Why I Chose to Wear my Baby

Before Maya was born I didn’t know much about babywearing or the various means by which one could carry a baby, I just knew I wanted to do it.  The idea of having my baby close at hand, snuggled in close to me, sounded like exactly what I wanted.  Unfortunately, I didn’t do enough research about the various means of babywearing before Maya was born and instead of purchasing a sling carrier I went with a Baby Bjorn.  Though I loved my Baby Bjorn and used it a ton I really wish I had done more research and had gone with a sling style carrier from the very beginning.  I will know better next time 😉

Maya has spent the better part of her first 3 years on this earth in some sort of carrier, be it the Baby Bjorn, a backpack or the sling style carrier I finally purchased when she turned a year old.  Wearing her has been one of the best decisions I made as a mom.  Wearing her as a baby meant that I was able to tend to her needs more easily and more quickily, and it also meant I could get a few things done around the house when all she wanted was to be carried.  Lorne and I love hiking and being babywearers made that activity so much easier.  We could just put her in the backpack carrier or the sling and off we went.  We took a trip to Colorado when Maya was about 10 months old and without the Baby Bjorn we were using at the time that trip would have been rather difficult.  She got to see the sites right along with us, attached to our fronts.

The memories I have from wearing Maya are some of my fondest.  I miss wearing her now that she is a big girl and would rather walk on her own.  I enjoyed the bonding, the quietness, the reassurance and the naturalness of babywearing.  I recommend it to all my friends when they have babies.

CheckingoutthegeeseatStillwaters (Small)

family shot (Small)

Hiking family shot (Small)

CheckingOutTheLeopard (Small)

MayaandMummyAtTheZoo (Small)

Atthezoo (Small)

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BearLake2 (Large)

CoolShades (Small)

DaddyMayaHiking (Small)

The BCIA (Baby Carrier Industry Alliance) has made a call to action.  We need to make our voices heard, we need to advocate for babywearers everywhere.  Babywearing is safe and any parent can do it, it doesn’t require special skill, just a good baby carrier, a baby and a parent who wants to wear their baby.

Stephanie over at Adventures in Babywearing has declared October to be National Babywearing Month.  So in honor of National Babywearing Month I have shared my story, what is your babywearing story?

Head on over to Stephanie’s site and the BCIA Facebook page to read other parent’s stories about their babywearing experiences.

Newborn Screenings and Ethical Issues

I came across this article yesterday regarding an ethical dilemma that researchers are finding themselves in surrounding the use of left over blood from newborn screening tests.  At question is whether or not researchers should be allowed to use the blood samples left over from newborn screenings as a research tool without written consent from the parents.  Currently, most states allow these blood samples to be banked and used in research.  All the identifying information is stripped from the sample and there is no real way for the information gleaned from the research to be traced back to the original person.  However, parents are up in arms about this and have taken the issue before the courts in several states, arguing that it violates their child’s privacy and puts their child’s genetic information out there for anyone to find.  Courts in several states, including Texas and Michigan, have agreed with the parents and forced millions of leftover samples to be thrown out and have developed a consent form so that parents have the option to opt-out if they do not wish to have their child’s sample stored and used for future research.

Although I see the point the parents are making about the privacy concerns, I think the benefits of this program far outweigh the risks, especially since the there is no identifying information attached to the samples once it is banked.  Newborn screening tests are vital for identifying potentially life threatening illnesses and conditions.  Through these screening tests doctors are able to identify illnesses and treat them right away in order to save a life, when before these screening tests were routinely done the child would likely have died.  My fear, and the fear of many, is that this current uproar will result in parents opting out of getting the screenings done all together and will result in too many babies leaving the hospital with potentially life threatening illnesses and conditions.  Also, the additional research done on the left over samples is essential to developing new screening tests, learn more about the illnesses and conditions we currently screen for and identify new conditions and illnesses that need to be added to the screening.  Our babies lives depend on this research.

I think what states, doctors and researchers need to do is to educate the public on the importance of these screening tests and the importance of the additional research being done on the left over samples.  Probably every state will need to develop a consent form and give parents the option to opt-out of the program as some parents just won’t be comfortable knowing their child’s left over blood sample is being used. However, I think most parents, if comfortable in the knowledge that their child’s information is stripped from the sample before it leaves the hospital, will opt-in to the banking program and researchers will be able to continue the research that allows for groundbreaking, life saving discoveries.

What are your thoughts on this topic?  Do you think it okay to use the left over samples for research?  Do you think there should be a consent form developed?   Would you opt in or out if given the choice?

New Text4Baby Campaign

The US government announced a new national campaign today called Text4Baby that will use cellphones and text messaging as a means to get healthy mother, healthy baby tips out to millions of expectant mothers all over the country.  The campaign is being sponsored by several organizations and companies including the National Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition, Voxiva, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Wellpoint and Blue Cross Blue Shield; and wireless carriers have agreed to waive all charges associated with receiving these text messages.

The goal of the campaign is to reach as many expectant mothers as possible and to use these periodic “healthy pregnancy” text messages to keep women informed about the things they should and shouldn’t be doing during pregnancy in order to help keep themselves and their babies healthy.  The hope is that through these text messages women will be encouraged to eat healthier, exercises more and seek proper prenatal care, as well as provide encouragement and support to quit bad habits like smoking and drinking during pregnancy.  A woman who has a healthy pregnancy and partakes in a healthy lifestyle during her pregnancy is much less likely to give birth prematurely and is more likely to have a healthy baby.

In the United States over half a million babies are born prematurely every year and every year almost 30, 000 babies die before their first birthday.  Sadly, the United States ranks 30th worldwide in infant mortality, falling behind many other developed nations.  The hope is that programs like Text4Baby will help women, especially low income women and those without health insurance, get the information they need to keep themselves and their babies healthy during pregnancy which will hopefully translate into fewer premature births and a fewer infant deaths.

The program is completely free to sign up for, and as stated above most cell phone carriers are waiving the fees associated with receiving these text messages.  Visit Text4Baby.org to learn more about the program and sign up.

Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism

Last week a US federal special court ruled that there was no scientific evidence to support a link between the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and autism. In their ruling the court stated “it was abundantly clear that petitioners’ theories of causation were speculative and unpersuasive” and went on to say “the weight of scientific research and authority was simply more persuasive on nearly every point in contention.” The ruling was well received and applauded by the scientific and health communities. The families of those making claims to the VICP (vaccine injury compensation program) were disappointed with the ruling and continue to stand behind their claims that the MMR vaccine caused their children’s autism.

So will this ruling be the end of the debate? Likely, it will not mean the end of the debate. When your child is diagnosed with autism it is devastating and you want to know why it happened to your child. Since autism diagnoses often happen around the same time as the MMR vaccine is administered it becomes an easy scapegoat. More research needs to be conducted into autism, what causes it, etc so these parents can finally get some answers. I also think the public health and pediatric medicine communities need to do a better job of communicating with the public about both autism and vaccines to help put some of the fear and some of the debate to rest.

Why is there such a debate about vaccines? Parents want to protect their children at all costs and if they believe something could harm their child they are going to steer clear, that includes vaccines. Unfortunately, I think parents have become the victims of scientists, doctors and media professionals wanting to make a name for themselves. Many of the claims about the lack of safety of vaccines are not backed by peer-reviewed studies but rather by highly-emotional personal anecdotes, pseudo-science and misinformation. All of this combines to make for a high level of fear among parents of small children and a mass “jumping on the anti-vaccine bandwagon” so to speak. It is sometime easier to just say no than to try to weed through all the information out there to find what is true and accurate.

It has been a long time since we have seen the ill-effects of many of the diseases we are vaccinating our children against. Being so far removed from the diseases makes it hard for many parents to see why the vaccines are worth the risks. It is more important than ever for parents to do their research, especially when it comes to educating ourselves about the diseases these vaccines prevent. I am pro-vaccine and fully vaccinate my daughter. I have done the research regarding the risks involved with the vaccines as well as the risks of the diseases themselves and concluded that vaccinating my daughter is the right thing to do.

Parents need to know the facts (scientifically backed facts) about the vaccines and the diseases they protect against in order to make informed decisions. Below I have provided links to the information sheets for the common childhood vaccines, as provided by the National Network for Immunization Information.

It can be hard sometimes to filter through the information available on the internet regarding vaccinations. There is a lot of junk science and misinformation circulating out there. Here are a few sites that I found helpful in my own research. I also found it helpful to speak with my daughter’s pediatrician, whose opinion and expertise I value and trust.

Many parents think it is safe to “opt-out” of vaccines for their children because the diseases they are protecting against have been either eradicated, eliminated or dramatically reduced. However, that will only remain the case if people continue to get vaccinated. Also, most of these diseases are still prevalent in other parts of the world, so you could be only a plane ride away from contracting them. Community-immunity is only effective if most of the community is vaccinated. You are not just putting your own children at risk you are also putting children who are too young for the vaccines or too sick to be vaccinated at risk.

On a personal note about community immunity. When I was a child I had Pertussis (whooping cough). It was during the 1980’s when there were outbreaks in many parts of the western world due to misinformation circulating about the vaccine’s safety and parents were opting out of the vaccine for their children. I had been vaccinated, however, contracted the disease anyway because unfortunately no vaccine is 100% effective. Let me tell you it was no picnic. I can still vividly remember how much it hurt to cough all the time, my chest and throat throbbed. My head hurt constantly for over a month because I coughed all the time.

The bottom line is I believe every parent has the right to decide what is best for their children. However, those decisions need to be based on accurate information and scientific facts. If after doing all the research you still decide that it is best not to vaccinate your child, well that is your choice.

Vaccines are safe and the risks associated with the diseases they protect us against far outweigh the risks associated with the vaccines themselves.

Nadya Suleman or Angelina Jolie?

The story of Nadya Suleman and her ever growing family is still all over the news.  People are still very curious about Ms. Suleman and what brought her to make the decisions she did.

Everyone is talking about the fertility specialist that treated her, how she is affording to raise her children, the government assistance she is receiving, how the octuplets are doing, and of course, that Nadya Suleman looks like Angelina Jolie!!

So, what do you think?  Do you see the similarities?