Archives for February 2009

Hot Celebrity Maternity Fashions for YOU!

How do those pregnant celebrities always look trendy, yet totally polished? Pregnancy Fashion.com is going to share a a few of their maternity style secrets with you, from InStyle Magazine. These tips will keep you looking as hip and pulled-together as actress Jennifer Garner (in photo).

Sleek Silhouette: When dressing up, wear bottoms that rise over your belly for the smoothest lines under tops.

Splurge on basics; skim on trendy items: Forget about blowing your budget on that one funky printed tunic top like Gwen Stefani. Spend your money wisely on a great-fitting pair of jeans, some well-tailored work pants, and empire-waist tops.
Add color with fun, funky accessories: When wearing basics, make a statement with jewelry like bold necklaces or cocktail rings, which can be worn post-pregnancy.
Keep it balanced: Wear dark-wash maternity jeans with long, thin legs to balance out big tops.

Shop eBay: You can find designer maternity items at a fraction of the price through consignment shops and eBay. And, when you are no longer pregnant, you can resell them!

Budget shopping secrets: Comparison shop online for those must-have designer items to get the best price. When shopping at pricey maternity boutiques, walk past the high-dollar items at the front of the store and peruse the sale items at the back of the store. You may get lucky and find a real steal.

Top maternity fashion trends of 2008:

Maxi Dresses: With celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Nicole Richie dressing their baby bumps in long, flowing dresses, the maxi dress trend is one that caught on with both the pregnant and non-pregnant set. Pictured is actor Matthew McConaughey and his pregnant girlfriend Camila Alves wearing a long espresso-colored maxi dress.

Long skirts: Gwen Stefani was often seen wearing a long printed skirt with a bump-hugging top. This trend is both stylish and comfortable.

Maternity jeans: Jennifer Garner has been seen looking casual and stylish by pairing maternity jeans, such as 7 for all Mankind, with a cute maternity top.

Scarves: Celebrities such as Jessica Alba and Naomi Watts were often seen accessorizing their look with a colorful scarf tied around their neck.

Belt your bump: To prevent the dreaded “tent look,” celebrities such as Camila Alves and Naomi Watts were seen pairing a dress or long tunic top with a belt under their bellies.

Choosing a hospital to give birth

When you choose your obstetrician, you are also choosing the hospital at which you’ll give birth, More 4 Kids points out. Your doctor will have admitting privileges at a certain hospital, so you have to start thinking about which hospital to deliver at before selecting your obstetrician. You may have to switch doctors in order to deliver at the hospital you want.

You can start your research by asking your current gynecologist about good hospitals. It should be less than an hour away, and easily accessible by car. It is especially beneficial if the hospital is easily accessible by the interstate system, since you will not want to experience traffic while you are in labor. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you should make sure that your hospital has a neonatal intensive care unit. Hospitals that use the latest neonatal-care technology are also a plus, in case of complications. The comfort and privacy of the delivery rooms, infant care, visitor rules, and other services may be factors to consider.

The questions you ask should be tailored towards your needs, and should always serve the purpose of opening up the lines of communications between you and your birth team. Some of the answers might be dependent upon your practitioner, while other policies will be determined by the hospital or birth center. These policies can have serious impact on how you labor or give birth, including your postpartum stay. Here are some questions from About.com to help get you decide what you need to ask of your place of birth:

Labor & Birth

  • Do you offer any type of classes? Who teaches them? What is the cost? Do you have specialty classes?
  • Where do I go when it’s time for labor? Is there a different place at night?
  • What paperwork needs to be completed prior to admission for labor? Is there other paperwork to be done? Can it be done prior to labor?
  • What will I need to bring with me when I’m in labor? Will my chart be sent over or will I need to hand carry it?
  • Do you have a triage system? How long does one usually stay in triage?
  • What types of birthing rooms are available? Can I labor, give birth and recover in one room?
  • What types of comfort measures do you encourage? Is there a tub or shower in the birth room? Do you have access to birth balls, music, squat bar, etc.?
  • What type of food or drink is allowed? Is there a kitchen area for myself or my family? Am I allowed to bring food or drink from home? Do you provide clear liquids like popsicles, broth, Jell-o®, etc.?
  • Are IVs required? What about a saline lock to provide access to my veins instead? Who would make this provision if it’s not a standard policy?
  • What type of medications are available should I choose medication? What IV medications are used? Do you offer epidural anesthesia? Is there a special class to take for the epidural? Do you have anesthesiologists who only do obstetrical anesthesia? Do you have 24 hour anesthesia available on site? Can I have a pre-labor consult with the anesthesia group if I have special concerns?
  • Do you have visitor policies in labor? Do you have policies about siblings?
  • Are cameras and film equpiment allowed? Are there any parts for which we should turn it off?
  • What type of fetal monitoring do you offer? External? Internal? Doppler/fetoscope? What are the hospital policies on monitoring in labor?
  • How often do you experience an overflow of patients? What happens if all of your birthing rooms are taken?
  • Do you utilize students or residents in any way?
  • What is your hospitals induction rate? How many patients receive augementation in labor? What is your episiotomy rate? Epidural rate? Forceps/vacuum rates? Cesarean rates? VBAC rate?
  • Do you have doulas on staff? Do you have a listing of doulas?
  • To whom should I send my birth plan? Does it need to be signed by my doctor or midwife? My pediatrician?

Cesarean Birth

  • Can my partner stay with me for a cesarean birth? My doula?
  • Can we have photos of the birth?
  • Will I be able to watch the surgery via mirror? Could the drapes be lowered?
  • What is the policy about pre-operative medications? Post-operative pain relief?
  • Will the baby be available to me during the surgery time? In the recovery room? When can I begin nursing?
  • If the cesarean is planned, what is the admission procedure?
  • Will my partner be able to go with the baby, should s/he need to leave the room?

Postpartum

  • Will I have the same room postpartum that I did for labor and birth?
  • Are all your postpartum rooms private? Will I ever be moved from my room?
  • Do the rooms have showers or tubs? What about sitz baths?
  • Can members of my family stay over night? Is there an extra charge for this?
  • What pain relief options are available postpartum? Does that differ if you’ve had a cesarean birth? What about nursing moms?
  • What is the average length of stay for a vaginal birth? A cesarean birth?
  • Is there a policy for early discharge?

Baby Care

  • What is your policy on rooming in? Are there times that the baby cannot be in our room?
  • Do pediatricians do their visits at the bed side? When would this not be appropriate?
  • Do you have a lactation consultant? Is she available seven days a week? What are her hours? Does she see every nursing mom? Is she certified?
  • What are the policies about breastfeeding babies and bottles/pacifiers?
  • Are their sibling visitation policies?

image: The Brooklyn Hospital Center

Obviously, the level of care and sensitivity of hospital staff should be your first priorities. But beyond that, there are many other perks that you might want to look into. Some hospitals offer private suites (for those who are willing to pay) rather than a room that holds several women. Some private suites even offer amenities such as whirlpools and HDTV. Often, these suites also permit you to spend the entire duration of your labor and delivery in the same place, which is known as a Labor Delivery Recovery Postpartum (LDRP) room. You may also be cared for by one or two nurses who have no other patients, and so you will receive more personalized care. It is important to reserve a private room as early as possible in order to raise your chances of having it at your date of delivery.

Hospitals offering private suites also offer premium services such as:

  • lactation (breast-feeding) consultants
  • 24-hour anesthesiologist care
  • a private nursery for keeping your infant near you after the birth
  • 24-hour room service (new mothers can be hungry at odd hours of the day and night!)
  • permission for siblings to watch the birth
  • 24-hour visitors (unless the mother or infant is in need of more medical attention)
  • massages that last from fifteen minutes to two hours
  • free parking for visitors
  • new-parent classes for parents to learn about infant care.
  • special support groups such as new mothers groups, new fathers groups, and even new siblings groups.

After you have made a list of hospitals that interest you, it is a good idea to schedule visits with them. Many hospitals offer group or individual tours for their maternity centers. During your visit, scrutinize the facilities for cleanliness, because hygiene is essential when your baby is born and is vulnerable to infection. You should arrive at your tour with a list of questions, though it is likely that many of these questions will be addressed during your tour. In addition, you should ask for a brochure or pamphlet of the hospital’s policies and regulations for maternity patients, so you can brush up on them before your delivery date. During your visit, be careful not to be taken in by the luxury of the facilities—make sure first and foremost that the hospital has the resources to successfully treat your infant in case of emergencies.

For more information visit More 4 Kids and About.com: Pregnancy & Childbirth.

What is Cord Blood Stem Cell Banking?

Today’s expectant parents are faced with many decisions about the type of birth they want to have, and now there’s one more option to consider: Whether to bank your baby’s cord blood or not.

It seems to me that the real question is NOT, “Should we do it or should we not?” because there doesn’t seem to be any reason why a parent wouldn’t want to play it safe. But unfortunately, it is not a cheap proposition, and so the real question seems to be, “Can we afford it or can we not?”

When Dr. Robert Sears‘ wife was pregnant with their third child, his wife read about cord blood banking in a magazine. So to find out what was entailed, Dr. Sears researched the issue thoroughly, and discovered it was much simpler than he’d imagined. After the umbilical cord is cut, the blood is drained out of the placenta and remaining umbilical cord, thus the term, “cord blood.” This blood is rich in baby’s “stem cells,” which are immature blood cells that are able to change and mature into any type of blood cell as baby grows, just like bone marrow cells. These cells are preserved in a storage facility, ready for use when needed.

The Benefits of Family Cord Blood Banking
Cord blood stem cells are not just for your baby. It’s really an investment for the whole family. Virtually all mothers and about half of siblings will be a suitable match for baby’s stem cells. And while the chance that any family member will use the cord blood for cancer treatment is very low, the likelihood that it could be used to treat a variety of other diseases is considerable. The list of such diseases is growing every year as researchers study this fascinating field.

Heart Attacks. Doctors have infused stem cells into the damaged heart muscle of numerous heart attack patients to see if the cells would generate new heart tissue and repair the damage. Results so far look promising.

Coronary Artery Disease. Doctors have infused stem cells in the hearts of patients with clogged arteries. The stem cells helped new blood vessels grow around the blocked arteries, thus improving blood flow to the areas in the heart at risk of damage.

Vascular Disease. Stem cells have been shown to grow new blood vessels around narrowed or damaged arteries in the limbs and restore impaired blood flow.

Nerve and Brain Damage. Researchers have recently shown in a laboratory setting that human stem cells can mature into nerve cells. The implication of this for treating a variety of neurological problems is astounding.

Strokes. Researchers have shown that infusing human stem cells into rats improves brain function after a stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Multiple Sclerosis. Doctors have infused stem cells into patients with MS and have shown mild improvement in their disease.

Cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes) is the number one cause of death. If stem cell treatments become a viable and routine option for preventing and treating cardiovascular disease, then having banked stem cells will be an enormous advantage. If researchers continue to show stem cells’ ability to regenerate damaged or diseased brain tissue, then the possibility for treating neurological conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s is exciting. Diabetes is another disease that is affecting more and more people. If stem cells could regenerate new pancreas tissue, millions of people could benefit. Who knows where we’ll be with stem cell treatments in 10 or 20 years?

Cancer and other blood-related disorders. Besides these exciting possibilities, there are still the current uses for treating certain cancers and other blood problems. Recent research in the field of Oncology showed the chance that a person would need to use his or her own banked stem cells for current treatments by the time they are 21 is one in 2700, and the chance that a family member could use them is one in 1400. Stem cells can either be taken from the patient’s or a matching family member’s bone marrow, or from stored cord blood. Here are some benefits when cord blood is used instead of bone marrow:

  • Research has shown that survival rates double when a person’s own cord blood or a family member’s cord blood is used, compared to using an unrelated donor sample from a public stem cell bank.
  • Having your own private sample ensures immediate availability of a perfectly matched sample.
  • While bone marrow can also be a source of stem cells if needed, cord blood stem cells are easier to match for family members, thus increasing the chance that a family member can receive a related stem cell transplant.
  • Research has shown that patients who receive cord blood stem cell transplants have a smaller chance of rejecting the cells, compared to bone marrow stem cell transplants.

During his pediatric training, Dr. Sears spent two months in the Children’s Hospital Bone Marrow Transplant ward. He watched numerous kids undergo these transplants, and observed that children who used their own bone marrow, or a family member’s marrow, fared much better. Deciding to bank your child’s cord blood can provides some peace of mind that if ever faced with such a challenge, you will have better treatment options available to you.

How cord blood is collected and stored
Months before your due date, the cord blood bank sends you a collection kit that contains everything that is needed for the process. The bank also sends your OB or Midwife instructions to make sure he or she knows how to collect the blood. When baby is born, and the umbilical cord is cut, the OB or Midwife collects the blood from the remaining umbilical cord and placenta (not from baby) into a syringe or blood bag. The process only takes a few minutes, and the blood is then set aside until all the birth excitement dies down. It can even be collected during a C-section. A family member places the cord blood into the pre-addressed mailing package, and makes one phone call to a medical courier to pick up the kit. Within hours the cord blood is picked up and shipped overnight to the cord blood bank. Once there, it is processed. The stem cells are removed from the cord blood, and it is placed into deep freeze storage. Collecting cord blood is simple, completely safe and non-invasive, and takes very little time.

Choosing a cord blood bank
According to Dr. Sears, making the decision to bank their baby’s cord blood was easy. Deciding who to trust to do the banking was a challenge. “There are several private cord blood companies to choose from, and I spent days reading their literature and scrutinizing their websites. I even called each bank and asked some important questions. I was surprised to learn how different the various institutions are. Some don’t store the cord blood themselves, but are just a middleman and send your sample to another company for storage. Some companies aren’t even certified as a blood bank. And I was shocked to find out that some banks have never even had a single stored sample used for transplant. I learned very quickly that, like most things in life, you get what you pay for.”

After careful research, he chose The Cord Blood Registry. Here are some reasons why:

  • CBR has more transplant experience than any other private bank. As of this writing, they have used over 50 stored units for transplants. All were viable and completely usable. This was important to me because I felt if a bank has never used a single sample, how do they know their samples are viable and being stored properly?
  • CBR was the first cord blood bank to become accredited, and has a perfect record. Why is this important? Many hospitals won’t accept units for transplant unless the storage facility is an accredited blood bank.
  • CBR currently has nearly 175,000 cord blood samples stored, and owns and operates their own storage facility. They are not just a middle-man.
  • CBR stores their samples in multiple vials. This is crucial because it allows one small vial to be unfrozen and tested for matching BEFORE the entire stored unit is prepared. That way, if a family member doesn’t match, the entire unit isn’t wasted. It may someday also allow more than one person to use the stem cells if the entire sample isn’t needed at once.
  • CBR is affiliated with the University of Arizona, a well-respected institution. This gives me confidence that they are a professional institution that has a long-term interest in stem cell research and medical applications. It also gives other doctors who are treating their patients with stem cells confidence to know the samples are coming from a reputable institution.
  • CBR is a financially strong company and has been storing cord blood since 1992. This is crucial because you want your samples to still be around in 20 years or more.

Deciding whether or not to bank your baby’s cord blood is a personal decision and, as I mentioned, a financial commitment. But parents only have one chance with each child to take advantage of this technology. You can enroll anytime during your pregnancy, but the earlier you do so, the more time you and your labor attendant have to receive the collection kit. When choosing where to store your child’s cord blood cells, it’s important to ask questions and research your decision carefully. Make sure the choice you make is as serious about storing the cord blood cells as you are.

Donating Cord Blood to a Public Bank
Parents who choose not to bank their baby’s cord blood through a private bank should strongly consider donating it to a public bank. There are several around the country, and some hospitals have programs set up for parents to donate. This makes the stem cells available to anyone who matches, and there is a huge need for this worldwide. Parents can investigate this option at their birth hospital. Donated units, however, are almost never available to the donating family if the need should arise.

For more info go to www.cordblood.com

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Discipline: 18 Ways to Say “NO” Positively

Parenting can be a challenging job, especially when you consider the many behaviors you want your child to stop doing, and stop doing them NOW. Whether your child is 18 months or 5 years old, you may find yourself sounding like a broken record. “No touching Mommy’s desk! No, we cannot buy that. No cookies before dinner! No grabbing! No whining! No hitting!  No throwing! No, no, no, no, no!”  Sometimes parents don’t even realize that the majority of their daily instructions are in the negative, but Dr. Sears warns, “If his whole day is full of “no’s,” the child believes the world is a negative place to be and will grow up a negative person.”

Image from more 4 kids

Of course, everything has it’s own time and place, and sometimes it is necessary to say “No” to your children. The purpose of discipline is to help your child reach the place where he can self-discipline.

It’s necessary for a parent to say “no” to a child so the child can later say “no” to himself. All children—and some adults—have difficulty delaying gratification. “I want it now” is a driving desire, especially in toddlers. Learning to accept “no” from someone else is a prelude to saying “no” to herself.

Dr. Sears provides insight into using this negative little word to teach positive messages.

1. Strike a balance

Too many no’s and too many yeses cripple a child’s self- discipline. If you rarely say “no” to your child, the few times that you do he’ll disintegrate because he’s not used to being frustrated. If his whole day is full of “no’s,” the child believes the world is a negative place to be and will grow up a negative person. The real world will always be full of yeses and no’s. In many homes, children soon learn who the yes parent is and who’s more likely to say “no”. Even the Ten Commandments has do’s and don’ts.

2. No’s grow too

The art of saying “no” develops along with your baby. During the first year, a baby’s needs and wants are the same, so that you are mainly a “yes” parent. During the second year, baby’s wants are not always safe or healthy, so you become a “yes” and “no” parent. From nine to fourteen months, no-saying is straight forward. We call them “low energy no’s.” Between fourteen and eighteen months, as babies click into overdrive, they get easily frustrated and are likely to protest being steered in a direction other than the one they want to go. This is when you will need both high energy no’s and very creative alternatives. By eighteen months, no-saying can begin to be more matter-of-fact. Parents can begin to convey an attitude of “that’s life and I’m confident you can deal with it.” By two-years-of-age toddlers are experts at saying “no”.

3. Use creative alternatives to “no”

One morning when she was 18 months-old our daughter Lauren, who was going through an impulsive phase, flitted around the house climbing and getting into everything. She was endangering herself and trashing the house. After the twentieth “no,” I was tired of hearing that word and so was Lauren. On the wall I noticed a poster of a kitten stuck out on a limb at the top of a tree. The caption read, “Lord, protect me from myself.” I realized that Lauren needed rescuing from her impulsive self. She needed a change of environment. We spent the rest of the day outside. Parks and play-yards provide space and a “yes” environment in which to roam and climb. If you find yourself isolated with a curious toddler who is flitting from thing to thing with you chasing him around the house saying “no,” consider changing to something more fun. Go outside; take along a book, plant yourself in a safe location, and let him run.

4. Teach stop signs

Even in the early months, teach baby to recognize body language that means “stop.” Your baby needs to be exposed to “stop” body language long before hearing the “no” word. The first nip on your nipple during breastfeeding will invoke an “ouch” sign on your face; the first time your baby reaches for something dangerous, your face will register alarm. You are likely to get the best results from your stop signs if your baby has been used to positive body language, so that any change makes him sit up and take notice. Your “no’s” will be more meaningful during toddlerhood if your baby sees a lot of “yes” body language: looks of pride and approval, gestures of delight and pleasure, eye-to-eye contact, hugs, tickles, and a sparkly face that says “I love you, you’re great!”

We have noticed that attachment-parented children, because they spend hours a day in arms and in face-to-face contact, easily learn to read parents’ faces and body language. Having lots of face-to- face contact in the early months makes face-to-face communication easier in the months and years to come. Some children are so impressed by body language that you can get your point across without even saying a word. An expressive mother of a connected two-year-old told us: “Usually all I have to do is glance at her with a slight frown on my face, and she stops misbehaving.”

5. Teach stop sounds

Often a change in your mood or body language is not enough to redirect impulsive actions. Words are needed. Children soon learn which discipline words carry more power and demand a quicker response than others. And children soon learn which tone of voice means business and which allows for some latitude. Arm yourself with a variety of “stop-what-you’re- doing” sounds so that you can choose one that fits the occasion. Tailor the intensity of the sound to the gravity of the behavior. Save the really big sounds for true danger.

6. Master “the look”

You can often correct a child without saying a word. I have noticed that master disciplinarians use a look of disapproval that stops the behavior, but preserves the child’s self-image. Martha, after disciplining eight children, has mastered “the look”: head turned a bit, eyes penetrating, just the right facial gesture and tone of voice to convey to the child “I don’t like what you’re doing, but I still feel connected to you. I know that you know better.” Remember, your eyes will disclose what you are really thinking and feeling. If you are feeling anger or contempt toward your child, that’s what she will read in your eyes. If one or both of you recognize this is happening, you will have to apologize for the harshness of the feelings communicated toward her person by “the look.” Be sure that stop signs and stop sounds stop the behavior and not the growth of self-worth in your child. Your child should understand that you disapprove of the behavior, not the child. To be certain you strike the right note in disapproval discipline, follow the look with a hug, a smile, or a forthright explanation, “I don’t like what you did, but I like you.”

7. Create alternatives to the N-word

Constantly saying “no” causes this word to lose its punch. Since stop sounds are used mainly to protect, try using more specific words that fit the situation. Consider this example: When a toddler is about to reach into the cat litter box your first reaction is to say “no,” but follow it up with an explanation: “Dirty! Make you sick.” Next time the child goes for the litter box (and he will do it again), instead of “no,” say “Dirty! Make you sick.” That and a disgusted expression on your face will help the child learn the why as well as the what of good behavior, and the litter box will lose its attraction. (We are assuming that the litter box is kept in a location well away from the toddler’s beaten path. Litter, like sand, is irresistible to babies.) Babies start reaching for “no-nos” around six months.

Coincidentally, one day two-year-old Lauren came prancing into our study clutching a bag of peanuts. Instead of grabbing the peanuts from her and shouting “no” (they are on our chokable food list for children under three), Martha looked Lauren straight in the eyes and calmly said, “Not for Lauren.” Her tone of voice and concerned look stopped Lauren in her tracks. Martha picked Lauren up (still clutching the peanuts) and headed off for the pantry where they found a safer snack. By using our standard “not for Lauren” phrase and giving her a safe alternative, she didn’t have time to consider throwing a fit, which a “no” surely would have produced. In any family there will be items that are “not for” the little one. When you use this phrase calmly and consistently from early on the toddler understands you are protecting him.

“No” is so easy to say. It requires no thought. It’s knee-jerk automatic, yet irritatingly oppressive. Saying “cannot” communicates more and you’ll use it more thoughtfully (i.e. in situations where baby truly cannot proceed). You’re respecting his mind as you protect his body. In our experience, babies respond to “stop” better than to “no.” It gets the child’s attention, and stops behavior long enough for you to plan other strategies. “Stop” is protective rather than punitive. “No” invites a clash of wills, but even strong-willed children will usually stop momentarily to evaluate a “stop” order, as if they sense danger ahead. Strong-minded children often ignore “no” if they’ve heard it a thousand times before. Even “stop” loses its command value if overused.

8. Use “the voice”

Besides mastering “the look,” reserve a special tone of voice for those occasions when you must get your point across. A veteran disciplinarian shared her secret with us: “I am an easy-going mommy, but my children know just by my tone of voice when they have crossed the line. one day our two-year-old was misbehaving and our four-year-old said, “Don’t mess with Mommy when she talks like that!”

9. Give positive substitutes

Present a positive with your negative: “You can’t have the knife, but you can have the ball.” Use a convincing expression to market the “can do” in order to soften the “can’t do.” “You can’t go across the street,” you say with a matter-of-fact tone of voice; then carefully state, “You can help Mommy sweep the sidewalk.” There is a bit of creative marketing in every mother.

10. Avoid set-ups

If you’re taking your child along with you to a toy store to buy a birthday present for your child’s friend, realize that you are setting yourself up for a confrontation. Your child is likely to want to buy everything in the store. To avoid the inevitable “No, you can’t have that toy,” before you go into the store tell him that you are there to buy a birthday present and not a toy for him so that he is programmed not to expect a toy.

11. “No” is a child’s word, too

Prepare yourself to be on the receiving end of “no.” Your two-year-old has just run out the door. You ask her to come back. She yells “no!” Your first reaction is likely to be, “This little pip-squeak is not going to talk back to me that way. I’ll show her who’s boss…” (In our family, being disrespectful is a real “no-no.”) Understanding what’s behind that two-year-old and that two-letter word will help you accept this normal toddler behavior. Don’t take “no” personally. Saying “no” is important for a child’s development, and for establishing his identity as an individual. This is not defiance or a rejection of your authority. Some parents feel they cannot tolerate any “no’s” at all from their children, thinking that to permit this would undermine their authority. They wind up curtailing an important process of self-emergence. Children have to experiment with where their mother leaves off and where they begin. Parents can learn to respect individual wishes and still stay in charge and maintain limits. As your child gets older, the ability to get along with peers in certain situations (stealing, cheating, drugs, and so on), will depend on her ability to say “no”.

By eighteen months Lauren had surmised that “no” meant we wanted her to stop what she was doing. one day she was happily playing with water at the kitchen sink. As she saw me approaching, and in anticipation of me stopping her play, she blurted out an emphatic “No, Dad!” Lauren had staked out her territory, and she had concluded she had a right to do this. Her “no” meant she was guarding her space.

12. Use a funny “no”

One afternoon I (Martha) walked into the TV room and saw Matthew and his friend watching a video that the older children had rented and watched the day before. (Later I found out Matthew had also watched it at that time.) I took one look at the movie and realized I would have to ask him to turn it off. Besides, it was the middle of the day and the boys should have been playing outside. As I stood watching the movie for a few moments planning my course of action, I caught the flavor of the character in the movie and in a spurt of inspiration decided to use humor to say no. As I clicked off the TV, I spun around on my heels and launched into a monologue using the character’s facial expressions, accent, and hand gestures. I must have done a good job of impersonating this actor because both boys sat staring at me wide-eyed as though they couldn’t believe their mom was capable of such improvised insanity. They both jumped up and headed out the door as the voice of this character told them to find something better to do. They were still laughing.

13. Personalize “no”

We are convinced Lauren is destined for public relations. Her “no, dad” was the diplomatic way to say no. By adding “dad” she personalized her message. Rather than giving a dictatorial “no,” we add the child’s name. If you tend to shout, a personalized address at least softens the sound and respects the listener. Some parents confuse respecting the child with granting him equal power, but this is not a power issue. The person with the power should respect the person taken charge of. That consideration holds true in parenting; it holds true in other relationships as well.

14. Have a “yes” day

Jill, mother of five-year-old Andrew, confided to me, “I don’t like what’s happening to me. I want to enjoy being a mother but our whole day is spent in conflict with each other. Andrew won’t mind when I ask him to do even the simplest things. I’m becoming a cranky person, and I want to be a happy mother.” I advised her, “Tell Andrew exactly what you want. Say ‘I want to be a happy Mommy, not a cranky Mommy. (or ask Andrew ‘Would you rather have a happy Mommy or a cranky Mommy?’) To help me be a happy Mommy, we’re going to have yes days. Every time I ask you to do something and you say ‘yes Mommy,’ I’m going to put a yes on the chart. At the end of the day if there are more yeses than no’s, that’s a yes day, and we’ll do something special together.'” (or, let Andrew mark yes on his own chart.) Soon Andrew will realize that the happy Mommy is more fun to be with than the cranky Mommy, which will motivate him to continue having yes days.

15. Be considerate

When you have to stop a behavior, there is no reason to be rude. For example, your baby discovers the tape dispenser someone left out. This is a wonderful toy. Instead of descending on him and snatching it from his hands, causing him to wail pitifully as you carry him off, you can take a few moments to explore it with him. Then you say “bye-bye” to the tape and hand him a decent length of the fascinating stuff to compensate for not getting the whole roll as you head off for a perhaps less interesting, but more age-appropriate activity.

16. When you say it, mean it

Follow through on your directives. For months we said to Lauren that in order to have bedtime stories she had to submit to toothbrushing. And for months it worked, sometimes easily, sometimes with a certain amount of coaxing and saying, “okay, no stories…” one night she decided to test me (Martha). I could tell by the set of her jaw and firmly shut lips that she finally was “calling my bluff.” So rather than proceed with my coaxing and humoring, I calmly said “okay, no stories!” I turned off the lights and carried her to bed. She fussed a bit as I lay there with her, because she realized I had called her bluff and now the lights were out—the irreversible sign that the next step was to go to sleep. After that, toothbrushing went unchallenged and stories were reinstated.

17. Are you a mother who can’t say no

In their zeal to give their children everything they need, some parents risk giving their children everything they want. Mothers who practice attachment parenting risk becoming totally “yes” mothers, with “no” being foreign to their parenting style.

It is important for the mother to feel comfortable saying ‘no’ to her little one from the very beginning. In fact, it begins when she teaches her newborn to latch on to the breast correctly. It is the mother’s first discipline situation— to show baby how to latch on properly so that he can get fed sufficiently and she can avoid sore nipples. Some mothers cannot do this. They are afraid to be assertive for fear of causing baby to cry. They would rather let the baby do it wrong and put up with the pain. She will say ‘no’ early on when he yanks her hair or bites the breast while nursing. By telling him to stop because it hurts, she is beginning to teach boundaries. Serious no-saying comes with toddlerhood. Besides the literal word ‘no’ there are many ways to communicate that something is not safe or appropriate. Whether she says “stop that” or “put it down” or “not safe,” or she physically redirects her toddler’s activity, she is consistently and gently redirecting behavior and teaching boundaries. Whatever the terminology, saying ‘no’ is not a negative thing. It is a way of giving, and it takes a lot of effort. Mothers who can’t say ‘no’ will have a big problem on their hands down the line. They become the moms that we see getting yanked around like puppets by their preschoolers.

When mothers begin saying ‘no’ at the appropriate times—confidently, firmly, and lovingly—It does not threaten the child. It might wrinkle him for a few minutes because he doesn’t like hearing ‘stop’ or ‘wait’ or whatever the word might be that you pick.

18. When your child won’t accept no

Children, especially those with a strong will, try to wear parents down. They are convinced they must have something or their world can’t go on. They pester and badger until you say “yes” just to stop the wear and tear on your nerves. This is faulty discipline. If however, your child’s request seems reasonable after careful listening, be willing to negotiate. Sometimes you may find it wise to change your mind after saying “no”. While you want your child to believe your “no” means no, you also want your child to feel you are approachable and flexible. It helps to hold your “no” until you’ve heard your child out. If you sense your child is uncharacteristically crushed or angry at your “no,” listen to her side. Maybe she has a point you hadn’t considered or her request is a bigger deal to her than you imagined. Be open to reversing your decision, if warranted. Make sure, though, that she realizes it was not her “wear down” tactics that got the reversal of your decision.

Our daughter Erin seems destined to become a trial lawyer; she pleads her case with logic and emotion. Eventually, we learned to say “no” without discouraging Erin’s creative persistence. When Erin wanted a horse, we said “no” (we had too many dependents already). Erin persisted. By trial and error we’ve learned that any big wish in a child, no matter how ridiculous, merits hearing the child’s viewpoint. We listened attentively and empathetically while Erin presented her horse wish. We countered, “Erin, we understand why you want a horse. You could have a lot of fun riding and grooming a horse, and some of your friends have horses.” (We wanted Erin to feel we understood her point of view). “But we have to say no; and we will not change our minds. Now let’s sit down and calmly work this out.” (Letting the child know her request is non-negotiable diffuses the child’s steam and saves you from getting worn down.) “You are not yet ready to care for a horse.” (We enumerated the responsibilities that went along with the fun of owning a horse.) “When you have finished another six months of lessons and you show us that you can be responsible for a horse, we’ll talk about it then.” Nine months later Tuffy was added to our list of dependents. Erin got her horse and she learned some valuable lessons in life: how to delay her gratification, and with privileges come responsibilities.

Do you have other questions about disciplining your kids? Check out the complete list of Dr. Sears articles on disciplining, including toddler discipline, temper tantrums, bad habits, whining, thumb sucking, sibling rivalry, and much more.

New Mothers: Common Breastfeeding Problems

For something that’s supposed to “come naturally,” there is a lot of discomfort and confusion surrounding the whole process of breastfeeding. New mothers are surprised at the pain and frustration that often accompanies the experience, which is generally made to look easy and pleasurable for both mother and baby.

Several problems common to breast-feeding mothers can be prevented or eased through simple techniques or addressed with common, simple treatment options. The following conditions, and the advice offered, are from true star health:

Sore nipples

Most women will experience some degree of nipple soreness in the first days of breast-feeding. Discomfort that occurs at the onset of breast-feeding and is relieved by feeding is normal. It is caused by the stimulation of the nipple by the hormone oxytocin, which stimulates milk let-down. True nipple soreness, in which the nipples appear red and are tender to the touch, is probably caused by the baby’s improper grasp on the nipple and areola (pigmented area surrounding the nipple) while feeding.

Proper latching: Correcting the baby’s position on the breast is the most important tactic for preventing and relieving sore nipples. A physician, nurse, or lactation consultant can assist in assessing and correcting an infant’s grasp of the nipple. Sore nipples can progress to more painful, cracked, and fissured nipples. As the condition worsens, the nipples are more susceptible to infection. In addition to correcting the baby’s position, there are a number of self-help measures frequently recommended for the relief of sore nipples. These are most effective when begun at the onset of symptoms.

Change positions: Check the position of the baby on the breast; the infant’s tongue should be under the nipple and the mouth should grasp both the nipple and part of the areola. Vary the position of the breast-feeding infant with each feeding to avoid soreness of a particular area of the nipple.

For more information on proper latching and positioning, see Dr. Sears advice on Sore Nipples.

Feed frequently: The infant should be fed on demand; an overly hungry infant may suck harder, causing nipple soreness. Mothers with sore nipples should begin each feeding on the side that is least sore, switching to the sore breast after the let-down reflex has occurred. The infant should not be allowed to suck on an empty breast, which can cause damage to the nipple. If the nipples are sore, a breast-feeding session of ten minutes on each side should be sufficient to nourish the baby.

Ice packs applied to the breasts prior to breast-feeding can have a pain-relieving effect. Applying your own breast milk to your nipples after nursing, and allowing them to air-dry can help to reduce nipple soreness.

Apply ointment: In the case of cracked nipples, the application of an ointment or cream can aid healing. Ointments or creams allow the skin’s internal moisture to heal deep cracks and fissures while keeping the skin pliable. A frequently recommended and safe ointment for cracked nipples is medical grade, purified anhydrous lanolin (derived from wool fat). The nipples should be patted dry prior to application of a small amount of lanolin.

Engorgement

Engorgement is a common condition that occurs as blood and lymphatic flow to the breasts greatly increases, leading to congestion and discomfort. The pain associated with engorgement can range from mild to severe. Engorgement typically occurs on the first full day of milk production and lasts only about 24 hours. The breasts may feel firm and hot to the touch and the skin may appear reddened. As with other conditions, the best remedy is prevention.

Feed frequently: Many health professionals believe frequent breast-feeding (at least every three hours) will successfully prevent engorgement. This is probably true for most women. However, the physical changes associated with initiation of breast-feeding may eventually lead to engorgement in some women. If engorgement occurs, the best remedy is to breast-feed frequently. This can relieve the engorgement and prevent the condition from worsening.

Applying heat and cold: Doctors often recommend additional options for women with engorgement. A well-fitted bra can relieve some of the discomfort of engorgement. Applications of moist heat may encourage flow of milk from the breasts. Women may apply hot packs to the breasts just prior to breast-feeding. Other suggestions include frequent warm showers or alternating hot and cold showers. Cold packs applied to the breasts after breast-feeding can provide a slight pain-relieving effect.

Express excess milk: Some infants will have a difficult time correctly latching on to an engorged breast. This can lead to inadequate nourishment and sore nipples. Expressing some excess milk, manually or with a pump, just prior to breast-feeding may relieve this difficulty. Women may also express milk after the infant has finished feeding to relieve any remaining sense of fullness. Massaging the breasts while breast-feeding may encourage milk flow from all the milk ducts and help to relieve engorgement.

Mastitis

Mastitis is inflammation of the breast that is frequently caused by an infection. The infected breast may feel hot and swollen. The breast may be tender to the touch, and fever, fatigue, chills, headache, and nausea may be present. Some women feel as though they have the flu. A breast infection requires prompt medical attention. Complete bed rest is important for a speedy recovery, and antibiotics are frequently prescribed. In addition, doctors often provide further guidelines for treating mastitis.

A woman should continue breast-feeding from both breasts; the milk from the infected breast is still good for the baby. Moist heat over the painful breast can be helpful, and cold applications after breast-feeding can help alleviate swelling and pain. Breast-feeding women should also avoid constricting or under-wire bras that may irritate the infected breast.

Other issues you might be facing include flat or inverted nipples, Candida (yeast infection), plugged milk ducts, breast abscess, babies who fight against breastfeeding, babies that bite, and colicky babies. I suggest Dr. Sears’ Breastfeeding Guide for information, advice, tips and treatment options.

Image from mylifetime.com

Morning Sickness Magic: A new cure?

It’s infamously known as morning sickness, but does this condition really mean that you are ill? Emax Health says that according to recent studies reported in The New York Times and Web MD, pregnant moms can stop worrying about morning sickness, the most well-known pregnancy symptom.

The Times study concluded that morning sickness is not an indication of an unhealthy pregnancy, and the WebMD study concluded that the absence of morning sickness is no cause for alarm, either. The nausea experienced by upwards of 85 percent of pregnant women is not a symptom of any irregularity, and those who don’t experience it don’t show any increased incidence of abnormalities, either.

New remedies aimed at relieving morning sickness completely.

Morning sickness affects 70-85% of women, and in severe cases can lead to hospitalization. That’s why it’s best to control morning sickness from the start. Unfortunately, many women think their options are limited to the crackers and ginger ale routine… or prescription drugs. But now, there may be an effective, natural alternative to treat their morning sickness.

It’s called “Morning Sickness Magic,” and it’s developed by Roshan Kaderali, RN, in cooperation with an FDA compliant laboratory. Kaderali has practiced as an obstetrical nurse, midwife, childbirth educator and a doula, and has worked in the medical field more than 40 years. She’s also the founder and CEO of MOM Enterprises and creator of Baby’s Bliss and Mommy’s Bliss (www.mommysbliss.com)a line of all-natural products created exclusively for babies and expectant mothers. Kaderali’s international upbringing and education led her to discover natural remedies that are proven staples in households around the world.

“The issues expectant moms face are universal,” says Kaderali. “They all want to do what’s best for their babies. With morning sickness, many women think they have to just tough it out because they don’t want to take a prescription drug. But toughing it out isn’t good for mom or baby either. Women who are pregnant need folic acid and other essential nutrients. If they’re throwing up or not eating because of morning sickness, that impacts everyone’s health. ”

From her decades of experience working with pregnant women, Kaderali already knew of various natural remedies that would tame the symptoms of morning sickness. But she couldn’t find them in a combined, easy-to-take formulation.

“Vitamin B6 and ginger have both been recommended individually for morning sickness,” says Kaderali. “But they actually work much better together. That’s because ginger, when taken by itself, can take the edge off of nausea in a short period of time, but it’s not long-lasting. On the other hand, B6 levels must be built up and sustained in the bloodstream to be effective.”

Up until recently, obstetricians have had limited for treating morning sickness. That’s why the natural formulation in “Morning Sickness Magic” has been such a hit among expectant moms and their doctors, according to Emax Health.

It’s the first formula to combine B6, ginger, and other anti-nausea ingredients. Becuase it is safe for mothers and their unborn babies, obstetricians across the country are recommending it and distributing it to their patients. “It’s actually been the best selling morning sickness formula in the U.S. for the past 5 years,” says Kaderali. “We’ve received tons of emails from expectant mothers who are so relieved that their morning sickness has disappeared or reduced so that they can function in their daily lives.”

It sounds too good to be true! Have you or anyone you know tried “Morning Sickness Magic”? Did it help you?

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The best way to tone your tummy after pregnancy

If you’ve just had a baby and are itching to get back into shape, you might think sit-ups are a good place to begin toning your tummy. Guess again. Sit-ups are the last thing you should be doing! Instead of firming and tightening the stomach, they can actually lead to a bulging and protruding abdomen… hardly what you have in mind!

What Pregnancy does to your stomach muscles:

First a little background so you understand what’s happened to your body and what you need . During pregnancy the abdominal muscles stretch to accommodate the growing fetus, and sometimes the most superficial muscles (called rectus abdominis, or six-pack muscles) can split down the middle like a pants seam. This is a good thing because it allows room for the growing baby, said Cynthia Neville, director of women’s health rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. But when the split is too wide, it creates instability in the abdomen, trunk and pelvis.

The split should spontaneously reduce to less than 2 centimeters within a few weeks. But if the core muscles, which include pelvic-floor muscles and deep abdominals, are not working as a team, then Neville warns that “women may continue to have flabby, bulging, weak abs, or they may leak urine, or both.” (Women who undergo Caesarean sections have a different challenge because of the way surgery affects the abs.)

If you want to tighten up your stomach after pregnancy, the goal is to strengthen the abdominal and core muscles, and get them to work together properly.  The core muscles should be the first to kick into gear; if they’re not strong enough and you’re doing ab exercises that focus on the six-pack muscle, your stomach may bulge, Neville said.

The best way to retrain stomach muscles

It starts with learning to maintain a neutral position of the spine and pelvis – not too arched or flattened. This involves retraining the deep transverse muscles. Unfortunately, traditional stomach exercises like crunches tend to by-pass the transverse abs so no matter how many sit-ups you do, your transverse muscles will barely feel the effects.

Any fitness program that targets your core, like Pilates, will include stomach exercises that target the transverse abdominals. However, you often work these muscles without realizing it. Whenever you hold your stomach in, you are working the transverse abs. For instance, when doing lunges you must keep your back straight, which is accopmlished by tightening your abdominals, or more specifically your transverse abdominals.

“The key is to ‘remind’ the core to be the first to contract to prepare for the extremity movements until it becomes automatic,” Neville said. You can do this not just during exercise, but during everyday movement such as lifting the baby or pushing a stroller. Working these muscles will not only get you a flatter stomach, but may also lead to an improvement in your posture and fewer backaches.

Erin O’Brien Denton, a personal trainer (watch a clip from her DVD called “Postnatal Rescue“), recommends lying on your back and doing leg lifts, planks, and “bridges” (raising your pelvis off the ground) for the first three months after delivery “to teach the abs to lie sleekly against the abdominal wall.”  She also suggests an exercise in which you simply lifting the head and shoulders while pulling in the abdominals.

After you have mastered those motions, Denton suggests “the old-fashioned bicycle abdominal exercise, a variety of crunches (initiating the movement from both the upper and lower abdominal wall) and various plank exercises to start toning the abs.”

Transverse Exercises

Pregnancy info.net details some exercises that target those hard to get to transverse muscles:

The No-Crunch Crunch

  • Start by lying on the floor with your knees bent and feet firmly on the floor.
  • Lightly place your hands just below and to the sides of your belly button. Firmly press two fingers from each hand into your lower abdomen.
  • Gently begin to draw your lower abdomen down towards the floor (picture a string pulling your navel towards the floor) but do not move your pelvis, raise your chest or hold your breath.
  • Stop drawing in your stomach as soon as you feel your muscles get tight. The muscles underneath your fingers should feel taut but the movement does not require a lot of effort. If you move too far, you will in fact stop working your transverse abs and begin to work your oblique muscles (your side abdominal muscles) instead.
  • Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds, breathing normally the entire time.
  • Do ten repetitions.

    Scissor Kicks

  • Start by lying on the floor. Place your hands under your buttocks and keep your back pressed against the floor.
  • Raise one leg about 10 inches off the ground and slowly lower it back down. As you lower the one leg, raise the other.
  • Do three sets of ten repetitions.

    Pelvic Tilts

  • Lying on the floor with your back pressed against the floor, bend your knees keeping your feet on the ground.
  • Slowly lift your pelvis up and hold briefly before lowering slowly back down to the ground. Your upper body should remain on the floor throughout the movement.
  • Do three sets of 15 repetitions.

    Lifted-leg Push-up

    If you’re feeling very strong in your upper body, or if you just feel like multi-tasking during your workout, then give this challenging exercise a whirl.

  • Get into push-up position but keep your feet hip-width apart.
  • Raise one leg as high as you can and then do a regular push-up. Switch legs and repeat.
  • This is a pretty tough one, especially if you don’t have much upper-body strength, so just do as many as you can.
  • For an easier variation of this exercise, try this:

  • Get down on all fours with your hands positioned about shoulder-width apart, elbows slightly bent. Your knees should be together and positioned underneath your hips. To make the exercise more challenging, place your knees slightly behind you. Have your toes curled on the floor. Your heels should not be touching the floor.
  • Tighten your abs by drawing your navel in towards your spine. In a smooth, controlled motion, raise your knees off the ground. Your upper body should not move.
  • Hold for one breath and then slowly lower down.
  • Aim for three sets of ten.
  • These exercises will help strengthen your tummy and reduce the bulge. Pilates is also popular for this area. Even if you succeed in loosing all your pregnancy weight and firming your stomach muscles, you may notice that stomach skin is still stretched out and saggy. This is usually genetic, and not something that will improve with exercise.(Some women opt for a tummy tuck.)

    Abdominal separation after pregnancy is not uncommon.  If your stomach is bulging but feels frim, you may have a diastasis (space between the abdominal muscles). Talk to your doctor if you suspect this is the case.

    Image from ToneZone Pilates

    Cuter Babies Get More Attention

    My husband loves babies… any baby will do, it doesn’t even have to be cute. He’ll go right over and coo over the scrawniest monkey-faced little critter, while I admit to preferring the dimpled, cherub-faced ones. And what do you know, it turns out that this is a scientifically proven difference between men and women, not just a random him-versus-me thing!

    Baby Chums reports that according to a study by the University of St Andrews, female are much better at identifying a cute baby than men!  Psychologists at the University used computer image manipulation to produce very subtle variations in baby faces. (In case you are wondering about the criteria used for defining a cute baby, it appears to be chubby cheeks, large forehead, big round eyes and button nose. Sounds good to me.)

    The researchers believe that cuteness sensitivity may have something to do with female hormones.

    Sprengelmeyer said: “Given that cuteness is considered an indicator of being young, helpless, and in need of care, we hypothesise that the ability to detect small variations in the degree of cuteness may have evolved to guide the allocation of necessary maternal resources to the infant.”

    Honestly, I think it’s funny that they are measuring cuteness, which I imagine is subjective, even among the most hormonal of women. I mean, doesn’t every mother think their baby is the cutest thing that ever lived? Well, not necessarily, according to Sprengelmeyer, who says “Cuteness is one of the factors that determine how strongly a mother interacts with her infant.”

    Back in 1995 there was a report which found that mothers with cuter babies spent more time playing with their children and were more affectionate. [Mothers of] babies which scored lower on the ‘cuteness’ scale were less affectionate with their newborns.

    Now I wonder if this is really true. I actually have thought about how I would feel toward my own babies if they weren’t so darn cute. When my son was born, it took me longer to “warm up” to him than with my daughter, and the honest-to-goodness truth is that he was just a frightening-looking newborn. My daughter was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen, and I fell in love the moment I first saw her. But my son, God bless him, was purple, bloated, and ugly. (Going back to the first study about men and women, it’s interesting to note that my husband thought he was adorable from the start!)

    Luckily for me and my son, he quickly outgrew the ugly duckling stage and within a couple weeks he was transformed into the finest looking fellow you’ve ever met (refer to picture!) But seriously, what if he’d stayed ugly? Would I love him quite as much as I do now? Or would I love him madly no matter what he looks like (after all, they say that love is blind…) I’ve seen the oddest-looking babies who’s mothers are completely mad over them! You don’t often hear mothers saying, “It sure is a pity that my little Jason is so ugly. I really find it difficult to love the poor thing.”

    And considering the number of funny-looking infants out there, that sure is a good thing for the perpetuation of humanity.

    Hair coloring during pregnancy, and other styling tips

    One of the main beauty issues facing pregnant women is whether or not to continue coloring their hair. Before you set out for the salon, talk to your obstetrician about any treatment you might be planning. Parents.com says that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t done any conclusive studies on the effects of hair color chemicals on a developing fetus, but it’s best to play it safe.

    Doug MacIntosh, colorist at Minardi Salon in New York City, suggests that once you’ve decided to continue coloring your hair throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, you have an in-depth consultation with a colorist about what the best option is for you.

    Before you color, heed these tips from Parents.com:

    1. Wait out the first trimester. Most doctors and colorists recommend not doing chemical processes during the first three months of pregnancy for both safety reasons and your potential sensitivity to the chemical fumes. Also, hair may change during pregnancy. Some women get more gray hair, others find that their hair texture changes. After the first trimester you’ll have a better idea what you’re dealing with.

    2. Avoid processes that involve scalp contact. All the experts agree that any color process should avoid touching the skin and scalp to prevent absorption of chemicals into the bloodstream. This means no single-process color, which is harsher and comes into contact with hair roots.

    3. Try temporary color. Here’s the ultimate no-commitment option — a hair mascara wand or a hair pencil. The results only last until your next shampoo, and they’re nontoxic.

    4. Opt for highlights. This process involves painting sections of the hair with permanent color (which contains peroxide and ammonia) but not allowing the solution to touch the scalp or skin.

    5. Don’t be duped by vegetable dye. There’s no such thing as vegetable dye that’s safe against the scalp during pregnancy.

    6. Pare down your hair color expectations. Coming into the salon every four weeks for root touch-ups or a single process just isn’t realistic. Talk with your stylist about taking your hair maintenance down a notch.

    More maternity hair care tips for easy, pretty styling, from Parents.com:

    Hair can be time-consuming and sometimes an unnecessary source of anxiety. During pregnancy, you may be looking for a low-maintenance style that looks good and is easy to take care of, without chemicals, of course. Get some advice from the pros at Bumble and Bumble in New York City on the best cuts and styles for expectant and new moms.

    Don’t go drastic. You may be tempted to exercise control over some part of your life by going for a totally new look. Bumble and Bumble stylist Nikki An notes that many pregnant women come in thinking that cutting of their hair will give them new, more manageable look. But An recommends that they keep their locks longer, softer, and never make a drastic change — as they’ll most likely regret it later. Shorter hair doesn’t always mean that it will be easy or less time-consuming to style. It’s a good idea to stay within a range of length and shape that you’re already comfortable with.

    Consider your new face shape. Many women find that their faces get fuller during pregnancy and should consider that when getting a new cut. Nikki explains, “Wearing hair straight, at shoulder length or a little longer, can help create the illusion of a slender face.” Stylist Barry suggests avoiding blunt bangs and lots of layers, which only accentuate a heavier face.

    Conquering curls. If your hair isn’t naturally straight and you have the time and energy for heat styling, go for it. Prep damp hair by combing through a dollop of straightening balm. Then blow dry with a round, natural-bristle brush, being careful to point the nozzle down the hair shaft, to ensure a smooth finish. If you prefer to keep your curls intact, just run a light-hold gel through towel-dried hair to keep frizzies in check.

    Go low-maintenance. Once you’ve given birth you probably won’t have much free time, let alone 15 minutes to wash your hair and primp. This is reason enough to get a cut that you don’t have to style every day. Few women have the time to come in for regular cuts while toting a baby, so stylist Shirley Ching recommends longer styles which can be pulled back in a chic ponytail. This is especially true when your baby is grabbing anything she can get her hands on. Slick hair back into a low ponytail with a leather cord or ribbon wrapped around the elastic for an updated look.

    Other timesaving tips:

    *Sprinkle a dry shampoo or hair powder on roots in between washings.

    *Look for two-in-one styling aids.

    *Skip the blow dryer.

    *Braid wet hair before you go to bed. Take it out in the morning and you’ll have sexy waves.

    *Get some pretty barrettes or ponytail holders for a quick French twist or ponytail.

    The ponytail featured is from Hairstyles 53. Check out Hairstyles 53 for more hot hairsyles.

    Breast Pumps: Tips on picking the right one

    Breast pumps are used to suction milk from the breast into a container. But there are so many different types, how do I know which one is right for me? Dr. Sears explains that the differences among types of pumps include:

    * the power source behind the suction
    * how much suction the pump produces
    * how the suction-and-release cycle is controlled
    * how many suction-and-release cycles the pump is able to produce each minute.

    Hand pumps: The mother provides the power and regulates the suction by mechanical means, squeezing a trigger, moving a cylinder, or even pumping with her foot.

    Electric pumps:
    The suction is generated by a motor. With some electric pumps, the mother uncovers and covers a small hole with her finger to regulate the strength of the suction and the suction-and-release cycles. With most electric pumps, the suction-and-release cycle is controlled by the pump, and the better pumps allow the mother to adjust the suction level and the speed.

    Generally speaking, pumps that allow for more cycles per minute are more effective. A cheaper electric pumps with a small motor may be able to generate only five suction-and-release cycles per minute. The slower cycling rate is harder on your nipples, since they are subjected to longer periods of unrelieved suction. The better quality electric pumps (the kind you rent or can purchase for a higher price), cycle up to 60 times per minute.

    How good of a pump do I need?

    Some women can pump milk easily and get several ounces at a session no matter what kind of pump they use, but most women get more milk if they use a higher quality pump. What kind of pump to buy depends on why you are pumping milk:

    * If you are pumping milk only to leave an occasional bottle for your baby or to store milk in your freezer for a rainy day, you don’t need a top-of-the-line pump.

    * If you are using a pump to establish or maintain your milk supply for a baby who can not nurse at the breast or who has not yet learned how to nurse efficiently, you should rent a higher quality pump. Using a lower quality pump is not worth the effort involved or the risk to your milk supply.

    * If you are a working mother, or pumping while on the job, the type of pump you use will depend on how long you are separated from your baby each day, where you will be pumping, how old your baby is, and other convenience factors. Don’t try to skimp and make do with a less effective pump. The easier and more convenient it is to pump the better you will feel about taking on the challenges of breastfeeding and working.

    The more you are depending on your pump, the more important it is to use a high- quality pump. As you consider different pumps, take these factors into account:

    * What is your reason for pumping? If you are trying to establish and maintain a milk supply for a baby who can’t yet nurse, you’ll need a better quality pump than if you are pumping occasionally to keep milk in the freezer for an emergency.

    * How old is your baby? Will you be pumping for many, many months? (This may influence whether you rent or buy.)

    * Will you be having another baby, so that you’ll use the pump again?

    * Do you need the convenience and speed of double-pumping (pumping both breasts at the same time)?

    * If your alternative to pumping is formula-feeding, compare the prices. Even the more expensive pumps may come out looking economical by this standard.

    * Battery-operated pumps go through batteries quickly. Pumps that come with an adapter for electrical outlets can give you the flexibility you need without having to depend on batteries for power. Where will you be pumping the most: at home, in your car, at your desk, in the ladies’ room? (Some restrooms don’t have electric outlets.)

    * Do you need a pump that’s lightweight and portable? Will you be carrying your pump back and forth to work every day, or will it stay in one place?

    * Expect to take as much time to pump as the average time it takes to breastfeed your baby (which is usually around thirty minutes). A double-pumping system cuts the time in half and may yield more milk and higher prolactin levels in the blood. It might seem that double- pumping would require two hands, but enterprising mothers find a way to hold both breast flanges with one forearm, sometimes with the help of a desk or table. This leaves one hand free for answering the phone, turning pages, or eating your lunch. (The Medela company even sells a kit for hooking a pump up to your bra for hands-free pumping.) We know of one mother, a sales rep, who pumps one breast at a time while driving between appointments.

    Where to purchase breast pumps

    You can buy a pumps at the local discount or drug store, but these are often not the best choice. Companies that specialize in manufacturing breast pumps make their products available through lactation consultants, La Leche League International and other businesses that sell breastfeeding products. You can also buy pumps online or through catalogs. However, if you’re the sort of person who likes to be shown how things work, you might prefer to purchase your pump from a lactation consultant or La Leche League Leader who can show you how to put it together and answer questions you may have.

    Pump companies state that breast pumps are one-user items, except for the rental pumps, and for those you must purchase your own accessory kit. It may not be a good idea to purchase a used pump–whether from a garage sale or an online auction.

    Dr. Sear’s Breast Pump Guide has a detailed listing of types of pumps, brand names, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

    Image shows the award winning Medela Swing Breast Pump.

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