Archives for May 2008

Preparing your body for pregnancy

The U.S News Report advises that three months to a year before you conceive, it’s important to begin preparing your body for pregnancy.

The American Pregnancy Association offers these suggestions:

  • Get plenty of folic acid by eating lots of leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts and fortified whole grains. Or take a daily supplement of 400 micrograms.
  • Drink at least three eight-ounce glasses of skim milk each day to get enough calcium. Other sources of calcium include: cottage cheese, low-fat yogurt, canned salmon, sardines, rice and cheese.
  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine from your diet.
  • Eliminate all artificial sweeteners, alcohol, any drugs that are not recommended by your doctor, and cigarettes.
  • Take any prenatal vitamins or supplements recommended by your doctor.

Pregnancy is the “New Black” and women today sure know how to wear it!

Women have been getting pregnant and having babies since… well, since Eve, I suppose, but trust Hollywood to turn this awkward, uncomfortable time of life into something glamorous and desirable.  “Women are obsessed with wanting to know everything about celebrity pregnancy,” spouts Kim Gundy. “Pregnancy is the new black!” Kim is the editor of CelebrityPregnancy.com; she knows what she’s talking about. Celebrity Pregnancy is one of two sites recently acquired by the SheKnows network, targeting young mothers preoccupied with style and pop culture.

If pregnancy is the “new black,” that’s because it makes everyone look good. Even those celebrities you can’t stand become a bit more lovable when they’re with child.

But even lovable has its limits! It’s not enough for celebrities to flaunt their designer-clad bellies, oh no! Nicole Kidman is following a hallowed celebrity tradition and will be hiring a photographer to pose for naked pregnancy photos… but wants to wait a bit so that she’ll look “really pregnant.”  I don’t know about you, but the last thing I need to see is another retouched, airbrushed photo of another “glowing” celebrity mom-to-be.

For centuries, women have been getting pregnant and getting through it, but now pregnancy is not just a means to an end, it’s a destination all of its own.

“Pregnancy used to be something camouflaged and endured, nine months of achy backs and euphemisms and elastic waistbands with a 7-pound, 9-ounce reward at the end.” The Washington Post has caught on to the fact that “after centuries, somebody has figured out how to fully monetize this process.” For a certain kind of mom with a certain kind of priority, pregnancy is a heady blur of spa visits and personal pregnancy chefs, of baby planners and “babymoons.” At pregnancy spas you can slather yourself with Mama Mio Tummy Rub butter as you enjoy a “Yummy Tummy” belly facial. Women who have never had a proffessional massage before treat themselves to the “Perfect Pregnancy” massage and a manicure using “pregnancy-appropriate” essential oils and polishes, of course.

Apparently, the pampered pregnancy is not just a rite of the rich. Dawn Bierschwal, who owns Becoming Mom near Cincinnati, estimates that 50 percent of her prenatal massage clients had never had a rubdown before their pregnancies. Why has pregnancy suddenly become part of a luxury experience? The Washington Post‘s answer is age and money:

Between 1990 and 2006, the birthrate for women 40 to 44 increased 65 percent, and doubled for women 45 to 49, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. As women have babies later, the pregnancy-as-movie scenario starts to look more like “Baby Mama” than “Juno,” with more fertility treatments and high-powered moms who may have waited too long.

When those women do conceive, it is cause for planning and celebration and rapid disposal of disposable income. Consulting plans at the Baby Planners begin at $500. Delivered meals from Fresh Mommy are $65 a day. Spa treatments for the pregnant are upward of $100 apiece.

It’s a new phenomena that developed over the last 20 years, says Clare Hanson, author of “A Cultural History of Pregnancy.” It’s become very fashionable to be pregnant.  Pregnant women are expected to have the right kind of body, eat the right kind of food and do the right kind of exercise. And because carrying a child is such important work, pregnant women want to be nurtured and they’re willing to pay for it.

Of course if you ask them, they’ll tell you it’s not about them, it’s about the baby. “The Hot Mom to Be Handbook” assures expecting women that the best way to ensure their baby’s happiness is “to cultivate your own spirit and enjoyment of life. It is never too early to start.” This trend continues on after baby is born. While Jami Pennings was breast-feeding she watched her husband eat cold cereal for dinner while she ate gourmet, home-delivered meals. “I knew the baby had to get good nutrition, and whether I did was pretty secondary. I was consuming it, but it was really for her.” She had no choice. She had to do it for her baby.

“Ms. What to Expect” gets a New Look

Most pregnant woman and new mothers are familiar with the face of “What to Expect when You’re Expecting.” She sits calmly in her rocking chair, wearing a dowdy pink dress. Her shoes and hairstyle are plain and unassuming. She’s big. She’s tired. Ah yes, there she is, as we are used to knowing her:

But she looks different in the just-released fourth edition of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” Now she’s cool, with long hair and a sleeker silhouette. She definitely looks like she’s got more energy these days. Then again, she also doesn’t look like she’s over-due either:

Pantagraph.com reports: “Pregnant woman erectus — she’s finally off that rocking chair,” quips Heidi Murkoff, author of the hugely successful series she began with her late mother and sister a quarter-century ago. “It was definitely time for a positive spin.”

According to the author, this new edition, largely rewritten, is a chance to present a version that’s “more reassuring, more positive, more empathetic than ever.” That’s good news for women who found the older version to be alarming, packed with a little too much information. Some have called it “What to Freak Out About When You’re Expecting.”

Despite such criticism, the book remains a classic. “It’s a responsible book with good information,” says Dr. Robert Resnik, a perinatologist at the University of California, San Diego, “It is what it is. If it scares you, maybe you shouldn’t be reading it!”

But for the fans of “What to Expect,” there’s not just the new and improved book edition. Now there’s WhatToExpect.com, Murkoff’s 3-year-old site, which the publishers say is the second-biggest parenting site after BabyCenter. The Internet is particularly suited for women going through pregnancy: “It’s the most female invention to come along. You put the word out. Someone responds. You say, thanks, you saved my life. Men don’t communicate like that!”

Breast milk is for babies… right?

In “Sour Attitudes toward Breast Milk,” Julie’s Health Club explores why we find the idea of anyone except babies drinking breast milk to be repulsive, but totally normal for people of all ages to drink the milk of cows, sheep, and goats. “Why are we so freaked out by breast milk?” she askes. Good question.

Japan’s drinkable cheese has been called an “exciting new beverage concept,” but it’s nothing compared to this French delicacy I recently thought I found on the Internet: gourmet cheese crafted from human breast milk.

Though I’ve breast-fed two children, my reflexive reaction—yuck!—was probably similar to yours. And when I e-mailed the “breast-milk cheese” link to friends, reactions included “OMG!” and “That’s the most disgusting subject line I’ve seen in a long time.”

But as one Health Clubber mentioned, imagine the marketing potential: Organic grass-fed human breast-milk cheese could be the ultimate Whole Foods product, as long as the women aren’t housed on factory farms or given artificial hormones to increase milk production and everything is certified.

Breast milk, meanwhile, is nature’s perfect functional food, something the formula industry keeps trying in vain to replicate. It’s not just intensely rich in antibodies, vitamins and other nutrients; it also has been shown to boost a baby’s intelligence, help prevent infections and possibly help fight asthma, obesity and high cholesterol.

Moreover, breast milk contains the precise kinds and amounts of fats and proteins our bodies need, making it inherently more digestible and nutritious than cow’s milk.

Sadly, just when I started to think Mama’s Num Num Cheese was a brilliant idea, I learned the Web site was fictitious.

I should have known. Breast milk is so obviously for infants, not adults.

….

But it is a little strange that most of us consider cow’s milk to be “normal,” and breast milk “disgusting.” Those who are a little more open-minded, meanwhile, such as Samantha Mix, 40, of Batavia, have discovered that scrambled eggs can have a velvety quality.

“I am sure the high and pure quality of the milk fat is what makes the eggs velvety and light as a feather,” said Mix, who has nursed two children and likes to add her own breast milk to scrambled eggs. She also plans to comb garage sales this summer to find a yogurt maker. Her plan is to use up the three gallons of breast milk she has in the freezer.

I don’t know about you, but I guess I’m just not that progressive.  Sure, I breastfed my daughter until she was two and now I’m breastfeeding my son.  But the thought of eating yogurt made out of my own breast milk is just… well… disgusting.

Then there’s the “America’s Next Top Model” contestant who drank her own breast milk. She’d been pumping in order to keep her supply flowing so she could continue feeding her infant daughter when she returned home from the show.  “I drank my breast milk only during audition week because I did not want to waste it after putting all my effort into making and extracting it. Dumping milk just seems wrong,” Claire said, adding that at one point she was drinking two or three glasses of breast milk a day. “A mother’s milk is like liquid gold, so I also wanted the nutritional value back and to keep my immunity up.”

To each his own!

The Duggars Do Pregnancy for the 18th Time!

Do you think pregnancy is a beautiful thing? Do you enjoy being pregnant? Do you love kids? Do you want a big family? Can you imagine being pregnant with your eighteenth child??

An Arkansas woman could answer an enthusiastic YES! to all those questions; she’s having her 18th child – and plans to have more! The Duggar kids planned a big Mother’s Day surprise for their mom this year. But the surprise was on them when Michelle Duggar announced on the TODAY Show that they were soon to welcome an 18th sibling.

Michelle Duggar’s been pregnant for more than 11 years of her life. The children are all home schooled and their names all start with the letter J: Joshua, Jana, John-David, Jessa, Josiah, Jeremiah, Jedidiah, etc. (including their dog, Jasmine!)

Las year, the Discovery Health Channel premeired a new show, “The Dugger Family Album.” You an go to the Discovery Health Website to see YouTube clips of new shows, past shows, and play the new game titled “Name That Duggar.”

They really are an amazing family. They have used an estimated 90,000 diapers to date and do approximately 200 loads of laundry each month. Each one of the kids very learns to play both violin and piano. They share the household chores and have even contributed toward building their own 7,000 sq. foot house together!  Despite the size of the family, the Duggars feed their entire brood for less than $2,000 per month and are debt free! That’s what you’d call one big happy, economical family! (You can learn more about how they’ve attained Financial Freedom from the The Dugger Family website.)

Why do they have so many kids?? Visit their website, the answer is stated clearly!Psalm 127 says, “Lo children are a heritage of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is His reward.” We believe that each child is a special gift from God and we are thankful to Him for each one.

Sleeping Safely with your Baby

People will often point out things you should or should not be doing with your new baby… “You hold him too much, you’ll spoil him! You should give her solids, she’ll sleep better at night! You should dress him more warmly! You should take off those blankets! What, you let your baby sleep in bed with you? Don’t you know how dangerous that is?!”

I slept with my daughter until she was two and expecting my second child. Now I sleep with my 5-month old son and have no plans yet to move him out of my bed. When people comment on it, I reply that I like having him close by. Yes, it’s slightly uncomfortable to sleep with him next to me (my arm gets numb and tingly if it’s wrapped around him too long, my back hurts when I’m curled around him in a funny position, or when I fall asleep feeding him…) but for me that’s better than having to get out of bed and go to his room a few times a night to feed him. I like that he’s so close by I can sense him wriggling around and can feed him before he wakes up completely. I like to know he’s right there next to me and that he’s OK.

For those who are unaware of the facts, sleeping with your baby in bed may indeed sound like a dangerous practice. What if she falls off or gets stuck between the mattress? What if one parent rolls onto the baby, or she gets smothered by a pillow or blanket? But when you examine the reality of the situation, it’s apparent that sleeping with your baby in a safe manner may actually be healthier for her than putting her to sleep alone in a crib.

Dr. Sears points out that the incidence of SIDS is dramatically higher in a crib versus a parent’s bed. Although there are cases of accidental smothering and entrapment, such situations are very rare. The September/October 2002 issue of Mothering Magazine presents research done throughout the whole world on the issue of safe sleep. They conclude that not only is sleeping with your baby safe, but it is actually much safer than having your baby sleep in a crib. Infants who sleep in a crib are twice as likely to suffer a sleep related fatality (including SIDS) than infants who sleep in bed with their parents.

Instead of warning parents not to sleep with their babies, Dr. Sears advocates teaching parents how to sleep safely in bed with their babies. Much of this is common sense, but here are the guidelines he suggests:

  • It is unlikely for baby to fall out of bed while sleeping next to mother. Dr. Sears compares it to a heat-seeking missiles; babies automatically gravitate toward a warm body. But to be on the safe side, place baby between mother and a guardrail or push the mattress flush against the wall and position baby between mother and the wall. Be sure there are no crevices that baby could sink into.
  • Place baby adjacent to mother, rather than between mother and father. Many mothers feel they are so physically and mentally aware of their baby’s presence even while sleeping, that it’s extremely unlikely they would roll over onto their baby. Some fathers, on the other hand, may not enjoy the same sensitivity of baby’s presence while asleep; so it is possible they might roll over on or throw out an arm onto baby. After a few months of sleep-sharing, most dads seem to develop a keen awareness of their baby’s presence.
  • Place baby to sleep on his back.
  • Use a large bed, preferably a queen-size or king-size. A king-size bed may wind up being your most useful piece of “baby furniture.” If you only have a cozy double bed, use the money that you would ordinarily spend on a fancy crib and other less necessary baby furniture and treat yourselves to a safe and comfortable king-size bed.
  • Some parents and babies sleep better if baby is still in touching and hearing distance, but not in the same bed. For them a bedside bassinet or co-sleeper is a good option. This arrangement gives parents and baby their own separate sleeping spaces yet, keeps baby within arm’s reach for easy nighttime care. Dr. Sears suggests the Arm’s Reach® Co-Sleeper® Bassinet (www.armsreach.com).
  • Do not sleep with your baby if:
    1. You are under the influence of any drug, alcohol, or tranquilizers. If you are drunk or drugged, these chemicals lessen your arousability from sleep.
    2. You are extremely obese. Obesity itself may cause sleep apnea in the mother, in addition to the smothering risk.
    3. You are exhausted from sleep deprivation. This lessens your awareness of your baby and your arousability from sleep.
    4. You are sleeping on a cushiony surface, such as a waterbed or couch.
  • Don’t allow older siblings to sleep with a baby under nine months. Sleeping children do not have the same awareness of tiny babies as do parents, and too small or too crowded a bed space is an unsafe sleeping arrangement for a tiny baby.
  • Don’t overheat or overbundle baby. Be particularly aware of overbundling if baby is sleeping with a parent. Other warm bodies are an added heat source.
  • Don’t wear lingerie with string ties longer than eight inches. Ditto for dangling jewelry. Baby may get caught in these entrapments.
  • Avoid pungent hair sprays, deodorants, and perfumes. Not only will these camouflage the natural maternal smells that baby is used to and attracted to, but foreign odors may irritate and clog baby’s tiny nasal passages.

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