Saturday, October 15, 2011

Babies Don't Cry

I recently just read an incredible article on called Why African Babies Don’t Cry. If you haven’t read it, you should, but in summery, it’s about a woman who leaves the UK to return to Kenya to have her children. In the UK, it was widely accepted that babies cried, but in Kenya, there was a completely different expectation, therefore the expectation of how she should respond were different.

This article got me thinking, what if we changed our expectations? What if we no longer expected babies to cry? How would we, as a culture, react differently?
Imagine, it is common knowledge that babies don’t cry unless they have a need. Here’s what you might expect to see in a world where that is accepted as fact…
At birth, baby is given to mom immediately and not whisked away needlessly for unnecessary bathing and procedures. Two week old babies are held and rocked for long hours while mom looks lovingly on her tiny baby asleep in her arms. Her baby is not put on a schedule and forced to stay awake when tired or wait to eat because it’s only been twenty minutes. Instead, they are fed on demand when their little bodies tell them they are hungry and allowed to cat nap while waking just long enough to see that they are still safe in their mother’s arms.

Items like swings, bouncy seats and pack-n-plays are reserved for short periods of time while baby spends most of the day in a sling or baby carrier while their parents tend to their responsibilities. Babies watch their parents’ faces and the world around them instead of staring at mobiles and dangling toys while getting moved from container to container.

Babies will be gently parented to sleep with rocking, bouncing, singing, back rubs, and anything else it takes to keep baby from crying. They will sleep in the same room as their parents and mothers will often wake and feed their babies at the first signs of waking, long before their baby would actually need to cry to communicate their hunger.

Shopping gets done while mom talks and sings happily to her baby in the shopping cart. She makes eye contact and smiles letting her baby know that she is still right there. When her baby starts crying to eat, she stops and takes a seat in one of the many available so she can hold her baby while she feeds them. People will walk by and smile and the only odd looks will be for the mother who leaves her baby in the shopping cart with a bottle propped in their mouth while she goes about her shopping.

New moms will hear advice like “he’ll be so much happier if you hold him” and words of support like “I think she might be hungry again, you should nurse her”. Mothers will learn to trust their instincts and respond to their baby’s needs because it will feel right. Babies will know their attempts at communication will work. They will learn to trust their parents to meet their needs, not be taught that their needs aren’t important. They will grow and thrive knowing they are safe and loved.
Imagine that world. Chances are that is not the world you live in, I know it’s not the world I live in. But it is the world my baby lives in and I know many other babies that are being raised in a world where babies don’t cry. Your baby can grow up in that world too! It’s amazing what can happen when you just change your thoughts. If you stop assuming that all babies cry, stop accepting that as fact, then your response to that tiny cry is very different. You would respond immediately when it happened and do things differently to avoid it happening to start with.

I believe this change in belief is what we are seeing today. Thirty years ago, it was widely accepted that babies cried. Mothers that nursed on demand or held their babies were “spoiling” them. You can still hear a lot of this thinking today and it’s still all too common to hear people talk about leaving their babies to cry because they need to learn to self sooth. But more and more parents are refusing to accept this type of thinking and are finding a new way to parent. Attachment Parenting and other gentle parenting styles encourage parents to respond to their baby and teach them that a baby’s cries mean something.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard, “What a good baby! He never cries!” only to have that same person question if he was really hungry again or shouldn’t I put him down now that he was asleep? It was amazing to me how I always felt like I had to defend my parenting all the while everyone seemed so impressed with how happy my baby was. They really didn’t get it. But I knew there was no reason for my baby to cry and I did what I could to make sure I didn’t give him one!

That being said, my second child was colicky. That was one of the most difficult times of my parenting life. I cannot tell you how much I felt like a failure. Luckily I was able to realize she was intolerant to cow dairy and once I stopped eating it (I was nursing and passing it to her through my milk), my baby became much happier. But my point is that sometimes some babies do cry. There may be a hidden reason, like with my daughter or some kind of medical reason, but there are some babies that do cry more than others despite what you do. Please know that you are not a failure. Just love and hug them and hold them while they cry and be glad that you are their parent and not one of those people that believes a baby should self sooth and suffer alone. Also, your baby is not going to be scarred for life if they have to cry for a minute while you use the bathroom, brush your teeth, or shove some much needed food in your mouth, though hearing your tiny baby’s cries when you are post partum may hurt worse than giving birth! I’ll also add that at least two of the above can be done while babywearing and some of us have done all three!

So welcome to the world where babies don’t cry and enjoy it…
they don’t stay babies for long!

For more reading and resources, check out these posts:

Maniulation or Communication?

Letters from Baby: Please don't let me cry

Why I co-sleep

Gift of Babywearing

Monday, September 5, 2011

I don’t want to hear about it!

I never realized how polarizing parenting can make people.  I am a very tolerant person when it comes to politics and religion, so I never would have thought it would be how people choose to parent that would bring out my intolerance.

In the beginning, I just felt like I was doing what worked for me and everyone else could do what ever they felt worked for them.  But as time went on and I continued to become more and more educated about attachment parenting and gentle discipline, the more and more it became harder to hear about the choices other people were making with their children.

Now I find it is better to just avoid talking about parenting styles at all costs with my friends.  But recently, a friend of mine insisted on sharing this great parenting tip with me.  I was adamant that we shouldn’t talked about this, but she really felt this was amazing advice that her pediatrician had given her and that everyone needed to know.

She then proceeded to tell me about how she had brought her baby into bed with her while he was so everyone could get some sleep.  I was relieved when I thought this meant she had realized how great co-sleeping could be for the whole family.  But that quickly faded as she explained to me that now the baby only wanted to sleep in their bed and how the pediatrician had explained to her that she needed to break this habit immediately by leaving her baby to cry at night.

I instantly felt sick as the images of my friend’s sweet little baby boy screaming alone in the dark flooded my mind.  It was made even worse when she told me how he had cried for an hour in a half straight one night! 

I couldn’t believe what she was saying!  This was the great advice she needed to tell me?!  This was exactly why I begged her not to talk about this!  My perception of who she is has forever been altered by the cold reality that she left her baby alone to cry and was proud of it.

This actually happened to a friend of mine, not me.  But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it all day.  My friend was so upset that she had lost a friendship over this, but she couldn’t get passed the reality of her friend’s choices.

I know I have many friends that do things I don’t agree with, and for the most part, that’s fine with me.  I recognize that it is often just ignorance that allows them to make these parenting choices and that they love their kids and want the best for them as much as I do for mine.  So I share bits of information when I can and try to set a good example in hopes that maybe something will rub off on them.

But please, don’t talk to me about parenting!  I don’t want to hear about how you let your baby cry until they gave up, spanked your toddler for playing in the dog water again, or sent your kid to bed without dinner because they said they hated meatloaf and pushed their plate across the table!  Please, keep your stories to your self.  Because there is a good chance I will loose all respect for you if I hear what you have to say.

I know this may seem hypocritical of me since I sometimes might say how great breastfeeding is, or how much I love co-sleeping.  But I don’t care if you think I’m some crazy, overly sensitive, attachment parent.  My advice isn’t encouraging anyone to emotionally damage and neglect their child.  I’m not telling people that violence and fear are good tools to correct unwanted behavior.  So if you don’t care that I might think you are an uneducated, controlling bully, then keeping telling me your stories proudly.  But don’t expect me to respect you in the morning.

More reading:

Parenting Redefined - Letters from Baby: Please don't let me cry
Parenting Redefined -  Manipulation or Communication
Parenting Redefined -  The real pain of spanking
Peaceful Parenting
The Natural Child Project
PhD in Parenting

Saturday, June 25, 2011

10 things I miss

I knew when I had kids that things were going to change.  Every parent-to-be knows that they are going to miss getting an uninterrupted night of sleep, but there are a few other things I really miss.  Some I was expecting, but a lot I was not.  So here's a list of 10 12 things I miss since having kids.  If you haven’t had kids yet, here’s a glimpse at things to come.  If you have kids already, well, at least you know you’re not alone!

#1 My brain
Don’t laugh, it is so true.  Ask any mom out there, a little part of our brain must come out during the birth of each child.  So if you think “pregnancy brain” is bad, just wait!

#2 A “normal” living area
If you haven’t noticed, babies come with a lot of stuff.  As they grow, they get other stuff and stuff ends up in just about every corner of the house.  And if you have more than one child, you get to add big kid stuff to the baby stuff and it gets even more interesting!

#3 A real purse
I never liked carrying purses before kids and now I wish I could carry a purse!  But purses are small and light and can’t possibly carry the amount of stuff you need when traveling with kids.

#4 Alone time
No, I am not talking about alone time with my husband, I’m too tired to worry too much about that.  I am referring to alone time in general.  I’m not even asking to have time to drink coffee and check e-mail in the morning, I’d settle for just being able to go to the bathroom without an audience or someone knocking on the door!

#5 Eating hot food
At least when we only had one baby, my husband and I could alternate who got to eat dinner first.  I thought once my baby got older though it would be easier.  Boy was I wrong!  And now with three kids, I am lucky if I get to sit down before everyone else is finished eating.  I also miss tasting food.  When I do finally sit down, I eat as fast as I can because I know someone is going to need me before I can finish.

#6 A clean floor
Even if you are one of those super parents that can keep their house clean (I am not one of those), kiss clean floors goodbye.  No matter how neat and careful your kids are, and most are not, you will constantly have food on the floor.  And to make it more interesting, add a crawling baby that puts everything in their mouth to the mix!  It is a full time job to keep your floors clean.  There has been much success reported when using a dog, but that also leads to more messes that have to be cleaned, so you pretty much break even.

#7 A long shower
I really miss those.  If I actually do manage to get a shower alone, I am usually rushing through it as fast as possible because I know I am on a count down.  Someone at some point is going to need me before I am ready.  It may be the baby is hungry or tired, someone fell and busted their head open, or maybe someone just stole someone else’s toy.  But I promise, before I can shower, dry off, and actually get dressed, someone is going to need me.  So I really miss those days when I could just stand in the shower forever and not worry about anything.  Although for some reason, my husband can still manage to do it.

#8 Watching TV
First, you just don’t have time to watch tv.  But if you do find time, you will find that there is very little that you want to watch that you are okay with your children also watching.  So tv time gets mostly limited to after kids go to bed and by then, you are tired and will probably end up there soon.  Long movies can be even harder to squeeze in, but these work well when broken into parts that can be watched on different days.

#9 Swear words
Not an important one, but I still miss them.  Or at least the ability to use them without having a parrot ready to repeat it 20 times for the next week after you accidentally spill the milk.  And FYI, toddlers learn words before they know how to say them.  So just a little piece of advice, you might want to clean up your language before they start talking.  Take it or leave it, but you’ve been warned.

#10 A day off
A day off is pretty much impossible once you have kids.  If you can manage to pull one of these off, it will be the last one you get for a long time, so treasure every second!  And don’t even think about a vacation.  Vacationing with kids is fun, but it’s actually more work than staying home.

UPDATED:  I thought of a couple more and had to add them...

#11 Talking on the phone
Children are part of some kind of conspiracy to keep their parents from talking on the phone.  Babies are born with special skills that allow them to cry the moment you put the phone to your ear.  Then as soon as your child is old enough to reach, it's really over.  I don't know what it is about phones and remotes, but babies must have them!  And as they get older, they develop a sixth sense that allows them to hear you dial a number from anywhere in the house.  The most affective tactic is to be as loud and distracting as possible so that it becomes more work than it is worth to try to continue your conversation and you give up.

#12 The snooze buttonThere isn't a morning that I don't wake up wanting just 5 more minutes.  But unfortunately, kids do not come with snooze buttons.  They also do not come with pause buttons, on/off switches, or volume controls.  What they do come with is the uncanny ability to push every button that you do have.  Oh, and they also NEVER run out of batteries!

Are the parents-to-be totally freaked out yet?  Don’t be.  I promise, it is ALL worth it!  Don’t believe me?  How about this: even after learning all this with the first baby, I still chose to do it two more times.  If that doesn’t convince you… just wait, you’ll see!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My daughter likes pink

When I would see all the adorable pink baby dresses at the store, I always complained how much cuter the girl clothes were compared to the boy clothes.  Then, when my daughter was born, she wasn't a day old before friends and family started showing up with cute little pink outfits.  But something strange happened that I hadn’t been expecting… I got so sick of PINK!

Actually, to say I was sick of it is not putting it right.  I got upset about pink, everything it represented, and the fact that it was everywhere.  Just walk into a store, any store, and you will find isles where it looks like a pink sparkly princess puked all over EVERYTHING!  The clothes, dolls, toys, there are even special Lincoln Log and Lego sets for girls in appropriate girly colors!  Made me sick!

Gender wasn’t something I had thought much about when my son was born.  Though we don’t have a gender neutral household, we didn’t believe in silly gender rolls either.  I wasn’t concerned about raising my son to “be a man”.  I knew there was nothing wrong with a boy that needed to cry or wanted to play dress up.  Whether he chose to participate in sports or not would be his choice and if he wanted his toenails painted like mommy, that was okay.

So I was surprised how strongly I reacted when my daughter was born.  It wasn’t the color itself that had me so upset, it was the fact that from birth, my daughter was being pushed into being a cute little frilly princess whether that's who she wanted to be or not and it pissed me off.

So I told myself (and everyone else) that my daughter didn't have to be a princess.  I went on a huge rant about how we weren't going to buy her dolls or Barbies unless SHE asked for them, and not one day sooner.  We would let her be who she wanted to be and decide what she was interested in without pressure from us.

As she got older, her spunky personality came shining though.  She ran around with her short bob haircut and never wore dresses.  Instead she wore stained pants and tennis shoes since you don't put a frilly dress on a 2 year old that wants to play in the mud.  She was naturally interested in cars and trains just like her brother and I secretly felt proud of my little "Tom girl" and felt like I must be doing something right.

And then, something strange started happening, again.  Before I realized it, my little girl started becoming girly!  She started picking out the pinkest, most sparkly stickers at the store.  She chose a dress when I let her pick out anything she wanted while we shopped with her brother.  And then one day, she announced that her favorite color was pink!

Pink?!  How could she do this to me?!  I was shocked and upset when I realized just how girly she was becoming.  I felt like I had failed her, let society tell her what she should like and who she should be.  I didn’t do enough or go far enough to keep this from happening.  I was so disappointed.  But then I had an epiphany.

Yes, one year for Christmas my daughter got 5 dolls from people as gifts (apparently that is what you buy little girls).  Yes, she currently has six pink shirts in her closet from my mother.  And yes, society does tell our girls they should be proper little princesses.  But then I realized that the problem was not princesses, sparkles, ruffles or the color pink.  The fact that my daughter liked these things did not mean that she had to stop being herself.  She still enjoyed playing in the mud after all.  She could still go on to be who ever she wanted to be, she would just be someone that also happened to like pink!

It also helped to remind myself that my son also loves pink and things that sparkle!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's just easier

I have heard so many women say they don’t know if they are going to be able to breastfeed.  It just seems like so much “work” and “bottle feeding just seems easier”.  Easier?  I think someone may have given you the wrong idea!

There are many reasons some women choose not to breastfeed, but please don’t be fooled into thinking formula and a bottle is going to be “easier”, because it’s not.  I can’t imagine using bottles regularly!  I am not trying to be sarcastic here, I seriously don't know how so many women do it!  "Breast is best" and that may be true for baby, but it is also very true for me.  I find breastfeeding so convenient and easy, and the idea of having to schedule feedings, prepare and clean bottles, and do this all day and night long is enough to cause me serious anxiety.  I am so grateful I have been able to nurse my kids.

True, in the beginning some women can experience some difficulties and discomfort when first nursing.  The first couple weeks of nursing are spent with both mother and baby learning to breastfeed and it can be harder for some mother/baby couples.  In these situations, finding a good lactation consultant as soon as possible can be the difference between breastfeeding success and failure.

But once breastfeeding is established, it becomes the most convenient and easy thing to do.  It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, you have milk for your hungry baby at a moments notice.  Anybody that has had a baby crying for food knows you can’t feed them fast enough.  Listening to them cry while your prepare a bottle sounds like torture!  Sure, Most of the time you probably get the bottle ready before they start crying, just like I usually nurse before they are that hungry.  But there are those times when baby wants to and I am so grateful in those moments that all I have to do it pull up my shirt.

So do I nurse because it is better for my baby?  Yes.  Do I nurse because I enjoy the bonding experience it provides?  Yes.  Do I nurse because it is the natural way my instincts tell me to feed my baby?  Yes.  But I also nurse because it is the simplest, fastest, most convenient way I can feed my baby no matter what is going on in my crazy life and I need that!  Why make my life more complicated than it already is?  Besides, I’m lazy!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why do I nurse in public?

So many people don't understand why I choose to nurse in public.  I thought it might be fun to answer a few common questions.  Let me know if you think I missed any.

Why do you nurse in public?
Simply, because my baby is hungry.

Why not go to a bathroom?
Why don't you eat in a bathroom?  Because it's disgusting, that's why!  I am not going to feed my baby in a small room filled with flushing toilets.  Enough said.

Why not go somewhere more private?
1st, because my baby is hungry now and I don't want to make them wait.  2nd, because I am comfortable where I am and don't want to stop what I am doing, gather my stuff, and possibly leave the place I am at just to find a private location... that is not a bathroom.

Why not use a bottle?
Because my baby prefers my breast.  Because it is time consuming to pump and wash bottles.  Because I don't want to have to carry around the extra baggage of bottles and ice in my already overflowing diaper bag.

Can't you at least use a cover?
I could, but my baby hates it and always grabs it off their head.  Also, it is hot and I don't feel like adding another layer of anything to me and my baby.  And did I mention the overflowing diaper bag?

But what if someone sees your breast?
Chances are they see more breast exposure walking through the zoo on a hot day or walking down the magazine isle at a store.  I am feeding my baby.  If someone sees that, oh well.

But what if you offend someone?
I understand there are people that may be very uncomfortable with seeing part of a woman's exposed breast.  Unfortunately, it is not my job or obligation to worry about every stranger who may or may not be offended, it is my job to look after and feel my baby.  If someone is offended by me taking care of my child because of some deep cultural or religious reason, then so be it, I have offended them.  I can live with that knowing that it was not my intent and that the comfort of my baby takes priority over that of a stranger.  But if it is some hypocritical person that has no issue watching nudity and sexual content on tv but can't handle watching a breast being used for it's intended purpose, then they can just get over themselves.

So why do I nurse in public?
Because it's the best thing for me and my baby and I put my child's needs above my social awkwardness or the threat of offending some stranger that may walk by.

Related post: Try not to hide

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pass it on!

Note:  This post is not intended to make an argument against circumcision, that is a more complex issue to be addressed in a future post.  It's a message for the non-circ population, so please don't waste your time attacking me for not giving any facts.  If you're looking for information, check out some of our links at the bottom.

While following an on-line debate about routine infant circumcision (RIC), one poster asked if we were actually doing anything about it or just talking about it.  They said that no one listens to non-circumcision arguments and that talking about it is a joke if we don't actually do anything.  In reality, what they said could not be further from the truth.

Talking about circumcision is probably the biggest thing we can do.  Most people don't even realize there is something to talk about when it comes to circumcision.  Like me, many people don't even think twice about it until someone brings it up.  Once they know there is something to actual research, many parents decide that reasons not to circumcise out weigh the arguments for it.  But before they can even ask themselves if they would circumcise their child, they need to know there is a question to ask.

Sure, being politically active or donateting and joinging groups that work to inform people definitely helps.  But just talking about it changes so many lives.  Everyone I know that has made the choice to keep their child intact was influenced by someone they knew.

Despite what that person believed, people do listen and talking about the reasons not to do routine circumcision is doing something about it!  You may not change everyones mind, but if you even change one, that is one baby that will be left intact.  Then he will influence people in his life and it will continue.

So keep talking!  Keep telling people why you chose to keep your child intact.  Keep giving people the facts about routine infant circumcision and letting them know there is something to talk about.  Keep passing informational articles along on Facebook and discussion boards.  Our words are our strongest tool and people do listen.  We can change our world one person at a time and someday it might just be routine to leave our baby boys intact, just they way they were born!

For more information on the circumcision debate, check out these resources:
As Nature Intended: Infant Circumcision Info

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why I co-sleep

Like so many other parenting choices, where your baby or child sleeps seems to be a constant source of controversy.  People are often too embarrassed to admit that their children sleep in their bed even though surveys show that co-sleeping, at least part of the time, is actually more common than not with 68% of parents admitting to co-sleeping with their babies.

Since day one, we have enjoyed co-sleeping with our babies, or bed sharing in our case.  Although often used interchangeably, co-sleeping is technically when a baby shares a room with their parents and bed sharing is when they actually sleep on the same surface.  We bed share in our house, with two huge mattresses side by side so that we can all comfortably sleep together in a giant family bed.

Why Co-sleep?

Everyone sleeps better.  Babies fall asleep and stay asleep better when co-sleeping.  Baby sleeping more equals mom sleeping more which is always a good thing!

Co-sleeping is so convenient!  It makes night time parenting so much easier when baby is close to you.  You will be able to respond much quicker to your baby and get back to sleep that much sooner.

Breastfeeding is easier.  Nursing mothers naturally tune in to their babies and wake up easily when baby shows signs of being ready to eat.  This means mom can nurse her baby without baby needing to fully wake from sleep.  Since neither mom or baby have to get out of bed to nurse, it is much easier for both to get back to sleep.

Co-sleeping is not only safe, but research shows it can actually reduce the rate of SIDS.  Although not a significant enough amount to be the reason to co-sleep if you don't want to, it is nice to know that when done safely, co-sleeping is actually slightly safer than having your baby sleep alone.

But the biggest reason we share our bed with our babies?  WE LOVE IT!!!  We love sleeping with our kids.  Sure, it can be crowded and sometimes we get a foot someplace unpleasant, but it's all worth it.  How could you not enjoy having the last thing you see before you close your eyes be the angelic face of your sleeping child?  It is one of the greatest joys in my life.  That is why we co-sleep.

Life is so busy, babies grow so fast, toddlers are crazy, and pre-schoolers are hard to snuggle with.  But at night, in bed, we all snuggle together as my children are transformed from crazy monkeys into peaceful angels.  No matter what kind of day we've had, in that moment, everything else seems less important and the only thing that matters is how much I love my kids.  Someday my kids will be grown and want a bed of their own.  So for now, we co-sleep and share our bed with our babies, even the big ones!

Dr. Sears: Safe co-sleeping

The Natural Child Project: Cosleeping around the world

Mothering:  How the stats really stack up: Cosleeping is twice as safe

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The "necessary" cesarean

I am so sick of listening to people talk about how they needed a c-section.  Every time you try to have a discussion about the over use of cesarean sections in this country, you will get women adamantly defending the fact that their cesarean was of course one of the necessary ones.  For whatever reason they give, they all have some explanation for why they had to have one.

Now let me just start off by admitting that I do believe a small number of c-sections are not only necessary, but save lives.  I am not crazy, I know there are cases out there where a c-section was very necessary.  But that being said, they are being grossly overused and even caused by irresponsible choices made by both doctors and patients.

The United States has one of the highest rates of maternal death (death of the mother after birth) with 40 other countries having better survival rates for mothers.  Not surprisingly, the highest cases of death are in women that have had cesarean sections, a major surgery that greatly increases the odds of experiencing infections as well as fatal hemorrhaging and blood clots.

The c-section rate in this country is now 32.9%.  That means that 1 in 3 women that give birth in the United States do so by having the baby cut out of them.  The World Health Organization recommends that the rate of cesarean sections in developed countries should fall between 10-15% of all births.  That means that the US performs at least 2 to 3 times the number of recommended c-sections with some hospitals, doctors and areas having over 50% rates!

So why are so many women having c-sections?  The cold hard reality of the matter is that most c-sections not only could have been avoided, but were probably caused by the choices the mother made or allowed to be made for her.  Yes, at the risk of pissing off a lot of women, I am saying that I believe you may have actually caused your c-section to be “necessary”.

Think I’m wrong?  Prove it to me.  If you can read this and you don’t fall into at least one of these categories and made at least some of these classic mistakes, then you might actually be one of the 10-15% of women that “should” have had a c-section.

Here are some of the classic reasons women give as to why their cesarean section “necessary”:

My baby was too big.
Wrong.  I am so sick of hearing doctors and women telling other people that their hips are too small or their baby is too big for vaginal birth.  Tiny women all over this world give birth to large babies.  This is not the 19th century where malnutrition, rickets, and polio are causing women to have malformed pubic bones.

The reality is that women and doctors are making choices that make it harder for babies to fit through the birth canal.  A semi reclined position where a mother is sitting on her coccyx, one frequently taken while in the pushing stage when baby’s head needs to most room to maneuver through the birth canal, does not allow the pelvic to open naturally and is a huge factor in how wide the pelvic is.  Squatting can actually widen the pelvic opening by 30%!

Also, in cases of a big baby, women are often encouraged to induce as to not allow the baby to gain any more weight.  Not only does the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) not recommend inducing a baby because it is suspected to be a large or macrosomic, studies show that induction for this reason does not lead to better outcomes for the baby and also nearly doubles the risk of having a cesarean section.

My labor stalled/I had failure to progress.
Translation, my body wasn’t ready to deliver.  Often this is because the mother was induced for some reason or another without understanding the risks involved.  We may be able to artificially start labor, but we can’t always make the body fully cooperate.

Dr. Sears has this to say about failure to progress:
“Most cases, though, are due to inadequate support for the laboring woman and violation of the basic physiology of labor. Of all the reasons for a cesarean, "failure to progress" is the most under your control. No other system in your body "fails" 25 percent of the time. Why should your "delivery" system? Emotional and physical support for the mother, walking during labor, upright pushing, along with the prudent use of medication and technology will help labor progress by increasing the efficiency of uterine contractions rather than interfering with them.”
Some “failure to progress” isn’t a failure at all and is actually just a natural part of labor called the natural alignment plateau, or N.A.P.  This lack of dilation we see during a N.A.P. does not mean the labor stalled at all, but that the mother’s body is actually allowing something else to happen.  Sometimes the mother needs rest or calories, but a woman’s body will also stop dilating to allow the baby to get into a better position or slow things down if that baby needs that so they don’t get stressed.  If you give yourself and your baby some time, you will start dilating as soon as you and your baby are ready.

But what usually happens once you get labeled with “failure to progress” is that steps are taken to force things to move along at a more acceptable rate.  Usually this involves breaking the bag of water or giving Pitocin.  Speeding things up is exactly the wrong thing to do when your body is trying to slow things down.  The baby can get stuck if they were in a bad position and needed to move, or they become stressed by the stronger unnatural contractions brought on artificially when the mother’s body was trying to allow the baby to rest.  Which brings me to the next one…

My baby was in distress.
Well of course they were!  When we force a baby to endure labor before they were ready, or we cause unnaturally strong contractions using Pitocin and other drugs, they are going to become stressed!

The contractions caused by Pitocin differ from the way a uterus naturally contracts.  Contractions from Pitocin are stronger and more stressful on the baby.  You don’t get the slow, gradual buildup like with a natural contraction, and it causes the uterus to contract all at once squeezing from all sides instead of gently pushing the baby down into the birth canal.  This causes the baby to have a much harder time coping and recovering from the contractions and can cause the oxygen levels to drop sending the baby into distress.  This is why you much have electronic fetal monitoring of the baby at all times when on Pitocin.

We frequently cause our babies to go into distress when we do not allow labor to progress at the natural pace set by the mother and baby.

The cord was around the baby’s neck.
I just had to throw this one in there because I heard it just the other day and I couldn’t help but actually roll my eyes.  I am not trying to offend anyone, but this was just the icing on a very frustrating conversation about birth where another baby had to be saved via c-section for completely “necessary” reasons!

So because the cord being around the baby’s neck just sounds so incredibly frightening, let me start off by saying that one in three babies have a cord wrapped around the neck at birth.  This is not dangerous at all and very, very common.  Babies are born every day with cords around their neck and the doctor or midwife simply unwraps it once the head is out.  There are extremely rare cases where it can be an issue for some babies, but chances are, it was not dangerous for your baby.

I had a c-section last time and I think it’s just better to have another one.
If you don’t want to bother educating yourself about the risks to you and your baby and the many reasons why you might want to at least try to avoid another c-section, then that is probably why you had one in the first place.

I know that is harsh, but it is time to accept responsibility.  Too many women hand over control to doctors and other people to make their decisions for them so that they don’t have to take responsibility for their choices.  So many people spend more time researching what camera or car they should buy and don’t bother to find out anything about birth.  Well guess what, there is a really good chance that your choice to not educate yourself and make blind decisions is exactly what got you into that operating room.  You can tell me all the reasons you want as to why you needed a c-section, but the reality is that there were probably choices made along the way that caused the exact “emergency” that led to your c-section.

So now what?
Now that you know that some c-sections can be avoided, what do you do?  Here’s a few simple suggestions.  They may not prevent every c-section, but you are a lot less likely to end up in a position to need a c-section if you just do these simple things.

Educate yourself.
This is probably the most important advice I can give you.  Educate yourself.  Educate yourself about labor, birth, and what to expect.  Educate yourself about the way medical procedures and technology can help when used properly to aid labor when necessary or harm when misused and allowed to interfere with the birth process.  Educate yourself about the risks and side effects of commonly used procedures since most doctors do not thoroughly explain them.

There are many, many resources out there.  Read books.  Take a birth class like Bradley or Brio.  Knowledge is a powerful tool in the birth process.

Hire a doula.
A doula is a support person that is there to help a mother during the labor and birth process.  The emotional and physical support a woman can give another is invaluable.  It’s extremely helpful to have a person ready to back you up physically and emotionally while adding their vast knowledge and experience to help you through labor.  Generally speaking, women that have doulas present at their birth have a lower rate of interventions, including the need for pain medication, Pitocin, vacuum or forceps extraction, and a lower occurrence of cesarean sections.

Don’t get induced.
Induction is frequently done by breaking the bag of water or using other powerful drugs to interfere with the body’s natural progression into labor by causing or trying to speed it up.

Being induced increases the odds that your baby will experience fetal distress, abnormal heart rate, shoulder dystocia, and need to be admitted to the NICU.  It also increased the odds that a vacuum or forceps will be used to deliver your baby.  If that is not enough reason to avoid being induced, recently, a study found that being induced more than doubles your chance of having a c-section.  Woman who are induced are twice as likely to need a c-section as women that are not.  (click here find out more about the study)

Women are often forced to stay in bed because of all the equipment they are plugged into.  They don’t always force you flat on your back anymore, but they still don’t want you walking around or crouching on your knees, especially once labor progresses.  Being free to move around helps during both the labor and the birth.  Labors progress better when the mother can move and movement is an important part of coping with the contractions.  Baby also has more room to fit and maneuver through the birth canal when you are not confined to a bed while sitting on your coccyx.  If you must be in bed, try to at least kneel, crouch, or lie on your side to allow for a more open pelvis.

And finally…
Trust your body.
When we interfere with the natural progression of labor, we are asking for trouble.  A woman’s body is designed to give birth.  It knows when to start labor, when to slow it down, and when to move.  Unfortunately, women are taught not to trust their bodies and allow doctors, nurses, and machines tell them what they should be doing.

Moral of the story…

Take responsibility.  No one is telling you that you need have to have an unmedicated birth.  No one is telling you that you can’t have Pitocin or even an elective cesarean section if that is what you want.  But it’s time to stop acting like a victim.

Sometimes there are cases where there is absolutely nothing anybody could have done to change the outcome of a birth.  But more often then not, the choices you do or don’t make will affect your birth.  If you refuse to acknowledge that you can greatly influence the outcome of your birth, then at the very least, stop telling people that you had to have a cesarean section, not because I think you are wrong, but for every pregnant woman or future mother within hearing distance.

With the c-section rate in this country being so high, one in three birth stories a woman will hear is going to be a cesarean, even more in some crowds.  Every time you tell some pregnant woman about how you had to have a c-section because your hips were too small or you just never fully dilated, you are perpetuating the myth that women need all the medical help they can get to deliver their baby.  You are planting seeds of doubt in the ability of women to birth their baby naturally.

On a positive note, I know many women that have had two, three, and even more babies, all vaginally, many very big, and without any complication or need for major interventions.  This is just more evidence that if you educate yourself and can avoid having a c-section the first time around, you greatly decrease the odds that you will end up with one in the future.  By making choices that reduce your risks, you can repeatedly avoid being that 1 in 3 women that ends up with a cesarean.  And if you do end up needing one, at least you’ll know you did what you could to avoid one.

Articles, Referances and Resources:

Dr Sears:

Childbirth Connection: Cesarean Section

The Avoid an unnecesarean

DONA International: Doula FAQ


The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth by Dr. Sears

Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth by Pam England

Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper

The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

Monday, March 7, 2011

Manipulation or Communication?

There is a perception out there that babies will “manipulate” their parents.  A baby’s cries can manipulate you into picking them up when you hadn’t intended to, but that does not make the baby manipulative.

When a new baby cries, it is because they have a need they want met, it is a simple as that.  There is no thought behind it, it’s an instinctual action for them.  Over time, your baby becomes aware of this form of communication and knows that crying will get their needs met.  At this point, a baby that is hungry, cold, or even board will cry with anticipation that you will respond.  Some parents perceive this as manipulation, but the truth is far from it.

A 6 month old has no words to tell you how they are feeling and don’t even necessarily understand what they are feeling.  They cannot tell you they are wet, or gassy, or lonely.  They have a limited number of ways to communicate with you and crying is their strongest tool.

We are programmed to respond to our baby’s needs, and crying causes an immediate emotional and physical reaction in a mother.  Women actually experience biological changes when they hear their baby cry and our natural instinct is to pick them up.  Over time, women who allow their babies to cry can desensitize themselves and override their natural instincts.  When this happens and baby is repeatedly shown their cries will not be answered, they lose trust that their caregiver will meet their needs and learn that their communications are in affective.

When a baby cries because they have learned they will be picked up, they are not manipulating you any more then they are when they wiggle with excitement and smile when they see you, they are communicating.  The strong emotional need to comfort your child is a natural reaction and you are not being manipulating, you are reacting with your instincts.  By responding to those cries, you are reinforcing their attempts of communication and trust they have in you to care for them.

Another thing to remember, is the desire to be held close, to feel comforted by the one they love and trust is as much a need as needing a diaper change or to be fed.  Many people are told that if their baby has been fed and doesn’t “need” anything, then that child is just trying to manipulate you into getting what they want.  That is a sad, old fashioned, over simplification of the complexity of another human being.  Just like us, babies can feel sad, lonely, board, frightened, etc.  Even if their physical needs have all be met, a 8 month old baby may just need you or a change of environment, even when they are “fine”.

So the next time someone tries to tell you that you are spoiling your baby, being manipulated, or letting your baby rule your life, ask them how they would feel if they were scared and left alone while their loved one sat outside the door because they were “fine” and aren’t going to be manipulated into letting them out.  Tell them with confidence that you are not being manipulated, but are in fact teaching your child that not only are their communications understood, but that their emotional needs are as important to you as their physical ones.  And most importantly, know that your baby needs and loves you and that you are doing the right thing for both of you.

Related articles:

Parenting Redefined - Letters from Baby: Please don't let me cry

Woman Uncensored -  Just let her cry

Dr. Sears - 7 Things Parents Should Know About Baby's Cries

Dr. Sears - Science Says: Excessive Crying Could Be Harmful to Babies

Dr. Ben Kim - Cry It Out: The Potential Dangers of Leaving Your Baby to Cry

The Natural Child Project - The Con of Controlled Crying

Dr. Stephen Juan - 'Crying it out' may damage baby's brain

PhD in Parenting - Cry it out (CIO): 10 reasons why it is not for us

Peaceful Parenting - Should Baby Soothe Himself to Sleep?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Try not to Hide

Nursing in public can be socially awkward.  People don’t know how to react when they see a nursing mom.  I have always been a huge supporter of nursing even long before having kids myself, but I also vividly remember glancing over and seeing a mother nursing her infant and quickly looking away so she wouldn’t see that I had seen her.  At the time, I was confused that she had chosen to nurse there and not somewhere more out of sight.

Then I had my first baby.  I loved nursing and nursed on demand.  If my baby was tired or hungry, I would nurse him, no matter where we were.  It was easy enough to stay covered and as long as no one could see anything, I didn’t worry about it.

I never used a blanket while nursing at home, so both my baby and I found using them in public frustrating and I eventually stopped trying.  It didn’t really matter though because it was easy enough to be discreet.  Then, around 5 months old, my baby started suddenly pulling off to investigate every person or sound nearby.  I tried pumping and bringing bottles with me, but my baby wouldn’t drink from them.  So since I didn’t use a blanket, I started nursing in the car.  It was quiet and if he pulled off, I didn’t have to worry about flashing anyone.

Then everyone kept asking me if my baby was weaned yet, starting at a pretty young age.  This is a totally different topic for a different day, but by the time my baby was 9 months old, I hardly ever nursed when we were out and always did it in secrecy when I did.  I continued to nurse him through the toddler years, but always at home where no one would know.

It makes me sad that I let my perception of what was socially acceptable affect me so greatly.  Luckily, shortly after my second was born, I met a wonderful group of moms that shared a lot of the same parenting philosophies (see Finding Your Flock).  I was amazed at how many of them openly nursed in public.  Even toddlers.  And without using a blanket!

I quickly learned that there were laws in our state that actually protected a woman’s right to nurse her child anywhere she was allowed to be, private or public property.  (find out about the laws in your state)  But more importantly than knowing the law, just seeing that I was not alone, that other mothers also nursed their babies in public, when they were hungry, and that they did so with confidence and without hiding is what made the biggest difference for me.  This group of women gave me the courage to do what I already knew in my heart was the right thing for my baby. 

I now confidently nurse my babies and toddlers in public whenever they need it.  I don’t hide, I don’t ask, I just sit down where ever I feel comfortable and feed them.  I am sure there have been times when my 5 month old has flashed entire restaurants when someone drops a plate.  People at the zoo have probably seen my breast when my toddler suddenly decides they are ready to see the elephants.  I can’t say that I am immune to being embarrassed, but I think it is important to nurse in public anyway.

I nurse my child in public because they need to.  But I nurse in public confidently because that is what society needs, even if that confidence isn’t quite as solid as I make it look!  I honestly feel it is important for me to look people in the eye, smile, and send a message that we don’t have to hide.  I am nursing my baby, but I am also helping a new mother find her confidence and showing young girls that nursing is a natural, beautiful thing to do.  I want to help other mothers the way other women were able to help me.

So whether you use a blanket or not, know that you are doing more than just nursing your baby, you are influencing the mothers and fathers of the future one feeding at a time!  Try not to hide, nurse with pride!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The real pain of spanking

Special note to all readers.  Please be sensitive to the fact that attachment parenting and gentle discipline don't come easily or naturally to many parents.  Often it is our research to find a better way that leads to this type of parenting.  It is realy hard for me to openly discuse the following topic, but I feel it's important to share my experience with other parents that are going through the same struggles.

Before I had kids, I had always known I would use spankings as a tool to teach my kids.  After all, I was spanked and so was my husband and we both turned out to be responsible, we adjusted adults.  I had read articles where people said spanking was abuse and it was damaging to the child, but obviously these people were reading way to much into it.  I had never felt unloved because my parents spanked me, in fact, I knew they spanked me because they loved me and wanted me to learn right from wrong.  So these articles were easily dismissed as another opinion I just didn’t share.

So sure enough, when my first child was a toddler and kept getting into things he knew he wasn’t supposed to, he got a gentle tap on the hand and a stern “no” to teach him not to touch it any more.  As he got bigger, there seemed to be more and more reasons that he needed to be spanked.  He started climbing on tables and refused to get down when asked, at which point I would remove him myself and give him a swat on the diaper for not listening.

In the beginning, he only got a spanking once in a while, but it became more and more frequent as he got older.  Before I knew it, it seemed like he got a swat on the diaper at least once a day, and some days, he would get several.  I started noticing that his days seemed to get rougher once he had gotten that first spanking.  It was as if he was angry for being spanked and would start acting out by intentionally not listening and doing things he knew he wasn’t supposed to.

This was the point in which I decided spanking not only didn’t work, but that it was actually making things worse.  So I started reading to try and find out what I was doing wrong.  Luckily, I was able to find some books that quickly set me straight about spanking.  It was easy to see how spanking would cause fear and resentment in the child, something I was not interested in doing, but that I could already see was happening.  Now that I had my own child, it was easy for me to be convinced that spankings would only damage our relationship.

One of the books that really helped me was Discipline Without Distress by Judy Arnall.  This book really helped me see the difference between discipline and punishment.  You can discipline your child effectively without needing to punish them at all.

I consider myself very lucky.  My son was the only reason I started questioning whether spanking was right or not.  If he had been more submissive in regards to being punished, I may have never changed my views.  It was his anger and resentment, the real pain of spanking, that was what finally convinced me that spanking was wrong.  If he hadn’t had such a strong emotional reaction to spanking and had just kept right on acting like his normal self, I may have never seen how it was affecting him.  For that I am so grateful.

I wish I had been one of those lucky people who deeply believed spanking was wrong from day one.  I wish I could say that I never laid a hand on my child in anger and frustration, but I can’t and that is something that is painful to admit.  I still struggle to not spank my children, something which I am now deeply bothered by.  I wish I could say that my now strong belief and resolve not to spank could override that urge, but it hasn’t.  I feel like that is my default as a parent, my instinct is to spank when I don’t know what else to do in a particular situation.  I can only hope that I am breaking that cycle now, and that hopefully someday, my children will not have to fight that same urge with their children.

And as someone who knows the shame of being a reformed spanker, I ask all those that belong to that group of lucky parents that never have, please be open minded and inclusive of people like me.  Try not to pass judgment on the alcoholic for ever picking up that first drink and instead reach out and support them to never take another one.  Being part of a community that accepts and supports you is important for parents that are still struggling to learn what gentle discipline and attachment parenting means to them.  I wouldn’t be the mother I am today if it weren’t for a lot of other strong, amazing mothers giving me strength and inspiration to keep going.

Do you or have you struggled with spanking?  Do you consider yourself a reformed spanker and want to share your story?  I feel it is really important to share our experiences with other parents that may be going through the same thing you have.  If you would like to share, please e-mail me at parentingredefined at gmail .com and I will be happy to post your experiences anonymously.

Other Articles:

Dr. Sears - Spanking

Psychology Today, Dr. Michael Ungar - Spanking Makes Kids More Aggressive: The Research is Clear

Spanking Causes More Harm as Children Get Older

Dr. Phil - Spanking Research
               Three Questions to Ask Before Spanking
               To Spank or Not to Spank?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thank you for saving my son’s penis!

Like many expectant parents, circumcision is something I had never even thought about.  What was there to think about anyway?  If you had a boy, they were circumcised.  That’s just what you did with boys.  There had to be a good reason we had been cutting the foreskin off of boys for most of the last century.

It wasn’t until my husband and I received an educational pamphlet in our birth class that either of us had even thought about circumcision.  We were surprised about the information we read in that short little pamphlet.  In a matter of 10 minutes, my husband and I had decided that we wouldn’t circumcise our baby if we had a boy.

The pamphlet was very short and to the point, but very informative and convincing.  There were several key points that hit home to us right away.  One was that there was NO medical reason to remove the foreskin and the reason it had originally been done was to “prevent masturbation”.  Secondly, that the foreskin actually protects the penis and has nerve endings that would be removed.  And thirdly, that circumcision is surgery that is not only painful for the baby, but has risks like any surgery.  You can read the pamphlet here:

As it turned out, we did have a boy.  And thanks to our Bradley instructor, his penis is still intact.  But I honestly believe we would have allowed it without even blinking.

My views on circumcision have become much stronger as time has passed.  That is why I feel it is so important to share information whenever I can.  But instead of making people feel guilty for the choice they make, I focus on just making a choice!  No matter how wrong I feel it is to unnecessarily subject a newborn to that kind of trauma, I will respect your right to do it if you actually make the decision.

Getting people to know there is even something to think about is the first step to changing things. 

National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC)

As Nature Intended

Peaceful Parenting: The Day I Withdrew From Nursing School

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Stretch marks

Recently I came across a website called The Shape Of a Mother which focuses on normalizing a woman’s shape, round bellies, saggy breasts, stretch marks and all.  But one particular section caught my attention and had a profound affect on me, Save Our Daughters.

As a daughter and now the mother of a daughter, Save Our Daughters triggered a deep emotional reaction in me.  I immediately thought of how often I had watched my mother look at her body in disgusts.  The rolls, the stretch marks, the cesarean scars.  Motherhood had changed her body from a once skinny young woman to something she was ashamed of.

I remember as a child being fascinated with my mother’s cesarean scars.  It was amazing to me to look at that little line across the bottom of her abdomen and know that that was the place my sister and I had each been removed from her body.  It would have been so easy for me to believe these were beautiful badges of love instead of unsightly scars of shame.

But that opportunity was missed and although I was skinny growing up and didn’t have the same weight issues my mother had, my sister did and I can only imagine how her own body views affected my sister.  I know my mother did everything in her power to teach us to love and accept ourselves.  But unfortunately, it was her inability to love and accept herself that was heard most clearly.

After I had my first baby, my body dramatically changed, like everyone’s does.  My breasts got wider and saggier and my belly had a new shape and was covered in tons of deep stretch marks that I often said made it look like ground beef.  I was not shy about telling everyone how wrecked my body was from having a child and it only got worse with my second.  I had even thought about having my stretch marks removed once I was all done having kids.  I didn’t see my new body as beautiful, I saw it the same way my mother had, ugly.

Then one day, I had been getting ready for bed and passed through the dark bathroom in front of the mirror.  I stopped for a moment and looked in the mirror.  There was just enough light to see the outline of my body, but not all the detail.  I was surprised at the shape I saw in the mirror.  If this had been anyone else’s body in front of me, I would have thought it was beautiful.  The hips were wide and curvy, the breasts low and flat, yet feminine, and the bump of the belly looked like a mother.  This was the body of someone who had brought life into this world and there was nothing ugly about it.

Unfortunately, that feeling didn’t last long and I was quickly back to thinking my body was unattractive.  I still have the same feeling about my body and that is something I will have to work on.  But after reading Save Our Daughters, I want to make sure I don’t pass on my body issues to my daughter.  I have made a promise to myself to never call my belly ground beef in front of her, even if I still think that sometimes.  I will work hard to teach her that these changes are part of motherhood and the beauty of creating a life.  Maybe she will someday be able to see her stretch marks as badges of honor and love them as much as she loves her children.  And if I am really lucky, maybe I will learn to love mine too.

The Shape of A Mother: Save Our Daughters

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Precious moments

Warning:  This post talks about the loss of a child and may be extremely emotional for people that have experienced their own loss.

I was extremely moved by something I recently read.  It was a comment from a mother that had lost her baby.  She shared her story about being busy and letting her husband care for their baby so she could finish her work, not knowing that the next morning he would be gone.  Then she said:
It's so easy to let what we think is important get in the way of what really is sometimes! It's so easy to get caught up...
If my story helps just one momma to remember "stop and smell the roses" then that makes me happy.
This story was so moving to me.  It's so easy to get bogged down with all the daily jobs and chores and important things to do that I know I forget to stop and smell the roses, or am just too tired to care to try.

I'm sure when you lose a child, there is not one moment spent doing something else that you don't regret.  I can not imagine that pain.  But even if you never have to experience that kind of loss, these precious moments you have now, with your ever changing child, are limited and will soon be gone forever.  They are growing and changing all the time, and someday, will no longer need you the way they do now.

Unfortunately it's just not practical to spend every second with our child or we would never get fed or cleaned.  But what we can do is cherish the moments we do spend with them.  Take 15 minutes to build that block building with them.  Color a picture.  Tell them a story.  And when you do, let everything else go and just enjoy that moment with them.  Don't try to read faster because you need to get dinner started.   Five years from now it won't matter if you all ate dinner 10 minutes late.  But what you gain from spending those 10 minutes with your child will last forever.

These fleeting precious moments are also the reason I enjoy co-sleeping and don't worry about weaning.  Sure I am tired and would get more sleep if my children slept in their own bed and my baby wasn't waking me up to nurse.  But I have the rest of my life to sleep.  Right now my baby needs me and my children feel loved and secure sleeping next to me.  I know some day my kids won't need me in that way anymore, and so while they still do, I want to fill that need and not force them to give it up before they are ready.

So the next time you are frustrated that your baby just wants to be held all day, or you toddler wants to nurse, again, forget about the dishes and just cherish these precious moments you have because before you know it, they will be gone.  This moment is just a sliver of time in our lives and we are living them now.

And with that I will leave you with this final thought.  I hope this post has inspired you to stop and smell the roses, if even for a moment!
"Yesterday's the past and tomorrow's the future. Today is a gift - which is why they call it the present."  -Bill Keane