Blog Archives

Is Your Child Safe From These 3 Dangers?

April 13, 2015

Keep your child safe from these 3 dangers | MothersCircle.netI am not an alarmist, or a worrier, or overprotective, but I’m aware. I feel like being aware of dangers can help us take precautions and be mindful as we parent.

Being conscious of these three dangers can help us keep our children, and other children, safe. The stories of those effected by these dangers make me so sad for the families who have suffered losses.

Even when my kids were little, I tried to give them space to learn and test their limits at different ages of development, but it’s always important to be smart and alert to possible dangers. Being mindful without being petrified is a healthy approach. (Here are three playground rules for parents that delve into this idea.)

I’m linking to the stories shared by parents who have experienced these dangers and who want to spread the word to help other families avoid their pain.

50 Things No One Ever Told You About Babies

February 17, 2015

50 Things No One Ever Told You About Babies | MothersCircle.netWhen you’re a new parent, there are plenty of things you can’t prepare for and may not expect. You’ll hear stories from friends, parents, in-laws, it’s hard to sort out what you should believe, what advice you should follow and even with all of those tales and tips, there will still be things no one ever told you about babies.

I’ve surveyed past doula clients and other new moms and tapped into my experience with families adding a new baby to the family to bring you this list of 50 things no one ever told you about babies in five areas of postpartum adjustment.

Feeding Your Preemie in the NICU

January 19, 2015

Feeding your preemie in the NICU | MothersCircle.netThank you to Prolacta for this guest post on feeding your preemie in the NICU. It’s stressful, emotional, and challenging to have a baby who’s born early, and as parents, you want to learn about and do what’s best for feeding your preemie. Here is some science behind NICU infant nutrition.

In honor of the nearly 500,000 babies born prematurely each year (according to the Centers for Disease Control, that’s 1 in every 8 infants born in the United States), we’re sharing good news about the latest in medical advancements that are helping more preemies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) survive and thrive.

Critically ill, premature infants have special dietary needs requiring higher levels of fat, protein and calories than full-term babies need. Mounting scientific research supports the use of an exclusive human milk diet for preemies and this has led to a rise in use among NICUs across the country. Based on this research, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a recommendation that all preterm infants receive breast milk, be it a mother’s own or donor milk.1

While feeding preterm infants a diet of 100% breast milk may seem like an obvious solution to those who breastfeed, the reality is that for generations, preemies in NICUs were fed cow-milk-based formula. Even if a mother’s own breast milk was available, it was typically “fortified” (to add extra nutrients) with a fortifier containing cow-milk protein.

Baby Names

May 15, 2014

I’d like to introduce you to a new feature on my site to help you pick baby names.

When you were growing up, did you have a list of names you wanted to name your future children? Then, as you realize that you’re naming a real person, it feels weighty and there’s so much to consider.

We think of giving them a name that sounds good out loud, that looks pretty written, that works with your last name, that doesn’t remind you or your spouse/partner of the boy who picked his nose in math class or the girl who made faces at you from the bus window. Lot’s to think about when it comes to baby names!

So give this fun tool a try – have fun with it, get others involved, and maybe you’ll uncover a name you hadn’t considered which fits just right.

I hope this will be helpful to those of you who are expecting. It’s a fun tool that helps you figure out your favorite name for your new baby! You can add your own to pick baby names or search a list, then you can invite your family and friends to play the game.

Rather than just a one-click poll, this game elicits your deeper preferences. Click Get Started below to build and share your very own baby names poll.

Child Development Birth to Age 5

March 26, 2014

Developmental Milestones
Source: Early-Childhood-Education-Degrees.com

How to Choose a Baby Carrier

September 4, 2013

how to choose a baby carrier, how to choose a baby carrier or wrap, babywearing tips, babywearing safetyA big thank you to my friend Angie Howard McParland for this information-packed post on babywearing and how to choose a baby carrier that is right for your family. She shares pros and cons on 5 different types of baby carriers and important tips to safely practice babywearing. Click here for 5 Reasons to Use Babywearing.

I remember when I first learned about babywearing before my son was born just over two years ago. I heard that the Moby wrap and Ergo carriers were good things to put on a registry as they could allow me to simultaneously snuggle with my new baby and do things around the house or avoid lugging a stroller. I started out with a Moby wrap and quickly dove headfirst into the world of babywearing, and figuring out how to choose a baby carrier that was best for us.

I tried out all sorts of new carriers and as my baby grew and I gained confidence and education about the vast array of babywearing options, I found that different carriers suited us best at different times and quickly amassed a collection. However, it babywearing toddler, ways to carry a toddler, using a wrap to carry a toddler, moby wrap for back wearing, can be overwhelming! It’s easy to be paralyzed and confused by the number of options and sometimes it seems that you need to learn an entirely new vocabularly: rucksack, tightening rails, Tibetan tie, rebozo pass….what?!

To try and demystify carrier options, here is a quick overview of the different types. All of this information is no substitute for trying them out yourself, though. What works for one wearer and wearee isn’t necessarily the best fit for another, so it’s best to try out options and venture out to your local babywearing group, if you have one. These groups are invaluable for learning how to use different carriers, meeting other parents. Most groups also maintain a lending library where you can actually borrow carriers before purchasing.

Why New Parents Need Postpartum Support

August 14, 2013

the value of postpartum support, why new parents need postpartum support, help for new parents, supporting new parents, help with new baby, What does postpartum really mean? Is the work of postpartum completed in six weeks? Two months? Five months? Is there a “right” time to have mastered your new role as parent or your new role as parent of two, three, twins? Why do families need postpartum support?

Postpartum, the time period often defined as the time it takes for the uterus to contract (involute) back to it’s pre-pregnancy size or six weeks, really lasts much longer and involves so much more than the physical restoration of the uterus.

The disparity between expectations and the reality of a newborn can leave parents feeling out of control of their lives. Even with appropriate expectations, for example, adding a second or third child to the family, the time intensive requirements of caring for a newborn can clearly be challenging.

Before the addition of a baby to your family, you have control over how you spend your time in working, leisure, sleeping, self-caretaking and other activities. It is hard to anticipate how dramatically that will change after your baby arrives and hard to imagine just how overwhelming that can be to new parents.postpartum depression help, support after babies, help with twins, help with newborns, postpartum doula

A day in the life of caring for a newborn consists of:

5 Reasons to Use Babywearing

July 15, 2013

reasons to babywear, why baby wear, why wear your baby, benefits of babywearing how to use babywearing, is babywearing safe, is it safe to use a baby carrier, is it safe to use a sling, is it safe to use a baby wrapThere are certainly more than 5 reasons to use babywearing in your family, but in this guest post, Nancy Parker gives us her top five reasons. See my notes at the end of this post for additional benefits.

Is babywearing safe? Done properly and with attention to how to safely wear your baby – YES! So many mothers I work with (and when I had little ones myself) swear by babywearing. Keep up on recalls and safety precautions with carriers as with all baby products. In 2010, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning about sling carriers.

One Mom tells me, “I quickly fell in love with wrapping and how close it brought my baby and me, how hands-free I could be when I put him on my back, and how much of a supermom I felt like when I could get him to sleep anywhere at a moment’s notice by throwing him in the wrap.
I also loved the puzzles of learning new carries with my wrap and the sense of accomplishment at getting a nice tight wrap and mastering a new style for the first time. The more we wore, the more patient he was with me while I learned, the more patience I had with him with sleeping and eating, AND I could get things done around the house while simultaneously snuggling my baby and bringing him comfort. I even took him to work with me for the first six months of his life and [babywearing] made that possible!
Having a second baby only 21 months later means that babywearing is a part of our daily (hourly?) routine. I can play with the toddler or take him to the park with my infant snuggled in on my chest or back and can nurse discreetly while still chasing after the two-year old. We never feel stuck at home and I rarely lug along a bulky stroller (although it certainly has it’s place as well).”

Here are 5 Reasons to Use Babywearing

How to Soothe a Crying Baby

June 4, 2013

calming a baby, soothe a cryng baby, how to get a baby to stop crying, harvey karp, Leahs soothing skills, mother's circle soothing skills, baby in hospital blanket, how to calm a baby, how to hold a baby, how to swaddle a babyA crying baby can cause a new parent (or even a seasoned parent) to feel stressed or helpless. Learning effective infant soothing can help any parent remain calm in the face of shrieks and howls.

The reality is, with an infant, you have to accept some fussiness, some crying. In the early weeks and months, an awake baby needs your attention, but here’s how to confidently soothe a crying baby back to calm.

I have to admit, when I first heard of Harvey Karp’s “Happiest Baby on the Block” I actually rolled my eyes and thought, “How superlative. Seriously?” but then I saw Dr. Karp speak at a conference in 2006 and I was sold. Since then, I’ve used his 5 S’s technique for soothing more babies than I can count. I’ve taught it and recommended his books/DVD to oodles of parents and caregivers. It really is magical when done with attention to details.

These infant soothing skills fall into the category of “Things-I-Wish-I-Knew-When-My-Own-Kids-Were-Babies,” and here, I need to give a nod to my husband. When I raved to him about this fantastic trick to gets babies to sleep, he smiled. He told me that that was exactly what he’d done with each of our sweeties when they were fussing up a storm. He would quietly send me to nap and scoop up our wailing angel and he’d swaddle, shush and walk and jiggle. He described how their heads would shimmy and how predictably it worked. I believe many Dads, partners, and family members have perhaps used their own style of the 5 S’s, but, alas, we weren’t the ones to write the book.

baby crying, mom with crying baby, how to soothe a crying baby, how to help a baby crying, what to do when a baby cries, harvey karp, happiest baby, The basic premise of “Happiest Baby on the Block” is that human babies are born too early and so in the “forth trimester” (the first three months of a newborn’s life) we need to recreate a womb-like environment for the baby. Before birth, a baby has been hearing Mom’s heartbeat, the swooshing of blood through her arteries, he’s been lulled and rolled into sleep as Mom moves, walks and goes about her daily life. Your baby has been folded up snugly, upside down (ideally) with his little limbs bumping into something with each movement.

7 Tips to Protect Your Kids From Lyme Disease – And Yourself, Too

May 24, 2013

tips to protect kids from lyme, walking in the woods, deer ticks in woods, take a hike, prevention of lyme disease, help for lyme disease, resources for lyme diseaseThe most important way to protect your kids from Lyme disease is knowledge. I shared my story of Lyme Disease and also the controversy and misunderstanding surrounding Lyme. Within this swirl of confusion, there are studies, facts and recommendations that rise to the surface and are the first line of defense against this insidious and potentially debilitating disease.

Even with the best protective measures, it’s possible – even likely – you or someone in your family will get a deer tick bite and Lyme. Click here for one grandmother’s story of how despite her efforts, she has Lyme.

What I hope you gain from the post is a deeper awareness and understanding about Lyme so that you’re more likely to recognize signs (and trust yourself) earlier.

The earlier the treatment, the better the outcomes. Part of how to protect your kids from Lyme disease is guarding against chronic Lyme should your family be affected and undiagnosed, untreated Lyme can lead to a chronic condition.

1. Learn about Lyme

Here are some key things to know about Lyme disease:

  • Lyme is a risk in all 50 states, it is no longer a disease of the northeastern US region.
  • If you receive a positive blood test for Lyme, it’s absolute, you’ve got it. However, if you receive a negative test, you may still have it. You can’t trust a negative. Of people with acute culture-proven Lyme, 20-30% will continue to test negative on the Western Blot. There is no test for the actual spirochetes, only a test for the antibodies produced against it. There are also other tick borne illnesses not tested in commercial tests.
  • Because of unreliable testing issues, the diagnosis of Lyme is a clinical one.
  • It’s not know how long it takes to transfer the bacteria, it can be only seconds in children. Clearly we are not likely to see the exact moment a tick hops on our kids and we might not even see the tick itself. If you suspect Lyme, get treatment promptly. Lyme can spread widely through the body within hours to days.
  • Some hallmarks of Lyme are that it moves around, it’s a migratory, transient pain. A child may complain of leg pain then a headache, then hip pain over the course of time. It’s also cyclical with symptoms presenting in one way in about four weeks cycles, and they may change. Are you starting to see how this is a tough diagnosis? Does your child complain of a headache monthly? Or sore knees?
  • Another clue that it’s Lyme disease is the worsening effect at the time of the first treatment (this is called the Herxheimer reaction or Herxing). As the bacteria die off they release toxins into the body faster than the body can handle them creating a sudden and dramatic inflammatory response. If you or your child experience this Herxing effect, it’s another likely clue that it’s in fact Lyme.
  • There is documented transmission from mother to fetus and the baby may be born with congenital Lyme. We do not know, but the Lyme spirochetes may survive in breastmilk, it’s recommended that nursing mothers are treated aggressively.
  • Peak season is considered April – September.

How to Hire a Doula – International Doula Month

May 15, 2013

In celebration of International Doula Month, here are some tips for how to hire a doula.

1. Determine If You Want To Hire a Birth or Postpartum Doula, or Both

[caption id="attachment_2554" align="alignleft" width="229"]pospartum doula, hiring a doula, how to hire a doula, what is a doula, questions to ask a doula, DONA International, doula match, Enjoying a moment of baby-holding at a postpartum visit.[/caption]

There are two kinds of doulas: birth doulas and postpartum doulas. In a nutshell, birth doulas meet with you prenatally and are on call for you. When you go into labor, your doula can walk you through ideas and provide guidance via the phone for early labor. As labor progresses into active labor, we will meet you either at your home or at your place of birth to labor with you. A doula’s continued presence during labor has been proven to give many benefits such as reduced use of interventions and medications, lower incidence of cesarean section, higher breastfeeding success rates and reduction in postpartum depression.

Postpartum doulas step in once you bring your baby home. We support families in their home with the transition to parenthood (or the addition of another kiddo). Support includes emotional and practical aspects from assistance with nursing, infant care, and organizational tips to being sure Mom and anyone else in the home is fed, gets a chance to nap or shower. One of the biggest parts of my job as a postpartum doula is answering all those questions that arise that grandma doesn’t remember, friends don’t have time to help with, and it’s not quite the thing to call the pediatrician about. That’s where a doula comes in!

2. Ask Around for Recommendations

It goes without saying that not every doula is right for every family, but a good place to start your search is by asking friends, co-workers or even another pregnant mama in the grocery store line. Are you hiring a doula? Did you have a doula? Would you recommend her?

What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know About Preeclampsia

May 1, 2013

preeclampsia awareness month, every pregnant woman needs to know about preeclampsia, facts about preeclampsia, baby in blue blanket, sweet baby girl, adaire, May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month, do you know what preeclampsia is? Do you know the signs and symptoms, if you’re at risk, if it can be prevented?

Here are some facts that every pregnant woman needs to know about preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia, or high blood pressure in pregnancy, affects one in twelve pregnant women (or about 5 – 8% of all pregnancies). You may have heard terms like toxemia, PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension), EPH or PET in the past, these aren’t used anymore but referred to the same condition.

There is no known way to prevent preeclampsia and currently no know cause, however, there are risk factors that are known to increase a Mom’s chances of developing preeclampsia. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Preeclampsia in another pregnancy
  • A first pregnancy
  • A medical history of high blood pressure
  • Being pregnant with twins (or more)
  • Maternal age under 18 or over 40 years old
  • Obesity
  • Long intervals between pregnancies
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Various preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes, lupus, autoimmune disorders, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or sickle cell disease
  • A family history of preeclampsia, high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes

If you’ve had it in a previous pregnancy, the possibility of getting it again ranges from 5 – 80% depending upon factors like severity, overall health, and at what time in your gestation you had preeclampsia in your previous pregnancy. If you’ve developed preeclampsia before, seek preconception or early pregnancy guidance by a specialist.

Why does preeclampsia matter? How can a pregnant Mom spot it early?

7 Tips For Cesarean Birth

April 11, 2013

operating room, OR in c-section, sterile OR, what to expect in cesarean, tips for cesarean, tips for c sectionSo you need a cesarean or you come to that decision during labor. How can you make it the safest and most satisfying experience for you?

If you are pregnant and planning a vaginal birth, it’s still important to remember these tips for cesarean birth. I believe it’s vital to understand the procedure and your options. With a cesarean birth rate of over 30% in the U.S., even if you’re not expecting to, you could end up in the OR. Read, learn, and discuss it with your provider; then let it go and envision the birth you want.

If you are already scheduled or know you will be having a cesarean, use these tips for cesarean birth to create the birth you want.

7 Tips for Cesarean Birth

1. Be Involved in the Decisions

As with a vaginal birth or labor, Moms having a cesarean need to do their homework to be educated and to make truly informed choices. Even though this is surgery, you DO have options to consider and things you can request or discuss with your doctor. This is your birth and the more involved you are in making decisions that affect your experience, the more likely you are to have a satisfying birth, even if it’s not what you’d hoped for or planned.

I had a client who was planning a home birth but it turned course leading to a transfer to the hospital and a cesarean birth, two opposite ends of the birthing spectrum. While disappointed, she knew she made the best possible decisions for her family at each stage; she felt empowered and at peace with her birth because she was not a passive participant and made the choices at each crossroads.

Own your birth. Select a provider you trust, feel comfortable with your doctor and place of birth. Understand the surgery procedure, the anesthesia, the recovery expectations. Read, reasearch and ask questions. Read blogs and forums that discuss c-sections so you feel well informed of the aspects that may not be as widely known or discussed. Ask for a consent form ahead of time so you can actually read it and ask any questions that may arise. Too often you only see this form as someone glosses over the content while hovering waiting for you to sign it.

Even if you’re planning a vaginal birth, having an understanding of a c-section is important since nearly one third of Moms in the U.S. have cesareans and most of those are not expected or scheduled ahead. This in itself does not mean they were emergencies, as some are, but more often it means they weren’t planned and something during labor lead to the decision.

6 Tips to Avoid a Cesarean

April 8, 2013

I’m often asked how to avoid a cesarean. While none of these tips is a sure fire way to avoid a cesarean, they can definitely help you, especially as you add them together.

baby in c section, avoid cesarean, cesarean birth, what happens in cesarean birth, baby held high, holding baby up, baby in lights, April is Cesarean Awareness Month and I am devoting my posts this week to issues surrounding cesarean births. Last week, I wrote about cesareans in general and the U.S. c-sections rate as well as some of the myths as to why the c-section rate is as high as it is.

Today, 6 Tips to help you avoid a cesarean:

1. Choose a Provider You Completely Trust

Your provider will be making the clinical judgment calls throughout your pregnancy, labor and birth; you need to be totally comfortable that your provider hears you, understands your hopes and visions for your birth and demonstrates respect for your questions and birth wishes.

If you leave appointments feeling unheard, brushed off or uneasy, trust your gut. Perhaps that indicates you should shop around. Ask your provider what his/her individual cesarean rate is. How decisively did they answer? Did you get a solid response or a vague explanation of their high risk patient load? How does their cesarean rate line up with the hospital, state and national rates? I’m not suggesting an elaborate analysis, but know this number and listen as you ask.

Remember, too, that while you may love one doctor in a group, you may never see that doc during your labor and birth. Obstetricians are surgeons, consider that as you decide who to hire are your provider. Low risk Moms do very well with midwives whose care is generally collaborative, low intervention, and individualized.

The midwifery model of care is based on pregnancy as a state of wellness, the medical model is focused on complications and problems. Childbirth Connection is a fantastic resource and in this article, explains the differences between the care models of midwives and doctors.

April is Cesarean Awareness Month

April 5, 2013

c section, image of c section, dad in c section, gentle c section, cesarean birth, cesarean picture, cesarean awarenessCesarean Awareness Month is sponsored by The International Cesarean Awareness Network. ICAN is a non profit whose mission is “to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).” Check back next week for a post on VBAC.

Cesarean section is a surgery that saves babies and mothers lives in special circumstances, however, the United States, along with many other countries, have rates that far exceed what has been determined as the ideal maximum rate. Currently, the U.S. cesarean rate is over 30%.

About one third of American babies are born surgically. No scientific basis justifies this rise. No change in women’s bodies or birthing abilities has driven the increase in cesareans.

In it’s 1985 recommendations, The World Health Organization recommended that the highest optimal rate of cesareans is 10-15% of births; in 2009, some discussion arose surrounding possible changes in WHO recommendations. Henci Goer, an award-winning author, speaker and leading expert in evidence-based maternity care, laid out the details in this 2009 Science and Sensibility article that reiterates the science behind the recommended optimal upper limit of a 15% cesarean rate for any country. Beyond that, it causes harm and increases disease and death in mothers and babies.

7 Sleep Tips for Babies and Toddlers

March 6, 2013

This week is the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Awareness Week to provide education and to promote the importance of sleep. I will dedicate my posts this week to sleep in babies through teens. I have attended sleep workshops, panel discussions, I’ve read stacks of books on the topic and I regularly consult with families to identify strategies to improve sleep for the whole family.

baby rubbing eyes, sleep tips for babies, sleep tips for toddlers, Sleep is like the coveted Holy Grail of new parenthood. I’m often asked about sleep tips for and babies and toddlers and how to improve or lengthen sleep times.

Whatever your family chooses for sleeping arrangements is a personal choice, but it tends to be a hot-button issue. I work in many families’ homes and what works for one family, doesn’t work for another, what one family values another family shuns. Sleep is no exception.

If whatever you’re doing is not a problem for you, it’s not a problem. However, if something is disturbing parents or children getting solid, beneficial sleep, if sleep deprivation is creeping in through small, but regular incremental sleep deficits, perhaps it’s become a problem.

Sleep has so many benefits, both obvious and subtle, it’s worth creating and protecting healthy sleep habits for the whole family. Understanding a little bit about sleep can be useful in making sleep decisions for your family. Babies go into deep sleep state in the beginning of nighttime sleep (perhaps 7 – 10:00 pm) and then again before waking in the morning with more frequent periods of lighter sleep (and more chance for awakenings) in between (around 10 pm – 4 am).

By three-four months most healthy full-term babies are able to sleep through the night, perhaps with a single 2:00 am feeding, by six months all healthy babies can do it. Studies have shown that at four months, a baby’s nervous system is mature enough to allow him to be able to sleep at 12 hour stretch. Unlike other milestones, sleep is not fixed, there may be shifts with time change, illness, travel and as babies go through new stages and become toddlers.

The Importance of Sleep

March 4, 2013

boy sleeping with teddy, sleeping wtih stuffed animals, boy sleeping, trouble sleeping, kids sleep problems,This week is the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Awareness Week to provide education and to promote the importance of sleep. I will dedicate my posts this week to sleep in babies through teens. I have attended sleep workshops, panel discussions, I’ve read stacks of books on the topic and I regularly consult with families to identify strategies to improve sleep for the whole family. We’re kicking off Sleep Awareness Week with the benefits and importance of sleep.

Sleep can be one of those things, “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.” Kids resist naps and bedtimes, but busy, fatigued adults crave a chance to lie down.

How to Decide Whether to Have Another Baby

February 27, 2013

baby number 3, another baby?, deciding on another baby, how to decide on another baby, questions to consider before new baby,How do you decide whether to have another baby? This is an intimately personal choice, everyone and every circumstance is different, of course, but the kinds of things that go into this decision are often quite similar.

Even though this is such a private choice, often outsiders offer unsolicited input. Nick and I always knew we wanted three children. We had a girl and two years later, a boy. Then when I was pregnant with our third baby, someone actually said to me, “Oh, why would you do that? You have the perfect family!” Um, seriously? You have your perfect family, I’ll have mine.

There is so much that goes into family planning decisions. It’s tough to sign up for another pregnancy when you look ahead at going through sleep deprivation, being tied down for nap schedules and managing babyhood, all while ALSO dealing with the needs of toddlers and school-aged kids.

Maybe you feel that things are going smoothly now, well, usually. Your kids are walking on their own, maybe they’re all even going to the bathroom by themselves. Nap times are extinct, diaper bags have been donated and you’re sleeping through the night (most of the time). So it’s hard to think about going back to square one just when you’ve really got a rhythm to your daily life.

My younger brother once said of growing families to Nick, “Everyday, you guys are moving closer to freedom and everyday we’re further away.”

If you’re struggling with this decision, you’re not alone in your conflicted feelings. I’d venture to say that most women and couples explore the idea to have another baby at some point. It’s a modern day battle between head and heart, between practicalities and emotions.

Girl or Boy? Guessing A Baby’s Gender

February 4, 2013

girl or boy, guessing baby's gender, sex of a baby, Are you having a girl or boy? How many times did you hear that when you were pregnant? You’re carrying all in front, you’re having a boy! You have heartburn? Oh, definitely a girl!

We hear this sort of reasoning so often in America that it seems completely normal or believable, but like other folklore around the world behind guessing a baby’s gender, it’s not based in anything factual.

Baby’s position, the color of grandma’s hair, the heart rate or shape of Mom’s belly are all individual factors which have no bearing on the baby’s sex, but we like to believe and accept some of our silly predictors. What do people in other countries use to guess girl or boy?

Baby Moon Education Getaway

December 22, 2012

Mystic, Connecticut
Friday evening, March 22 – Sunday evening, March 24, 2013

dad massages mom, pregnant couple, older couple expecting baby, pregnancy breathing, childbirth clases, mystic ct tourism, baby moon ideas, Join us in Mystic, Connecticut for a Baby Moon Education Retreat weekend of exploring, connecting, learning and enjoying. It’s a getaway with purpose – only 45 minutes from Providence, one hour from Hartford – but far enough to feel “away” while you connect with your loved one and continue your work to own your birth.

The term Baby Moon was coined first by Sheila Kitzinger to describe the time a family spends nestled together after the birth of their baby, paralleling a honeymoon taking place after the wedding. In years since, a Baby Moon has become the trendy pre-baby vacation.

If you’re envisioning a no or low-intervention birth, if you know that birth is a state of wellness and you desire to birth your baby(ies) normally, if you trust the birth process and want to honor your experience and protect your memory of your birth, this retreat is for you!

We will incorporate education on normal birth and it’s emotional and physical aspects. Between meals and outings, our time together will include discussions, group activities, demonstrations, videos, creative expressions, movement, time to experiment and continue to build your trust in birth and help you to make informed, evidence-based choices.

Between meals and childbirth education workshop time, you will enjoy free time to visit the Mystic Seaport

[caption id="attachment_1158" align="alignright" width="300"]mystic river, mystic seaport, drawbridge, sailboats, baby moon childbirth, full moon childbirth, Mystic River[/caption]

(you’ll receive two free tickets with your registration), Mystic Aquarium, Olde Mistick Village, hike local trails at the Nature Center, get a massage, take a swim (YMCA membership for the weekend is included in your registration) or check out Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods (about 1/2 hour from Mystic) and have time for a romantic dinner with your honey.

The Baby Moon Education Retreat weekend is now open for registration, escape the daily grind, enjoy time together before your baby arrives and get some sleep before the night feedings interrupt your zzz’s.

For more information or to register click HERE.

 

 

Infant Soothing Karp Style

July 30, 2012
[caption id="attachment_409" align="alignleft" width="250"]baby crying All babies cry sometimes,
but you can learn how to minimize it.[/caption]

 

A crying baby can cause a new parent (or even a seasoned parent) to feel stressed or helpless. Learning effective infant soothing can help any parent remain calm in the face of shrieks and howls. The reality is, with an infant, you have to accept some fussiness, some crying, and the fact that in the early weeks and months, an awake baby needs your attention, but here’s how you can confidently soothe your little one back to mellow.

I have to admit, when I first heard of Harvey Karp’s “Happiest Baby on the Block” I actually rolled my eyes and thought, “How superlative. Seriously?” but then I saw Dr. Karp speak at a conference in 2006 and I was sold. Since then, I’ve used his 5 S’s technique for soothing more babies than I can count and I’ve taught it and recommended his books/DVD to oodles of parents and caregivers. It really is magical when done with attention to details.

These infant soothing skills fall into the category of “Things-I-Wish-I-Knew-When-My-Own-Kids-Were-Babies,” and here, I need to give a nod to my husband. When I raved to him about this fantastic trick to gets babies to sleep, he smiled. He told me that that was exactly what he’d done with each of our sweeties when they were fussing up a storm. He would quietly send me to nap and scoop up our wailing angel and he’d swaddle, shush and walk and jiggle. He described how their heads would shimmy and how predictably it worked. I believe many Dads, partners, and family members have perhaps used their own style of the 5 S’s, but, alas, we weren’t the ones to write the book.The basic premise of “Happiest Baby on the Block” is that human babies are born too early and so in the “forth trimester” (the first three months of a newborn’s life) we need to recreate a womb-like environment for the baby. Before birth, baby’s been hearing Mom’s heartbeat, the swooshing of blood through her arteries, he’s been lulled and rolled into sleep as Mom moves, walks and goes about her daily life and baby has been folded up snugly, upside down (ideally) with his little limbs bumping into something with each movement.

Confident Parenting

July 10, 2012

Sure, there are times we parents find ourselves rattled, off our game or plain old stumped, but it’s at those times, we need to seek resources and find our mojo to return to confident parenting. Parenthood begins in pregnancy and evolves as our kids grow. The main goal in parenting boils down to raising future […]

Composing Your Birth Wishes: aka Birth Plan

June 12, 2012

birth wishes, birth plans, writing a birth plan, Since you can’t plan how your labor and birth will unfold, I prefer to talk about your birth wishes or birth preferences than your birth plan. Honestly, I feel the biggest value in writing this document, is not in the end product, but in the process.

Prenatally, it’s important for both Mom and Dad/partner (and anyone who will be attending the birth) to be involved in this exploratory journey. As you learn about and research possible interventions and hospital protocols, you can get an understanding of how you feel about things in a non-labor state of mind. You have the luxury of time to evaluate and prioritize your desires.

As the vision your birth comes into focus, you’ll find there are things you want to really insist upon and things you don’t care about either way. You’ll learn about your options in birth (medications, music, med students, artificial rupture of membranes, hep-lock, etc.) and the immediate postpartum period (delayed cord clamping, infant eye ointment, skin-to-skin, etc.)birth plans, birth options, birth preferences, natural birth in the hospital, planning for birth, labor plans, birth wishes, writing a birth plan,

Proceed with Caution: Fenugreek and Breastfeeding

January 27, 2011

What is Fenugreek?

breastfeeding support, guidance with breastfeeding, breastfeeding help, learning to breastfeed, lactation, feeding new babyFenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an herbal supplement that is claimed to be useful for a broad range of various conditions, without any substantial scientific evidence, from baldness, constipation, and heartburn to diabetes, cholesterol and erectile dysfunction. The focus here, is the widely held belief among lactation advisors, nursing mothers and other birth professionals that fenugreek helps to stimulate milk production and supply.

The fact is, there is not enough evidence to suggest that fenugreek is effective for any use. Of the few studies that have been done, they have been small and inconclusive. So, does the fact that there is no data or research mean that fenugreek has no benefit? No, not inherently. Similarly, just because it is an herb and “natural”does not mean that it is safe.

Milk Supply and Galactagogues

First, let’s explore the idea of increasing milk supply. Initially establishing supply is a specific and balanced dance of hormones and receptors that begins the moment the placenta is delivered. Milk supply is determined by the removal of milk from the breasts and the interplay of prolactin (which produces the milk) and oxytocin (which releases the milk). Frequent nursing is directly associated with greater infant weight gain. (DeCarvalho)1

breastfeeding baby, benefits of breastfeeding, children asking about breastfeeding, siblings breastfeeding, cute baby face, baby hand on faceAs Americans, we often look to something outside of us to find a solution, often that’s in the form of a pill, whether prescribed or purchased at a health food store. Often, the answers lie within us or in behaviors such is the case with breastfeeding. It is far more effective for a mother struggling with supply to work with a lactation professional and look at all aspects of her nursing relationship. For example: How often is the baby being fed? Is the mother expressing her milk and how? How much milk is being removed from her breast at each feeding (determined by weighing baby before and after a feed)? Most important is a mother’s confidence. With desire, confidence and early breastfeeding support, a healthy, rewarding nursing relationship with a sufficiently plentiful supply is more likely.

Millions of women across nations and generations, living under impoverished conditions, famine, holocaust and natural disasters, are able to produce and supply their infants with their own human milk regardless of the mother’s nutritional status. Advice that guides nursing mothers to drink more to be able to produce more milk is erroneous: “Encouraging women to drink excessively has no effect upon lactation, either in terms of yield or composition of milk.” (Dearlove)2 Healthy eating and balanced nutrition are good advice throughout the life cycle, however, this directive during lactation benefits the mother and her long term health but does not impact milk supply.

Is there really such a thing, then, as a galactagogue, an external substance believed to increase milk supply? The American Heritage Medical Dictionary defines galactagogue as “an agent that promotes the secretion and flow of milk.” Many elements that are believed to help milk supply are based in cultural lore and not supported through research. In a literature review of galactagogues, Anderson and Valdes3 concluded that “If mothers are provided education and practice techniques that support lactation physiology, galactagogues appear to have little or no added benefit.” It has long been purported that fenugreek is a galactagogue, but it has never been proven to help milk supply and may have worrisome side effects. fenugreek tea

Side Effects

Some reported side effects of fenugreek include diarrhea, gas, indigestion, heartburn and unusual smelling skin and urine (like maple syrup). More serious, but more rare, side effects can indicate internal bleeding such as black, tarry or bright red stools, or vomiting blood or can indicate a bleed in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke) such as vision or speech changes, severe headache or weakness or numbness in the arms or legs. As with any herbs, always be aware of allergic reactions.

It’s important to note that fenugreek is a legume and those who have peanut allergies may experience a cross-reaction. Dr. Frederick Leickly, an allergist, writes in his blog about a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) which concluded that a sensitization to fenugreek was believed to have been caused by a peanut allergy in patients. He also noted in his practice a reverse effect, “that the fenugreek may have worked in the opposite direction – fenugreek exposure causing sensitization to the other legumes,” meaning it is possible that the use of fenugreek may create an allergy to peanuts or other legumes.

In Mosby’s Handbook of Herbs and Natural Supplements, by Linda Skidmore-Roth, it states that Fenugreek “may cause reduced absorption of all medications used concurrently.” This could cause harm in a mother taking medication for thyroid function, blood pressure or birth control pills.

Traditionally, fenugreek has been used to stimulate labor, so it could potentially cause preterm labor or miscarriage if taken during pregnancy. Fenugreek is classified as category 4 for pregnancy which is defined as “no increase in frequency of malformation or other harmful effects on the fetus from limited use in women. Evidence of increased fetal damage in animal studies exists, although the relevance to humans in unknown.” It is classified as a category 2A for breastfeeding which is defined as “compatible with breastfeeding.”

As with all herbs, fenugreek has not been tested or verified by the FDA for safety, effectiveness or purity; there have been cases when herbal supplements have been contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. There is no official standard or oversight of manufacturing.

Conclusion

It is not fully known whether fenugreek can harm a nursing infant and it is not proven to have any positive effect on milk supply or nursing. Focusing on breastfeeding support and education as well as working with nursing moms to empower them and build confidence are effective ways to help a mother establish and maintain a nursing relationship.

References:

1. De Carvalho, M et al: Effect of frequent breastfeeding on early milk production and infant weight gain. Ped 72(3) Sep 1983.

2. Dearlove, J C & Dearlove, B M: Prolactin fluid balance and lactation. Br J Obstet Gyn 88:652-54, 1981.

3. Anderson and Valdes, 2007, A Critical review of Pharmaceutical Galactagogues. Breastfeeding Medicine, 2(4), 229-242.

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The Value of Postpartum Support

March 10, 2010

postpartum depression help, support after babies, help with twins, help with newborns, postpartum doulaWhat does postpartum really mean? Is the work of postpartum completed in six weeks? Two months? Five months? Is there a “right” time to have mastered your new role as parent or your new role as parent of two, three, twins? Why do families need postpartum support?

Postpartum, the time period often defined as the time it takes for the uterus to contract (involute) back to it’s pre-pregnancy size or six weeks, really lasts much longer and involves so much more than the physical restoration of the uterus.

The disparity between expectations and the reality of a newborn can leave parents feeling out of control of their lives. Even with appropriate expectations, for example, adding a second or third child to the family, the time intensive requirements of caring for a newborn can clearly be challenging.

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