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


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.




Practice Self Love

By Sarah Nicole Landry


A year ago I never could have posted this.

No way. No how. This was my shame. This was my horror.

But today, I have no hesitation. No nerves. No “oh my gosh what will they say?”

Just peace.

Because I understand now. I understand that this is just the human body.

This is a body that has carried three amazing children.

This is a body that has been a range of weights swinging 110lbs in difference.

This is a body that used to feel worthless and now feels strong.

This is a body that needs to be fed with love, attention, kindness and good food.

This is a body, and through PRACTICE and EFFORT and EXERCISE in self care, I have grown to love.

This is a body that I will use to help show others that they are not alone in their bodies.

My friends, this is your life. This is your body. Whether you’re tall or small, curvy or striped, this is you.

And you are beautiful!

And it takes time to grasp these things. It’s not something that you SUDDENLY magically feel ok with, but the effort in hate is more draining that the effort in love.

So, practice. Because it took years of words, pictures of perfection and endless comparisons to create the voice inside your head to where it is today, and now it’s time to redirect. Now it’s time to fill it with new words, new pictures, and valuable connections. Now it’s time to live. Really live. With peace, and understanding. And a love that will not just fill you, but pour into others. Spreading the truths for more to know. 🔅 That self love, it’s so worth it. So, practice. ❤️

-The Birds Papaya 

FB: https://www.facebook.com/thebirdspapaya
IG: https://www.instagram.com/thebirdspapaya


Related Groups

Birthing: FB.com/groups/Birthing
Pregnant Moms Due This Year: FB.com/groups/DueDateGroup
Peaceful Parenting Community: FB.com/groups/ExplorePeacefulParenting
Public Peaceful Parenting Page: FB.com/PeacefulParenting

Photograph from The Honest Body Project


Breastfeeding After Cancer




Nikki Heying shares publicly in celebration:

6 weeks old on the left, 30 weeks old on the right.

It’s been 6 months.

Six months since I was allowed to breastfeed my son.

Six months of a hard battle against CANCER, getting poisoned with chemo that tainted my breastmilk and prevented me from nursing my infant son.

Six months of pumping every few hours and dumping every single ounce of it all down the drain, just so I could keep my supply up, in hopes of eventually being allowed to nurse my baby again.

Six months of having a dear, sweet, generous friend (Bec Nikodem) come to my house 1-2 times a week to latch my son, just so he would remember HOW to breastfeed again when I was able.

Well, here we are; I had my last chemo session in January and it’s been 35 days post-chemo. My breastmilk no longer contains any remnants of chemo in it, and last night I was able to BREASTFEED MY SON AGAIN!!!!

It’s been a long road, but I wanted to share my journey publicly in hopes that it can be shared and might inspire others in some small way.

💚 God is GOOD. The power or prayer is REAL. 💚

#normalizebreastfeeding #fcancer #breastfeeding



Related:

The Breastfeeding Group

Anti-Cancer

Chris Beat Cancer

The Circle Maker




Should I Nurse My Baby From Both Sides?




BREASTFEEDING - Should I offer both breasts?

Mammal mothers don't worry about minutes, milk transfer, or changing sides. They nurse as long as they feel comfortable in that position, and they change positions when they want to, or when baby stops being happy with what's happening.

Think of a breast as a 'serving.' Some babies want two servings right in a row; some fall asleep after the first one, and save the second for later. Some, who are trying to build milk supply, take three or four or more servings before dozing off.

Since you'll be nursing your baby again whenever s/he tells you they need it, it does not really matter how many servings baby takes in a row - as long as your little one is satisfied when finished. You can trust that your breasts will let you know if you're not feeding enough from one side [they will become firm/engorged.]

-La Leche League's The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding: https://amzn.to/2G9Rc7k



Texas City, Texas Nurse-In Sign in Support of Breastfeeding Mother Removed from Pool

Angie Dunn with her sign at the Texas City Nurse-In.

Angie Dunn's sign at the Nessler Family Aquatic Center Nurse-In in Texas City, Texas reads, "Out of Milk since '99, but like a good bra STILL SUPPORTIVE! #NormalizeBreastfeeding"

She writes, "It was all about that sweet mommy and her babies. She is such a nice lady. She walked up and gave me a hug and I just melted. I think things will turn around in a positive way for her and the other moms from this point forward."

Misty and her baby, 10 months old.

On June 8, 2019, breastfeeding mother, Misty Daugereaux, was forced to leave the center because she was breastfeeding her 10 month old infant. This action violates Texas law, which protects mothers and their nursing babies of any age in locations where moms are otherwise permitted to be.

Misty writes, "Stand for nothing, and you'll fall for anything. I got kicked out of Nessler Family Aquatica In Texas City today for BREASTFEEDING MY SON! First, I had a lifeguard come from behind me, as I was discretely soothing my crying baby, and told me I couldn't breastfeed at the public pool. Then the manager told me I had to cover up/follow the rules or leave. Then a Texas City Police Deputee showed up and made me leave. I’m so hurt, embarrassed and ashamed that this is what Texas City stands for. Their employees should be educated! Their manger could have used this moment to educate her staff! Yet I was escorted out with two 4 year olds and my 10m old on my hip - tears pouring down my face. My son asked, 'Momma why won’t they let you feed MAXX?' I was alone not wanting to cause a scene and scare my kids. To the momma that stood up for me: THANK YOU!"

#NIP #NursingInPublic BREASTFEEDING #AbolishLactiphobia

Bumper Stickers with YOUR year and choice of colors, available at Etsy.


Thank you for nursing in public cards to share with breastfeeding moms you see, and encourage them along the way, available for cost of production at Etsy. Let's support and lift each other up! #NursingMothersUnite




Bumper Sticker Variations other STILL SUPPORTIVE former breastfeeding moms have received.





Out of Milk Since '02. Like a Good Bra, STILL SUPPORTIVE! Normalize Breastfeeding.




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