Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks



My sweet little turkey
All stuffed with momma's milk
Bundled up beside me -
Face of angels, skin of silk.

We snooze and we eat,
We hike all wrapped together,
On this day of giving thanks -
Couldn't hope for one that's better.

You're the gem in my soul
The star in my nighttime sky
You're the love of my life
And the twinkle in my eye.

Since the day birth joined us here
Life grows sweet, love flows free,
And my thanks is ever greater
That the mom you chose was me.


~Danelle Frisbie



~~~~~

Monday, November 22, 2010

TIME Reports on new Global Milk Sharing: Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB)

Emma Kwasnica, lactivist and developer of Human Milk 4 Human Babies 


This morning TIME ran Jennifer Block's latest report covering the new mother-to-mother milk sharing creation by peaceful parenting mom, aspiring midwife and lactivist, Emma Kwasnica. Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB.org) is providing a new way (which truly is as old as humanity - albiet using the 'new' technology of the internet) to connect mothers together and ensure all human babies receive the human milk they deserve.

It is true that rarely is there a human mother who births live young who is not also able to sustain them with her milk - provided she receives the help and encouragement she needs in our often myth-filled and unsupportive society. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) But for those mothers who (for whatever reason) find they need to supplement, HM4HB provides a way to continue giving our babies the only food designed specifically for their health, development, and wellbeing - human milk.

Read Block's TIME article here: Move Over, Milk Banks. Facebook Ramps Up Milk Sharing
URL: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2032363,00.html



Visit the Peaceful Parenting Breastmilk Donation Resources page for further information.

For additional sites, books, and articles to help the breastfeeding mother in your life see: Breastfeeding Resources.



Notes:
(1) The Politics of Breastfeeding: When Breasts are Bad for Business
(2) Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent
(3) Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding
(4) Breastfeeding Made Simple
(5) Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding


~~~~

National Day of Listening

By Danelle Frisbie

A few days after Thanksgiving my grandma turns 97 years old. She has almost 100 years of stories to tell, and as often as I am able, I sit and informally interview her - asking questions, probing for details, occasionally nudging her for more info as she belly laughs, or sighs, shakes her head, smiles, or gets teary eyed, remembering the many moments of her life's journey.

She has a plaque that has hung in her hall for many years. It reads, "Age is a matter of mind: If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." Last week Grandma told me she did not feel she'd lived nearly 100 years - it goes by so quickly she says. I couldn't help but hear the Five for Fighting tune in my head, "...When you only got a hundred years to live..." ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬

With my own mom/partner/career duties 1200 miles away, I don't get to spend as much quality time with Grandma as I used to. We don't get to have our repeat matches of Uno and Chinese Checkers, or stay up late into the wee hours of the morning looking at photos from 70 years ago. She and I are not able to be together nearly enough these days. Grandma grew up a farm girl in the rolling cow-filled pastures of Wisconsin, the state she has always called home, and Midwest winters usually keep me beach-side in my own adobe due to high ticket prices and the ever present delay/cancellation/weather interference of Wisconsin's snow/sleet/ice winters.

But this year, the day after Thanksgiving, on the National Day of Listening, I am going to take advantage of joining with thousands of others across the nation to sit down and really listen. Rather than get swept up in the furry that is Black Friday, I'll be sipping hot cocoa with Grandma and imagining her days of driving a sleigh, playing baseball, attending "Normal School," and chasing cows under the railroad track overpass before dinner...

Her stories are those I look forward to with eager anticipation. They are the makings of the best movies and deepest novels ever written... They are real and raw and a part of my own heritage and history. The really juicy (occasionally scandalous) details are few and far between - but if I listen well, and pose inquiries just right - Grandma opens up on birth and babies, sex and marriage, God and faith, breastfeeding and intactivism, friendship and family, forgiveness and trust, human rights and justice, living and dying... These, and every story in between, are treasures that I hold - soak in - and know I will cherish for my own lifetime to come. Maybe they will even be those tales that I, too, reflect upon when I am someday 97 years wise...

I encourage you to pick out a person in your life, and join with me in interviewing on November 26th. We learn much by asking questions, and even more by truly listening and consuming responses from those who've lived before us, or live around us, or live entirely different lives than us, have to say. In fact, you may even wish to consider sitting down, without the distractions of television, video games, cell phones, and the internet, and instead, take the day to really listen to your kids...

For further information, visit The National Day of Listening page or StoryCorps


The following is the National Day of Listening 2010 press release from StoryCorps as sent to Peaceful Parenting:

The national nonprofit organization, StoryCorps, has announced the third annual National Day of Listening to take place on November 26, 2010. The National Day of Listening is an effort to encourage Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs to interview a friend, loved one, or member of their community about their lives on the day after Thanksgiving.

StoryCorps recommends that participants record their National Day of Listening conversations using equipment that is already available to them—a computer, mobile phone, tape recorder, or even pen and paper. At nationaldayoflistening.org StoryCorps offers a free Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide with equipment recommendations, great questions to ask, and ideas for preserving and sharing National Day of Listening interviews.

“In an era of fierce political and cultural divides, we hope that the idea of listening to one another during the holiday season resonates with many Americans,” says StoryCorps Founder and MacArthur 'Genius' Dave Isay. “Through our National Day of Listening, StoryCorps hopes to remind Americans of all stripes how much more unites us than divides us.”

Thousands of Americans have already taken part in the National Day of Listening, including families, educators, and local organizations, who have embraced the National Day of Listening as a way to incorporate StoryCorps’ interviewing techniques into their programs. The National Day of Listening occurs every year on the day after Thanksgiving—offering a holiday alternative to Black Friday shopping sprees. If participants are unable to record an interview on the official National Day of Listening, StoryCorps encourages them to record Do-It-Yourself interviews throughout the holiday season.

Sponsorship of the 2010 National Day of Listening is provided by The Fetzer Institute. NPR is a national partner of the National Day of Listening—and will broadcast a special series of National Day of Listening interviews during the week leading up to Thanksgiving.


About StoryCorps

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Each week, millions of Americans listen to StoryCorps’ award-winning broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition. StoryCorps has published two best-selling books: Listening Is an Act of Love in 2007 and Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps in 2010. For more information, or to listen to stories online, visit storycorps.org.


About The Fetzer Institute

The Fetzer Institute is a private operating foundation based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, that engages with people and programs committed to bringing the power of love, forgiveness, and compassion to the center of individual, organizational, and community life. Founded by broadcast pioneer John E. Fetzer, the Institute convenes people from many sectors of society to envision projects that support individuals everywhere in becoming more loving and forgiving. The Institute’s work is grounded in the conviction that the connection between the inner life of mind and spirit and the outer life of service and action in the world holds the key to lasting change. All of its activities—past, present, and future—are united by a desire to improve the human condition by increasing awareness of the power of love, forgiveness, and compassion to transform our world. Learn more at Fetzer.org.
~~~~

A Public Apology to My Circumcised Son

By Mandi Woolery
Read more from Woolery at: Peachy Keen Birth Services

 My little man. How I wish I could go back in time.


My Little Buster,

I’m so sorry. How else do I begin this?

I was teaching today and lecturing my students about the importance of doing independent research when preparing to make decisions for their labor, birth, and the care of their newborn. My final point was to implore them to research every decision. To never proceed with something because some hospital class says 'everyone is doing it,' but rather to research the hell out of it until they are confident that they have all of the information.

And so I come back to this… I’m so sorry.

As a parent, there will be a million things you will look back on and think, “Gee, I wish I would have done that differently…”

Usually it’s something minor. Like becoming upset over something that was totally age-appropriate behavior. Or when you accidentally learned a 'colorful' word while Mommy was driving.

But how do I apologize for having part of your genitals amputated for NO MEDICAL REASON? When you were less than 24 hours old, no less!

Please let me at least explain why - where I was coming from - that I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do.

As I will explain someday, I wasn’t exactly tech-savvy when I was preparing for my first birth. I just literally didn’t even know anything existed beyond the hospital class and What to Expect.

That hospital class taught us that 95% of boys were circumcised, and that it was more hygienic. I didn’t know this was a lie. And I wasn’t in contact with anyone who could tell me that this was a lie. Looking back, that is not an excuse. The mama bear in me begs my pregnant self to questions it, verify it, somehow just double check this number. But I swear to you that my brain was just not wired this way back then. It had never occurred to my naive little mind that a hospital might “misrepresent” facts back then.

As it turns out, in that year, it was actually about 50% of boys who were not being circumcised. Not the mere 5% they suggested (and now it’s about 68% who are remaining intact!). And it is not more hygienic to be circumcised… no more so than it is to circumcise a baby girl rather than teach her to properly clean her labia. But apparently it was still a-okay with this hospital to hack off the genitals of baby boys. Hell, the hospital openly encouraged it!

I wish I had known even ONE person at that time who had chosen NOT to circumcise. I didn’t have a religious reason to circumcise, so that might just have been enough to nudge me into researching just a little more.

But all I had was that stupid hospital class, so I consented to have you circumcised. And there I go downplaying it. Sending blame away from myself. The truth now… not only did I consent, I think I actually asked the doc when you would be circumcised. If only ONCE someone had mentioned that it wasn’t medically necessary... I know I would have questioned it. But no one did, so I willingly handed you over.

I remember briefly feeling sad that something about your perfect little self would be changed… and then feeling selfish because, “after all, this was a medically necessary procedure, done for your own good.”

I vaguely remember asking if they use anesthetic and something was said about sugar water. Good frigging God, I was so stupid. As far as I can tell, you had part of your genitals forcibly ripped off at less than 24 hours old with absolutely no anesthesia.

I’m sobbing now, writing this. I just want to go back in time and kick my own ass. What the hell was wrong with me?

But the way my brain worked back then, it never occurred to me that something so horrific - the outright torture of a newborn - would be even remotely legal. I thought it was really medically necessary like that hospital class had taught us, and I thought you hadn’t felt it.

And when you were a couple of months old, right as I was learning that your cesarean birth could have been avoided, I also learned the truth about circumcision. That there is no medical reason for it. And that the majority of boys are remaining intact these days.

I sobbed. I’m so sorry.

And then I became pregnant with your little brother. You two are only 19 months apart. It took some convincing of your daddy, but he eventually consented that the evidence showed there was not a medical reason to circumcise. So then it was just a matter of having him admit that you and your soon-to-be brother having matching penises was not a valid reason to amputate anyone’s genitals. And your sweet daddy very quickly came around.

You are five, and little bro is three. So far, there have been no questions as to why your penises look different. How will I answer that when it does come up? When you are still little I think I will keep it generic, so as to not freak you out. “Mommy made one decision for you, and another for your little brother.” So far each of you thinks that your penis is the most awesome thing since… well, since anything, so I don’t think it will be an issue.

But when you are older... a man… I would like to explain things more truthfully… and apologize.

I can only pray to God that you will be able to understand why I made such a poor decision, and that you will forgive me.

Of all of the parenting moments I look back upon, those I wish I could re-do, having you circumcised is the only one I have utter remorse for. I’m so sorry.
 

With much, much love,


Your Mommy

~~~~


Mandi Woolery is a mommy to three kiddos, wife to a super-supportive man, and owner of Peachy Keen Birth Services, located in Upland, CA. After having an all-around horrible birth experience the first time around, Mandi's passion for gentle birth began. She now teaches natural childbirth classes, and is constantly rewarded as she witnesses her students making informed decisions. In addition to preparing expectant couples through her Natural Childbirth classes, Mandi also has the great honor of attending births as a doula, and is in the process of obtaining her birth doula certification through DONA International.


For additional letters and testimonies from mothers and fathers who regret not keeping their son(s) intact, or to meet those raising both circumcised and intact boys, see: I Circumcised My Son: Healing From Regret.

For additional information on the prepuce organ (foreskin/clitoral hood), intact care, and circumcision see resources, books, websites, and articles linked from this page.

For excellent pregnancy and birth resources (alternatives to the ubiquitously horrible, What to Expect series that Woolery mentioned), see books listed in this collection.


~~~~

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Herbal Allies for Pregnancy Problems

By Susun S. Weed
Author of:
Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way;
Healing Wise;
Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year; and
New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.


Wise women believe that most of the problems of pregnancy can be prevented by attention to nutrition. Morning sickness and mood swings are connected to low blood sugar; backaches and severe labor pains often result from insufficient calcium; varicose veins, hemorrhoids, constipation, skin discoloration and anemia are evidence of lack of specific nutrients; preeclampsia, the most severe problem of pregnancy, is a form of acute malnutrition. Excellent nutrition includes pure water, controlled breath, abundant light, loving and respectful relationships, beauty and harmony in daily life, joyous thoughts and vital foodstuffs.

During pregnancy nutrients are required to create the cells needed to form two extra pounds of uterine muscle, the nerves, bones, organs, muscles, glands and skin of the fetus, several pounds of amniotic fluid, a placenta and a 50 percent increase in blood volume. In addition, extra kidney and liver cells are needed to process the waste of' two beings instead of one.

Wild foods and organically grown produce, grains and herbs are the best source of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients needed during pregnancy. All the better if the expectant mother can get out and gather her own herbs: stretching, bending, breathing, moving, touching the earth, taking time to talk with the plants and to open herself to their spiritual world.

TONICS DURING PREGNANCY

Wise women have recommended herbal tonics for childbearing for thousands of years. These herbs are empirically safe and notably effective. Tonic herbs improve general health by balancing and sustaining energy flow and focus in the body.

Tonics allay annoyances and prevent major problems. They can boost the supply of vital minerals and vitamins, increase energy and improve uterine tone. Some uterine tonics are contraindicated during pregnancy or are restricted to the last few weeks of pregnancy.

The tonics indicated for pregnancy need to be used regularly; a tonic is to the cells much as exercise is to the muscles: not much use when done erratically. Of course even occasional use of tonics during pregnancy will be of benefit, since they do contain nourishing factors. Better benefit will come from using them 5 times a week or more.

Some simple suggestions to get into the habit of' using tonics: pregnant women could replace the morning cup of coffee with a rich Nettle infusion. Or she could brew up some raspberry leaf tea and put it in the refrigerator to drink instead of soda, wine, or beer. Wild greens can be added to the diet. Women in many cultures have used the following herbs for centuries to have a healthier pregnancy.


RED RASPBERRY LEAVES (Rubus spp.)

Brewed as a tea or as an infusion, raspberry is the best known, most widely used, and safest of all uterine and pregnancy tonic herbs. It contains fragrine, an alkaloid which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus itself.

Most of the benefits ascribed to regular use of Raspberry tea through pregnancy are traced to the nourishing source of vitamins and minerals found in this plant and to the strengthening power of fragrine - an alkaloid which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus itself. Of special note are the rich concentration of vitamin C, the presence of vitamin E and the easily assimilated calcium and iron. Raspberry leaves also contain vitamins A and B complex and many minerals, including phosphorous and potassium.

The benefits of drinking a raspberry leaf brew before and throughout pregnancy include:

~ Increasing fertility in both men and women. Raspberry leaf is an excellent fertility herb when combined with Red Clover.

~ Preventing miscarriage and hemorrhage. Raspberry leaf tones the uterus and helps prevent miscarriage and postpartum hemorrhage from a relaxed or atonic uterus.

~ Easing of morning sickness. Many attest to raspberry leaves' gentle relief of nausea and stomach distress throughout pregnancy.

~ Reducing pain during labor and after birth. By toning the muscles used during labor and delivery, Raspberry leaf eliminates many of the reasons for a painful delivery and prolonged recovery. It does not, however, counter the pain of pelvic dilation.

~ Assisting in the production of plentiful breast milk. The high mineral content of Raspberry leaf assist in milk production, but its astringency may counter that for some women.

~ Providing a safe and speedy pariuntion. Raspberry leaf works to encourage the uterus to let go and function without tension. It does not strengthen contractions, but does allow the contracting uterus to work more effectively and so may make the birth easier and faster.


NETTLE LEAVES (Urtica Dioca)

Less well known as a pregnancy tonic but deserving a kinder reputation and use, Urtica is one of the finest nourishing tonics known. It is reputed to have more chlorophyll than any other herb. The list of vitamins and minerals in this herb includes nearly every one known to necessary for human health and growth.

Vitamins A, C, D and K, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron and sulphur are particularly abundant in nettles. The infusion is a dark green color approaching black. The taste is deep and rich. If you are blessed with a nettle patch near you, use the fresh plant as a pot herb in the spring.

Some pregnant women alternate weeks of nettle and raspberry brews; others drink raspberry until the last month and then switch to nettles to insure large amounts of vitamin K in the blood before birth.

The benefits of drinking nettle infusion before and throughout pregnancy include:

~ Aiding the kidneys. Nettle infusions were instrumental in rebuilding the kidneys of a woman who was told she would have to be put on a dialysis machine. Since the kidneys must cleanse 150 percent of the normal blood supply for most of the pregnancy, nettle's ability to nourish and strengthen them is of major importance. Any accumulation of minerals in the kidneys, such as gravel or stones, is gently loosened, dissolved and eliminated by the consistent use of nettle infusions.

~ Increasing fertility in women and men.

~ Nourishing mother and fetus.

~ Easing leg cramps and other spasms.

~ Diminishing pain during and after birth. The high calcium content, which is readily assimilated, helps diminish muscle pains in the uterus, in the legs and elsewhere.

~ Preventing hemorrhage after birth. Nettle is a superb source of vitamin K, and increases available hemoglobin, both of which decrease the likelihood of postpartum hemorrhage. Fresh Nettle Juice, in teaspoon doses, slows postpartum bleeding.

~ Reducing hemorrhoids. Nettle's mild astringency and general nourishing action tightens and strengthens blood vessels, helps maintain arterial elasticity and improves venous resilience.

~ Increasing the richness and amount of breast milk.


CALCIUM

Of course calcium is a mineral, not an herbal tonic, but it is so important during pregnancy and throughout our woman lives that I consider it a tonic. Lack of adequate calcium during pregnancy is associated with muscle cramps, backache, high blood pressure, intense labor and afterbirth pains, osteoporosis, tooth problems, and preeclampsia.

Calcium assimilation is governed by exercise, stress, acidity during digestion, availability of' Vitamin C, A and especially D, and availability of magnesium and phosphorous in the body and the diet.

Getting 1000 to 2000 mg of calcium every day is not hard with the help of Wise Woman herbs:

~ The best food sources of calcium are fish dairy products, but there is controversy about the assimilability of calcium from pasteurized, homogenized milk. My preferred food sources include goat milk and goat cheese, salmon, sardines, mackerel, seaweed (especially kelp), sesame salt (gomasio), tahini and dark leafy greens Such as turnip tops, beet greens and kale.

~ There are roughly 200 mg of calcium in two ounces of nuts (excluding peanuts), one ounce of dried seaweed, two ounces of carob powder, one ounce of cheese, half a cup of cooked greens, (kale, collards and especially dandelion) half a cup of milk, three eggs, four ounces of fish, or one tablespoon of molasses.

~ Most wild greens are exceptionally rich in calcium arid the factors need for calcium absorption and use. lambs quarters, mallow, galinsoga, shepherd's purse, knotweed, bidens, amaranth and dandelion leaves all supply more calcium per 100 grams than does milk.

~ Bones soaked in apple cider vinegar release their calcium into the acidic vinegar. A tablespoon of this vinegar in a glass of water supplies needed calcium and relieves morning sickness too.

~ Many fruits are rich in calcium (though not as rich as the above foods). Dried dates, figs raisins, prunes, papaya and elderberries are the best source.

~ Raspberry leaf infusion contains calcium in its most assimilable form. Assimilation is further enhanced by the presence of phosphorous and vitamins A and C in the raspberry leaves.

~ Fresh parsley and watercress are available in most grocery stores year round. They are both good sources of many minerals and vitamins, including calcium, phosphorous, vitamin A and vitamin C.

~ Nettle Infusion supplies calcium and phosphorous, vitamin A and the vital vitamin D, in a readily assimilable form.

~ Foods that are thought to interfere with absorption of calcium should be avoided: spinach, chocolate, rhubarb and brewer's yeast.

~ Do not use bone meal or oyster shell tablets as sources of supplemental calcium. They have been found to be high in lead, mercury, cadmium and other toxic metals.


TONICS TO USE WITH CAUTION

Squaw Vine (Mitchella repens), Blue Cohosh (Caulophyflum thalicotroides), and Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) all should be avoided until the last 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy. Even then, they should be used only when indicated, and under the supervision of someone experienced in their use. Some midwives report that the Cohoshes must be used together (not interchangeably). Others have reported premature labor when Blue Cohosh was taken in combination with Pennyroyal. False Unicorn Root (Helonias dioica), Dong Quai (Angelica spp.) and PN6 capsules are considered too strong for use during pregnancy.

I harvest the flowering stalks when they are fully formed; and I am careful to use the cultivated garden comfrey, which grows very tall and has purplish, pinkish, bluish flowers. I avoid wild comfrey which stays rather small, even when flowering, and has cream-colored, white, or yellowish flowers.

Some people feel that comfrey is not safe to use during pregnancy. Some people feel comfrey is not safe to use internally at all. I disagree. The roots of comfrey do contain compounds that are best avoided during pregnancy. (As do all parts of the wild plant.) In fact, I rarely use comfrey root because of the possibility of liver congestion, and I strongly caution those who have had hepatitis, chemotherapy, or alcohol problems to strictly avoid comfrey root. Yet even these people can benefit from use of comfrey leaf infusions.

* Another important herbal ally for women over forty who desire a child is chaste tree (Vitex agnus-casti). It has been used in Africa and parts of Europe for several thousand years to discourage the male libido. In women, the effects seem to be the opposite! It may also be a fertility enhancer. Most importantly, chaste tree is a strengthening tonic for the pituitary gland, the master control gland for the endocrine system. Daily use of the tincture of the berries (1 dropperful/1 ml 2-3 times daily) had been shown to increase progesterone--the hormone of pregnancy--and luteinizing hormone--which promotes conception. Because it can lower prolactin levels, chaste tree is best discontinues during the last trimester of pregnancy.

* Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) is not recommended for women over forty. In general, this herb promotes blood flow to the uterus and surrounding tissues. This can promote the growth of fibroids and increase the risk of post-partum hemorrhage. Ginger is a better warming tonic; motherwort is better at relieving pain; and raspberry is better at preparing the uterus for birth.



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.

~~~~

Circumcision: The Most Twisted Logic in the World

By Clara Franco
This article was translated by the author and edited for DrMomma.org. It is available in Spanish here.


Let’s imagine for a moment the following series of situations at the doctor’s office.


Scenario 1:

-You: Doctor, now that my baby is crawling, his fingernails get SO filthy - full of dirt! Besides, it’s hard to cut them; it is so much trouble and takes so much time. Because of the dirt and bacteria getting under his nails, and then into his nose and mouth, he’s sick all the time and getting infections. What can I do?

-Doctor: Ma’am, the best solution would be to immediately schedule an appointment to cut your baby’s fingertips off. A solution to last a lifetime!

-You: What?! How can you even think I would cut off my son’s fingertips?

-Doctor: But this is very normal. Lots of moms do it now. It’s harmless, really! We only cut a little piece at the tip of the finger, a very small bit. Only the part where the nail begins to grow. His hands really work exactly the same; but you’ll spare yourself of the trouble of cleaning his nails and trimming them - forever! You won’t even need to teach him how to wash his nails when he grows up.

-You: But doesn’t that hurt?

-Doctor: Absolutely not. Babies this age cannot yet feel pain, and even if they did, they won’t remember it.



Scenario 2:

-Doctor: It’s a girl! Mrs. X, I must remind you that your health care plan will cover the expenses in case you want to perform a radical mastectomy on your baby. The sooner, the better.

-You: A what?

-Doctor: You know, to completely remove her mammary glands. Breast cancer is now the second cause of death in Mexico for women over 25, and it’s more common every day! If we do the procedure on your daughter, you’ll forever forget about that risk. You could save her life! It’s better now that she’s a baby and she won’t remember. No cancer for her - ever! It’s becoming routine to do it when they’re this young. Remember, if you choose not to get the surgery, there’s still a 1 in 10 chance that she will have cancer and need the procedure anyway. Her mammary glands really do nothing but put her at deadly risk.

Scenario 3:

-Doctor: It’s a boy! So ma’am, we’re going for the appendectomy, right?

-You: Well, do you recommend it, doctor?

-Doctor: Absolutely. Look, more or less, four in every fifty children will have appendicitis at some point in their lives. And then it is a problem because if they don’t have the surgery immediately, they may die from peritonitis or septic shock. Now many parents choose to have the surgery done right after birth, and do away with the problem forever! We’ll remove it now, and spare ourselves from a scare when he’s older.

-You: But you’ll use anesthesia, right?

-Doctor: Oh no, that’s dangerous in newborns! We don’t apply anesthesia because then it would be a high-risk intervention. Besides, what’s the point? He’s so small and he can’t feel pain yet. He won’t even remember when he grows up.


Scenario 4:

-Doctor: Mrs. X, this is the third time in two years that your girl has had a urinary tract infection due to bad hygiene. Seriously, she needs to have surgery. These infections are much more common in girls than boys. You’ll see how quickly it is done - just a little cut to the labia, where the smegma accumulates, and that’s it. All better.


Scenario 5:

-You: Doctor, what can I do to keep my son from fracturing his foot for the third time?

-Doctor: Well, clearly, to amputate his feet would be the most effective solution!



Scenario 6:

-Doctor: Well, because we are already performing surgery on your son due to his accident, how would you like us to complete an aesthetic rhinoplasty? With an nice aesthetic nose he will be so much luckier with the ladies later on!...



If any of the situations above, as absurd and ridiculous as sound, seem impossible to us, we are being completely hypocritical. Because - surprise! - this is the very same twisted and ill-conceived logic that we’ve been applying to a single body part, of a single sex: the male genitalia.

It’s a completely altered, ashtray logic that we only apply to a male infant, when we decide we have the freedom to amputate a part of his penis… in a “preventive” manner.

Sure enough, there are societies where, in more egalitarian fashion, the same logic is applied to both sexes. There are societies that practice both female genital mutilation and male genital mutilation. For example, some sections of Indonesia, Malaysia, Somalia, Mali, Egypt, Kenya, etc.

There are also societies where, of course, neither FGM or MGM is practiced at all. But what’s despicable is the medical double standard, in societies where every individual’s body is highly respected, and amputation is a last, extreme resort - reserved solely for truly severe cases. Somehow, male genital mutilation has slipped in as a common, acceptable amputation surgery that a baby boy’s parents “have the right to choose.”

Let’s stop deceiving ourselves: every circumcision is an amputation, because it irreversibly removes an organ that has a name, specific functions, and the purpose of creating a normal sexual response. It is an organ that is healthy and that will no longer exist on the individual’s body after the surgery. Words such as “removal” or “extirpation” mean the exact same: am-pu-ta-tion. We cannot disguise it. Male circumcision is an amputation. And one that should only be decided upon by the owner of the body and no one else.

Rarely does a healthy human being need an amputation of anything. And, in the rest of the medical universe, amputations are rarely practiced. The need might arise because of severe, dated infections; extended, severe and uncared-for wounds; or because of gangrene (which is often the consequence of extended, severe and uncared-for wounds). Diabetes, for example, causes circulatory failures and a certain type of gangrene in the limbs, which sometimes makes an amputation necessary. But, again, those are cases of disease - uncared-for disease that has lasted a long time.


When is an amputation necessary?

• Malignant tumors
• Gangrene
• Severe frostbite (which is somewhat similar to gangrene: the organ or limb dies because the tissue is destroyed)
• Severe damage or trauma. For example, if one nearly loses an arm in an accident. If the arm remains only linked to the body by a very small part, and there is no way to recover it, amputation may be wise if the arm will only remain there as an infected limb.


No one in the medical establishment ever uses amputation as:

• A method of prevention
• Prophylaxis (as supposed “hygiene”)
• A first solution for treating infections
• A first solution for treating tight skin
• A first solution for treating anything

…Unless we are talking about the male prepuce. It is the only body part that we have not conceded the same respect to. Why are we getting carried away by such fallacy, such twisted logic? Why do we respect female genitalia, which by the way is more prone to infection and harder to clean than male genitalia, and yet we never, ever, cut away parts of it? In fact, in some nations (like the U.S.) there are federal laws in place to protect the female genitalia of minors from unnecessary cutting!

Something very similar has happened to our country’s medical establishment. We’ve ended up seeing this amputation (only this one, and exclusively this one), as something normal, desirable, "decidable by parents," aesthetic, hygienic, healthy. This is the only little loophole where no one seems to remember the Hippocratic Oath, or the need to use amputation only as a very last resort in rare and severe cases. We have conceded this amputation a sort of respect that it does not deserve. We have placed it into its own category within medical practice. (Look in many Healthcare Insurance Plans pamphlets: male circumcision really does have its own chapter).


The case becomes shamelessly lunatic when we realize that, today, many studies have been conducted concerning HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases which seek to legitimize the practice of male genital amputation on healthy individuals. These studies hold amputation as a starting point, and not the illness itself. How did we ever let this happen? What other medical study has ever started from the premise of amputation, and then tried to prove its use for something? To first push for genital mutilation, and then attempt to prove it to be good disease prevention.

Let’s imagine that an orthopedic surgeon performs a similar study:

“Medical research conducted by Doctor A. Smith, using experimental samples of individuals from Tanzania, has concluded that foot amputation definitely bears a positive effect in the prevention of various diseases and conditions; such as foot fractures, athlete’s foot and other kinds of fungi, ingrown toenails, and foot wound infections. When performed on newborns, amputation can also completely prevent accidents concerning “hair tourniquets,” a dangerous condition that happens when a hair or fine thread gets wrapped strongly around a toe, cutting blood supply. Out of 1,000 analyzed individuals, those who had feet amputations performed had a 95% lower chance of presenting ANY of these conditions, diseases and accidents!”

Doctor A. Smith is not lying. Amputating body parts does keep us from potentially having any trouble with those parts later. Because if we amputate, these organs or limbs no longer exist. Just as killing my neighbors would help me avoid any trouble with them in the future...

But that is such twisted logic that no one in their right mind would use. The body deserves respect. The body deserves treatment options. And it deserves integrity. It deserves our realization that every one of its amazing parts bears an important function - each and every one present to do something vital for normal health and funcitoning.

Would we support similar HIV studies if they were seeking to conclude that FGM is good disease prevention? No, we would probably dismiss such "research" as being unethical, and possibly a bit insane. As western women, we have been whole and healthy for centuries, knowing how to prevent and treat disease without resorting to amputation. By the way, these studies on women do exist. And yes, the results were that circumcised women had a lower chance of getting infected with HIV. Now who said there was no equality among the sexes...?

Unfortunately, too many of us allow ourselves to be sold nonsense justifications for amputation, for the most hollow and false reasons. Those of us sold on the surgery have an easier time if we also buy into the lies - "babies feel no pain" and "it won't hurt." If circumcision actually were helpful in reducing HIV, or sexually transmitted infections, or the latest "disease of the decade" then all our clinical trials would work the other way around. We would analyze the illness, and then conclude that it is solely and exclusively caused by this one body organ, and that amputation is truly the only way. But because this has never been, and likely never will be the case, we continue on in our desperate attempts to keep up with the myths and reinvent the latest "need" for prepuce amputation.


Clara Franco is the director of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers Mexico chapter. Read more from Franco (in Spanish) at Mexico Intacto, follow at Mexico Intacto on Facebook, or find Franco's work in English also at:

Is the Pain of Circumcision Truly "Brief"?

Intactivists: Those Uncommon Activists

Related items: 


Routine Toe Removal Has Health Benefits


For further resources on the prepuce, circumcision, and intact care, see: Are You Fully Informed?


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Friday, November 12, 2010

FREE SHIPPING This Weekend on All Advocacy Gear


We've had several requests to inform readers when the next FREE SHIPPING sale was at MadeByMomma and it's going on now through this Sunday, Nov 14, at midnight EST.

Whether you grab one item, or one hundred items ~ it is all free shipping!

U.S. Code: SHOPEARLYUS

Canada Code: CADSHOPEARLY

Note: we have two 'volunteer from home' moms who organize these items into categories. However, they are not made by, sold by, or shipped by peaceful parenting. We solely organize the items so that interested parents can more easily find what they are looking for, and add requests or designs donated to us. If you are looking for a particular color, sleeve length, text, or phrase, email us at peacefulparents@gmail.com and we'll help you find it. For shipping or purchasing questions, contact Spreadshirt at: 1-800-381-0815 Mo-Fr 8am-8pm EST.

Thank you to all the readers who have sent in their photos and allowed us to share with others ~ such outstanding advocates you are! :) 

Here is a small sampling of items from the categories available (click title jump to that page selection):










  

 onesie for in hospital











 onesie for daycare/babysitter/doctors visit


 onesie for in hospital



  


















  














  





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