Friday, November 19, 2010


A Mothers’ Prayer

Help me remember, when I feel it's a chore,
The time will come when I'll hold my baby no more,
Asleep on my chest, the crib refused, the blanket,
the pacifier, gone unused.

What better place is there to lay baby's head
Than against my heart, my arms her bed?

For children may leave us behind
With only memories left to remind us
Of midnight walking and predawn rocking,
Of sweet, nursing babies slumber to sleep.

So, keep me patient and keep me present
While I cradle this dear child,
And don't let me begrudge another long night
With this baby, my darling, my joy, my delight.

With thanks to the original author,,Jan Dunlap

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pertussis Epidemic or Whooped-Up Media Hype?

Do you know that many infants. children and adults will have a cough this winter?  Very, very few of them will actually have pertussis.  The "whooping cough threat" is just a media and health department exaggeration, saying it is an epidemic is totally inaccurate.

First of all, pertussis is a long, miserable disease and rarely is dangerous to very young babies.  Most people are not actually tested for the bacteria - it is assumed or treated as such.  There are other bacteria like, Parapertussis (rarely dangerous) that is not in the vaccine which may account for these illnesses.  Also RSV and lots of other viruses are more common causes of fall/winter sickness.

So when it is "reported" that someone died of pertussis it is difficult to confirm due to the inaccuracy of the diagnosis.  Media also needs to report that these deaths are usually exclusively in the underprivilaged families.  There should be open dialog from public health officials regarding risks of winter illness instead of cross-the-board scare tactics.

Don't panic and be "sucked in" by sensationalized media stories.  Just  use common sense:
breastfeed, eat healthy food, stay well hydrated, avoid crowds when practical, wash your hands and relax!

Remember, we all have an immune system which is in place to help us when we get sick.  Chances are, it will happen eventually.  This is normal, not harmful.  Sometimes I think it's purpose is to say, slow down, stop what you are doing and get some much needed rest!

Our Official Guardian Angel - Jordan Plaushinat

My favorite picture!

Sometimes we are graced by the presence of an earth bound angel.  They are sent as little gifts from God to guide, teach and enhance our lives but we never know the length of their stay. 

Even though, Jordan wasn't with us long (22 months) she touched the lives of so many.  Jordan was just like other kids, loved Elmo and Cookie Monster, books and balloons, helping her Mommy with the dishwasher and playing with her family and friends.

Who knew that this child would be chosen for greater duty?  Who knew she would now serve as a guardian angel for all our little ones?   None of us could have known or predicted or such a thing.....but we are glad to know she is there.

Jordan's bright smile, her contagious laugh and courageous personality will live on in all our hearts. Her life
serves as wonderful reminder of two things:
angels do exist and people may die but love never dies.

Dear Jordan,
Protect our little ones
when we cannot shield them;
Be by their side
when we are not present;
Wipe their tears
if we not know they weep;
Cool them
when their fever perists;
Lessen their pain
when we no longer can;
Sing to them
when we are weary;
Warm them
when their blanket has fallen;
Hold them close

when they are afraid;
Smile upon them
with your everlasting love.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Where Have All the Children Gone?

 Like many of you, I was horrified (again) after reading about the Rutgers student who jumped off the GWB.
Questions like, "How could this happen?", "Who would do such a thing to someone?"  Yet, these disturbing stories are more and more common in the US. 

Anyone that knows me, knows how I feel about the empathetic treatment of newborns and children.  Many of you have been subject to a lesson, rant, it what you may, regarding this important issue.  We are models for our children and yes, they are a reflection of us.  Scary when we are confronted by that reflection and have to face it for what it is.  The US has done a terrible disservice when it comes to raising it's young and now as a society, we are left with the dismal consequences - detachment, low self-worth, dysfunction, aggression, I can go on and on. 

How did we get here?  Just the other day I came across this entry on the internet.  For me, it helps answer that question.   Also it reinforces the beliefs and teachings I try to bestow on all my new parents when it comes to aquired empathy and compassion.  Like I say, babies don't need much...they just need you.
So here are some very powerful findings from a recent study out of Notre Dame.  Frankly, why we need a study to prove this I don't know!  Common sense, you would think.

*Ever meet a kindergartener who seemed naturally compassionate and cared about others' feelings? Who was cooperative and didn't demand his own way? Chances are, his parents held, carried and cuddled him a lot; he most likely was breastfed; he probably routinely slept with his parents; and he likely was encouraged to play outdoors with other children, according to new research findings from the University of Notre Dame

**Three new studies led by Notre Dame Psychology Professor Darcia Narvaez show a relationship between child rearing practices common in foraging hunter-gatherer societies (how we humans have spent about 99
percent of our history) and better mental health, greater empathy and conscience development, and higher intelligence in children.

“Our research shows that the roots of moral functioning form early in life, in infancy, and depend on the affective quality of family and community support,” says Narvaez, who specializes in the moral and
character development of children.The three studies include an observational study of the practices of parents of three-year-olds, a longitudinal study of how certain child rearing practices relate to child outcomes in a national child abuse prevention project, and a comparison study of parenting practices between mothers in the U.S. and China. The longitudinal study examined data from the research of another Notre Dame psychologist, John Borkowski, who specializes in the impact of child abuse and neglect on development.

The results of Narvaez’ three studies as well as those from researchers around the world will be presented at a conference at Notre Dame in October titled “Human Nature and Early Experience: Addressing the
Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness.
“The way we raise our children today in this country is increasingly depriving them of the practices that lead to well being and a moral sense ,” she says.

Narvaez identifies six characteristics of child rearing that were common to our distant ancestors:

Lots of positive touch - as in no spanking - but nearly constant carrying, cuddling and holding;
Prompt response to baby’s fusses and cries. You can’t “spoil” a baby. This means meeting a child’s needs before they get upset and the brain is flooded with toxic chemicals. “Warm, responsive caregiving like this keeps the infant’s brain calm in the years it is forming its personality and response to the world,” Narvaez says.
Breastfeeding, ideally 2 to 5 years. A child’s immune system isn’t fully formed until age 6 and breast milk provides its building blocks.

Multiple adult caregivers - people beyond mom and dad who also love the child.
Free play with multi-age playmates. Studies show that kids who don’t play enough are more likely to have ADHD and other mental health issues.
Natural childbirth, which provides mothers with the hormone boosts that give the energy to care for a newborn.

The U.S. has been on a downward trajectory on all of these care characteristics, according to Narvaez. Instead of being held, infants spend much more time in carriers, car seats and strollers than they did
in the past. Only about 15 percent of mothers are breastfeeding at all by 12 months, extended families are broken up, and free play allowed by parents has decreased dramatically since 1970.

“Ill advised practices and beliefs have become commonplace, such as the use of infant formula, the isolation of infants in their own rooms, or the belief that responding too quickly to a fussing baby will ‘spoil’ it,” Narvaez says.

Whether the corollary to these modern practices or the result of other forces, research shows the health and well being of American children is worse than it was 50 years ago: there’s an epidemic of anxiety and
depression among the young; aggressive behavior and delinquency rates in young children are rising; and empathy, the backbone of compassionate, moral behavior, has been shown to be decreasing among college students.

“All of these issues are of concern to me as a researcher of moral development,” Narvaez says. “Kids who don’t get the emotional nurturing they need in early life tend to be more self-centered. They don’t have
available the compassion-related emotions to the same degree as kids who were raised by warm, responsive families.”

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wake Up and Smell the Formula!

Earlier this year, I was contacted by the Nestle/Gerber people.  Using flattery as their first tool, , I was told that "they" were so impressed by my website and experience.  (Snake in the grass, getting ready to bite!)  Here it comes....would I please help them out, and review the breastfeeding information for their "infant feeding hot line"?  I would be handsomely paid, she said.  Of course, I declined thinking I'd rather stick a needle in my eye than associate myself with a formula manufacturer whose unethical marketing practices have reached higher heights - the formula sponsored breastfeeding hot line!

Abbott and other formula companies have escalated their marketing campaigns due to dropping birth rates and more mothers breastfeeding. Many parenting websites, blogs, medical practices and hospitals have been successfully lured into the lion's den by wholeheartedly recommending the formula company's (Abbott & Nestle/Gerber) infant feeding hot lines.  Are they stupid or what?  That's as bad as the smoking cessation hotline by Winston! Let's just help Abbot, even more than ever, in its drive to cause more mothers to purchase Similac formula products.....OMG!

Mothers Beware!!! This is what happens: when you call the phone number provided by Abbott you reach Life Care, a company who has also been duped into marketing infant formula for Abbott. The person you reach is not an IBCLC, but an employee who has taken an on-line course in breastfeeding.  You see, IBCLCs do not work for formula companies because it presents a conflict of interest. So you are being mislead into thinking that the breastfeeding help is coming from someone credentialed to do so.

This is a huge problem because mothers are receiving inappropriate information.  I know because I, myself called to check it out, posing as a new mom with a two week old, worried I didn't have enough milk (sound familiar).  I was, of course, told by the "breastfeeding expert" to pump and mix formula with my breastmilk!  These are situations that are serious and adverse effects could be suffered by both mom and baby.

So now, companies like who is pimping formula for Abbott and WedMD, whose infant feeding section is completely sponsored by Gerber (Nestle). are placing mothers and babies at risk.  Would your doctor refer you to a specialist who was not licensed or certified?  I hope not!  Well, referring moms to a 'resource' which is not qualified to deliver the correct information is just that....irresponsible!

Formula companies do not care about you or your baby!  They just care about making money, as much money as they possibly can which, as we know,  is never enough money!  Please tell them you are not falling for their portrayed image of community service(hot line).  Please tell me you will not be duped into buying more of their products with this new ploy!

Keep a sharp watch because the phone number is always the same 800-986-8800 but  advertized several different ways like; Feeding Expert or 24 hr Free Lactation Consultant (lie!)or Feeding Advisor 24 hr/day
Again, these are operators (who took a short on-line course) that work for Life Care, not breastfeeding experts!

Tell them you are smarter than that!  By bringing this to the attention of anyone you know.  If you see your doctor, hospital, favorite website or business recommending this number, bring this error to their attention.  We should give them the benefit of the doubt, (first time offense only) many of them do not even realise the harm they are doing. 

So take a minute and ask to stop peddling formula for Abbott, ask WebMD to stop peddling formula for Nestle. Then, when you are done with that,  report Life Care to the Connecticut state attorney general’s office and Abbott to the Illinois state attorney general’s office. Lastly, complaints can also be sent to the Better Business Bureau in Connecticut and Illinois..........just in case you needed some direction!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

US Babies: Bottomfeeders, not Breastfeeders

Why is breastfeeding in the US considered a "lifestyle" choice and not a medical one? Why is formula promoted by our medical community and used so casually by our society as a whole? What is at the root of all this?  MONEY!  Why have we put money ahead of what is best for our babies?  I found myself stewing over that tonight (thus the post at 5 am!)
What set off my stewing session, you ask?  Well, last evening I received an e-mail announcement from a small breastfeeding garment company that said it has affiliated itself with a popular non-profit breastfeeding website.   Apparently, this garment company will be donating 5% of the sale of it's (overpriced) garment to the "cause" of said website.  And, of course blogged about her reasons for doing so.

 I'd like to share with you the "credo" of this popular website,  "ALL moms deserve to make an informed feeding decision, and to be cheered on, coached and celebrated without pressure, judgement or guilt, whether they breastfeed for 2 days, 2 months, 2 years or not at all.  ALL breastfeeding moms deserve  to succeed & have a positive breastfeeding experience without being "booby trapped".  

May sound OK but unfortunately, most of their breastfeeding information is bad and not "current or evidence based" as  they claim and laden with "booby traps"  that actually hurt a baby's chance to breastfeed, not help them.  OOOPS!  DID I SAY BABIES INSTEAD OF MOTHERS?  YOU BET I DID!  That's all this website needs, more donations to commercialize and undermine breastfeeding.

So I thought, why would a popular breastfeeding website risk promoting information that was incorrect and damaging?   Then suddenly I got it!  If you have the money to advertise with them.......your in!
No matter what information you present on or about breastfeeding if it comes with a fat check, it's good.
Let's not forget, non-profits are businesses to and very lucrative ones at that.

So, since babies don't have money, they are under represented, if at all.  Marketing and information is aimed towards the peeps with the green!  These businesses are all about the parent (consumer) disguised as for the baby......clever yet unethical.  That's why all the "stuff" for babies including websites and books about baby care are not truly baby-friendly.  Just think of the time and money parents spend
moms and their babies playing together on-line, reading baby books and putting together apparatus instead of just holding and paying attention to the best expert they will ever have....their own baby!

Another issue I have is this "soft" approach to promoting breastfeeding, by basically placating women who choose to do otherwise.  This has been the new craze for over a year now.  We are guilt-free and responsibility-free now thanks to the new crop of so- called breastfeeding advocates.

Is it me or does anyone give a crap about the babies!  Let me be frank(ha!), most of the women in the US who "fail" at breastfeeding or "have to stop", do so for personal/selfish reasons, not medical ones.
Why is it so easy to dismiss what our baby needs and loves,  for our wants, not needs?  Those are two different things!

Money, professional status, houses, cars, vacations..........does a baby care about any of that?  Let me ask, can we possibly conceive doing with less?  Do we really need the new SUV when we are having our first baby?  Do we really need the bigger house in the fancier neighborhood (that we have no time to be acquainted with) and the better schools if our child is a newborn?  Does every child have to have their own bedroom and bathroom?  Really? Would it kill us to stay home from work for at least one year?  Many women say," I enjoy work, I do it for me."  Ya know what, you have the rest of your life to work and guess what....this isn't about you!  Others say, "I pumped at work so my son had breastmilk only for the first year."  That's not the point.  He didn't have you.

 The "you can have it all" myth is just that, a myth, not just for you but your for your baby. OOOPS!  There I go again with the baby mentioning!  You can have a baby,work full-time, breastfeed, bottlefeed, raise that child, have more children, work some more, oh yeah and be married.....sounds like fun! You can have a nice, big house, several nice cars, nice schools, nice vacations and lots of nice possessions.  Unfortunately, what isn't nice is that you had to work your butt off the whole time and sacrificed some precious, impressionable years. Is that the life you envisioned?  Is this the legacy we want to leave?
The babies?  Not only don't they get what they want...they don't get what they need...their moms.

The breastfeeding?  Well the women who successfully breastfeed for at least a year are predominantly stay-at-home moms.  Most of the women who go back to work by 3 months will fail at breastfeeding.  Why? For one, it's too damn early to go back to work!  Your baby and your breasts need you, not a pump.  Reason two, caregivers stuff and overfeed the babies to make them sleep!  Those who have tried to "keep up" with that know what I am talking about.  Companies who make breastpumps are out to make money!!! HELLO?  Your breasts are made for your baby to feed from, not for a milking machine.

So in the end, who really suffers?  The babies.  They have "to do" with substandard food (at best) in place of your milk.  Not only does it taste disgusting but now they are placed at risk medically, not to mention the emotional/physical separation associated with bottlefeeding.  Also they have to deal with others taking care of them at an early age.  This is not right.

It always suprises me that most parents have never read the ingredients in the formula that they feed their children yet they shop at Whole Foods.  I'd like to share with you the ingredients right from the side of a can of Similac Isomil Advanced formula. Here goes from the top:

   43.2% corn syrup solids, 14.6% soy protein isolate, 11.5% safflower oil, 10.3% sugar(sucrose),
      8.4% soy oil, 7.7% coconut oil......need I go on?   

Mothers ask me, "Is there one formula that is better than another?"  I say, "No".  They are all crap, just breastfeed!  Don't think the "organic" is any better.  The only organic milk for babies is breastmilk!

So if you added up daycare, pumps and equipment associated with pumping, formula (because you will need it) and the equipment for that, the costs of returning to work (clothes, transportation etc), increased medical because you and your child will be sicker, loss of work due to illness, well you might as well just stay home and raise the child yourself.  Trust me, you'd be happier and most importantly your baby would be happier and healthier both physically and emotionally.

To really let you know how I feel (ha!)....the way we conduct our lives in this country is an embarrassment.  We have to do better by our babies. Like, I have said in previous posts, we cannot wait for our government, corporations or medical community to help us and our family.   Why? Because they are the problem! They have put money first, before everything and everyone but themselves.
Yet, that doesn't mean you have to.

So if you want to help "the cause."  PUT YOUR BABY FIRST!!!!   If you don't, who will?  WE as moms need to start saying, "NO" to work, "NO" to formula and "YES to staying home, and "YES to breastfeeding.  Only then, will we be able to pull babies up from the bottom of our society to the top where they belong.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blind-Sided by a Prejudice System

Serena and my brother Billy in the
sensory room at the NFB Convention
What's the sense of it all?! (no pun intended) In a civilized society, you might think, how could this happen?  The following news story was forwarded to me by my sister-in-law, Carol Castellano, who is the national president of Parents of Blind Children.  As some of you know, my neice, Serena was born in 1984, very premature (23.5 wks) and weighed 1 lb. 4 oz.  She was in the NICU for 8 months, suffered pretty much any complication imaginable but I am happy to say was exclusively breastfeeding on discharge.  Serena is now 26 years old and attending graduate school at Rutgers for her MSW.  And yes, I almost forgot, she is totally blind.  Why did I mention that last?  Because my neice is leading a full and productive life. She was educated in her hometown through the public school system.  Serena started reading braille in pre-school, learned to use a cane by grammer school.  Even though she had an classroom aide in the lower grades, she graduated high school and lived away at college with no classroom aide or assistant what-so-ever!  Among her many interests, Serena is a sports fanatic and music buff.  So the article below, really hit home to me.  It nearly ruined my whole day last Thursday as I cried most of the morning and was so emotional I could barely write....
National Federation of the Blind Successful in Returning Infant to Her Parents

"Family Reunited After Wrongful Seizure of Child "
Independence, Missouri (July 22, 2010):

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and its Missouri affiliate announced today that they have succeeded in a legal fight to bring a two-month-old infant, Mikaela Sinnett, home to her parents, Blake Sinnett and Erika Johnson of Independence. The NFB of Missouri hired an attorney to assist the couple after Mikaela was taken from them at Centerpoint Hospital almost immediately after she was born. For fifty-seven days the couple, both of whom are blind, were allowed to visit their child in foster care but were not allowed to bring her home. The sole reason given by Missouri’s Department of Social Services was that the couple was blind and could not properly care for Mikaela without the assistance of a sighted person twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. An evidentiary hearing was scheduled for July 20, but at the last minute the state of Missouri dismissed the case against the couple.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The National Federation of the Blind is pleased that the state of Missouri has dismissed its case against Blake Sinnett and Erika Johnson and returned baby Mikaela to their care. Despite the fact that blind parents are successfully raising children across the nation, blind Americans continue to find that misconceptions and stereotypes about the capabilities of blind people too often result in hasty and unwarranted decisions to remove children from the custody of blind parents. The worst nightmare of parents everywhere—having a child taken away—is sadly part of the lives of too many blind parents. The National Federation of the Blind stands ready and willing to help state officials across the country understand how blind people use alternative techniques to care for their children. But the blind of America will not tolerate our children being taken from us.”

"We were and are outraged at the action of Centerpoint Hospital and the state of Missouri," said Gary Wunder, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri. "Children's services have the job of protecting children from abuse and we have nothing but admiration for that work. Taking a child away because her parents are blind is an entirely different matter which violates state and federal law. We have gotten Mikaela back home, but we must fundamentally change a system that presumes the incompetence of blind parents and operates on a principle of guilty until proven innocent rather than the reverse. We cannot help but think that new parents who are blind in Missouri will avoid seeking medical and social services that they may need for fear that they will experience a similar ordeal. We can never give back the two months this family has lost, nor can we restore to Erika the joy of nursing her child that this separation has made impossible. What we can do is use their adversity to change the system that allowed this atrocity and educate the people who have mistakenly equated blindness with a lack of perception, intellect, and judgment."

On May 21, 2010, Erika and Blake went to Centerpoint Hospital, where Erika delivered Mikaela. When trying to nurse the baby for the first time, Erika asked for assistance from a nurse when she thought something was wrong. The nurse said that the baby was turning blue and helped reposition the baby, who then began to take nourishment. The nurse assured Erika that it was common for new mothers to need some instruction and that she was doing fine. Blake and Erika were therefore surprised when, some four hours later, they were met by a children's services worker who made inquiries about their vision; asked how they would feed, diaper, and supervise their child; and eventually decreed that Baby Mikaela would not be allowed to be discharged with her mother unless the social worker could be assured there would be constant supervision by someone with sight. On the recommendation of Missouri's Children's Protective Services, Mikaela was placed in foster care and one-hour visits were arranged for several times each week. When the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri determined that blindness was the only reason the child was taken by the state, the organization hired attorney Amy Coopman to handle the case. The National Federation of the Blind now has the option to file complaints with the Missouri Human Rights Commission and/or the federal Office for Civil Rights, as well as at least three options that can be pursued in the state’s courts.

The trauma to these poor people, I can only imagine.  The separation and lost breastfeeding opportunity for this mom and just made me sick! (I did contact a consultant who is willing to help Erica initiate and enjoy some nursing again, if she so wishes)

My neice, Serena aspires to get married and have children, as is her right and privilage. She is by far one of the most intuitive women I have ever known, as many non-sighted people are, and would make a wonderful mom!. So we have to make sure that what happened to this couple, never happens again.

It's OK to be blind and also be a parent!!!

Carol Castellano (New Jersey)
"--blind people can lead normal lives complete with a job,
a family, friendships, fun, and involvement in community life."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Stress of Our Sisters

Stress kills. There has been enough research to prove that. But is stress killing our mothers and babies, especially our black mothers and babies? I say, yes!

First, here is the recent evidence of racial disparity related to maternal /child health:
• A recent NY Times article stated that black women in New York are seven times more likely to die in childbirth than white women.
• An article in a University of Wisconsin alumni magazine, said babies born in Sri Lanka have better health outcomes than black babies born in Milwaukee.
• Another study appeared in the Journal of Community Health concluding, despite socioeconomic differences, fatherless children born to black women had a seven-fold risk of death in contrast to infants born to Hispanic and white women in similar situations.

Now, a quick lesson, about how the human body copes with acute stress. Cortisol “the stress hormone” is released in increased amounts during stress and in turn, helps regulate the body’s many functions
• Proper glucose metabolism, regulation of blood pressure, insulin release for blood sugar maintenance,
   immune function, inflammatory response.

Small increases of cortisol have some positive effects:
   • a quick burst of energy for survival reasons, heightened memory functions, a burst of increase immunity,  lower sensitivity to pain, helps maintain equilibrium in the body.

The problem: while cortisol will return to normal following a stressful event, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often that it doesn’t always have a chance to return to normal, resulting in a state of chronic stress.

Most importantly, the higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) the higher the negative effects, like:
• Impaired cognitive performance, suppressed thyroid function, blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia, decreased bone density, decrease in muscle tissue, higher blood pressure, lowered immunity and inflammatory responses, slowed wound healing.
• Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, the development of metabolic syndrome, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems!

Now, let’s put this in context with a pregnant black woman. It doesn’t matter if she is rich or poor, good neighborhood or bad, educated or uneducated, single or partnered. It is safe to assume that most women are under emotional and physical stress when pregnant. Isn’t it telling that the same medical conditions given for the poor outcomes of pregnant black women are the same conditions resulting from high, chronic stress, for instance, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and infection? So it must be that black women exhibit or internalize stress at a higher level than their counterparts.

Now for the babies, a mother’s stress level, during pregnancy directly impacts the baby’s physical and emotional health. Research has linked this with preterm delivery, lower birth weight, “The common conception that a mother’s psychological state can influence her unborn baby is to some extent substantiated by the literature,” write Ali S. Khashan, M.Sc., of the University of Manchester, England, and colleagues. “Severe life events during pregnancy are consistently associated with an elevated risk of low birth weight and prematurity.” Chemicals released as part of the mother’s stress response may have an effect on the fetus’ developing brain.

What can be done? If we were to conclude that chronic stress leads to persistent high cortisol levels, which then leads to all these health complications for mothers and babies, how do we fix that? Can we step into someone’s life and eliminate their stress? No. But I do think we can help them limit their exposure, possibly and lessen their body’s response to stress. So they can manage their stress better.

Let’s face it. If you do not address the “inner reasons” someone overeats or is depressed, you can conduct all the nutrition classes you want but they will not work. We need to give women the tools to cope with the multitude of stressors they faces on a daily basis. People have overcome tremendously stressful situations with 12 step work so I propose “The 12 Step Program for Pregnancy”

I am thinking of a program similar to many12 step programs. Support groups for pregnant and new mothers listening and learning from each other. Basing the program on many of the slogans and doctrine of successful 12 step programs, for instance, One Day at a Time, Live and Let Live, Think, Let Go/ Let God, Keep It Simple, the serenity prayer also choosing a sponsor, having a call list and weekly meetings. These are simple and effective principals anyone can learn. Along with classes in guided imagery, journaling, self-hypnosis, exercise, yoga, music, breathing exercises and meditation in the prenatal period and postpartum for the first year.

Promoting healthy, coping skills that can be applied to anyone, at any time, would be a proactive, low cost intervention. Supporting the management of stress through finding serenity, our pregnant mothers would benefit from a new way of thinking, a new way of acting, giving them and their babies a new lease on life.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Happy Father's Day to All You Awesome Dad's!!!!!

My Father’s Love

A warm embrace
His bristled face
The voice no person can replace

A steady stride
Chest held in pride
My hand held in his, side by side

Safe, secure,
Always sure
No harm I’ll ever see

With strong admire
I’ll never tire
Of my father’s love for me.

 By Maria Parlapiano

Monday, June 7, 2010

Relative Insanity

I spent the weekend with my family over Memorial Day. My father, aunts and uncles are all in their late 70’s- early 80’s. Like most Italian families, we sit around the dinner table for hours talking (which I love).  Since we are obsessed about food, any kind of food, the conversation always includes discussions over food and the eating of it.  In my case, it ends up being about breastfeeding(this happens to me no matter where I am).

None of my cousins or I, were breastfed. When asked why, both my aunts shrieked, “What are you crazy?” Even after I acknowledged that breastfeeding was vastly discouraged, they disclosed that they would never have breastfed, even if it were encouraged. “They gave you a shot and it was all over.”, my Aunt Grace added.  Remember, this was when women stayed in the hospital for a whole week (1950’s-1960’s) and never saw their babies at night. My Aunt Ellie exclaimed, “We needed our rest!” Yeah, I guess so, in order to go home to sterilize bottles and create from a recipe, a formula mixture also wash more clothing and diapers due to spit up and diarrhea. I've learned over the years that discussing the many benefits of breastfeeding gets you nowhere with these people, (even though I still try) because they fully believe that my cousins and I were “just fine” then and are “just fine” now.

Well, the truth is, we were far from fine! As infants, multiple illnesses and hospitalizations for dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea were common but yet that was considered normal and "fine." Even though we all had colic, well, “all babies have colic.” As a matter of fact, my aunt said that she had to stop putting Karo Syrup in my cousin, Lorraine’s formula because “she didn’t tolerate it too good”. Just a day after being home from the hospital (at 1 week old), we were fed cereal in our bottles....every day! Take a look at my baby picture at one year old. I look like a block of cheese on shoulders!

I have eighteen cousins on that side of the family. As adults, we are all overweight, some morbidly. Food, environmental and medication allergies, cancer, lupus, diabetes, pituitary and digestive issues are suffered by almost all. Yet in our relative’s eyes, we are "just fine". They refuse to see any correlation to how we may have been fed as infants to our present health. It’s an argument we will never win.

Just as a caveat, I would like to clarify that my parents were extremely supportive of my breastfeeding. My mom grieved over the fact that she was not encouraged more to nurse us. Never did my father make a contradictory remark or choose to leave the room when anyone nursed….I was blessed. As a matter of fact, my maternal grandmother wet- nursed a couple of babies, back in the 1930’s, after their mothers died in childbirth.

When it came to breastfeeding our own children, my cousins and I were quite successful. Too successful, as far as some of our relatives were concerned, especially since we nursed long-term. We supported each other and reveled in our accomplishment. Break through the barriers of misinformation and mythology and without the guidance of our own mothers, breastfeeding was ours and we proudly owned it. I remember at a family get-together one Easter, there were eight of us (cousins) nursing in my parent’s living room. As my Uncle Skeeter passed through the room, he covered his eyes yelling, “Do you have to do that here?” We retorted, happily, “Yep, here, there and everywhere............need a little cream in your coffee?!”

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Vivid Mammaries

Today my son, Peter turns 26. Yes, I am older than I look! (Ha!)  It was the 1980's, big hair, leg warmers, parachute pants - I had it all go'in on! 

Every year, on my kid's birthdays, I reminisce. When they were little, I would tell the tale of the day they were born. I embellished some (you know how I love to do that!) making it the most exciting day in history of the world! (they loved it)

Like most women, those events are as vivid today as they were then, you will always remember everything about that day.  So, I'd like to share Peter's birthday with you.  He was a VBAC delivery (vaginal birth after cesarean) 9:30 pm at Overlook Hospital.(one of the first ever done there, 1984)  It required that I change doctors. My first OB, who sectioned me two years earlier, told me that I could only delivery approx. a  7lb baby. When I asked how he knew that he said, “I just know these things.” Wow, he must be like superman and have X-ray vision, I thought.  (Peter was born 8.8!)

So I fired and hired the next OB. Sheila B.,was a young, new, single practitioner who had a thriving business.  We would sit for hours in her waiting room and socialize until she was ready to see us.  Sheila spent alot of quality time with her patients so she was worth the wait.

With Peter, I was in labor for 18 hours of which she stayed with me the whole time.. Knowing I wanted to deliver vaginally, she took all the proper precautions (there were probes and wires everywhere!) When all was said and done, (yes, with lots of intervention like pitocin, epidural, vacuum extraction)…he was out! At the time, I thought I did pretty well. After all, I didn’t have a c-section. As I often tell people, I was trained as an ER nurse so intervention and machines, were my “comfort zone”. It wasn’t until I had my next child that I had a natural delivery (she was 8.15!)  Ya know what they say, "Three's a charm!"

I still giggle thinking about my first child, Nicole, who was so hairy.  I remember saying to my husband, “Forget a college fund, we’d better save up for electrolysis!” ( this is a girl who went on to shave the tops of her forearms in high school). I also jokingly blamed my husband, “It’s your entire fault, she’s so hairy.” (the man looked like Sasquatch!) So when I saw Peter’s head crowning in the mirror, I yelled, “Are you sure that’s his head?” He was as bald as Uncle Fester! If that’s not bad enough, when I first saw his face I thought, “OMG, he looks just like my mother-in-law”. Imagine that!

It was with my second, Peter, that I really let go of the stupid breastfeeding advice given to me with my first. My hospital room mate, Mari was an integral part of that. (yes, we shared rooms back then!) She also VBAC’d with the same OB, so we instantly bonded. Mari was the one who opened my mind to a whole new way of thinking. “Just nurse him whenever he wants, that’s what I do”, she said, “It’s easy.’ I thought, if she can do it, so can I ....and I never looked at a clock again.

Peter breastfed for 22 months and we enjoyed every minute of it. I actually nursed him through 7 months of my pregnancy with Andrea. Eventually, he replaced nursing with putting his hand down my shirt between my breasts (very sweet!) Two months later, I delivered Andrea and happily started all over again!

Now that I think of it, I haven’t stopped feeding Peter yet. I'm making him dinner tonight for his birthday!
Since my kids are grown and I don't breastfeed, co-sleep, cuddle or hold their little hands much anymore, (they just won't let me!) I live my life vicariously through all of you.  Thank you for sharing your precious babies with me!  May your memories of this time be as vivid and happy as mine.

Do You Suffer From PEDSPHOBIA?

No, it’s not the fear of feet! That’s podophobia. I am talking about PEDSPHOBIA - fear of your baby’s pediatrician. If you have never heard of this condition, it’s because I made it up! For the simple reason that I see it often in my practice and feel it needs to be finally documented.

I bet you are wondering, OMG is Maria talking about me? Am I a PEDSPHOBIC? Well, only you can answer that. Let just say that if you ever dreaded an office visit because you were afraid of being yelled at or looked upon with disgust by your peds or his staff, then yes, you suffer from PEDSPHOBIA!

PEDSPHOBICS typically possess the following traits: choose to trust Mother Nature more than the AAP or FDA (the nerve!). They tend to question advice that doesn’t make sense (what are they thinking!). Their children don’t do what the doctors own child did (shocking!) Their baby doesn’t follow suit with the “baby in the book.”(go figure!) For example, their baby is off the growth chart or was never on it. Their baby never taught itself to sleep, doesn’t eat 3 meals a day by 6 months (hates cereal), doesn’t use a pacifier and doesn’t like shots. (unfathomable!)

OK. It’s time. Come on PEDSPHOBICS, stand up and be counted! You’ve been chastised by your child’s doctor or his staff for one or all of the following: your child isn’t fat enough or is too fat, their head circumference is too big or too small, you let your baby “use you as a human pacifier” (one of my favorites!), you don’t allow enough “tummy-time”, you allow too much “tummy-time”, you are the dreaded “co-sleeper”, you make your own baby food or decide not to use cereal as a sleep aid, you decide not to give Tri-Vi-Sol or fluoride vitamins, you choose not to use formula or give bottles, you choose not to vaccinate, split or spread vaccines or basically question (as you should) everything they say and decide not to do any of it. You have been chosen as a contestant in my new reality series, Fear Factor-it’s Mom’s Turn!

It saddens me that the professionals who have the most influence on new parents, the ones who parents rely on most for information and advice choose to intimidate, instead of educate. Using fear to subdue, short-circuit and control parents’ behavior is so commonly used by doctors that we have accepted this as the standard of care, choosing to go back for more, over and over.

Being coerced or forced to make decisions you are not comfortable with or not ready to make is wrong. Being scared half out of your wits for no good reason is wrong. Being spoken to like a child is wrong. Being given misinformation is wrong. Being meant to feel like you’ve been sent to the principal’s office is wrong. Being set-up for failure is just wrong.

So, my advice, don’t be a PEDSPHOBIC. Be a MOMINATOR instead, someone to be reckoned with.

*Side Note: Did you know there is a phobia to phobias?  phobophobia!  Yikes!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Babies Give "Fums Up” for the Movie: BABIES!

With great anticipation, a bunch of pint-sized movie critics srtolled into the first showing of BABIES on Friday, with moms in tow. Finally, the movie they had been whining about was here!  I scowered the pre-show crowd of min-movie goers for an interview. Eager to share his story was Nate, who reveiled that on the ride over, he was so excited, he pooped his pants! Based on the cheers from his friends, it was diaper changes all around!

The lobby buzzed with baby babble. “At first, we thought it was just another one of Maria’s jokes,” said Eddie, “but at group last week, Will told us that when his parents went to sleep, he went online and verified the information.”  A few had to clear their work schedule in order to make the event. “It is so worth it,” said Evan, “seeing the old gang again is totally awesome and I heard it's really dark in there and that's really cool.”

The little patrons were glued to the screen and to their mothers. Coo’s and ahhh’s, mixed with gasps and screeches made it clear to me that they were riveted to this film.  At one point, you could hear a diaper pin drop! A few moments were so poignant; they were brought to tears. Others so funny, they pee’d their pants!  Fellowship filled the room as the babies realized their own dreams (time to brush off the porfolio and screen test, imagining rug burn on the red carpet!) and discovered they were one with all the babies the world.

When the movie was over, I approached the girls for their opinion. “I thought the boys were totally out of control,” Joy shared, “especially that African boy, he’ll eat anything!” Alexis felt some scenes were a bit too revealing admitting, “I had no idea, if you know what I mean.” Julia agreed, stating “the girls looked very stylish, the boys, well, can you say the word, pants?” Kayla laughed saying the boys were cute and fun, the kind of guys she’d like to hang with. Isabella whispered in my ear that she was afraid of the animals and thought they probably smelled bad and might bite the babies but they didn’t. Also, she would warn her dad never to try pushing her down the plastic ramp in her play car….ever.

Then I asked Ché how he enjoyed the movie, he said, “I wish my mom would let me go bare- naked and that Japanese chic has control issues.” Tristan, himself a well-known performer, was asked about the acting quality in the movie, he quipped, “You’ll have to read my blog.”

Ben attended the movie with his entourage from Montclair. His main take-away was that he’d like to try some of those new nursing positions. His friends wholeheartedly agreed. Anthony slept through the entire movie complaining that his parents kept him up all night.

Nikhil announced, “I would highly recommend this movie to any baby who has an appetite for life and an adventurous spirit!”  Lastly, Jack, senior of the crew, summed up the event with one simple sentence: “The movie, BABIES is a no-napping, nursing experience –thrilling, enlightening, warm and nourishing, all at the same time.” 

Monday, May 3, 2010

In Your Baby’s Eyes

My gift to you, Happy Mother's Day!

In your baby’s eyes...

Even though you can’t zip your jeans
~your body is soft and warm

Even though you doubt yourself
~your voice is kind and reassuring

Even though you’re covered in sweat and milk
~your scent is heavenly and divine

Even though you feel awkward and inept
~your touch is gentle and soothing

Even though they may be wet with tears
~your eyes are tender with compassion

Even though some gets spit up
~your milk is sweet and intoxicating

Even though you may pretend to be amused
~your smile is engaging and delightful

Even though they may be weary
~your arms are an unfailing sanctuary

Even though it may throb with fatigue
~your beating heart is devoted

Even though what you see are flaws and imperfection
~in your baby’s eyes, you'll always be the object of affection

written by Maria Parlapiano

May 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Personal Preference" - NOT!

I received the following e-mail today:
I came to Maria last year when my daughter had difficulty nursing. Maria believed my baby had torticollis (amongst other health concerns), which explained why she wasn't nursing well. After going to at least 5 separate pediatricians, orthopedists, and neuroligists who all told me she had a personal preference, I gave up on the idea that she had torticollis. At one year, she remained "crooked" and the diagnosis at a very well known pediatric orthopedist was torticollis (left untreated for one year!!)

Well, well, well... So, I pulled her chart to refresh my memory and my notes could not have been clearer. FYI- Torticollis is a twisted or stiff neck caused by spasmotic contraction of neck muscles drawing the head to one side with chin pointing to the other side.    As you can see by the description, it doesn't take an Einstein to figure this out yet, she was jerked around by many doctors.   

If you know me at all, you have heard me say over and over  "babies are the smartest people I have ever met and they always do things for good reason".  If you look, watch, touch and listen, they will lead you to what's wrong.  Also, mothers always know when something is "not right"with their child....never ignore her!  So, I take special care and pay attention to everything I can...that's how it's done.  The problem is, it takes time and they are too busy to do the job right!

Of course, I sent her back, a very supportive e-mail tonight.  Trying to be positive, praising her courage and reassuring her. "You did the right thing by taking matters into your own hands, she is lucky to have you for a mom! Now that she is on the right track, the baby will get the treatment she needs and deserves....she will be OK"
But between you and I, this makes me sick, sad, disturbed and pissed-off that this poor mom and baby were denied an early diagnosis and treatment plan! Not to mention, the emotional and physical trauma, that could have been avoided! 

How could these people call themselves professionals??? What was this child’s pediatrician doing all year, besides sticking this kid with needles and spewing percentages from that stupid growth chart?!!! ....

I tell you, a day does not go by, that I don't hear about a mother and child who are damaged by a negligent act or statement, a rude, hurtful comment, punitive advice or just plain wrong information, by their "hired professional" (doctor) Yes, they work for you!!!  Remember that!  
You don't have to put up with this crap!  You are working hard for your insurance and paying top dollar....for what, to be treated like this?  I bet, if one of their employees performed like that, they would be fired....lickity-split!
So unless you start speaking up and leaving those particular practices, they will just continue to do what they do, over and over.  You deserve better.

Now I'm all worked up.....gonna take a hot bath and go to bed.
This blog is gonna kill me yet.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tip Off to the “Top Off”

Alas, a solid study which finally “put to bed” the myth that giving your breastfed baby a bottle of formula at night, makes him sleep longer.

The article by Theresa Doan called "Breast-feeding Increases Sleep Duration of New Parents", compared how much sleep parents lost when they gave the formula supplement before bed versus not giving it. Why the focus on the parents instead of the baby? Sadly, to the parents, it's their own  lack of sleep that is really the concern, not the baby’s.

Like, James McKenna, PhD, who directs the Mother-Baby Behavior Sleep Lab at Notre Dame, this research is based on “real monitored” sleep. They didn’t just ask parents how they slept, (sleep-deprived parents are just not reliable when reporting how long they slept) Instead, they watched and/or monitored their sleep.

The findings: Babies DO NOT sleep longer with a formula bottle, actually they slept less. Let me put it another way; parents have a 40-45 minute sleep loss when they give A BOTTLE of formula at night as opposed to just breastfeeding. Also, it showed that BOTH parents were affected, not just one.

How did this, “top off” myth come about in the first place? It is simply a “throw-back” from the formula feeding years. Think about it, prior to the 1960’s, when you gave birth in a hospital, there was no rooming-in. As a matter of fact, the feeding schedules were so rigid, you didn’t see your baby often enough to establish a breastfeeding relationship, let alone ample milk supply!

New mothers were in the hospital, for a week or more to recooperate. During that time, the babies remained in the nursery for long periods, especially at night, whether they were crying or not. Back then, the mantra was “crying is good for the lungs” (which many grandparents still think is true).

So, these well-rested mothers ended up with LOW milk supply, due to nothing more than, lack of contact and breast stimulation. This set the stage for formula feeding as a means to satisfy the late night hungry baby and thus equate such bottle, to better sleep. It’s no wonder so many women, from that era, felt they just didn’t have enough milk...I'm sure most of them didn't.

Sad to say, the same practices, while more subtle, exist today. Even though, we have rooming-in. Babies are not nursed frequently enough, especially at night, for fear of “being used as a human pacifier”. What are you left with? a fussy baby and low milk supply.

I don’t believe the myth that, the slow digest-ability of formula has, to do with parents sleeping better. I do believe that “super-sized” formula-feeding before bed, is the direct result of the rigidity, discouragement and/or unwillingness to nurse frequently at night, in the very early weeks. It’s the artificial schedule and formula-feeding together, that ultimately results in less sleep for these parents, not more, like they were led to believe.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Shedding the Light on Vitamin D - (protective eyewear required!)

It is well-known that I am not a fan of supplementing infants, under 6 months, with vitamins of any kind. Why do I dare go against, what some consider, an absolute necessity?  First of all, I usually go against things that don't make sense.  For instance, breastmilk actually does contain some vitamin D along with ample amounts of Vitamins A & C and the other vitamins and minerals a newborn needs - go figure!  Also considering, Vitamin D, is not really something you're supposed to get through your food, who’s to say that the amount in breastmilk is deficient, it may be “just right”.


OK, now I feel better that I got that off my chest!   Thirdly,  sunlight is still our main source of Vitamin D, unless you're in a cold, dark climate with little sun exposure, or very dark-skinned, 10-15 minutes of sun (even near a window, if it's cold out) should be enough.  What have we turned into - the people who fear the sunlight?  The CSS - Crazy Sunphobic Society? 

Due to the immaturity of the infant gi tract (better known as guts) introducing substances directly by mouth, other than breastmilk, only serves to place them at risk for food allergies, asthma and probably eczema. See for yourself @ : folder=INBOX.Sent_Items&uid=536&aEmlPart=0&part=2&tnef_part=-1&filename=early%20vitamin%20supplements.pdf&email_folder=INBOX.Sent_Items#

By the way, have you ever taken the time and read the ingredients on a bottle of Tri-Vi-Sol, made by Emfamil? (Mead Johnson) including the synthetics, artificial colors and flavors and don’t forget the sugar…..yummmm! How about the Side effects: upset stomach, headache and unusual or unpleasant taste in mouth – just what you and your baby need, right?
Note to reader : please don’t ask me for advice about your fussy baby if you insist on continuing this practice. In fact, maybe you should ask your doctor or the formula rep who pushes this crap, if they would like to care for your crying, sick baby!  Better yet, take responsibility for their future life-long illnesses!

Now for those of you, who are known to be Vitamin D deficient or live in a cave or truly believe the risk of rickets actually exists and just can’t take that chance, I have a safe option for you and your baby. According to this study, you can increase the Vitamin D in your breastmilk (thus to your baby), by simply taking more Vitamin D yourself.  Study below: "Breastfeed Med. 2006 Summer;1(2):59- 70. High-dose vitamin D3 supplementation in a cohort of breastfeeding mothers and their infants: a 6-month follow-up pilot study.

So, problem solved.(again!)  Thankfully, you can feel good, if you choose to take the supplements, that you’ll be supporting a vitamin company and not the unethical, greedy formula industry!  I am proud of you and happy for your baby!!

In closing, I’d like to leave you with one of my all-time, favorite “tongue in cheek” but quite effective commentaries about the subject:   So enjoy and go outside!!! (preferably during the day)

But God Forgot the Vitamin D in Breastmilk??
By Dr. Jack Newman FRCPC

"The phalarope, a wading shorebird, has a unique way of dining on creatures too deep for it to reach. It draws them up by spinning in the water at breakneck speak. Phalaropes detect prey, thrust, seize, transport and swallow in less than half a second, at a rate of 180 pecks per minute".

But God forgot the vitamin D in human milk?

"Light signals are essential to butterfly mating... Males and females have photoreceptors on their sex organs. When light to the male's receptors is completely blocked, the pair's genitalia are exactly aligned and they can mate. If the light leaks, it's no go."

But God forgot the vitamin D in human milk?

"Tiny blind burrowers, Namib Desert golden moles have nifty survival tricks. After hunting termites on the surface, they dig a foot or so into the African sand and remain torpid there for 19 hours or more as their bodies cool, reducing their energy needs".

But God forgot the vitamin D in human milk.

"Bola spiders excel at capturing moths. Females spin a silken thread with a sticky droplet at the end. When a moth appears, the spider swings the thread until it sticks. To bring moths close, the spider uses deception. She produces chemicals similar to pheromones used by females of several moth species to attract mates. When male moths show up, they find only a fatal attraction."

But God forgot the vitamin D in human milk?