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Monday, March 29, 2010

INTACT America- Say NO To Circumcision!!!

Intact America

March 2010


No professional medical association in the world has ever recommended infant circumcision.
But the Centers for Disease Control is still considering recommending routine circumcision 
of all infant boys – and they may be doing this very soon.

More than 20,000 intactivists have already added their names to our petition urging 

the CDC not to endanger our baby boys. Now we're just 3,152 signatures shy of
our 25,000-signature goal!

Our plan is to deliver the petitions to the CDC in April to make sure they hear our

message. Will you help us reach 25,000 signatures by March 31? 
Tell your friends, and be sure to share the campaign on Twitter or Facebook.

Take Action!


AMSA Earlier this month, Intact America attended the American 
Medical Student Association's annual conference in California, 
educating future physicians about the risks, harms, and 
ethics of infant circumcision. We received a lot of positive
 feedback – Read the full report here >>

Intact America's Executive Director, Georganne Chapin, and several other 
intactivists testified before the Massachusetts State Legislature in support
of the Male Genital Mutilation Bill. While the Bill was voted down, it was an
incredibly important step in bringing this issue to the public eye – so much 
so that Georganne was interviewed on Fox News! Watch the 
Fox news clip here and read Georganne's testimony here >>

March 26 marks the 17th anniversary of Genital Integrity Awareness Week. 
During the week, activists in favor of ending infant circumcision will gather 
each day on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC to show
their support for bringing an end to infant circumcision in this country. 
Learn more here >>


Thanks to supporters like you, we raised more than $10,000 to support our
recent presence at the American Medical Student Association's conference 
in California! The dedicated activists who manned our booth at the conference 
reported that our presence was a success and that "the [medical] students 
were amazingly receptive to our message."

After interacting with roughly a quarter of the attending students at the 

conference, speaking with them personally, challenging misperceptions, 
and raising awareness about the risks and ethics of infant circumcision, 
we are reminded once again just how important reaching these audiences 
is to our cause.

Can we count on your financial support to help us make more outreach 

efforts like this possible?



...there is NO conclusive link between circumcision and better health? 
In fact, performing medically unnecessary surgery on a baby boy's 
genitals creates immediate and otherwise completely avoidable health risks. 
Circumcision-related risks include infection, hemorrhage, scarring, loss of 
part or all of the penis, and even death. These dangers exist in even the 
best clinical settings. Find out more about the risks and harms of circumcision
by reading The Facts Behind Circumcision.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Wetness is Opportunity"

Kathy Abbott of "The Curious Lactivist" might be suffering from ADHD- as her eldest daughter asserts- but it in no way hinders her ability to write beautifully or to bring us excellent information on one of my favorite topics:  BREASTFEEDING!!! Her article on Wetness is lovely and stirs an emotional response.... especially from a mother reading her blog while nursing her 6 week old boobie baby!!

Keep writing Kathy!!  I know that the hours are long and sometimes arduous, but we all appreciate it!!

“Wetness is Opportunity”

“Wetness is opportunity.  It represents the openness of nature to what falls from heaven.”

 (From the book “Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth” by William Bryant Logan)

The wetness of a kiss brings two people closer.  The vagina moistens and lets in the penis to accept the heavy wet sperm.  The sperm enters her waiting egg which is then enveloped by a warm watery sac.   A laboring woman’s bag of waters breaks open moistening her birth canal.  Even the wetness of her blood helps her baby to slip outside of her.  Her wet baby lies on her chest and slides over towards her nipple.  The mere smell and touch of his mother excites the babe and soon he drools his wet saliva onto her skin.  He licks his lips in anticipation of what he does not know – something is coming, something wet and good that will make the move from his pickled womb to this dry, arid world easier to swallow.  The first yellowy drop of colostrum appears enticing the baby to come closer.  Come closer.  “Wetness is opportunity.”  Wetness is the beginning of life. 

We tell mothers that her breast milk is important.  It contains calories and vitamins, fats and protein.  It has antibodies and immune factors; it has “pre” and “pro” biotics.  Scientists have spent millions of dollars analyzing tiny drops of milk constantly updating the ever growing list of important things they have found within.  We have come to attach a certain scientific aloofness to the value of human milk.  It can be measured and scrutinized, it can be bottled and contained, it can be put on a shelf and held till needed.  It can be produced at will.  But we forget that inherent in its wetness is opportunity, the chance to connect mother and baby together again. Like the wet kiss that spurred the conception of this little one’s life, the moment a baby suckles on its mother’s breast the two are reminded that for this moment ’you are mine and I am yours, yours alone.’
HERE to Read the entire article on "The Curious Lactivist"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Botulism spores found in 7 of 9 samples of Infant Formula

Another scary study on the topic of tainted Infant Formula, "Presence of Soil-Dwelling Clostridia in Commercial Powdered Infant Formulas," will appear in the March 2010 Journal of Pediatrics.

Researchers studies samples from 30 infants in California that were infected with Botulism, and took samples from market purchased powdered infant formula.  7 of 9 of the samples of formula were shown to contain multiple strains of Botulism.

Because spores were linked to infant formula that caused botulism in an infant in the UK, researchers tested formula from sick US babies and store shelves and found disturbing results.
Researchers studied formula obtained from the families of nineteen babies in California who had been diagnosed with botulism.  They also purchased containers of powdered infant formulas from other sources.
Five of the 30 samples from the sick infants contained clostridial botulinium spores. Spores were also found in 7 of 9 market-purchased formula samples.  Multiple types of soil-dwelling strains of botulinum were identified.
Many types of botulinum spores are commonly found in dust and soil worldwide.  However, the strain Clostridium botulinum is particularly harmful to infants and can cause severe illness.  This strain can colonize in the intestine and produce neurotoxins leading to paralysis, a need for ventilation and even death.
Milder symptoms of botulism include constipation, a weak cry, lethargy and bulbar palsies.
 What is scarier is the fact that researchers are now looking at the link between Botulism poisoning and SIDs.

Botulism is also suspected to be linked to some infant deaths that are officially classified as SIDS.
The University of Minnesota Extension Service reports:
Because breathing is affected in the most severe stage of botulism-induced paralysis, researchers suspect a link between infant botulism and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as crib death. One study done 15 years ago showed that about 5 percent of children in California whose deaths were attributed to SIDS actually had died from infant botulism. Because of the difficulty of conducting such studies, the link between SIDS and infant botulism remains poorly understood.

Other harmful pathogens have been found in US formula in the past, as well.  In 2001, a baby in Tennessee died and 10 other premature babies were sickened by formula contaminated by the bacteria Enterobacter sakazakii, which led to a recall.  Another recall was issued related to the bacteria in 2002, in which 1.5 million cans of formula were recalled.  This bacteria, which causes Cronobacter Infection, has sickened many US babies over the years.  The Enterobacter Sakazakii Watch writes "Powdered infant formula (PIF), which is not sterile, has been implicated repeatedly as a vehicle of Cronobacter infection."
The FDA stresses that at-risk infants such as premature babies should not be fed powdered infant formula because of the risks of these contaminants.  You can read more about the FDA's concerns with powdered formula here.
 So.... the FDA is recommending that "at risk" infants and premature babies should not be fed powdered infant formula.  Yet I have never once read a warning on a powdered formula label, nor seen any sort of warnings in their advertising campaigns.  Further, EVERY formula fed baby is "At Risk"!!  Multiple studies have shown that all babies that are not exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months are at a much higher risk of Gastrointestinal infections/problems, asthma, ear infections, cancer, and death, to name but a few!!!

See INFACT Canada's "Fourteen Risks of Formula Feeding" for further information.

 So we have to wonder why Doctors and hospitals and various major medical organizations are not taking a stronger stance to stop the wide spread use of infant formula.  We know the Dangers- the information is there for anyone to read- yet only a small percentage of babies born in Canada and the US are exclusively breastfed as per the recommendations of WHO and the Canadian and US paediatric societies.

Could this be because " Money Talks"?!

Infant Formula manufacturers are notorious in their flagrant disregard of the WHO International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes, and Governments are famous for ignoring these breaches of ethics, and accepting funding from these companies.

So where does this leave the innocent babies that are born in our society?  Unprotected and ignored.  Because the medical machine and the government would rather take the blood money from dirty corporations than put the health and safety of their smallest citizens first. 

HERE to read the original article

Friday, March 26, 2010

Breastfeeding in the news

Kathy Abbots Blog "The Curious Lactivist" gives us the run down of all the "breastfeeding" news that's been in the news for the first week of March 2010.

March 14, 2010...10:55 am

Breastfeeding in the News March 1st – 8th, 2010

This week’s news certainly had its share of titillation.  From a chef who serves his patrons a cheese made from his wife’s breast milk, the woman in jail who was charged with assault for squirting her milk at a guard, to the mother who admits to breastfeeding her 14 year old.  And let’s not forget that fashion show that Bravado (makers of nursing bras) held in Las Vegas where the pregnant models were banned from walking the runway.
Mixed in with the odd ball articles two very sad stories also caught my eye.  In the Philippines a 31 year old woman was shot dead while breastfeeding her one year old.  The baby was still suckling her breast when they found her.  And in Uganda authorities say they have no proof that a mother who says her husband forced her to breastfeed puppies is telling the truth.  Apparently the scars on her breast were believed to be the result of her epilepsy, and the testimony from her children (ages 5 & 2) was not to be taken seriously because they after all merely children.
 There were several stories about breastfeeding and the workplace this week and none of it was very encouraging I’m afraid.  Although donating a handmade quilt to a local health department breastfeeding room was a nice gesture of support it appears that combining breastfeeding and work remains a struggle in many places.  Utah failed to pass a bill requiring workplaces to set aside space for breastfeeding.  In Oklahoma where they have a law allowing mothers to express milk at work (during unpaid time) there was no mandate to set aside space to do so.  Officially encouraging businesses to set aside space hasn’t worked either as only 26 offices now have a designated pumping space.  (I find it ironic that the title of this article was “Workplaces Nurture Nursing Moms”.)

HERE to Read the entire Article on The Curious Lactivist site


Women were not born with zippers.  We did not ask to have them installed at puberty, nor when we decided to have our babies.  Yet hospitals and most doctors seem to think that pulling a baby out of a woman's cut open abdomen is as easy and as painless and as harmless as opening a zipper.  Hell most of them would probably install zippers after every C/Section they did, just to make the next one that much easier. 

"Don't worry about going through the pain of labour and delivery... we'll just book you in on a day that's convenient for you, unzip you and  wham bam  it'll all be done!"


Unnecessareans {365/34}, originally uploaded by Trader Photography.
I think this image is startling and perfect to remind us that a cesarean surgery is for life. One obstetrician made the following observation about the risk: of this operation:
“’If one went to the extreme of giving the patient the full details of mortality and morbidity related to cesarean section, most of them would get
up and go out and have their baby under a tree,’ [Dr. McDonald] said.”
[Neel J. Medicolegal pressure, MDs’ lack of patience cited in cesarean
‘epidemic.’ Ob.Gyn. News Vol 22 No 10]

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Daddy & Me"

A brilliant post from Attachment Parenting about the dynamics of  the daddy bond. Some of her greater insights of her role as mommy  lifted the blinkers off my eyes and made me see my own role with much more clarity.
"I can sometimes see a little pain in my husband’s eyes when our son refuses to go to him willingly and instead clings to me. Sometimes I have to force myself not to explain to him that this is “just a stage” once again. That doesn’t help. He isn’t looking for an explanation. His brain already knows; it’s just that sometimes his heart doesn’t remember."
  I can honestly say that this article might just be vital reading for every mother to read.  Too often I think that most mommy's feel the need to step in between daddy and child- we are often the major care person in our child's life and I think that many of us tend to forget that daddy's role is not ours.  That daddy has to find his own role in the life of his child and that our interference isn't necessarily going to make that search easier or quicker!!

Daddy and Me

by Jasmine Carlson on March 12, 2010

Sometimes I feel bad for my husband. He is a great guy and has been an awesome father. He was with me at every prenatal visit and right by my side throughout my labor. He cut our son’s chord as hisst two nights of our son’s life as he cried with colic. He helped my change my clothes and even took care of my postpartum pads. So now when my son cries when his daddy takes him or yells “NO” at him and reaches for me I feel a little sad. I know it is just a stage. I know that I am the “favorite” at the moment because my son and I spend all day every day together. Because I breastfed and have been up with him most of his other waking nights since Daddy went back to work. I can sometimes see a little pain in my husband’s eyes when our son refuses to go to him willingly and instead clings to me. Sometimes I have to force myself not to explain to him that this is “just a stage” once again. That doesn’t help. He isn’t looking for an explanation. His brain already knows; it’s just that sometimes his heart doesn’t remember.

I have noticed a few things about father/son time though. I step in too often. I tend to think since I am here all of the time that daddy needs to do things the way mommy does them and I am seeing that that is just not the case. I need to move over and make room for the relationship that they are developing, the one that I am not a part in. I need to remember that sometimes daddy knows best because he too invested the time to become firmly attached to our son. Now they have to figure out how to work out the kinks in their relationship and as they do they will learn more about each other and grow even closer together. As I have let go more and more and backed up and encouraged my husband in his relationship with our son I have seen some wonderful
things start to happen. Daddy got him to start using the potty. Daddy is the one he wants to read him books. My son asks for daddy every day. They take naps together. They wrestle. They eat sweets and think that they “get away with it” because mommy didn’t find out.
I love my boys and look forward to seeing my son grow in to a wonderful man like his daddy.
Jasmine is a co-housing community living mama with a passion for fierce writing. She blogs.
(These are all photos my hubby and our son as a newborn and at a few weeks old. Our son is now 20 months old.)

HERE to read the original Blog on Attachment Parenting 

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Back to Sleep"

By now just about everyone has heard the hard core recommendations "Put baby to sleep on their back". Studies are quoted saying that babies sleeping on their back have a reduced chance of dying of SIDs.

Now, for the record, I'm not questioning the validity of this Campaign, nor the importance of sharing the information with new mothers....

...But I have some questions. When these studies were done, showing that sleeping on their backs reduces the incidents of SIDs in babies, what were the criteria that was used? For example, were groups divided according to whether a baby was exclusively breastfed? Did the babies sleep by themselves in a crib? Or in the Family Bed? Was the crib in another room? Or beside the parents bed? When they studied the incidents of SIDs deaths that happened to babies who slept on their stomachs, were details such as where the baby was sleeping, what type of bedding, were there other factors involved (ie: stuffed toys in the crib, pillows, bumper pads...)?

The reason I'm asking these questions is because I seem to have ANOTHER tummy sleeper on my hands.

I posted about Kael's love of tummy/snooze time on my Facebook status and was surprised at the amount of responses I've received from other moms who've had/have babies that prefer sleeping on their tummies. Both of my youngest sons were much happier sleeping on their stomachs. logan started flipping over to his tummy at 2 months. After fighting with him to get him to sleep on his back (like all the studies say) I finally gave up and just put him on his tummy. I made sure he was on a firm surface and that there was absolutely nothing around him to get entangled with or to interfere with his breathing..... and I checked on him constantly, even if he was in a bassinet right beside me. Now Kael has decided that he'd much prefer to sleep on his tummy too!! I put him down on his belly for some tummy time....and he falls asleep!! and for the past 3 days he has not been napping well on his back- often waking up within 15 minutes (and being miserable because of it).

I have to wonder about the back to sleep campaign and whether it applies to us? KWIM? My children are exclusively breastfed, they sleep either with me in bed (under safe shared sleep conditions), or sleep in a bassinet beside me in the livingroom- on a firm surface with nothing to get entangled with and under constant supervision. Is it really that risky to tummy sleep under these conditions? To be honest, I worry a lot more about Kael choking (he's a puker, and has choked several times while sleeping) while on his back, than I do about SIDs. Like I said, I'm not advocating that we all ignore the recommendations... but I still wonder if they take into consideration all the factors.

What do you think?


Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Cruelty in Maternity Wards"

Gloria Lemay writes about the original story published in the 1958 Ladies Home Journal blowing the whistle on the cruel and sadistic treatment that women were receiving in the Labour & Delivery hospital wards of the 1950's. The original article told horror stories of women being bound hand and foot, drugged and abandoned during labour for hours on end. Cruel and appalling treatment that women received from the doctors and nurses during birth that would rival many of today's scariest horror films.

Obstetrical professionals may be ashamed of the deplorable and heinous past of their profession, but will quickly point out that it's ancient history. But is it? Oh, no argument, the leather straps used to bind women's arms and legs to the labour bed have been removed and the "twilight" drugs used to silence and further immobilize them are no longer used, but the hard truth is that they have just been replaced with more insidious and underhanded methods of subduing and subjugating women.

The leather straps have been replaced with the elastic bands of the Electronic Foetal Monitoring system and IV lines. The "Twilight" drugs have been replaced with induction drugs and the epidural. The harsh cruel voices of Doctors and Nurses have been coated in silky words and velvet tones, yet still serve to undermine and control labouring mothers. Instead of dominating with force, they dominate with hospital policies, and the guise of concern and convenience.

"Now we'll get you an IV and the Pitocin drip to start your labour, and hook you up to the Foetal Monitor so that we can make sure your baby is reacting well to your labour. Once that is going, we'll get you an epidural so that you don't have to suffer through the pain of labour and can relax and rest...."

" We HAVE to do (insert a plethora of medical interventions here)- you want your baby to be safe and healthy right?"

.... Bonds of a different sort, yet just as controlling. The end result is the same. Women are still leaving the maternity ward feeling victimized and traumatized. Birth Rape is alive and well in the 21st Century.

Cruelty in Maternity Wards

From Sheila Stubbs, author of “Birthing the Easy Way”:

I bought a copy of a 1958 Ladies Home Journal on eBay last week. This magazine contains an article called Cruelty in Maternity Wards that had an enormous impact on women and began the movement to allow husbands into maternity wards.

A bit of history: An anonymous letter from someone who signed herself ‘Registered Nurse’ was published in which she begged the editor to ‘investigate the tortures that go on in modern delivery rooms.’ ‘You of the JOURNAL have long been a champion of women’s rights.’ she wrote, ‘[Exposing] this type of medical practice would go a long way to aid child-bearing women.’ What resulted from that letter was such a flood of letters from angry women that the JOURNAL did a full article revealing the reality of what women had experienced in hospitals. This was peppered with comments from an obstetrician who AGREED that the treatment had been cruel, and also comments from frustrated nurses who hated what they saw happening but would lose their jobs if they spoke up.

Here are some of the things women complained about in May 1958: ‘They give you drugs, whether you want them or not, and strap you down like an animal”. ‘’I've seen patients with no skin on their wrists from fighting the straps'’. “My baby arrived after I had lain on the table in delivery position nearly four hours.” When I asked why I couldn’t be put into a bed the nurse told me to quit bothering her so much. ‘’with leather cuffs strapped around my wrists and legs, I was left alone for nearly eight hours, until the actual delivery'’ My doctor had not arrived and the nurses held my legs together. She was born while he was washing his hands. I do not believe the treatment I received was intentionally cruel - just hospital routine’.

From a nurse: So often a delivery seems to be ‘job-centered’ - that is, get the job done the easiest, quickest way possible with no thought to the patient’s feelings. In too many cases doctors and nurses lose sight of their primary concern - the patient. ‘’I remember screaming… [the nurse] ignored me. … the doctor said at one point, ‘Stop your crying at me. I’m not the one who made you pregnant!’ My third baby will be born at home, despite the sterile advantages of a hospital confinement; for I feel the accompanying emotional disadvantages are just not worth it.”

From a nurse: ‘I have heard such unthinking remarks as ‘You had your fun, now you can suffer’ made by a nurse to a mother in great distress, damaging the spiritual nature of the childbirth experience and showing the nurse’s ignorance of the sacramental nature of sex in marriage.'’ “I reached the point where I wouldn’t have been surprised if the man who was washing the windows had suddenly laid down his sponge and come over to ‘take a peek.’ It seemed that everyone else connected with the hospital was doing it!” “I know of many instances of cruelty, stupidity and harm done to mothers by obstetricians who are callous or completely indifferent to the welfare of their patients. …Obstetricians today are businessmen who run baby factories. Modern painkillers and methods are used for the convenience of the doctor, not to spare the mother. There is so much that can be done to make childbirth the easy natural thing it should be, but most of the time the mother is terrified, unhappy, and foiled in every attempt to follow her own wishes about having the baby or breast feeding…”

Doesn’t that sound like it could have been written TODAY instead of FIFTY TWO YEARS AGO!! What do you say they get a flood of letters TODAY, marking the 52nd anniversary of this article! Let’s tell them that we still see Cruelty in Maternity Wards, it’s just taken a different form!

their website:

Sheila Stubbs

HERE to read Gloria's entire article and her letter to The Ladies Home Journal

Friday, March 12, 2010

Amnesty blows the whistle on Maternal Mortality rates in the US

Even Amnesty International sees it, yet main stream medical organizations seems to think that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Maternity care in the US (...and don't be fooled, it's almost as bad in Canada). The maternal death rate has almost doubled since 1987- 6.6 deaths per 100,000 births in 1987 to 13.3 deaths per 100,000 births in 2006. And since there is no federal reporting requirements in the US, the actual death rate may actually be much higher.

Amnesty points a finger at the lack of accessible health care as a reason for America's horrifying statistics (They are currently ranked 40th out of 40 developed nations), but also points to the high rates of Inductions and Caesarean Sections causing the maternal mortality rate to be climbing instead of falling. Currently the US spends the most amount of money on maternity care of any nations on the planet.... yet obviously they are spending too much money pushing medical and surgical interventions and not enough money on supportive health care and natural childbirth education- for parents and medical practitioners alike. Instead of encouraging and funding midwifery training and recognising the role of doulas as an essential part of supporting birthing mothers, they have instituted a dictator-like regime that bans mothers from having VBAC births and takes away their human rights to make decisions on how, where and when they will give birth.

Until ACOG , the CDC , and other major health organizations stop meddling in politics and accepting backdoor funding from companies with conflicting interests, the Maternal Mortality rate will only continue to climb. Because right now, these organizations are only interested in the bottom line instead of getting to the bottom of the reason that mothers are dying in childbirth in the 21st Century.

Too Many Women Dying in U.S. While Having Babies

Read more:,8599,1971633,00.html#ixzz0i0Lib1Ry

Amnesty International may be best known to American audiences for bringing to light horror stories abroad such as the disappearance of political activists in Argentina or the abysmal conditions inside South African prisons under apartheid. But in a new report on pregnancy and childbirth care in the U.S., Amnesty details the maternal-health care crisis in this country as part of a systemic violation of women's rights.

The report, titled "Deadly Delivery," notes that the likelihood of a woman's dying in childbirth in the U.S. is five times as great as in Greece, four times as great as in Germany and three times as great as in Spain. Every day in the U.S., more than two women die of pregnancy-related causes, with the maternal mortality ratio doubling from 6.6 deaths per 100,000 births in 1987 to 13.3 deaths per 100,000 births in 2006. (And as shocking as these figures are, Amnesty notes that the actual number of maternal deaths in the U.S. may be a lot higher, since there are no federal requirements to report these outcomes and since data collection at the state and local levels needs to be improved.) "In the U.S., we spend more than any country on health care, yet American women are at greater risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes than in 40 other countries," says Nan Strauss, the report's co-author, who spent two years investigating the issue of maternal mortality worldwide. "We thought that was scandalous." (See the most common hospital mishaps.)

According to Amnesty, which gathered data from many sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately half of the pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. are preventable, the result of systemic failures, including barriers to accessing care; inadequate, neglectful or discriminatory care; and overuse of risky interventions like inducing labor and delivering via cesarean section. "Women are not dying from complex, mysterious causes that we don't know how to treat," says Strauss. "Women are dying because it's a fragmented system, and they are not getting the comprehensive services that they need."

The report notes that black women in the U.S. are nearly four times as likely as white women to die from pregnancy-related causes, although they are no more likely to experience certain complications like hemorrhage.

The Amnesty report comes on the heels of an investigation in California that found that maternal deaths have tripled there in recent years, as well as a maternal-mortality alert issued in January by the Joint Commission, a group that accredits hospitals and other medical organizations, which noted that common preventable errors included failure to control blood pressure in hypertensive women and failure to pay attention to vital signs after C-sections. And just this week, a panel of medical experts at a conference held by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommended that physicians' organizations revisit policies that prevent women from having vaginal births after having had a cesarean. Such policies, designed in part to protect against litigation, have contributed to the rise of the U.S. cesarean rate to nearly 32% in 2007, the most recent year for which data are available.

The Amnesty report spotlights numerous barriers women face in accessing care, even among those who are insured or qualify for Medicaid. Poverty is a major factor, but all women are put at risk by overuse of obstetrical intervention and barriers to access to more woman-centered, physiologic care provided by family-practice physicians and midwives.

Amnesty is calling on Obama to create an Office of Maternal Health within the Department of Health and Human Services to improve outcomes and reduce disparities, among other recommendations. The report also calls on the government to address the shortage of maternal-care providers.

"Access is only one factor," cautions Maureen Corry, executive director of Childbirth Connection, a research and advocacy organization that recently convened more than 100 stakeholders, including members of the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists and the NIH, in a large symposium on transforming maternity care. "We need to make sure that we reduce the overuse of interventions that are not always necessary, like C-sections, and increase access to the care that we know is good for mothers and babies, like labor support."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Conspiracy of Labour: Electronic Foetal Monitoring

Call it a moment of clarity. Call it an abrupt insight. Call it a grand conspiracy theory (of which I have many.... but that's another- many other- rants). It hit me all at once while I was in labour with Kael last month, though I forgot about it until this week.

Now I'm not a doctor or a scientist, so I don't have any insider information on this- but if there is a logical reason that I'm missing, please feel free to let me in on the secret.

WHY are Electronic Foetal Monitors (EFM) so ridiculously cumbersome and antiquated?

I was hooked up to one of those damn monitors when I was in labour almost 19 years ago with my eldest son- two palm sized clunky disks that have to be held against your pregnant contracting belly by two stretchy elastic belts and hooked up to a tangle of wires that lead to a metal box covered with dials and switches that pukes out a continuous strip of graph paper. (and possibly goes "ping"). I remember even back then thinking "this is ridiculous!!". Imagine my surprise when I went into the hospital last month while in labour with my youngest son only to discover that they had the same monitor!! I Swear!! It was exactly the same! Still ridiculously uncomfortable and stupidly designed...


No, really: WHY?!

Think about it:

-19 years ago Cellular phones were the size of tissue boxes. Now they are so small that they get lost in your pocket

-19 years ago Computers were monstrosities with 300MB of memory. Now we have cell phones that have 32GBs and still can get lost in your pocket. Hell! You can go to your corner electronics shop and buy a 1 TB external hard drive for less than you paid for a Sony Diskman back in 1991!!

-19 years ago if you got lost while out driving you had the choice of stopping and asking for directions or buying a map book the size of a small encyclopaedia. Now you have the choice of pressing the On Star button, or following the GPS on your dash board, punching the address into your GPS app. in your smartphone, or looking it up on Google maps on your laptop.

...Do you see where I'm going with this?

Technology in the last two decades has advanced in leaps and bounds in every industry known on this planet. So why has one of the most basic medical contraptions used in one of the busiest hospital departments has never even gotten a cosmetic make over, let alone a technological facelift? Even tongue depressors have been gussied up with flavours and colours!!

Here is where the conspiracy theory comes in. The only reason (that I can see) for the foetal monitoring system to of resisted any form of change is because.....

....Doctors and hospitals don't want it to change. Why would they? It completely works in their favour. Since science has already proven without a shadow of a doubt that EFM is not only NOT saving the lives of babies or mothers, and that it's actually causing more harm than good in 90% of labours, then we need to ask ourselves WHY it's still the regular procedure in every L&D ward in North America. Here are my thoughts on the subject.

Electronic Foetal Monitoring is used because:

- It keeps the labouring mother strapped to a bed. If she's tied up in a tangle of wires and straps, then she can't be wandering around the labour ward, can't be moving around to be comfortable and to assume positions that will ease her labour surges and facilitate an easier birth. No, it simply makes the lives of medical staff easier, by immobilizing the mother.

-If the mother is strapped to a bed and tied to this electronic monitor, then the hospital doesn't need to assign a nurse or birthing attendant to watch over her and take care of her and reassure her- why would they? They have the all powerful all omnipotent EFM there keeping track of every little bleep!

- If the mothers entire labour has been recorded on the EFM then the hospital and doctors have a permanent record of every second of the labour and something they can refer to in a court of law... that they can point to, to defend their need to interfere with medical interventions. The fact that these blips and bleeps can be interpreted anyway they want doesn't really matter... apparently.

- and of course the use of EFM makes lots of money for the medical machine!!! As the studies have shown for years, the more the EFM is routinely used, the more medical interventions are used, and the more interventions that are used, require the use of even further interventions to support and remedy the problems caused by the first interventions to begin with...which all costs money... lots and lots of money.

Apparently some knowledgeable people agree with me.

Margaret Lent wrote in her article entitled: The Medical and Legal Risks of the Electronic Fetal Monitor- Journal article, Stanford Law Review, Vol. 51, 1999

"The story of electronic foetal heart monitoring (EFM) reveals the problems posed to physicians and patients by the hasty acceptance of relatively unproven devices and techniques. When EFM was introduced in the 1960s, enthusiastic advocates promised that by enabling the continuous, electronic monitoring of the fetal heart rate during labor and delivery, EFM would enable physicians to detect dangerous heart rate patterns and to intervene more promptly than with intermittent auscultation, the long-employed technique of periodically monitoring fetal heart rate with an obstetrical stethoscope. Thus, announced EFM proponents, the device would reduce rates of neonatal illness and death. Based on these promises, EFM became the predominant form of fetal heart monitoring by the mid- to late 1970s.(1) However, experts now conclude that these promises remain unfulfilled and that EFM is, at best, a "disappointing story."(2) In the twenty-five years of its almost ubiquitous use, no randomized controlled trial has demonstrated that electronic monitoring does a better job of saving babies or improving infant health than intermittent auscultation.(3) Moreover, studies indicate that the inaccuracy of the technique prompts unnecessary interventions and contributes to the nation's excessively high rate of cesarean delivery, a major surgical procedure which places mother and infant at greater risk of injury and death than noncesarean delivery.(4) Despite the increased risks, the device remains employed in nearly all American delivery rooms. Continued high use of EFM is often attributed to physician concerns about medical malpractice liability and professional inertia. As one EFM critic has observed: "[Doctors] talk about [abandoning EFM] at conferences and at [medical] rounds and listen intently and all of that, but it's not measurable in terms of changes in behavior. Everybody's waiting for the next person to get brave."(5)""

And one of my personal heroes, Dr. Marsden Wagner- former Director of Women & Childrens Health for the World Health Organization (WHO) writes this in his article "Technology in Birth: First Do No Harm"

"There are other cascades of interventions during labour. For example, routine electronic foetal monitoring leads to more caesarean sections, which lead to babies with respiratory distress syndrome or prematurity, which leads to putting these babies into newborn intensive care units. Every one of these interventions carries risks for mother and baby! It is easy to see how the high-tec approach to birth actually creates many new problems. Rather than change their habits, however, doctors conclude that birth is quite risky, when in reality doctors have caused it to be risky....Doctors' fear of litigation is another non-medical motivation for using technology. Doctors are afraid both of having to go to court and of having to pay higher malpractice insurance premiums. Two prime examples of the unnecessary use of technology due to doctors' fear of litigation are routine electronic foetal monitoring during normal labour and caesarean section with little or no medical justification."
So, why would they change it? Why would they create a better, more reliable, less dangerous way of monitoring babies and labouring mothers? If they did, they'd loose. If they did, then maybe the public would realized that they have been duped for years and years and MAYBE the same public would demand an accounting of all the problems the medical machine has caused with their ridiculous toy. Better to stick to their guns and pretend that the problem doesn't exist. Besides.... who's going to question the all powerful all mighty medical machine? I mean, they only have our best interests at heart, right?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Baby wearing saves a baby

I read this blog last night and crumbled into tears. This is such an empowering story of one mother saying screw you to the system and all those around her- people, both medical personnel and friends who told her she was wrong, and who stuck to her deep mothering instincts.... instincts that saved the life of her sick baby girl.

We are mothers. We KNOW our babies. We need to listen to that inner mothering voice when it tells us what to do and how to parent and look after ourselves and our children.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Saving My Baby

I gave birth on a February afternoon by repeat caesarean. A pink, squalling bundle was handed to me, and I gazed lovingly into eyes that seemed to recognize me. I whispered sweet words of belonging to this girl child of mine, and comforted her outraged cries. She was the daughter I so desperately wanted.

A week after her birth, a friend dropped off a ring sling. I snuggled my 7 lb bundle into it and went about my way with a mostly content baby. Within two weeks, I was wearing her constantly. Towards afternoon, she’d begin to sob and scream inconsolably. She would arch and thrash, refuse to nurse, refuse a soother, the swing, my arms. The only thing that would quiet her screams was the sling.

Screamy baby began to lose weight. I carried her – day in, day out – in the sling. Repeated trips to the doctor revealed nothing. She was unable to nurse, screaming hysterically within moments of latch on.I was told rudely “ Do breast compressions. Breast is best.” Breast compressions made her choke and gag... and scream. I began feeding her formula. We went back to the doctor. Reflux. Milk Intolerance. Delayed gastric emptying. Her weight gain was poor, and the screaming increased in volume. Nights were long, filled with arching, thrashing baby. There was many a night that I slept with her in the sling, sitting up on the couch, unwilling to move her from her comfort zone. People told me I was spoiling her. I told them “ We’re coping. This is all that works.” I was told to let her cry it out, but I had no desire to abandon my child to a dark room to cry out her angst. My responsibility to her did not end when the sun went down. I whispered in her ear that I couldn’t stop her crying, but I could hold her while she cried.

I paced the floors with her, snuggled tummy to tummy in the sling. At six months, I begged the doctor to hospitilize her – I knew something was dreadfully wrong. The paediatrician agreed. She was poked, prodded, xrayed, and force fed. The screaming continued.

A day before discharge, my pediatrician’s partner waltzed into our room with his holier than thou attitude. He told me I wasn’t putting in the effort to feed her, to put her in another room to sleep and let her cry it out. I banned him from treating my child.

I worked part time, baby in sling. I got a mei tai, two more ring slings. I carried her everywhere. In the shower. To the doctor, to the park, on playdates. People nastily asked me how she would learn to walk if I never put her down. I ignored them. Carrying her stopped the screaming.

Just before her first birthday, she developed a high fever and cough. I took her to the ER, still wrapped in my sling. We waited 7 hours. Xrays revealed her heart was enlarged. We were admitted. I carried her nonstop for the next few days – through a terrifying whirlwind of echocardiograms and finally a diagnosis. During one particularly memorable screaming fit, a nurse turned to me in tears, and handed me my sling. My daughter quieted, safe in her sling.

She was in heart failure. A rare and very serious heart defect had been causing massive heart attacks. Fatality rates were 90% in the first year. The screaming was her suffering from crushing chest pain. In the hallway, the cardiologist turned to me and quietly told me that it was my parenting – the constant carrying – that had allowed her to survive against all odds.

My daughter never cried alone, left in a room. Had I ever practiced CIO, I would have woken to a lifeless baby. I held her through months of gut wrenching doubt, moments when I cried too. But today, I watch my daughter play and run, and laugh. I carried her through a mom’s worst nightmare... and we both survived.

Sarah Kaganovsky

HERE to go directly to the original Blog Post on Fierce Mamas

Friday, March 5, 2010

I"m trying.... really I am!

Well everyone, the time has come the walrus said.... to fess up.

I'm not super mom, nor am I a super blogger.

I've tried to keep up with my blog- I've even got about 3 or 4 blogs half written in Word that just need some more time.... "Time" - HA! that's such a joke!! Having 4 kids at home- with the youngest being just 26 days old- seems to of created a trans-dimensional black hole that sucks up every extra second in my day, ROTF!!!!

I can deal with the dishes and the cooking. I can deal with getting my two daughters up and ready for school in the morning- breakfasts on the table (... you can lead a horse to water...), lunches packed, I can even find them matching socks and mittens (usually). I can sweep the floors and tidy the living room. I can even pick up the dirty socks and muddy mittens from yesterday and find the missing lunch box or a sharpened pencil (a rare commodity in our house).

Just a regular day in the trenches of our household.

Then we add our latest addition to our family.

I am nursing my 26 day old Ewok/I mean baby, on demand... which in my vernacular seriously means "Whenever he wants", be it every 20 minutes or for hours at a time (as is apparent by the fact that he's gained 2 pounds in 26 days!!lol), and Kael and I have started our adventure into the land of Elimination Communication, which, while very rewarding, requires more than a small bit of my attention. Luckily we are a babywearing family and while my youngest two beasties aren't quite ready for slinging a new born around, between Nick and I and the ever wondrous WRAP, and my daughters love of holding their littlest brother, Kael rarely finds himself lonely :>P Which makes reading his signals much easier as for the most part they mean "I'm hungry" or "I need to Pee/poop"...

I can deal with all of this.

....but OH GODs!!!!! Will someone please shoot the laundry troll that lives under my stairs!!! I CAN NOT keep up!! Oh, I can get the laundry organized, and even washed.... but when ever it comes out of the dryer it seems to cause serious consequences through out our house: small children decide to go to war (or fall off the couch... that they were using for a trampoline), the baby needs to poop, or nurse, or burp, or cuddle... the eldest DD needs help spelling "ardvark", the youngest DD decides to "help out" by "doing the dishes", "the Boy" decides to go surfing through the kitchen in the run-off from his older sister "doin the dishes"....OH! the baby needs to poop again..... and so the laundry is either forgotten in the dryer or in the laundry basket.... regardless, it never seems to get folded and put away in a safe spot (preferably, in the proper drawers), and always seems to end up on our bedroom floor- waiting oh so patiently for the black hole to spit out a couple of those stolen minutes so that it will finally make it to it's home. But when I'm not looking, the laundry troll sneaks out and runs through the semi organized piles of clean clothes, dragging pieces out into the hallway (where they get mixed up with the dirty laundry awaiting my undivided (rotf) attention, and if I'm really preoccupied he'll even find a puddle of mud (or ketchup, chocolate milk, pudding, applesauce, peanut butter....) and rub it all over his body and then roll through the laundry piles, for maximum devastation....

...I've never actually seen the laundry troll, but he must exist since everyone else in my family denies culpability, and my sweet children would NEVER lie about something like that .


Anyway, I digress.

All I'm saying is that I'm trying my best. My children are clothed in (reasonably) clean outfits (well, except for my youngest nudist who refuses to wear clothing between the hours of 8am and 5pm), They are fed healthy foods (...ok, somewhat healthy foods), their homework is done (thanx to their father who is in charge of math and spelling, both of which I suck at), the house is tidy (ish.... again, mostly thanx to my darling hubby), and I can usually find a moment to at least read my emails once a day (twice if I'm lucky!).... but my blog..... my poor poor ignored blog.... well, it's gathering a bit of dust (great, one more thing to clean), but I PROMISE I'll get back to writing again soon.

No, really: I will!! The fact that it's taken me 3 hours, several revisions, 2 nursing sessions, multiple snacks for small beasties/I mean children, two potty emergencies (not Kael's), one potty break for kael, a change of clothing for me (there is only so long one can stand smelling like baby barf), and overseeing the building of an enormous fort in the middle of our living room .... Just to get this blog written... well, that doesn't mean that I won't have time tomorrow. Or the next day...

I'm blathering again.

Most of you are moms. You know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, all I'm saying is that please have patience and check back here often. I'm sure I'll find a way to get rid of that black hole sooner or later.

(anyone have Stephen Hawkings number?)