What Are The Benefits Of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a very personal decision and one that often calls for very strong opinions either in favor or against it. The choice to do so or not is really up to the mother and the unique situation she and her baby find themselves in, but it’s always necessary to stay informed on the pros and cons. It’s a well-known fact that a lot of medical experts and institutions like the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend breastfeeding, and here we will talk about the most significant benefits breastfeeding can bring to you and your baby.

Breastfeeding is a very personal decision and one that often calls for very strong opinions either in favor or against it. The choice to do so or not is really up to the mother and the unique situation she and her baby find themselves in, but it’s always necessary to stay informed on the pros and cons. It’s a well-known fact that a lot of medical experts and institutions like the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend breastfeeding, and here we will talk about the most significant benefits breastfeeding can bring to you and your baby.

Breastfeeding Benefits For The Baby

  • Nature’s perfect food: Breast milk is the ideal food for a baby. Think about it, breast milk is the result of years of evolution, so what could be better for your baby than nature’s choice for nutrition? It contains the ideal mix of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and vitamins, all the nutrients that a newborn needs to grow and be healthy, and this is backed up by all the benefits found on breastfed babies.
  • Statistically beneficial: Studies have shown statistics where breastfed babies have a considerably lower risk of suffering from all types of illnesses, including childhood leukemia. Some other benefits that have been found in these babies are a better brain development, a healthy weight, and of course a stronger immune system resulting in a lower risk of infection.
  • Helps the immune system: Breast milk contains all types of antibodies, creating a strong and capable immune system for the baby, fighting off infections much more quickly. The antibody that has been most linked to being passed on to the baby through breast milk is IgA (immunoglobin A), which is often found on the mucosa. A higher count of IgA has been proven to help and prevent all sorts of allergies, and lower the risk of suffering from asthma.
  • Let’s talk about colostrum: As good as regular breast milk sounds, there’s something even better that comes from the breast. Colostrum is also known as the pre-milk, and it’s a thick and yellow liquid that comes out of the breast during the first few days after the birth.

This liquid is  even more of an ideal nutrition for the baby. It’s thick consistency and yellowish colour it’s due to the high quantity of protein it has, and it also contains a lot of essential substances for the growth of the baby, such as insulin and epidermal growth factor. Feeding your baby with colostrum for as long as you can produce it helps them develop their digestive track, and gets them ready to receive the milk that comes later.

  • No bad eating habits: Apart from all the useful substances and nutrients breast milk contains, breastfeeding is also beneficial for your baby to develop healthy eating habits. When you breastfeed your baby, they will eat until they are satisfied, no more or less. Learning to eat only until they’re full from such an early stage is really helpful to prevent future eating problems.
  • A few things to take into consideration: Even though breast milk is a source of almost every nutrient your baby needs, there are still some notes that have to be clarified. When it comes to nutrients, especially vitamins, it must be clear that for the baby to get them, the mother has to have a sufficient intake. If the mother doesn’t have a balanced diet, then the baby won’t get as many benefits from the breast milk as they could.

It is also important to point out that Vitamin D supplements are often recommended by doctors, as the babies don’t get enough sunlight and mothers frequently don’t have enough intake. This results in breast milk not providing enough Vitamin D, and the baby also not producing it with the help of the sun rays. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that children receive 400 IU of Vitamin D daily.

Breastfeeding Benefits For The Mom

  • You will heal faster: Oxytocin is a hormone produced in the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland. This hormone has many effects on the body, the two most important ones being the contraction of the uterus and the ejection of milk by the mammary glands. Therefore, oxytocin is released during labour, being responsible for the contractions, and with the stimulation of the nipples in lactating mothers, making the milk come out.
  • This means that when a mother breastfeeds, she releases more oxytocin, which makes the uterus contract, helping with the post-labour healing. So one benefit found in breastfeeding mothers is that they heal much more quickly than a mother who doesn’t.
  • It helps with PPD: Postpartum depression is a condition that affects more women than we think, but studies have found that breastfeeding could help prevent it from happening. Oxytocin doesn’t only have physical effects, but it also works psychologically.

This hormone is linked to maternal behaviour and a connection with the baby, so by releasing more oxytocin during breastfeeding, mothers show more affection and a lower amount of anxiety regarding their baby. Plus, the simple act of feeding your child yourself is known to be a great way to connect with the baby, which helps to form a more significant bond.

  • A natural contraceptive?: When women breastfeed continuously, menstruation and ovulation pauses. This is nature’s way of making sure there will be a considerable amount of time between pregnancies. A rest from your period is always a nice thing, and an extra method of contraception is useful too. But keep in mind that this isn’t a 100% safe method, and needs to be used alongside other forms of birth control.
  • Statistically beneficial for the mother too: Breastfeeding has also been linked to statistics that show many health benefits for the mother as well. For example, women who breastfed showed a lower risk of suffering from breast and ovarian cancer for reasons that haven’t been determined yet. Some other benefits are a lower risk of suffering from osteoporosis, as breastfeeding mothers absorb calcium much more, and it can also make you lose weight.
  • It’s convenient: The ultimate reason to breastfeed your child comes down to convenience. Breastfeeding saves you time and money, as it’s free and you don’t have to do much. Just a little privacy and you’re good to go.

As we said in the beginning, whether a woman chooses to breastfeed or not is entirely up to the her and the situation regarding the birth, the baby, and the health of the mother herself. We just recommend taking into consideration all the significant benefits that come with breastfeeding, for both the mother and the baby.


Tips For Creating A Safe Backyard Play Area For Kids

Kids love the outdoors, and it’s healthy for them to play outside. In a world where new generations are choosing the internet over playdates more and more, promoting outdoor play is necessary.

Kids love the outdoors, and it’s healthy for them to play outside. In a world where new generations are choosing the internet over playdates more and more, promoting outdoor play is necessary.

One great way to achieve this is having a backyard where your kids can play, but it has to be completely safe for them. It’s very common to see kids with broken bones and injuries related to playgrounds and outdoor play, so we have gathered the essential tips for creating a safe backyard play area for kids.

General safety for backyards

You have to set some rules: The first thing parents need to do to have a safe backyard is making their kid understand basic rules when playing outside. This way, all the effort you put into making your backyard safe won’t be in vain. Some basic rules include staying inside the backyard and not going outside of it alone, and not talking to strangers without the parents being present.

Fence your backyard: It’s hard for kids to know the limits of a space if they can’t visualize it, so it’s important that parents make that separation visual. Also, fenced backyards are safer from burglars or any person that may be unwanted on your property or near your children.

Get rid of possible injury hazards: Check your background and look for anything that could harm your kid. Some things are pretty obvious, like grills, lawnmowers, or outdoor outlets. But this is the part where parents have to get creative and imagine every possible scenario.

Always supervise your kid: This is an instinct for pretty much every parent. But it needs to kick in especially when it comes to outdoor play. As many rules as you teach your child, they can always do dangerous things, so make sure your kid is always supervised either by you or someone you trust.

What to do if there’s an emergency: It doesn’t matter how much you protect your play area, accidents can always happen, and parents need to be ready at all times. A first-aid kit is obligatory in any home, especially one with a backyard play area and kids. Parents also need to know how to use it, and preferably have some knowledge of first-aid for kids. Emergency numbers have to be on hand too.

Check your backyard every day: New hazards can appear daily, so a rigorous check on your backyard has to be done every day for as long as your kid will be playing there.

Setting up a safe playground

Cover up, and get rid of everything that could harm your kid: Check the playground carefully, and start covering and setting apart anything that’s dangerous. This is something to consider when you’re purchasing the playground as well. It’s never good to have cords, as they can quickly become strangulation hazards, and anything that protrudes or has sharp points needs to be covered.

Swings: Swings are some of the most dangerous parts of a playground, so parents need to be especially careful with them. Always try to purchase swings with seats that aren’t so harsh, like wooden ones. And don’t put more than two swings in the same section, as it won’t be stable. Go for a swing set that’s sturdy and your child can grow into.

Slides: There are a few things to consider when it comes to slides. Firstly, they shouldn’t be too tall, some have established they shouldn’t be higher than four feet for young children, and lower than six feet for older children. The landing has to be on a soft surface, always avoiding concrete or a harsh material. You may also consider covering the landing space with foam or other protecting materials. Another thing you could check regularly is the temperature of the slide before your kid goes on it.

Some other tips

Trampolines: Every kid loves a trampoline, but in case you are considering getting one, you need to be careful with a few things. Make sure it’s in good condition have it be regularly checked. Also, the surroundings have to be free of any hazards (walls, furniture, equipment), and the frames have to be padded. Learn more about trampoline hazards.

Pools and hot tubs: These are fun for the whole family, but parents have to make sure it is a safe place for kids. Putting up fences on a pool is an excellent idea to avoid accidents, and installing non-slip surfaces can help when kids don’t understand that they shouldn’t run around the pool. Of course, having a clean pool is obligatory, and always make sure that your kid is being supervised (even teenagers).

A happy kid is a happy parent, and kids that play outside are notably happier. Getting them out of the computer every once in a while is healthy for them, and with these tips, you can make sure that your kid will be safe and have fun.

Henna Tattoos – How Safe Are They for Your Child?

Today, tattoos are considered a fashion accessory. With top celebrities getting inked, teenagers and even younger kids can’t wait to get similar designs on their bodies. While permanent tattoos are painful, expensive and well, permanent, temporary tattoos are quite popular among pre-teens and teens. One of such temporary tattoos is the henna tattoo. And with the trend catching up, one question that all parents need to ask is – Are henna tattoos safe for the kids?

Today, tattoos are considered a fashion accessory. With top celebrities getting inked, teenagers and even younger kids can’t wait to get similar designs on their bodies. While permanent tattoos are painful, expensive and well, permanent, temporary tattoos are quite popular among pre-teens and teens. One of such temporary tattoos is the henna tattoo. And with the trend catching up, one question that all parents need to ask is – Are henna tattoos safe for the kids?

What Are Henna Tattoos

The word ‘henna’, which comes from the Arabic word ḥinnā, is a dye prepared from the henna plant. The dye is commonly used for coloring skin, nails, hair or leather. Henna tattoos are temporary designs made on the body using these dyes. Though these tattoos originated in Egypt and were embraced by the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, the trend has caught up in the western countries in recent times. The tattoos are made by staining the top few layers of the skin as opposed to injecting ink into the skin as in the case of permanent tattoos. Young people and even kids are seen sporting these temporary tattoos in parties and at carnivals.

Henna tattoos are popular among kids because:

  • They are temporary. The tattoo wears off in 1-2 weeks.
  • The procedure of getting a henna tattoo is painless.
  • They are inexpensive.
  • When done by a professional, the designs can be quite beautiful and attractive.

Types of Henna

You need to know what types of henna are used in the tattoos to better understand what is safe for kids.

  1. Natural Henna – It is made up of a paste from the dried leaves of the henna plant and essential oils like Eucalyptus oil or lemon oil. The paste is dark bottle green in color. The artist would recommend the tattoo to be washed off after 4-5 hours or that the design be left overnight to dry. After the dried henna is scraped off or washed, the design is orange in color and it slowly darkens to a red-brown in the next 24 hours. Once completely darkened, it starts fading and is gone in a week or so.
  2. Black Henna or Chemical Henna – Some henna artists apply black henna which will give the body design a black color, more like a real tattoo, instead of the red-brown of the natural henna. This henna is laden with chemicals to deepen the color. It might contain unlisted dyes too. It often contains para-phenylenediamine (PPD), a hair dye that is banned from using on the skin in many western countries.

How Can Henna Affect Your Child

Natural Henna is generally considered safe. Since it is a plant-based extract, when used in the pure form without chemical additives, it is low-risk. However, since it usually contains essential oils, predominantly eucalyptus oil, you might want to steer clear of it if your child is allergic to essential oils.

The chemicals in black henna can trigger several skin allergies. The hazards of PPD are more serious. It is known to cause severe allergic reactions such as itching, blisters, and even permanent scarring! Black Henna pastes can contain PPD from 10% to a staggering 80%! And if that isn’t scary enough, PPD exposure in childhood can lead to several problems in adulthood too. If a person is sensitized at an early age, he or she may become allergic to chemical hair dyes, perfumes, printer ink, and even some medications when older. The effects may include hospitalization or life-threatening reactions.

How to Keep Kids Safe

The red flags – if you find these, run away from the tattoos like the plague!

  1. The artist tells you the paste being used is not pure henna, but with additives to enhance color.
  2. The artist asks the paste to be washed off after one hour.
  3. The artist tells you the tattoo would be a nice black like the permanent tattoos.
  4. The henna paste has a strong chemical odor and black color.
  5. The henna is natural, but your child is allergic to essential oils.

Finally, remember that you can never be too careful with the kids. So, if in doubt about the quality of the henna, it is best to avoid letting your child get a tattoo, even if it creates tension with your child.

If after your child has had a henna tattoo, they develop an allergic reaction, go to the doctor! Also, if you suspect your child has had a tattoo previously, it would be advisable to consult a physician even in the absence of any reaction, to discuss the consequences of PPD exposure.

Stay safe!

Simple Parental Advices That You Can Count On For Years

Children still need parental advice all the time, even if they are all grown up and independent. Every day, parents come across different issues that relate with how to deal with their children. Growing children need all the possible parental advisory they can get from their parent(s). So, ask yourself, ‘How best can I be a good parent?’ Well, to answer you, here are four simple parental advices that will guide and help you as a parent:

1. Parental Advice: Take a Break

Taking some time away from your children; does not make you are a bad parent. Work out with another member of the family or your spouse to take care of the children while you take the needed break. Let other members of the family have time to bond with the children too. Create some free time for yourself and regain your energy with a fresh mind. With this, you will approach things differently to the kids when you return. I believe when parent(s) take time to be away, this also gives the children a chance to learn how to grow up being independent.

2. Parental Advice: Keep Your Home Beautiful

A well decorated and beautiful home brings love and peace to the children and parents. The ambience makes the children feel welcomed, gives a perfect feel, makes them feel cared for and enhances a healthy environment too. When the home is beautiful, the children grow up healthy in mind and body too.

3. Parental Advice: Make Frequent Travels

Children enjoy being outdoors without their parents. Traveling with your kids is the best thing that can happen to a family whose parents have a busy schedule most of the time. A different environment refreshes the mind, soul and body for both the children and parent(s). Children learn more, the experience is always different from the usual one, they get to interact and socialise with other children. Your family gets a great opportunity to bond and get to know each other well away from the busy regular home setting.

4. Parental Advice: Do Not Be The Final Decision Maker

Learn to accommodate your children during decision-making touching on the family. Do not force decisions down their throats, especially if it concerns them in one way or another (like when they want to get a henna tattoo). Get their opinion on the matter and let them feel to be part of what comes out of the outcome. As a parent, you can get your way around it without hurting their feelings. However, that will depend on their age and ability to contribute towards the matter. Once there is a mutual understanding everyone is happy at the end of the day.

Every day is a different day to learn something new and with these few simple parental advices, being a caring parent should not be that hard for you. Parenting is not easy but, as they say, ‘practice makes perfect’. So, learn and put into practice what you learn – an excellent mother or father never stops learning nor do the children stop learning too!

Raising a Teenager Who is Not Your Own

While all parents will find themselves within the teenage years at some point as their kids grow up, it is a whole different experience when you take in a teenager who has not been your child from birth. In a time when many parents are working too much or participating in illegal activity, it is the children that tend to fall through the cracks, and without someone there to guide them, can make the wrong turns in life. The teenage years are a time when it is important to have boundaries and positive support in order to thrive, and should it not be found at home, many teens will look for it elsewhere. My children have always known that our home is welcome to anyone, and over the years, our family has grown because of it.

I have personally taken in 2 teenagers over the years, in addition to my own 4 children, and it is a completely different experience. I would love to say that both were successful, but that is not the case.

The first teenager to join our family was a friend of my oldest sons who had come from a very troubled background. His biological father had passed away only a year after he was able to meet him for the first time. His mother was a drug addict, and was no longer allowed to have contact with her son. He was living with a step-father, but was having a very difficult time.

He had lived his childhood among drug addicts, had been shot at, and was never really given any parenting or guidelines as to how one should behave. He had been to our house numerous times, and was a very polite young man when it came to me and was always offering to help around the house. I could see that all he really wanted was a family to love him. He had been in and out of the juvenile system for most of his life, and it wasn’t long before I found out he was back in juvenile detention.

My son came home from school one day and told me that this boy’s step-father no longer wanted him and without a family to go home to, he was not going to be released from detention. My son asked if we could provide a home for him, and after discussing it with my family, we decided to take him in. I contacted his probation officer and the juvenile system, had his step-father sign over parental rights to me, and he moved in to our home. Before he arrived, I met him at the detention center and talked about the differences living in my home would bring. He would have rules to follow, and his previous behavior would not be accepted. He came to live with us, and things went well for a while, but as a 16 year old boy, trying to break him from the life of trouble he was accustomed to, proved to be too difficult, and within 4 months he again found himself in detention. No matter how much I tried to make a change for this young boy, it just didn’t make a difference. It was then that I realized that how a child is brought up really does mold who they are, and trying to change this mold, even during the teenage years, can prove to be very difficult. While I wanted to help this boy, I didn’t think it was fair to my family.

Two years later, my oldest son again had a friend who came from a split family and had parents that were abusive no matter how well this young man was and how well he accomplished things. This young man was a straight ‘A’ student, a state-champion with speech and debate, yet was looking at living on the streets because he just couldn’t stand to go through the abuse at home anymore. I was adamant that he would not be on the street, and told him he had a home with us. We have fought issues with his mother, and she has threatened to report him as a runaway and have me brought up on charges for harboring him, but as far as I am concerned, it is worth the risk. He is a wonderful young man, and in the 6 months he has been living with us, he has become a part of this family. He considers me to be his mother, and all of my children to be his brothers and sisters. The beauty of it is they feel the same way. While they will get in their little ‘tiffs’ as all siblings do, it is just that. Though there is not a drop of blood shared, he is just as much a son to me as my other children.

I have had many people ask me how I could think to take in more children, and ones with possible issues at that. My answer is they are all just looking for the love, respect, support and guidance that we all seem to think is natural. Unfortunately, a family with parents that become involved in their children’s lives is not as common as it once was. But, even if it means I end up with a dozen kids, I will still be the mom that is here to take care of and support my children, as well as any other children that need my love and support. I only wish that there wasn’t a need for parents like me. I wish that all parents would take the time to know and love their children, and their children’s friends.

Baby Formula Dispensers

In today’s world, where science has made such advancements, bottle sterilizers for easy and perfect sterile bottles and pacifiers; pacifier thermometer to see if the baby has a fever in the middle of the night without getting him undressed and undiapered, mamroo swings, an effective bouncy chair that makes the baby sleep, baby formula dispensers and several others have made lives for new mums much easier.

Baby formula dispensers are easy to use, accurate in measurement, and safe infant feeding device designed to hold an entire container of formula, it dispenses a consistently sized serving by 1 simple click. The 8.8 gm scoop size works with different formula brands, and each serving creates 2 ounces of prepared formula. In addition to this, theses dispensers are designed in a way to prevent the transfer of germs by reducing potential exposure to pathogens, it is created by food grade-BPA free material, and provides the new moms a sense of confidence that the baby is being given a perfect dosage, which is very important to all mothers. Light and easy to carry, all a mother need is some sterile water in the bottle and the baby formula dispenser to make that perfectly healthy milk for the little one.

Babies always require milk in every 2.5 hours in the very initial months, that too, with proper dosages prescribed by the pediatrician, now when we use a spoon to make the milk, it has been clinically proven that, weight of every scoop varies, making a huge difference in the growth of the baby, as every gram counts in case of infants.

Store, carry, dispense the baby formula, and with each twist one scoop dispenses, thus no wastage, just the perfect amount.Almost, all dispensers have a cap to seal the nozzle, before and after use, and the safety is also not to be pondered upon, as it is 100% safe, and is just like a jig saw puzzle with 3 units stacked and connected on one top of the other, one at the bottom, stores the formula powder, is air tight, so that it remains dry and germ free, second unit or the mid-section has the rotatory device with a switch protruding out which helps in dispensing exactly 1 scoop at a time, and last at the top is a bottle like structure for easy dispensing, so that transferring the contents into the feeding bottle is easy and tidy at all times.

I’m A Natural Parent, But. . .

Welcome to the “I’m a Natural Parent – BUT…” Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. During this carnival our participants have focused on the many different forms and shapes Natural Parenting can take in our community.


. . . I don’t eat my placenta. My daughter’s is buried beneath the apple tree in our backyard in Montana and my son’s is under a water oak in our Texas backyard.

. . . I don’t want to see or touch my baby’s head as it is born, nor do I want to catch my baby.

. . . my daughter and I weaned each other when she was 13-months-old. No extended nursing for her. And fortunately, no tandem nursing for me because I think I would hate it.

. . . I will not be homeschooling. Although I’d kick ass at it, except for the part about being with my kids all day. Besides, it’s one of the few parenting issues my husband has a strong opinion on. (His concerns are valid, so don’t send hate mail.)

. . . my daughter watches cartoons every morning. Some might call that using the television as a babysitter. I call it a better choice than alcohol to preserve mama’s sanity.

. . . speaking of television, I watch The Bachelor. And in the summers, Big Brother. Occasionally, The Amazing Race, too. And college football. (Yes, I am a competitive person, and I can’t wait to sign up my daughter for Toddlers & Tiaras.)

. . . we used to eat at Chick-fil-A. Then I read an article about just how socially conservative (i.e. homophobic) the company is. Thank goodness I found Raising Cane’s. Please, oh please, don’t tell me they’re prejudiced, too.

. . . I buy paper towels when my mom is coming to town. She does most of the cooking, so if she needs paper products as part of her culinary work, then so be it.

. . . I use disposable feminine hygiene products, although I’d like to experiment with one of those little cup thingies. (No rush on getting back to me, though, Aunt Flo.)

. . . I’ve never looked down on anyone for not using cloth diapers. I love them, but whether you use them or not is a non-issue to me.

. . . the same with a mother not staying home with her kids. It’s a non-issue. Although I am supremely jealous of any mom who gets time alone in her car or the bathroom each day.

. . . even with the most supportive doctor, nurse, and doula, if I’d had my first child in the hospital I probably would have had an epidural.

. . . I don’t care where you have your baby. I just care that you make informed decisions and are respected by caregivers.

. . . I’m not perfect, and life’s too short to play by all the rules anyway.


This carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that “natural parenting” means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

The hill I’m willing to die on

I’m so proud that probably the most important, yet emotionally charged, blog post I’ve written has traveled farther around the internet than I would have ever expected. If just one mother decides to keep the boy she’s pregnant with whole, or one dad says, “I’m cut and my two sons are cut, but my next son will remain intact,” then I will have been successful. Regardless of the number of interpersonal relationships I’ve strained or the number of people I’ve outright pissed off, a seed has been planted.

The topic of routine infant circumcision is not one that can be neatly summed up in one post, though, so I’m highlighting links and comments left on my last post to provide additional food for thought.

Instead of outlawing the practice all together for being antiquated, unnecessary, and detrimental, the ”medical reasons” for circumcision change from century to century to fit with the issues of the time. Whereas today it is sold as a way to reduce the risk of UTIs, penile cancer, STDs, and HIV (efforts are being made to circumcise in African countries for this very reason), here are the medical reasons for circumcision in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in doctors’ own words:

“A remedy [for masturbation] which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision…The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anaesthetic, as the pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment…” [John Harvey Kellogg. Plain Facts for Old and Young. Burlington, Iowa: F. Segner & Co. 1888:295.]

“In all cases of masturbation circumcision is undoubtedly the physicians’ closest friend and ally…To obtain the best results one must cut away enough skin and mucous membrane to rather put it on the stretch when erections come later. There must be no play in the skin after the wound has thoroughly healed, but it must fit tightly over the penis, for should there be any play the patient will be found to readily resume his practice. . .” [E. J. Spratling. Masturbation in the Adult. Medical Record 1895;24:442-443.]

“Local indications for circumcision: Hygienic, phimosis, paraphimosis, redundancy (where the prepuce more than covers the glans). adhesions, papillomata, eczema (acute and chronic), oedema, chancre, chancroid, cicatrices, inflammatory thickening, elephantiasis, naevus, epithelioma, gangrene, tuberculosis, preputial calculi, hip-joint disease, hernia. Systemic indications: Onanism, seminal emissions, enuresis, dysuria, retention, general nervousness, impotence, convulsions, hystero-epilepsy.” [George F. Shrady. Circumscisus. Medical Record 1896;49:430]

“Circumcision offers a diminished tendency to masturbation, nocturnal pollutions, convulsions and other nervous results of local irritation. It is the moral duty of every physician to encourage circumcision in the young…” [Abraham L. Wolbarst. Universal Circumcision. Journal of the American Medical Association 1914;62:92-97.]

“…[W]e do feel that there are many excellent reasons for routinely circumcising the male… Longevity, immunity to nearly all physical and mental illness, increased physical vigor, etc., are all attributed to this practice… In addition to the aforementioned reasons for doing the operation, we shall list several reasons to support immediate circumcision. … Convenience: Under the present regime the obstetrician finishes his episiotomy, walks across the hall and circumcises the infant, and is finished with the whole business.” [Richard L. Miller. Donald C. Snyder. Immediate Circumcision of the Newborn Male. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 1953;65:1-11.]


Today, however, non-American medical associations (here is the AAP’s policy) such as the Royal Dutch Medical Association have a firm stance against routine infant circumcision:

“The official viewpoint of KNMG and other related medical/scientific organisations is that non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors is a violation of children’s rights to autonomy and physical integrity. Contrary to popular belief, circumcision can cause complications – bleeding, infection, urethral stricture and panic attacks are particularly common. KNMG is therefore urging a strong policy of deterrence. KNMG is calling upon doctors to actively and insistently inform parents who are considering the procedure of the absence of medical benefits and the danger of complications.”

Despite the beliefs held in other nations and the easy access to information in the internet age, Americans, albeit in decreasing numbers, are still circumcising. Here a reader named Roger gives a few reasons why:

Dad fears that son will be mocked and taunted in the sports locker room and in summer camp. Nobody mentions that this never happens after a boy finishes high school. Never mind that most parents believe that a young woman should be proud of the body that God gave her, and should have nothing to do with young men who do not accept her as she is. Never mind that an intact boy can simply be told that he is healthy and normal, and that almost every male is born looking as he does.”

Yes. Should I plan on breast implants for my daughter in case she’s an A cup like her mama, so boys will like her?

“Parents believe that if routine circumcision were harmful, doctors would not offer to do it.”

As I sit here today while an acquaintance delivers her baby via scheduled c-section because she is “too short to dilate,” I am reminded that physicians are often placed on a pedestal of omniscience from which they are thought to be able to do no wrong.

“Many families circumcise their sons because Dad insists on it, despite Mom having serious reservations about the practice. Mom decides that this is not a hill she is willing to die on.”

I’ve read dozens of comments online from women who leave the decision up to their husbands simply because they have a penis, or who are against circumcision but defer to their husbands’ wishes to have a son who “looks like him.” (Fortunately, there are many other men who are bold enough to not do to their sons what was done to them.)

Here’s where I tell you what I have not told my husband.

If he had an extramarital affair then perhaps (and that’s a very small perhaps) we could work it out. But if he was adamant about having either of our children circumcised I would be on the next flight to Mexico. . .with my babies.

It is a hill I’m willing to die on.

Culture is the culprit

My husband cut off his thumb when I was pregnant with our daughter. After she was born I considered surgically amputating her thumb as well. So she could look like him. So she could avoid those pesky hangnails and the feeling of smashing her thumb with a hammer. Besides, the doctors would leave just a bit of it, a little stump, so it would still have some function.


It took me awhile to figure out what it was about the Michael Vick dogfighting case that didn’t sit quite right with me. While I think dogfighting is atrocious and Vick should have been punished for participating in it, the issue was not that black and white to me. While being vilified by the majority of Americans, Vick had also been victimized by the culture in which he was raised–a culture in which dogfighting was socially acceptable. “We never knew there was nothing wrong with it,” his brother is quoted here as saying.

We are all products of our culture.


We cannot withhold facts for fear of offending because the importance of the information outweighs people’s right to not be challenged in their beliefs. -Maddy Reid

When I was pregnant with my daughter my midwife asked if I would circumcise if I had a boy. My first two thoughts were: “Isn’t that just what you do?” and “It seems like such a bizarre thing to do.”

After that appointment I went online to look for information and within minutes was watching a video of the procedure. . . with sound. My husband found me crying a short time later, and I told him I would never do that to any son of mine.

When my midwife asked me again at my next appointment if I’d decided whether or not to circumcise I said, “no way.” As it’s been said about circumcision, the more you know, the more you’re against it. In truth, I’d sooner gnaw off my own arm than subject my non-consenting child to such a barbaric act. (I’m fairly certain that’s not an exaggeration.)

Months passed before I revisited the issue, though. (Some issues are so disturbing they must be left alone in a dark corner for a while.) When I did I discovered that:

  • The foreskin is not a useless flap of skin. It provides an immunological and physical barrier against disease and supports the growth of beneficial bacteria. It also contains thousands of nerve endings and offers a gliding action that enhances sexual pleasure.
  • Circumcision became popular in the U.S. as a means to prevent masturbation. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, of breakfast cereal fame, recommended it as a preventative measure and as punishment for those caught masturbating, for whom the procedure would preferably be performed without anesthesia. (He recommended carbolic acid for girls’ genitals.)
  • Circumcision is painful. The foreskin must be ripped and cut away from the glans, to which, in infancy, it is adhered like a fingernail to a finger. Anesthesia is not always used and even when it is, it’s inadequate.
  • Circumcision does not prevent UTIs or HIV or any other STD. (European countries have far lower rates of both circumcision and HIV than the U.S.) Antibiotics can easily treat UTIs, and condoms and abstinence prevent STDs.
  • Circumcision can disrupt a previously established breastfeeding relationship.
  • Circumcision can lead to complications including infection, excessive blood loss, excessive skin removal, loss of glans (head of penis) and other deformities, sexual dysfunction in later life, and death.
  • Over time the exposed glans becomes keratinized and loses sensitivity, as it is forced to become an external organ that must weather constant chafing from clothes.
  • The U.S. and Israel are the only two countries in the world where the majority of male infants are circumcised. (In Muslim countries circumcision occurs anytime during childhood.)
  • Females are protected by U.S. law from routine infant circumcision.
  • The female genital mutilation we abhor in other countries is ethically no different from male genital mutilation (aka circumcision) in the U.S.
  • No major medical association in the world recommends circumcision.

The more I learned, yes, the more I was against it. The more pissed off I was, to be precise. Pissed off that the wool could be pulled over the eyes of so many well-meaning parents–my friends, my family members. Pissed off that the natural penis is billed as unclean, unhealthy and ugly, and the foreskin as useless. Pissed off that our culture has decided that baby girls have the right to genital integrity, but baby boys do not. Pissed off that men and their partners are missing out on the full sexual experience as nature intended it. Pissed off that anyone other than the owner of the penis would be granted the right to make irreversible decisions about it for strictly cosmetic and cultural reasons.

We are all products of our culture. And sometimes culture needs to be called out on being a horrifically shitty mess.


I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better. -Maya Angelou

To learn more about the functions of the foreskin and to be inspired to change our circumcision culture visit:

Doctors Opposing Circumcision

Jews Against Circumcision

The Whole Network

Intact Network

Peaceful Parenting

Saving Our Sons

Keeping Future Sons Intact

Psychology Today series


Of course I didn’t really consider surgically removing my daughter’s thumb. That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it?

should we circumcise our baby boy the truth about circumcision is circumcision bad the side effects of circumcision

Apples and orangutans

As I understand it, comparing birth in the hospital (even natural birth) to birth at home is like comparing apples to orangutans. They’re entirely different beasts. So when my mom asked if I would be OK having my midwife’s backup OB attend my birth, I told her I’d be OK, but that it’s definitely not what I want.

So what do I want? (Warning: generalizations to follow.)

I want the caregiver I’ve spent hours with throughout my pregnancy to be present for the duration of my labor. This does not happen in a hospital. I want a human monitoring me, not a machine. This does not happen in a hospital. I want to be an active participant in the birth of my child, not a bedridden, powerless, sick seeming person waiting for the doctor to “deliver” my baby. This does not always happen in a hospital. If we so choose, I want photos and videos taken of the birth, not to be told it is not allowed (because those photos and videos could be used as evidence in a lawsuit, and thereby making parents unwittingly complicit in covering up potential malpractice against their family). This does not always happen in a hospital. I don’t want my body and my baby to be on put on a timeline. This does not happen in a hospital. I don’t want pitocin and/or c-section to be the solution for a “slow” labor; I want to be told to get up, move around, and push my baby out. This does not happen in a hospital. I don’t want anyone I haven’t invited, especially strangers, to come into my space while I labor. This does not happen in a hospital. If I so choose and it’s not a game day, I want the entire University of Georgia football cheerleading squad to be in attendance. This does not happen in a hospital. During labor I want to be able to eat crackers or filet mignon, depending on my mood. This does not happen in a hospital. I want to eat them in bed, the bathtub, the backyard, or wherever else I may choose. This does not happen in a hospital. I don’t want my baby taken from me, not even for one minute, if he or she is healthy. This does not happen in a hospital. I want my baby to be born peacefully into dim lighting, quiet voices, and gentle hands. This does not happen in a hospital.

But this is just what I want. Others may want the exact opposite. And that’s OK. I think where complications arise, though, is when mothers want exactly what I want, but they want it in a hospital, and as the Navelgazing Midwife has said, “if you buy the hospital ticket, you go for the hospital ride.”

(While that attitude keeps my head from exploding in anger at hospital practices that go against commonsense and even research, it also grants a level of acceptability to those practices. Is it not so different from saying it’s OK for a man to beat his wife because she chooses to stay with him?)

Apples and orangutans, folks. Apples and orangutans.