Being Informed About Childbirth, Breastfeeding, and Babies


To start this off, I’d like to note that I’m just a mom. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but these are the things that I think are important to look into. As with everything, you can’t blindly follow anyone for you or your child’s well being.

It’s up to you as the parent to look into everything for yourself and make the decisions that are best for you and your family. That said, here is some information that I have found to be important to know, but not generally presented as normal. If you don’t agree, don’t worry, we can still be friends ~grin~

There’s even more that I wanted to cover, but I don’t think I’m going to have time. So here’s what I was able to get down while my toddler was napping and 9 month old was nursing

I was surprised what a difference a good prenatal vitamin made for me. I tried using Walmart prenatals with my first (ack!) but used a good quality whole foods one with my second and it made a huge difference. Read about it here.

Please be informed about standard prenatal care. Knowing what mainstream doctors do ahead of time is important so you can make informed decisions, not just be railroaded into what is ‘normal’. Here is a timeline. Before I was pregnant, when I was researching what I wanted to do as far as prenatal visits go, I methodically went line by line down what was ‘normally’ done in America. And I became educated on what I wanted to skip (like the quad screen and amnio), what I could do myself (blood pressure, urine dips if necessary, fetal heart rate), and what I would need to be on the watch for (including, but not limited to, signs of preeclampsia, baby movement, growth).

I ended up doing it all myself, but I wouldn’t hesitate to seek help if something out of the range of normal presented itself. Because I was educated on what was normal and what wasn’t, I was at peace and didn’t have to wonder what was going on with my body and depend on a doctor to tell me what was up.

I check my own cervix for dilation out of curiosity, check fundal height, monitor blood pressure, baby’s heart rate… It’s all easy enough to learn to do on your own and it’s nice and reassuring to be able to check it when you want, especially with the fetal heart rate- no more panic attacks if the baby hasn’t moved in a couple hours. We use a fetoscope, though I did borrow a doppler to use during my second birth since it’s hard to pay attention to the fetoscope when in the middle of labor.

Are you RH-?  Don’t just blindly take the RhoGAM shot when recommended.  The Healthy Home Economist looks at the pros and cons of the RhoGAM shot during and after pregnancy.  I personally choose to avoid the pregnancy shot, and get my titers checked AFTER my baby was born. A doctor my naturopath works with for RH issues said that’s how he determines whether the mother needs the RhoGAM, whether there are antibodies in her system 2-3 days after birth.  Though both my children are RH +, I haven’t needed the RhoGAM either time. I do check my titers for RH sensitivity once I’m fertile again, so that should I be sensitized my care provider and I can carefully monitor the pregnancy, as RH sensitization is a serious pregnancy complication.    And I would encourage you to look at he ‘studies’ surrounding this shot- they are not good studies at all; The ‘studies’ the doctors get their recommendations from  were done on women prison inmates quite a few years ago, and are certainly not the randomized placebo-controlled studies that we would expect from so-called evidence based medicine that our modern doctors are supposed to be practicing.   But then, there aren’t many healthy women who would volunteer to have a human blood product (that’s what RhoGAM is) injected into them just for the sake of a study.  Unfortunately, due to the lack of information about this, this shot is  grossly over administered to our vulnerable pregnant population.


Risks associated with a hospital birth Unfortunately, many moms don’t know what they don’t know about hospital policies and how they can actually harm mothers and babies. If you’re set on a hospital birth, please read and be informed. And have someone else (a doula maybe?) equally informed about your wishes, to help you have the safest experience possible. I’m not completely against hospital births, I just want moms to be aware that there is a lot of bureaucracy in hospital birthing, and there is lots that they will say is a hospital rule that isn’t best for you or the baby.

Though many hospitals don’t allow it (due to a very minute risk of aspiration during an emergency c-section), eating during labor is very important for a laboring mom and I believe the benefits highly outweigh the risks. I keep honey on hand in with my birth supplies and force myself to eat some every hour, even if I don’t want to. Childbirth Today goes over the evidence here.

Many first time mothers have long labors- over 24 hours isn’t uncommon. How does this affect baby? Check out this 18-year study.

Science and Sensibility covers many more issues that are pertinent to healthy pregnancy and birth

Childbirth Today again goes over the evidence that indicates that an upright position is best to labor in. Using gravity to help bring the baby down is best for mom, best for baby. While many hospitals claim that they allow laboring in all positions, mandatory fetal monitoring and IVs do not make it easy to do so.

A discussion on meconium in the amniotic fluid, and how important the compression of contractions is for preventing aspiration.

Enjoy Birth has a great article about the dangers of routine hospital procedures like IVs, fetal monitoring, and routine induction. I learned in my research that so many routine hospital procedures are based on outdated information and are not evidence based.

When we were researching our birthing options, I was surprised to find that I think that unlicensed midwives are better for what I need than licensed ones. With the licensing comes state control of your birth, so if whoever gives out the licenses has outdated information, the midwife is obligated to follow those rules rather than what the need of the mother and child is.

Questions to ask your care provider. Suppose you’re not totally sold on the whole homebirth/midwife thing yet. I would encourage you to ask your care provider (hospital midwife, doctor, or certified nurse midwife) an extensive list of questions, all that are very applicable to a safe birth. Then, I would encourage you to call a local homebirth midwife in your area (or a few- start with the one who sounds the best to you over the phone when you ask about a consultation) and ask the same questions. Most, if not all, homebirth midwives give free consultations, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Patricia Carter is considered the “Pioneer of Unassisted Childbirth.” Read through her birth stories and see what she has to say about having a safe and pain-free birth in Come Gently Sweet Lucina, a downloadable book.

What about the Vitamin K Shot? Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting.  In the hospital, it is one of the first things given to the baby.  Because my children were born naturally, gently, and I didn’t circumcise, I didn’t do vitamin K, If you have a boy and you want to circumcise, you can wait until day 8 when the levels of vit K are naturally the highest they will be in the baby’s whole life (how cool is that?!).  I would have gotten my children the injection if there had been significant bruising with birth, but if the baby isn’t bruised your baby should be just fine. I tend to think that maybe babies were born with low vit K for a reason, so I don’t mess with it :) For the injection in the case of bruising, if it makes you feel better you could have it on hand, but i was comfortable with transferring if I thought they needed it.  More info on the Vitamin K Shot from The Healthy Home Economist.


How lifestyle choices influence milk supply: Warning, it’s politically incorrect.

Our interview here with Jess from Breastfeeding Basics. She talks about challenges that new mothers face, especially ones specific to our modern culture.

An interesting article, The Language of Breastfeeding, I came across a while back about how to change your language to indicate that breastfeeding is normal rather than subtly indicate that artificial human milk replacement is normal.

Wondering about iron deficiency in your breast fed baby? The Nourished Kitchen has a post on it. For us, we just watch for external signs of iron deficiency (paleness, lethargy) and our doctor is comfortable with that. We don’t do any blood draws to test.

Kellymom is a great resource to quickly check if a medication or herb is okay for breastfeeding, and for different breastfeeding problems and solutions.

Mastitis is an infection that occurs occasionally during breastfeeding. I got it for the first time with my second baby, when he was 8 months old. Here’s the research on natural treatments for mastitis that I did.

If breastfeeding didn’t work for one reason of another (I believe this happens in 1/10 mothers, so it’s fairly common to need to supplement) Homemade Baby Formula is a nutritious choice where you can control the quality of the ingredients, sourcing grassfed milk and other high quality ingredients.  Formula companies are standardized by law, but they are allowed to use things such as corn syrup to meet the calorie requirements.  Homemade formula is a way to give your baby a great start in life, and can also be used for toddlers that aren’t quite getting the nutrition they need from food.  If you’re squeamish about raw milk and your little baby, you can slowly heat raw milk on the stove and then cool. It’s the rapid temperature change of industrial pasteurization that causes the protein structure to change, making the milk have different properties than God intended to to have. Heating on the stove does kill the natural antibodies and enzymes present in the milk, but it doesn’t change the protein structure so stove-heated raw milk from cows or goats fed fresh grass and supplemented with non-GMO feed is much preferable to pasteurized milk from the store.

Mothers that need to supplement (or even those who are adoptive breastfeeding) can use a supplemental nursing system to stimulate their own milk production as they nurse their babies with the help of a supplement.  I’ve talked to mothers who have not produced milk past 6 weeks with prior babies, who with the help of a supplemental nursing system (SNS) have been able to continue the nursing relationship into the toddler years.  It’s the nipple stimulation that signals our breasts to continue to make milk, so even if supply is very low, using a SNS to supplement allows the breasts to continue to make milk. Even if baby is only getting one ounce during a feeding, the ounce of breast milk is perfectly full of antibodies and nutrients designed for this baby.  Some mothers who have previously had to discontinue nursing at 6 weeks or so, have been able to increase their production so much with the use of a SNS that they are able to breastfeed during the night wakings without help of a supplement, which greatly simplifies night feedings! (in most women milk production is highest in the very early morning hours before waking)

Natural baby Care

Baby Care

Natural MattressesThey may seen out of your price range, but really try to re-think that if at all possible. Important for everyone in the house.

Car Seat information- We choose to keep our children rear-facing as long as possible, then we’ll keep them in 5-point harnesses as long as possible. Rear-facing car seats spread frontal crash forces over the whole area of a child’s back, head and neck; they also prevent the head from snapping relative to the body in a frontal crash. There is research to suggest that a child forward facing is 5 times more likely to die in an auto accident than a child rear facing. Please check out the Kyle David Miller Foundation’s web page, it has really great information about how to protect your child in the car. At the least, just know that ‘legal’ doesn’t mean safe. Just because it’s legal to turn your child forward facing at 12 months/20 lbs does not mean that’s the safest option for your child.

Introducing solids- this is how we introduce solids, we do it really slowly. Please keep in mind also, though, that I produce enough milk easily to do this, and my children thrive on it for 12 months. This might not be best for all families

A Vaccination disclaimer for your doctor to fill out, I highly doubt they ever would. I’d love to go more into vaccinations, but I think that might take an entire year. Again, please just be informed of the real risks of the vaccines, as well as risks of the diseases, how common the diseases are, and how they are *really* spread (ie tetanus isn’t spread by rusty nails, it’s in cattle manure. And the tetanus vaccine is one of the most toxic ones). To research vaccines, I started by looking each disease up on the CDC website, and was alarmed to find out that they aren’t as deadly as we’ve been conditioned to believe. I actually started researching vaccines attempting to write a paper statistically (with statistics, not just people’s opinions) proving that vaccines were necessary. I couldn’t do it.

Vaccination Article, my friend Rachel found this.  And an article on how we research vaccines.

We chose not to circumcise. If you thought this was a given and that everyone did it, please visit just to be informed. I fully support circumcision for religious reasons, but even then, how Jesus was likely circumcised as a Jew on the 8th day was much different than the modern routine circumcision done by doctors after birth. A video of modern medical circumcision– not happening for my baby.

And, I’ve found that I need to educate everyone who might change my son’s diaper on how to care for an intact boy. You don’t want to retract! And many many people think that you have to.  And please be informed! Circumcision causes more deaths than choking does in the entire 0-10 age group on a yearly basis.

Cloth diapering: Green Mountain Diapers is my favorite cloth diapering website. Their prefolds are nice and thick, and the whole website is very informative. I used PUL covers with my daughter, but my son is sensitive to any kind of synthetic, so we use wool soakers over prefolds for him.

Unexpected causes of diaper rash: Diaper rashes aren’t always from not being changed often enough, sometimes kids are sensitive to the diapers themselves.

Sam had baby eczema when he was little, and still gets it at 9 months if I have too much dairy in my diet. Here’s what we did to eliminate his baby eczema quickly and without steroids.

Babywearing: I use a pouch sling for easy in-out of lighter babies, in the cradle hold as newborns and on my hip when they get older and can sit upright. The Ergo on my back, it’s super comfortable, and the mei tai on my front to nurse in or on my back for them to sleep in. My baby likes the mei tai the best, it must be most comfortable. I made it so it comes up high enough to support his head when he falls asleep.


Have a link that applies? Leave me a comment and I’ll put it up!

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  1. says

    I’m surprised there are no other comments on this so far! Anyway, I just found this site (don’t ask me where-I tend to get lost on the internet!) and I like what you’re saying.
    I have twin girls who were born at home last year in September. I had 4 midwives at my house at one point! The “head” midwife is a licensed midwife and her student accompanied her. I also recruited a CNM who is no longer practicing locally because of the difficulties with practice agreements for homebirth but who was involved in the care of my last pregnancy 13 years ago. We also recruited a 4th who was not yet licensed but was finished with school. So I guess I was a bit of a guinea pig but I am happy to help so someone else can have a homebirth for their twins also.
    I was given the “schpeal” but the Ob when I first found out I was carrying twins. I was intending on having a hospital birth with a midwife but the minute they found out I was having twins I was cut off from even seeing the midwife! The Ob wouldn’t tell me what her usual practice was for twins. She told me that she had delivered twins vaginally but both had to be head down and that her adrenaline was rushing while she did these types of deliveries. I am pretty sure if I had said “well, sign me up for my c-section” she would have happily scheduled it 9 months in advance!
    Needless to say I was a wreck. I had a very nice natural birth with my 13 year old in the hospital with a midwife that I trusted. No monitoring, no interventions, nada. (I had a less than pleasant experience with a nother midwife with my 15 year old son) I wanted the same this time. I felt trapped. It took me a couple of months to track down a midwife who would consider a homebirth for the twins. It was worth the tears and frustration to find her.
    I did find a different OB who was willing to be my back up just in case. I saw him for alternating visits. I also had ultrasound to verify positions and keep an eye on them. I know that there is some evidence that US is not great but it gave my husband and I some piece of mind. I wouldn’t do this with a singleton. The OB would tell me that he wouldn’t encourage a homebirth but he didn’t try to talk me out of it either. I work in healthcare and this Ob has a great reputation. He is a perinatologist and is THE guy in this area that you want working on you if you have a complication. I had met him through work and I liked him so I felt comfortable even though he was a man. I had the nurse practitioners in the office do my pap and any other internal exams because I’m not comfortable with a guy (other than my hubby )touching me unless it’s an emergency. They were very accommodating.
    It was a very stressful situation though and I wish that it was easier. The birthing environment has changed a lot since I had my first 2 kids. And it isn’t for the better!
    NYS just passed legislation allowing midwives to practice without collaborative agreements which opens up the arena for licensed midwives to practice. It no longer has to be “underground.” Hopefully more states will follow suit. The more practitioners there are, the better it will be. We need freedom to practice so more women can have a safety net of providers for their births. And there needs to be more communication between these providers so care can be transitioned from one level to another as need arises.
    I am not the happiest mama to my twin girls. My homebirth is sort of my coup d’etat. (Did I get that right? I dont’ do French!) I hope other women will have the same opportunity. But they have to be aware that they have choices if they have the determination to look for them. The typical OB will not tell you this stuff. Do your research! Your baby and your body will thank you for it.

    • Cara says

      Thank you for your comment! Regarding the comments- there were others, but they got lost when I moved my blog around :( Bummer! But we can start again! What a great story! Such an encouragement!

  2. LShae says

    Fantastic post! I had to birth in a hospital due to being a high risk pregnancy, but my doula did come with me, and thank God she did! She made ALL THE DIFFERENCE!!! I took her to my appointments ahead of time, introducing her to my doc and making sure they could work together, and they did. He was very receptive and that is important. I also let the hospital know. They were less receptive, but allowed it. Anyway, if you’re like me and must have a hospital birth, then definitely get a qualified person to attend with you…but be sure to let everyone know in advance. Great experience! I cannot say enough about my Doula!!! She was a godsend!

    • Cara says

      Thank you! Yes, I had a doula lined up last time I birthed just in case I needed to transfer. That’s a great idea ~ taking her with you to meet the doctor and to go to some prenatal appointments, thank you for adding that.

  3. Skye Byrne says

    What an amazing and generous article, with so much thought and love in it!! Thank you so much for this! And thanks to Jenny from Nourished Kitchen to alerting us all to this!

  4. says

    A couple other things worth thinking about and investigating, to make truly informed decisions, are Elimination Communication and Baby-Led Weaning.

    Elimination Communication, or EC, means challenging assumptions about babies and their awareness and abilities in regards to their pees and poos… challenging the assumption that diapers are absolutely necessary and the “normal” way to do things. They’re actually completely an artificial, man-made addition (babies aren’t just instinctively programmed to progress from peeing in their clothes to peeing in a pot) — which can certainly be useful, but we don’t have to be dependent on them.

    EC is also often called “Diaper Free”. That doesn’t mean no diapers, ever (though some folks do practice that) — it means we’re free from sole dependence on diapers. EC is more respectful to the child (no sitting in their own waste), can be done part-time (if you save just one diaper a day, that’s saving at least 700 diapers from the trash or the laundry from birth to toilet training), and it’s just SO COOL. :)

    Baby-Led Weaning, or BLW, is also called Baby-Led Solids since here in North America we associate “weaning” with “stopping breastfeeding”, which is not what it means in the UK. With BLW, you completely follow your baby’s lead with regards to solids. If they grab food and start to try to eat it — usually between 5-7mo — then let them. Very few foods are disallowed, as long as they’re healthy, of course.

    BLW is based on trusting a baby’s instinctive drive to nourish themselves, and it’s amazing how most babies will automatically choose healthy foods appropriate to their current stage of development (and digestion).

    There are no purees, and no spoonfeeding. Baby is in control the entire time. They control what, when, and how much they eat.

    People often panic about choking, but in fact the gag reflex is stronger at this stage, to protect their airway while they learn to chew and manipulate food in their mouths.

    Many babies are not ready to start solids until 12mo or more, and with BLW this will be obvious. However, deliberately withholding solids when the baby is clearly interested in them does carry some slight risks — not so much nutritionally (because of course mama’s milk is just fine) — but because of the gag reflex. As babies get older, it moves further back in the mouth and becomes less active. So when they start solids and are learning to chew and handle solid foods, they actually have LESS of a defense against choking than a younger baby does.

    Anyway, I loved your article and just wanted to add these in. Making informed decisions is what it’s all about — looking into different options than merely doing “what everyone else does”, without understand WHY they do it that way. (eg, the practice of starting solids with runny rice cereal comes from the fact that early formulas did not have iron, so in order for babies to get iron, they had to have iron-fortified cereal in their bottles from as early as 3 weeks old… that developed into the general idea that cereal is the “normal” first food!!!)

    • Cara says

      Thanks Heather! I’ve done BLW with both mine, and I did EC with my daughter (she did really well!) but my son and I never got into the rhythm of it like my daughter and I did. I’ll edit soon and include links to both of these things- you’re right, they should be included! :) And co-sleeping, yes we do that… it’s one of my favorite things about breastfeeding- no need to get up at night (even with a 2 year old!), just nurse them back down and a quick diaper change on the bed if needed.

  5. says

    Just wanted to add — I don’t mean to imply that YOU were “deliberately withholding solids when the baby is clearly interested in them.” It’s actually very difficult to do that heh… baby will grab what baby wants!

    I’m just making the general point, that folks shouldn’t think that delaying solids to 12mo is a healthier choice IN GENERAL. I believe the healthiest choice is to follow the baby, just as we follow them with when they start to walk and start to talk; we don’t try to force any of these developments earlier than the baby is ready, and we don’t deliberately act to delay them either. And there’s a wide range of normal, for all of these developments. For sure, there are babies 18mo only just becoming interested in solids, just as there are babies who don’t really talk until they’re approaching 3yo. They’re outliers on the scale, but still within “normal.”

    I also meant to really emphasize how EASY BLW really is. For the most part, you don’t do ANYTHING special for baby’s food… With just a few common-sense exceptions, they eat what everyone else is eating, full of spices and flavours and different textures… whole fresh fruits… if they can’t chew meats they can suck and gnaw at the bones.. It really is super, super-easy. :)

  6. says

    Oh! I just noticed another great “alternative” not mentioned in this already-extensive list: Co-sleeping!!!

    We must challenge the assumption that the normal way for babies to sleep is alone, all night, in a crib. Whether your preferred option is baby right in bed with you, or in a bed or crib sidecarred to yours, or in a crib in your room, or in a floor bed… These are all healthier for baby. Babies forced to sleep alone have more stress hormones, decreased trust, greater risk of SIDS, etc etc… Cry-it-out has been proven to damage babies’ brains… and can desensitize parents to their baby’s cries. Then there are the cases where parents dutifully ignored their baby’s crying in order to ‘teach’ them to sleep, only to find in the morning that their baby had cried so hard they vomited (risk: choking on the vomit), or were crying because they were entangled in a blind cord or the crib slats, or were seriously ill and in grave distress.

    Co-sleeping facilitates breastfeeding, fosters strong connections, and helps parents get a more restful sleep.

  7. says

    You did a great job touching on many important aspects of motherhood. Those few additions will be great resources of thought too. You know I am agreement with all you’ve shared and Heather too. One thing I will be doing differently with my current newborn is trying to EC. I have only half heartedly tried with my other babies. I am learning so much in this early newborn stage with baby Talitha. Each baby is so different. And some have special needs to be met by mom and sometimes helpers too! Thanks for all your support.

  8. DoulaHeather says

    Hi Cara –

    This is excellent! Very easy for momma’s to read and I love how you linked to other resources. You did a great job. I do have a question about the source of something on here and was wondering if you could email me privately so that I can get more information.

    Thanks so much!

  9. Samantha via Facebook says

    No talk of oral vit K? For those that are interested in using oral, it is available at

    • Candace says

      I was going to mention this. We did oral Vit K with our first born in place of the Vit K shot (I knew we wanted to stay away from the shot but didn’t realize that giving Vit K was an option). For our second born we decided to wait and see if it was needed (bruising, traumatic birth, etc) but had the oral Vit K on hand. We didn’t need it and was able to return it to birthwithlove for a refund (minus shipping costs) because it was unopened. :)

      • says

        I used the oral VitK for myself to prepare for birth and then for the new baby when he was born. If you plan on having a circumcision you will have to wait a week with the drops although that is the time when baby vitamin K level is high already.

  10. says

    Thanks Samantha, I actually hadn’t even looked into that. I’m pretty protective of my little ones’ digestive systems too, so I am really careful about anything other than breastmilk taken orally as well

    • Candace says

      I am (now) also very cautious about what is entering my children’s digestive systems as well. I learned so much between my two kids. For my second, I liked having the oral K on hand in case there was a valid reason for giving it (bruising) but did not plan on giving it for routine reasons. The oral K was just the vit k and olive extract. The information (and purchase) of the Vitamin K can be found here . It does look birthwithlove return policy has changed and the the product was a little as well (larger quantity per bottle).

  11. says

    I was bullied into this a few days after my daughter was born. I was sleep deprived and just didn’t know what to do. I also didn’t know that there was a liquid available although a newborn’s digestive system isn’t fully developed so I’m not sure if I would have opted for that route

  12. Kari Aist says

    Thank you for this terrific resource! Between the very thorough article itself and the awesome additional suggestions in the comments, this covers everything! I am going to share it to my LLL page, and make sure my older daughters see it.

  13. Barb says

    I’m all for supplimenting with homemade formula if need be, but I believe there are other options to explore first- breast milk from others or a wet nurse type situation. I don’t have links to share at the moment but wanted to throw that out there.
    Also, GBS screening, prevention and alternatives to antibiotics. Knowing what I know now, I am just appalled at the amount of antibiotics given in such circumstances. I had IV antibiotics EVERY 4 HOURS for OVER 24 HOURS- before and during labor, until the baby was born!

  14. says

    Washing Cloth Diapers Possess a higher quality regarding good diapers, however you have many brands and types of Cloth Diapers, this is one way you really can pick your very best Organic Cloth Diapers. That is certainly by Choosing your Diapers according to your budget plus your special needs.

  15. Emily Spencer says

    I enjoyed this post (and the accompanying links) immensely. My husband and I have a wonderful 1 year old daughter and are actively trying for number 2. Since our daughter’s birth, we’ve been on a journey to more natural living. I, unfortunately, am unable to nurse (and I never will be due to malabsorption issues I have). It’s refreshing to read a natural living blog that acknowledges that some of us will never be able to nurse as God intended and we can still want the most natural life. Our daughter was born in a natural hospital birth, but we got to the hospital so late (as we intended) and ended up with no OB attending and no IV or antibiotics (as was required since I was strep B positive; our daughter was perfect and I was beyond angry at having to stay 48 hours). Next time, we want a homebirth and I look forward to using some of the resources you posted.

  16. says

    Interesting! Home births and all. Looks like you have probably already addressed any concerns I addressed on your ‘upcoming INFORMED PREGNANCY’ survey last evening. Sorry to take up more of your time; i simply had not discovered this info previously posted. Nice work!


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