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.

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.

Postpartum Danger Signs to Watch For

The weeks after your baby is born are full of wonder and worry. You may feel all sorts of conflicting emotions and uncomfortable physical sensations. Most of these physical and mental states are all within normal range, but sometimes there are complications. Call your health care provider right away if you experience any of these warning signs:

  • Depression: You feel extreme sadness or despair,  have delusions or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
  • Bleeding: Your bleeding isn’t tapering off, continues to be bright red after the first four days, resumes after slowing down, contains clots bigger than a quarter, or has a foul odor.
  • Fever: You develop a fever, even a slight one. A low-grade fever may be something benign, but it can also be a sign of a serious infection, so play it safe and call.
  • Stomach pain: You have severe or persistent pain anywhere in your abdomen or pelvis, or  afterpains that get worse instead of better.
  • C-section pain: You have worsening pain or soreness that persists beyond the first few weeks, or redness, swelling, or discharge at the site of your c-section incision.
  • Vaginal pain: You have severe or worsening pain in your vagina or perineum, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, or swelling or discharge from the site of an episiotomy or a tear.
  • Breast pain: You have pain or tenderness in one area of the breast that’s not relieved by warm soaks and nursing. Or you have swelling or redness in one area, possibly accompanied by flu-like symptoms or fever.
  • Abnormal urination: You have pain or burning when urinating; you have the urge to pee frequently but not a lot comes out; your urine is dark and scanty or bloody; or you have any combination of these symptoms. (Stinging after the urine comes out and hits a bruised or torn area normal.)
  • Leg pain: You have severe or persistent pain or tenderness and warmth in one area of your leg, or one leg is more swollen than the other.
  • Headaches: You have severe or persistent headaches.
  • Vision problems: You have double vision, blurring or dimming of vision, or flashing spots or lights.
  • Vomiting: You have severe or persistent vomiting.
  • Tenderness from IV: The site of your IV insertion becomes painful, tender, or inflamed.

When to call 911 (or local emergency number) instead:

  • You have shortness of breath or chest pain, or are coughing up blood.
  • You’re bleeding profusely.
  • You’re showing signs of shock, including light-headedness, weakness, rapid heartbeat or palpitations, rapid or shallow breathing, clammy skin, restlessness or confusion.

For more Postpartum information, visit Baby Center

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Contractions: Are These the Real Thing?

During the third trimester, some women experience “false” contractions called Braxton-Hicks contractions. This is a normal occurrence, and like real labor contractions, they may increase in frequency and intensity, making you worry that you are going into premature labor. But unlike true labor, these contractions don’t grow consistently longer, stronger, and closer together.

image from Women Health Tips

How to tell if it’s preterm labor: True labor contractions show a definite pattern. Employ the 1-5-1 formula: if your contractions last at least one minute, are five minutes (or less) apart, and continue for at least one hour you are, most likely, in labor. (This would mean you should alert your health-care provider immediately.) Braxton-Hicks contractions come and go and don’t settle into a regular pattern. Don’t forget to practice relaxing and breathing with these trial-run contractions. (Dr. Sears)

If you are within a few weeks of your due date, but the Braxton Hicks contractions are making you uncomfortable, try these measures:

  • Change your activity or position. If you’ve been sitting or laying down, try walking around. If you’re been  moving a lot, resting may provide relief. (On the other hand, true labor contractions will progress regardless of what you do.)
  • Take a warm bath to help your body relax.
  • Drink water; these contractions are sometimes brought on by dehydration.
  • Relaxation exercises and slow, deep breathing may help you cope with the discomfort.

Should I call the doctor?

If you haven’t reached 37 weeks yet, and are having more than four contractions in an hour, or contractions are becoming more frequent, rhythmic, or painful, call your caregiver immediately.  In this case, it’s better to play it safe and don’t try to make the diagnosis yourself. Preterm labor is not something to take chances with. Other possible signs of preterm labor:

  • Abdominal pain, menstrual-like cramping, or more than four contractions in an hour (even if they don’t hurt)
  • Any vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • An increase in vaginal discharge or a change in the type of discharge — if it becomes watery, mucusy, or bloody (even if it’s only pink or blood-tinged)
  • Increased pelvic pressure (a feeling that your baby’s pushing down)
  • Low back pain, especially if it’s a new problem for you

Can You be Forced to Vaccinate?

You might be surprised to learn that you are not required by law to vaccinate  your children, even when you want to enroll them in a school or daycare.  All states offer either a philosophical, medical, and/or religious exemption from vaccinations. It is important for parents to know this, since many believe that the law is children must receive “x” amount of vaccines. However, you do have the right to design a vaccine program that is right for you and your child.

image: Prison Planet: Revolt Against Dangerous Vaccines

The National Vaccine Information Center has the info on each state and what type of exemptions are available. Click here to find out the requirements and exemptions in your state. For example, in California, a parent can “submit a letter or affidavit stating that the immunization is contrary to his or her beliefs.” You can also submit testimony from a clergyman that vaccinating is against your religious beliefs, or a doctor’s letter explaining why you do not vaccinate for medical reasons.

Whether you choose to vaccinate your child is a personal decision. While my first two children were vaccinated according to the recommended schedule, baby number three (who is now 7 months old) is going to be different. The more I read, learn, and discuss, the more compelled I am to take a stand against routine, unquestioned vaccinations, some of who’s benefits may not outweigh the risks.

What do you want for your child? The only way to find out is to research and talk to others about it. Some parents want their child to be vaccinated, but only one or two at a time. This would call for an alternative vaccination schedule. Some advocate waiting until a child is 2 years old before starting a vaccination program. Others make a decision that certain vaccines are a worthwhile investment while others have risks that outweigh the benefits. And some will not vaccinate at all.

Learn the facts. Research both sides of the equation. The bottom line is, you are the only one who can take full responsibility for your child’s health. Neither the government nor your child’s school nor even your doctor can force you to do something you feel goes against your child’s best interest.

You’ve probably heard the arguments in favor of vaccinations. For more info on potential issues:

A User-Friendly Vaccination Schedule

National Vaccine Information Center

Dr. Bock’s Proposed Schedule of Vaccines

Generation Rescue: Do I vaccinate?

Rotavirus: The Vaccine Nobody Wants

Baby Center: Alternative Vaccination Schedules

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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Checklist: Getting Ready to Get Pregnant

If you want to get pregnant, there are a number of things you must do before you start trying. Item number one: Go skydiving. Because there’s no way they’ll let you jump out of that plane once you’ve got a baby on board!  Do you think I’m kidding? Well, skydiving is not my thing, personally, but really any high-action activity you want to do or trip you’ve been meaning to take should be considered before you become pregnant. Whether it’s scuba diving, mountain climbing, or riding all the roller coasters at Six Flags, do it now!

But aside from that, here are some important things you’ve got to tackle in order to be mentally, physically, and emotionally ready to get pregnant.

image: Saida Online Magazine

Consider genetic testing: Some genetic diseases affect certain ethnic groups, such as Tay-Sachs in the Ashkenazi Jewish community, and sickle cell disease, among African-Americans.  If a disease runs in your family, you may want to get tested to, for your own peace of mind.

Face up to the Scale: Aim for a healthy weight, as being underweight can affect ovulation, and being overweight contributes to problems like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Take a look at your diet: The healthier your body, the better chances you give your baby to start life healthy, too. Cut back on white flour, sugar, and processed food. Add more lean meats, low-fat dairy products, fruits, veges, and whole grains.  Yummy home-made soups and smoothies are great ways to sneak in good nutrition!

Exercise: If you already have an exercise routine, don’t slack off during pregnancy! And if not, well it’s never too late to start, but talk to your doctor about easing into it.  Some benefits of a good workout (or even a nice walk around the neighborhood) include preparing your body for childbirth, higher energy levels, better sleep, stress reduction, and reduction of pregnancy-related discomfort. Plus, if you stay fit during pregnancy, you will regain your figure quicker after the birth.

Take Folic Acid: This all-important B vitamin helps lower the risk of birth defects like spina bifida. These defects form very early in baby’s development, before many women even realize they’re pregnant, so ask your doctor about taking a supplement as soon as you think about wanting to get pregnant.

Talk to your doctor about your medications: Some are best to stop taking during pregnancy, while some are OK– or necessary– to continue with.  You should not make this judgement on your own!

Visit the dentist: Good oral hygiene is one of those things we encourage during pregnancy.  Getting a bacterial infection can lead to premature birth and preeclampsia. Plus, better not to get x-rayed while you’re pregnant.

Cut back on Caffeine: A little bit is OK but too much is no good for a growing baby. The caffeine also affects fertility, so cutting back may increase your chances of conceiving.

Cork up that bottle, and throw the cigarettes in the trash where they belong. A healthy baby needs a healthy environment to grow in!  He should follow your lead and not just for moral support:  Excessive drinking and smoking can lower sperm count, too.

Paint the nursery: And the dining room, pantry, and bedroom too, if you want! But don’t do it while you’re pregnant or have a newborn in the house.  Toxins such as pesticides, oven cleaners, paint, and paint stripper contain chemicals that have been linked to birth defects.

Hand over the kitty litter sifter: Sure, it might just be a good excuse to get out of an unpleasant job. But it is true that litter boxes contain parasites that can make you sick (it’s called toxoplasmosis). So let hubby do the job, or wear gloves and wash up carefully when you’re done.

Work that budget: Finances shouldn’t have to stand in the way of having a family!  Sit down with a financial planner if you  need to, and figure out how you can put some money away for prenatal care and raising your baby.  Also find out about your company’s maternity leave policies,  your health insurance’s prenatal care and childbirth policies, and look into life and disability insurance.

Be emotionally prepared: Women who have given a great deal of thought to what pregnancy and parenting entail are better adjusted later on, compared with those who did not consider the demands their new role will place upon their lives. As a couple you need to think about how a pregnancy and new baby will  impact your family, work, and psyche.

Your First Prenatal Visit

Missed a period? Feeling nauseous? Taken a pregnancy test that showed positive?  You’re probably feeling excited and a little anxious too, so if you want to know what to expect during the first steps of your journey through pregnancy, we can fill you in!

When to Schedule Your First Appointment

It’s best to call your doctor or midwife as soon as you find out you are pregnant.  If you’re feeling good, your caretaker probably won’t schedule a visit before you’re 8 weeks pregnant. But if you are experiencing any pain, severe nausea or vomiting, or vaginal bleeding, you need to let him/her know so they can see you right away.  If you have a medical condition, are taking any medications, or have had pregnancy-related problems in the past, they will probably want to see your sooner as well.

What to Expect at your First Appointment

The first visit is often the longest one, as your doctor wants to make sure all is well, and let you know what else

Determine your due date: This is often calculated based on the first day of your last period, so it helps if you can recall the date. The date can also be estimated using an early ultrasound of the fetus.

Take your health history: Your doctor will ask questions about your general health, chronic conditions and gynecological issues you may have, medications you take, regularity of your menstrual cycle, and details about previous pregnancies. She’ll also ask about your family’s medical history, health habits, drug allergies, surgeries, hospitalizations, and whether you have been the victim of abuse. She will also inquire about the medical history of the baby’s father and his family.

Discuss Options for Genetic Testing: There are a number of different screening tests that done to determine your baby’s risk for birth defects, chromosomal problems, and Down syndrome.

First trimester combined screening: This consists of a blood test and, if available in your area, an ultrasound called a nuchal translucency screening. It is done between 9 and 13 weeks. This screening assess your baby’s risk of having Down syndrome and some other chromosomal abnormalities as well as major congenital heart problems.

Multiple marker screening is a blood test done between 15 and 20 weeks. It screens for Down syndrome and trisomy 18, which are chromosomal abnormalities, and neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

Carrier screening: These tests are done depending on your ethnic background and medical history, in order to see if your baby is at risk for certain genetic disorders such as Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, or thalassemia.

Genetic diagnostic tests include chorionic villus sampling (CVS), generally done at 11 to 12 weeks, and amniocentesis, usually done at 16 to 20 weeks. These tests can tell you for sure whether your baby has Down syndrome or certain other problems. These tests are usually administered only if there is a strong risk of chromosomal problems, after the results of the screening tests are known. They are invasive and carry a risk of miscarriage.

Physical exam: Your doctor may give you a thorough physical, including a pelvic exam, a Pap smear (if you haven’t had one recently), and sometimes a culture to check for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Blood tests are done to identify your blood type, Rh status, and to check for anemia. The lab is also looking out for syphilis, hepatitis B, and immunity to rubella (German measles).  It’s also recommended that pregnant women be tested for HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) at their first prenatal visit. Being treated for AIDS during pregnancy is very important for reducing the likelihood of passing the infection to your baby.

Urine sample tests for urinary tract infections and other things.

Counsel: Your doctor should give you advice about proper nutrition, exercise, weight gain, common discomforts of early pregnancy, and symptoms that  require immediate attention.  She’ll remind you about the dangers of smoking, alcohol, drugs, and certain medications. If you are feeling anxious or depressed she can refer you to someone who can help with your emotional health.  If you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to share them with your doctor. Don’t worry, she’s heard and seen in all!

feature image from Rest Assured

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

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

Bed Rest: What, why, and how?

Although the term “bed rest” implies just what it says, not every woman who is prescribed bed rest is banished to her bed for the rest of her pregnancy.  Bed rest is common, so don’t be alarmed.  Some women just need to take it easy for a few days to stabilize a potential complication, others need to be hospitalized for many months.  Some women know it is coming because of medical history, whereas others are surprised during a routine checkup.

“Find out why you are being given bed rest and what your doctor thinks it will accomplish,” suggests Julie Webber-Davlin, PhD, LCCE, FACCE, a Lamaze childbirth educator in Arvada, Colorado (via Lamaze Magazine). “Understanding why will help you deal with it better.” Ask your health-care provider for a clean explanation and advice, including exactly what you can and can’t do while on bed rest. Even if bed rest limits your activities, don’t lose sight of any goals you had for your pregnancy. For example, if you can’t attend a childbirth class, some childbirth educators will do in-home teaching.

Below, American Pregnancy explains the reasons for bed rest, how to deal with discomfort and monotony, and why it’s important to follow doctor’s orders!

What are the reasons for bed rest?

There can be any number of reasons for bed rest, but in all cases it’s to allow you to continue with a healthy pregnancy. Here is a list of complications that may lead to bed rest:

How will bed rest help?

In most cases, bed rest gives your body a chance to normalize. Working, certain activities, lifting, or exercise may worsen or provoke certain situations, so bed rest may be prescribed to reduce vaginal bleeding or decrease the chance of premature labor. Bed rest may also be necessary (often on your side) to help increase blood flow to the placenta.

What is the best position for bed rest?

The best position for bed rest will depend on your situation and what complication your health care provider is trying to address or prevent. In most cases, you’ll be instructed to sleep or rest on your side, usually with your knees or hips bent, and maybe a pillow between your knees. You may be asked to lie on your back while being propped up with pillows or to lie on your back with your hips or legs elevated higher than your shoulders.

How can I deal with bed rest discomforts?

Bed rest will tend to cause your muscles to lose tone and make some of your joints ache. Lying down for long periods of time can also reduce your blood circulation. Changing from side to side will help stimulate your muscles and relieve pressure. Exercise is important for your blood circulation, but make sure that you visit with your health care provider before you begin any exercises. Below are common exercises that may be used:

  • Squeezing stress balls
  • Pressing your hands and feet against the bed
  • Turning your arms and feet in circles
  • Tensing or tightening your arm and leg muscles

Avoid using your abdominal muscles when you are stretching or exercising. Again, consult with your health care provider about the best ways for you to get exercise in your situation.

“Do’s” and “Don’ts” during bed rest:

The “do’s” and “don’ts” during bed rest will vary from woman to woman, depending on your situation and the reasons that bed rest is prescribed by your health care provider. It is important to get a clear understanding of what is allowed during your bed rest period. In most cases, bed rest will require that you avoid lifting, exercise, or any strenuous activity. If your bed rest occurs for a long period of time, it is important to discuss exercises or activities that you are allowed to do to keep your blood circulating. Here is a list of activities to discuss with your health care provider:

  • Cooking
  • Light chores
  • Walking
  • Bath or shower
  • Driving
  • Exercise
  • Sexual intercourse

How can I make the best of bed rest?

Bed rest may sound relaxing, but it is usually challenging for most women, especially for long periods. There are a number of things you can do to make your bed rest a more positive experience:

Establish a routine: Bed rest may lead you to feel that things are out of your control. Establishing a routine helps you maintain control and feel better about your situation.  Get dressed in comfortable clothes (or at least a cute top) every morning, and have a schedule for the day.

Spring cleaning: Ok, yes you are stuck in bed, but this is an excellent opportunity to organize photo albums, make changes to address books, update recipes, or work on whatever other projects need attention.

Connect with friends: After the baby arrives you will be busy taking care of things, and visiting with friends may be difficult. Use this time to make phone calls, send emails, and invite friends to visit.

Baby preparations: Bed rest provides you with an opportunity to get organized and plan for things related to the baby. You can begin thinking about baby names, baby registry, a new will, guardianship, insurance, baby announcements, thank you notes and financial matters. You may also use this time to shop online or on the phone for the nursery or other items you will need to care for the baby.

Medical preparations: Bed rest will also give you time to research, learn, and plan to deal with a complication, such as the delivery of a premature baby. You can get online or read books to discover how you can be prepared for handling an early delivery or other complications.

Allow friends and family to help: Your family and friends care about you and are interested in helping you out. They know you would do the same for them, so don’t be afraid to ask for help with meals, household chores, or errands. You may even find that people call to ask what they can do to help. Make it easier on yourself by having a “to do” list with you, so you can actually take them up on their offer!

Become a parenting expert: Bed rest provides you with an excellent opportunity to search the internet, read books, and go through baby and parenting magazines to gain information to help you become a parenting expert. You can learn more about breastfeeding, child development, immunizations, and other things related to you, your baby, and parenting.

Love those around you: Bed rest will require those around you to invest more in the chores, tasks and activities that you may normally have handled. Recognizing your situation, they hopefully will be doing things with a positive attitude already. But you can always take this time to do something for them to show your appreciation such as make a card, write a letter, or order a special gift.

Get organized: Being confined to the bed does not mean that you cannot be productive, whether it is accomplishing things for your family, your home, or just doing something for yourself. Having things at your fingertips will make things easier. Here is a checklist of items you may want near the bed or couch:

  • Telephone, directory and address book
  • Pens, pencils and paper
  • Brush, comb, and mirror
  • Cosmetics, nail files, etc.
  • Books, magazines, or newspapers
  • Remote controls to TV and VCR
  • Laptop computer
  • Drinks and snacks

Get Top Tips from Moms in the Trenches to find ways of making the most of your time, and dealing with bed-rest blues.

Image from Pregnancy Today

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