Newborn Male Circumcision

What is circumcision?

Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the skin covering the tip of the penis, called the foreskin or the prepuce. In the United States, this surgery is often performed within the first few days of an infant’s life, when it is considered the most “simple.” It can also be performed later in life, should a man choose, though the procedure is considered “more complex.”

Infant male circumcision is one of many decisions parents are asked to make during their pregnancy or shortly after their boy is born. Socio-culturally speaking, this issue is very controversial and carries a lot of cultural, religious, and ethical charge. We believe that informed decision-making is paramount and want to empower our families to make an educated decision about infant male circumcision. While we cannot cover all of the information about male circumcision here, we hope to offer a broad look of this issue, as a launching point for gathering more information.

How prevalent is circumcision?

Globally, it was estimated in 2006 that approximately 30% of the world’s men were circumcised. The practice is nearly universal in some parts of the world (in most of these countries the practice is done almost exclusively for religious or cultural reasons), while in other areas the numbers are quite low.

In the United States, most estimates show that between 70-90% of males are circumcised, with the numbers peaking in the 1960s and falling by 5 to 10% since then. The practice has seen a greater decline in other developed nations including Canada, England, other parts of Europe, and Australia. The rates also vary by race, region, and class in the United States today.

The Controversy

There are a variety of views about circumcision. Generally speaking, those in favor of circumcision point to medical evidence that circumcision offers some health benefits to men. These advocates state that the benefits of the procedure greatly outweigh the potential risks. Some believe that circumcision should be performed for religious or cultural reasons (this is the more common reason, globally speaking).

Critics of the procedure believe it is entirely unnecessary, traumatic, and painful to a child.

Some people talk about the importance of choice—that parents should be able to make a choice about whether or not to circumcise their child. Others argue that the choice should be with the child because it is their body—in this view, circumcision is not considered ethical to perform on someone who is not able to make that choice.

Parents are often weighing all of these views and conflicting information in the context of cultural and familial norms. That is, many of the men in our country (and within our families) are circumcised, so there may be an additional pressure (stated or unstated) to conform to this norm.

It can be helpful to become aware of the reasons you may feel compelled toward or against the procedure as you explore this issue for yourself or your family.

The purported pros of male circumcision

In the US, the practice began in the late 1800s, prior to the germ theory of disease, when circumcision was thought to be “morally hygienic” (reducing sexual excitation) and even curative of such things as paralysis, masturbation, epilepsy, and insomnia. Those views have changed, but the health benefits of circumcision are still widely touted by the dominant medical community in our country.

For a long time, the American Academy of Pediatrics had remained neutral on the practice of circumcision. Then in 2012, it changed its policy (on which many insurance and social health care decisions are made). This new statement on circumcision stated that medical evidence shows that the health benefits of circumcision significantly outweigh the potential risks. They stopped short of actually recommending the practice, however, and instead said that families should have access to the procedure if they so desire.

The health benefits of male circumcision, as described by the AAP report include but are not limited to the following:

  • Reduced lifetime risk of urinary tract infections
  • Lowered risk of some cancers of the penis and prostate
  • Lowered risk of some, but not all, sexually transmitted diseases

They claim that the benefits outweigh the risks by 100 to 1 and that 50% of all those uncircumcised will experience some negative health effects as a result. They also claim that circumcision does not appear to have any negative effects on sexual sensitivity or function later in life.

The purported cons of male circumcision

There are many reasons given against male circumcision. The group Intact America, one of several organizations in the United States that are against circumcision, offers the following 10 arguments against circumcising, which you can read more about on theirs and other websites. 

  1. There is no medical reason for “routine” circumcision of baby boys and it is not recommended by any major organization in the nation.
  2. The foreskin is not a birth defect; it is a normal, sensitive, functional part of the body.
  3. Federal and state laws protect girls of all ages from forced genital surgery and they should protect boys as well.
  4. Circumcision exposes a child to unnecessary pain and medical risks
  5. Removing part of a baby’s penis is painful, risky, and harmful.
  6. Times and attitudes have changed and it is becoming more acceptable not to circumcise.
  7. Most medically advanced nations do not circumcise baby boys
  8. Caring for and cleaning the foreskin is easy and being intact doesn’t present hygienic concerns.
  9. Circumcision does not prevent HIV or other diseases
  10. Children should be protected from permanent bodily alteration inflicted on them without their consent in the name of culture, religion, profit, or parental preference.

Risks of circumcision

Significant complications are believed to occur in approximately one in 500 procedures.  One source states that over 100 infant males die each year as a result of circumcision complications, although this number is hotly contested by some members of the medical community and does not seem to be supported by medical data (although reports of circumcision deaths are not actually reported to the CDC, making it difficult to gather data at all).

Possible complications of circumcision can include:

  • Local Bruising
  • Bleeding
  • Scarring (always occurs)
  • Adhesions
  • Puncture and skin bridges
  • Amputation
  • Difficulty breastfeeding
  • Difficulty with urination
  • Long term aggravated response to pain
  • Infection
  • Subsequent corrective surgery
  • Permanent disability or death

Many also argue that because the foreskin is so sexually sensitive, that circumcision reduces sexual pleasure and function.

This list doesn’t include the potentially negative psychological impact of this procedure on the newborn child, which is more difficult to account for.

Bottom Line

As mentioned we encourage our families to research and talk to their pediatric care providers about circumcision. We hope this article serves as a “launching off” point for one’s own exploration of this issue and we hope that each family makes an informed decision based on their own preferences and values, as well as a clear understanding of the available information on circumcision.

Resources

http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196%2814%2900036-6/fulltext#tbl4fne

http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/circumcision/basics/why-its-done/prc-20013585

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/08/22/peds.2012-1990

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/27/science/benefits-of-circumcision-outweigh-risks-pediatric-group-says.html?_r=0

http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/malecircumcision/infopack_en_2.pdf

http://www.jurology.com/article/S0022-5347(12)05623-6/abstract

http://www.intactamerica.org

http://www.circumcision.org/

http://www.cirp.org

www.cirp.org

Advertisements

Birth Story: “Intense. But incredible.”

birth story_4

Baby Hamilton’s birth story, as told by mama

I feel very blessed to have had a wonderful pregnancy, birth, and start to life together as a new family of three–and have to thank Health Foundations for providing the support to make it happen. When I became pregnant, I thought how and where I was going to give birth would be a no-brainer–I assumed I would do what all of my friends did: a hospital birth, with my OB, and definitely an epidural (you’d be crazy not to, right?!).

My first trimester was going so smoothly that I became a bit paranoid that I wasn’t really pregnant. So Fran and I kept our pregnancy a secret from everyone until we made it to the second trimester. During that first trimester it felt like a mini honeymoon with Fran because we found ourselves staying in to avoid the questions around why I wasn’t drinking, etc. One night we searched Netflix for anything “baby” and came across “The Business of Being Born.” This documentary opened our eyes to a whole new concept around birth, and spoke to me in a way that really excited me. Fran and I had spent the prior 2.5 years completely changing our approach to health. Essentially we committed to putting health first, starting with our approach to fitness (we joined a Crossfit gym) and then diet (we did a lot of research around the pitfalls of the “standard American diet” and starting to cut out grains and sugars that were inflaming our system and keeping our bodies from burning fat for energy).

We had such a positive experience with this “alternative” approach to health, that I found myself very receptive to an “alternative” approach to childbirth. I have never had a need to go to a hospital before in my life, so I really started to wonder why I should need to be in a hospital now, with all these potential intervention measures, when I was the healthiest I’d ever been in my life and knew that women have been delivering babies naturally for thousands of years? After watching that documentary and a few others, we started doing a lot of reading and research, we toured birth centers and hospitals, and spoke to midwives and my OB about our options. After a lot of debate and consideration, we followed our gut instinct and decided to transfer to Health Foundations when I was 20 weeks in to my pregnancy. The remaining fears I had around being out of the hospital quickly went away as I had my prenatal appointments with the midwives and started taking the child birth education classes.

Okay– now on to my birth story!

When I was 34 weeks along, I got this strong feeling that my baby was going to come early. I don’t know what it was, but I was convinced. So imagine my disappointed when my “due date” came and went, and no sign of baby! I chalked it up to my first lesson in motherhood–I’m on someone else’s schedule now. He calls the shots! So time to temper my expectations and go with the flow. Easier said than done, especially when my biggest fear was getting to 42 weeks and having to go to a hospital to deliver the baby.

When I went in for my 40 week appointment Monica checked me, and she said I was still very posterior. So I spent the week going on lots of walks, got adjusted a couple times, and tried accupuncture. At my 41 week appointment (Tues), Monica swept my membranes, which made me pretty crampy for the next day or so. Through the baby stress test at 41 weeks the baby checked out as healthy and the machine showed that I was having contractions–that was a surprise because I wasn’t feeling them! Encouraging, my body was working away! I also went in for an ultrasound to check on amniotic fluid–all looked good.

On Friday of that week I had my next appt with Monica, and she thought maybe baby’s head was a bit tilted, preventing him from engaging my cervix. So she showed me how to do inversions at home to try to lift him up and off, and then go for walks to get him moving down. Along with that I did more acupuncture, took more walks. No contractions. Went in on Sunday (41 weeks and 5 days) and had the catheter put in and went for a walk. To our surprise, it fell out after 2 hours! I thought maybe I had done something wrong, because it came out but labor didn’t start. Amy had me come back in that evening to get checked and get the castor oil+herbs — which I was to take the next morning if I wasn’t in labor. She said my cervix was in a good spot, but didn’t share with me how dilated it was (we found out the next day that I was 4 cm at that point! I’m glad she didn’t tell me — would have messed with my head I’m sure).

Cramps started to get intense around 6pm on Sunday, after that appointment. We went for a walk and went grocery shopping. I took a bath at 8pm to ease the cramping, and to get ready to go to bed early to try to get some good rest. I was in bed at 9pm, and contractions started then. From 9pm-1am I was able to rest/sleep between the contractions (8-10 min apart). My back was really feeling it, so I put on a hot pack which really helped. Fran was great at telling me to relax, just as we practiced in class.

At 1am I couldn’t lay anymore — contractions were getting more intense, and about 6-8 minutes apart. I tried different positions but all I could handle was standing and leaning against the wall, and then between contractions I found myself pacing the bedroom (with all the adrenaline, I had a hard time relaxing). I had a few unpleasant trips to the bathroom, where I threw up everything in my system. We called the midwife page at 2am, when contractions were about 5-6 min apart. Amy was excited for me that I was going to be able to have this baby without castor oil (I’m pretty sure having that bottle stare me in the face was what started labor) and she listened to me breathe through a contraction. I could still talk through contractions and wasn’t yet vocalizing, so she told me to keep it up and said that next time I call I won’t be able to talk as much.

At that point we called our doula, Sarah, and she came over. She had me take a hot shower, which felt great on my back. And then encouraged me to try laboring on my hands and knees, and start to really focus on resting between contractions (head down on a pillow) and pay less attention to the contraction. This helped me get some much needed rest. Contractions were getting more intense, and I had to fight the urge to pace and lean against the wall like before. Sarah left the room to let me and Fran work through contractions together, and she listened from outside the door. My contractions weren’t following a consistent pattern so after a while in that position, Sarah suggested I pull one leg forward (like a deep runners lunge) and do juicy hip circles (Sarah is also a yoga instructor at Blooma, so she was using cues that she uses in the classes I would go to–which was nice and familiar). I thought she was nuts, because I thought that would be too much, too hard. Between contractions I told her that I was never going to think of those juicy hip circles the same way again! 🙂

But I gave it a whirl — for 2 contractions on each side. Well that seemed to adjust baby’s position, because I definitely started to feel something new, which I later confirmed was the urge to push! I just went with it, thinking I was still more than 3 minutes apart on contractions (I had mentally prepared for a very long labor)–and I didn’t really wrap my head around the fact that I was already through transition. I guess those juicy hip circles in the runners lunge helped me get through that. But apparently my vocalization changed and based on how I sounded, my doula suggested we make the move to the birth center. This was around 4:30am. Sarah got in touch with Amy, who heard me in the background and said “Oh, yep, I’ll be right there!”. We jumped in the car and the car ride was as promised — hard. Luckily there was no traffic and Fran drove very fast!

We beat the birth team to Health Foundations, so I had a contraction or two on the ramp outside the door- -likely waked some neighbors (Sarah found my flip flops in the parking lot, I labored myself right out of my shoes!). Rachel got there first, and we got in the room and had a couple more contractions. I told her I felt my body pushing, so she checked me, and indeed I was 9 cm dilated- with just a lip remaining! She asked if I wanted a water birth, and I said I was open to it (I wanted to let my labor decide what would feel best when the time came). But I really wanted to labor in the tub for some relief. So she started filling the tub right away–though it felt like an eternity before it was full. While I waited, I labored on the bed on all fours, and put my head down on a pillow to rest in between. Fran got emotional at this point, as he was so relieved that we were at Health Foundations and in good hands–everything got so intense so fast! At one point I looked up between contractions and said “tub time?”… I was thinking, let’s do this! I wanted to get in there and be able to move forward with pushing.

birth story_1

The tub was full, I got in, and the pushing urge was really there — Rachel said I could, but slowly like I had been outside the tub. All in all, I pushed for about an hour (the total time I was in labor at the birth center!) — and our baby arrived! I was on my hands and knees, so Rachel said that once he was born she would push him through my legs and he would swim up to me so I could catch him and bring him out of the water. It was completely amazing. He came swimming through with his eyes wide open–such an incredible feeling to be able to grab him and pull him on to me.

birth story_2

The birth team was awesome –I was so impressed with all of them. Fran was a champ, definitely benefited from the child birth classes to help prepare. It was tough for him to see me laboring. I am SO glad we had a doula–Sarah was amazing, and really helped at home (where the majority of labor ended up happening). I was surprised that during labor I never questioned my decision to do a natural labor. I was expecting to have doubts and to have to mentally push those thoughts out, but they never came. Also I had been nervous about my umbilical cord being around baby’s neck (I had been told that this is pretty common, but it still freaked me out)–mine ended up being wrapped around his neck once, but it didn’t harm him at all and Rachel was able to easily unwrap it.

In total I’d say I was in labor for 12 hours (including pre-labor)– 6 of which was active labor+pushing. The birth team applauded my ability to control the pushing, and take it slow. I didn’t need any stitches, and both me and baby checked out as healthy and good to go. I will share that when the nurses had me get up for the first time to use the bathroom (after about 3 hours of laying and bonding with baby), I made it to the bathroom but passed out once I got there — I think at the sight of blood (first time I really saw any… and I have a weak stomach). The nurses took good care of me, got me lots of fluids, and back in bed without any issues.

birth story_3

It was truly an amazing experience. Intense. But incredible. And everyone who has checked on our baby’s health have remarked on how awake, aware, calm, strong, and healthy he is — which was our goal in having a natural birth, and I think only made even better by going with a water birth. And my recovery was smooth and quick, I was excited I didn’t need to have any stitches (even after delivering a 9 lb, 3.5 oz. baby with a 15 cm head — which apparently is in the 99.8th%!).

Special thanks to….

Health Foundations — for providing personal attention and care throughout my pregnancy, and an unforgettable birth experience that helped our family get started in this new life together in a healthy, beautiful, and very special way.

My Husband, Fran — for being fully committed to being my partner through this journey, for being such a strong supporter, and a beautiful father.

My doula, Sarah Auna — for being a strong, calm, beautiful presence and providing support through this amazing process to both me and Fran.

Crossfit St. Paul — for helping me to put health as a top priority, and to learn that my body is stronger and more capable than my head likes to think it is and that I can push through and achieve great things.

Body Workers, Amber (chiropractor) and Adrienne (massage) — for helping me to feel amazing throughout my pregnancy, even at 41 weeks pregnant my body felt great! You helped me truly believe that my body was made to do this and it was all very achievable–and perhaps my swift labor was possible because my body was all good to go!

Blooma — for being a weekly reminder throughout my pregnancy that my body is completely capable of birthing this baby, and for making the journey towards motherhood a special and sacred time. And for introducing me to my amazing doula, Sarah.

My Parents — for raising me to be an intellectually curious, confident woman who feels empowered to make informed decisions

Easy postpartum chicken tacos (slow cooker)

This is a delicious and ridiculously easy meal for the postpartum period… or any time!  While this recipe does include some fresh herbs and spices, you could even forgo these and just do the chicken and salsa– it would still be delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 jar of your favorite salsa (or you can make fresh)
  • 1 pound of chicken (breasts or mix of breasts and thighs)
  • 1 T chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 T cumin
  • 1 t coriander
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1/4 t cayenne
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1/3 cup water

fixings may include: corn or flour taco shells, or lettuce wraps; avocado, black beans, jalapenos, or pico de gallo)

Preparation:

Place all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 3-4 hours.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred with two forks.

Return to the cooker and cook an addition 30-60 minutes.

Serve with your favorite fixings.  YUM.

Photo source: cookingclassy.com

Photo source: cookingclassy.com

How to make a belly mask

We’ve talked about henna art as a way to celebrate one’s beautiful body in pregnancy, and today we’re talking about how to make a belly mask or belly cast.  A belly mask is a beautiful way to capture the shape of your body in the weeks before birth (and you can certainly make one sooner if you wish!).  You may wish to have this be part of a blessingway or baby shower, or it may be a private creation you share with a good friend, relative or partner.  (It’s helpful to have someone to help you!)

Making a belly mask is easy to do and inexpensive.  It can get a bit messy; however, so you might consider creating this work of art outside or indoors with proper covering on the floor.

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 rolls of plaster gauze (available at a local craft store; also used for making face masks)
  • small jar of vaseline
  • an old bucket
  • warm water
  • a few rags
  • drop cloth or old shower curtain liner (if doing inside)
  • soft measuring tape

Here is how you do it!

  1. Gather all of your supplies and fill your bucket with warm water.
  2. Remove your clothes from the waist up (you can keep a tank top or bra on if you are doing this in a group setting and prefer this).  You may also want to take off your pants, wear a bikini bottom, or wear old pants you don’t mind getting messy.
  3. Stand on the drop cloth or shower curtain if creating your belly mask inside.  If you are outside or in a garage, you can use a hose to wash away the drips of plaster.
  4. Measure horizontally across the areas you want to cover, including your belly and possibly your breasts.  (Some people make a bowl out of just the cast of their belly, while others like to have their breasts included in the mask as well!) Cut the strips of gauze to match the varying lengths.  You will want to cut enough strips for each location to make your cast 2 to 3 layers thick.
  5. Once you have measured out the gauze, rub your belly and torso with a thin layer of vaseline.  This will prevent the gauze from sticking to you and/or tugging on your skin as you remove your completed belly cast later.  (FYI: you don’t need to rub vaseline on your pubic hair, the gauze doesn’t stick well to hair.
  6. Follow the directions on the gauze package, dipping the strips into the warm water and then applying them to your belly.  You can begin anywhere you like.  The idea is to make overlapping horizontal layers leaving no spaces uncovered.  Continue adding gauze until you have your desired shape.
  7. Allow the cast to dry for about 5 minutes and remove from your body.
  8. At this point, you can smooth out the edges by folding them back.
  9. Place in a dry protected place to complete the drying process.  It takes about 24 hours for the belly mask to dry completely.
  10. Once the belly cast is dry, you can leave it as is, or paint it with acrylic paints.  You may want to have someone spray it with lacquer or glaze for extra protection.  If you must spray it yourself, please do so in a well ventilated area.

This website has some beautiful artistic inspiration and surely you could find ideas on Pinterest.  Have fun!

Birth Story: Meeting Finnlee

Finnlee Joan birth story

The birth of Finnlee Joan told by mama Nicole

Since she was 41weeks, I had been getting a little worried that she would never come out, so I requested to work a evening shift of Thursday so I would be on my feet. We had a check in with Monica who gave me a belly band and told me to have a good night at work. Sure enough I started having contractions. I didn’t know what they were (now I know!)– they stopped when I would rest, so I didn’t really concern myself. After three weeks of everyone at work asking me “when are you going to have that baby? I can’t believe you are still at work!?” I was excited to move the process along.

Friday 10/24

Evening comes along and I started to leak- best way I can describe it- my water was slowing breaking. I probably went to the bathroom like 50 time in 4 hours. I was having to convince my husband that my water broke but he was not so sure. We called Monica and she said just to sleep, eat, and the rest will take care of itself.

Saturday 10/25

Morning came and Nick was so excited the baby could be coming, he stayed up until 4am cleaning the house. When I wanted to take a hike at 9am, he was too tired. I called my sister-in-law and we went hiking up the sledding hill by our house, which did cause the contractions to increase but I was still able to talk through them. At this point, I had pulled out all my Health Foundations binders and was looking for all the stages of labor. Also it seemed like in every birth story in the Ina May book, the women went for a hike to keep labor going. I was fearful that the contractions would not ever come consistently because after the walk, they stopped again.

I had been seeing an acupuncturist to try to get the baby out earlier that week so I went to my 2:30pm appointment to get the show on the road. My husband drove to make sure I was safe and to ask the acupuncturist how this whole thing worked. He put the needles in me and he and my husband carried on talking and laughing meanwhile my contractions became much worse and I was not so easy going at this point. We left and I really wanted some ice cream before this labor thing got really intense so we stopped at Culvers. I ate a sundae and before I could get around the block, I had to get him to pull over so I could vomit. I guess it was Mother Nature’s way of making sure I didn’t eat any more bad food.

Recalling that the labor stages book said vomiting means things are moving, I was getting a little nervous. The book was right, I started having contractions every 5 min. But my husband would not let me go to the birthing center until they were 3-1-1, he must have been listening to Rochelle (our childbirth education instructor) during class. I begged him for two hours to leave the house, but it was not until Monica gave him the go-ahead to drive me in at 8:30 pm that he agreed.

We arrived to hear another mama laboring in the other room where another baby was being born. This was a little intimidating until I heard the baby cry, then I was jealous because she had a baby and I had a lot of work to do still. Monica checked and I was 5cm dilated. I asked her how far I was and she said ” you’re far enough you can stay.”  It had not occurred to me there was a chance I would be sent home. I was ready to meet my baby and did not plan on leaving! Thank goodness we stayed at home long enough.  The next 6 hours were a bit of a blur: shower-tub-vomit-repeat. At one point, Monica checked me and said I could start pushing. My husband wanted to catch her and the first thing he saw was her little face with her hand over it. Nick told Monica that the baby had her hand on her face and we were still in the tub. Monica calmly told me to get out of the tub and do a runners lunge (with a baby head half way out.) One more push and there she was! Nick got to catch her like he wanted.

We met Finnlee at 3:26am on Sunday October 26, 2014.  She was 7lbs 10oz and 20.5 cm long.

Eight Reasons to Wear Your Baby

babycarrierarticleBaby wearing is the experience of carrying your child in a sling or other carrier on your chest (and/or, as they get older, on your back). Baby carriers come in different materials and configurations, each with their benefits. Keeping a child close to you in a carrier is a natural practice utilized by people across time and cultures. There is something instinctual and natural about keeping babies close to our bodies in infancy. Baby wearing has many practical benefits but, more importantly, it offers a number of significant benefits for baby and caregiver. Here are eight benefits of carrying your baby in a carrier in his or her early days, months and even years.

  1. Baby wearing supports bonding.

When we wear baby close to us, we learn his cues and communications so intimately. This not only allows us to get to know our child, it helps us more effectively meet his or her needs, which will support bonding, ease the transition into parenthood, and so much more. Face to face orientation between baby and caregiver offers a powerful catalyst for bonding. Baby wearing can be great not only for mom and baby pairs, but also for dad (or other parent) and baby pairs, and babies and other caregivers, such as relatives. It gives others an opportunity to be close to and bond with baby.

  1. Baby wearing is good for baby’s physiological systems.

According to Dr. Sears, babywearing provides an external regulation system that balances the irregular and disorganized tendencies of a baby adjusting to life outside the womb, where all systems were once in harmony and regulated for them. If you think about it, the baby in utero is lulled to sleep by the rhythmic movements of his mother as she walks or moves about during the day. The gentle pulsing sound of her heartbeat and her breath are familiar and constant rhythms throughout womb life and likely offer tremendous comfort and stability.

Bringing baby close to us in a carrier or just being held, reintroduces those powerful organizing environmental cues back into baby’s life—baby places her ear to mama’s chest and hears mama breathing, baby is lulled to sleep by papa’s heart beat as he carries about his morning routine, baby is soothed by the familiar rhythms of walking as mom and dad go for a neighborhood stroll. All of these regular rhythms not only comfort but also have an organizing effect on an infant’s naturally rhythmic physiological processes, such as sleeping and waking; breathing; eating, digestion and elimination; temperature; heart rate; and more.

  1. Carried and worn babies are happier and cry less.

Likely connected to the phenomenon above, babies who are carried and held often are less fussy, cry less, and seem more content than those who are put into devices (such as cribs, car seats, and bouncers) most of the time. According to one study in which routine baby wearing (3 or more hours of carrying per day) was compared to a control given no instructions on wearing baby, the babies held more often throughout the day cried over 40% less. Wearing or carrying baby close helps make them secure and content. Furthermore, colic and reflux can be reduced by the upright position of being held, which can make babies more comfortable (and thus happier).

  1. Carried and worn babies learn more.

When babies are not exerting their energy on crying and fussing, they are able to devote more energy into taking in and learning from their environments. Research shows that babies who are carried show enhanced visual and auditory alertness and spend more time in the quiet alert state in which they are best able to interact with their environment. Carried babies also have the opportunity to see more and experience more varied environmental stimulus at an adult’s chest level than they would if they were on the ground or in a device. Carried babies are intimately involved in their caregiver’s world and learn what human life is all about from a young age.

  1. Carried and worn babies develop social skills

Along those same lines, being at an adult’s chest level, babies get an opportunity to pay close attention to the subtle non verbal language used by their caregivers and by others in their shared environment. They begin to learn how social interaction works, what cues are used for different feelings and needs, and the whole dance of human social life. Carried babies also get more opportunity to observe and learn verbal language as well. Research has found that carried babies experience enhanced speech development. Many report that carried babies seem to be more tuned into and attentive toward the world around them.

  1. Baby wearing is convenient.

Babies can nap in a sling or just be with you during their waking hours, happily carried about in a soft carrier. With your hands free, you can still attend to and be close to your baby while taking care of your life responsibilities and doing things you enjoy. You don’t have to be distracted by a baby monitor or constantly stop to soothe or check in with baby. Many mamas exercise with baby in a carrier, socialize with friends or family, get household chores done, and so much more with a baby in a carrier.

  1. Carrying baby in a carrier (versus car seat) is better for parent or caregiver’s body 

Sure there may be some times when baby falls asleep right before you get somewhere and leaving baby in the car seat means more rest for them while you go about your business. However, making a habit of leaving baby in the car seat can deprive you and your baby of the benefits of close physical proximity. More than this, carrying around a car seat is not easy on a caregiver’s body. Having that much weight outside your center of gravity is hard on the body and can cause or exacerbate physical pains and stresses. This is not ideal for the healing postpartum body. Holding baby close, in a carrier for example, is easier because there is no extra weight of the car seat and baby is much closer to your center of gravity, making it easier on the body to carry this additional weight.

  1. Baby wearing is economical.

Baby carriers can run from $10-20 (used—or free!) up to about $100 or so. This is typically far less than the cost of strollers, baby bouncers, and other devices meant to hold baby. Baby carriers often last a long time and can be used from a the newborn stage into toddlerhood.

These are just some of the many great reasons to keep baby close in infancy. If you choose to use a baby carrier, do some research into the different kinds, ask others for recommendations, and try them out to see what works best for you (many parents have different preferences in style. Make sure to follow safety recommendations as well to keep baby safe while in a carrier. Enjoy these precious times with baby.

Minnesota births at homes and birth centers rise more than 150 percent

Press Release by MCCPM

St. Paul, Minn.—The number of Minnesota babies born outside of a hospital setting rose by 156 percent from 2004 to 2012, according to birth certificate data from the Minnesota Department of Health.

More than 1.3 percent of births (904 babies) in Minnesota in 2012 occurred outside of a hospital—mainly in homes and freestanding birth centers—up from 0.5 percent of births (366 babies) in 2004.

press release graph

Births occur outside of hospitals more frequently in greater Minnesota than in the Twin Cities metro area. In 2012, 1.7 percent of babies born in greater Minnesota counties were born outside of hospitals, while 1 percent of babies in the seven-county metro area were born outside of hospitals, according to health department data.

Nationally births outside of hospital settings have increased since 2004. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of births occurring outside of hospitals increased from about 0.9 percent of U.S. births in 2004 to about 1.4 percent of U.S. births in 2012, its highest level since 1975. In 2012, 53,635 births in the U.S. occurred outside of a hospital, including 35,184 home births and 15,577 births at birth centers.

__________________________________________________________________________________

About the Minnesota Council of Certified Professional Midwives

The nonprofit Minnesota Council of Certified Professional Midwives promotes, protects, and preserves midwifery as practiced by certified professional midwives in the state of Minnesota. The council is committed to safe maternity care provided in an out-of-hospital setting. For more information, visit http://www.minnesotamidwives.org.