Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ebay auction by a mom of 6 (incredibly funny!)

This is from a real auction on ebay and it was so funny and true to life that I had to post it! You can see the auction here

Her set of Pokemon cards were up to $103.50 with 6 hours left when I posted this! Way to go mama!


I'm selling a bunch of Pokemon cards. Why? Because my kids sneaked them into my shopping cart while at the grocery store and I ended up buying them because I didn't notice they were there until we got home. How could I have possibly not noticed they were in my cart, you ask? Let me explain.

You haven't lived until you've gone grocery shopping with six kids in tow. I would rather swim, covered in bait, through the English Channel, be a contestant on Fear Factor when they're having pig brains for lunch, or do fourth grade math than to take my six kids to the grocery store. Because I absolutely detest grocery shopping, I tend to put it off as long as possible. There comes a time, however, when you're peering into your fridge and thinking, 'Hmmm, what can I make with ketchup, Italian dressing, and half an onion,' that you decide you cannot avoid going to the grocery store any longer. Before beginning this most treacherous mission, I gather all the kids together and give them "The Lecture".

"The Lecture" goes like this…

MOM: "We have to go to the grocery store."

KIDS: "Whine whine whine whine whine."

MOM: "Hey, I don't want to go either, but it's either that or we're eating cream of onion-ketchup soup and drinking Italian dressing for dinner tonight."

KIDS: "Whine whine whine whine whine."

MOM: "Now here are the rules: do not ask me for anything, do not poke the packages of meat in the butcher section, do not test the laws of physics and try to take out the bottom can in the pyramid shaped display, do not play baseball with oranges in the produce section, and most importantly, do not try to leave your brother at the store. Again."

OK, the kids have been briefed. Time to go.

Once at the store, we grab not one, but two shopping carts. I wear the baby in a sling and the two little children sit in the carts while I push one cart and my oldest son pushes the other one. My oldest daughter is not allowed to push a cart. Ever. Why? Because the last time I let her push the cart, she smashed into my ankles so many times, my feet had to be amputated by the end of our shopping trip. This is not a good thing. You try running after a toddler with no feet sometime.

At this point, a woman looks at our two carts and asks me, "Are they all yours?" I answer good naturedly, "Yep!

"Oh my, you have your hands full."

"Yes, I do, but it's fun!" I say smiling. I've heard all this before. In fact, I hear it every time I go anywhere with my brood.

We begin in the produce section where all these wonderfully, artistically arranged pyramids of fruit stand. There is something so irresistibly appealing about the apple on the bottom of the pile, that a child cannot help but try to touch it. Much like a bug to a zapper, the child is drawn to this piece of fruit. I turn around to the sounds of apples cascading down the display and onto the floor. Like Indiana Jones, there stands my son holding the all-consuming treasure that he just HAD to get and gazing at me with this dumbfounded look as if to say, "Did you see that??? Wow! I never thought that would happen!"

I give the offending child an exasperated sigh and say, "Didn't I tell you, before we left, that I didn't want you taking stuff from the bottom of the pile???"

"No. You said that you didn't want us to take a can from the bottom of the pile. You didn't say anything about apples."

With superhuman effort, I resist the urge to send my child to the moon and instead focus on the positive - my child actually listened to me and remembered what I said!!! I make a mental note to be a little more specific the next time I give the kids The Grocery Store Lecture.

A little old man looks at all of us and says, "Are all of those your kids?"

Thinking about the apple incident, I reply, "Nope. They just started following me. I've never seen them before in my life."

OK, now onto the bakery section where everything smells so good, I'm tempted to fill my cart with cookies and call it a day. Being on a perpetual diet, I try to hurry past the assortment of pies, cakes, breads, and pastries that have my children drooling. At this point the chorus of "Can we gets" begins.

"Can we get donuts?"


"Can we get cupcakes?"


"Can we get muffins?"


"Can we get pie?"


You'd think they'd catch on by this point, but no, they're just getting started.

In the bakery, they're giving away free samples of coffee cake and of course, my kids all take one. The toddler decides he doesn't like it and proceeds to spit it out in my hand. (That's what moms do. We put our hands in front of our children's mouths so they can spit stuff into them. We'd rather carry around a handful of chewed up coffee cake, than to have the child spit it out onto the floor. I'm not sure why this is, but ask any mom and she'll tell you the same.) Of course, there's no garbage can around, so I continue shopping one-handed while searching for someplace to dispose of the regurgitated mess in my hand.

In the meat department, a mother with one small baby asks me, "Wow! Are all six yours?"

I answer her, "Yes, but I'm thinking of selling a couple of them."

(Still searching for a garbage can at this point.)

Ok, after the meat department, my kids' attention spans are spent. They're done shopping at this point, but we aren't even halfway through the store. This is about the time they like to start having shopping cart races. And who may I thank for teaching them this fun pastime? My seventh "child", also known as my husband. While I'm picking out loaves of bread, the kids are running down the aisle behind the carts in an effort to get us kicked out of the store. I put to stop to that just as my son is about to crash head on into a giant cardboard cut-out of a Keebler elf stacked with packages of cookies.

Ah! Yes! I find a small trash can by the coffee machine in the cereal aisle and finally dump out the squishy contents of my hand. After standing in the cereal aisle for an hour and a half while the kids perused the various cereals, comparing the marshmallow and cheap, plastic toy content of each box, I broke down and let them each pick out a box. At any given time, we have twenty open boxes of cereal in my house.

As this is going on, my toddler is playing Houdini and maneuvering his little body out of the seat belt in an attempt to stand up in the cart. I'm amazed the kid made it to his second birthday without suffering a brain damaging head injury. In between trying to flip himself out of the cart, he sucks on the metal bars of the shopping cart. Mmmm, can you say "influenza"?

The shopping trip continues much like this. I break up fights between the kids now and then and stoop down to pick up items that the toddler has flung out of the cart. I desperately try to get everything on my list without adding too many other goodies to the carts.

Somehow I manage to complete my shopping in under four hours and head for the check-outs where my kids start in on a chorus of, "Can we have candy?" What evil minded person decided it would be a good idea to put a display of candy in the check-out lanes, right at a child's eye level? Obviously someone who has never been shopping with children.

As I unload the carts, I notice many extra items that my kids have sneaked in the carts unbeknownst to me. I remove a box of Twinkies, a package of cupcakes, a bag of candy, and a can of cat food (we don't even have a cat!). I somehow missed the box of Pokemon cards however and ended up purchasing them unbeknownst to me. As I pay for my purchases, the clerk looks at me, indicates my kids, and asks, "Are they all yours?"

Frustrated, exhausted from my trip, sick to my stomach from writing out a check for $289.53, dreading unloading all the groceries and putting them away and tired of hearing that question, I look at the clerk and answer her in my most sarcastic voice, "No. They're not mine. I just go around the neighborhood gathering up kids to take to the grocery store because it's so much more fun that way."

So, up for auction is an opened (they ripped open the box on the way home from the store) package of Pokemon cards. There are 44 cards total. They're in perfect condition, as I took them away from the kiddos as soon as we got home from the store. Many of them say "Energy". I tried carrying them around with me, but they didn't work. I definitely didn't have any more energy than usual. One of them is shiny. There are a few creature-like things on many of them. One is called Pupitar. Hee hee hee Pupitar! (Oh no! My kids' sense of humor is rubbing off on me!) Anyway, I don't there's anything special about any of these cards, but I'm very much not an authority on Pokemon cards. I just know that I'm not letting my kids keep these as a reward for their sneakiness.

Shipping is FREE on this item. Insurance is optional, but once I drop the package at the post office, it is no longer my responsibility. For example, if my son decides to pour a bottle of glue into the envelope, or my daughter spills a glass of juice on the package, that's my responsibility and I will fully refund your money. If, however, I take the envelope to the post office and a disgruntled mail carrier sets fire to it, a pack of wild dogs rip into it, or a mail sorting machine shreds it, it's out of my hands, so you may want to add insurance. I will leave feedback for you as soon as I've received your payment. I will be happy to combine shipping on multiple items won within three days. This comes from a smoke-free, pet-free, child-filled home. Please ask me any questions before placing your bid. Happy bidding! :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Take Control of your Health!!!


Friday, July 13, 2007

Getting to the bottom of cloth diaper debate

Saving the earth, one question at a time

Q I recently heard cloth diapers are just as bad as disposables. Is this true?

A Get your rattles out – the battle of the nappies is heating up again. You heard right, a four-year-long British study has just concluded that cloth diapers are as damaging to the environment as the plastic type. While the media is jumping on the story with glee, the whole thing is giving environmentalists a bad case of diaper rash – and with good reason.

Yes, the government-funded report did look at the life-cycle costs of three options: home-laundered cloth, commercially laundered cloth and disposables. And yes, the hefty 200-page paper weighed everything from the dirty oil extraction process involved in making plastic diapers and the water and pesticides used in growing cotton to the electricity needed to iron fold 'n' pin types.

In the end, the study concluded that all three are neck and neck. The electricity used to wash and dry cloth diapers is just as damaging to the environment as burying disposable diapers in landfills. The results actually landed the British government in hot water for spending $30 million on its Real Nappy promotional campaign. But is the study right?

Environmentalists don't think so. They're freaked because they say the report is hinged on some old-fashioned assumptions about cloth diapers that only looked at the habits of 200 washable diaper users (versus the 2,000 surveyed on disposable diapers). The UK's Women's Environment Network says warm water washes in A-rated (i.e., Energy Star) machines, for example, reduce climate-changing pollutants by 17 per cent (not to mention all the water savings).

The report also factors in a good chunk of tumble-drying when parents should be air-drying their nappies, not just to save a lot of power but also to make them last longer. If you're one of the 10 per cent the study says irons your cloth bum wraps, all I have to say is you gotta chill out. You're wasting hydro, and your babe doesn't need a smartly pressed bottom!

Investing in diapers made with unbleached, pesticide-free fibres like hemp, bamboo or organic cotton puts you even further ahead, especially if they are stitched locally and used on more than one kid.

Thanks to the outcry, the British government has supposedly promised to reassess the cloth diaper thing. Keep your eyes peeled for yet another report at some point in the future.

Need another reason to stick with cloth? A German study linked use of plastic diapers to male infertility. The plastic keeps their boy parts hotter than cloth, which ain't good for long-term sperm health.

Keeping cloth nappies green

• wash in cold or warm water

• skip the dryer and hang to dry

• pass on chemical detergents

• only flush poop-filled liners

• buy more diapers so you wash full loads

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Perspective: The Invisible Woman

Not sure of the author, but this is good!

It started to happen gradually. One day I was walking my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand and we were about to cross the street when the crossing guard said to him, "Who is that with you, young fella?"

"Nobody," he shrugged.

Nobody? The crossing guard and I laughed. My son is only 5, but as we crossed the street I thought, "Oh my goodness, nobody?"

I would walk into a room and no one would notice. I would say something to my family - like "Turn the TV down, please" - and nothing would happen. Nobody would get up, or even make a move for the remote. I would stand there for a minute, and then I would say again, a little louder, "Would someone turn the TV down?" Nothing.

Just the other night my husband and I were out at a party. We'd been there for about three hours and I was ready to leave. I noticed he was talking to a friend from work. So I walked over, and when there was a break in the conversation, I whispered, "I'm ready to go when you are." He just kept right on talking.

That's when I started to put all the pieces together. I don't think he can see me. I don't think anyone can see me. I'm invisible.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip,
> and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees." In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."

And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Fast Food Milkshakes Exposed

Even though I live in America now, I still like to keep an eye on the British press to see what's going on in Britain. A little while ago, I came across an article in one of Britain's biggest newspapers, The Guardian. I found the article funny, but at the same time, shocking.

The headline of the article went like this: The 59 Ingredients in a Fast Food Strawberry Milkshake. Now, that's not a very good start. Is it? Fifty-nine ingredients. So, I looked a little further, and it turns out that in one fast food restaurant strawberry milkshake from a big fast food chain, there are two ingredients that are notably absent: Milk and Strawberries!! Does that put you off for life already? Well, let's see if I can put you off a bit further.

It turns out that the strawberry flavor they use to flavor their milkshakes is actually made from 40 different chemicals. Let me read you a couple of the names of these chemicals. This is just the strawberry flavor. Forty different chemicals.

* Amyl valerate
* Anethol
* Ethyl lactate
* Methylphenylglycidate (Oh, my word! That's a mouthful and a half!)
* Ionone
* Maltol
* Methyl benzoate

That's just to name but a few of those 40 ingredients that go into their strawberry flavoring.

Now, I don't know about you, but I've had strawberry milkshakes from fast food chains before, and some of them are very, very tasty. But after finding out that there's 59 ingredients, and that both milk and strawberries are absent from these milkshakes, I can definitely say I've been put off for life, and I hope you are as well.

So, is there a healthy alternative? Of course! And in a future video, I will be showing you how to make your own raw, very healthy, strawberry milkshake, start to finish, in only one minute. So, I hope you'll going to enjoy that recipe.

But in the meantime, now that you've got this information about fast food restaurants' strawberry milkshakes, (and I'm sure this goes for their other milkshakes as well) I hope you will want to avoid them like the plague. I know I sure will.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Judge lets off rapist of girl, 10

June 25, 2007

A JUDGE spared a man who raped a girl of ten in a park — because she wore a “provocative” frilly bra and thong.

Window cleaner Keith Fenn, 25 — who could have got life in jail — will be free in just FOUR MONTHS after admitting twice having sex with the child.

Judge Julian Hall decided to be lenient because the girl “didn’t look 10”.

He caused fury earlier this year by freeing another paedophile, telling him to buy his six-year-old victim a new bicycle.

The judge referred to the 10-year-old as a “young woman”, and called her “very disturbed, very needy and sexually precocious”.

He told Oxford Crown Court: “She liked to dress provocatively. She was 10. She’d been in care since she was four.

“Did she look 10? Certainly not. She looked 16.”

Fenn, of Oxford, got two years’ jail but will soon be free because of time spent awaiting sentence. Accomplice Darren Wright, 34, of Henley-on-Thames walked free after getting just nine months.

Last night, campaigner Dr Michele Elliott of children’s charity Kidscape called the sentences “beyond pathetic”.

The NSPCC added: “There’s no excuse.”

VIDEO :: Jerusalem: A Closer Look


Awesome VBAC video!


Many Benefits of Birth at Home


Monday, 02 July 2007

• Howick and Pakuranga Times

ONLY two per cent of Kiwi women do it, but one Bucklands Beach mother says she’d do it all again in a flash.

A little more than nine weeks ago, Rachel Springett gave birth to a healthy baby boy in the comfort of her own home.

While the vast majority of New Zealand women opt for hospital births, Ms Springett chose to have her third child at home.

The decision was an easy one for the former Howick Primary schoolteacher, who was already mum to two teenage daughters before the arrival of baby Tane.

“It’s really empowering,” she says. “You have more control to be able to be yourself and you’re more likely to trust your instincts. [Labour] has become so medicalised. It’s such a natural thing but women often don’t trust themselves.”

She describes the day as “perfect” and says she’d recommend homebirth to anyone.

“Having the familiar background made me relax so much more. It just made me feel ‘this is right’. I totally trusted the midwifes. They talked me through it the whole time. I never felt unsafe. The hospital’s just 15 minutes away so it was there as a backup.”

Ms Springett says giving birth at home was also an eye-opener for her partner Wayde and two daughters.

“Society has lost that passing down of mothering skills. My girls learnt so much,” she says.

“[My partner] thought it was a real plus — he wasn’t just hanging around going ‘oh my god’.”

Mother-of-three Lesley Hinson has been a New Zealand registered midwife since 1986 and is a strong advocate of planned homebirths.

Along with several other midwives, she recently led an information evening at Howick’s Crawford Medical Centre for those interested in homebirth.

In New Zealand, homebirths aren’t “the norm” and many women just “go with the flow”, says Ms Hinson.

“We’re all victims of the society we live in. We’re all conditioned to what we grew up with.

“Society gets the image that every baby needs to be born with all the emergency equipment around it. If we don’t promote [homebirth] they don’t think about it.”

She says homebirth is an option for a woman who’s had an uncomplicated pregnancy, has previously given birth and is in good health.

“Some people choose homebirths because they want that privacy. What most women like is that their husband doesn’t need to go anywhere. They’re more relaxed in their own place.”

Midwives are trained to deal with emergencies and don’t hesitate to refer their patients to hospital if there’s a problem during labour, adds Ms Hinson.

“We don’t hang around, but I can’t remember the last time I had to transfer a baby in.”

Although she’s an advocate of planned homebirth, Ms Hinson stresses the final decision of where to have their baby is up to the woman concerned.

“Homebirth is not the average person’s plan, depending on who you know and what you’ve been exposed to. If I meet people and they choose to go into hospital then that’s fine.

“Every woman’s different and every baby’s different. Our group is promoting planned homebirths. We give people information and they make their choices,” says Ms Hinson.

The next information evening on planned homebirths is in August.

For details, contact Joyce on 537-1808, or Clare 533-0233.

Baby Dies From Toxic Breast Milk

Codeine prescribed for postnatal pain can produce deadly concentrations of morphine in breast milk.

A lawsuit over the death of Toronto newborn Tariq Jamieson, who died as a result of opiate toxicity in his mother's breast milk, has renewed the debate over prescribing such drugs as Tylenol 3 to breastfeeding mothers.

Tariq's mother Rani was prescribed Tylenol 3 for lingering episiotomy pain. Although Tariq was initially healthy, he developed increasing lethargy after the seven-day mark, and after 11 days he was brought to a pediatrician due to concerns about his skin color and poor feeding. Two days later, Tariq died.

Tariq was found to have high blood levels of acetaminophen, and a blood concentration of morphine six times higher than would normally be considered safe in a neonate. Tylenol 3 contains both acetaminophen and codeine, which is metabolized to morphine in the body. However, not everyone metabolizes codeine at the same rate. Rani Jamieson was an ultra-rapid metabolizer of codeine to morphine, which means that the opiate built up in her breastmilk very fast.

While ultra-rapid metabolization of codeine occurs in about 1 percent of Caucasians, it occurs in as much as 30 percent of some African and Asian populations.

National Review of Medicine June 15, 2007

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

Mothers must use extreme caution when taking any drugs while breastfeeding, because those drugs could be transferred to your baby.

Prescription drugs like Tylenol 3 are not the only danger. The excessive acetaminophen you can get from regular Tylenol, even without the codeine, can be extremely dangerous. Because some 5 billion over-the-counter medications are sold in the United States annually, many believe they're safe.

But you, or your baby, could suffer from serious side effects and possibly die unintentionally if you don't take them with the proper care.

Even environmental chemicals like rocket fuel are sadly now being found in breast milk. But nonetheless, breastfeeding is without a doubt the healthiest way to feed your baby. Breastfed infants have added protection against:

  • Heart disease
  • Immune system cancers such as lymphoma
  • Bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Asthma and allergies

So although this child died from breastfeeding, that in no way discounts its value as breastfeeding is not only incredibly good for your baby, it's good for moms, too!

Related Articles:

The Sunscreen Myth: How Sunscreen Products Actually Promote Cancer

The hard-hitting NewsTarget piece linked below explains in detail how the idea that sunscreen prevents cancer is nothing more than a myth promoted by industries seeking to make a profit off of human suffering.

In fact, sunscreen actually promotes cancer by blocking your body's absorption of ultraviolet radiation, and therefore blocking the production of vitamin D in your skin.

Studies have shown that vitamin D can prevent as many as 77 of all cancers. In addition, most sunscreen lotions also contain cancer-causing chemicals.

A portion of the profits from the sale of these lotions is then donated to organizations such as the American Cancer Society, which in turn runs public service ads encouraging the use of sunscreens.

Proper nutrition is a better way to prevent sunburn then sunscreen lotion. Berries and microalgae such as spirulina, astaxanthin, and blue-green algae can make the body naturally resistant to sunburn, as well as similar radiation damage to the eyes and optic nerve. June 15, 2007

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

How many people know that not getting enough sun KILLS 50,000 people from cancer deaths every year in the US alone?

The myth that the sun is detrimental to your health, and that sunscreen is a necessity to guard against cancer is one of the most pervasive hoaxes in our society today.

As this article points out, this myth can be traced back to the two industries that benefit the most: the cancer industry and the sunscreen manufacturers. These two giant profit-makers tag-team efforts which keep the unsuspecting public in a trance.

Not only do sunscreens promote cancer by blocking your vitamin D production, they are also likely carcinogens all by themselves. A study in the April 2004 Journal of Chromatography found that there is significant penetration of all sunscreen agents they studied into the skin.

So when you use most sunscreens, your body is absorbing synthetic chemicals, and with experts' recommendations to apply generous amounts of the product every few hours, you will likely be absorbing a fair amount. Some of these chemicals are quite dangerous. Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC), which is present in 90 percent of sunscreen brands, was found to kill mouse cells even at low doses.

Sunburn should always be avoided, but there are many all-natural ways to protect yourself from sunburn that you can use instead of resorting to the toxic infusions of commercial sunscreens.

Boosting your skin's "internal sunscreen" from within with effective antoxidants from whole fresh vegetables and fruits like goji berries (not the juice), raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, are far healthier options. Additionally, slathering on some aloe vera gel can also be helpful.

If you're still hooked on the idea of a cream, there are safer natural sunscreen products that contain no petrochemicals, such as
Aubrey's Active and Green Tea sunblocks. Just remember, although these products are non-toxic, they still prevent you from metabolizing vitamin D, so use them with caution.

I recommend testing your vitamin D levels to make sure you're not deficient before resorting to sunscreen of any kind.

For more information about the vital importance of vitamin D from sunlight, please review my article Reduce Your Risk of Cancer With Sunlight Exposure, if you haven't already seen it. You might also want to keep an eye out for my forthcoming book, Dark Deception, which is due to be published in 2008. It will take an in-depth look at all of the various issues relating to sunscreen, cancer, vitamin D, and sunlight.

Related Articles:

Three Girls Died, Others Hospitalized, After HPV Vaccine

Amid controversy over state legislatures in the U.S. requiring young girls to take Gardasil, Merck's new vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), severe side effects are being reported.

1,637 adverse reactions have been reported by Judicial Watch, a public interest watchdog, including three girls who died shortly after receiving the immunization. Judicial Watch obtained the reports from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration using the Freedom of Information Act.

In Australia, 25 girls who had just received their first injection of the vaccine experienced headache, nausea, and dizziness. In some cases, the problems were so severe that they were hospitalized. Shares of the vaccine's Australian developer, CSL, fell after the incident was reported in the news.

British Medical Journal June 9, 2007;334:1182-1183

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

Should young girls be required to take Gardasil by the government when possible side effects include hospitalization and death? There have also been reports from the National Vaccine Information Center about fainting and dizziness reported by dozens of patients as side effects of Gardasil, and there are even some concerns that Gardasil may cause infertility.

These are steep risks for a vaccine that only sometimes protects against HPV, which is virtually 100 percent avoidable without an expensive and potentially fatal vaccine.

Please realize that Merck has manipulated the medical and political system to FORCE children to get this dangerous vaccine for their own bottom line profit. The potential promised reduction of cervical cancer is the bait they use.

Remember Merck, the manufacturer of this vaccine, is the same company that made Vioxx that killed over 60,000 people.

It is also important to understand that this year, some 11,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer, which can be caused by HPV, and about 3,700 will die from it. In comparison, 16 times more American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer (178,480), and 11 times more will die from it (40,460).

As Merck's own literature says, it is important to realize that Gardasil does not protect women against some "non-vaccine" HPV types. So, even if girls accept the risks and get vaccinated, they can still get HPV.

Finally, although more than 6 million women contract HPV each year, a woman's immune system is often strong enough to clear up the infection on its own. About 90 percent of HPV infections simply clear up within two years.

Remember, it is NOT the infection that is the issue as much as it is the person's immune system. You can be exposed to these bacteria and viruses and if you are living a healthy lifestyle your body's immune system will typically know how to address the infection.

Related Articles:

Indian Teen Performs C-Sec for the Record Books

June 23, 2007

The Hippocratic Oath, according to Wikipedia, " an oath traditionally taken by physicians pertaining to the ethical practice of medicine." As even us non-medical professionals know, thanks to a decade of ER and such, upholding the Oath is of vital importance to a physician. Though segments of the original Greek words have been modified to suit the modern times, the essence of it remains the same:

To do no harm to those who come in search of a cure.

I guess this is where the good doctors K Murugesan and his wife, M Gandhimathay slipped. In their eagerness to be the proud parents of a Guinness Book of Records certified 'World's Youngest Surgeon', they veered off their Oath-sworn path and well into the path of controversy.

By allowing their 15-year-old son, Dileepan Raj, to perform a c-section on one of their patients, they have caused moral and ethical outrage within the medical community and across the general populace. As doctors, their duty is towards the welfare of their patient - in this case, a pregnant mother and her unborn infant. How can they put that aside and entertain thoughts of world records and such at this stage?

Not stopping at operating on that poor woman, 27-year-old Neela, the doctors parents decided to go further and let the whole world and its wife know what a pistol they have for a son. They filmed the operation (oh the ignominy of it!) and premiered it at the Indian Medical Association's meeting on May 6. When the assembled brethren didn't gasp in wonder but in dismay at this, Dr Murugesan quipped, and I quote, “If a 10-year-old can drive a car and a 15-year-old can become a doctor in the US, what is wrong if my son, though not qualified, performs a surgery?”

Let's see if we can tell the good doctor what is wrong. Googling for the Hippocratic Oath netted me the gems the doctors have forgotten:

1. To keep the good of the patient as the highest priority - Strike one - having an unskilled boy perform a complex operation such as a caesarean-section, thereby risking not one but two lives is a big no no. I cannot imagine anyone feeling better at the thought of having the proud parents hovering over their son's hands and guiding them.

2. Never to do deliberate harm to anyone for anyone else's interest - it wasn't in anyone else's interest but their own, so that they could see their son's name in the Guinness Book of World Records. That they didn't cause GBH to the mother or the baby is a blessing. So, strike two!

3. To practice and prescribe to the best of my ability for the good of my patients, and to try to avoid harming them - The mother of them all, 'for the good of my patients', has been wiped off the memory banks of the culprits. Strike three!

Three strikes, doc - you're out!

The IMA's less than enthusiastic response and the resulting fallout possibly triggered a late reaction in his brain and Doc Murugesan backpedalled furiously to keep self and wife from disbarment and further negative publicity. He has denied that the offspring actually took the scalpel in his own bare hands and cut open a woman's belly. Apparently, the boy just watched, while his dad did the deed.

Maybe. But what about his claim to the Kumudam Reporter that his boy has been performing such operations from the time he was 12?

With the IMA urging disbarment and the local Health Minister promising 'tough action' if the whole incident could be proven, the future seems a bit sticky for the doctors. But no one can get their hands on a copy of the offending video - maybe the doctors came to their senses and burned the evidence. I, for one, hope that someone locks these offending individuals up and throws away the key. What sort of a doctor, what sort of a person does such a thing?

Growing ear hair to get your name on the record books is one thing; wilfully endangering a person's lives is a different kettle of fish. I say, punish these idiots and make an example out of them. Maybe that will deter other idiots from trying to create such vile records, like the nut who tried to make waves by performing 50 hernia operations in 24 hours.

Another benefit of breastfeeding...

BARCELONA, Spain, Jun 15, 2007 (UPI via COMTEX) -- Breastfeeding for 13 months or more can reduce the mother's risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, Swedish researchers reported Friday.
Comparable use of oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy showed no significant effect on the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, said Dr. Mitra Keshavarz, of Malmo Hospital University, Sweden.
The findings add to the "growing body of evidence in favor of breastfeeding and its positive health implications -- this time demonstrating its protective benefits for the mother," Keshavarz said.
The study compared information from the Swedish National Hospital Discharge and the National Cause of Death Register from 1991 to 1996.
The findings were presented at the Annual European Congress of rheumatology in Barcelona.

Palestinian State No Longer Practical or Relevant

by Ezra HaLevi

“We have to replace the conception of a two-state solution it is not relevant anymore,” former Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Yaalon told Army Radio Thursday morning. “This is not pessimism, but realism. It is not practical to keep assuming it is the answer.”

“We are trying to find answers for the situation in Gaza without diagnosing the problem,” the previous IDF chief said. “What we are witnessing in Gaza is the establishment of a Jihadist Islamic society.”

Yaalon says that any talk of negotiations and withdrawing to the 1967 borders pushes peace farther away. “These are movements that are not interested in territorial issues between us and the Palestinians, but in other issues altogether. This was proven with the Disengagement and now is our opportunity to look and learn. It was a victory in their eyes for the global Jihad and gave strength to Hizbullah, Hamas and all the other Islamist groups.”

“Maybe we should therefore strengthen the moderates?” Army Radio’s Yael Dann asked Yaalon.

“I am not saying to sit and do nothing…but in the face of the wave of Jihad, any discussions of agreements are not relevant. Any talk like this distances us further from peace rather than bringing us closer…It is a kind of blindness to continue to pursue these policies.”

“How do you explain our ‘blindness’ during Oslo and now during the era of ‘Hamastan,’” Dann asked.

“We are always looking for a solution - we want peace now and it blinds us. We blame ourselves, changing the government and the prime minister.”

Asked if he would be joining Binyamin Netanyahu on the eve of elections, Yaalon said: “Right now I am not entering politics.”

Related Article: Changing the Paradigm by Moshe Arens (Ha'aretz)

What's Really in a McDonald's Chicken McNugget?

Chicken McNuggets include several synthetic ingredients, such as tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), a petroleum-derived chemical sprayed onto the "food" or inside the box to preserve freshness.

Deep-fried foods in general are also dangerous in many ways, which is why French fries remain one of the worst foods anyone could eat.

Also, about one-third of the ingredients necessary to make the average McNugget (13 out of a lengthy list of 38) include some derivatives of corn, which may explain one reason why industrial agriculture produces so much of it -- in addition to the lucrative subsidies.

The Omnivore's Dilemma

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

I can honestly say I have never tasted a Chicken McNugget, but I am sure that is not true for most people. If you fall into that group then I would encourage you to review The Omnivore's Dilemma, a brilliant book by New York Times author Michael Pollan, who has also written about all the health problems associated with cattle raised conventionally.

You can use the information he has researched to lovingly share with your children the next time they beg you to take them to the nearest McDonald's. (Most likely one is close to your home as there are over 30,000 McDonald's restaurants worldwide.)

Pollan found that not only do the french fries contain acrylamide but the nuggets also contain TBHQ, which in high doses has caused precursors to stomach tumors and DNA damage in lab animals. A number of studies have also shown that TBHQ can be carcinogenic with prolonged exposure.

Other McNuggets ingredients include sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate, hydrogenated vegetable oils (that is to say, trans fats), and dimethylpolysiloxane.

Sounds like exactly what you want in your food, doesn't it?

I know it is not the easiest thing in the world but it is VITAL to understand that you are not going to achieve optimal health unless you make a conscious commitment to eat healthy unprocessed food made by someone in your kitchen.

Yes, this is not always convenient, but it is important to think long term. Wouldn't you much prefer to invest a few minutes to do some cooking and enjoy the increased energy, vitality and freedom from acute illnesses like coughs, colds and flus?

Believe me, once you start eating healthy you will be shocked at how good you feel in the short term. And the great thing is that 10 to 20 years from now when your friends and relatives are dropping like flies because they chose "convenience" foods you will not be following their quick path to the grave.

Wise up, stop the McDonald's and start Taking Control of Your Health today.

Imported toothpastes from China


Imported toothpastes from China contain highly toxic levels of a sweet-tasting chemical called di-ethylene glycol (DEG) that's commonly used in antifreezes, brake fluids, and as a commercial solvent.

WHY should this be so alarming (aside from the obvious). It's because DEG has been pinpointed as the major cause of an astounding number of deaths and poisonings in the last century. Here's a summary of just a few of the most egregious examples:

* 1937: 107 Americans perished after taking sulfanilamide (anti-bacterial agents) dissolved in diethylene glycol. This tragedy was the driving force behind 1938s Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of Congress.

* 1990: 339 Bangladeshi children suffered kidney failure, again at the hands of an analgesic syrup laced with DEG. Most of them died as a result.

* 1996: 85 children died in Haiti from a glycerin-based analgesic syrup contaminated with DEG - the suspect glycerin was supplied by a company that obtained it from a manufacturer in China. Similar deaths have been reported in South Africa, India, Nigeria, Argentina, and Panama.

* 2006: 46 deaths from renal failure, paralysis and other causes are linked to DEG by Panama's Ministry of Health and the CDC. The source of the contamination was a Chinese company that sold DEG wrongly labeled as pharmaceutical grade glycerin - which the Panamanian government had used as a main ingredient in over a quarter-million bottles of cold medicine.

Of course, the Chinese government isn't copping to any culpability in these documented mass slaughters. Nor are they admitting to guilt in this latest toothpaste/DEG scandal.

In fact, quite the opposite - just days ago (June 4, 2007), their Foreign Ministry issued a press release stating that their own state-run studies indicate that as much as 15.6% DEG is perfectly safe in toothpastes.

Thankfully, FDA guidelines for Americans' safe ingestion stipulate that NO DEG be allowed in any consumable product. I know I'm a huge critic of theirs more often than not - but I have to think that even in spite of their flaws (including allowing Chinese toothpastes to be sold in the U.S.), they're looking out for us better than China's government is looking out for those poor people.

A recent Reuters Health online article maintains that in the People's Republic of China, as many as 10,000 children are rendered deaf each year.

From the improper or excessive use of prescription antibiotics.

Few people realize (especially here in the U.S.), that antibiotic drugs can have negative side effects - sometimes permanent ones, and especially when overused. Among these can be varying degrees of hearing loss, up to and including total deafness.

And according to the Reuters piece, Chinese doctors routinely over-prescribe the newest and most powerful versions of antibiotic drugs for everything from a hangnail on up - largely because of kickbacks they get from "middlemen" for drug makers!

Here's how big the problem is: A Chinese newspaper that broke the story cites their official state sources for the article as claiming that 25% of antibiotic prescriptions in the People's Republic were baseless.

And in a country as populous as China, that equates to a lot of needless harm.

McDonald's Tries to Convince Moms That its Food is Nutritious

In an effort to convince consumers that its food is nutritious, McDonald's is letting a group of six mothers, aged 35 to 42, go behind-the-scenes at McDonald's restaurants, processing plants, orchards and test kitchens.

The mothers will share their experiences with the world via online journals.

McDonald's says that it will have no control over what the women write. The women are not being paid, but McDonald's is paying for their travel and they have been given laptop computers that they will be allowed to keep.

McDonald's is calling the program Mom's Quality Correspondents. The six mothers were picked from a group of 4,000 applicants.

Currently, only 48 percent of women believe that McDonald's food quality is "excellent" or "very good", according to a survey of 14,000 women. June 12, 2007

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

McDonald's, of course, is banking on the fact that these moms, hand-picked from a pool of thousands of applicants, will help give them a more family-friendly, "mom-approved" reputation amid growing claims that fast-food giants are contributing to obesity and a host of other diet-related health problems across the country.

Frankly, it's shocking to me that even 48 percent of women associate McDonald's with "quality food."

Only this year did McDonald's finally start to remove trans-fat from some of their French fries (and many of their fries still contain it), and their menu is full of non-nutritional "fake foods." Just check out the movie SuperSize Me if you want to know how this food affects your body.

I am fond of telling patients that one French fry is worse for your health than one cigarette, so you may want to consider this snippet before you order your next 'Biggie' order. One of the best things that you can do for yourself and your family is to stay away from fast food restaurants, and carve out some time to prepare healthy food.

If you want to get or stay healthy, someone is just simply going to have to spend some serious time in the kitchen. The time you save by eating at fast food restaurants is not worth the future health complications it could cause.

Please avoid exchanging convenience for your health. Your health is far too precious to lose for a few moments of free time. If you think that you truly don't have the time to do this, take a look at my past article:

Six Easy Ways to Get Better Nutrition Even if You Don't Have the Time.

It will be interesting to see what the moms report. Keep in mind that their journals are being posted on a McDonald's-run Web site, and that there is a strong likelihood that they will be seeing precisely what McDonald's wants them to see. As this Slashfood post points out, this really is a pretty transparent ploy by McDonald's -- there is no doubt that the response will be rave reviews about the quality of McDonald's products, even though any teenager actually working at McDonald's could tell you otherwise.

The Slashfood post goes on to wish that McDonald's would just admit what they really are and stop trying to fool everyone into believing that, against all logic and evidence, it's a healthy place to eat. I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

DIY delivery


From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

BURNABY, B.C. — When Nicole Becker felt the pangs of late labour in January, she lit candles in the bathroom of her two-bedroom flat in Burnaby, B.C., and filled the tub. Only her husband and the couple's four-year-old son looked on as baby George slid into the water. "It was my dream birth," Ms. Becker says.

Ms. Becker planned throughout her pregnancy to give birth without a midwife, doctor or other birth attendant. After using a doula for her first child's home birth, Ms. Becker decided that the job of a good midwife is to "let the process happen," she says. So with George she decided to go solo.

Choosing to deliver without skilled help remains a controversial and uncommon choice. But now, spurred by the Internet, unassisted childbirth is reaching a broader range of women than ever before.

On sites such as, and, women trade tips on such topics as how to measure the uterus to calculate the due date and how to figure out if the baby is breech. One of the most popular sites,, now has 30,000 to 40,000 visitors each month.

Many women join one of nearly 100 Yahoo groups that list unassisted childbirth in their subject lines, including UCbirthnews, an online newsletter with over 1,110 members. They also browse online for books, videos and do-it-yourself resources such as Unhindered Childbirth - The Online Childbirth Class (at as well as inflatable birthing pools.

"People who wouldn't have considered this years ago are considering it now," says Laura Shanley of Boulder, Colo., who wrote the influential book Unassisted Childbirth in 1994 and runs the website

Until recently, "I was hearing more from hippie types, people more on the fringe," says Ms. Shanley, who gave birth to five children without medical attention - including one breech presentation. "I do think it's getting more into the mainstream."

But most doctors and registered midwives strongly oppose the practice. Skilled attendants play a crucial role in identifying problems such as hemorrhages and fetal distress before they become emergencies, they say.

In a few cases, child welfare authorities in Canada and the United States have investigated parents who planned unassisted births.

Although there are no large or recent studies on the outcomes of planned unassisted childbirth, the evidence stacked against the practice is "overwhelming," according to Vyta Senikas, associate executive vice-president for the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.

Dr. Senikas questions the rationale for choosing unassisted childbirth. "By all means, choose the home," she says, "but have a skilled attendant there."

Childbirth is a natural process, she adds, "but you can die and you can end up having problems."

Advocates of unassisted birth say that any medical interference, no matter how well-meaning, can disrupt the instinctive and hormonal processes of labour, triggering a stress response that halts the birth's progress. They believe that widespread use of interventions that slow labour can contribute to higher rates of C-section.

Adherents base their beliefs on the writings of authors such as French obstetrician Michel Odent, who wrote Birth Reborn in 1984. Although he does not specifically advocate unassisted childbirth, Dr. Odent says that in his practice, women who weren't observed in their labour had faster and easier births.

There is no way of knowing for sure how many Canadians are choosing to give birth unattended, since neither the federal nor provincial governments collect statistics on planned unassisted childbirth. But the rate is probably much lower than home births attended by registered midwives, which accounted for just 1.5 per cent of all deliveries in British Columbia and Ontario in 2005 and 2006.

Jodie Boychuk of Dunnville, Ont., says she chose an unassisted birth for her second child because of the difficult recovery following the cesarean delivery of her first daughter. In September, 2005, her second daughter was born at home into the hands of her husband, Richard. The labour was smooth and the 8½-pound baby was healthy, Ms. Boychuk says.

But the practice remains controversial enough to impel some midwives and authorities to intervene. When Ms. Boychuk declined the services of a registered midwife during her second pregnancy, the midwife - who questioned the safety of even an attended home birth after a cesarean - promptly called the Children's Aid Society.

A two-week investigation ensued, but it was dropped because unassisted childbirth is not illegal.

Even the staunchest advocates of the practice acknowledge that it's not for everyone.

Sarah Buckley, an Australian physician trained in obstetrics and author of the book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, says a woman must be healthy and educated about birth to deliver unassisted.

As well, she says, the woman should be relaxed enough to avoid triggering the fight-or-flight response that can delay the birth, and should have a backup plan such as transferring to a hospital.

Registered midwives agree that too much medical intervention can impede labour - but they "cannot support the concept of unassisted, unattended births" due to the risks, says Elana Johnson, president of the board of directors of the Association of Ontario Midwives.

For Ms. Becker of Burnaby, the birth of her baby in January is still fresh in her mind. It was a joyful occasion to share with her husband and her son Max, she explains, and most of all, "it was just us."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How to Green Your Baby

by Team Treehugger, Worldwide on 05.14.07
TH Exclusives (how to green your life)

What’s the Big Deal?

A new baby entering your life can create an enormous number of unexpected changes. Along with the little one comes a whole new category of things to purchase—not only the obvious large items like furniture and diapers, but also all the unforeseen extras that seem to accumulate. While having a baby is consumer heaven, the key is to not be gulled into an unnecessary buying frenzy. In truth, a baby has very minimal needs. On the flip side, there is more to a sustainable life with your baby than cloth diapers, organic baby food, and fair-trade clothing…read on for more.

Top 10 Tips

1. Diapers (aka Nappies)

Studies are divided on the subject of environmental impact of disposables vs. cloth. But knowing that your baby will use approx 6,000 diapers before toilet training, and that disposable diapers take 200-500 years to decompose, this is certainly a key issue to ponder. Washing cloth diapers takes water, energy, and chemicals (not to mention time), but you might want to consider the benefits of a laundering service. One study has found that home-washing cloth diapers has only 53% of the ecological footprint of disposables, and if you use a diaper laundering service that impact is halved again.

Cloth: Reusable diapers aren’t what they used to be and the days of diaper pins are all but bygone. Go for fitted cloth diapers with Velcro or snap closures for convenience, made from an eco-friendly material such as hemp, bamboo, or organic cotton. Use an organic wool cover that is both warm and breathable, minimizing diaper rash and cold bottoms at night. Use either removable or flushable liners and when washing either use a laundering service or wash at home at lower temperatures. With a new baby around you’ll probably notice a lot more laundry piling up, so make sure you’ve optimized your setup with an efficient machine and non-toxic detergent. If you can line-dry, that is ideal, but don’t bother ironing.

Biodegradable diapers: Made with plant-based plastics (also known as bioplastics), these diapers non-petroleum based and are compostable. While these have been found not to break down under landfill conditions, there are other options to compost them such as using a composting toilet, an earthworm system, or a highly active and properly conditioned composting area. Hybrid diapers, like gDiapers, have removable inserts that can safely biodegrade when flushed.

2. Breast or bottle

This one’s a no-brainer: breastfeeding is best. It's free, has health benefits for mother and baby, has no environmental impact, and is a precious bonding experience. However, in our commerce-driven society there are products for everything, and breastfeeding is no exception. For breast pads, ditch disposables and try re-usable organic cotton or wool felt pads. While there are many great, organic nipple creams available, some locally produced olive oil or organic lanolin does a great job.

If bottle feeding becomes a necessity, pumping your own is the first choice. Beyond that, using a fair-trade organic infant formula is preferable. If this is neither affordable nor accessible, then the next best thing is to ensure the brand of formula you buy is from a company not profiteering from marketing their product to developing countries. These companies disregard or try to get around the marketing code set by The World Health Assembly.

3. Solid foods

At about six months, babies starts to eat real food. Rice cereal and mushy veggies turn to combinations of fish, meat, eggs, legumes, and vegetables—yep, a regular person’s diet. Buying jars of food is sure convenient, but as an adult you don't live out of jars, so why should your baby? For those occasional situations, purchase organic or fresh frozen baby foods. Otherwise, make your own. Cook up veggies, casseroles, or tofu and lentils, whatever is your thing, and freeze it in tiny containers or ice cube trays ready to take out and defrost when needed. (Be sure you discuss any concerns over dietary requirements with your health professional)

4. Clothing

All those designer baby clothes are cute and oh so hard to resist in their fruity colors. But be careful. Not only does a baby grow out of clothes amazingly fast, they are constantly sending bodily fluids flying onto those precious outfits. The baby couture might be better replaced with convenient one-piece suits in practical white terry cloth. Choosing organic hemp or cotton, bamboo or wool fabrics made without toxic chemicals are best against a baby's sensitive skin and last longer with the constant washing. Second-hand clothing is the cheapest and most sustainable option. Get hand-me-downs from friends and family or look in thrift shops, Craigslist, or Freecycle.

5. Body care and bath time

It’s very easy to get sucked into the constant advertising of baby powders, creams, and lotions. But the best baby lotion is plain old olive oil—cheap, natural, and un-perfumed. As for other products, keep it as natural, organic, and fragrance-free as possible. For more on this, take a look at How to Green Women’s Personal Care.

6. Laundry and washing

It’s quite possible that our war on germs is actually making things worse. Studies have shown that children brought up in over-cleaned houses are more likely to develop allergies, asthma, or eczema. The best thing you can do for sensitive baby skin is not to cover it with synthetic chemicals. Wash nappies with pure soap and warm water. Make your own non-toxic cleansers with simple ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar. For more, see How to Green Your Cleaning.

7. Toys

Get back to basics and try old fashioned wooden toys and organic cotton or homemade teddies. Because babies put most things in their mouths, go as natural as possible, then when baby is a little older, get hold of second-hand toys. Also aim for toys that helps build a child’s bond with nature and the natural world. The sad truth is that the average American kindergartener can identify several hundred logos only a few leaves from plants and trees.

8. Furniture and accessories

Babies don't need much—a secure place to sleep, a car seat, a high chair, and a way to be trundled around. Go for second-hand furniture, everything except cot mattresses (some research suggests a link between second-hand cot mattresses and sudden infant death syndrome) and car seats, (which can have invisible accident damage). If you buy new furniture, purchase high quality, durable pieces made of sustainable, low-toxicity materials. Think about some alternatives to the regular old wooden baby bed; try using an organic cotton baby hammock or a cot that extends into a bed and lasts 6-7 years. The most ethical option for stroller (pram) is recycled. For more on furniture, see our guide.

9. Household environment

It goes without saying that alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking while pregnant are bad for a baby. But it is also very important to avoid exposure to the synthetic chemicals contained in everyday products such as paints, carpet, furniture, bedding, and pesticides. When decorating the nursery, use natural and low-VOC paints and don't lay new carpet before the baby is born. Suspicious new items should at least be left outside to off-gas for a few days before bringing inside.

10. Wipes and liners

Diaper wipes and liners commonly include propylene glycol (a binder also found in antifreeze), parabens (a family of compounds commonly used as preservatives) and perfume, which can be made from up to 600 different chemicals. Try using good natural organic cotton wool and water and avoid disposable changing mats and perfumed diaper bags.

So You Wanna Do More?

1. To have babies at all?

With the world population estimated to pass the nine billion mark by mid-century, the sheer number of people on the planet is one of our biggest risks. While the biggest population booms are happening in the less wealthy developing countries, North Americans and Western Europeans have a per-person environmental footprint that is far above world average. It’s a big decision and a touchy subject, but the number of children you have, if any at all, is an enormous factor in your impact on the Earth. Adopting kids is also a profound contribution to a sustainable world.

2. Try attachment parenting

Sleeping with and wearing your baby, while not for everyone, is said to promote a strong bond leading to a sensitive, emotionally aware child.

3. Avoid using diapers altogether

Elimination communication is a technique of timing, signals, cues, and intuition to help baby/infant express his or her poo-related needs. This is best begun before six months of age, and while it is most commonly used in third-world countries where parents are in constant contact with their children, it has been used in the West with some success.

4. Shower with your baby

Save water and enjoy precious bonding time by holding your baby while in the shower.

5. Get crafty

Make your own diapers, breast pads, toys, and baby clothes. There are plenty of Web sites offering free patterns and advice on DIY baby goods (see below for more). Also, don’t forget about your local craft shop or group for advice and materials.

6. Avoid unnecessary gadgets

Monitors, motorized rockers, musical mobiles and the like are tempting, and can be useful or educational, but keeping the baby-related consumerism in check is a wise move. Ask yourself if you really need them? If so, try for secondhand items first.

7. Swapping

So many baby things only get used for a few months, it seems mad to buy them new, (e.g. strollers, beds, playpens, highchairs, etc). Buy secondhand, beg, borrow , or swap with friends and family to find what you need. Also remember community fairs, garage sales, and online swap sites.

By The Numbers

1. The average baby uses approx 6,000 diapers before potty training.

2. Petroleum-based disposable diapers take between 200 and 500 years to decompose.

3. Disposables used per day: Australia uses 2.2 million, Japan 6.7 million, the UK 9 million, and the USA 49 million.

4. A home-washed cloth diaper has only 53% of the ecological footprint of disposables, and a nappy laundry service has a mere 37% of that footprint.

5. Americans spend an estimated $1.4 billion on complicated births due to smoking while pregnant.

6. Disposable diapers contain chemicals that were banned in the 1980s in women's tampons, but continue to be used today to improve absorbency in children's diapers.

Treehugger Resources

Diapers are one of the biggest issues when thinking about having an eco-friendly baby. Check out our explorations on diaper alternatives like The Nature Nappy, The Cradle to Cradle-certified gDiaper, Wam Bamboo Nappies, and Eenee eco-diapers.

Here, readers offer comments on finding a stroller without the toxins.

Lovely eco friendly furniture options include Stokke Tripp Trapp chair, and the eco crib from Mothercare.

For baby food, check out Liz Hurley's line of organic natural foods and organic baby food from Ulula.

Find more on eco friendly baby creams, lotions, and powders from sources like Sage Baby, Avalon Organics, Erbaviva, and Munchskins.

And if you were intrigued about the no-diaper solution, read our story on potty whispering and this earlier story on diaper-free babies.

For clothes and cloths, go organic and get back to basics. Check out hemp towels from Transylvania and organic baby gear from Nui Organics.

If you want to buy just one perfect soft organic teddy, check out our top five organic soft toys.

Baby furniture from Nurseryworks is handmade and highly morphable.

E Magazine takes a hard look at raising a healthy child in a toxic world.

More Resources

Vegetarian Baby is a site for parents of vegetarian and vegan children under three, with topics on pregnancy, nutrition, and products.

The Guardian has a charming article entitled “How to stop your baby wreaking eco havoc.”

Organic Baby is a New Zealand site offering guides on safe, natural parenting.

Kids Health provides doctor-approved health information about children from before birth through adolescence.

Baby Center is an Australian site with information on shopping for your eco baby.

Information on formula marketing around the world can be found from the International Baby Food Action Network.

Baby Milk Action and The Australian Breastfeeding Association have more in depth information on feeding your baby.

The Real Diaper Association has hard facts on the impacts of disposable diapers and the benefits of cloth.

Colorado department of public health and the environment has facts about smoking while pregnant.

Alabama Mothers Deserve Midwives


North Carolina mothers say Amen!!!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Going it alone

Why would anyone choose to give birth without a doctor, midwife or even her partner in attendance? Viv Groskop reports on the growing trend for freebirth

Wednesday May 9, 2007
The Guardian

To me, giving birth is as personal as having sex," says Sarah, 24, from Essex. "You don't want someone else sitting there watching you." Sarah chose to "freebirth" her first child, now two, at home. Freebirthing involves giving birth alone, without a midwife and often even a partner or friend in attendance - Sarah delivered while her husband was in the next room. "I didn't have any experience of pain," she says, "there was just this really strong sensation that muscles were working. Then the baby's head appeared."

To prepare for the three-hour labour, Sarah had read everything she could on the subject, and says she "would have known instinctively if anything was wrong. As his head started to come out, I thought, I know the cord is around his neck." She flipped the cord over his head and, "He just flew out." As he was born, she says, she was laughing with joy.

Although rare in the UK, there is a growing online community of freebirthers or "UC-ers" (unassisted childbirthers) in the US who are celebrating "the primacy of autonomous birth". Laura Shanley, 49, from Boulder, Colorado, author of Unassisted Childbirth (Greenwood Press, £14.95) and veteran of five unassisted births, believes that "women are the true experts of birth. Birth is sexual and spiritual, magical and miraculous", she says, "but not when it's managed, controlled and manipulated by the medical establishment." Her website motto? "If you want the job done right, do it yourself."

"People think it's pretty crazy," admits Laura Field, 31, from Atlanta, Georgia, whose second child, Grace, nine months, was born at home, unassisted, after four hours. "Some people think you must be superwoman. Others think it's reckless. You get every reaction from awe to horror. I just feel like it was the most normal thing. It felt somehow life-changing and extremely ordinary at the same time." She is a member of a local group of 15 women who have had unassisted births. "There are a few extremists who are really anti-medicine but they are in the minority," she says, "To me it wasn't 'unassisted or else'. If you have good back-up plans - you know the warning signs to watch for and you are really in touch with what is going on - it is safe. I had back-up midwives and knew which hospital I would go to if necessary."

Mary Siever, 36, from Alberta, Canada, has free-birthed three children at home. "I think hospitals and doctors have their place, I just don't think they have their place in birth," she says. "I've noticed a lot more people are getting interested in it now. People are trusting themselves more or maybe they are trusting the doctors in hospitals less. I wanted personal control and responsibility. For others, it may be that they had a horrible experience in hospital and don't want that again."

Bornfree, the biggest internet forum for freebirthers, has more than 1,000 members worldwide, mostly in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In the past 10 years Laura Shanley has heard from "a couple of dozen" British mothers who want to go it alone and Sarah knows of two others who chose to give birth without assistance.

Although it is never going to be a majority movement, the issue of the over-medicalisation of birth is pushing freebirth on to the mainstream agenda in the US. A slogan war has broken out, with natural birth websites selling T-shirts which read "Pizza boys deliver. Women birth", while the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists gave out bumper stickers at a meeting last year, bearing the opposite message: "Home delivery is for pizza."

Home birth per se is not illegal in North America, but in 13 states there are legal issues for midwives attending home births. Denied the chance of an attended home birth, some women would simply rather do it on their own than go into hospital. "Women who feel they are being shoehorned into hospitals, and who don't like what happens to them when they get there, see freebirth as a viable option," says Tina Cassidy, author of Birth: A History (Chatto & Windus, £12.99), who is based in Boston. "It's a fringe thing but it's a signifier of something bigger: women now feel they have no control in the birth process."

What is telling, says Cassidy, is that there is virtually no historical precedent for this movement: "Since the beginning of time women have turned to other women for help in childbirth. There are one or two very small tribes where giving birth alone is a means of status - but even within those cultures people rush to the woman's side afterwards to make sure she and the baby are OK." That women are considering going it alone is a wake-up call for the medical profession in the US, she says, where one in three births now ends in a caesarean section. "I'm not an advocate for or against freebirth. But you can understand why people would go underground. They think, I'm just having a baby. What is the big deal?"

Because freebirth is such a fringe movement there have been no studies on it. However, a report in the magazine New Scientist recently quoted a survey undertaken in a religious community in the state of Indiana, where there were more than 300 unattended births in the 1980s. The neonatal death rate was calculated as 19 per 1,000 live births, compared with seven per 1,000 for the rest of Indiana.

There is some concern that the number of freebirthers in Britian may rise, because so many women feel their choices over how they give birth are limited, says Beverley Beech, chairwoman of the Association for Improvement in Maternity Services. While the health secretary, Patricia Hewitt, has promised that every woman will be able to choose an attended home birth by 2009, the service is currently a postcode lottery. Plus, the government is planning to introduce new - and prohibitively expensive - insurance requirements for independent midwives who currently provide private backup to women who have found it difficult to arrange an attended home birth on the NHS. "If this law comes in, either [independent] midwives will practise illegally or we will have a lot more women who will choose to give birth alone," says Beech. "We have been having discussions about providing a support group for these women so we can provide somebody to be with them."

Freebirth fans contend that it can be better to be alone anyway. On one blog a woman writes of "the thrill of the catch" - what it feels like to seize your baby emerging from your body. Self-delivery is not necessarily something women should strive for, she adds, but something they should know they are capable of. There is much online discussion about "lotus birth" - when the umbilical cord is not cut but left to disintegrate naturally, usually within three days of birth.

One pioneer of the freebirth movement is Dr Sarah Buckley, a respected Australian GP who lectures on home birth and is described by the French natural birth guru, Michel Odent, as "driving the history of childbirth towards a radical and inspiring new direction". Buckley had her fourth child unassisted at home near Brisbane and writes: "It was a great gift for me, with my medical training, to liberate myself ... from expert thinking."

The movement's unofficial leading light, Laura Shanley, explains: "I look at birth as a sexual creative act and you have to be free to birth in your own time and your own way. Even if you are with a midwife, she has to follow certain rules and your body can't do what it needs to do within its own time."

During her five pregnancies, Shanley shunned all monitoring, including scans. The first indication she had that her second child, Willie, was in the breech position was when she was giving birth at home alone and reached down to feel his feet coming out first. Her fourth child, Nicholas, was born prematurely unassisted at home and died almost instantly from a congenital heart condition. Shanley later sought reassurance that the outcome would have been the same in hospital (she was told that medical intervention would have made no difference).

The controversial NHS doctor who writes an award-winning blog under the pseudonym "Dr Crippen" has proposed that at some future point women will be sued by their (damaged) offspring for having had a home birth (let alone an unattended one). Freebirth advocates argue that a woman's choice of how she gives birth is a human rights issue. They say that most births proceed normally and going to hospital only increases the chances of intervention and complications. Even during a home birth, a midwife can intervene in a way the mother doesn't agree with. Is this a selfish attitude? Not necessarily, says Cassidy: "I don't buy that 'selfish' thing. I've heard horrible stories of women haemorrhaging to death in hospital and babies' faces being cut with scalpels during C-sections.

"Women have been giving birth since the beginning of time and birth is very rarely complicated. So is it selfish to stay at home? Or is it selfish to go to hospital?"

My story: 'I shed the placenta and had a bath with my son'

I always planned to have children but I could never imagine giving birth in a hospital, or with any kind of official in attendance. The only way I had ever been able to picture myself giving birth was alone, or with an old crone in silent attendance. At night in the woods by a stream was my preference, but my own front room and bath was, when my time came, the best available option.

As the day approached and pressure from the NHS to "plug-in" mounted, my partner became increasingly fearful and I increasingly resolute. Talk of stillbirth - designed to drive me to hospital - only heightened my distrust of those who saw fit to try and worry me at such a vulnerable time. I had, by this time, had my fill of the local midwives, all but one of whom had treated me with a complete lack of empathy, and the idea of inviting a random team of two of these frankly cold women into my small home seemed laughable.

The evening before I went into labour I had my spirits boosted by the book Spiritual Midwifery, not because I felt in any way connected to the free-loving, be-necklaced and hairy-partnered women pictured within, but because the pages and pages of homebirth statistics in the back made for optimistic reading. I read the book in the bath before going to bed and went to sleep thoroughly optimistic, When I got up in the night I found a trace of blood, which convinced me my labour had begun. I got up and while I was running a bath, I spread all the lovely white sheets the midwives had provided over the floor in the front room. My contractions were minutes apart within the hour and as the pain quickly intensified I woke my partner, who went straight back to bed on the basis that it would be a "busy day tomorrow". I was soon oscillating between agony and ecstasy, with only time to stagger the five yards between bath and white sheets, at which time I started to panic that I didn't know where my much-read-about cervix was.

I woke my partner, who went out looking for a newly qualified midwife who happened to be staying with a neighbour, and he returned with a drunk woman who reeked of cigarettes, which put me right off my contractions. I sent her away after agreeing with the general consensus that I was unlikely to give birth until the following day. As soon as she left I felt the baby's head emerging, and after much screaming but less than four hours of labour I gave birth to a very skinny boy on some very bloody sheets. I painfully shed the placenta and had a bath with my son before going back to bed. He is now four, and fine, and very wonderful, by the way.

In my second pregnancy I avoided all contact with the NHS and had no antenatal care whatsoever. After 10 hours of extremely painful labour at home, alone throughout, I gave up and called an ambulance. Less than an hour later, on my back in hospital, I gave birth, vaginally, to premature twins. In terms of the amount of medical intervention I had to have, it was the opposite of my hopes and dreams, but I had never imagined having twins - and what a lovely surprise that was. Besides, dialling 999 was always my back-up plan, being only 10 minutes from the nearest hospital. The twins are now big and bonny.
Name withheld

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