Saturday, August 31, 2013

Teething Problems

My daughter has been teething since around three months. It was not fun when it started, not at all. Bree was cranky, sad, and screaming. There was one day where my husband had to come home from school early because she was inconsolable and I was in hysteria (she wouldn't even nurse, it was a hard day for both of us). Luckily, his presence calmed her down and she was able to fall asleep.

I didn't know what to do to help her. I didn't want to give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen, 1) because I didn't want to give her drugs and 2) because something just told me not to. (Gotta love mama instincts!)

Luckily, a mama friend offered me an amber teething necklace. Life changed that day, and I swear I'm not being dramatic.

The day after we got the necklace, Bree was a different baby. She was calm, smiley, happy, and actually napped again! I was the happiest mom in the world. All was right in the world. That, gripe water, and Hyland's homeopathic teething gel made the ride much easier. (You can read more about Baltic Amber teething necklaces HERE. There are many brands out there, and a lot of places sell them now, just be sure that it is authentic Baltic amber! Inspired By Finn is a good brand, and there are a lot of good Etsy stores too, just shop around. Again I say, authentic Baltic amber.)

The past three weeks or so however, Bree has been Grumpy McGrumpypants again. She has four top teeth, and four bottom teeth, and is working on her two bottom cuspids. It's not been pleasant. She was no longer sleeping through the night, fussy and screaming, biting, warm, holding her head.... all the negative side effects.

Going to my Facebook tribe of crunchy mamas across the country, I was desperate. I asked about Ibuprofen and Tylenol, and this is what I was shown:

Don't Suppress That Fever (And Why I Don't I Like Tylenol)
FDA: Benzocaine and Babies - Not A Good Mix
How To Help Ease The Pain Of Teething And What Products To Avoid

Reading those things and my want to not give Bree drugs until she's older made me look at other options. Luckily, when I went to visit my drugstore, a few rows above the infant Ibuprofen (and for two dollars less than the dye free ibuprofen and acetaminophen) I found a homeopathic teething remedy! My day was made. It's called Kids Relief (I think it is a generic version of Little Remedies, both of which I recommend) and uses chamomile, arnica, and St John's Wart to relieve pain and inflammation from teething. There is always a natural alternative, which I am so thankful for. I'd like to maintain a pure body for Bree as long as possible, there's plenty of time for Tylenol and non organic food when she's older, am I right?!

If your little one is teething, my heart goes out to you. It isn't easy for our little ones, and it isn't easy for us to see them go through the pain. Look into the teething necklace, and another good option also is a nursing necklace for you that is safe for chewing; they can hold onto it and gnaw on it when you hold them/wear them, and since it's attached to you, if they drop it, it's safe! Get some gripe water, Hyland's, and other homeopathic remedies, and just be patient with your sweetie. I know it can be frustrating having a needy, fussy baby, believe me! But what I am trying to remind myself on the hard days, is that she won't want me like this forever, she will grow up in plenty of time.

All my love to you and yours,

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Here It Comes, Another Hot Topic!

The following post is a sensitive subject to many, please keep an open mind.

The debate over vaccines is often a bitter fight. Both sides are passionate and both sides claim to be educated on their decisions to either vaccinate or not vaccinate their children. I am writing about my side today.

Point blank, we do not vaccinate. As I continue with this post, I will share the journey to this decision, but for now let me say that I am not aiming to convince people to vaccinate, delay, or completely forego vaccines. I just want people to make informed decisions and decide what is best for their family. Get ready, I have a ton of info in here for you to read!

How I Started Learning About Vaccines

My journey started when I lost my first pregnancy. That's when I began questioning everything and realizing I knew nothing. I only knew what society conditioned me to know and do. Just as I questioned "conventional" hospital birth and circumcision and began my research, vaccines popped into my head.

Now, I was raised by a nurse. I was one of the first children in my state to receive the chicken pox vaccine when it came out. I believe I received most of my shots through childhood. However, by my teen years, my mom began having a more holistic approach to life. I can honestly say I was rarely taken to the doctor and only remember a tetanus shot and a steroid shot for pneumonia.

I remember my mother refusing a hepatitis shot, and I remember her refusing the Gardasil shot. Which, knowing what I now know about Gardasil (sterilization and death, among other things), I am incredibly thankful for. (Read more about Gardasil HERE)

So I began reading up on vaccines, especially the ingredients. Take a look at the ingredients for various vaccines below, chart courtesy of Informed Choice.

VaccineManufacturerMicrobesAntibioticsChemicals / Heavy MetalsAnimal ByProducts
Acel-Immune DTaP
diphtheria - tetanus - pertussis
diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis adsorbedformaldehyde, aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate, thimerosal, and polysorbate 80 (Tween-80)gelatin
Haemophilus influenza
Type B
Connaught Laboratories
Haemophilus influenza
Type B, polyribosylribitol phosphate
ammonium sulfate, formalin, and sucrose
Merck & Co., Inc.
measles live virusneomycinsorbitolhydrolized gelatin, chick embryo
Merck & Co., Inc.
rubella live virusneomycinsorbitolhydrolized gelatin, human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissue
anthrax adsorbed
BioPort Corporation517.327.1500nonencapsulated strain of
Bacillus anthracis
aluminum hydroxide, benzethonium chloride, and formaldehyde
diphtheria - tetanus - pertussis
GlaxoSmithKline 800.366.8900
X 5231
diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis adsorbedformaldehyde, aluminum phosphate, ammonium sulfate, and thimerosalwashed sheep RBCs
(not licensed d/t expiration)
live vaccinia virus, with "some microbial contaminants," according to the Working Group on Civilian Biodefensepolymyxcin B sulfate, streptomycin sulfate, chlortetracycline hydrochloride, and neomycin sulfateglycerin, and phenol -a compound obtained by distillation of coal tarvesicle fluid from calf skins
recombinant hepatitis B
GlaxoSmithKline 800.366.8900
X 5231
genetic sequence of the hepatitis B virus that codes for the surface antigen (HbSAg), cloned into GMO yeastaluminum hydroxide, and thimerosal
FluvirinMedeva Pharmaceuticals888.MEDEVA 716.274.5300influenza virusneomycin, polymyxinbeta-propiolactonechick embryonic fluid
trivalent influenza virus, types A&Bgentamicin sulphateformadehyde, thimerosal, and polysorbate 80 (Tween-80)chick embryonic fluid
hepatitis A
GlaxoSmithKline 800.366.8900
X 5231
hepatitis A virusformalin, aluminum hydroxide, 2-phenoxyethanol, and polysorbate 20residual MRC5 proteins -human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissue
HiB Titer
Haemophilus influenza
Type B
Haemophilus influenza
Type B, polyribosylribitol phosphate, yeast
ammonium sulfate, thimerosal, and chemically defined yeast-based medium
ImovaxConnaught Laboratories800.822.2463rabies virus adsorbedneomycin sulfatephenol red indicatorhuman albumin, human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissue
IPOLConnaught Laboratories800.822.24633 types of polio virusesneomycin, streptomycin, and polymyxin Bformaldehyde, and 2-phenoxyethenolcontinuous line of monkey kidney cells
Japanese encephalitis
Aventis Pasteur USA
strain of Japanese encephalitis virus, inactivated
formaldehyde, polysorbate 80 (Tween-80), and thimerosalmouse serum proteins, and gelatin
recombinant protein (OspA) from the outer surface of the spirochete
Borrelia burgdorferi
kanamycinaluminum hydroxide, 2-phenoxyethenol, phosphate buffered saline
measles - mumps - rubella
Merck & Co., Inc.
measles, mumps, rubella live virusneomycinsorbitolhydrolized gelatin, chick embryonic fluid, and human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissue
measles - rubella
Merck & Co., Inc.
measles, rubella live virusneomycinsorbitolhydrolized gelatin, chick embryonic fluid, and human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissue
Connaught Laboratories800.822.2463freeze-dried polysaccharide antigens from
Neisseria meningitidis
Meruvax I
Merck & Co., Inc.
mumps live virusneomycinsorbitolhydrolized gelatin
(new smallpox batch, not licensed)
Aventis Pasteur USA
highly attenuated vaccinia viruspolymyxcin B sulfate, streptomycin sulfate, chlortetracycline hydrochloride, and neomycin sulfateglycerin, and phenol -a compound obtained by distillation of coal tarvesicle fluid from calf skins
oral polio
3 types of polio viruses, attenuatedneomycin, streptomycinsorbitolmonkey kidney cells and calf serum
Streptococcus pneumoniae
Merck & Co., Inc.

capsular polysaccharides from polyvalent (23 types) pneumococcal bacteriaphenol
Pneumococcal 7-valent conjugate vaccine
Wyeth Lederle
saccharides from capsular
Streptococcus pneumoniae
antigens (7 serotypes) individually conjugated to diphtheria CRM 197 protein
aluminum phosphate, ammonium sulfate, soy protein, yeast
measles, mumps, rubella and varicella
Merck & Co., Inc.
live measles (Enders' attenuated Edmonston), mumps (Jeryl LynnTM), rubella (Wistar RA 27/3), and varicella (oka/Merck) strains of virusesneomycinmonosodium L-glutamate (MSG), potassium chloride, potassium phosphate monobasic, potassium phosphate dibasic, sodium bicarbonate, sodium phosphate dibasic, sorbitol, and sucrosehuman albumin, human diploid cells, residual components of MRC-5 cells including DNA and proteins, bovine serum, hydrolized gelatin, and chicken embryo
Chiron Behring GmbH & Company
fixed-virus strain Flury LEPneomycin, chlortetracycline, and amphotericin Bpotassium glutamate, and sucrosehuman albumin, bovine gelatin and serum "from source countries known to be free of bovine spongioform encephalopathy," and chicken protein
Rabies Vaccine AdsorbedGlaxoSmithKline 800.366.8900
X 5231
rabies virus adsorbedbeta-propiolactone, aluminum phosphate, thimerosal, and phenol redrhesus monkey fetal lung cells
recombinant hepatitis B
Merck & Co., Inc.
genetic sequence of the hepatitis B virus that codes for the surface antigen (HbSAg), cloned into GMO yeastaluminum hydroxide, and thimerosal
oral tetravalent rotavirus (recalled)
1 rhesus monkey rotavirus, 3 rhesus-human reassortant live virusesneomycin sulfate, amphotericin Bpotassium monophosphate, potassium diphosphate, sucrose, and monosodium glutamate (MSG)rhesus monkey fetal diploid cells, and bovine fetal serum
(not licensed due to expiration) 40-yr old stuff "found" in Swiftwater, PA freezer
Aventis Pasteur USA
live vaccinia virus, with "some microbial contaminants," according to the Working Group on Civilian Biodefensepolymyxcin B sulfate, streptomycin sulfate, chlortetracycline hydrochloride, and neomycin sulfateglycerin, and phenol -a compound obtained by distillation of coal tarvesicle fluid from calf skins
(new, not licensed)
Acambis, Inc.
in partnership with Baxter BioScience
highly attenuated vaccinia viruspolymyxcin B sulfate, streptomycin sulfate, chlortetracycline hydrochloride, and neomycin sulfateglycerin, and phenol -a compound obtained by distillation of coal tarvesicle fluid from calf skins
TheraCys BCG
(intravesicle -not licensed in US for tuberculosis)
Aventis Pasteur USA
live attenuated strain of
Mycobacterium bovis
monosodium glutamate (MSG), and polysorbate 80 (Tween-80)
diphtheria - tetanus - pertussis
Aventis Pasteur USA
Corynebacterium diphtheriae
Clostridium tetani
toxoids and acellular
Bordetella pertussis
aluminum potassium sulfate, formaldehyde, thimerosal, and polysorbate 80 (Tween-80)gelatin, bovine extract US sourced
Typhim Vi
Aventis Pasteur USA SA
cell surface Vi polysaccharide from
Salmonella typhi
Ty2 strain
aspartame, phenol, and polydimethylsiloxane (silicone)
Merck & Co., Inc.
varicella live virusneomycinphosphate, sucrose, and monosodium glutamate (MSG)processed gelatin, fetal bovine serum, guinea pig embryo cells, albumin from human blood, and human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissue
yellow fever
Aventis Pasteur USA
17D strain of yellow fever virussorbitolchick embryo, and gelatin

These ingredients alone swayed me, and others I know, to not vaccinate. Aborted fetal cells, aluminum, mercury.... It caused a pit in my stomach. I had an instinctual feeling we shouldn't do vaccines, and this table really confirmed in my heart what I was feeling.

In this fabulous link, "Why We Didn't Vaccinate Baby Noor, the writer states
"I think it’s very important to carefully consider possible harm vs. probable benefits before subjecting your child to something.  When we did that, we concluded that the vaccination regimen that is prescribed in the U.S. today is clearly much more likely to do harm to our child than to help her, even just using statistics provided by the Center for Disease Control itself."

This dad's view is very similar to mine, and why we are not vaccinating our daughter. I encourage you to read it!

Most of the diseases children are vaccinated for began declining before the introduction of vaccination anyway. Vaccines are not what caused the diseases and viruses to fade, proper sanitation practices, clean water, and hand washing did.

Reasons We Made This Decision

As I continued with my research I came across a book, The Vaccine Manual For Concerned Families and Health Practitioners, which I highly recommend reading before making any vaccine decision. It lists ingredients, adverse reactions, probability of disease, defines the different diseases and viruses and what they truly entail, and the probability of bad reactions from the disease as opposed to the scare tactics we are taught in our society. For instance, did you know that 95% of people exposed to polio will show no symptoms, 5% of infected people exhibit mild symptoms, and paralysis (the biggest scare of polio) is 1 in a thousand. Plus, the disease is statistically low in the US, and began declining before the vaccine came out. This book has scientific data, charts, and tables, and has great resources. It also has an informative foreward by Dr. Russell Blaylock, a retired neuroscientist and current professor who talks about the affect of vaccines and possible harm they can cause, and goes into great detail about the various ingredients and the affect they have on the brain.

For me, after viewing the real statistics and data, and the rarity of the respective diseases and the fact that they are easily treated, I saw no reason to inject my daughter with all the toxins and heavy metals. There is not ONE study showing the safety of all the combined doses of vaccines and the affect they could have on someone's system. That's too big of a risk for me.

Another thing that got me thinking was the Hep B vaccine given after birth. For a person without an STD, why would you give this to a child? Its for a sexually transmitted virus! My child won't be sharing needles or having sex, so why give this shot, especially after birth when they are so new, before they have an immune system built? It doesn't make sense.

Here, Dr. Sears talks about the aluminum in vaccines...

  • Aluminum can cause neurologic harm.
  • A study from 30 years ago showed that human adults will increase their urine excretion of aluminum when exposed to higher levels (suggesting adults can clear out excess aluminum).
  • Adults taking aluminum-containing antacids don't build up high levels in their body.
  • There have been reports of infants with healthy kidneys showing elevated blood levels of aluminum from taking antacids.
  • The AAP found that people with kidney disease who build up levels of aluminum greater than 100 micrograms per liter in their bloodstream are at risk of toxicity.
  • The AAP also states that the toxic threshold may be lower than this.
  • The paper states that aluminum loading (meaning tissue build up) has been seen even in patients with healthy kidneys who receive IV solutions containing aluminum over extended periods.

  • In "V is for Vaccines" this mother explains why she doesn't vaccinate and gives some great links/resources that helped her reach her decision. "At the start of my research, several diseases/illnesses really scared me. I mention which ones they are as I go along. When I say I "almost got" a vaccine for one of the diseases, I mean that it scared me enough to seriously consider a vaccine. At this time, those diseases still scare me, but I have done much research to know that, at this time, I still think it is best to not vaccinate."

    In this link, 10 Things I Wish The Mainstream Media Would Get Right About Parents Who Don't Vaccinate, the writer makes some valid points:
    "If you are a parent who doesn't follow the recommended vaccine schedule, you have probably read the same articles I have (I don't mean the PubMed journals, which of course you have read.  I mean the ones in parenting magazines or newspapers).  You know the ones.  It is almost enough to make you suspect that they are all quoting from a really old article--circa 2004, perhaps?--because they all make these same 10 mistakes.  

    1. Basic info/terminology. Virus vs bacteria. Antigen vs adjuvant.  Live virus.  When you talk about the pertussis virus or removing thimerosol from the MMR it is hard to take you seriously. 

    2. The autism angle.  Autism is a big concern for some parents.  I get that.  But contrary to popular opinion, it isn't the only or even primary concern of many parents.  Auto-immune issues in general, fetal tissue in vaccines and other things influence many of us as much or more than a fear of autism. 

    3. Herd immunity.  There is always the suggestion that non-vaxers are the ones who put others at risk by derailing herd immunity.  The truth is that herd immunity is largely a myth.  How many adults do you know that are fully up to date on all boosters?  Um, yeah.  Furthermore, not all diseases or vaccines are created equal (some are not even designed to prevent transmission, let alone the varying rates of efficacy) and while herd immunity might be plausible for a few, it isn't for most.   All the non-vaxers that I know are fully aware of this--one reason why we study MMWRs, and educate ourselves on the symptoms and treatment options for many VPDs.  We certainly don't rely on herd immunity in most cases.  

    4. Remembering how bad the diseases are.  We are told with ineffable condescension that vaccines are a victim of their own success. If we could only remember a few decades ago...  Aside from the fact that hygiene, improved medical care, nutrition and other things are at least as responsible for declining rates of mortality, the perception has changed significantly. Nobody was scared I would die when I got chicken pox.  Even measles was not considered to be a big deal in most cases (and there is mounting evidence that we are trading a week of illness there for chronic allergies, asthma and other diseases).  Some diseases are very serious, but so are the vaccine reactions.  

    5. Equality of diseases and vaccines.  All diseases and vaccines are not created equal.  My four month old is not at risk for Hep B or tetanus.  Pertussis scares me.  Mumps?  Not really.  The fact that my children are exclusively breastfed for a year, and continue to breastfeed after that affects my decision on Hib. I could go on and on.  The risks vary according to age, family history, geography and many other things.  Similarly, some vaccines are more reactive than others.  Some are very effective, others are not. 

    6. The obsession with thimerosol.   This still gets trotted out every time along with experts patiently explaining that thimerosol was removed from most vaccines years ago.  While it was more removed from some than others, thimerosol isn't the over-riding concern for most of us.  Aluminum, which is present in very dangerous amounts, concerns  me more.  There is a whole cocktail of nasty stuff in most vaccines (varies according to brand and type). 

    7.  Fear of antigen overload.  The same person talking about thimerosol sweetly pats us on the head as s/he explains that worries over too many vaccines at once are unfounded because the antigens are so weak. After all, we are exposed to far more bacteria or viruses at any given time than the ones injected in a vaccine.  Well, yeah. The problem is all the adjuvants.  The antigens are too weak to provoke an immune response on their own, so they are made into a threat with adjuvants like aluminum and other toxic substances.  Forget about the antigens.  Explain how levels that greatly exceed the FDA limits for toxic adjuvants aren't a problem.

    8.  Environmental exposure.  You are exposed to these toxins in the environment, anyway.  Yes, we are, and while that isn't a good thing there, either, in most cases, our bodies' natural defense systems help excrete them.  Being injected into your muscle tissue bypasses a lot of that, and when you are talking about babies whose blood-brain barrier isn't developed, that is concerning. 

    9. Vaccine side effects are redness and soreness at the injection site and a fever.  In rare cases, anaphylaxis may result.  True. The implication is that fever isn't a big deal, and anaphylaxis is so rare that we shouldn't worry.  Fine. What about the other side effects?  Read the safety inserts, please.  There are many serious side effects, including respiratory illness, arthritis, paralysis, an assortment of auto-immune disorders, and more.

    10.  Concerns about vaccines are based solely on the anecdotes of so and so who posted a story on  Most of us started questioning because of reactions we saw in our own children.  But we didn't stop there. We spend countless hours poring over medical journals, researching the diseases, ingredients, the immune system, etc., learning all we can.  Some are immunologists, neuroscientists and other medical professionals. We are educated and informed about vaccines.  Talk to us. And if you are going to write about us, learn a little more first."
    Most of the people I know who don't vaccinate chose to stop vaccinating or to not do it at all because of the severe reactions they've seen and the ingredients that are so toxic. Why is it okay to inject these toxins into our bloodstream when a HazMat team has to come in and close down a school to clean up a syringe that fell to the ground and broke, spilling the contents on the floor? Again, doesn't make sense to me.

    The Autism Factor

    I'm still now sure what to believe about autism and vaccines right now. One thing I do believe is that it isn't good to mess with our bodies, especially with chemicals and toxins, and this is why I try to raise my daughter as naturally as possible. Chemicals and toxins are definitely linked with autism and the brain. Irish scientists have found a link between gut bacteria and autism, and two recent studies suspect that induction of labor may have an effect on autism and the brain. Science Based Medicine says 
    "Compared with children born to mothers who received neither labor induction nor augmentation, children born to mothers who were induced and augmented, induced only, or augmented only experienced increased odds of autism after controlling for potential confounders related to socioeconomic status, maternal health, pregnancy-related events and conditions, and birth year. The observed associations between labor induction/augmentation were particularly pronounced in male children."

    I do think there is a link between vaccines and autism. I cannot say that every case is caused by vaccines, and not every vaccinated child will become autistic. But I do know the government believes there is a link. Otherwise why would the government's vaccine injury court grant two families millions of dollars because of their childrens' autism and encephalopathy they believed were caused by vaccines. The government did not admit in court that vaccinations were the definitive cause, but they must have seen something that these cases were won. The vaccine court has had a LOT of cases like these, but it isn't something you hear about in the news often.

    More info on the vaccine injury compensation program HERE.
    Studies Showing Link To Autism and Vaccines - downloadable document
    Scientists identify way to test autism in one-year-olds using blood test... for those who say it only appears around/after two. I really believe it has to do with environmental factors.

    Hard pro-vaxxers like to argue that vaccines cannot possibly cause autism or developmental disorders, that the problems simply arise around the general time of vaccination. That just isn't a satisfactory answer for me. Something causes it. And the toxins and heavy metals absolutely can penetrate the brain barrier. Studies have shown victims of Alzheimer's have mercury in their brain, and it affects the progression of the disease. The thimerosal (mercury) in vaccines never leaves the brain. And I don't like that, personally. Perhaps its a genetic issue and is overwhelmed by the sudden flood of heavy metals... maybe the heavy metals cause it... I really do not know, and I will continue to learn about that as I find information about it. However, at famous Ina May Gaskin's The Farm, out of alllll the births they've seen since the seventies, no medical inductions or vaccinations, they've never seen a case of autism. Food for thought.

    30 Scientific Studies Show The Link Between Autism & Vaccines - "I think that the government or certain public officials in the government have been too quick to dismiss the concerns of these families without studying the population that got sick. I think public health officials have been too quick to dismiss the hypothesis as irrational without sufficient studies of causation."
    Dr. Bernadine Healy, former Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), largest U.S. federal agency responsible for conducting and supporting medical research. Dr. Healy has no known conflicts of interest in the vaccine-autism debate.
    - No real world studies of the vaccine schedule have ever been done. Of the 11 separate vaccines given to American children (many given multiple times), only one vaccine -- the MMR -- has ever been studied for its relationship to autism. Yet, American children get 6 or 7 different vaccines simultaneously at 2, 4, 6, and 12 month doctor appointments.
    - Not one study compares vaccinated children to unvaccinated children -- every study only looks at children who have received vaccines. This is like comparing smokers who smoke one pack a day to those who smoke two packs a day, seeing no difference in cancer rates, and saying cigarettes don’t cause cancer.
    - The studies are rife with conflicts including authors who have been paid by vaccine companies and federal agencies and foreign governments charged with administering vaccines.
    - Many of the studies reach false conclusions or conclusions that have nothing to do with the simple question: do vaccines cause autism? They are simply being misrepresented in the press by public health officials taking advantage of a docile media that is heavily dependent on advertising from pharma companies.
    This link here will take you to Dr. Tenpenny, a doctor who promotes healthy living and prevention and not vaccinations as a way to prevent illness, and an informative video you can feel free to watch about info on vaccines and reactions.

    In THIS LINK a medical chemist explains why he doesn't vaccinate.

    What Doctors Know/Are Taught About Vaccines

    Questions To Ask & Claims VS. Facts About Vaccines

    Read HERE about the scary world of vaccine additives.

    Miscellaneous Info

    HERE you can find info on the normal childhood disease and how to treat them.
    Adverse Effects of Vaccine Injury Table pdf
    HERE are exemption forms for all states and state requirements if you are delaying/not vaccinating and sending your child to daycare or school. Most states offer medical and religious exemptions, some also offer philosophical, and others only have medical.
    The Value of Your Child's Life According To Those Promoting Vaccines
    If You Vaccinate, Ask Eight... Questions For Your Doctor About Vaccines
    Australian Vaccination Network - American, Aussie, or wherever else you may be from, this site has lots of great info!
    Hep B Vaccine Pulled From Vietnam After Three Newborns Die
    CDC Says MMR & Pertussis Vaccine Can Cause Brain Damage
    Does Vaccination Cause Autism? Here's What They Know...
    Package Inserts For Vaccines
    Thimerosal (mercury) Info
    Want To Vaccinate My Child? Sign This Form First - a downloadable form for physicians to sign before vaccinating... "It's been over a year since hundreds of parents have downloaded this form and there are still no reports of any signatures. Many physicians won't even look at the form while they dismiss a parent's anti-vaccination stance as ridiculous. The behavior is a clear indication of a very misinformed Physician who does not have his or her patient's best interests at heart. They are not willing to inform their patients of the risks, only the benefits they feel are acceptable. They are not open-minded to any other side of the debate except their own biased view passed down through the medical system."
    Seven Reasons To Delay or Refuse Vaccines
    The Healthy Unvaccinated
    FDA Recalls Flu Vaccine
    9 Arguments For The Vaccine Debate
    NBC News: Shot May Boost Superbug

    Pages on Facebook:

    I have also included more links on my Resources page and my parenting board on Pinterest.

    In writing this, I hope that I may have opened your eyes to something you may not have known before. That is my goal for this blog, raising awareness about topics that aren't commonly known about/talked about in the mainstream. If this has raised any questions for you, I highly recommend delaying vaccinations until you can read more and come to a decision for yourself and children. You can always start them again, but you can never undo what's been done.

    Ultimately, we do not vaccinate because the benefits do not outweigh the risks in our book. The viruses and illnesses are not frequent, and in the event of such an illness, they are easily remedied. (Of course there is the rare serious event, that will happen whether you vaccinate or not.)

    Our daughter was exclusively breastfed until seven months and is currently still breastfed, an added protection against illness and building a healthy immune system. To us, breastfeeding, a healthy diet and good sun exposure, and vitamin supplementation if necessary, are great alternatives for prevention. As Christians, we also heartily believe in our protection and divine healing. In comparison to other children her age, our daughter has never been sick and has a very strong immune system, and we believe it is our job to protect her from harm, toxins and unnecessary heavy metals included.

    If you leave a comment, please leave only kind and considerate ones. Remember that parents like me read what we do and make the decisions we do out of best interest for our children, and most with beliefs similar to mine will not be swayed. Thank you for reading! Until next time...

    ~The Cruncy Mama

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    Breastfeeding: Myths, Tips, & More Pt 3

    August is World Breastfeeding Month, and today we continue our breastfeeding support campaign with part three of our series, Tips, Tricks, and Extras!

    {Part one - Benefits of Breastfeeding, can be found HERE and Part two -Lies Told To Us About Breastfeeding, can be found HERE}

    This post will predominantly be links and pictures to help you out and offer support, encouragement, and breastfeeding education.

    Breastfeeding Tips and Tricks For Ease

    Breastfeeding Your Newborn - What To Expect In The Early Weeks
    Tips & Tricks For Hands-Free Nursing
    If At First You Don't Succeed - A Mother's Story
    Don't Shake The Breastmilk
    Common Mistakes of The First Time Breastfeeder
    Top Ten Myths
    Tips For Painfree Breastfeeding
    Breastfeeding Latch Trick
    Tips For The Nursing Mother
    The Discovery of the Upper Lip Tie
    Breastfeeding Links From Dr. Sears
    Six Tips For Breastfeeding On The Go
    10 Tips For New Moms
    Breastfeeding Advice From The Experts
    Breastfeeding - Why is it so hard sometimes?

    Tips For Foods That Can Help Or Hurt Breastfeeding

    Lactogenic Foods & Herbs
    Herbs To Avoid
    Foods That Can Affect Milk Supply
    Increasing Your Supply

    As a note, Mother's Milk tea is AWESOME to promote lactation. I have a good supply but drink it when I need to pump for a special occasion, I also drank it a lot after giving birth to ensure my supply. It's more of an herbal, savory flavor than a sweeter tea, so I brewed it with chai and used a flavored creamer to dillute the flavor. A friend brewed it and used it as a soup base, which worked out awesome because of its herby, flavor. Great for chicken soup!

    Another thing that is good for the occasional supply boost is beer. A good strong beer with lots of hops will help your supply. The hops is what does it. Don't worry about a drink, if you are sober enough to drive you are sober enough to nurse, and alcohol leaves your bloodstream as well. No need to pump and dump unless in dire circumstances.

    Lactation cookies are awesome as well! They totally get the milk flowing, and taste yummy too. I always add chocolate chips. This recipe here is similar to the one I made. This recipe from The Leaky Boob is awesome as well! The main ingredients that aid in lactation are brewers yeast, flax meal, and oats. You can add those to anything, or any cookie recipe really. Just remember that REAL oats are what work, not anything like instant oats or Quaker Oatmeal. I loooveee steel cut oats.

    Clothes and Products For Your Breasts

    DIY Nursing Tank Tutorial
    DIY Nursing Infinity Scarf - Awesome scarf doubles as a slight cover for your breast if you're uncomfortable with full breast out nursing, or if you just want a cover in general.

    How To Convert A Regular Bra Into A Nursing Bra - I did this, and it works splendidly. Saves money too! I used pant hooks instead of snaps {check out the picture} but you can use any variety of closures that you want, check out your local craft store!

    Boppy (available on Amazon or at Babies R Us) - Get this, or something similar! It's a life saver. I got one for my baby shower, and used it often. It was great in the early weeks/months when the baby is small, so you don't get tired arms hold the baby up to your breast. You hold the baby as he/she lays on the pillow, which wraps around you. Once the baby is a bit bigger you can also use it to sit the baby up to lay against, and use to boost the baby up for tummy time. I would "seat" my daughter in it while I scarfed some food down, and she was always content. I also had a pregnancy body pillow (similar to the one in the link) I used, not only for support during my pregnancy and after birth, but I wrapped that around my whole body to help with nursing as well. A good investment with three uses!

    A few other products to look into on Amazon, or at a baby store such as Babies R Us - 

    Breastpads! Saved my life. I leaked big time at the beginning. I don't now that my supply has leveled out, but I've known moms who leak routinely. I still have some for the occasional mishap in my diaper bag. Great to have on hand! Be sure to change them and not sit in old milk too long, that can lead to yeast.

    Lanolin or Coconut Oil - This will really help with any soreness or tenderness as you get used to breastfeeding. I still will occasionally use coconut oil when we've had a bad teething day and nurse more than usual. Another important tip is to let your nipples air dry if you're having tenderness.

    Nursing Cover - I never used one, but if you would prefer to be more covered, these are great to have. Blankets and burp cloths are often ripped off. Just remember if your baby doesn't want to be covered, respect them. Fighting with a baby doesn't make breastfeeding very easy. I do the two shirt trick myself. I wear a nursing tank (or any tank that can be stretched easily) under whatever I wear, tanks or shirts or sweaters. I lift the top shirt up, and bring my breast out from bra and over the neckline of the tank underneath (or unhook the nursing tank) and there you go! Boob is out and available for baby, and my huge breast is predominantly covered. My baby still likes to pull my shirt up, so I'm barely covered nowadays, but whatever haha, you have to do what you are comfortable with, and most importantly you have yo work with your child.

    Nursing Tanks - This is obvious after my previous suggestion. Nursing tanks are awesome. If you don't cover that's all you have to use! I love them, get em in every color!

    Breastmilk Donation vs. Formula

    Why Not Formula?
    Human Milk Banking Association of North America
    Eats On Feets
    Human Milk For Human Babies
    How Formula Supplementation Decrease Supply
    Breastfeeding Advocacy and Formula
    Insufficient Supply?
    Why I Chose Another Mother's Milk - A Mother's Story
    Breastmilk/Formula Comparison

    Fullterm Breastfeeding

    Breastfeeding Benefits Don't End At Age 1
    AAFP and WHO Stance on Breastfeeding Past Infancy
    Timeline of Breastfed Baby
    How Stigma Hinders Nursing Past One
    Toddler Breastfeeding Myths
    Breastfeeding Past Infancy Benefits
    "Extended" Breastfeeding Info & Statistics

    The "Modesty" Issue

    Renegade Mothering "Let's Whip Our Tits Out" - very tongue-in-cheek, if you have an issue with strong language, be forewarned! But I really do love her point and outlook on things.
    Is Breastfeeding A Modesty Issue
    I Almost Chose Not To Breastfeed Because Of The Sexualization of My Breasts
    Embarrased || Spoken Word - awesome video from the perspective of a fed up mom
    Breastfeeding In Public - A Mother's Story About Becoming Brave
    Breastfeeding In Victorian Times - I love this link, because it shows how open women in the Victorian age were about breastfeeding, versus now. The culture then was so Puritanical and the culture now is so sexual, so why was it okay to nurse openly and uncovered then, but not now? Great post.

    What is important to remember is to feed your baby however you are comfortable. Whether you use a cover, the two shirt trick, just pull your shirt up, or just pull your boob out, it's feeding your baby and no one else's opinion matters.

    Medicinal Uses & More

    Medicinal Uses of Breastmilk
    Breastmilk Lotion
    58 Medicinal, Cosmetic, and Other Alternative Uses For Breastmilk

    It should be said that there are innumerable medicinal uses to breastmilk and colostrum. It's just a fabulous creation. Breastmilk can be used to cure pink eye, heal spider bites, and has even been used to treat cancer patients. It's a miracle fluid. My way of life is, apply breastmilk or coconut oil to it, and one of them will fix your problem. In 98% of the cases, it's totally true.

    Miscellaneous Links & Info

    Why Is Breastfeeding So Important?
    HIV & Breastfeeding
    101 Reasons To Breastfeed
    Extreme Pumping
    Breastmilk the movie
    Modern Day Wet Nurse

    Remember to check out our Facebook page and our Pinterest boards for more info and links any time!

    I hope you were able to find some interesting or new information by reading this series. If you ever have question or would like to learn more about a certain topic, feel free to message the Facebook page or leave a comment!

    Until next time,
    The Crunchy Mama

    Saturday, August 3, 2013

    Breastfeeding: Myths, Tips & More Pt 2

    Today is part two of our breastfeeding series!

    (read part one HERE and part three HERE)

    Hello all! In honor of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) and National Breastfeeding Month, we are continuing our series on breastfeeding! Today's post has a very special guest writer; a dear friend of mine who is a doula, placenta encapsulationist, and on her journey to become a lactation consultant and breastfeeding educator. Angela has a three year old daughter, is expecting her second child and is also on-call for a birth right now and was very kind enough to take time out of her schedule to write for The Crunchy Mama this week. She has made some wonderful points and I hope she may help answer some of your questions.

    Lies told to us about Breastfeeding

    Many women begin a parenting journey with the strong desire to breastfeed. Even at the age of seventeen I knew that it was the best option for my little one. What I didn’t know, was that the moment she was born a battle had begun. Before she was born, I saw it as this beautiful bond that me and my daughter would have right from the start. Oh how naive I really was! It was a struggle from the day I left the hospital. I’m pretty sure there were days I cried more than she did. Thankfully, I had a supportive boyfriend who let me scream, and cry, but would NEVER let me give up. I honestly believe, if I didn’t have him fighting for us, I would have been another mother who “couldn’t” breast feed. Somehow, even with all these “problems” mothers have, we’ve survived as a species. How can that be possible, if it seems like nearly every woman who tried, can’t breast feed? Is it really us? Have our bodies really failed? Or could it be possible we have been fed lies that are so ingrained into our minds we see them as truth?

    Making Enough Milk for Baby

    This is probably the BIGGEST reason I hear as to why women couldn’t breastfeed. While this is a very real problem for a small population of women, it is not the norm. Many women are led to believe that babies will only feed every two to three hours. This is so far from the truth! Some babies will in fact go every three hours, but it’s not uncommon for a baby to want to eat as much as every half hour. That doesn’t mean you don’t make enough, it just means that’s how much your baby wants to eat. Human milk also digests much more quickly. When compared to a formula fed baby, it may seem like they aren’t getting enough milk.
    (This chart shows the stomach sizes of a baby up until the first month. As you can see, a baby really doesn’t eat much per feeding. )

    Your baby may out of nowhere start feeding constantly. This is nothing new, and has nothing to do with your supply. It’s just simply, a growth spurt. Your baby will have many of these during childhood. That just means you need to feed your baby when the baby is hungry. I promise, it won’t last forever!

    There are also times that your baby just wants to be close. This is called NNS or Non-Nutritional Sucking. Our busy lives often conflict with this, and can cause many mothers to feel like their baby is “always” eating. The reality is, your baby just wants you!

    Pumping is NOT and indication of proper milk production. There are women who have healthy breastfed babies who cannot pump an ounce of breast milk.

    The best indication of proper milk production is five to six wet diapers and more than three bowel movements a day. (I should add that it is possible for breast fed newborns to not have bowel movements for up to ten days.)

    The Issue of Latch

    Many women, like myself, don’t expect problems when it comes to breast feeding. I personally had this problem, and ladies, I feel your pain. It is so frustrating to try and feed a baby who just cannot latch. This can be the start of many other breastfeeding problems including, cracked nipples, blocked ducts, mastitis, and reduction in milk supply, oh and crying, lots of crying.
    The first thing that needs to be checked is if a baby has a tongue or lip tie. It is important to find someone who specializes in this, since many pediatricians are uneducated about tongue and lip ties. Tongue and lip ties can also be the root of other problems that most people wouldn’t think to associate with it.

    In my case, I had flat nipples AND my daughter had a tongue tie. For the first few weeks I used a nipple shield which helped to not only get her to latch but also pulled out my nipples so I could eventually nurse without one. You can use a shield for the whole duration of your breastfeeding relationship. I just chose not to out of pure laziness. (I hated always washing that thing!) It is important that the nipple shield is the correct size. This illustration from Medela shows how to tell if the shield is a correct fit.

    There are also products you can use to extract the nipple. This can be painful, but only for a short time, and makes it all worth it in the end.

    Babies “allergic” to breastmilk
    This is one I’ve heard a lot recently. Women devastated because their doctor told them their baby “needs” formula because their breastmilk is bad. While this is a real and RARE problem known as galactosemia, it that only occurs in 1 out of 60,000 live births. Galactosemia is a metabolic disorder that causes the baby to be unable to digest sugars that make up lactose.

    Doctors can often misdiagnose jaundice as a breast milk allergy. It can be scary seeing a baby with jaundice as it changes the skin of the baby from pink to a yellowish color. This is caused by a build up of bilirubin. Bilirubin is a pigment in the blood when our red blood cells die. Normally, the liver will flush it out into the intestines, but for some newborns too much is created for the liver to be able to flush all of it out causing the skin to turn yellow. The cure? Breastfeed as much as possible! This can be hard, because jaundiced babies tend to be more sleepy. In this case, I would recommend using a pump and dropper just to get as much milk in the baby as possible.

    {Note from The Crunchy Mama here. When my daughter was born, she wouldn't nurse right away and we struggled as well. We dropped pumped colostrum for a while to prevent nipple confusion. Another way to prevent jaundice other than ensuring breastfeeding is delayed cord clamping, which you can read more about here. Making sure all of baby's blood is returned to their body before cutting the cord really helps!}

    Lastly, if you think your baby may be allergic to your breastmilk, it is more likely they are allergic to something in your diet. Some of the common allergies are, diary products, eggs, spicy foods, and gluten. However, it could be anything, I knew of a baby to had a sensitivity to cucumber! Don’t assume anything is safe.

    The real reasons women can’t breastfeed

    There are obstacles that come in our way, that can cause us to fall into the trap of not being able to breastfeed. At certain times in our lives, these can be very real and very discouraging factors.

    The Role of Stress and Breastfeeding
    Stress hormones are a basic part of survival for animals and human alike. Our ancestors would have never survived if it weren’t for the ability to respond to high stress situations. Today, we don’t live in fear of being attacked by animals, but nonetheless, stress fills up our lives every day. This constant stress can negatively affect many parts of our lives, including blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, and yes, breastfeeding.
    When a mother is consumed with stress it makes it difficult to tend to her baby the way the baby really needs. On top of that, the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, inhibit prolactin levels. (Prolactin is directly related to milk production.) 

    A quote from Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding “I am certain that one of the reasons all the women in my community were able to breastfeed their babies was that we created a largely stress-free culture for women and babies without making life unpleasant for everyone else.”

    Ina May lived in an area that honored breastfeeding. Women weren’t required to “cover up” or leave the room in order to provide their baby with food. Unfortunately, most women in our culture do not have that luxury. Many women constantly live in fear of what others are thinking while the only thing they should need to focus on is their baby. I had this fear myself – are you ready for this confession? I wouldn’t breastfed in public. Yes, you heard me correctly. I was still living with my parents at the time and was constantly shamed for not covering up, but my daughter hated it. At least at home I could hide in my room, but if my own family was so grossed out by what I was doing, how could I do that in front of strangers. Now I know better and my next babies will be fed whenever, where ever, however they want!

    This isn’t something that NEEDS to ruin your breastfeeding experience. Even after all my struggles, I was able to nurse my daughter until she was eighteen months old.

    I don’t know if I can say this enough, but the BEST way to successfully breastfeed is to surround yourself with people who are supportive of breastfeeding. There are groups, locally and online that can help remind you, you aren’t alone. If you don’t feel you are properly supported keep looking for people until you do.

    {Another note. I can absolutely relate to what Angela was writing about stress affecting the breastfeeding relationship. My family is a fairly "modest" family and I knew their opinions about uncovered nursing and it made me VERY nervous to feed my daughter around them for a long time. But we were a determined duo, and I wanted her to eat when she needed no matter where we were or who we were around. If a baby can eat with a bottle in front of anyone, I knew my breastfed baby could do the same, and we pushed through the struggle and slowwlllyyy became more comfortable with nursing in the open, and soon... in public. Don't be scared. It can be hard. Just do what you're comfortable with. It took us a while! Whether it be with a cover, the two-shirt trick, or totally uncovered, feed your baby however you need.}

    Your Birth Experience and Breastfeeding
    Our birth experiences are much more significant than mothers are led to believe.  Birth brings delicate hormones that can be easily interrupted when a birth becomes a medical procedure. Things as simple as a woman’s position in labor can affect the ability to breastfeed. In 1979, an article by Dr. Roberto Caldeyro-Barcia was conducted. This research study showed that women who were in a “vertical” position during labor had less fetal distress than woman who had a “horizontal” position. If an infant goes into fetal distress during labor, it can cause an infant to be less likely to latch on following birth.

    Pain relief is common for many women, but what women don’t know is this can cause problems for the breastfeeding duo. It can cause the baby to come out less responsive as babies who were not exposed to drugs.
    If a birth is filled with interventions, it is likely that birth will end in cesarean. This can prevent the mother from even seeing or touching her baby for hours after the child is born. While c-section mothers may get off to a slow start, it doesn’t mean it is impossible to breast feed, just more difficult. It is crucial to get the baby to the breast as soon as possible, not only for breastfeeding purposes, but also for breastfeeding to be established.
    No matter what way your birth turns out, breastfeeding is possible. Rooming in with baby, Resting as much as possible with your baby, and constant skin to skin time can greatly improve breast feeding outcomes.

    {For more info on another procedure which inhibits breastfeeding, click HERE and HERE.}

    Real Medical Reasons
    For a small percentage of women, breastfeeding really isn’t an option. Insufficient glandular tissue, wacked out hormone levels, and certain medications can force some women to end their breastfeeding
     Insufficient glandular tissue or Mammary Hypoplasia are disorders of the breast tissue. These disorders occur in very rare cases, and can be detected by visual markers.

    What are the visual markers of hypoplastic breasts? In a study of 34 mothers by Kathleen Huggins, et al. (2000), the researchers found a correlation between the following physical characteristics and lower milk output:
    •widely spaced breasts (breasts are more than 1.5 inches apart)
    •breast asymmetry (one breast is significantly larger than the other)
    •presence of stretch marks on the breasts, in absence of breast growth, either during puberty or in pregnancy
    •tubular breast shape ("empty sac" appearance)
    Additional characteristics that may indicate hypoplasia are:
    •disproportionately large or bulbous areolae
    •absence of breast changes in pregnancy, postpartum, or both

    With the help of a SNS system (pictured right), mother who truly can’t breastfeed still have the ability to bond with their infant.

    {Also helpful for moms who may have struggled with nipple confusion and want to try nursing again!}

    The virus HTLV-1 (human T-cell leukemia virus type 1) can develop into a highly malignant disease that is nearly always fatal. This virus is not common in the US or Europe, but is on the rise in parts of Africa, South America, Japan and the Caribbean. Since breastfeeding is a major route of transmission for this virus, it is recommended that women who are carriers of the virus not breastfeed their infants.
    There are times when the mother becomes sick and needs to go on medication in order to stay healthy. This can interfere with breastfeeding, but doesn’t always have to. Even though most medications given to breastfeeding mothers pass into the mother's milk, the majority of over-the- counter and prescription drugs are considered compatible with breastfeeding. Although, the baby should always be closely monitored for adverse affects.
    Le Leche League provides questions to be asked before exposing any child to a medication.

    •Has the drug been given to infants? A drug commonly prescribed for infants is usually a good choice for a breastfeeding mother.
    •Has the drug been given to other breastfeeding mothers? A drug that has a history of use by breastfeeding mothers is a better choice than a new, possibly untested drug.
    •What is the duration of the drug therapy? The duration of the drug therapy can affect its compatibility with breastfeeding. A drug considered compatible with breastfeeding when taken for a few days might not be compatible when taken over a long period of time.
    •Is the drug short-acting? A short-acting form of the drug may be a better choice for a breastfeeding mother than a longer-acting form that stays in the mother's system for a longer period.
    •How is the medication being given? A drug given by injection or by mouth is less concentrated than one given intravenously. However, a drug may be given intravenously because it is inactivated or not absorbed by the digestive system, so the baby's digestive system would also inactivate or not absorb the drug.
    •How well can the baby excrete the drug? Some drugs accumulate in a baby's system and can potentially build to toxic levels. A drug that is quickly eliminated by the baby is more compatible with breastfeeding.
    •Does the drug interfere with lactation? Some drugs should be avoided by breastfeeding mothers because they affect breastfeeding itself (the let-down or milk supply).

    To the Mother’s Who “Couldn’t”
    I’m sure many of you will read this and immediately get defensive. Please don’t feel like you need to. If you feel like you tried your best with the resources you had, then you did! Your baby is lucky to have a mother that tried against much adversity. Don’t blame yourself for “not knowing any better” because, most of us didn’t. I didn’t know better with my first, but I took that and learned from it. If you feel you actually didn’t try your best, that is something to evaluate in your own life, but I’m not here to judge.

    Cole, Melissa, and Bobby Ghaheri. "The Basics of Tongue and Lip Tie: Related Issues, Assessment and Treatment." The Leaky Boob. N.p., 19 Nov. 2012. Web. 03 Aug. 2013.

    "Right Size of Breastshield." . N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2013.
    Newman, Jack, and Teresa Pitman. "Jaundice." The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers: The Most Comprehensive Problem-solving Guide to Breastfeeding from the Foremost Expert in North America. New York: Three Rivers, 2006. 133-38. Print.

    Gaskin, Ina May. Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding. New York: Bantam, 2009. Print.
    Cassar-Uhl, Diana. "Supporting Mothers with Mammary Hypoplasia." LLLI. N.p., 18 July 2010. Web. 03 Aug. 2013.
    "Medela SNS Supplemental Nursing System." Medela SNS Supplemental Nursing System. N.p., 25 Aug. 2010. Web. 03 Aug. 2013.

    Sturges, Pat. "Medications and Breastfeeding." LLLI. N.p., 14 Oct. 2007. Web. 03 Aug. 2013.