Saturday, February 27, 2010

Parenting Choices

There are a lot of things that I hadn't thought much about before getting into the birth and doula world. I have been focusing a lot on the childbirth event itself, and very little on the parenting aspect of having a baby.  Here are a few things that I've learned a lot about since getting into this world.

Some of them may seem a little bit "hippie," but I don't think they are, really. They are seen as "Alternative Parenting" type choices, but that's because not everyone does them. It doesn't mean that someone who chooses to do one also does all the others, and not all of them are that radical.

Each topic does have its groups of differing points of view, and sometimes even heated debate.  All of them require making your own decision about whats right for you and your family.


The WHO estimates that as of 2006, 30% to 33% of males aged 15 or older are circumcised worldwide.

There are a lot more people who are against circumcision than I realized, and people get very worked up about it. I am not going to formally take a side here.

Arguments for circumcision:

- It improves sexual function;
- Provides some protection from HIV and penile cancer;
- Better hygiene without a foreskin;
- Religious aspect: Muslims and Jews traditionally circumcise their male babies for religious reasons;
-Wanting baby to look like Dad or peers.

Arguments against circumcision:

- Reduces sexual function (desensitizes);
- It is a cruel and painful procedure to do on a newborn;
- There are risks of complication or death: infection, hemorrhage, surgical or anesthetic mishap, long-term issues with urination, etc;
- Human Rights aspect: Seen as genital mutilation of male infants and children is just as terrible as female genital mutilation.


Again, a lot more parents vehemently against vaccination than I knew.

Arguments for Vaccination:
- Decreases risk for entire population,
- One swift, inexpensive way to prevent a disease.

Arguments Against:
- Religious reasons,
- Forced immunization is about making money,
- Safety and Side Effects related to vaccine ingredients: Mercury-based preservative thiomersal contributing to the development of autism, Aluminum, other heavy metals, animal bi-product, etc etc and long-term effects. 

Attachment Parenting

Attachment Parenting, or AP, is difficult to define. Wikipedia says it is
a parenting philosophy based on the principles of the attachment theory in developmental psychology. According to attachment theory, the child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood with lifelong consequences. Sensitive and emotionally available parenting helps the child to form a secure attachment style which fosters a child's socio-emotional development and well being. Less sensitive and emotionally available parenting or neglect of the child's needs may result in insecure forms of attachment style, which is a risk factor for many mental health problems.
The 8 Principles of Attachment Parenting International are very broad, so that parents may interpret them in a manner that suits their lifestyle. Here are some generalizations (my take) of AP:

1. Creating a peaceful environment for birth that promotes bonding with baby
2. Breastfeeding, feeding baby on cue, eating healthy, weaning gently
2. Respond with Sensitivity, or, You can't spoil your child, or Don't ignore child's needs
3. Touch and physical affection is important, Babywearing
4. Co-sleeping and responding to child at night as you would during the day
5. Minimize separation and care by strangers
6. Gentle, Positive Discipline
7. Stay Balanced

Cloth Diapering

Why would you ever use cloth diapers? Isn't that so much more difficult?

Here are some reasons:
1. The Cost. On average, disposables cost roughly $3000 a year. Cloth diapers cost a lot up front but less overall. If you're curious about the price comparison of all the types of cloth diapering vs. disposables, this site compares the cost of buying and washing, if necessary, for every single diaper change you will probably do.
2. The environmental impact of disposable diapers is staggering. A single disposable diaper takes 300-500 years to decompose in a landfill.  Keeping disposable diapers out of the landfills lowers your environmental footprint!
3. Cloth diapered babies on average are potty trained almost a year earlier than babies who use disposables and have significantly less diaper rash.

My really brief and basic description, for those of us who are only familiar with disposable diapers: There are a lot of different kinds, but I think basically you have an outer shell and absorbing inserts that both get washed in the washing machine. Solid waste gets dumped, it does not go in the machine. There are some specifics to learn about washing them and drying them, and some things to learn if you're traveling and have to carry around the dirty diapers (until you can wash them at home).

The first post I ever read on the subject, which provides a nice summary and answers some questions, though isn't as detailed as this post, which actually describes the difference between types of cloth diapering methods, and more!
This blog post includes the longest summary of what other bloggers have had to say about their own cloth diapering choices and I definitely didn't read through it all, but if you're interested, go for it.

Elimination Communication
A potty training practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address an infant's need to eliminate waste. Typically the goal is to partially or completely avoid the use of diapers. EC emphasizes communication between the caregiver and child, helping them both become more attuned to the child's innate rhythms and control of urination and defecation. The term "elimination communication" was inspired by traditional practices of diaper-less baby care in less-industrialized countries and hunter-gatherer cultures. Some practitioners of EC begin soon after birth, although it can be started with babies of any age. (Wikipedia)

I first learned about EC from this blog post where she describes what its like to do it with two children and how it works. I find it fascinating that even a young baby can signal when he or she has to eliminate waste.


  1. Hey there,

    Congrats to you on being a aspiring doula! I am an aspiring doula too with toLabor (, formerly known as ALACE.

    Good for you in researching these issues more. They are indeed complex sometimes.

    I want to share with you a really good resource on circumcision, hosted by Dr. Dean Edell. I think you'll be glad you watched.

    Take care and best of luck with your work!

  2. Hi Caroline!

    Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog! Best of luck to you as well on your doula journey :)

    I will definitely watch the video you posted!


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