My dad tells a story of his science teacher handing out vials of mercury and allowing students to play with it and watch how it pools. Those days are gone! (I should know, I’m a science teacher.) Today, we aren’t even allowed to have mercury thermometers in school, and there are news reports of schools being evacuated due to a broken thermometer. We now know that mercury is toxic to kids.
Mercury as an atmospheric pollutant comes mostly from power plants, with 72% of it coming from coal-fired power plants. Once released into the atmosphere, mercury contaminates entire ecosystems: fresh and salt water, soil, the substrate at the bottoms of streams, rivers, lakes and oceans, as well as plants an animals. Microorganisms in the water convert mercury to the highly toxic methylmercury. Methylmercury accumulates in the tissues of animals, especially salt water fish like sharks, swordfish and tuna.
Here’s what I think all parents should know about mercury pollution:
- 1 in 10 American women of childbearing age have potentially dangerous levels of mercury in their bodies.
- 410,000 US children are exposed to dangerous levels of mercury in the womb each year.
- 95% of the methylmercury we consume is absorbed through our small intestines and enters our bloodstream, which carries it to the rest of our body. It will eventually be excreted over a period of weeks to months.
- Methylmercury easily crosses the placenta and travels into a fetus’s blood and organs, including his or her brain.
- Methylmercury levels in an unborn child’s blood can accumulate to be higher than the levels in his or her mother’s blood.
- Mercury in both the form of methylmercury (from seafood) and inorganic mercury (from amalgam fillings) has been found in breast milk in studies around the world. However, the level of mercury in a mother’s blood are about 3 times higher than the level of mercury in her milk, so babies are exposed to much more mercury in utero than through breastfeeding. Experts say that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks of mercury exposure.
- Infants can be exposed to mercury through formula if it is prepared with water contaminated with methylmercury, so experts recommend breastfeeding over formula-feeding in areas with contaminated water.
- Methylmercury exposure leads to impaired neurological development in fetuses, infants and children. It can also delay developmental milestones and cause severe mental disabilities.
The Clean Air Act does not currently have limits on the amount of mercury that can be emitted by power plants, but the EPA would like to set a new Mercury and Air Toxics rule to reduce the amount of mercury and other emissions by 91%. (Learn more about the proposed rule here). Won’t you join me in supporting the EPA’s right to limit mercury emissions? Send a comment to the EPA!
This post will be cross-posted at Moms Clean Air Force.
I want to give birth naturally. I feel very strongly that’s the right choice for me, and I’m trying to do everything I can to prepare for it.
I’ve been stepping around it in conversations with friends and family. I say I’d like to try to go with no drugs, I’d like to have a natural birth, and then I often end up listening to stories about how I should get the drugs, smiling, nodding, and taking it all in. I don’t know why I haven’t been more adamant about it. Maybe it’s because I’m afraid something will go wrong and I don’t want to jynx it, or look like a fool. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to be rude to people and I really do want to hear about their experiences. Maybe it’s because it I realize it doesn’t really matter what I say now, it matters what happens when I go into labor.
Ed and our moms know how I feel about it. I feel really encouraged that both of our moms gave birth naturally. I also feel encouraged that most of the women in my family that I’ve talked to have given birth naturally. It makes me hopeful that there’s something in our genes, something that will make me better prepared to give birth naturally.
I don’t take medications very often. If I have a headache, I drink a big glass of water and suck it up. I didn’t have anything for pain when I cut off the tip of my finger and had to have it reattached (though I may have given in if I wasn’t pregnant). I don’t take anything for my allergies, since they’re intermittent enough to be unpredictable and I’ve had success with avoiding rubbing my eyes and washing my hands to get rid of pollen. I just don’t see the need for many medications.
I feel very strongly that when I go into labor, I want nature to take its course. I don’t want pitocin. I don’t want to have my membranes ruptured. I don’t want an IV. I don’t want an epidural. I don’t want a scheduled C-section. I want to deliver my baby, the way that humans and animals have delivered their babies for as long as live birth has existed.
Isabelle is almost 7 months old now, and I’m 32 weeks pregnant. Due to both of those facts, it’s a little bit too dangerous for me to go in her pen now. She’s frisky, and I’m not in any shape to dodge her high kicks and air jumps!
Duke loves to get in on the action and visit with Annabelle and Isabelle.
Isabelle and Dukie are friends, even if he is jealous of the attention she gets.
Thanks for the pictures, Mom!
Alternate Title: Why we HATED the birthing classes and will not be going back.
- Ed and I were the only people enrolled in the class.
- The class was taught in an unfurnished house that was listed for rent.
- Said house is 45 minutes from ours.
- We got there before the instructors.
- The instructors were totally unprepared to teach the class, and spent the first 10 minutes setting up.
- The instructors read word-for-word off a PowerPoint.
- The instructors read word-for-word from the workbook.
- The instructors (poorly) summarized how Dr. Bradley developed his method. It was like a bad book report.
- The instructors had monotone voices and trouble reading.
- The house was cold and there was nowhere to sit except on the skeevy carpet (see #2)
- They showed a DVD of births from the 1960’s.
- Said DVD froze and they spent 10 minutes trying to figure out how to fix it.
- I told Ed it would be great! I hate being wrong.
You may have to be a teacher to be fully infuriated by some of these things. The lack of punctuality, preparedness, personality and enthusiasm were the worst parts. I should add that I’m still not turned off from the Bradley method. However, I plan to continue reading about it on my own, doing the exercises on my own, and we’ll attend birthing classes at the hospital instead.
There’s been a lot of chatter out there in the blogosphere, on Twitter and on Facebook about the H1N1 vaccine. Most of the chatter I’ve heard from everyday citizens is against vaccination, and I understand their hesitance to get a new vaccine for their children. However, my midwife, doctors, and the scientific agencies that I trust all recommend getting vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available to you. I did a lot of research, and my decision was to get vaccinated.
I am in a high-risk group, which is why the vaccine was even available to me right now. Due to the fact that pregnant women are more likely to have a severe case of H1N1 or even die, I wanted to get the vaccine. I also feel that I’m in an unofficial high-risk group: teachers. Schools in neighboring towns have closed due to the number of students and staff who are sick with “flu-like” symptoms. While I have made it a habit to wash my hands regularly and clean desk tops, I feel much safer going to work now that I’ve been vaccinated.
One of the big arguments I’ve heard against getting the vaccine is that it contains thimerosal. That’s not entirely true. I won’t get into the whole debate here, but thimerosal is a preservative/anti-fungal that is suspected to contribute to the rise in Autism. While I’ve done a bit of research, and in my opinion there’s not definitive scientific evidence of the link between thimerosal and Autism, the precautionary principle makes me want to avoid it anyway. The vaccine that I got is a single-use vaccine, which comes in a plastic one-time use syringe. It doesn’t look like a normal syringe. The nasal version doesn’t have thimerosal, either. However, multi-dose vials contain thimerosal as a preservative, since syringes will be filled from the vial multiple times. If you want to avoid thimerosal, get the single-use vaccine or the nasal vaccine. Keep in mind that the nasal vaccine is not available to pregnant women because it contains weakened live virus, while the injected vaccine contains dead virus. Since the H1N1 vaccine is manufactured in the same way as the seasonal flu vaccine, I felt comfortable getting the shot.
My decision to get both the seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 vaccine was due to my pregnancy. I’ve never gotten a flu vaccine before, and if I wasn’t pregnant, I probably wouldn’t get one this year. However, this isn’t any normal flu season, and I made the decision that I believe is best for me and for my baby. When it comes to the H1N1 vaccine, everyone needs to do their own research and decide what’s best for their family.