Don't Retract Pack

March Top Ten!

The past few months we've been taking a glance back at the top ten most read items on that month. This serves to satisfy the curious - what others are reading and passing along - as well as to provide a quick and easy catch-up if you're new around here.

Via these links you can also find the Top 10 of 2010; January's Top Ten; and February's Top Ten.

As we move into April (Child Abuse Prevention Month) we pass through Genital Integrity Awareness Week occurring right now (March 28 - April 3), and it seems to be reflected in items being read and shared. Keep speaking up! Planting seeds. Raising awareness. Making a difference - one baby, one child, one parent at a time.

March Top Ten

#10 Healthy Infant Sleep

#9 The Day I Withdrew From Nursing School

#8 The Downside to Feeding Your Child Cow's Milk

#7 "Babywise" Linked to Babies' Dehydration, Failure to Thrive

#6 Routine Toe Removal Has Health Benefits

#5 Human Ovulation Clearly Photographed for First Time in History

#4 Human Milk 4 Human Babies After Japan Tsunami
The biggest critiques of this post came pouring into our inbox from artificial baby feed manufacturers in the United States... 

#3 Circumcision Gone Wrong: Lantz' Story
Thank you to Brooke for speaking up about mistakes made so that other mothers and their sons do not have to endure the same. You are a hero!

#2 When Doctors Lost All Hope, A Mother's Love and Healing Touch Saves Her Sick Micro Preemie Baby 
If you need a really encouraging story - this is it! Cheri describes a few aspects of the powers of a mother's love and devotion to her little baby.

#1 He Didn't Cry: Babies in Shock
The number one most read post during the month of March was initially put up in honor of two little babies subjected to MGM this month. One is the relative of an admin at peaceful parenting - a tiny little nephew born premature to parents who had all the resources in their laps (over $200 worth of journal articles, scholarly books, DVDs, and materials) to become fully informed, and they refused to look at even one item on the subject, electing to cut their baby blindly. After this fresh newborn came into the world premature via c-section, he was saddled with infection and had great difficulty breathing. He was placed on antibiotics and oxygen. He was not held by his own parents for several days, and was then taken from the NICU to have a portion of his small, perfectly formed penis cut off. The other little baby was born at full term and was doing well - nursing and happy in his momma's arms - until he was cut. He endured post-op bleeding after going home from the hospital, and despite his mother's return to the emergency room to inquire about her baby's circumcision wound bleeding, he lost his life to hemorrhage later that evening. Not one baby out there deserves this type of entrance into the world. Let's protect our little ones, recognize that their bodies are perfectly and purposefully made, and love them deeply.


Could it be Restless Legs Syndrome?

By Susun S. Weed

Legs that twitch and tremble. Legs that shake and ache. Creepy, crawly, tingly, burning, tugging, itching, prickling sensations that make you want to move your legs. It could be restless leg syndrome (RLS), especially if it strikes when you try to go to sleep and wakes you in the night. (Yes, it can include your arms.)

Also called Ekbon syndrome, hereditary acromelalgia, anxietas tibialis, or leg jitters, RLS is a fairly common problem. It affects 20% of all pregnant women and 15% of all Americans over the age of 50.

RLS frequently puts in a brief appearance during menopause, so the figures may be higher among menopausal women, but is most likely to bother women after menopause. RLS is both a movement and a sleep disorder, and tends to run in families.

Modern medicine has little understanding of RLS, and few ways to ease it. (It may be related to kidney function - half of all those with kidney failure have RLS as a consequence.) The Woman Ways gathered here have been passed from grandmother to granddaughter for generations, offering relief and aiding sleep. They are listed in order of increasing harm. The first remedy is the safest; the last one is the most dangerous. This article is a condensed version of the restless legs syndrome chapter in New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way: Alternative Approaches for Women 30-90.

~ Simply observe the feelings and movements in your legs. Remain the observer. No need to change anything. Nothing to do. Mind serene. Emotions at peace.

~ The movement of chi (life force energy) through the body is variously described as the flowing of water, the flaring of a fire, the pushing of the wind, the pulling of the earth. These are also descriptions of the sensations of RLS. Energy flow notably (and sometimes uncomfortably) increases in the body after menopause. It is possible that what you are experiencing is "merely" that (and chi, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, is stored in the kidneys). Channel the energy up out of your legs and into creative or healing endeavors.

~ Ann Landers says putting a bar of soap in bed with you will calm those crampy, restless legs down fast. She offers no scientific explanation, but claims it is harmless if it doesn't work, and effective if it does.

~ Muscles that lack minerals - especially calcium and magnesium - go into spasms and quiver. If this sounds like your legs, reach for a big glass of nourishing oatstraw infusion. Make it by placing one ounce by weight (a cup by volume) of dried oatstraw into a quart jar, which is then filled to the top with boiling water and tightly lidded. Brew for four or more hours, then strain and refrigerate for no more than two days. Drink hot or cold, sweetened or not. I regularly drink mellow oatstraw, 2-4 cups a day, several times a week.

~ Work those legs, and they're more likely to stay quiet at night. So exercise it is. If you are stuck behind a desk, run in place sitting in your chair for several minutes every hour and take a walk during your lunch break.

~ Low blood levels of iron, with or without anemia, are strongly linked to onset and worsening of RLS. Boost iron by consuming lots of molasses or by drinking nourishing nettle infusion. (Prepare the same as oatstraw infusion, using a full ounce of dried nettle to a quart of boiling water and steeping for at least four hours.) If you have RLS due to end-stage kidney failure, nettle is an exceptional ally for you. I was told by a student that she avoided a kidney transplant by drinking nettle infusion daily. Nettle not only builds iron but it strengthens the kidneys, too.

~ RLS is also associated with folic acid anemia and a B vitamin deficiency. Red clover infusion is rich in both, as are oatstraw and nettle.

~ Losing sleep because of RLS: A dropperful/1 ml of St. Joan's wort (Hypericum) tincture, taken 5-10 minutes before lying down, can help prevent spasms all night. Sleep-inducing herbs, such as valerian, may worsen the problem, but a cup of chamomile tea or a mug of warm milk will encourage sound sleep without side-effects.

~ A warm bath before bed can keep your limbs quiet all night. Massage definitely helps too.

~ When RLS wakes you in the night: Stretchhhhhhhh those muscles by pointing your toes away from you and imagining that someone is pulling on your leg.

~ Eliminate coffee and alcohol for a month. Sometimes this effects a complete "cure."

~ Alternate hot and cold packs on your legs for a half-hour before bedtime.

~ A cup or two of kava kava with dinner will relax your legs by bedtime and give you giggles in your dreams. (Warning: Avoid capsules or pills of kava kava.)

~ The grandmothers' favorite remedy for cranky legs is a sip of tonic water before bed. Its quinine content is no doubt responsible, but the refined sugar you also get is not healthy, so use this remedy is moderation.

~ Some drugs may trigger the onset or worsen already existing RLS. They include: calcium channel blockers, anti-nausea drugs, tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), lithium, some cold and allergy medications, and the anticonvulsant drug phenytoin.

~ Drugs used to control (there is no known cure) RLS include: Dopaminergic agents (such as levodopa), which can worsen symptoms over the long run. Dopamine agonists, whose long-term effects remain unknown. Opiates, which are addictive, but incredibly effective. And, when all else fails, anticonvulsants and benzodiazepines. Needless to say, there are severe side-effects and little guarantee of improvement with these drugs.

Whether you have a diagnosis or simply suspect you have Restless Legs Syndrome, Wise Woman Ways offer simple, safe, accessible remedies to ease your legs and build your health/wholeness/holiness.

The Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation for further information.

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 Gone Wrong: Lance's Story


Note: This article has been removed at the author's request. 

It was one of several that was taken and used by another group without the author's permission
or original edits to the text and names. 

Please be respectful of others' work and do not copy/paste items from without explicit permission of the author/creator/photographer. 

Our guest authors have the ability to make edits, additions or changes as they deem necessary,
and when others take work from peaceful parenting,
this renders authors unable to make these alterations to their own work. 

It is also disrespectful and unethical to do so,
and prevents a large audience from benefiting from this work.

Help us reach out to parents in need and save little ones
along the way by respecting the work that is shared here.

For additional information on this article, or to contact authors, write to


To learn more about the prepuce (foreskin), intact care and circumcision, see: Are You Fully Informed?

If you have a circumcised son, and are interested in keeping future sons intact, hear from others who have done the same, and join in conversations on pages linked here.

He Didn't Cry: Babies in Shock

Posted in honor of Griffin Starr, who entered this world perfect, suffered infection and breathing difficulties, and was taken from the NICU
to be cut this weekend. May your suffering and loss not be in vain. May many more, in your honor, be spared what you endured
at the hand of those who refused information for your sake. See below for photo credits.

This little one is not screaming. He is not sleeping. But he has gone into shock: a semi-comatose state that the human body slips into in order to physically survive extreme pain and trauma.

After the cutting of his genitals is complete, this little baby may sleep for many hours a day over the next several days or weeks (much more than is normal or healthy for a newborn, and similar to the deep depressive-state sleep that adults often slip into after trauma). He may experience severe 'colic' for weeks and months to come, as his body attempts to heal itself and deal with the very real pain and suffering of both a festering amputation wound, and post-traumatic stress. His cortisol levels (stress hormones) remain high. His metabolic brain functioning has changed. He may have trouble nursing or gaining weight, and he has a significantly greater risk of being deemed a 'failure to thrive' case. He will likely experience pain to a heightened degree in the future, even into adulthood. And his normal sexual functioning is forever impacted as a result of this alteration in form.

There are many side effects to the genital cutting of a human baby. Today, 68% of U.S. parents, 91% of Canadian parents, and the majority of the rest of the world keep their sons intact from birth. Please, be fully informed for the sake of your child.

Full Saturday Evening Post article on circumcision:

Photo Credit:
This photo was originally printed in the December 1981 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. It was one of several images published in an eye-opening piece on the realities of infant circumcision. The horrors of this image are mild in comparison to the other photographs highlighting the brutality of genital cutting. Rosemary Romberg, author of Circumcision: Painful Dilemma, purchased the slides from the Saturday Evening Post in order to ensure they remained publicly available. She has the photos displayed on her website, Peaceful Beginnings, and granted permission to post here.


Bedtime Dances By Candlelight

By Danelle Frisbie © 2011

There are some moments of mothering that are just too special to share with anyone but the little ones with whom you live them. Others seem almost too splendid not to offer an outsider a glimpse of, if for no other reason than just to let new moms-to-be know how pristine and blissful even the otherwise trivial and mundane times are with a securely attached baby. And how fleeting these days are... how few of them we really have to hold and nurse and rock and sing to our little ones. We only get this one chance to tenderly care for this new human life, quickly growing and changing right before our eyes. To wrap our love around them and meet their every need, protecting and comforting all the while, as we let them develop their own wings to fly. We have this one shot to 'do it right' and soak in every breath of this beautiful little child.

I suppose I must preface this with a secret confession. What seems like eons ago, while living a never-dull life as a single woman plowing through graduate programs and tackling all the amazing adventures and challenges that crossed my path, I would occasionally take an evening to just sit at home, turn off my phone, put on some tunes, light some candles, and sing (often accompanied with dancing) ~ solo ~ in my living room. There was some sort of healing that came from this blessingway into whatever followed the next day. On more than one occasion, one specific song tugging at my soul would be set on 'repeat' and played over and over and over again. (I cannot be the only one in the world who has done this, right?!) In any event - now with a family who often needs their early evening shut eye for even earlier mornings that come too soon, and an energy level that isn't quite up to par with my years as a 20-something-year-old, these singing and dancing and reflecting by candlelight nights don't come along too often. But tonight... oh, tonight. It was heavenly. 

My son, all 31 months of chubby goodness, finished getting his 'night-times' on, just as a gentle, sweet song started drifting out from iTunes. It begged me to hum along to its not-yet familiar tune, as my sleepy son toddled into the other room to retrieve our apple soy candle. He brought it to me with a sweet smile and glisten in his eye. He loves candles (which could scare me if I recollect too intensely my own brother's fascination with fire when we were kids...) But I figured why not go with it, and do something he and I have never done before - drift into dreamland by candlelight.

So we turned off all the lights. Placed the candle on a little bench by our rocking chair. Set iTunes on repeat (ah, yes, good thing he doesn't mind my song selection at the age of 2). We struck a match, and as the flame flickered, we rocked, and nursed. We snuggled and sang. Drifting deeper, one lyrical line at a time. The moonlight now taking my place, with its solo dancing on our window pane, and our candle answering back.

This is the really good stuff that mothering is made of. 

And I wouldn't trade it for all the sleep training or early bedtimes or parent-directed-schedules or premature weaning in the world. I only have this one chance. And if there's a single thing the decade of my roaring 20s taught me, it's that you can sleep later. For now, soak it all in, and dance (with your baby)!


Kangaroo Mother Care

By Patricia Törngren, CCE © 2011

Numerous studies over more than two decades have shown that what is now known as Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), is best for both full-term and premature babies in every way. When separated from their mothers, babies' vital signs show that they are in distress (breathing, heart rate, temperature, hormones, etc. become irregular), but when reunited with their mothers, babies' vital signs normalise, and they begin to thrive.

Healthy Babies

All "healthy" newborns (including premature babies above 2.5lbs) should be place skin-to-skin on the mother's naked chest and kept there permanently, or as much as is possible, immediately after birth. Pediatric examinations or resuscitation can be done on the mother's chest if needed. Mother and baby can be covered by a warm blanket if the room is cold, and a knitted cap on the baby's head will prevent heat loss through the head.

If medical assistance is needed, it can be given on the mother's chest. Babies can be tube fed, on IV drips and on ventilators while on the mother's chest, and babies' vital signs stabilise better in their natural habitat (skin-to-skin with their mother) than if they are placed in incubators or heated cots. If removed from their mothers, newborns make high levels of cortisol (a stress hormone that can cause brain damage) but when returned to their mother's chest, their hormones normalise.

Breastfeeding should be initiated within the first hour of life if the baby is mature enough to be able to suck, and should continue on cue nursing from then on. In the case of undrugged, full term babies, it is best to place them on their mother's chest, with the baby's head between her breasts. Using his sense of smell and the grasp reflex (along with "head bobbing") the baby will self-attach to the breast, and is more likely to get the correct latch-on position, than if baby were held and assisted in finding the breast. (Drugged and premature babies may need assistance).

On discharge from the hospital, the mother should be encouraged to wear her baby, skin-to-skin in a kangaroo carrier, or other carrier where the mother wraps her baby on her chest, throughout the day. At night the baby should sleep within an arm's reach of his mother, either on a safe bed sleeping surface, or in a side-crib attached to the mother's bed. Mom should be able to touch her baby at all times, and baby's vitals will be regulated by being close to his mother. In this environment, a baby is also reassured by the sound of his mother's breathing, heartbeat, touch and smell. Breastfeeding should continue on cue.

Ill Babies

In the case of very tiny, or ill babies, they may need incubator care, but if this is necessary, the mother should be encouraged to be with her baby as much as possible, with her hand in the incubator, touching her baby, reassuring her baby of her presence. Through touch and the sound of her voice, a baby's stress hormones decrease and vitals regulate. If the mother is ill as well and unable to be with her baby, her baby should be wrapped skin-to-skin on the father's chest. If the baby is in an incubator, the father should be with the baby, touching and talking to the baby as much as possible. The baby will recognise his father's voice, and be reassured by his presence. Babies tube fed in the NICU should receive their mother's pumped milk, or the milk of another mother. And exclusive diet of human milk benefits premature babies, and the sicker a newborn is, the more desperately he needs this healing gold.

In the case of very ill babies, they should still be held skin-to-skin on their mother's chest for as many hours per day as is possible, and the mother can sit in a comfortable reclining chair in the NICU nursery to do so. Normal Kangaroo Mother Care should be instituted as soon as possible. If very tiny premature twins are born needing incubator care, they should be placed together in the same incubator. Twin babies who can feel each other's presence physically survive better than if they are separated.

Babies born with conditions that are incompatible with life, should be kept on their mother's chest so that they are not distressed during their short lives. Having held her dying baby will also help the mother to grieve and let go. Very tiny babies, believed to be dead, should also be placed skin-to-skin on the mother. There are numerous documented cases of these babies "miraculously reviving" from the warmth of their mother's body and the reassuring sound of her heartbeat.

Kangaroo Mother Care is summed up well with this simple lesson: Never separate a mother and her newborn unless it is absolutely unavoidable.

Kangaroo Mother Care Notes

The process of holding a baby on one's chest, skin-to-skin, is referred to as Kangaroo Mother Care. However, it is a practice that all mammals participate in naturally (watch a cat with her new kittens or dog with her newborn puppies). Kangaroo Mother Care benefits all human babies as well, and especially NICU babies, in several ways.

*KMC babies stabilize faster with skin-to-skin care than in an incubator (very few newborns stabilize well within an incubator during the first fragile hours of life).

*KMC babies have stable oxygen rates and breathing thanks to the steady regulation of mother's respiration.

*A KMC baby's heart rate is stable (mother's heartbeat regulates baby's heartbeat).

*A baby's temperature is most stable on his mother - in skin-to-skin care mother's chest automatically warms to warm a cold baby, while her core temperature drops if baby is too warm and needs to be cooled.

*Sleeping within an arm's reach of baby (as long as a parent does not smoke) also regulates all of his physiological needs in the same way ~ they are kept steady thanks to Mom's warm, even-paced body. We lose far fewer babies to prematurity, irregularity of breathing or heartbeat after birth, and SIDS all with the natural help of skin-to-skin holding, or Kangaroo Care.

Read more about the skin-to-skin benefits for all babies (full term and premature) at

Related Books on KMC:

The Premature Baby Book

The Vital Touch

Kangaroo Babies

Related Articles on KMC:

When Doctors Lost All Hope, A Mother's Love and Healing Touch Saves Her Sick Micro Preemie Baby

Kangaroo Mother Care Saves 2lb Premature Twin, Baby Jamie

Mother's Skin-to-Skin Goodbye Saves 20oz Baby

Exclusive Human Milk Diet Benefits NICU Preterm Babies

Also by Patricia Törngren:

Primal Parenting: Giving Babies the Best Start in Life

Primal Parenting Page

Babywearing info cards available at Etsy.
These small cards are excellent to encourage babywearing parents you see, 
or for giving to nay-sayers when you are wearing your little one.

Everyone Else's Children Matter Too

photo courtesy of peaceful parenting mom, Erin Davey

"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the welfare of our children is intimately linked to the welfare of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. If one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will be responsible for the violent act. The good life for our own children can be secured only if a good life is also secured for all other people's children."

~Lilian Katz

Lilian Katz, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Early Childhood Education at the University of Illinois, and former president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. In addition, Katz formerly directed the ERIC Clearinghouse for Early Childhood Education and published several works including Talks with Teachers of Young Children, and Engaging Children's Minds: The Project Approach. For thirteen years Katz wrote a regular column for Parents Magazine and is now chair of the editorial board of the International Journal of the Early Years published in the United Kingdom.

Human Milk 4 Human Babies After Japan Tsunami

We at peaceful parenting, along with the Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network, express our sincere condolences to the people of Japan.

In emergency situations like this, ensuring access to human milk for human babies saves many lives. However, this milk must come from mothers already on the ground in Japan. To those looking on and longing to help, your compassion is meaningful and heartfelt, but please place it into some of the suggestions below and do not send infant formula or pumped milk to Japan.

UNICEF has demonstrated time and time again that formula-feeding during disaster situations brings about infection, diarrhea, dehydration, malnutrition and death to a much greater degree than if formula would have never been sent in the first place. In tsunami struck areas, where clean water is hard to come by, feeding babies artificially truly is a formula for disaster.

Following the earthquake in Indonesia, UNICEF had to issue a stop on all donations of formula because of the havoc it was reeking on Indonesian babies. UNICEF has found that when formula is sent to disaster locations, babies under the age of two are fed this artificial concoction (often mixed with unclean water) twice as often as they would be if formula was not donated, and relief organizations were allowed to work with mothers and babies solely on their own (with monetary support from outsiders). In addition, UNICEF has found that infants under six months of age fed donated formula (often sent from well meaning Americans) are twice as likely to get problematic diarrhea than those who do not receive any artificial feeds. Babies between six and 23 months of age are five times more likely to develop diarrhea and other dehydrating and digestive health complications if fed formula post-disaster, than they were prior to the event.

The very best solution is for a baby to be nursed at his mother's breast, and if she is no longer there for him, to be nursed by another mother. The Human Milk 4 Human Babies Japan chapter is open and mother-to-mother milk donations are underway as needed. If there is no way whatsoever for an orphaned baby to be fed human milk, then the CDC and AAP report it is much safer for the health of a disaster area infant to have ready-made formula (which does not need to be mixed with water). The Red Cross continues to emphasize that it is much faster for relief organizations to collect funds and distribute what is truly needed to the people on the ground, giving both mothers and babies necessary support and supplies, rather than having Americans send over unnecessary and often damaging items.

If a Japanese mother uses the donated formula (or pumped milk) you send over, she reduces or stops nursing her baby. This creates a problem first and foremost because her baby is not getting the immediate immuno protective properties of her milk at a time when s/he needs them the most. Second, it increases her risk of clogged ducts and mastitis or other breast infections, swelling, and discomfort from inadequate emptying and/or sudden weaning. And finally, artificially feeding with this donated formula or milk causes a rapid reduction in her own milk supply, and when donations run out, all of a sudden this mother is left with no way to feed her baby. No formula. No milk. No options.

More than anything, in the midst of a disaster as we are currently witnessing in Japan, human babies need human milk and mothers need support, shelter, food, and safety. So donate your dollars to help with relief organizations already on the ground, providing people with what they need, giving mothers and their nursing babies food and shelter, and pass along the availability of Human Milk 4 Human Babies milk sharing to parents you may know in Japan.

The International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) also issued a press release this morning, discouraging any donation of formula to Japan due to the resulting increase in it brings in infant and nursing mother illness and disease rates. Instead, ILCA offers several suggestions for relief work in Japan or other disaster locations:

* Encourage mothers to continue breastfeeding to give infants sanitary, safe nutrition, to help fight infection and disease, and to keep infants warm.

* Feed the mother so she can, in turn, feed her infant.

* Provide a safe environment for breastfeeding or expressing milk, including providing a private area or a way to breastfeed discreetly, if the mother desires it.

* Assist mothers who are separated from their infants with regular milk removal to maintain their milk production and avoid engorgement. If a nursing child has passed away in the tragedy, there are additional suggestions offered here which can help her relieve pressure and avoid clogged ducts, mastitis and other infection. She may also wish to nurse another baby or give her milk to another mother. Many moms have stated that this gift - to donate their milk, or nurse a baby in need - was healing during the loss of their own child.

* Provide donor human milk from a human milk bank if a mother is injured or unable to directly breastfeed.

* Assist mothers with re-establishing their milk production if they have already weaned their baby. This process is referred to as "relactation" and it can save lives especially in disaster areas where human milk is the most healing liquid available.

* Provide mothers with accurate information and support to continue providing their infants with the best protection of all: mother’s milk. The baseline health provided by, and the medicinal properties of, mother's milk, simply cannot be replicated.

Related Resources: 

The Infant Feeding in Emergencies Core Group has resources for mothers, caregivers and families, as well as for emergency responders and health care providers.

Reasons NOT to Send Formula or Breastmilk to Haiti or other Disaster Locations

Formula For Disaster [video]  

Infant Feeding in Emergencies Facebook Page

Infant and young child feeding in emergencies [Emergency Nutrition Network]

ILCA Japan Press Release [pdf]

Human Milk 4 Human Babies Japan

Human Milk 4 Human Babies Homepage

Breastfeeding Resources Page [books, websites, articles]

When Doctors Lost All Hope, A Mother's Love & Healing Touch Saves Her Sick Micro Preemie Baby

By Cheri Lee © 2011

Cheri and Baby Sam

When my son Sam was about 9 weeks old (-5 weeks adjusted as he was born 14 weeks premature) the chronic lung disease he suffered with had progressed to a point that doctors began serious interventions. He had been diagnosed with cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common virus that can be fatal to immune compromised people like premature babies. His oxygen saturation was dropping below a safe level for a baby of his tiny size and age. His illness was spiraling out of control, and doctors told me the next step would be to chemically paralyze him.

It is a fairly common treatment in neonatal intensive care units to use an intravenous paralytic to keep infants completely immobilized so that they can heal, or to prevent them from fighting with medical equipment like ventilators. Sam was trying to breath against the vent, which was preventing the proper exchange of oxygen.

Physicians administered the drug, set his ventilator to the proper support, stopped his breastmilk feeding pump, and told me he would be sedated enough with another drug to stay asleep under the paralytic. They told me he needed to stay in the dark, with a closed isolette, and minimal stimulation. I had to stop reading to him, stop singing to him, and stop touching him other than the one time every six hours that I was allowed to change his diaper, lubricate his eyes (they were open all the time due to the paralytic), and switch his position a little.

I sat next to his dark box every day watching his numbers. He wasn't getting better. In fact, he was getting worse.

Sam's darkest days

After a week or so, his little body had retained about two pounds of fluid, which is a great amount for a little baby who is under four pounds to begin treatment. Sam's eyes had become swollen shut, his tongue swelled out of his mouth, and his head had ridges from not being able to move from side to side. Every blood vessel was visible through his pale body, and tears would stream from his eyes, down his face, whenever nurses would stick rigid suction catheters up his nose to remove the mucous he wasn't able to swallow due to the paralytic.

He spiraled downward to a point where doctors told me they had tried everything, and it wasn't going to work. On the last day of the paralytic I stood there, helpless, as they used a bag to breath for my baby boy. They switched his ventilator to a machine that shook his swollen, limp little body all over the place. They poked at him, assaulted him, and eventually threw their arms up and said they would try it all over again later.

I began sobbing. I could barely form words. It had to stop. I shouted, “Leave him alone! Just stop... It's not fair. Please just leave him alone.” I told the nurse to stop the flow of the paralytic and the doctor commented that, “We usually take them off the paralytic before 'unplugging' them anyway...” He had doomed my baby to death.

I pushed everyone out of the room. And I opened Sam's isolette. I rested my hand on his pale and puffy little belly, and started reading Horton Hears a Who over and over and over again. I sang to him. I stroked his legs. I pumped a tiny bit of breastmilk and swabbed his lips and the inside of his cheeks with it every few hours.

After about thirty minutes of our time together, his terribly low oxygen levels started to rise. By night fall his numbers were higher than they had been in over a week. As the paralytic wore off he began to show signs of life. He wrinkled his forehead like he was angry. It was the first time he had been able to move in days and he was not happy about it.

He began sucking on his vent tube and was soon able to open his eyes. His fingers and toes followed with wiggles, and eventually he regained all movement. Over the next few days my mom and I massaged his legs with lavender lotion, continued to swab his lips and mouth with breastmilk, and I read and sang to him until my voice was hoarse. I kept my hands on him every single second I could, and talked to him even while he slept.

Sam snuggling on his Momma in his wrap

Sam made a complete and total turn around. It was October when I started this care for my baby, and about a week before Christmas he was taken off the vent completely and able to breath on his own - finally!

Every specialist and doctor and nurse who had worked with Sam during his NICU stay would come in and tell me his progress and well being was because of my care and my dedication to him. I didn't need to hear this to know it was true, but it was nice to know that they recognized the efforts that saved Sam's life.

Sam's Daddy wears him in his Sleepy Wrap

Today, Sam shows no signs of an oxygen deprived baby. He's finally home after 205 days in the hospital, and even though he has some physical delays and small medical set backs, there is nothing he can't grow out of with time and love and gentle mothering.

It is fact that if I hadn't stepped in and taken over his care in the NICU the way that I did, my little Sam would have died. They call him a miracle baby. But to me it's simple, natural "medicine" - a mother's love and touch is the first treatment any infant needs to be well.

 Happy Sam today!

Kangaroo Mother Care Notes

The process of holding a baby on one's chest, skin-to-skin, is referred to as Kangaroo Mother Care. However, it is a practice that all mammals participate in naturally (watch a cat with her new kittens or dog with her newborn puppies). Kangaroo Mother Care benefits all human babies as well, and especially NICU babies, in several ways.

*KMC babies stabilize faster with skin-to-skin care than in an incubator (very few newborns stabilize well within an incubator during the first fragile hours of life).

*KMC babies have stable oxygen rates and breathing thanks to the steady regulation of mother's respiration.

*A KMC baby's heart rate is stable (mother's heartbeat regulates baby's heartbeat).

*A baby's temperature is most stable on his mother - in skin-to-skin care mother's chest automatically warms to warm a cold baby, while her core temperature drops if baby is too warm and needs to be cooled.

*Sleeping within an arm's reach of baby (as long as a parent does not smoke) also regulates all of his physiological needs in the same way ~ they are kept steady thanks to Mom's warm, even-paced body. We lose far fewer babies to prematurity, irregularity of breathing or heartbeat after birth, and SIDS all with the natural help of skin-to-skin holding, or Kangaroo Care.

Read more about the skin-to-skin benefits for all babies (full term and premature) at

Related Books on KMC:

The Premature Baby Book

The Vital Touch

Kangaroo Babies

Related Articles on KMC:

Kangaroo Mother Care

Kangaroo Mother Care Saves 2lb Premature Twin, Baby Jamie

Mother's Skin-to-Skin Goodbye Saves 20oz Baby

Exclusive Human Milk Diet Benefits NICU Preterm Babies

Cheri Lee is mom to two children, Baby Sam, and her 14 year old daughter. Sam was born at 25 weeks, 6 days gestation, weighing 2lbs, 5oz. He was classified as a "micro preemie," with chronic lung disease, retinopothy of prematurity stage 2-3, CMV, reflux, multiple pneumonias, and patent ductus arteriosis. Lee says she "can say for sure that has helped Sam and I in so many ways! Between the information and support at peaceful parenting - it all came just in time!" Lee also heard of mother-to-mother milk sharing at peaceful parenting, which has come in helpful after her many months of pumping for Sam. Today, he is growing healthy and strong thanks to donor milk from mothers at Human Milk 4 Human Babies. You can read more of Sam's story at Sam I Am on Facebook.

Poem From A Cue-Fed Baby

photo courtesy of Lauren F. 

My trusty friend ~
You are always there for me.
Whether I’m sad or lonely
Hungry or thirsty
Hurt or tired.
You never judge me,
And you never expect anything in return.
When you’re near all my nightmares go away.
You make my dreams sweeter
And my days calmer.
You are warm,
Like a friend should be.
And when it’s cold outside
I know I can turn to you.
I love having a bosom-friend like you.
You always understand,
And listen without speaking.
You’re always there when I need you.
Boobie, I love you!

~ Michelle Abernathy

Read more by Michelle Abernathy:

STOP Circumcising Babies

Disclaimer: Images, with the exception of the first photo, have been sent to us from various readers. We do not advocate for the permanent stickering of public street signs. "STOP Circumcising Babies" vinyl decals are available on Etsy.

Photograph by Soleil Life.
In front of the White House, Washington Monument in background.
Washington D.C. Genital Integrity Awareness Week 2010

STOP Circumcising Babies - photo taken in 2009, Washington D.C.

 Atlanta, GA, 2010

Foggy Bottom ~ Washington, D.C., 2011

 photo taken in 2005, Washington D.C.

Cocoa Beach, FL, 2014

 Publix parking entrance - Atlanta, GA

New Brunswick, Canada, 2014


Circumcision Trauma

By Jessica Davis Olivera
Read more from Olivera at 4SKIN FTW
To learn more about the prepuce, intact care and circumcision, see resources at Are You Fully Informed?

No Longer Intact: My Son's Story

By Kelaiah Lynn Smalley © 2011

I have not been able to bring myself to tell my story until now, but I am hoping that in sharing, others may become more aware of the harm of genital mutilation.

My son was born in January of 1995 when I was just 19 years old. He was my first child, and only breastfed for a few weeks. He was born with the right testicle still in his groin and our pediatrician told us from the start that he would need surgery to bring it down if it didn't descend by 18 months of age. The issue of circumcision never came up at all during his well baby visits. In fact, I had no idea what circumcision was! I thought all babies were just born like my son (which they are), and eventually grew outward to look like my husband.

When my son's testicle still had not descended at his 18 month checkup, the doctor (who had just been assigned to us) said he needed orchiopexy, and we set the date. On the day of the surgery, there was no mention of circumcision as we were signing the surgery papers - not before or during or after. When the doctor came to speak to us post-orchiopexy, while our son was still under anesthesia, he made a casual comment to us that they were "going to go ahead and circumcise him." I asked what this meant. The doctor told us that it was not a big deal, just a simple procedure to prevent infections. They would remove some extra skin from the head of his penis. My Mom said she had to have it done to my little brother... and the doctor then turned to my husband and added that most "men are circumcised." In that moment, I wasn't given any information or time to think about it. I did ask about the pain of the procedure, and the doctor told us it wouldn't hurt him at all. We were not handed any papers to sign or consent to the circumcision surgery itself, and looking back I am not sure how the doctor was able to legally perform the amputation. I nodded my head when he told me it would not hurt my son... and I guess this was our agreeing to the circumcision.

After our sweet baby boy was awake and in recovery, the pressing thought crossed my mind that I had just allowed something terrible to happen to my baby. From birth he had been such a satisfied and happy baby, easy going and socially excited - but not after this. The first time he wet his diaper, and I went to change him, he was wincing with pain and whimpering. His little mutilated penis was so swollen, black and blue, bruised, and crusty with blood. The saddest thing is that my sweet boy wouldn't talk! He wouldn't interact! He was so withdrawn and no longer my happy, social toddler. The first ten days of healing, he just slept most of the time, and kept bleeding a little off and on, and crying. His sweet spirit was gone. And he was not the same emotionally. Where did my son go?

I was heavily pregnant with his sister at this time. And when she was born, his remaining babyhood was robbed due to how "high needs" she was. He didn't get the attention he deserved and his resentfulness escalated - toward me, his sister, and his Dad. His behavior worsened. He got kicked out of the nursery at church for being a bully before he was even two years old. But I see now that he was really hurting inside. I realize looking back that he was an emotionally, mentally, and physically injured boy who was struggling to stay happy, free from anger, and continue to enjoy life as he had those first 18 months.

To this day he struggles with depression and self esteem. And I blame myself. He does not enjoy hearing about the intactivism efforts I'm involved in, but he is very emotionally compassionate toward people in pain - especially his mommy! After I became an intactivist, and when I realized what I did to him as a toddler, I cried for weeks. He was there by my side, ready to accept my apology and forgive. He doesn't like me blaming myself. Even now, as I am finally writing this, it hurts so much inside and I am reliving the nightmare of it all with an elephant on my chest...and I cannot breathe.

I was looking through all our pictures last night and could not find the cute naked baby pictures - the intact ones I have of my whole, happy, son before his circumcision...

But today I will try not to let it upset me, because I want my son to know that I love him more than words can say, and that he is my world, no matter how he looks, or what he has or has not done, or what he will do in his life - he is my son, my very own boy. And while some things may be able to be taken from us, robbed from us without so much as a whisper of our consent, no one can take this from us.

I love you V., I am so sorry that I let this happen to you.
Thank you for forgiving me, 

One year ago, I inquired about a circumcision info pack from, not knowing how much her kindness, understanding and willingness to share with me and lend me that packet would mean to me, and change my life forever. Thank you, DrMomma. ❤

If you are reading my story, and would like a circumcision information pack, you can request one here. If you cannot afford the donation to cover the whole cost of materials and shipping, please write to me (through peaceful parenting at and I will see what I can do to cover the cost for you.


Kelaiah Lynn Smalley is mom to three children aged 16, 14, and 4 1/2. She mothers in an attachment parenting manner, homeschools, and advocates for children's rights both in real life and online. Read more from Smalley at SmalleLife

To hear from other parents with circumcised sons, or join with moms and dads keeping future sons intact, see items at: I Circumcised My Son: Healing From Regret

Resources on the prepuce organ (foreskin), intact care and circumcision are cataloged in Are You Fully Informed?

Onesies and Tees Available at MadeByMomma