5 Car Seat “Don’ts” You Want Avoid

Parents-to-be have so much information to absorb. It’s difficult to keep track of it all. Then, baby
arrives and the sleep deprivation sets in. It’s easy to mistakenly do something dangerous,
especially when it seems that the safety recommendations are constantly in flux. Even if this
isn’t your first go-round, it’s likely things have changed since the last time you had an infant in a
car seat. Keep on reading to be sure you’re avoiding these common car seat mistakes.

Don’t put the Car Seat on top of a Shopping Cart

There’s no doubt you’ve seen lots of babies in car seats perched atop shopping carts. It’s a very
common practice but it’s not a safe one for baby nor is it a good move for the integrity of the car
seat itself. The major safety issue at play here is the potential for the shopping cart to tip over
due to becoming top-heavy from the weight of your baby and baby’s car seat. This could then
cause the car seat to topple over which could harm the baby. Additionally, car seats are not
designed to clip on to shopping carts even though you may be able to clip your seat onto the
cart. This is actually warned against in car seat manuals and can damage the mechanism in the
car seat that holds it securely to the base. Either scenario, a fall from the top of the cart or
unknowingly continuing to use a seat that has been damaged, could end tragically so it’s best to
avoid this practice altogether.

Don’t use Aftermarket Products

There are boatloads of aftermarket products sold for car seat use. Everything from hanger toys
for the infant seat’s handle to fancy headrests and infant inserts. Since they’re sold at leading
retailers and because they often have a stamp of “approval” listed on the packaging, parents
often figure they’re totally safe for use. The truth of the matter is that the car seat you own has
only been tested and proven safe to use with the items that are originally included with the seat
(or those sold by the manufacturer that are listed as safe in the instruction manual). So, while
those little teddy bear strap huggers are adorable, it’s better to leave them on the shelf and stick
with the products from the manufacturer of your seat designed for your specific seat.

Don’t put Baby in a Bulky Winter Coat

When the temperatures drop, it’s only natural to want to keep your baby warm and cozy,
especially when heading outside. It seems the sensible thing to do would be to bundle baby up
in a sweet, fuzzy bunting or a warm, puffy coat before strapping them into the car seat. The
thing is, car seat harness safety depends upon the snugness of the harness against baby’s
body. This means that in a collision, particularly at high speeds, the “fluff” of a winter coat
compresses, leaving baby loosely strapped in, and vulnerable to being ejected from the seat,
even if the harness had been pulled tautly over the coat at the onset of the ride. With small
babies, a blanket tucked around them or a “shower cap” style seat cover are the best options for
keeping baby warm in the car seat. With older children, simply having them put the coat on
backwards once strapped in their seats or using the coat as a blanket are the easy alternatives.

Don’t Leave Baby in Car Seat when not in Transit

With the convenience of a carrying handle, it seems that infant seats are designed to help
parents avoid having to remove your sleeping newborn from the seat once you’ve exited your
vehicle. However, the most recent recommendations warn against this practice, citing examples
of cases where infants have died when left to sleep in a car seat when not in-transit. They
believe this is a result of the angle of the seat and the position of the baby when the seat isn’t in
the vehicle versus its safe and proper angle when it is properly secured in the vehicle. So, while
it may seem counter-intuitive to disrupt a sleeping baby by removing him/her from the car seat
upon arrival to your destination, this is exactly the recommendation given for optimal safety.

Don’t Skip Reading the Manual

Perhaps this should go without saying, but with the constant need to maximize the use of our
time and the seemingly easy installation of car seats, it would be faster to skip reading the
manual and still feel confident that you have installed your car seat correctly. However, there
are so many nuances to the seats themselves as well as the vehicle in which the seat is being
installed, that failing to both read the manual and follow the instructions accordingly, could truly
be an endangerment to your child.

Keeping track of all the “rules” can be overwhelming when it comes to childrearing. However,
car seat safety is something that just cannot be glossed over. Car travel is so commonplace in
our society that we tend to overlook the inherent risks; but the proper safety measures must be
taken to keep your baby secure and out of harm’s way.

 

For car seat installation and support in the Baltimore area, please contact Sheena Hill, CPST at Parenting Works.

Virginia Apgar: An Advocate for Newborn Health

The APGAR test, a standard newborn test developed in 1953 by Virginia Apgar, assesses an infant's health immediately after birth. At 1 and 5 minutes post birth, the infant is examined and given a score based on the following criteria: heart rate, respiration, color, muscle tone, and reflex irritability. The term APGAR score is a mnemonic learning aid based on its inventor’s last name which stands for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity and Respiration. By the 1960’s, because of its readability and effectiveness, this score was used widely across the United States. Now, it is globally used and adopted by most doctors and midwives.

This pioneering anesthesiologist worked effortlessly throughout her career to save countless newborns. Born in New Jersey in 1909, she became passionate about medicine in High School. She completed an undergraduate degree at Mount Holyoke College in zoology with minors in physiology and chemistry. She also played on multiple sports teams, reported for the college newspaper, acted in local plays, and played violin in the orchestra. Her teachers were astounded at her capacity to succeed.

She went on to attend Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (CUCPS) as one of nine women in a class of ninety. She received her medical degree in 1933 and began a surgical residency. The chairman of surgery at CUCPS highly encouraged Apgar to switch to anesthesiology. Anesthesiology, at the time, was given by nurses but surgeries became more and more complicated. This procedure then became a doctor’s specialty. Because the field was relatively new and unresearched, Apgar had the enthusiasm and grit to take it and run with it. And that is just what she did. In 1937, she received her anesthesiologist’s certificate and returned to CUCPS to become the director of the newly formed division of anesthesia and, in 1949, she became the first female full professor in CUCPS’ history.

This high position allowed her to research and study more in depth at Sloane Hospital for Women with laboring and new mothers. She soon realized that there was no developed way and standardized measure to asses the overall health of newborn babies. Mortality for children under a year old in the U.S. had been going down in this time, however, the rate of mortality for newborns remained the same. This was mostly due to the fact that doctors weren’t identifying the babies that were born at risk. Hence no necessary interventions could be put into play. This prompted the brilliant Virginia Apgar to develop the APGAR score in the 1950’s.

She went on, in 1959, to pursue a Masters of Public Health degree at Johns Hopkins University and soon after took a position at the March of Dimes Foundation directing its research into the prevention and treatment of birth defects. She was one of the first people to focus on the effects that premature birth has on an infant’s overall health. Today, the March of Dimes still works to prevent premature birth and is one of their top priorities because of the legacy Apgar left them with. Apgar published over 60 papers and continued to tirelessly work and research until her death in 1974.

David Rose wrote, on the 100th anniversary of her birth in 2009, “Virginia Apgar was an irrepressible and charismatic champion for babies whose wit and lively personality captivated everyone she encountered in her constant quest for improvements to maternal and infant health… it has been said that every baby is first seen through the eyes of Virginia Apgar.”

 

Source: www.amightygirl.com

5 Popular Pieces of Baby Gear You Can Do Without

If you’re expecting your first child, you’ve likely started a baby registry. This can be both a fun
and daunting task. Without having your baby here, how exactly are you supposed to know what
baby gear is needed and which products you’re better off passing up? Look no further. I’m going to
give you a list of five very popular baby registry items that truly are unnecessary, some are even
considered unsafe.

Baby-Specific Laundry Detergent
If you’re seeking a gentle detergent for your baby, it’s likely your favorite brand has a
hypoallergenic, fragrance-free laundry detergent available. Most brands of laundry detergent
offer this option and all are less expensive than brands like Dreft that sport a much larger price
tag solely because new parents are willing to pay more for what they believe is “best for baby.”
Simply by avoiding baby-specific detergents, you can save quite a bit of money while still
providing a safe washing alternative to conventional, highly-scented, often high-allergen laundry
detergents. Truthfully, the “free & clear” detergents are actually a better choice for the whole
family since artificial fragrance has been linked to a wide variety of health issues no matter
one’s age.

Bumbo
The Bumbo seat and other brands like it allow baby to be in an upright-seated position before
baby is naturally able to sit unsupported on her own. Many parents may view this as a positive
thing to help baby learn how to sit upright or to develop the muscles necessary to reach this
milestone more quickly. However, it seems the opposite is true. Propping a baby into this
position at a time when his body has not organically achieved the muscle tone to do so, could
have a negative effect on baby’s core strength and in some cases could even delay or hinder baby’s natural trajectory to meet this milestone. A better and free (yay!) option is to allow baby ample time on both back
and tummy so that all muscles are getting a solid workout in a natural way, allowing baby to
reach this development in her own time.

Large reclining high chair
This common-style of high chair is not only large and awkward, difficult to store, and often in the
way, it’s also totally unnecessary. The main purpose of a high chair is to facilitate feeding solids
foods to your baby. The latest recommendations for introduction to solids include waiting for
baby to show signs of physical readiness, one of the most important signs being the ability to sit
upright unsupported. If one is waiting until baby is physically capable of doing this, the reclining option on the seat is negated, leaving this type of seat largely pointless. A simple booster seat with a tray that straps to an
existing dining chair or a seat that latches directly to the table are both far less expensive and
take up far less space than does a traditional stand-alone, reclining high-chair.

Bucket Car Seat
I know, I know, this is a tough one for people to swallow because it seems like such a high-
priority item. However, with convertible car seats available that are made to hold brand new
infants up through older toddlers, if money-savings is at all a thought for you, skipping the infant-
carrier/baby bucket type car seat is a great option! Many people lean toward this handled car
seat because babies sleep so much in the first few months. It’s thought to be a no-brainer that
you can just carry baby from car to destination and leave baby sound asleep without
disturbance. However, the latest information and recommendations warn against babies
sleeping in this type of seat other than when in-transit since the positioning is not ideal and can
pose a risk to baby. Taking away the convenience of keeping a sleeping baby asleep once
no longer in a traveling vehicle, really seems to greatly decrease the appeal of this type of seat.
You may now wonder what one would do with a baby in a grocery store for instance or out at a
social event if there isn’t a car seat to keep baby contained. This is where babywearing really
comes in handy and is often less cumbersome than lugging around an infant in a heavy car
seat.

‘Smart’ Monitors
With all the hoopla surrounding the many smart-monitors available now, it seems parents are
flocking to these pricey products in the hopes of preventing SIDS or other potential health
issues. The problem with these is that they haven’t been shown to reduce or prevent either of
those scenarios nor have they been approved by the FDA. A study done in 2017 shows that
false alarms are common while actual potential issues for oxygen saturation or heart-rate were
sometimes not detected at all. Doctors are warning parents not to rely on these physiologic
monitors since their effectiveness is questionable and could cause parents either undue distress
or an assurance everything is fine when perhaps it is not. It seems that outside of a true medical need for
constant oxygen/respiration monitoring, which should be done with only hospital-grade
machinery prescribed by a medical professional, this type of monitoring is not needed at all and
should not be viewed as a guaranteed accurate measure of baby’s state of physical well-being.
With baby items, like anything else, most of what is sold is unnecessary. Babies, particularly
young babies, require very little in the way of material goods and a great deal in the way of
physical nurturing and emotional support. If you don’t have the desire for or cannot afford all the
latest gadgets marketed to new parents, take heart, you and your love for baby are what is
needed most and that cannot be purchased!

Sleep-Training Considerations: Part I

If you’re a parent, you know sleep-training is a hot topic. Fueled with passion from both sides, some swear by it and claim that it’s the only thing that can be done to teach a child to sleep, while others say it’s not necessary and that baby will learn over time, without it. There’s so much talk about whether it’s right or wrong that folks don’t sit back, take a deep breath, and consider the implications of sleep-training and how it feels for them personally, away from all the chatter.

The two most-recommended sleep training methods are: 1) extinction, often referred to as cry-it-out (CIO), where a parent puts a child down awake and does not return until morning, and 2) the Ferber-method, where a parent puts down a drowsy child and increases the duration of time baby is left alone while periodically checking-in when baby is distressed; offering some reassurances (verbally, picking-up and putting back down, pats on the head or back, etc) until eventually the parent stops re-entering the room at all. Being that these two are the most popular and the methods that come with such heated debate, these are the two being considered for the purpose of this post. Now that we’re on the same page, let’s unpack what this looks like.

 

Night-feedings

It’s no secret that babies need to eat frequently. Some people try to convince parents that once babies have achieved a given weight or once babies hit a certain age, night-feedings are no longer necessary. The issue with this, particularly for nursing babies up to a year old, is that the intervals at which they feed and the number of feedings needed in a 24-hour period depends largely on Mom’s biology, namely her breast storage capacity and breast fullness. By prematurely cutting out night-feedings in the hopes of more sleep, baby’s total daily caloric intake is reduced. This has the potential to negatively affect baby’s growth, mood, and overall well-being. Additionally, it introduces the possibility of creating clogged ducts, mastitis, or supply issues for Mom.

 

Nighttime Parenting

As parents, clocking-in and clocking-out just isn’t an option. We need to have a realistic expectation that we’ll be up through the night with our babies for at least the first year, perhaps even longer. Reframing the idea of the often frustrating parental night-waking into “nighttime parenting” is helpful. While the sun is no longer shining and the goings-on of the day have wound down, the parent is still on-call, the baby is still fully dependent on the caregiver for all of the same things the caregiver provides during daylight hours. With that in mind, it’s important to reflect on how you respond to baby during the day. Do you let baby fuss for several minutes before responding? Do you wait to respond until baby is crying heartily, obviously needing attention? Do you tune out the cries and wait for baby to sort it out on her own? As parents, while we may deeply desire uninterrupted sleep, we don’t clock out at the end of the day. We’re always on and babies are relying on us. When considering how differently nighttime presents itself; the dark, the quiet, baby is often totally alone; one can clearly see how baby’s needs are likely to increase, rather than decrease. Instead of nighttime lending itself to a hands-off approach to parenting, nighttime is a time of high need for baby. High need for baby means the need for high responsiveness from parents.

 

Physiology of Distress and Self-Soothing

Babies are tiny humans so their bodily systems operate similarly to an adult’s. Being so much smaller however, babies’ bodies are more easily overcome by physiological changes than are our adults’ bodies. As babies cry and then cry harder, their physiology responds the way ours would as we get increasingly upset. Blood pressure increases, body temperature increases, heart rate increases, cortisol levels rise, respiration increases, skin may flush, sweating ensues. Baby may begin to get a headache, nose will run, voice will become hoarse.

No parent wishes this type of physical distress on their baby. However parents will willingly allow this to occur when convinced that baby is manipulating them or that baby is “only” frustrated and needs no intervention. Parents, with broken hearts and large glasses of wine, sit outside the door of their hysterical baby because they’ve been told that without this, baby will simply never learn to sleep-through-the-night.

The phrase “self-soothe”  is mentioned again and again; along with the idea that babies can only learn this skill by working it out alone through tears, screams, and sobs. However, when taking a step back, one can see, as is pointed out in this chart, that a baby’s capacity for soothing is virtually totally limited to reliance on the parent. And of course, the younger the baby, the higher that reliance.


Reflect on How it Feels

You’ve waited 40 long weeks (give or take) to hold this sweet baby in your arms. Now that your baby has arrived it seems like everyone is encouraging you to treat her like a hot potato. Don’t hold the baby while he sleeps, you must get baby sleeping in her own room, you must teach the baby to self-soothe, you’re going to spoil him, the baby will never learn to sleep along if you’re always holding her. How does that advice feel for you? When you hear your baby crying, does it feel in your heart like you want to tune the cries out or do you feel drawn to your baby? Do you feel a strong urge to snuggle your baby up and soothe the baby through nursing or rocking or patting? If there weren’t all the outside noise blaring well-intended advice at you, what would you do instinctually?

We need to find our way back to our natural leanings as parents rather than listening to so-called “sleep experts” and well-meaning friends and family members. We are physiologically hard-wired to be hear and respond to our children. To attempt to desensitize one’s self to the calls of our offspring can prove detrimental to both parent and child. This period of such high physical need, while admittedly challenging, is short-lived but vital to a child’s attachment to parents and overall trust and security.

 

How Did We Get Here?

If the claim is that we’re being coerced to deviate from natural responses to our children, it begs the question why. What has happened in our culture that some parents have made a choice to tune out a crying infant in order to catch some Z’s of their own? Are these heartless parents? No. These are desperate parents! Parents desperate for sleep, desperate for routine, desperate for the ability to function on the job.

This desperation is at least, in part, rooted in the fact that our society does not value parents in actionable ways. There is a major lack of support for parents in our country. Mothers are expected go back to work at 6 weeks postpartum; the “lucky” ones who can manage financially without pay, go back around 3-4 months postpartum. Neither is  enough time to establish one’s position as a parent, let alone get the hang of breastfeeding, become accustomed to frequent night-waking, fully embrace the notion of being totally responsible for sustaining another human life. These are all huge emotional and physical undertakings and there is little to no cultural understanding of that. Then when returning to work, it’s often a struggle for breastfeeding mothers to fit in time for pumping and can require a lot of legwork upfront to get approval and space for pumping breaks.

The challenge for mothers to be able to perform at work without falling asleep at their desks in-between their rushed pumping sessions is very real. This weighs heavily on these women who are trying so hard to manage a very new and very stressful lifestyle. Going home at night only to lose precious sleep once again is enough to wear anyone down. Something has to give and oftentimes the promise of more sleep makes sleep-training seem like the only option.

 

Is there an Alternative?

There is an alternative to traditional sleep-training that improves sleep for both Mother and baby! Keep an eye out for Part II of this post which will address that.

Veterans Moms Tell All: Advice for Moms-to-Be

In today's information age, preparing for motherhood can sometimes be an overwhelming and daunting experience. It can be incredibly challenging to find  unbiased information for many topics related to pregnancy, birth, infant care, and the postpartum period, and it seems like just when you think you have the answers you're seeking, someone in your life contradicts it.

In an effort to get real life advice from moms who have been there and done it, we took to our local Facebook group, Baltimore Birth, Babies & Breastfeeding and asked the following question:

What is the most important piece of advice you could give to a person who is about to welcome their first baby?

We got an outpouring of responses to share with you.  Below you will find very honest, candid, and wise feedback about those early postpartum days from moms throughout Baltimore.  If you're looking for a place to ask your own questions related to the childbearing year, join us on Facebook!

Babywearing: The Holiday Helper

With the holiday season in full-tilt, those of you with new babies may be feeling a bit hesitant about taking your little ones to holiday gatherings or to community events. Concerns range from not wanting Aunt Susan to sneak your baby a taste of that pumpkin pie to trying to avoid kisses from every well-meaning friend and family member.

Prevent the Pass-Around
Of course you want to show off your little bundle, but you want to do it on your terms. It feels uncomfortable to have baby being passed around from person-to-person. Cue babywearing! People are far less likely to reach out for baby when baby is snugly wrapped or strapped to Mom or Dad. It offers an unspoken barrier stopping people from requesting a chance to hold baby since it’s clear that baby is very comfortable and secure. This gives the caregiver the ability to offer baby up for a snuggle if one so desires rather than having to refuse the request or even worse, oblige the request even though it’s not what you want to do.

Don’t Miss Feedings
With the hustle and bustle of holiday events, it’s far easier to accidentally skip a feeding. As babies get a bit older and more easily distracted, all the noise and goings-on of a holiday celebration could result in baby bypassing her typical feeding cues. While baby might not even fuss at the missed feeding, a nursing mom may experience engorged breasts and even risk mastitis. With baby held closely in a wrap, sling, or carrier, the physical proximity helps keep caregiver and baby attuned to feeding needs.

Do Miss Unwanted Feedings
There’s always that one relative who feels it necessary to give baby “just a little taste” of the whipped cream or “just a pinch” of Grandma’s beloved holiday cookie. It’s frustrating to find out, after-the-fact, that your baby has been given something that his sensitive gut might not be ready for yet. Thankfully, with baby comfortably enjoying the party secured to your chest, no one can sneak an unwanted taste to your baby.

Avoid Overstimulation
Babywearing provides a grounding experience for baby: the rhythmic sound of the wearer’s breathing, the steady heartbeat, and the gentle movement. All these things offer baby a familiar, safe, and comfortable environment even when the surroundings may be totally unfamiliar. It even allows baby to snuggle in for a much-needed nap with music and laughter and chatting in the background.

Babywearing is the ultimate holiday helper. You can attend your holiday event with the peace of mind knowing baby is cozy, comfortable, and insulated from unwelcomed circumstances. Even better, you can keep baby close with your hands totally free. That means more trips through the buffet line for you. That alone is a reason to celebrate! Happy holidays!

What Is A Postpartum Doula?

Short answer; a postpartum doula is a cross between your mythical, awesomely helpful mother-in-law, and an expert baby whisperer! But seriously, a postpartum doula is a trained parenting, infant, and postnatal support professional. She provides education and assistance to families during the newborn period. This type of postpartum practitioner has a wealth of specialized experience and education, to help you adjust to parenthood. Think of a postpartum doula as your personalized parenting coach. Her goal is to help your family learn about normal newborn behavior, baby care techniques, infant sleep, postnatal recovery, breast and infant feeding techniques. There are really two avenues of support, a postpartum doula will provide. In the most traditional sense, a postpartum doula will help with a family-centered approach, or she can care for a growing family, by providing infant-focused care.

With a family-centered approach, a postpartum doula can guide, educate, and assist you through the parenting process. She may help you learn how to breastfeed with ease and confidence, answer questions you may have about feeding, diapering, bathing, grooming, and calming baby, and assist you with babywearing tips and techniques. Additionally, she may help you with meal planning and preparation, household organization, and give you access to trusted parenting and infant resources and referrals.  

A postpartum doula can also help your family with infant-focused care. Within this framework, your doula serves as a newborn specialist. She will be attentive to all of your baby’s needs, so you can properly rest and recover, after birth. Infant-focused care is particularly helpful to parents who are wanting assistance during the evening and overnight hours. Your postpartum doula will provide dedicated newborn care, so you can have the most restorative sleep, knowing a skilled professional is attending to all of your baby’s desires.

If you want personalized support, guidance, and resources to help you make the best decisions for your new family, consider hiring a postpartum doula! To learn more about how a postpartum doula provides practical support to families during the transition to parenthood, read this article.  Also check out The Relievery’s practitioner resource directory, or Doula Match, to find a postpartum professional in your area.

*This post was first published on THE RELIEVERY*

The Nurturing Root is honored to support and educate Northeast Ohio families. We provide Birth Boot Camp childbirth education, holistic newborn care classes, in-home placenta encapsulation services, and family-centered postpartum doula support. If you are looking to have a healthy pregnancy, amazing birth, and gentle postpartum recovery experience, contact us! We also welcome you to join our FREE Facebook community, Cleveland Holistic Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting. This is a great space for families and professionals interested in a variety of natural birth and parenting topics

15 Facts about the Foreskin and Circumcision

Circumcision, the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis, is most commonly performed on newborns.  With a global circumcision rate of approximately 30%, the United States in the only country in the world that circumcises infant for non-religious reasons.

FACTS ABOUT CIRCUMCISION

  1. Originally, the goal of circumcision was to desensitize the penis to curb masturbation. Dr. Kellogg, inventor of the corn flakes, was a major promoter of the procedure.
  2. The foreskin, similar in sensitivity to a clitoris, is a highly erogenous, functioning part of the male anatomy.  It's purpose is to protect the glans, or the head of the penis from abrasions and to keep dirt and bacteria from the urinary tract.
  3.  The average adult foreskin consists of 1½ inches of outer skin, 1½ inches of inner mucosal lining – totaling a length of 3 inches – and is 5 inches in circumference when erect. This amounts to a surface area of 15 square inches, or a surface area equivalent to that of a 3" by 5" inch index card.
  4. Circumcision is not routinely practiced in most countries.  In fact, The United States is the ONLY country where circumcision is done routinely for non-religious reasons. Aside from being a Muslim and Jewish cultural practice, it is a very American practice.
  5. After reviewing 40 years of research, it has been determined by the American Academy of Pediatrics that routine infant circumcision cannot be recommended.  In fact, no professional medical association in the world recommends routine infant circumcision, nor do they state it is medically necessary.
  6. When the foreskin is removed, the head of the penis can develop a thick layer of skin to protect it, making it much less sensitive.  As a result, circumcised men are 3 times more likely to have issues with erectile dysfunction.
  7. Circumcision can reduce a baby's risk of getting an urinary tract infection (UTI) by 1%.  In other words, in order to prevent 1 UTI, 100 circumcisions would need to be performed.
  8. It has been claimed that circumcision can reduce one's risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. The United States has one of the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS, yet we are the only country that routinely circumcises male babies.
  9. A foreskin doesn't separate from the head of the penis until adolescence, sometime between 3 and 15 years of age.  Until this separation occurs, you only need to clean the outside of the penis.  You clean it just as you would any other part of your body.  In fact, a newly circumcised penis, which has an open wound, may be more difficult to clean and care for during diapering.
  10. 117 babies die each year as a result of circumcision complications. The foreskin and penis is a highly vascularized area that contains a significant amount of blood flow. A newborn only has a total of  11.5 ounces of blood.  That's just shy of a cup-and-a-half.  A newborn only needs to lose 1 ounce to hemorrhage, and 2.3 ounces, which is a the amount in a shot glass, to bleed to death.  You can read more about it here from DrMomma.org.
  11. According to the CDC, circumcision rates have fallen to 55.4% in the United States.
  12. A Mohel, a person specially trained  in circumcision techniques, can perform the circumcision, even on non-Jews.  It has been argued the Mohels perform the procedure more quickly and gently than in clinical settings.
  13. Cortisol levels, a stress hormone, are 3-4 times higher during circumcision than prior to the procedure, which can contribute to post-op breastfeeding challenges.  It is also thought that the pain and trauma from undergoing circumcision may impact the child's response to pain or stress throughout their life.  Canadian investigators report that during vaccinations at age 4-6 months, circumcised boys had an increased behavioral pain response and cried for significantly longer periods than did intact boys. For more information about this click here.
  14. Foreskins are harvested to make high-end face creams and are often used for cosmetic testing to determine a product's safety.
  15. Anti-circumcision activists are referred to as intactivists.
If you're in Maryland and researching topics related to pregnancy, birth, and newborn care, please visit our class descriptions page. We'd be honored to help you prepare for an amazing birth and entry into parenthood.

New Recommendations From The American Academy Of Pediatrics

The American Academy Of Pediatrics (AAP) 2016 National Conference and Exhibition concluded last week. During their annual meeting, the AAP discussed a wide array of topics, and presented studies regarding children’s health and wellness. During the conference, the AAP released updated recommendations on two important topics: healthy media use, and safe sleep practices for infants.

Healthy Media Use

The new media use policy released last week acknowledges most American  families are using screen-time on a daily basis. While digital media can have a positive impact on a child’s development, it needs to be used correctly. To help your family make smart media choices, here are the updated rules and tools for screen-time.

Infants and Toddlers: No screens (This includes phones, tablets, computers, and televisions) for children under 18 months. Previously the ‘zero media’ recommendation was up to two years old.  AAP recognizes that many families use video chatting apps, like FaceTime, to connect better with relatives.  Easing the age restriction  ales it more manageable for younger kids to begin using limited digital media. If you would like to introduce your child, aged 18-24 months, to screens only view ‘high quality’ programming or video chat for short durations. You should always be present to help your toddler understand what they are seeing.

Preschool, Ages 2-5 Years  Preschoolers should watch no more that one hour of media per day. Previously, it was recommended that children of all ages, have no more than two hours of screen-time per day. The AAP also clarifies that you should continue to co-view high quality programming with younger kids, whenever possible.

Children, 6 Years+ The advice for older kids is more ambiguous. The AAP recognizes that setting a universally specific digital media limit does not work for families. The new suggestions are to use good judgement; be consistent and clear with screen-time rules. Also make sure that your older child is getting plenty of play, rest, study, and conversation time throughout the day. A new and really important aspect of the guidelines, is communicating regularly with your kids about good online citizenship and treating others with respect.

This family media planner is a great new tool that can help you thoughtfully integrate screen-time boundaries and limits specific to your needs.

Safe Sleep Recommendations

The sleep guidelines released Monday are the updated recommendations for creating optimal circumstances and ideal infant sleep environments to reduce sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths.

With this goal, the American Academy Of Pediatrics advises:

The new policies also discuss best breastfeeding practices at night.  The AAP now advises mothers to bring baby to bed to nurse.  Insure all blankets, pillows, and flat sheets are removed.  When you are finished breastfeeding, or baby is sleeping, place your infant back in her co-sleeper. Bringing baby to a couch or rocking chair to nurse is not recommended.  The concern being mom and baby falling asleep in an unsafe position that could lead to positional asphyxiation.  Mom and baby falling asleep while breastfeeding in bed is the safer option.  The AAP does not endorse bed-sharing, rather ‘bed-nursing’ as an alternative.

The new AAP guidelines for media and SIDS reduction provide advice for what they consider optimal. There are also other organizations with different or more nuanced guidelines regarding screen-time and safe sleep practices.  Ultimately, as a parent, it is your responsibility to research which policies and recommendations work best for your family.

If you live in the Baltimore area and are looking to learn more about infant sleep, consider attending this event, on November 6th, 2016, hosted by Thrive Chiropractic and Parenting Works.

Introducing Solids With Baby Led Weaning

Both the World Health Organization and the American Academy Of Pediatrics recommend exclusively breastfeeding your infant for the first six months. As you approach this milestone, you’re probably thinking about introducing solids to baby. There are two ‘schools of thought’ regarding the the addition of complementary foods. Feeding milled cereals and puréed foods by spoon is the traditional approach. Another way to offer solids is through Baby Led Weaning (BLW).  This style encourages baby to feed herself and skip the spoon, completely. The following is a guide to help you learn about, and decide if, a baby-led approach is right for your family.

What is Baby Led Weaning?

BLW is a theory originated by Gill Rapley, a British health nurse. The word ‘weaning’ is the UK equivalent of Americans saying ‘starting solids’.  With BLW, you forgo spoon feeding, a parent initiated method, and trust your baby to nourish herself, a baby initiated approach

When is my baby ready to feed herself?

Spoon feeding is so popular and almost unchallenged in our culture. Many families choose to introduce solids prior to six months.  Before this age, babies are not developmentally ready to feed themselves. With BLW, you wait until baby is developmentally ready to eat. When your infant reaches the following milestones, she is ready to start exploring food:

Why choose BLW?

It’s progressive and instinctual! A baby initiated approach to food is an extension of breastfeeding. A healthy, full-term baby can feed herself as soon as she is born. Baby tells you when she is hungry, she nurses at her pace, and knows when she is full. BLW builds on this philosophy and applies it to complementary foods. This style is also easier. Your baby enjoys the foods you cook for the entire family.  There is no need to prepare separate recipes for you infant.

How safe is BLW?

‘I am worried my baby will choke on food!’ The BLW philosophy makes sense in theory, but many parents are nervous to try this approach for fear of choking. BLW is as safe, or safer than traditional spoon feeding. As long as your baby is ready to feed herself, as listed above, she can engage in BLW.

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What food should baby eat?

For safety, foods should be served in large chunks that baby can easily grasp in hand. These are a good start:

Here are an additional 100+ foods and recipes to enjoy.
To learn more about Baby Led Weaning, check out Rapley’s series of books.

5 Ways Partners Can Bond With Their Breastfed Baby

By Alayna Spratley

During this first week of August, we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. This global awareness initiative is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), an international network of organizations working to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.  Learn about World Breastfeeding Week 2016 here.

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week here are five ways fathers and non-nursing parents can bond with their breastfed babies:

  1. Skin To Skin Contact

Holding a newborn baby on your bare chest has so many benefits beyond the obvious snuggles. Skin to skin contact helps normalize baby’s body temperature and glucose levels; heart and respiratory rates also stabilize.

  1. Babywearing

Successfully carrying an infant in a sling, wrap, or a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) is life changing! Most babies love to nestle on mom or dad’s chest. Wearing baby provides the physical closeness infants need while freeing a caregiver’s hands to participate in daily activities. It is so empowering to accomplish any task while babywearing.

  1. Co-Sleeping

Co-sleeping is a superb way to feel deeply connected to baby, while getting a more restful night’s sleep.

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  1. Movement

Inside mom, babies spend approximately nine months in motion.  So it is no surprise that they crave similar movement once born. Rock, sway, or bounce (I suggest using a Pilates ball) that baby! You will help soothe, calm, and lull your infant to sleep.

  1. Rituals

When baby starts having a more predictable rhythm, have dad start a short daily routine. A morning ritual could include taking baby upon waking, changing a diaper and clothes, and wearing her while making breakfast. An evening routine, that implements several bonding strategies, could include a taking a bath, enjoying some skin to skin time, and having a cuddle in the rocking chair.  

Supporting breastfeeding is a cultural responsibility that begins in the home.

We want all families committed to breastfeeding to succeed. If you reside in the Baltimore area, we offer postpartum services to help all family members be included, confident, and supported throughout the nursing journey.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

Breast+Skin+Sling: An interview with Austin Rees

My guest on the blog today is Austin Rees. Austin is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and a Certified Babywearing Consultant through the Center for Babywearing Studies. She is the owner of Breast+Skin+Sling, and the co-founder of Sacred Milk. Austin prepares mothers prenatally with the foundations of breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, and babywearing. She facilitates personalized ceremonies to celebrate life’s transitions. Austin also provides one-on-one babywearing consultations in our community. (featured image credit: Kate’s Takes)

It is common today for parents to take a birthing class. Why should parents seek out a breastfeeding and babywearing class before the baby arrives?

An out of hospital birth class is essential to gaining the information on how to facilitate the process of birth and know your choices in birth. Skin-to-skin, and the breast crawl (infant independently moves to the breast to nurse) occurs immediately after birth. Understanding how to facilitate this instinctual experience before the birth is beneficial. I find mothers profit from the knowledge and foundations of how Milk works, the importance of skin-to-skin, along with an understanding of the normal newborn before the baby arrives. With this knowledge I have witnessed mothers step into motherhood trusting their bodies, their babies, and their Milk. I help mothers discover their innate instincts and wisdom so they enter their unique Milk relationship secure, confident, supported, and connected to their baby. Armed with the knowledge of how to initiate a good start is key to avoiding difficulties. I observed working with mothers postpartum that a majority of the issues they experienced could have been prevented if they had the proper information before the baby arrived. Babywearing can also start immediately, and knowing how to comfortably and confidently use a carrier can be a valuable tool.

Babywearing is commonly seen around the city. How would you react if you see someone wearing a baby improperly while at the store?

I am always excited to see another parent or caregiver wearing their baby while I am out. I usually try to make eye contact or say, “It’s great to see you wearing your baby.” If I notice someone wearing their baby and the straps are twisted, or it does not look to the carrier direction guidelines I may observe to see if they are interested in striking up a conversation. When I engage with someone who is wearing I ask how they feel. If they are happy and comfortable, I praise their excitement. If they say this is great, but xyz, I will share some babywearing tips that may help that situation.
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On your website it lists you offer facilitating ceremonies for families in the DC/MD/VA area. What are some reasons for someone to reach out to you to create a ceremony for themselves or someone else?

I enjoy designing personalized ceremonies to create a circle of support for someone. I have been facilitating Mother Blessings for pregnant or adopting women for 10 years. In place of a traditional baby shower, a Mother Blessing is a special ceremony designed to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate a woman’s journey into Motherhood. Family, friends, and mothers contact me to create a ceremony and provide a loving place where the honored mother can explore the challenges and joys that lie before her as she approaches childbirth or adoption, and mothering her first or multiple children.

I also facilitate Birth Story Ceremonies; a place where a mother can experience deep listening, and allow the power of sharing her story to heal, celebrate, grieve, release, process and acknowledge her experience, her journey. These are designed to make way for the mother to experience her birth story. We open our heart and commit our undivided attention to her. This allows her to fully express her experience, reflect upon it, and take the steps she needs to move forward. We step aside and create a safe space so she has complete control, and unconditional support.

A Weaning Ceremony is a time we can come together to honor a Mother’s Milk relationship. We make way for the mother to experience her Milk story by opening our heart and committing our undivided attention. This allows her to fully express her experience, reflect upon it, and take the steps she needs to move forward. We step aside and create a safe space so she has complete control, and unconditional support.

I also create customized ceremonies. Recently I designed one for a special woman who was about to undergo radiation for breast cancer. We designed activities that supported releasing fears, created personal power, and we weaved a web of support, pledging our assistance throughout her treatment and beyond.

Sacred Milk is a sister program under the Sacred Living Movement. Can you share what is the Sacred Living Movement, and more about your involvement with Sacred Milk and Sacred Pregnancy?
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Photo credit: Kalimana Birth Films

The Sacred Living Movement acknowledges all aspects of our life’s journey need to be honored, and embraced with reverence and respect. The Sacred Living Movement was designed to bring back the age-old tradition of women sitting with one another during a time of transition, witnessing each other’s process and BEING there for one another. We have a local, active Sacred Living Movement Maryland group.

Sara Goff and I created Sacred Milk after attending a Sacred Pregnancy retreat. Sacred Milk is a movement inspiring women to trust their bodies, their baby’s and their Milk. Our mission is to nourish the wholeness of each mother’s journey and shift our culture to see Milk as a holistic practice, rather than simply a feeding choice. In the last century our culture has been saturated by marketing that has conditioned us to see breasts as sexual, and human milk as just a food source. The Journey to Milk program is focused on opening space for women to remember their innate wisdom and then surround themselves with a supportive community. Milk is instinctual, natural, normal, and necessary. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or filled with bliss. Milk is not something that can be fully learned from a book or taught on the internet. Milk cannot be told. Milk must be modeled, supported and nourished in community because it is a way of living not a way of feeding.

I recently co-hosted a Sacred Pregnancy + Sacred Milk 2-day mini retreat for pregnant mothers in our community. It was a gorgeous event full of women showing up and witnessing to each other. In September I will be facilitating a retreat to certify Sacred Pregnancy instructors in Nashville, TN. I am excited for more women to have the option to attend these classes or retreats prenatally.

Austin is such wonderful resource for mothers and families in our area and has such a beautiful way of bringing our community together. If you are looking for breastfeeding or babywearing education in the Baltimore or surrounding area, you can contact Austin here.

Postpartum Doulas Support Baltimore Families

 

Having a new baby can be a very challenging time for some mothers and their families.  Mom may be healing from surgery or a difficult birth.  Dad or partner may not be able to take any time off work, or maybe he travels a lot.  Some families don’t live in the same area as their extended family, so they may have minimal family support.  Perhaps they have other young children that need tending to while mom is healing.  Maybe they just need help stocking the empty fridge.

Many families are finding comfort and support through postpartum doulas.  While a birth doula supports families emotionally and physically during labor and delivery, a postpartum doula supports families after their baby arrives.  Postpartum doulas support Baltimore families in a variety of ways.  Their tasks may vary depending on the family’s needs, but ultimately the doula will help ease the family’s transition with baby, and help keep their home afloat while they recover from birth and bond with their growing family.

Postpartum doulas help families with light housekeeping, meal prep, sibling care, overnight support, errand running, and more.  Just imagine…

We can do all of that.  We can take care of you.

By offering non-judgmental support, families feel safe asking questions related to breastfeeding, baby care, and postpartum wellness.  Mothers and families feel secure knowing they can take the deserved time to rest and bond with baby while their doula keeps their home running smoothly.  Our postpartum doulas support Baltimore families with passion, compassion, and expertise.

 

Babywearing: Some Unexpected Lessons

Today’s guest blog post comes to your from Paige Barocca of Baltimore Birth Services.  Paige serves the families in our community as a birth doula and a babywearing advocate. 

I’ve been an avid babywearer since the birth of my son in 2012. Like choosing the breastfeed, babywearing was just something that I knew I would do from the start. There were many reasons why I knew I would be wearing my baby. After wearing one baby into toddlerhood and starting all over again with my baby girl, I have come to realize that being a babywearing mama has taught me some unexpected lessons. First, I want to share three of my initial intentions when wrapping that first baby to my chest.

Babywearing deepens the bond between parent and baby.

Wearing your baby can be as calming and blissful as a good swaddle, with the added benefit of being snug right up to your chest. Sometimes I would even wear my baby skin to skin, under a robe or open sweater. To your baby, nothing beats that familiar smell and unmatchable warmth of a mother. Recreating the close quarters of a womb and combining that with human touch (dads too!) really is the perfect recipe to keeping that baby calm. This is especially helpful for breastfeeding moms, babies love the smell of mama’s milk, and what better way to encourage breastfeeding than resting near the source? Not to mention that fathers who may be wanting to connect with their newborns (and give mom a break!) can also do so through babywearing between feeding and during naps.

Babywearing meets your baby’s needs while allowing you to meet yours.

While your baby is cozy in the nest you made them on your chest, your hands can be free. I certainly don’t recommend doing housework immediately postpartum, but eating a meal (that someone else prepared you) is a lot easier with two hands! I’ve found this to be particularly helpful the second time around, while chasing around big brother. Speaking of toddlers, I can’t think of a better way to keep a busy babe happy and out of trouble in a grocery store- my son stayed strapped on my back every trip until the next was born! From doing your nails to walking the dogs, wearing your baby can give you that freedom that many new mothers feel they have lost.

Babywearing brings baby to the action.

Newborns sleep a lot, and usually at odd times! Getting in the habit of putting them down or tucking them away removes them from social situations. More so, if you have a baby that likes to be held, and very few don’t, you may find yourself removed from social situations as your arms become an immovable bed for your sleeping beauty. When you wear your baby, your baby goes with you, typically undisturbed by movement or change in environment. If your baby is awake, being worn can give baby a chance to see people interact at eye level, providing more social perks than being on the ground with a bunch of toys. I have worn my baby to busy restaurants, parties, meetings, you name it and we’ve been there.

Now for the juicy part. What are the life lessons that await any future babywearers? Spoiler Alert! Here are my surprise extras that I gained just for being a mama with a wrap.

Babywearing gave me confidence!

Babywearing is not totally difficult, you can choose to strap a baby in a backpack and call it a day. I really never loved the fit of a backpack on my petite body, or a sling on one shoulder, so my go-to style has always been a wrap. Choosing to wrap was easy, learning to wrap was tougher, and being confident in my skills, as well as my maternal instincts, took time! It was a while before I would use my wrap in a parking lot, or wrap without a mirror. As with every skill, I began to take pride in myself and this special talent that I could share with my babies.

Babywearing builds a village!

I have met so many wonderful friends through my love of babywearing and the style of parenting it represents. When wrapping, I often have strangers encouraging me, asking if I need any assistance. More than once I’ve had someone literally ask if they could just stand and watch me do it. (Again, talk about confidence boosting!) I’m often met with questions from new mothers about how I do it and where can they learn? Just today at the park I sparked a conversation with another mom as she asked, “How do you get her down from there?” I’ve become a teacher and supporter of my community simply by going outside with my baby! Babywearing has opened to doors to so many new adventures and introduced me to a number of beautiful people who now remain a big part of my life.

Babywearing does not look the same on everyone!

When I first set out to babywear, I went out and bought some fabric and sewed it all together. I came to realize there is a whole community of babywearers who do things all sorts of ways. This can be intimidating because some serious wrappers will spend oodles of money on one hand-woven, “dear-in-search-of”. Yes, that is a term!  Although they are beautiful, and I have a few moderately priced wraps, the wrap I tend to reach for the most is an Ikea sheet that I chopped in half. The response I get when I wear my sheet is just as grand (if not more!) then when I wear my Girasol Amitola Azafaran weft. Furthermore, there are so many different carriers! There are slings, and buckles, and mei tais, oh my! There are as many ways to wear your baby as there are reasons to wear them. Just like everything else in parenting, no single one is better than the rest, you just have to pick what works best for you!

 

Families Bond Through Infant Massage

Today’s post comes from Baltimore-based massage therapist, Jessie Bernstein, LMT, BCTMB, CEIM.  You can find Jessie teaching infant massage classes at Greenberries or providing therapeutic massage at Indigo Physio.

Nurture. Compassion. Intention. All of these are vital components when connecting with another form of life. Infant massage is one of the best ways to start introducing this lesson to our young ones. It’s such a fabulous way to initiate bonding between parent and infant. What I love about infant massage is that it benefits all parents and babies, including those with special needs. Infant massage is a remarkable resource for birth parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, single parents, and other caregivers being a part of an infant’s development.

As an infant massage instructor, one of the biggest impacts I have seen has truly been from witnessing fathers eagerly participate. Before dads attend the class, many struggle with confidence when tending to their newborns.  They want to feel nurturing, and supportive, but often feel a lack of connection since babies are so dependent on their mothers, particularly early on.

A father’s relationship with baby differs from mom’s in some ways, but they can build a nurturing relationship through different means. By learning touch, infant massage not only gives dads an esteem boost, but supports an established connection and enhances bonding. Touch is one of the most amazing forms of nonverbal communication, and is a valuable tool for the entire family to use. It’s such a pleasure to see the smiles and confidence grow in my students with each class, and the moms gleam with joy knowing their little one is connecting with dad.

Some of the benefits to the infant include:

My infant massage classes are laid back and informal to help you feel confident, and to prepare you with supportive techniques and encouragement. This 4-week series covers different topics each week and all of the supplies are included. Classes are currently being taught at Indigo Physio in Baltimore City. I also offer families private classes in the comfort of your own home. I encourage both parents or a parent and a caregiver, who has an active role in the infant’s care, to attend the series. In my experience, the whole family not only benefits, but also enjoys the class and time together.

If you are interested in learning more about Jessie and her services, she can be reached at 410.493.0196 or you can email her at  jab.massage at gmail dot com.