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Eating Your Placenta and other Parent Practices

By Yvette Vignando - 18th June 2012

I didn't know what else to call this piece. My aim in this segment was to share some serious information about a few parenting topics that have hit the news due to celebrities talking about their parenting choices.

We didn't get to discuss everything because one of my lovely co-hosts Sonia Kruger got the giggles - actually it was probably ambitious in the first place! Watch the short video here for as much information as I could squeeze in between the laughter. Below, just a few short points to consider.

On the menu were:

Eating Your Placenta: in the news because of January Jones.

As far as I can tell the jury is still out on this one. As yet, there is no peer-reviewed research demonstrating a benefit to the practice of eating your own (freeze-dried, pelletised) placenta. I understand that there is research in the pipeline but one of the world's experts in this area, Mark Kristal, behavioural neuroscientist at University at Buffalo, says at this point there is no empirical evidence. One thing I suggest to all mothers is, please be sure that you understand and feel safe with the hygiene practices of any business that is handling your placenta. Please also seek medical advice from a trusted doctor.

Premastication of Your Baby's Food: in the news because of Alicia Silverstone who uploaded a video to her website showing her feeding pre-chewed food to her 9 or 10 month old toddler using mouth to mouth transmission.

One study in 2008 suggested that this carries some risk particularly if you have bleeding in your mouth; feeding your baby this way carries a risk that you will transmit (if you have them) Epstein Barr virus, Herpesvirus 8, and in the case of bleeding, HIV. Advocates of this technique say it has the potential to boost your babies' immune systems by exposing them to 'disease pathogens' in the your saliva. I suggest taking advice from a paediatrician if you are considering this; advice I have read includes the need to teach babies at developmentally appropriate stages to chew their own food. A ten month old can usually manage to eat mashed food, so it would be unusual to require premastication, or even full pureeing at that age.

Veganism During Pregnancy and Lactation: in the news because of Alicia Silverstone, Alanis Morrisette and many others. We didn't get to this topic but if you want some credible and useful Australian information on this, read this article in the Medical Journal of Australia this year on iron and vegetarian diets.  Essentially the article states that vegetarians can get sufficient iron from a balanced vegetarian diet. Veganism has some further limitations - seek advice from a doctor during pregnancy and lactation, but I understand that on a vegan diet most people require B12 and some other supplements to maintain optimum health.

Extended Breastfeeding: in the news partly due to a Time Magazine cover and also because of a book recently out by Mayim Bialik about the benefits of attachment parenting. We didn't get to this topic either. Suffice to say that there are a lot of myths out there about attachment parenting, extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping and more.

Elimination Communication (or EC): in the news because Giselle Bundchen said she used this method to toilet train her baby by six months old. This is a very complicated technique to explain - suffice to say, many advocates say that by tuning in to your baby's messages and establishing communication with them about when they need to toilet, you can reduce the number of nappies used and sometimes train your child to use a potty at an earlier age. It is also frequently reported that after 6 months when your baby starts crawling, EC becomes increasingly difficult as your baby reduces his communication, being too distracted by movement, play and socialising with others. If this is something you are interested in, use Google and you will find ample information.Incidentally, many Chinese people use a variation of EC, and have 'split pants' on their babies and toddlers to make 'elimination' less messy.

Here's the link to the video of me discussing some of these topics with Sonia Kruger and David Campbell on Channel 9 show Mornings.

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