Archives for October 2008

DIY Birth Announcements!

When your little bundle of joy arrives, you may feel like shouting from the rooftops so the whole world can share in your good fortune! Luckily, there is a more effective way of spreading the news… and you can have the fun of creating them yourself! Get down to your local craft store (hmm, preferably before the birth, if you can plan ahead!) and get started!

Pretty papers, rubber stamps, ribbons, bows, glitter, stickers, flowers, pretty punches… there are no limits for the creative genius inside you!

Here are some absolutely adorable ideas from Impress Rubber Stamps:

Is nicotine replacement safe during pregnancy?

You are probably aware of the dangers of smoking during pregnancy. If you want to quit smoking, what are your options? Nicotine gum or patches contain nicotine, although in much smaller amounts than the typical smoker ingests. The biggest benefit of these products is a reduction in the cravings, bad mood and stress associated with nicotine withdrawal.But are they safe?

Reuters reports: “Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirth,” the researchers write in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “The use of NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) in pregnancy is a possible harm reduction strategy,” they add.

As part of the study, information was gathered for 87,032 singleton pregnancies. Two percent of women reported using nicotine replacement during pregnancy. Of these women, 14 percent did not smoke during pregnancy, 30 percent quit smoking during pregnancy, and 56 percent continued to smoke.

There were 495 stillbirths, 8 of them among the NRT users.

Those who used NRT had a 43 percent lower risk of stillbirth after accounting for other risk factors. Even those women who continued to smoke while using NRT, reduced the risk of stillbirth by 17 percent. Smokers who did not use NRT during pregnancy had a 46 percent higher risk of having a stillbirth.

Bottom line: Researchers believe the use of these products may be safe for some women, particularly if they would continue smoking without them. Don’t use any nicotine replacement therapy or other smoking cessation product without checking with your health care provider. They can help determine what methods of smoking cessation are safe and effective for you.

See also:

Quitting Smoking During Pregnancy

Smoking and Infertility

One More Reason to Quit Smoking

Quit Smoking for a Calmer Baby

Breast-feeding helps new moms shed pounds

I didn’t think this was news, but according to a new study, published in the International Breastfeeding Journal, mothers who breast-feed can get their pre-pregnancy figure back more quickly than mothers who don’t nurse exclusively. The best part about it is that breast-feeding mothers can consume more calories and STILL loose more weight than those women who don’t!

Maureen Williams, ND reports the following at MedFinds:

Women who chose to breast-feed exclusively lost more weight and lost it more quickly than those who chose a mixed feeding regime (breast-feeding plus formula). Although the breast-feeding mothers ate more calories than the mixed feeding mothers, they lost an average of 9.7 pounds (4.41kg), while mixed feeding mothers lost an average of 6.14 pounds (2.79 kg). The breast-feeding mothers’ percent body fat also decreased during the early postpartum period, but the mixed feeding mothers’ did not.

According to this and prevous studies, the greatest difference in weight loss was seen at three months after delivery.

“The study clearly shows the importance of encouraging and supporting mothers to breast-feed exclusively,” says the study’s senior author, Dr. Alex Anderson, of the Department of Foods and Nutrition at the University of Georgia. Exclusive breast-feeding not only reduces the risk of new moms being overweight, it might even protect them against heart disease and other chronic conditions.

In addition to helping new moms regain their figures, breast-feeding has well-documented benefits for newborns:

• Lowers risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)

• Reduces the likelihood of developing allergies

• Provides immune cells that help babies fight infections, including chest and ear infections

• Supports healthy neurological development

(Int Breastfeed J 2008;3:18)

Economy is down, Pregnancies are up

At least in Britain! According to Parent Dish:

Many of us have altered our normal spending habits and instead of going out to dinner or a movie, we stay home and find something else to do. Apparently in Britain, that ‘something else’ is sex. And according to some, this at-home recreation is having an impact on the sales maternity clothes, pregnancy tests, and sex toys (not necessarily in that order).

So, people are trying to cut back on spending by staying home and getting pregnant. Does something about that seem a bit funny?  Ms. Maple and I are thinking along the same lines:

I think it is great that couples are rekindling their romance in these times of trouble. But in about nine months, those who end up shopping in the maternity stores are going to find that staying home and having sex is a play now, pay later kind of fun. Ultimately, dinner and a movie would have been much cheaper.

Not that we don’t endorse parenthood, of course. But babies can be expensive little things!

Men’s Fertility Perks up in the Sunshine

If you are trying to conceive, you might be spending extra time in bed. But the Daily Mail suggests that you might need to get out a bit more.

A study found almost a third of men experiencing fertility problems have low levels of vitamin D, the ‘sunshine vitamin’. 105 men agreed to take multivitamins and antioxidants for two to three months. After that, tests revealed ‘an improvement in the shape of the sperm, which can enhance conception,’ said Dr Anne Clark, the medical director of an Australian fertility center. (31 of the men even went on to achieve a pregnancy!)

Just spending ten minutes outside in their shirt sleeves would be enough of a boost:

She suggested that office workers could absorb enough vitamin D by simply having their morning tea break outside in the sunshine with their sleeves rolled up.

Other basic lifestyle changes such as giving up smoking, losing weight, and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, would also help.

If your pregnancy was a painting, what would it look like?

If you could paint your pregnancy, with all the emotions it evokes, what would it look like? Tumultuous or serene? Bright colors or muted?  Realistic or abstract?

One artist, named Kelly Kenedy, taps into the emotion of pregnancy to create over 40 canvases that now hang in the new Pregnancy Care Center facilities in Springfield, Missouri. She says that she hopes her artwork will help young women and men facing unplanned pregnancies find strength and courage.

One of her favorites is a canvas that hangs in a waiting area.  The focal point of the acrylic and latex painting are two turquoise blue shapes that look much like the top of eggs standing on end. Randomly placed in front of the “eggs” are chocolate brown squares, and the background is an atonal swirl of off-white and beige.

“To me, the egg shapes speak to birth,” says Kennedy, who sees the ovals and squares as separate dimensions on the canvas, with the “undefined” background space tapping into the uncertain emotions of the women who come to the center. “To me, it looks like the profile of a women when she’s pregnant,” Kennedy adds. “When she comes in here, her emotions are in flux. There’s excitement and there’s fear.”

Two other large canvases, hanging in the board office, represent another style. With stark black backgrounds, these oil paintings use bright reds and yellows to evoke the idea of small eggs tumbling down across the canvas. “The board makes a lot of important decisions in here. Out of one decision a lot of things come tumbling out,” Kennedy explains.

Artwork can be both stimulating and therapeutic. The abstract paintings in the Center speak to the mothers and fathers who come there. “We are at an abstract point in our lives… We feel disjointed, so it’s relatable,” said one young woman who used their services and now works at the Center herself.The artwork has received lots of positive attention. “It’s very comforting and welcoming to them,” says the Center’s executive director.

Springfield’s Pregnancy Care Center provides prenatal and postnatal services to mothers and fathers, relationship programs, mentoring, and the Choices abstinence education program. To learn more, visit www.pccchoices.org

In case you missed it: Exercise is GOOD for Pregnancy

photo from babyzone.com

You’re pregnant and you may feel like staying in bed and eating Crispy Creme donuts. But pregnancy is no excuse to indulge in high-calorie junk food and couch-potato behavior.

James Pivarnik of Michigan State University in East Lansing led a team that has written new physical activity guidelines for pregnant women as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines.

He has studied the topic for more than 20 years, so I guess he’s the expert on pregnancy and exercise. His advice: at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week.

“There has been quite a dramatic change in regards to pregnancy and exercise,” Pivarnik said in a statement. “While it used to be thought that avoiding exercise meant avoiding harm to the fetus, research now shows physical activity can not only improve health of the mother but also provide

potential long-term benefits for the child.”

Bottom line: Stay active. It’s good for you and it’s good for your baby. And when you finally give birth, you won’t be one of those women moaning about how to loose all the extra baby weight.

source: UPI.com

Early pregnancy symptoms Can anyone tell I’m pregnant?

Friends and family claim they knew I was pregnant even before I broke the news because I was always tired. Didn’t matter what the time of day was, if they asked me how I was doing I was tired. Silly me.

This weekend we had guests staying with us, and the wife was very obviously pregnant. She was slim as could be but the signs were unmistakable. I’d heard through the grape vine she was expecting, but they hadn’t told us the news, so we figured that she is still in that sensitive first trimester, before people generally “go public.”

I’m guessing she didn’t mind if we found out.  Either that or she was as clueless as I was about hiding the symptoms. So what are those early pregnancy signs that you should know about if you’re trying to keep YOUR pregnancy a secret?

1. Feeling ill: She’s been “not feeling well” the past couple months. Hmmm, suspicious enough to start out with. The infamous morning sickness, perhaps?

More than half of all pregnant women experience morning sickness. Morning sickness is the nauseated feeling you get during pregnancy. Morning sickness can be, but is not always, accompanied with vomiting. The nausea is often a result of the increased hormones in your body. Many health care providers think morning sickness is a good sign because it means the placenta is developing well.

2. Fatigue: She retired early on Friday night. She showed up the next morning and then took a little cat-nap on the couch around 11 AM. Then she took an afternoon nap following lunch. At dinner time she was already wilting and I caught her laying her head down at the dinner table!

It’s particularly common during the first trimester. What most women remember about this stage is a constant feeling of fatigue. Being pregnant puts a strain on your entire body, which can make you awfully tired. Even night owls may find themselves struggling to stay awake long enough to watch their favorite eight o’clock show.

3. Frequent urination: I think she went to the restroom 74 times in 24 hours. Ok, slight exaggeration. But she was peeing A LOT!

Why do you suddenly need to go all the time? It’s mostly because the amount of blood in your body increases dramatically when you get pregnant, which leads to a lot of extra fluid getting processed through your kidneys and ending up in your bladder. Eventually, you may also feel pressure on your bladder from your growing uterus.

4. Famished! She appeared in the kitchen bright and early, it was 7 AM. I’d been up since 6 AM, as my kids haven’t realized that weekends are meant for sleeping in. “Do you have any of that carrot cake left over? I woke up in the middle of the night and I was hungry but I didn’t have anything handy to snack on.” OK, come on, did she really think I would overlook THAT one??

As your pregnancy progresses you might be finding that, no matter how much or how often you eat, you still feel ravenous at all hours of the day and night. That’s not surprising, because the baby growing inside you has calorific needs of his own. Whilst that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to eat anything and everything, it does explain why you’re waking up hungry in the middle of the night.

So there you go. If you think I’m misreading the signs, by all means let me know. But I’m sure we’ll be hearing some good news soon enough, and then I can let her know how happy we are for them… even though we already know all about it!

Stressed? Calming music soothes your pregnancy!

It’s a fact that stress is bad for people. It’s doubly harmful for pregnant women, since it affects the growth of the baby as well as the mother. So if you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or even depressed, listening to soothing music could very possibly help.

Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan did a recent study featuring music therapy and pregnany women. According to StaffNurse.com, a group of women listened to music for 30 minute a day, that included Brahms’ Lullaby and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and composers like Beethoven and Debussy. After two weeks, these women showed a significant drop on the “Perceived Stress Scale” and the “State-Trait Anxiety Inventory,” as well as a drop in depression ratings.

Researcher Professor Chung-Hey Chen said: “Pregnancy is a unique and stressful period for many expectant mothers and they suffer anxiety and depression because of the long time period involved… Our study shows that listening to suitable music provides a simple, cost-effective and non-invasive way of reducing stress, anxiety and depression during pregnancy.”

Pregnancy Brain: Is it a just a myth?

I’ve always said that being pregnant has been the ruin of what used to be an extraordinary intelligence– mine, that is. I used to be smart. Really. I was always at the top of the class. I figured things out. I was sharp. Clever. Witty. But ever since I had kids, I find it hard to think, sometimes, to find the right words.  I can’t remember how old I am. I don’t remember birthdays or other significant events, and sometime I’m not even sure what day of the week it is.

The bad news is that the so-called “pregnancy brain” may not really exist. According to The Australian, “A team at the Australian National University found that the memory and brain functioning speed of mothers and pregnant women were no different from those of childless women.”

So I guess I’m just loosing it. Maybe this is what happens as we age. But twenty-six– er, twenty-seven, is young to start feeling senile, don’t you think?

At least I’m not alone. Paula Kruger from ABC feels the same way: “I myself, being four months pregnant, could not remember the name of my four-year-old son this morning.  I could think of several names for the pet Labrador, especially given he’d stolen another slice of jam toast off the bench-top.  But to remember my own son’s name, I had to take a moment and a deep breath.  So you could imagine my confusion on hearing that scientists at the ANU have found the widely held belief that pregnancy and motherhood can turn a woman’s mind to mush is actually myth.”

According to Professor Helen Christensen from the ANU’s Centre for Mental Health Research, “it’s a miss-attribution of a normal cognitive function lapse.” That’s great.  So am I really just getting old? Could be. But she also attributes this pregnant “dippiness” to things such sleep deprivation and fatigue, which makes me feela little bit better, although I’m not sure why. Aks me again after I’ve had a full night’s sleep…

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