Top 10 of 2010

In a moment of year-end curiosity, we looked to see which articles were the most read on over the past year. For those curious about what others have been reading, here are the Top 10 of 2010. It is slightly surprising that the soda and chicken pieces are #1 and #2. Guess we, as a nation, do love our junk food... (or at least talking about it!)

#10 A Man's Guide to Homebirth

#9 Babies Aren't Soldiers

#8 Mother-Baby Separation

#7 U.S. Circumcision Rate Falls to 32%

#6 Death From Circumcision 

#5 The Truth About Epidurals

#4 Mother Loses Baby, Donates Breastmilk to Another NICU Baby

#3 Baby Dies After Circumcision Surgery Blood Loss and Heart Failure
     Rest in peace sweet baby Joshua. May your suffering and loss not be in vain.

#2 Chicken Nuggets: The Other Pink Meat

#1 Your Body Within 1 Hour of Drinking Soda 


Top 7 Parenting Controversies of 2010

Yesterday The Week listed their "top 7 parenting controversies" of 2010. A few are topics that takes a strong (research based) position on. Others are those that are a little more cloudy - ones where it seems literature reviews suggest an array of complicating factors. So we'd like to know what you, peaceful parenting readers, think about these 'controversies' as presented by The Week - what experiences or data have led to your conclusions? How would you respond to any (or all) of the questions below? Feel free to chime in as your passions lead you.

1. Should male genital cutting (circumcision) be banned as female genital cutting already is?

In 2011 San Francisco may have a citywide vote on whether or not it should be illegal to "circumcise, excise, cut, or mutilate the foreskin, testicle, or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18." For more on this proposed ballet measure and related information, visit the San Francisco MGM Bill page or look into the federal and state MGM Bill propositions at The federal law prohibiting any genital cutting, for any reason - religious or otherwise, upon the body of a female minor can be found here.  If you are not otherwise fully informed on subjects related to the prepuce organ ('clitoral hood' or 'foreskin'), intact care, and circumcision, see resources on this page.

2. Why is ADHD on the rise in U.S. children? 

Nearly 1 in every 10 U.S. kids has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Back in 2003 we learned there had been an astronomical rise in ADHD during the previous decade - but now we find there has been another 22% jump since '03. What's at the root of it all? Toxins? Dis-attached parenting? Nature-deficit disorder? Kids not allowed to 'just be kids'? Over/mis-diagnosis? There are still many questions, much confusion, and not a lot of solid, for-certain answers.

3. Does writing by hand improve neurological functioning?

Kids today do so much typing and texting these days that the good ol' pen-and-paper is often pushed by the wayside. While teaching at the high school level I was astonished at the numbers of seniors whose penmanship appeared straight out of second grade. But it isn't just fancy letter writing that has been relinquished to the days of old - kids who aren't writing by hand are not utilizing parts of the brain that develop and perfect fine motor skills and other neuro functions. When children write by hand, their imagination improves, creativity increases, overall brain activity spikes, and they are even deemed to be more intelligent on standardized tests where writing is part of the assessment. In fact, the research is compelling enough to make me think we'd better start drafting a few of these posts via pen and paper instead of keyboard...

4. Is kissing your child on the lips creepy?

Yikes. I have to admit - this is a tough one for me. I realize that in many cultures a quick kiss on the lips is perfectly acceptable among people of any age. And in many families today, kissing a baby or child on the lips is a normative part of love and greeting. However, from a health standpoint, kissing babies or children on the lips is a big no-no. It is thee number one way that Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (otherwise known as "cold sores" or "fever blisters") is contracted. In fact, if you have oral herpes (HSV-1), more likely than not you got it when a well-meaning relative kissed you on the lips as a baby or child. Granted, it is a common herpes virus - one that the majority of people will carry by the time they are 60 years of age. Less commonly, genital herpes (HSV-2) can also be contracted when adults have oral sex with an infected partner and then spread it to the mouths of babies via an innocent kiss. As common as the various strains of herpes are, it is not a virus that you need to get or pass to your children. So for our babies here at home we have a rule: No kissing on the lips! Period. And really - why do you need to kiss a child on the lips? Love and kiss them all over their chubby little bodies, just not directly on the lips. Our rule has been violated twice (that I know of) by a smooch-happy relative, but hopefully we protect our own little ones enough in the future to let them decide for themselves who their lips come into contact with. I have a feeling the 2010 controversy on this subject, however, has less to do with kissing babies and oral herpes, and more to do with those who kiss older children on the lips and our general state of erotophobia.

5. Why are parents with daughters more likely to divorce?

Statistically, heterosexual parents with daughters are less likely to stay married than those with sons. Gordon Dahl (University of Rochester) and Enrico Moretti (UCLA) analyzed three million U.S. birth and marriage records, and found that married couples are 5% more likely to divorce when they have one daughter, than if they have one son. As children increase, the numbers increase - parents of three girls are 10% more likely to divorce than parents of three boys. In other nations, this division is even more pronounced. One theory is that men value sons more than daughters so they are more likely to stick around for their boys. Another is that parents believe their sons need a male role model, so rather than split and go with mom, the two remain together. A third is that mothers with daughters simply don't need a partner as much -- psychologists point to research demonstrating boys increase workload in the house, while daughters decrease it. Girls are also more likely to have strong social ties with their mothers, and daughters are more apt to stick around than sons. Notre Dame psychologist, Anita Kelly, says mothers of girls know they will "never be lonely or without help" and therefore are more likely to leave a bad marriage. An old proverb reads, "My son's my son till he hath got him a wife. But my daughter's my daughter all the days of her life."

6. What is behind the early puberty epidemic?

The AAP has repeatedly published studies in Pediatrics (their scholarly journal) citing the continued decrease in age of menarche (onset of menstruation) and breast development. A recent study (published this past August) demonstrates that 15% of girls show signs of puberty by age seven. This is twice as many as we found 10 years ago. So what is at the root of this concern? Toxins? Hormones pumped into our food/water? Chemicals in our environment/food/water/drugs/vaccinations? Does it have to do with the way we eat? Fat percentage in children (estrogen is stored in the body's fat cells)? This was a topic demanding our attention 16 years ago when I began studying human sexuality as a college student - never did I think it would grow even more concerning before we really started to wake up to what we are doing to our girls (and boys!).

7. How does spanking impact the brain?

Research is conclusive that spanking under the age of 2 and over the age of six is detrimental - to behavior, relationships, brain activity, and later success. In fact, virtually all health-centered literature on spanking shows that hitting a child or baby of any age, in any manner, is counter-productive and often downright harmful. Neurological research has shown spanking decreases IQ and impacts all other areas of development as well - emotional, spiritual, physical, relational (see: The Science of Parenting and Why Love Matters). Spanking toddlers has been shown to increase aggressive behavior. And research aside, more people are speaking up about how spanking (and those who take physical punishment to radical levels) impact our lives. One such voice comes through in Fenimore's How Spanking Changed My Life.

Still, at the end of 2009, Calvin College professor, Marjorie Gunnoe, published research based on interviews she did with 2,600 people. She found that those who were only spanked between the ages of 2-6 fared the best in a variety of other life categories as adults (academic success, optimism, careers, etc.). Although 25% of those she interviewed were never spanked, and those who were spanked as babies or after the age of 6 fared the "worst" in life, her "spanking makes you successful" conclusions were splashed across parenting boards and pop media pieces everywhere. Many researchers and parents realized it isn't the spanking that does any good for young children - rather, it is the use of age-appropriate limits set by parents with some type of structure and expectation for their kids to succeed and do well. Discipline can certainly be gentle and will be most effective if it is carried out in a manner that is truly respectful of all parties involved. See gentle discipline resources here.

Truly, in the end, it all boils down to the statement on our pp 'new parent' cards: Everyone will give you advice. The best thing to do? Listen to your heart, your instincts, and your baby. This is what parenting peacefully is all about.

What do you think?


The Really Good Gifts

It's been a wonderful season getting to know many of you ala holiday cards blessing our little mailbox and photos/stories emailed or posted to Facebook. Just for fun, we changed our FB page logo this week with a mosaic made up of your 'Santa Babies,' nativity characters, and smiling little ones with a special gleam in their eye.    

While the hours here are long and often late into the night after babes have gone to bed, and the pay is nothing more than knowing (maybe?) someone was helped today, the true irreplaceable gift comes in hearing from one of you: knowing that one baby, one child, one mom, one dad at a time, we each have the ability to better the world around us - even if in just a small way today.

The following is a sampling of clips from some of your 2010 letters that have offered encouragement in the midst of the occasional storm. To know we've made a positive impact on someone's life - now that is a really good gift!
It's so wonderful to know that I'm not alone in the way that I intuitively parent my child. I hope that you realize how much support you offer to new moms like myself by being such a warrior for children's rights! ~KD

I just wanted to write you to thank you for your blog and tireless activism. Ever since I can remember, being a parent didn't really appeal to me. I remember when all of my friends couldn't wait to have kids, but I never really wanted to delve into that world. It scared me, and it seemed so foreign. But now I've come to realize that it is mostly because I don't agree and don't feel comfortable with how most babies are raised. I read your site and your links and I just think, "YES! That is how it is supposed to be." Then everything seems to natural and normal, and it actually makes me excited to have kids. ~CM

I just wanted to write to offer you some encouragement, I re-post a lot of your articles (with links to your blog) on a parenting forum, and I have personally heard from at least ten parents who said the posts have saved their future sons from circumcision. :) So be encouraged! There may be some who don't care, but you are reaching a lot of people. ~SF

For eight months I struggled with thrush and mastitis and other infections, off and on so many drugs and I was told by everyone I knew to just stop breastfeeding. But I did what you suggested, and it was finally the solution I needed. I cannot thank you enough. I know you don't know me and I've bothered you with a lot of questions recently, but on behalf of my son and I, thank you, thank you! You've changed both our lives. ~HP

I just had to tell you about the 'book' I've made for my pregnant friend. I already gave her my copy of The Continuum Concept but I thought "what about the million other things I now know?!" So, I have created a folder crammed with info on EVERYTHING I could think of...and where did I get my inspiration for the subjects covered in my 'baby book?' of course! What a star you are. Thanks for changing lives! ~LS

I hated the idea of cosleeping when my wife first brought up the idea. But I did want her to be able to take care of our daughter in the easiest way possible. So when she found your article about making a crib into a cosleeper, we decided to give it a try. Shockingly, it works great and I guess I just wanted to say thanks for smoothing things out for us. It's our first baby and you've already offered us a lot. ~MP

When I was in nursing school three years ago I witnessed a circumcision for the first time. I could barely make it through the rest of the week there and have been anti-circ since. But it wasn't til I found your site that I had the understanding or gumption to speak up about this. Peaceful parenting turned me into an intactivist and I just wanted you guys to know that because of this nine other babies have been spared that horror I saw three years ago. Please keep posting, I'm sure there are others out there like me. ~SJ

I love it! It made my day to read your story! I wanted to jump up and down! And then how you made such an informed choice to stay with J-...and how you still lecture and share information and teach workshops and give so much to so many...These are dreams that I tell DH about lol! ~GD

Oh my gosh, I'm crying right now because without even knowing it I have been looking for your group since I had my first baby 6 years ago. YOU HAVE NO IDEA how much I needed it and how much I AM FINALLY HOME. So glad I found you. ~TF

I recently read that it's a normal and natural part of childhood to have heroes, and that you should have some of your own to model for your children so that they will know what makes a person worth looking up to. I do have one, [peaceful parenting], for giving a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves, and for helping me find such a voice of my own. ~AB

Guess what? E- is now 8 months old and we are still breastfeeding thanks to you! I devoured the books and used the things you sent me, and am so thankful for you answering all my questions. E- is a happy, healthy, guy because of all your work. ~HJ

Thought I'd let you know that I'd never thought about circumcision till I started reading your work. I just figured if we ever had a son he'd be circumcised like his father and like most other people I know... We are now expecting a little boy in Jan and I'm happy and confident to say he definitely will be kept intact. ~PB

I just read your post called My Day. I have been a fan of yours and your articles for a while and follow a little closer through Facebook. I just wanted to say how beautiful your article was. How pure and raw the words were. Your passion is healing and through that you have made countless differences in the lives of so many parents, children and communities. For that I am thankful. ~RD

Thank you for all the valuable and informative material you gave out at the pp workshop. I've passed it to several other parents in my circle and have already seen an increase in wise choices being made. xx ~MM

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for giving me a place to feel at home. I live in small-town-nowhere and am the black sheep of the flock. Just to have you there and meet other mamas in similar situations from your page has kept me going through the hardest year yet. I'm sure my kids are grateful too, even if they don't realize the reason our house is a more peaceful place. ~BK

My life is blissful, but I do have a husband and one son, both who are circumcised. I can't live with regret or questioning but I can grow, heal and make different choices next time. Through your work you are making a difference. Through your work you are helping women all over the world heal. Through your work you are! Sending you love, blissful blessings and hugs full of peace! ~DR

Just wanted to let you know you saved another from CIO. His mom was only given the terrible books at her shower and she had family telling her he needed to cry and warning her not to spoil him. When I met with her she was in tears because of the disconnect between what she knew in her heart to be right and what everyone else was suggesting. I gave her the Why Love Matters book that you gave to me last year and printed off several things for her. I'm happy that she has a new found confidence to listen to her baby and her instincts. ~WJ

Gracias...thank you for the touching response to my inquiries...maybe 'cuz it's late...your comment got me a little misty...your work is incredible...keep touching the lives of dads, kids, moms and families everywhere!!!!!!!!! Your message is fundamentally about LOVE. ~AG

I'm LDS and I haven't heard church leaders speak out about circumcision at all, but I have been very against it ever since I came across peaceful parenting about 9 months ago. I don't have children yet, but if I have a boy he will be intact, and since finding your site I've helped four friends obtain the faith based answers they need to take their babies home whole. ~HC

Thank you for the love and support you provided when S- passed away. It is sometimes a struggle every day just to wake up and make it through. I miss her so badly. But I appreciate the community and family I have found through peaceful parenting and the care and generosity given to us. You're a blessing that is far reaching. ~J.

My sister sent me to your site after she met you last week and the first thing I read was your post on breastfeeding while working. I was a little upset at first because I HAVE to work and would do anything to stay with my daughter. But after my initial knee-jerk reaction I realized you have a point. So we made a few adjustments just to see how it would work out and you know what? it helps! We're happier, more comfortable, and I am not as worried about my supply now. Thank you! I'm going to keep reading and see what else I find. ~KM

The peaceful parenting page is probably the only one I read all the time - and I don't even have a baby yet! The things you put out into the world have such a h.u.g.e impact on so many. My niece and nephew are better off because of what I send my brother from pp, and I know my own kids are going to be raised in the most natural, gentle, primal of ways now thanks to the insight and encouragement you've given me to follow what feels right. ~LR

Ok, it's Christmas Eve, my 2 little guys are sleeping peacefully snuggled up on either side of me, and I'm feeling a little mushy. I just wanted to send a virtual holiday hug and thank you for your friendship and all that you've brought me this year...a newfound sense of purpose, a tribe of wonderful primal mothers, greater confidence in my own mothering instincts, shared smiles and tears...among other things :) What they say is true ~ the greatest gifts of all don't come wrapped up in packages ♥ Much love to you this Christmas Eve! xox ~AB

There are so very many beautiful babies and joy-filled kiddos sent our way via photo... unfortunately we cannot display them all, but here is a handful of the splendor that is a gently parented child.

Thank you for sharing a piece of your lives, your hearts, your children with the rest of us. May you have a truly blessed Christmas and New Year.


Natural Remedies for Problems in Breastfeeding [Part One]

By Susun S. Weed

Photograph courtesy of peaceful parenting mom, Vicki B. of
The Memory Box Photography ©2010

With the resurgence of interest in breastfeeding, there is increasing demand for natural remedies for the minor problems that sometimes accompany nursing. These remedies, taken from my book, Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, offer simple, safe ways for nursing women and their infants to counter problems and stay healthy. This information has been collected from wise women, old wives, and granny midwives. May you benefit from their wisdom.

Increasing and Maintaining Milk Flow

One of the easiest problems to remedy is lack of sufficient milk. First, it is important to see to it that nursing takes place in a safe, inviting space where both mom and babe can be relaxed. Second, try to include one or more of these herbs and foods that are well known galactagogues, that is, substances that encourage abundant milk.

(1) Nourishing herbs, such as raspberry leaves, nettle, oatstraw, and red clover blossoms
—prepared as strong infusions,* not taken in pills, capsules, tinctures, or teas—not only encourage a plentiful supply of breast milk, they also support the overall health of mother and child. The minerals in these herbs are amazingly abundant, so they counter mineral loss from nursing, and help keep mom calm and alert during those first few weeks of round-the-clock infant care. I don't combine the herbs but use them individually to derive each one’s unique benefit.

*To make an infusion:
~ Place one ounce, by weight, of dried herb in a quart canning jar.
~ Fill to the top with boiling water.
~ Lid tightly and let steep for at least four hours or overnight.
~ Then strain.
~ Drink liquid portion hot, cold, or in between.
~ Refrigerate what you don't consume at once; use within 48 hours. (Water houseplants with old or excess infusion.)

(2) Foods rich in carotenes, such as cooked apricots, asparagus, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peas, and all cooked leafy greens—including kale, collards, mustard greens, beet greens, parsley, watercress, and dandelion leaves—are considered critical for women wishing to increase or sustain lactation. Carotenes are most available when foods are well cooked: tomato sauce has over 2000 times more of them than a fresh tomato. And carotenes are more easily utilized in the body when consumed with plenty of fat. (Olive oil or butter are my favorite fats.)

(3) Blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus) is famed for its ability to increase milk supply. As the tea is very bitter, this herb is best used as a tincture. A dose is 10 - 20 drops, two to four times daily. Blessed thistle is said to lift postpartum depression and relieve suicidal feelings, too.

(4) Borage leaves (Borago officinalis) are highly respected for their ability to increase milk flow. But because they contain compounds that may have a harmful effect on an infant's liver, it is best to drink borage only as a weak tea, and to take it after, rather than before, nursing. Half a cupful of borage leaf tea, made by steeping a spoonful of herbs in a cup of water for a few minutes, taken two or three times a day will ensure an abundant supply of milk, act as a mild laxative, and soothe jangled nerves.

 Comfrey leaves

(5) Comfrey roots (Symphytum uplandica x) contain the same liver-damaging compounds sometimes found in borage. But comfrey leaves do not. That's a relief because comfrey leaf infusion is one of the most treasured of all remedies. Use comfrey leaf infusion (*To make an infusion, see above) not only to increase the amount and richness of the breast milk, but also to build strong bones and teeth for mother and child, to improve digestion, to check allergies, and to repair ligaments, muscles, or other tissues traumatized during the birth. I love comfrey leaf infusion and drink it freely.

(6) Fennel/barley water is a tried-and-true classic. Soak one-half cup pearled (regular) barley in three cups cold water overnight, or boil the barley and water for 25 minutes. Strain out barley. (You may save it and add it to a soup.) Store barley water in refrigerator or cool place until needed. Then heat a cup or two to boiling and add fennel seeds—one teaspoon per cup of barley water. Steep for no longer than 30 minutes. This combination not only increases the breast milk but also eases after-pains and settles the digestion of Mom and babe.


(7) Hops (Humulus lupulus) is another old remedy. It is especially for mothers of twins who need lots more milk. Hops tea is a suitable accompaniment to nighttime feedings, as it brings sleep along with increased milk flow. Hops is also used in beer, which tastes better than the tea. No more than one high-quality, additive-free beer, such as Guinness Stout, per day is fine. For those who wish to avoid alcohol, there are alcohol-free brews rich in hops and malt available.

(8) Aromatic seeds, such as anise, cumin, fennel, caraway, coriander, and dill increase milk production and tone the digestive system. Their powers are carried through the breast milk, curtailing colic and indigestion. To brew, simply put a heaping spoonful of dried seeds in a cup and fill to the top with boiling water. Let steep for 5-10 minutes. Drink warm with honey. Up to two quarts a day can be consumed.

(9) Triple Blessing Brew. Combine 1/2 ounce dried blessed thistle leaves with 1/2 ounce dried oatstraw or nettle. Place in a quart jar. Add boiling water until the jar is full. Cap tightly and let steep overnight or for at least four hours. Strain out herbs. Refrigerate liquid until needed. Before nursing, pour off one cupful of the brew and heat it nearly to a boil. Pour it over a teaspoon of anise, cumin, fennel, caraway, coriander, or dill seeds (not a spoonful of each). Let it brew for five minutes before drinking. Blessed thistle stimulates the milk flow and helps restore vitality to weary mothers. Both oatstraw and nettle are rich sources of vitamins and minerals, notably calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The aromatic seeds improve the quality and quantity of milk and ease digestion.

Part One of this article has shown you several ways to increase your milk flow and your milk quality naturally. Making and ingesting the right herbal infusions and tinctures as well as the right seeds and foods likely will lead to a happier, more satiated baby. In Part Two of this article, you will learn numerous simple and safe ways to allay sore breasts, infections, engorgements, and sore nipples while to breastfeeding.

For additional information on galactagogues and increasing milk supply, see Lactation Cookies: Increasing Milk Supply and related articles/sites/books linked at the bottom of the page. 

Helpful breastfeeding books, articles, and websites are linked from the Breastfeeding Resources page.

Susun Weed began studying herbal medicine in 1965 while living in Manhattan and pregnant with her daughter, Justine. In addition to authoring several renowned books, Weed's worldwide teaching and training includes information on herbal medicine, ethnobotany, pharmacognosy, psychology of healing, ecoherbalism, nutrition, and women's health issues. Venues that welcome her include medical schools, hospital wellness centers, breast cancer centers, midwifery schools, naturopathic colleges, and shamanic training centers, as well as many conferences.

Visit Weed’s new site, Childbearing Year, dedicated to her excellent book, Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, now in its 29th printing, where you can read reviews, excerpts and articles. Wise Woman has helped three generations of women conceive, carry and give birth naturally. Chapters cover herbal fertility agents and herbs for birth control; safe, simple home remedies for the common complaints of pregnancy; alternative medicines for complications of labor and delivery; and effective remedies for the distresses of newborns and new moms. Complete instructions make using this book easy and fun.

Additional information and resources from Susun Weed can also be found at Wise Woman Web and Herbs Healing.


Mary's Reflection: Blessed Am I Among Women

Tiny Baby asleep on my breast
You let out a little cry
Which will one day ring out from the cross.
Nuzzling close, you latch on
My Bread of Life drinks in my life milk.
He who will one day save me
Snuggles in the warmth of my protection.
Nestled on my chest our hearts beat together
The heart which will bleed for me.
He cries for His milk,
But one day I will weep for His life.
These tiny fingers will heal the leprous and blind
But for now they grasp my finger.
These eyes will pierce the darkness
But for now they gaze up at me.
These feet will walk on water
But for now I warm them in my palm.
This mouth will draw many to Him
But for now it draws comfort from my breast.
One day He will Give Life
But for now I give mine for Him.
Blessed am I among women!

~ Michelle Abernathy

Related articles:

Breastfeeding Baby Jesus

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

Breastfeeding in Public: A Christian Father Speaks Up

Breastfeeding Resources for Nursing Mothers

Read more from Abernathy:

Milky Way

Waning Moon, Rising Sun 

I Will Carry You

Nursing Your Baby Without Wearing a Bag or Spending Your Life Savings 


Tonight's Adventure! Total Lunar Eclipse During The Winter Solstice

By Danelle Frisbie © 2010

Lunar eclipse Feb 21, 2008 by Gregg L. Ruppel

One of the advantages of having a night owl for a toddler is that we've been able to experience many of the midnight wonders the sky has to offer. I long ago gave up my attempts to get him into a 'normal' schedule (much to the dismay of my mother), and decided instead to just go with my son's natural sleep rhythms - snoozing along side him when he does. The benefits of this arrangement have allowed us to partake in night time adventures that I was never expecting to have before my mothering journey began. We've trekked down to the beach and joined local astronomers in peering through telescopes to check out fantastic visions on more than one occasion. At two-years-old, my son has examined the blue beauty of Neptune, counted its four moons, gone swinging and singing under remarkable meteor showers, gazed upon blue-green Uranus, and indulged in the triple conjunction of Venus, Mars and Saturn. Granted, he understands little more than the fact that these events are all "Woooow!" worthy, and he has no idea that many of the sights we've seen may not occur again in his lifetime, but the experiences are fun nonetheless.

Tonight will be another wonder to indulge in, and if you have tots who play long into the night at your house, it may be something you want to step outside and see as well. It will be the first time since 1638 that we experience a total eclipse of the moon on the winter solstice. The next time this happens will be on December 21, 2094, so for many of us, this truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

 Lunar eclipse will be visible to all of North America

The eclipse will begin tonight (Tuesday morning, Dec 21) at 1:33am EST -- or 10:33pm this evening for those on the Pacific coast. At 1:33am, the Earth's shadow will appear as a dark red 'bite' at the edge of the lunar disk. It will slowly expand over the next hour to 'swallow' the entire moon at 2:41am EST. For 72 minutes, the eerie amber light will dance across the snow of North America (or sand, if you're on the beach like us). Visions of rusty, ruddy shadows will play out before us. This totality will remain until 3:53am.

According to The Weather Channel (TWC), if you are only going out for one look, you may want to do so at 3:17am EST when the moon will be in the deepest shadow of Earth and displaying the boldest shades of coppery red.

Why red?

TWC recently answered this question:
A quick trip to the Moon provides the answer: Imagine yourself standing on a dusty lunar plain looking up at the sky. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside down, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway. You might expect Earth seen in this way to be utterly dark, but it's not. The rim of the planet is on fire! As you scan your eye around Earth's circumference, you're seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of Earth's shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the Moon into a great red orb.
How magnificent!

What makes this particular lunar eclipse so rare (the last lunar eclipse was Feb 21, 2008 and there have been three total in the past decade) is that it falls on the same date as the northern winter solstice. The winter solstice holds an extra bit of significance for our family because my partner and I were joined together in a handfasting ceremony on the eve of the winter solstice (my grandfather's birthday) years ago. At the time it was actually the Navy governing our wedding agenda (or lack thereof) as it was the only time deployments matched up with dates family could attend... But now I rather enjoy the significance of it all.

U.S. Naval Observatory's "walking history book," Geoff Chester, has examined eclipse and solstice records from the past 2,000 years, including our handfasting date, and says, "Since Year One, I can only find one previous instance of an eclipse matching the same calendar date as the solstice, and that is December 21, 1638."

So for a truly rare, red event, toss on the snow boots and head outside tonight. You can always take a snooze tomorrow...

If you snap a photo - send it to peaceful parenting. We'll add readers' images to our Lunar Eclipse Facebook photo album here. 

The last total eclipse of the moon on Feb 21, 2008


Drop-Side Cribs Outlawed: MGM Continues

After 32 infants and toddlers have died over the past 10 years from being left alone in drop-side cribs, without an adult caregiver nearby keeping watch, the cribs will now be outlawed by the U.S. government. The banning comes after a unanimous vote by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Images of how the cribs have played a roll in these deaths are ubiquitous in the news this month (above, below). Yet somehow, in the midst of all the hoopla over yet another baby-item banned, we continue to overlook the 117-229 baby boys (numbers which are likely on the low end of actual statistics) who die each and every year in the United States from circumcision surgery complications. (1, 2)

In 2010, more infant boys died as a result of unnecessary circumcision surgery in the U.S. than from choking, from auto accidents, from suffocation, from SIDS, from (the recently recalled) sleep positioners, and from drop-side cribs.

The question begs to be answered: Where is this recall?

The Associated Press reports from Washington:
It's the end of the traditional crib that has cradled millions of babies for generations.

The government outlawed drop-side cribs on Wednesday after the deaths of more than 30 infants and toddlers in the past decade and millions of recalls.

It was a unanimous vote by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban the manufacture, sale and resale of the cribs, which have a side rail that moves up and down, allowing parents to more easily lift their child from the crib.

The new standard requiring cribs to have fixed sides would take effect in June. The move by CPSC would also prohibit hotels and childcare centers from using drop-sides, though those facilities would have a year to purchase new cribs.

CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum hailed the new standard for cribs as one of the strongest in the world. "I believe these new standards will markedly reduce crib-related hazards and help to ensure that young children sleep more safely in their cribs," Tenenbaum said after the vote.

Around for decades, drop-side cribs have come under scrutiny in recent years because of malfunctioning hardware, sometimes cheaper plastics, or assembly problems that can lead to the drop-side rail partially detaching from the crib. When that happens, it can create a dangerous "V"-like gap between the mattress and side rail where a baby can get caught and suffocate or strangle.
 "These products are deadly"
In all, drop-side cribs have been blamed in the deaths of at least 32 infants and toddlers since 2000 and are suspected in another 14 infant fatalities. In the past five years, more than 9 million drop-side cribs have been recalled, including cribs from big-name companies such as Evenflo, Delta Enterprise Corp., and Pottery Barn Kids.

Michele Witte of Merrick, N.Y., lost her 10-month-old son, Tyler, in 1997 when the drop-side rail on his crib came loose, partially detached and then trapped his neck between the rail and the headboard. "It's been a long 13 years," said Witte. "I feel like it's a celebratory time because things are finally being done about the issue."

Witte appeared at a news conference on Capitol Hill with Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., all of whom have pushed for stronger crib safety rules.

The new standard mandates tougher safety testing for cribs, tests that more closely mimic a child in a crib. As children get older, they can apply more force to the crib — shaking on it, running around in it, jumping up and down. The new tests aim to make sure the cribs can take that kind of pressure.

Better labeling on crib pieces will also be required — a measure that aims to cut down on the misassembly problems that some parents have encountered, problems that can lead to the death of a child.

Parents who lost their children in drop-side cribs say Wednesday's ban couldn't come soon enough. Chad Johns, whose 9-month-old son, Liam, died in a drop-side crib in 2005, said he was a little relieved. "Yes, it's a long time coming," said Johns from Roseville, Calif. "But the fact that it is happening — that's what is important."

Crib makers were already phasing out drop-side cribs over the last couple years, amid increasing problems with them. And last year, the organization that sets voluntary industry standards — ASTM International — approved a drop-side ban.

Many parents, however, still have drop-sides in their homes. They can also be found at secondhand stores. Parents who are using drop-side cribs are advised to check the hardware on the cribs to be certain it's working properly and to make sure their crib has not been recalled. The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which represents over 90 percent of the crib industry, says properly assembled drop-sides that haven't been recalled can be safely used.


(1) Baker RL. Newborn male circumcision: needless and dangerous. Sexual Medicine Today. 1979;3(11):35-36.

(2) Bollinger, Dan. Lost Boys: An Estimate of U.S. Circumcision-Related Infant Deaths. Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies. 2010;4(1):78-90.

See also:

Death From Circumcision

Intact vs. Cut Outcome Statistics

Another Baby Dies After Circumcision Surgery

Better baby sleep options:

Healthy Infant Sleep: A Review of Research

Turn your crib into a co-sleeper

Time to Abolish Cribs?

A collection of quality, helpful baby sleep books is located here.


Joshua's Story: Why I Chose Another Mother's Milk

By Lindsey Ward © 2010


Joshua was born on August 23rd, in the water, at our home. He weighed 6lbs 2oz and was 19 inches long. He was a tiny little guy, but healthy. Before he was conceived I knew I wanted to exclusively breastfeed him. I have a daughter who is 27 months older than Joshua and I was not successful with breastfeeding her. I quit after 2 weeks because it was "just too hard."

I am a different mother than I was the first time around. I was so excited to try breastfeeding again. I bought a pump (which wasn't a good one, but I thought I would only need it from time to time). I didn't buy any formula or have any in the house. I had a cabinet full of formula before my daughter was born because I knew it "might not work out." I didn't want that temptation to give up this time around. I wanted to know that the only way my baby was going to eat was from my breasts because we did not have any other options in the house. I stocked up on lanolin and breast pads. I bought a latch assist because I remembered I had a hard time getting my daughter to latch on because I wasn't "sticking out" enough for her. I felt prepared. I felt confident. I had support. I had the most determination I ever had to accomplish something (besides my homebirth). I was not at all ready to accept "no."

His birth was uncomplicated. 17 hours of labor and an excellent birth. We were healthy. He breastfed for an hour straight afterwards. I thought, "This is wonderful! This is going to work this time!" He slept a lot his first day which was normal. His 2nd day he was still sleeping a lot. I was waking him up to feed. He didn't want to stay latched. He would pop on and off constantly. He would only actually be sucking for 30 seconds at a time at best. I would work with him for over an hour each time before he would get exhausted and go back to sleep.

My milk came in on day 3. I felt like I had plenty to give him. I didn't want to start pumping in fear of an over-supply. I look back now and think I should have started pumping. Day 3 he wasn't any better at latching. He was still sleeping a lot. I didn't feel he was getting enough. My midwife called because she noticed my concerns that I posted on Facebook and said to come in the next day so he could be weighed. At our 2 day check up he was 5lbs 10oz, which was in the normal range for weight loss after birth. Day 4 I went in to my midwife's office. I expressed my concern. I told her how he was popping on and off. I fed him so she could see his habits. She suggested different positions and that I feed him around the clock, that I not allow him to sleep for very long, and hold him skin-to-skin. He was weighed and was still 5lbs 10oz, like 2 days previous. She asked me to come in the next week.

Joshua eats his first meal

I did what I was told and things seemed a little better, but not by much. When I left her office that day (Friday, Day 4 of his life) I immediately went to BabiesRus and bought a My Brest Friend pillow. It was much easier to position him with this. We came in on Tuesday - he was now 8 days old. I was still having difficulties with him staying latched. He was weighed at 6lbs even. I was so happy! He had gained weight despite my worries.

I continued to nurse him around the clock and we came back in the next week. He is now 2 weeks old. He was weighed and was 6lbs even. He had not gained any weight in a week. I felt like a ton of bricks just fell on my chest. My midwife said to keep doing what I was doing. We came back the next week. He is now 3 weeks old. He was weighed and he was still 6lbs even. Not even an ounce gained!

What is wrong with my baby?

What is wrong with my body?

My midwife told me to start pumping and give him expressed breastmilk through a syringe with my finger or through a tube at the breast the same time he is latched on. I started to do what she said. I started pumping and it hurt so bad! I was tore up from my pump and literally in tears. I needed a new pump. I expressed what I could through the pain and he was finger fed. He was still popping on and off, only staying latched for a minute at best. His suck was not all that strong but I didn't know at the time. I didn't have anything else to compare it to since my daughter only breastfed for 2 weeks. We went in to the office again the next week. He was 4 weeks old. He seemed bigger to me, surely he has gained weight! Right? He was weighed: 6lbs 4oz. He gained weight! It was not enough, though.

1 Month old Joshua, 6lbs

We really did have a problem. My midwife asked if I would be ok with supplementing with formula. Joshua was so skinny and just looked sickly. I agreed even though it broke my heart. I was completely devastated. I wanted him to not have even 1 drop of formula, but I had to do it for him. I started finger feeding him formula and he was spitting up more but was otherwise tolerating it okay. I was still trying to breastfeed him. His latch and suck were not improving. I bought a new pump that was more comfortable and started pumping like crazy. I started taking herbal supplements. I was on fenugreek, blessed thistle and later on goat's rue. I was drinking mother milk's tea and making sure I had plenty of water to drink. When he was 1 month old I was pumping about 2-3oz total (both breasts) each session. I pumped 4-5 times a day.

We went in the next week. He was 5 weeks old and had been on formula for 1 week. He weighed at 7lbs 4oz. He gained 1 pound in 1 week! I was so happy to see the scale move, but sad because it was the formula that made it happen, not my milk. We scheduled to return to the office in 2 weeks to make sure he was still gaining, and for my post-partum check up. Over those 2 weeks his interest in the breast diminished. After 2 weeks of finger feedings I gave in to the bottle. My daughter was acting out and feeling neglected. It would take me so long to finger feed him each time. He was eating 4-5oz by 5 weeks old. The bottle made is it easier and happier for both my children. I would still put him to the breast but he started denying it. He stopped trying to latch on and his suck just wasn't strong enough to get the hind milk out. We know now that was the problem to begin with. That is why he wasn't gaining weight - because he wasn't getting the fatty milk. I never did have a giant supply of milk. If I wasn't taking the herbs, it may have disappeared a lot sooner than it did. I think I might have IGT  (insufficient glandular tissue) but am not certain.

We went back 2 weeks later. He was now 7 weeks old and weighed, 9lbs 4oz! He had gained 2lbs in 2 weeks! He was still gaining 1lb per week. I was thrilled he was gaining weight. He was much more alert, and seemed happier. Deep down I still felt awful that this was all because of the formula. I wasn't making enough milk to cut it out. By 8 weeks he wanted nothing to do with the breast. I continued to pump. And I looked into donor milk.

I contacted a milk bank in North Carolina. She said it would cost $3.50 per ounce! I was shocked. We could not afford that. I thought I would just have to accept that my son will have to be primarily formula fed. My daughter was formula fed from 2 weeks of age and she is "fine." I convinced myself that the milk I was pumping was his multivitamin and I had to continue. I knew every drop mattered. At that point I was making 6-8oz per day to give to him. That amount continued until he turned 3 months old. After Thanksgiving I started getting merely drops, and that was all. I had a decrease before but it came back with more blessed thistle and goat's rue, but I was tired of fighting. I had been working for a good milk supply since Day One and I was exhausted from the around the clock pumping. I was not a happy mom. It showed, and I knew my kids could feel this.

On November 18th, however, before the Thanksgiving milk slump, I went to two mom's houses for the first time. And it was there that I picked up two weeks worth of breastmilk from them! I had contacted the mothers through Human Milk 4 Human Babies on Facebook. That day was the last day my son had any formula. When the milk bank wasn't an option anymore, I found HM4HB - or rather, it found me.

I thought my son would never have the breastmilk he deserved. But today, the offers of milk continue to pour into my inbox. My son has received milk from 8 different mothers from HM4HB so far. A few of them have offered to continue pumping for him and give me milk in the future. My son has been exclusively fed human milk since that day. I have a deep freezer we bought solely for this purpose and it is half full right now of frozen milk. Tomorrow I am going to pick up another 400oz (est.) from one mother.

My son is healthy and happy! I am completely satisfied now that he is off formula entirely. I feel better about my "failure" at breastfeeding because of HM4HB and the generous moms who have donated to us. My son is still gaining almost 1 pound per week. I know he is doing great and it's not because of some artificial formula. He weighed 15lbs at 3 1/2 months old and I am pleased to know he has the antibodies in his system thanks to human milk to fight through the winter/flu season. My husband and I have had a cold already and he didn't even catch a sniffle. My daughter was 3 months old when she caught her first cold while being exclusively formula fed.

If it wasn't for HM4HB my son would also be 100% formula fed right now because I am no longer producing milk. I know formula is not poison, but it is not what nature intended for our babies. I know if it wasn't for the formula in the beginning, my son would not have gained any weight. Formula has its occasional purpose. It's 4th in line behind breastfeeding, expressed milk from a baby's own mother, and then donor milk. If I don't have to give my son formula why should I ever? HM4HB is such a great organization! I believe without doubt it will make our world a healthier place because more babies will have access to breastmilk. To see mothers helping mothers is what reminds us that their is good still left in this world. There are hundreds of people doing a selfless service to help another mother and her baby. Not everyone would give their baby some other mother's milk, but I have chosen that this is the best for my son. I know he will thank me later for all the time and effort I have put in to his health and well-being. He will also have a lot of "milk mamas" to thank as well!

Thank you to HM4HB and the many, many mothers out there who have donated to us or will in the future!

Thank you to all those mothers who are donating to other mothers.

Thank you!

Update: Read Part Two of Joshua's Story here: Joshua's Story: Why I Still Choose Another Mother's Milk

Lindsey Ward is a 24 year old wife and full time mother to two beautiful children - both whole and happy! She's a homebirthing, lactivist, intactivist who considers herself to be 'semi-crunchy.' She says she is both loved and hated for her health-conscious advocacy for babies and their mothers. Ward serves clients through her Virginia based, Know Better, Do Better Birth Services, and also directs Intact NoVa.  

If you would like to donate milk or need milk for your baby, please visit the Breastmilk Donation page to discover your options.

World Milksharing Week Homepage

For additional helpful books, websites, and articles for nursing mothers, see Breastfeeding Resources.


Have yourself a merry little Christmas... ♪ ♫

We're putting together fun (small) mosaic postcard made up of beautiful little tykes from peaceful parenting readers. Have a picture you'd like included in the mosaic? Post or link your photo to the Facebook page wall.

If you're mailing out Christmas or holiday cards this season, drop us one ~ we'd L♡VE to hang it on our reader board or just hear from you. It is a such blessing to meet each of you and hear your story, in whatever small way we are able.

Peaceful Parenting
P.O. Box 1302
Virginia Beach, VA 23451


Mother Births in MRI Machine: Live Birth Images Captured

By Danelle Frisbie © 2010
Photos © Charité Hospital

A mother in Berlin, Germany agreed to birth her baby inside an MRI (magnetic-resonance imaging) machine so that the images (first of their kind) could be used to offer new information on the human birth process, and potentially save lives in the future.

Although most MRI machines are tightly tube-shaped, researchers developed a unique 'open' scanner to allow the birthing mother room to move during labor/birth and to also provide room for attending midwives to reach mom and baby.

By utilizing powerful magnets, MRI machines create a strong magnetic field causing some atoms in the body to be detectable to radio waves. The MRI data is then used to create a cross-section of the body being scanned, which provides a detailed image of soft tissue and bone structure.

While MRI scans are considered safer than x-ray, as with ultrasound, there is no research that demonstrates without doubt that they are safe for use on pregnant mothers, babies inutero, or during birth. MRI scans are also disliked by some because of the loud buzzing noise that is made by the scanner as images are processed. The birthing mother in this case wore earmuffs to block the noise, and the machine was turned off after her waters broke (late in second stage) to prevent her baby's hearing from being impacted. The newborn's heartbeat was also monitored via MRI during the process.

Berlin's Charité Hospital team of researchers included lead gynecologist, Ernst Beinder, Christan Bamberg, radiologist Ulf Teichgraber and project manager Felix Guttler. Beinder announced that the birth proceeded normally and the MRI filmed all movements and processes that went on internally during the labor and birth process.

"We can now see all the details we previously could only study with probes," Beinder said. "These images are fascinating and proved yet again that every birth is a small miracle."

New Jersey Chairman of the Department of OB/GYN and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center, Manny Alvarez, says he finds this research fascinating. "For the first time we can clearly see the mechanics of a vaginal delivery. For years, obstetricians have relied on very crude methods of understanding complications like cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD), which translates when the baby fails to descend into the birth canal and there is a rest in cervical dilatation, which ultimately leads to a C-section." Alvarez adds that the rest of the 'tools' modern medicine obstetrics has used to try and understand birth (ultrasound, x-ray, manual exams) are limiting. "They never fully explain why some women are able to deliver 10-pound babies while others fail to deliver 7-pound babies."

The Berlin hospital had several expecting mothers volunteer to birth in the MRI machine, and as a result, plans for five additional filmed births have been made.

Currently, the c-section rate in Germany is 20% (in the U.S. 33% of babies are born via cesarean) and birth advocates would like to see this number reduced. It is estimated that only 3-5% of births truly need surgical intervention when the natural physiological process is not otherwise 'messed with.' (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) However, most sectioned women are told they 'needed' a cesarean to save their baby, or because their body was not working as it should. Researchers' hope is that live MRI images will provide further understanding in complications that may arrise, and help to improve birth outcome.

The Germany team report that mom and baby are both healthy and doing well after their record-making birth.



1) Born in the USA by Marsden Wagner

2) Pushed by Jennifer Block

3) The Caesarean by Michel Odent

4) Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

5) Get Me Out by Randi Hutter Epstein



Related Posts with Thumbnails