The Rub Down on Infant Massge

It’s 7:00 PM. You’ve just lifted your baby out of a soothing bath, wrapped her in a soft towel, and snuggled her deep into your chest. The evening’s activities begin to flash through your mind – dressing, nursing, reading books, singing lullabies. You grin, anticipating a few precious moments shared during your favorite of these rituals: a gentle baby massage.

Infant massage is giving a new meaning to the term touchy-feely parenting. Is it any wonder why parents who utilize this therapeutic technique are die-hard fans? Many say that it can be both stimulating and calming. More importantly, it offers a chance for baby and parent to engage, relax, and gently work developing muscles and joints. When practiced regularly, infant massage can encourage healthy digestion, reduce colic, deepen baby’s respiration, and even improve brain and nervous system development. According to the Infant Massage Information Service, massage strengthens baby’s immune system and serves as a preventative measure for a variety of infections, diarrhea and constipation. The IMIS attributes many of the positive effects of massage to reducing the amount of stress a baby experiences.

Likewise, infant massage has shown significant affects on newborns who suffer various congenital health conditions. It can be a life-saving technique for premature infants who may be isolated in an incubator for short or extended periods of time. Research studies have shown that incubator-bound preemies who were caressed and held experienced 47% more weight gain than a control group – a fact that suggests the physical contact of massage shortens recovery time and quickens release from hospital. Similarly, in situations of special needs such as visual, hearing or neurological impairments, babies who were frequently massaged demonstrate increased muscle tone and overall flexibility. Perhaps more importantly, loving tactile stimulation can enhance baby’s ability to connect, relate and communicate with her caregiver as well as her environment in general – skills that are invaluable to any child but especially for those who may be challenged by an impairment.

If you’d like to begin practicing a routine, the following guidelines can help to keep things simple and ensure success. Make massage part of a regimen that baby can anticipate. Choose a time of day that works best for you and baby. (Note: when massaging a newborn, it is not advisable to do so after a warm bath as it may over stimulate her.) Next, begin with a warm room that has natural (not bright) lighting and a calm, quiet atmosphere. Use aromatherapeutic grade or organic oils (such as safflower, grape seed or sweet almond) as they will be absorbed into baby’s bare skin. Always begin with baby’s feet and progress up the body toward the head. Be sure to use long, firm, rhythmic strokes. When caressing limbs try to move bloodflow toward the heart (center) of baby – some massage therapists call these “tip to trunk” strokes. Make eye contact and smile as you give positive non-verbal cues. Be attentive to baby’s reactions. As you respond to baby’s feedback, the two of you will learn to intuitively communicate with each other. Because of the closeness that massage creates, it’s an excellent opportunity for dad and baby to bond – especially if mom is breastfeeding. For both mom and dad, it can be a wonderful way of teaching baby about expressing love, responding positively to others and sharing intimacy.

Many hospitals and health care professionals offer baby massage courses to new and soon-to-be parents. Contact your doctor or midwife for a list of courses in your geographical area. Also, check out the books and websites below for a more in-depth pursuit of the origins and technique. Remember, infant massage is the art of transferring relaxation, peacefulness and love. If you begin with these in mind, your baby is sure to profit from your efforts.

The information provided by earthmother.org is intended for educational purposes. Always consult your physician regarding personal medical guidance.

http://www.healthychild.com/infant-massage.htm

http://www.infantmassage-imis.com.au/benefits/http://www.infantmassage-imis.com.au/benefits/

http://www.childbirthsolutions.com/articles/postpartum/infantmassage/index.php

My Pleasantville Theory of Childbirth

Or, what if it’s not all black and white?

A week ago, an acquaintance told me about the Free Birthing Show on the Discovery Channel. I’d never seen this show, but read and heard about it. It chronicles women who espouse a current trend of giving birth without any assistance whatsoever – no medications, no midwife or doctor, no support other than maybe a spouse or partner.

I don’t fundamentally agree with this practice. I truly believe it is a risky and dangerous course of action that places the lives of both the mother and baby in a precarious position. By sheer vantage point alone, it’s utterly impossible to become aware of (or respond to) a developing complication. A trained, knowledgeable person should always be present. Always. That means, a Certified Licensed Midwife or Doctor should not only be present during labor and childbirth, but should also administer prenatal visits monitoring the health of mom and baby along the way.

But, due to the increasing practice of American Doctors to use unnecessary medical induction and artificial labor management techniques, some women are simply choosing to take matters into their own hands. And—with the current statistics of mismanaged births, medically caused complications and emergency Cesarean sections—who could really blame them?

Free Birthing is clearly a response to the astonishing increase in the medical community to intentionally leave the woman out of birthing. The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) most recent release of birth statistics reveals that the rate of cesarean surgery, for example, is on the rise to 31.1% of all births – 50% greater than data from 1996.** Likewise, national induction rates (i.e.: the use of pitocin) are up to 98% while epidural rates hover around 76%. And, I have to ask, are women in our society so incapable of birthing our children that a majority of them are born through artificial means? What if we aren’t?? What if?

I return to the Free Birthing Show during which a laboring mother exclaims that she’s having an orgasm as she experiences her last minutes of labor and birth. My acquaintance says, “That’s disgusting! It just makes me sick! An orgasm during birth?!? How disgraceful!” Now this may seem like a stretch, but bear with me. What is an orgasm? Well, most commonly of course, orgasm refers to the apex of sexual experience. However, when you look at the origins of the word, it is only during this century that it became synonymous with sexual climax. Prior to that—if you take a look at the word’s etymology from the Greek orgasmos—it means simply “to swell; to be excited.” And I would wager that, among myriad overwhelming emotions, somewhere in the heart and soul of every woman who gives birth is the intense feeling of being swelled up with excitement in that moment. But, it’s all in how you look at it.

And, that’s where my Pleasantville Theory of childbirth comes into play. What if? What if it’s all in the perspective—the common zeitgeist, if you will? What if the potentialities during childbirth weren’t based on black and white assumptions, black and white medical malpractice outcomes, and black and white opinions about what is and what is not “possible?”

What if we chose only to visualize the beauty of the mother and the new life emerging? What if a mother’s only thoughts going into labor were “YES I CAN?” What if the images of laboring women in the media were of positive, strong, loving mothers who display a calm and peace in the face of her experience? What if, as a society, we chose educate our daughters in a completely different way?

What if we shifted our cultural perception of childbirth even just a little bit?

What if we encouraged women to be motivated by only positive, empowering images? Would women still fear birth, still dread the contractions so much that they request narcotics before the first one starts? Generations from now, would the majority of mothers confidently use the healthier choices like cleansing breaths and soothing visualizations taught by trusted institutions such as Lamaze and Bradley?

What if all the side effects and after-effects of inductions, narcotics and spinal epidurals were more widely discussed and less socially acceptable? Would women more often use the historical method of labor support: a trusted certified midwife accompanied by a companion, partner or trained doula who provide constant compassionate care, encouragement and focus?

What if all the known postpartum dangers of c-section recovery incited such a global phobia that women would avoid one at all costs rather than choose them electively? Would this major surgery still be performed for a third of our national births? Or, would surgeons be more prudent with their choices to use such critical means?

What if the health and well being of the woman and her child were placed as the highest priority? What if there was a pervasive undercurrent of pride and accomplishment in the process? What practices would emerge as the common standard? And, which current practices would be acknowledged as harmful and thus fall by the wayside?

What if we just trusted ourselves a little more, questioned the medical system a little more, and valued the natural process a little more? What if we chose not to cling to the extremes of modern convenience and artificial technologies? What if we chose not to accept the black and white of the status quo but rather to embrace all the colors on the spectrum of human experience?

What if..?

**Statistics taken from Evidenced-Based Maternity Care: What it is and what it can achieve; Published 2008; Sakala, Carol and Corry, Maureen P.

Toxic mercury found in foods containing High Fructose Corn Syrup

“Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient**, according to two new U.S. studies.”

And so begins a frightening article published by both USA Today and the Organic Consumers Association just a couple of months ago. So why isn’t there more of an uprising responding to this information that the food industry is knowingly poisoning our families just to save a buck? Maybe it’s because the word just isn’t out there. It appears to me when searching around for information, most of the response to these findings were published the week following publication. And, then, discussion seems to have just dropped off the cliff.

So, I’m putting the call out to all of you to join the folks who are researching the HFCS/Mercury issue and, and I’m asking you to continue the conversation. Preferably, in a loud audible volume so that industry leaders will actually catch wind and realize that we demand to have food choices that are not toxic to our children.

What about those commercials that say HFCS is just as safe as sugar? The article below posted on the site The Good Human states it quite clearly:

“Pure sugar just happens to be a truly natural substance that has not been mixed in vats, chemically derived and played with, and used as cheap substitute in almost everything on the grocery store shelves. Everyone should limit the amount of sugar they ingest. But according to an article in SF Gate, “The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream.”

The mental image of feeding my family something that is “mixed in vats, chemically derived and played with” quite frankly gives me hee-bee-gee-bees. It also inspires personal pride that I attempt to feed them naturally derived foods as much as possible. But, I don’t think that alone is enough. I don’t believe that taking the stance of “well, I just won’t patronize those companies” is enough when taking a position against these industry business practices.

So, Check out the links below. And spread the word. And ask yourself this question: Could the processed-food industry be responsible for some of the rising incidences of childhood sickness and disease? Or worse, could there be a more direct HFCS/mercury connection to the rise in such developmental disorders as Autism Spectrum Diagnoses—blamed most recently on vaccination ingredients (mercury!) and aggressive vaccination schedules? Maybe the answers to these questions rest more on our pantry shelves than we think.

Study: High Fructose Corn syrup contains mercury

Much High Fructose corn syrup contaminated with mercury, new study finds

New York Times: The Food Issue- An open letter to the Farmer in Chief (Michael Pollan)

US Autism- Food Matters

The double danger of High Fructose Corn Syrup

HFCS vs. Sugar: Is one worse than the other?


**Reading Nutrition Labels: The list of ingredients on a Nutrition label are ordered by the amount of that ingredient in the product. For instance, a jar of peanut butter might read: “Peanuts, Salt.” The first ingredient, peanuts were the primary ingredient followed by a lesser amount of salt. Likewise, a box of multi-grain crackers might list: Enriched wheat flour, soybean oil, whole grains (barley, millet, triticale, sorghum, rye,) whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda, malted barley flour, calcium carbonate, yeast. In this example, Enriched wheat flour (the first ingredient) constitutes most of the product while the amount of yeast (the last ingredient) was measured the least of all ingredients.

The Birth Circle Ambassadors meeting

This week I was invited to attend an Ambassador’s meeting of the Birth Circle of Pittsburgh. It is quite an honor and privilege to be asked to be an Ambassador for this dynamic group of women. Serving local women of childbearing age, the Birth Circle aims to educate and support mothers (and their families) through an amazing outreach initiative. The informational resources span myriad topics including domestic violence support; support for ESL families; teen pregnancy; pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum resources—to name a few. The Birth Circle is also a doula collective that gives direct prenatal, childbirth and postpartum support/service as well.

You can check out a more detailed description of the Birth Circle here. And, look for more coverage of current issues addressed by the Birth Circle here at earthmother.org.

Lamaze Philosophy of Birth is so much more than the breathing

Many people equate the Lamaze approach to childbirth with the breathing techniques that have been taught for decades. But, the Lamaze philosophy is so much more than that. The Lamaze understanding of a woman’s experience encompasses, in general, a deep respect for the laboring mother and the natural processes taking place.

  • Birth is normal, natural, and healthy.
  • The experience of birth profoundly affects women and their families.
  • Women’s inner wisdom guides them through birth.
  • Women’s confidence and ability to give birth is either enhanced or diminished by the care provider and place of birth.
  • Women have a right to give birth free from routine medical intervention.
  • Birth can safely take place in homes, birth centers, and hospitals.
  • Childbirth education empowers women to make informed choices in health care, to assume responsibility for their health, and to trust their inner wisdom.

For more information on Lamaze’s approach and philosophies of pregnancy, birth and beyond, go to Lamaze.org.

My Pleasantville Theory of Childbirth

Or, what if it’s not all black and white?

A week ago, an acquaintance told me about the Free Birthing Show on the Discovery Channel. I’d never seen this show, but read and heard about it. It chronicles women who espouse a current trend of giving birth without any assistance whatsoever—no medications, no midwife or doctor, no support other than maybe a spouse or partner.

I don’t fundamentally agree with this practice. I truly believe it is a risky and dangerous course of action that places the lives of both the mother and baby in a precarious position. By sheer vantage point alone, it’s utterly impossible to become aware of (or respond to) a developing complication. A trained, knowledgeable person should always be present. Always. That means, a Certified Licensed Midwife or Doctor should not only be present during labor and childbirth, but should also administer prenatal visits monitoring the health of mom and baby along the way.

But, due to the increasing practice of American Doctors to use unnecessary medical induction and artificial labor management techniques, some women are simply choosing to take matters into their own hands. And—with the current statistics of mismanaged births, medically caused complications and emergency Cesarean sections—who could really blame them?

Free Birthing is clearly a response to the astonishing increase in the medical community to intentionally leave the woman out of birthing. The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) most recent release of birth statistics reveals that the rate of cesarean surgery, for example, is on the rise to 31.1% of all births—50% greater than data from 1996.** Likewise, national induction rates (i.e.: the use of pitocin) are up to 98% while epidural rates hover around 76%. And, I have to ask, are women in our society so incapable of birthing our children that a majority of them are born through artificial means? What if we aren’t?? What if…?

I return to the Free Birthing Show during which a laboring mother exclaims that she’s having an orgasm as she experiences her last minutes of labor and birth. My acquaintance says, “That’s disgusting! It just makes me sick! An orgasm during birth?!? How disgraceful!” Now this may seem like a stretch, but bear with me. What is an orgasm? Well, most commonly of course, orgasm refers to the apex of sexual experience. However, when you look at the origins of the word, it is only during this century that it became synonymous with sexual climax. Prior to that—if you take a look at the word’s etymology from the Greek orgasmos—it means simply “to swell; to be excited.” And I would wager that, among myriad overwhelming emotions, somewhere in the heart and soul of every woman who gives birth is the intense feeling of being swelled up with excitement in that moment. But, it’s all in how you look at it.

And, that’s where my Pleasantville Theory of childbirth comes into play. What if? What if it’s all in the perspective—the common zeitgeist, if you will? What if the potentialities during childbirth weren’t based on black and white assumptions, black and white medical malpractice outcomes, and black and white opinions about what is and what is not “possible?”

What if we chose only to visualize the beauty of the mother and the new life emerging? What if a mother’s only thoughts going into labor were “YES I CAN?” What if the images of laboring women in the media were of positive, strong, loving mothers who display a calm and peace in the face of her experience? What if, as a society, we chose educate our daughters in a completely different way?

What if we shifted our cultural perception of childbirth      even    just      a    little    bit?

What if we encouraged women to be motivated by only positive, empowering images? Would women still fear birth, still dread the contractions so much that they request narcotics before the first one starts? Generations from now, would the majority of mothers confidently use the healthier choices like cleansing breaths and soothing visualizations taught by trusted institutions such as Lamaze and Bradley?

What if all the side effects and after-effects of inductions, narcotics and spinal epidurals were more widely discussed and less socially acceptable? Would women more often use the historical method of labor support: a trusted certified midwife accompanied by a companion, partner or trained doula who provide constant compassionate care, encouragement and focus?

What if all the known postpartum dangers of c-section recovery incited such a global phobia that women would avoid one at all costs rather than choose them electively? Would this major surgery still be performed for a third of our national births? Or, would surgeons be more prudent with their choices to use such critical means?

What if the health and well being of the woman and her child were placed as the highest priority? What if there was a pervasive undercurrent of pride and accomplishment in the process? What practices would emerge as the common standard? And, which current practices would be acknowledged as harmful and thus fall by the wayside?

What if we just trusted ourselves a little more, questioned the medical system a little more, and valued the natural process a little more? What if we chose not to cling to the extremes of modern convenience and artificial technologies? What if we chose not to accept the black and white of the status quo but rather to embrace all the colors on the spectrum of human experience?

What if..?

**Statistics taken from Evidenced-Based Maternity Care: What it is and what it can achieve; Published 2008; Sakala, Carol and Corry, Maureen P.

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