Archives for October 2010

Maternity Holiday Fashion Tips!

It’s never too early to start thinking about the holidays! Whether you’ve got a family Thanksgiving feast on the calendar, a holiday office party to get glammed up for, or a communal Hanukkah party, we know you want to look your best.  A super holiday dress is in the cards for you, and here are some tips on finding it!

Versatility: Get more bang for your buck when you buy something you can dress up or down, and wear again a few more times before baby arrives. This little black dress from the Gap ($59.50) can be dressed up with heels and a great necklace, or dressed down with flats and a colorful scarf.

Flatter your bump: Go for a streamlined look that acknowledges your curves without exaggerating them. There’s no need to squeeze your nine-month belly into a sequined mini-dress just because you can. Instead, opt for something soft, comfortable, and graceful, like this wine colored dress from Motherhood.

3/4 Sleeve Empire Waist Maternity Dress

Get wild: Yes, you are about to become a mother, but that doesn’t mean you need to sit in the corner next to Granny all evening.  Set your wild side free for just one evening with this leopard print shirtdress that shows off lots of leg ($170 from Due Maternity)!

Favorite Maternity Shirtdress by More Of Me

Mix-n-match: If dresses aren’t your thing, you can get a dressy top and pair it with black satin or velvet pants.

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Long and glamorous: If it’s a black-tie affair, a strapless, floor-length dress will take their breath away. This silky jersey dress from Isabella Oliver (it comes in red, too, for the truly daring!) is a winner!

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Accessorize: Even if you can’t find the perfect dress, a simple black number can be glamorized by adding statement pieces you love. A pair of sweeping chandelier earrings, a bright scarf, or some awesome heels will do the trick!

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The Benefits of Extended Breastfeeding

Nursing your baby provides many opportunities for bonding, and the benefits for mom and baby extend into the toddler years. But how can you silence the critics who exclaim, “You’re still nursing?”

Q. I’m still nursing my two-year-old daughter. We both love the bond created by breastfeeding, and neither of us is ready to give it up. However, most of my friends and family strongly think it’s time to wean her. How can I cope with the disapproval?

Dr. William Sears answers this question on Parenting.com. In spite of today’s health-conscious, natural-is-better attitude, people still find it odd to breastfeed a baby beyond the “infant” stage.  But Dr. Sears is on this mom’s side, saying, “If it’s working for you and your child, and your mothering instinct tells you it’s right  — it’s right! In my opinion, you’re a health-savvy, modern mom, and it seems that your friends and relatives are old-fashioned and misinformed. As a pediatrician and parent, it grieves me to hear well-meaning critics ask a breastfeeding mother, “You’re still nursing?”

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photo: Breastfeeding Moms Unite

Extended breastfeeding is indeed a wise, long-term investment in your child’s future. Here are a few things to remember when discussing this issue:

Science backs Breastfeeding. Many medical journals carry articles proving the long-term health benefits of breastfeeding. The incidence of many illnesses, both childhood and adult, are lowered by breastfeeding, including diabetes, heart disease, and central nervous system degenerative disorders (such as multiple sclerosis). The most fascinating studies show that the longer and more frequently a mom nurses her baby, the smarter her child is likely to become. The brain grows more during the first two years of life than any other time, nearly tripling in size from birth to two years of age. During this crucial time of brain development, the “smart fats” unique to mom’s breast milk (namely, omega-3 fatty acid, also known as DHA) seem to provide an intellectual advantage for breastfed babies.

Babies who breastfeed for extended periods of time are healthier overall.  These other health benefits include:

  • Leaner bodies with less risk of obesity.
  • Improved vision, since the eye is similar to the brain in regards to nervous tissue.
  • Better hearing due to a lower incidence of ear infections.
  • Their dental health is generally good, since the natural sucking action of the breastfed infant helps incoming teeth align properly.
  • Intestinal health is also much better than those of non-breastfed babies, as breast milk is easier to digest, reducing spit-up, reflux, and constipation.
  • A toddler’s immune system functions much better since breastmilk contains an immunoglobulin (IGA) which coats the lining of the intestines, which helps prevent germs from penetrating through.
  • Even the skin of these babies is smoother and more supple.

World opinion is on your side. The World Health Organization (WHO) officially recommends mothers breastfeed until three years of age. (Yes, you did read that right!) Even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers should breastfeed “at least until one year of age and then as long as baby and mother mutually want to.”

It’s better for Mom’s health. Extended breastfeeding reduces the risk of uterine, ovarian, and breast cancers. Breastfeeding women also have a lower incidence of osteoporosis later in life.

It’s better for your toddler’s behavior. Dr. Sears has observed many extended breastfeeders in his pediatric practice, and knows that breastfed toddlers are easier to discipline. Breastfeeding is an exercise in baby reading, which enables a mother to more easily read her baby’s cues and intervene before a discipline situation gets out of hand. Nursing is also a wonderful calming tool for both Mom and baby.

Blame it on your doctor. One of the easiest ways to silence critics is the phrase: “My doctor advised me to.” You can go on to explain that your doctor (yes, Dr. Sears counts!) told you about all the recent research extolling the benefits of extended breastfeeding.

Let your child silence the critics. Once your friends and relatives see the benefits of your breastfeeding bond, your growth as a mother, and the emotional, intellectual and physical health of your child, they will serve as convincing testimonies to the value of extended breastfeeding.

Read more at Parenting.com and Ask Dr. Sears

Tips on Taking Baby Pictures by Anne Geddes

I’m sure you’ve seen photos by world-renowned Anne Geddes before, even if you’re not aware of who was behind the camera. They’re everywhere– on calendars, gift cards, your pediatrician’s walls!  Her images of babies and nature are created after hours of preparation, under careful controls in her studio, supported by a team of talented professionals. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a thing or two about taking great baby photos!  Baby Center asked her for some tips and tricks can help you capture memories that will last a lifetime.

Always be prepared

Keep your camera handy at all times.  This way you’ll always be ready to capture those special spontaneous moments.  Plus, the more familiar your baby is with a camera, the less he’ll be distracted when you whip it out, and you’ll be able to take more natural looking pictures.

You don’t need an expensive camera to take a great photograph, just a good eye and a magical moment.

Getting Ready

The logical way to start out is by ensuring that your baby is well fed, happy, and comfortable. (Tired, cranky babies do not make good models!) Keep your background simple (like a white sheet or a dark colored carpet) to let your baby take “center stage.”  For a more personal point of view, get down to your baby’s eye level.

Lighting your photo

Anne loves using natural light. Soft, directional light coming from a window is always more flattering than the flash on a camera. If you are photographing outside, take advantage of the early morning or late afternoon light. The mid-day sun doesn’t bring out the best in anyone, not even your perfect baby!

Candid camera

The loveliest shots of your baby will most likely be candid ones.  You can forget the flower pots and teddy bears, and let it just be about your beautiful baby. If you can, take pictures in settings that is meaningful for you; this will give them an even deeper resonance.  On a special occasion, try for a sense of place, so you will always remember that day or the story behind the image.

Show proportion

Your newborn is tiny for such a short time. Even as they grow, each stage passes faster than you want it to. You might not believe it now, but you will forget how small your baby was in the beginning, so try to show your baby’s size in relation to the surroundings. A picture of your baby cradeled in daddy’s hands is so poignant because it captures that sense of scale.

Don’t forget to include yourself!

If you are usually the one behind the camera, don’t forget to include yourself in as many photographs with your family as possible!  Your children will want to know what you looked like “way back then” and will thank you for it later!

Save and organize

Try to download your pictures from your camera on a regular basis, saving them to files grouped by months when your baby is young. Save your images by naming them, which will make it easier to loacte them later on. Instead of “Amy Summer,” try “Amy 6mos in hat. Always back up your digital images, which are valuable and irreplaceable. Use digital photo websites where to can share albums with family, scroll through smaller “thumbnail” images to find favorites, play and share slide shows, tag and favor photos, comment on them, and much more.

Use the video

Try out the short video feature on your digital camera. Those spontaneous moments will be beloved, and your kids will enjoy seeing themselves “live” as babies.

Read more: 20 tips from Anne Geddes for taking great photos

View Ann Geddes most amazing baby pictures of the year

View 50 Amazing newborn photos by real moms

Communicating with your Baby: Teaching Sign Language

Even if you are not familiar with the concept of baby signing, you already know that a baby’s motor skills and understanding develop much faster than their ability to speak. For example a 9-month old baby may discover how to wave or point at something they want long before they can say “Bye bye” or “Give me my toy!”

A little Background

The idea of teaching babies a vocabulary of signs was inspired by child development expert Joseph Garcia. He observed that hearing babies of deaf parents learned sign language easily, and appeared less demanding than other babies because they could express their thoughts and needs more easily. So why shouldn’t all babies enjoy the benefits of signing, too? If a baby can sign for what she wants instead of crying, everyone will be happier. Now there are a number of organizations run baby-signing classes in the United States and in other countries, and babies as young as 6 months old have been taught to “sign” successfully.

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image from Momz.com

Benefits of Baby Signing

The first benefit is obvious– less frustration for babies who can’t express their needs, and less frustration for parents who don’t know how to comfort their crying baby. But there are other benefits, such as creating a closer bond between parent and child, as mom Sharon Mason explains on BabyCenter:

“Morgan has a vocabulary of about 30 words and he’s starting to string signs together. He comes and tells me if our dog is asleep (first fingers and forefingers of both hands pointing downward) or if he can hear an airplane (swooping his hand). It’s wonderful knowing what’s going on inside his head. I also love being able to talk to him even when he’s on the other side of the room. At playgroup the other day I noticed he was looking a bit panicky — I couldn’t reach him easily so I signed ‘I love you’ (hugging myself, looking at him), instead.”

Another benefit of baby signing is that it actually helps your child’s language development and vocabulary. Garcia points out that signing is about enhancing, not replacing language, and is useful in creating a link between the gesture and the word. And when your baby can sign back, communication becomes two-way. If, for example, she tells you she can hear a truck, you can respond, “Yes, I can hear the truck too. Look, there it is! Isn’t it loud?”  You will probably end up spending more time talking to your child, which is one of the best ways of helping speech develop.

And babies and sign language says that American Sign Language is the third most used language in the United States! So, should your baby continue to learn American Sign Language past his 3rd year, he will have acquired a second!

How to Teach your Baby to Sign

There are a few different ways to go about it. The first is to make up your own signs- putting your hand to your mouth to say “food” or steering an imaginary wheel to say “car.”  Garcia’s “Sign With Your Baby” program is based on American Sign Language. Another program called “Baby Signs” was created by psychologists Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn, and uses a set of simple signs designed for babies.

More information:

Signing with your baby or toddler: How to communicate before your child can talk

Babies and Sign Language

Signing With Your Baby Trade tips and tricks with other parents

Sign2Me, expert Joseph Garcia’s Web site, offers an explanation of his signing program and information on local instructors and classes.

Baby Signs is the Web site for Baby Signs authors Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn. The site offers information on their signing program as well as local instructors and classes.

Signing With Your Baby Web site features tips and information, a discussion group for signing parents, photos of babies using signs, and links to online signing dictionaries.

Michigan State University’s online American Sign Language (ASL) browser shows the signs for thousands of different words.

Here’s an adorable baby signing over 15 different words:

Why More American Women Want to Give Birth at Home

When a pregnant woman decides that she wants a home birth, family and friends are usually shocked, and the first questions are often, “Is that safe? What if something goes wrong?”

In today’s age of medicine, pregnancy and childbirth are often as a disease or a problem that has to be “fixed” rather than the completely natural process it actually is, says Dr. Mercola.  For the 75 percent of women who have normal pregnancies, a knowledgeable and experienced midwife may be more qualified to attend birth than an obstetrician.  For some women, giving birth at home is preferable and possibly safer than doing so in a hospital.

“Safer than a hospital?” you may be asking suspiciously. The fact is thatobstetricians are trained to use surgical interventions that are often unnecessary in a normal pregnancy and delivery, and can cause more harm than good when used inappropriately. If you take a look at some statistics, you may start to see things differently.

99 percent of all U.S. births occur in a hospital, yet the United States has one of the highest infant mortality rates of any developed country (6.3 deaths per 1,000 babies born). In the Netherlands, one-third of deliveries occur in the home with the assistance of midwives, yet the infant death rate is  only 4.73 deaths per 1,000.

In terms of your own safety, maternal mortality rates rose more than 54 percent from 2000 to 2005 in the United States, while decreasing in other developed countries. One reason suggested for this scary fact may be the incredibly high rate of C-section in the United States, which accounts for nearly one-third of all births. It is actually the most commonly performed surgery in the US!

The World Health Organization states that no country is justified in having a cesarean rate greater than 15 percent, but the rate in the United States is nearly 32 percent, which even worries The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

A C-section should be used only as a last resort.  One study found that a woman’s risk of death during delivery is three to five times higher during cesarean than a natural delivery, her risk of hysterectomy four times higher, and her risk of being admitted to intensive care is two times higher.

Obviously, C-section rates are lower among home births, as well as midwife-attended births. Women who delivered at home also have fewer interventions and greater freedom in choosing their birthing style. As long as you have experienced a healthy pregnancy, a qualified midwife is a very safest birth attendant, and your home may very well be the best place for you to deliver.

If you are planning a home birth, it may be challenging to find a birth attendant you feel comfortable with. It is rare to find an obstetrician that will agree to a home birth in the United States. Certified nurse midwives (CNMs) can legally attend home births in any state, but most choose to practice in hospitals instead.  Only 27 states currently license or regulate direct-entry midwives– or certified professional midwives (CPMs)– who have undergone training and met national standards to attend homebirths. (Find the legal status of CPMs in your state here.)

In the other 23, midwife-attended births are illegal.  A campaign is currently underway to expand state licensing of CPMs so that women who want a home birth can choose from a qualified pool of applicants, but until that happens you have a few legal options for homebirth:

  • Find a certified nurse midwife (CNM) who attends homebirths in your state or in a nearby state (then travel to that state to give birth)
  • Find a CPM who is either licensed by your state or in a nearby state (then travel to that state to give birth)
  • Use a CNM but give birth in a hospital or birth center (a compromise)

To find a midwife in your area, try:

  • Midwives Alliance of North America
  • Mothers Naturally
  • American College of Nurse-Midwives
  • Midwifery Today
  • BirthLink (Chicago area)

For more information: Should American Women Learn to Give Birth at Home?

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Are my Feet Getting Bigger?!

If you have a funny feeling that your feet are getting larger and heavier (kind of like your abdomen), you are probably not imagining it. Toward the middle of your pregnancy, you may notice some swelling (or edema), which is caused by the fluid collecting in your ankles and feet, especially after a day of standing.

In addition to this fine feeling, your feet may be subject to normal ligament looseness that develops throughout your body, causing your weight-bearing tootsies to stretch and widen, and arches to fall. Try stuffing that, together with the extra body fat you’re accumulating, into a shoe, and it’s no wonder you prefer your fuzzy bedroom slippers.

But you are not alone. Most women find themselves wearing at least a half-size larger shoe in the second half of their pregnancy, and for about fifteen percent of moms, this change is permanent (ouch!).

Be kind to your feet! Dr. Sears suggests some ways you can help alleviate their burden (which would be you):
  • Elevate them as much as possible.
  • Avoid standing for long times without a break.
  • Do foot exercises: flex your toes and then pull them toward you as you point the heel away from you. Extend your leg, point your toes up, and make a circle with your toes, rotating your whole foot and ankle. This also exercises the calf muscles after standing or sitting for a long time.
  • Solicit a foot massage: the masseur holds the aching foot in both hands, places his thumb just under the ball of the foot, and moves along the arch, massaging in slow, circular strokes.
  • Nurse swollen, painful, day’s-end feet in cool water.
  • Allow your feet to breathe by using cotton socks.
  • Choose shoes with wide, low heels (no higher than two inches) or wedges. Non-skid soles make you more sure-footed. Try soft leather or canvas shoes, preferably without laces, since sooner or later you won’t be able to bend over to tie them.
  • Shop for new shoes at the end of the day when your feet are most swollen.
  • Try orthotics – plastic arch supports that fit into your shoes. These are available at most shoe stores, pharmacies, or molded custom by a podiatrist.

feature image (or should I say feet-ure image) from VillageMama

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