Archives for November 2008

Have a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving with tips from Dr. Sears

Ten Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving Feast!

Thanksgiving DinnerYou know how much I love Dr. Sears, and once again he’s sharing some great ideas to make the  holidays not just fun and delicious, but safe and nutritious too!

Here’s a reminder list of a few healthy ideas to make your Thanksgiving day just a bit healthier. Of course, it IS Thanksgiving and a little overindulgence is OK. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

1. Use whole wheat or whole grain bread for your stuffing instead of white bread.

2. Make homemade cranberries instead of the jellied cranberries in a can. See our recipe:

3. Buy an all natural hormone-free Turkey for the main event.

4. Substitute Omega-3 enriched oil-based spread instead of butter, margarine or shortening.

5. Offer more healthy vegetable dishes to balance out all the starches like stuffing and potatoes.

6. Bake your dishes instead of frying when possible.

7. Keep the skin on. Encourage eating the skin of your sweet potatoes and leave the skin on your mashed potatoes. Potato skin is loaded with vitamins.

8. Use whole wheat pie-crust on one or more of your pies for a healthier alternative.

9. Use fresh all-natural ingredients whenever possible, they are always healthier than something out of a can or a box.

10. Watch the salt! Most recipes already contain enough salt and don’t need more once they are on your plate.

We hope this inspires you to try a healthier (yet still delicious) version of Thanksgiving dinner. While you are preparing your dinner, you will probably come up with some of your own healthy ideas. Once again, Happy Thanksgiving!!

Click here for more healthy Thanksgiving tips and recipes.

Keeping Your Family Safe in the Kitchen on Thanksgiving

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fires are more likely to occur on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year. Kitchen fires from cooking are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries. In fact, the number of structure fires that occur on Thanksgiving Day is three times higher than the daily average of structure fires in the US.

Here are a few tips to prevent home fires this Thanksgiving:

  • Keep your stove clear. 12% of all fires occur because something that could catch fire was too close to the stove; dish towels, pot holders, food packaging and even wooden utensils.

  • Stay in the kitchen. Don’t leave your stove unattended while cooking, if you have to step away, even for a short time, turn off the stove. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of Thanksgiving Day home fires.

  • Set a timer. Aside from the obvious, not burning the turkey or pies, etc, this helps to keep track of food that requires extended cooking times as well as keeping your ears from hearing the piercing sound of the smoke alarm or worse.

  • Keep children out of the kitchen. Be sure to keep all pot handles turned in so they are not accessible to little hands. Cook on the back burner as much as possible.

  • Wear short or close fitting sleeves when cooking.

Even with the best preparation accidents can happen.

Click here to read Dr. Sears’ guide to treating burns; what to do immediately following a burn, how to treat the burn and whether or not you should page your doctor or take your child to the ER.

Baby’s first test score: APGAR

When my baby boy was born, he was purple. Not just a slight tinge either, he was deep, dark, royal purple! No doubt he failed the “appearance” part of his very first test , poor thing. Not yet five minutes old and already a failure…

One minute — and again five minutes — after your baby is born, doctors calculate his Apgar score to see how he’s doing. It’s a simple process to help determine whether your newborn is ready to meet the world without additional medical assistance.

This score was developed by anesthesiologist Virginia Apgar in 1952 and is now used in modern hospitals worldwide. It rates a baby’s appearance, pulse, responsiveness, muscle activity, and breathing with a number between zero and 2. The numbers are totaled, and 10 is considered a perfect score.

How does it work?

The name “Apgar” is an acronym to help you remember what is included in the test: Activity, Pulse, Grimace, Appearance, and Respiration. Here’s how they’re used to rate your baby:

Activity (muscle tone)
0 — Limp; no movement
1 — Some flexion of arms and legs
2 — Active motion

Pulse (heart rate)
0 — No heart rate
1 — Fewer than 100 beats per minute
2 — At least 100 beats per minute

Grimace (reflex response)
0 — No response to airways being suctioned
1 — Grimace during suctioning
2 — Grimace and pull away, cough, or sneeze during suctioning

Appearance (color)
0 — The baby’s whole body is completely bluish-gray or pale
1 — Good color in body with bluish hands or feet
2 — Good color all over

Respiration (breathing)
0 — Not breathing
1 — Weak cry; may sound like whimpering, slow or irregular breathing
2 — Good, strong cry; normal rate and effort of breathing

What do the Apgar scores mean?

The one-minute Apgar score
This helps your practitioner decide whether your baby needs immediate medical help. If your baby scores between 7 and 10, it usually means he’s in good shape and doesn’t need more than routine post-delivery care. (We moms are already expecting over-achievers, but don’t be disappointed if your baby doesn’t score a perfect 10, though. It’s unusual for a baby’s hands and feet to have good color immediately after arrival.)

If your baby scores between 4 and 6, he may need some help breathing. This could mean something as simple as suctioning his nostrils or massaging him, or it could mean giving him oxygen. If your baby scores 3 or less, he may need immediate lifesaving measures, such as resuscitation. Keep in mind, though, that a low score at one minute doesn’t mean that your baby won’t eventually be just fine. Sometimes babies born prematurely or delivered by cesarean section, for example, have lower-than-normal scores, especially at the one-minute testing.

The five-minute Apgar score
This helps your practitioner see how your baby is progressing and whether he has responded to any initial medical intervention. A score of 7 to 10 is still considered normal at this point. If your baby scores 6 or less at the five-minute mark, he may need medical help and your practitioner will determine what steps need to be taken.

Don’t worry too much about this score. Chances are your baby will be fine, even if his color is a little bit — ok, a lot– off at first. My son is now the handsomest baby in town!

Source: Baby Center

Online Support for Mom’s with High-Risk Pregnancy

lovemykids72704 is the group owner of Moms Who Have or Had a High-Risk Pregnancy at CafeMom. She shares some very personal, moving details about her 2 “high risk” pregnancies and why she decided to start the group.  All moms-to-be share a common hope that their baby will be born healthy. Having a pregnancy that’s been deemed “high risk” adds some worry and uncertainty to things (although many, many women go on to deliver babies that are just fine), which is why it’s so wonderful to get support and encouragement from other pregnant moms in a similar situation. You can connect with them in High-Risk Pregnancies and Moms Who Have or Had a High-Risk Pregnancy.

Tell me a little about why you started the group.

I started this group because I had two high-risk pregnancies and was very lonely and could have used the support of other women who were going through similar experiences.

Are you pregnant now?

I’m not currently pregnant but would like to try for number three when the time is right. Both of my pregnancies were high-risk. With my first, I got an intrauterine infection that exposed the placenta and the baby — I went into preterm labor at 25 weeks and the baby girl (her name was Heather) was stillborn. We don’t know how I got the infection and why I didn’t show any signs of an infection until it was too late.

With my son it was different. I had preeclampsia and was on bed rest for five months of my pregnancy due to contractions, but everything turned out fine in the end despite the bumps in the road.

What would you say are the most common reasons moms in the group are considered high-risk?

Most women are considered high-risk if they’ve had a high-risk pregnancy previously — and there are many reasons a pregnancy can become high-risk, including a blood clotting disorder, incompetent cervix, diabetes, and preeclampsia.

What are the most common concerns of the moms in the group?

The main concern is to have a healthy baby, of course! However, a lot of them just want to be understood and to find the reasons and causes for their situation. They also want advice from other mothers — companionship and support, which is what the group gives.

Do moms typically report back after the birth to let others know how things turned out?

Some mothers do report back — you can make life-long friends in this group and we love to know how everything went.

Anything else you’d like moms to know?

I guess I’d like other moms to know that you are not alone. There is someone in this group that has — or had — the same issues that you might have. It helps to talk about them. I felt considerable loneliness when going through my pregnancies and would have loved to have had this group then. Pregnancy is not always an easy thing!

Eating a Raw Food Diet while Pregnant

For those who are unfamiliar, eating mainly raw foods is not a fad diet, it’s a way of life for some people who believe that the most wholesome way to consume your food is in the raw form (no!! Not raw meat!!!) Dieting for weight loss is discouraged during pregnancy, but a healthful diet is strongly encouraged!

According to

The raw food diet is a diet based on unprocessed and uncooked plant foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, sprouts, seeds, nuts, grains, beans, nuts, dried fruit, and seaweed.

Heating food above 116 degrees F is believed to destroy enzymes in food that can assist in the digestion and absorption of food. Cooking is also thought to diminish the nutritional value and “life force” of food.

(Side note: I have a friend who is very enthusiastic about eating raw. I don’t have plans to convert to her way of thinking just yet, but it’s definitely an option to check out if you are interested in a food-centered change!)

If you are wondering how this diet would affect your pregnancy, Happy Foody might have some answers.

I have been VERY nauseous during the first trimester, and unfortunately, most raw foods made me want to run in the opposite direction! :) Including green smoothies. It was very frustrating because I knew my body needed it, but it would reject it every time. Now that I’m in my 13th week…the fog has lifted a bit, and I am able to start adding back my favorite raw foods. It’s amazing to me that just a few weeks ago, a big salad turned my stomach, and today I devoured an entire head of kale. I will slowly be adding back smoothies, as my stomach allows.

According to the research she did on the subject,eating a completely raw diet during pregnancy produces wonderful results. She advises anyone who’s interested to check out a website/e-book called Ecstatic Birth, which she says is well worth the read. She also takes Rainbow Light “Complete Prenatal System” vitamins, along with fish oils, and some grapefruit seed extract for yeast prevention, etc.

The raw food diet may not be appropriate for certain people. As with any diet or diet changes, consult a competent health-care professional before you begin (or once you become pregnant)!

Foot Pain while Pregnant? Try Orthotics!

The Daily Breeze posed the following question about foot pain, which was answered by Dr. Barry A. Wertheimer, D.P.M.:

Q: Now that I am pregnant I have noted severe foot and other joint pains whenever I have to stand or walk for an extended period of time. What is the reason … and besides taking medications, can anything be done to help?

A: As many as 80 to 85 percent of women experience increased pain in their feet, legs, neck and back during pregnancy. Most doctors will tell you that wearing good shoes and massage is all that can be done to relieve the pain of this very common affliction. The reason for this pain is often the release of a hormone (relaxin) that allows stretching of ligaments in the pelvis to facilitate the birthing process. Since we live in a society that stands and walks on hard concrete surfaces, this hormone allows the feet to spread, flatten out and fatigue easily during the pregnancy. What is sometimes helpful is the purchase of over-the-counter orthotics, available at many sporting goods and drug stores. If not effective, then a custom-made foot orthotic, made by a podiatrist, is required to offer the greatest relief. Orthotics are custom-made supports that cradle the feet inside the shoes and hold them in a corrected position. They are a safe, effective, noninvasive treatment for the foot and posture. Orthotics also are effective in treating many other problems as well.

Does pregnancy make you feel Radiant?

Source: CartoonStock


The pregnancy glow might make you feel pretty, but there are other changes that may be unwelcome. I thought it might be good for you to know that all those weird skin conditions are actually normal, and will most likely disappear after the baby is born! Phew!!  The following article, 11 COMMON SKIN CHANGES DURING PREGNANCY, comes straight off of Dr. Sear’s website.

1. The “pregnancy glow.” The glow that others notice (though you may not) isn’t just a sentimental old wives’ term. This facial shine actually has a biological basis. The increased volume of blood causes the cheeks to take on an attractive blush, because of the many blood vessels just below the skin’s surface. On top of this redness, the increased secretions of the oil glands give the skin a waxy sheen. The flushed face on many pregnant women is similar to the one non-pregnant people experience when they are excited, cry, or do anything that increases their heart rate (which pregnancy does constantly). photo from

2. The pregnancy mask. Sometime during the second trimester you may find yourself gazing at a different face in the mirror. Brownish or yellowish patches called chloasma (also dubbed the mask of pregnancy) can appear anywhere on the face, but are seen most commonly on the forehead, upper cheeks, nose, and chin. The pregnancy hormones estrogen and progesterone stimulate the melanin cells in the skin to produce more pigment, yet because these cells do not produce extra pigment uniformly, your facial skin may acquire a blotchy tan. (If you have ever taken oral contraceptives, you may already have experienced this particular hormonal side-effect.) Brunettes and darker-skinned women may notice darkened circles, resembling eye shadow, around their eyes. Chloasma cannot be prevented, but you can minimize the intensity of these blotchy, darkened areas by limiting your exposure to ultraviolet light (i.e., sunshine), which further stimulates melanin production.

3. Acne. You probably thought your pimple days were over. While the acne of pregnancy is rarely as severe as that of adolescence, you may need to return to some of your teenage cleansing rituals. Fortunately, pregnancy is much shorter than adolescence; the bumps and pimples will subside shortly after delivery. Avoid abrasive scrubs or exfoliants; pregnant skin is too sensitive for these. Milder, oatmeal-based facial scrubs (available at nutrition stores) can help unplug the oily pores, and are much kinder to sensitive skin. Because of the risk of birth defects, the anti-acne prescription drugs Accutane and Retin-A cannot be used during pregnancy.

4. Linea nigra. >Many women normally have a faint linea alba (white line) running from their navel to the center of their pubic bone. It is barely visible before pregnancy. (You may not have even known it was there). Sometime in the second trimester a linea alba becomes a linea nigra, a dark line that is much more noticeable. In some women the line extends upward from the navel as well. The linea nigra is darker in darker skinned women and disappears several months after delivery.

5. Dark areas become darker. Little moles and freckles that existed prior to pregnancy may now become bigger, and brown spots or birthmarks become browner. New moles may also appear. (Consult your doctor or dermatologist if these moles seem particularly raised, dark, or have irregular borders.) The areola and nipples of your breasts will become quite a lot darker; unlike other areas of your skin, which return to their original color after pregnancy, your areola will probably always be somewhat darker than they were before you were pregnant.

6. Red palms and soles. Even as early as the second month of pregnancy, the insides of your hands and the bottoms of your feet may itch and take on a reddish hue, called palmar erythema. The increased color is nothing more than a curiosity of pregnancy.

7. Spider veins. Those much-discussed pregnancy hormones, along with increased blood volume, cause those tiny, squiggly red or purple capillaries just below the surface of the skin to branch out and become more visible during pregnancy. It’s also common for spider veins (they resemble a small spider web), to pop out on the face or on the sclera (white part) of the eyeballs during delivery; intense, red-in-the-face pushing can break tiny blood vessels. Known as nevi, these burst vessels can be camouflaged by the appropriate use of make- up. Nevi take longer to disappear than many of the other skin problems of pregnancy, some spider veins on the legs or torso may not go away on their own. A dermatologist can remove them using injections if you feel that’s necessary.

8. Skin tags. Some pregnant women develop tiny polyps, called skin tags, in areas where skin rubs on clothing or skin rubs together. Commonly found under the arms, between neck folds, or under bra lines on the chest, skin tags are caused by hyperactive growth of a superficial layer of skin. They disappear a few months following delivery, but can be easily excised if they bother you.

9. Heat rash. You may think that only babies get prickly heat rash, but pregnant women do, too. Caused by the combination of an already overheated pregnant body, dampness from excessive perspiration, and the friction of skin rubbing against itself or against clothing, prickly heat rash is pimply and slightly irritating. It is most common in the crease between and beneath the breasts, in the crease where the bulge of the lower abdomen rubs against the top of the pubic area, and on the inner thighs.

10. Itching. Many women enjoy a good “scratch down” at the end of the day. Some areas of your skin may itch because they are dry and flaky, others may itch because of a prickly rash, as mentioned above. Many women find the itching is most bothersome in the skin that stretches, mainly over the abdomen, but also on hips and thighs.

11. Pimply eruptions. Around one percent of pregnant women experience itchy, red, raised patches on their abdomen, thighs, buttocks, and extremities. This condition is called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (dubbed PUPP). It tends to come and go during the second half of pregnancy and nearly always disappears shortly after delivery. Treat this the same as any other itchy skin eruption.

The Ultimate New Baby Shopping List

I’m sure the new grandparents, aunts, and godmothers are already hitting the stores in sweet anticipation, and that your closets are starting to fill up with pretty little outfits, soft baby blankents, and sweet little knitted things. But with all the excitement and planning (not to mention the fatigue brought by the third trimester) it’s easy to forget some little things that might prove important when baby comes. You can always send Dad on midnight trips to Walgreen’s… or you can use this list from TheBump to make sure you’re prepared for Baby’s arrival!

The one thing you’ll need to know when planning baby’s wardrobe is that babies poop often and generously! Since baby poo is runny, it tends to get on EVERYTHING! You may find yourself changing baby’s outfit a few times a day… (and doing lots of poopy laundry, oh joy!)


10-15 bodysuits or onesies (wide head openings, snaps at bottom)

4-6 one-piece pajamas

2 blanket sleepers (for winter baby)

2-3 sweaters or jackets (for winter baby)

4-6 rompers or other outfits (preferrably with feet, as socks tend to get lost!)

4-7 socks or booties (shoes are cute but unnecessary until baby walks)

1-3 hats (broad-brimmed for summer baby, soft cap that covers ears for winter baby)

No-scratch mittens

Bunting bag or fleece suit (for winter baby)

Swimsuit for (summer baby)


Crib, cradle or bassinet
• Slats no more than 2 3/8 inches apart
• Corner posts no more than 1/16 of an inch above frame
• Top rails at least 26 inches above mattress

Firm, flat mattress fit snugly in crib (less than two fingers should fit between mattress and crib)

2-3 washable crib mattress pads

Bumper pads covering inside perimeter (secured by at least six ties or snaps, with all extra length removed)

2-4 fitted crib sheets

4-6 soft, light receiving blankets

1-2 heavier blankets (for colder climates)

Rocking or arm chair

Music box, sound machine or CD player

Crib mobile with black and white images (remove when baby can support self on hands and knees)

Baby monitor

Nightlight (good for night-time feedings and diaper changes)


Toy basket

Swing or bouncy chair


Changing table or cushioned changing pad for low dresser or bureau, with safety strap or railing

Changing table pad

4-6 washable changing table pad covers

Diaper pail & liners

Diaper cream

Unscented baby wipes (although for Baby’s sensitive skin, rinsing over the sink works best!)

Soft washcloths

2-3 boxes disposable newborn-size diapers {or}

6-10 dozen cloth diapers and 6-8 diaper covers


Baby bathtub

Baby soap/shampoo

2-4 soft towels or hooded baby towels

Baby hairbrush

Soft washcloths (use a different color or pattern than your diaper washcloths!)


For nursing moms:

2-3 nursing bras (Breasts swell following birth, so start with one size larger than your maternity bra. Wait until size settles down — about two weeks after birth — to purchase additional bras.)

Nursing pads

Nipple cream (lanolin)

Nursing pillow

Pump (even if you plan only to nurse, a pump will allow you to leave milk for baby if you want or need to separate)

Milk storage bags

Breast milk is the healthiest as well as most convenient food for new babies: no bottles, nipples, warmers, or formula needed! However if you will be unable to nurse, here’s what you’ll need:

10-16 bottles and nipples, both four and eight ounce (if fed strictly by the bottle, baby will go through about ten in the four ounce size per day)

Liners, for disposable bottles


Bottle warmer (cuts down on nighttime trips to and from the kitchen)

Bottle sterilizer (if your dishwasher doesn’t have one)

Bottle brush

Dishwasher basket for small items

4-8 bibs

Burp cloths (or cloth diapers)

High chair

2-4 pacifiers

Medicine Cabinet

Baby nail clippers

Cotton balls (don’t use swabs to clean baby’s nose or ears)

Baby thermometer

Bulb syringe/nasal aspirator

Medicine dropper or spoon with measurements

Infant acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Antibiotic cream

Saline nasal drops

Baby gas drops


Infant or convertible car seat

Stroller (reclining to almost flat for infants)

Diaper bag

Changing pad

Baby carrier/sling

For Mom

Ice packs (in case of tearing during birth or swelling after)

2-3 week supply of ultra absorbent sanitary pads

Panty liners

A bit of parenting inspiration from Raising Five Blog!

I just stumbled upon this blog called Raising Five (you guessed it, this lucky  mom is “A Christian woman, wife and chaos manager for five kids, from preschool to high school.”) She looks good for a mother of five, doesn’t she??

Among many reasons to love her (she’s funny, she makes baby blankets, she gardens, and she admits, like most of us, that she has OFFICIALLY become her mother) is the fact that although she really does seem to have her act together, she struggles and gets that out of control feeling, like the rest of us parents:

As usual, I went back and read some of my journal from the years when I had three preschoolers. Would you like to know some of the topics? Oh, there were the usual cute antics that made for some of my fondest memories.

But in there were also headings like this: “I’m exhausted.” “Frustrated. ” “ Frustrated, again.” “I’m losing it. ” The preschool years were some of the greatest years (certainly the cutest!), but they were also some of the absolute hardest times of our marriage and parenting. You are NOT crazy for feeling this way.

One of my most out-of-control times (there have been many!) was when I was pregnant with our third child. I was on bedrest for sixteen weeks (almost four whole months!). My body was wanting to go into labor constantly. I was not able to work (I had a part-time job at the time), so we had financial strain. Thankfully, some kind friends helped me with housework, but I was so embarrassed that someone would have to fold my underwear and clean my toilets!

And some words of wisdom:

I spent much of my early years trying to do everything perfectly. Somehow I got the idea that if I did everything right – if I love my kids enough, use just the right discipline techniques, if I train them well enough in how to behave – I would never have to struggle in parenting them.

My delusion even somehow included the idea that conflict would even disappear from my home, because I was doing everything properly... It was a delusion, alright.If only I had known it is not so much about being perfect – and the guilt and exhaustion that inevitably accompany it – as it is about not giving up.

Looking at this picture makes you want to go have a few more kids yourself, doesn’t it?? They’re just one big happy family!

Trying to Conceive? Don’t forget Folic Acid!

If you are planning to become pregnant you should take folic acid supplements and continue to take the supplements for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Folic acid supplements reduce the risk of having a baby born with a defect of their spinal cord such as spina bifida.

Pregnancy and folic acid

What is folic acid?

Folic acid (folate) is a vitamin needed to make new cells in the body. The body does not store very much of it, so you need a regular supply to keep healthy. Pregnant women in particular need a good supply of folic acid which is used by the developing baby.

Many vegetables contain folic acid including spinach, sprouts, broccoli, green beans, and potatoes. Some bread and breakfast cereals are fortified with folic acid.

Folic acid supplements and pregnancy

You should start taking folic acid from the time you plan to become pregnant. If the pregnancy is unplanned then start taking folic acid tablets as soon as you know that you are pregnant. Continue to take folic acid tablets for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy – even if you eat a good diet. You can buy folic acid tablets from pharmacies.

What dose should I take?

The normal dose for most women the dose is 400 micrograms (0.4mg) a day.

If you are at high risk of having a child with a spinal cord problem, then the dose is higher. (You need a prescription for this higher dose). That is, if:

  • You have had a previously affected pregnancy.
  • Your partner, or a first-degree relative, have a spinal cord defect.
  • You have coeliac disease (as your intake of folate may be affected by this condition).
  • You are taking medication for epilepsy.
  • You have sickle cell anaemia or thalassaemia.

In addition to folic acid supplements, you should eat a healthy diet when you are pregnant which should include foods rich in folic acid.

Are there any side-effects or risks when taking folic acid?

No. Folic acid is a naturally occurring vitamin, which your body needs. It is not a drug (medicine). By taking these supplements you are just making sure that you get a good, regular amount of folic acid, which you need especially during pregnancy.

Source: Good to Know

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