Are Hopsital Births Now “Scarier” Than Home Births?

AP reports that home births are on the rise by a dramatic 20 percent, from 2004 to 2008, accounting for 28,357 of 4.2 million U.S. births. And lest you think it is only the tree-huggers or families who are uninsured and can’t afford a hospital birth, think again.

Sherry Hopkins, a Las Vegas midwife, has attended the home births of many well-educated, affluent, informed women, including a pediatrician, an emergency room doctor and nurses. Home births are the new “it” thing to do.

“I do think there’s a backlash against what’s happening in hospitals,” said Gina Crosley-Corcoran, a Chicago blogger and pre-law student, who gave birth to her third baby (a V-bac) at home. “Women are finding that the hospital experience wasn’t a good one.”

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image credit

The hospital birth experience does seem to be becoming increasingly invasive and drug-dependent.  There are relatively minor inconveniences such as being poked by needles, fetal-monitoring, and being told what position to labor in. Then there are bigger concerns such as cord-clamping,  inducement, soaring C-section rates, and brachial plexus injuries. And then there is the matter of comfort: birthing mothers want to feel at ease in their own surroundings, going at their own pace, without interference from doctors who want to speed things up so they won’t miss dinner.

Dr. Joel Evans, a board-certified OB-GYN who supports home birth, calls the medical establishment “resistant to change, resistant to dialogue, resistant to flexibility.”  For many women, hospital births have become a stressful, medicalized experience where every birthing woman is treated under the same protocols.

Home births are not for everyone, especially those who are high-risk. Emergencies do happen, so it is important to be close to a hospital in case you need to be rushed there. An informed decision, careful examination of the pros and cons, together with expert advice, is always the way to go.

Robbie Davis-Floyd, a medical anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin and researcher on global trends in childbirth, says: “Women who are truly educated in evidence-based maternity care understand the safety and the multiple benefits of home birth.”

Read more: Home birth on the rise by a dramatic 20 percent

If you have had a home-birth of are thinking of having one, we’d like to hear about it! Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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.

Getting Kids Excited about a New Baby

Younger toddlers won’t have a clue about a baby “growing in your tummy.” Because they can’t see it, they won’t be able to understand much of the explanation. Even when you are in your ninth month, big as a house, your older baby won’t take much notice of the bulge, except to realize that it is harder for her to sit on your lap.

Being pregnant with young children in tow can be both challenging and exhausting. Involving your kids in your pregnancy makes things a bit easier and is often fun. Here are some ways to involve everyone in the “family pregnancy” and prepare them for life with a newborn.

Arrange Baby Time

Make to be around very young babies. This lets your children see what they look like, hear how they sound, observe you holding one now and then, notice that they need comforting, and learn about nursing.

Baby Talk

Small kids: Once your belly is really big, eight months maybe, talk about the new baby. Your toddler will feel more secure if you refer to it as “Suzy’s new baby.” Let her feel kicks, help her talk or sing to baby, and stroke your belly.

Bigger kids: Tell older toddlers and preschoolers about the baby early on in the pregnancy. The older the child, the sooner you can tell him; very young children may be confused or disappointed when the baby fails to arrive the next day. With an older toddler or preschooler, try all of the toddler suggestions above, and in addition, use the diagrams in books on birth to talk about how the baby is growing, month by month. You’ll be surprised by questions like “What part did baby grow today, mom?”

Read Books about Babies

Show her simple children’s books about new babies. Show pictures of when she was a tiny baby and tell her about all the things you did for her. Say things like “Mommies hold tiny babies a lot because they need that.”

Explain Your  Moods

Depending on the age and level of understanding, tell your child why you are feeling so tired, grouchy, short-fused, impatient, and whatever else you feel while pregnant: You might say, “Baby needs a lot of energy to grow, and that’s why mom is tired and sleeps a lot…” Or, “The hormones baby needs to grow make mommy feel funny…”

Talk about the  Future

For example, let them know babies cry (some cry a lot) and they like it when you talk to them and make funny faces. Explain to them “You can help me change the diaper, bathe baby and dress baby. Babies can’t do anything for themselves for a long time, and they can’t play games until they grow bigger. They need to be held a whole lot, just like I held you when you were little.”

Hands on Demo

Usually by the fifth or sixth month, older children can feel their baby brother or sister move. During the time of the day when your baby moves the most, sit down and invite your children to feel the show. Let them guess which body part they are feeling.

Stock photo

image: The Johns Hopkins Gazette

Baby Bonding

Invite your children to talk to and about the baby. If you already know the gender and have chosen a name, you can encourage them to use it when referring to the baby. Or you can welcome the baby nicknames your child invents. Babies can hear around 23 weeks of age, so this is a good time for the kids to start talking to the baby so he or she will get to know them. After about three months of this, their voices will be very familiar to the baby still in utero, and bonding will already be under way. Studies show that babies tend to turn toward voices they recognize right after birth.

Little Helping Hands

Realize that it’s impossible to give other family members the same degree of attention they are used to while you’re pregnant. Sooner or later the children will realize that they must share mom with another tiny taker in the family. Fortunately, pregnancy provides you with plenty of time to prepare your older children for what life will be like after the baby arrives. Getting them used to helping you while baby brother or sister is still inside is actually another good tool for bonding. The children will have invested their time and energy already even before baby comes, and the baby will have more personal value to them.

Adapted from 10 WAYS TO INVOLVE CHILDREN WITH YOUR PREGNANCY

feature image: The Johns Hopkins Gazette

Twitter Advice for a First-time Mom

His Boys Can Swim! posed the following question on Twitter: “What’s the best advice you would offer to a 1st time mom?”  She got some great advice and shares the wisdom on her blog for all the other first-time mom’s out there!

It’s a long list, so I picked my fifteen favorites:

  1. @NightNannies – Take each day at a time and enjoy your baby as it goes very quickly.
  2. @jules23 – Do your own thing. EVERYONE will have an opinion on what you should do.
  3. @wellbalancedpup – Get a good babysitter and have time doing things with your partner and dont feel guilty about it.
  4. @sarabanut – Take ANYONE up on their offer to help after you have the baby.
  5. @Elouise82 – Best advice? Don’t listen to other mothers’ advice! They will all drive you insane if you let them.
  6. @jerseybites – Relax. We make our first borns so neurotic by being so neurotic. Don’t make everything have to be a lesson. Just enjoy.
  7. @WayMoreHomemade – From a control freak… realize that it’s not all under your control.
  8. @sueannesjewelry – Trust your own instincts when it comes to the mental and physical health of your child. Nobody knows them like mom.
  9. @tygerbaby – My sister had antibacterial everything…I’m pretty sure there were no living microbes anywhere in the house but…my nephew gets sicker more often than his younger sister, and the illnesses hit hard.
  10. @MomPath – Best advice 4 1st time mom? Laugh more & let the unimportant stuff slide. It’s an amazing adventure.
  11. @cheeriokeeper – Always pack 2-3 outfits in the diaper bag. There’s always bound to be a blow-out when you’re least expecting it.
  12. @latarahamying – Sleep when the baby sleeps and don’t try to be superwoman – it is impossible
  13. @birthinbinsi – Listen to advice, but trust your instincts. You know what is right for you and your baby.
  14. @SideKickBoy – If only my wife believed me when I told her how cute she is all pregnant.

…and I’ll add my own:

15. Use the internet… it’s a great resource (and comfort) for all your pregnancy and baby related questions!

Visit His Boys Can Swim! to see the complete list!

Image from preferredinsurancesvs

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!

The Ultimate New Baby Shopping List

I’m sure the new grandparents, aunts, and godmothers are already hitting the stores in sweet anticipation, and that your closets are starting to fill up with pretty little outfits, soft baby blankents, and sweet little knitted things. But with all the excitement and planning (not to mention the fatigue brought by the third trimester) it’s easy to forget some little things that might prove important when baby comes. You can always send Dad on midnight trips to Walgreen’s… or you can use this list from TheBump to make sure you’re prepared for Baby’s arrival!

The one thing you’ll need to know when planning baby’s wardrobe is that babies poop often and generously! Since baby poo is runny, it tends to get on EVERYTHING! You may find yourself changing baby’s outfit a few times a day… (and doing lots of poopy laundry, oh joy!)

Layette

10-15 bodysuits or onesies (wide head openings, snaps at bottom)

4-6 one-piece pajamas

2 blanket sleepers (for winter baby)

2-3 sweaters or jackets (for winter baby)

4-6 rompers or other outfits (preferrably with feet, as socks tend to get lost!)

4-7 socks or booties (shoes are cute but unnecessary until baby walks)

1-3 hats (broad-brimmed for summer baby, soft cap that covers ears for winter baby)

No-scratch mittens

Bunting bag or fleece suit (for winter baby)

Swimsuit for (summer baby)

Nursery

Crib, cradle or bassinet
• Slats no more than 2 3/8 inches apart
• Corner posts no more than 1/16 of an inch above frame
• Top rails at least 26 inches above mattress

Firm, flat mattress fit snugly in crib (less than two fingers should fit between mattress and crib)

2-3 washable crib mattress pads

Bumper pads covering inside perimeter (secured by at least six ties or snaps, with all extra length removed)

2-4 fitted crib sheets

4-6 soft, light receiving blankets

1-2 heavier blankets (for colder climates)

Rocking or arm chair

Music box, sound machine or CD player

Crib mobile with black and white images (remove when baby can support self on hands and knees)

Baby monitor

Nightlight (good for night-time feedings and diaper changes)

Dresser

Toy basket

Swing or bouncy chair

Changing

Changing table or cushioned changing pad for low dresser or bureau, with safety strap or railing

Changing table pad

4-6 washable changing table pad covers

Diaper pail & liners

Diaper cream

Unscented baby wipes (although for Baby’s sensitive skin, rinsing over the sink works best!)

Soft washcloths

2-3 boxes disposable newborn-size diapers {or}

6-10 dozen cloth diapers and 6-8 diaper covers

Bath

Baby bathtub

Baby soap/shampoo

2-4 soft towels or hooded baby towels

Baby hairbrush

Soft washcloths (use a different color or pattern than your diaper washcloths!)

Feeding

For nursing moms:

2-3 nursing bras (Breasts swell following birth, so start with one size larger than your maternity bra. Wait until size settles down — about two weeks after birth — to purchase additional bras.)

Nursing pads

Nipple cream (lanolin)

Nursing pillow

Pump (even if you plan only to nurse, a pump will allow you to leave milk for baby if you want or need to separate)

Milk storage bags

Breast milk is the healthiest as well as most convenient food for new babies: no bottles, nipples, warmers, or formula needed! However if you will be unable to nurse, here’s what you’ll need:

10-16 bottles and nipples, both four and eight ounce (if fed strictly by the bottle, baby will go through about ten in the four ounce size per day)

Liners, for disposable bottles

Formula

Bottle warmer (cuts down on nighttime trips to and from the kitchen)

Bottle sterilizer (if your dishwasher doesn’t have one)

Bottle brush

Dishwasher basket for small items

4-8 bibs

Burp cloths (or cloth diapers)

High chair

2-4 pacifiers

Medicine Cabinet

Baby nail clippers

Cotton balls (don’t use swabs to clean baby’s nose or ears)

Baby thermometer

Bulb syringe/nasal aspirator

Medicine dropper or spoon with measurements

Infant acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Antibiotic cream

Saline nasal drops

Baby gas drops

Travel

Infant or convertible car seat

Stroller (reclining to almost flat for infants)

Diaper bag

Changing pad

Baby carrier/sling

For Mom

Ice packs (in case of tearing during birth or swelling after)

2-3 week supply of ultra absorbent sanitary pads

Panty liners

The perfect signal: Why your baby cries & What to do about it!

If you are expecting your first baby, there are many things to look forward to… but also a few things you might find yourself dreading.  Like one of those babies who seems to cry all the time!  Unfortunately that imaginary dream land where babies never cry is not where you’re headed. Every baby fusses and cries, but there’s a good reason for that! If you learn what a baby’s cry means and how to respond, you will come to appreciate what scientists have dubbed “the perfect signal”: an infant’s cry.

The following information is from Dr. Sears’ website, one of my very favorite sources of information on childcare and the art of attachment parenting!

Did you know that an infants cry is a reflex? A baby doesn’t think, “What can I do now to get Mom’s attention?” His cry is automatic and is easily generated. Once his lungs are full of air, the infant can initiate crying with very little effort. This is an important point, as some people will tell you not to run to comfort your baby every time he cries. “He’s just crying because he knows you’ll come running to you. He’ll learn to manipulate you!” This is not true. A baby’s cry is an automatic response to some sort of need. If he’s crying, he needs you!

A mother is biologically programmed to respond to baby’s cry and give a nurturing response. Fascinating biological changes take place in a mother’s body in response to her infant’s cry. One thing that happens is increased blood flow to a mother’s breasts, accompanied by a biological urge to “pick up and nurse.” Oxytocin, the hormone that causes a mother’s milk to letdown, brings feelings of relaxation and pleasure; a pleasant release from the tension built up by the baby’s cry. These feelings help you love your baby. A mothers who tries to ignore her baby’s cry may find herself getting frustrated and angry. Ignoring your baby’s cry goes against all your natural instincts! It’s easy for someone else to say, “Just let him cry, it won’t hurt him!” They don’t have that biologically connection with your baby that you have.

What happens if you DO ignore your baby’s cries? It depends on your baby’s personality.  A more compliant baby gives up and stops crying… yay, you win! But this baby eventually realizes that crying is not worthwhile, and loses the motivation to communicate with his parents. The baby becomes withdrawn and unresponsive. The parents also miss out on opportunities to nurture and get to know their baby.

A baby with a more persistent personality (most high-need babies) does not give up so easily. Instead, he cries louder and keeps escalating his signal, making it more and more disturbing. If you wait it out until he stops crying and then pick him up (thinking that you’ll show him it’s not his crying that got your attention)  you will teach the baby that you’re in control, but you also teach him that he has no power to communicate.

The mother responds promptly actually teaches her baby to “cry better!” This baby learns that when he cries, Mommy comes right away, and so his cries are less frantic and disturbing.  His environment is sturctured so that there is less need for him to cry; a sensitive mother learns to recognize when he’s tired and ready to sleep, when he’s hungry, bored, or just wants some loving! (And yes, sometimes babies do seem to cry for “no reason”! But at least you’ll know its not because he’s neglected!!)

Studies show that babies who developed a secure attachment and had their cues responded to in a prompt and nurturing way actually became less clingy and demanding as they grow older. There is also no medical evidence that “crying is good for a baby’s lungs.” In fact, the oposite seems to be true. Remember, you can’t spoil a baby by too much loving! Responding quickly and sensitvely to your baby’s cry is the best thing you can do for them at that moment, and it creates healthy communication patterns and a trusting bond that will be enjoyed for the rest of your lives.

Here’s more important information from Dr. Sears on comforting your baby:

11 Ways to Soothe a Fussy Baby
A Checklist of 36 Time-Tested Baby Calmers
3 Reasons Why Babies Fuss
7 Things Parents Should Know About Baby’s Cries
Letting Baby “Cry-it-out” Yes, No!
4 Ways to Teach Baby to “Cry Better”
The Shutdown Syndrome
Comforting the Gassy Baby
8 Dance Steps to comfort baby
6 Ways to Make Baby Dancing Fun

Motherhood isn’t always pretty: Can you be a dedicated mother AND feel like a beautiful woman?

There was a time when eyebrow-tweezing and leg-shaving was part of my daily routine. I straightened my hair and actually thought about what I would wear each morning, instead of groping blindly among the pile of laundry that I hadn’t had time to put away yet.  I always wore at least a little bit of make-up.  And sometimes I even painted my nails!

And then what happened? It’s not that I stopped caring. It’s just that I had kids, and like many other women, there were no longer enough hours in the day to do everything.  Some things had to give.  Now, a hungry baby or a toddler with a dirty diaper takes precedence over my personal toilet. These days, I’m lucky if I can brush my teeth and remove my contact lenses before I drop into bed at night, totally wiped out from the day’s activities.

At least I’m in good company.  A new report reveals that 77% of moms don’t do enough to take care of themselves:

For many women, an important rite of passage for womanhood is becoming a mother. However all too often, after the baby is born, the focus quickly shifts and the routines that were once rituals are buried in the bottom of the family laundry basket. While it’s not surprising that their children and families come first, a new report of 3,000 U.S. moms reveals that although most (76 percent) agree it’s just as important for mothers to take care of themselves as their families, nearly eight in ten moms don’t do enough.

One of the first things that falls to the wayside seems to be a woman’s personal needs, including the time to indulge in things that make her feel beautiful. 84% of women polled admit that they have let their appearance slide since becoming a mother.

So, can motherhood and womanhood co-exist?

Beauty brand Suave developed the Suave Motherhood vs. Womanhood Report to investigate the trade offs women face when they become moms, the consequences of these sacrifices, and the benefits that occur when moms put themselves back on the to-do list.

The Motherhood vs. Womanhood Report found that:

  • Although 67 percent of moms would rather get their pre-baby body back than their pre-baby sex life, exercise opportunities are tough to come by. After shopping for themselves, exercise is the second most desired activity to pursue during coveted “me” time
  • 66 percent admit they sometimes don’t have enough time to take a shower or bath
  • Some 80 percent have gone weeks or months without a haircut (even though they felt they needed one)
  • Over half (53 percent) say that they’ve forgotten to brush their teeth in the morning

“I’ve studied women and family dynamics for more than twenty years, and I’m not surprised that there’s a conflict felt between being a woman and being a mother,” says Professor Gerson. “Despite the rise of busier lives, mothers remain key family caregivers who are relied upon heavily by the whole family. So it’s not surprising that moms often set aside or even forget their own needs. But moms also need to look out for themselves, which means doing things that help them keep an identity of their own apart from the role of mom.”
It’s not surprising that when moms do take care of themselves, they feel happier, more attractive, and more self confident. They feel more feminine and some even feel they are setting their children a good example (I agree!)

Professor Gerson adds “Mothers are caregivers, and taking time for  themselves will not change that. Yet it’s important for moms to find  opportunities to put themselves on their list of priorities. It comes as no  surprise that moms feel happier when they do take this step, and that doing  so can have huge benefits for the entire family.”

How much sleep does my baby need?

As a new parent, that’s probably one of your biggest questions. The chart below is copied from Baby Center, and offers some general guidelines as to how many hours of sleep the average child requires at various ages. Of course, every child is different — some need up to two hours more or less sleep than others.

Take a good look, and remember that as your baby grows, he’ll need less and less sleep! Just as you think you’ve established a reliable sleep pattern, you’ll find that your baby has grown a little older and is moving on to the next stage, which includes a little less sleep! If you find your baby is not settling down as easily as he used to at the prescribed times, you might have to space naptime a little farther apart!

Age Nighttime Sleep Daytime Sleep * Total Sleep
1 month 8 1/2 7 (3) 15 1/2
3 months 10 5 (3) 15
6 months 11 3 1/4 (2) 14 1/4
9 months 11 3 (2) 14
12 months 11 1/4 2 1/2 (2) 13 3/4
18 months 11 1/4 2 1/4 (1) 13 1/2
2 years 11 2 (1) 13
3 years 10 1/2 1 1/2 (1) 12
* number of naps in parentheses

Returning to Work after Baby… in a word: Agony

With an 11-day old baby in my arms, it’s hard to think about leaving him with a babysitter one day to go out and work. It’s hard to imagine anyone can love your baby as much as you do, dote on him, and replace the tender loving care of a mother. Luckily for me, I can work from home and keep an eye on the baby at the same time (though how much work I’m acutally getting done is disputable.) Not everyone is that lucky…

Natalie Lue at DollyMix talks about her mixed feelings on returning to work after maternity leave. “I’m going to say something that I know a lot of women are afraid to admit: I actually like being at home with my daughter and in an ideal world, I’d stay home. There, it’s been said. Now don’t get me wrong, I am ambitious, I’m intelligent… and it is important for my brain to be stimulated, but the thought of my daughter spending four days a week with another woman for her to depend on makes my stomach go into a knot... The thing about maternity leave is that it flies by so quickly that before you know it, it’s time to go back to work… Now with just over four weeks to go, I wonder should I abandon cooking and cleaning and savour my last bit of freedom before reality sets in?”

On the one hand, it will be nice to get back to the challenge of new work projects and the camraderie of her coworkers. On the other hand, there’s that feeling of missing out… not being around to watch her grow and develop, observing the big and small milestones, and being The One your child depends on to care for all her needs.

We know that it’s not feasible for all women to stay home and take care of their little one. But for all those women enjoying their maternity leave, that baby while you can, and savor the time you can spend wiht her now. These are precious days that you can’t get back again.

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