What Peaceful Parenting Means to Our Family

By Sherri Carter, MS

I came across the phrase 'peaceful parenting' on Facebook, a social media platform for DrMomma.org. Here is what Danelle Frisbie writes about this style of parenting:
Peaceful parenting is essentially the effort to mother and father our babies and children in a manner that leads to their optimal health, happiness, and well-being. Peaceful parenting is as old as humanity itself, and is coherent with listening to our own mothering and fathering instincts, as well as tuning into the cues our little ones provide for us. As parenting that is normal, natural, primal and innate, it is not exactly the same as the pop-culture definition of ‘attachment parenting,’ and it is not a set of hard, fast methods or laws to follow. Peaceful parenting does no intentional harm. It is parenting based not only in natural human and mammalian experience, but also in hard science and evidence-based research.
So what does that mean? For us, it is a foundational principle for raising our son, Eli, who is almost three. In nature, other mammal mothers and fathers model desired behavior. We, as humans, do this as well - whether we are aware of it or not. As parents we make the conscious effort to model the behavior we desire, and even the emotional traits we wish for our son to learn. The traits/behaviors which guide us are empathyintrinsic value of self, and respect.

Because we want Eli to learn empathy towards others, we model empathy for him. His cries have always had value to us. We have always attended to his needs, both physical and emotional. We have never left him alone in a room 'crying it out.' There is so much research that shows this is detrimental to development, that I am shocked anyone would even consider doing such things to any child, of any age. Are there times Eli is upset and crying? Yes. But we are right there with him, holding him, giving him emotional support and comfort. Even at 2 ½, he knows to show empathy toward others because it’s been modeled to him all along. We have witnessed him comforting others who are upset, showing concern when someone is hurt, and sharing his toys with others (as well as a toddler can do), which he does pretty well.

Another value we are instilling in Eli is intrinsic value of self, or internal motivation, rather than external motivation which often comes with an attitude of “what’s in it for me?” Eli is learning right from wrong because it is right and wrong. He is not learning through external motivation, i.e. the reward/punishment system, other than purely natural consequences. (For example, if I jump off the bed, it hurts). There are no time-outs, which research has demonstrated to be ineffective for long-term learning, just as there are not rewards for desired behaviors. The idea of sticker charts for learning to go potty absolutely drives me crazy. A friend recently pointed out that as an adult, she has yet to have anyone give her a gold star for using the potty. He will get stickers because he likes stickers. This is the same with food. Food is not a reward or punishment. It fulfills a basic human need: hunger.

Another key to peaceful parenting, or natural parenting, is to treat children with the same respect you would an adult. I believe in my child’s ability to have his own mind, ideas and expression. I treat him with the same respect I expect him to show others. When I model this behavior to him, he then shows this behavior toward others. Is he perfect - other than me being a proud mama who thinks he’s always perfect? No. He’s still learning. And yes, we do have rules and boundaries, but we are more open with our boundaries than some parents may be. We really do not have to control every moment of his life.

In addition, we believe in free range parenting, which is basically allowing Eli to discover his world without us having to hover over him. It’s something I constantly work on, because I of course wish to protect him from every imaginable hurt and pain. I balance this with the knowledge that it is imperative for him to discover his world, and that, yes, unfortunately pain is part of it. This does not mean that I let him try flying off the roof to learn that he, in fact, can’t fly off the roof. But I also do not overprotect him from every bump or bruise he may or may not encounter. Eli is our first, and only child at this point, so I feel I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to allowing him to explore and discover his world. He is a very outgoing, free spirit and we nurture that spirit the best we can.

So what do we do when he is 'misbehaving' or not exhibiting what we consider appropriate behavior? First, we see misbehavior as the symptom, not the problem. We don’t punish the symptom, but rather address the root cause. When Eli is acting out, as with most people of all ages, it is an outward expression of some other issue. We ask ourselves, and him now that he is beginning to verbally express his needs/wants, if he is tired, hungry, bored, not feeling well, or maybe teething. When we address the root issue - guess what? - the so-called 'misbehavior' is taken care of. And, sometimes we are the problem! Eli will show a jump in emotional growth, become braver, desire to do more, become more self-sufficient, and we’re the ones still treating him like he’s a less capable infant. Just as we provide new clothes for his physical growth, we need to provide new expanded boundaries to accommodate his emotional growth as well.

Some reading may be thinking, “How sweet, just wait until he reaches five, or you have another baby... We’ll check in with you to see how you feel about peaceful parenting then...” What I do know is that this foundational principle of treating our child(ren) will not change. We are always learning and growing as parents, adapting to fit the needs of our child. What we do at almost three years of age is absolutely different than what we did at the newborn stage, so of course what we do at five will be different than what we do now. BUT we have the principles of respectintrinsic value of self, and empathy to guide us through those changes.

Sherri Carter, MS, is the author of Live Your Intentions, The Power of Action. She has been published in several national and local publications. Sherri, her husband Milo, and their son Eli, live and play in Southwest Missouri on their hobby farm, Peace of Earth Homestead. They are passionate about natural living and natural parenting. On Facebook, they can be found at Living Your Intentions and Peace of Earth Homestead.

Reader Topic Choices

With over 30,000 readers a day stopping by DrMomma.org, we were curious to find which subjects parents visit most often to gather information on. A brief poll was available for voting on the site over this past week, and these are the results. The input will be used to curtail future articles to the needs of our audience.

If you are a professional working in any of the above areas, or a parent with experience, and you'd like to guest author a piece on DrMomma.org, you may submit items for consideration. DrMomma.org@gmail.com Through the collective sharing of both research-based information and qualitative experience, we can all learn from each other and move in a direction of healthier, happier home life.


12,265 Signatures Submitted in Support of San Francisco MGM Bill

90% of parents in California's Bay area already say "NO!" to circumcision and take their babies home whole. Now, after months of signature gathering, supporters of the San Francisco MGM Bill turned in 12,265 signatures to the Department of Elections today at 11:05am to place Article 50 on the ballot in November. This will ensure that 100% of babies in the city are granted the same basic protection under law: no genital cutting unless medically necessary. 



Except as provided in SEC. 5002, it is unlawful to circumcise, excise, cut, or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles, or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years.


(a) A surgical operation is not a violation of this section if the operation is necessary to the physical health of the person on whom it is performed because of a clear, compelling, and immediate medical need with no less-destructive alternative treatment available, and is performed by a person licensed in the place of its performance as a medical practitioner.

(b) In applying subsection (a), no account shall be taken of the effect on the person on whom the operation is to be performed of any belief on the part of that or any other person that the operation is required as a matter of custom or ritual.


Any person who violates any provisions of this Article shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction such person shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by imprisonment in the County Jail for a period not to exceed one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
Left to Right: Jonathon Conte, Richard Homayoon Kurylo, Lloyd Schofield, Matthew Hess, Marilyn Fayre Milos, Frank McGinness. ABC Channel 7 News and the San Francisco Chronicle were present to witness history in the making.

Stay up to date on the San Francisco MGM Bill Facebook page and visit the San Francisco MGM Bill Homepage.

San Fransisco Examiner Article

Federal and State MGM Bills at: MGMBill.org

Additional information on MGM/FGM linked here.

5/17/11 UPDATE: The San Francisco MGM Bill has been accepted and will come to a vote on the November 2011 ballot.


Inspirational Jealousy

By Katherine Henderson © 2011        
Read more from Henderson at SAHM I Am

Today I was having a doula consult/pow wow with my good friend Michelle. She is currently planning her second home birth and I have the privilege of being her doula!

We were exchanging birth stories and the contrast of quality between her home birth and my hospital birth was like night and day.
"It was great!" she began wistfully, "My midwife was so encouraging. She told me exactly what I needed to hear."
I, on the other hand, labored alone for 14 1/2 hours. My OB didn't even come into the room until Korban crowned. He barely spoke to me, and certainly never looked me in the eyes.
"She only checked my cervix twice."
An L&D nurse was in my room every hour, on the hour, to stick her fingers in my vagina without so much as a "hello" before doing so.
"When I was losing energy she brought me some food to nibble on."
I was only allowed ice chips to eat and hard candy to suck on. Not a single morsel of real food crossed my lips the entire day.
"The only truly painful part was the crowning."
I was so afraid of being that screaming, cursing woman in labor that I got an epidural when I no longer had the strength to whimper alone in silence.
She was in the privacy and comfort of her own home.
I was in an unfamiliar hospital with the door swinging open constantly without regard for who was in the hall and able to see me nude. My room was so cold that I couldn't tell if my shaking was from hunger, cold, or the anesthesia. And all kinds of strange staff members were walking in and out without ever bothering to knock.
She was surrounded by loving support.
My anesthesiologist made fun of me for wanting to labor naturally.
Her midwife delayed cord clamping as a matter of routine.
My OB had to be asked repeatedly, and after the fact, regaled us with alleged "risks" of delayed clamping.
Her midwife respected her birth plan.
I was warned against "reading too much."
Her midwife understood that labor should start on its own.
I was bullied for refusing an induction.
She had an empathetic and caring woman who deeply revered the normal birth process.
I had a man who thought he knew how to birth my baby better than my own body.

I'll admit I'm jealous. She got to have the birth of my dreams! But that's actually a good thing for both of us. It's a good thing for all womankind! It affirms the truth of what women have been told they aren't even allowed to hope for - that labor can be wonderful! And dare I say it - enjoyable!

My birth envy fuels the drive to achieve my own audacious dream of emotionally, spiritually and physically fulfilling labor.

Michelle, thank you for inspiring me with the beauty of your jealousy-inducing birth story! I am looking forward to being a part of yet another one of your amazing home births!

Katherine Henderson is a wife, and mother to one, in Ardmore, OK. She is currently working toward her Birth Doula Certification through DONA International. Read more from Henderson at SAHM I Am.


Mother Told She Has "Bad Milk" and Baby Dies as a Result

By Dennis Rosen, M.D.
in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti  
A maternity ward in Haiti, where "bad milk" is a common idea.  Photo credit: Lynsey Addario

I had just sat down after spending most of the morning and the early afternoon in the outpatient clinic at Bernard Mevs hospital here when one of the surgeons came in and said: “You’re a pediatrician, right? There’s a kid at the front gate who’s pretty sick.”

I got up and walked over to the hospital entrance. Because the emergency room had only two beds, and the hospital itself had limited resources, patients were sent through triage at the gate, and only those who could be treated were brought in. The others were turned away to seek care elsewhere.

Arriving at the gate, I could already smell the sharp odor of diarrhea. A young woman was holding a baby wrapped in a stained and tattered blanket. From the interpreter, I learned this was a 5-month-old boy with watery yellow diarrhea, vomiting and a decrease in oral intake during the previous four days.

Opening the blanket and looking at him, I was amazed that he was still alive. His chest looked like a chicken breast picked clean of meat. His mucus membranes were pasty dry, his eyes and fontanel were sunken and his skin hung off his arms and legs as if it were three sizes too large. At 5 months he weighed less than four and a half pounds.

The gastroenteritis, it turned out, was only what had tipped him over. On further questioning we learned that his mother had stopped nursing shortly after he was born because she was told her “milk was bad,” and had been bottle-feeding him with watered-down 7Up soda.

Because he was so dehydrated, his veins had collapsed and the nurses in the emergency room weren’t able to place an intravenous line to give him fluids. It was clear that I’d have to insert a thick needle directly into his shinbone to deliver sterile saline solution with a syringe, an ounce at a time.

Never having done this before (though I had practiced on a raw chicken leg), I was nervous about the procedure. The only needle available was longer than his leg was thick, and I was afraid I would push it through and pin him to the mattress.

He hardly whimpered as the needle entered the tibial cavity with a crunch. We gave him the fluids and admitted him to the pediatric ward, but had no way of measuring his electrolytes. He continued to have severe diarrhea and died several hours after being admitted. While gastroenteritis can be fatal in otherwise healthy infants, his extreme malnutrition had made him more vulnerable, and we were unable to save him.

The Haitian belief in “bad milk” — “lèt gate,” in Creole — is well described by Paul Farmer in his book Partner to the Poor (University of California, 2010). It is one of the main reasons for the premature stopping of breast-feeding in Haiti, often with deadly consequences for the infant deprived of safe and dependable nourishment.

That same week, one of the nurses in our group was able to prevent something similar from happening to another infant for whom we were caring. Born a few hours before we arrived, and several weeks before his due date, he, too, weighed less than four and a half pounds.

He was placed in an incubator and given antibiotics, and he seemed to be doing well except for one thing: His mother refused to nurse him, or even to express milk to feed him by bottle. Denise, the nurse who cared for him the week we were there, could not understand why the mother refused so adamantly to feed her son.

She pressed the mother every time she saw her, explaining the advantages of breast milk over formula, until finally the mother explained that a previous child of hers had died in infancy, and that a houngan (voodoo priest) had told her that her milk was no good and that she must never nurse any subsequent babies or else they, too, would suffer a similar fate.

Each day Denise pleaded with her to try to nurse. On the third day, the maternal grandmother came to visit and had a long conversation with Denise, asking whether her daughter’s milk was somehow tainted. Denise assured her it was not.

The next day the mother agreed to try nursing her son. He had difficulty latching on, and she expressed a small amount into a bottle, which he eagerly gulped down.

The following morning she returned, nervous about how he had fared. Once she saw that he was fine, she unbuttoned her blouse and again tried to nurse, this time with better success. Over the next few days she continued to nurse him until she no longer needed to express into a bottle, and looked much more relaxed and in better spirits than she had since he was born.

The difference between breast milk and calorically depleted drinks, or formula prepared from water potentially contaminated with organisms that cause diseases like cholera, can be a matter of life or death. And so encouraging this young mother to give her son the human milk he needed was a potentially lifesaving intervention, achieved through patience, education and the building of trust.

While it may not sound like much, the sad truth is that in Haiti all of these are hard to come by and remain very much in need.

Dr. Dennis Rosen is a pediatric pulmonologist at Children’s Hospital Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

A version of this article appeared in print on April 26, 2011, page D5 of the The New York Times. Reposted with permission.


The Book Bed: Creative Cosleeping!

How fabulous is this?! Just when we thought sharing sleep with our little ones couldn't get any better than a bedtime book and some pre-slumber snuggles, photographer Yusuke Suzuki designed a book bed perfect for the cosleeping family. Her cozy, cool design folds into a closed book during the day for ample floor space and at night, unfold the pages (made of sheets) and it turns into an over-sized bed complete with bookmark pillows. Fun, functional, and I know at least one family who'd love to add this to our "must-read" list.


For sleep sharing and healthy baby sleep resources, see links, books and articles on this page.


5 Doula Myths Debunked

By Jessica English © 2010
Read more from English at Birth Kalamazoo

As doulas become more common on birth teams around the world, I get fewer blank stares when I tell people what I do. Most people have at least a nominal sense of what a doula does, even if the lines are a bit fuzzy for them. Over the years, however, I've noticed some common misconceptions about doulas and their role in birth. Because I hear these myths again and again, allow me to debunk a few for you.

Myth #1: A doula would interfere with the bond between my husband/partner and me in labor.

Your partner in life makes an ideal birth partner. He or she knows you best, and that bond can't be replaced by a doula - or anyone else - in labor. Doulas don't come into a birth and take over.

A good doula actually facilitates involvement. We can remind your partner about what you learned in class. Hips hurting? Here, I know a great technique for that. Dad, try this. We can also complement a partner's strengths. I've been to births where the dad fell into a really natural role as mom's physical support, and I offered more verbal reassurance. Even with great prep beforehand, he just might not know what to say.

Because we've studied and often seen a lot of births, doulas can be invaluable in unexpected situations. Has labor slowed down? Dad might not think about nipple stimulation, stair climbing, acupressure, visualization or thumb sucking (yes, thumb sucking). We also carry a great bag of tricks. My own doula bag includes goodies like tennis balls for counterpressure, peppermint oil to combat nausea, a gardening knee pad for kneeling dads, and mouthwash to refresh anyone on the birth team when mom's senses are incredibly heightened.

Doulas make sure dads take care of themselves too, with comfort measures and breaks during a long birth. Even the most amazing birth partner needs to eat and pee every once in awhile! We can reassure him when things are going normally, and help interpret and demystify hospital protocol. We're his doula too.

And finally, if the two of you are working beautifully together, we're skilled at backing off and letting that happen. I don't feel lost in moments of just observing. There's still real value in simply honoring and protecting a couple's birth space.

Myth #2: If I have a midwife, I don't need a doula.

Most of my clients birth with midwives. While it's true that doulas and midwives do share some common skills and goals, their roles are actually quite different. A doula is your sounding board from the minute you hire her. She'll help you process your hopes and fears about the pregnancy and birth, answer questions and connect you with resources. If you just need to talk every day for a week, she'll be there. You never have to wait for your next scheduled visit.

And unless you're having a homebirth, even the best midwife won't meet you in your living room and support you through early labor. Doulas often connect with their clients at home, laboring with them there, and helping them with the transition to the hospital or birth center. After arriving at your birth place, a midwife can't guarantee you'll be her only patient in labor. Your doula is there for you, and only you.

Midwives offer birth knowledge and suggestions for coping with labor, as do doulas. However, a midwife's final responsibility rests with the health of mom and baby. At a certain point in almost every birth (and sometimes at many points), a midwife must turn her attention from support to the medical aspects of birth. She watches for complications, advises on interventions or approaches, and serves as medical guardian.

A doula doesn't perform any clinical tasks and stays focused solely on support. She nurtures you in the calm and beautiful spells, and also if there are any frantic, scary moments. "You're doing such an amazing job, this is normal." "I trust your decision-making process." "Stay strong, you're almost there." "Listen to your body." "Don't be scared, we're here with you."

Myth #3: My doula will protect me against the hospital staff.

Not even the best doula can "save" a couple from an interventionist doctor, midwife or hospital. It is up to you to advocate for yourselves, and make your wishes known to the staff.

First of all, a doula can be kicked out of a birthing room very quickly if she steps on any toes. Second, we might have to work with these same people again next week or next month—to serve our clients well, it's best not to have an antagonistic relationship.

That's not to say that a doula can't play a more subtle advocacy role. The first thing we might do is to help you figure out if the practice you're with is a good match for your birth goals, and if not, help identify another provider who might be more complementary. We'll also encourage you to talk with your provider about all your hopes and expectations beforehand, so there's less chance of any surprise at the actual birth. 

During birth, we can remind you of your birth plan, share what we know about options, suggest questions, and help you sort through your feelings and priorities. I've also given couples a gentle "heads up" when I've seen a medical intervention about to be performed without their consent. And when the pressure is on to make a medical decision, assuming it's not an emergency, a doula can suggest some time alone to think and talk. Just removing the pressure of someone standing over you, waiting for an immediate answer, can help a couple think through their options and priorities with clear heads.

Myth #4: I can't afford a doula.

We spend incredible amounts of money on preparing for a baby in this country. Dare I say it, many of those dollars go toward unnecessary accoutrements. Pretty much, for a newborn, you need diapers, some onesies and a breast. A sling is handy. That's it. Your baby will never miss that fancy diaper stacker, sticker-shock crib, or those adorable matching baskets. By comparison, women process their births for their entire lives. And unnecessary interventions can have long-lasting emotional and physical effects for mom and baby. We get one chance to birth our babies. So for many couples, affording a doula is merely a matter of shifting priorities.

In almost every community, if you truly want birth support, there is a doula in your price range. Doula work is demanding and doesn’t usually pay very well. Still, many are willing to adjust their fees on a sliding scale for low-income mothers. Bartering and payment plans are also common. If the doula you first approach doesn't do pro-bono work, or has reached her limit, she can usually help connect you with a new doula who will work at a very low cost as she gains experience. Call doula certifying organizations like DONA International for a list of doulas working toward certification, or visit DoulaMatch and DoulaConnect to find doulas working in your state and local area.

Myth #5: All doulas wear patchouli and long skirts and they only like natural birth.

This one's easy to debunk, since I'm living proof. Patchouli gives me a headache, and I can't remember the last time I wore a skirt. Some doulas are crunchy, some look a lot like your grandma or your banker, and some of us are more of the soccer-mom set.

As for going natural, you can find doulas who had medicated births or cesarean births themselves. Many doulas feel comfortable supporting any couple, no matter what kind of birth they're hoping for.

Others, and I include myself in this group, have a true love for natural birth, but also a strong sense of compassion for women faced with challenging situations or true medical complications. We're not in your body, and we can't completely know what the labor experience is like for you. Medications and interventions, while vastly overused, certainly have their place. The core of a doula's role is support - support for your decision-making process and your innate wisdom about the best path for your birth. I've witnessed some truly beautiful births that included Pitocin, narcotics, epidurals, and even c-sections.

A good doula nurtures and supports you on your birth journey, wherever it leads you. One of my clients told me after her VBAC that during her birth she felt surrounded in love. That's much more important to me than whether someone experiences my idealized version of a "perfect birth." If every family I work with feels surrounded in love, I've done my job.

Jessica English is a doula, natural childbirth instructor and the owner of Birth Kalamazoo. Her two boys were both born naturally into their daddy's hands, one in the hospital and one at home. She had doula support for both journeys, of course. Jessica moonlights in freelance writing and public relations, but feels lucky to call birth her day (and night) job.


The Chemicals in Disposable Diapers

By Noreen Kassem

Disposable diapers seem to be a necessity in today's lifestyle of convenience and temporary items. Though they are commonly used, synthetic, single-use diapers often contain chemicals linked to long-term health conditions. A study published in the Archives of Environmental Health (1999) states that disposable diapers should be considered to be a factor that may cause or worsen childhood asthma and respiratory problems. The soft, sensitive skin of babies is also prone to rashes and allergic reactions due to the chemicals in disposable diapers.


Most disposable diapers are bleached white with chlorine, resulting in a byproduct called dioxins that leach into the environment and the diapers. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dioxins are among the most toxic chemicals known to science and are listed by the EPA as highly carcinogenic chemicals. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to dioxins may cause skin reactions and altered liver function, as well as impairments to the immune system, nervous system, endocrine system and reproductive functions.

Sodium Polyacrylate

Sodium polycarbonate is a super absorbent chemical compound that is used in the fillers of many disposable diapers. It is composed of cellulose processed from trees that is mixed with crystals of polyacrylate. This chemical absorbs fluids and creates surface tension in the lining of the diaper to bind fluids and prevent leakage. Sodium polyacrylate is often visible as small gel-like crystals on the skin of babies and is thought to be linked to skin irritations and respiratory problems. This chemical was removed from tampons due to toxic shock syndrome concerns. As it has only been used in diapers for the last two decades, there is not yet research on the long-term health effects of sodium polyacrylate on babies.

Tributyl-tin (TBT)

Many disposable diapers contain a chemical called tributyl-tin (TBT). According to the EPA, this toxic pollutant is extremely harmful to aquatic (water) life and causes endocrine (hormonal) disruptions in aquatic organisms. TBT is a polluting chemical that does not degrade but remains in the environment and in our food chain. TBT is also an ingredient used in biocides to kill infecting organisms. Additionally, according to research published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, tributyl-tin can trigger genes that promote the growth of fat cells, causing obesity in humans.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Disposable diapers frequently contain chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These include chemicals such as ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene and dipentene. According to the EPA, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system as well as cancers.

Other Chemicals

Other chemicals often used in disposable diapers include dyes, fragrances, plastics and petrolatums. Adhesive chemicals are used in the sticky tabs to close the diapers and dyes are used to color and make the patterns and labels that mark diapers. Perfumes and fragrances are used in some disposable diapers to help mask odors.


Death from Circumcision [newborn fatal blood loss easily hidden in disposables]


Noreen Kassem is a physician in London, UK. She has extensive experience in clinical research and an undergraduate honors degree background in Kinesiology and Biology. Noreen is coeditor of several articles published in the British Medical Journal and writes a monthly health column for a London based lifestyle magazine. She is a contributing editor and writer for publications including Women's Health, LiveStrong, Check Up and Alive Magazine (Canada).

Natural Easter Egg Dye

By Danelle Day © 2010

If your family is dying eggs this Easter, you may wish to try out a natural method of egg coloring. Long before the 88-cent variety was available in WalMarts across the country, dyes made of natural materials (plants, berries, nuts, teas, etc.) were used to dye all sorts of items in a number of ways. Growing up, my siblings and I always loved to experiment with the produce Mom helped us pull in from the garden or the store to see what new dyed creations we could come up with.

While everyone has their favorite method, here is one idea for trying out your hand at some natural egg dyes this season (or any time you and the kids feel like having a little fun).

Color Ingredients:
Note: Fresh and frozen produce will produce more vivid colors than canned produce which has already been sitting in water and losing some of its dying potential

Canned Blueberries
Red Cabbage Leaves (boiled)
Purple Grape Juice

Spinach Leaves (boiled)
Liquid Chlorophyll

Yellow Onion Skins (boiled)

Lots of Red Onions Skins (boiled)
Pomegranate juice
Canned Cherries (with syrup)

Orange or Lemon Peels (boiled)
Carrot Tops (boiled)
Chamomile Tea
Celery Seed (boiled)
Green tea
Ground Cumin (boiled)
Ground Turmeric (boiled) or Saffron

Violet Blossoms
Hibiscus tea
Small Quantity of Red Onions Skins (boiled)
Red Wine

Cranberries or Juice
Red Grape Juice
Juice from Pickled Beets

Small Quantity of Purple Grape Juice
Violet Blossoms plus 2 tsp Lemon Juice
Red Zinger Tea

Yellow Delicious Apple Peels (boiled)

Purple or red grape juice or beet juice

Strong Coffee
Instant Coffee
Black Walnut Shells (boiled)
Black Tea

Chili Powder

Dill Seeds

Directions For Dye:

1) Wash your hard-boiled eggs in warm soapy water to remove the oils that prohibit natural dyes from adhering as effectively to the egg shell. Be sure the eggs are cool to the touch before starting to dye.

2) Add about 1 cup of tap water per handful of your natural dye item into a stove top pan for boiling. The water should come to 1 inch above your item of dye. Use your own judgment in determining exactly how much of the item is needed. Typically 2-3 handfuls of an item will suffice to dye the water, and effectively dye your eggs. However, the more of an item you use, the darker the dye will be. The exception for this is the spices, which will not take as much.

3) Bring the water (with dye ingredients) to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 15-60 minutes until the color you desire is obtained. Eggs will not dye as dark as the colored water in the pan, so typically you want the dyed water to be about 4 times darker than the eggs you are planning for.

4) Remove the pan from heat once the color is obtained.

5) Use a coffee filter or other strain if your dyed water is grainy UNLESS you like speckled eggs - in that case, leave the granules in the mix.

6) Use a measuring cup to place 1 cup of dyed water to 3 teaspoons white vinegar into a bowl or jar that you will use to dye your eggs. It is not necessary to prep all the liquid dye at this time - more can be added later. But always add 3 tsp white vinegar per 1 cup of dyed water when filling up the bowl.

Directions For Eggs:

1) With a slotted spoon (or regular spoon as we use at our house) lower the eggs into the liquid. Allow them to soak until you like the color. If you are dying in a tea or spice dye, allow it to sit overnight. The longer the egg soaks, the deeper the color. If you will be consuming the eggs, make sure long (overnight) soaks are done in the fridge! You may also wish to turn your egg once or twice while it is soaking so that a circle of light dye is not left remaining on the top (where it was not covered). Or, push the egg down into the dye and hold in place with a heavier utensil that sits on top.

2) When eggs are the color you desire, lift them out and allow to dry on a rack or drainer. An egg carton turned upside down, with the bottoms cut out, makes a nice drying rack. Many of the natural colors can rub off easily before the eggs have dried, so be careful with excess handling at this point.

Other Tips:

* If a textured look is desired, you can dab the wet egg with a sponge.

* For designs (drawing, writing your name, etc.) you can use a wax pencil or crayon before dying -- the dye will not color the portion where you used the wax and it will show through the final color.

* Fresh and frozen berries can be crushed and used as finger paints on the eggs.

* Cut some wire to fashion an egg 'dipper' to use in holding eggs 1/2 way into one dye, 1/2 way into another dye, and come out with stripes! The possibilities are endless - and they are au naturale!

* Eggs that are colored naturally have a matte finish and are not as glossy as chemical dyes. Once they are dry, rub the eggs with mineral or cooking oil if you prefer them to have a glistening sheen.

If you are coloring many eggs and only wish to have a few color selections for all of them, you can hard-boil the eggs right along with the ingredients for the dye from the first step. This is an easy (less time-consuming) process, but as most stoves only have 4 burners, you may be limited in the amount of color selection. Plus, it just isn't quite as fun for the kids (and kids at heart) as all the dipping and designing and striping and color-mixing on their eggs. :)

~ Happy Easter! ~

Experienced, Beloved Local Midwife Faces 30 Years in Prison

Exuberant joy after an empowering HBAC (homebirth after cesarean) 

The midwife community of the Mid Atlantic region is being challenged. Karen Carr, an experienced and well sought after Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) who has delivered over 1200 babies in the greater DC metro area, has recently been charged with involuntary manslaughter after the tragic death of a client’s baby. Karen has helped to change the lives of more then 700 families simply by trusting the mother and birth process.

Karen Carr is a specialist in her community and serves on any level she can to help women birth the way they want or need to birth. She empowers women - allowing them to trust their bodies and the process. The personalized care that Karen offers allows her to work with clients who, for a number of reasons including presentation or financial, would have to navigate the confines of a broken medical model of care with little or no respect for their birth wishes, hopes and desires otherwise. She is an advocate for mother and baby, and will stand by a mother as long as both the mother and child are safe. Karen is a teacher that has taken on many apprentices in her tenure as a CPM. Most importantly, she is a mother and grandmother, and has personally experienced a VBAC. As a result of her advocacy, education and personal experience, her practice boasts a VBAC success rate greater then 70%, and 96% of her mothers achieve vaginal birth.

This unfortunate turn of events for the Mid Atlantic midwife community is not without a silver lining. As a result of the local support for Karen a non-profit, In Service to Women, has been founded. In Service to Women’s immediate goal is to collect donations to help with Karen’s defense fees, estimated to cost upwards of $150,000. The long term goals of this wonderful foundation include creating a resource for other midwives nationally, offering preparation and prevention workshops, and making attorneys with experience and expertise in this type of case available. Ultimately, it’s about the education and support of a very important and much needed field of expertise with the end result of helping women and families nationally achieve the births they want and deserve.

In Service to Women, on behalf of Karen Carr and midwives everywhere, is reaching out to our international community of like minded families. The costs of losing a midwife like Karen Carr are far too great to even list. She is the cornerstone of our community. If we were to lose her, midwives and clients alike don’t believe the midwife community in the Mid Atlantic would ever be able to fully recover.

At this time In Service to Women is looking for donations, large or small, to help with Karen’s legal fees. If you'd like to help, donate, or read more about Karen (as well as commentary from the families she’s touched) please visit the In Service to Women website and stay up to date on the In Service to Women Facebook page.

Our hearts, prayers, and support are with you, Karen. Thank you for all you have sacrificed and all you've done for mothers and babies in the DC area.

Jill's hot summer night waterbirth outside, with rain falling all around

"Educated, experienced, strong, caring and intuitive: Karen supported me in my daughter's beautiful but difficult birth. She was calm, collected, and knowledgeable. Years of being a midwife were reflected in her aura. Natural processes of life and death are not reasons for blame. Midwives connect, bond, and feel with their clients - they are "with woman"...and this alone should show the antithesis of the ridiculous charges." ~ Jill Chasse


Male and Female Circumcision

Types of Female Genital Cutting and Male Genital Cutting

We have previously looked at the similar attitudes and misconceptions around the globe surrounding female genital cutting (FGC) and male genital cutting (MGC).

We have taken a visual glance at the basic human response to genital cutting by little ones who are forced to endure the assault of FGC or MGC.

We have listened to the culture-imposed myths surrounding FGC in Africa and hear how similar they are to the culture-imposed myths surrounding MGC in the United States.

We have reviewed a very brief history of female genital cutting in the United States - a procedure recommended by renowned medical journals through the 1960s, and one which was only recently banned under federal law on March 30, 1997.

We have examined this federal ban on any and all forms of FGM (female genital mutilation), as well as the proposed MGM (male genital mutilation) Bill, which calls for males to have the same basic protection under federal law as females currently have in the United States.

We have recognized that the federal female genital cutting laws, in combination with the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, render the unnecessary genital cutting of minor male babies and children illegal as well. Boys born after March 30, 1997, will have an easier time suing and winning against those who cut or amputated parts of their genitals when they were minors and unable to defend themselves. Beginning on March 30th, 2015, these boys will turn 18 years of age (legal adults able to press charges in the U.S. court system), and have attorneys specializing in human rights ready and willing to support them, should they elect to take legal action in what was done to them.

Section 1 of the Constitutional Amendment XIV reads (bold mine):

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in December, 1948, by members of the United Nations declares in Articles 2 and 5:

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

In this video, Freedom of Speech discusses the various forms of FGC and MGC, and highlights the fact that sex-based discrimination under law, or in argument, is both futile and illogical.

Female Genital Cutting Examples

Most common forms of FGM and MGG
The most common forms of female and male genital cutting.

Male and Female Genital Cutting

Doula Connect: A New Networking Site for Finding a Doula Near You!

Inspired by the mother-to-mother sharing of Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB.org), Doula Connect is a new networking solution started by Sara Carlson in hopes of providing a free and easy way for women to find a doula in their local area.


To use Doula Connect, visit the Doula Connect website and click on the link for your state. This link will take you to your state's Facebook group where you will find a list of doulas in your area. Doulas will be regularly added to each group. Administrators are needed, so if you are interested in helping with your state, please contact Sara Carlson via email at alilcrunchidoula@gmail.com.


To add your doula business to the directories please email Sara Carlson (alilcrunchidoula@gmail.com) and provide your business name, your name, location, what type of doula services you provide, other services, phone number, and email.

The new Doula Connect website is still under construction and seeking donations to reach .org status. All donations, big or small, will receive a note of thanks on the special thank you page of the site and can be made on PayPal to alilcrunchidoula@gmail.com or via the link below.

Currently, all U.S. states are listed, and Canada's provinces and territories are being put together as well. We'd encourage all doulas across North America to jump on this chance to network and reach out to moms in your area. Three of the biggest reasons women who would otherwise benefit from having a doula during their labor and birth do not hire a doula are (1) not knowing what a doula is, (2) believing she cannot afford a doula, (3) not knowing where to find a doula. With Doula Connect we can solve at least two of these hurdles to having a birth advocate for every woman who wants one in North America.


Is the Pain of Circumcision Truly 'Brief'?

By Clara Franco © 2011
Original article in Spanish. English translation and edits by Danelle Day and Clara Franco.
Leer en Espanol aqui.

One of the most popular excuses that some parents and doctors use in their decision to unnecessarily amputate the healthy prepuce of a newborn male is the mythological argument that "babies do not feel pain."

There seems to be a general consensus that the pain babies feel is negligible and "not remembered." Worse is the lie some parents are fed when they are told their newborn "cannot even feel pain because his nerve endings have not yet matured," or similar fallacies.

Let's pause for a moment to think about this. Repeat it with me: Newborns cannot feel pain. Newborns cannot feel pain. Newborns cannot feel pain. Therefore, it must be perfectly ethical (and certainly permissible) to slap my newborn baby, leave him to cry alone, pull his hair, step on his toes, or put my cigarette out on his skin. If I restrain him to a board, terrify him, amputate part of his genitals (with or without anesthesia) it doesn't matter - because this not-fully-developed-bundle-of-cries "cannot feel any pain." He's not yet really human. At least not all the way.

That babies cannot feel pain is of course horrifyingly false. I wish I did not have to resort to links, but video clips often say more than I possibly can with even a thousand words. Please, watch these and tell me that newborns feel no pain:

They all do…

He does too:

And so does this one:

It is one thing to say that babies cannot feel pain, and another thing to say that they will not remember the pain they feel. Let's look for a moment at memories. I do hope that the fields of psychology and psychiatry continue to advance so that we finally come to a collective understanding that even if we do not consciously remember every single experience in our lives, they all impact us in one way or another. Each experience shapes who we are and who we become - whether or not it is on the forefront of our conscious memory. And yes, this includes our time inutero, even before we are born into this world.

In fact, the newborn experience of pain may be even more transcendental than in an older child or adult. The reason is simply that a baby cannot rationalize the pain he is feeling - he cannot name it - he cannot articulate it, reflect on its origin, have any idea of the root cause, or how to avoid or escape the pain. This is the big difference between merely experiencing pain versus enduring intense trauma.

A young girl who desires for herself to have pierced ears knows that it will hurt, but she can recognize the source of the pain, rationalize it, measure it, and face it as a sacrifice in exchange for something positive, something she desires: to wear earrings.

A two-year old accidentally bruises his finger while playing with the door. He cries and is very upset, but he begins to understand that his pain had a cause, and that the cause is avoidable. Next time he won't play with the door like that.

The preschooler who falls from the stairs feels pain, but it is not traumatic as she knows what the stairs are, what falling down is, and can recognize the connection to the pain she feels. She is able to learn how to manage the stairs so that falling down and pain are not consequences of using them.

A baby cannot do any of these things. For the days- or weeks-old baby, any pain can be traumatic because he is unable to identify causes, consequences, and ways to avoid and escape. He cannot rationalize the pain, or understand why he is feeling such things. Any pain that a baby feels is a first-time pain: it is downright terrifying. Furthermore, his world revolves around his mother, her warmth, milk, comfort, voice, smell, protection and nothing more. She is everything to him. Any traumatic pain experienced will be associated with her - the only person and thing he knows in the world at this point. It is yet another reason that we see an increase in failure to thrive, breastfeeding complications, "colic," and insecure attachment post-genital cutting.

From the first day they discover they are pregnant, many mothers go about doing special prenatal activities that are said to enhance their baby's brain development and memory. Prenatal exercises, listening to relaxing music, reading to baby inutero, and tuning into Mozart and Bach and Beethoven in hopes of raking up baby's I.Q. points are commonplace today. At birth, mom will use special message, or early babyhood stimulation to enhance learning and memory. Mothers readily recognize that all of these early experiences - from inutero to the postnatal days - impact and influence their baby. How is it then that we could choose to recognize positive impacts on the brain and body leading to benefits for baby, while negative impacts on the brain and body (such as genital cutting) are ignored or dismissed? If we know that gentle massage, and touching a baby softly and warmly leads to improved digestion, hormone balance, neurological firing, awareness, better sleep, alertness and attachment, how could we not also recognize that intense pain and brutality upon the body of our baby also impacts him in many real and profound ways?

Male circumcision is considered by many to be genital mutilation, a non-consensual surgical amputation that does the child (and the man he will become) much harm and no “good.” It is a completely unethical act to take a healthy male, of any age, from two hours old to one hundred years old, and forcibly amputate a healthy and useful part of his anatomy against his will or without his consent when there is no medical need to do so. This would remain true even if circumcision surgery was entirely pain free. Even without pain, genital cutting - forever altering the penis and its form and function - would be a violation of a man's fundamental human right to bodily autonomy. To amputate a healthy, functional body part without medical need is harmful, and it carries negative consequences, regardless of whether there is pain in the amputation process or not. It is wrong to harm, even if the act itself is a painless one. To sexually assault an adult who cannot feel anything, and will not remember anything, because s/he is drugged… Is this right? Or wrong?

Back to reality: Circumcision does hurt. And it hurts quite excruciatingly. This brings us back to the double excuse commonly given for this amputation: that the baby’s pain is negligible because it will be forgotten, and second, that it is a "brief pain."

It seems we have forgotten the fundamental principle of time being relative to our ages. Where did the old "time passes by so fast as we age" go? Have we truly forgotten? Time seems to pass faster as we age because it is relative to our lived experiences to this point. It is such a simple principle, that every one of us has noticed, and can understand using elemental math: the more years we live, the smaller proportion of our lives each year represents. A year seems like an immeasurably long time when we have only lived four of them; yet it goes by like a whisper when we have been through eighty of them. Every year of our life seems shorter because each of them represents less and less of the percentage of time we have lived. In elementary school, the class hours feel endless; yet there are scarcely enough of them to do anything with by the time we’ve graduated college. When you have only lived several hours, each of them is for you what a quarter-century is to Grandpa. And if you’re a newborn, then you’re basically stuck in an endless "right this very instant."

For a newborn then, a painful experience is not only traumatic because he cannot explain it, understand it, or justify it, but also because in his perception of time the pain is endless.

Let’s calculate some simple proportions and compare the length of a fifteen-minute operation (more or less what the tearing and cutting portion of a standard circumcision surgery lasts), proportional to the lifespan of a two-day old baby; and extrapolate it to the length of a 30 year old adult. The adult has lived for 30 years, which are roughly the equivalent of 10,950 days (only taking into consideration 365 days per year), which is 262,800 hours, or 15,768,000 minutes. An intense pain that lasts fifteen minutes only represents, to this 30 year old, 0.000095% of his life. Manageable, I suppose.

But a two-day old baby has lived for just 48 hours, and a grand total of 2,880 minutes. To bear genital tearing and cutting for fifteen of them, is the equivalent to 0.52% of his lifespan. Does it still sound quite small? Like a minuscule number? Let’s see what happens if we expect a thirty-year old adult to bear excruciating pain for 0.52% of his life. We would be asking him to bear a pain that lasts for 81,993.60 minutes - 1,366.56 hours, or 56.94 days. Any volunteers who will be willing to feel knives and clamps on their penis or clitoris for almost fifty-seven straight days? But it’s such a simple and quick procedure!

Imagine this, for fifty-seven days and nights straight:

For argument's sake, let’s assume our baby is not two days old, but eight - the age at which genital cutting occurs in some households. And let’s say the procedure does not last for fifteen minutes, but only five minutes. (Some mohels claim to be able to "cut faster.") We’d be asking our baby to bear pain equivalent to 0.43% of his life. For the thirty-year old, this would be like feeling the scalpel (with no anesthesia) for 113 hours - only 4.7 days and nights! That’s much better! Right? A torture that lasts for 5 days and nights straight, without a break, is a practice belonging to the most atrocious of wars.

What if our baby is six months old? Fifteen minutes are for him 0.0057% of the life he has known. For a thirty-year old adult, this would be like a skinning that lasts for fourteen hours. Interestingly, very few women in North America today even elect to go through natural labor "pains" (functional, necessary, beneficial pain) for fourteen hours straight without intervention and pain relief... 

The conclusion in this matter, then, is not that we must wait a longer time before performing an unnecessary, painful and harmful amputation (although doing so at 30 would certainly make the pain more "brief" than to do so at birth). Rather, it is that this is a pain that babies should never be subjected to in the first place - a suffering that no one should be forced to endure without their full and informed consent or certain medical necessity.

The fallacy of believing "it is better to cut early, because our baby won’t remember and it’s quite brief," is a falsehood that takes little logic to debunk and see through. On the contrary, to cut the genital organs of a baby who cannot even understand what is happening, and to put him through a horrific pain that represents, for him, a grotesquely long time, is much more harmful and cruel than it would be to subject even a non-consenting adult to the same.

 Intact advocacy apparel at MadeByMomma

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:

Intactivists: Those Uncommon Activists!

Circumcision: The Most Twisted Logic in the World

Intact Latino Network

Intact Latino Network Group


Raise Your Shirt!

Adaptation of Raise Your Glass by Pink.
Words by Morgan Rowanwaif.
Photo ©2011 Jennifer Quesada for peaceful parenting.

Raise Your Shirt

Cry, cry! He’s hungry again.

Feel a let down kickin’ in,

Pop my nursing bra,

Bring my baby to my chest -

Then let him do all of the rest.

His eyes say, “Thank you, Ma.”

Lower risks of female cancer

Baby’s best immune enhancer.

Trims the tummy, saves you money.

Let’s get serious!

So raise your shirt if you are proud

To feed your baby

Just like Nature meant.

We will never be, never be

Anything but strong

And loving mothers -

All you nursing Moms!

Won't you come on and come on and

Raise your shirt!

Just come on and come on and

Raise your shirt!

Why, why do they always try

To keep us hidden from the public eye?

Just get over it! (Get over it already)

I’ve got state and federal rights

To feed my little one in plain sight.

Dude, it’s just a tit. (Hello!)

Lower risks of female cancer.

Baby’s best immune enhancer.

Trims the tummy, saves you money.

Let’s get serious!

So raise your shirt if you are proud

To feed your baby

Just like Nature meant.

We will never be, never be

Anything but strong

And loving mothers -

All you nursing Moms!

Won't you come on and come on and

Raise your shirt!

Just come on and come on and

Raise your shirt!

Won't you come on and come on and

Raise your shirt!

Just come on and come on and

Raise your shirt!

Oh man, I leaked on my shirt...

that sucks!

Now we know, “Breast is best.”

They put it to the test.

You could choose to supplement

We can always, we can always

Pump to boost supply....

So raise your (Ow! Don’t bite Mommy.)

So raise your shirt if you are proud

To feed your baby

Just like Nature meant.

We will never be, never be

Anything but strong

And loving mothers -

All you nursing Moms!

So raise your shirt if you are proud

To feed your baby

Just like Nature meant.

We will never be, never be

Anything but strong

And loving mothers -

All you nursing Moms!

Won't you come on and come on and

Raise your shirt!

Just come on and come on and

Raise your shirt!

Won't you come on and come on and

Raise your shirt!

For them.

Just come on and come on and

Raise your shirt... for them.

View Pink's original Raise Your Glass music video here.

For additional information, support and links visit the Breastfeeding Resources Page.



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