Saturday, August 16, 2014

We Forgot the Science about Ferguson

I've received PMs about the Ferguson issue, people wanting to know what I think. I thought maybe instead of saying what I think, I'd tie together what the science and the numbers show. Despite the constant media coverage and thousands of people discussing this topic and related topics of police violence, government power, and racial tension, the biological story is being ignored here.

When you systematically poison, mutilate, nutritionally deprive, and abuse children intergenerationally, you are physically altering their genetic potential and impairing them in mind and body. (This is a secular post so we will ignore the spiritual and emotional aspects which are also impaired.) As this abuse is carried on cycle after cycle, passing from parents to children, and the people begin to forget their inherent potential as humans, it is no surprise that they will suffer deep consequences from these wrongs.

Let's take a look at the Ferguson/STL area and the environmental background for a minute to see what's really happening. First, they have that Westlake landfill leaking nuclear waste into their water supply and spewing toxic fumes into their air. This is simply an extension of the experimental studies Monsanto performed in the area that put toxic sludge into waterways and doused previous generations, ensuring the start of genetic mutations and cancers.

These chemicals are associated with genetic defects and mutations that can then be passed on to future children. They are associated with midline defects that harm the brain and spinal cord. They are associated with chronic illness, decreased IQ, behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, aggression and more. So the people of Ferguson and surrounding cities are growing fetuses and raising children on poisoned water and air.

Their lower income restricts their education and access when it comes to healthy living and dietary choices. They are more likely to have government subsidized options, which means pressure and even outright bullying them into compliance with mainstream medical decisions. What does this mean when we look at the snapshot of a pregnant Ferguson mama?

Let's say a person who was born there, or lived there for many years, then goes on to conceive in that area. She is genetically damaged from the area and passes those mutations onto her baby at the moment of conception. She is nutritionally deprived from her SAD, Monsanto diet. Generational abusive scripts such as poverty, racial tension, poor public education, abusive parenting, etc have made their mark on her body and mind. She might be using various substances that also pass along their consequences to the baby.

But, now she is pregnant. She goes into the little government-run clinic and what does she get? Too many ultrasounds, increasing hemispheric damage to the baby and increasing the risk of false diagnosis and increased unnecessary interventions. She is told she must consent to every single maternal vaccine available, despite there being no real studies proving their safety or efficacy during pregnancy. She might even be subjected to some experimental ones if we listen to the rumors in various underground circles. Her child's immune system is activated and altered. She doesn't feel well from this and reaches for acetaminophen as doctors say that's the only safe one to use, despite it causing a cascade of potential complications in the child ranging from autism to allergies to liver damage. So her child's mitchondrial disorder begins before birth, along with an increase in asthma and liver complications already associated with her race.

She's told to take folic acid, a synthetic version of b9 that increases her risk of cancers, a risk which is already higher than average simply because of where she lives and her family history. Because of the genetic mutations from the environmental pollutants, she and her baby can't use this form of the vitamin and remain deficient in a variety of essential vitamins, leading to the slow development of chronic, lifelong conditions.

She obeys the doctors completely, as she has never heard of other prenatal and birth options. Or if she has, she lacks any support or financial and educational ability to access those options. She goes in for her induced, rough, likely abusive and traumatizing hospital birth. She and the baby are exposed to more drugs that particularly stress their genetic damage. Her baby, already injured from prenatal exposure to things such as drugs, smoking, alcohol, vaccines, ultrasounds, and tylenol, is then exposed to various narcotics, pitocin, chlorobutanol, more tylenol, routine IV antibiotics, etc.

Finally, he is born. He is not placed on her chest. He is not allowed to meet her, to breastfeed, to bond. He's whisked away, bathed, blinded by the eye antibiotics, fully vaccinated and placed in the nursery. She's suffering from PTSD and other complications after her traumatic birth that triggers previous childhood abuse, domestic abuse and statistically, post-abortive syndromes. Her area has one of the highest abortion rates in the state due to racial inequality of targeted family services companies.

So, she lies in her hospital room for the day (before being released as soon as possible of course to save on state funding) screaming to keep the TV and lights on because she's suffering from PTSD and no one cares. Meanwhile, her son lies screaming in the nursery, given formula right away and without her consent or knowledge.

The next morning, despite his genetic background and increased risks, he is circumcised. Missouri is an orange circumcision state, boasting one of the highest circumcision rates in the entire nation at over 75%. He's separated from his mama, forced fed formula, and then mutilated.

The casual, subtle threads of his tapestry continue to weave a story of detachment, damage, deprivation and violence. His father is absent or abusive. Healthy, stable relationships are difficult in the face of poverty, low education, no job prospects and physiological damage. His mother practices severe punitive parenting due to cultural and racial influences along with struggling from her own abusive childhood.

The child is left in a crib to CIO, physically abused from early infancy onwards, is faced with abuse and neglect from caregivers. The mother is impoverished. She has to place him in a low-quality government daycare to go to work. She feeds him watered down formula, acutely increasing the span of his vitamin deficiencies and impairing the development of his brain. She leaves him in diapers for long periods, causing infections and constant pain because she cannot afford new ones and doesn't have access to cloth diapering options or someone to support her in ECing.

She remains in the system, so he is routinely vaccinated fully, without question or adaptation to his individual needs. He's considered high risk by CDC officials, so he gets all the extra or optional vaccines, too. He begins showing concerning symptoms around age 1. He isn't talking well, is very aggressive, isn't reaching physical developmental milestones even within the very broad ranges. He moves from daycare to preschool. His aggression continues, along with an inability to sit still, to work with other classmates, to follow basic instructions, and everything else that's expected in a classroom.

The mother is told to get him evaluated. He's diagnosed with ADHD. She must obey, and places him on medication for it. If that's the only thing they diagnose him with, he's lucky. Many children these days receive a whole slew of labels and are placed on 3, 4+ medications for their entire childhood. He's medicated to the hilt despite drugs being unproven for school success, he's stuck in a public school system that needed special labeling because it scored so poorly that it couldn't keep accreditation, his only option is to eat harmful, toxic, fake food daily and at home he might be undernourished.

All of his parental figures abuse him physically and emotionally, teaching him that a cycle of violence is correct in the world. His MAOA gene was damaged by the environmental exposure and then his enzymatic expression was impaired his entire life, so he is very aggressive, even prone to violence without reason.

This biological and psychological assault continues through to adulthood. He has no idea what happened to him. If he feels wounded, unloved, or if he questions his lifestyle, he probably drowns out the confusion and depression with drugs, alcohol, and sexual encounters.  He quickly amasses a police record and continues to fulfill the cycle of human violation that was forced onto him from before his birth.


We, the general we surrounding this ongoing cycle, are only too happy to play our role. It's much easier and simpler to blame the victim. It's easy to find a scapegoat. It's easy to cover up huge government failings, societal scars, environmental crises under the guise of racial fighting.

Why would we be interested in looking into the hospitals to find the abusive doctors who like to birth rape women or who refuse to update their unscientific methods? We might find the doctors in our family with blood covered hands. Or we'll find out the politicians we voted were involved. Or we'll see the scientists we admire came to harmful conclusions. Or that the products we buy and enjoy every day come from a company responsible for harming thousands.

We might notice our own failings. We might notice that our parenting needs improvement if we try to support other parents. We might have to call out large corporations and important people who have wronged all of us. We might be forced to acknowledge that pollutants such as dioxins now expose everyone around the entire globe. To help others, we would have to look at our own scars. What a tall wall to scale!

We might have to face very negative situations. We might have to look at the burning nuclear waste in a landfill and make tough decisions about what to do to save the people being exposed to it. We might have to learn how to reach out to others in our communities and provide peer to peer support for breastfeeding instead of attacking women who breastfeed in public. We might have to reach into our own pockets and wallets when we'd rather turn a blind eye and let the government continue on with its low quality offerings.

Oh, it's much simpler in a world where we ignore the science on this topic. It's much easier to cry that this is a black and white issue, forgetting that no matter what color our skin is on the outside, deep down, we all carry human DNA. We all bleed when cut, we hurt when slapped, we cry in a corner at night when our parents fight. We struggle to survive on low quality food and meager educational programs. Deep down, we're all the same when it comes to science. When we can face the #realstory about #ferguson, then we can begin healing.



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ways to Encourage Safe Negative Emotional Expression (Stop Peeing, Spitting, and Kicking)

A common stage that can start around age 2 but typically peaks by age 4 is the passive aggressive communication of negative feelings. This stage occurs on its own as a normal milestone because the child needs to develop verbal skills and emotional intelligence. But, for some children, the stage can be especially difficult due to various factors.

First, if the child has been emotionally invalidated frequently by other caregivers or cherished peers, this behavior might become a way to passively share emotions or cry out for help, or even attempt to take back some semblance of control. Watch out for common invalidating comments. Take steps to remind the adult that your child is learning and respect is required. Briefly but firmly reassure the child when invalidation occurs. Some examples of emotional invalidation:

Oh, you're ok! Stop crying about it.
Hey! There's no reason to be angry about that, quit it.
Oh, you're being a scaredy cat. That's not scary at all.
Why are you crying over such a silly thing? Don't be a baby.
I don't care if that makes you angry. That doesn't matter.
I can't stand when you cry like that. Knock it off already.
Your brother isn't scared of the dark. Why don't you be like him?

Besides directly hurting the child, invalidating situations deprive the child of an opportunity to practice emotional processing and emotional regulation. It's a loss of skill development. Try whenever possible to defend your child from invalidation.

Second, if the child is experiencing any language difficulties or delays, or other circumstances and conditions that interfere with easy verbal communication such as hearing difficulties, autism, hyperactivity, etc, then this stage can persist because it is simply easier to communicate physically. Or it might be impossible from the child's perspective to communicate in ways society deems appropriate. In these cases, removing the obstacle when possible and working on coping skills can help create a bridge from the physical outbursts to safer expression.

When your child only expresses negative emotions in your presence

Many parents report that their children do not act out at school, daycare, the other parent's home, in front of peers, etc. But, seemingly the moment they get home, suddenly the children are throwing things, screaming, spitting, wetting their pants...why the sudden change?

If your child only expresses negative emotions in your presence, or in specific areas such as only at home, this is a sign that she feels safest with you. It's not a bad sign. It doesn't mean she's taking advantage of you or that you're too soft on her. On the contrary, it means she has big emotions boiling up inside her and she only trusts you to see them.

Think about it. If you're really stressed out about something you feel is perhaps slightly embarrassing (read: invalidating or shamed by others) you probably keep it hidden. You don't cry your eyes out at work. You don't curse and go on about someone who hurt you at the playground. You wait until you're home and with a safe person to finally let go of your feelings. Children do this, too. And if your child is doing this frequently, it could be a sign that he feels shamed, judged, or invalidated. Remember this when you are facing frustrating behavior, so that you can respond in a way that builds the trust while developing the communication skills.

When your child begins to use emotional outbursts to exert control

Children who feel stifled emotionally can feel powerless. This can cause intense feelings of resentment and anxiety. The child is stuck experiencing what feels like a very large crisis, but the adults around him ignore it or punish him if he lets them know about it. He's new to the world and has very few skills for handling it, so he's lost in himself and lost to others.

As he begins to act out, he comes to find that certain ways of expressing his emotion not only feel good, letting off steam and relieving that anxiety inside him, but might also cause a reaction in others. If it feels good and gets him what he wants, it must be a good idea to keep using it!

Suddenly, you have a child who spits on you when she's angry or pees her pants when she's rejected. Who throws toys at children at the park when she feels left out or pretends to choke on food she doesn't like.

Emotions don't just melt away. They will find their way out, and in children who haven't developed healthy emotional skills, they will come out in ways we dislike. Ways that might hurt others or cause negative reactions. Ways that tempt us to rain down punishment and consequences.

If your child is falling back on crude emotional expression to get your attention, it's a sign that she needs your help, not punishment at this time. No, I'm not saying to condone the behavior or to go all wishy-washy. I'm warning against hyper focusing on the negative behavior to the point that skill-building is squeezed out. Even if the child is punished enough to be convinced to stop the emotional outburst, she still needs to learn healthy ways to process and express her emotions. The need is still there. Start processing with her.

Great. So how is this done? 

Let's use a real life example of a 3 year old who is fully potty trained and does not wet her pants at preschool or with her father. But, she frequently wets her pants when with her mother. Not only does this warn us that she feels safe in her mother's presence and that she has some big emotions building up inside her, but the child has also begun to use the emotional outbursts to cause reactions in others.

For example, when the mother walked away from the 3 year old to care for the baby, the 3 year old wet her pants.

At this point, a lot of different approaches could be taken ranging from shaming and punishment to completely ignoring it and remaining emotionless while cleaning up the mess. These are merely superficial responses, however, and do nothing to encourage her to develop emotional skills.

Let's say the mother has just come back from caring for the baby and the 3 year old is sitting on the floor with wet pants and with an angry and slightly rejected expression on her face. What does the mom do for her?

She gets down on one knee, moving close to her, making eye contact and making physical contact such as by touching her arm gently. While keeping physical and eye contact, she begins assessing the situation.

Hey. I see that you peed in your pants. You must be feeling pretty embarrassed right now. Can you use your words to tell me why you peed your pants? Pause for response. You were feeling angry because I left you to help the baby, huh. It made your heart hurt? Pause for response.

You know, it's okay to feel angry. That's a strong feeling, but it doesn't make you a bad person. Everyone feels angry sometimes. When I feel angry, it makes my stomach squeeze. What does it feel like for you? Pause for response.

Next time when you feel angry, I want you to use your words to tell me. Say, "I'm angry!" Let's try it right now. Ready? Tell me! Pause for response. Remember, instead of peeing your pants, it's okay to tell me that you're angry. I'll always listen to you.

And if you begin to recognize individual triggers, briefly remind her before they happen:

I'm going to focus on caring for your sister right now. Remember, if you feel alone, come grab my hand and tell me instead of peeing your pants.

I'm going to leave the room to make dinner. If you feel scared inside, come and get me, ok? Remember to keep your pants dry.

Tonight, we're going to be very busy with the baby at the park. If you start to feel angry, be sure to tell me with your big girl words! I will listen.

Remember to keep it as simple or long as needed, pausing when needed and following cues to go where the conversation leads you. As children begin to realize how much connection they can make with words, lots of thoughts might tumble out in little situations like this. Try to listen intently and to provide a safe place for those emotions to come out.

Realistically in the beginning it might take several incidents before you see your child come out of his shell and begin to share with you. And especially if he has been mocked or shamed in any way, it might take a long, dedicated effort to show him that it's safe to share. So don't give up too soon!

My 3 year old son tends to kick impulsively when he's upset.
For him, it's easier to kick than to explain things verbally.
In time, slowly and with reminders, he's learning to pause and
to express how he feels without kicking. 






Tuesday, August 5, 2014

You're Just Lucky Breastfeeding Came Easily

For World Breastfeeding Week, let me say, any mama out there who thinks she is alone, or the exception, please remember that most if not all women struggle the first time they breastfeed. No matter how educated, or how immersed in breastfeeding culture, the act of breastfeeding is still a skill for both mama and baby that requires time and patience.

Do you remember your first two weeks at a new job? Did you struggle? Did you feel confused, maybe a little embarrassed? Did you make a mistake? What about the first time you tried a new hobby. What did your first knitting project look like, lol? Or your first attempt at learning a new musical instrument? No one expects a Mozart symphony in the first week of practice. It takes time to learn who you are and to share that with others. Similarly, it takes time to learn about your breastfeeding ability and to share that with your children. (Or donor milk children!)

My first breastfeeding breastfeeding photo when DD was a newborn.
This is also the first breastfeeding photo I published on Facebook.

My first breastfeeding experience

With my first child, I had just powered through about 3 days of intense labor ending with severe tearing that required an hour of stitching and PPH (post-partum hemorrhage) as I was squirting with a sticky placenta. I was so physically exhausted after the birth and after over 5 hours of pushing that, similar to people who push themselves in iron mans or marathons or rock climbing...whatever analogy...I couldn't even stand up, I couldn't unbend my arms to set down my baby lol. I had to be helped into a lying down position and then couldn't lift up my head from there. So there I was, freshly stitched, barely able to hold my own head up, with a newborn.

She had a thick posterior tongue tie and an upper maxillary labial tie. Her neck was sore from her asynclitic presentation. My right breast had an inverted nipple. She looked at me. I looked at her. It was the beginning of a journey.

I spent four days crying, pumping, latching, crying, pumping, latching. On the 4th day, my milk arrived and I spent a little more time crying, pumping, latching and then cup/syringe feeding to give my right breast a break as I decided to manually stretch the ligament to break the inversion, which for those of you who don't understand, is extremely painful.

I woke every hour at night to feed her, unable to nurse lying down but unable to sit up correctly because of the stitches. I'd burst into tears at night the first 2 nights because I had to sit up, and I was still bone tired from the birth. (It took a week for the rug burns to heal on my knees lol.)

We worked at it day and night. I spent all day top-naked, encouraging her to stay awake and to keep practicing. I watched every youtube video I could find to compare methods. I watched my (then breastfeeding) mother and mother in law. They came over to comfort me. To tell me I was doing okay and that this is normal. No one uttered the suggestion of formula. No one told me to use a bottle. No one told me to give up or that I wasn't doing a good job. They just sat by my side, some of them nursing their own babies, sometimes silent, other times asking if I needed anything.

And so we kept working at it. By the 1 week mark, she was latching well without clicking or sucking air. By the 2 week mark, my breasts were starting to look even again. (I forgot to mention, I spent some moments in front of the bathroom mirror, sobbing at my breasts because that right side was like a mango and the left side was a watermelon.)

I spent countless time gently manually correcting her latch to overcome the frenulum defects. I burped carefully and frequently, and switched to day/night block feeding. With time, her mouth and ties slowly grew and stretched until she achieved an optimal latch. As she grew, the ties receded and changed, no longer representing a functional defect for her.

We made it over our little hill, and into the valley. It's a valley filled with joy, comfort, peace, connection, and security. We scaled that wall together. That not-so-little baby is now almost 6 years old. She still occasionally latches on for comfort. We're both changed from that first time, when I looked down at her and she looked up at me, wondering what was ahead of us on that journey. We've grown in different ways, our bodies changing to complement each other, to fit together in this relationship.

Natural doesn't always mean it's easy. It doesn't mean the solution is fast and simple. If you're struggling with breastfeeding, don't make yourself feel worse by looking around at others and thinking it was easy for them. We all have our own rough patches in the road at different times and in different ways. You aren't alone, and you aren't different, weird or defective. Hang in there, Mama. Give yourself a fair chance.

Three pregnancies later, we are still going strong.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Forgiveness Boobies

Sibling rivalry and general toddler antics are serious topics when it comes to trying to raise securely attached, peaceful children. When toddlers fight, parental response seems vital, both to encourage life long skills and normal social behavior but also because the parent is creating family roles, consciously or not. In response to these situations, I've developed something I call, "Forgiveness Boobies." Sounds silly, but it works.

My two toddlers getting some forgiveness boobies.

Those times when the toddlers have switched to primal responses, such as hitting each other, yelling, fighting over toys, etc, represent a situation where parents can fall into a role of judgment.

Should we stop both parties, put them on trial and enact a judgment against the one we consider guilty? Do you ask question after question, attempting to decide who started it or who was originally at fault? Do you then begin another round of questioning to determine who is lying? Do you finally decide to punish both children, or to deprive them of the coveted object? Do you grapple with forcing one child to submit an apology to the other? Maybe you pop a squat, and put a hand on each shoulder, and firmly demand affection. "HUG ALREADY! HUG! I MEAN IT! A REAL HUG!"

Most parents, when faced with this situation, have a natural instinct to force the children to make amends. Most parents desire the children to apologize to each other, to forgive, and to once again enjoy each other's presence. It's just that the way of going about this often causes the exact opposite in our children. And it's not surprising why. If you thought a coworker for example wronged you, or hit you, or stole something from you, it'd probably piss you off if your boss forced you to hug him and spend the rest of the day together.

This is about everything except getting along.
I grappled over how to respond to sibling fighting. I disagree with being detective and judge. I don't want to stumble upon two toddlers fighting and decide who is at fault and who deserves punishment. Even if I could be sure that I was 100% accurate each time, it does nothing to repair their sibling relationship or to encourage self-regulation and calming skills. All it teaches them is to be the one who is right, or the one who never gets caught if being right fails.

I disagree with forced apologies. (I'm still one who will certainly remind a child that a social response is considered normal, the same as saying "thank you" or "please.") I most definitely grimace at the thought of forcing two people who recently hurt each other and have strong emotions of dislike, rage, and pain to physically touch each other or else face punishment from an authority figure. Something about that feels sickly...if you think about it for a moment.

On the other hand, I also disagree with many of the methods suggested in the gentle parenting circles. Contrary to popular thought, two rambunctious toddlers who have barely progressed past the grunting troll stage and who have the social skills of blind monkeys abandoned on an island are never going to randomly make amends and figure it out on their own while I sip my tea in the other room. Except for the most advanced or fair personalities, most children in such a situation will beat the bacon out of each other, perhaps giving up when they are no longer able to stand upright. Parenting is about getting your butt off the couch and parenting, yes, even in non-violent and gentle homes.

So, over time, I've turned to Forgiveness Boobies. These boobies do a lot when it comes to two stressed out, upset, hurting toddlers. It reminds them that I'm here to help and not to pass judgment or cause more hurt. It centers their attention onto me, so if I need to share any wisdom or guidance, they are more likely to hear me instead of being caught up in their situation and feelings. It naturally orients them towards each other, yet the connection is indirect enough that it's different from being forced to do things such as give out hugs.

Physical contact is powerful. It calms. It soothes. Breastfeeding together grounds them. It grounds them to me, but by doing so, it also grounds them to each other. As they are sniffling, wiping tears, latched onto each side, I see a hand tentatively reach for the other. I see them make little eye darts to one another, perhaps mentally realizing the hurt they caused or the hurt they received. Their pounding hearts slow. Their bodies start to relax. After a few minutes, they lean into each other, recovered.

Usually, I calmly summarize the situation. We sometimes pause as one or the other person unlatches to give his input. "I saw that Ian wanted to play with the green car. Ciaran was already playing with it. Ian quickly grabbed the green car instead of asking. Ciaran threw another car at him. It's ok to want a car, but it's important to ask first. And it's ok to be angry, but we don't throw cars at people. ....etc etc etc..."

After a few minutes, both kids are calmed down and we've established what happened and discussed different ways to act in the future. Forgiveness boobies have completed their mission again, and the kids run off to play together.

For children who are weaned or cases where only one child nurses, this method could be improvised as a family time-in, where the mother spends time physically cuddling with the children, perhaps doing something rhythmic such as singing or reading a book together. If your children frequently fight, it might make sense to stack pertinent books (lying, hitting, using manners, etc) in a "time in" corner with a comfortable chair or couch where you can sit with all of them and read the book most related to the situation.

Another option is to consider tandem baby wearing for those children who are younger but weaned and/or not tandem nursing. I've noticed that when I tandem wear, the kids seem to reconnect really well:

The 2 year old and the baby fell asleep holding hands at the store.

Whatever eventually works for you and your children, the main points remain: you guide them towards resolution skills, processing negative emotions, and learning to forgive and reconnect with others. These are life long skills sure to help them in many ways as they grow older.

Related blog posts:

Tandem nursing

Tandem wearing

Sibling bonding

Siblings without rivalry book

Monday, July 21, 2014

Circumcision and MTHFR: When a little snip is a genetic nightmare

Everyone knows one of my favourite rabbit holes is the discussion of epigenetics, especially MTHFR. For those new to the topic, MTHFR is an abbreviation, not a cuss word, for a gene that handles an enzyme tasked with managing the methyl cycle in the body. The complexity of the body is such that a genetic mutation in this area will influence every part of the body, slowing down functions, impairing processes and encouraging deficiencies in vital areas.

A person with MTHFR has trouble converting, processing, and excreting various substances. They also might have altered immune responses, a tendency towards gut damage, and comorbid (co-existing) conditions such as blood clotting disorders. Their bodies react poorly to liver-burdening substances such as acetaminophen and they have difficulty with synthetic supplements.


With this in mind, drugs and medical treatments present an increased risk for someone with MTHFR. One area that needs discussion is routine infant circumcision and its role in triggering a cascade of interventions in the baby with MTHFR.

Routine infant circumcision as it is performed in the United States, consists of removing the prepuce organ from male infants, typically soon after birth, and typically without sedation or anesthesia, or only local and mild forms.

On its own, before considering genetic conditions and underlying defects, it presents all the basic risks of surgery, such as hemorrhage, heart attack, hypovolemic shock, increased cortisol levels, infection, scar inflammation, readhering skin, etc.

Within the discussion of MTHR, however, parents have specific connections to consider when trying to decide whether or not to perform this surgery on their children.

Cardiovascular events

Due to the epigenetic influence of MTHFR mutations on the mother and fetus, midline defects are a common byproduct during pregnancy. Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) are a common midline defect that can range from moderate to severe and usually require some kind of intervention. Often, CHDs are overlooked during pregnancy and only some hospitals are beginning to encourage routine screening for CHDs after birth.

As such, an infant born with an undiagnosed CHD who is subjected to circumcision has an increased risk of experiencing a cardiovascular complication such as a heart attack during the surgery. If the staff is unaware that the child has heart defects, they might be unprepared and ill-equipped to handle the specific needs of the baby, reducing response times to the complication or causing more damage.

Some babies are subjected to circumcision despite the parents and staff being aware of an existing CHD. This is how baby Joshua died. He had a severe heart defect, one that often requires three surgeries during infancy and even a full heart transplant later. The doctors encouraged the mom to consent to circumcision and the morning after his surgery, Joshua died. The cause of death listed was cardiac arrest, of course, not circumcision. And we have no idea of his MTHFR status and its potential connection to this tragedy.

If you suspect MTHFR mutations in your child, consider opting for heart screening during pregnancy and after birth. Or, if your child has been diagnosed with a CHD, consider additional testing to look for MTHFR mutations. Carefully research the risks of any surgery during the newborn period and how it might strain the cardiovascular system, especially if the doctors are not going to screen your child for pre-existing conditions.

Hemorrhaging

A risk from any surgery is hemorrhage, of course. But, infant circumcision remains especially egregious in this area because newborns experience complications with the loss of an extremely small amount of blood and the blood loss occurs in an area that is covered up by a diaper.

In an average baby, losing just 2.3 ounces of blood is enough to cause hypovolemic shock and potentially death. That is about half of a small cup, an amount that might be missed in a diaper in the middle of the night, when the parents and baby are exhausted after a tiring birth and painful circumcision.


This is a basic econobum cover with a Flip insert holding 2.3 ounces of liquid.
It's a budget brand that many moms use. From this experiment, it is clear that
this insert could easily hold 4-5 times more than the critical amount of 2.3oz.
How many moms expect a cloth diaper to last at least 12 hours at night?
How much blood would a baby boy lose before anyone noticed?
How could a mom accurately decide on the amount soaked into the cloth?
Hemorrhage is another issue that matters more to those with MTHFR. For many people, MTHFR mutations are comorbid with clotting disorders. And these conditions could present either way, such as with too much or too little clotting, or other immune responses depending on the individual issue. Last year, Baby Brayden died after he experienced a clotting issue during his circumcision. He held on until his organs shut down. You can read his story here. He had an undiagnosed clotting disorder.

Before even thinking about the implications of the vitamin K shot and circumcision, start at birth. If the doctors prematurely clamped/cut the umbilical cord, this means your baby's blood supply has already been artificially reduced. Your baby might have already experienced hypoxia (deprivation of oxygen) while struggling to breathe after birth and having his blood supply compromised from the clamping.

So, think of the entire sequence of events here. A baby with MTHFR is born, doctors immediately clamp the cord, which reduces blood supply and deprives the baby of oxygen. Then the baby is given a shot of vitamin K, which interferes with an undiagnosed clotting condition. Then the baby is circumcised and begins to hemorrhage.

The issue of hemorrhage also returns us to the issue of cardiovascular events, as any blood loss will put a strain on the heart, potentially increasing the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, shock, or even cardiac arrest.

By the time doctors figure it all out after your baby begins to react, how much damage will have occurred?

Acetaminophen

For adults, when we choose surgery, we are able to choose from a variety of sedative methods, including full anesthesia. We also have a laundry list of pain medications to use for post-surgical pain management.

For babies, full sedation is almost always avoided as it is unsafe. Most circumcisions are performed without anesthetic. After the surgery, parents are told to use a common over the counter medication, Tylenol. 

This medication is hardly adequate for post-surgical pain relief (what was the last surgery you had as an adult where you only took small dosages of Tylenol?) More than that, however, acetaminophen is already connected to several concerning issues for those with MTHFR. Studies note that it is a big drain on the liver, even in normal dosages. It drains glutathione, a master antioxidant that your body creates by, you guessed it, the methyl cycle. A baby with MTHFR who has an impaired methyl cycle is already making less glutathione. To then undergo circumcision and be exposed to several days of Tylenol taxes his liver and immune system.

Acetaminophen is implicated in the development of mitochondrial disease, asthma, allergies, and even recently, scientists discovered this drug when given after vaccination impairs the vaccine effect in the body. (If you're curious about the tangent of acetaminophen, I have a blog post linked at the bottom for additional reading.)

Researchers are already beginning to see some patterns that cause them to question circumcision's role in damaging the brain, whether due to complications, underlying conditions, or incidental use of acetaminophen after surgery. When they looked at other countries with lower rates of circumcision, they found lower rates of autism and a different male to female ratio for autism diagnoses as an example.

In addition to the direct exposure to acetaminophen after circumcision surgery that might impair the brain and immune system of a baby with MTHFR, the baby might already be damaged from intrauterine exposure due to maternal intake of acetaminophen during pregnancy.

Pregnant women are generally discouraged from using other pain medications and are told that acetaminophen is the "safe" one for pregnancy. This is not really the case. In reality, acetaminophen remained a substance that had not been fully studied, and its consequences were not well known, so it looked better than the other options, which have studies showing harm.

Over time, this scientific ignorance has slowly changed and we now have growing evidence that acetaminophen exposure during pregnancy comes with risks. For those mothers who weren't warned in time, their babies with MTHFR might have additional underlying conditions or what you would call borderline situations due to prenatal exposure. Add newborn circumcision to the list and it could be enough to cause acute or permanent damage in the brain and liver.

Breastfeeding substitutes

For the baby with MTHFR, every introduction of artificial intervention is a potential risk more than to the average population. For example, people with MTHFR are unable to efficiently absorb and convert synthetic (lab created) vitamins. This is unfortunate, because our society uses synthetic vitamins in a variety of food groups such as all breads, store bought milks, orange juices....and baby formula.
The baby with MTHFR is also sensitive to gut injury, as it further impairs the ability to absorb nutrients, along with taxing the liver and glutathione production, inflaming the altered immune system. Formula, no matter how necessary and lifesaving, does come with the stark reality of changing the gut flora when introduced to babies.

How does this tie into circumcision? It is well known that circumcision surgery disrupts early breastfeeding attempts. Breastfeeding is a skill for the mother and baby, and takes time to establish for both people in the breastfeeding relationship. Circumcision surgery tends to occur soon after birth, when breastfeeding is in its early stage and vulnerable to interference.

Circumcision gives the baby a wound in an inconvenient area. It's already difficult for mothers to learn positioning techniques for their newborn. Attempting to also avoid bumping or jarring the painful genitals after surgery is harder. Inadequate pain relief from the tylenol along with side effects of of the drug and any other anesthetics/drugs used during the surgery might cause the infant to sleep too long between feedings, to cry inconsolably, and impair the ability to latch and suckle properly.

The infant might refuse to nurse and begin to lose weight. If blood loss occurred and a transfusion was required, the infant might experience high levels of jaundice. In cases of jaundice, the baby is often separated for long periods from the mother, again disrupting breastfeeding sessions. Often, the mother is encouraged to use formula for jaundice situations or she might begin to blame her supply and switch to formula instead.

All of this to say, a baby with MTHFR who is circumcised could then be at risk of losing his breast milk, which due to his genetic mutations, is a vital substance. Once he is switched to formula or formula supplementation, his gut flora will change within hours and his body will begin to experience issues with absorbing and using the synthetic vitamins in the formula. He might also have another common MTHFR issue: food intolerances/allergies, causing a reaction to the formula and more gut damage.

How many times can a parent roll the dice when it comes to mixing the complexity of a baby with MTHFR and environmental influences such as prenatal health with the direct reality of circumcision? If your baby has MTHFR or other polymorphisms, AVOID all medically unnecessary surgeries at all cost, which for baby boys means you must say NO to circumcision. If you are unsure if your baby has MTHFR, congenital heart defects, clotting disorders, gut damage, mito disorder, immune deficiencies or other conditions that are not routinely screened for after birth, say NO to circumcision and tell the doctors to screen your baby first!

Related:

Circumcision disrupts breastfeeding.

Does circumcision cause autism?

Newborns are stronger than adults.

Don't fear the fever, fear the fever reducer.

A big list of circumcision articles divided by subtopic

Modern Misfits

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Healing from Religious / Spiritual Abuse Resource List

Due to the punitive parenting and puritanism in our culture, many parents are finding that they need to heal from various kinds of abuse. Whether emotional, physical, academic, social, or as is often the case religious, abuse continues to influence us in many ways when we become parents. To truly connect with our children and to guide them respectfully and lovingly, we need to address our inner wounds, too.


Here are some resources for people and organisations that tend to focus on healing from religious and spiritual abuse:

Dulce de leche: A natural mama writes with a holistic, Christian context

L.R.Knost - Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources  (Check out her Jesus, the Gentle Parent book!)

Samuel Martin: Author and biblical researcher questions our cultural blinders

Why Not Train a Child?: This site has amassed resources from all over the web.

No Longer Qivering ‹(ô¿ô)›: A collection of stories from those who escaped

Catholic Attachment Parenting Corner: Sharing theologically correct info on gentle parenting

More 2 Life: Popcak's page, spanking opponent and author of the best selling Catholic parenting book

The Daily Catholic Crunch: A holistic and gentle parenting Catholic page

Stephanie Cox, Gentle Firmness: This amazing author writes on the real love of God and how to reflect that in our parenting.

Gentle Christian Mothers: One of the original areas for learning more about recovery

The Hippie Housewife: This blogger has written some eye opening articles on gentle parenting and the bible.

Thatmom: A homeschooling Christian with a different perspective

Parenting Freedom: This author has provided some of the best analysis on the web for this topic.

Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A PTSD/recovery group.

Spiritual Abuse.org: A collection of info on the topic

Spiritual Abuse Awareness: This site also has more resources

Spiritual Abuse Recovery: A great place for learning more and finding community

Pursuing Grace-based Living: A gentle parenting page


Related posts on the blog:

A quick post on the bible and spanking

Parable of the unforgiving parent

Religion and circumcision

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Block Island Organics Sunscreen Review and Giveaway

The sunscreen debate continues to rage on, but let's get realistic. Many parents still need to buy sunscreen for their children for a variety of reasons. Since the weather started to warm up, I've fielded questions daily about which sunscreen to buy, how to know what's safe, and how to balance sun exposure with sunscreen usage.

I've peered around the topic for a bit and here's what I've found:

Choose a mineral block sunscreen. Mineral blocks sit on top the skin, reflecting harmful sun rays away from the body, instead of being absorbed more rapidly into the body.

Choose zinc oxide over titanium dioxide. Both zinc and titanium are mineral blocks, but titanium has been classified as a potential carcinogenic substance and needs more study.

Avoid nano-particle ingredients. Nanotechnology is cool, but not when it comes to unnecessarily enhancing absorption of chemicals into the bodies of your developing children. A mineral block properly applied will work without this technology.

Avoid fragrances/parfum. Maybe sun-safe essential oils are fine, but be sure to avoid the chemical concoction of fake fragrances, which can cause reactions or discomfort.

Look for a brand that includes healing ingredients. Aloe vera, shea butter and the like can all be secondary supporters to moisturize and heal the body after sun exposure.

Still overwhelmed? When all else fails, turning to EWG's basic sunscreen rating guide can be a simple method to weed out the worst offenders.

REVIEW!

Kelly over at Block Island Organics reached out to me to let me know about their line of sun care. They are a small business specifically offering non-nano mineral block. I was happy to review her product and happier to be able to recommend it to my friends. I was not compensated, and my opinion is mine alone.

The sunscreen retails for $24.99 for 6fl oz in a squeeze-dispense bottle. For comparison, the 6fl oz bottle of California Baby sunscreen is $39.99 at Target.com.


The active ingredient is zinc oxide, non-nano version. It's water resistant for 40 minutes. It was smooth and simple to apply. As with most mineral blocks, especially the safer ones, it won't fully "melt" into the skin and will show some white streaking on the body.

Did it work? Absolutely. I specifically globbed some onto the right leg of my baby. You could clearly see a wiggly tan line on his calf after our time spent at the park in morning sun. I loved that it was fragrance free because our whole family is pretty intolerant of those chemical scents.

READER DISCOUNT!

This week only, readers can use code guggie on the Block Island Organics website to save 20% off their order. Buy here: http://www.blockislandorganics.com/Baby-Block-SPF-30-Sunscreen-Zinc-Only-Natural-Organic-Formula__BBY001.aspx

GIVEAWAY!

I am also offering a bottle to one lucky winner through a rafflecopter giveaway. Follow the prompt below to enter!


a Rafflecopter giveaway