Monday, February 28, 2011

More Educated Mothers Are Less Likely To Vaccinate

'Reading all these medical journals makes my eyes hurt!' - James, unvaccinated.

A common argument perpetrated by pro-vaccine doctors is that parents don't vaccinate because they don't know anything, they are under-educated, poor and misinformed. However, the opposite is true. Those mothers who have chosen to research the issue and read both sides of the argument in depth, often decide not to vaccinate, or to choose only some vaccines and not others. A study in the journal The American Journal of Public Health, which surveyed 11,860 families, found that mothers who had not finished high school were 16% more likely to have completed the whole vaccination schedule for their children. Lower education levels and socioecomonic status was associated with higher completion rates for vaccination. Rates of compliance were also higher in Hispanic and black low income families. The researchers were puzzled as to why this was and suggested giving more vaccine information to university educated mothers, and they suggested a 'cultural' difference may be to blame. Dr. Kronenfeld, a professor of sociology in the School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University, said '“There is a controversy among more educated mothers about the safety of certain kinds of immunization, That may be part of what is going on here, but we don’t know for sure.” Sources: American Journal of Public Health, 10.2105/AJPH.2005.076661. This article was also referred to in: The New York Times, 16th January 2007.

VAN UK'S Comment:
It is our experience through talking to many thousands of parents since our inception in 1997, that those who have actively chosen not to vaccinate or to selectively vaccinate have done so after many weeks and months of reading journals, books, articles, manufacturer's information, as well as all the information the NHS give out. Parents who don't vaccinate usually know all of the vaccine ingredients, side-effects, and details of the diseases. Those who vaccinate often haven't read anything other than the doctor's leaflet, are extemely fearful of their child dying of deadly diseases and if they have questioned at all, they will have only questioned their doctor or health visitor. Some think that vaccines are mandatory in law and you *have to*. Of course, there is always the exception and some mothers who vaccinate have read extensively on both sides, however, it has been our experience that the more people know, the less they want to vaccinate. We have had dozens of calls from mums who started off vaccinating, then found out that there was aluminium and formaldehyde in the shots and ended up calling us to see how they can 'cleanse' their child of metals and toxins. Many mums have told us they decided to stop half way through the schedule after learning more. In our opinion, those mums who have been lucky enough to have a university education and a well paid job, are in a better position to research vaccinations and know their rights. Education is power and they would possibly be more questioning.

Intention of Parents To Have Male Children Vaccinated With HPV (Cervical Cancer) Vaccine
Another study in the British Medical Journal, discussing whether or not parents would consent to vaccinate their MALE children against cervical cancer, found that: Of the 1381 respondents with male children, 67.8% intend to vaccinate their son(s) against HPV. Parents who had positive attitudes toward vaccines and the HPV vaccine in particular, parents who were influenced by subjective norms , parents who felt that the vaccine had limited influence on sexual behaviour and parents who were aware of HPV were significantly more likely to report an intention to vaccinate boys against HPV. In contrast, residence in British Columbia compared to Atlantic Canada and higher education were negatively associated with intention to vaccinate. Source: Sexually Transmitted Infections 2008;84:318-323, British Medical Journal Publishing Group.
Again, this article states that those with higher education are more likely to refuse HPV vaccine, supporting the earlier study.

Factors associated with uptake of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR)
Another study in the BMJ, authored by David Elliman, also found that higher educated mothers were less likely to vaccinate: Mothers of children receiving no MMR vaccine at all were more likely than those receiving combined MMR vaccine to live in England, have more than 2 children, be either younger or older, be single mothers, be unemployed or self employed, be more highly educated, be a smoker and for the child to be a boy. Mothers of children receiving single vaccines had slightly different characteristics (again, compared with those receiving combine MMR vaccine). They were more likely to live in England, have 1 child only, be older, have a higher income, be not employed, be more highly educated and be white. The authors proposed different strategies for the different target groups. Source: BMJ 2008;336(7647):754-7.
A High Proportion of Mothers of Unvaccinated Infants Are Educated To Degree Level or Above
Overall in the UK, 3.3% of infants were partially immunised and 1.1% were unimmunised; these rates were highest in England (3.6% and 1.3%, respectively; P <>
Mothers Who Vaccinate Don't Know What They're Vaccinating For
More than half of parents wrongly believe that their child has been vaccinated against all strains of meningitis, a poll has revealed. The majority (51%) said they thought their child had had jabs against all strains of the disease and just under a quarter (24%) were unsure. (That's a total of 75% who were mistaken or unsure! - VAN's comment). Meningitis UK commissioned the poll to highlight the disease, which peaks in February. Of the 1,000 people surveyed, 62% were unaware there is no vaccination for meningitis B. Steve Dayman, the charity’s chief executive, said: “If a parent wrongly believes their child is protected, they could become complacent and not react quickly enough when the early signs of the disease are developing. “A delay in seeking treatment could be fatal because meningitis can kill in under four hours. Source: Nursing Times, 9 February 2010.

Vaccination efforts are being eroded not by people who are under-educated, but by upper-middle class folks with degrees.
It might seem counterintuitive but it also appears to be true: Parents with more education were less likely to get their daughters vaccinated against HPV during the first year of British Columbia's free school-based program, a new study shows. The finding of the study, published Tuesday in the journal PLoS Medicine, adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests vaccination efforts are being eroded not by people who are under-educated, but by upper-middle class folks with degrees. "I think it's the combination of people who are used to making decisions, people who believe they can become experts by reading things on the Internet which would trump what public health officials or academics or doctors are saying," vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit said when asked to comment on the study. "They're used to making choices in their jobs and in their life, one. And two, they make those choices based on information. And the information that one gets here probably is primarily through places like the Internet, which is a source of both good and bad information about vaccines." The study comes on the tail of another published Tuesday which showed that there has been a sharp increase in the percentage of U.S. parents who are refusing to vaccinate their children or delaying vaccination against the advice of the medical community. That study, presented at an international conference in Vancouver, found 39 per cent of parents refused or delayed vaccinations for their children in 2008, up from 22 per cent in 2003. Source: Winnipeg Free Press, 6 May 2010.
A reader's pertinant Comment: They have to be extremely stupid to interpret these results as "surprising". Are they kidding??? Are these people really that dumb??? It is exactly what any person with even a partially functioning brain would expect.
They are "surprised" that better educated parents would be less likely to blindly follow and would, in fact, question the advice of the people who profit from the use of vaccines??? That doesn't say much for the intelligence of the people doing

Many Higher-Income Parents Foregoing Kids' Vaccinations
Vaccination rates for children insured by commercial plans dropped almost four percentage points between 2008 and 2009, even though the rate of children on Medicaid getting vaccinated is rising. "Rates had been gradually improving in the commercial plans. This was the first time we'd seen a drop -- and it was a pretty big drop," said Sarah Thomas, vice president of public policy and communication for the National Committee for Quality Assurance, which recently released its annual State of Health Care Quality report. Although vaccination rates last year were still mostly higher among children in private health plans rather than Medicaid, researchers and other experts suspect that a counterintuitive trend in American demographics is at work: Parents in a relatively high socio-economic bracket -- with more education and relatively high incomes -- forgoing vaccines because of fears about their safety, with poor individuals taking good advantage of their access to free or extremely low-cost care to have their children immunized. "We didn't really explore the reasons [for the trend], but one leading hypothesis is that parents have decided not to get their children vaccinated because of concerns about the potential for side effects and even autism," said Thomas. The authors found a drop in several routine childhood vaccinations. Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines decreased from 93.5 percent in 2008 to 90.6 percent in 2009; diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough rates fell from 87.2 percent to 85.4 percent in that one-year period; and the proportion of kids getting vaccinated for chickenpox fell from 92 percent in 2008 to 90.6 percent in 2009. Source: US News Health, 3rd November 2010.

Published with permission.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Circumcision Pamphlets with Quick Reference Cards

I made a circumcision information pamphlet. As you'll see, only 5 sides of the pamphlet have printing on them. This is so you may attach some "quick reference" cards that I will post below.

At the moment I'm having some issues with my printer, but when I get it sorted out, these will be available to order. I will charge you only what it costs me to make them and ship them to you.

I will be slipping one of these into every bag of clothes I sell on Kijiji, and leaving them in various places...the mall, phone booths, pharmacies, inside the cover of every circumcision related book in the bookstore, on the change-tables located in women's bathrooms and change rooms in stores and restaurants. I'm looking forward to seeing just how many of these I can put out. I also plan on carrying several with me at all times when I am out, just in case a situation arises where I can take advantage of the chance to educate someone. I'm certainly not shy, and have honestly found that when I just say what it is that's on my mind, it is rare that someone reacts negatively. People like honesty, and it's not all that common these days. I don't feel the need to be rude, but I'm not much of a back-rubber either. Facts are facts, no judgements needed.

I wish I had more time in the day to devote to educating people on circumcision, and I hope that in my lifetime we all reach enough people that having to do things like hand out pamphlets will be unnecessary. I hope that there will come a time that so few people decide to circumcise their sons that I can move on and find another passion. Until that day comes, I'll be here. Making pamphlets at 2am (because that's the only time I have when all 3 kids are asleep), and searching the web for the latest information.

Perhaps, if things go well, I can organize some type of "Save A Penis Day" in my city. I am afraid, however, that it may end up just being me standing outside the mall handing out pamphlets and taking lip from grown men who cannot appropriately deal with the shame of being incomplete. By writing this, I have put that good intention out into the world. I hope Karma, or God, or whoever helps someone in this situation, comes along and just gives me a little help. ( A little help with this damned printer would be nice too. LOL!)

For now, I only have one info card completed, but will add the 2nd as soon as it's finished. I should note that the idea for the 1st info card was taken from another info sheet (found on The Whole Network's Facebook page), but I changed the background and colours to match the pamphlet

As soon as my printer issues are sorted out, I'll post prices and a link to a paypal account where you can order some of these. (Hopefully sooner than later!)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Circumcision Myths and Facts

I'm sure we've all heard our fair share of bullshit when it comes to why circumcision "should" be performed on infants. I'm going to bust the top off the can of crap and tell you the myths, and give you the facts. I'm not trying to judge anyone who circumcised their son(s) based on misinformation. What I'm doing is making sure that it doesn't happen again. Sometimes a little bit of information goes a long way.

Myth #1: "A boy should look like his father"

This is by far the most annoying excuse for male genital mutilation that I have ever heard in my life, and it makes me so angry. The truth is, no one is going to ask your husband and your son to drop their pants in order to determine their relationship status.  "Oh, they match. Must be father and son." Uh, yeah. Not likely. My son has red hair and brown eyes. My husband has blonde hair and blue eyes. Should I dye my son's hair and pluck out his eyes and give him blue glass eyes so he can "look like his father"? How is it any different than cutting off the end of his penis for the same reason? Both would be removing perfectly normal, functional parts of the body in order to make a boy "look like" his daddy.

If your husband is so concerned with your son's penis looking like his own, you have to ask yourself two things...first, why is he so threatened by his son's penis? Babies are born with foreskin to protect the sensitive glans (head) of his penis. If your husband is circumcised, I have to wonder if perhaps he's afraid that he may find out that his own penis is in fact, missing something. Does it threaten his manhood to realize that??

Secondly, you have to ask yourself if your husband may be trying to find a way to deal with his own do this to his son would be showing the world that he is okay, that it wasn't that bad, and that it didn't emotionally scar him. but THEN you have to ask yourself why he would feel the need to do this to his son if he was not emotionally scarred by it? It seems to me that a man who does this to his son does it because he feels that he has to. It hides his pain of being "fixed", because clearly he was not born perfect if that was done to "correct" what was not perfect about him. It's sad that they not only do this to infants, but almost immediately after though the boy has something so shamefully wrong with him that it needs to be corrected before anyone else is subjected to it.

The fact is that fathers and sons share DNA. Isn't that enough? Do they also have to share the scar of ignorance for the rest of their lives?

Myth #2: "It's cleaner"

Do you have access to water? That's all you need to clean it. It's a mucus membrane and does not even require soap. Simply clean what's seen on your infant...wipe it like a finger. When the foreskin is retractable, it's just a matter of pulling the skin back (which should only be done by the person who owns the penis), giving it a quick wipe with a wet cloth and you're off to the races. It takes less time than washing your hands after you use the restroom... and you certainly wouldn't cut your hands off in order to save yourself from having to spend that time cleaning them, right?

More information of how to care for an intact penis can be found here.

And the fact is that the foreskin is there to protect. It protects the glans of the penis from many of those is from the feces and urine in your child's diaper, which burns their freshly peeled penis. If you've heard the screams of a newly circumcised boy, you cannot deny that their urine and feces cause them enormous pain. It hurts them every time you have to peel the diaper away from their penis. I have heard the shrieks they make when their diapers are changed and it's not a normal cry. It's the most horrible sound I've ever heard. Don't let anyone tell you to retract it. It will detach itself from the glans over time. Often children retract it themselves, and who better to do it than the person who owns it?!

Myth #3: "It will need to be removed later in life"

I've heard a lot of nonsense lately about men who, late in life, find themselves with reoccurring infections. Which makes me is it that he can blame his foreskin for these infections?? Honestly, if a grown man cannot wash his own penis, he has bigger problems than I can deal with. Maybe instead of just being circumcised and removing the foreskin, he should cut his entire penis off. That'd prevent any more infections for sure. Seems to me if he needs some lessons on hygiene.

Removing a functional piece of the body to "prevent" things that may or may not ever happen, is just plain crazy. We do not remove a baby girl's breast buds to "prevent" breast cancer later in life. We do not cut off the toes to prevent a possible infection caused by ingrown nails. Anyone with common sense would say that either of those things would be ridiculous. But we routinely cut off the end of a baby boy's penis to "prevent" things...things that are VERY unlikely to even occur!

Also, if he decides to be circumcised as an adult there will be two MAJOR differences. One being that the choice would be HIS. An adult is put to sleep for the procedure, and given powerful pain meds to deal with the post op. pain. As an adult, he would know what to expect, and would be able to consent to this. None of these things are done for our baby boys.

The second major difference is that as an adult, there is no need to rip the foreskin from the glans of the penis. It will have already come apart on it's own over time.

Myth #4: "When he's old, he will get infections because of his foreskin not being cleaned properly in a nursing home."

I have read comments online about how baby boys should be circumcised because when they're old and living in a nursing home, the nurses don't retract their foreskin to clean under it, and they are subjected to numerous infections. This however, is not a circumcision issue. This is a health care issue. My own mother was a nurse for years, and often told me stories of retracting a resident's foreskin and finding that no one else had done that in what looked like EVER. So although SOME nurses do fail to properly care for their patients, not all do. And when this generation of boys are rocking out in the old folks home, they'll almost all be in good company. As it is now, many older gentlemen are not intact. It was such a common misconception in their day that a large number were circumcised. But now things are looking up. Canada's statistic for boys left intact in 2009 was 90.8% (according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information). In the US, according to the CDC, 67.5% of boys remained intact in 2009. The nurses that will be caring for OUR sons will be responsible for caring for the MAJORITY who are still intact. They will be better equipped to care for an intact penis better than the ones today. And as I stated, it's a health CARE issue...if we make sure our family members are being properly taken care of, this will not be an issue.

Myth #5: "It looks better"

No. It doesn't. An intact penis is a NORMAL penis. That is what they're supposed to look like. Only after years of misinformation have we come to see a cut, circumcised penis as normal. It is most certainly not normal. Considering the fact that we don't know what we're missing when we've never had it, I assure you that after a sexual encounter with an intact man, you will see the difference for yourself and soon come to LOVE the look of an intact penis.
I have another thought on this. When a mother tells me that SHE prefers the look of a circumcised penis, it takes me aback. Why would a mother want her son's penis to look the way she prefers her sexual partner's penis to look?! Creepy, isn't it? How about you step away from his penis and let him decide for himself how he wants his penis to look...unless of course you plan on having sex with your son... See?! Creepy!

Myth #6: "It prevents HIV"

No it doesn't. Studies have shown that there is more likely hood of a man contracting HIV if he is circumcised, due to the fact that the chafing that occurs can cause tiny tears along the shaft of the penis. An intact penis does not have this happen, as it is protected by the sheath of skin, and it prevents chafing. The ONLY two things that can PREVENT the transmission of HIV is the regular use of condoms, or just not having sex at all. (That last one is a SURE FIRE WAY of preventing it! LOL!) The truth is that the US has the highest number of circumcised men in the world. They also have the highest HIV rate. What does that tell you? It tells me that the proof is in the pudding.

Myth #7: "Everyone does it. I don't want my son to look "different" in the locker room."

As I stated above, in Canada, close to 91% of male babies were left intact in 2009. Your son will NOT be the minority in the change room. I'm not sure exactly how much "penis peeking" is going on in there as it is, but even if your son is confronted by a cut peer, he has the ability to say that his parents never paid someone to cut off the end of his penis. His is all there.

Myth #8: "It prevents penile cancer"

If we removed tissue for fear of one day getting cancer, we'd be left with very little. The chances of getting penile cancer are 1 in 100,000. Not a very good reason to amputate a functioning body part. You have a much higher risk of getting lung cancer (1 in 13), breast cancer (1 in 7), prostate cancer (1 in 6), colon and rectum cancer (1 in 17). Do we remove lungs, breasts, prostates, colons or rectums at birth to prevent the cancers we are MUCH more likely to get? No. Because that would be crazy. Yet this is always one reason people state when they try to justify cutting their sons. This information can be found HERE.

For More Circumcision Information:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

How I Became An Intactivist

Get your intactivist gear here.

I am very proudly an intactivist. My son is the first in our family to remain perfect. Whole. Intact. The violence of male genital mutilation ends with my husband. But it hasn't always been my opinion. Here's how it happened.

My twins were born 10 weeks early (at 30 weeks and 2 days gestation) due to PPROM, and spent 8 1/2 weeks in the NICU in London, Ontario. They were born at 3 lbs., 14 oz., and 2 lbs., 12 oz. My son was born first, and though he was breathing when he came out, had severe apnea for the first 7 weeks of his life. My daughter was born 5 minutes later, and was not breathing when she came out. After my son was born, their placentas (they'd fused) came out behind him. My daughter was inside of me for five minutes with no oxygen. As soon as my son was born, the nurses started forcing me to use the laughing, looking back on it, I know that it was an attempt to keep me calm when they told me she had died. But she didn't die! She lived!!! She had to have a breathing tube through her nose and into her lungs for 3 days, and then was able to breathe on her own. They gave her a shot of surfactant to keep her immature lungs from sticking together, and my husband refers to that shot as "a shot of perfect". After her breathing tube came out, my daughter only had minor health issues along the way, the most major being her slow growth.

But my son, he was another story. Even though he weighed over a pound more than his sister, he was by far the weaker twin. He not only had apnea, but also bradycardias, and at 8 days old he ended up getting sepsis caused by his "long line" IV. I got a call at 4am telling me that we needed to get there as soon as we could, to be with him. They never expected him to live, but never ever uttered those words. I had never seen anything like that in my life. He was grey, and his skin was literally hanging off of him. Some of it would lay on the little pad he was laying on. He would not respond to my voice, as he'd always done before. He wouldn't move when I touched him. I sat next to his incubator and I prayed. I have NEVER prayed so hard or so fast in all my life. I just prayed that God would give us a chance to be that little boy's parents. I promised that if he lived that I would protect him, and love him more than anyone had ever loved another person. Ever. For two or three days, it was touch and go. At any point the infection in his blood could have killed him. He was given a lumbar puncture to drain some of the spinal fluid so they could test it for meningitis. They only told me that if he did in fact have meningitis, it would "not be good". They pumped him full of every kind of antibiotic that he could take...and they gave him the highest dose they could possibly give him for his weight. I never cried in front of him. I wanted him to think that I knew he would be okay. I wanted him to see me be strong so that he would be strong too. I didn't want him to ever think for a second that things wouldn't work out. They HAD TO.

On the fourth day, I knew he was getting better the second I saw him. He opened his eyes, and he smiled at me. I know. I know what everyone says, they can't smile when they're that young. It is gas. But it wasn't gas. My boy looked at me and he smiled. And I had to almost chew my bottom lip off not to cry. I thanked God out loud that day. Thank you for my boy. Thank you for letting us keep him!!!

The 8 1/2 weeks with the twins were the longest and hardest weeks I've ever had to live through. To see my babies fighting to live, to see them so weak and small that they couldn't even drink out of a special preemie nipple on a bottle until they were 7 weeks old...that was rough. (I'll tell you more about it in another post.) We drove to London every single day so I could spend time with them, and even when my husband couldn't stay there with me me, I would have someone else drive me there and drop me off, or my husband would drop me off and someone else would pick me up. One day I spent 16 straight hours there with them because that's just how it worked out. It was my favorite day I had ever spent there. The kids were stable and I got to do almost all of their care. It made me start really feeling like their momma.

When they were there for 6 weeks, I got a call that I had been chosen to live in the hospital's "Care By Parent" unit of the NICU. It is what it sounds like. Instead of them having "care by nurse", I did all of their care. I moved into the hospital with them for the last 16 days. I slept for 3 hours a day because of my paranoia about my son's apnea monitor going off. About a week in, I was crazy from lack of sleep, but I'd do it all over again! I loved that my babies were with me, even if we had to be there.

During that time in the CBP Unit, other moms came in and out with their babies. Most stayed only one or two nights. (They were all born to moms that had diabetes, and needed to be stabilized before going home.) Sadly, every single little boy that entered that unit whole and perfect, left with the end of his penis mutilated. And because the rooms there only had a sheet in place of doors, we could all hear everything that happened in every one of the other rooms. Especially when babies cried. And the sound that those little boys made after being circumcised was HEART WRENCHING. I remember sitting on my bed bawling because I could hear the horrible screams those boys made every single time their diapers were changed. Not once did I not cry.

We had always planned on having our son circumcised. From the start. We even had the $300. put away to have it done. Until I had to hear those screams...

My husband was working shift work while I lived with the kids in the hospital. He would come up and see us every-other night, and would sleep there on the weekends. During one of his visits I told him to bring me the book he was given by the place that checked our car seats...the book had information in it about circumcisions. Before he came back, I found some information (pamphlets) on it in the maternal/child ward. After he brought me the book, and I had time to sit down and look at all the information, I wrote out the pros and cons listed. In the end, it was completely equal. For every pro there was a con, and for every con there was a pro. So it came down to choice. I had to sit with that for a couple of days, because I didn't know if I could CHOOSE to allow someone to hurt my son when there were no real benefits to it. I had promised that I would protect my son and love him more than anyone had ever loved their child if I was allowed to keep him. And the whole thing kept me up. Exhaustion wasn't enough to make me fall asleep when my son's well-being was on the line. It was like my brain was on fire. I had never had to make a decision like this in my life, and my husband still wanted it done.

I prayed about it and went to sleep. When I got up I had to change the kids and feed them, and as I sit there looking at my children, I knew what I had to do. I had to protect them, no matter what. Even if my husband disagreed with me, my job was to be their mother. My job was to put their well-being over everything else. So when the nurse came in to check on us, I asked her about the whole thing. I told her what I had read, and what my opinion was, and even about how the sound of those baby boys crying would make me cry. And she told me that she HATED when people circumcised their sons. She told me that she had done it with her son, and that if she had it to do over again, she wouldn't do it. She told me that at the time, mothers were told that it was the best thing to would prevent infection and that it wasn't even really a choice. She said that after 30+ years of seeing boys go through the NICU, she had learned more than she cared to know about circumcision. As a nurse, it was her job to help these mothers learn to care for their raw penis, and she had spent that entire time listening to the screams of the babies. She said that in her opinion, it was unnecessary, and that if I didn't want it done to my son, she would stand with me when I told my husband. *tear* She saved my son. That nurse left and came back into my room with three more nurses. All four of them told me that they would support my choice not to allow my son to be circumcised. They were all present when I told my husband that our son would be circumcised over my dead body, and that if he touched him in an attempt to do it without my consent, the dead body in the room would be HIS. The nurses stood by and told him the risks involved. They told him how circumcision can make a baby stop eating, and that if he had an apnea on the table, he would have to stay in the hospital for another 7 days without having one. They told him that there would be ZERO chance that it wouldn't happen, because if he held his breath, the monitor would go off, and we'd be staying longer. They said that if he stopped eating, he would stay longer. They told him that because he was premature, his penis was just new, and because we were being discharged before they were even due, we would have up to 4 months to change our minds before it got dangerous. They told him that we could go home and research it further and decide later. With that, he agreed, and we took our son home intact. (I want to say that even though I did not care for those nurses, when it came down to needing their support, they stepped up and did more for me in that last day then anyone had ever done for me in my life. They not only saved me from allowing my son to have his body altered forever against his consent, they also gave me back something I had lost when my children were born way too soon. My power.)

After we went home and time passed, my husband stopped caring that our son was "different" than he was. After a month he told me that he "didn't even notice anymore" that our son was whole. Can you imagine how I would feel right now if we had done that to our son, all because for ONE MONTH my husband was uncomfortable with it?! When my husband stopped caring about it, the topic just went stopped even being an issue.

The overwhelming need to protect my son was the reason I did not allow him to be circumcised. But when I realized that people were doing this to their sons for reasons like wanting him to "look like his father", or because it "will prevent infection" mommy instincts kicked into overdrive and my "you won't circumcise MY boy" opinion became "don't you dare circumcise ANY boys!" The more I learned, the more I felt this way. And after seeing a circumcision video, I became an intactivist. I knew it was bad, but I had no idea it could be that bad.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Carseat Safety--Infant Rear-Facing

This is something that people NEED to know. I've seen way too many babies in car seats that are just barely strapped in. I honestly think that the baby would be safer duct taped to the hood of their car. The biggest problem with this is that so many people have never taken the time to go to a car seat clinic and learn how to do this from an expert, and they've never bothered to read their car seat manual. (You know, it's that little booklet that comes with the car seat!) Just doing those two things could SAVE YOUR CHILD'S LIFE. It's basic, but so important!!

This photo shows the RIGHT WAY to put your child in their car seat.

Before our twins were born we took a car seat course at a prenatal health fair that we attended. We also had most of an entire night of our prenatal classes that was dedicated to car seats. Then, when the twins were in the NICU, I took an 1 1/2 hour course on car seat safety. (I was living in the hospital with them at the time and the nurses made me take the course to "get out and have a break".) I'm glad I did, though. It was by far the most detailed of the 3 clinics. Everyone should take go to a car seat clinic, and you can find out the dates and times of one near you by contacting your Public Health Unit. Just do it. It could save your child's life!

The most common problem I see when people have babies in car seats is where they locate the chest clip. I have seen them up at their neck, and down at their belly button, and everywhere in between! The chest clip belongs at ARMPIT LEVEL, to prevent damaging organs and to properly hold baby in place. It's not hard to do, and it can be one of the most important ways you can keep your baby safe. When these are put too low, they can no ONLY cause damage to organs, but your precious gift can come flying right out of the top of the 5-point harness. Don't depend on the leg straps to hold them in. All parts of your car seat are designed to work together to keep your baby safe. Many times parents who *think* their child is "being hurt" by the straps touching the sides of their neck, will go out and buy aftermarket strap covers. These can interfere with the positioning of the chest clip.

The next problem I see is with the straps themselves. People think that their child will be uncomfortable if the straps are tight. Better uncomfortable than dead, in my opinion. Straps need to be flat against the child's body, with just enough room under the strap for ONE finger. If you have any slack in the strapping, your child is NOT safe. Tighten, check, tighten, check... They need to lay flat on the child and not be twisted. Besides keeping your child from being ejected from their car seat, it also helps keep them sitting in it!!!

One of the worst things I've ever seen was just recently when a couple came to my home to purchase some of my baby items, and their son was wearing a thick winter coat. The coat forced the shoulder straps down around his ELBOWS. Seriously. (Grab the duct tape and knock the snow off the hood of the car, Ma! We's gotsta take the baby to town!) The shoulder straps are made to hold the baby in the car seat by holding them in by the SHOULDERS. (Not just a clever name here!) Unless that baby was secretly Superman's baby, I don't think he'd have the strength to hold himself in his car seat by the elbows. And coats often interfere with the positioning of the chest clip. See an example here.

On top of making it impossible to correctly position the shoulder straps, thick coats also add unnecessary bulk. If you strap your baby into his/her car seat and then take them out without loosening the straps, put them back in without their coat and see how much extra room there is. Are the straps still tight up against their body? If not, that coat is too thick. It will compress in an accident and your baby will be thrown from the car, or will become like a cannon ball flying around inside your car. Just picture that. I've read a story about a police officer who went to the scene of an accident and found the winter jacket of an infant strapped securely into the car seat, and the infant had been thrown out of it. Don't let it happen to your child!!! The car seat "bags" that you thread the straps through are also unsafe because it adds bulk. Never add anything to your car seat that was not included when you purchased it. To keep your baby warm, dress them in a long-sleeved shirt (there is no difference between a shirt made of jersey and a thin sweatshirt), and put them in their car seat. Once strapped in safely, you can either put a blanket over them (do not tuck it in behind them), or put their jacket on backwards, arms in sleeves. Again, don't tuck it in behind them.

My next pet-peeve is seeing babies in car seats that clearly exceed the weight and/or height limit specified on the SIDE OF THE CAR SEAT. Your child MUST be an inch below the top of the car seat for it to be used safely. When you get in an accident, the car seat is designed to push up against the back of the seat it's strapped to. It covers your child in what would look like half an egg. The "shell" of the car seat surrounds your child and keeps them safe. The weight maximum isn't just a suggestion, either. It's the MAXIMUM weight that can be safely put in that seat!!! When your child outgrows their car seat, buy them a seat that can be rear-facing until at least a year old...preferably until they reach the weight/height maximum stated on the side of the seat! Your child is 500% safer staying extended-rear-facing. Even if your child was the first one ever to end up with broken legs/ankles, wouldn't that be better than your child being internally decapitated?! I think so! Please watch this video. It will open your eyes.

This is my own daughter in her car seat, using a car seat cover. It slips on over the top of the car seat, and does not interfere with any aspect of the strapping whatsoever. In my opinion, this is the only safe way to keep your baby safe and warm at the same time. (I want to mention that I'm not a Leaf's husband is. So please don't judge me on that. LMAO!)

Another danger in car seats are the added padding some parents add to their child's car seat. These not only create extra bulk, but are not fire-resistant. Your child could potentially burn to death while strapped into their seat, unable to escape. Sound harsh? I speak the truth. Read what has to say about it. Never add ANY aftermarket accessories to your car seat except rolled receiving blankets...they are the ONLY acceptable addition to your car seat! Besides being a fire hazard, and having the potential to add unnecessary bulk, you will find that many after-market products proper positioning of the chest clip or shoulder straps impossible. Save your money. Things like this are dangerous and a waste of money.
Your car seat manual will tell you how to safely install your seat and/or base. PLEASE read it, and have it checked by your local fire dept. to ensure it was done properly.
And I shouldn't have to say this, but NEVER put your child's rear-facing car seat in the front seat of your car. It could kill them. Even if your air bags are disabled, it is possible that they could inflate in an accident. This warning should be clearly stated in your car seat manual, as well as on the back of the passengers sun visor.
My last statement on infant seats is this: The shoulder straps should come from AT or BELOW your infant's shoulders. If you are unsure of the fit, stick a Popsicle stick through the back of the seat to find where it sits on your child.
When your child moves into a forward-facing seat, those straps need to be AT or ABOVE their shoulders.

Lets gets started!

I have so much I want to cover, and it's hard to know where to start. I see blogs on here that are amazing. I wish I was better at this. I will eventually cover the topics I care most about, and hopefully as time goes on, I'll bridge out and cover different ones. But for now, my life revolves around my three children, and so does my passion. They have made me a better person and have completely inspired me to become the very best parent EVER. (If I say "the best parent I can be", I feel like that's setting myself up for failure. We can all be better and do better, and every day I'm on a mission to do that.)

I had to start a blog because I just have so much I need to get out, and it just seems like perhaps Facebook is not the place for that...all the time. I need a place to go to just ENJOY people, and not always feel like I need to educate my friends every single second of the day. But I need to share what I've learned with someone! So here I am. I don't beat around the bush. I'm not a back-rubber when it comes to adults. If you are looking for some warm, soft posts that will make you feel all warm and cozy, this isn't the place for that. I have strong opinons, and I will share them. Hopefully the facts I share and the opinions that follow will help us all to become the people our children need us to be. Because almost doesn't count, and we only get one chance to do this right. So lets do it right.

My kids are my whole world, and I'll do whatever it takes to make sure they grow up healthy and HAPPY. I can't say I'm "crunchy", but I'll call myself "granola"...somewhat more chewy than some of the Super Mom's out there. In a perfect world I'd be crunchy too, but we just can't pull off cloth diapers with 3 kids in diapers...I see that life as one full of even MORE laundry than I have now. *SHUTTER* I'm all about attachment parenting, I'm a non-vaxxer, anti-CIO, anti-circumcison, love 'em more than anything else in this world and protect them like a mother bear. And, because I was blessed with three children I didn't think I'd ever get to have, I take my job as their momma very seriously. They get one childhood, and they'll get the best one there is!