Gentle Blessing Blog

Study links exposure in the womb to conditions that may increase later infertility risk.

When expectant mothers are exposed to plastics chemicals called phthalates during the first trimester, their male offspring may have a greater risk of infertility later in life, a new study suggests.

Boys exposed to the chemical diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) may be born with a significantly shorter anogenital distance than those not exposed to these chemicals. Anogenital distance is the distance between the anus and the genitals. A shorter anogenital distance has been linked to infertility and low sperm count, the researchers explained.

"We saw these changes even though moms' exposure to DEHP has dropped 50 percent in the past 10 years," said lead researcher Shanna Swan, a professor of preventive medicine and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

"Therefore, we have not found a safe level of phthalate exposure for pregnant women," she contended.

Swan said that this study cannot prove that these boys will have fertility problems as adults or that DEHP causes these problems. However, animal studies have implicated the chemical in male reproductive problems. Based on the data from this study, Swan believes there is a strong association between exposure to DEHP and fertility in human males.

DEHP is used to soften plastics. Most exposure results from eating foods that pick up the chemical during processing, Swan said.

"Since food is the largest source of DEHP for consumers, it is difficult for pregnant women to minimize exposure," she said. "Eating unprocessed food will likely help. However, eliminating DEHP from food really has to be done by food producers."

The chemical is also found in medical tubing and in a variety of products, including flooring, wallpaper, lacquers and personal care products, Swan said.

The report was published Feb. 19 in the journal Human Reproduction.

For the study, Swan's team collected data on almost 800 pregnant women and their infants.

Specifically, the researchers found that exposure in the womb to three types of DEHP was associated with a significantly shorter anogenital distance in boys, but not in girls.

A group representing the chemical industry took issue with the study, however.

In a statement, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) stressed that the study only examined one type of phthalate, not all versions of the chemical. And it said that phthalates are "one of the most widely studied family of chemicals in use today."

The ACC added that DEHP "is known to break down into its metabolites within minutes after it enters the body. Information collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the last 10 years indicates that, despite the fact that phthalates are used in many products, exposure from all sources combined is extremely low -- much lower than the levels established as safe by scientists at regulatory agencies."

But another expert says phthalate exposure may not be benign. Dr. Kenneth Spaeth, director of the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Center at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., said, "virtually everyone in the U.S. experiences continual exposure to phthalates."

And, a number of studies have tied the chemicals with changes in developing fetuses. "Phthalates, in particular, have been shown in both human and animal studies to interfere with normal fetal development," he said.

This study supports what has been demonstrated before, that phthalate exposure in the first trimester is linked to male reproductive development, Spaeth said. "This study is an important step forward in establishing this effect because the study included a much larger number of individuals than prior studies and helps identify one particular agent, DEHP, as an important contributor to this effect," he said.

Additionally, this study shows the importance of exposure in the first trimester as a critical window for the effect of phthalates on the male reproductive system. "On the whole, given these features, the authors have contributed important information about the public health risk posed by phthalates," Spaeth suggested.

It’s legal to install a nanny cam in all 50 states, even if you choose to videotape your nanny without her consent. However, the laws of 13 states expressly prohibit the unauthorized installation or use of cameras in private places.

In Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Utah, installation or use of any device for photographing, observing or overhearing events or sounds in a private place without the permission of the people photographed or observed is against the law. A private place is one where a person may reasonably expect to be safe from unauthorized surveillance. This means you can’t record in clearly private areas of your home, such as the bathroom or a live-in nanny’s bedroom.

38 states, as well as the District of Columbia, allow you to record a conversation to which you are a party without informing the other parties you are doing so. Federal wiretap statutes also permit this so-called one-party-consent recording of telephone conversations in most circumstances.

But if you live in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania or Washington, you must notify your nanny (preferably in writing) if you have a nanny cam that records both audio and video. The person who is recorded in violation of the law could hire a personal injury lawyer, file a lawsuit and seek compensation for damages, such as suffering or emotional distress. You could also put yourself at risk for criminal charges. Also, any evidence of abuse or neglect found on the tape could be inadmissible during legal proceedings. Therefore you must consider your state’s laws before you capture audio using a hidden nanny cam.


Choosing a Correctly-Fitted Breastshield

Choosing the right size PersonalFit™ Breastshield If you are using a breast pump to remove milk for your baby, it is very important that you have correctly-fitted breast shields. The breast shield is the part of the pump kit that fits directly over your nipple and forms a seal around the areola (the darkened part of your breast). The breast pump works by creating a vacuum, which gently draws your nipple into the tunnel of the breast shield – just like your baby would draw it into the mouth with sucking. A correctly-fitted breast shield will make your pumping comfortable and allow the pump to remove as much of your milk as possible each time you pump. Medela PersonalFit™ breast shields are available in five sizes: Medium (24mm), which is the size that comes with Medela’s breast pump kits; Small (21 mm), Large (27 mm), Extra Large (30 mm), and XX-Large (36mm). Medela’s breast pump kits make it easy to use a larger or smaller breast shield because all sizes are designed to fit into the same connector on the kit. Many women appear to benefit from a size other than the standard 24 mm breast shield. It is almost impossible to tell which size breast shield is the best fit without watching the nipple movement during pumping. The following tips will help you determine whether a different size breast shield would be right for you. Remember the word ‘COMFY’ to determine whether you might need a different size breast shield. The term was designed to help you remember five specific guidelines about breast shield sizing. The following identifies these five guidelines: ‘COMFY’ C – Centered nipple which moves freely. Look at your nipple as it is drawn into the tunnel of the shield during pumping. It should move freely and easily and should not rub against the sides of the tunnel. If the breast shield fits tightly, your nipple will rub against the sides of the tunnel with each vacuum movement of the pump. O – Only a little or no areola tissue is pulled into the tunnel. When your nipple moves freely in the tunnel of the breast shield, you will also notice a gentle pulling movement in the areola each time the pump cycles. If you do not see any movement in the areola with the pump vacuum, the breast shield is probably too small. If you see a lot of movement of your breast or a large amount of areola tissue is pulled into the tunnel, the breast shield is probably too big. M – Motion of the breast is gentle and rhythmic with each cycle of the pump. Just as you should see gentle nipple movement each time the pump cycles, you should also see gentle breast movement. This breast movement suggests that the breast is getting proper stimulation while pumping. F - Feels comfortable pumping. Pumping should be comfortable for you and should not cause nipple pain or tenderness. If you feel any pain or tenderness, your breast shield is probably too small. Y – Yields a well-drained breast. Your breasts should feel soft after each pumping session. An incorrectly-fitting breast shield can affect how your breasts empty and lead to problems with milk supply. During pumping, your milk flows out of the breast due to the pump’s vacuum and your milk ejection (or “let-down”) reflex. However, an incorrectly-fitting breast shield does not allow good breast emptying-even with the best breast pump and a strong milk ejection reflex-because it squeezes the small ducts inside the nipple that carry your milk out of the breast. Ordinarily, these ducts increase in size when you feel milk ejections so that the milk can flow out of the breasts quickly and easily. However, if the ducts are squeezed by a too-small breast shield or not emptied by a too large breast shield, some milk stays behind in the breast. Eventually, this incomplete milk removal can lead to plugged ducts, mastitis, and problems with low milk volume. You may note breast engorgement that seems to last a long time – or little ‘knots’ or hardened areas in the breast that do not seem to empty with milk expression. If you experience nipple tenderness around the outside surface of the nipple or problems with breast emptying-your pumping will probably be improved with a different size breast shield. You will want to correct these problems as soon as possible. Sometimes you may experience discomfort at the base of the nipple due to rubbing of your breast tissue with the breast shield tunnel. Use of a lubricant such as Tender Care™ Lanolin may be beneficial. For more information or to purchase Medela’s PersonalFit breast shields, contact your lactation professional.

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Which Organic Formula is Truly Organic?

With so much controversy on which formula to suggest to a client, I have decided to take this opportunity to point you in the right direction.

If I wanted to include the European formulas, we would have many to choose from, but because I have decided to include only U.S. formula, the selection is much more precise. When looking at the 'Organic" formulas, we can eliminate most of the formulas as they are not truly organic.

To be genuinely organic, you must not use artificial ingredients. Using Martek's DHA/ARA, you are technically invalidating the organic rule. And let's remember that sugar can technically be considered organic. So ingredients are huge in picking out a formula.

"Palm oil is used as a primary fat source in infant formulas; it could contribute to poor absorption of calcium and fat, potentially resulting in lower bone density," This according to, but it can and is used in an organic formula.
Synthetic preservatives such as beta carotene and ascorbic palmitate are used in some of these organic formulas. As is carrageenan, an added stabilizer which leads to leads to intestinal inflammation and colon tumors. Many are loaded with sugars, which may not be inorganic but is seriously bad for the child.

Here are some other ingredients to watch for in formulas

Carrageenan You will find this additive in tons of stuff in your health food store, and infant formula is no exception. Derived from seaweed, carrageenan helps stabilize liquid formula, but numerous animal studies suggest that it leads to intestinal inflammation and colon tumors. The European Union has outlawed the use of carrageenan in all infant formula, but in the United States, it appears in both conventional and organic varieties.

Preservatives. Synthetic preservatives are sometimes added to prevent the oils in the formula from spoiling. Two that have been snuck into organic formulas are: beta carotene and ascorbic palmitate.

Synthetic nutrients. There are several synthetic nutrients that you will find in organic formulas, none of which is legal in the European Union (for organic formulas). Look out for lutein (hexane-extracted from marigolds), lycopene (produced with toluene, a neurotoxic benzene derivative), nucleotides (produced from chemically treated yeast), taurine (processed with carcinogenic sulfuric acid), and l-carnitine (which was banned by the National Organic Standards Board because of concerns over carcinogenic properties). Unfortunately, even the U.S. formula we recommend below does contain some of these synthetics in order to meet FDA nutrition requirements.

Certain sugars. Breastmilk is naturally super sweet, so formulas invariably contain added sugars. The sweetener that most closely mimics that found in human milk is lactose, but this cow’s milk-based sweetener is expensive, so many manufacturers instead use plant-based sucrose, which was banned by The European Union in 2009 (except for babies with allergies), because of concerns of over-feeding and subsequent obesity. (The FDA provides no such regulation on what kind of sugars can be used.) Other sweeteners include maltodextrin (made from rice, corn, or potatoes), and “glucose syrup solids,” which is corn syrup solids. In 2012, concerns were raised about formulas sweetened with brown rice syrup when Dartmouth researchers found that organic formula made with organic brown rice syrup contained six times the EPA’s safe limit for arsenic.

These taken from


Here are some organic U.S made formulas:

  1. Happy Baby Organic
  2. Bright Beginnings Organic Baby Formula
  3. Parent's Choice Organic Baby Formula
  4. Similac Organic Baby Formula
  5. Baby's Only Organic Baby Formula
  6. Earth's Best Organic Baby Formula
  7. Vermont Organic Baby Formula
  8. Whole Foods 365 Organic Baby Formula
  9. Designed by Nature Organic Baby Formula

Eliminating the not truly organic formulas, you are left with in order of preference.

  1. Designed by Nature Organic Baby Formula
  2. Baby's Only Organic Baby Formula
  3. Earth's Best Organic Baby Formula (only the label with the DHA/ARA removed)

I hope this short article helps you when you are asked to recommend a formula.

Remember to always state "in my opinion" when speaking to a client.

I am not a medical professional or nutritionist. This is the information I have gleaned from research.


Foods to Avoid When Breastfeeding

Gas Producing Foods To Avoid For Nursing Moms

This list applies only to moms whose babies are showing signs of digestion, gas, constipation, or diarrhea issues

We suggest that you go on a bland diet for 10 days and see if that helps your newborn. After the 10 days add one of your favorite foods back into your diet. Wait and watch for the next 24 hours. If the baby has no reaction to the added food, you are o.k to continue to eat that food. After 3 days add another food from this list and give it the 24 hour test with your newborn. Continue on. If you eat a food and find your baby is reacting within the 24 hour period that will be a food that you will completely eliminate from your diet.

The following list is a good sampling of gas producing foods. The first thing you may want to eliminate is dairy,. Gluten is another food that causes intestinal upsets in a baby, so consider also avoiding gluten in your bland diet. 


  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Tomato Juice
  • Cucumber
  • Garlic
  • Rhubarb
  • Green Peppers
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Tomato
  • Corn
  • Onions
  • Turnip Kale and lettuce (salad is one of the big offenders) Spinach seems to be fine.


  • Apple (especially peels)
  • Bananas (can cause constipation)
  • Citrus fruits :strawberries or berries especially
  • Coconut


  • Dairy of any kind is a huge offender (lactose intolerance can provoke reflux in some babies)
  • Coffee (even decaffeinated)
  • Tea - Kombuca
  • Carbonated
  • Caffeinated


  • Beans Oats (rolled oats are OK)
    Tofu (in large quantities) Chili powder
    Fatty or Fried Foods (fats take longer to digest) Glutton
    Black pepper
    Creamy food such as gravy, etc. (basically anything with a high fat content)
The Effect Of Cannabis On Pregnant Women And Their Newborns (Study)

by Vlad  

It’s almost too taboo to discuss: pregnant women smoking marijuana. It’s a dirty little secret for women, particularly during the harrowing first trimester, who turn to cannabis for relief from nausea and stress.

Pregnant women in Jamaica use marijuana regularly to relieve nausea, as well as to relieve stress and depression, often in the form of a tea or tonic.

In the late 1960s, grad student Melanie Dreher was chosen by her professors to perform an ethnographic study on marijuana use in Jamaica to observe and document its usage and its consequences among pregnant women.

Read more
Maybe you don’t need to burp your baby

Maybe you don’t need to burp your baby

Post-meal pats on the back may be instinct for parents, but it’s not necessarily helpful to babies

Laura Sanders

September 15, 2016

As satisfying as it is to coax burps out of babies, the practice isn’t backed by science.

I found burping my babies to be highly satisfying. A little jiggle, a little pat, and suddenly, a big, funny jolt of air comes flying out of a tiny, floppy baby. There’s lots of burping methods — the over-the-shoulder jiggle, the propped-up-on-the-lap pat, even the face-down-on-the-knees position — and they all lead to this amusing outcome.

I will not weigh in on burping methodology here. Instead, I am going to back up a step further. At the risk of losing all credibility with grandmas, I am prepared to argue that you might not need to burp your baby at all. Despite the immense joy and amusement burping brings, there’s scant scientific evidence that burping after meals actually does anything helpful for babies.

Read more

Thursday, March 18, 2010


After many inquiries into whether or not Baby’s Only Organic’s Toddlers formula was safe for a newborn, I sent an official query to Baby’s Only. Here is the response.

Many thanks for your recent inquiry and also your interest in our Baby’s Only Organic® formulas. Regarding the use of our Baby’s Only Organic® formulas during infancy, similar to other commercially available infant formulas, our Baby’s Only Organic® formulas provide the correct balance of proteins, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals needed to support normal growth and development of full term, healthy infants. No extra dilution is needed. Nothing needs to be added to make the formula more “complete” when prepared according to label instructions. It is because of our strong position on breastfeeding that we prefer to maintain a “toddler” status, thereby not encouraging mothers to use our product when breast milk is available. Thus, we state that “Baby’s Only Organic® is not intended for infants under 1-year of age unless specified by a healthcare professional.”

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