Author: Alice Callahan, PhD
Why I love this book
A good friend gifted me this book – ordered it on Amazon and dropped it off on my desk right before I left for a long holiday. At the time, I planned to read: “What to expect when your expecting” and other ‘popular’ books; I was not excited about a book I had never heard of before and that did not appear in any of my google/amazon searches (possibly because it was published back in 2015).
After getting frustrated with the books I had purchased; which I found quite ‘negative’ or fear based…I switched to reading this book. I LOVE the tone in this book and found the content to be very accessible; likely because Alice uses stories throughout the book to bring facts and figures to life. This was a great starting point to understand topics relevant to: birth, early childhood and baby prep. The author has impressive credentials including a PhD in nutritional biology, two years studying fetal physiology and being a mother of two!
Tip: Great gift for newly expecting parents
Key Themes That Resonated With Me
- Cord Clamping: Before reading this book, I was not aware of delayed cord clamping. For anyone planning to breastfeed their baby, its key to read this chapter and understand the implications for when your cord is clamped and future actions you may need to take (ie Iron monitoring) to best care for your baby. After reading this chapter, my partner and I took time to talk with my doctor and learn the local practices (in Dublin, Ireland) for Cord Clamping. We were thrilled to learn the practices are inline with our preferences; even so, I will be including delayed cord clamping in my birth-plan.
- Key Quotes:
- “Waiting to cut the cord for 2-3 minutes after a vaginal birth can give 75 to 100 ml of additional blood (about 1/3 of a cup) to the average full-term newborn, increasing the baby’s total blood volume by up to 50%…”
- “Delayed cord clamping gives a baby more blood at birth carrying with it approximately 40 to 75 mg of additional iron…iron is also needed for muscle growth, as well as brain function and development…At 6 months of age, the babies with delayed cord clamping had 88% more iron stored than the babies whose cords has been clamped immediately.”
- “Iron stores are especially critical for breastfed babies, because there is little iron in breast milk… a breastfed baby thus counts on the iron stores from birth to provide most of what is needed for growth and development in infancy… with early cord clamping, iron stores can dwindle by 3-4 months of age. Late cord clamping add several months’ worth of iron, making it last until 6-8 months.”
- “There was a shift in the early to mid-1900s to cutting the cord within 10 to 15 seconds of birth….This change in routine procedure probably came with a shift of childbirth from the realm of midwives in the home to that of doctors in the hospital, where efficiency became a goal…”
- Key Quotes:
- Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB) & The Vitamin K Shot: An early chapter in the book focuses on demystifying ‘treatments’ a baby receives in hospital after birth – including the Vitamin K Shot. This chapter offers the history or “why” many treatments have been introduced and highlights potential health implications of opting out of treatments. It may encourage you to talk with your doctor to understand whats common practice in your country/city and help inform your birth plan.
- Key Quotes:
- “Vitamin K is required for the liver’s synthesis of four proteins that contribute to the ability of blood to clot.“
- “When it comes to Vitamin K, babies are born at a disadvantage. During pregnancy, very little vitamin K crosses the placenta from the mom to the baby; cord blood levels of the vitamin are so low that they’re often undetectable.”
- “Breast milk is very low in vitamin K, and the nascent bacterial population in a newborn gut doesn’t contribute much in the way of vitamin K … the bacteria that product the most vitamin K, E. coli and Streptococcus, are more prevalent in formula-fed infants than breastfed infants.”
- “Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding (VKDB)… 1) Early VKDB occurs within 1st 24 hours after birth, 2) Classical VKDB occurs between 2 and 7 days of age and 3) Late VKDB occurs between 8 days and 6 months of age… Classical and late VKDB are completely prevented by a dose of 1 mg of Vitamin K given as a intramuscular injection at birth…Late VKDB almost always occurs in apparently healthy, exclusively breastfed babies.”
- “The Vitamin K and Cancer Scare…At least 12 more studies were conducted to look at this question, and together they found that a link between Vitamin K and Cancer is extremely unlikely.
- Key Quotes:
- Vaccines – One chapter in the book is dedicated to Vaccines. Alice kicks off this chapter with vulnerability, sharing a family tragedy where her father’s brother had died from measles at a young age before the measles vaccine was available. She uses the rest of the chapter to consider the merits of vaccines, review the top vaccines that babies commonly get and how vaccines are vetted and monitored. This chapter has lots of great information and is quite dense so likely worth a re-read.
- Key Quotes:
- “If most of the people in a population are vaccinated, then the odds are low that a single infected individual will infect others and cause a large outbreak. This is called herd immunity. It’s important because it is how we protect people who can’t be vaccinated, including infants too young to received vaccines, people who are allergic to vaccine ingredients, and those who are immunocompromised.”
- “Herd immunity also protects children whose parents choose not to vaccinate them because of personal pr philosophical beliefs… a community can only sustain so many of these ”free-riders…when too many parents want their child to be that child the ensure community is affected.“
- “For most diseases, we need about 75% to 85% of the population to be vaccinated to minimize outbreaks and protect susceptible individuals. Measles and Pertussis (Whooping Cough) have higher threshold for herd immunity, greater than 90%, because they spread so easily.”
- “An unvaccinated child is 60 times more likely to contract measles and up to 20 times more likely to catch Pertussis (Whooping Cough) than an unvaccinated child.”
- “The Stories of suffering from vaccine-preventable diseases are trapped in history books and lost with our grandparents. Vaccines are a victim of their own success.”
- Key Quotes:
- Other key topics covered: Introducing Solid foods, Where baby should sleep & Breastfeeding vs.Formula
WHERE TO BUY
More from Author
- Science Of Mom Facebook Page: This seems to be most updated channel to engage with Alice. She uses this page to highlight recent articles she’s written or is reading. She also uses this page as a ‘focus group’ of sorts when researching upcoming articles.
- Science of Mom Website & Blog – Great resource that adds more context to many themes covered in the chapter. Just note, the site is a bit outdated – last post is from Oct 2016 – so this information is not necessarily the latest available