Sesame Street has been one of the most widely viewed shows in children's programming since the 1970's and was the first educational children's program on television. Teaching children how to count, how to spell and about social differences has been an integral part of growing up with Sesame Street for many decades. That's why over 30,000 mothers have signed a petition to bring back breastfeeding to Sesame Street, at a time when breastfeeding women are often ostracized for feeding their children in public.
In response to the call to action, executive vice president of the popular program, Sherri Westin, has released an official statement: "There has never been any edict to remove breast-feeding from the show. We have included it and absolutely would include it again if it were a natural part of the storyline.” However, the statement is slightly misleading in face of the fact that bottle-feeding has become the featured method of feeding babies on the show since the 1990's. In fact, many episodes that previously featured nursing were updated to show babies bottle-feeding instead. The group circulating the petition, aptly named Bring Breastfeeding Back to Sesame Street (BBBSS), isn't asking the show to remove instances of bottle-feeding, they're just asking for breastfeeding to be included as well.
The show has been renowned for it's ability to tackle real-world issues in a way that's suitable for children. Producers won an Emmy in 1983 for the episode that explained the death of Mr. Hooper to Big Bird. They famously featured an HIV-positive puppet and have always maintained an ethnically and racially diverse cast of characters. In fact, some people have pointed out the show's "hidden curriculum," where story lines work to teach children to accept groups of people that have been stigmatized.
In light of Sesame Street's social importance, featuring breastfeeding mothers at a time when they are often treated poorly in public situations makes a lot of sense. You can sign a petition to bring breastfeeding back to sesame street here.
Do you think they should feature more breastfeeding on Sesame Street?
Bring Breastfeeding Back [BBBSS]
Bring Breastfeeding Back to Sesame Street [Boobie Time]
Top 10 Sesame Street Moments [Time]
Pregnant women who enjoy eating fish now have even more reasons to consume the omega-3-rich food. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for your skin, your mood, and they boost your immune system. Children of mothers who consume fish during pregnancy are less likely to become obese or be born prematurely. New research suggests that these children also tend to be smarter, more sociable and less likely to develop eczema.
Spanish researchers collected blood samples from 2000 pregnant women at 20 weeks and from their umbilical cords just after birth. The blood samples were tested for levels of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a type of Omega-3 and the main component of brain cell membranes. The levels of DHA found in the mother's blood were correlated with those found in the infant's, suggesting that the brain-building fatty acid crosses the placenta and assists in fetal development. Babies were later tested on their fine motor skills, verbal intelligence and sociability - those whose mothers consumed the most fish had better test outcomes. The same research team previously found that eight-year-old children scored higher on IQ tests if their mothers consumed fish during pregnancy.
Another recent study found that women who consumed fish oil during pregnancy were less likely to have babies that developed eczema and egg allergies. Over 700 pregnant women took part in an Australian study, where it was discovered that women taking fish oil supplements had babies 50% less likely to develop egg allergies and 36% less likely to develop eczema.
The studies merely add more weight to the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in fetal development. Pregnant women who don't like fish can take fish oil supplements. Mercury levels are of some concern when choosing fish to eat during pregnancy - shark, swordfish and large species of tuna should be avoided.
Do you eat fish regularly or take fish oil supplements?
Proponents of attachment parenting will often cite a study of rats that found increased development in the hippocampus region of the brain when the rats were nurtured (read: licked often) by their mothers. Researchers generally assumed that the same might be true among humans, but only recently has the theory been tested.
The hippocampus is an important region of the brain that assists in learning, memory and responding to stress. Previous research has found that those with a larger hippocampus tend to have better memories - a clear boon for learning throughout life. Studies have repeatedly shown that children of nurturing mothers tend to do better in school and are more emotionally developed than their non-nurtured peers. A recent study out of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is the first to show that these differences could be attributed to a physically larger hippocampus.
Researchers recruited 92 children between the ages of three and six, many with signs of depression and other psychological disorders. The children were asked to wait with their mothers before they were to receive a mystery gift. Needless to say, the children became increasingly impatient. The mothers who were considered nurturing were supportive, offering consolation and calmly explaining the necessity of waiting to their child. The researchers believed that this scenario was a good example of everyday life and noted which mothers displayed nurturing behavior with their children. Four years later, the children were given MRI's. Children who were not depressed and had non-nurturing mothers had a 9.2 percent smaller hippocampus than their nurtured peers. Children who suffered from depression and had non-nurturing mothers had a 6-10.3 percent smaller hippocampus. Head author of the study, Dr. Joan Luby, says of the findings: "It's now clear that a caregiver's nurturing is not only good for the development of the child, but it actually physically changes the brain."
Do you consider yourself a nurturing parent?
How a Mother's Love Changes a Child's Brain [LiveScience]
Kendall Stewardson, a mother of two from Iowa, is making headlines for birthing her 13 lb son without any pain relief. Asher was born on January 26th, weighing 13 lbs, 12 oz. and measuring 23 inches long. He is the largest baby on record for Mercy Medical Hospital. He joins older brother Judah, who weighed in at 12 lbs at birth. Stewardson spent six hours in active labor before Asher made his entrance. She says of her newest addition: "...everyone like double takes when they see him, but for us it's pretty standard and it wasn`t much worse than probably most people's."
However, the average weight of a newborn in the United States is between six and eight pounds. Asher was just shy of beating the record for the largest baby in Iowa by one pound. There is no mention in any of the news coverage of Asher's birth whether Stewardson had gestational diabetes or a thyroid issue that could be a likely cause for such a large infant.
How much did your baby weigh at birth?
National Vital Statistics Report [CDC]
Whoa Baby: Woman gives birth to 13 lb baby without painkillers or surgery [DailyMail]
The number of home births in the United States is increasing. From 2004-2009, the number of mothers giving birth at home jumped by 29%. The recent data released by the government has home birth advocates cheering and leaves some doctors concerned. However, everyone is asking why the number is rising.
Overall, the number of women opting to give birth at home is still pretty low - approximately 0.72% in 2009, fewer than 30,000 births. The women who are having home births tend to be over 35 and white, in fact, the number of white women who had home births from 2004-2009 jumped by 36%. Most of the women are also married and already have at least one child, which could be revealing. The statistics suggest that women may be choosing home birth after feeling dissatisfied with previous birthing experiences. A high c-section rate and a number of commonly used interventions are high on the list of possible reasons.
The consensus after many studies and among experts is that a woman with a low-risk pregnancy can safety proceed with a home birth. The most important thing is to make sure there is a qualified midwife on hand, who can spot an emergency situation and act appropriately if needed. Dr. George A. Macones of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that if a woman giving birth at home runs into trouble and the hospital is five
minutes away, "that probably is not going to be a big problem. But if you're half an hour away or 40 minutes away, then that really could be a big problem."
Your baby's heart is dividing into chambers and will start beating in a more regular rhythm. Your little embryo is about 0.08 to 0.16 inches from crown to rump (about the size of a BB pellet) and with its "tail," looks more tadpole than human.
But it undergoes a tremendous growth spurt this week: Its major organs - including the kidneys and liver - begin to grow; the neural tube, which connects the brain and spinal cord, will close this week; and your embryo's upper and lower limb buds begin to sprout, which will form the arms and legs. The intestines are also developing and the appendix is in place; and its facial features are starting to form, the nostrils are becoming distinct, and the retinas of the eyes are forming.