A Homebirth Blessing

By R. J. Bly © 2012

Knowing that I would give birth at home, with my midwife Nancy, assisting midwife Noel, and doula Machelle, was a huge comfort to me. It was such a relief to know that I would be doing the hard work of labor in familiar surrounds and recovering without interruptions from nurses and visitors.

My due date was May 1st, 2011, but I was anticipating that I would be overdue like I was with my first baby. However, Thursday evening, April 28th, early labor began. I was having a lot of back contractions, feeling very restless and the only way I could get comfortable was to sit on my exercise ball and rock back and forth. I began thinking, "This could be it! I could be in labor...but I'm just not sure." I remember telling my husband, Aaron, that we had to get a new dishwasher immediately! Ours had broken down and we were washing dishes by hand. I just felt this intense need to have everything organized and ready. That night, I was so tired but sleeping was a challenge due to back and hip pain.

Friday morning, April 29th, I woke up and I felt like I had a million things to do. Around 10 AM, I began working on sidecarring a crib when the contractions became obvious and more intense. I was incredibly irritable and short with my son, Keaton, and I knew I needed help. So, I called Aaron around 11:30 and asked him to come home and help me care for our son. Aaron finished his lunch and came home soon after. Around noon my water broke in a huge gush, all over the kitchen floor. It was quite a surprise, and at first I didn't believe this could be happening. I thought, "Wait...water breaking before active labor hardly ever happens! Maybe I just peed myself?" But, as I had more contractions water continued to gush. I called Aaron again and told him he had to hurry home! He said he was on his way.

I called my midwife, Nancy, and explained to her that my water had broken and I was having strong, irregular contractions. Nancy called my doula, Machelle, to have her come to my house to take our baby's heart tones. My contractions continued and my water kept gushing. Keaton was very interested in what was going on but he was also a bit concerned. I had put towels down over the water and Keaton kept trying to help me clean it up. It was a challenge to keep him away from the mess while I had contractions. Thankfully, Machelle arrived soon after my water broke and she cleaned up the mess for me. (Wasn't that nice?) Machelle and I talked a bit, she listened to the baby's heart tones and then she started setting up the birthing pool for me. Aaron arrived home around 1 PM and it was a huge relief to have him home to take care of Keaton. Nancy and her assisting midwife, Noel, arrived soon after.

Around 1 PM I began entering active labor. Things became hazy after that and I closed my eyes and concentrated. I rocked back and forth and rested between contractions as they continued to grow longer and stronger. To my amazement hours were passing by in the blink of an eye… Nancy and Machelle reminded me to eat frequently, for the baby and to keep my strength up, even though I had no appetite. Aside, from getting me food and checking the baby’s heartbeat, they pretty much let me do my own thing and allowed me to move around as I needed. I was walking around, I leaned over on my exercise ball, I labored standing, and I walked some more…eventually I decided I wanted to be in the birthing pool once the warm water had filled up.

The birthing pool was an immense help for my contractions because the warm water relaxed my muscles and allowed my belly to be buoyant. I remember hearing Nancy and Noel talking quietly on the sofa while Machelle was next to me as I was laboring in the birthing pool. Listening to them talk was a very nice distraction from the discomfort of my contractions. I had my eyes closed and hearing their voices seemed to help me relax because I was reassured to know where they were. Machelle gave me a back massage and reminded me to relax my face during contractions. I remember that I was getting out of the pool often to go to the bathroom to pee.

In the mist of labor Keaton became concerned and anxious. He tried giving me hugs and kisses to make me feel better. He was such a darling and so concerned about Mommy. Unfortunately, having my son present and upset began to slow down my labor and my contractions would stop while I tried to console him. I became emotional, so Aaron and I decided it would be best if they go for a drive and get some fresh air.

Once Aaron and Keaton left, my labor became more productive and at about 6 PM I was in transition. I was bellowing and groaning with contractions, and it really worked. Vocalizing the contractions and swaying back and forth made them more tolerable. I thought I would be scared of the pain of labor but I really wasn't. I took it one step at a time, one contraction at a time, and all the hormones kept me going strong. I remember something Nancy told me, “The pain of labor is a productive pain,” and that helped my stay positive.

Before I knew it, my newborn son was crowning. Deckard was born at 7:02 PM but had a short cord that was tightly wrapped once around his neck. Nancy somersaulted Deckard in the water, leaving the umbilical cord intact, and placed him on my chest. He was blue and not breathing so Nancy gave him two puffs of air while Noel got the oxygen tank turned on. He was put on a warm tray next to me and an ambu bag (a bag valve mask used for resuscitation) was placed over his face. I was holding my breath and Machelle told me to start talking to my baby. With tears in my eyes I said his name to him for the first time and I told him how much I loved him. I told him he was so beautiful and I asked him to open his eyes. I rubbed his back and I watched the pink color return to his skin as his chest began to rise and fall. He looked at me with a confused look on his face, as though he was thinking, "How did I get out here?" and he whimpered. Then, he started crying and I was so happy! All of this took place in less than three minutes.

A few minutes later, while we were still in the birthing tub, Aaron and Keaton arrived back home and met Deckard. It was perfect timing. They met him at just the right moment - when he had stopped crying and was alert. Deckard and I stayed in the birth tub a little while longer to catch our breath. As we were resting and enjoying the warm water, my placenta was delivered and once the umbilical cord stopped pulsing it was cut.

With the help of Nancy, Machelle and Noel, I slowly walked over to my living room sofa where I settled in and bonded with my baby. He was very alert as I held him skin to skin while I gazed at how handsome and perfect he was. Breastfeeding went off without a hitch about forty five minutes later and we've been going strong ever since. I watched Keaton run circles around the living room, showing off for us. He certainly knows how to be the life of the party. A bit later my husband put Keaton to bed then he came downstairs and joined us as we relaxed and chatted in the living room. We talked about how beneficial it was to leave Deckard's umbilical cord attached, after it had been wrapped around his neck because he was still receiving 70% oxygen. We talked about waterbirth and I told them how appreciative I was to have had the birthing tub available because it was instrumental in coping with contractions. We talked about how perfect and healthy my labor and delivery was and how natural homebirth is. It was such a calming experience to be able to sit and talk in the dim light and warmth of our home while we discussed the events of my birth.

Soon after, I gave Deckard to my husband to hold while I went up to our bedroom with Nancy, Machelle and Noel to have a tear stitched up. My new son was brought to me while I lay in bed. Nancy weighed him, did a health check and made sure all his fingers and toes were accounted for. He weighed 9 pounds, 9 ounces and was 22 inches long. What a big, healthy boy! Around 10 PM Nancy, Machelle and Noel said their goodbyes and headed home while Deckard and I snuggled in bed and my husband took care of the birthing tub. (I was so thankful he was willing to do that even though it was hard work and took several hours.) It was a very restful experience - to sleep in my own bed with my newborn son, undistracted by interruptions from hospital staff. Just peace and quiet as I got to know my baby...

Giving birth at home, on my own terms, surrounded by three strong women helping me was an amazing experience. I am so glad I had the courage to bring my second son into this world unmediated and in the security of my own home. I can’t stress enough how peaceful and natural it was. For me, homebirth was exactly what I needed.

During the early postpartum period I realized that emotionally I was doing much better than I had after my first birth. The first time, post-hospital birth, I knew intellectually that I had had a baby but instinctively, I felt unsettled and confused. This time, instinctively and intellectually, I felt at peace because actively giving birth in my own home was what my mind and body needed. It was a very healing, enlightening and empowering experience for me and I felt closer to my newborn because of it. I had tons of endorphins and oxytocin rushing through my body and I felt alive! What a blessing homebirth can be.

Deckard turns one year old today and is still happy, healthy and whole ~ loving life and enjoying some momma milk along the way. ❤

Also by Bly:

Circumcision's Profound Impact on My Family

R. J. Bly is a wife and stay-at-home mom to two precocious little boys, Keaton and Deckard. She says that it is a joy to be able to stay home with her boys and offer them the very best of her time and energy. Bly comes from a broken family (neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse) but she plans on doing everything in her power to provide her boys with a safe and loving home. She says her sons have taught her a great deal about patience, love and respect. Because of them, Bly is an intact advocate, a homebirthing, full term breastfeeding, natural immunization building, cloth diapering, babywearing, cosleeping momma. 

Bly graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Public Relations/Communication and hopes to apply this to a career once her boys are older. For now she says mothering is her chosen full time job. Bly volunteers her time as a La Leche League Leader to help mothers and their own babies in her community.  She has been diligently working with a few colleagues to purse a breastfeeding in public bill for Idaho and hopes to introduce it into the 2013 legislative session. Bly also serves as Director of Intact Idaho, a grassroots chapter sharing research based information on intact care and circumcision to parents and professionals across the state. 


Diaper Change Roll Technique to Reduce Colic

Dr. John Edwards, D.C., serves expecting mothers, babies and children at Mama's Chiropractic Clinic in Cape Coral, Florida. During the April 21st Great Cloth Diaper Change, Edwards met with parents in Estero, Florida to demonstrate one of several things that can be implemented in general baby care to reduce intestinal and gut pain (that we often label 'colic'). Edwards points out the reasons that changing a diaper day in and day out, multiple times a day, in the fashion that many parents have been taught to do, actually introduces repetitive stress to a baby's spine, right where the spinal nerves meet the intestines.

Before sharing this Edwards' demonstration with peaceful parenting readers, we reviewed the top 10 ranking "How to Change Your Baby" videos on YouTube and found that 9 of the 10 used a double leg lift technique, rather than a roll technique. [The majority of the videos were also devoid of proper intact care information for changing baby boys, but that is subject for another post.]

Here, Edwards explains the reasons that the roll technique is healthier for your baby until she is able to crawl around on her own. He mentions that it may be more cumbersome at first, but with a little bit of practice, you will get the hang of things. Edwards uses a full hand over chest to roll the baby in this demonstration. We have found that some parents (especially mothers with smaller hands) find it more convenient to use two hands, one on baby's back/side/hips and one on baby's belly to roll baby to one side and then the other for wiping. We strongly encourage parents to skip the diaper changing tables all together and put down a simple changing mat, towel, or 'old fashioned' cloth diaper that can be easily tossed into the wash when it is soiled. Lay this out on the floor or on the bed, so you have plenty of room to sit in front of baby, spread out and change without baby rolling into dangerous positions. Doing so will also make the roll technique easier.


Related Reading:

The Fussy Baby Book (1999) Dr. William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N.

The Baby Bond (2009) Dr. Linda Palmer, D.C.

Baby Massage: The Calming Power of Touch (2004) Dr. Alan Heath, Ph.D. Nicki Bainbridge, R.N.

The Vital Touch (1997) Dr. Sharon Heller, Ph.D.

Klougart N, Nilsson N and Jacobsen J. "Infantile Colic Treated by Chiropractors: A Prospective Study of 316 Cases." J Manipulative Physiol Therapy. 1989 (Aug);12 (4): 281-288
In this study, 73 chiropractors adjusted the spines of 316 infants (median age 5.7 weeks at initial examination) with moderate to severe colic (average 5.2 hours of crying per day). The infant's mothers were provided a diary and kept track of the baby's symptoms, intensity and length of the colicky crying as well as how comfortable the infant seemed. 94% of the children within 14 days of chiropractic care (usually three visits) showed a satisfactory response. After four weeks, the improvements were maintained. One fourth of these infants showed great improvement after the very first chiropractic adjustment. The remaining infants all showed improvement within 14 days. Note: 51% of the infants had undergone prior unsuccessful treatment, usually drug therapy. 
Wiberg JMM, Nordsteen J, Nilsson N. "The Short-term Effect of Spinal Manipulation in the Treatment of Infantile Colic: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial with a Blinded Observer." J Manipulative Physiol Therapy. 1999 (Oct); 22 (8): 517-522
This is a randomized controlled trial that took place in a private chiropractic practice and the National Health Service's health visitor nurses in a suburb of Copenhagen, Denmark. One group of infants received spinal care for 2 weeks, the other was treated with the drug dimethicone for 2 weeks. Changes in daily hours of crying were recorded in a colic diary. From the abstract: By trial days 4 to 7, hours of crying were reduced by 1 hour in the dimethicone groups compared with 2.4 hours in the manipulation group (P = 04). On days 8 through 11, crying was reduced by 1 hour for the dimethicone group, whereas crying in the manipulation group was reduced by 2.7 hours (P=.004). From trial day 5 onward the manipulation group did significantly better that (sic) the dimethicone group. Conclusion: Spinal manipulation is effective in relieving infantile colic.


Violence, Bullying and Abuse Damage DNA and Cause Children to Age Prematurely

By Danelle Frisbie © 2012

Researchers at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy have found that violence, aggression and abuse in the lives of children causes changes in their DNA that can lead to seven to ten years of premature aging. Other factors such as smoking, obesity, psychological disorders and stress have also been shown to damage DNA, which means we age biologically, not just chronologically. The body of an abused 4 year old, then would look biologically more like a 12 year old; a 12 year old more like a 20 year old. (1)

Researchers measured this cellular aging by looking at the telomeres (the ends of chromosomes). In much the same way that your shoelace caps keep your shoelaces from unraveling, telomeres keep DNA sequences intact. When cells divide, telomeres shorten until they can no longer divide any further. Idan Shalev, who serves as a post-doctoral researcher in psychology and neuroscience at Duke is the study's lead author. In today's Molecular Psychiatry he reports, “This is the first time it has been shown that our telomeres can shorten at a faster rate even at a really young age, while kids are still experiencing stress.”

Red indicates telomere placement on chromosomes. 

Researchers analyzed DNA samples from twins at ages 5 and 10 and compared telomere length to three kinds of violence: domestic violence between the mother and her partner, being bullied frequently, and physical maltreatment by an adult. Mothers were interviewed when their children reached ages 5, 7, and 10 to create a cumulative record of exposure to violence.

The Duke team plans to continue this research by measuring the average length of telomeres in the twins after they become adults. Plans are underway to repeat the study among a second, older group of 1,000 individuals as a part of the Dunedin Study -- participants who have been under observation since their birth in New Zealand in the 1970s.

The study suggests that children who are exposed to violent and abusive situations can be expected to develop age-related diseases such as heart attacks or memory loss, 7 to 10 years earlier than peers who grew up in a peaceful parenting home. It is unknown whether or not these same children are resilient enough as they move into their adult years to have this physical DNA damage reversed. To address these questions, Shalev and colleagues plan to continue research with this particular group of children as well.

“Research on human stress genomics keeps throwing up amazing new facts about how stress can influence the human genome and shape our lives,” said Caspi, the Edward M. Arnett Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience. Charles Nelson, a professor of pediatrics and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School added, "The study confirms a small-but-growing number of studies suggesting that early childhood adversity imprints itself in our chromosomes." 
DNA (double helix) structure of chromosomes.

In a 2011 study, Nelson and colleagues found shorter telomeres in Romanian children who had spent more time in institutions, compared with children sent to involved-parent foster care homes. Nathan Fox, a professor of human development at the University of Maryland and co-author of the 2011 paper explains, “We know that toxic stress is bad for you. This [study] provides a mechanism by which this type of stress gets ‘under the skin’ and into the genes.”

Terrie Moffitt, who co-authored the Duke research added, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Some of the billions of dollars spent on diseases of aging such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia might be better invested in protecting children from harm.” We could not agree more!

The Duke study comes at a time when we are in a crisis of gentle parenting. Love Matters. And it matters significantly to the lives of our babies, our children, and the adults they become. Violence, abuse and aggression have no place in the homes or the lives of our children. None of us need to be especially informed of the monumental impact this has on human life in order to procreate. However, having a basic understanding of gentle parenting and the role it plays in human health and development may be crucial to ending the cycle of violence that many people today carry in their lives as parents. While the Duke study began with youngsters who were already past their rapid and vital years of brain formation, we have noted in research past that as early as the gestational months babies' brains and biological make-up are significantly impaired by violence, stress, neglect and mistreatment.

We encourage readers to look into the subject further - it is surely one that demands our attention, and something our children need us to understand.


(1) I Shalev, T E Moffitt, K Sugden, B Williams, R M Houts, A Danese, J Mill, L Arseneault and A Caspi. "Exposure to violence during childhood is associated with telomere erosion from 5 to 10 years of age: a longitudinal study." Molecular Psychiatry, (24 April 2012) doi:10.1038/mp.2012.32

Related Reading
*Indicates a 'must-read' book title 

Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain [book]
The Biology of Love [book]
The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost [book]
Primal Health [book]
Parenting for a Peaceful World [book]
Our Babies, Ourselves [book]
The Baby Bond [book]
The Science of Parenting: How today's brain research can help you raise healthy, emotionally balanced children [book]
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering [book]
Where are all the happy babies?
Why African Babies Don't Cry 
Peaceful Parenting: Following Your Instincts
Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby and Young Child [book]
Why Do We Spank Our Babies? 
Infant Pain Impacts Adult Sensitivity
Early Spanking Increases Toddler Aggression, Lowers IQ  Spanking Decreases Intelligence? 
The No Spanking Page (alternative ideas to spanking)
Project No Spank 
Aware Parenting
Natural Child / Jan Hunt
Love Our Children USA
Gentle Discipline Book Collection

Chocolate Placenta Truffles

By Doula David Goldman, CD(PALS), CD(DONA) © 2012

Maple Candy Placenta Truffles

Around once a week (sometimes more) I show up like the pizza delivery guy and knock quietly on the door of the home of a family with a new baby. More often than not a new grandmother answers with a skeptical look as she gazes at my full hands. With a timid look on my face I say something like, “Uhhh hi… I’m the placenta guy.” I offer a giant smile as I kick off my shoes hoping to make it in the door to deliver placenta capsules, dried cord and membrane and usually a placenta print or two. I scan the room and find the Momma who has likely endured a rash of skepticism about “placenta medicine” from her family but was eventually convinced by her network of new Moms to try the ‘magic happy pills’.

Despite the fact that almost every mammal on earth consumes their placenta, the rich history of placenta consumption by humans, and the rapidly growing popularity in placenta encapsulation, there is very little research about human consumption of the placenta for medicine. The research that is available is old and inconclusive. That said, many of the folks who offer placenta preparations are hearing back from hundreds, if not thousands, of clients. Some anecdotal trends are fairly clear and are largely, but not exclusively, in support of consuming placenta.

On the anecdotal upside, many clients have reported increased milk production (sometimes 'excessive'), extra energy, quicker healing, feelings of 'balance,' joy, and reduced feelings of post partum depression. Some have saved placenta to be used long after the birth for easing menstruation, menopause, treating illness and much more. On the anecdotal downside, a few people have experienced little benefit, and a few have reported feeling worse - headaches and other mild negative responses. The take-home message is that while overwhelmingly, people seem quite happy with their placenta preparations, as with anything people need to listen to their bodies and work with care providers to monitor health if there are concerns.

Placenta preparations are as individual as births and people should feel comfortable asking for what they need or want. Placentas can be prepared in the client’s home or can be picked up to be processed in a very clean kitchen. Placentas can be prepared steamed or raw and then powdered and packed into capsules in various flavors and sprinkled onto foods or shakes. They can be cooked or added raw to foods such as sausages, pizza, lasagna or smoothies. They can even be made into tinctures and homeopathic remedies. The options are as varied as people who want to prepare or consume a placenta.

Placenta Chocolates

The option that has been getting the most interest among my clients recently has been placenta chocolate truffles, which I have so far made in dark, mint and coconut. The first batch was a collaboration with local herbal truffle maker, Marybeth Bonfiglio. Most are made with a large chocolate to placenta ratio hiding the finely powdered placenta in a rich chocolate ganache and then coated with a dark hard chocolate shell. If it is oxytocin and other happy hormones we are after, fair trade chocolate seems like a great vehicle.

Interest in placenta preparations seems to be increasing dramatically, as are the number of people who are learning to prepare them safely. If you decide to hire someone to prepare your placenta consider asking about how they clean their equipment between clients. There are common practices that most people follow in order to maintain safe conditions such as using equipment that is easy to clean and soaking with bleach for at least ten minutes between preps. To see some examples of preparations I have done, check out my Facebook page at Facebook.com/DoulaDavid or my less well-maintained web page DoulaDavid.com. Also see PlacentaBenefits.info for information regarding placenta preparations and the small amount of research that is available.

Related Reading:

Happy Pills! Placenta Encapsulation

Blood Magic (or, the amazing healing properties of the placenta to lift depression)

Taye Diggs Talks Placentas, Waterbirth, Midwives & Doulas

What Doulas Do

Placenta: The Gift of Life [book]


Milk and Cookies: Breastfeeding and Oreos

If you're in North America you'd almost have to be hiding under a rock somewhere to have missed the hoopla that is rumbling across the U.S. and Canada this week as Oreo released its Korean advertisement for the little brown-and-white cookies.

The ad was created by the Cheil Worldwide agency in South Korea and has stirred quite a ruckus online and in Facebookland. (It's an advertisement we are not even able to post on the peaceful parenting page because of the repeated flags, blocks and bans for anything - photo, text, question or otherwise - that slightly resembles something breastfeeding-positive).

There seem to be five primary reactions to the ad:

a) Cute ad! Go Oreo! Go Breastfeeding!

b) Yeah Breastfeeding! But why does that baby have a cookie in his hand? Way too young for all that processed sugar and artificial dye/color/additives/flavors...

c) Love Oreos! But far too much 'exposure'. Put those things away - you're going to attract perverts. [Note: you won't find any nipplephobics among the peaceful parenting directors - we support human milk for human babies in any and all forms and strive to abolish nipplephobia by normalizing breastfeeding anytime, anyplace - even in cookie advertisements.]

d) That baby's latch needs a little help... But he is distracted by the threat of a photographer stealing his cookie!

e) Fun! But way too photoshopped. What postpartum, nursing mother's breasts look like that?

We aren't big fans of photoshopped breasts. And plead with parents not to give over processed, heavy sugar items to their babies. We are very much in favor of exclusive human milk for human babies (exclusive = nothing but human milk to consume) until at least the second half of the first year of life (as is recommended by most pediatric societies the world over, and the time at which the human gut closes). But if a cookie's going to come with milk - and be consumed via advertisement by a little human - then human milk is certainly the way to go.

What is shocking here is not the advertisement itself, but the distain and fear that is coming from within the U.S. blogosphere.

The Huffington Post covered the breastfeeding babe's mouth and writes:
[E]ven Oreo can push boundaries [...] Perhaps the company has found reason to target breastfeeding women, or Mayim Bialik fans. (Or those that enjoy watching a woman breastfeed, we suppose).
Those who enjoy watching a woman breastfeed? Why does something normal and necessary for human health and livelihood like the simple act of feeding a baby as he is designed to eat, always bring on the sexualized comments when presented to North American audiences? It's no wonder ads like this are never released in the United States, and rarely make their way out in Canada. In almost every nation around the world (including many Arab nations where groups of women are often otherwise covered head to toe) breastfeeding is such a normal part of everyday life that babies are fed wherever they are hungry, and toddlers are nursed whenever they are in need of comfort. But such normalcy has somehow disintegrated to such a degree in North America that we aren't even able to recognize it for what it is. The fact that this advertisement is news here says more about our cultural ills than anything else.

The Business Insider didn't censor the nursing Oreo babe (thank you!) but they did discuss the ad with a slight aura of disgust: "in bizarre branding news" "Oreo has been going a little marketing crazy..."

Foodbeast Food News blocked out the happy nursling with a big ol' black box. Something we're accustomed to seeing on sexually explicit photos: but breastfeeding is not sexually explicit! Foodbeast's Eli writes:
Scratch that kid-friendly vibe you’ve been accustomed to from OREO. A recent ad emerging from South Korea pictures a young baby getting breastfed, mother’s nipple exposed, and OREO cookie in hand. [...] Not sure [of] the target audience expected out of this campaign — pregnant women? Horny snack junkies? Super advanced grocery decision-making infants? Our web developer Rudy?
Speaking of Rudy, he responds to Foodbeast's post of the ad labeled "Not Suitable for Work" on Twitter by saying, "I GOT A FOODBEAST GAG ORDER ON THIS"

It seems we aren't the only ones rolling eyes at all the sexualized ridiculousness and "NSFW" reposts of this ad. Sara McGinnis at Babycenter responded, "[Not Suitable For Work.] Seriously?? This kind of stuff IS work around these parts." "[T]he Oreo breastfeeding ad is pure awesomesauce! It’s about time we get over any remaining breastfeeding squeamishness (*ahem* Mark Zuckerberg) and let the tata pride run wild."

And life would be a whole lot better (and breastfeeding relationships much more successful) if this very scene were played out in every office building where every nursing momma worked with her baby at her side - maybe without the Oreo cookie.

In another Huffington Post bit on the ad, a poll question asks, "Are you offended by this ad featuring breastfeeding?" (You can vote here.) What a silly question to ask. What other mammal would be offended by the normal feeding of its own species? Or even think that being offended was within the realm of possibilities?

At the end of the day, we're looking back over Oreo's official slogan:

Oreo. Milk's favorite cookie. 

And if this is the case - then this cookie's found a good home. Because there is no milk like momma milk!

 4/19/12 UPDATE: 

Anna, director of Peaceful Parenting Network Oahu, created this fun spin on the Oreo ad. After all, breastfeeding mommas do deserve a cookie! A lactation cookie, maybe? 

In other news - as expected, Facebook has started removing the Korean Oreo ad from their pages, and issuing warnings to those who share the advertisement.

Hygeia Halfmoon (author of Primal Mothering in a Modern World, developer of Cozy Cradle Baby Slings) had her image removed this morning; Kate Gulbransen, admin at FB! Stop Harassing...All Breastfeeding Women was issued a warning from Facebook, "We removed the following content you posted or were the admin of because it violates Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities." Several others have reported their image of the ad was removed today by Facebook as well, and still more report they are not able to upload the image to their breastfeeding support pages at all. 

4/23/12 UPDATE:

Peaceful parenting momma, Argentina Coy, snapped a real milk and cookie photo today with her sweet two year old. We just had to share. In her daughter's hand is a WhoNu? cookie. 

"At 2, I don't often have cookies, but when I do, I prefer them with Dos Boobies!"


My Newborn Daughter's Hospital Stay

By Reyka Smith © 2012

I am sharing our story with the hope that someone will be empowered to investigate their choices and make their own health decisions and those on behalf of their baby. Having hospital staff tell a parent to do something (especially a mother immediately postpartum) does not necessarily mean it is always in the best interest of the patient.

Mayzie today ~ healthy and happy.

A mother spends months dreaming of the day her child will be born. From the moment those two little lines appear, she knows her life will be forever changed. She waits in anticipation for the glorious day when she gets to meet the little being that she has nourished and grown inside herself. It is a relationship only a mother can understand. We dream of the day our baby is born; the hugs, kisses, smiles and happy tears. 

However, not everyone’s life can begin the way we dream of, and when the hardships stem from hospital staff, people need to know. This is only one story but in telling my own I have realized it is more common than many people realize. If more stories are shared, maybe our babies can deliver their own babies with safer, less invasive hospital treatment.

Mayzie was born on January 30, 2012 at 7:49 am. She was perfect and her Apgar scores proved it. With a score of 10, I was a proud mommy. After all, my baby had just passed her first test with flying colors! We spent the day staring at her in awe and overflowed with happiness when her older sister got to come to the hospital and meet her. We were all in love. It was the start of a whole new life for all four of us. As the saying goes, our family had just “grown by two feet.” We couldn’t have been happier.

Throughout the day there were a few times when I looked at Mayzie that I noticed a purplish tint to her skin. I told my husband and we decided it was bruising from birth. Our oldest had been born with quite a bit of bruising so discoloration was nothing new to us.

About 5:30 that evening the nurse came in to give me medicine. Mayzie was a bit purple at the time so I pointed it out to the nurse, just to get some reassurance that everything really was okay. She picked her up and carried her to the incubator where she checked her oxygen levels; they were in the 70s. She let us know that she was going to have to go to the nursery as this was not normal.

Upon going into the nursery they started Mayzie on two days of antibiotics. They told us that it was standard protocol -- any baby who came through those nursery doors was put on antibiotics, no questions asked. We still had complete faith in this hospital staff and waited patiently as they put an IV in our brand new bundle of joy and took blood to run tests for infection. They told us that they needed to rule out sepsis as well as any possible cardiology or neurology problems.

That night, around 8:00, Mayzie had another apnea spell. The nurse came over and gently lifted her and put her into her incubator. She watched as her oxygen levels dropped from the 80s down to the 70s and eventually to the 20s. She did nothing to try to make her breathe again. No light foot tap, no touching her face, nothing. When she hit the 20s the nurse finally began to work on starting her breathing again. She was unresponsive for about 15 seconds and the nurse had a hard time getting her back after she had dropped so low. It was a very scary moment as both my mother and I just sat back watching, putting all of our trust in this nurse. The day ended with no more episodes.

The next day, January 31, while my husband was gone, they came to me and told me they needed to do a lumbar puncture as meningitis was a possibility. After calling to discuss with my husband we decided to deny the procedure unless further reason arose. Upon telling them we were going to decline the doctor let me know that if it wasn’t done that day the test would be skewed as the antibiotics she’d already been on for 24 hours could hide what they were looking for. She explained to me that meningitis can quickly kill a baby her age and that we were risking a lot by not doing the procedure.

Scared of making the wrong decision and something happening, we allowed the lumbar puncture. I was told to leave the room and they would be in to get me once they were finished. About 45 minutes later the doctor came to my hospital room where my husband and I were waiting. She let us know that both she and her colleague had attempted the puncture but they were unable to get enough fluid to run for testing. She told us that they would try again tomorrow. We refused to let them do the testing the next day as they had already told us that any tests ran after that time would be too skewed to determine results.

We decided that if we wanted to get anything done we needed to have a sit down with the doctor and figure out the plan so we were all on the same page. We went to the nursery and had our heart to heart with her doctor and the nurse on duty who told us that they wanted to run a head ultrasound and echocardiogram the next day. They told us that if there were no issues before then and if everything looked okay during the procedures, that we would be going home on apnea monitor on February 2nd.

The next day, February 1st, we went into the nursery to find a new doctor. She immediately told us that her opinion was for us to transfer to a neonatal ICU at a nearby hospital as her “inexperience limits [her] ability to treat [our] daughter.” There had been no episodes since 8:00 p.m. on January 30th and she didn’t seem to be getting worse, so we declined. The doctors came in to run the previously agreed upon head ultrasound and echocardiogram and everything came back perfect. At this point we thought we would be heading home the next day as that was the original plan -- we weren’t.

That afternoon the doctor called us to the nursery for another sit down. She let us know that she needed to run a herpes culture on Mayzie and start her on more antibiotics. She said that the herpes culture would take up to three days to come back and that she would be on the antibiotics until it came back negative. Both my husband and I were certain that herpes was out of the question. I had never had an outbreak and he is checked often just for being in the military. We let them know that they were welcome to do the culture but we were not allowing them to start her on more precautionary antibiotics. They never ran the culture.

During this sit down we decided that there would be no more invasive testing unless Mayzie took a turn for the worse and it was absolutely necessary. She told us that she did not feel comfortable releasing us the next day as originally planned and that she wanted to start a 24-hour EEG the next morning to rule out possible seizures being the culprit. She assured us that it was noninvasive and reluctantly we agreed.

The next morning, February 2nd, I woke up and walked down to the nursery to find Mayzie’s head completely wrapped in gauze with numerous leads hooked up to her. The first thing the doctor said when I walked into the room was that we were going to need to put a tube down her throat for feeding. She let me know that there were no techs working in the hospital that could reattach any leads if they were to come off and that without all leads attached the testing would be invalid. I was furious and went back to the room to tell my husband what was happening. We decided to refuse the 24-hour EEG as we had originally agreed on, and wanted no more invasive procedures. They agreed and took off the leads after an hour, telling us that they had the information that they needed.

That afternoon, while relaxing in my room, I had a knock on my door. Once again, my husband was gone; it seemed to be their ideal time to talk to me. The door opened and a lady walked in that I’d never met before. She introduced herself to me as the hospital social worker and said that our case had been referred to her. She let me know that if we signed an Against Medical Advice form to leave the hospital that we would be turned over to Child Protective Services. She warned me that they could take our daughter as she had been told that we could be putting Mayzie’s life in danger by leaving and refusing treatment.

Her visit was the last straw. We started pulling every card we could to get ourselves released from that hospital. It was clear that they were planning on holding her there and running every test that they possibly could. She was turning into a human lab rat. After talking to many very high hospital staff members they let us know that we would finally be released the next day. We were very thankful to finally have a plan.

February 3rd we finally got to take our brand new, healthy baby girl home. She was on an apnea monitor to assure there were no more episodes like the ones on her first day here. We were happy to get her home with her older sister and start our lives as a family. Mayzie is now 10 weeks old and has never had another episode. She is a perfectly healthy little girl and a beautiful addition to our family. You would never know by looking at her just what she had to endure her first week of life. ♥


The Circumcision Decision: Who Made You The Decider?

By Nina Cohen © 2012

An open letter of response to Norine Dworkin-McDaniel's essay Circumcision Decision which won the 2012 Third Annual Two Kinds of People Essay Contest.

Photograph by Danelle Frisbie, Genital Integrity Awareness Week 2012, Washington D.C. 

Dear Norine,

Your sexual preference for circumcised penises aside, the genitals you chose to have cosmetically, functionally, permanently and surgically altered belong to your son. He may grow up to have preferences different from yours. His future lovers may have preferences different from yours. Your husband's preference differed from yours. As a woman who has been fortunate to have both intact and circumcised lovers, I can assure you that my preferences differ from yours.

Key men in my life would also beg to differ; my partner thanked his mother for "letting him keep" his foreskin. My brother wishes that our parents had told the doctor to leave his alone. It pains me to think about how different his introduction to life outside the womb was from mine, and how I got to keep the body I was born with, but he did not. Circumcised boys will never know what it's like to have a whole sex organ. They will never experience the full range of pleasure they were meant to have, and are likely to lose sensation as they age. Countries with lower rates of circumcision have lower rates of ED. The sensitive glans, meant to be an internal organ and protected by the foreskin, grows calloused from years of rubbing against fabric, and the most sensitive areas of the penis, such as the frenulum, are amputated in circumcision.

As for wanting your son to fit in, a significant percentage of parents are now choosing to "bring their whole baby home," which means many of your son's peers will be au naturale. The stigma around having one's whole penis is fading - as well it should! Why should human bodies in their natural form garner distaste?

As for sexual health (which should be a non-issue for babies and little boys) I recommend that you examine the studies that show that the incidence of sexually transmitted infections is lower in circumcised men. The statistical methodology is flawed. In fact, the rates of HIV infection are higher in the United States, where more sexually active men are cut than in similarly developed regions where intact men are the majority, such as in Europe.

Again, you are neither the person whose penis is being forever diminished by your choice, nor are you a "special someone" who will ever engage in sexual activity with said penis. You are mother to the boy, not "owner." You are not a doctor making a necessary medical decision; no major health organization recommends routine infant circumcision. So why should your preference to have your son's penis surgically tailored to suit you be prioritized?

Personally, I feel truly blessed to have been born a girl in America, not a boy, such that the choice to keep my body intact as nature intended was not taken away from me by parents who felt it was their right to do so. Should I happen to want my prepuce ("clitoral hood") amputated I would want to be able to make that decision for myself, as an autonomous adult.

After all, one can always make the choice to remove healthy skin for personal reasons; whereas your son cannot choose to have himself un-circumcised should he wish to have his foreskin back. At best, he could choose foreskin restoration, a process by which the remaining skin is expanded to cover the glans. Hundreds of thousands of men are restoring, though they will never truly get back what was taken from them against their will.

Furthermore, as an adult, I could be fully anesthetized prior to surgery, as well as have effective pain relief during the recovery period. Infants are not afforded this option, as it is too dangerous to properly medicate them, and local numbing agents neither suffice to fully block the pain of circumcision, nor are they consistently used on neonates. Moreover, the recovery period is spent in diapers, where the fresh surgical wound is in frequent contact with urine and feces.

I suspect that if you were to witness a circumcision (YouTube makes such things possible for all to see) the baby's cries of pain as the foreskin is ripped and clamped and cut from the glans will likely ring in your ears for some time. In young boys, the foreskin is not yet retractable, and must be severed from the glans in a manner similar to peeling fingernails away from the nail bed. Currently, I cannot hear a baby cry without flashing back to the screams of the baby boy I watched on video, as he lay strapped spread-eagled to a Circumstraint while a doctor calmly amputated the most sensitive part of his body. How the doctor could ignore the baby's obvious agony and continue with the unnecessary surgery is beyond me. The baby went from uttering heartrending shrieks to an abrupt and eery silence. Studies show that cortisol levels skyrocket in infants traumatized in this manner, followed by their systems going into shock. They withdraw physiologically to escape the unbearable pain. Some vomit and defecate; sometimes their stomachs are pumped so the surgery can proceed. Many babies have trouble breastfeeding following circumcision. Some suffer "botched" circumcisions which require corrective surgery, or worse: some die. Why we Americans think this is "normal" is beyond me.

There are profound reasons so many of the responses to your essay are intensely negative and emotional. One of the phrases invoked by those of us who fight for the rights of girls and boys (and ultimately the men those boys will one day be) to keep their genitals intact is "Circumcision: the more you know, the more you are against it." Also favored is "His body, His choice."

For dedicated advocates of universal human rights - and most especially children's rights - there is no middle ground when these rights are at stake. In routine infant circumcision the rights of newborn males to bodily integrity are violated by parents who mean well but do not see the whole picture, as well as by a medical establishment that profits from needless penile-reduction surgery on healthy intact infants.

Please do not let prejudice and parental power blind you to the sacrifice of erogenous flesh you mandate for the man your baby will one day become when you "choose circumcision" for a son. Please let him keep the body he was born with. If all were right in the world, gratuitous genital surgery would not be a "choice" parents could inflict upon their children. To cut a male infant would be as illegal is it is to cut a female infant.

It has been against federal law to cut the genitals of girls in any way, for any reason, in the United States since the 1996 FGM law went into effect (March 30, 1997). Why are male infants undeserving of similar protection, bodily autonomy and genital integrity? What is so wrong with the bodies of baby boys that amputative surgery on their healthy penises is culturally acceptable?

Babies come into this world perfect and trusting and intact. They want comfort, safety, pleasure - not fear, separation and pain. They need nurturing in loving arms and at the breasts of their mothers - not excruciating, terrifying genital surgery at the hands of callous strangers who know full well that circumcision is medically unnecessary. Circumcision is elective surgery chosen by the parents of unwitting patients - not the patients themselves, who are too young to speak for or defend themselves.

In the hope that a more empathic perspective will dawn, I urge all of us to reread Circumcision Decision with "girl" and "daughter" in place of "boy" and "son" - with the organ known as "foreskin" replaced with "clitoral hood," and with clitorises in place of penises. We protect one, why do we chop up the other?

Imagine a father telling a mother, in no uncertain terms, after all other propaganda has failed because there is no true rationale for elective genital surgery on an intact and healthy infant: "Trust me, Sweetie - if you ever want a guy to go down on our daughter, cut off the skin around her clit. She and her future boyfriends will thank us."

Cohen is a Jewish performer and teacher who grew up in Ithaca, NY, and moved to Austin, TX for the arts scene and the sunshine. When she's not at the piano or on the stage, she puts time and energy into saving babies through her work with Intact Austin.


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