Sunday, March 28, 2010

Does Circumcision Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

By Dr. Gifford-Jones, M.D.


Why did my loving parents do this to me many years ago?

I’m sure their doctor told them it was the hygienic thing to do. But I’m equally sure I must have been screaming like hell while it was being done. Today, millions of circumcisions are still performed. But it’s time to stop this shocking brutality and the complications associated with it.

Dr. Guy Madder, a surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide, Australia, reports in the Annals of Family Medicine that there is no convincing evidence that circumcision decreases the risk of sexually transmitted disease, urinary tract infections, or penile cancer.

The rituals of some religious faiths advocate circumcision. But, apart from these circumstances, it’s hard to justify this procedure. In fact, a reading of the world’s medical journals makes your hair stand on end when you read of potential surgical complications.

How common are complications? This depends on how you label a complication. For example, penal foreskin is anatomically the most sensitive part of the organ. It ensures satisfactory sex. It’s therefore reasonable to argue that in this instance the complication rate is 100% because it decreases sexual satisfaction.

There’s another aspect to circumcision that is never mentioned in the discussion of the pros and cons of this surgery. Today, erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs are being used by an increasing number of males, and many of them are not in their senior years. I admit, I have no hard statistics on this matter. [Editor's note: recent ED statistics are outlined in The Rise of Viagra]

But I wonder how many males who require ED drugs could have experienced a longer and more satisfactory sex life, if this sensitive organ had not been removed. I suspect more than we realize. This is a great project for some aspiring researcher!

But why do some of the complications of this procedure make one’s hair stand on end? Harvey Cushing, one of Harvard’s greatest brain surgeons, once remarked that, “There is no such thing as minor surgery, but there are a lot of minor surgeons.” In this case, a profound remark.

Compared to brain surgery, circumcision is a minor procedure, and is normally performed without complications. But, no surgical procedure to my knowledge has ever been devised, regardless of how minor it is, without possible untoward results.

The world’s medical journals are full of reports dealing with a variety of surgical complications. And the vast majority of severe complications are not an act of God, but technical human errors made during the procedure.

A primary problem is the incorrect use of the circumcision clamp. In some cases too much foreskin is pulled into the clamp resulting in injury, not only to the shaft of the penis, but also to the urinary tube (urethra) that runs through it. The most traumatic complication in the past caused the amputation of part of the penis.

Such traumatic injuries to the penis and urethra often result in urinary stricture and difficulty passing urine. Or, the injury may result in a urethral fistula, in which urine is discharged through an abnormal opening. These complications are not easy to repair, and what starts out as a minor procedure, becomes a major one. Moreover, some of these injuries only become apparent following discharge from hospital. A fistula often takes weeks or months to make its presence known.

There have been bizarre problems that one would never think of happening. For instance, one newborn screamed during the procedure with such intensity that the stomach ruptured, requiring additional emergency surgery.

Another had heart failure [heart attack] from the circumcision surgery and died.

Still another died from a bleeding disorder post-op. It’s easy to see how this could happen since coagulation studies are not routinely done prior to circumcision surgery.

Why wouldn’t babies scream like hell when circumcised without anesthesia? And how many males who have it done later in life would agree to this procedure without anesthesia?

Today we criticize those cultures that believe in the barbaric act of female circumcision. Yet Western doctors continue to carry out this sadistic procedure in males without their permission. That’s why many argue that circumcision violates the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Amen to that.



Additional information on ED in the Doctors Opposing Circumcision Policy Statement and Circumcision Information Resource Pages

If you were circumcised at birth, and wish to proactively ward off ED and other sexual issues that commonly arise for circumcised men and their partners later in life, there are many restoration options available, and many men who have restored are willing to discuss the process and its outcome. See additional information at: The Restoration Resource Page.

Resources on the prepuce organ ('foreskin' or 'clitoral hood'), intact care, and circumcision found at Are You Fully Informed?



W. Gifford-Jones M.D. is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker, graduate of The Harvard Medical School. He’s been a ship’s surgeon, hotel physician, and family doctor, and later trained in surgery at McGill in Montreal, University of Rochester N.Y. and Harvard. His medical column is published by 60 Canadian newspapers and several in the U.S. He is the author of seven books. Dr. Walker has a medical practice in Toronto. He can be reached at: letters@canadafreepress.com.

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

By Danelle Frisbie © 2010

If you haven't already tuned in to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, I'd encourage you to give it a view. As the series starts off, Jamie Oliver (a celebrity chef out of England, dedicated to getting fresh, healthy food to everyone) heads to the location named America's Unhealthiest City. His goal? To change the way they eat. And he is starting in the schools - specifically, the elementary schools.

Here we find kids from families regularly dining on pizza, chicken nuggets, frozen dinners, french fries, donuts, deep fried, and heavily processed foods. Daily. In fact, many, for every meal.

The 1st graders are unable to recognize a tomato. They don't know what a head of cauliflower is. They've never seen an eggplant. Broccoli is a foreign substance. And none remember eating salad.

Most of the students do not know how to use a knife, and none of them are allowed forks or knives while eating at school. This limits their options to primarily finger foods (highly processed). Jamie takes a poll to see what they eat at home... most do not use utensils at home either. Jamie is floored. "You don't teach your children how to eat real food?" He thinks the other adults are joking... Who needs forks for pizza, hamburgers, fries and nuggets? In England, Jamie tells us, all kids are eating with forks and knives by kindergarten. "I'd like to see documentation of that!" says one cook to Jamie.

Side note:

Maybe this is why strangers look at our family oddly when we go out for dinner and let our 1-year-old son use his own fork to 'stab' and eat his vegetables (which, I must say, he does quite nicely).

Maybe Jamie would be happy to know that our son's first (non-Mom) word was in fact, "Stab!" as he forked his green beans and tomato slices to eat.

Maybe that was my fault too. I didn't realize that we weren't supposed to be teaching our children the options they have to cut and eat their vegetables at this early age...


Here, instead, Jamie finds kids are well versed in all things processed and all things McDonald's. They know how to heat up chicken nuggets in the microwave, but have no clue about what those little clumps are made up of. French fries are related to a potato? Seems strange... Where does dinner come from? A box. The freezer. The grease joint down the street. Jamie reads the label from the mashed 'potatoes' the children eat and finds the mixture is made up of mostly chemically-altered non-potato ingredients -- processed powder, mix with water.



These kids have never seen a garden. Never held raw produce in their hands. Rarely (if ever?) taken a bite out of a fresh apple, or felt the juice of watermelon run down their little faces.

What Jamie does find are twelve year olds in pre-diabetic stages. The majority of the population over weight or obese. Heart problems that are rampant. And lifestyles - specifically how the people are eating, and what they are eating - is to blame.

The people of this town don't like being singled out as the Unhealthiest City in America. But as Jamie points out, it is not just happening in this town, in this school. No, the problem extends across our nation. And it is epidemic in proportion. School lunches are horrifically processed - void of nutrition and regulated to meet outdated guidelines that do not have children's health as the #1 concern. And if we are honest, the way most Americans feed their kids (and themselves) at home is no better. The S.A.D. diet as some call it -- 'Standard American Diet' -- truly is sad.

What really resonates with me about Jamie's mission is the way that people respond to him. Not with welcoming open arms - "Please, come teach us what you know - help us change for the better! Equip us with knowledge and skills to live healthier and raise our children more optimally - so they aren't dying from heart disease, diabetes, and organ failure."

Just the opposite occurs. Jamie is met with resistance at every turn. No one wants to hear that what they are doing is hurting their children. No one wishes to take responsibility for poor parenting choices, or even consider for a second that what they do, how they do it, directly impacts their little ones - the next generation - the ones they love so dearly. Instead, the "DON'T JUDGE ME!" defensive response is clear and powerful. "You're offending me," is a common response that Jamie gets.

The town is on the verge of kicking Jamie out. And he is heartbroken. He only wants to help. He loves kids. He truly cares and genuinely wants to make a difference. He doesn't want to see a nation destroy their children (either the UK or the US) because of mis-information and no one willing to put forth the truth on the subject. Because parenting matters! And in this case - what we feed our children matters too.


There are a few times that Jamie - this fun, truth-speaking, energetic, lively chef of a man - gets teary eyed because he cannot believe what he is seeing and hearing. That these people just don't want to be helped. They refuse to consider change may be good for them. And they see Jamie as the enemy out to make them all look like 'bad parents'. Oh, Jamie... I feel ya! It is tough when our passions, our empathy, our area of expertise, and our drive to make little differences in the world around us take us head-to-head with the stubbornly naive (and often willfully ignorant) 'don't judge me!' attitude.

I commend Jamie for sticking to the plan and moving forward. For flexibly coming up with new strategies, new methods, to try and get through to the people. To attempt to help the kids. To strive to save them, literally.

Jamie's story is one worth watching - worth fighting for in your schools, and at your dinner table, as well.

~~~~

You can watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on ABC Friday nights 9/8c, on Hulu.com, or check back here for more as we update episodes. (Video streaming rights will expire June 5, 2010)

Episode One




Episode Two



Episode Three




The following resources are excellent places to start for further investigation into this vital subject.

Books:

1) Fast Food Nation

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

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

4) Food Inc.: A Participant Guide

5) Diet for a Dead Planet


Films:

1) Food Inc. ~ Movie Website

2) Fast Food Nation

3) Corn Kings ~ Movie Website

4) The Cove ~ Movie Website

5) Super Size Me

.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

An American Baby Intactivist in Scotland

By Laura D. [last name withheld at author's request]



I, like most people around the globe, had no idea that Americans cut their baby boys on this grand scale. I thought it was solely done on occasion for religious reasons or the rare medical need. I remember hearing a couple of things on television (such as on Friends) and wondering about the practice of genital cutting in the U.S., but I didn't have anyone to ask, so put it to the back of my mind.

About 3 and a half years ago I was talking online to a young man from Arkansas. He was only 19 years old and had just realized he was circumcised and told me about what he'd discovered. I asked why he would be circumcised, and he didn't know, so he asked his mother. She told him it prevented STDs and was cleaner and prevented infections. As soon as I heard this, I knew it was obviously nonsense. I had never met anyone in my life who was circumcised and I didn't know any man, anywhere, who had ever had an infection. I also knew that the U.S. had higher rates of STDs than any of the intact nations in the world.

I was pregnant at this time as well. And because of my severe health problems, I had a late term scan to make sure my baby was doing okay. At that time I found out my baby was a boy.

So with this new information about circumcision in the U.S., and I knowing I was having a son, I decided to do some research.

I was already very aware about the ins and outs of female circumcision and had previously campaigned against FGM (female genital mutilation).

I started reading the myths passed around in the United States and I knew it was just silly -- none of it was true. Penises aren't dirty or smelly. Foreskins aren't tight. They don't get in the way during sex. Infections are very rare. I've been with my partner for 14 years now, and never once has any of this applied to him. In addition, I'd never heard of anyone in my lifetime mention 'bad things' happening to them or their intact partners.

I read about the numbers involved in genital cutting the United States and I was pretty taken aback and felt very uneasy about it.

And then I researched the actual practice of circumcision surgeries - how the prepuce is amputated, and I forced myself to watch videos of this practice. I was genuinely horrified. There is simply no other word for it. It was sheer horror. I experienced nightmare after nightmare. I woke up crying. I thought about it constantly. I thought about my son growing warm and safe in my belly and I wanted to hurt anyone who dared try to touch or harm my son like that. I was angry and freaked out and I desperately wanted to do something. I HAD to do something. I wanted to scream from rooftops in America and tell people this was nonsense! I wanted to beg people not to do such things to their newborn sons.

After doing some more research, I found several online groups and began posting prolifically, answering every question, arguing (I'm one hell of a debater), searching out pro-cutting/circumfetish groups and blanketing them with accurate information. I added friends who were intactivists from the groups and started organizing them and encouraging others to research this subject fully.

I compiled a large database of research, articles, facts and figures, and pictures. I would message my intactivist friends whenever I saw a pro-cutting article, blog, group, or comment and we would make sure truths were told.

We worked really hard for about 18 months until I got sick. I still messaged my friends and handed out articles, etc., when they needed it. I linked people from various charities and helped NORM-UK do some work. But I had to stop the constant debating because I was too ill to stay online, let alone have the energy to fight this horrific battle.

In fact, I nearly died last year, and it was a physical and emotional struggle to just stay here, let alone do anything constructive with my time. Being fed through a nose tube, I dropped to waif weight, and had repeat surgeries. I'm still extremely weak and very ill. I need more surgery, and I'm not strong enough to sit up. I shake constantly. I desperately want to keep fighting for this cause and I still answer messages from people looking for help -- usually from parents and men who have been cut. I put them in touch with the right people, give them information to read, and talk them through what they're thinking and doing. But the arguing I can't do anymore. I get upset and focus on it too much - end up losing sleeping and getting sicker and weaker. Right now I must concentrate on getting well, while making attempts at doing what I can for infants in the U.S., because this subject hurts me deeply.

I genuinely wish I could do more. And I wish everyone reading this could have a better idea of who I really am. Right now I may be a rather useless lump... But inside, I am as activist as I've ever been!

Hopefully you'll see me back in the game one day very soon.



~~~~


For further information, see resources at Are You Fully Informed?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Milkies Milk Saver

by Danelle Frisbie © 2010

Milkies Milk Saver
available here

If you've been breastfeeding this past year, you have likely heard of the Milkies Milk Saver. Created a couple years ago, it came onto the mainstream market about a year ago and has been advertised on a variety of mothering sites, as well as local news stations around the country. The Milk Saver is currently for sale in numerous locations around the world, and (while still a bit pricey for our taste) is cheapest with free shipping through Amazon.

Milkies Milk Saver has been touted by some to be a new 'breakthrough' in breastfeeding that will change how moms nurse. While the product can certainly be beneficial, it isn't anything groundbreaking. In fact, many of our mothers were using a similar product in the 1960s-1980s -- a milk saver cup that was placed over the nipple of the breast that mother was not nursing on to collect the milk during let-down on that side. Women would wear shields in their bras during the day and collect the milk that leaked. My mother and her friends tell me that during this time, before all our fancy breastpumps, you either expressed extra milk by hand (if you needed to leave baby in another person's care) or you used the milk that you had collected in a breast shield. I recall (at the age of 9 years) watching my mother gracefully pour the milk from these cups into a container to save for later use. I was fascinated. Interested. But had no real concept of the value of that liquid gold at the time.

The cups used by moms in the previous generation were very similar to those currently sold by Avent or Medella. The design has been updated with fancy inscriptions and ventilation (a good thing to keep the nipples dry in free air to prevent yeast) but the concept is the same, and they work just as well as when our mothers used them.

Medela Soft Shells for Sore Nipples
available here
*Note: if you use the Medela Soft Shells for milk collection, do not use the foam inserts


Avent Comfort Breast Shield
available here

Although I've been discussing the Milk Saver with other lactation consultants and mothers over the past year, I have yet to meet a mother who actually used Milkies Milk Saver. So if you have, please, let me know your thoughts. For now, these are mine...


1) It seems that Milkies Milk Saver may be more slim-line than the Medela or Avent shields - less bulky. However, because of this, the Milk Saver touches right around the nipple/areola and does not allow the nipple to 'breathe' as vented shields do. This can be a problem if a woman is going to try to wear the Milk Saver for more than exclusively during the time of nursing because it can increase the environment for yeast to grow. Yeast is one of the biggest culprits for breastfeeding pain, problems, and eventual infection if not taken care of. Yeast can also be passed back and forth to baby (also called 'thrush'). The best way to prevent yeast is to let the breasts breathe. Keep the nipples and breasts clean and dry. Don't cover the nipples or keep them wet or in milk. Go braless as much as possible. This brings me to point two...


2) The Milk Saver (and breast shields by Medela/Avent or the like) must be worn with a bra. I realize that bra wearing is fairly standard in modern day Western culture, but it hasn't always been, and I am not entirely convinced that it is a good thing for women - especially breastfeeding women - to be wearing bras on a daily basis. Bras are notorious for causing lymph node constriction which prevents the lymphatic system from doing its job properly - draining toxins from the body. Research suggests this is one factor in the development of cancerous cells in areas of the body where we experience constant lymph node constriction - around the bra line, for example. This gets into another article topic for another day... but long story short, it is beneficial for breastfeeding moms to go bra-free as much as possible. Yeast overgrowth is eliminated and milk ducts are not being compressed by a bra (both of which can lead to mastitis - infection in the breast). This said, I would not encourage women to use the Milk Saver on an all-day or all-night basis. Your breasts need to breathe!

So ditch the bra whenever possible. Wear a comfortable cotton shirt and change them often if they get wet. One of the best things I've known breastfeeding moms to have on hand during the early months of leaking is a set of men's Hanes (or other brand) 100% cotton tshirts. They are comfy, durable, clean easily in the wash, and allow the breasts to breath. You don't have to worry about them getting spit-on, milked-on, peed-on, because you can quickly toss one in the laundry and another on your body.

3) The Milk Saver is made specifically for holding milk. This is an advantage it has over the Avent or Medela shields. So while the shields let your nipples breathe and keep them comfortable (when you are wearing a bra) they will not allow you to collect as much leaking milk as the Milk Saver will. Medela or Avent can collect about 1 ounce per breast before they become too full and you must dump them. Milkies' Milk Saver holds 2 oz before needing to be emptied. The Milk Saver can also be connected up to a milk storage bag for easy freezing or refrigeration.

4) One disadvantage is the price. ONE Milkies Milk Saver is $26-30 (current sale price). If you want one for both breasts, you are looking at almost $60 for the set. The Avent and Medela shields (while not specifically made for collecting/storing milk) sell for $12-$16 for the PAIR. That's about a $45 difference which is a lot for some nursing moms.

However, that said - breastmilk is worth FAR more than $60 and if getting the Milkies Milk Savor eliminates the need to ever worry about having enough milk on hand for your baby, by all means, I think it is worth every penny. As a mom who would do ANYTHING to provide my human babies with human milk, I know how valuable every drop of breastmilk is. I would spend the $60 four times over if it prevented a baby from ever being artificially fed or supplemented.

5) One other technique that does not involve shields or the Milk Savor, but still collects and saves your milk is to pump on one breast while baby nurses on the other. With today's fabulous modern electric pumps, you can easily nurse your child AND pump at the same time. I've met with countless moms who did this -- those who used a manual hand pump, or a standard store-bought electric pump, or a hospital grade pump (recommended for mothers who must return to work or increase milk supply). If you plan to pump and save anyway, it may just be easier (and more efficient) to put baby on one breast and pump on the other. Pumping the 2nd breast does not need to be done each time you nurse, but even doing so 3-4 times a day can build up more than enough milk for use later. By doing this, both breasts are drained completely, causing them to refill faster and fuller. Milk production is in full swing, and you eliminate any concern about milk supply. (More suggestions for mothers who must return to work can be found here.)

Of course, none of these things are needed. Mothers have been nursing their young just fine for all of human history without nipple shields and collection cups and Milk Savers and pumps. The beautiful thing about breastfeeding is that it works anytime, anywhere that baby needs to nurse - for food, drink, or comfort. Rarely is there a mammal who gives birth to live young that cannot also nourish them with her milk after birth if she has the proper environment, skills, and support (1). To produce the milk to feed our own species is one of the qualifications that makes humans mammalian!

So the best thing to 'stock up on' before venturing out into the breastfeeding world is an ample supply of accurate information, helpful support, empowering friends who have been-there/done-that, and a skilled, qualified, knowledgeable lactation consultant who can help you trouble shoot should concerns arise OR proactively prevent them from becoming issues in the first place.

If the Milkies Milk Savers seem to be something that will benefit your breastfeeding relationship you may be interested in checking out the videos below, and giving the Milk Saver a try. The company appears to have great intentions in their support of breastfeeding mothers, and for this, I applaud them.

I'll be interested to hear how the Milk Saver worked for you -- and comparing your stories with those my mother and her friends tell from their 'milk saver' days in the 70s.


~~~~


Side Note: I cannot in good faith post these Milk Saver videos without pointing out a couple comments from the videos that we at peaceful parenting do not endorse. Please note that these responses are solely pertaining to the video advertisements and the manner in which the Milk Saver is being presented - they are not a critique of the actual product.

Comments on this first video below:

1. Regarding the rice cereal comment - There is absolutely no need for a breastfeeding baby to consume anything other than breastmilk until s/he is ready to start self-feeding regular solid foods. Feeding rice cereal (especially before 6-8 months of age) is detrimental to a baby's immediate health, their long-term health, the breastfeeding relationship, and mother's milk supply. The AAP, WHO, and AAFP all suggest nothing but human milk for human babies for a minimum of the first 6 months of life. However, our latest research demonstrates that the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding (i.e. nothing fed to baby but breastmilk) vs. partial breastfeeding (when other non-breastmilk items are also fed) only begins to diminish between 8-12 months of age. We now know that the gut does not close until the 7th month of life in a baby born at full term (i.e. not induced or born early). Babies born prematurely (or induced) will not have a gut that 'closes' until after the 7th month. The longer a baby is exclusively breastfed, the healthier s/he is. Do not be fooled by pop parenting culture to believe that your baby will benefit in any way from consuming rice cereal (or any other non-breastmilk item) if s/he is breastfeeding and under the age of 1 year old. I'd suggest checking out The Baby Bond, Baby-Led Weaning, Take Charge of Your Child's Health, and Natural Family Living for further information.

2. Regarding the supplementing with formula comment - There is never a need to supplement with formula due to lack of breastmilk. There are many methods that can be implemented to increase milk supply, and supplementing with anything other than your milk will not only pose health concerns to your baby, but will also cause a decrease in milk production and the milk supply issue will then become a real concern. Instead, check out these books: Making More Milk and Breastfeeding Made Simple, and get to know a skilled, certified, lactation consultant in your area.

If you absolutely need additional milk on top of your own for your baby, seek out donor milk in your area. No matter who it comes from, human milk is always better for human babies than any artificial substitutes. This is a resource list of milk share programs. You can also talk with local lactation consultants, La Leche League leaders and members, other breastfeeding mothers, midwives and doulas to get connected with mothers who will donate. There are ALWAYS mothers with plenty of extra milk who would love to give it to another mother/baby to help them out. Your child deserves no less than what was designed for him/her.



Comments on the second video [Update: Embedding Disabled: View Here on YouTube.]

1. You do not need a crib. What you do need is a safe place for your baby to share sleep (i.e. sleep within an arm's reach of you) while s/he is breastfeeding. Milk supply and hormones are dramatically impacted by night nursing and it is during these hours that baby's brain and muscles are in full throttle advancement mode. More than ever, it is during the night that babies need to nurse. For this reason, being able to sleep share will provide you with the rest you need, provide baby with the regulation of your body by his (to decrease SIDS risk and other infant ills), and ensure your milk supply gets to where it is designed to be. Mothers who exclusively breastfeed and sleep share rarely have issues continuing the breastfeeding relationship for the optimal time that a child needs human milk. If you already have a crib, see How to Turn Your Crib into a CoSleeper for ideas on using it to benefit (instead of hamper) the breastfeeding relationship. More on infant sleep at these sources.

2. The mother says she is concerned about not having enough milk. The Milk Saver is NOT going to eliminate this worry (in most cases) nor is it going to be a life-saver if other techniques for mother/baby-friendly care are not implemented. Mothers cannot be separated from their babies (for example) all night long, and all day at work, and still continue to have the natural, normal, milk-producing hormones needed for successful breastfeeding.

Many full-term breastfeeding moms do survive being apart from their little ones - but they are busy pumping during the day (or traveling home to nurse, taking baby with them to work - optimal situation! - or having someone bring baby to them) and they are wearing their baby any chance they can (to influence natural hormones) and they are typically sharing sleep and night nursing to regulate milk production and hormones in this manner. If a mother is going to return to work and be separated from her baby all day, every day, there are things she should consider implementing now for breastfeeding to be successful.

3. A mother of new baby is already doing lots of laundry (especially if you cloth diaper)... the Milk Saver is not going to save you from doing oodles of laundry, as is suggested. And cloth diapering (with the laundry it entails) is much healthier for the environment than plastic disposables (something Milkies stands for - being environmentally friendly).

4. The mother states she is going to breastfeed at least a year, and maybe longer. I realize this comes from the AAP recommendation (which needs to be revised/updated) to breastfeed for a minimum of 12 months, and then beyond as long as mother/baby wish. But why not use the WHO and AAFP recommendation that breastfeeding continue to a bare minimum of 24 months? Anything less than this, and we know from countless research, that children suffer consequences. Let's not cut moms and their children short by propagating misinformation.

5. The mother in middle of this video discusses the Milk Saver and using her excess milk for cereal while her infant is on her lap. Why suggest or encourage feeding processed baby-glop to an infant this young when it does absolutely NO good (and a lot of harm) to the child? Again, see comment #1 above the first video. Let's not bolster any more cultural myths about infant feeding. Breastfed babies need nothing but their mother's milk for the first year (and some experts would argue 2 years) of life (2). Anything else during this time should be for 'experimentation' only (not forced or spoon-fed) and should not start until after the 8th month of life, or when baby can feed himself. The sooner you start non-breastmilk items in your baby's diet, the sooner your milk supply will decrease because baby is filling up on alternative food sources.

Milkies Milk Saver Video Clip:


For further information:

Breastfeeding Resources (Books, Websites, Articles) Here


Milkies Milk Saver Sold Here

Milkies Milk Saver Homepage Here




Notes:

1) Dr. Gabrielle Palmer (2009) The Politics of Breastfeeding

2) Dr. George Wootan (2000) Take Charge of Your Child's Health

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Strategic Approach to End Infant Circumcision in Canada

Note: This approach went into effect 2 years ago. As of today, Canada has drastically reduced their rate of MGM so that now about 9% of baby boys born nation wide are cut at birth. This compares to about 32% of baby boys born in the United States who continue to be subjected to circumcision surgery at birth.



Association for Genital Integrity: Canada's Court Challenge




INTRODUCTION


This document has been drafted by a group of Canadians dedicated to reducing and eventually eliminating the practice of infant male circumcision in Canada. We welcome comments, criticisms, and suggestions from all visitors.
The practice of neonatal circumcision has come under increasing fire lately for two reasons:
  1. Scientific studies have shown that circumcision removes specialized sexual tissue.
  2. Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of the need to promote and protect human rights.
The case against infant male circumcision is not being given a fair hearing by the authorities. This document outlines a strategic approach to obtaining such a hearing in court.


BACKGROUND


The debate over circumcision has focused on medical pros/cons, parental preferences, and religious beliefs. Our goal is to direct attention to the ethical, legal, and human rights issues raised when part of a normal organ is summarily removed from a person who has no medical need for surgery and who is legally incapable of giving informed consent. For the most part, these critically important issues have been ignored.
Work done in Canada to date suggests that none of the agencies involved in regulating infant male circumcision (colleges of physicians and surgeons, human rights commissions, children's advocates, children's aid societies, ministers of health, ministers of justice, solicitors general) are prepared to show leadership on this issue. Consequently we believe the only way to bring about change is through the judicial system.
We propose a legal challenge to section 268 of the Criminal Code of Canada on the grounds that this section is insufficient in scope. Section 268 prohibits all forms of female genital mutilation (FGM). The basis of the challenge would be that section 268, as written, fails to protect males from genital mutilation and thus contravenes at least one provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms—namely, section 15(1), which guarantees equality between the sexes. It is highly probable that section 268, as written, also contravenes section 7 of the Charter, which guarantees security of the person.
Section 268 of the Criminal Code provides:
[Excerpt from Chapter C-46—An Act respecting the Criminal Law (Criminal Code)]
Aggravated assault
268. (1) Every one commits an aggravated assault who wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant.
Punishment
(2) Every one who commits an aggravated assault is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.
Excision
(3) For greater certainty, in this section, "wounds" or "maims" includes to excise, infibulate or mutilate, in whole or in part, the labia majora, labia minora or clitoris of a person, except where
(a) a surgical procedure is performed, by a person duly qualified by provincial law to practise medicine, for the benefit of the physical health of the person or for the purpose of that person having normal reproductive functions or normal sexual appearance or function; or
(b) the person is at least eighteen years of age and there is no resulting bodily harm.
Consent
(4) For the purposes of this section and section 265, no consent to the excision, infibulation or mutilation, in whole or in part, of the labia majora, labia minora or clitoris of a person is valid, except in the cases described in paragraphs (3)(a) and (b).
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 268; 1997, c. 16, s. 5.
[End of excerpt]
The above section of the Criminal Code names body parts found only in females: the labia majora, labia minora and clitoris. The use of such gender-specific anatomical terms implies that males are not protected equally under the law. Males, no less than females, are subject to an unnecessary surgical intervention on the genitals—namely, non-therapeutic circumcision. The difference in the degree of protection conferred on males as compared to females is an obvious violation of section 15(1) of the Charter.
Furthermore, infant male circumcision contravenes the section 7 Charter rights of non-consenting males to "security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof."
The relevant sections of the Charter are as follows:
[Excerpt from Constitution Acts 1867 To 1982, Constitution Act, 1982, Schedule B Constitution Act, 1982 (79), Part I Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms]
Life, liberty and security of person.
7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
Equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law.
15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
[End of excerpt]
The intent of the challenge is not to have section 268 repealed or to eliminate the protection women rightly deserve. The objective is to have the government of Canada recognize that males deserve equal protection under the law. It is extremely important to note that explicitly conferring such protection on males would not in any way diminish the protection provided to females.


LETTER-WRITING CAMPAIGN


An ongoing letter-writing campaign forms a key part of the strategic approach. Standardized letters have been sent to the organizations and public officials connected with regulating various aspects of neonatal circumcision. These organizations and public officials include:
In each case, the initial letter asks the authorities to clarify their position on non-therapeutic infant male circumcision. The purpose of the initial letter is to determine whether or not anyone is showing leadership on this issue. Subsequent letters ask pointed questions from various perspectives (ethical, legal, human rights) with a view to promoting dialogue with the authorities and bringing about action.
The responses received to date have been evasive. The authorities seem set on avoiding the important ethical, legal and human rights issues raised by non-therapeutic circumcision of male infants.
The letter-writing campaign has shown that systemic discrimination with respect to the issue of genital mutilation is deeply embedded in the Canadian social fabric. We believe the information and evidence gathered by this campaign can be used to develop a case and initiate a formal legal challenge.
Below is a brief survey of the replies to the standard letters:
Colleges of physicians and surgeons. The replies have documented inconsistencies between organizations in different provinces, non-compliance with legislation, and above all, evasiveness. Only one college (Alberta) made an attempt to answer the 10 questions included in the standard letter. The President of the Nova Scotia college, Dr. Patricia Pearce, stated categorically that neonatal circumcision was a "legal medical act," though the lawfulness of this practice has been questioned by experts such as Dr. Margaret Somerville, a law professor at McGill University and one of Canada's leading medical ethicists. Like the representatives of several other colleges, Dr. Pearce did not adduce any evidence in favour of her position and simply declined to discuss the matter further.
Faced with the inescapable fact that infant male circumcision is not medically necessary, the colleges of physicians and surgeons have abdicated their responsibility to establish and monitor standards of professional ethics among medical practitioners. The colleges' responses to the standard letter make it clear the colleges are not prepared to give due consideration to the ethical, legal and human rights implications of neonatal circumcision. By defending the rights of physicians to undertake an unnecessary surgical intervention without the personal consent of the patient, the colleges have placed themselves in an untenable position.
Human rights commissions. The standardized letters have revealed that the commissions are unwilling at the present time to deal with the gender equality issues associated with circumcision. None of the commissions have policies on male circumcision, and only the Ontario commission has a policy on female genital mutilation (FGM). The references to male circumcision in this policy were recently revised to reflect the position of the Canadian Paediatric Society. The policy used to characterize male circumcision as beneficial. The policy changes were brought about through successful lobbying by Canadian activists.
Children's advocates. Standardized letters have recently been sent to the children's advocate in each province. The responses have been evasive. The Alberta reply, for example, advises that questions related to circumcision should be directed elsewhere.
Children's aid societies. Of all the authorities to whom we have sent a standard letter, the children's aid societies seem to be the most forthcoming in their responses. The acting executive director of Manitoba Child Protection and Support Services stated that she took the issue seriously and would be prepared to participate in public discourse and legislative review.
Government officials. We believe that one way of obtaining open and aboveboard responses from the colleges of physicians and surgeons may be to request the assistance of the appropriate minister. Most provincial legislation allows the minister in charge to make specific requests of the college councils and registrars. This approach has borne fruit in B.C., where the ministry of health has sent a letter to the provincial college of physicians and surgeons asking the college to expedite its response to questions about the ethical and legal implications of routine infant circumcision.


GAPS TO BE FILLED


To round out the documentation, more letters must be written to leading ethicists, human rights experts and children's rights advocates. This will provide further information on the positions of public bodies and individual Canadian scholars.


WHY GO TO COURT?


Over the past few years many Canadian agencies, both governmental and non-governmental, have been approached by citizens on the subject of non-therapeutic infant male circumcision. Concerned individuals have written hundreds of letters to public officials such as the federal minister of justice, provincial cabinet ministers, heads of child welfare agencies, and the registrars of colleges of physicians and surgeons in all Canadian jurisdictions. (Nearly 500 such letters are available online).
Unfortunately these authorities are very reluctant even to respond to arguments against routine infant circumcision, much less weigh the facts and provide leadership in eliminating the practice. There seems to be no alternative to using the courts as a way of ensuring that the rights of baby boys are respected and that systemic discrimination against them on the basis of sex is eliminated.



HOW WILL THE COURT CHALLENGE BE FUNDED?


A national non-profit organization called the Court Challenges Program (CCP) was set up in 1994 to provide funding for cases that seek to defend language or equality rights. An application for funding from the CCP is being drafted; this application can be viewed online.
Note that this is only an application for funding case development. It does not mark the launching of a legal action. There is no guarantee the CCP will allocate funds for our proposed action.
The case development includes gathering information, showing evidence of discrimination, and obtaining expert advice. A substantial amount of evidence has already been gathered, but more work remains to be done.
At present, the main supporting document for the application is a paper by Dr. Arif Bhimji entitled "Infant Male Circumcision: A Violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms." Other documents and papers have also been collected. These will be used in the application for funding and in any subsequent formal challenge.


HOW CAN YOU HELP?


We welcome ideas and suggestions from individuals who are knowledgeable about circumcision. We would also like to acquire copies of correspondence with public bodies on this subject. If you possess letters that we do not already have on file, please contact us using the feedback link below.
Once a legal challenge has been launched, we may require additional funding to take our case to court. We hope you will be able to contribute.


*For measures being taken in the United States to end legalized MGM (male genital mutilation) of infant boys, see MGMBill.org. FGM (female genital mutilation) continued in the United States until it became illegal and punishable as a crime with the FGM Bill in 1996.
*One man who sued and won tells his story here.

2010 Genital Integrity Awareness Week Rally/March in Washington


2010 Schedule of Events

17th Annual Demonstration and March
Against Infant Circumcision

United States Capitol - Washington. D.C.

March 26th - April 1st, 2010


~

March 26th - April 1st, 2010
US Capitol Demonstration
West Lawn of the US Capitol
Daily from 9:00am till dusk.

4:00pm March 30th, 2009
March from the US Capitol to the White House

~

March 30th, 1997 the U.S. Female Genital Mutilation Bill took full effect.
This will be the 13th anniversary of girls being protected by federal law from any form of genital cutting for non-medical necessity.

March 28th-April 3rd is Genital Integrity Awareness Week.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

~

We have plenty of banners and signs to carry during the march or to display while at the Capitol.
If you have something you'd like to say, feel free to bring it along.
We'll also have extra placard material and markers here with us.


Some attendees will be staying at the Best Western Capitol Skyline:

Best Western Capitol Skyline Hotel
10 I Street SW
Washington, DC 20024-4299
United States
Phone: (202)488-7500
Fax: 202-488-0790


email to inquire about where others will be staying if you'd like to book at the same location


~

Two important things we can do are to educate and demonstrate.
We make efforts to educate on a daily basis.
We must also demonstrate to further the awareness of this issue.

Join Us!

The FGM Bill was enacted on September 30, 1996, and prohibits female genital mutilation (FGM) of minors, also known as female circumcision.

The criminalization subsection took effect 180 days after the date of enactment - March 30, 1997. For this reason, it is generally recognized as the effective date of the FGM Bill.

We need to use this day to ask our lawmakers to eliminate the sexist exclusion of male minors from this law and to provide all non-consenting human beings protection from genital cutting without medical need.



A few photos from last year:

The cherry blossoms will be blooming...
It's the perfect time to venture to D.C.



Everyone, all ages, welcome!








Good chats with great people on the grassy lawn in front of the Capitol











See you in D.C.
!
email: IntactInternational@gmail.com with questions

Can't be in DC? Join in the online
Genital Integrity Awareness Rally

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Circumcision: A Male RN's Perspective

By Chris, author of The Man-Nurse Diaries
posted with author's permission


Before having my first son, we were presented with the decision (at least in the United States) of whether or not to circumcise him. While we were initially assuming we would, we did some research. We began finding that not only is male infant circumcision almost never medically necessary, but it's not even performed in most of the developed world. The majority of European countries never began circumcising in the first place. The United Kingdom doesn't pay for it; it's an out-of-pocket expense. The United States is the only secular country that routinely circumcises males.

I can personally attest to this now, because I worked for six years as a certified nurse aide prior to becoming an RN. I worked with countless intact men, mostly European immigrants in Chicago: Poles, Serbs, Lithuanians, etc. Younger men and older men. Men who could walk to the bathroom, and men who constantly soiled themselves. Men who had indwelling Foley catheters and men who didn't. Men who were impeccably clean, and men who were homeless. Men who were healthy, and men who were critically ill and severely immunocompromised.

Never once did I encounter an adult male patient who had ever had a medical problem due to being intact.

Not only that, but during the cleaning of patients, I only ever worked with two nurses (that I remember) who would actually go through the rigmarole of retracting the foreskin, cleaning the glans, and replacing the foreskin. That's what we were taught in CNA and nursing school, but almost everyone would leave it alone. I suspect most people who work with a high intact population do the same. If it never presents a problem, it's always clean, and you're just causing discomfort, why do it?

In fact, female patients are far more prone to fungal and bacterial genitourinary infections than male patients are—yeast infections, urinary tract infections, abscesses, etc. And we know that this is largely due not only to their shorter urethra, but also to their labial folds—their "excess" skin. Why don't we cut that off? Why isn't female circumcision considered for infection prophylaxis? That's how we think of male circumcision. Except the reality is that, as with male patients, the 'benefit' of circumcision would be negligible, because the number of serious complications with women staying 'uncircumcised' is extremely minor.

So as it stands, we have two sons who are intact. One is almost five years old and the other is nearly three. They've never had a problem. During diapering they required less care and bother than our daughters did. And now, during bathing, we don't retract or mess with their prepuce (foreskin).

They're clean.

They're fine.

I suspect that someday they'll be like my patients were: ninety years old and intact—with no regrets.



Chris is the father of four (intact) children, 2 daughters, 2 sons. His career as an RN has taken him to the intensive care unit at one of the largest urban trauma centers in the Midwest (United States). More of his chronicles as an RN can be read at The Man-Nurse Diaries.





Related Reading:

The Day I Withdrew From Nursing School

Circumcision: What I Wish I'd Known

RN Conscientious Objectors to Infant Circumcision: A Model for Nurse Empowerment 

Nurses of St. Vincent Say No to Circumcision [video]

Tora Spigner, RN [video]

Nurses For the Rights of the Child


~~~~

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mother's Milk Cheese

by Danelle Frisbie
Chef Daniel Angerer's maple caramelized pumpkin encrusted mother's milk cheese with texurized concord grapes

I'll admit - the very first time I heard about mothers making cheese from their own milk I wasn't exactly turned onto the idea for myself. Of course, this was long before I was to have a child of my own and begin lactating for the first time. It was also in the midst of my early investigation into all things perfect about providing human milk to human babies (no matter their age) and the monumental benefits of using breastmilk in a variety of ways. At the time, I did not think making cheese with my own milk was something I would ever try. Even years later as I skimmed a breastmilk cheese article in Mothering Magazine (2007) I agreed with friends that it was maybe just a tad 'too much' for me - great for those extra crunchy types...but I wasn't there - yet.

Today, as the impassioned lactivist that I am, and fully equipped with more information on the benefits of human milk for humans vs. cow's milk for cows than I could have ever dreamed there to be, I am somewhat enamored with the idea of using one's own milk to make tasty treats (be they popsicles, yogurt, or cheese) for our little ones. After all, I would much rather my child eat something made from ingredients designed specifically for him, than from those made specifically (and entirely differently) for another mammal. I'm still not certain I have the talent for my cheese to turn out as well as Chef Daniel Angerer's (below) but who knows, maybe I'll give it a go and report back. For now, here are his tips, tales, and trade in case you'd like to try out a little mom's milk cheese manufacturing at your home. If you do - or if you have your own recipe that works even better - be sure to share in the comments below.



Chef Daniel Angerer's mother's milk cheese with beets and romaine

Chef Daniel Angerer's Mother's Milk Cheese Recipe:
(basic recipe using 8 cups of any milk - yields about ½ pound cheese)

2 cups mother’s milk
2 cups milk (just about any animal milk will work)
1½-teaspoon yogurt (must be active cultured yogurt)
1/8-tablet rennet (buy from supermarket, usually located in pudding section)
1 teaspoon sea salt such as Baline

1. Inoculate milks by heating (68 degree Fahrenheit) then introduce starter bacteria (active yogurt) then let stand for 6 – 8 hours at room temperature, 68ºF covered with a lid. Bacteria will grow in this way and convert milk sugar (lactose) to lactic acid. You can detect its presence by the tart/sour taste.

2. After inoculating the milk heat to 86 degrees Fahrenheit then add rennet (I use tablets which I dissolve in water) and stir throughout. Cover pot and don’t disturb for an hour until “clean break stage” is achieved, meaning with a clean spoon lift a small piece of curd out of the milk - if it is still soft and gel-like let pot stand for an hour longer. If curds “break clean” cut with a knife into a squares (cut inside the pot a ½-inch cube pattern).

3. Raise temperature slowly continuously stirring with a pastry spatula (this will prevent clumping of cut curd). This is what I call the “ricotta stage” if you like this kind of fresh cheese – here it is. For cheese with a little bit more of texture heat curds to 92 degree Fahrenheit - for soft curd cheese, or as high 102oF for very firm cheese. The heating of the curd makes all the difference in the consistency of the cheese. When heated the curd looks almost like scrambled eggs at this point (curd should be at bottom of pot in whey liquid).

4. Pour curd through a fine strainer (this will separate curd from whey) then transfer into a bowl and add salt and mix with a pastry spatula (this will prevent curd from spoiling). Whey can be drank - it is quite healthy and its protein is very efficiently absorbed into the blood stream making it a sought-after product in shakes for bodybuilders.

5. Give curd shape by lining a container with cheese cloth (allow any excess of cheese cloth to hang over edges of container). Transfer drained, warm curd in the cheese cloth lined container (I used a large plastic quart containers like a large Chinese take- out soup container and cut 4 holes in the bottom with the tip of my knife). Fold excess cheese cloth over top of cheese then weight curd down (with second container filled with water or such) then store in refrigerator (14 hours or so – put container into a second larger container – this will catch draining whey liquid).

6. Take pressed curd out of container (flip container upside-down then unwrap carefully not to damage structure of pressed curd). Rewrap pressed curd with new cheese cloth then age in refrigerator for several weeks (cheese will form a light brown skin around week two – this is normal). Age cheese longer for a more pronounced/sharper cheese flavor.

More from Daniel, including his additional tips for breastmilk cheese, here.

Chef Daniel Angerer's mother's milk cheese rolled in dehydrated porcini mushroom powder with burned onion chutney

Another very simple (but maybe not as tasty?) recipe from CheeseMaking.com

Place your milk into a bowl and add some rennet. Rennet is an animal derivative that contains an enzyme called rennin, which will cause the solids in the milk to clump. Drain off the excess liquid, and press together the solids. Voilà! You have cheese!

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