Guide to Natural Family Living: The Best of Peggy O’Mara 2012

Peggy O’Mara has been inspiring natural families with her writing since 1980 when she became publisher and editor of Mothering magazine. Today her honest words continue to provide support and guidance to parents as they navigate family life. Here are some of Peggy’s most loved pieces from 2012. You can read more of Peggy’s recent articles on her blog.



Pregnancy & Birth


What are the early signs of pregnancy? Thousands of women come to every day to ask this question. From breast changes to fatigue, Peggy O’Mara breaks down the basics.
Homebirth is safe and on the increase. For most of us, it’s getting comfortable with the fact that birth is safe that is our most important preparation for birth. If you are interested in a homebirth don’t expect yourself to know everything, find someone who does.
The word midwife comes from the Old English “mit wif,” which literally means with women. A midwife is a health professional who provides care to low-risk women during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. Many midwives also provide primary “well-woman” care. Though they are specialists in low-risk pregnancy and childbirth, midwives are trained to both identify and address high risk situations.
We should have confidence in VBAC. The medical establishment maintains control by giving permission to women for a trial of labor, thereby eroding their confidence in their own autonomy. Policies by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) limit access to VBAC and scare tactics terrify women into believing that VBAC is dangerous when it is not. It is the procedures and drugs associated with hospital childbirth in the US that make birth unsafe. An increase in VBACs would, in fact, increase the safety of birth.




Baby & Child


My personal experience with four children tells me that it takes about two years for the nervous and immune system of a child to mature enough to foster the ability to sleep through the night. Sleep has developmental milestones such as the progression from sleeping more in the day to sleeping more at night and the progression from waking during the night to sleeping through the night.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a new policy statement on the medical circumcision of infants. The new policy claims that the benefits of infant circumcision outweigh the risks, but falls just short of recommending the procedure. Instead, the AAP leaves the decision up the parents, as it has done since 1989.
I know that it can be daunting to consider giving up spanking because of the fear of loss of control, but, connection is more important than control and control will ultimately erode your relationship with your child. Join our Gentle Discipline conversation on Mothering for help with moving away from spanking.
Babywearing is a necessity for women all over the world who carry their babies while they work and do domestic tasks. This practice has been around for centuries, but has seen a dramatic resurgence in popularity in recent years. Why? Because touch is good for us.
Finding time to exercise can be so elusive when you’re the mom or dad of a new baby. And yet, the parent of young children is exercising all the time. You don’t need to rush off to a gym or pool or spa to get your workout; it’s available right at home.
The recent furor in the press over attachment parenting stems from an inherent misunderstanding. Attachment parenting is not permissive parenting. It is not about abdicating authority as a parent, but about responding to the legitimate biological needs of a baby. It is firmly based in the sciences of anthropology and psychology and specifically on the theory of attachment.
Because paid maternity leave in the US seldom covers the time necessary to adjust to a new baby, many women are not ready to go back to work as quickly as they expected. Some look to more flexible work solutions, either temporarily or permanently. While there may be financial risks, there are also new opportunities.




Breastfeeding is the feminist issue of our time, and perhaps the fourth wave of feminism, because it is in the breastfeeding arena today that women must continually justify their legitimate behavior and defend their rights.
Breastfeeding came of age in 2012. Public health initiatives are increasing as is public awareness. Let’s not be too distracted by the naysayers. They are just evidence of breastfeeding’s assimilation into mainstream society. Look how far we’ve come.
The controversy about breastfeeding would be over if we counted breast milk production as part of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the same way that we count formula production. The $4 billion a year in US formula sales is part of the good news of our economy because of the distorted way that we count things. We don’t count the health savings from breastfeeding or the actual value of breast milk production in our GDP.
The purpose of a breastfeeding symbol is to increase public awareness of breastfeeding, designate baby friendly and breastfeeding friendly facilities in public places, and provide a more inclusive image than the baby bottle.
Do you ever wonder what you can do to protect breastfeeding? Are you or do you want to become a breastfeeding advocate? Whether it’s breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding and working, breastfeeding and jury duty, pumping during a medical licensing exam, or the distribution of formula samples to new mothers in hospitals, breastfeeding is the civil rights issue of our time. What can you do?



Health & Nutrition


In the early eighties, I interviewed a popular Albuquerque doctor for a feature in Mothering magazine and learned about homeopathy for the first time. I immediately appreciated the complex observations of the sick person that go into identifying an appropriate homeopathic remedy. I was drawn to homeopathy because it taught me so much about illness and gave me new tools of observation with which to help my children.
The US has a century old tradition of accepting conscientious objection to medical procedures and all medical associations support, in principle, the doctrine of informed consent. Informed consent specifically states that one must not be coerced into making a decision and that one may decline a treatment or procedure. Further, the right to decline a treatment is not contingent on the effectiveness of that treatment. Does our tradition of informed consent not apply to vaccines?
Simply taking off your shoes before coming inside can reduce indoor pollutants by 85%, according to Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, executive director and CEO of the non-profit, Healthy Child Healthy World(HCHW). And, while environmental insults can seem overwhelming, HCHP’s message is simple: “Noone can do everything, but everyone can do something.” Taking your shoes off is one of five steps she suggests for getting more healthy:
When I was girl, I was fascinated by the big crock of delicious dill pickles my Grandma kept in her basement. I’ve always wanted to make pickles like my grandmother, and when I saw pickling (Kirby) cucumbers in the co-op last week, I scooped them up. Pickling and canning are not hard. Pickling involves chopping the vegetables, making a vinegar mixture to pickle them in and sealing them in a water bath for just a few minutes.


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