Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Part 2 - Fear and Pain: A Cultural Picture of Childbirth...and What We Can Do to Change It

As discussed in Part 1 of this post, the experience of childbirth - and particularly the experience of childbirth as inherently painful - is strongly influenced by cultural perceptions and norms. In America, birth is largely defined by the culture-bound idea that pain and childbirth are inextricably linked. Insofar as thoughts and beliefs can impact personal experience, women who are told repeatedly to expect that birth will be grueling, difficult and painful naturally internalize these views (and the fears that result from them) over time and, thus, their birth experience could more likely be a painful one.

Challenging Our Views of Birth
If an understanding of birth as fundamentally painful and unpleasant can lead women to experience it as such, one has to wonder if this rule can be reversed. Are women who view birth as inherently comfortable -something to be embraced rather than resisted - and themselves as calm, confident and capable, less likely to have painful, difficult birth experiences? 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fear and Pain: A Cultural Picture of Childbirth...and What We Can Do to Change It

What if I told you that I gave birth to my child without anesthesia or medication of any kind, without any medical interventions to speak of...and the result was a childbirth experience that was virtually devoid of any pain? That I experienced childbirth in its fullest, most visceral state, completely comfortable and aware throughout the whole process? Would you believe me?

Allow me to digress for a moment, and ask you this question, instead: What is it about childbirth that immediately conjures images of screaming pain and terror? Why is it so difficult to believe that a child can be born peacefully and with minimal pain and discomfort?

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Meta-Report - 9.23.11

In this Family Planning-Themed edition of the Meta-Report: 
Family Timing among Gen Xers; 
Pills Gone Wild; and
The Adventures of Fertile Myrtle and the Family Planning...Beads? 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Playful Discipline: A Gentle (and Joyful) Approach to Teaching Our Children

This post was originally intended as a submission for the "Parenting Through Play" Blog Carnival over at the blog Code Name: Mama, but my over-ambitious writing style met with one big, puke-covered obstacle when our entire household got sick - and I missed the deadline. So here it is for your (belated) enjoyment: Playful Discipline!

Play - and its accompanying benefits in childhood development - cannot be underestimated, as I’ve previously discussed. But is it possible to parlay the power of play to help teach and guide our children toward the values and behaviors we want them to have? Can we as parents use play as a form of discipline - and have it actually be effective?

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Meta-Report - 9.9.11

Before our entire household got sick last week, I was following a number of hot topics in the news and blogosphere. Here’s an overdue (but still relevant, I promise!) Meta-Report for your enjoyment.

In this week's female-focused edition of Meta-Report:
A Woman's Place;
Pretty Girls Don't Do Homework;
The Cohabitator Procreater

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bringing Healthy Habits to the Table

Is your child a picky eater? According to some professionals, picky eating - among children and adults alike - is becoming cause for concern in our culture, one symptom of the greater problem of overall unhealthy food and eating habits among Americans.

Image: federico stevanin /
The prevalence of bland, nutrient-devoid foods in the American diet – and the tendency to avoid diverse foods when eating this kind of diet – has recently been the topic of a thought-provoking online discussion. As it relates to children, this conversation was originally spurred by Pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene, and brought to the mainstream by renowned natural health proponent Dr. Andrew Weil.

In its most extreme form, picky eating is now increasingly considered to be an outright disorder that can plague individuals well into adulthood. While not currently listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), Selective Eating Disorder is getting quite a bit of lip service from the media, health professionals and mental health experts as of late. This begs the question – just how pervasive and serious IS this problem? How does this differ from the routine picky eating behavior that is exhibited by children? When does picky eating become an indicator of an overall problem of unhealthy eating habits that could affect children as they grow up? And what can parents do – if anything – to prevent their child from becoming a lifelong selective eater?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Baby Dolls, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Little Man recently made it abundantly clear to me that he would like a baby doll. Yes, a baby doll. Allow me to explain.

During our "swim tots" class a couple of weeks ago, the instructor was using a floating demonstration doll to show parents how to hold their child for the various exercises we would be doing. Little Man got one glimpse of that floating baby doll and, the second the teacher's attention was averted, he dove for it, yelling, "Baby! Baby!" I could barely keep him from going under water as he attempted to squirm his way over to the floating doll. Once he had the doll in his arms, he kissed her, hugged her, looked at her adoringly and said, "baby" several times more. A few seconds later, it was time to demonstrate the next exercise. The teacher began looking around for the doll, and her eyes eventually settled on Little Man and me. "Sorry," I apologized, with a chuckle. "He seems to like the doll." I tried to hand the doll over to the teacher, but this kid was not letting go. As the entire class watched, I had to pry the baby doll from his death-gripping hands and, of course, tears ensued.

Apparently, this child really wanted a baby doll.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I Can See for Miles and Miles and Miles(tones)

This week, my baby took his first steps. At nearly 14 months old with no real signs of walking, I’ll be honest – we were beginning to wonder. I wasn't worried about any developmental delays, as I knew he was taking strides (pun intended) in the right direction; I just anxiously wondered when it would happen. Then, in the kitchen one night as I was doing dishes, I saw it out of the corner of my eye – could it be? Yes, yes! He’s doing it! He’s walking! One step, then two, then three…! Ecstatic, my husband and I tried to get him to do it again…and again…and again. We cheered him on. He grinned and laughed. It was an amazing moment.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Meta-Report - 8.3.11

I'm very excited to introduce a new feature of my site - the Meta-Report. These periodical reports will include summaries and commentary on what I'm currently reading (online and offline), as well as brief updates on evidence-based news related to parenting, pregnancy, and child development.

This week in Meta-Report:
No Kids Allowed
Holy Unplanned Pregnancy, Batman!
Sharing Sleep, the Evidence-Based Way
and Family Planning...for Blacklash

Friday, July 29, 2011

How to be Non-Compliant Without Really Trying

CNN Health recently ran an article titled, "Are You Giving Your Doctor a Headache?"
How's that for a distressing lead-in?

The article refers to the "Patient Who Knows Too Much," a near-archetypal patron of medical offices, apparently oft-discussed in online doctors' forums.  A stereotype in the worst way, this patient is described as an overweight, frequent internet user who is gullible enough to believe anything they read on the web, without regard for the reliability of the source.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Keeping up with Mama Jones

"Even the most perfect looking family can have some serious junk going on behind closed doors. No one is immune to family issues because doing "family" is just plain hard." ~ Hal Runkel

The Brady Bunch's Jan tries to wash away her pre-teen angst with lemon juice
For as long as I can remember, I have fallen into the comparison trap. As a young girl, I would stand in front of the mirror in my bedroom, picking apart every detail of my face, comparing it to the faces of everyone else I knew. I focused on things like the freckles that covered every inch of my face - no one else I knew had freckles like this. What could I do to get rid of them? After watching an episode of the Brady Bunch where a pre-teen Jan attempts to render her own freckles invisible with lemon juice, I was convinced I had found the solution to my problem. (It didn't work).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Am I One of THOSE Parents?

A couple of months ago I saw this hilarious skit on Saturday Night Live that both entertained me and, admittedly - as someone who partakes in many parenting approaches that would be considered "natural" or "alternative" - also ruffled my feathers a bit. Take a look and see what you think:

As I watched this video, I had to wonder: Is this really how natural childbirth is perceived in our culture? 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Myringotomy and Other Big, Fancy Words

It's 2 a.m. and I am in bed, awake. I have been tossing and turning in a cold sweat for what feels like an eternity, waking up every thirty minutes, at best. In only a few hours, I'll be getting up to begin a day that I have been dreading for months.

Tomorrow, my baby gets ear tubes.

But ear tube surgery is not such a big deal, right? According to two otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) specialists and everyone else I have asked who has personal experience with ear tubes, it is one of the most simple, routine, low-risk surgeries one can have. And yet I find myself lying here wide awake, mere hours before my little guy's surgery, and all I can think is, "What if this is a huge mistake?"

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Over-Achieving Parent

Recently, I heard a story from a friend about an over-achieving "soccer mom." When it was this mom's turn to make snacks for her kindergarten-aged daughter's soccer team, she adorned each snack with a personalized, laminated motivational tag. The tags had cute little illustrations of soccer players on them and said things like, "Run fast!" and "Kick the ball in the goal! Yes You Can!"

As a mom who works full-time, I marveled at the amount of work and time that must have gone into these little tags. I wondered - who was she really doing this for? Was she just trying to show up the other parents, or did she genuinely enjoy doing something nice and fun for her child and her teammates? And did the kids care one way or another if they had these special little tags on their soccer snacks? Did the tags make a difference in how the children played that particular game, or how they felt about their performance?

It got me the children of parents who "go the extra mile" actually end up being more successful, happier or generally better off than those of parents who just don't do this type of thing? Does it really benefit our children if we are over-achieving parents?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Are Parents Built for Guilt?

"So full of artless jealousy is guilt,
It spills itself in fearing to be spilt."
~ William Shakespeare (Hamlet)

In a few short months, my son will turn one year old. Watching him grow, getting stronger and more aware each day, it's hard to believe that, nearly a year ago, just hours after he was born, he was placed in Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) for low blood sugar, or neonatal hypoglycemia. He made a full recovery - as most full-term babies with hypoglycemia do - but in the days, weeks, and even months that followed, I found myself wondering, "Was there something I could have done differently? Some knowledge I could have had that might have prevented such an outcome?" I definitely dealt with some guilt after his birth, which I know now is common among parents who have had the NICU experience. But what I've since come to understand is that my experience of guilt is not so unique when it comes to parenting in general. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Meta-Approach to Parenting

Hello lovely readers, whoever you may be!
I have finally - after much consideration and internal debate - gotten this blog up and running. I've chosen to call it "Meta-Parent" after the term "meta-analysis," which is commonly used among researchers and statisticians