Friday, March 30, 2012

One in Six

There is no doubt that parenting styles can be polarizing. Whether we birth naturally or not, whether we breastfeed or formula feed, if we allow screen time or limit it, how we feed our children, and more, are issues that can divide parents and families. Grandparents take it personally when we raise our own children according to a different set of rules. Siblings scoff at our "alternative" parenting choices. Things can get messy.

But let's sit down together, as parents and grandparents, caregivers and teachers, and look at something astounding: one in six children now suffers from a developmental disability. One in six. Let that sink in for all of us. Maybe you have six kids. Or there are six kids among your family group. You certainly know six kids - kids from daycare or school. Or you see groups of kids larger than six at the playground or park. One of each six has a developmental disability, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as published in the journal Pediatrics. One in six has a learning disability, ADHD, autism, or other developmental disability. Over the past 12 years, the prevalence of autism has increased by 289.5% and ADHD by 33%. That's no small potatoes.

Whatever your lifestyle or parenting choices, you cannot help but to recognize the seriousness of that statistic. One in six. Something is critically, drastically wrong. When are we going to sit up and take action? When are we going to realize that what we are currently doing is not working. Whether your information points to trouble in our food supply, pollutants in our environment, toxins in our homes, or chemicals in our bodies, we need to come together to take action.

We know the odds of winning the lottery are slim. They certainly are not 1 in 6. Yet we will line up to buy lottery tickets for that slim chance. We'll go out of our way on the ride home to get our ticket. We'll set aside money to buy a lottery ticket and take special care to put it in a safe place. And if the odds of winning the lottery were 1 in 6, the system would be out of control. Why do we turn the other cheek with our children? Why do we shrug off these numbers? When will we go out of our way to make a change? To save our future? To save our kids?

If you have a child with special needs, you know the challenges and the heartache. You know the long hours of worry and care. And you wish it could get better. Wishing won't make it happen, but action will. Things need to change. On this, we can - and must - join forces. Our future is at stake.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

PPD and Support for Moms: More Evidence

The journey to motherhood is a difficult one for many of us. The transition to being a mom often means putting aside our personal career goals, having less time for social activities, and, in some cases, a serious identity crisis. For 10 to 15 percent of women, motherhood may begin with postpartum depression (PPD). According to a recent study of Norwegian women by Silje Marie Haga, mothers who are more holistic-minded, such as those seeking natural childbirth and wishing to breastfeed, may be more prone to PPD, as are older mothers with established careers.

"In my study the women who had the greatest need for control often had the strongest wish to have a natural birth. If they had to have an epidural or a c-section, they could feel that they had not mastered the birth. They assume an extra burden with this idea of how the birth should be, and they feel that it says something about themselves as a woman and mother," reports Haga. PPD also impacts breastfeeding success for many new moms and may interrupt the bonding between mom and baby. Because there is a stigma associated with depression, the rates of PPD may be higher than currently reported.

Prevention is the key to reducing PPD rates, Haga argues. What crucial actions can we take? According to Haga, a vital step is "that new mothers receive practical and emotional support from their surroundings." Having social support from partners, as well as from others who can acknowledge and validate how mom feels is essential. Baby clinics apparently do not serve this function effectively as their efforts tend to "normalize" the difficult transition to parenthood. In addition, the duration of PPD can extend for several months, beyond the standard time frame during which a new mom is interacting with birth care providers and nurses.

Mom-to-mom support is one of the most valuable and essential components for parenting success, from our perspective. Consistent, long-term empathy, sharing, and community may not make the challenges of new motherhood disappear, but can empower women with the confidence they need for success, as well as to offer a forum for bonding and connecting with other women who are facing similar circumstances. Mom-focused communities, such as the Holistic Moms Network, help women to develop a strong social support network and find much-needed camaraderie during the postpartum period and beyond.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hot Items for Holistic Moms

The Natural Products Expo West this past weekend was packed with great items and products for holistic-minded parents. While last year's hot items were coconut water and all things gluten-free, this year seemed to have more than our fair share of seaweed snacks, kale chips, and natural energy/snack bars.

So what great new items and trends did we find? First, from HMN Sponsors, there are some handy new products available. Boiron has released a larger multi-pack for their Oscillococcinum remedy - great for families and essential for any flu season. Organic Valley is coming out with a fabulous new organic sliced American cheese and we all know how much kids (and adults) love grilled cheese sandwiches! Sprout Organic Baby Food has new gourmet flavors for toddlers on deck and who can ever resist Flora's Omega-3 Truffles (not us, of course!).

We also discovered some of the most delicious gluten-free bread and focaccia from Canyon
Bakehouse and amazing new chocolate from Gnosis, a raw, organic chocolatier. We are excited to see that the voices of holistic parents everywhere are being heard by companies who are turning out new products to meet our demands for non-GMO and non-toxic products. Bionaturae has changed their can linings to remove BPA and more companies are becoming Fair Trade Certified. We found not only fair trade coffee and chocolate, but fair trade liquers, teas, and t-shirts. And it was great fun to run into some of our favorite green celebrities,
including Ed Begley, Jr. who is launching a new green cleaning product line that meets his deep commitment to sustainability.

It is always inspiring to meet the people behind the brands, to hear their
stories, and to see their dedication to meeting the needs of holistic-minded parents! We are excited to see that our collective voice makes a difference and that many companies are championing natural living!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mayim Bialik on Natural Parenting

This week we are talking to actress and new author, Mayim Bialik, long-time Holistic Moms Network member and Celebrity Spokesmama about her new book Beyond the Sling.

We are excited to learn of the release of your book, “Beyond the Sling”. What inspired you to write a parenting book?

After writing for armed with my Holistic Moms Network (HMN) parenting tips and experiences, I was interviewed separately by celebrity mama Ali Landry and then Theresa Strasser; both noted that although they would never practice attachment parenting (AP), I made it sound logical, non-judgmental, and purposeful. Theresa’s book agent asked to talk to me and told me he thinks we have a book to write…4 months later we had a proposal ready.

How is your book different from a “how-to” parenting book?

The book is more memoir and anecdotal than instructional. You may not want to do what I describe, but the principles of what we do (such as the neuroscience of bonding, the facts about interventions in labor, etc.) can be applied to any parenting style. With the exception of hitting children (which I never would advocate), it’s not my business if any one person breastfeeds of cosleeps; that’s their personal decision. I only talk about what works for us and why it makes sense evolutionarily and practically.

As a holistic, attached parent, many of the parenting choices you make are considered controversial. How do you manage the stress of being scrutinized or even criticized for your choices?

Getting educated about why our choices are supported by medical fact (such as natural birth, breastfeeding, and carrying your baby). Finding your tribe is crucial, creating the sisterhood that mammals need (I found HMN and would have lost my mind if I had to hear one more “mom’s group” tell me I was spoiling my baby!). Learning to stop caring what others think of you. It has to work for your family, and you will never please everyone. Trust me, have tried!

Sometimes it's hard to parent holistically. What advice would you give to that seasoned holistic mama when they feel like throwing in the towel?

Know where to bend and where to break. When my patience runs low and I feel overwhelmed and touched out and like I am running on fumes, I remember that the dishes don’t need to be done today. The meal doesn’t have to be picture perfect today. And I may need to serve non- whole wheat pasta if that’s all there is in the cupboard and that’s ok too! I need to find ways to reclaim patience, love myself in my imperfection, and give my kids a break.

How would you respond to the tenet that parenting holistically is truly a journey and each of us are on our own various different paths?

I think no one gets to tell other people how to parent. You never know what someone has been through, what’s hard for them, why they do things differently than you do. Every one deserves respect and support, and education and resources. But I have learned (the hard way) that judging others and not having compassion and assuming the best about them only makes me bitter and resentful.

Attached parenting does not necessarily mean green/sustainable or healthy. Has finding support through organizations like the Holistic Moms Network helped you on your parenting journey?

It’s a really special kind of parenting to do it the green way, and it’s true that it is separate from AP. HMN was literally the only place I felt totally understood: from natural birth, breastfeeding, bedsharing, and gentle discipline to reducing toxic chemicals in the home, living a simple (and beautiful!) life free of consumer madness, and eating in a way that honors our bodies and the earth. If I could have created a parenting group that was made for all of my proclivities, it would look pretty much exactly like the HMN.

What is one of your biggest parenting challenges?

Balancing my needs and my kids’ needs; not taking any time to recharge my batteries. I don’t mean elaborate spa retreats away from my kids; I mean that I need to d little things to remind myself that I exist separate from being a mama.

Any words of wisdom for expectant parents?

Trust your intuition. You don’t need a book: the baby is the book. The baby’s needs and the baby’s wants. Ignore anyone who judges you or questions your authority as your child’s best protector and guide. Find your tribe!