Archives for June 2011

Summer Pregnancy Health: Water, Water, Water

Long periods of time in the sun and heat can take a toll on anyone, but pregnant women should be extra vigilant about drinking enough water. Don’t run the risk of dehydration this summer… read on!

Why We Need Water

A woman’s body is made up of about 55% water, and a newborn baby’s body is about 75% water! Water is a vital part of many bodily functions: it  flushes waste products from the cells, aids in liver and kidney function, regulates body temperature, protects joints and organs, and generates healthy skin. Because blood is made mostly of water, it’s especially important to drink a lot during pregnancy, as mom’s blood volume increases significantly.

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What Happens When You’re Dehydrated

When your body starts running low on fluids, you may experience fatigue, constipation, blood clots, preterm labor, and, in severe cases, miscarriage. It is also dangerous because it can compromise your baby’s nourishment. Proper hydration is important for producing adequate breast milk, too.

Signs of Dehydration

Sweating in the summer is one way your body cools itself off, but it can cause you to lose a significant amount of water. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Dry mouth and thirst
  • Cool or pale skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rising pulse
  • Feeling dizzy, weak, or lightheaded
  • Bad headache that doesn’t improve with acetaminophen
  • Abdominal cramping lasting 15 minutes or more
  • Fever of 102 degrees F. or higher
  • Feeling confused or disoriented

If you experience any of these symptoms, stop immediately to rest in a cool place and drink water. If the symptoms don’t subside within 30 minutes, call your doctor. You may need to be put on an IV to rehydrate yourself.

How Much Should I Drink?

To prevent dehydration, you should try to drink at least 8-12 eight-ounce glasses of non-caffeinated fluids every day. Caffeine can actually dehydrate you. Fruits and vegetables count too, since they contain substantial amounts of water. You may not always feel thirsty, but try to drink at regular intervals throughout the day anyway.  If it’s very hot or you are exercising, increase your water intake. Your urine should be light yellow, and you should need to go to the bathroom a few times a day.

Is Baby Oil Safe for Your Little One?

I never gave a second thought to the safety of baby oil… after all, if it’s called “baby oil” it must be fine to use on babies… right? Not quite.  Baby oil is generally just straight mineral oil, plus some fragrance. And mineral oil is made from refined petroleum (as in, the stuff you put in your car). Instead of soothing and moisturizing baby’s sensitive skin, it will actually dry out skin and clog pores. And that’s just the beginning of the potential hazards.

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Watch what you put on your skin!

Remember, whatever you put on your skin is absorbed and circulated throughout your body. Infants, whose brains and nervous systems are not fully developed, are particularly vulnerable to substances absorbed by the skin. Dr. Mercola is fond of saying, “Don’t put anything on your body that you wouldn’t eat if you had to…”  When we eat something harmful, at least there are enzymes in our saliva and digestive systems to break it down and flush it out. But when something harmful permeates our skin, there is not much to stop it from entering the bloodstream and accumulating in delicate organs.

To make mineral oil, crude petroleum is heated in order to remove the gasoline and kerosene. Then hydrocarbons are removed by using sulfuric acid, applying absorbents, and washing with solvents.

It doesn’t sound pretty, but is it really that bad to dab a bit on after the bath?

The problems with Baby Oil (Mineral Oil)

  • Mineral oils can can cause sensitivity reactions over time, in the form of headaches, arthritis and diabetes.
  • Mineral oils interferes with the absorption of nutrients in your body.
  • Mineral oil dissolves the skin’s natural oils, thereby increasing water loss (dehydration) from the skin.
  • Mineral oil may increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight and has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer.

There was even a segment on Oprah about a baby who died from ingesting baby oil. He inhaled some of it, which became trapped in his lungs, killing him. (Note to caretakers: Even seemingly harmless toiletry items can be dangerous. Keep everything out of children’s reach!)

So what should I use instead?

Safe alternatives to baby oil would be: all natural, edible, unscented, unflavored fruit or vegetable oils that you’d cook or bake with. Some great all-natural moisturizers are pure emu oil, and pure coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and safflower oil. You can also find many organic skin oils and lotions these days.

Moisturize from the inside out by staying hydrated. Drinking lots of plain old water is a great way to keep your skin soft and supple. Baby’s skin usually doesn’t need that must moisturizing in the first place. If his skin seems dry or irritated, check into the soaps, detergents, creams, and diapers you are using first– he may be having a reaction to something else.

Be careful what YOU use, too!

Many body oils, cosmetics, and moisturizers that adults use are based on mineral oils as well. Be aware of what you put on your breasts, which can pass through your breastmilk to your baby.

Read more here.

Postpartum Depression for Dads

Lots of attention has been given to postpartum depression, which happens to moms soon after birth. But many are surprised to learn that fathers can and do experience postpartum depression as well! A study by the University of  Michigan, published in the March 2011 issue of Pediatrics, found that a significant number of fathers with babies under a year old (about 7%) were clinically depressed. Fathers with infants 3 months to 6 months old were most likely to be depressed; in this category one in four dads was found to be depressed.

The results of this study are aimed at making doctors aware that just as they screen new mothers for depression, fathers should be screened for Paternal Postnatal Depression (PPND) as well.

Depression in dads is not something new, it has just been swept under the rug. Men’s hormones actually change too when their wife has a baby!  A new father may feel resentment at the arrival of a new baby, or irritated by the many changes in his life as a father. He may be short tempered, snappy, and feel like smacking that little bundle of joy that won’t stop crying.

Yet many men never admit that they are depressed, and never seek the help deserve. They are taught to hide their personal issues and be strong. And the signs of depression in men are different than in women (anger and aggression rather than tears and helplessness), and many never realize that what they are feeling is really depression.

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But like any medical issue, depression is not something to be ignored. Children need a stable, positive father for healthy development and well-being. Women need a supportive husband who can be a partner in raising the kids. And men need to feel inner peace which enable them to live happy, productive, enriching lives.

Symptoms of Men’s Depression:

  • Becoming irritable, angry, or confrontational
  • Feeling stressed and discouraged
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Violent behavior
  • Working or studying obsessively
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Impulsive or risky behavior, such as reckless driving and extramarital affairs
  • Physical ailments: Headaches, digestive problems, pain
  • Lack of concentration, lack of interest in work, hobbies, sex
  • Thoughts of suicide

Who is at risk:

Any man can be at risk for PPND, but there are some factors that make it more likely:

  • Family history of depression
  • Preexisting marital discord
  • Lack of sleep
  • Unemployment significantly ups the incidence of PPND
  • Men who’s wives suffer from postpartum depression are more likely to have it as well.

A man who’s depressed may experience only a few of the symptoms, or many. How bad they are may vary too, or get worse over time. It is important to remember that admitting you are depressed is a sign of strength and hope, not weakness! Depression is a treatable condition and should not be suffered in silence. Ignoring it will not make it go away, in fact if left untreated it tends to get worse. After all, if you had a broken ankle you wouldn’t just ignore the pain and keep walking around on it! Counseling and regular exercise can be very helpful, and sometimes medications will be prescribed.  Look for a qualified therapist who has experience in treating men with depression.

Every family deserves a happy, loving father, and every man deserves to feel worthy and capable of handling life’s day-to-day ups and downs with confidence. Don’t suffer alone. There are many resources online, or through your doctor. Get help today!

Brachial Plexus Injuries: A Preventable Newborn Injury- Please Read!

Three out of every 1,000 babies born in the USA suffer from injuries that could have been prevented. More children are inflicted with Brachial Plexus injuries at birth than suffer from Down’s Syndrome, or Muscular Dystrophy, or Spina Bifida.  The terrifying reality is that Brachial Plexus injury is a doctor-cause damage, occurring when a baby’s head is tugged or twisted in order to pull him out of the mother, damaging the delicate nerves in a newborn’s neck.

Symptoms may include a limp or paralyzed arm; lack of muscle control in the arm, hand, or wrist; and a lack of feeling or sensation in the arm or hand. The tragedy is that most of these birth-related injuries are preventable.  Like many of today’s problems, a little bit of education can go a long way.

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The problem is that a baby’s shoulders can become lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bones. Some practitioners panic and start pulling on the babies head. They call it “gentle traction” but it is hardly gentle.  In order to help shift the baby’s position, the mother needs to change positions, and this will help the baby to “slide out like a little fish.”

How? Laying flat on your back during labor is the WORST position for childbirth.  Although it is deemed most convenient for doctors, it narrows the birth canal by up to 30% and makes it much harder to push the baby out. Simply rolling over on your side, standing up, squatting, kneeling, or getting down on all fours will help. But never, never, never let anyone pull on your baby’s head.

C-section babies can also be injured.

Why aren’t more people aware of Brachial Plexus injuries?

The United Brachial Plexus Network explains that the reasons are complicated and include the following:

* Since there is no mandatory reporting or tracking of this injury, the widely stated assumption that the injury is usually transient cannot be validated.
* Misconceptions exist regarding the life-long implications and disabilities associated with this injury.
* Birthing practitioners do not want to take responsibility for enabling these injuries through medicinalized labor protocols.
* Medical providers are resistant to the idea that this injury is often preventable.
* Birthing practitioners have succumb to the belief that brachial plexus injuries are an unpreventable and acceptable risk of vaginal childbirth.
* Patient’s guardians often feel the injury is minimized by hospital personnel and are usually told the injury will go away after a few days or weeks.

Please watch this 5-minute video and visit the United Brachial Plexus Network website for more information. A full-length 25-minute video is available there.

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