Amazed By How the Body Works

*Note: what follows is strictly my opinion. I have no medical training, so what I say shouldn’t be taken as medical advice.

I tend to talk about birth a fair amount, so it wasn’t really a surprise that I found myself explaining why I chose to delay cord clamping and declined the vit K injection with my second child (I’d requested those with Kieran, but they didn’t heed my wishes about the cord clamping and we chose to do the vit K since it was an instrumental delivery with immediate cord clamping, but I digress).

Now, if you read the blog or all to me, you know that my general philosophy is to avoid interventions unless and until said intervention can be demonstrated to definitely help, and that the positives outweigh any negatives, for there are always positives and negatives. I tend to think that birth is best left well enough alone, with as few interventions as possible, in the majority of cases, thoug of course there are times when interventions are necessary and I am thankful for them being available in such cases.  And I will note now that there are times when immediate clamping and vitamin K are necessary, such as in the case of placenta praevia, traumatic delivery, or perhaps if the child will be circumcised (leaving aside my views on routine circumcision for the moment), though I don’t feel they are necessary each and every time.

But back to delayed cord clamping and vit K. In the course of the conversation, it was mentioned that delayed cord clamping carried a higher rate of polycythemia in the baby. I’ll admit, I was unsure what this entailed, so I looked it up.  I found that polycythemia is a condition whereby a person a higher red blood cell count.  This increases the viscosity of the blood, thereby increasing the clotting factor of it.  I know there can be other issues with polycythemia, which I will revisit in a moment.

When I read this part, though, a lightbulb immediately went off.  See, vitamin K is given in order to facilitate clotting in the newborn, but is this necessary if the babe is receiving his full blood volume and getting that higher red blood cell count?  Especially if immediate breastfeeding is practised, since vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin, is found in somewhat higher levels in colostrum and hindmilk?  The mother eating foods rich in vitamin K would be sure to increase levels both in the cord blood and the milk, given that a study of Chinese women showed lower levels of vitamin K in cord blood and declared it was due to a nutritional deficiency.  Now, I’ll also admit that I’ve seen a study declaring that vitamin K levels in colostrum and mature milk were not sufficient.  The problems, in my opinion, with that study are the low sample size, and comparing vitamin k levels with nonhuman sources.  Surely our bodies are not completely broken?  Again, having the vitamin k for those who need it is a wonderful thing, as there are definite cases where it’s helpful and necessary, I am just questioning its routine use.  From what I’ve seen, it seems that God’s design is simply amazing.

What of those other issues that can occur with polycythemia?  A meta-analysis showed that, while there was an increase in polycythemia, it was benign and asymptomatic.  To me, this shows that it is the normal way our bodies work, and in the absence of a problem, needn’t be addressed, but that’s just my opinion.  Regardless, the more I learn about how our bodies naturally work, I’m amazed by God’s design.  I can easily exclaim with the Psalmist that “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14a).

Of course, this post isn’t intended to be a full account of all the pros and cons of delayed cord clamping and vitamin K, I just wanted to comment on this aspect.  It is something that parents must research and determine what is the best decision in their circumstances.


Book Nook

At our latest library excursion, we were looking for Thomas books for Kieran, when I happened to see a section of books by Arnold Lobel, the author of the Frog and Toad books we love so much. So it was with great interest that I picked up Grasshopper on the Road. I’m not sure if we like it quite as well as the Frog and Toad stories, but that is probably because the Frog and Toad stories are ones we’ve read and reread and love dearly. This book is also quite nice, and Lobel’s stories and illustrations are sure to delight. I know Charlotte was grinning the entire time it was being read to her.

How Green Would You Go?

Going green is becoming a bit more mainstream. Real nappies, breastfeeding, baby led weaning, and baby wearing aren’t seen as quite as odd these days and are even becoming fashionable. Going paperless doesn’t just refer to the office, and can be quite cute and easy with fun prints for unpaper towels and napkins. I’ve found some great paperless products at this cloth house and really must get over there to make some purchases.

But some “green” habits remain on the fringe, with most considering them a bit odd.  While real nappies don’t get much of a reaction, cloth wipes sometimes get a raised eyebrow, and family cloth certainly gets more of a reaction.  The same goes for mama cloth.  I think this is simply because we don’t think of those things, for really family cloth and mama cloth aren’t all that different from cloth nappies.  It wouldn’t be any more work, either, since they could all be washed in the same load.

Even though I’m a huge fan of real nappies and cloth wipes, though, I’ve hesitated about making the plunge to family cloth and mama cloth.  Actually, the ideas themselves don’t bother me, and I really want to go with mama cloth, I just haven’t gotten around to buying or making the products, or gotten organised enough to fully go that route.  One of these days, though, I’m sure I’ll do it.  So what about you – how green would you go?

Book Nook

When a gift card from Barnes and Noble arrived for the kids, I think I was as excited as they were.  We piled into the car while we discussed what books they might like.  Kieran requested a Thomas the Tank Engine book, and Charlotte was happy about finding another Frog and Toad book.  Since we had more money on the gift card, we browsed the children’s section to see what else we found.


On a whim, I meandered over to the religious section to see if they by chance had a good Catholic children’s Bible.  I found this, My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories, and thumbed through it.  I loved the layout, and how it wasn’t just a paraphrase, but included the NRSV text and also included ideas for going deeper and/or activities that could be done.  With a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur from Bishop Choby, I figured we couldn’t go wrong, and so we got it.  While we did Bible readings together before, this makes it bit easier to share Scripture with the kids.  I can’t wait to share it with them more and more.

The Media and Attitudes to Children

Thanks to my brother, I’m a great fan of The Big Bang Theory.  I first encountered episodes on a transatlantic flight, and I kept laughing aloud and then looking to see if anyone was watching me.  Sheldon’s absolutely hilarious, and is the reason I watch the show.

The other night I was catching up on the latest episode.  While I enjoyed the parts with Sheldon (the thing with the pocket watch and giving Amy a tiara were great!), I was rather disappointed in the exchanges between Howard and Bernadette.  They get on the topic of children, and Bernadette explains that she really dislikes children.  Howard counters that she might feel different when it’s her own, and her retort is that then it would be her body that’s ruined.  Later she says that she’d have children if Howard would be the stay-at-home-parent so that she can have adult conversation and actually enjoy her life.

It’s said the life imitates art, though I think it also gives a commentary on the views and values of society.  These views towards children really sadden me, even more so because I know they are not isolated or pure fiction.  When I was about seven months pregnant with Kieran, a colleague said to me that he’d never have children because he wanted to be able to do whatever he wanted.  Thankfully, another colleague steered the conversation in another direction rather quickly, but I’ve often thought back to that, and how sad it is.

It’s true, being a mother means I don’t get to do whatever I want.  However, does that mean it’s not fulfilling or good?  No!  In fact, I’d counter that it’s better for me to not get to do whatever I want, because sometimes the things I want aren’t necessary what is best.  Besides, it’s just selfish.  Yes, being a parent means putting my child before me, but that’s not a bad thing.  It is a beautiful thing, and a way of participating in the self-giving love of God.

As for ruining my body, I’ll admit I’ve had issues with body image after having children.  That in no way means my body is ruined.  As a friend pointed out, it is amazing that our bodies have nourished and grown and continue to nourish and comfort our children.  That’s not ruined!  While it may not match up with societal expectations, it is beautiful.  When I think about it, it’s truly amazing what my body has done and is doing, all according to God’s design.  Ruined?!  I think not.