Microbiome of Home Birth is Safer than Hospital Birth for Babies

Myth: Hospitals are cleaner.
Fact: The microbiome of your home is safer than hospital microbes.
Photo by Aimee Preston for Home Birth Aotearoa, New Zealand

By Home Birth Aotearoa

Let's talk about the microbiome!

We often hear about how dirty, untidy homes can be a hazard to babies -- and wouldn't you rather have a nice, clean hospital bed?

The reality is that sterility is not an ideal birth space, and that the bacteria that do survive in the hospital setting are dangerous.

Birth at home sets you and baby up for a diverse and robust microbiome.

Myth: Hospitals are cleaner.

Fact: The microbiome of your home is safer than hospital microbes. 


Dig into related reading on why this is the case:

Homebirth and the Microbiome: https://midwiferytoday.com/mt-articles/homebirth-and-the-microbiome/ 

Babies born at home have more diverse, beneficial bacteria:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181031080557.htm 

Babies born at home have more diverse bacteria:
https://www.futurity.org/home-birth-diverse-microbiome-1901502-2/ 

Home birth may start babies off with health promoting microbes:
http://theconversation.com/home-birth-may-start-babies-off-with-health-promoting-microbes-119045

Rethinking Sterile: The Hospital Microbiome:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4080534/ 

Rate of contamination of hospital privacy curtains on a burns and plastic surgery ward: a cross-sectional study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28413115 

Hospital Acquired Infections:
https://www.amboss.com/us/knowledge/Nosocomial_infections 

The most dangerous germs in the hospital may be those (people) bring with them:
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/05/most-dangerous-germs-hospital-may-be-those-you-bring-you


Related Groups: 

Birthing (more holistic): FB.com/groups/Birthing

Pregnant Moms Due in [this year] (more mainstream): FB.com/groups/DueDateGroup

Peaceful Parenting Community: FB.com/groups/ExplorePeacefulParenting

Research Everything.
DrMomma.org


https://www.etsy.com/listing/589236581/new-baby-family-friends-visitor-guide?ref=shop_home_active_6&frs=1
New Baby Visitor Guide
Available for sharing with clients via Etsy.

Birth Dilation via Halloween Pumpkins

Labor dilation demonstrated by carved pumpkins.

One fabulous, fun way to demo dilation ala pumpkins! ๐Ÿงก๐ŸŽƒ

This dilation pumpkin set-up was created by workers at the Royal Oldham Hospital in Greater Manchester, Lancashire, England as part of a pumpkin decorating competition.

We just love it!

Happy Halloween!


Royal Oldham Hospital Midwives


Related Community Groups: 

Birthing (more holistic)

Pregnant Moms Due This Year (more mainstream)

Peaceful Parenting Community

Saving Our Sons Community

Intact: Healthy, Happy, Whole

CoSleeping

Breastfeeding

Dilation stages during labor.

Before your baby arrives, research everything!

Mother's Account Disabled for Tandem Nursing Photo

Anthony Wanosik writes:

My wife's [Facebook] account was disabled because of this picture! She did a good thing, and Facebook is punishing her for it! Help spread the word.


Thank you for nursing in public! Breastfeeding encouragement cards to share with mothers you see at Etsy.

Breastfeeding Community




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Top 100 Baby Names This Year


Expecting? Congratulations! 

The fun is only just beginning as you search for the best name for your new little sweetheart.

Some parents adore using popular names of the time; others desire a unique name of their own creation. But no matter which direction you go with a name, your beautiful little baby will soon fill your life with wonder and delight - and your heart will never again be the same.

Below are the 100 most popular names for babies born in the United States this year, based on the Social Security Administration's latest statistics.

Does your little one's name make the Top 100? We'd love to hear from you, see a snapshot of your cutie, and know what name you choose. Drop a comment below, or join in the conversation any time in any of these groups:







Most popular baby names of the past year for babies born in the United States.
RankMale nameFemale name
1LiamEmma
2NoahOlivia
3WilliamAva
4JamesIsabella
5OliverSophia
6BenjaminCharlotte
7ElijahMia
8LucasAmelia
9MasonHarper
10LoganEvelyn
11AlexanderAbigail
12EthanEmily
13JacobElizabeth
14MichaelMila
15DanielElla
16HenryAvery
17JacksonSofia
18SebastianCamila
19AidenAria
20MatthewScarlett
21SamuelVictoria
22DavidMadison
23JosephLuna
24CarterGrace
25OwenChloe
26WyattPenelope
27JohnLayla
28JackRiley
29LukeZoey
30JaydenNora
31DylanLily
32GraysonEleanor
33LeviHannah
34IsaacLillian
35GabrielAddison
36JulianAubrey
37MateoEllie
38AnthonyStella
39JaxonNatalie
40LincolnZoe
41JoshuaLeah
42ChristopherHazel
43AndrewViolet
44TheodoreAurora
45CalebSavannah
46RyanAudrey
47AsherBrooklyn
48NathanBella
49ThomasClaire
50LeoSkylar
51IsaiahLucy
52CharlesPaisley
53JosiahEverly
54HudsonAnna
55ChristianCaroline
56HunterNova
57ConnorGenesis
58EliEmilia
59EzraKennedy
60AaronSamantha
61LandonMaya
62AdrianWillow
63JonathanKinsley
64NolanNaomi
65JeremiahAaliyah
66EastonElena
67EliasSarah
68ColtonAriana
69CameronAllison
70CarsonGabriella
71RobertAlice
72AngelMadelyn
73MaverickCora
74NicholasRuby
75DominicEva
76JaxsonSerenity
77GreysonAutumn
78AdamAdeline
79IanHailey
80AustinGianna
81SantiagoValentina
82JordanIsla
83CooperEliana
84BraydenQuinn
85RomanNevaeh
86EvanIvy
87EzekielSadie
88XavierPiper
89JoseLydia
90JaceAlexa
91JamesonJosephine
92LeonardoEmery
93BrysonJulia
94AxelDelilah
95EverettArianna
96ParkerVivian
97KaydenKaylee
98MilesSophie
99SawyerBrielle
100JasonMadeline

The above data was compiled throughout the 12 months leading up to January 2019 by the Social Security Administration (babies born in the United States).


New Baby Visitor Guide for Friends & Family
Also available as oversized postcards for sharing with clients at Etsy.

It's a BOY?

Be sure to swing by IntactBaby.org/research and SavingSons.org for useful materials before your little one's arrival. Forced retraction is an epidemic in the United States today, and your sweetheart will be counting on you to keep him safe.
Foreskin Facts to be aware of before a baby boy's arrival.
Oversized postcards at Etsy for sharing with clients.
All babies arrive into the world intact - find intact care materials at DrMomma.org, SavingSons.org, or IntactHealth.org
Vinyl stickers for use on diapers, wipes, and baby's chart at Etsy.




What Friendship Looks Like - Mom Support


This is what friendship looks like.๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ

I am currently walking through the hardest season of my life, and as mamas we feel like we’ve always got to put on our big girl pants and just muscle through. Never let ‘em see you sweat, right?

Oh girl... if there’s one thing this season has taught me, it’s that that sort of lie is terribly dangerous to believe.

I needed my people today. I thought I just needed to call them up and cry about what was happening, and then while on the phone, my sweet friend asked me such an important question. She asked me to just say what I needed and wanted most. I told her that I didn’t want to be alone. Her response, "I’m on my way."

I started in with all of the reasons she couldn’t and shouldn’t come...

My house is a disaster.
I don’t want to burden you.
It’s such a long drive.

 Her response, "Sister, I don’t care about any of that. You said you don’t want to be alone, so I’m coming." Not only did she make the trek from Greeley to Fort Collins, but she picked up another sweet friend along the way.

They picked up lunch, they walked into my house, gave me the biggest hugs, and asked, "What can we do?"

My disaster of a house? They helped me clean it and assured me it wasn’t that bad.

They let me cry, they made me laugh, we listened to music, and most importantly... I. Wasn’t. Alone. ๐Ÿ’•

Mama, if you’re going through a rough season... know that you don’t have to do it by yourself. You don’t even have to know what you need — just start by asking to not be alone. I know there is someone in your life who will say to you, "I’m on my way" if only you’d ask.

And Mama if you have a friend who you know is going through it, just offer to come and be there with her. Actually, don’t offer...just tell her you’re coming. Because I guarantee she wants that more than anything, and she’s having a hard time being able to say it.

Praying for all of you walking the tough roads right now... whatever that may look like for you, know that you’re not walking it alone! We love you, Mama!

-Northern Colorado Moms Blog

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Newborn Nursing: Frequent, Lengthy, and Normal


I really wish that all new mothers were told that the majority of newborns want to breastfeed much more frequently than every few hours. And many even want to stay latched on, suckling for extended periods of time. This can understandably shake a new mother’s confidence and make her second guess if she’s producing enough milk to keep her nursling satisfied. Women are usually just told that their baby should nurse 'every 2-3 hours,' but frequent (and lengthy) nursing is a totally normal thing for newborns to do! It helps keep them close to mama while regulating her milk supply.

Often babies won’t have these longer stretches between feeds until they’re a little older. Even then, there are several things that could make them want to nurse more, including (but not limited to) teething, sickness, unfamiliar surroundings, or feeling tired. I can’t imagine how miserable it would be to have a fussy baby in your arms but feel like you shouldn’t breastfeed again because it’s "not time yet." ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

This isn’t discussed often enough and new mothers need to be reassured. If baby is gaining weight, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with breastfeeding more often than what you’ve been told is 'normal.' The postpartum period is all about surrendering, so cozy up with your babe and forget the clock.

--Oh Baby Nutrition

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Breastfeeding Community

Peaceful Parenting Community




She is Listening, She is Watching YOU


Because she is listening.
She is watching.
She is taking it all in.
And she will remember...
everything.
-Lisa Marie

Be kind in the way you speak to yourself, in the way you speak about yourself.

Your self-image builds your child's self-image. Give her wings to fly, and not shackles to break free from.

*******

Peaceful Parenting Community




10 Essential Resources for Parents Working with Autistic Children


Working with autistic children is a unique challenge. As a parent, you end up having two jobs. One of helping the child develop and cope with autism and second, to be their guardian.

Some days are harder than others. Some days you want to throw in the towel. It’s okay to feel this way. Everyone does at some point. If you use your resources and create a support system, you can make things a little easier on yourself though. Let us be part of your support system. Here is a complete guide on how to help your child with autism thrive.

1. Familiarize Yourself with Autism

If your child shows signs of autism or if they are diagnosed, the best thing you can do for them is to get yourself familiar with it. The more you learn about it, the better equipped you'll be to help the child through it. Read up on treatment options, ask their doctor questions, and be an active player in their treatment. If you're not sure where to start with your research, check out a few autism apps. Some of them are informative.

2. Pay Attention to Your Child

All autistic children will respond differently to outside stimuli. You should pay attention to what causes certain triggers in your child. Find out what agitates them or makes them happy for example. Once you sort out what triggers them, it will be easier to create and alter their schedule around these things.

3. Accept Everything About Them

When you see how everyone else's child is developing, you may start to compare them to your own. Instead of focusing on how slowly or differently your child is developing, learn to accept them for who they are. Autistic children have their own quirks that make them a joy to work with. It makes them unique.

4. Allow for Consistency

It can be hard for your child to retain the information they learned in class. You've got to reinforce the learning by creating consistency. Sit down with their therapists to ask them what sort of exercises they are doing in school. Apply these concepts to things that they learn at home. Also, ask their therapists if there is any way to do a few at-home sessions.

5. Create a Schedule

One thing that you should know about autistic children is that they like structure. This being said, your child will thrive best if you put them on a schedule. There are no limits to the things that you put on this schedule. Pencil in time for school, therapy, even sleep, and mealtime. Once you've written out their schedule it's important that you are strict about sticking by it. If something comes up and there's no avoiding changing things around that's fine but take the time to prepare your child for this unwelcome change.

6. Check for Non-Verbal Cues

Some children with autism don't or can't use words to communicate what they want. What they will do is give you non-verbal cues. It will be up to you to decipher these cues and act accordingly. Look at their expressions or the sounds they make when they're tired, agitated, happy, or hungry. This goes back to the "paying attention to your child" point we made above. If you miss the cues or don't bother to learn them you may risk agitating your child. You would be frustrated too if you were trying to tell someone that you're hungry and they ignored you or didn't know what you were saying.

7. Make Room in the Schedule for Fun

When you're making their schedule don't forget to leave a place in there dedicated to fun. Every child needs to have some form of play in their life in order to develop certain skills. Make sure that their playtime doesn't feel like therapy or homework. If you do that then they won't want anything to do with it. Also, don't be afraid to get down on the floor and play with them. They want to connect with you and spend time with you. Don't deny them that.

8. ADS Support Groups

There will come a time when you feel like you're at the end of your rope with your child's development. It's during this hard time that you would be glad that you joined an ADS support group. These groups are full of parents that are going through the same things that you're going through. They've been in your shoes and can offer a lot of great advice. On top of advice, they can also act as your friends by giving you emotional support.

9. Respite Care

Everyone needs a chance to breathe now and again. That includes you. Do yourself a favor and give yourself a break with respite care. If you're unfamiliar with respite care, it's when another caregiver comes in and takes over things for a little bit while you take a break. You can take advantage of their services for a few hours or even a few days if you really need it.

10. Don't Give Up

The last thing to keep in mind when working with an autistic child is to never, ever give up. Your child will develop differently than other children. That doesn't mean that they will never develop or never be able to live a normal life. Your child has an entire lifetime to grow and become the person that they want to become. The best thing you can do is be there for them through it all.

A Parent's Guide to Working with Autistic Children

Working with autistic children is a fun and unique challenge, but a challenge none the less. If you equip yourself with the right of knowledge, you'll find that helping them thrive is a little easier than you thought. Try out some of the tips you read here before and after you get their diagnosis. Set your baby up for success. Being a parent can be hard, autism or no. We're here to help.

Cuddling Babies Positively Alters Genes

By David Neild for Science Alert
Published to Peaceful Parenting with permission

Cuddling Babies Positively Impacts Genetics

The amount of close and comforting contact that young infants receive doesn't just keep them warm, snug, and loved. A 2017 study says it can actually affect babies at the molecular level, and the effects can last for years. Based on the study, babies who get less physical contact and are more distressed at a young age, end up with changes in molecular processes that affect gene expression.

The team from the University of British Columbia in Canada emphasizes that it's still very early days for this research, and it's not clear exactly what's causing the change. But it could give scientists some useful insights into how touching affects the epigenome - the biochemical changes that influence gene expression in the body.

During the study, parents of 94 babies were asked to keep diaries of their touching and cuddling habits from five weeks after birth, as well as logging the behaviour of the infants – sleeping, crying, and so on. Four-and-a-half years later, DNA swabs were taken of the kids to analyse a biochemical modification called DNA methylation. It's an epigenetic mechanism in which some parts of the chromosome are tagged with small carbon and hydrogen molecules, often changing how genes function and affecting their expression.

The researchers found DNA methylation differences between "high-contact" children and "low-contact" children at five specific DNA sites, two of which were within genes: one related to the immune system, and one to the metabolic system. DNA methylation also acts as a marker for normal biological development and the processes that go along with it, and it can be influenced by external, environmental factors as well.

Then there was the epigenetic age, the biological ageing of blood and tissue. This marker was lower than expected in the kids who hadn't had much contact as babies, and had experienced more distress in their early years, compared with their actual age. "In children, we think slower epigenetic aging could reflect less favorable developmental progress," said one of the team, Michael Kobor.

In fact, similar findings were spotted in a study from 2013 looking at how much care and attention young rats were given from a very early age. Gaps between epigenetic age and chronological age have been linked to health problems in the past, but again it's too soon to draw those kind of conclusions: the scientists readily admit they don't yet know how this will affect the kids later in life. We are also talking about less than 100 babies in the study, but it does seem that close contact and cuddles do somehow change the body at a genetic level.

Of course it's well accepted that human touch is good for us and our development in all kinds of ways, but this is the first study to look at how it might be changing the epigenetics of human babies. It will be the job of further studies to work out why, and to investigate whether any long-term changes in health might appear as a consequence. "We plan to follow up on whether the 'biological immaturity' we saw in these children carries broad implications for their health, especially their psychological development," said one of the researchers, Sarah Moore. "If further research confirms this initial finding, it will underscore the importance of providing physical contact, especially for distressed infants."

The research was published in Development and Psychopathology.

Peaceful Parenting Community


Take Mom's Picture

By Mary Katherine Backstrom
Find more from Backstrom at Mom Babble on Facebook.


Dear men, husbands, people who love us,

On behalf of mamas everywhere, I have an important request: Take our picture.

Even when we complain, even when our hair is a mess. Even when we are wearing a dingy, oversized sweatshirt. Take our picture.

I know this isn’t something on the forefront of your mind, and that’s okay. We don’t need every special moment documented... but, let’s be honest. We spend a lot of time doing just that for everyone else.

Please.

Take our picture.

Even when we fuss about how “chubby” we think we look in our swimsuit. If you see us splashing and laughing loudly with our babies in the heat of a gorgeous summer day—I don’t care if we are nine months pregnant (*ahem*) Take our picture.

Even if we moan that the angle isn’t good or our smile looks a little insane, I promise you this: We want to be seen. We want to be remembered. And it means the world to us when you take our picture.

You may not realize it now, but we’ve taken hundreds of sneaky photos of you and the people you love. When we see you snuggled on the couch with our babies or playing catch in the backyard, our hearts fill with joy and we can’t help but take your picture.

Or maybe you DO realize it, and it’s a little bit annoying. I can understand that, too. But here is a little reminder of these pictures are SO dang important: One day, we won’t be around for our babies. One day, you and I will be gone and what will remain of us will be the memories we’ve captured of this beautiful life we made. One day, our kids will gather around a table and scroll through images of these precious, fleeting days. They will cry and laugh and commiserate. They will say, “Remember that vacation? Remember that day?” And it will be so, so beautiful.

But if every single picture was taken by their mama, guess who won’t be in those memories?

Men, husbands, people who love us: Take our picture.

The mother of your children deserves to be seen, documented, and remembered. Not through posed family portraits or hundreds of selfies. But as who she was—who she is NOW—in those real, special life moments.

I know we don’t make it easy. Love us enough to do it, anyways. For our sake and for yours. For the sake of our babies Take our picture.

*******





When you yell at your daughter "out of love"


"Every time you tell your daughter you yell at her out of love, you teach her to confuse anger with kindness, which seems like a good idea until she grows up to trust men who hurt her 'cause they look so much like you." -Rupi Kaur, 'To Fathers With Daughters' - https://amzn.to/2zLBNpj

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How to calm an upset baby




Upset baby? Some of the most tried-and-true ways to meet a baby's needs when s/he needs love, comfort, security, snuggling and just to be calm and close to a loving parent.

#1 - Breastfeed! When in doubt, whip 'em out. Breastfeeding is perfect for more than just hunger or thirst needs -- human babies, as part of the carry mammal group, need to nurse for a baseline level of development and secure attachment.

#2 - Have skin to skin time with your baby. Nothing is more soothing and regulating for temperature, hormones, and respiration.

#3 - Babywear. Let friends and family know that you'd like a quality wrap or carrier (Moby Wrap, or similar stretchy wrap for snuggly newborn months; or a Kinderpack, Lillebaby, or Tula for heavier/older babies). This allows a parent to have two free hands, while keeping baby safe and snuggled in their natural habitat - close to a parent's beating heart.

#4 - Dance with your baby. Babies love (and need!) gentle, swaying, calm motion. This not only assists in core strength and development, but soothes a little one who was used to growing up for 9-10 months inside with the constant motion of mom's body. Couple babywearing with dancing, and you've got the perfect pair!

#5 - Sing to your baby. Your baby knows your voice from all their time inside, and this is another centering, calming way to settle your little one. If you're currently pregnant, you can pick a sweet song you love and start singing it now, while baby is growing within -- your baby will recognize the tune when s/he arrives and it will be a fast way to calm while rocking, wearing, and dancing together in the moonlight.

#6 - Take a warm bath with your baby (water only - skip the soap as baby skin does best with only warm water). Your little one grew up close to you in water, and a warm water soak with mom (or dad) revisits this soothing state of being. Don't climb into the bath while holding baby - have a small bouncy chair, or even basket with towel next to the tub for baby to safely lay or sit in while you get in, and then gently lift baby into the water with you. A warm set of towels nearby will help with easy, gentle transfer into a bundle when you're ready to get out. Breastfeeding in the bath is heaven for little ones!

#7 - Take baby for a walk. Whether in a wrap or carrier, or in a stroller, taking a daily stroll with your little one allows for calming motion needs to be met, while slowly exposing your baby to the world around them. Even before they are able to understand, tell your baby stories about what you see on your walk; talk with them about what you encounter. This will stimulate baby's brain development, language comprehension, and double the soothing as your little one hears your voice along your walk.

#8 - Rock with your baby.

#9 - Go on a drive with your baby. While this is not the case for all, many babies enjoy the soothing hum and rhythm of riding in a comfortable car seat in the car. If this is the case with your baby, taking a drive (when you yourself are NOT too tired) can provide a break while calming music plays along the way.

#10 - Have a trusted friend or loving individual step in and implement the above soothing items. When you are taxed, tired, and need a break - for a nap, shower, or just to run errands solo, a mom's helper for even an hour or two can make a world of difference. This is especially the case for those mothering solo. You need a break too, and that's okay. Nurse baby right before, and right after, and ensure you have someone who takes over that is on board with being calming, gentle, and keeping your baby in-arms.


Additional tips and practical solutions for calming an upset baby can be found in Dr. Sears' The Fussy Baby Book. Dr. Linda Palmer also covers nutritional/gut health reasons for potential infant pain, reflux, "colic" and other underlying reasons for crying babies in her fantastic book, Baby Matters -- a must-read especially for breastfeeding mothers or those interested in the science behind infant health and development.




I will not be working to get my body back

Photo by Alli Upham

No, no, you have it wrong, I will not be working to get my body back.
She was never lost.
She was here, giving every moment and detail to this sweet baby.
She was pushed and exhausted, stretched and stripped to make space for a new life.
Please stand back and aside.
For her sacrifice she will not be scrutinized.
She will be loved, and thanked and bowed down to.
She will be allowed her time to heal and be settled into.
This body’s work will not be forgotten, hidden or erased.
And if you feel it should, you understand nothing about the gift she has given.
No, no. Body don’t listen.
Because I see you.
I thank you deeply.
You did so good.

By Mia Car, Snuggle Me Organic

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Pregnant Moms Due This Year (more mainstream)

Birthing (more holistic)



Broken Birth Practices - Hospital Tour: Imma Head Out...


Earth's Natural Touch: Birth Care & Beyond in Bridgeport, Connecticut, put together this meme collection of broken birth practices and the responses from the mother who owns her birth. It's your body, your baby, your birth. You have the right, Momma, to know everything about your birth team, and birth location, and be picky in your selection process.











Pregnant Moms Due This Year (more mainstream)

Birthing (more holistic)

Peaceful Parenting Community

Research EVERYTHING when you are expecting.


The Vulva - A Professional Guide for Girls


Shannon O'Boyle writes:

Here it is. The V word. The G word.

Moms, Teach your girls that they are normal before some adolescent boy who learned from men who learned from porn + few real experiences tell her she is not.

I’m talking to YOU, Midwestern Mom.

I’m talking to YOU, Southern Bell.

I grew up here. Catholic. I know what we know, and it is rarely actual real and valuable information about OUR bodies that are OURS.

Yeah. Your parts are sacred. So, no one taught you to look at them. Look! YOU are your best advocate for health. Teach your partner what normal is. Teach your girls what normal is. LEARN WHAT NORMAL IS WHICH IS PROBABLY ALMOST ANYTHING THAT ISN’T PAINFUL. 

Guys, read this info so you’re not an idiot about it. Jokes on you if you learned about female body parts from porn and magazines... that sh*t is edited for one standard look.

Girls getting genital plastic surgery... Women telling me they need it after one baby... I’m done. You are whole and beautiful, and fortunately (!) of your own beautifully designed, unique mold. Know it.


This Online Vulva Guide Can Help Your Daughter Love Her Genitals: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/online-vulva-guide_uk_5aa79358e4b009b705d5c2bd
By Rachel Moss | Read more from Moss at: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/author/rachel-moss/


In a world where girls as young as nine are seeking surgery to alter the appearance of their genitals, parents may be at a loss as to how to reassure their daughters their vulvas are “normal.”

But now, doctors have created an online booklet you can direct young women to so they learn “vulvas come in a variety of shapes and sizes” and every woman’s “normal” is different.

The booklet, created in partnership with with Brook, a young people’s sexual health and wellbeing charity, features a series of illustrations that detail the changes that happen to a woman’s body during puberty and beyond.

Commenting on the launch, Laura West, participation and volunteering manager at Brook, said: “All young people deserve education, support and advice about anatomy, but unfortunately there is a lack of accurate and sensitive information available as part of the school curriculum and on the internet. This new booklet will help to address this need and will inform doctors, girls, young women and their families, as to what is normal and where to seek further help and support if required.”

The resource was commissioned by The British Association of Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology (BritsPAG), a specialist society of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.


According to NHS figures, in 2015-16 more than 200 girls under 18 had labiaplasty and more than 150 of the girls were under 15. These numbers do not include girls and young women having the procedure privately. BritsPAG say these operations do not have a medical justification.

Female genital cosmetic surgery refers to surgical cosmetic procedures that change the structure and appearance of the healthy external genitalia of women. It includes the most common procedure, labiaplasty, which is sometimes referred to as “designer vagina” surgery and involves the lips by the vaginal opening being shortened or reshaped.

As well as including illustrations of vulvas, the booklet, titled ‘So what is a vulva anyway?’ includes information to clear up the names of body parts for young women who may be confused.

“People call vulva lots of different names: fanny, minge, foof, flower,” it says. “Some people say vagina when they are actually talking about their vulva which is fine, but it’s a really good idea to know the proper names to avoid confusion.”

Dr Naomi Crouch, consultant gynaecologist and chair of BritSPAG, told HuffPost UK as well as being useful for teens directly, the new booklet can help parents when talking to young people about normal vulva appearance.

“It provides accurate and sensitive information about the vulva, how it is unique and it is entirely normal and healthy to change throughout life,” she said.

“Parents can play an important role in ensuring young people have access to accurate information and offer reassurance and emotional support to those who may feel concerned or distressed about how they look or feel.”

The team behind the booklet conducted discussion groups with young women in order to gauge their current level of understanding and whether they felt as though this resource would be useful.

These young women felt there is a lack of understanding about the vulva and that they are not taught enough in school. They said they are likely to conduct their own research online.


The booklet provides girls with a reliable resource to counteract the fact they are presented with so many images of vulvas that are digitally manipulated.

“It’s difficult to know what a ‘normal vulva’ is. You don’t really get to see other peoples so it’s difficult to appreciate that labia come in different shapes and sizes,” the booklet says.

“If you have seen any porn you might have seen vulvas looking a particular way (often with no hair and with very tiny labia - so you can’t see them). Lots of images are photoshopped to look like this - as are boobs, legs and various other body parts. This creates a false image of what is considered normal or desirable.”

The resource also aims to tell young women - and their parents - that if a young person does have concerns about their body, a positive thing to do is to reach out and speak to a healthcare professional, such as a GP.

The booklet will be available on the BritsPAG website as a download for clinicians, including GPs, practice nurses and sexual health staff to be able to give out when meeting young people with genital cosmetic concerns and signpost them to further resources that promote healthy body image.

Louise Williams, clinical nurse specialist at University College Hospital and co-lead of the project, said: “We see many patients in our pediatric and adolescent gynecology clinic who have a poor understanding of the function of parts of the anatomy and also of normal genital variation."

“We hope [this booklet] will reassure young people that vulvas come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and if they need advice and support, they can know where to go”

Dr Naomi Crouch, consultant gynaecologist and spokesperson for the RCOG and chair of BritSpag, added: “There is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the practice of labiaplasty and the risk of harm is significant, particularly for teenagers who are still in stages of development both physically and psychologically.

“We hope this resource will provide information for girls and young women that their vulva is unique and will change throughout their life, and that this is entirely normal and healthy.”





The British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology

A body-positive, gentle parenting community






Six Top Tips for Staying Sane as a Mom Returning to College


Making the decision to return to study can be a huge one, whether you have decided to improve on your current education in order to gain a promotion at work or look around for a better position, or whether you’ve decided that a complete change of career is in order. Regardless of your decision and the stage of life that you are currently at, there’s no denying that returning to education can be a tricky situation to find yourself in. But when you are a mom, it can be even more difficult – especially if you need to give up work to study, or have to change your existing working hours to fit everything in.

There are many benefits to be had for parents who study – gaining more qualifications, seeking a higher-paid job, or finding more satisfying work in the long run are just a few. However, putting yourself in a position to get these benefits can come with challenges; loss of income and struggling job constraints are some of the most common. So, as a mom, what can you do to make sure that you can fit studying around your busy life as a parent without losing it?

#1. Use a Study Timetable:

There’s something about having your schedule mapped out in front of you that makes it easier to stick to. When you have a timetable in front of you on paper, on your computer, or on an app on your phone, you can see exactly where you need to be and at what time, making it easier for you to juggle work with study, childcare, and everything else. Start mapping out your study timetable a few weeks before you start your course; that will allow you to make adjustments when needed in the run up to your studies commencing and make it easier for you to get started straight away without needing to worry about managing your time.

#2. Study Online:

When it comes to juggling studies, work, and your little ones, then an online program could have all the answers that you are looking for. You can find all kinds of different topics available to study online from high school diploma level qualifications to an MSN leadership and management degree for nurses who want to take their career to the next level. When you study online, there’s no need to be there in person for lectures and tutorials at 9am in the morning, and you won’t need to worry about changing your working hours as other than the occasional tutor session, you can pretty much fit your studies around your life and determine when is best for you, whether that’s at the weekend, during the evening, or early in the morning.

#3. Get the Kids Involved:

If your kids are old enough, getting them involved with your studies is a great way to not only help them learn new things, but to continue doing things together as a family and make sure that you are spending quality time together – something that many moms who decide to return to education are worried about. You can do homework sessions with your kids; for example, write some questions and answers on flashcards and get them to test you on your knowledge; this can be made into a really fun game and your kids will feel super smart. And who knows – it might be the thing that sparks interest in them in what you are studying, inspiring them to follow in your footsteps.

#4. Make a Priority List:

As a busy mom, it can be all too easy to get quickly overwhelmed with the amount that you need to do when you’re also studying for a degree or other qualification. So, a priority list rather than a ‘to-do’ list could be a better idea if you’ve begun to feel like you simply don’t have the time or the energy to get everything done. Write down your to-do list as normal, but then pick just a few things that you need to do first, and separate them from the ones that can wait. This could be any task, whether you need to start working on a big assignment, or you’ve got stuff that needs doing around the house. Do this every day, and eventually you’ll find that it’s much easier to work through your to-do list without it getting you down.

#5. Take Time for Yourself:

Don’t forget that taking time for yourself is just as important as spending time with the kids, revising and going to work. The last thing that you want is to find yourself suffering with symptoms of burn-out, so make sure that when you put your timetable together, you give yourself at least an hour or so of uninterrupted ‘me time’ each week. This could be to do anything that you enjoy from getting in a nice bubble bath with a new book, to shopping with friends, hiking, going to the gym or spending time on a hobby you like. Lean on your support network of family and friends so that you can have a little bit of child-free time to focus on you when you need to.

#6. Ask for Help When You Need It:

Last but not least, it’s most important that moms returning to study don’t feel that they are alone. There is no shame in asking for help when you need it, regardless of who you are asking. If you have a supportive partner or family members, be sure to take them up on any offers of help and support when you need to. Or if you’re on your own, your friends will certainly be there for you if you ask them, whether you need them to come over and have a coffee because you feel you haven’t socialized in days, or you need a babysitter so you can get some important essay writing done. And finally, you can always reach out to your college tutor if you feel you are really struggling – they are there to help!

What will you be studying as a mom returning to education?


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