Friday, September 30, 2011

Joshua's Story: Why I Still Choose Another Mother's Milk

By Lindsey Ward © 2011

This is Part Two of Joshua's story. Part One can be read here: Joshua's Story: Why I Chose Another Mother's Milk


It's hard to believe it has been one year since the home waterbirth of my son Joshua. He's grown into a 22-pound healthy, happy, loving toddler and I couldn't be more blessed. It has been 10 months since we received our first donation of breastmilk through the Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network. He has been exclusively breastfed, minus a small amount of solids here and there, for these past 10 months as well. We haven't needed a single drop of formula. Twenty incedible mothers have donated their milk to us. I have traveled to and from 5 different states, excluding the travels within my own to pick up milk. It has been a wonderful journey, but we're not stopping here.

It has been proven that human milk is beneficial past the age of one. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding to 2 years of age and beyond. The AAFP noted in 2001 that children weaned before 2 years of age were at an increased risk of illness. In the second year of life (12-24 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides: 29% of energy requirements, 43% of protein requirements, 36% of calcium requirements, 75% of vitamin A requirements, 76% of folate requirements, 94% of vitamin B12 requirements, 60% of vitamin C requirements. (Dewey 2001; Breastfeeding Past Infancy Fact Sheet)

Freezer Full of Joshua's Milk

One may think these nutritional percentages of human milk do not apply in Joshua's situation because I am not the mother producing his milk. The milk that Joshua consumes, for example, does not know his age. When nursing, breastmilk typically changes with time to meet a growing child's needs. Receptors on the areola signal messages to mother's body pertaining to a specific baby's need. Yet, the few donors we have currently willing to continue pumping for Joshua all have babies of their own close to his age with the exception of one mother. The milk he will continue to receive is almost perfectly matched for his body, nutrient for nutrient. Even with the slight discrepancy in ages, human milk is still a much healthier choice over cow milk or other artificial substitutes.

Human milk is designed perfectly for humans, especially young humans. Any other milk, including cow, does not compare. If mothers can breastfeed their own children for a full term duration of years, and give them all the wonderful benefits from their milk, then I want the very same for my child. I do not want to give him a sub-par subsitite when a more nutritious option is available - one that caters beautifully to his developmental needs as a human toddler. If I was able to continue breastfeeding Joshua, he would be self-weaning in his own time, with a nursing goal of 36 months. I know 3 years old might be an unrealistic goal for donor milk, but I am going to do my best for as long as I can to get him human milk. We have made it to one year and I would love to reach the WHO/AAFP recommendation of 2 years, but each day and every day is a blessing.


Milk sharing has not only changed our lives, but also those of the women who have donated to Joshua. I asked a few of them to share their thoughts on what this experience has meant to them:
"Donating milk to Joshua turned the burden of oversupply into a blessing. Imagine how many babies could be nourished as nature intended if all of us who have extra knew we could share it!" ~Natalie E. 
"It has meant the honor of giving life - nutrition that was made for babies - to a precious child. Each child is a bundle of possibilities - our common future as a species - and preventing even just one from suffering the effects of formula when milk is so readily available reminds me of my humanness and our connection to each other." ~Jennifer A. 
"It might sound silly or strange, but donating to Joshua has been a life-changing experience. Giving my milk to this beautiful boy and his beautiful mama was my first experience in donating milk to a stranger. I was so honored that Lindsey felt trusting enough of me and my family to welcome my milk into their life. Joshua is one boy whose life I have been able to enrich and he is one of many children in a network of women changing the world." ~Alexis S. 
"I picked him up; he looked me in the eye and reached for my hair. I looked at Lindsey and we smiled at each other. And the love I felt for this child, who was not my own, but who I helped to nourish nonetheless, was overwhelming. This. This is what it's all about. To see babies thriving, mothers smiling, and knowing that if we all come together none of us will ever have to stand alone. I choose to see my oversupply as a gift. Gifts are meant to be shared - given to people that we love. Donating milk is an incredible experience. I won't lie, pumping isn't easy at all, but I think of what Lindsey went through trying to nurse Joshua and there's just no way that I couldn't donate. It's an honor to be chosen to help feed another woman's child." ~Samantha P.
I am very thankful to everyone who has contributed to this journey so far. I am thankful to the women who are continuing to donate to us, and to their own children for wanting to continue receiving nourishinment from their mothers. After all the heartache and struggle we went through in his first few months of life, I never would have imagined that at one year old, Joshua would transition from a breastfed baby to a breastfed toddler. He is now officially "full term donor feeding."

Thank you so much for the continued support and opportunity to share our story with you.

Much Love,
Lindsey



Reference:

Dewey KG. "Nutrition, Growth, and Complementary Feeding of the Breastfed Infant.Pediatric Clinics of North American. February 2001; 48(1).

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

World Milksharing Week Homepage 

For additional books, websites, and articles geared toward nursing and milksharing mothers, see Breastfeeding Resources.


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

~~~~

Monday, September 26, 2011

32% of U.S. Baby Boys Circumcised in 2009: A Response to Critics Questioning the CDC Reported Rate

By Danelle Frisbie © 2011



If you're a seasoned reader of peaceful parenting, you know that last summer (2010) the CDC presented statistics in Vienna at the International AIDS Conference showing the rate of newborn male genital cutting in the United States dropped from 56.2% in 2006 to 32.5% in 2009.

If you run in intactivist circles, you also know that there is a small handful of those who strongly oppose genital cutting, but question the reality of this CDC presented statistic. It is an issue that has surfaced somewhat regularly, and we believe one worth addressing here.

The CDC presented statistic was delivered in an address by Charbel El Bcheraoui, an epidemic intelligence officer in the division of HIV/AIDS with the CDC. When presenting to a largely non-U.S. population, CDC representatives had no trouble standing behind this 32.5% genital cutting rate and suggested we may do ourselves good to increase cutting. At the time, (in conjunction with a few other biased, pro-cutting agencies), they were making attempts to push MGM on adult African men as a "protective measure against HIV" (a proposed "vaccine" of sorts for HIV that we know is bogus).

When media back home in the U.S. picked up on the presented rate (thanks in part to Brian, a PA attending the conference, who photographed the presentation slides, and the New York Times that published a story on the research) it was used by human rights advocates to exemplify that genital cutting is drastically dropping in the U.S. (which it is) and that the old "locker room argument" is out the window. This spin on the stat in the last year seems to have pushed (a pro-cutting) CDC into indifference or passive pro-cutting silence on the most comprehensive statistics and research findings, while using old data (~50% cutting) on their website and invalid methods of securing this stat in recent publications, as current.

If there is any validity to the old statistics (having been presented for almost a decade now), we can know the rate is less than 56% because this figure comes from 2005-2006, and as education on the subject has increased (not only among parents, but among doctors, midwives, doulas, CBEs, lactation consultants, and college professors as well) more boys go home intact. To propose that genital cutting has remained the same for the past 7 years is naive at best, deliberately fabricated to push MGM at worst.

The actual study - which was a meta-analysis (the largest study on newborn circumcision rates in the U.S. to ever be conducted) showed steady decline between 2006-2009. It included genital cutting (i.e. prepuce amputation surgery) that was done during the first 12 months postpartum (1st year of a baby's life) in a hospital or clinic, or when insurance was used, and was therefore recorded as a covered surgical procedure and/or short hospital stay. [Many parents today still do not realize that genital cutting is classified on hospital and insurance documentations as surgery.]

The vast majority of babies cut in the U.S. go under the knife during their first 10 days after birth (most within the first 48 hours). If a baby is not cut until later in their first year, insurance is almost always used because general anesthesia is also recommended -- post 10lbs or 6 months age. [We still seem to buy into the old myth that "newborn babies don't feel pain" and can therefore be cut apart without anesthesia.] Later genital cutting under anesthesia automatically requires insurance to get involved for a surgical procedure that must be documented in hospital or clinic records as such, and billed with anesthesiology. Often, these later procedures are done in the OR which is need for further hospital recording and insurance involvement because there must be "worthy cause" for anesthesia to be used, and an OR to be booked, for an otherwise healthy baby.

Not every hospital and clinic in the U.S. was surveyed - as with most comprehensive and analytical statistics, we take a measurement that represents a valid and reliable percentage of the population, and apply it to the whole. Again, this was the largest study of its kind to ever be conducted, and their results were significant and conclusive.

On a sociological scale then, the only babies who would not be included in this 32.5% stat are:

- those cut at home

- those cut outside a hospital or clinic that documents its surgical procedures and whose cutting is not covered by insurance

This would include Jewish parents opting for a Brit Milah at home. The current population of Jews in the U.S. is approximately 2%. (1, 2)  This means that even if every single Jewish adult had a son during the 2006 year, and every single one of these babies was cut, the rate of newborn circumcision would still only increase to 34.5%. We know this is certainly not the case - less than 50% of babies born are male, (nature tends to favor female offspring), and many Jewish parents today do not cut their sons, but instead elect for a Brit Shalom, or pass on the ceremony altogether. Some of the most outspoken intactivists today are Jewish men, women, rabbis, physicians, historians, etc. Obviously, the number of those cut within Judaism is not going to have a dramatic impact on the overall national rate. In nations today where all boys and men remain intact from birth except those born within Jewish families, the male genital cutting rate is still 1-2%.

The other population this CDC presented rate does not take into account includes boys born at home. Today the numbers of women who choose to birth at home is much less than the population of Jewish adults in our country. The National Vital Statistics Reports and CDC report that 0.59% of births in 2006 were at home (1/2 a percent!) and all of the births that took place outside the hospital were only 0.90% (still less than 1%). We do not have current 2009 statistics on the percentage of babies born at home (at least not that which has been published by the CDC / NVSR) but other research shows the rate of birth outside the hospital has stayed fairly steady - around 1% for the past 25 years. It is very unlikely that homebirth would statistically, significantly higher in 2009 (when genital cutting was found to have dropped). In addition, more often those who are opting to birth at home are well-informed women making choices based on health-conscious and well researched reasons. They are more likely to take an active role in protecting both themselves, their birth, and their baby. The rate of genital cutting tends to be lower among families birthing at home. But for argument's sake, let's say that the rate of home birth doubled between 2006 and 2009 -- up from 0.59% to 1.19% and that all of those women birthed boys... (again about 46% of live births are actually male) and all of those baby boys were cut. This would still only increase the 32.5% to 33.5%. Just as we find with Judaism, homebirth is not having a dramatic impact on the national average of MGM.

If we combined all the male babies born to Jewish parents (<1%), and all the male babies born at home (<0.29%), and assumed they were all circumcised in their first 12 months of life, this still only increases that 32.5% to 33.79%.

Others argue that there are babies who are (1) not cut in the hospital and (2) not covered by insurance and (3) not born to Jewish parents, but are still later cut in one way or another during their 1st year in life. It is very possible that there are infant boys who fall under all of these qualifiers, who also end up with parents that save up the money needed to have them cut in a private clinic, (or do so themselves at home with a box cutter and are never caught), in a time and place where surgical procedures are not recorded, and insurance is never taken. But the percentage of those who fit this category? Not very high... How many babies do YOU know who were cut in such a fashion? The vast majority (if they are going to do so) circumcise their newborn baby son within the first 10 days of life, and most of these prepuce amputation surgeries take place within a hospital or clinical setting. While we strive for the day when all non-medical genital cutting on minors, regardless of sex, will be against the law, and none of our tax dollars will fund MGM, the reality is that Medicaid continues to fund circumcision as well in the majority of states.

If the CDC comes at this issue from a pro-cutting stance while presenting information in the U.S., and then fudge their own research in order to respond to the "backlash of intactivism," that is one thing. But let's recognize the manipulation of stats and negligence of facts (re. intact health, proper prepuce care, destruction and risk of genital cutting, etc.) for what its worth.

The rate of genital cutting in 2011 is certainly even lower than it was two years ago in 2009. The percentage of families with older boys who were cut, and babies born this year who will remain intact, is soaring, thanks to grassroots efforts to get parents (both new and experienced) accurate and complete intact information. The recent rise of intact sons is also due in part to the media exposure of the San Francisco MGM Bill, stirring people nationwide who never thought about this issue before to look into it for the first time. As the saying goes, "The more you know..." And this rise in intact children is thanks in part to an increasing number of celebrities who are speaking out and raising awareness among a younger generation of new parents. Today more and more physicians, doulas, midwives, CBEs, lactation consultants, child development professors, and others working with expecting parents include intact information and care items in their intake folders, meetings, and classrooms.

MGM is decreasing.

Whether the actual national rate in 2011 is 28% or 32%, or even 10% higher at 42% - the majority of boys today remain intact, and the rate of genital cutting continues to plummet. What it actually was in 2009, we may never know. And it truly does not even matter. Where exactly that percentage lies today should not be the primary focus of our work. Rather, let's do what we need to do to ensure that next parent we meet has the information they need to make a fully informed decision, and that the next ONE single baby boy born within your circle of influence has parents who are well equipped to take their whole baby home.

In spirit of the season, Christina of Intact Iowa
shares this photo of her son in his "Cut Pumpkins. Not Babies." tshirt from Made By Momma.



References:

1) Ira M. Sheskin and Arnold Dashefsky, “Jewish Population of the United States, 2006,” in the American Jewish Year Book 2006, Volume 106.

2) David Singer and Lawrence Grossman, Editors. NY: American Jewish Committee, 2006.


~~~~

Saturday, September 24, 2011

From Despair to Donation: A Mother Loses Her Baby and Shares His Milk


"Liquid Gold" Milk & Colostrum ~ Jude's Milk, pumped by his mom, Jennifer, and donated to Brazilian babies.

No one could do justice to the story that Jennifer Coias has to share: her hope-filled pregnancy, VBAC waterbirth plans, the loss of her baby at 35 weeks, subsequent weeks of waiting for him to arrive on his own (induction post-cesearean is dangerous), being dropped by both her midwife and OB, struggling to find someone to take an ultrasound picture of her baby, being dropped by her birth photographer, her subsequent gentle HBAC (home birth after cesarean) with a midwife found at the last minute, all the while living in a South American country far from home, friends and family, in an area where few understood or supported her belief in birth and trust in her body and her baby. No one could tell her story of all that she has endured, overcame, processed, learned, and continues to struggle through today - 9 days postpartum. No one, that is, except for Jennifer herself. She is writing, and plans to share with the peaceful parenting community when the time is right. But for now, without detailing all the momentous moments that have led up to this week, we'd like to celebrate the amazing gift that Jennifer is giving back to the world. Even in the midst of tears and pain, liquid gold flows forth, and through this, Jennifer is saving the lives of babies around her.

Today marks the beginning of World Milksharing Week. It is also the day Jennifer has pumped the most milk yet to share -- milk that was meant for Jude, but that which is now graciously given to babies in need, in his honor. A few days postpartum, a local Brazilian milk bank made its first stop at Jennifer's house to drop off bottles and pick up bags which she'd filled. While there are many milk banks across Brazil, actual pumps and pumping supplies are hard to come by, and very expensive when available. Most mothers who donate milk do so from hand expression and do not have a significant amount to give. Milk bank workers were astonished the following day when Jennifer had not only filled all their containers, but additional bags as well. This type of gift does not happen often, and everyone was thrilled at the quantity and quality of little lives that would be powerfully impacted as a result.

This past Wednesday, Jennifer pumped 29 ounces. Today, she finished with 40.5 ounces of her perfect milk. And she has been doing all of this with an old, used, broken pump -- one held together by a contraption she rigged with a bungee cord. Few people use pumps in Brasilia, and the cost of living (including purchasing or ordering items) is astronomical. The nearest location Jennifer could rent a much needed pump from was Sao Paulo. The price tag? $300.00 for the first month alone.

We brainstormed ways to help - to meet the need. We had to get Jennifer a hospital grade pump so she could get her milk up and going and put it to baby-saving use, and quickly. To rent a pump in the States and ship it would cost almost as much as renting within Brazil. It would also not be guaranteed to reach Jennifer for the next two weeks, Brazil charges a 100% customs fee on all imported items, it could be held for questioning at customs, and if any damage was done, it would need to be replaced (a $2,000.00 fee). As the result of many of these factors, few people living in Brazil have friends or family mail things to them. In fact, Jennifer has grown accustomed to bringing needed items back with her via plane when she is home in the States for visits.

With engorgement and clogged ducts setting in, and a pump barely hanging on, family and friends gathered resources and ideas, and put out a call for those willing to help on Jennifer's Facebook support page (found here at Facebook.com/Love4JC). Through heart-felt donations from individuals, including a couple mothers who had lost babies of their own, intactivists Jennifer had worked with in the past (the Barefoot Intactivist, among others), and a gift from The International Breastfeeding Symbol Store, we were able to secure a quality pump for Jennifer, as well as a few much needed breast shields and supplies. The pump is currently on its way via flight (with a friend) to Brazil and we all hope it will be in Jennifer's hands soon.

While there is so much more to this story to tell, we simply had to take a step back to look in awe at the hero Jennifer is. Truly, she is the epitome of all that World Milksharing Week represents: liquid love bottled for any baby and mother in need.


If you would like to help Jennifer and her family, find the tab below. She has yet to be able to cover her birth bill as a result of the unexpected (and extensive) costs of cremation and mandatory funeral home charges for her sweet baby, Jude. While there is often reprieve of these charges for little ones lost in the States, such programs to help parents whose babies pass away are not available in Brazil. She still hopes to acquire a special urn for her baby's ashes. ♥
Related Reading:

Love & Light for Jennifer Coias & Family

My Heart: For Jennifer

World Milksharing Week Homepage

Breastmilk Donation Resource Page

Human Milk 4 Human Babies

Eats on Feets 

Milkshare 

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Amazon: We Find Child Abuse 'Offensive'

By Milli Hill © 2011


The world's largest bookseller, Amazon, has a policy not to carry material with "offensive content."  Their policy description states, "What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect."  This seems like a bit of a surface skimmer for such a large international corporation.  Doesn't the definition of "offensive" differ dramatically from person to person?  As far as books are concerned, there is a whole raft of literature, from Lady Chatterley to The God Delusion, that some people, somewhere, find abhorrent, and some people, elsewhere, find interesting and essential.



When it comes to parenting manuals, things are no different. Some people, myself included, find the practice of cry it out (CIO) - leaving a baby or small child to cry themselves to sleep - quite offensive. Yet there are a host of people who do not. Many books are available today on Amazon and elsewhere which promote this damaging practice.  I wrote a post, Judgemental, in which I questioned where we draw the line... At what point do we decide this is not just a matter of "parenting choice," but simply wrong.



There are some manners of treating babies and children that could never be described as "grey areas."  The abuse of children can be physical, emotional, sexual or neglectful. To hurt a child, to make them feel worthless, to betray their naive trust, to fail to offer them even basic care - these are all forms of abuse.  We know, when we meet such terrible situations, that wrong is being done.  We are deeply shocked, upset and saddened.  And we are offended.



Amazon currently stocks several parenting manuals that promote the physical and emotional abuse of children and babies.  The main player in the pack, To Train Up a Child, was recently drawn to my attention by two Facebook groups, The Mom: Informed and The Dangers of Baby Training.  The Mom: Informed published the following advice given by Debi Pearl. Debi is one of two authors of To Train Up a Child, along with her husband, Michael. When they were asked on their website, No Greater Joy, what they meant exactly about using a "rod on babies under 12 months of age." This is her reply. (Please be warned that the content is disturbing):
We never used the rod to punish a child younger than 12 months. You should read No Greater Joy Volume One and Volume Two. We discussed this subject several times in those two books. For young children, especially during the first year, the rod is used very lightly as a training tool. You use something small and light to get the child’s attention and to reinforce your command. One or two light licks on the bare legs or arms will cause a child to stop in his tracks and regard your commands. A 12-inch piece of weed eater chord works well as a beginner rod. It will fit in your purse or pocket.  
Later, a plumber's supply line is a good spanking tool. You can get it at Wal-Mart or any hardware store. Ask for a plastic, ¼ inch, supply line. They come in different lengths and several colors; so you can have a designer rod to your own taste. They sell for less than $1.00. A baby needs to be trained all day, everyday. It should be a cheerful, directing training, not a correction training. If a 10-month-old plays in the dirt in the flowerpot, a simple swat to the hand accompanied with the command “No,” said in a cheerful but authoritative voice, should be sufficient.  
When your 6-month-old baby grabs sister’s hair, while he still has a hand full of hair, swat his hand or arm and say “No, that hurts sister.” If he has already let go of her hair, then put his hand back on her hair, so as to engage his mind in the former action, and then carry on with the hand swatting and the command. If you found your baby trying to stick something in the electrical receptacle, keep his hand on the object and near the receptacle while giving him a few swats on the back of the offending hand, and this to the sound of your rebuke—“No, don't touch, No, don't touch.” This time he needs to cry and be upset.  
If your 10-month-old is pitching a fit because he wants to be picked up, then you must reinforce your command with a few stinging swats. You are not punishing him; you are causing him to associate his negative behavior with negative consequences. Never reward bad behavior with indifference. Tell the baby “No” and give him a swat. If your response is new, he may be offended and scream louder. But continue your normal activities as if you are unaffected. Wait one minute, and then tell the baby to stop crying. If he doesn’t, again swat him on his bare legs. You don’t need to undress him, turn him over, or make a big deal out of it. Just swat him where any skin is exposed. Continue to act as if you don’t notice the fit. Wait two minutes and repeat. Continue until the baby realizes that this is getting worse not better. Most babies will keep it going for 3 or 4 times and then slide to a sitting position and sob it out. When this happens, it signals a surrender, so give him two minutes to get control and then swoop him up as if the fit never happen and give him a big hug, BUT don't hold him in the manner he was demanding. Now remove yourself from the area so as to remove him from association with the past event. 
 Don’t ever hit a small child with your hand. You are too big and the baby is too small. The surface of the skin is where the most nerves are located and where it is easiest to cause pain without any damage to the child. The weight of your hand does little to sting the skin, but can cause bruising or serious damage internally. Babies need training but they do not need to be punished. Never react in anger or frustration. If you lose it, get your self under control before you attempt to discipline a child.
Further reading led me to discover that in the Pearl's book, To Train Up a Child:

  • Thumping, smacking and hair pulling are promoted as a way of training a child to obey instructions.
  • Children are compared children to dogs.
  • The use of a rod is promoted, which the authors describe as a "divine enforcer." 
  • A meter long branch or a belt is recommended for use on an older child and a smaller object on a younger child.
  • "Any spanking to reinforce instruction, must cause pain."
  • "If you have to sit on him to spank him, do not hesitate... hold the resisting child in a helpless position for several minutes, or until he is totally surrendered."
  • Michael Pearl says his wife trained their daughter to stop biting during breastfeeding by pulling on her baby's hair. "Understand, the baby is not being punished. Just conditioned." 

I feel certain that no one reading can be in any doubt: such advice does not belong to a grey area of parenting do's and don'ts - it can only be described as child abuse, and it is distressing and offensive.

I have spent the past month researching this matter and I was shocked to discover that this book belongs to a section of parenting literature which appears to all be published by those in the United States who claim to be Christian fundamentalists. Many similar books are also available on Amazon.  For example, Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp is discussed in many child abuse awareness locations online and advocates using a rod to punish babies as young as eight months. So does the disturbingly titled, Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman.

 I have also discovered the U.S. case in which a young child was beaten to death, and her sister severely battered, while their parents used To Train Up A Child as their parental training guide. The CNN report, including an interview with authors Michael and Debi Pearl, can be found here.

While reading and researching I have been thinking a lot about censorship, and the banning of books - something I typically wholeheartedly disagree with doing. "Those who burn books, will ultimately burn men," as the Heinrich Heine quote goes.  I have wondered at the wisdom of getting involved in this debate, and other people who have already been involved have told me, "It's pointless."

Many times I have held back from writing this article.  But I also know, from several years of working with the victims of abuse in my professional life prior to becoming a mother, that it is very easy, once we enter this world, to unwittingly find ourselves adopting the distorted thinking that actually belongs to the abused or the abuser. "Perhaps I should not speak up..." "Perhaps this isn't really that bad..." or even, "This is a matter of 'personal choice'..." These are all thoughts that run through the minds of victim and perpetrator, and consequently pollute our own thinking.

I know from experience that it is important when addressing situations of abuse, to plant our feet firmly on the ground, take a deep breath, and hold on very tightly to what we know to be right. It is for this reason that I am writing this article, and for this reason that I have decided to petition Amazon.



Let's be clear, this is not a petition to ban books.  It is simply to ask Amazon to cease their stocking of parenting manuals which advise the physical abuse of children.

What is the difference?  To ban a book is a very big move, with implications on freedom of speech which need to be considered at high levels before such a move is made. I am not saying that this shouldn't happen at some point. But for now, to call on Amazon to review their policy of selling the books seems a logical and more manageable step.  With a petition thousands of signatures long, Amazon will be forced to take some kind of action, even if it is to simply respond and say that they are going to continue to sell the book, aware of the contents.  As such a high profile retailer, whatever action they take will be news worthy, and will raise awareness of these books and the destructive measures they push upon children.

A petition will open up the question of whether such books that justify forms of child abuse should be allowed at all to a far wider group than I am able to reach through my work. 

Hopefully, it will also generate critical thinking and discussion about the whole issue of smacking, hitting and physical abuse as part of an aggressive parenting approach.

More than one person has said to me recently, "Stopping the books from being sold will not make any difference - you cannot stop people abusing their children."  This is not the case. First, people can and do change their attitudes on such matters, and often news articles or changes in policy trigger such changes.  Second, to throw up our hands and say, "It's hopeless, let's stay silent," places us back in the role of victim or perpetrator again, burying our feelings of outrage and pain, and deciding to say nothing.

The fight against all forms of child abuse is complicated, difficult, challenging, and can sometimes seem hopeless, but this does not mean we should not try.  Like the victims, we need to find our voices and cry out.

Please take a moment to sign the petition urging Amazon to stop carrying books which advocate the physical abuse of children.  To view the petition and sign, click here:


Thank you for speaking up on behalf of those who may not otherwise be heard.




11/07/11 UPDATE: Read The New York Times article here.


If you are struggling with discipline in your home, or thinking ahead to the future with your beloved little ones, please review many of the excellent, effective gentle child rearing books available here.

Milli Hill worked as an Arts Psychotherapist for several years before becoming a full time mother. Through her professional work, she gained extensive experience with both adults and children who lived through various forms of abuse. Hill now writes both comical and contemplative posts about motherhood at The Mule. Topics include breastfeeding, positive birth, evidence based parenting, and life for women and mothers in the 21st century.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Where Are All the Happy Babies?

By Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D. © 2011
photo shared by peaceful parenting mother, Danelle Frisbie

I was so glad to meet a happy, confident, socially engaged baby this week. Baby Loren was a stark contrast to most babies (children under 2) that I encounter these days. Most tend to look distracted, unhappy, dazed, and pretty uninterested in others. And their eyes don't glow or communicate understanding like Loren's did. I even had a hard time finding a photo to put up with this post of a glowing, clued-in baby, whose eyes did not look wounded or clouded.

Why are so few babies "glowing" any more?

Although babies obviously represent the future of your family, my family, our society, and the human race, fewer and fewer people in the United States seem to understand what babies need. Charles Blow has been documenting the declining support and wellbeing of children, as in his August 26th New York Times article, when he documents how many children in each U.S. state have food insecurity.

Food is clearly a basic need for a thriving baby. But there are things beyond such staying-alive-needs that human babies require for thriving.

Here is some basic information about babies and some of their needs.

Human babies, unlike any other creature, have only 25% of the brain developed at birth (assuming 40-42 weeks gestation at birth - i.e., full term). Most of what is available at birth are basic survival mechanisms that kick into gear when the child feels imbalanced or life-threatened (i.e. panic at separation from the caregiver).

Unlike most other animals who are mobile at birth, humans emerge from the womb many months early because of head size. Social mammals like humans have lots of growing to do after birth too, and our ancestral parenting practices provide good early care that fosters optimal social and intellectual brain development. What's good care? Good care in the first year or more includes an 'external womb' kind of care (i.e., carried close to the body constantly, needs met immediately, nursing on demand).

A baby's development unfolds on a set maturational schedule (with individual timing varying somewhat). Later capacities build on earlier ones. So if there is inadequate food or attention during this rapid-growth period, the brain will build less-than-optimal systems (i.e., neurotransmitter systems receptor number and activity can be lowered by poor care, which affects how well your memory is set up to work later on -- not so well!). A poor foundation leads to poor mental and physical health later (which sometimes may not show up until adolescence or adulthood).

The brain typically grows to 60% adult size by 12 months and is co-constructed by experience. So you can see that the caregiver has a great effect on how well the brain grows.

In the first year of life, the neocortex begins to build up the area for reasoning, thinking, planning, and other executive functions -- systems that apparently finish themselves in the third decade of life. The emotion systems become established and connected by age two, affecting social capabilities later. So the first two years set up personality, intelligence and social success. (See Greenspan & Shanker, 2004; Schore, 2001.)

Thus, care in the first years of life is critical for optimal brain and body development, for intellectual, social and emotional intelligence.

photo shared by peaceful parenting mother, Jennifer Coias

What does baby want/need desperately in the first two years when the brain is growing so quickly? 
Think: external womb.

Caregiver constant touch (holding, carrying, wearing) keeps DNA synthesis and growth hormone going. Separation from a caregiver's body shuts both down (Schanberg, 1995). (Have you noticed how distressed a baby gets when isolated? Separation hurts - literally.) Intelligence later in childhood is related to head size growth in the first year of life (Gale et al., 2006).

Caregiver responsiveness to needs. Babies don't have any capabilities for self-care at birth. They need caregivers to teach their bodies and brains to stay calm so they can grow well. When young babies nonverbally gesture discomfort, it means they feel pain and should be attended to immediately. Babies should not have to cry to have their needs met because crying releases cortisol, killing brain cells.

Avoid distress. Until around age 5, children need protection from stressful situations. Their brains are not yet capable of dealing with loud noises or sudden visual transformations. They need a caregiver's compassionate physical presence to get calm from sudden distress. Later on a child will naturally grow to comfort self when the caregiver is unavailable, based on this early sense of security and systems that were coached to calm themselves.

Avoid discomfort. When a baby starts to gesture discomfort indicating some kind of imbalance, the caregiver can provide touch (carrying/wearing, rocking) or the breast for non-nutritive suckling or breastmilk. Meeting a baby's needs quickly when a baby communicates a need builds the child's confidence in the self's ability to get needs met. This confidence stays with the child thereafter, leading to confident, securely attached, independent children later in life.

Avoid crying. When babies are left to cry, they build a more stress-reactive brain (for the longterm) that will have a harder time calming itself. Later on, depression, anxiety and aggression are more likely. They learn not to trust the world or people, thereby becoming more focused on themselves. In contrast, caregiver responsiveness to the needs of baby fosters a pleasant personality. In cultures where babies do not cry (because they are not separated from their caregiver and never left unfed or untouched), there are no 'terrible twos' (see additional).

Breastmilk. Provided mother is not severely malnourished, breastmilk provides all the nutrition needed to build a well-functioning brain and body. Neurotransmitters like serotonin are fostered by the alpha-lactalbumin, rich in tryptophan, in breastmilk. All immunoglobulins are provided by mother's milk, plus antibodies for any viruses and bacteria in the vicinity. Exclusive breastfeeding (i.e. nothing but mother's milk to eat or drink) for at least the first 6-12 months of baby's life, ensure these benefits will be unimpeded by the pathogens and imbalances that formula encourages (see additional).

Frequent, on cue breastmilk feeding. Breastmilk is mostly amino acids which are fundamental to building a good brain. Baby feeds frequently to flood the brain with these needed building blocks. If the baby is put on a parent-directed schedule, or an infant formula that makes babies sleep deeply (which is unnatural and unhealthy), opportunities to provide brain-building nutrients will be missed, not to mention the distress it will cause in the baby. This again leads to a stressed brain, increased cortisol, less optimal growth, less flexible self-comforting.

Babies become what they experience. The brain learns what is practiced, especially in early life. If early life is a distress-filled life, the brain learns to be a threat detector, using that as a filter for social life. The brain has difficulty relaxing to learn. If early life is an unstressed life, the brain is able to grow in all the ways it is designed to grow (smart, thoughtful, compassionate).

If we don't give babies what they need, should we be surprised that children's academic performance and social behavior is on the downswing?

photo shared by peaceful parenting father & Photography Monthly editor, Jeff Meyer

SOCIETAL LEVEL QUESTIONS

How does what babies need affect those who are not parents?

Babies need responsive caregivers, 24 hours, 7 days a week. Parents cannot do this alone. It means we need to restructure society, going back to ways that are supportive of babies.

How do we facilitate optimal child growth without putting it all on parents? 

We should be thinking about, planning for, and implementing cultural changes to facilitate structural changes.

Family Wellbeing. Parents need to be able to provide for their families without working day and night. They need decent jobs that pay enough so that one job is enough for a family to live on. It has been noted that our ancestors controlled their desires, desiring very little. Our culture does the opposite, increasing desires for things that don't really make us happy but keep us distracted. (See Bishop's book, More.) Maybe the economic downturn is a chance to shift our priorities from acquiring things to getting pleasure from relationships (the focus of our ancestors and many other cultures around the world today).

Family Health. We need to focus on prevention and fostering good health, instead of interventions after things have already gone wrong. This means healthcare that starts babies right, with as little interference at birth as possible. The time around childbirth is a sensitive period for establishing longterm patterns of interaction, including bonding and secure attachment. There should be no genital cutting ('circumcision') in early life as it affects bonding, attachment, pain reception, and breastfeeding success. [Editor's note: U.S. style genital cutting also removes the vital prepuce organ, impacting babies immediately and long term as adults.] Our medical system should be careful and cautious about interfering with natural processes (i.e., breastfeeding, delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin between baby and mother, etc.) during this period.

Family Time. Parents need time to be with their children in positive ways and both need time with supportive community members. Having community nurses who visit new mothers in their homes is a proven way to improve childrearing. Trust is fostered in early life through responsive care - to always have our needs met, even during times when mom needs a break. If most of us did not get the nearly constant support needed as babies and young children, with little distress, chances are we are not very trusting as adults. And indeed, trust levels in the United States have been decreasing over the last decades. We will have to figure out how to slow ourselves down enough to pay attention to our neighbors in positive ways and build the trust that comes from familiarity in supportive communities.

Caregiver Attention. Young children need responsive parents or else their brains, bodies, and sociality are undernourished. Parents who are well themselves, and calm, who are secretly attached with their child, and who have time for an emotional connection with their child are better able to be attentive -- which is just what children need. This does not mean intrusive, controlling, insensitive attention, but respectful, honoring attention that responds sensitively to a child's emotional cues.

Extended Families. We must facilitate keeping extended families together, allowing them to be in the same house if they so choose (zoning laws have made this illegal in some places). Then other family members can take on some of the household tasks for parents as well as assisting with childcare.

Workplaces. Babies can and should be at work with mom. (See Babies at Work Program,) This means that work schedules and work places must be flexible. This means that parents must be able to manage and make up for decreased night sleeping (i.e., afternoon siestas). Some jobs are just not appropriate for new moms and new dads (soldiering, for example) and so we must encourage workplaces to allow extended parental leaves in the first years of baby's life, as done in other advanced nations.

Politicians. In Switzerland, preschools are often built next to retirement communities so that the younger and older generations can easily intermingle. Such proposals are built on wisdom about what helps people of all ages thrive. Many U.S. politicians seem to have lost their intuitions and wisdom about these things. To remedy this lack of understanding, I propose that we make sure that politicians hold babies and play with young children regularly. High testosterone correlates with low empathy, and there's been quite a lot of both among politicians in the news. Holding babies lowers testosterone. The hope (to be tested) is that politicians will think of the babies and children when they write and pass laws and design budgets.

Public Spaces. Women's breasts were designed to nurse babies (with milk and comfort suckling) to optimal health. It would be helpful to let go of the extreme sexualization of breasts in the U.S., although it is suspected that many men who did not breastfeed, or receive enough support in early life, are those very same men obsessed with breasts today. In places where a normal duration of breastfeeding is common, men have very few obsessions with women's breasts. (See one discussion.)

Pleasure. We've had a couple of generations now that have learned to not take great pleasure in being with children, so it may take a few generations to get back to a healthy pleasure balance. But childrearing within community is very pleasurable (if parenting in a baby-friendly manner so that children grow to have pleasant personalities, as do the adults).

Happy babies make for happy communities. If we attend to what children need from before birth onward, they will be pleasant and happy. It is the denial of their needs that pushes them into being fussy and ornery and oppositional and unpleasant. However, we all have to pitch in.

But, you might say, doesn't the glowing baby, Loren, count as a happy baby? Doesn't his existence counter my hypothesis of decreasing happy babies in the United States? Nope. Loren is not from the U.S. -- he is from Switzerland, a place with many policies in place to support wellbeing in both families and babies.

I'm sure you have more ideas about how to make our societies friendlier to the needs of babies. Let's imagine together how we can improve the current situation.

photo shared by peaceful parenting mother, Sharon Frisby


Related Articles:

The Decline of Children and the Moral Sense

Are you or your child on a (touch) starvation diet?

Are you treating your baby like a prisoner?

Breastmilk Wipes Out Formula

Peaceful Parenting: Following Your Instincts

What is Peaceful Parenting?

Related Books:

Why Love Matters

The Continuum Concept

Primal Health

The Baby Bond

The Science of Parenting

The Vital Touch

The Scientification of Love

Born For Love

The Biology of Love

Our Babies, Ourselves

Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering


References

Catharine R. Gale, PhD, Finbar J. O'Callaghan, PhD, Maria Bredow, MBChB, Christopher N. Martyn, DPhil and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children Study Team (October 4, 2006). "The Influence of Head Growth in Fetal Life, Infancy, and Childhood on Intelligence at the Ages of 4 and 8 Years". Pediatrics Vol. 118 No. 4 October 2006, pp. 1486-1492. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/short/118/4/1486.

Greenspan, S.I., & Shanker, S.I. (2004). The first idea. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.

Hewlett, B., & Lamb, M. (2005). Hunter-gatherer childhoods. New York: Aldine.

Schanberg, S. (1995). "The genetic basis for touch effects." In T. Field (Ed.), Touch and Early Experience (pp. 67-80). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Schore, A. N. (2001). "Effects of a secure attachment relationship on right brain development, affect regulation, and infant mental health." Infant Mental Health Journal, 22(1-2), 7-66. doi:10.1002/1097-0355(200101/04)22:1<7::AID-IMHJ2>3.0.CO;2-N

Sunderland, M. (2006). The Science of Parenting. DK Adult.


Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame and Director of the Collaborative for Ethical Education. Her current research examines the effects of parenting on child and adult outcomes. Narvaez has developed several integrative theories: Adaptive Ethical Expertise, Integrative Ethical Education, Triune Ethics Theory. She spoke at the Whitehouse's conference on Character and Community, and is author/editor of three award winning books: Postconventional Moral Thinking; Moral Development, Self and Identity; and the Handbook of Moral and Character Education. Her (ed.) upcoming text, Human Nature, Early Experience, and the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness is set for 2012 publication. Visit Dr. Narvaez' website for additional books, papers, classes, websites and contact information.


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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On Guilt



No one can make any one else feel guilty. Guilt comes from within. You either feel it, or you don't. And actually, guilt is a very good thing! It causes us to re-evaluate our position - lets us know when we are no longer in line with our own principles, our core values. It tells us that something is off, and motivates us to change whatever it is we're doing. In other words, guilt makes us uncomfortable for very good reason!

Rather than blaming others for making us "feel guilty," we really need to look within ourselves for answers, and stop deflecting our own issues away from ourselves - stop projecting our issues onto others. We must be 100% accountable for our own feelings. We need to OWN them. Because they are no one else's but our own.

~ Emma Kwasnica,  founder Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network




Related Reading: 







Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Heart: For Jennifer

By Erin [last name withheld at author's request]


My heart weeps.

Yesterday I sat on the bank of a creek, thinking about Jennifer, a lifelong family friend living in Brazil, who lost her baby just shy of 36 weeks. It has been a full week since that day and she has yet to deliver her baby. As I sat contemplating the unfairness in life, I noticed the leaves falling off the trees, into the creek, only to be carried away with the current. Recently, I had the privilege of Jennifer and her son, Noah, attending my daughter’s 3rd birthday. While listening to the water lap over glassy rocks, I recalled another birthday memory - Jennifer’s own 5th birthday party. I was helping her with a present, sifting through phonic flash cards she had opened on the family room floor, and I was so impressed that she preferred them over the other toys. I laughed at the recollection, and then an empty thought seized me - how I could possibly help her now, so far away?

I am helpless, with only surges of heart drenched sympathy. It is the same emotion that blasts me throughout each day since learning the devastating news.

My heart leaps.

In trying to convert sadness into strength, I noticed a small gray stone between my feet. It was about the third time I glanced at it when I realized she was trying to attract my attention the whole time. Picking up the rock, I studied her - she was not a stone at all, but a heart shaped fossil. Holding this fossil in my hands I smiled at the peculiar meaning in finding something nature wanted me to grasp. I felt love warm my soul.

I wonder if somehow we can help one another's sorrow by feeling their pain? Does it alleviate their ache in any way? Do they experience it somewhat like a break, like a breath of release from their own hurt? How does it end up seeming that we are connected, especially when we need it most?

I put the amulet away in my pocket. I smiled. I retreated from the creek with the love and strength I try to cast upon Jennifer and her family. This symbol is reassurance, power, and life. I will hold it as such, and let it dance in my pocket.

My heart speaks.

Jennifer is daughter to Margarita, my beloved dance teacher who taught me excellent ballet, but more importantly, about love and life. Those who know me well understand that Margarita is an incredibly dear, influential person in my life. Margarita is someone I cherish like a big sister, and her daughter, a little sister. Even as the time flies I hold them and their family close to my heart.

I ask anyone reading this to please send strong, positive thoughts from your own heart to them.

Thank you.




Visit Love and Light for Jennifer and Family at Facebook.com/Love4JC.

Support Jennifer through this incredibly challenging time. 

Jennifer has changed many lives around the world through her volunteer work, research, wisdom and gentle teaching. Read some of her material here: 




Sons [A "Daughters" Song Re-write]








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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Cosleeping While Pregnant

By Olivia Maloy © 2011

Photo courtesy of peaceful parenting momma, Sheena Davies ~ cosleeping at 37 weeks pregnant.


Cosleeping is a wonderful thing that allows children to have the closeness and security they need during the night, and helps parents wake up more quickly when their child needs them. It also gives many parents of small babies the chance to get many more hours of sleep than they would if they slept separately from their little one, because mom doesn't need to get up to nurse – she's right where she needs to be.

Our daughter slept with us from day one, starting immediately after she was born at home. When I got pregnant with our son, I knew that she was not ready to move to her own bed by any stretch of the imagination – especially because so many things would be changing for her once her brother arrived, and she was also potty learning. I wanted my daughter to continue to reap the benefits of cosleeping, but was concerned about my growing body and the fact that pregnancy signs like insomnia, back ache and heartburn often forced me to get up many times during the night.

Perhaps all those little things that wake pregnant moms up during the night prepare us for a lack of sleep once our babies are born, but that is a whole different topic. I was worried that my toddler might kick me in the uterus, as she was a very restless sleeper, and I was also concerned that she may wake up when I did – which was a lot! Then, there was the fact that there was less and less space in the bed as my pregnancy progressed.

Here are some things that helped us:

• We bought a bigger bed, which was a great investment since we were also planning to continue cosleeping once the baby arrived. It made a huge difference, especially because my daughter liked to sleep in weird positions that take up a lot of space, as many kids do. 

• Toddlers sometimes need the familiar feeling of a parent next to them to stay asleep. My toddler ended up snuggling with dad instead, so that she wouldn't notice when I was gone during one of the many nightly bathroom trips. 

• I was given a full-body maternity pillow to help me sleep. It was great, and also prevented my toddler from kicking me in my tummy at night. Whenever I needed peace and quiet, I would put the pillow between me on one side, and my toddler and husband on the other. Later on, the pillow was also a handy tool to prevent the newborn from falling off the bed. [I've since learned the founder of peaceful parenting did the same when pregnant - only she had two body pillows! Lucky woman.]

On the whole, cosleeping while pregnant was rather uneventful. There was just no way that my pregnant body was going to "suffocate" my daughter, and she hardly ever woke up when I did. Cosleeping through pregnancy prepared everyone, including our toddler, for a family bed with a baby as well. Just as my older child didn't wake when I went for my nightly vomiting trips, she also did not notice the baby once he arrived - even when he fussed at night!


Related Reading:

Turn Your Crib into a Co-Sleeper

Baby Sleep Resource Page

Helpful Baby Sleep Books!


Olivia Maloy writes about fertility, pregnancy and parenting at Trying To Conceive. Take a look at her ovulation calendar for a little help in pinpointing your most fertile days.


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Friday, September 02, 2011

Putting Consciousness Back Into Pregnancy

By Sascha Kalivoda © 2011


Conscious Pregnancy... surprisingly, upon doing some research, I found that this is not a frequently searched term on the internet. Being so engrossed by all things contributing to a healthy, well-adjusted life, I was so sure that I would find thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands, who were exploring this world right along with me. Nope, not thousands. Actually, barely even hundreds.

Now I must ask, is this a reflection of the current general sentiment towards pregnancy? Or are people simply using different words than I do? If you are reading this right now and aren’t feeling the support around you that you would like to be able to freely delve into and discuss the sacredness and wonder of pregnancy, then please know that there are some wonderful resources available to you, both on the web and in bookstores.

And just so you know, that feeling in your heart telling you that there must be more to all of this pregnancy and parenting business is valid – there is A LOT MORE, so keep looking! Reading DrMomma.org is a fantastic place for oodles of information, and you are always welcome to contact me personally if you need additional resources. At the end of this post, you will find three steps that you can implement right now to up the consciousness in your pregnancy.

Somehow, the ability to trust in the natural and intuitive nature of pregnancy and childbirth has become dormant, and as such, the process has been relegated to a medical event. No longer is it customary to embrace this very special time in a woman’s life as the miraculous and beautiful experience that it is. Yet, in some ways, perhaps it is more important now than ever before to do just that – to truly embrace pregnancy and parenting and treat it as a sacred journey that requires your presence each and every step of the way.

Our world has changed radically in the last few decades, and though each generation repeats how “things aren’t what they used to be...”, conditions today in this world are like never before, and they continue to change at an ever-increasing rate. Children today are surrounded by technology from birth, are largely raised on nutrient-poor foods, spend less time outdoors and get less exercise. Building a strong, healthy foundation and bond with your child before birth may be more crucial than ever before to ensure that they thrive in their lifetime, both physically and emotionally.

In this age of environmental pollutants, exponential pharmaceutical drug use, the availability of processed ‘foods’ on every corner, more than ever it is a time for each one of us to take full responsibility and take back our health, our children’s health, and that of the planet. It is up to each of us to take full responsibility in all possible ways for our children, even if still only in the womb, until the time comes for that child to make his own choices.

Believe it or not, the perceptions, thoughts and actions you now hold will affect your ability to become pregnant, your pregnancy experience, and who your child will ultimately become. We are sicker than ever, women are having difficulties conceiving, and childhood conditions and diseases are skyrocketing. As a basis for health, the existing medical model is not working – it is time for women to take back their fertility and to stop treating pregnancy and childbirth as medical events. The answers lie within you, not outside of you.

Dr. Bruce Lipton tells us that the pregnant mother is not only a source of nutrients, but also a source of information. How many doctors ask their pregnant patients how they are feeling? Are they happy? Sad? Stressed? Joyful? Fearful? Rather, their weight is checked, their bellies measured, they be may be asked what they are eating and are told to take a prenatal vitamin, and then they are sent off on their merry – or not so merry – way. But there is SO much more to this picture and it is not being addressed.

The womb environment is such a critical contributing factor to a child’s outcome. A developing baby’s only clue to the outside world is through her mother. If the mother is sad, chronically stressed, scared and unsupported, that baby will come into this world expecting a hostile environment - having been bombarded throughout her development with these "negative" hormones and emotional states. Science demonstrates that, among other things, baby's forebrain development (where conscious reasoning occurs) will be stunted, and her hindbrain (the part that deals with stress) will be more developed.

However, if a mother is joyful, supported, relaxed, and has communicated with her child that she is indeed wanted, the outcome will be the exact opposite and this child will have a greater capacity for intelligence and adaptability. Mothers, not only are you making choices for two when it comes to making choices around your nourishment, you are also thinking for two, feeling for two and emoting for two. While pregnant, your thoughts are literally not your own!

Pregnancy is not a time for stress and drama in your life. Of course, stress is a part of living and minor stress is fine and harmless, and sometimes even constructive. Rather, what this refers to is significant and enduring stress. Pregnancy is a time for the mother to feel loved and to know that she is completely safe and supported. I want to emphasize here that fathers also play a vital part and it is up to them to ensure that their partners are feeling safe, loved and supported to the very best of their ability. This is Dad's most important role during the pregnancy, and a critical role it is. The two working together, conscious mother and conscious father, can create magic.

Pregnancy is a time for joy and peace, a time to start the dialogue with your unborn child, assuring him that he is wanted and loved. It is a time for nutritious choices, clean air, regular exercise, safe cosmetics and cleaners. It is not a time for nail salons and hair dying. It is a time to connect with your partner, to envision the type of birth you would like to experience, and the type of parents you are going to be. It is a time to embrace the process and to trust in your body’s innate and powerful wisdom and your own intuitive nature as a parent. But most of all, it is a time for joy.

So how can you put the consciousness back into your pregnancy? Here are three things that you can do right now:

1) Talk to your baby inutero as often as you can, letting him know that he is loved and wanted. (I did this as much as possible, but always did so at night while I laid in bed before I falling asleep).

2) Discard your chemical cleaners and start cleaning your home with microfibre cloths and water, adding baking soda, castile soap and vinegar if necessary. (I do at least 90% of my cleaning with water and microfibre only). Nix the chemicals that you can in your home, laundry, kitchen, bathroom, and environment. There is a reason that pregnant mothers become extra sensitive to smells: listen to your senses.

3) Simplify your schedule to reduce unnecessary stress and spend time appreciating life’s simple pleasures. Indulge in regular walks in nature or a cuddle on the couch with your partner.

What are you doing to up the consciousness in your pregnancy?



For further information visit:







Sascha Kalivoda is a holistic nutritionist and the creator of Your Conscious Pregnancy and Parenting Guide, an online program devoted to the education of raising healthy, confident, well-adjusted children. Her program brings together information from world-renowned experts in the fields of biology, nutrition, herbology, conception, childbirth, parenting, education and more. For information please visit Your Conscious Pregnancy and Parenting Guide. Sascha can be found here on her Facebook page and contacted via email at sascha@inonegeneration.com.




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