Review: Weston A. Price Foundation Membership

April 9, 2008 | 4 Comments

Well. I just spent 45 minutes writing this review, then hit “save and continue editing” and the article disappeared. Of course, I should have hit “save and continue editing” before I had been writing for 45 minutes.

Nutrition and Physical DegenerationSo you had better read this post and appreciate it dadgummit!

I read  Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A. Price 3 years ago and was blown away. You know my overall philosophy of nutrition is a bit jaded, right?

But reading this book changed me a lot. It also made more sense than anything I had ever read before about nutrition.

Dr. Weston A. Price was a Dentist. He started to notice that his patients who were experiencing tooth decay and other dental problems often had chronic debilitating illness. So, in a quest to find out the secret to health, he set out to travel the world.

Dr. Price traversed the globe - he studied isolated peoples from the Swiss to the Gaelic islanders, from Inuit peoples in Greenland to Polynesians in the South Seas. He became fascinated by the fact that these folks - as long as they were eating their native diets - had no dental caries nor did they suffer orthodontia ills. They lived healthy lives into old age with no chronic illness, and the elderly stayed sharp in mind too. He also noticed that the women had a much easier time of labor and delivery.

Despite the fact that these folks had no toothbrushes or floss and had certainly never seen a Dentist before, they had broad, beautiful smiles with almost perfect teeth! While I wouldn’t necessarily vouch for their morning breath, the fact remains that they seemed immune to dental issues that plagued even “healthy” people in industrialized nations - Dr. Price’s contemporaries.

Dr. Price was determined to find out why this was so. So he began to study their diets. What he found was that as long as these isolated people kept eating the traditional foods, the effect remained. When they strayed (often as a result of “white man” diets thanks to the missionaries - white flour, white sugar, jams, candies, canned fruits and smiles.jpgveggies) they suffered quickly. The next generation would be born with crowded teeth, small jaws, maloclussions and they even became less physically attractive (how’s that for motivation to eat better? Prettier kids!).

While the diets of these people were extremely varied, they had several things in common. Some of these commonalities were:

  • An emphasis on animal foods. There were no vegetarians anywere to be found. All the cultures placed a very high value on animal protein - fish, meats, organs, eggs, dairy products. They went to especially great lengths to be sure that children and women in their reproductive years had these foods.
  • Lots and lots of fat. Whether is was coconut oil and palm oil or raw, nonhomogenized butter and milk, these peoples ate a large percentage of their calories as fat.
  • Specially prepared sprouted grains, naturally fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, kim chi and the like, and cultured dairy in the form of kefir, buttermilk, cultured butter.

There were a few other similarities but these were the most important. Here is a quote from the website that puts it succintly:

When Dr. Price analyzed the foods used by isolated peoples he found that, in comparison to the American diet of his day, they provided at least four times the water-soluble vitamins, calcium and other minerals, and at least TEN times the fat-soluble vitamins, from animal foods such as butter, fish eggs, shellfish, organ meats, eggs and animal fats–the very cholesterol-rich foods now shunned by the American public as 902652_cows_in_field.jpgunhealthful.

These healthy traditional peoples knew instinctively what scientists of Dr. Price’s day had recently discovered–that these fat-soluble vitamins, vitamins A and D, were vital to health because they acted as catalysts to mineral absorption and protein utilization. Without them, we cannot absorb minerals, no matter how abundant they may be in our food.”

 That last sentence was a bit chilling. To think that as a mom I could take great care to feed my kids well - but missing one important element, they would not get the benefit!

Shortly after, I purchased Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, still one of my favorite cookbooks. The rebel in you just has to love the title! It’s far more than a cookbook though. It’s a research guide, home arts reference, nutrition book and more. It’s also kind of the official cookbook of the Weston A Price Foundation - its author, Sally Fallon, is the founder of WaPF.

The Weston A. Price Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the ideas of the late Dr. Price. (They’re also the folks behind RealMilk.org) I joined two months ago and am enjoying the quarterly journal, Wise Traditions, immensely. It’s far more than a magazine - this is a publication you STUDY, not read. I’m still working through my first two issues. I “read” them with pen in hand so that I can make notes to help me remember things I’m learning and can refer to in the future. And I enjoy the letters from readers all over the world immensely - they’re full of great tips and inspiring stories of people who have enjoyed tremendous health changes as a result of changing their diet to a more traditional one. I’m also very impressed with the depth of research that obviously goes into the articles. They delve deep and take a bit of work to get through.

When you join WaPF as a member, you also get a handy-dandy Shopping Guide to keep in your purse when you go to the store. It helps you make better food choices and recommends specific name brands.

Another neat thing about the magazine are the resources and advertisers in the back - they’re carefully screen to be “WaPF” friendly. They don’t just accept any advertiser willynilly. So you can feel good about supporting these small, local farmers who use sustainable methods to produce organic products.

It’s scary what’s happening to our food supply in this country - the megamonopolistic food conglomerates who control (according to industry experts) 98% of the food industry are making our food cheaper, faster and cardboard-er every day. They don’t care about your health or your family’s health. Eating their food is making us fat yet simultaneously malnourished. We’re slaves to our cravings and to the hundreds of additives (some of which are put in there just to trick our brains and taste buds into craving more) that are surreptitiously put into these fake foods.

It’s enough to make a mother mad. ;)

There is a lot more I could say about Weston A Price, and I am planning a series of articles to publish on this blog on the topics of raw milk, cod liver oil and grass fed meat. But for now I’ll just share two things about the WaP style of eating that have been pretty huge for me.

  1. For one, I’ve had stomach problems all my life. While a lot of this is due to stress (I put all my stress into my stomach!), I also have had issues with dairy products. Drinking one glass of milk would have me hurting.

    Not so with raw milk. I can drink it all day long and never have the first stomach pain. It makes so much sense to me. Just as human breastmilk has enzymes to help baby digest it easily, raw milk contains the enzymes that make IT easy to digest. I love it and have been drinking it for several years now. Raw milk also works wonders on my cravings for sweets (probably because of the fat content).

  2. Secondly - soaked grains. I’ve had issues with low blood sugar and hypoglycemia since I was a kid. I don’t do well with wheat at all, but I can eat oats… but they would trigger episodes of low blood sugar. I could eat a bowl of oatmeal in the morning and be shaky and weak 30 minutes later.

    However, when I soak my oats overnight (with an acid medium - such as a tablespoon of whey or sour milk in the soaking water), I can go all morning without getting hungry or feeling ill. I’m convinced that the reason for this is because since soaked grains are far easier to digest - and the body can get the full benefit of the minerals and vitamins due to a long soaking process that disables the phytates (enzyme inhibitors), I’m simply getting more nutrition from the same bowl of oatmeal!

coconut and coconut oil benefitsI have already sung the wonders of coconut oil… for one, it keeps me regular. And that is a huge blessing. ;) It also seems to help with my joint and muscle aches. My mother has fibromyalgia, and I’ve suffered with aches and pains since I was in my early 20’s, but the coconut oil seems to keep me lubricated… probably due to the antioxidants and healthy fats.

Check back later on this week for more about other tenets of the Weston A Price style of eating. And I encourage you to look into making a tax deductible contribution and joining WaPF.

 

Attachment Parenting International Announces New Parenting Education Program

April 2, 2008 | Leave a Comment

attachment parenting internationalLast year on the show, I was honored to interview Lysa Parker, cofounder of Attachment Parenting International.

Attachment parenting was a word I heard a Mom say over 9 years ago at a meeting for parents who had taken Bradley Method childbirth classes. I thought it sounded so strange, but then I realized it embodied what I believed and what I had been doing with my young baby: cosleeping, nursing on cue, responding to baby’s needs, wearing him in a soft cloth carrier, etc. 

API has some exciting stuff going on right now to help parents learn and keep the principles of attachment parenting and I’m happy to help them spread the word.

What Is Attachment Parenting International?

API is a non-profit organization that promotes parenting practices that create strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents. Some of the changes they would like to announce include:

  • A newly redesigned web site and new logo at Attachment Parenting.org;
  • Attachment parenting worldwide support forums;
  • Parent Education Program - a comprehensive series of classes for every stage and age of child development from infancy through adulthood;
  • A new book based on API’s Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting by API co-founders Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson which is expected to be available this summer;
  • A series of podcasts, webinars, chats, and forums with API Advisory Board members and other supporters of AP. Future events are scheduled with Dr. Bob Sears, Dr. James McKenna, and Kathleen Kendall Tacket. Check out the events page for more information.

These are just a few of many exciting things going on at API. I hope you’ll stop by and check it out for yourself.

Mommy Brains

March 11, 2008 | 2 Comments

662734_moms_love.jpgEvery Mom has noticed this phenomenon I call “Mommy Brains”. Forgetting a word you’re looking for, leaving the house without your wallet … I always assumed that some of this is probably just the amazing amount of stuff that moms have to keep up with moment by moment.

That, and a bit of God-given amnesia. How else could you explain that a woman could go through pain for hours to birth a baby, then the moment he’s born forget it instantly? (Some even go so far as to turn to their partner and utter, “Let’s do this again as soon as possible!”)

Turns out there may be something to this whole Mommy Brain thing. Researchers have found that Momnesia is real, and due to several factors, including plummeting estrogen levels, sleep cycle changes, and change in focus (mom can notice when something is “off” in her infant before anyone else can).

I am finding that I have a hard time finishing sentences lately. It bothers me a little because I used to consider myself to be a good conversationalist whereas how I feel somewhat insecure because of my inability to find the right word quickly.

What about you? Have you had a funny (or not so funny) Mommy Brain moment? Has Mommy Brain gotten better for you as your kids get older?

Atlanta Screening of The Business of Being Born

January 3, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Becky Van Note sent me an email asking for help spreading the word about her Atlanta area screening of The Business of Being Born. For those of you who live in the area or have friends here, let them know the details: 

We’re hosting another screening of the movie on January 12 of The Business of Being Born. This movie is SO amazing and we hope everyone will be able to see it. We have plenty of tickets available. We’re trying to reach far and wide – to pregnant women, or anyone who may ever find this information useful – moms and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers, midwives, nurses, chiropractors, doctors, etc. If you know anyone who may even be remotely interested, or people who know other people who may be interested – please let them know!

Here is more info about the movie:
Movie Program Presented by Babies R Us
 
When: Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 5:00 pm
Where: Life University
1269 Barclay Circle, Marietta, GA 30060
Room 127, Annex C
Campus Map
 
Ticket Prices:
Regular Ticket: $15
Pregnant women: $6
Life University faculty & students, and groups (must be purchased together): $10 for groups of 10
(One free ticket for group organizer included!)
Get a Free Ticket!
There are several ways you can get a free ticket to see the movie this time.  With every group of 10, eligible for $10 tickets, there is one free ticket included for the organizer.  We know that organizing a group for an event is hard work! 
You may also be able to get a free ticket just by going to see the movie with friends.  If you have attended a screening before, or if you are a birth-related professional or volunteer, bring one non-birth professional with you and get your ticket for $5.  If you bring two people, you get your ticket for free!  We want as many people as possible to see this very important, inspiring film, and we want to reward you for helping us reach our goal.  Tickets must be purchased together.
Birth-related professional or volunteer includes childbirth educators, doulas, obstetricians, L&D or NICU nurses, lactation consultants, LLL leaders, etc.  Please contact us if you have any questions!
 
 
Becky Van Note
Baby Steps, Inc.
www.babystepsonline.net
(404) 993-3579

Birthy is Beautiful! (To the woman in the long Black Cloak)

December 5, 2007 | 3 Comments

I passed you in the store today. You were wrapped in your winter coat, but you couldn’t close it all the way, thanks to your lovely round belly. I was noticing how your blouse was pulled tight and your weight had shifted down. I was thinking to myself that you look like you’ll probably be holding your newborn babe sometime in the next 3 days….and then I was thinking how arrogant it was of me to think I could predict what is so obviously a miracle-a secret just for you and your little one. I smiled to myself at my own chiding, and I suppose all this was happening while I was looking at your belly, because when I came back to reality, I realized my gaze was still in your direction. You saw me and acted embarrassed, and turned away. 

I felt so bad! 

So I’m writing to apologize.

You see, I really do find expectant women stunning. It’s like being in the presence of Diety in tangible form. I’m amazed at the miracle of pregnancy and birth each and every time I am privileged to be touched by it. Even if just to pass it in in the dairy aisle. ;) I get almost giddy-I want to talk about their experiences with the joys of pregnancy and share a cup of Red Rasperry Leaf tea over Birth plans, fears and dreams.

Of course, it’s not my place to do this with perfect strangers, and while I am not one of those annoying women who will touch your belly without invitation, I can’t HELP but look-peek-dream….imagine.

It’s my passion. It’s my life’s calling to help women claim what is rightfully theirs in Birth, and to honor their passage through, and help them heal following. And my passion sometimes gets the best of me, and I look when I should avert my eyes. I smile stupidly at nothing-(dreaming of Birth and new babes) when I should be reading package labels….

So please excuse me if I pass you again, looking at you like we belong to a secret club….We do you know. You may not realize it, but we are both working to change the world-you through your meeting an opportunity for transformative Birth, and birthing an amazing new being ripe with potential…and I, by serving and encouraging women just like you….having walked that path-having met that transformation for myself. I know that you have no idea who I am or what I do, or that just your creating life has moved me-inspired me to action in my work-and I understand if you protect yourself or act shy. Our society sooo doesn’t get being amazed at the process. It’s so broken down into little pieces of physiological and scientific “evidence”, and the Mystery-the Miracle is lost.

So it’s not your belly I see when I pass you. It’s life coming through you.

It’s the miracle that makes me gawk. Really.

You are powerful-beautiful-amazing. 

Thank you Beautiful Birthy Woman.

With Awe,

Marcie Macari

www.shebirths.com

www.bloominbellysoaps.com

1-888-432-7171

Marni Matyus - Babywearing and Kangaroo Care

November 30, 2007 | 7 Comments

Carrie: You’re back with Carrie at Natural Moms Talk Radio and I’m joined this week by Marni Matyus from The Sling Station and Peppermint.com.  Good morning, Marni. 

Marni: Good morning! 

Carrie: How are you today? 

Marni: I’m great!  How are you? 

Carrie: Very good.  I think it’s finally cleared up here.  We’ve had a couple days of sort of pseudo rain, which is kind of good, but we need so much more.  We’re having a bad drought right now.  It’s nice to see the sun, but I wish it would just really drench and give us some rain.  Well, we’re going to talk about kangaroo care.  Now, you’re obviously a baby-wearing expert with your website and your business.  First of all, for those who aren’t familiar with you and what you offer on your website, tell us about The Sling Station and Peppermint.com. 

Marni: Okay.  With both websites, we offer a wide variety of baby carriers.  We represent many of the major manufacturers and in addition to all the different types of carriers, we also have people on our staff who are baby sling experts, who have used the carriers with their own children and they are available by phone and by live chat or email to help moms design which carrier is best for their needs and also to use the carriers if they’re having trouble using their carrier after they received it. 

Carrie: And I’m sure that’s an issue because I know I’ve heard that from many moms, “Oh, my baby doesn’t like it,” or “I can’t get it to work.” 

Marni: Right, right, and that’s what we really try, to provide the service to those moms because when you first get it out of the package, it can be a little intimidating, but if you’ll just step through it and give it a chance and look at our videos on our website and we also have some printable instructions in addition to what’s provided by the manufacturers.  Most people, once they give it a try or give us a call and we can give you help based on your baby’s age and your particular situation what carrying position might be best for you or some tips to help you use your carrier. 

Carrie: Oh, that’s great.  Okay, so on the topic of kangaroo care and I’m sure most of our listeners are familiar with that, but if you want to just explain briefly what kangaroo care refers to. 

Marni: Absolutely.  Kangaroo care really is skin to skin. What happened is in the 1970s in Columbia, they didn’t have the money to buy incubators and they were having a lot of premature babies that were dying. So they tried using the mother as an incubator, so when these babies were born, they literally put the baby on the mother’s chest, skin to skin, the baby’s only wearing a diaper and actually inside the mother’s gown or shirt and the mothers wore the babies 7 x 24 and they actually slept in a semi-upright position with the babies tied to their chest. 

They found that those babies did better than the babies that were in the incubator and the hospital on the top of the hill, they did have money for incubators.  Surprisingly, first of all, these babies were surviving and then as we did more and more research and in other countries, kangaroo care is really implemented much the same as it was in Columbia back when it first started where the babies are held for most of the day on the mother’s chest. 

So, what we found out is their heart rates are more stable, their breathing is more stable, their cortisol levels and their stress hormone are at the 10x lower than a baby who is in an Isolette or an incubator.  The babies that are held skin to skin and held close to their mother were getting out of the hospital faster, they were nursing better, they were gaining weight better, and they have actually a higher survival rate. 

Carrie: Wow.  You know, I had read about the benefits of kangaroo care before, but listening to you tell that story, it occurred to me I wasn’t aware of the fact that they actually encourage the mothers to have the baby sleep on their chest. It made me think that kind of decries the whole “co-sleeping is unsafe” thing and I wonder how many women have done this.  Is it a large enough group of women that we could use those statistics to disprove some of the co-sleeping detractors? 

Marni: You know, I’m really not sure.  I do know that Niles Bergman who provided most of the information that I know of, they’re very specific on the way that the babies are tied onto the mother when they are sleeping, especially that they want to make sure particularly that the baby’s airway is protected.  That is a big concern to them, especially with premature babies. 

Carrie: That would be kind of an interesting thing to investigate just as a side point. 

Marni: Absolutely. 

Carrie: Well, you mentioned some of the benefits to the baby, but what about the moms and dads too?  Dads participate in kangaroo care as well, don’t they? 

Marni: Absolutely.  I mean it’s often focused on the mother because she’s obviously there.  She’s nursing the baby in a lot of cases, but when the mother cannot hold the baby or kangaroo the baby, obviously the dad is the natural choice.  For the mother particularly — for the mother, for me, it was getting my life back when I’m dealing with a newborn — when I had my first baby it was difficult to even get a bite to eat and with the baby held tight to my body, I could now fix myself a meal, I could actually eat using two hands, walk around, things that were difficult with a newborn that wanted to be held constantly. 

Now, with kangaroo care, we’ve actually found out that some mothers have a lower incidence of postpartum depression.  Bonding is easier and they are able to get to know their baby’s needs faster to understand what the baby is needing and obviously respond to their cries faster and then obviously just to be able to do some things that they might not be able to do otherwise. 

Carrie: Yeah.  I know I always felt sorry for moms with preemies and one of the biggest reasons why is because when you see these pictures or footage of babies in these little incubators and the mommies cannot touch them and hold them, it always made me feel so sad for the mom because it’s just an instinct to want to just be close to that infant and protect them and everything and I thought, “Oh, that’s got to have some kind of emotional repercussions.”  So, that makes total sense to me that it would impact postpartum depression rate. 

Marni: Absolutely.  I think we have a physiological need to be with our babies because they have a need to be with us.  It’s a very natural phenomenon and it’s so much easier for the moms even in hospital setting if they can use a carrier to kangaroo their babies, they’re more likely to hold them longer to give them more skin to skin time, which the babies really need if they can sit there and read a book or if they can walk around the hospital a little bit.  Even if the babies have to be connected to breathing machines or IVs, the mom still has a little bit more freedom with physically having to hold the baby with her arm, so that babies tend to get more mom time, more skin to skin time.  Kangaroo care is not just for premature babies.  They’re also for newborns.  They experience the same benefits for newborn babies, which also have a need to be close to their mother.  They actually have the same benefits to a full-term baby as to a premature baby. 

Carrie: Right.  Well, back to that thing that we were talking about earlier about moms who say, “Oh, well, you know, I tried that (babywearing).  My baby just screamed.  They didn’t like the sling.  They didn’t like the carrier…” What suggestions do you have? 

Marni: First of all, starting early.  A lot of times, if you carry a baby from their very early weeks, they don’t know any different.  It’s very natural to them.  That’s a very natural place for the baby to be, so obviously it’s what they are used to. 

A lot of babies also are particular about the positioning.  So, with the newborn, the best position we found is upright on the mother’s chest.  So, with the baby’s head above in between the breasts you want to hold the baby high so that you can reach down to kiss the top of their head.  A lot of babies don’t like to have their heads covered and a lot of babies don’t like to be in a reclining position, especially if you have a baby who’s colicky or reflux, it may hurt them to be in a reclining position.  They do much better sitting upright and you want the baby to be facing you, so they’re leaning against the mother.  That way, they’re not having to support their own weight or their own spine. 

You want to fully support them so they’re leaning against you and then usually there’s fabric behind the baby’s back.  Now, when you have a little bit older baby and you’re just getting into baby wearing, you may need to show them that the sling is a nice place to be.  So, obviously, put them in a carrier and, again, for most babies, we still recommend almost at any age when you’re just starting to wear your baby upright, leaning against the mother, facing the mom.  Put the baby in the carrier, make sure they’re comfortable and walk around. 

So, the first thing you should do when you get the baby in the sling is take a walk, if the weather is nice preferably outside.  I found that just walking around and patting the baby, often they’ll calm down because for an older child that’s not used to being in a sling, it might be just something different, something they’re not used to.  So, they may be a little apprehensive.  If you can calm them down, they’ll soon learn that that’s exactly where they want to be is in mom’s arms.  So, the sling is a way for them to get what they want basically. 

Obviously, the other thing to think about is if the baby just is not happy in the sling, put it away and try it another day.  The other thing you can do to make the baby more comfortable is to make sure you’re comfortable with the sling before you put the baby in.  So, practice with a doll or even with a sack of rice and make sure you understand how the sling works before you actually try it with your baby.  That way, they’re not picking up on your apprehension or any insecurities you may have with the sling because they do pick up on our emotions. 

Carrie: That’s right.  You know, my oldest was a very high need baby and I picked up a sling when he was about 5 weeks old at a consignment shop and it was the worst sling for my body that I could have chosen.  That was one thing.  It was the wrong kind of sling for me because he was tiny and I’m kind of petite and I got a NoJo at a consignment shop.  I didn’t know that there was a difference among all the slings and it just so happened that the NoJo is about the worst possible sling for my frame.  I needed a Maya or something that I could adjust the tail independently to get him nice and tight, so that was one thing.  Secondly, for me, what worked with him was I had to put him in it and immediately start moving, almost be bouncing while I’m adjusting it and take off walking. 

Marni: Absolutely. 

Carrie: And that really helped us, but it was a lifesaver for me.  I always say that I was blessed with a high need child first because everything after that seems easier.  It was trial by fire. 

Marni: That’s absolutely correct. 

Carrie: Oh boy.  The sack of rice thing, I’ve not heard that.  I’ve heard of using a Cabbage Patch doll, but I think a sack of rice is better because it’s heavier and fluffier. 

Marni: Absolutely and if you’re afraid of your baby falling out of a sling, when you put a sack of rice in there, it’s slippery and it’s heavy and it has no arms and legs and if you can keep the rice in there, it probably is not going to be an issue to keep your baby in a sling or a wrap. 

Carrie: Right, yeah.  The thing about going outside is great.  Sometimes I would have to do that too.  I can immediately walk outside because most babies tend to calm down the moment they get outside in the fresh air.  Yeah, that was a great tip too. 

Marni: Absolutely. 

Carrie: Well, you actually had an opportunity to educate some folks in Dallas, medical staff, about kangaroo care.  Tell us about that. 

Marni: I did and it was a fantastic opportunity actually and we had nurses, physical therapists, midwifes, like patient consultants and a few doctors that actually came to our workshop.  Obviously, most of them know about kangaroo care in general because they have lots of workshops.  They understand the value of kangaroo care for the baby, so we were able to show them how to use a carrier to implement kangaroo in there in a hospital setting and they are working with not only premature babies, but also special needs children. 

So, in the child life centers, they’re dealing with children that may have cancer, may have breathing difficulties, may have brain damage or brain trauma, and they found that the carriers are very calming to the babies that when they’re held, when they’re carried they’re much happier.  It’s sometimes easier to work with them with certain physical therapy activities or when they undergoing medical treatment.  We have had a great response.  The staff was very encouraged about what we had to show them and made it easier for them and easier for some of the parents and they are able to now go and teach the parents how to use baby carriers and to encourage them to do more kangaroo care with their babies. 

Carrie: That’s great!  You know, I’ve never thought about that, babies with special needs and how they could also benefit from baby wearing.  That’s great.  Well, what kind of slings or carriers do you recommend for that? 

Marni: Well, I showed them all of the carriers and my suggestion is typically a wrap and without fail, that’s always their first choice to use once they see the benefits and learn how to use it.  Some people are a little bit intimidated by a wrap at first, but really we find that the easiest carrier for moms to get the babies in comfortably and securely is also the most versatile when dealing with babies with special needs because you can position the baby exactly where you need them and then tighten the wrap around them.  You can also vary the carrying positions depending on the baby’s needs. 

Carrie: Well, that’s really interesting.  That’s good to know.  Well, Marni, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing that with us.  I know I’ve seen your banners from Peppermint.com, especially all over the Internet, especially the blogosphere, and you’ve got just a wonderful variety and great articles and stuff on your site, so I encourage our listeners to check you out and see what you have to offer.  Thank you so much for sharing this information with us today. 

Marni: Thank you for having me.

In which I ask Nell about tough decisions and discuss birth

November 10, 2007 | 13 Comments

This was her answer: not vaccinating. Then she asked me:

… tell me about your natural births. Why did you decide to go that route? Are you happy with the decision to go natural? What exactly did “natural birth” look like for you?

I love this question. :) I love birth, I love talking about birth, reading about birth, and even the smell of birth. Yep - birth has a smell and I’m always sad when the smell goes away a few days afterwards.

My first baby was born in a hospital. I had been indoctrinated, if you will, into the cult of natural childbirth by my mother. When she had my sister, she was tied up (literally - her hands and legs were tied down). When she asked why, the hospital staff said: “So you won’t touch the baby.” My sister’s Dad was of course, not allowed anywhere near. This was just before the days of hippie husbands handcuffing themselves to their birthing women so they could be right there for the birth!

(Pic to the right - pushing with Sadie.)

She was drugged and felt nothing from the waist down. Then, for two days afterwards, she could not lift her head off the pillow because the Docs told her she could get a blood clot and die (wth?!). So, the ladies in the nursery took care of my sister. They also gave my mom a shot without her permission. When she inquired why, they told her “why, to dry up your milk, dear“. My mom was perplexed. Milk? What milk? She didn’t know anything about breastfeeding and they didn’t even give her the option!

Fast forward 7 years. She gave birth to me. My Dad was her “coach” and in the birth pictures, he figures so prominently (you can hardly see the Doctor because he did what good birthing Docs do - stay out of the way) that for years when I was little, I thought my dear ole Dad moonlighted as an OB!

My Mom said there was “no pain”. Of course, I think there is a hint of that Mom Amnesia that God throws in there to ensure that women will procreate, lol! But seriously - as soon as I was born, she looked up at my father and said: “Oh, when can we do this again!?”

I heard this story so many times in my childhood that it left a deep impression on me. It told me that birth is not like it is in the movies, with women screaming like banshees and losing control. My mother, with her deeply tanned skin and long dark wavy hair, looked like some kind of Native American princess giving birth to me. Hearing her contrast that experience with her first birth made me think that unmedicated was the way to go.

(Pic to the left: me laboring in water with Sadie.)

Then I got the benefit of learning about my sister’s 4 births. Three of her babies were big, and she had them without drugs. She’s one stubborn woman! In fact, the same thing happened in all of her births. Her babies all had really round heads that didn’t seem to mold at all. At some point in her labor, the staff would start prepping for a C-section for “failure to progress”. At this point she would practically stand up on the bed and scream, “I didn’t come this far only to be cut open. Give me 5 minutes and I’ll get this kid out!” Then she would get real quiet and talk to her baby inside of her, and tell him to help her out! I know it sounds strange, but I did the exact same thing with a couple of mine. I would talk to them during my labor and asked them to help me. I also talked to God a lot. :)

I guess you could say unmedicated birth was my “norm”. So when I got pregnant with Caleb, I looked into childbirth education classes and picked the Bradley method. I liked their philosophy, so me and dh took classes. Caleb was born in the hospital. I insisted on not having continuous fetal monitoring. (I knew that led to increased Cesarean rates and false “babies in distress” drama.) I was like some kind of birth plan Nazi because every time a new nurse walked into the room I would nicely ask her to read it. I was determined that I was going to have the birth I wanted, not the birth the hospital administration wanted me to have. I never let Caleb leave my sight, and he slept in the hospital bed with me too.

While his birth went wonderfully, there were things I was unhappy with, like my midwife leaving me during labor to go care for the patients in her practice, and then coming back - after I had pushed for FOUR hours. A homebirth midwife would have been there every second, helping me change positions to ease pushing. The labor and delivery nurse saw that I had an undilated “lip” of cervix that was impeding his head moving down the birth canal, so she put her hand inside to move it away as I pushed, which helped me make faster progress. But knowing what I know now, a lay midwife would have meant a much shorter birth and easier recovery for me.

After he was born, I got my hands on a copy of Spiritual Midwifery and after reading it, that was all she wrote! I was convinced that I would have my next baby at home. I had Julien 2 years and 9 months later and his birth was like a DREAM. I honestly felt little discomfort - it was like bad menstrual cramps. I labored for 8 hours, and only the last two were uncomfy. I was sold on homebirth!

23 months later came Ilana. Girlfriend weighed in at 10 pounds, and I’m certain that if I had been in a hospital, I would have had a C - section. The reason being, after a few hours of labor, things just stalled out. When you’re at home, the midwives don’t view this as any big emergency - they change your position, squirt some herbs under your tongue, send you to bed for a nap or some kootchie - koo with your husband (what put the baby in will often help get the baby out!) or whatever. They also realize that sometimes emotional stuff can impede birth. For me, it was some personal issues around my relationship with the Dad (not mine, the baby’s). When that came up I started to cry really hard, and after that things started to progress.

Another issue was the fact that my living room had become Grand Central Station with two midwives, one midwife apprentice, two kids, G-ma and G-pa, and dh. My main midwife sensed this and sent me to my room LOL! Being alone helped me focus, and that kickstarted things too.

2 years later came Sadie, and her birth was much like Julien’s - super easy. In fact the midwives almost didn’t arrive in time for the birth because I kept putting off calling them.

My births were definitely some of the most wonderful points of my life. One thing though - people are always saying to me that choosing homebirth makes me “brave”, but I don’t see it that way. I felt scared and out of control in the hospital environment. I didn’t feel fear at home, so I’m not brave for choosing homebirth. I just don’t see birth as a medical event. I love the fact that my older kids witnessed some of their sibling’s arrival. For them, birth is a social event. Nobody is screaming or carrying on, but there is a bit of grunting!

Also, I don’t feel like some kind of superwoman. I realize how lucky I was to have uneventful pregnancies. Some mothers shouldn’t even attempt homebirth because they have special circumstances going on. I’m very thankful! I loved every moment of birth - even the painful ones where you feel, as Carol Burnett put it, like your bottom lip is being stretched over the top of your head lol!

(Pic to the right - moments after Sadie’s birth)

There are many things I love about homebirth. Being able to walk around and do what you want are so nice. Being in your own comfy environment is nice. Having a midwife means you get to labor or push anywhere you like… on the toilet if it’s most comfortable! In water, out of water, in bed, on all fours, wherever.

You also get to shower in your own bathroom afterwards, eat wonderful delicous food (and beer - I always wanted Guinness after my births - try drinking that in a hospital!), and snuggle up with your new baby in your own bed minutes after the birth if you want to. It’s so nice. :)

Plus, you don’t have to drive home. That drive taking Caleb home from the hospital was the most stressful ride of my life! And wouldn’t you know that dh actually got LOST. How do you get lost going somewhere that’s 15 minutes from your house? LOL! It took us about 35 minutes to get home and I was totally stressed out. You don’t have to go anywhere after a homebirth. The midwife even comes to your house to check up on you and the baby postpartum!

So now I have a question for you: If you had never had children, what do you think you would be doing right now?

 

And for readers, if you haven’t read the other posts in the conversation with Nell, click on the “cross blog conversations” category to the right.

Alyssa wants to know: “What’s a natural Mom?”

November 6, 2007 | 5 Comments

alyssa.jpgAlyssa of LifeFromMyLaptop (which, by the way Alyssa is one of my favorite domain picks, ever) invited me to do a little cross blog conversing with her. She asked me this question on her blog to kick things off:

My first question for you is about natural parenting. Carrie is the host of Natural Moms Talk Radio so I know she practices this, but frankly I have never really understood all the ins and outs so I know that Carrie can clear this up.

What is it like to be a “natural mom”?

When I first read this, I thought you were asking what a natural mom IS… which is also a great question! So I’ll answer that first. There probably isn’t any real definition of that term, and it means different things to different people, but for me, being a natural mom means tuning in to your (and I believe they are God-given) instincts first and when you’re in doubt.

It doesn’t mean I’m the expert of everything or that I don’t look for expert opinions. It does mean that I’m the one who loves my children the most and it’s also my responsibility to care for them, and since I also spend the most time with them, I’m the expert of them.

One thing that I used to tell moms all the time when I was a breastfeeding counselor is to trust your instincts - you are the expert of your baby. Anthropologists will tell you that “breastfeeding difficulties” are a purely Western, modern phenomenon. We think breastfeeding will be hard and so it is, but it’s not true for native women who do what comes naturally and don’t have anyone telling them they don’t know what they’re doing!

Women doubt themselves so much, and it’s true we’re not animals that are guided solely by instinct… but I believe women have a special sixth sense that alerts them to danger, and we should use that to protect our little ones. Have you ever read The Gift of Fear? It has nothing to do with parenting, but it illustrates this instinct that mothers have beautifully. I think that gift should be used. I believe that mothers go against that inner voice and they and their children sometimes suffer as a result.

So there are some behaviors that come out of that philosophy. As an example, cosleeping. While the experts debate whether it’s “safe” to do so, my strong feelings, and the behavior of my child, tell me it’s a good choice for us. I don’t need someone else’s opinion to make that decision.

You know at one time in this country and all over the world, women were told that formula feeding was “better”, “cleaner”, more “scientific”, more “advanced”, the thing that wealthy women did (and in some countries, the way WHITE woman did things which was obviously insulting to mothers) and the way of the future. :) Obviously those experts were wrong! One of the reasons I don’t go with the status quo automatically but question the way things are done is because I have seen how that “sheeple” mentality so often turns out.

Being a natural parent also means doing things in a natural way as much as you can. When I was pregnant with my oldest, my Mom talked to me about how much she enjoyed using cloth diapers with me. I thought it would be a great way to save money, so I started looking around at diaper services and cloth diaper systems. People laughed at me, but 4 kids later I still love cloth diapers.

A lot of natural parents reject circumcision because it’s a painful, unnecessary (for health anyway) surgery and vaccination because they’re unconvinced that the shots are effective or safe, and they prefer to build their child’s immune system naturally. Most natural parents reject spanking. They often prefer a gentler discipline style. Many of them are homeschooling. Most of them are interested in nutrition.

But we’re not all the same. I know moms who are far more crunchy than me who vaccinated their kids - I didn’t. I know other moms who had their babies at home but who wouldn’t use a cloth diaper if they were paid to. And I know moms who are NOT natural in any way but who I admire for some of their mothering skills.

You know as I type this I realize that natural parents do what they do for slightly different reasons. Some are motivated by environmental concerns, some by politics, some by findings in the field of psychology and some by philosophy.

For me, it’s largely from my belief that when God made moms and babies, he didn’t make a mistake. :-) I trust that a woman’s body is capable of birth and of feeding her baby. I trust that a baby’s cry is supposed to be uncomfortable so it will motivate the adults listening to do something instead of it being ignored. I believe that people are more important than things and that things can’t replace human contact. So that belief is reflected in my parenting choices.

I’m sure that after I write this I’ll think of a hundred more things to say. I hope that makes sense for now :)

Ack! Sorry Alyssa, I forgot to post your question. I was trying to get this published while getting the kids ready to walk out the door. So here goes:

You’ve recently launched a ghostwriting business. Have you always enjoyed writing and what sparked that interest?

Show Notes: Tracey Mallett Talks About Moms and Core Strength

August 2, 2007 | 3 Comments

Here are some of the highlights of this week’s show with fitness expert Tracey Mallett.

Tracey Mallett is a professional dancer, international fitness expert, Pilates instructor, expert at baby center.com, and created many DVDs on pre and post-natal health and fitness.

Changes in the woman’s body throughout pregnancy can cause many things to take place. Our inner core muscles (especially after several births) can separate and stay that way after birth.  The classic crunch just won’t cut it!

Tracey explains in simple terms what we can do everyday to regain our inner core strength and get our abs back.

Core strength is important for

• Back stability (to avoid low back pain during and after pregnancy)
• Getting strong again and looking good in your clothes
• Especially for a healthy birth as well as after - abs are pushing muscles!

Tracey explains that simple movements relying on breathing, pelvic exercises, and in small increments throughout the day can improve our health in the long run.

Core strength training techniques include:

• Exhalation and drawing in
o Inhale drawing in rib cage; exhale toward back of spine, pulling pelvic floor up.

• Towel technique-“Closes  close abdominal separation”
o Lye on back, bend knees, place towel underneath back across abdominals
o As you exhale towel tighter across mid section
o Do for at least ten to fifteen reps a day.

• Incorporate Kegal exercises at least 40 times a day.
o Sets of slow increments 10 seconds at a time - these help prevent bladder leakage later on

Tracey recommends boosting the metabolism by
• Eating small meals throughout the day
• Exercising in smaller increments, even 6-10 minutes at a time. Avoid “all or nothing” thinking when it comes to fitness!

She has a new book coming out in January called “Sexy and Fit” with 6 minute exercise routines for busy Moms.

 

 

And This Is Why….

July 31, 2007 | Leave a Comment

women are so completely awesome.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xath6kOf0NE 

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