Monday, October 27, 2008

Because Sometimes We Parents Misunderstand Each Other

Oh, how many times have I heard other mothers or fathers referencing that "crazy" mom or less often, dad. You know, that overprotective, overly controlling parent who make everything "too hard" or who does "too much." Heck, I know I have unthinkingly made that snap judgment before or heard a parent judge another this way without saying anything. I also have no doubt that others have placed that label on me a few times. I hope this article helps parents understand each other, even if they have different parenting strategies and philosophies from each other, without rushing to snap judgements like placing the "crazy mom" stereotype on someone. We all could stand to be a little more open minded and try to understand each other a bit more instead.

That Crazy Mother
by Peggy O'Mara, Publisher/Editor, Mothering

You know her. She's that woman over there with the unkempt look, the disheveled hair, the strident voice. She's the one who's a little too involved with her child, a little too interfering. Maybe a bit too controlling. She's that crazy mother.

What is it about becoming a parent that turns a reasonably polite, discreet woman into a guerrilla warrior for her child? And why is it that no matter how righteous the cause, whenever we assert ourselves on behalf of our children we must be prepared to do battle with the crazy mother stereotype within ourselves and in the minds of others?

With the current prominence of the Children's Defense Fund and other groups that help children, child advocacy is coming of age. Our statement of purpose for the magazine includes "Mothering is ... a fierce advocate of the needs and rights of the child ... " As a magazine, we can maintain some distance from the issues of child advocacy that we cover, issues in which the child's side of the story often is not well understood or not reported. As parents, however, it takes real strength of character to be advocates for our children, especially at times when we are either embarrassed or angered by their behavior or at a loss to understand it.

Even when we don't understand the behavior of our children, they still deserve respect and advocacy. Our well-meaning but sometimes insensitive friends may confuse us and make us feel crazy when they set standards for our children's behavior or ask repeated intimate questions about their private habits.

Sometimes we find ourselves in social situations that require impossible compliance by our children or are not appropriate for their developmental stage. At these times we may appear crazy and overprotective to others when we shield our children from experiences we judge to be questionable.

Those of us who have been led by our children into extended breastfeeding and family sleeping wonder how something that works so well can be considered so crazy, and yet we feel crazy when we talk about these things to those who don't understand. Sleep deprivation, concerns for social deviation, and fear of child ruination are the stuff of the new parent's initiation. We must do our own thing with our families in order to create the definitions of a new family. We are supposed to be crazy, to be different. As young adults we do things differently than our parents. As new families we do things unique to our union. Those who are willing to be unique in a culture are sometimes looked upon as crazy.

The needs of infants and toddlers are so obvious, and they are so innocent in their demands, that we feel confident responding to them even if others question us. As our children get older, however, we may not always understand their needs quite as easily, or will sometimes have to make decisions that are unpopular with our children, and may make us look crazy, even to them.

All parents face difficult decisions regarding infant feeding, newborn testing, circumcision, diapers, nightwaking, sleeping, vaccinations, and so forth. Some parents also face special medical situations that require the courage to insist on the integrity of the child's emotional experience in the face of necessary and sometimes lifesaving medical procedures.

Successful advocacy rests on holding a position without being positional. And while we don't always feel we can compromise where our children's needs are concerned, we can develop a capacity to insist on our position without insulting others. We can be persistent. And we can have faith in the best possible outcome, in the biggest possible picture for our child, and for our child's capabilities.

We join with others when we protect our children. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says, among other things, that "All children's opinions shall be given careful consideration, and their best interests shall be protected."

Being crazy is not just for moms. Crazy dads follow in the same tradition. We're crazy any time we take an unpopular position in a group or support someone or something just because of love.
We're crazy any time we stick up for our children without any evidence. I can't always control the events of my children's lives, but now and then I can get all worked up over them with such righteousness that it's awesome. At those times I realize how fierce and irrational my willingness to defend my children is, how animal-like, how instinctual. One feels in this type of attachment part of the greater good.

It's good to be a little bit crazy. A little bit crazy about your child and willing to get crazy for him or her. I'm sure there's supposed to be at least one, maybe two people who think you are the greatest no matter what. Someone who rushes to defend you without knowing the whole story.
Someone who sympathizes even after knowing it. Someone who is crazy about you. The Crazy
Mother's Club is open to both men and women. You can tell the members by the red badge of courage they wear barely visible on the lapel. You can also tell them by a certain gleam in their eye. They are the parents who are willing to get crazy for love.
Excerpted from: Editorial, Mothering Magazine, No. 78,Spring 1996, Pages 6-7.Mothering Magazine: (800) 984-8116, (505) 984-8116

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

March of Dimes Campaign Focuses on Early C-sections and Inductions

Mothers Launch National Petition for Preemies

Last update: 12:01 a.m. EDT Oct. 17, 2008

HOUSTON, Oct 17, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Mothers are casting their votes for healthy babies and asking all Americans to join them in signing the March of Dimes 2008 Petition for Preemies. They're putting public officials -- and all Americans -- on notice that it's time to focus on the growing problem of premature birth, the leading cause of newborn death.

"My wish is for that day when no new mothers will experience the pain of going home from the hospital and leaving their babies behind," said Susan Aboulhouda, whose daughter Catharine was born 16 weeks early and spent 113 days in a newborn intensive care unit. "That's why I've signed the 2008 Petition for Preemies. This plan will help give all babies a healthy start in life." Catharine, now 6, is the 2008 National Ambassador for the March of Dimes.

The 2008 Petition for Preemies was launched here today at the annual Volunteer Leadership Conference, a gathering of more than 600 March of Dimes volunteers and staff from across the country. Sherri Shepherd of ABC-TV's "The View," one of the volunteers, displayed a new national print public service announcement in which she declares, "My son was born 15 weeks early. I'm signing the Petition for Preemies so that other babies will be born full term."

The Petition for Preemies also is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, the National Business Group on Health, and more than two dozen other maternal and infant health agencies and concerned business and quality improvement organizations. It can be found at

"This petition will raise awareness of the growing crisis of preterm birth, which affects more than 530,000 babies each year," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "It is a true non-partisan vote for babies and will elevate the problem of preterm birth onto the health care agenda of our new president and Congress. We'll let legislators and regulators know how many people signed the Petition in order to help drive policy changes at the federal and state levels to solve this disturbing problem."

The four-point petition calls for hospital leaders to voluntarily review all cesarean-section births and inductions of labor that occur before 39 weeks gestation, in an effort to reverse America's rising preterm birth rate. The review should ensure that all c-sections and inductions meet established American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelines regarding medical necessity of elective procedures.

"Some doctors and patients may inadvertently be scheduling inductions or c-section deliveries early because of an inaccurate assessment of the due date," said Roger C. Young, MD, PhD, professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and director of the Division of General Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, and a member of the March of Dimes Board of Trustees. "This is a problem because babies born even a few weeks early are at greater risk of serious problems such as respiratory distress, delayed brain development, sudden infant death, jaundice, re-hospitalization and feeding problems."

"Neonatologists and general pediatricians are very good at taking care of premature infants once they are safely delivered, but what we all want is to prevent prematurity from occurring in the first place," said Renee R. Jenkins, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "We fully support the March of Dimes petition because it makes everyone aware of the risks and consequences of an early birth and supports successful interventions."

"Two probable factors of preterm birth, cesarean sections and induced labor, are on the rise and may be among the many reasons for this concerning increase in early births," said Karen Peddicord, RNC, PhD, interim executive director of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses. "AWHONN is pleased to support the March of Dimes petition initiative and the joint effort to resolve this serious public health issue."

"Modest investments in infant health will pay off many times over in future health and productivity," said Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health. "Employers can play a pivotal role in helping their employees and dependents have the information, resources, benefits and support to have healthy, thriving families. We applaud the March of Dimes for promoting and protecting the health of all children."

In addition to the voluntary review of c-sections before 39 weeks, the 2008 Petition for Preemies also calls for:

-- Expanded federal support for prematurity-related research to uncover the
causes of premature birth and lead not only to strategies for
prevention, but also improved care and outcomes for preterm infants.

-- Policymakers to improve access to health coverage for women of
childbearing age and to support smoking cessation programs as part of
maternity care.

-- Businesses to create workplaces that support maternal and infant health,
such as providing private areas to pump breast milk, access to flextime,
and information about how to have a healthy pregnancy and childbirth.

The Petition will be followed by a March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card, which will grade the nation and the states on their preterm birth rate. The report card will be released November 12, on the 6th Annual Prematurity Awareness Day.

Preterm birth is a serious and costly health problem that affects 1 in 8 babies born each year in the United States and the rate of preterm birth has increased more than 20 percent since 1990. It is the leading cause of death in the first month of life. One in every eight babies is born too soon each year, Preterm birth costs the nation more than $26 billion a year, according to an Institute of Medicine report released in July 2006.

Babies who survive an early birth face the risk of serious lifelong health problems, including learning disabilities, cerebral palsy (, blindness, hearing loss ( and other chronic conditions such as asthma.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. Its mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit or

Note: C-sections account for nearly all of the increase in U.S. singleton preterm births. Between 1996 and 2004, the number of preterm births increased by 59,057, and 54,405 of those were delivered by cesarean section, reflecting a cesarean-to-vaginal delivery ratio of more than 11 to 1, according to "The Relationship Between Cesarean Delivery and Gestational Age Among US Singleton Births," by Bettegowda VR. et al., published in Clinics in Perinatology, Vol. 35, 2008.

SOURCE March of Dimes

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Heart Sarcasm

How to Make Breastfeeding Difficult

Linda J. Smith, BSE, FACCE, IBCLC

1. Tell the mother to "feed on a 4-hour schedule" or "get the baby on a schedule." This results in a low milk supply and a hungry, frustrated baby and frustrated parents. Be sure to blame the crying on breastfeeding. If this doesn't work, warn her to limit the length of feeds, which will accomplish the same thing.

2. Be sure to "get the baby used to a bottle." This can result in a confused baby who refuses the breast. It's also a great way to lower the milk supply and undermine the mother's confidence.

3. Tell her she doesn't have enough milk if:

  • "The baby wants to nurse again after only 2-3 hours"...OR
  • "The baby will take 2 ounces of formula after nursing"...OR
  • "Your breasts aren't full and uncomfortable all the time"

Since milk supply insecurity is the primary cause of lactation failure, this will introduce an element of doubt and fear to the whole process.

4. Tell her she can't or shouldn't nurse if:
  • "She wants to eat chocolate (or Mexican food or cabbage, etc.)"...OR
  • "She smokes or wants to take medication"...OR
  • "She's going back to work/school in a few weeks"....OR
  • "She wants to go out in public...nursing requires privacy"...OR
  • "Her breasts are too small (or large)"...OR
  • "Her mother couldn't"...OR
  • "She's too nervous"...

Find as many reasons for NOT breastfeeding as you can, and look for ANY reason to interrupt it. Put as much distance between mother and baby as possible.

5. Insist that "Dad should give the baby a bottle or he'll feel left out." This is another good way to minimize the importance of breastfeeding.

6. Tell her it may hurt to breastfeed, and that sore, cracked nipples are normal. Pain is an excellent adverse stimulus. Don't teach her how to position the baby correctly. Do give her a nipple shield, give the baby lots of bottles to disrupt the proper suck, and tell her to rub her nipples with a rough towel to "condition" them. And be sure to tell her every "horror story" you've ever heard about breastfeeding, in graphic detail.

7. Tell her to give the baby formula, glucose water and cereal right from the beginning, to make the baby sleep. This is another good way to insure inadequate milk supply. Tell her that her milk might be too rich or too thin. Try and make her think that formula is the "safer" option, and that there is something wrong with her milk even if she's lucky enough to have enough of it .This will further shatter her confidence.

8. Separate her from her baby at birth, and show by your actions that water, formula, pacifiers, and scheduled feedings are the appropriate way to care for the baby. Since she is especially vulnerable at this time and will follow your example, be sure to tell her how little breastfeeding matters. This will help her distrust her instincts even more.

9. Don't teach her the normal course of infant behavior. Don't warn her about growth spurts and frequency days. Don't call or visit her, and be sure to abandon her in the critical first two weeks. Blame breastfeeding for anything you can think of, and make up reasons to stop breastfeeding if necessary.

10. Give her plenty of formula samples to take home to further weaken her confidence. Make sure the literature you give her has many references to formula, and doesn't tell her how to keep her milk supply up. Make sure she doesn't call a La Leche League Leader, Lactation Consultant, breastfeeding peer counselor, or anyone else knowledgable about breastfeeding.

All these tactics, individually or collectively, will discourage breastfeeding.

(P.S. I wrote "Difficult" one day in October 1986 on an old typewriter, and it’s just as popular now asit was then!)
© 1986 Linda J. Smith