly state that a woman has the right to choose her place of birth and the right to make informed decisions. Furthermore, the guidelines clearly state that women who are considered to be at higher risk should be recommended delivery in an obstetric unit. This is only a recommendation and the decision is that of the individual woman so long as she is fully informed.

NICE Guideline for Intrapartum Care states:
  • [For] women who plan to give birth at home or in a midwife-led unit there is a higher likelihood of a normal birth.
  • Women should have the opportunity to make informed decisions about their care and any treatment needed.
  • Good communication between healthcare professionals and the woman and her family is essential. It should be supported by the provision of evidence-based written information tailored to the needs of the individual woman. Care and information should be appropriate to the woman.
A Home Birth and Midwife-Led Service means:
  • Saving money and bed days.
  • Preventing over-crowding and securing more time with consultants for women who choose or need consultant led care.
  • Providing evidence based and safe care.
Obstetric led care causes unnecessary and avoidable damage to both mothers and babies in that it offers inappropriate care to low risk women and fails to provide an adequate standard of care for high risk mothers and babies who would benefit from their undivided attention.

Hungarian obstetric care is highly interventionist and damaging to the majority of fit and healthy women for whom hospital based obstetric care is inappropriate. Research clearly shows that women who birth at home have fewer interventions, fewer caesarean sections and have fitter and healthier babies. We are dismayed that the Hungarian authorities and medical profession consistently fly in the face of the research evidence and vigorously oppose home birth and have used this incident as an opportunity to act.

Every health professional has a moral and professional responsibility to act in the best interests of their client. Dr. Gereb acted promptly and responsibly in calling for an ambulance to take her client to hospital so that the baby could receive appropriate treatment for his condition. We understand that the mother and baby are well. Can you ask your Government to explain how they intend improving maternity care when the reaction to such appropriate action is aggressive behaviour from the hospital staff and punitive action by the police and judiciary. This kind of behaviour will only create an underground home birth practice and a reluctance to refer women to hospital when justified - this will increase the risk to mothers and babies.

Your Government's action not only breaches Dr. Gereb's Human Rights it also breaches the Human Rights of every woman who decides to birth at home.

I appeal to you to draw your Government's attention to the concern that there is in the UK about this incident and ask you to help persuade your Government to take steps to release Dr. Gereb from jail immediately. I understand that AIMS will be investigating taking them to the European Court of Human Rights.

Your Government is in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights which enshrines the fundamental right to bodily integrity. Under this Article citizens are entitled to free and informed consent. For consent to be free and informed, it must be based on information and choice, neither of which feature in the provision of maternity care in your country.

Yours sincerely,


Agnes was taken into police custody in the evening of Tuesday, Oct 5th, just minutes after attending to a pregnant woman who had unexpectedly gone into labor at her homebirth centre in Budapest. The mother transferred by ambulance to the hospital with her baby boy when he displayed breathing difficulties immediately after birth. The police arrested Gereb and held her for 72 hours with access only to her lawyer. After the 72 hours in detention, she was taken before a closed criminal court and charged with "reckless endangerment committed in the line of duty" and was to remain in custody without bail for a further 30 days. It is common in Hungary to spend more than a year in prison while awaiting trial.

On October 6th, more than 600 people protested outside Budapest's prison that held Gereb. Two days later, more than 2,000 people made a human chain from the municipal court to the national parliament.

On October 12th, Gereb appeared before a court - shackled and handcuffed. She faced several charges including negligent practice and manslaughter for a birth where a baby died after a difficult labor.

According to Tamas Fazekas, one of the lawyers fighting Gereb's case with the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, said Gereb is confined to a four-woman cell for 23 hours a day. "She is subjected to strip searches, only allowed to see her family once a month — they have not been allowed to visit her since her arrest — and can have just one 10-minute phone call every week. When she appeared before the public court she was in handcuffs and leg shackles so tight that she had a 10cm bleeding wound on her leg."

As of yesterday (Fri, Oct 22) Gereb has been moved into a maximum security prison and faces a five year prison sentence.

Obstetrics is well known to be one of the most lucrative branches of Hungary's "free" health care system. Inductions and episiotomies (as well as an assortment of other interventions) are ubiquitous. Women who want to step away from this medicalized birth face a very difficult challenge to find a skilled birth attendant. In fact, there are only 15 midwives in all of Hungary who will attend women at home, and 5 of them currently face lengthy prison sentences for the births they've attended. Gereb is the founder of the Napvilág Birthing Centre, is a highly experienced OB/GYN, midwife, and internationally recognized homebirth expert. She has attended over 3,500 births at home in Hungary.

To learn more and support the "Free Gereb" movement visit these sites:


A Letter to My Intact Son: Why I Kept You Whole

By Ashley Goldstein © 2010

Dear Diego,

As you know, you are my first born. You are the child that taught me how to be in tune with natural living. You have erased much of my ignorance and made me grow up before necessary. I owe it to you to give you the best, and try everything I can to keep you innocent and out of harm's way. I love you more than I love living. This is a letter to you, my beautiful boy, explaining why I chose to keep you intact when the rest of the country is cutting.

You will probably be reading this when you are old enough to understand statistics, emotional reasoning, human rights, and what circumcision is (that is, if I taught you correctly). So I will start with the emotional stuff you might have already heard from me while growing up. It's a no brainier that I am of Jewish descendant, brought up in the hands of the Judaic Religion. We attended temple, your eldest uncle and 2nd cousins had a bar/bat mitzvah, and much of your distant family speaks Yiddish and Hebrew. We followed all the holidays and the children were taught the history of our people, but the males of the family were special in the way of becoming Jewish. On the 8th day of life, a newborn male is given a Brit Milah. The Brit Milah is the ceremony to welcome the newborn into Judaism by giving him a Hebrew name and a circumcision. A female newborn is just given the Hebrew name. I never wondered why this was the case, until I learned the little soccer player in my tummy was blessed with an anteater between his legs.

I always wished for a boy as my first born. I was terrified to have a daughter (an irrational fear that I have overcome) and cried tears of joy when I knew I was having a son. Your father couldn't have smiled brighter and your grandmother cried. Why she cried is something I still do not know of at this time. I never asked and just assumed it was because she knew I would go through hell over the circumcision idea (we had discussed circumcision once or twice before finding out your gender and they knew I was basing the decision on your dad, who is intact).

You probably already know what I went through with your grandparents, uncles and great-grandmother over circumcision, and if you don't, I will have no problem discussing this all after you have read this letter. But this letter is not for me to vent - it is for me to express my love for you - all of you.

Because my family went through so much trouble trying to convince me to circumcise you, my brother going so far as to print out pro-circumcision information and place it on my desk with a note, I wanted to know what it was all about. Growing up, I always asked, "Why?" I didn't want to do something if I didn't know why and how it was done. I have always been natural minded, not wanting to litter, waste or live beyond human ability, so to hear that something you are born with is bad made me curious. Why would nature have every single male grow this skin when it's harmful?

So I turned to my computer and your father. Surely since he is intact, others must be too! I thought circumcision was something that happened to every boy and only a few were kept whole. I was 15, and ignorant to everything but the things I was taught growing up. I spent many days using Google. I came to the conclusion that I had been lied to. Circumcision was done to very few and keeping a boy intact was decided for many. Europe considered it a barbaric act and many people equated it to Female Circumcision. There were activists called INTACTivists, solely fighting for the rights to genital integrity. I saw pictures of botched circumcisions, scars and videos of poor babies screaming while the doctor explains to that he is only crying because he is strapped down and not because he is slicing open his penis. I became angered and my motherly instincts kicked in to fight for you, again.

I would have been angered if someone cut me when I was a baby (since female circumcision wasn't illegal until I was 5 years old) so I had to assume you would be angered if someone cut you without your consent. What if you wanted your foreskin? And I had taken it away, for you to never get back? That didn't set right in my mind. Circumcision is permanent. I wouldn't tattoo you without you wanting it. I wouldn't force food down your throat if you pushed away because that's not my choice to make. Your penis wasn't mine. It is not anyone's but yours. You feel the pleasure/pain when it is messed with. You are the one it is attached to, so shouldn't you decide if you want a part of it to stay with you? The answer is simple: yes. I wanted you to tell me if you wanted to keep your foreskin, but you couldn't. Now you can when you are older, and when you know how it feels to have a foreskin, and I feel no guilt. If you don't want your foreskin as you grow, still no guilt because you can remove it on your own terms. But for me to say, "My son, I know you will hate this foreskin as you grow, let me get rid of it now," seemed strange in my mind. How would I know? The case is easy - I didn't know.

I had read that circumcision interferes with breastfeeding and I was so determined to breastfeed you without problems that this hit me the hardest. What if I did decide to cut you, and you didn't latch, and needed a bottle of formula? My ultimate goal/dream was to nurse you. If I was to fail I would take it to heart and never get over it. Little did I know how much I would go through with your short tongue and allergies, so I bet if you had been cut, I would have failed as I predicted. I would have a hurting baby boy, hurting breasts full of milk that I wouldn't be able to get rid of, and a baby trying to get comfort out of something made in a factory/lab. I wanted to be your comfort, for that warmth to be human and not from the stove. I needed you close by me, and selfishly, I needed you to reduce my risk for breast cancer as my mother was a breast cancer survivor. I never wanted to go through what she did. I left you intact, and you nursed whenever you wanted it, not needing the comfort to settle a pain that didn't exist, but none the less wanting it anyway.

I was not afraid of you being made fun of. Children are cruel and will make fun of you for being beautiful, kind and generous. Not much you can't do that children won't make fun of you for, so when I was given that argument, I blew it off. What I was afraid of was infections. I was told over and over again that no matter what, you WILL get an infection and it can only be treated by circumcision. I turned to the internet once again, that it being the only place I could go. I talked to many grown men who have never had an infection, or have only had one and it was treated easily with medicine. Non-painful medicine. I was content with that. That even if you did get an infection, you would just get medicine like you would if you got a sore throat or the flu. No different except in the area that it is in. I have gotten a few UTIs and yeast infections. They aren't a big deal and I knew if you got one, you also would be fine and not die. It would be another experience to learn from about the human body and the world around us.

We live in a house with running water and we always will. Keeping you clean as you grew older and your foreskin became retractable wasn't something I would be worried about. I know you could just rinse it like you do the rest of your body. You may not want to hear this, but I have taken showers with your father, I have seen how easy it is to clean, and that it takes no extra time or effort. I wasn't worried that cleaning your foreskin would be a chore.

Little did I know when I was pregnant with you that the year you would be born the circumcision rate would drop from 50% to 33% in the U.S., and it is predicted to continue dropping. Hopefully that was right, and you are among the majority instead of the minority. We may not even be living in the U.S. by the time you are reading this, therefore you definitely won't be the odd man out! I hope you grew up loving your body for what it is and how it was created. I hope you appreciate the decision I made for you and decide the same for your sons. I love you and am lucky to have such a great son to teach me the facts of life, human anatomy, and the ways of natural, healthy living.

Love unconditionally,
Your mommy!

Goldstein is a teen intactavist, lactavist and cloth diapering mama to Diego. She blogs about her daily struggles with her family, herself and the world around her at Fridge Magnets. A mommy by day and a student by night, she is on her way to change the world one reader at a time.

For additional information on the prepuce organ (foreskin), intact care and circumcision see: Are You Fully Informed? Pros and Cons of Circumcision


The Virgin Gut

By Ann Calandro, BSN, RNC, IBCLC

Photo courtesy of peaceful parenting mom, Michelle.

I have been a mother for 26 years. When my first daughter was born, I knew little about breastfeeding except that I wanted to "try" to be successful. I knew it was best. I planned on nursing for six weeks to give her a good start.

She was born in Riverview Hospital in New Jersey in 1976. I waited impatiently to be allowed to see her every four hours for nursing. She arrived in my room with a little bottle of glucose water on board in her crib. The nurses encouraged me to fill her up with sugar water after each nursing, because my milk was not enough. Between nursings, she received formula in the nursery, because she was hungry and the hospital would only bring her out at certain times. During visiting hours, no babies came out.

Even though I am a nurse, I did not know enough about breastfeeding to object to this practice. My baby became jaundiced (which I know now is prolonged by giving water), and we stayed in the hospital for five long days. This was after a totally unmedicated birth. When we went home, I was gifted with cases of water and formula to feed her ad lib. Fortunately, my pediatrician advised me not to give either to her if I wanted to be successful with breastfeeding. Good advice. I let it all expire in my kitchen pantry and later threw it away. (Thank you, Dr. David Ohmart, wherever you are!)

After she was a few months old, I was talking to another breastfeeding mother at a La Leche League meeting. She proudly stated that her son still had his "virgin gut." I asked her what that meant. She said he had never had anything in his stomach besides breast milk. She said that because of that, he would be healthier and less likely to have allergies. I was confused and a little doubtful, but her words stuck with me.

Since my baby had received lots in her stomach besides breast milk, her little gut was not virginal. What did this mean? Had the hospital nurses inadvertently done some kind of damage to her? Had I? What was going on inside my little girl? I wasn't sure, but just in case my friend was right, I made sure that my next three children had "virgin guts" until starting solid foods around 6 months of age.

In the Beginning

Many babies who are breastfed begin their lives in hospitals that routinely supplement with artificial formulas. Sometimes babies are given artificial milk for medical reasons such as low blood sugars or because their mother is very ill. More often, they are given artificial milk for non-medical reasons, because nurses offer it to keep them quiet, or because mothers are concerned that their babies are hungry because they are nursing so often. Some mothers want to sleep and leave their baby in the nursery all night, so they ask the nurses to feed the baby formula. Innocent enough reasons – and common. So common, in fact, that very few babies leave the hospital with their virginal guts. But what happens when breast milk is not the only food in that little gut? The truth is very interesting and also very scary. Turns out, my friend was right.

When babies are born, they have sterile gastrointestinal tracts. If babies are exclusively breastfed, they develop a natural healthy gut flora. (When I speak of the gut, I mean Baby's insides where the food goes until it hits the diaper.) This means that the major flora in breastfed babies has reduced numbers of bad types of bacteria and increased numbers of good bacteria. Formula-fed babies have increased numbers of bad bacteria, leaving them at more risk for illness.

Breastfed babies who are fed formula in the first week of life have a delay in the development of a healthy gut flora. Their gut flora is more like formula-fed infants. This description appears in Lactation: Physiology, Nutrition, and Breast-Feeding by Margaret C. Neville and Marianne R. Neifert:
The effect of breastfeeding on the infants' gut flora was abolished by cow's milk supplementation. However, in the same study, infants fed on breast milk with supplementation of humanized cow's milk established a low stool pH and a dominant flora of bifidobacteria (the good stuff) with a two- to six-week delay. At present, it is not known to what extent supplementation can be practiced without destroying the characteristic intestinal flora of the breast-fed baby.
Colostrum helps to build a mucosal barrier, which protects babies against infection and is anti-inflammatory. Breastmilk is living protection against all kinds of germs. Mother Nature sure knew what she was doing.

It takes many weeks for the baby's gut to close up the leaks in order to seal off germs and to develop the ability to shut out allergenic proteins. If given formula in the early weeks, this closing up is delayed and the risk of allergies and illness increases. The type of bacteria in the gut becomes less protective. In other words, Baby is more at risk for illness.

Just one bottle of formula - given for any reason - can sensitize babies who may be allergic to cow's milk protein or soy protein. This is especially important to know if you have allergies in your family. Some studies have indicated that giving cow's milk formulas early may also increase the risk of some children for developing insulin dependent diabetes.

The Real Risks

A breastfeeding mother I worked with recently found out that offering formula early can cause severe problems for some babies. She found this out the hard way. Her baby had early sucking problems and was given formula for a few days in the hospital. This mom worked hard to establish her breastfeeding and soon was successful. Things were going very well until she decided to go shopping one day and leave formula behind for her husband to feed her 6-week-old son. She was not concerned because he had already had formula and shown no adverse affects.

When her husband fed her son, the baby began having severe reactions and was rushed to the hospital. Hospital staff did not think that the problems were related to the formula. This little guy was subjected to thousands of dollars in tests – all negative. He went home exclusively breastfeeding. A few weeks later when his daddy gave him another bottle of formula, he turned blue, almost stopped breathing and was once again rushed to the hospital. It was determined at last that he was allergic to formula. His allergies began with the early formula sensitization in the hospital nursery. Needless to say, he never got formula again. Formula is not so innocent for some babies.

Alternatives to Formula

Sometimes the addition of artificial formulas to infant diets is unavoidable for a variety of reasons. If this is the case, there is very little that can be done to remedy the situation and save the virginal gut. Some hospitals provide banked human milk for babies that must be given supplemental food until mother's milk is available. The majority of hospitals do not. Recent studies have shown that giving hydrolyzed formula to a baby born in a family with a history of allergies may be the best alternative if formula must be given.

Having knowledge of the importance of what is normal for newborns inside may help some mothers in making a decision about whether or not to supplement their babies for convenience in the early weeks. Very few mothers know how totally different babies are on the inside when artificial food is added to their diets. Some mothers add the formula in the hopes that their babies will sleep longer at night [a mythological practice that has been shown to be no more effective than 'stuffing' baby up on human milk]. Knowing that only one formula bottle a day can totally change the protective environment of their baby's gastrointestinal tract may give them pause to reconsider before instituting this practice.

The case for the virgin gut is a valid one. There is much research to support avoiding supplementation if at all possible. A huge increase in diarrheal diseases occurs in babies who do not have optimal "intestinal fortitude," which is only possible with guts that have never been exposed to infant formula.

To preserve your baby's virgin gut, be proactive:

* Let your pediatrician know that you do not want the baby to have any formula. Ask him or her to write it as an order in your baby's chart.

* If the baby has a medical need for more milk, express some colostrum to feed to the baby with a cup or spoon. 

* Place a small card in your baby's crib, and/or dress baby in a onesie, notifying staff that you do not want your baby to have any formula, and if there is a medical need, staff must get written permission from you before it is given, so that alternatives can be explored.

If Baby has lost his virginal gut don't despair. Exclusive breastfeeding for many weeks will hopefully restore the gut to a normal healthy state.

Also by Calandro:

A Parent's Guide to Breastfeeding: The First Week

For further information on the virgin gut and how exclusive breastfeeding impacts health, see the excellent books, The Baby Bond and Take Charge of Your Child's Health.

Additional books, websites and articles linked at Breastfeeding Resources.

Urgent Need: Lact-aid System Parts

We received an urgent letter of need from a peaceful parenting mother, Heather, in the UK tonight. She has a five month old baby boy who is successfully breastfeeding (after many struggles) with the help of a Lact-aid nursing trainer system. Without funds to spare, Heather spent a small fortune to buy the complete nursing system, pay U.S. tax, and have it shipped to the UK (where it is not otherwise available) so that her baby would be able to get the human milk he needs and have the vital breastfeeding relationship he'd otherwise be without. But today she needs our help. Heather writes, "I was boiling [the system parts] to clean them and lost track of time and the pan boiled dry and all 2 out of 3 of the Lact-aids are melted beyond use. I'm devastated right now and terrified my stupid forgetfulness is going to mean the end of a nursing relationship we've fought so hard for. I wondered whether you know any ex-lact aid users who might have some left they'd be willing to send to the UK with urgency (they aren't available here). I really can't afford the cost of brand new ones again."

Here is our request to you:

If you are an ex-Lact-aid user and have quality parts remaining that you can ship (International Express) to Heather right away, please drop us an email at: and we will connect you up with her. Note that the Lact-aid is not the same as the Medela SNS. (Thank you to those who have written with the offer for a Medela. We appreciate it - the Lact-aid is simply more streamline and easy to use even while night-nursing or breastfeeding out in public).

If we do not hear from anyone by the end of the business day (Tuesday, Oct 19), because this little baby's nursing relationship is dependent on the Lact-aid system and the urgency of replacement, we will take up a donation collection to replace the parts and have them internationally express shipped to Heather on Wednesday morning.

Please consider helping in either manner if you are able - and thank you for caring about the wellbeing of another little baby!

*Will update this post as we hear from people or receive donations to cover the cost of the Lact-aid system and international shipping to Heather and her baby.

[If there are donations that go beyond the amount needed, we will email all donors to ask permission to give the rest to this sweet mother who lost her beautiful, nursing 2 year old daughter a couple weeks ago when she was hit by a car while they crossed the street holding hands. She is another mother in true need to help pay for the heavy costs associated with her little girl's memorial. We would really like to help her as well.]

Heather and her Beautiful Baby Boy

UPDATE: Thank you so very much to the following 19 generous people who chipped in so that we are able to purchase and international express ship Lact-aid system trainer units to Heather to replace those that were damaged: 


We could not have done this without you, so on behalf of Heather and her nursing baby, THANK YOU!

Until the Lact-aid arrives, Heather and her son are using an old Medela SNS to nurse. She will also be looking into a suggestion offered by another peaceful parenting reader on making a homemade version of a lactation system that is detailed by Dr. Jack Newman here. Heather writes,
Thank you so much for helping, it has me in tears of happiness! It means so much that you're taking our nursing relationship seriously. I know to a lot of people the answer would be "just give him a bottle" but I just cannot do it. I love him too much and I love our bond too much. I love being the only one who nurses him and the one he needs and wants... even if I can't provide all the milk myself. (Not to mention when he was offered a bottle almost 2 months ago he refused it and was quite upset and confused by it). It's a real boost to know there are people out there who believe in what I'm doing and support it. Thank you for that.


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