Thursday, November 29, 2012

Purple Sister's Help

For November, I have been participating in the "30 days of thanks" movement. I turned it into a Gratitude Project, where each day for November, I post one photo showing gratitude for something/someone. You can view the album here. 

Today's photo is about Purple Sister. See, Purple Sister has done so much for me, that really it's difficult to pin all those things down into a blog post. But I felt one photo wasn't enough.

Here's an interesting tidbit. Purple Sister is responsible for my marriage. Yeah! I had known Sanfis as an acquaintance for several years as we were both in the same homeschool group. But she was the one, at the zoo one day, to encourage us both to begin talking to each other on a deeper level.

So I guess you could say, if not for Purple Sister, I wouldn't have taken the time to get to know Sanfis better and I wouldn't have come to cherish him, and I wouldn't have married him, which means I wouldn't have my kids. And really, I wouldn't be here, blogging and posting on Facebook.

Life is funny like that.

And Purple Sister was there for me during each of my births. She picked up supplies for us each time, because somehow no matter how much I prepared for birth, I ended up needing something while in labor. She helped to clean up afterwards and to hold and cherish my babies while I was being stitched up, too.

Don't you ever wish you could do something for those special people in your life who have given you so much, you could never repay them?

I hope, someday, that I have the honor of helping Purple Sister in some way that shows her how much she means to me.

Until then, I guess all I can do is post a photo:

I mean, look at that! As a toddler, I treated her like this:

And she is still being nice to me and talking to me and whatnot. In fact, I had to share what she told me today:

"He's not getting circumcised and we aren't pumping him full of vaccines. I've already expressed all of this with my care providers. I am not just relying on all the wonderful people who I am sure love their jobs and want nothing more than my baby to come out in glitter." Ba---zing. LOL

Oh, Purple Sister. Where would I be today without you?

Confessions of a Mama Looking Back at Birth

2012 Anonymous by request.

This mama shares the confusing in between place of feeling happy about her son, of perhaps having avoided any of the consequences or trauma of routine interventions, but at the same time, looking back, she sees what else might have been. In these cases, we might not feel regret, and indeed, regret might not even be appropriate. But we still acknowledge the contrasts of what was then and what is now.

"My son is a little over 18 months but this is the first time I've written his birth story. I have pictures in his baby book, but I never wrote a story. And now I feel as if I don’t even know how to begin. It was one of the best days of my life, of course. But looking at all the new things I've learned since that day, I feel as if it should have been a better day, a more special day. Please keep this anonymous for now.

So do I write the birth story with all the hearts and rainbows, or do I write it with the blunt truth that makes me wish everyone would plan for a natural birth? Maybe a little bit of both? Either way, hopefully my story will encourage someone to become educated on all the options available.

When I found out I was pregnant, I was 21, about to be 22 in a couple of months. I was taking college classes, not married, and living with my boyfriend. I was too scared to tell any of my family members so most of them either got an email or a text. And even though I was concerned about what they would say, I made sure they knew that my boyfriend and I had made the decision see the journey as an exciting one and we were also going to make sure that our child was born into a loving world surrounded by supportive people.

If anyone acted negative about the situation, they were no longer welcome in our lives. (Luckily everyone decided to make it an exciting journey). There were no complications during my pregnancy. I went in for all of my check ups and all of my ultra sounds. I also did an extra one because I was “small” so they wanted to make sure baby was still growing well.

I did everything the doctors said to do while pregnant. That’s how I was raised and that’s how my boyfriend was raised. Oh, and I found out the baby was a boy in the ER with a very painful bladder infection, that I didn't recognize as such.

Still, it was an exciting time like we wanted. (I totally knew he was a boy!) Although I’m one of those rare people that didn’t enjoy being pregnant, it was still such a joy bonding with my son for those months. I went in for one of my last checkups and my doctor decided we’d wait another week and then I’d go in to be induced. I can’t quite remember the exact date or how many weeks I was at that point, but the estimated due date was May 24.

By the way, the whole pregnancy, I never considered not getting an epidural. I’m scared of pain, I don’t deal with it well, and I knew the epidural would prevent the pain, so I went with that. Anyways, I continued about my week until one afternoon, Wednesday, May 18, 2011, I started having contractions. I called the doctor and she told me to go in to get checked. I did and they sent me home but the contractions didn’t stop and progressively got worse throughout the night.

The entire night of my horrible pain, my boyfriend was peacefully sleeping. I finally woke him up around 5am and told him I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. Once we were both dressed and in the car, he asked me if he could go make some coffee real quick. (Really? Who could think about coffee right now??) “NO!! You can NOT go make coffee! This hurts!” He went back inside to make coffee anyways! (We still joke about it.)

We drove the 45 minutes from our house to the hospital with my boyfriend speeding the entire time, I knew it was pointless but he did it anyways. We got to the hospital, the nurse checked me and I was only 1 cm dilated! She suggested I walk around for an hour and they’d check me again. I walked around for almost an hour before the pain was just too uncomfortable and I went back to the room to lay down for the rest of the hour. She checked me again and I was 1.5 cm dilated!

I started crying because I wanted the whole thing to be over, including the pain, and to hold my baby. The nurse called my doctor and she said they could go ahead and give me an epidural and then some pitocin. It was about mid morning at this point and my boyfriend’s mom was on her way from Austin to make the 3 hour drive to Houston.

At some point before my epidural, I do remember throwing up, a sign of transition. I waited impatiently for the anesthesiologist to arrive to give me my epidural. I was absolutely terrified but also in a lot of pain. It turned out not to be so bad. They hooked me up to the pitocin and inserted a catheter since I wouldn’t be able to get up and walk to the restroom. Once that was done and my boyfriend’s mom got there, we just hung out and watched TV the rest of the day waiting on baby boy. I was completely pain free and couldn’t feel a thing. In the evening my doctor came in to check me again and was shocked to see the baby was ready to come out. I had no idea. I couldn’t feel a thing.

I panicked at that moment because my doctor and the nurses started rushing around. Honestly, it was kind of uncomfortable with so many people in the room, including my boyfriend’s mom. I pushed when the doctor and nurse told me I was having contractions and I can’t even remember how many pushes it took, but it wasn’t very long. At 6:10 pm, out came my 7 pounds 7 ounces little boy at 20.5 inches long. When the nurse laid him on my chest, it was a wonderful moment I will never forget.

In between contractions, my doctor and nurse kept playing with baby boy’s hair commenting on how much there was and how dark it was. Most people think that’s gross when I tell them but it still makes me smile and it’s another cute part of the story for me. My boyfriend cut the cord when the doctor said too and after a minute or so of baby boy on my chest, he was taken away for all the standard routine newborn care in a hospital.

It was almost hard to be excited when all of that was going on because I was laying in bed getting stitched up while the nurses took care of my baby during his first moments into the world. I don’t really even know where to end this birth story. The day I got to hold my son when he first made his entrance was one of the happiest days of my life. A head full of soft, dark hair just like mine when I was born. Family came to visit. It truly was a happy and joyful time. Nonetheless, I can not wait until we decide to have baby number 2 so I can plan for a water birth without the interruption and interventions from others."

Beyond the Bris: Questioning Jewish Circumcision: Eight Reasons Why an Intact Penis Is Better Than a...

Beyond the Bris: Questioning Jewish Circumcision: Eight Reasons Why an Intact Penis Is Better Than a...: By ERAN SADEH Shalom.

"Shalom. I’m Israeli, I’m Jewish and I’m an Intactivist, which means I strive to end male circumcision performed on infants and children in Israel and around the world. My journey to Intactivism began seven years ago when my son was born."

Monday, November 26, 2012

What World Scares You?

I chimed in on a discussion where a lady had been accused of ruining society for her gentle parenting methods. And suddenly I saw it!

Think about how those who vaccinate point their fingers and shout, "It's those anti-vaccine quacks! They don't vaccinate! They are dirty, germy and spreading disease!" Well, last time I checked, those who choose to remain 100% vaccine free constitute 0.5%-1% of the population (according to the CDC). So, no. The thousands of people out there contracting and then spreading disease are primarily vaccinated.

For example, during this chickenpox outbreak, only 3 of the 92 infected children were vaccine-free

Learn more about vaccines here:

Think about how those who circumcise scrunch up their noses and whine that "uncircumcised men" are spreading HIV and other STIs around. Oh really? Except until just a few years ago, the majority of American men were circumcised routinely at birth, and that's been going on for most of the century. And we have the highest HIV rate in the developed world.

In fact, when you do the math on a recent article about HIV rates, you discover that circumcised men have an increased risk:

Learn more about circumcision here:

Think about how those who CIO, and/or wean forcefully and/or dismiss babywearing, and/or support bottle propping, etc roll their eyes and claim that those who co-sleep, continue to nurse, practice attached bottle feeding and babywear have raised selfish, impatient, lazy brats who are out ruining the country. Then turn to the statistics, which show a minority of women who begin breastfeeding after birth actually makes it past one year of breastfeeding! And not just a minority, but a smidgen! Take it to 2 years of breastfeeding and you drop below 6%! Take a look at the million strollers on the market, the bottle holders, bouncy seats, swings, playpens and more all completely embraced (and overused) in our culture. The majority are not "babying" their children.

Take a look at the percentages for breastfeeding as an example:

Learn more about nursing past modern minimums here:

Finally, think about those sarcastic memes circulating on here that say things such as, "The reason our country is ruined is because parents don't smack their children" or, "I remember the good ole days where parents were allowed to thump their children. Now everyone is selfish and lazy." Um, except all you have to do is take a look at any study, pro or anti spanking, to discover that the majority of parents hit their children regularly and the majority of parents practice other punitive methods such as yelling and time outs. And, even if you didn't believe that most people are still spanking, the current generation of "selfish/lazy/bratty" young adults...WERE spanked.

"The researchers noted that spanking has declined in the United States since 1975, but corporal punishment is still used to discipline nearly 80 percent of preschool children."

Learn more about spanking here:

These people need to walk up to a mirror and study what they find in it. Blaming the minority for attempting to get out of the huge mess of violence and violation isn't fooling anyone. If you find yourself pointing your finger at methods that promote respect, peace, patience, kindness, forgiveness and unconditional love, then I encourage you to take heart.

You can stop the cycle of abuse.

YOU, yes, YOU are strong enough, good enough and smart enough to take a stand. You can break the cycle. You can stand up tall and say that the continuation of an abusive culture will not ripple through your family any longer. Wherever you are, whatever you have done up to this point, it is not more than your inner will to change.

Do you miss the good ole days? Do you think our country is going to hell in a hand basket? Do you think the world is filled with hateful, uncaring, detached, selfish, apathetic, lazy, perhaps even evil people? Do you long for children peacefully playing at the park and adults smiling, caring about each other and filled with joy?

Then look in the mirror. Set aside the blaming finger. And lift up arms of service to your children. Raise a voice of forgiveness to your teens. Step forward in excitement with your toddlers. Raise a help stop the cycle.

Today's Links on Cancer Alternatives

I managed to squeeze in one last mini-line up before Advent begins! :)

Have you watched the documentary? Available on Netflix and online for free:

"This is the first set of experiments to show that the compound, Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), inhibits EGF-induced growth and migration in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expressing non-small cell lung cancer cell lines."

Study author, Dr. Jeffrey Meyerhardt commented "Our study certainly supports the idea that diet can impact the progression of colon cancer, and that patients and their doctors should consider this when making post-treatment plans."

A Glioblastoma brain cancer patient who just started Antineoplastons, MRI shows after the first 6 weeks of ANP therapy—a 33% reduction of her tumor (MRIs are done every 6 weeks during the first few months of ANP therapy).

What's behind the pink?

A new lease on life?

More on Gerson therapy:

Pomegranate Juice May Inhibit Metastatic Breast Cancer: A new preclinical study has just shown that pomegranate juice inhibits both cell adhesion and cell migration for two types of breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-231 (ER(-)) and MCF7 (ER(+)) as well as inhibiting key chemical messengers which attract the cancer cells to bones. In addition, pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines were significantly reduced by these treatments. Researchers said that pomegranate may therefore be a "very effective" treatment to prevent cancer progression.

Magensium for Preventing Colon Cancer: This latest meta-study including over 338,000 people showed that those with the highest intake of magnesium had 19% less colon cancer and 6% less rectal cancer risk. It was also seen that every extra 50 mg daily intake of magnesium led to a 7% reduction of colon and rectal cancer risk. This puts new emphasis on the proper supply of magnesium in the diet as many americans (of all ages) don't get enough.

Those who choose the Gerson Therapy trust their body’s own healing mechanism. They are people who take responsibility for their own healing. They are self-empowered and this in itself can help to activate their healer within.

Why is junk cheaper than healthy food?

What do you think?

8760 glasses of juice
2920 coffee enemas
1460 baked potatoes
1460 bowls of Hippocrates soup
33580 supplements
174 shots of castor oil

Whole grains? Unfermented/gmo soy? Lowfat? Agave syrup? Have you fallen for any unhealthy-health foods?

Remember: BABY STEPS! Don't get overwhelmed or burned out. Join us at Mission Crunchable for small steps to health.

One sausage a day and you won't keep the cancer away:

Hmm interesting. Reminds me of vaccines:

Oh, here's an article written today!

Well, it's foxnews. But still.

Dismissed, hmm, interesting:

thehealthyhomeeconomist writes on the event:

"These data showed that dietary GFE induced significant growth inhibition of MDA-MB-468 cells in vitro and in vivo through a mechanism involving the EGFR/ERK signaling pathway, suggesting that GFE may have a protective effect for women against EGFR-overexpressing BC."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

5 Subtle Signs of a Controlling Birth Assistant

Have you ever stopped to take a closer look at your relationship with your OB or midwife? Or hospital staff? You have chosen to enter into an intimate relationship with these people involving your body, vagina, breasts and children. Is it a healthy dynamic? Are you an equal? Are you respected?

Does your doctor care about you and your baby? Is she protective of you? Helpful when making pregnancy and birth decisions? Or is she controlling you? Does he want to satisfy other interests?

There's a thin line between a supportive doctor and a controlling one. And it's time to see the difference.

Obviously all doctors, midwives, nurses and hospitals are in a subtle role of authority and control simply by their nature. Many women approach their births feeling uninformed. Some women even believe it's not their responsibility to know about birth and to make decisions regarding their births. These beliefs add additional imbalance to the scale between the birth assistant and the woman.

It's also important to note that there are two kinds of controlling birth assistants. One kind is obvious, and often takes up most of the internet forums. We say this kind is rarer, easier to identify and condemned across all birth philosophies.

Everyone has heard of the woman screaming no and kicking at her violent, controlling doctor. Everyone has heard of the midwife who suddenly turns mean in the middle of a birth and forces the mom into unwanted situations. Everyone knows of the nurse who mocked a woman in pain. Everyone knows about the hospital that called a lawyer and forced a woman to consent to a c-section.

This kind of person is capable of crippling a woman with emotional abuse (and any helpers such as doulas and husbands), of using open threats and even physical force and violence to get her way.

But there's another kind of controlling birth assistant, and this kind is actually accepted in our culture. This kind of person might be dismissed as overly helpful, overly concerned and someone who is "just doing his job." The subtle behavior can even be abusive, or at the least dysfunctional, but few people identify it as such. This kind of person heavily influences the pregnant woman, her baby and the birth experience, though.

If you have this kind of controlling birth assistant, the dynamic will become more and more imbalanced, and your emotional strength will weaken as the pregnancy progresses. As anyone who helps those in domestic abuse situations or anyone who has been in one can attest...the control increases while your sense of normal decreases. Otherwise, everyone would immediately leave these relationships!

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to leaving this kind of controlling relationship is the overwhelming feeling that your doctor is "not a bad guy." He's not bad. He just wants what's best for you. Your midwife isn't violent, after all. She'd never hold you down or hurt you. She just thinks her way is safer.

These kinds of people are able to create an unhealthy relationship because they are subtle and careful with their behavior, changing reality in the pregnant woman's mind and securing their level of power in the relationship.

5 signs you might be in this kind of relationship

1. She reminds you that you're the pregnant woman. If you are constantly reminded that you don't have the medical degree, something might be wrong in your relationship. Although it's true that the people we hire for our births are expected to be educated and experienced (why else are we hiring them?) that doesn't mean you should feel helpless, stupid or otherwise put down. If you find yourself anxious when asking a question, you might have a controlling doctor. If you are worried you'll sound stupid when sharing your facts and decisions, you might have a controlling midwife. If the nurses treat you like a number on a cart, you could be in a controlling hospital.

What does healthy look like here? A caring birth assistant knows that you are the pregnant woman, and thus you are responsible for your baby, birth and body. A caring birth assistant will share all the information with you and encourage you to participate equally in making decisions. A caring birth assistant will not make any references to your educational level, career or lack of experience, and will support you in learning more about pregnancy and birth.

2. He doesn't like when you ask for second opinions or research alternatives. Does he say the internet is unreliable? Does she roll her eyes when you mention what another midwife said on a topic?  If you ask for an alternative, does she say this is her way of doing things, period? Then you might have a controlling birth assistant. If you don't recognize this, the subtle put downs and references to your incompetence will eventually lead you to isolate yourself from other resources, coming to rely completely on your birth assistant.

What does healthy look like here? A caring birth assistant wants you to learn all you can about your body, your baby and your birth. If you have doubts, she will acknowledge them. If you want to hire more birth assistants, such as a doula, he will support you and welcome the other assistants. If you bring information from the internet or a book, she will seriously listen to your concerns. If he is not informed on a particular alternative, he will learn about it. A caring birth assistant will acknowledge that she is not the ultimate authority, nor is she always correct, nor does she know everything.

3. You begin to feel insecure or doubted. Over the course of your prenatal meetings with your doctor, you begin to feel you are incapable of birthing without his help. After spending time with your midwife, you begin to think you cannot be trusted to birth your baby. You start to hear phrases such as, "Other women can do that, but your body is different." Or maybe your doctor looks at a test result and sighs heavily, shaking her head. Then says, "I just don't know if you can do it naturally." Your midwife performs a cervical exam and her shoulders droop. She tells you, "Your body is just not doing the right thing." You get online to tell your friends you are defective and your plans have to change. If you begin to feel broken, incapable and to doubt yourself, you might have a controlling birth assistant.  Medically unnecessary cervical exams before labor, additional ultrasounds, too much focus on weight and fundal height, etc, are all signs of control.

What does healthy look like here? It's true that sometimes our bodies do not function the way they are designed to, or that complications can arise during pregnancy and birth. Even in those circumstances, though, you should feel competent, capable of making healthy decisions and inspired to birth in whatever way is right for you. If a test result shows something concerning, the doctor should present it to you so that you are able to understand the situation and freely make an informed decision. Your birth assistant should not be using tests and exams to create an atmosphere of doubt and insecurity. (Such as unnecessary testing, too many ultrasounds, or other things that are not evidence-based).

4. You can't do anything without her approval and involvement. If you decide your stress is creating a false blood pressure reading and want to monitor at home, he will discourage it. When you mention attending a spinning babies class to encourage optimal positioning, she tells you not to go to anymore classes. If you want to take a certain test, you feel you have to jump through hoops and consider avoiding your doctor, or even hiding it from your midwife. If you want to decline a test, you brace yourself for put downs, eye rolling, confrontation and more. You start to talk with friends and family about your birth by saying, "The doctor is going to let me birth naturally." Or, "The hospital said I'm allowed to get into the shower during labor."

What does healthy look like here? A relationship comprised of two equal, respected people means both people feel comfortable making important decisions. A caring assistant does not encourage you to ask for permission. A caring assistant will not pout, act offended or get angry when you make a decision about your body and birth.

5. You are no longer sure of what you want. Subtle manipulation of your emotions and fears has led to you questioning your beliefs on everything small and big. Suddenly, you find yourself doubting what you wanted in the first place, or even preparing yourself to give it up. You start to minimize your desires, such as by saying, "A natural birth is the ideal anyways." Or you might remind friends and family that, "The risk of an induction is tiny, so it's not a big deal." Things you wanted become unnecessary. You begin to whittle down your list of absolutes. You start to take on a tone of resignation, and repeat to yourself and others, "A healthy baby is all that matters!" You begin to feel depressed, anxious or otherwise worried about the impending birth. You find yourself disconnecting from friends and family out of embarrassment, because you foresee your birth going differently and don't want them to know about it. You become isolated, insecure and impatient. You just want pregnancy to be over already. You're 37 weeks and you know your doctor isn't going to "let you" do what you want, so you might as well induce now.

What does healthy look like here? At every prenatal appointment, your doctor, midwife and other assistants should review your birth plan. They should understand it and support it. If they have concerns, they should bring them up respectfully and ensure that you make the final, informed decision. They should keep a copy on hand, without mocking, sighing or rolling any eyes. If you begin to share doubts or worries, they should encourage more learning and support you in determining what you want and preparing you for it. A caring assistant will not try to sell other options or try to subdue your enthusiasm and excitement. A caring assistant will not refer to pregnancy and birth as a medical emergency or disease, and will encourage you to be present, to experience it and to make lasting memories.

Is your birth assistant caring or controlling? Only you can decide this, and only you can choose to leave if your relationship is unhealthy or already abusive.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Protect Your Child's NO

Respect. It's a two way street. How can you earn respect if you don't respect others? A big part of respect is recognizing the other person's NO. A person who says no is a person who feels empowered over his property, his body and his purpose in life.

Often I receive emails and private messages begging for advice on how to break that inherent will in their child. How can a child be broken down? How can a child lose that inner confidence, that inner dignity powering the loud word, "NO?"

Someone who says no still believes she is worth it. Someone who says no still believes he can change his life. Someone who says no is in fact full of hope and trust. Especially when the no is directed at a parent.

No. Hear me. Love me. Accept me. No. Protect my body. Honor my wishes. Know my inner desires. No. I am worthy. I deserve what I want. I have needs and they are important. No. No. No. 

What have we done to the Child's No in our culture?

"If you think about it, our culture is focused on telling children they cannot say no, they cannot set boundaries and they cannot protect their property and bodies from others. Parents consistently tell children from birth onwards that children have no right to themselves. The parents will surgically alter their children to suit their sexual and aesthetic preference.

They will tell children to sleep when not tired and to eat when not hungry. When sad, they are to shut up and "be okay" about it. When happy, they are to shut up and calm down about it. Children are forced to say goodbye and hello, to tolerate strangers touching them and to give away their belongings to other children. On top of it all, children are forced to accept physical touch when they do not want it, such as kisses and hugs from family members.

I just want my children to know they can say NO." ~Sanfis Daly

Many times in life, you as the wise, responsible parent will need to guide your child in the midst of hearing no no no from him or her. Everyone, no matter what parenting method used, is familiar with ways to say no, ways to force children to obey, ways to redirect, to distract, to bribe. And of course, some people know about healthy ways such as problem solving, team work, acknowledging, compromising, etc.

My question to you is: What do you do to encourage the word NO? What do you do to support and affirm your child as he yells out, "NO!" What about when the no is unspoken, seen only in the concerned look of her eyes as a person gets too close to her? What about the no in the body, as a child turns his head away or pulls his shoulders back? What about the warning of a no, when a child grabs her doll, watching someone come over, worrying that her personal belonging will be snatched away?

Are you protecting your child's NO? I challenge you to find ways every day to celebrate your child's use of the word no. I dare you (when appropriate/safe) to immediately acknowledge your child's no and to immediately respond to it positively. What if, by doing this, you provided your child with a sense that she is trusted, respected, capable and worthy? What if, by doing this every day, he began to realize that you have his best wishes at heart and that you hear what he wants and needs? What do you think will happen?

I had this fun idea! I was going to make a video showing people how to double ergo. My daughter didn't want to participate.

A short while later, she chose to ride in the ergo after all. When your child feels secure, confident and acknowledged, the constant fighting, tantrums and "NOs" tend to go away. I dare you to try this for a few weeks.

Spanking Resources

Abuse Resources

Monday, November 19, 2012

Today's Links on Healthy Holidays

First thing to address today is emotional health. Holidays inevitably bring family into our lives, and with that can come baggage from previous abuse. Additionally, family members might not have changed their habits since your childhood and are ready to engage your children in the same unhealthy dynamics. What can you do?

This homeschooling mama provides more ideas on how to prepare children for the influx of potentially toxic family members during the holidays:

Here's another helpful post on how to prepare for family gatherings:

And I have to highly recommend this book if you are struggling to heal from a toxic environment and hoping to provide something better for your children. This link is NOT monetized or sponsored:

What if you suspect the dynamic is too unhealthy to expose your children at all? Walk through this guide and answer the questions w/ an open heart:

If you're looking for more resources on healing from childhood and breaking the cycle for your children, check out our page Survivor Parents.

Next thing we'll address: smells. Yes, smells. Smell is a big thing when it comes to the holidays, and companies know this. Our olfactory sense triggers memories. But what is in that smell and where is it coming from if not Granny's fresh pie or the live pine on the back porch?

What's that smell? Find out here:

Take a look at what happened! :O Ack!

Obviously, even if the synthetic stuff needs to go, you still want to smell nice! What can you do?

More ideas:

An enjoyable article that talks about freshening the air in the winter:

Speaking of scents, The Scented Candle makes a huge debut during the holidays. What do you need to know about candles and how can you still enjoy them in a healthy home?

So you're all like, staring at my page and thinking, "Hot damn! Now I can't even have candles for the holidays? This blogger gives POSITIVE solutions:

You might consider starting a new holiday tradition: making your own candles. What a great hands on activity for the children!

More info on candles and safe alternatives:

This article goes through each part of the candle, and also mentions that the wicks can contain lead!

And of course the most obvious danger when it comes to Remember to supervise your candles and protect young children from them!

Speaking of flames, let's remember to stay safe around fireplaces and woodburning stoves:

In addition to NOT burning wrapping paper, here is a list of other things to keep OUT of your fire:

Woodburning stove safety:

This amusing response also provides the real reasons to NOT burn wrapping paper this holiday season:

Some might feel the warnings are a bit exaggerated when it comes to burning Christmas trees, wreaths and other pine related decor. But the important thing IMO is to make sure people know ahead of time what might happen. These items are highly flammable and can spit or explode.

A burning tree is no joke. Take a look at how fast this turns into an emergency:

While we're talking about fires, let's not forget another holiday toxin: carbon monoxide poisoning:

A lot of people know about the kind of poisoning glamourized in V shows where you go to sleep but don't wake up. What about those cases where you survive your poisoning?

Here's a site that works through various conditions, symptoms and testing options. (As an offshoot of the carbon monoxide poisoning topic):

Another gas, this time from the new holiday products you bring into your home:

This mama talks about throwing away a plastic baby doll that was offgassing. Would you go this far? It highlights the need to prevent unhealthy things from coming into our house in the first place, an often difficult feat during the holidays:

"Avoid off-gassing children's products such as PVC-containing toys or soothers. (instead use non-flexible plastic, wooden, or organic, untreated cotton toys)"

Thankfully change is happening when it comes to specific types of chemicals. That being said, any large operation like this comes with loopholes and delays. Some people point out that the toys were not all removed/destroyed, but "sold through" meaning they might still be available for purchase:

It wouldn't be an eco-holiday if we didn't discuss secondhand toys. Have you considered bargain shopping, bartering or even making your own gifts? This guide also provides tips on avoiding toxins:

More on remaining toxins:

Maressa shares 5 tips on safe shopping:

What about something new this year?

I'm dreaming of Christmas? What are your eco-friendly ideas to celebrate your holiday without toxins and waste?

Link is NOT monetized or sponsored:

Feeling some anxiety? This article is great! Reasonable, thorough and talks about my favorite thing: BABY STEPS. ( Mission Crunchable)

Ways to cut waste:

Ah, the wrapping paper! What is your favorite alternative?

So, let's take a look at the tree (and other faux plant products such as wreaths and garlands):

Alternatives are discussed here:

We're not trying to get caught up in anxiety-ridden ideology here. This article talks about ways to make eco-conscious decisions, whether buying a cut, living or faux tree:

Obviously, organicgardening opposes faux trees lol:

More on organic:

This is the option we've chosen for our family, but I think the reason it works well for us is that we have young children so we can begin a new tradition with them and don't mind a small tree. To be honest, I don't see how this would work with a tree larger than maybe 4 ft, and you'd need ample space afterwards to plant it.

Natural, traditional = safe? Think again when it comes to lead:

I've already received comments about how we can just let lead slide for Christmas. It's just one cute photo. It's just one time out of the year. What's the big deal? Surely the amount is minute. I'll wash my hands afterwards.

Unavoidably, people ask how to detox lead when I talk about it.

What can you do to prevent absorption?

(On a side note, I want to point out that people often recommend heavy doses of vitamin C to detox from lead. Please remember that vitamin C is not benign. AND high doses at the beginning of pregnancy could cause congenital defects or a miscarriage, and high doses at the end of pregnancy can cause maternal hemorrhage. Bathing your teeth in vitamin C is a good way to ruin them, too.)

More on lead:

Think it's adorable and precious to wrap your baby up in a string of lights?

Vegan/veggie Thanksgiving meals:

Healthy turkeys:

Things to look out for:
A discussion about turkey choices:
Paleo dishes:

Paleo Thanksgiving (Video)

More paleo recipes:

Speaking of Autism, what are your tips on preparing your children for the holidays and the many social traditions/expectations that come w/ these celebrations?

This parent blogs about how they discovered Christmas-Autism style:

Maybe family members need to read this?

A father's story:


NT ( Weston A. Price Foundation) meals:

Food Renegade is listed here, too:

Don't think you have to give up your special holiday times with family and friends...

Gluten AND sugar free (please do watch out for fake sugars):


Not even Santa is protected from today lol! I'll start w/ this post since it doesn't outright stomp all over the magical Christmas most people adhere to when it comes to Santa:

In other words, it isn't all about Santa, but using Santa within a parenting paradigm:

A blogger shares her opinion:

They elucidate pretty well:

Here is a thorough academic paper on Santa Claus and alternatives. We've taken the road for our family of: not focusing on Santa, not promoting Santa, and just enjoying the story as my daughter learns about it from others. She knows Santa isn't real.

She does have quite a theory on the reindeer, though, and says that they get magical strings to tie them together, and this is what lets them fly. And since they don't like to be tied, they get special reindeer treats as payment. O_o Whatever strings your needle!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Seatbelt Strangulation

This scary story reminds us that simple things can become dangerous quickly. The mama talks about how her 5 year old daughter played with the vehicle seat belt and unintentionally tightened it around her neck. Because most vehicles have an automatic locking system, the seatbelt tightens more as the child struggles. This can turn into a deadly situation.

Storing a pair of safety cutters in the vehicle makes sense, not only for this incident but for any other random emergency that might arise where cutting the seatbelt quickly can save lives. (As a bonus, many cutters also come with a special piece on the handle to break windows for emergencies, too).

While reading this mama's story, I remembered another dangerous situation that can occur when children play with vehicle belts. Parents might say the above situation was due to the older child playing around in the backseat. But your child can become entangled even when you think he or she is in a safe place: the carseat.

As you probably know if you've used carseats recently, current carseat models in America are equipped with LATCH, a belt with clips to install the carseat without using the vehicle seat belt. This means the carseat is securely attached to the car and the vehicle seat belt is hanging loosely next to the seat (and your child in the seat).

Children could fiddle with the loose vehicle belt while sitting in their carseat and become entangled. Your children could unintentionally tighten the seatbelt around their necks or other body parts causing injury while you are driving, perhaps without you even noticing what's going on in the backseat.

To prevent this, buckle the seat belt before installing the seat. Please note: do not use both the vehicle seat belt and LATCH for one carseat. This is unsafe! Just route the vehicle seat belt against the vehicle seat. You can even route it behind the vehicle seat so it's out of the way:

My son sits in this seat. His Britax Roundabout is installed
using LATCH and not the vehicle belt, so I routed
the vehicle belt behind the seat, out of his reach.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When Words Might Break Your Birth

We've all heard the little singsong quip:

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!"

When it comes to pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, this couldn't be farther from the truth. Something about these bonding, vulnerable times can take careless, rude or even harassing remarks and turn them into sharp weapons that slice deep. A wise mama will pay careful attention to the words she has received over her lifetime and the words she received during these special times.

Today, I heard from two separate people about two separate pregnant mamas, and both times made my blood boil with anger. The situations are "opposite" in terms of beliefs and birth choices and yet that doesn't matter when it comes to a mama and her birth!

The first one involved a mama friend of mine who is choosing a non-emergent and perhaps unnecessary c-section, but it is a repeat c-section after 3 others and none of my business, nor does it call for my judgment, if for no other reason than lack of specific information. At any rate, it seems to me that 3 c-sections including a crash is far different from a scheduled c-section during a randomly healthy, first time pregnancy.

Well, our mutual friend disagrees, and allegedly spent some time and effort browbeating this pregnant mama about how bad the MRSA rates were around here, how scary it will be, how she is Catholic and more c-sections mean limited pregnancies, etc etc. This conversation wasn't informational, it was strong arming. I was so angry I could barely speak.

THEN. THEN. Another woman starts talking to me about a mutual friend, a first time pregnant mama who is overweight. Telling me she said to this very pregnant mama, "You are eating so much junk food, you are going to get sick, and make the baby sick, and you will never be able to push your baby out!" Again, couched behind so-called helpfulness. I sat there, speechless, my heart pounding at the satisfaction in this woman's voice. I thought about that mama, wondering if she was crying, wondering if she was looking at her food and cursing the feeling of hunger, cursing her body, cursing her pregnancy.

The conversation triggered me, transported me back to one of the first mamas I ever helped. She had a block when it came to breastfeeding. Lots of reasons popped up, but the energy I was feeling didn't make sense to me. Finally, I was able to connect with her, and she was able to connect within herself, and while sobbing we got to the crux of the matter. Turns out when she was starting to go through puberty, she had an abusive father who I effing kid you not, pointed at her newly developing breast buds and told her "They are pointed inwards. You are defective and will never breastfeed."

A moment in time, carried deep inside her heart, stopping her even as an adult.

Careless words, slicing deeply. LEAVE THE MAMAS ALONE! You don't EVER, EVER EVER. EVERRRRRRR beat down a pregnant woman. EVER. Them's big fighting words on my turf. I don't care if you have statistics on your side. Or experience. Or education. You don't EVER put down a mama when she is preparing for birth (or laboring). You have a brain, use it. You can find a hundred and one other ways to positively share information, or to empower and inspire a mama on her journey. If you're not lifting her up, then shut the hell up.

If you are on your parenting journey and someone ever pings you with damaging words, don't haphazardly wave them away or let them roll off your back. Look at those words directly. Find some way to tangibly wash them away. Address them quietly from within, or even by talking about them aloud. Or they will simmer in your brain!

Even if you think the other person is rude, or wrong, or not worth a thought from you, something about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding makes those words echo over and over again, like energy that can't escape. Get rid of those words. Consider this practice a top emotional priority for your parenting journey!

How is this done? What can you do?

Here is one example. My children were all large babies and I was pretty small, so the look was probably a little more obvious than even regular pregnancies with regular bellies. When people would remark to me, "Wow, you're huge!" or "Your baby is going to be a pain to get out!" or even worse things such as, "I can't believe you'd try to birth at home, look at the size of your belly!" and "You're never going to walk again after giving birth!" and a million other related rude things, I would gently press on my baby and think inside:

You are the size you need to be, Baby. 
You are the right size for me. 
I love your size and your growth. 
You are happy, healthy and growing well because you are nourished. 
We will do this just fine.

To those mamas above, who were beaten down with words, what affirmations might heal and empower?

We are doing what is right for our journey.
This is the way I choose to birth.
My body is communicating clearly what kind of birth it needs.
You are being born the way you need to be, Baby.

My body can deliver nutrients to you, Baby.
Pregnancy and birth is not about a number on the scale.
I love how you clearly ask for what foods you need.
My vagina works whether fat or skinny or anything in between.

Again, I cannot stress how important it is to take this process seriously. (And really, affirmations are powerful for everyone, not just during mothering experiences). If you feel silly or awkward, find a private time to do it. Start small. Don't develop anxiety thinking of sweet or poetic things to say. You can be brief and blunt. Just DO IT.

What are your affirmations? Write them down, post them on the bathroom mirror, sing them in a song...whatever you do, weave a rich orchestra of powerful, positive, empowering words for you and your baby.
© 2012 Guggie Daly

Give Birth-Yes You Can!

Can I labor over there?
Can I labor on the chair?
No! No labor over there!
Don’t labor on the chair!
Sit there, sit there, you will see,
You must labor with this IV!

I do not like this sharp IV!
I need to move, to dance, to pee!
Doctor, Doctor, let me be;
Say, get your pesky hands off me!

No! You can’t move, or dance, or pee!
You must labor with this IV!
Not over there, not on the chair,
Not with the ball, you’ll have a fall!

Can I labor with a doula?
Can I use some calendula?
Can I labor on hands and knees?
Can I birth just how I please?

No! Not with a doula!
No –what’s calendula?
Lay back, lay back, count to ten,
Breathe –he he hoo –push again!

No thank you, doctors, nurse, and crew,
I’ll go and labor without you.
I’ll labor here, I’ll labor there!
In the shower –everywhere!
I’ll labor standing, squatting, sitting
I’ll labor on my couch while knitting!
I’ll have a doula –I’ll have three!

They’ll let me eat and bring me tea.
Try them! Try them!
You will see!
You can go shove that darn IV.

~Author Unknown. (If you have the citation for this witty poem, PLEASE tell me!)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Today's Links on Herbs and Aids for the Childbearing Years


And this link is from the same site, but focuses on contraceptive herbs:


Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) might be improved with these two herbs:

An introductory post on using herbs for PCOS:

I like this article on PCOS and herbs. The background is a little hard on the eyes, but it has good info:

If you're looking for an overall summary on healing PCOS, Naturally Knocked Up has an impressive article:

Of course we have to turn to mother herbalist Susan Weed and her take on PCOS!

This article talks about Gymnema for diabetes and PCOS:

This lady ties PCOS to candida overgrowth and shares her journey:

Unfortunately, the study was not long enough to collect enough data, but they did discover, "There was a clear and significant alteration in the relevant hormone levels."

This link also talks about other methods that might help with PCOS:

Lots of info to glean from this list:

Are you very new to herbs? This article provides answers to some good beginning questions:

Sure, Natural News 中文網 is biased, but the breakdown here is a good read:

This studied looked at a Korean approach that included herbs:


Are you trying to conceive? PRE-conception diet is a vital yet often overlooked aspect. The time begin building your vitamin/mineral stores is usually several months before conception occurs.

Additionally, some nutrients are needed very early in pregnancy, such as before you know you are pregnant. An unintended deficiency during those critical moments can lead to severe issues.

Here's some info about a popular nutrient, known in America as folic acid:

Learn more at Modern Misfits

thehealthyhomeeconomist talks about diet before conception and includes a beginner's list to sourcing your nutrients from whole foods as opposed to taking multis:

Real Food Forager does a great job walking us through traditional foods for pregnancy and lactation:

Why fermented cod liver oil? If you're going to shell out the $$$ for this stuff, consider eeking out a tiny bit more for fermented:

And anyways, why Green Pastures cod liver oil? Modern Alternative Mama shares her experience with FCLO:

This site shares more about why I say, if you are going to spend the $$$ on cod liver oil, make it count:

The APA provides a moderate, basic review of pregnancy herbal teas, listing them as safe or unsafe and linking to additional research:

Susan Weed talks about herbs during pregnancy:

Here is a personal story and more info on RRL tea:

More on RRL tea, including other uses:

Even more on RRL tea:

Did you experience heartburn while pregnant?

EOs especially for pregnant women and babies:

Pre-eclampsia remedies...remember that this condition is not well understood by doctors and can become dangerous rapidly.

My post on PIH and pre-e:

Yeast infections:

Magnesium, an overlooked treasure, might be the key to solving morning sickness. The catch? Remember that pre-conception diet? It seems you need magnesium stores BEFORE conception:

Birth Faith talks about her morning sickness theory here:

Let's get back to Pre-e for a bit here:

Vitamin D Council talks about pre-e:

A lot of people swear by this diet, or one w/ slight modifications, while others say it doesn't work. Have you used this diet before?

Want a massive amount of info on pre-e? From the archives:

Resources on GBS including scary antibiotic-resistant strains:

Stand and Deliver talks about treating GBS overgrowth:

An indepth look at GBS, antibiotics and other options:

Modern Alternative Mama talks about getting a negative GBS test:

I was surprised and disappointed to find very little warning against routine, natural induction, or at least doing a better job of talking about the consequences. Here is one article at least:

Here is another article on natural induction:

More on induction:

Talks about a mix of things from "encouraging" to actual interventions:

This post gets us towards the end of pregnancy...birth and afterwards:

Shepherd's purse is a weed, actually. But it can halt hemorrhage pretty effectively in some cases and is often added to birth kits for 3rd stage management. Please note: do not take shepherd's purse before the placenta is out, as it can cause clamping down and blood clots.

Remember: just because the word "natural" is in front of a name, doesn't mean it is without consequences. I like this post because it points out some pitfalls to inappropriate or uninformed 3rd stage management:

Ideas on 3rd stage management w/ tinctures:

Gentle care with EOs after birth:

Wellness Mama talks about building your own birth kit:

Where to buy birth supplies?

More birth supplies:

Some things to research:

Angelica root. This is for AFTER BIRTH ONLY as it is used to detach the placenta. This is a powerful intervention. If you have an older child nursing frequently, you need to research this carefully as it can mobilize through milk.

Homeopathy for pp hemorrhage:

Gives some talk about research into herbal hemorrhage management:

Moving on to some other remedies...cell salts:

Manuka honey:

What's up w/ manuka honey anyways?

Make every calorie count during pregnancy:

Blackstrap molasses:

CHEESESLAVE talks about fermented awesome way to promote healthy gut flora for your pre-born baby:

Kombucha, safe or not? When you want something bubbly, consider reaching for this classic:

Got lecithin? Every mama should!

Every pregnant woman needs an excuse to soak in a tub!

Epsom salts are great for a variety of reasons, including detoxing gently. But for absorbing magnesium, please consider oils on the skin!

What if you're breastfeeding and TTC?

First, some guidelines from

When is it part of mommyhood, and when is it something else? We hope to lose weight while breastfeeding, but for some women, that doesn't happen:

Another piece of the puzzle:

And just when you thought it was all over...we still have much to look forward to, lol!