Archives for April 2010

Pregnancy Warning Signs You Should Never Ignore

Aches and pains, weird skin conditions, fatigue and mood swings are all part of a normal pregnancy. But sometimes you  may experience something that could be a potentially serious warning sign.  Most women don’t want to bother their doctor over every tiny thing, so how do you know what warrants immediate attention and what can wait until your next doctor’s visit?

WebMD consulted the experts, who say you’re always better safe than sorry. If you are concerned that something is not normal, call your doctor. And every pregnant woman should be aware that there are some symptoms during pregnancy that need immediate attention.

WebMD presents the seven top signs of a potentially serious pregnancy complication:

1. Bleeding During Any Trimester

Bleeding during pregnancy is serious and always needs to be evaluated immediately. Call your doctor or go to the emergency room. Some serious causes for bleeding include:

First trimester: Heavy bleeding, severe abdominal pain, menstrual-like cramps, and feeling like you might faint could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. This happens when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus, and it can be life-threatening.

First and second trimester: Heavy bleeding with cramping could also be a sign of miscarriage.

Third trimester: Bleeding and abdominal pain may indicate placental abruption, which occurs when the placenta separates from the uterine lining.

2. Severe Nausea and Vomiting

If it gets to the point where you can’t keep anything down, you are at risk of becoming dehydrated and malnourished, which can cause serious complications ranging from birth defects to premature labor.  Proper nutrition is very important for you and your baby.  Your doctors can prescribe safe medications for controlling nausea, and may also advise some dietary changes to help you find food you can keep down.

3. Baby’s Activity Level Decreases Significantly

What does it mean if your previously active baby is not moving as much as it used to?  It is possible that he is not getting enough oxygen and nutrients from the placenta.  To find out if there really is a problem, eat something or take a cold drink. Then lie on your side to see if this gets the baby moving.

You can also count kicks, although “There is no optimal or critical number of movements.” As a general guideline, you should count at least 10 kicks in two hours. Anything less, call your doctor as soon as possible.

4. Early Contractions

Contractions could indicate preterm labor. First-time mothers may be confused by real labor and Braxton-Hicks contractions, which are false labor pains.  Braxton-Hicks are unpredictable and do not increase in intensity. They generally subside in an hour, with activity, or after drinking. On the other hand, regular contractions start off about 10 minutes apart, and over time increase in intensity while becoming closer together.

If you are feeling contractions and don’t know what they are, don’t take a chance! If it is too early for the baby to be born, your doctor has ways to stop labor.

5. Your Water Breaks

Sometimes water breaking is a dramatic gush of liquid, but other times it’s just a subtle trickle.  Then again, it could be urine leakage due to increased pressure on your bladder. One way to tell is to go to the bathroom and empty your bladder. If the fluid keeps coming , then your water has broken… time to call your doctor or go to the hospital!

6. Severe Headache, Abdominal Pain, Visual Disturbances, and Swelling

These are all symptoms of preeclampsia, a serious and potentially fatal condition. Other signs of preeclampsia are high blood pressure and excess protein in your urine. It usually occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy.  You need to call your doctor and get your blood pressure tested. With good prenatal care, you can catch and treat preeclampsia early.

7. Flu Symptoms

Pregnancy puts added stress on the immune system, so pregnant women are more likely to catch the flu when it’s going around. They are also at a higher risk for more serious flu complications.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. If you think you’ve got the flu, call your doctor first instead of rushing into his office where you could spread it to other pregnant women.

Something else to be aware of is that a fever greater than 101.4 degrees could indicate an infection. So even if you don’t have the flu, you should call your doctor so he can evaluate your condition.

For more information on health and pregnancy, visit WebMD

feature image from US Moms Today

The Truth about Celebs’ Post-Baby Bodies

Have you noticed the new “trend” of famous new mom’s flaunting their flat stomachs just weeks and months after giving birth? iVillage calls attention to a gorgeous Kourtney Kardashian in a red bikini on the cover of Life & Style Weekly, with not a stretch mark or love handle in sight (although the post-pregnancy bosom is most definitely there)!

Before that there was bikini-clad Kendra Wilkinson, who graced the cover of OK! in February, just eight weeks after giving birth to her son. And last May, Elisabeth Hasselbeck posed for the cover of  Fitness, with baby Taylor only 6 months old. And famous octo-mom Nadya Suleman posed for the cover of Star in January one year after giving birth to her crew.
Pregnancy and weight loss are two topics that are sure to sell magazines, but as iVillage puts it, “There are so many things sadistically wrong with our post-baby celebrity body obsession.” You can probably figure out what the problems are yourself, but here’s what iVillage has to say about it:

The magazines are misleading

Kardashian’s cover reads “How I lost 33 pounds! My super-fast weight loss, flat stomach in days, new secret slim-down shake.” Just whip up your own slim-down shake, curl up with their magazine, and your pregnancy weight will disappear too! (We won’t mention the fact that you don’t have a private trainer, personal nutritionist, full-time nanny or cosmetic surgeon like she does.)

Some celebrity moms are lying too…

Octomom’s bikini cover reads, “No nips, no tucks, no lipo.” While it is technically possible that she dropped 150-ish pounds without surgery, you can’t get rid of that much stretched out skin with exercise alone.

Photoshop works miracles!

We all know that magazines retouch all their photos. Bye-bye stretch marks and love handles! Take a look at this altered cover image of Kardashian for evidence of how far digital “shaping” goes. Thankfully, she objected to it!

(photo credit and story here)

Not the role models we need!

You know what your priority should be after you have a baby? Your baby. Not weight loss, calorie intake, or how you look in a bikini.  The newborn period is so short, and before you know it this sweet, tiny little creature will be… well, not newborns anymore. Take time to bond with your baby and take care of yourself, too. That means eating hearty, healthy meals, getting enough sleep, and ignoring the pressure to looking perfect again.

Now here’s a photo we can all be comfortable with… Halle Berry, post baby, out shopping as happy as can be (note: not exercising!) and feeling comfortable in her own skin. She looks great, and that baby belly– well that’s pretty much what any normal postpartum mom looks like! It’s an old picture, but I’m liking it! ( photo source)

Save Thousands on your New Baby

If you haven’t already realized it, babies can be expensive little bundles of joy! Sandy Jones and Marcie Jones, authors of Great Expectations: Best Baby Gear, estimate that your new baby can cost you anywhere from $9,000 and $12,000 during pregnancy and the first year of life.  Here are some of their money-saving tips (via baby zone) for saving thousands of dollars on your new-baby costs.

Car Seats & Strollers

  • Convertable car seat: Buy a “convertible” car seat, instead of an infant car seat. While the infant car seats (for smaller babies only) are handy because you can transfer the baby from the car to the stroller to the house without waking her, a convertible seat will last you longer, until baby is 40+ pounds.
  • Infant car seat: If you do buy an infant car seat, you don’t need to buy the whole expensive “travel system,” including stroller, that goes with it. You can simply buy a generic “snap n go” that is made to accommodate that type of car seat.
  • Stroller: When looking for a stroller, you may think that the more expensive models are somehow of better quality. Instead, look at the lower end of a respected brand (such as Graco, Kolcraft, or Cosco). Look for something lightweight, that reclines, that can handle a bumpy road. Purchase extra accessories as you need them.
  • Free car seat: Some community organizations, car dealerships, and muffler companies offer free loaner car seats.

Feeding Baby

  • Breastfeed: If you decide to breastfeed, not only are you providing your baby with the optimal baby food, you can also save $2,000 a year, just in the cost of formula and bottles. (This amount increases a few thousand more if your baby is allergic to infant formula and requires hypoallergenic versions.) And if that’s not enough, you’ll also be reducing your baby’s chances of obesity, digestive issues, juvenile diabetes, cavities, and even needing braces later on! (Learn more about breastfeeding benefits.)
  • Breast pumps: Do you really need a breast pump? If you are going to be home with your baby, let him do all the pumping himself! If think you need a pump, you can temporarily rent a highly efficient, hospital-grade pump until you’re sure you really need to own your own pump. And if you decide to buy one, a good breast pump can be yours for under $200.
  • Bottles: It’s much cheaper to use reusable bottles and just wash them after use, than buying the more convenient disposable bottles. Buy bottles made of non-polycarbonate material with smooth sides that are easy to clean.
  • Baby Food: When you’re baby is old enough for mashed fruits and veges, you can easily make your own… it’s not rocket science!  All you need to do is mash up a banana or a sweet potato, open a jar of unsweetened applesauce, or throw some cooked veggies in the blender!

Baby Clothes & Diapers

  • Cash in: You’re likely to get a few baby gifts that you don’t really want or need. Instead of storing them away somewhere, return them for cash, sell them at a consignment shop or on eBay, or exchange them for goods you really need.
  • Shop for comfort: Miniature designer jeans and expensive sundresses are certainly adorable, but there’s nothing like good old-fashioned cotton tee shirts, gowns, and footed sleepers. They’ll cost you much less and are also a lot more comfy for baby!
  • Buy them big: Babies outgrow their clothes very fast! Buy new outfits with room to grow in so you’ll get more use out of them.
  • Beg and borrow: Even better than inexpensive t-shirts and onesies, borrow a box of you’re friend’s outgrown baby clothes! And if they are not planning on having any more babies, they may be happy to give them away to a “good cause!”
  • Diapers: Stock up on disposable diapers—buy them by the case from giant warehouse chains.
  • Wash wisely: Special baby detergents are expensive, and the powdered type can clog up fabrics, making them less absorbent. If you are worried about irritating your baby’s skin, use a liquid, fragrance-free detergent

instead, and avoid fabric softeners.

Baby Gear

  • Diaper bag: You’ll definitely need something for the extra paraphernalia you’ll be shlepping around now (diapers, wipes, extra clothes, diaper cream, pacifiers, etc!)… But no need to waste money buying something new when you probably have a nice, roomy bag or backpack that will work just fine. Folding diaper pads and clear plastic pouches will turn any over-the shoulder satchel into a convenient diaper bag.
  • Crib: Don’t fall for the fancy cribs that double as desks or love seats. All you need for the first couple years is a simple crib with one side that lowers. Later on, you can use the same mattress in a toddler bed frame, if you choose.
  • Mattress: Go with a firm foam mattress, which works just fine and will save you  hundreds of dollars over a 750-coil Baby Beauty mattress with a lifetime guarantee.
  • Furniture: It’s tempting to buy nursery furniture that matches the crib, but these pieces are often overpriced and of lower quality. Instead, shop in antique malls and thrift stores to find a quality chest that you can adapt for your baby’s room.  (Safety note: Change protruding knobs to flat handles. Install drawer stops, and the chest should be attached to the wall with L shaped brackets to keep it from falling over when your toddler starts testing his climbing skill on the open drawers.)
  • Diaper station: Use the chest or dresser top as a changing station. Just purchase an inexpensive cushioned diaper-changing pads with raised sides, and be sure to firmly attach the pad to the chest using the provided screws.
  • Booster seat: Instead of a high chair, using a booster seat will save you space and money! You just strap the booster onto one of your kitchen chairs. Some come with removable trays, so you can put baby’s food on the tray or just scoot him up to the table and let him join the family.
  • Baby toys: Toy manufacturers entice you with promises to teach, entertain, enhance, and stimulate your little one in lots of different ways. But the truth is that babies have a very limited attention span, and the best type of multi-sensory stimulation can be provided by you when you walk, talk, sing, and play with them.
  • Baby Gate: Try a pet gate, usually manufactured by the same companies! As a bonus, the pet gate may be higher, a good thing if your child is a climber. Just make sure the gate’s mesh can’t be scaled by small feet!
  • Diaper disposal: Diaper-disposal systems are designed to seal off diapers so they won’t smell. But a regular kitchen-sized trash bin will work just as well, especially if you tie stinky diapers in a plastic bag before tossing.

More Misc. Tips

  • Family Doctor: If pediatrician fees are higher than you’d like them to be, try visiting a family physician. They are trained to treat the entire family, including infants!
  • Coupons: Get on lists that will send you money-saving coupons for diapers and formula. Check out baby clubs sponsored by drugstores and supermarkets, manufacturers’ web sites, and Internet coupon sites.
  • Baby Fairs: Manufacturers’ sales reps don’t want to have to pay shipping to send their products back to the warehouse. So you may be able to strike a deal to buy their display products at big savings!

Newborn: Umbilical Cord Care

Umbilical cords are probably the least attractive part of your newborn, but they usually don’t cause problems and eventually fall off by themselves. You may be understandably worried when you notice bleeding or discharge from your newborn’s belly button. But knowing what’s normal will keep you calm and prevent you from running to call your doctor unnecessarily!

What’s Normal

Bleeding: For the first week or two, most newborns will have a bit of bleeding from the belly button before and after the cord falls off. You’ll see it on the diaper or baby’s clothes. You may notice it right away, or it might not appear until a week or more after the cord comes off. Bleeding is especially common if the cord comes off within the first week of life from accidental tugging.

Discharge: Almost all belly buttons will have some yellow or green drainage, which looks like pus, before and after the cord falls off.  This may go on for one or two weeks, but will eventually stop and is nothing to worry about. If there seems to be excessive oozing, your doctor can applying silver nitrate to help dry it up, but this is rarely necessary.

When to Call the Doctor

Bleeding: If you see dripping blood that reappears immediately after wiping it away, pack several pieces of gauze over the belly button (you can also use a baby washcloth or tissue). Keep the gauze firmly pressed against the belly button under the diaper, wrap him up snugly in a blanket, and wait for 15 minutes. Then undress him and carefully check for continued active oozing or dripping. If it is stopped, there is no need to call your doctor, but keep a close eye on it. Keep gauze packed on it for another day, and check it once an hour, even overnight. Some blood on the gauze is normal.

If the active dripping or oozing continues after the 15 minutes, you should call your doctor right away.

Discharge: Normal discharge looks like pus, but is not cause for worry. The only time you need to call your doctor is if the cord has become infected.

Here is how to tell:

  • The drainage smells very foul
  • The skin around the cord is very red and maybe swollen
  • Baby may or may not have a fever

If you think the cord might be infected, call your doctor.

Caring for the Umbilical Cord

It’s important to keep the stump clean and dry. Clean the area around the cord every time  you change baby’s diaper. Use a wet cotton ball or q-tip to wipe away any discharge. As of 2006, a research study found that that it is not necessary to put alcohol on the umbilical cord.

When diapering your baby, keep the stump exposed, which helps it dry out faster. You may have to fold down the top of the diaper so it doesn’t cover the belly button area.

When to give baby her first bath is a matter of some debate. It is generally advised to sponge bathe your baby until the cord falls off (and, when applicable, the circumcision heals), although other doctors believe that an immersion bath does not increase the risk of infection. Check with your doctor. If you are still seeing discharge around the base of the cord, it’s probably a good idea to sponge bathe your baby.

The umbilical cord will shrink and dry out just before it falls off. Don’t try to loosen it or pull it off. One day you will change your baby’s diaper and notice that it has fallen off on it’s own.

Source: Dr. Sears

feature image: Real Simple

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