Do you REALLY want to know what’s in your baby’s formula?

Oils, sugars, genetically modified organisms, aluminum, silicone, cadmium, MSG, Bisphenol-A… are you slightly horrified yet? What Everyone Needs To Know About Infant Formula Ingredients states, “This information is not readily available unless you work hard to seek it out, but I think that once you know it’s important to share it so others may benefit. I chose to write this for any parent who may be unaware of the full implications of formula feeding. Education is power and everyone deserves the ability to make an informed choice.”

Instant baby formula has saved lives. But to say that it is “just as good as” breast milk is very misleading. As scientist try to replicate breast milk as closely as possible, they are creating a substance that is increasingly more complex and questionable.  Because baby formula is categorized as “food” and not under “pharmaceuticals,” the FDA does not monitor the so-called “safe” ingredients that are added to it.

Some of these questionable ingredients include lactose, fructose, glucose, maltodextrose, carbohydrate (corn maltodextrin, modified corn starch ,corn syrup solids), protein (whey, casein, soy protein isolate), fat (soy oil, coconut oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, palm or olein oil) which are usually sourced from GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). Lots of sugar– in order to modify cow milk the protein and mineral content must be reduced and the carbohydrate content must be increased, which is done by adding sugars.

More unappetizing stuff: The DHA in infant formula is extracted from fermented microalgae, Cryptecoiunium cohnii, and ARA is extracted from soil fungus, Mortierelle alpina. These are new to the food chain,l therefor the long term effects of these ingredients are not known. The way they get this stuff (using hexane, a petroleum-refining by-product- a known neurotoxin and air pollutant) is concerning, too.

You might also find a mix of aluminum, silicone, cadmium, MSG, phytoestrogens, GMO soybeans, phosphate, phthalates and Bisphenol-A in your baby’s formula. And even the water used as the base can pose a hazard- even in developed countries.  Chlorine by-products, arsenic, solvents, insecticides and weed killers are common. Formula-fed babies are up to 25 times more likely to die of  diarrhea than breast-fed babies.

You can read more about this at Breastfeeding Moms Unite.

Also of interest is Dr. Mercola’s statement: Soy formula is FAR worse than conventional formula. He says that the estrogens in soy can irreversibly harm your baby’s sexual development and reproductive health. Infants fed soy formula receive a level of estrogen equivalent to five birth control pills every day! In addition, soy formula has up to 80 times higher manganese than is found in human breast milk, which can lead to brain damage in infants, and altered behaviors in adolescence.  So please, do not ever feed your baby soy formula, and warn others who are pregnant or who you know are considering using formula over breastfeeding. The next best alternative to breast milk is to make a healthy homemade infant formula. There may be others, but here is one recipe for homemade formula created by the Weston Price Foundation, which I believe is sound.

Sleep more, Loose weight!

If you want to loose that baby weight, and have any spare time between feedings and diaper changes, you’ll need to work on 3 steps to a slimmer you: Exercise, eat right, and get a good night’s sleep.

“Researchers have presented a conundrum to new mothers, saying that women who want to lose the extra weight gained in pregnancy should try to get more sleep,” according to an article at smh.  “…This study shows that getting enough sleep – even just two hours more – may be as important as a healthy diet and exercise for new mothers to return to their pre-pregnancy weight,” said Erica Gunderson of Kaiser Permanente, which runs hospitals and clinics in California.  Gunderson and colleagues studied 940 women taking part in a study of prenatal and postnatal health at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

This is not surprising, as studies among the general population also link adequate sleep with weight loss. The Diet Channel points to a link between sleep and the hormones that influence our eating behavior.  When you’re sleep deprived, mixed up hormone levels result is an increased craving for food, while not feeling full.

Bottom line: New mothers who sleep seven hours a night or more loose more weight. (Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.) This is easier said than done, and research is needed in a new area: How to accomplish this with a fitful newborn in the house! Be sure to wake me up when they figure that one out!

image from intmedny.com

Pregnancy without Heartburn: Is it possible?

Heartburn (also known as acid indigestion or acid reflux) is an uncomfortable but common pregnancy complaint. It may be that up to half of pregnant women experience heartburn, which may occur for the first time while they are pregnant. It feels like a burning sensation in the chest and throat, and a sour, acidic taste in the mouth, often after eating.

Heartburn is caused by some of the hormonal and physical changes in your body. During pregnancy, the placenta produces the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus. Unfortunately, this hormone also relaxes the valve separating the esophagus from the stomach, allowing gastric acids to seep back up, which causes that unpleasant burning sensation. Progesterone also slows down digestion so that later in pregnancy, as your growing baby crowds your abdominal cavity, stomach acid is pushed up into the esophagus. If you have a short torso, this may exacerbate heartburn.

Foods to Avoid

Though you may not be able to eliminate heartburn entirely, you can take steps to minimize your discomfort.  Avoid food and beverages that cause you gastrointestinal distress (take a look at this chart for a complete list). The usual suspects are:

  • carbonated drinks
  • alchohol
  • caffeine
  • chocolate
  • acidic foods like citrus fruits and juices
  • tomatoes
  • mustard
  • vinegar
  • processed meats
  • mint products
  • spicy, highly seasoned food
  • fried or fatty foods

In addition to this, follow these guidelines to further eliminate discomfort from heartburn:

•  Don’t eat big meals. Instead, eat several small meals throughout the day. Take your time eating and chew thoroughly.

•  Avoid drinking large quantities of fluids during meals — you don’t want to distend your stomach. It’s important to stay hydrated, but sip in between meals instead.

•  Try chewing gum after eating. Chewing gum stimulates your salivary glands, and saliva can help neutralize acid.

•  Don’t eat close to bedtime. Give yourself two to three hours to digest before you lie down.

•  Sleep propped up with several pillows or a wedge. Elevating your upper body will help keep your stomach acids where they belong and will aid your digestion.
•  Watch your posture. Putting pressure on your stomach can cause heartburn in pregnancy. Sit in an upright position to keep the pressure off your stomach. When you stand or walk, keep your posture erect for the same reason.

•  Gain a sensible amount of weight, and stay within the guidelines your health care provider suggests.

•  Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Avoid any tightness around your waist and tummy.

•  Bend at the knees instead of at the waist.

•  Don’t smoke. In addition to contributing to a host of serious health problems, smoking boosts stomach acidity.

An over-the-counter antacid that contains magnesium or calcium may ease discomfort, but check with your prenatal caregiver before taking one, because some brands contain aluminum or aspirin or are high in sodium. Some heartburn relievers such as Tums, Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, or Gaviscon may also prove helpful.  If these measures don’t help, talk to your caregiver about prescription heartburn medications that are safe during pregnancy.

Yoga has proven to be great help for some people in coping with heartburn. Yoga helps to reduce stress and anxiety, promotes relaxation, and stabilizes digestion.  Click here or here for some simple prenatal yoga instructions that may provide some relief.

Image from fitsugar.com.

Can doctors predict Postpartum Depression?

If you could find out while pregnant that you had a tendency toward postpartum depression,it could be a real lifesaver, literally. You would be able to prepare for it in advance, identify and deal with the symptoms, and make sure you have the help you need to stay healthy and properly care for your new baby.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum Depression is a common psychological side-effect of childbirth. As many as one in five new mothers in the U.S. experiences postpartum depression shortly after childbirth, leading to feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Another seven percent of women battle major depression after giving birth. If not properly diagnosed and treated, postpartum depression can lead new mothers to attempt suicide, neglect or even harm their newborns.

Can it really be predicted?

But now, researchers at the University of California, Irvine said they can fairly accurately predict which women will later suffer from postpartum depression, using a simple blood test. This type of screening test could one day become part of a woman’s standard prenatal care, along with the gestational diabetes screen, which is typically performed around 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.

This would work by measuring the level of a hormone produced by the placenta around the 25th week of pregnancy.  The study found that women with higher levels of placental corticotropin-releasing hormone (pCRH) midway through pregnancy were more likely to develop postpartum depression. The blood test correctly identified 75% of those who had future postpartum depression symptoms.

In pregnant women, the placenta pumps out 100 times more CRH than is normally produced by the hypothalamus. The hormone has been nicknamed the “placental clock” because it is thought to prepare the woman’s body for childbirth, said psychologist Ilona Yim, who worked on the study.

Levels of CRH and other hormones drop after the mother gives birth, which Yim said causes hormone “withdrawal” that can create havoc with the endocrine system.

“It puts the whole system out of whack,” she said in a telephone interview. (Reuters)

Other risk factors for postpartum depression include a history of depression or premenstrual syndrome, stress and anxiety during pregnancy, a lack of social support, and fluctuating hormone levels. The presence of high levels of CRH in the body triggers a variety of reactions, including an increase in the production of stress hormones, like cortisol. This can lead to the development of mental disorders, such as severe depression.

While antidepressant drugs can sometimes relieve postpartum depression, Yim urged a preventive approach, such as having at-risk women learn relaxation techniques common in prenatal yoga classes, and bolstering the emotional ties they may need. (Reuters)

You know what they say about an ounce of prevention… If doctors really can predict and watch for postpartum depression, it seems that could save many families much grief. It will be intereting to see what comes of this important study!

After Birth: What to expect physically and emotionally

Information contained in the following article is from iVillage.com.

YOUR BODY

Giving birth is a strenuous and exhausting effort. Add to that few sleepless nights, engorged breasts, and recovering from stitches or a C-section, and you may feel like you’ve been run over by a bulldozer. Hopefully, your little bundle of joy evens out the scales and makes it all worth it.

image: blogforbrains

Severe fatigue: It’s essential to have help from family and friends. Although you’ve heard it before, you really should try to take advantage of daytime opportunities for rest (ie: when the baby is sleeping, you should be sleeping!) Avoid the urge to try and keep up with the housework or resume other tasks. RESTING will help your body recover more quickly.

Afterbirth Contractions These contractions indicate the uterus is shrinking to normal size, and are often strongest during breastfeeding (hormones associated with lactating also help the uterus return to normal size). Generally, after a first birth, these contractions are light or can’t even be felt at all. They become increasingly severe with later births.

Bleeding: Your body will shed the uterine lining over a period of about four to six weeks. It will initially be bloody, then thinner, pinkish and eventually yellow. It should not have an unpleasant odor.

Hair loss: During pregnancy, your hair may have seemed more luxuriant because hair-follicle growth became synchronized. Now your hair may temporarily appear thinner as this extra growth falls out. Increased perspiration is also common as the body loses some of its extra fluid.

Engorgement: Because your breasts are now supplying milk for your infant, breast enlargement and often engorgement occurs 3-4 days after the birth. Breastfeeding mothers can ease the discomfort by wearing a supportive bra, feeding the infant on demand and using acetaminophen. Bottle-feeding mothers should also wear a well-fitting, snug bra and use cold compresses.

Pain while Breastfeeding: It is very important to make sure your baby is latching on properly during feedings. Soreness is normal in the first couple weeks, but painful feedings are a sign that something is wrong. If you are experiencing cracked or bleeding nipples, seek the help of a breastfeeding consultant.

Vaginal Soreness: After stretching, tearing, or being incised and then stitched, the crotch area will be quite sore. It will be especially obvious while using the bathroom. The healing process normally results in a return to comfort within a few days. It is usually advised to wait 6 weeks before resuming sexual activity, as your vagina and vulva may feel dry and tender for weeks after any stitches heal, due to normally low levels of estrogen during milk production.

Extra pounds: Within the first day or so after birth, you’ll quickly loose about ten pounds. The remaining weight will be lost gradually, about 15 pounds in the next six or more weeks.  You may be anxious to have a waistline again, but women loose weight at different rates. Eating properly and exercising can hasten this process and add to a sense of well-being.

Your Feelings

image: crying baby tips

Because you are experiencing exhaustion, ecstasy, soreness, and hormone changes all at once, it’s important to understand your feelings and foster open communication with your partner.

Family Time: As a couple, you must decide on your level of interaction with friends and family. Some new parents want to spend time alone, bonding with each other and their new baby. Others relish visits with friends and family. Your decision may depend on the personality type and level of helpfulness. For instance, some grandparents are a pleasure to have around; others are critical, demanding or unavailable. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you are resting or just not feeling up to have visitors at the present time. In most cases, they will understand!

Be Realistic: After birth, gourmet meals, fashion dressing and immaculate housekeeping are unnecessary. Allow your spouse or partner to maintain the household while you rest.  Accept any offers of help, even if you don’t normally feel comfortable doing so.

Range of Feelings: Your life has changed forever, which can be wonderful and daunting at the same time! Women may be surprised at the intensity of feelings associated with a new baby. You may be madly in love with your tiny, perfect angel. You may be in awe at the new life in your care.  But you may also be overwhelmed by the responsibilities. You might feel anxious about your body’s slow healing and return to your pre-baby figure and pre-baby routine. You might worry that you’re not doing things right. You might even swing back and forth at times. It’s important to have the support and involvement of loved ones. Online forums where you can chat with other women in the same situation can also be helpful and comforting.

Intimacy: Sex may seem uninteresting, even impossible, at first. The baby is hungry or needs to be rocked, you’re sore, and most of all tired. You and your partner will  need to be patient. Interest in sex comes back, proven by the number of second and third siblings in the population.

Warning Signs

Not all warning signs mean something is wrong, but they indicate that you should talk to a doctor or caregiver to make sure everything is OK. Use this list as a guide.

  • Severe persistent pelvic pain, especially with fever.
  • Very heavy bleeding or a malodorous discharge after the first few days.
  • Distinct area of redness and pain in a breast, especially if accompanied by fever.
  • Worsening pain or swelling of the vaginal area after the first few days.
  • The loss of sexual desire or pleasure is a problem for either partner.
  • Inability to carry out baby care; uncontrollable crying.
  • Morbid concern about baby
  • Paralyzing indecision about job.
  • Persistent depression.
  • Inability to sleep, eat and concentrate on performance of daily activities
  • Hatred of baby

We hope that your new baby brings you incredible joy and fulfillment, and that you are able to adjust smoothly to the new challenges and changes in your life! Visit the pregnancy & new baby pages at iVillage for more information on baby care… and new mommy care!

Your teeth need extra attention during pregnancy!

There’s a saying that goes, “Have a baby, lose a tooth.”

Dr. Dana Keiles, who practices dentistry in Yorktown Heights, N.Y, calls it an old wives tale. “But there are a lot of hormonal things going on during pregnancy that can cause serious problems, so it’s important to practice good oral hygiene.”

On top of that, about 50 percent of women experience pregnancy gingivitis, a gum disease caused by elevated hormone levels, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. The hormones react with plaque at the gum line, causing inflammation. Studies show that women with gum disease are more likely to give birth prematurely or bear full-term babies with low birth weights, which puts the infants at risk of developing serious health problems such as cerebral palsy, blindness and deafness. In addition, a study published in the April 2008 issue of the Journal of Dental Research suggests that women with gum disease are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.

The transfer of bacteria from a mother’s mouth to her unborn child and the rest of her body is probably to blame for these systemic health problems; however, other factors such as stress may come into play as well, says Dr. Jennifer Holtzman, assistant professor of clinical dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

In the general population, gum disease has been linked to heart disease and stroke.

“The best way to prevent and control gum disease is to make sure you clean the plaque off your teeth,” Holtzman says, adding that there are over-the-counter “disclosing agents” people can buy to dye and reveal any bacteria they missed while brushing and flossing.

Keiles recommends that women undergo a thorough dental exam if they are planning to get pregnant and that they have their teeth professionally cleaned every three months once they’re expecting.

She also recommends that pregnant women who suffer morning sickness or nausea rinse their mouths out if they vomit because stomach acid can damage tooth enamel.

Source: NY Daily News

Foot Pain while Pregnant? Try Orthotics!

The Daily Breeze posed the following question about foot pain, which was answered by Dr. Barry A. Wertheimer, D.P.M.:

Q: Now that I am pregnant I have noted severe foot and other joint pains whenever I have to stand or walk for an extended period of time. What is the reason … and besides taking medications, can anything be done to help?

A: As many as 80 to 85 percent of women experience increased pain in their feet, legs, neck and back during pregnancy. Most doctors will tell you that wearing good shoes and massage is all that can be done to relieve the pain of this very common affliction. The reason for this pain is often the release of a hormone (relaxin) that allows stretching of ligaments in the pelvis to facilitate the birthing process. Since we live in a society that stands and walks on hard concrete surfaces, this hormone allows the feet to spread, flatten out and fatigue easily during the pregnancy. What is sometimes helpful is the purchase of over-the-counter orthotics, available at many sporting goods and drug stores. If not effective, then a custom-made foot orthotic, made by a podiatrist, is required to offer the greatest relief. Orthotics are custom-made supports that cradle the feet inside the shoes and hold them in a corrected position. They are a safe, effective, noninvasive treatment for the foot and posture. Orthotics also are effective in treating many other problems as well.

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