Wednesday, June 27, 2012

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate: Part 2

Today we have an amazing guest poster.  Mel Morns is the mother of one beautiful little girl and has another baby on the way. Mel has her Masters in Public Health and teaches a course in Public Health at a College of Natural Medicine. (You may also remember Mel from her amazing Photo Birth Story

She is much more knowledgable than me when it comes to the facts of vaccinization. So, I have asked her to share some of that knowledge with us. 

Immunisation – Things to Consider
By Mel Morns, MPH

The Delicate Immune System

The natural adaptive immune response provides the human immune system with the ability to recognize and remember specific pathogens (to generate immunity), and to mount stronger attacks each time the pathogen is encountered. It is adaptive immunity because the body's immune system prepares itself for future challenges and development of immunological memory, in which each pathogen is remembered by a signature antibody. These memory cells can be called upon to quickly eliminate a pathogen should subsequent infections occur. (Wiki)

We know that the postnatal maturation of immune competence is not complete after birth but takes some time to develop. Giving very young children multiple immunisations at once can confuse their still developing immune system and trigger immune dysfunction in the form of autoimmune disease. The immune system is very complex and in some people easily confused… this is what happens when a person has an auto-immune response.
Adaptive immunity relies on the capacity of immune cells to distinguish between the body's own cells and unwanted invaders. The host's cells express "self" antigens. These antigens are different from those on the surface of bacteria or on the surface of virally infected host cells. The adaptive response is triggered by recognizing non-self and missing-self antigens. This is what is happening when the immune system attacks part of the body that it should not… and this causes an illness. Some common auto-immune illnesses are;

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Celiac Disease
  • Asthma
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Diabetes type 1
  • Allergies

Interestingly we do not see much auto immune illness in developing countries where immunisation levels are much lower. This has also been labelled the hygiene hypothesise.

Map taken from –

The concern for vaccines compromising immune regulation is not just about many disease agents given at once, but also additives in vaccines, most of which have not been tested for cumulative effects in children. When we consider that children under the age of 6 months are not recommended to have anything but breast milk or formula by mouth, then it seems only logical to be concerned about injecting the vaccine excipients straight into the blood stream.

The following excipients are used in vaccines given to babies under the age of one:

Albumin, Bovine - used in IPV (Polio) and DTaP (Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis)

2-Phenoxyethanol - a bactericide used in DTaP (Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis)

Aluminium - DTaP, HepB, IPV (Hepatitis B, Polio, Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis)

Formaldehyde - DTaP, HepB, IPV (Hepatitis B, Polio, Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis)

Gelatin - DTaP (Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis)

Yeast - DTaP, HepB, IPV (Hepatitis B, Polio, Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis)

National Immunisation Program up to the age of 1 in Australia and the US

Hepatitis B (hepB)a

8 weeks (2 months)
Hepatitis B (hepB)
Diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (acellular pertussis) (DTPa)
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
Polio (inactivated poliomyelitis IPV)
Pneumococcal conjugate (13vPCV)

16 weeks (4 months)
Hepatitis B (hepB)
Diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (acellular pertussis (DTPa)
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
Polio (inactivated poliomyelitis IPV)
Pneumococcal conjugate (13vPCV)

6 months
Hepatitis B (hepB)
Diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (acellular pertussis (DTPa)
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
Polio (inactivated poliomyelitis) (IPV)
Pneumococcal conjugate (13vPCV)
Rotavirus b

12 months
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
Meningococcal C (MenCCV)

Prevalence Rates

Something else to consider is prevalence rates, from a twofold perspective. First we must ask the question which immunisations actually work? When we consider ‘herd’ immunity will protect the population when most are immunised, then why are some diseases being wiped out (like Polio and Tetanus) by vaccine treatment while others seem to have a natural cycle that is not being affected at all (Pertussis). Are all vaccines equally effective or do some work better than others?

ACIR data indicated, at 31 December 2008, 92% of one year olds, 93% of two year olds (see graph 11.23 in the link below) and 89% of six year olds were fully immunised according to the NHMRC Recommended Australian Standard Vaccination Schedule.

For the prevalence of immunisation in the US:

Secondly, if a condition has been wiped out in your country, then what is the rush to vaccinate a very small baby whose immune system is still developing? Perhaps those vaccines that clearly work, and have reduced the incidence of that condition so well, can be delayed until the child has a more developed immune system.

Here are some links that can give you more information on how prevalent the diseases we immunise against actually are.

Notifiable disease prevalence Australia

Notifiable disease prevalence USA

Global Polio Prevalence

Global Pertussis Prevelence

Some Australian Government data on adverse effects after immunisation

DTPa, dTpa, hepatitis B, Hib, IPV and their various combinations may cause transient minor adverse events including swelling, redness or soreness at the injection site, and low-grade fever, crying and irritability (in infants). There is an increased risk of more extensive local adverse events after booster doses of DTPa and DTPa-combination vaccines. A local adverse event that involves extensive limb swelling should be reported.

More serious adverse events following immunisation Taken from the Australian Government Department of Health and Aging Immunisation Handbook


Occurrence of a fluctuant or draining fluid-filled lesion at the site of injection, with or without fever.

Bacterial: purulent collection.

Sterile abscess: no evidence of bacterial infection.

Acute flaccid paralysis [diagnosis must be made by a physician]

Acute onset of flaccid paralysis of one or more limbs following any vaccine.

Allergic reaction (generalised)

A non-anaphylactic, generalised reaction characterised by 1 or more symptoms or signs of skin and/or gastrointestinal tract involvement WITHOUT respiratory or cardiovascular involvement.

Anaphylaxis: A rapidly evolving generalised multi-system allergic reaction characterised by 1 or more symptoms or signs of respiratory and/or cardiovascular involvement AND involvement of other systems such as the skin or gastrointestinal tract.

Respiratory: difficulty/noisy breathing, swelling of the tongue, swelling/tightness in the throat, difficulty talking/hoarse voice, wheeze or persistent cough.

Cardiac: loss of consciousness, collapse, pale and floppy (babies), hypotension.

Arthralgia: Joint pain without redness or swelling.

Arthritis: Joint pain with redness and/or swelling.

Brachial neuritis: Pain in arm causing persisting weakness of limb on side of vaccination.

Death: Any death of a vaccine recipient temporally linked to vaccination, where no other clear cause of death can be established.

Disseminated BCG: Disseminated infection occurring after BCG vaccination and confirmed by isolation of Mycobacterium bovis BCG strain.

Encephalopathy [diagnosis must be made by a physician]: Encephalopathy is an acute onset of major neurological illness temporally linked with vaccination and characterised by any 2 or more of the following 3 conditions:


     severe alteration in level of consciousness or mental status (behaviour and/or personality)lasting for 1 day or more, and/or

     focal neurological signs which persist for 1 day or more.

Encephalitis [diagnosis must be made by a physician]: Encephalitis is characterised by the above-mentioned symptoms and signs of cerebral inflammation and, in many cases, CSF pleocytosis and/or virus isolation.

Extensive limb swelling

Swelling of the limb, with or without redness, which:

     extends from the joint above to the joint below the injection site, or beyond a joint (above or below the injection site), or

     results in the circumference of the limb being twice the normal size.

See ‘Vasovagal episode’.

Fever: Only very high fever should be reported, eg. >40.5oC.

Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) [diagnosis must be made by a physician]

Acute onset of rapidly progressive, ascending, symmetrical flaccid paralysis, without fever at onset of paralysis and with or without sensory loss. Cases are diagnosed by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) investigation showing dissociation between cellular count and protein content.

Hypotonic–hyporesponsive episode (shock, collapse):The sudden onset of pallor or cyanosis, limpness (muscle hypotonia), and reduced responsiveness or unresponsiveness occurring after vaccination, where no other cause is evident such as a vasovagal episode or anaphylaxis. The episode usually occurs 1 to 48 hours after vaccination and resolves spontaneously.

Injection site reaction (severe)

Reaction (redness and/or swelling) at site of injection which:

     persists for more than 3 days AND is associated with ongoing symptoms such as pain or an inability to use the limb (see ‘Brachial neuritis’ above), and

     does not fulfil the case definition for extensive limb swelling (see ‘Extensive limb swelling’ above), or

     requires hospitalisation.

Intussusception [diagnosis must be made by a hospital physician]

The invagination of a proximal segment of bowel into the distal bowel lumen.

Lymphadenitis (includes suppurative lymphadenitis)
Occurrence of either:

     at least 1 lymph node, 1.5 cm in diameter or larger, or

     a draining sinus over a lymph node.

Meningitis [diagnosis must be made by a physician]: Acute onset of major illness with fever and often neck stiffness/positive meningeal signs (Kernig, Brudzinski) and with CSF pleocytosis.


A discrete or well demarcated soft tissue mass or lump that is firm and is at the injection site in the absence of abscess formation, warmth and erythema.

Orchitis: Swelling with pain and/or tenderness of testes.

Osteitis: Inflammation of the bone due to BCG vaccination.

Osteomyelitis: Proven bacterial infection of bone.

Parotitis: Swelling and/or tenderness of parotid gland or glands.

Rash: Severe or unusual rash.

Screaming (persistent): The presence of crying which is continuous and unaltered for longer than 3 hours.

Witnessed sudden loss of consciousness and generalised, tonic, clonic, tonic-clonic, or atonic motor manifestations.

     febrile seizures: with fever ≥38.5oC,

     afebrile seizures: without fever,

     syncopal seizures: syncope/vasovagal episode followed by seizure(s).

Sepsis: Acute onset of severe, generalised illness due to bacterial infection and confirmed by positive blood culture.

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis [diagnosis must be made by a physician]

Degenerative central nervous system (CNS) condition with laboratory confirmation of abnormal serum and CSF measles antibodies.

See ‘Vasovagal episode’.

Thrombocytopenia: Platelet count <50 x 109/L.

Toxic shock syndrome [diagnosis must be made by a physician]: Abrupt onset of fever, vomiting, watery diarrhoea and shock within a few hours of vaccination as can be associated with other conditions listed here.

Vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis
See ‘Acute flaccid paralysis’.

Vasovagal episode (syncope, faint) : Episode of pallor and unresponsiveness or reduced responsiveness or feeling light headed AND

     occurring while vaccine being administered or shortly after (usually within 5 minutes), AND

     bradycardia, AND

     resolution of symptoms with change in position (supine position or head between knees or limbs elevated).
    (See Table 1.5.1 to distinguish from anaphylaxis).

Other severe or unusual events

Any unusual event that does not fit into any of the categories listed above, but is of medical or epidemiological interest, should be reported with a detailed description of the clinical features.

Mel, thank you so much for sharing knowledge and research with us!

If you want to do more research on the topic I would highly recommend that you check these books out:
The Vaccine Book by Robert Sears, MD
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children's Vaccinations by Stephanie Cave, MD
Vaccines: Are they Really Safe and Effective? by Neil Z. Miller

Here are a few great websites for vaccine info:

If you are interested in either not vaccinating or vaccinating on an alternative schedule you will probably want to find a doctor who will work with these wishes. has a great list of doctors who are "vaccine friendly".

Make sure you know your rights when it comes to choosing whether or not to vaccinate your child. Check here to find out about the laws in your state:

Good luck to all of you making this decision for your children.  It can be a very difficult choice, but if you make sure you are fully informed, you can feel confident with whatever you decide.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Elimination Communication: Is Diaper Free the Way to Be?

 First, what is Elimination Communication? Basically, instead of waiting for your baby to "eliminate" wasted into their diaper and then cleaning it off of them, you read their cues and signals, or "communication", that they are ready to go and then you hold them over a potty so they can "eliminate" there.  It is NOT potty training, it IS an alternative to diapers.

Second, What can I expect from Elimination Communication? For the answer to this I went to the great EC website ECSimplified.

Here is what they say about what Elimination Communication is NOT:

1. EC is not about your baby…it’s all about you, the parent. Your commitment (whether you do it full-time, part-time, or occasionally), consistency, and potty attitude determines your success. Finding balance within the practice is an art. EC is not “wired-in” to our modern brains. You will have to sit down and learn EC.

2. EC should not be started by “winging it.” You can totally “wing it” off of free information from the internet, mommie blogs, and EC email lists…but be careful. Many of my clients are cleaning up giant messes that have resulted from winging it and wish they had started more solidly. Remember: any small baby will pee when in position and cued….is it EC…or is it beginner’s luck?

3. EC doesn’t happen overnight – it’s a journey – but if you follow my steps your baby WILL be finished with diapers between 6 and 20 months versus the 36-38 month national US potty training average (depending on when you start and whether you follow my methods).

4. EC is not impossible. 1/2 the world is doing it right now! Before I tried it, it was just a dream of doing what indigenous folks do. It wasn’t until I had my baby that I discovered that EC is totally real, it’s totally awesome, and I want every other parent to experience it too.

5. EC is not hovering over your baby all day long, waiting for him to urinate. It is not watching the clock and asking him if he has to pee every 30 minutes! It is, however, responding to your baby’s signals, being aware of his natural timing, and helping him go when the time comes.

6. EC is not coercive. It is not punitive. There should be no shaming, pressure, competition, showing off, or rushing the process. EC is completely in line with babies’ natural interests, needs, capabilities, preferred hygiene, and general well-being.

7. EC is not “training” your baby. EC is listening to the signals your baby is already giving and helping her meet her instinctual needs for cleanliness and dryness.

8. EC is not “parent training.” Little babies express their needs out of the innocence of having them and needing immediate help. Their communication is limited to preverbal means (crying, grunting, flailing). With EC, the parent simply responds to a baby’s primal needs, such as with feeding and sleeping.

9. EC is not a chore…it’s a lifestyle. It’s not a fad…it’s a totally different perspective, established in countless communities across the world for 100’s of thousands of years.

10. EC is not fixing something that’s broken (like diapering seems to be)…it’s about not disturbing the natural process in the first place so that no fixing (conventional potty training) is < necessary later.

Third, why would anyone choose to do this? To find this out I talked to ECing Mama, Chante, about her experience with EC. 
Chante runs the amazing site My Natural Motherhood Journey, where she discusses Natural Parenting topics like natural birth, babywearing, breastfeeding, vaccines, and if course, elimination communication.  She even writes a very informative, and sometimes very funny, EC Journal.. that follows her on the ups and downs of practicing Elimination Communication. 

Here's what she had to say about EC:

1. How did you first hear about EC?
I first heard about EC in a homeschooling forum I was a member of. I thought it was crazy at first but then kept hearing mothers talk of all the success they were having with it. They seemed so excited to be having a way to communication with their baby. I wanted what they had. =)

2. Why did you choose to practice EC?
I chose it because I knew I wanted to keep my baby out of diapers as much as possible. I also wanted to avoid the power struggle that comes with waiting till a later age and potty training your child. Even though I had the desire, however, I didn't have the fortitude. I was a chicken! I thought I'd have messes all over the place so I backed down. After another baby went the traditional potty training route, I was finally determined enough to overcome my fears and jump in to EC'ing. One other thing I wanted to avoid was dealing with huge poops squished to my baby's bottom when they got older.

3. What resources did you use to learn how to get started with EC?
I relied heavily on the internet. I knew there were books out there I could read about it, but I didn't start with those. I chose to focus on the anecdotal accounts and testimonies of other parents. I joined a group of EC'ers online and used that as my support system. I didn't even entertain the thought of watching how to do it through the many EC videos on YouTube. That might have made things easier for me to learn.

4. What kinds of "tools" do you use to help with EC? (special clothes, training potty, etc.) Where do you find these items?
I actually don't use many tools. We never got a separate potty and I don't even take out a bowl from the kitchen to use. When our baby was in arms, I just used  the sink in the bathroom, but when they got biger we moved to the toilet. I did learn how to sit farther back on the toilet seat and hold my baby with their back to my stomach so they can go. When they got too big for that position, I just held them on the toilet and that was fine.

5. How old were your children when you started?
I started with my baby at 2mos. I wanted to chill out a bit from giving birth and didn't want to have to rush back and forth to the toilet. In hindsight, I could have started at birth while still in bed. Newborns don't eliminate much and a prefold under them can contain the mess quite easily. You also can really study your newborn and start getting acquainted with their cues.

6. What has been your greatest struggle with EC?
My greatest struggle with EC is getting my mind to understand that it's NOTHING like potty training. The focus is on the deepened relationship with your baby, not your baby's performance. It's easy to get caught up in just the results and feel bad about not measuring up to some standard in your head. No one is (or should be) holding your progress to a scale. That's not how EC works. You can practice it as much or as little as you want depending on your lifestyle. Just the fact that you try with your child and have a mind to change your perception of what your baby is capable of is a GREAT thing!

7. What has been your greatest reward from EC?
My greatest reward with EC is the deeper bonding you feel when you connect with such a young baby. EC can start at birth, but EC parents can wait a bit to start. It's still early in your child's development. If you start before your child can smile at you, EC can be a welcomed early connection that other parents don't get to experience. It's a wonderful experience to feel like you and your baby are one and in sync with each other. You feel more like a team than separate entities. The bonding I experienced with my baby just set the stage for deeper interactions and laid the foundation for a more peaceful parenting experience.

8. What are baby's "elimination cues"?
Elimination Cues are two-fold. There are vocal and physical cues that your baby gives you when they need to eliminate (such as grunting, pulling their legs up, or fussing slightly) and there are vocal cues you give your baby when they eliminate so they will associate elimination with your sound (possibly a shhhh sound). As you practice doing this over and over again every time your baby has to eliminate, your baby gets used to going with those sounds. Eventually (it can take a few days or weeks) your baby will hold their waste until you can get them to a proper receptacle. Then you cue them to let loose with your sound.

If you are interested in using Elimination Communication with your child, here are some great resources for you:

My Natural Motherhood Journey


EC Wear

Monday, June 18, 2012

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate? Part 1

Many parents struggle with the decision of whether or not to vaccinate their children. Not all of us will come to the same conclusion, but it is important that we remember that we are all making this choice out of love.

I talked to some mommies about how they made this difficult decision. Please read their stories with an open mind and remember that even if you don't agree with their choice, we are all just trying to do what's best for our children.


Stefanie has one four year old little girl.

Stefanie has for the most-part stuck with the recommended vaccination schedule, but has skipped a few shots along the way .

1. What kind of research did you do to help you make your decision?
I didn't really do too much research! A wonderful thing about joining a birth club through iVillage, Vaccines were a hot topic and were discussed in length by many of the mothers. The threads were very interesting, but my husband and I opted to get our child vaccinated.

2. Was there one thing that stood out to you that helped you make your decision?
The one thing that stood out was protection of our child. Even though Rubella, Mumps, measles, polio, ect. are not a "threat" these days, they could be. Of course, we weighed the pros/cons of getting her vaccinated. With research pointing to links with autism and allergies-we decided the pros of vaccination stood out.

3. What vaccines have your children had? Why did you choose these to allow?
My daughter has had the regular schedule of vaccines. MMR, Polio, Hepatitis, ect. We chose these because of said reason above.

4. Which vaccines did you skip? Why did you choose these to skip?
We decided to skip the yearly flu vaccines along with the chicken pox vaccinations. I feel both aren't really necessary, though people can argue hepatitis is though ;) The flu vaccine is the year prior's strain and since the flu is constantly mutating into another form, it really doesn't make sense. Emma is healthy and is at "low risk" for complications from the flu, I would rather her get it naturally. Same goes with the chicken pox. I myself haven't had the chicken pox. I still have to be vaccinated with tighters to ensure I will get it. It is a hassle on my account, to keep records on when my last dose was of the tighter.

5. Did your children ever have any reactions to the vaccines?
For a better words, she would just be annoyed! Cranky and tired was all she be after them, until a mom pointed out to give her tylenol before her vaccines. That did the trick, she just gets upset with the soreness around the injection site. This typically lasts a day, but now that she is older she can go on for months about it just because she "knows" what happens when you go to the doctors now.

6. Have your children ever had any of the illnesses/diseases commonly vaccinated against?
Nope! We have been blessed, but things she is vaccinated against aren't prominent besides chicken pox. So many families are opting to get their kids vaccinated against chicken pox these days it may be something she never gets...In that case she may end up like me.

Melissa has 2 children, a 2.5yr old and a 5 week old

Melissa has followed the recommended vaccination schedule for all of her children.

1. Did you ever consider NOT vaccinating or SELECTIVELY vaccinating your children?
Not vaccinating or selectively vaccinating never crossed my mind. I have wanted to fully vaccinate since before I conceived my daughter

2. What kind of research did you do to help with making this decision?
I spoke with my pediatrician, researched online by google-ing all the different vaccines. But most of all I simply went with my heart

3. What was it that ultimately made the decision for you?
My personal decision of not wanting to risk my children catching horrible diseases that could cause death. Both myself and my husband were fully vaccinated and so will our children be.

4. Did your children ever experience any reactions to the vaccines?
My daughter never had any adverse reactions to her vaccines My son has only had the hepatitis vaccine that they give in the hospital at birth, so far, and no reaction to that

5. Do you feel safe having your children around unvaccinated children? Why or why not?
It does not bother me since my children are fully vaccinated

Selective Vaccinators:

Louise has one child, a 9 month old son.
Lousie has followed the recommended vaccinatin schedule up to this point, but will be using and alternative schedule from 12 months on for her son.

1. Did you originally consider NOT vaccinating or SELECTIVELY vaccinating your children?
No, I did not ever think not to vaccinate my child. I did broach the subject of spacing out vaccinations with my husband before our son was born as I didn't want my baby's body being overloaded with viruses all at once, however, my husband was against it and I left it at that. We declined Hep B at birth, even though the hospital was pushing for it.

I should say, we did take our son to East Timor (a small country next to Indonesia) at 5 weeks oldunvaccinated (my husband was posted there at the time). The Australian Embassy Doctor advised against taking an unvaccinated baby to East Timor, but I did not feel this was an issue as he was not going to be going outside the home and interacting with people that may have an illness he could contract. (It is common for outbreaks of measles to occur and numerous children to die due to beingunvaccinated). We started his vaccinations at 6 weeks, which is common place in Australia.

2. What kind of research did you do to help with making this decision?
None. I guess I (we) just accepted that this is what you did - vaccinated your child as per government guidelines. In the last few months I have been reading about vaccines (facebook groups, websites, forums, blogs) and looking into what illnesses can cause harm (such as brain damage, death, etc) and which ones don't. I am now going to selectively vaccinate from 12 months onwards on an alternate schedule. For example, I wont be vaccinating against chicken pox (which is given here at 18 months), and I will be asking for the MMR shot to be separated out.

3. What was it that ultimately made the decision for you?
The main decision was my sons reaction to his six month vaccinations. He was quite unsettled for two days, mostly at night which was not fun for anyone. I was also taken back by all the paper work you had to sign for when vaccinating (it was straight forward when we did it in East Timor), not to mention how the nurses showed you the tubes, ingredients, making sure you were still ok with everything etc. Why was this necessary if it was safe?

4. Did your children ever experience any reactions to the vaccines?
Yes, each time my son was vaccinated he had a reaction. On all occasions he had a fever and was cranky/unsettled. After his four month shots, he had a localised lump at the injection site that lasted for about 6 weeks. The worst was after his six month shots. He had quite a bad fever that night and was unsettled for about two days.

5. Do you feel safe having your children around unvaccinated children? Why or why not?
Yes, because either my son has been vaccinated against a particular illness or if he does contract an illness, he could become immune (eg chicken pox) and therefore would not need the vaccine.

Christine has three children. Her first was a home birth at the age of 21 and he is now 14 and a half! She also has twins aged 3 and a half (natural hospital births -her second was even breech!)

Christine's children have only received the TDaP vaccine. She has skipped all other vaccinations.  

1. What kind of research did you do to help make this decision?
For my first son born in 1997, well, that was back before I looked online for information, so I checked out books from the library. One book in particular was "What every parent should know about childhood immunization" by Jamie Murphy. This book was definitely on the side of NOT vaccinating. At that time I was very into going all natural, home birth, no vaccines, co-sleeping - what people may refer to as attachment parenting. So, for me, not vaccinating was apart of my culture at that time. However, my mother is a nurse and my midwife was quite balanced in her views and we went through all the pros and cons for each vaccine, so I felt I had a support system who would let me know if that choice to not vaccinate needed to change for any reason. My mother being in the health care community helped me feel secure that she would certainly be honest if cases of "whooping cough" were on the rise and it may be time to vaccinate. And with saying that, I also knew that I may choose to do many of the vaccines at a later date; something I don't think the health community makes known for many parents. With my twins I read Dr. Sear Immunization book which I think is the most balanced book on immunizations out there. I also had the experience of my unvaccinated first born, which that choice caused me a great deal of anxiety - so I knew I didn't want to worry about whooping cough every time they seemed a little sick.

2. Was there one thing that really stood out to you to help you make your decision?
With my first, born in the late 1990's, there was still a lot of debate about the MMR vaccine causing autism and truth be told as a new and young mommy, I simply didn't want my child hurt at all. I couldn't imagine injecting his sweet tiny body with strains of diseases and toxins or even pricking him with a needle. Additionally I was a vegetarian at the time and many of the vaccines contained animal dna. This was a deal breaker for me at the time. I think because I had a home birth I was supported in this decision by my midwife. So for my first born he went for 10 years without a single vaccination. In fact I didn't even know if I wanted more children because I hated the vaccine debate so much! Every time he got sick I panicked. So when my twins came along I knew I needed to further educate myself so that I was very confident with my choices either way.

3. What vaccines have your children had? Why did you choose these to allow?
When my twins were born, my older son was in public school, so in an effort to protect them he received the TDaP vaccine. This was a choice based on the commonality of the illness, the recent rise in cases of whooping cough and the complications, including fatality of contracting one of these illnesses. He was sore and tired for about 24 hours after the vaccine, but beyond that he was fine! For my twins I opted to also get them the DTaP, though I waited until they were about 1 years old. I felt better having them be a bit bigger as well as communicate with me any discomfort they may be having from the vaccine. They both had a mild fever for about 24 hours and the injection site was red and tender. I also chose to get them the pneumococcal vaccine, though I spread them out over a months time. For me I am not comfortable with multiple immunizations at one time. (and again, you can make this choice!) I chose that one again, for the same reason, likelihood of contraction and the severity of the disease. With that one they had no symptoms whatsoever. Another reason for my choice to vaccinate my twins more than I did my older son is that I felt having more than one child meant more exposure, not only to us but to others. What a healthy child can endure and do fine with a child who may already be sick or have a compromised immune system may not be okay with - also those children may not be able to receive vaccines so they are dependent on the "herd" of the vaccinated population. I felt as a mother I wanted to not only protect my children but children my kids might expose illnesses to. In effort to do this I selected the vaccination that through my research were the most serious.

4. Which vaccines did you skip? Why did you choose these to skip?
I have skipped all other vaccines. Many of them like HepB - there was no chance, with it being a sexually transmitted disease that my children would be at risk, so I wasn't willing to risk the complications from the vaccine. This vaccine can be given at a later date. Polio - little risk of contraction and if that risk goes up, or they decide to travel somewhere where there is risk of contraction one can get the vaccine at a later date. Vaccines like Ruebella, Rotavirus and chicken pox are generally mild - and having health insurance, a mother who is a nurse, living within a short distance of a medical facility and a pretty good instinct on when it's time to go seek help - I felt confident that had the means to care for them and seek treatment to ensure they were treated promptly if infected. The only vaccine I waver on that I have not had any of my children vaccinated for is MMR, because these diseases can cause serious complications.

5. Did any of your children have reactions to any vaccines?

6. Have your children ever had any illnesses/diseases that are commonly vaccinated against?
All three of my children have had both rubella and chicken pox and were just fine. My oldest was 3 and a half when he got the chicken pox and it was so mild at first I thought "wow, where did all those bug bites come from?!" But then he got the tale-tell low grade fever and runny nose. I called his pediatrician who, at the time, was very pro-vaccine and she said "okay, well, make sure he drinks a lot of fluids." He was a little run down but he has had much worse colds! With the chicken pox with my twins, they were about 18 months old. They had very few pox, under 15 each. They also had the low grade fever and runny nose. They were seen and their doctor confirmed it. It was extraordinarily mild. Ruebella was typical case for all three of my children, lasting about 3 days. They had the fever and tale-tell rash. My son was about 4 and my twins about 1 year.


Marlena has three children.

Marlena's children have not had any vaccinations.

1. Did you ever consider vaccinating?I never really thought about whether I was going to vaccinate or not until I started working at a chiropractor office from 2003-2006. I received information from the chiropractors I worked with and also talked with parents of children who were fine until after receiving immunizations esp the MMR vaccine.

2. What kind of research did you do to help with your decision?
I did look online for info also but dont remember the sites I looked at and I also looked into the lists of what is in the vaccinations. When I had my oldest son in May of 2006, I decided not to vaccinate at that time and figured that I would eventually do it when he got older.  It seemed too much to do all those vaccines when he was so little

3. What was the main thing that helped you make your decision?
I just recently went to a seminar that Dr. Stephen C. Marini, M.S., D.C., Ph.D where he talked about Vaccination Issues and Immunity and also about Challenges to Childhood Immune Systems. He had alot of very useful information that was informational and helpful understanding the effects of vaccines to children and their immune system. Some websites that Dr. Marini recommended checking out are: . He also talked about how vaccines change our Th 1 and Th 2 cells and how that affects our bodies and that of our children. Dr. Marini has his own website at . After going to the seminar, I am more than convinced that I will not be vaccinating my children at all. They are healthy children and I would hate to vaccinate them and then have their immune systems change and they start to have issues that they never had before. I learned that it's not just the risk of possible autism or ADD/ADHD that could possibly affect my children if they receive vaccines, it's also things like allergies, asthma, intestinal issues that could happen due to the change of Th1 and Th2 cells in their bodies from the chemicals and things in vaccines. 

4. Were you vaccinated? Why or why not?
I was vaccinated when I was a child and didnt have any issues with reactions to the vaccines. I, however, have never received the varicella vaccine since I had the chicken pox when I was little and I have never received a flu shot. The flu shot I have always refused esp when I learned that there is aborted fetus cells used in it and I am against abortion.

5. Have any of you children come down with any of the diseases/illnesses that are commonly vaccinated against?  

All 3 of my children haven't been vaccinated since birth and have not had any diseases or illnesses that children are commonly vaccinated against.

Bekah has one child, a one year old son.

Bekah's son has not had any vaccinations.

1. Did you ever consider vaccinating?
I never considered vaccinating because my family never vaxed, but my husband had never not considered vaccinating. Of course it's important to remember that the number of vaccines my husband received as a child are nothing compared to what our child would receive now.

2. What kind of research did you do to help with your decision?
Because I wanted to convince my husband vaccines weren't for our family, I had to really research my facts! In researching our decision I read the ingredients for each vaccine on the CDC website and read everything I could on the VAERS website. I also read The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears and another by Dr. Offit called Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All. In addition, I read everything I could abut the relationship between drug companies and doctors, and all the money that states make off vaccine programs. My dad always said 'Follow the money' and I didn't like what I found.

3.What was the main thing that helped you make your decision?
The main thing that helped me make a decision for my child was that my brother, sister and I have never been vaccinated and we were always healthier than any of our friends or family. We get a cold maybe once a year, I'm the only one to ever get an ear infection, we've had chicken pox, measles, and German measles and we are all just fine. I do think a healthy diet also played a part in our overall health.

4. Were you vaccinated? Why or why not?
My parents did not and do not believe in vaccines, so no one in my family was ever vaccinated. They believe doctors are for sick people, so we never went to the doctor unless something was wrong, which wasn't often.

5. Have any of you children come down with any of the diseases/illnesses that are commonly vaccinated against?
My son is only one and has not had any illnesses as of yet, but I do expect a time when we will have to deal with chicken pox, and possibly measles. Many of the diseases children are vaccinated against are not an issue in a country like America where we have access to clean water, fresh food, and instant medical help should we need it, which is why I don't feel the need to vaccinate.

I want to say a big thanks to all the mommies! Thank you for being so open and honest!

Come back for Part 2 where I will discuss the facts and statistics behind vaccinations and provide you with plenty of resources so you can do your own research and make an informed decision.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Honestly, What the Hell is Wrong With People?!

I am in a state of shock right now! I have been planning this post for a while, but I never would have expected it to take the turn that it has! Just keep reading and you'll see where things went somewhere I truly did not expect them to.

I want to talk about breastfeeding... More specifically about breastfeeding in public. Before I had my son I had never been around anyone who breastfed. My mother and mother-in-law both had bad experiences with trying to breastfeed and as a result only did it for a very short time. I always felt that it wasn't all that important and I didn't understand why people couldn't just give their kid a bottle when they were out in public. I even had my argument for those who said it was a natural part of life, "Well, so is peeing and pooping, but I don't do that in front of you".  I know, I'm so clever.

Then, I decided to have a baby...

All of a sudden, it was MY baby whose health and well-being we were talking about and I understood why women wanted to breastfeed  I realized breastfeeding is one of the MOST important things you can do for your child, but I still didn't think there was any reason people had to do it in public.  At the time I was pregnant I figured, no big deal, I'll breastfeed my baby and when we're out in public I'll just give him a bottle.  Since breastfeeding came so naturally to everyone, I shouldn't have any problems at all switching back and forth between breast and bottle, babies know what to do.  HA!

I learned VERY quickly that breastfeeding is not easy and natural for everyone and babies do not always know what to do. My son and I struggled for months with several different issues until I finally decided I would just pump and give him expressed breastmilk.  I have only recently even been able to figure out what I think may have been causing all of our issues and hope I will be able to get past all the "booby traps" the next time around.  I have learned one other thing since all of this happened, breastfeeding in public IS natural and for many it is NECESSARY! 

Because my son and I were struggling so much with nursing, I would often feel the need to supplement him by giving him a bottle of expressed milk. After these bottle feedings I always noticed that, even though latch was not our biggest issue, he seemed to struggle with figuring it out. It felt like I would start to make some progress, but then we would give him a bottle and, just like that, we had to start over. It was always three steps forward, two steps back.

That was how it finally hit me. We are asking women to be ashamed of something that they should be proud of. We are asking women to potentially damage a bond that they have worked so hard for. 

So, now we come to why I wanted to write this post in the first place... Why are we doing this? Why are we so uncomfortable with breastfeeding? 

I think the reason is simple, men have turned women (and their body parts) into sex objects and women have decided to accept it.  I know that breasts have been sexualized since the beginning of time, but at least back in the day people accepted the fact that they could do double duty.  No one can deny that society just continues to get more and more lax in its morality.  The prevalence of pornography, the ridiculous lack of clothes women wear today, even girls dolls are dressed sleazy (Bratz, Monster High).

I have heard MANY women say that they don't want to breastfeed because it will make their boobs ugly, they will have to wear big maternity bras and won't be able to wear cute tops anymore, and the real kicker- it's disgusting to let a baby suck on my boob, my boobs are for my husband.  I hear and read statements like these over and over again and it just proves that people have completely lost sight of what breasts are... they are UDDERS people! Sorry to say it, but yes they are there for the purpose of producing milk to sustain life!

Now, I know I've said that men started this, but I don't think they are the ones to blame. I just think that men have created an over sexualized image of women today and we as a society, and as women, have accepted it. As a result, breastfeeding has become inappropriate because breasts are no longer equated with feeding a baby, but with sex.

Actually, I believe that most men don't have an issue with breastfeeding. I have never heard a man complain about women breastfeeding, but I have heard plenty of complaining from women. We all know that women are much too concerned with how other women choose to live their lives, just look at how we treat each other. Look at the endless "Mommy Wars" going on.

We have lost sight of why breastfeeding is so important because we have turned breasts into NOTHING more than sex objects!

I want you all to look at these BEAUTIFUL and AMAZING photos and tell me, are you offended by what you see? Do they make you uncomfortable?

 My guess is that you didn't find these photos offensive or disturbing in any way. (If you did, you may need to rethink your values).  These pictures are amazing! These are strong, real women! What struck me most when these pictures started coming in was how different all of the mothers are from one another. These mothers were all different ages, races, backgrounds! They all had a different experience and a different story to tell.  The next thing that struck me was the ages of the children, some very, very young babies, while others are much older.  It is amazing that so many different kinds of women breastfeed, yet we treat it as though it something weird and rare.  Why are we hiding something so beautiful? 

We hide these beautiful images from society yet we allow images like these to run rampant on TV and the Internet.

Ok, now answer my previous question. Were you offended by these pictures?

I know I was!

You're probably thinking, "Ok, but pictures like those are all over the Internet, just do a Google search and you'll come up with a ton of pictures just like those".  Yes, I agree, but I didn't find these pictures by just searching the Internet. 

When I started thinking about this post I decided that since Facebook seems to think that photos of breastfeeding are SOOO inappropriate I would find some photos that proved just how hypocritical they are.  Facebook is constantly deeming breastfeeding photos as inappropriate and removing the photos or even temporarily banning the posters.  So, that is where I got these pictures, Facebook. Every single one of this second group of pictures was found by simply searching Facebook.

You know that disturbing and shocking turn I told you my research took...? Well, here it is. These photos were all taken from Facebook, but that isn't the worst of it, These photos are the TAME photos. Most of the photos I came across were so inappropriate I couldn't even post them here to make a point. BTW, the stars on the above pictures, I added those AFTER downloading them from PUBLIC Facebook pages.  While I was searching I found nudity and pornographic picture, but I also found pornographic VIDEOS! This was all done by simply typing in "boobs" and "sexy" into the facebook search and looking at few pages that came up.  Now, Facebook is considering allowing children under 13 onto their site (as if they weren't finding ways on already) and they have this filth all over the place.  If you think I am exaggerating. please, do the search for yourself, but while your at it please report the disgusting images you find. Let's please show Facebook what is REALLY acceptable.

Explain to me why our society now deems breastfeeding in public gross and inappropriate, but hardcore pornography on a social networking site is just par for the course?  We have gone so far down this road now that I truly fear we will never get back to a place where breastfeeding is again considered normal.  This is why I ask you, honestly, what the hell is wrong with people?!

I would like to say a special thank you to all of the AMAZING mamas who provided the beautiful breastfeeding photos used in this post. You are strong, incredible women and you have some VERY lucky babies to have mommies like all of you!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Doctor, not God

I think that too often people forget that doctors are human too. People far too often take what their doctors say as Gospel and take for granted the fact that doctors are NOT perfect or all-knowing. I am not saying this to say that we don't need doctors or that doctors are all bad. No, but there are bad doctors out there. Just as you could call an electrician to work on your home, you trust them, they are an expert at what they do, right? However, have we not all heard some horror story about an electrician (or plumber, handyman, or some other "expert" in whatever field it may be) making horrible mistakes to some one's home? 

Yes, doctors go through A LOT of school, but an education alone does not make you a good doctor. We've all been to school and then moved on to careers and we know we don't retain every single thing we've learned. We also know that going through school cannot possibly teach us every single thing we may encounter in our real lives. My point here, doctors don't know everything.

I think it also very important to point out, not all doctors are created equal. Just like my example before about the electrician, some experts are better than others, some doctors are better than others.  Doctors come with different educational backgrounds, different levels of experience, and even have different philosophies about how to practice medicine.  Remember, doctors are people too, with different feelings and beliefs just like everyone else.  These beliefs factor heavily into how many choose to practice medicine, some take a very medical route while others take a very holistic approach. Which are you more comfortable with?

I am not writing this post to bash doctors, I am writing it in an attempt to humanize them.  I am also writing it in hopes that some of you will stop and take a second look at you doctors.  Are you happy with them? Do you trust them? 

The search for a doctor is especially important when you are expecting.  Your OB/GYN is not only taking care of you, but also your baby.  It is SO important to be sure that your doctor has your (and your baby's) best interests at heart at all times. 

Here are just a few things that you should really think about when choosing your doctor (OB/GYN, pediatrician, nurse, midwife, doula, etc.):

1. Are they willing to listen (and take seriously) your wishes for your pregnancy and birth?

2. Do they have beliefs about medicine that are similar to yours? Are they too quick to intervene? Or maybe they aren't quick enough to intervene when it becomes necessary?

3. Do they take time with you to really explain any questions you have?

4. Most importantly, do you trust them?

Always trust your instincts! If you aren't completely comfortable with your doctor, then it's time to find a new one.  It is OK to drop your doctor! If it doesn't feel right, then it isn't. 

Another thing to keep in mind, if your ever feel unsure about something you doctor tells you, get a second opinion. Like I said before, different doctors have different experiences, philosophies, etc, so another doctor may see something the first did not. 

One more thing I want to say, I wrote this post with my focus on doctors, but the truth is it applies to every medical professional you will ever hire. There are good and bad doctors, but there are also good and bad midwives, pediatricians, chiropractors, dentists, and so on and so on. These people are there to do one of the most important jobs there is, take care of you and your family's health and well-being.  So, always be sure that you have entrusted the right person with this responsibility.