Kindred Media http://www.kindredmedia.org Sharing the New Story of Childhood, Parenthood, and the Human Family Wed, 02 Sep 2015 07:38:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 IN UTERO Film And Filmmakers Attend Upcoming APPPAH Congress, Kindred Editor Moderates http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/in-utero-film-and-filmmakers-attend-upcoming-apppah-congress-kindred-editor-moderates/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/in-utero-film-and-filmmakers-attend-upcoming-apppah-congress-kindred-editor-moderates/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 02:02:56 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16784 IN UTERO Official Trailer (2015) from Kathleen Gyllenhaal on Vimeo. Editor’s note: If you are a member of the media, a birth organization or birth blogger and would like to attend this film screening and discussion with the filmmakers at no charge, you can email Lisa Reagan at press@birthpsychology.com for further details on registering as […]

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IN UTERO Official Trailer (2015) from Kathleen Gyllenhaal on Vimeo.

Editor’s note: If you are a member of the media, a birth organization or birth blogger and would like to attend this film screening and discussion with the filmmakers at no charge, you can email Lisa Reagan at press@birthpsychology.com for further details on registering as press for the event.  The screening is a part of the upcoming APPPAH International Congress in Berkeley, California.  Read more below.

Read more about IN UTERO here, download the podcast interview and transcript with IN UTERO filmmaker, Kathleen Gyllenhaal, and Kindred’s editor, Lisa Reagan, here.  To learn more about APPPAH and birth psychology, download the interview with APPPAH president, Sandra Bardsley here, read about birth psychology on Kindred, and watch Kindred’s New Story video series on birth psychology here.

Dandelion Seeds Sharp

APPPAH, the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health,  is delighted to announce an exclusive screening of the forthcoming documentary, IN UTERO, followed by a panel discussion with filmmakers, Kathleen and Stephen Gyllenhaal, at our 19th International Congress.  The panel discussion and Q&A with the audience will be moderated by Kindred’s editor, Lisa Reagan.  The film screening, panel discussion and audience Q&A will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 5, 2015 at the Doubletree by Hilton, Berkeley Marina, Berkeley, California.

IN UTERO is a cinematic exploration of the sciences supporting birth psychology and humanity’s potential for personal and planetary healing.  The film features interviews with international researchers and scientists, including APPPAH co-founder, Thomas Verny, MD. The film’s world premier this summer at the Seattle International Film Festival, SIFF, featured APPPAH’s president, Sandra Bardsley, and board member, Barbara Decker, as panelists for a sold out audience.

“APPPAH is excited to host a rare opportunity preview and interact with the film’s stars and producers,” said Sandra Bardsley, APPPAH’s president.  “The film is a fascinating and powerful 90 minute glimpse into the science supporting APPPAH’s 35 year-long understanding that ‘Womb Ecology Becomes World Ecology.’ The Gyllenhaals have crafted a consciousness-raising vehicle that is sure to ignite welcome discussions around the need for birth psychology education and awareness. ”

About The Filmmaker

“We look forward to sharing the film and discussing the emerging insights into birth psychology with APPPAH’s Congress attendees and press this December,” said IN UTERO’s filmmaker, Kathleen Gyllenhaal.  “APPPAH’s history and pioneering work has helped to make the insights presented throughout IN UTERO possible.  Together we look forward to getting the word out.”

Gyllenhaal says it was her foray into new motherhood that inspired her to create the film and her research into birth psychology that helped her to prepare for “resistance” to the film’s message. “Knowing what your mother went through, what her mother went through, what your father and his experiences were, have an effect on who you are, that does not jive that well with our sense of individuality, that we can make our own fate. So this new understanding can be very scary,” says Gyllenhaal.

“However, I feel that once we can really digest that information and accept it, then we would be free to discover who we really are and to forge our own paths. So on a personal level, I find this discovery very exciting, perhaps even liberating.  Because if we can really take this science in and then look at ourselves deeply, perhaps we can start to chip away the transmitted patterns and find who we can fully become, our true potential as individuals and communities.  That idea is what fueled me to work for years on this film while going through my own pregnancy and birth with my son.  This is our way of changing the world.”

Gyllenhaal’s former cinematic explorations include Beauty Mark, a social documentary on America’s obsession with body image, perfection and success, and Sita, a Girl from Jambu, an ethnographic drama about child sex trafficking in Nepal. She taught at the University of Colorado-Boulder, then Vassar College, where she obtained tenure.

IN UTERO’s producers include Stephen Gyllenhaal and Matthew Brady.  Gyllenhaal is a film and television director, writer and producer. He currently directs the Peabody Award winning series Rectify for the Sundance Channel and is slated to direct the upcoming Showtime drama Billions. Brady is an Emmy award-winning producer who founded MRB Productions in 2001. MRB produces content across all media channels and specializes in independent features, television shows, promos and commercials.

More About IN UTERO

On a groundbreaking and ambitious mission to investigate “How are we formed? Who are we? Why are we who we are?” IN UTERO weaves together disparate and dynamic fields of scientific research, expert interviews, insights from ancient and modern fairy tales – including Disney films, The Matrix and the superhero blockbuster film phenomenon – to reveal an emerging evolutionary and neurobiological truth: Womb Ecology Becomes World Ecology.

The film radically expands current parameters of academic inquiry by presenting multi-disciplinary research that collectively indicts modern mythologies surrounding mothers and babies as directly responsible for the deteriorating state of our world. As the film’s experts share, while it was 35 years ago that the initial pioneers of prenatal psychology pronounced babies were conscious beings, it is just now, today, that a curiosity into this science is beginning to be reflected in mainstream media (see a resource list here(link is external)).

In addition to featuring APPPAH co-founder, Thomas Verny, MD, the documentary interviews Ludwig Janus, MD, a psychoanalysis instructor at the Psychoanalytic Training Institute and past-president of the International Society for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine, ISPPM; best-selling author, Gabor Maté, MD; Rachel Yehuda, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience and the Director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine; and more (see experts here).

“World ecology has to start with womb ecology,” says Verny in the film.  “We cannot have peace and good people in the world, without raising peaceful, good children. And that has to start at conception, not at birth. It’s our responsibility to make a better job of it than we have done in the past. There are too many children who are neglected, who are born and raised unloved. And unless this changes, the world is not going to change.”

“Human beings are affected by their environment as soon as they have an environment, and that means as soon as they are implanted in the womb,” says Maté. “People are conceiving, carrying and birthing children under increasingly stressful conditions.  Stress that affected one generation will be played out in the next generation.  When we see dysfunction in people, we’re actually seeing the imprint.”  Maté is author of When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress and  In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction. His forthcoming book is entitled Toxic Culture.

“When I was in school, we used to discuss ‘was it nature versus nurture?’  Nobody says that anymore,” says Yehuda. “We don’t have nature here and nurture there.  We have nature and nurture working together to form a new thing.”

About The 19th International Congress

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE APPPAH CONGRESS
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE APPPAH CONGRESS

The Congress theme is Birth and Society: How Birth Impacts Society and How Society Impacts Birth. Our lives are changing with the changes in how we deliver babies. As we explore the past, present, and future with the supportive surround of salt air, ocean breezes, majestic sights, and ambient sounds of the waves and rolling fog and peaking city light of San Francisco and Marin County, come and share the mission of how society effects birth and birth effects society.

The Congress keynote presenters will share the evolution of ethology as it relates to skills and techniques for birth and how all this impacts society which will impact birth. We encourage presenters and attendees in the fields of medicine, psychology, researchers, and the arts to attend along with psychologists, occupational and physical therapist, social workers, NICU staff, ob/gyn professionals, childbirth educators, doulas, pediatricians, early childhood educators, health advocates, professionals in somatic healing practices, and parents from all walks of life.

Register for the Congress here.

Members of the media, including bloggers, may register for the IN UTERO screening at no charge by emailing press@birthpsychology.com.

About APPPAH

APPPAH’s nonprofit mission is to educate professionals and the public, worldwide, that a baby’s experience of conception, pregnancy, and birth creates lifelong consequences for individuals, families, and society. As a result of scientific discoveries and continually emerging evidence, we know babies are conscious and sentient beings. Please consider joining and supporting APPPAH’s ongoing and pioneering work today.

The APPPAH PPNE 11 module course completes it’s first two year cycle this coming November with an expansion that includes Touch the Future Academy and a very successful live class component, Monday LIVE!  Students can now receive live lectures on the curriculum topics, including ethics, epigenetics, neuroscience, psychological theories and more.  Indepth interviews with community members, PPNE graduates, students, board members and more can be found on our new newsletter, Classwomb™ News.  Free tours of the classroom are offered the first Monday of the month.  To participate click here.

You may.also follow APPPAH through our e-newsletterJournal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health, The Conscious Baby and our social media outlets on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Improving Birth/Consumers Welcome Recognition by Medical Community of Disrespect and Abuse in Childbirth http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/improving-birthconsumers-welcome-recognition-by-medical-community-of-disrespect-and-abuse-in-childbirth/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/improving-birthconsumers-welcome-recognition-by-medical-community-of-disrespect-and-abuse-in-childbirth/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 21:47:46 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16777 Improving Birth, the largest U.S. consumer advocacy organization for better maternity care, commends the editors of the Annals of Internal Medicine for their publication yesterday of an essay and editorial addressing “the dark side” of medicine and highlighting two disturbing incidents involving women receiving reproductive health care provided by obstetricians/gynecologists. What these articles touch on […]

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Improving Birth, the largest U.S. consumer advocacy organization for better maternity care, commends the editors of the Annals of Internal Medicine for their publication yesterday of an essay and editorial addressing “the dark side” of medicine and highlighting two disturbing incidents involving women receiving reproductive health care provided by obstetricians/gynecologists. What these articles touch on is something women’s groups and legal advocates have been working to bring to light for some time: the widespread, largely ignored problem of disrespect and abuse of women in maternity care. The leadership of Improving Birth, Human Rights in Childbirth, and other groups directly addressed this issue in a May 2015 meeting with the leadership of the national obstetricians’ membership organization (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG).

Evidence of such mistreatment can be seen in the thousands of responses by women and others generated by Improving Birth’s “Break the Silence” campaign (photos, comments, and stories here: bit.ly/breakthesilencephoto), and detailed in the article “Improving Birth Breaks the Silence on Abuse of Women in Maternity Care” (bit.ly/nodontcut), which lists common examples like forced vaginal exams during labor (described by many as a sexual assault), administration of medication and performance of invasive procedures without informed consent, and forcible restraint of women onto their backs (see “Inappropriate use of restraints” for one woman’s story). Perhaps most common are reports from women that they were bullied and pressured into routine medical interventions. The video of a 2013 incident (bit.ly/nodontcut) shows a California obstetrician cutting a woman 12 times with scissors and berating her after she explicitly refused an episiotomy (cutting of the area between the vagina and anus). More evidence of mistreatment is listed below under “References,” including a 2015 legal brief submitted by multiple national organizations to a New York court hearing a lawsuit about a forced Cesarean urging that the court affirm pregnant women’s rights to be free from forced and coerced medical treatment, with 42 firsthand accounts from women and witnesses of the same.

forgot-horz

Across the board, women are dismissed and ignored when they speak up about their treatment, and it is our understanding and experience that their complaints to hospitals and medical boards are often ignored and dismissed, also. If they try to hire a lawyer, they are told they have no case because they and their baby are alive.  Trauma from being mistreated in maternity care is often blamed on trauma from the process of childbirth itself, and women are admonished to just to be grateful they have a healthy baby, regardless of the humiliation, bullying, or trauma they endured.  For all of these reasons and more, there is no meaningful system of accountability for women when they experience disrespect and abuse.

We also understand that many care providers are traumatized themselves, in high-stress, high-pressure jobs, beginning with what the New York Times called “the bullying culture of medical school,” where their initiation by superiors may include “verbal and physical harassment,” “intimidation,” “being yelled at” and “threatened,” and even being”hit” and “pushed.”

“Respectful Care” is this year’s theme for Improving Birth’s 4th annual Rally to Improve Birth. This theme was chosen, in part, to bring attention to the problem of DISrespectful care. We warmly welcome the public and the medical profession to join us at one of our 80+ locations nationwide (find a rally here: bit.ly/findarally) this Labor Day week.

We are thrilled that the medical community is taking this seriously enough to break the silence among their own about disrespect and abuse in childbirth. The conversation that Improving Birth, Human Rights in Childbirth, and others have worked hard to bring into the mainstream must include medical professionals and organizations if we are to see lasting impact.  Respectful, evidence-based care can be a reality if we all decide to make it so.

Press inquiries and questions: Contact us here.

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Rally to Improve Birth 2013. Pictured: Monterey, CA, IB rally coordinator Elaura Nevares; Monterey County Supervisor Jane Parker; Licensed Midwife Maggie Bennett; Obstetrician/Gynecologist Caleb Liem

References

“Break the Silence” Photo Campaign with photos, comments, and stories about trauma and violence in childbirth

Amicus Curiae brief, including 42 stories from women and witnesses, submitted by multiple national organizations in the matter of Dray vs. Staten Island Hospital, et al.(2015)

World Health Organization report on the global problem: Prevention and elimination of disrespect and abuse during facility-based childbirth (2014)

Article: Improving Birth Breaks the Silence on Abuse of Women in Maternity Care (2014) and related article from Human Rights in Childbirth about the forced episiotomy of a California woman, Forced Episiotomy: Kelly’s Story

Joint statement by advocacy organizations on the forced Cesarean case of a New York woman: Advocacy Organizations Stand Together Against Forced Procedures in Childbirth (2015)

Article from Human Rights in Childbirth about the forced Cesarean case of a New York woman: Rinat Dray is not Alone, Part 1 (2015)

Cross-country photo project by Improving Birth vice president and professional photographer “documenting birth trauma and the strength of women across America”:Exposing the Silence Project (2015)

Blog post by anonymous woman about being violently flipped on her back and restrained there, with the hospital and Joint Commission agreeing the treatment was acceptable: Inappropriate use of restraints (2014)

Story of a young first-time mom being bullied throughout an unmedicated birth to consent to medication to speed up labor: Because We Can: A Year of Inspiration (2013)

Article: A Healthy Baby Isn’t All That Matters (2013)

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New Study Finds Epidurals and Other Birth Interventions Increase Risk of Postpartum Depression and Decrease Exclusive Breastfeeding Rates http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/new-study-finds-epidurals-and-other-birth-interventions-increase-risk-of-postpartum-depression-and-decrease-exclusive-breastfeeding-rates/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/new-study-finds-epidurals-and-other-birth-interventions-increase-risk-of-postpartum-depression-and-decrease-exclusive-breastfeeding-rates/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:09:03 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16771 A new article published in Clinical Lactation addresses potential negative outcomes of epidurals and other birth interventions. Birth Interventions Related to Lower Rates of Exclusive Breastfeeding and Increased Risk of Postpartum Depression in a Large Sample, was written by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, FAPA, Zhen Cong, PhD, and Thomas W. Hale, PhD. Kendall-Tackett, Cong, and […]

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A new article published in Clinical Lactation addresses potential negative outcomes of epidurals and other birth interventions. Birth Interventions Related to Lower Rates of Exclusive Breastfeeding and Increased Risk of Postpartum Depression in a Large Sample, was written by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, FAPA, Zhen Cong, PhD, and Thomas W. Hale, PhD.

Kendall-Tackett, Cong, and Hale specifically examined the effects of birth interventions on exclusive breastfeeding and postpartum depression using data from the Survey of Mothers’ Sleep and Fatigue, a study of 6,410 new mothers from 59 countries. They found that epidurals were associated with lower exclusive breastfeeding rates and higher rates of postpartum depression even after controlling for other factors that increase mothers’ risk of depression, such as history of depression and sexual assault; income and education level; and the other birth interventions. In addition, mothers were more likely to be depressed if they perceived their labors as very painful and difficult, and if they had postpartum complications, such as hemorrhage or surgery. These findings contradict previous studies that found that birth interventions, particularly epidurals, had no negative effect on maternal mental health or breastfeeding. According to Dr. Kendall-Tackett, this current study is important because the sample size is large enough to allow the researchers to control for many of the factors that could account for mothers’ depression.

“The majority of previous studies found that epidurals did not negatively affect either breastfeeding or maternal mental health. However, most of those studies were severely limited by small sample sizes. Our study has one of the largest samples to date and accounts for many of the other factors that put women at risk for depression. The significance of our study is that even after we controlled for all these other factors, epidurals still increased risk for depression. For an individual mother, having an epidural can be the right choice. But we should not assume that that choice has no consequence. It does. We should be sure to monitor mothers who have epidurals for signs of either breastfeeding difficulties or depressive symptoms.”

Dr. Kendall-Tackett, author of Depression in New Mothers, 2nd Edition (Routledge), is a health psychologist and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association in Health and Trauma Psychology, a Clinical Professor of Nursing at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Texas Tech University School of Medicine in Amarillo, Texas. Dr. Kendall-Tackett is Editor-in-Chief at Praeclarus Press is a small press that specializes in women’s health based in Amarillo, Texas. Dr. Cong is Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Dr. Hale is Professor of Pediatrics at Texas Tech University School of Medicine in Amarillo, Texas and Director of the InfantRisk Center at Texas Tech.

How Birth Trauma Impacts Breastfeeding – With Kathleen Kendall-Tackett

Breastfeeding expert, Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, shares the latest research that shows a greater number of women suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, after giving birth than downtown Manhattan survivors suffered PTSD after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centers on 9-11. Women suffer from birth trauma that rises to the level of diagnosable PTSD at a rate of 9%, while 9-11 survivors using the same criteria were 7.5%, states Kendall-Tackett in the video.
In this interview with Lisa Reagan, Kindred’s editor, Kendall-Tackett spells out the reasons for PTSD not being recognized in birth until recent years, and the even more recent revelations of the impact of birth trauma on breastfeeding.  See the entire playlist of Kendall-Tackett videos on Kindred’s New Story YouTube Channel here.

Featured photo Shutterstock/ChaNaWiT

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“A Wake Up Story” Award-Winning Video By Environmental Working Group http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/a-wake-up-story-award-winning-video-by-environmental-working-group/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/a-wake-up-story-award-winning-video-by-environmental-working-group/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 22:01:56 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16766 There are bedtime stories that help us fall asleep and then there’s A Wake Up Story by the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Child, Healthy World initiative.  This award-winning and classic video was updated and republished on August 10, 2015.  Visit their website for more tools for chemical-free living here. Read about Chemical-free Living and Children […]

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There are bedtime stories that help us fall asleep and then there’s A Wake Up Story by the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Child, Healthy World initiative.  This award-winning and classic video was updated and republished on August 10, 2015.  Visit their website for more tools for chemical-free living here.

Read about Chemical-free Living and Children on Kindred.  Visit our bookstore.

About HCHW

As a program of EWG, Healthy Child Healthy World’s purpose is to empower parents to take action and protect children against harmful chemicals. We empower parents, promote solutions and influence policy to create a cleaner, greener, healthier world. EWG’s Healthy Child Healthy World program translates science and research in the environmental health realm, provides access to digestible information and offers solutions for actionable change.

The merger of EWG and HCHW is in response to the pressing need for renewed, national leadership in children’s environmental health. In the years ahead, EWG’s Healthy Child Healthy World program will engage more parents and caregivers to raise the profile of children’s environmental health.

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Face it, There IS an Autism Epidemic http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/face-it-there-is-an-autism-epidemic/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/face-it-there-is-an-autism-epidemic/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 19:15:40 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16762 No matter how many times you repeat a lie, you cannot make it true. No matter how much you want something in front of your face not to be real, you cannot make it disappear. You may have heard in the news lately that “autism is not really on the rise” or that “there is […]

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No matter how many times you repeat a lie, you cannot make it true.

No matter how much you want something in front of your face not to be real, you cannot make it disappear.

You may have heard in the news lately that “autism is not really on the rise” or that “there is no autism epidemic.”

SafeMinds supporters know, I know, the CDC knows, and anyone who is paying any attention at all knows that there are more children with autism in America than ever before, and the numbers keep going up.

There has been an explosion of autism.

There has been an explosion of severe autism.

The kind of autism that comes with substantial disability. The kind the State of California defines as having “significant functional limitations” in self-care; receptive and expressive language; learning; mobility; self-direction; capacity for independent living; or economic self-sufficiency.

The kind the best prevalence tracking system for severe autism – the California Department of Developmental Services – says has increased 21% among children born in just the 5 years from 2002 to 2006.

DDS autism current cases, by birth year, 1931-2010  Reprinted from Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area Autism Rising 2015 report

I’m talking about children who, for example, will never be able to take care of themselves, who need one-on-one classroom aides, who cannot speak for themselves, who are 12 years old and still wear diapers. I’m talking about the child with autism in so much pain that he beats himself bloody, whose parents had to institutionalize him.

I’m talking about the children and adults with autism who also have co-occurring conditions: gastro-intestinal problems, sleep issues, seizure disorders, metabolic disorders, motor problems.

I’m talking about the children who can’t communicate what is going on inside their bodies and minds without significant facilitation, if at all.

I’m talking about the ones who wander or elope from home and are at high risk of death.

These are children and young adults who will need lifelong specialized care.

I grew up in the 1980s. I attended public high school right outside New York City. Guess what? We had special needs kids in my graduating class of some 500 students. But we had very few, if any, students with autism. I didn’t even know any regular students with a brother or sister with autism. Autism simply wasn’t there. Not like it is today.

Today, almost every teen or young adult knows someone with autism – in their school, a friend’s sibling, or their own brother or sister.

Anytime I share with someone my age that my son has autism, they tell me about their niece or nephew, their own child, their grandson, their cousin’s daughter. Our parents were not having these conversations. Not because of changed diagnostic criteria. But because those kids simply were not there.

Look on the playground. Look at the supermarket. Go to the shopping mall.

Where there were once almost no children with autism, there are now thousands.

Anyone who has ever participated in multi-age, special needs athletics programs knows what I’m talking about. Very few of the adult athletes have autism. Hundreds of the younger participants, however, do.

Every school administrator and classroom teacher in America knows the truth.

Ask Dannae Laqua, a special education teacher in Oregon.

“I’ve been teaching special education for ten years,” Laqua tells me. “I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in students in school affected by autism. Ask any teacher and they’ll say the same thing.”

The waiting list for Autism Waiver services in Maryland is so long that your child might age out before getting the help he needs.

There are many theories postulated by people with advanced degrees about what the causes of autism could be: acetaminophen, overexposure to ultrasound,overuse of antibiotics, toxic ingredients in vaccines, air pollution, among many others.

Each of these theories must be thoroughly researched and investigated.

Yet instead of doing the needed research, we’re still arguing about numbers? I think it would be appropriately ridiculous for Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler to do a Saturday Night Live sketch of REALLY??? With Seth and Amy about this topic already.

Enough is enough—the emperor has no clothes.

It’s a convenient argument: if there is no autism epidemic, there’s no reason to be worried, there’s no reason to fund research into environmental factors, and then there is no reason to research treatment for people and stopping the epidemic.  The majority of research funds today continues to be spent on genetic factors, and guess what, we still don’t have definitive answers on what causes autism.

SmartVax is the philosophy of taking a balanced, scientific, and safe approach to vaccination.  This website, by the Coalition for SafeMinds, is intended to provide information and promote discussion on a smarter approach to vaccines.
SmartVax is the philosophy of taking a balanced, scientific, and safe approach to vaccination. This website, by the Coalition for SafeMinds, is intended to provide information and promote discussion on a smarter approach to vaccines.

Study or no study, you can’t help but see it with your own eyes.

Long waiting lists for outpatient behavioral services.

Long waiting lists to see a good developmental pediatrician.

Long waiting lists for respite services.

Long waiting lists for adult day programs

Skyrocketing special education costs.

They can tell us there’s no autism epidemic but we all live it. Every day.

Denying the autism epidemic holds all of us back from finding solutions. It keeps us from educating parents and doctors about how best to protect this country’s children.

SafeMinds knows the autism epidemic is serious, just like you, our supporters do.

And we aren’t arguing about semantics or trying to distract people from the real problem.  We are, instead, focusing on funding research to figure out what is causing it, how to help children who have it, and what to do to stop it.  We want healthier children with more independent futures. If you’d like to help us achieve our mission of ending the autism epidemic, please contact us here .

To those claiming that there is no epidemic and it’s just better diagnosis, please stop insulting our intelligence and wasting our time. Really.

There’s an autism epidemic. You know it. I know it.

We can and will do much better once we all face what is right in front of our own eyes, and then move forward in helping those who need it most.

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Unacceptable Levels: New Documentary About Your Body’s Chemical Burden http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/unacceptable-levels-new-documentary-about-your-bodys-chemical-burden/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/unacceptable-levels-new-documentary-about-your-bodys-chemical-burden/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 18:30:48 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16756 Unacceptable Levels from TDC Entertainment on Vimeo. Read more on chemical-free family wellness on Kindred. Unacceptable Levels examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940s through the eyes of affable filmmaker Ed Brown, a father seeking to understand the world in which he and his wife are raising their children. To create this […]

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Unacceptable Levels from TDC Entertainment on Vimeo.

Read more on chemical-free family wellness on Kindred.

Unacceptable Levels examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940s through the eyes of affable filmmaker Ed Brown, a father seeking to understand the world in which he and his wife are raising their children. To create this debut documentary, one man and his camera traveled extensively to find and interview top minds in the fields of science, advocacy, and law.  Weaving their testimonies into a compelling narrative, Brown presents us with the story of how the chemical revolution brought us to where we are, and of where, if we’re not vigilant, it may take us.

Over 80,000 chemicals flow through our system of commerce, and many are going straight into our bodies. Even our unborn children are affected. Due to this constant exposure, we have approximately 200 synthetic industrial chemicals interacting with our cells every single day. Until recently, modern science really didn’t understand what that could mean for all of us in the long run, but that is changing.

Globally, disease rates are on the rise. Theories about the causes abound, yet the issues are complex and often muddied by the maneuvering of political and corporate interests. To explore different facets of common chemical exposure, Unacceptable Levels, was made in consultation with experts in multiple fields and is guided by a father on a personal journey as he attempts to bring these issues to light for everyone. Its primary goal? To determine whether we can prevent disease before it strikes us.

Unacceptable Levels opens the door to conversations about the chemical burden our bodies carry so that we can make informed decisions now and in the future.  The film poses challenges to our companies, our government, and our society to do something about a nearly-unseen threat with the inspired knowledge that small changes can generate a massive impact.

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14 Changes To Support Breastfeeding We Need To Make Now http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/14-changes-to-support-breastfeeding-we-need-to-make-now/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/14-changes-to-support-breastfeeding-we-need-to-make-now/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 19:23:45 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16737 Join Rebecca Thompson in Costa Rica for a Family and Parenting Retreat October 10-17, 2015 Yesterday, I talked about the amazing properties and the complex role of breastmilk in our bodies and metabolism, the way our bodies store fat depending on our infant nutrition and food source, along with short and long-term health benefits of […]

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Join Rebecca Thompson in Costa Rica for a Family and Parenting Retreat October 10-17, 2015

Yesterday, I talked about the amazing properties and the complex role of breastmilk in our bodies and metabolism, the way our bodies store fat depending on our infant nutrition and food source, along with short and long-term health benefits of human milk for human babies.

And I only scratched the surface.

So why doesn’t everyone breastfeed? Or better yet, what can we do to make breastfeeding more possible?

It turns out that the answer is almost as complex as breastmilk itself.

I have met so many mothers who wanted to breastfeed their babies, but weren’t able to do so or had great difficulty getting started. Why? Here are some things we can do to make it more likely that mother-baby dyads will be able to breastfeed.

1. Normalize breastfeeding in our culture

Breastfeeding Room in Puerto Rico

We need to see breastfeeding, talk about breastfeeding, and find ways to make it easier for families to get support. When I was growing up, I remember my brother being bottle fed. That’s what you do with babies, right? The first person I remember breastfeeding was my friend who had a baby right about the time I got married at age 20. She invited me to stay when she fed her baby and talked about it with me. I couldn’t understand why a person would breastfeed when they could just give a bottle. When we make steps to normalize breastfeeding, we all benefit.

2. Avoid unnecessary medications during labor

Babies whose mothers have received Pitocin or an Epidural during labor also receive an IV, which engorges the mother and often makes latching difficult. Pain relievers can also cause the baby to be disoriented and have difficulty finding the breast, latching on, and coordinating the suck-swallow-breathe necessary to successfully nurse. Some medications are worse than others. And some takes up to 3 weeks to completely leave the baby’s immature system. Pitocin often leads to other interventions and distress the baby, which can make it more difficult for the baby to organize after birth enough to learn to breastfeed.

3. Keep mother-baby together right after birth

Newborn family
Photo credit Lianne March

Many hospitals are anxious to do their after birth procedures immediately- washing the baby, weighing the baby, doing an initial check of the baby, medical interventions including vitamin K and eye drops- within minutes of birth. Some hospitals have begun an initiative to “Wait for 8”, allowing mothers and babies to stay together and bond without interruption for 8 at least hours after birth. Unless there is a medical reason to separate mother and baby, mother-baby need to be together. Breastfeeding goes better with that relatively small change.

4. Eliminate unnecessary procedures done on the baby

Silver nitrate or antibiotic eye drops put in babies eyes right after birth obscures the baby’s ability to see and can cause pain. (Unless the mother has an active STD, it is unnecessary.) Vitamin K shots and blood draws are very uncomfortable. If the baby is suctioned, there can be oral aversions and difficulty initiating breastfeeding. Circumcision is a painful procedure on a baby boy’s most sensitive body part. Being in pain can make a baby less willing to nurse or unable to coordinate efforts to nurse.

As with any procedure on a newborn, sometimes the risks outweigh the benefits (and sometimes not), so move consciously through these decisions and be aware that these kinds of interventions can have a big affect on breastfeeding. In cases where they’re necessary, breastfeeding at the time of the procedure reduces pain. You can also talk to the baby about what will happen and be present with the baby for comfort and connection.

5. Allow babies to initiate labor on their own 

Unless there is a sound medical reason, induction should be avoided. When the babies are very early, they aren’t mature enough to coordinate their suck-swallow-breathe to effectively nurse. We are just beginning to understand the complexities of a baby initiating labor and when that happens, baby is ready.  Unless there is a clear medical indication requiring medical intervention wait for baby to initiate labor on his or her own. Breastfeeding is likely to go better.

6. Find knowledgeable support to facilitate breastfeeding

I would love to say that the help I received in the hospital made a big difference for me in my breastfeeding relationship, but it didn’t. The special lactation consultant wasn’t available until the second day I was there and honestly wasn’t helpful when she did arrive. The other nurses didn’t know much about lactation or how to support the two of us to get started. Having good support is important for all babies, but especially important for babies with special situations, including premature babies and medically fragile babies.

7. Support from baby’s dad

Allen and baby. Photo credit Lianne March

I have seen some amazing dads who do everything they can to help the mother succeed at breastfeeding. Those dads are heroes to their family! And I’ve seen dads who aren’t ok with breastfeeding, even when it is going well, and the mother has weaned because it is much easier than dealing with an unhappy husband. Dads need to be educated about the gift a mother is giving the baby through breastfeeding or breastmilk long before the baby is born. More resources for fathers are incredibly important. We often underestimate their importance.

8. Support for difficult births

When the birth is difficult for mother, it is likely to have been difficult for baby. When mom is exhausted and baby is exhausted, it can be difficult to learn a new skill. Mom and baby (and dad, too!) need some space to share the story of the birth. In our culture, we don’t hear that it is important to tell the story of the birth slowly and in a connected way, but it can be important to moving through those difficult stories and having a connected relationship when that wasn’t possible during the birth.

Babies show their story on the way to the breast. Their experiences are shown through their body movements, sounds, and facial expressions. Sometimes there is a time when it doesn’t look like the baby is going to nurse, but what is really needed is some extra support and space for someone to be curious about what they’re showing us. I use an approach called Healing Stories based on the work of Ray Castellino and the Pre and Perinatal Psychology movement to help make that space for babies (and their parents) to show their stories.

Cranial Sacral Therapy with Evelyn Fox and her adorable baby friend. Photo credit Kristine Mengle Fortenberry

Another resource to support mother-baby is Cranial Sacral Therapy (CST), a hands-on, light touch method. Evelyn Fox, owner of The Red Tent Collective in Dunedin, FL (shown in the image to the right) shares more about her experience with CST. “I have noticed in my CST practice that many babies have neck injuries from birth; from the mildly tight muscles to full blown Torticollis. These babies do not like to have their heads touched and usually prefer one side. They might also have a hard time opening their mouths. Besides CST to release neck and head trauma, I am teaching moms natural breastfeeding positions and they are having great results.” When those challenges are addressed, breastfeeding goes better.

There are many, many ways to support breastfeeding mamas and their babies. And we need to be gentle with ourselves if we didn’t know about them when we were looking for answers and support. And gentle with each other. You likely don’t know the story of the family you’re judging.

9. Understand breastfed baby norms

There have been so many times I hear stories like D’Anne’s where a baby has breastmilk jaundice and is separated from her mother and given formula. Many pediatricians are still using the formula feeding normed tables for growth and development, which can indicate a problem when there isn’t one.

For example, breastfed babies have high growth in the first 6 months and it slows during the second 6 months. Formula fed babies keep a more flat lined curve the whole time. When a breastfed baby is judged against a formula feeding baby’s growth chart, it looks like there is a problem. The biological norm is breastfeeding, so in reality the formula fed baby has gained more weight than would be expected. Do you see the shift?

We also know that babies go through growth spurts where they require more food. In breastfed babies, they may appear hungry and need to nurse more often and this short term frequent nursing increases supply for the baby. If a mother doesn’t know this is happening, she may think she doesn’t have enough milk and reach for formula.

10. More support for breastfeeding challenges

Baby not gaining enough weight? How frequently is baby eating? How many wet and dirty diapers per day? Have we evaluated baby’s latch?

Baby not sleeping through the night? What was the baby’s birth like? Does baby have difficulty falling asleep? Staying asleep? Did we mention it is biologically normal for a breastfed baby to wake frequently at night to feed in the first few months? Try sleeping in close proximity to baby, on same or different surfaces in the same room. It also decreases the incidence of SIDS. (See references)

Baby allergic to something? Has mom tried an elimination diet?

It takes a knowledgeable pediatrician to support a mother without recommending formula as a first line of defense. There are very few times when formula is necessary and it is good that it is there for those times, but it should not be the go to for every problem.

11. Recognizing physical issues with the baby

One of the most common issues right now with babies not being able to nurse effectively is tongue tie. Tongue tie is when the tissue in the mouth under the tongue or above the upper lip is too short or tight to allow effective nursing. It seems everyone is talking about this now and from the little bit of research I did, there may be a connection with prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplementation in susceptible individuals.

When there is a tongue tie, baby is unable to effectively move the tongue to breastfeed. Unfortunately, this also effects speech and sometimes other feeding issues as the child grows. When the tongue tie is corrected, baby can learn to effectively nurse. It can be difficult to find a practitioner who can diagnose and treat it correctly, though.

12. Recognize Adoption as the special circumstance it is

An adoptive mother doesn’t have the benefit of pregnancy to stimulate hormones to nurse a baby. While there are ways a dedicated mother can get the baby breast milk, or stimulate her own supply of breast milk (either partial supply or full supply) it isn’t an easy path. One adoptive mother I spoke with shared how she was criticized for not breastfeeding her adopted baby by family and strangers alike. Sometimes we just can’t win as mothers.

13. Support for nursing in public

The Big Latch On Space Coast La Leche League, Melbourne, FL 2011 to bring awareness to nursing in public.

Just this year (2015), Virginia passed legislation to protect a mother’s right to breastfeed anywhere she has a right to be. Some states still don’t even protect a mother’s right to breastfeed wherever she and her baby are allowed to be, let alone culturally support the breastfeeding dyad. Add in uninformed employees at restaurants, department stores, and it can feel pretty unfriendly to feed your baby when he’s hungry. In many ways, we’re so much more comfortable with bottles. Formula and bottles are still the norm here. If you’re a breastfeeding mama, educate.  If you’re not breastfeeding, defend those mamas who are being given a hard time. Help get laws passed to protect the breastfeeding relationship.

14. Support mother-baby dyad regarding work

Netflix being a recent exception, most employers in the United States don’t support any sort of leave when a family has a baby. This lack of support for working mothers to have time off to nurture their babies, frequent separations, and lack of pumping spaces for mothers returning to work make it really difficult for mothers to continue nursing. And there are few baby friendly work places. Mrs. Ronulli, who took her baby to work with her to the European Parliament, is definitely an exception, especially in the public eye.

As a culture, we don’t value the role of the mother in connecting with her baby. We don’t understand the long-term consequences for babies not receiving breastmilk and not having a connection with their mothers during the early years.

When we really stand back and look at all the barriers to breastfeeding that we have created in our culture, it is no wonder that so many families don’t breastfeed or aren’t able to breastfeed. As a culture, we need to have compassion no matter what a mother feeds her baby. If a mother feeds her baby formula, she is criticized. If a mother breastfeeds her baby, she’s criticized and is sometimes chased out of restaurants or told to feed her baby next to the toilet.

We’re all doing the best we can do. Remember that now.

What were your experiences of breastfeeding? I’d love to hear from you if you’re in the United States or somewhere else with different experiences (or more of the same). Please reply in the comments.

 

References

Milk, Money, and Madness: The Culture and Politics of Breastfeeding by Naomi Baumslag, MD, MPH, and Dia L. Michels

11. Tongue Tie and MTHFR: http://mthfr.net/the-intersection-of-tongue-tie-mthfr/2014/05/23/

Co-sleeping and SIDS: https://cosleeping.nd.edu/assets/31970/mckenna_why_babies_should_n.pdf

Netflix and paid family leave: http://www.wsj.com/articles/netflix-offers-new-parents-one-year-of-paid-leave-1438735806

Human milk for Human Babies: http://hm4hb.net

Nancy Mohrbacher’s article in Mothering on positions and other challenges: http://www.mothering.com/articles/natural-breastfeeding/

Dr. Jack Newman’s article about nursing an adopted baby: http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/content.php?pagename=doc-BABB and how to know if your doctor isn’t really supportive of breastfeeding: http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/content.php?pagename=doc-HKHP

IV fluids and newborn weight loss after birth: http://www.nancymohrbacher.com/blog/2011/10/31/newborn-weight-loss-and-iv-fluids-in-labor.html

More research on IV fluids: http://evidencebasedbirth.com/are-iv-fluids-necessary-during-labor/

Reverse pressure softening as treatment for engorgement from IV fluids: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mother/rev_pressure_soft_cotterman/

Affects of childbirth practices on breastfeeding: http://www.llli.org/docs/lad/ChildbirthandBreastfeeding.pdf

Delayed newborn bath and procedures (Wait for 8): https://awhonn.confex.com/awhonn/2012/webprogram/Paper8017.html

Breastfeeding reduces pain in neonates: http://apps.who.int/rhl/newborn/cd004950_agarwalr_com/en/

Reprinted with permission from The Consciously Parenting Project

Featured Image Shutterstock/OLJ Studio

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Infant Circumcision And Trauma – With Dr. Dean Edell http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/infant-circumcision-and-trauma-with-dr-dean-edell/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/infant-circumcision-and-trauma-with-dr-dean-edell/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 17:15:07 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16731 About This Video To learn more, visit: http://www.nocirc.org/ Make the INFORMED decision on circumcision- the ONLY decision you will choose after watching this informative video- don’t circumcise your baby boy OR girl. If you are planning a hospital birth for your son, you should expect hospital staff to approach you at some point in the […]

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About This Video

To learn more, visit: http://www.nocirc.org/

Make the INFORMED decision on circumcision- the ONLY decision you will choose after watching this informative video- don’t circumcise your baby boy OR girl.

If you are planning a hospital birth for your son, you should expect hospital staff to approach you at some point in the first day or two after your son is born to ask about circumcision. There are many long-term reasons to leave your son intact,1 but you may not have considered the more immediate benefits to you and your new baby.

No American medical association recommends infant circumcision as a routine procedure. The reason that American medical associations (and the vast majority of medical associations worldwide) do not recommend routine infant circumcision is because it is not medically necessary.2 And as Lamaze’s Healthy Birth Practice Paper #6 details, “experts agree that unless a medical reason exists, healthy mothers and babies shouldn’t be separated after birth or during the early days following birth.”3 Consequently, unless there is a medical reason to circumcise your newborn son, it is inadvisable to agree to this unnecessary medical procedure.

Immediate Consequences of Routine (Medically Unnecessary) Infant Circumcision

1. Circumcision Causes Pain and Stress: An infant’s foreskin has more than 240 feet of nerves, 20,000 nerve endings, and 3 feet of veins, arteries, and capillaries — circumcision removes all of them, causing the infant tremendous pain.4 Research has conclusively demonstrated “that circumcision has significant physiologic impact on newborns, mainly due [to] pain.”5 Serum cortisol (a hormone released in response to stress) concentrations increase during and after circumcision,6 and “[h]eart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure increase, and oxygen saturation decreases, during and shortly after circumcision.7

After circumcision, the penis has a raw, open wound. The newborn’s surgically exposed glans is re-injured by abrasion and contaminants because it is encased in diapers (including the baby’s own feces and urine, which breaks down into ammonia). Disposable diapers themselves are also often irritants, because they are laden with chemicals, dyes, and fragrances that cause further pain.

2. Circumcision Interferes with Breastfeeding: Circumcision negatively affects breastfeeding, regardless of whether infants are given Acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help manage pain immediately after circumcision. Some circumcised males are unable to suckle at all after the procedure. Mothers who leave their sons intact have a better chance at establishing a healthy breastfeeding relationship.8

3. Circumcision Disrupts Sleep: After circumcision, babies’ normal sleep patterns are disrupted. Researchers believe this may be a mechanism to cope with the stress of the procedure.9 Infants who do not get enough sleep or enough quality sleep are at risk for additional significant stress.10

4. Circumcision Can Interrupt Normal Bonding and Causes Emotional Trauma: Lamaze recognizes that “[i]nterrupting, delaying, or limiting the time that a mother and her baby spend together may have a harmful effect on their relationship and on breastfeeding success.”11 The significant stress, disrupted sleep patterns, and breastfeeding problems experienced by circumcised babies all have the potential to interrupt the normal, healthy bonding with their caregivers. Bonding is interrupted because “the circumcision procedure frequently causes the newborn to withdraw from his environment[,]” including his mother.12

Moreover, circumcision causes emotional trauma to parents. Over 80% of parents regret their circumcision decision in the first six months of their sons’ lives. 13

Protect Your Newborn: Leave Him Intact

Unless there is a medical reason to circumcise, you and your son can only benefit by deciding to keep him safe and close to your side after birth. The newborn period is so beautiful and fleeting. There is no reason to traumatize your baby or jeopardize your breastfeeding relationship by exposing your son to needless pain and stress.

If, after thoroughly researching, you feel that the decision to circumcise is one that you must make, please wait until after those fragile newborn days. Remember, you can always decide to circumcise, you can never decide to take it back.14

For the references or to comment on this article go to, http://codenamemama.com/2010/06/10/ci…

 

Educational Resources

Pamphlets for Expectant Parents

http://www.nocirc.org/publish/

Deciding Whether or Not to Circumcise Your Son?

http://www.intactamerica.org/resources/decision

What is Lost to Circumcision

http://www.cirp.org/pages/parents/lostlist/

“How Male Circumcision May be Affecting Your Love Life” by Christiane Northrup, MD

http://www.coloradonocirc.org/files/handouts/Love_Life_article_by_Christiane_Northrup.pdf

Danish Study- Male circumcision leads to a bad sex life – November 14, 2011

http://sciencenordic.com/male-circumcision-leads-bad-sex-life

“Circumcised men have more difficulties reaching orgasm, and their female partners experience more vaginal pains and an inferior sex life, a new study shows.”

Sadly, medically unnecessary circumcisions take the lives of too many infants each year, and other children suffer the effects of botched circumcisions their whole lives. Below is a list of some publicly known tragedies, with updates in the Comments section.

http://wisewomanwayofbirth.com/circumcision-dirty-little-secrets-exposed/

A growing number of men who wish they had been left intact (not circumcised) are benefitting from non-surgical foreskin restoration. You can learn more about this at http://www.norm.org/

“Unspeakable Mutilations: Circumcised Men Speak Out” by Lindsay Watson, 2014-  In this book, 50 men, of widely differing ages and from varying walks of life, explain how circumcision has harmed their self-esteem, physical well-being and sexual experience.

http://www.amazon.com/Unspeakable-Mutilations-Circumcised-Men-Speak-ebook/dp/B00L5FPF2C/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403850698&sr=1-7&keywords=Unspeakable

Circumcision’s Psychological Damage

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201501/circumcision-s-psychological-damage

The Psychological Impact of Circumcision Upon Men, In Their Own Words

http://peacefulbeginningsrosemary.wordpress.com/circ-information/comments-from-men/

No national medical association in the world today recommends infant circumcision, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). In its 2012 statement on circumcision, the AAP claimed that “the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks,” yet it also stated that “the true incidence of complications after newborn circumcision is unknown”. The AAP lacks the evidence it needs to make a comparison between risks and benefits.

The AAP’s statement was met with strong criticism from a large group of European and Canadian doctors representing various foreign medical associations, in the AAP’s own journal “Pediatrics.”  Infant circumcision is not practiced by most of the rest of the world, except where it is done for religious reasons by Jews and Muslims.  You can read what these doctors wrote at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/03/12/peds.2012-2896.full.pdf+html

In 2014, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service stated that the risks of circumcision outweigh the benefits, the exact opposite position of the AAP. See http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Circumcision/Pages/Introduction.aspx

One young man sued the retired doctor and hospital (Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York) where he was circumcised unnecessarily as an infant, against his will and without HIS consent. He received a financial settlement.  You can read about his case athttp://www.cirp.org/news/mndnewswire04-29-03/

A group of doctors called Doctors Opposing Circumcision (DOC) was formed by physicians opposed to non-therapeutic neonatal circumcision.  You can learn more about them at http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/

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Quiet Attention: More Precious Than Gold http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/quiet-attention-more-precious-than-gold/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/quiet-attention-more-precious-than-gold/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 17:53:51 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16729 JOIN MICHAEL MENDIZZA ON A PARENTING AS A HERO’S JOURNEY VIRTUAL RETREAT! What is more precious than gold, diamonds and platinum? Attention. Attention is finite, like grains of sand in the hourglass of our life. In a strange way we become, moment by moment, what we give our attention to and that grain of sand […]

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JOIN MICHAEL MENDIZZA ON A PARENTING AS A HERO’S JOURNEY VIRTUAL RETREAT!

What is more precious than gold, diamonds and platinum? Attention. Attention is finite, like grains of sand in the hourglass of our life. In a strange way we become, moment by moment, what we give our attention to and that grain of sand is gone. How we invest our attention, from this perspective, is infinitely more important than stocks or bonds. The meaning of our life hangs in the balance. Yet, we seem so cavalier, investing attention in all sorts of trite stimulation, casually pushing sensitivity and depth aside as we jump from this to that, consuming tons of relatively meaningless data bits like a junk food binge, day after day while our children watch and mimic. I wonder why we don’t protect our own attention and that of our children like we do our pocket book or retirement account? Why don’t we preserve it, strengthen and focus it like a laser on what really matters instead of wasting the most precious resource we have?

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This is the first every-day-miracle week of Carly Elizabeth’s second year, post womb, and it is amazing how sensitive, attentive and aware she is. The reason for her near complete attention, not all the time but more often than not, is the simple fact that she is not talking to herself inside. She is much too busy experiencing. To be with her demands that I enter into and share her state, that I shut up inside and just observe, just listen and experience with her. And she knows when I do. She also knows the moment I become preoccupied with distracting thoughts or worse still dismissing her completely by answering the phone, speaking to another adult about bla-bla-bla or checking email. At this precious, innocent age words are just sounds. Of course there is a sensory and emotional context for the sound, but the abstract, the symbolic and metaphoric meaning of words is absent for our very young children.

Carly is deeply attuned to the sensory and emotional context of each moment. This she resonates with social-emotional context like a tuning fork. What I don’t think most adults understand is how little words mean to new human beings at this age. And, most adults are completely insensitive to the disassociation that happens, the abandonment young children feel when our heads become filled with all that chatter percolating in our mind, pop-culture, the daily not-news, gossip, politics, philosophy, YouTube, pawing our precious phones or, heaven forbid, texting.

Quieting down and resonating with Carly’s world I discovered that most of my random and habitual brain farts are a waste of attention. Clearly what passes for news is, with rare exception, a waste. We can add all the overpaid corporate entertainers, professional athletes and politicians to the waste of attention list. And OMG, so much of the virtual stuff on YouTube, commercial television, texting, Instagram, Facebook and email blast drain our vital attention like multiple flat tires. All of this, from Carly’s perspective, is a distraction from what really matters; each is a form of self-absorbed isolation masquerading as connection.

Years ago Sesame Street was promoted as an early reading program. Remember, ‘today’s show is brought to you by the letter S.’ Everyone loved Bert, Ernie and Oscar. Later the long term studies came in showing that the more time a child watched Sesame Street the lower his or her reading skills. I predict the same thing is going on with virtual-reality-relationships. The narcissist can be in a room full of people but he or she only sees themselves. Like the innocent little boy in The King Has No Clothes Carly sees virtual-relationships as they are, distractions from what is real.

Having some feeling about this, how little our abstractions mean to Carly Elizabeth, it is interesting to sense how other adults interact and relate with her. Leading with their often loud voices they dangle verbal abstractions like carrots on a stick. I often compare this to the way many negotiate with pets. Presence is real. The abstract flow of semantic meaning a particular string of words represent does not exist in their world. Silent eye contact is infinitely more powerful followed by gesture and appropriate, affectionate, playful touch. Non virtual-relationships are like playing tennis, ping-pong or charades with feelings and meaning. Trust, safety and depth are not found in verbal abstractions. These are invited, opened and expanded by quietly surfing the infinite often silent feeling-meaning ‘presence’ represent.

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Because our adulterated adult consciousness is so verbal we tend to lose touch with the direct, immediate, moment by moment and ever changing meaning of the not verbal, which is Carly’s world and reality. At this early age verbal concepts, directives and encouragements are mostly empty save the sensory context that provide the rich soil from which abstract meaning will emerge. Very early language is concrete. Experiences are given names. “Hot,” is a great example. I hold the palm of Carly’s hand to the steaming coffee cup and repeat the sound, ‘hot.’

Words are symbols and metaphors that stand in place of this sensory experience. Like Pavlov’s dog, repeat the sound and the experience of her tiny palm next to the warm cup is re-membered, meaning that a resonate inner experience or image is created, an instant replay of the actual sensory experience is triggered. Carly now responds to the sound ‘hot’ with caution. What we call words are simple sounds until this inner associated image-experience is formed in the developing child’s mind. With this inner image formation the sound is transformed into what we call a word. Until then, it is just a sound. It is the inner image that transforms a sound into a word, at least to the child. This takes time and repetition. With this tremendously complex process in mind it is easy to appreciate that most adult conversation is gibberish to the young child.

Personally, I become much less verbal with Carly Elizabeth. She and I love to take showers together. Holding her, warm water splashing, her head resting on my chest I hum a simple tune, a spontaneous chant that says; what a wonderful moment this is. We sit on the shower floor, squirting water with the hand held shower, chanting in the background, but not a word. To me and Carly my humming is full of meaning. I would have to be Rumi or Shakespeare to capture this in words that this honored guest would not understand anyway.Recall that if we want to enter the kingdom which is Carly’s world that it is our responsibility to ‘become as little children,’ rather than expecting the child to be like us. Imagine how you might behave if a very special guest came to visit for a few days, an enlightened being, young Jesus or Buddha. Imagine knowing how sensitive, intelligent and aware he or she is and yet they were silent, that they knew nothing of the words we speak, only the way we speak them. Imagine how attentive you would become to ‘how’ you behave rather than ‘what’ you say. It would be rude, insensitive, even insulting and disrespectful to go on blabbing to each other as we do. Empathy and respect would compel us to slow down, speak less and more softly. Rather than being carried away, completely enchanted by our verbal virtual-reality we would invite and expand relationship and shared meaning with gestures. Very slowly, like Carly’s hand next to my coffee cup, we would attach sounds to a few important experiences.

Consider that sensitive attention expands and with this so does empathic appropriateness when our inner and outer verbal narrative ends. For Carly Elizabeth a soft touch and a loving chant says a lot.

Photo Shutterstock/Alliance

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The Magical Child, by Joseph Chilton Pearce – A BOOK REVIEW http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/the-magical-child-by-joseph-chilton-pearce-a-book-review/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/08/the-magical-child-by-joseph-chilton-pearce-a-book-review/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 20:59:50 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16720 JOIN THIS AUTHOR, MERYN CALLANDER, ON A PARENTING AS A HERO’S JOURNEY VIRTUAL RETREAT! Intense, intellectual, impassioned a former humanities teacher, as father of five children, Pearce’s first reaction to the evidence he presents in the Magical Child was to shut it out because it led him to a position so at odds with current […]

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Intense, intellectual, impassioned a former humanities teacher, as father of five children, Pearce’s first reaction to the evidence he presents in the Magical Child was to shut it out because it led him to a position so at odds with current opinion about the child mind and human intelligence that he found himself at a loss to bridge the gap. He and his wife had raised their five the best they could and acted conscientiously “to a painful degree.” It took him a long time to realize that they were not guilty, a point he emphasizes for us all.  This given, he aims to sketch a picture of a child’s mind and nature’s plan for intelligence, believing that what is at issue here is a biological plan for the growth of intelligence, a genetic encoding within us that we unwittingly ignore, damage, even destroy.

The existence of a genetic plan for the body’s physical growth is apparent. Magical Child discusses a corresponding, beautifully coordinated plan for the development of intelligence. Pearce believes that the “mind-brain” is designed for astonishing capacities, that logical maturation would develop a utility, value, and ability almost beyond our imagination. He notes children in other parts of the world who display abilities far beyond our accepted norm, and asserts that the full development of intelligence requires acknowledging and cooperating with the biological plan. In so doing, we would find that most of our current problems with infants and children never materialize, for “our problems have been caused by ignoring nature’s plan.”

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Pearce presents the biological plan for the development of intelligence as being based on a series of matrix formations and shifts. The matrix (Latin for womb) offers three things to a newly forming life: a source of possibility, a source of energy to explore that possibility, and a safe space within which that exploration takes place. Each matrix shift propels us into another set of unknown experiences. This is the way intelligence grows. The progression of matrix shifts is from concreteness towards abstraction, or the physical world of womb, mother, earth, body to the mental world of thought. Movement into a new matrix is made only by standing on the old, i.e., a child can move into exploration of the earth matrix only by standing on the safe place provided by mother.

The womb matrix within the mother is the infant’s first matrix. Mother is the second. “Mother is the infant’s world, hologram, content for her intent… safe space.” If mother as matrix is not given from birth, intelligence has no ground to grow on. For this child, earth as matrix cannot become functional, as designed, at around seven, when nature provides for the child to functionally separate from direct dependence on the mother to move out and structure a knowledge of the third matrix, the earth. The world becomes the enemy, the adversary, the danger.

Nurtured appropriately, from 7-11 (roughly), a child’s knowledge of self as matrix grows through physical interactions with the earth. Autonomy is now the goal. By adolescence, the biological plan is for us to become our own matrix, i.e., we become our own source of power, possibility, and safe place to stand. At some point after maturity, the mind should begin a functional separation from brain processes. Pearce believes that this is the final matrix shift of which we can have any direct knowledge. Personal awareness is no longer dependent on any concreteness. Progression to abstraction is complete.

Pearce believes that our 3 billion year heritage is truly magnificent; success depends on the infant-child having a proper context for nature’s intent. Drawing on research from a wide variety of sources, Pearce examines, in depth, the means by which nature’s plan for the development of intelligence can be injured or nurtured as we move from matrix to matrix.

Damaging practices in the early years include: modern birthing practices, separating mother and infant at birth, placing infants in cribs and strollers rather than on the mother’s body, subjecting a child to deal with information or experiences suited to a later stage, and interfering with their need to construct knowledge of the world by inflicting on them our anxiety-ridden view. Childhood becomes a battleground between biological plans, intent, which drives the child from within, and our anxious intentions, pressing her from without. Anxiety is the enemy of intelligence and blocks the biological plan.

Noting that the United States has the most expensive medical care system in the world, and an astonishingly high infant mortality rate (with reference to hospital births), Pearce writes, “The infant is exposed to an intelligence distrustful of anything natural, an intelligence with a vast array of tools… with which to outwit, and in fact, supplant nature… and in that outwitting and supplanting, damage is done that is incalculable. Future historians will shudder… at the hospital treatment of newborns and mothers in this very dark age…” He shows how technological childbirth and conventional notions about the treatment of infants damage nature’s plan for the development of intelligence.

Pearce elaborates on the ramifications of these birthing practices–and he sees these as being extensive. For example, essentially abandoned at birth, the infant-child learns to relieve stress through material objects. The long-term effects include the breakdown of interpersonal relationships and an obsessive-compulsive attachment to material objects. The net result is a collapsing social order and generations of people with an increased passion for consumer goods.

WATCH KINDRED'S NEW STORY INTERVIEW WITH JOSEPH CHILTON PEARCE AND ROBIN GRILLE
WATCH KINDRED’S NEW STORY INTERVIEW WITH JOSEPH CHILTON PEARCE AND ROBIN GRILLE

He contrasts the passage through pregnancy, birthing, and the early years of a typical child in our culture, with that of a “magical child.” This mother is a composite of real people Pearce has met, in many different guises and places. “She knows that the creation of life is the greatest of human acts and that successfully nurturing a new life is a consummate art… that the creative thrust of life supports her, that she… has the strength of that flow.” She responds to the needs of her body with the same respect and care she does for her infant in and out of the womb. “Knowing anxiety to be the great crippler of intelligence, she works… for calm repose.” When time comes for birthing, she knows what to do by heeding the three-billion-year biological coding built into her genes. “Her knowing is not articulated, thought-out, coherent… she is just a coordinate of smooth actions.” Pearce writes of the first hour after birth as the most critical time in human life. When the infant’s every need is met, within hours the newborn will be smiling, knowing where s/he stands: in the safe place, the matrix. In no way is mother “beguiled by such nonsense” as the notion things must not be too easy for her infant, lest s/he think the world a bed of roses. She knows frustration does not build concepts in the brain. Concepts build through successful assimilations and accommodations; the infant is prompted from within by an enormous drive that goes ahead of ability, and there are frustrations aplenty in that.

Childhood begins as s/he moves to interact with the living earth and structure a knowledge of it, just as s/he has of mother. This will take about seven years. A child learns by freely interacting through the 5 senses and body movement. Nothing more is needed. For most children, this matrix shift is blocked by anxiety cued from the adult.

The clash damaging the biological plan at this point is that between adult logic and the child’s practical intelligence. For example, because the language grasp of the 3- or 4-year-old is enormous, we tend to think s/he can process adult verbal logic. Not so. Abstract communications (not referring to the immediate context), especially if the child is expected to respond or obey, create sensory disorientation in the brain, and produce a form of premature autonomy. The child needs simple, concrete communications and correctives.

Defending the child’s need to be a child, Pearce tells us that reasoning with the pre-reasoning child creates a form of psychological abandonment. Parents have not met the child where s/he is, the only place where s/he can be. They have isolated their child with his/her fears, even though they may temporarily calm him/her. No learning has taken place, for anxiety is the enemy of intelligence.

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Pearce moves with compelling insight through the needs and revelations of each matrix. In closing, he looks at what we adults can do now about our child and our own split selves. Perhaps most important, for ourselves as adults, we need reclaim our lives from anxiety’s grip, learn again to listen to our body and our primary processes for, as Pearce writes, “They have their language too, though it is not of the same nature as the prepositional logic chattering in our heads.”

Magical Child was first published in 1977. The material is by and large as valid now as it was then. Research done since that time primarily serves to amplify his premises. While he has written several books since, this remains the most relevant to the field of attachment parenting. There is really nothing else, at this time, that covers the situation with anything like the depth and breadth that Magical Child does.

It is very difficult for me to begin to do justice to this book. The material is dense in content. There are parts of it that I can absorb only a page at a time, others I can move through easily. I pick it up again and again, for while it is too much for me to absorb at once, I feel compelled to refer to the chapters appropriate to Siena’s current stage of development. This is a very important book–not just on a theoretical, intellectual level, but on a very practical one. For the most part, it is not an easy read, but it is a very, important one.

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