Updating My Parenting Philosophies

Mommy and PoppyWhen I first started The Parenting Patch back in September of 2011, one of my earliest posts focused on my parenting philosophies. At the time, I was still pregnant with my daughter. However, I had some very firm opinions on a few parenting topics. Although I generally fell into the mindset of whatever works for you and your family is best for you and your family, I also described myself as pro-homebirth, anti-ultrasound, pro-breastfeeding, pro-vaccine, and anti-bed-sharing. But what about now? How have my parenting philosophies changed now that I am a mother to a toddler?

First, I am still very much anti-ultrasound. With my pregnancy, I refused any routine ultrasounds based on the fact that the safety of ultrasounds on an unborn baby is still inconclusive. My midwife never urged me to get any ultrasounds, mainly because, as a homebirth midwife, she did not offer the procedure to her clients. Furthermore, since my pregnancy was low risk and normal, I did not need any routine ultrasounds. Until the medical community conclusively determines that ultrasounds do not negatively effect babies, I also urge all other women with normal, low risk pregnancies to forgo any routine ultrasounds. Why take a possible risk for a medically unnecessary procedure?

In addition to my continuing anti-ultrasound beliefs, I am also still a supporter of homebirth. Just as planned, my daughter was born in the comfort of my own home. She made her appearance in my bathroom after just four and a half hours of labor. Yes, I understand that some pregnancies require a hospital birth due to various risk factors. Other mothers are just not comfortable giving birth at home (although I urge these women to rethink their discomfort and realize that homebirth can be a safe alternative to a hospital labor and birth). However, I am still 100% pro-homebirth and will plan to give birth to any other children I have in the future again in the comfort of my own home.

My pro-breastfeeding stance also continue to persist. My daughter is now thirteen months old. I exclusively breastfed her for the first six months of her life. She is still very much my little boobie baby, nursing every couple of hours throughout the day and night. Breast really is best, and I feel that my daughter is a very lucky little girl for reaping the benefits of human breast milk for so long. Furthermore, the dangers of formula are just too great for me to have even considered formula feeding my daughter without giving breastfeeding a legitimate try. Fortunately for me and for her, breastfeeding has been pretty easy. I have even been able to produce enough extra milk to help not one but two other babies who needed donor milk. I encourage all other mothers-to-be to give breastfeeding a shot. Who knows? Maybe you will be like me, enjoying a continued breastfeeding relationship with your toddler.

With research backing up my pro-breastfeeding beliefs, I also turn to science to support my pro-vaccine stance. I have always been and always will be a supporter of vaccines. My daughter is fully vaccinated according to the recommended vaccination schedule from the CDC. According to a recent review conducted by the Institute of Medicine, following the recommended vaccine timeline does not cause developmental or health problems like autism or asthma in children. Furthermore, not vaccinating puts everyone unnecessarily at risk for easily preventable diseases. I will continue to vaccinate my daughter, myself, and my family. I urge all other parents to vaccinate as well.

Now that I am a parent, I can add one other topic to my philosophies that I am passionate about. I am staunchly anti-circumcision. In my researched opinion, circumcision is not a parenting decision. Only the person attached to the penis should have any say in the decision to remove healthy, functioning tissue from the penis without a legitimate medical reason. Evidence for the health benefits of circumcision is lacking, but the harm caused by routine infant circumcision is mounting. Prior to the birth of my first child, I knew that I would not circumcise if I had a boy. I am now vocally against RIC and urge parents who are expecting boys or who could have a boy to research the facts about circumcision. I can now add 100% anti-circumcision to my parenting philosophy.

Heather and Poppy SleepingFinally, one of my philosophies actually changed once I became a mother. Prior to the birth of my daughter, I was very against bed-sharing. I agreed with co-sleeping, which is when a baby shares the same room, but not the same bed, as the parents. My daughter absolutely refused to sleep on her own. Even putting her in a bassinet or rocker right next to the bed did not work. So, I quickly changed my tune and started sleeping with my daughter in my bed with me. However, the researched mother that I am, I made sure to make my bed as safe as possible for her. My husband installed bed rails. I made sure to secure the sheets tightly and eliminated any gaps between the mattress and the headboard. I also removed all bedding but my pillows, a sheet, and a comforter. My husband sleeps in the other room. Because of our bed-sharing arrangement, my entire family sleeps pretty well without any problems. I am now pro-bed-sharing under safe conditions. If you can bed-share safely, then, by all means, share a bed with your baby. I know that neither my husband nor I would have gotten any sleep without my sharing a bed with our daughter.

Although most of my beliefs are still the same, I can now describe myself as a pro-homebirth, anti-ultrasound, pro-breastfeeding, pro-vaccine, pro-bed-sharing/pro-co-sleeping, anti-circumcision mama. I flip-flopped on my opinion on bed-sharing and my opposition to RIC has increased, but my parenting philosophies have largely remained the same.

What are your parenting philosophies? Have any of your beliefs changed over time?

Image Credits

Mommy and Poppy © 2011 James Johnson
Heather and Poppy Sleeping © 2012 Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a mother, wife, writer, librarian, and linguist. She earned a BA in English studies with a minor in creative writing from Illinois State University in May 2007, an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2009, and an MS in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics at Illinois State University in December 2011.

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