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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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.

Is Baby Oil Safe for Your Little One?

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

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Watch what you put on your skin!

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

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

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

The problems with Baby Oil (Mineral Oil)

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

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

So what should I use instead?

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

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

Be careful what YOU use, too!

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

Read more here.

Beware of Teething Gels for Babies!

WebMD reported this month about an FDA warning about teething medication, saying that the main ingredient, benzocaine, is linked to a rare but serious disease.  Benzocaine is the main ingredient in over-the-counter liquids and gels used to reduce teething pain in babies and young children.

The warning is about a rare but possibly life-threatening condition called methemoglobinemia, which greatly reduces the amount of oxygen carried through the bloodstream.  Most cases occur in children aged 2 or younger who were treated with teething gel.

The products are used to treat pain caused by teething, canker sores, mouth and gum irritation.  Brand-name liquids and gels that contain Benzocaine include:

  • Anbesol
  • Hurricaine
  • Orajel
  • Baby Orajel
  • Orabase
  • Other store brands
  • Some lozenges and spray solutions, as well

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Warning signs and symptoms:

  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, and nail beds
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • confusion and lightheaded
  • headache
  • rapid heart rate

These symptoms appear within minutes to hours of using the medication. Children under two years old should NOT be given products containing benzocaine, unless they are under the supervision of a health care professional.  Adults should follow recommendations on the product label, and seek immediate medical attention if symptoms show up. Use sparingly. Store out of reach of children.

Teething Relief

Instead of using teething gels, here are some ideas to give your child some relief, especially if the pain is keeping him/her up at night.

  • Give baby something cold to suck on, such as a chilled teething ring, cold spoon, Popsicle, or other frozen treat
  • Gently rub baby’s gums with a finger
  • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen– these are both safe and effective pain relievers to help your baby, and you, get some sleep. Click on these for dosing.

“Are They Real Contractions?” Drink a Glass of Wine!

Toward the end of your pregnancy, you may experience Braxton Hicks contractions, which feel like real labor pains but do not signify the onset of labor. There are various ways to tell if they are the real deal or not, but if you call your doctor or midwife in a panic, they make this suggestion: Relax, and have a glass of wine. If the contractions are real, they’ll intensify, but if they are Braxton Hicks, they will likely go away very soon after.

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But is it safe for the baby?

Drinking an occasional glass of wine during pregnancy has been a controversial topic. Obviously, frequent or heavy drinking is dangerous for your baby, but a glass of wine here and there is where opinions differ. Some maintain that the effects of alcohol on a fetus are still unknown and it’s better to avoid alcoholic beverages altogether. Others (like most Europeans!) believe that there’s nothing wrong with an occasional drink and indulge themselves without giving it a second thought.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, one glass of wine toward the end of your pregnancy probably doesn’t pose any hazard to your baby’s health. And if it stops the Braxton Hicks and puts your mind at ease, it’s an added bonus! L’Chayim!

Drink some water too…

Being dehydrated can bring on false labor pains as well. So in addition to your glass of wine, be sure to drink plenty of water, which may help ease Braxton Hicks as well!

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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Safe Babywearing

A baby sling is often invaluable for busy moms who want to keep their baby close by. Most models leave your hands free to wash dishes, fold laundry, and work at the computer, but keep your baby warm and cozy right on your body. But could that comfy, convenient baby carrier be dangerous for your little angel?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it has investigated at least 13 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers over the last 20 years, including three deaths last year, according to this report.  Twelve of the deaths involved babies younger than four months of age.

This has got many moms debating the safety of their slings. Most are very happy with their baby carriers, and point out that any baby product needs to be used with care and common sense. But some have expressed concern and say they have experienced some worry when wearing their baby.

According to the CPSC , parents who should be the most careful are those who’s babies are under 4 months, a low birth weight twin, born prematurely, or have a cold. (But please don’t think that it is unsafe to wear a sick or premature baby in a sling. When done correctly, it is actually beneficial for preemies to be kept close to their mother as much as possible. Read more about it here.)

CPSC warns that slings can pose a suffocation hazard in two different ways:

  1. A sling’s fabric can press against a baby’s nose and mouth, blocking the baby’s breathing and suffocating a baby within a minute or two.
  2. The other case involves slings where the baby is cradled in a curved or “C-like” position, nestling the baby below mom’s chest or near her belly. That curved position can cause a baby’s head to flop forward, chin-to-chest, restricting the infant’s ability to breathe. “The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate,” warned the commission.

Pat Shelly, director of The Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington, believes that the safest way to wear your baby is in a carrier that keeps the newborn upright, and solidly against his mother’s body.  “Parents should be instructed to allow the infant to keep his chin off his chest optimizing the airway for breathing.”

Here are some guidelines to using a baby carrier safely:

  • Always follow manufacturer’s guidelines for using your carrier.
  • Make sure the infant’s face is not covered and is visible at all times while in the sling.
  • If nursing the baby in a sling, change the baby’s position after feeding so the baby’s head is facing up and is clear of the sling and the mother’s body.
  • Parents and caregivers should be vigilant about frequently checking their baby in a sling.
Pictures of right and wrong ways for baby postitions in a sling
Here are some more rules of safe babywearing, from Dr. Sears:
  • While you are getting used to wearing your baby, support him with your hands. As you go through the learning phase of moving and reacting, the urge to support your baby with your hands is instinctive. After you become a babywearing veteran, you can safely carry your baby in the sling with one or both hands free.
  • Wear baby cautiously in the kitchen. Do not wear baby while cooking or working with sharp or hot objects.
  • Do not drink hot beverages when wearing baby, although wearing baby while eating is safe.
  • When wearing your baby and stooping over, bend at the knees, not at the waist, and hold baby in the sling with one hand.
  • Toddlers, if worn, are at your reaching level, can grab dangerous or breakable objects off shelves. Keep an arm’s distance away from potential hazards.
  • When going through doorways or around corners, be careful that baby’s body does not stick out past your arm and strike the wall or doorjamb.
  • Do not ride a bicycle or other moving vehicle while wearing your baby. Baby carriers are not substitutes for an approved car seat.
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Pregnant Women Step up the Pace!

You may have heard the advice that “gentle” exercise is good for your pregnancy, but that strenuous sports and activities should be avoided. This may not actually be the case, as I recently read here.  In fact, vigorous exercise appears to be quite safe during pregnancy, and has additional benefits for your baby too!

Benefits of Vigorous Exercise

The book “Exercising Through Your Pregnancy” by James F. Clapp M.D. cites over 20 years of research into the pregnancies of competitive athletes. Dr. Clapp found that exercising at a fairly high level throughout your pregnancy, including full weight bearing exercises, is safe and actually has many positive effects. Some of theses outcomes are obvious, such as reduced maternal weight gain and fat accumulation,  and improving your mood, energy levels, and muscle tone. But some are more surprising, including:

  • reduced pregnancy-related symptoms
  • Helps reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling
  • May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes
  • good placental growth
  • fewer big babies
  • increased chance of delivering close to due date
  • shorter and less complicated labors
  • more rapid recover after delivery.

Changes in Your Body

Your body is changing in many ways during pregnancy. You should be aware of these, as they will affect the way you move and exercise.

  • Joints: Pregnancy hormones cause the ligaments supporting your joints to relax. This puts them at increased risk of injury, so you should avoid jerky, bouncy, or high-impact motions.
  • Balance: The extra weight you’re carrying causes your center of gravity to shift. It also puts stress on your joints and muscles, specifically those in the pelvis and lower back. This puts you at risk of back pain, loss of balance, and falls.
  • Heart Rate:  Growing a baby is hard work, and your body is working extra hard to deal with the weight gain and other changes.  Exercise directs oxygen and blood flow to the muscles being worked, and thus away from other parts of your body. It’s important not to overdo it if you begin to feel short of breath, faint, or exhausted.

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What’s Safe and What to Avoid

This may come as news to your Grandma, who has probably told you to stop carrying the groceries into your house, and to lie down and put your feet up. But there are, of course limits to how much your pregnant body can handle.  The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends walking, swimming, cycling, and aerobics.  Other activities, such as running, racket sports, and strength training are good if you’re body is already accustomed to these exercises.

Activites that should be avoided during pregnancy include:

  • Downhill snow skiing: Your changing center of gravity can throw off your balance and cause falls and sever injuries. High altitudes with less oxygen may not be the best idea, either.
  • Contact sports can result in injuries to you and your baby as well.
  • Scuba diving: The water pressure can put your baby at risk for decompression sickness.
  • Excessive weight lifting.
  • Yoga poses that have you lying on your back or hanging upside down.
  • Activities that increase your chance of falling and injuring yourself, such as horseback riding, water skiing, and gymnastics.
  • Standing still for long periods of time should be avoided.

If you haven’t been exercising much before you became pregnant, start slowly and carefully. It’s a good idea to consult your doctor about what types of exercise are best.  You should also expect that physical exertion will become more difficult during the last trimester, and respond accordingly. Always incorporate a warm-up and cool-down stage for 5-10 minutes each.

Things to Watch Out For

Women with the following conditions will be advised against exercising during pregnancy:

  • Risk factors for preterm labor
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Premature rupture of membranes

The ACOG recommends the following guidelines for a safe and healthy exercise program:

  • After the first trimester of pregnancy, avoid doing any exercises on your back.
  • Avoid brisk exercise in hot, humid weather or when you have a fever.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that will help you to remain cool.
  • Wear a bra that fits well and gives lots of support to help protect your breasts.
  • Drink plenty of water to help keep you from overheating and dehydrating.
  • Make sure you consume the daily extra calories you need during pregnancy.

Stop exercising and call your doctor if you get any of these symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Increased shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Uterine contractions
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina

Bottom Line: It’s good news for pregnant sports lovers and exercise enthusiasts! Exercise during pregnancy can help prepare you for labor and childbirth, in addition to staying fit and feeling good. And exercising afterward can help you get back into shape.  So put on those running shoes, get out your tennis balls and rackets, or head to the gym or nearest hiking trail. If there’s something you loved doing before pregnancy, chances are you may be able to continue in almost the same way that you always have!

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To Circumcise or Not to Circumcise

If you have a little boy on the way, you have probably thought about whether to have the foreskin on your son’s penis removed, or leave it intact. With both “pros” and “cons” to consider, some new parents may be confused about this decision. In the end, it’s a family’s personal choice. However, here are some things to consider.

Dr. George Steinhardt, a urologist at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says the biggest reasons American parents choose to circumcise their boys are still religious and cultural. “I think it’s done primarily for cultural reasons,” he explains.

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photo by Proud to Introduce

The Medical Perspective
Medical professionals today debate whether or not the procedure is medically necessary. Dr. Mark Reiss, a retired physician and executive vice president of the nonprofit organization, Doctors Opposing Circumcision, believes that there is no medical reason to circumcise.  “The penis is meant to be covered by the foreskin. The normal state is intact. The U.S. is the only country in the world that performs routine circumcisions.”

Yet, other experts point that there are valid reasons to consider the procedure. Among them are the following:

Infections: Dr. Anthony Chin, a Los Angeles-based obstetrician, points out that circumcision does make it easier to keep the penis clean, and decreases the chances of infection.  “Let’s face it, boys aren’t the cleanest of genders,” he points out!  Today, however, we have antibiotics to treat infections, making them less dangerous than they were in the past. “Before antibiotics, people got really sick, but now in the post antibiotic era, circumcisions are not ‘medically’ necessary anymore.”

Kindney Problems: “We see a lot of babies with kidney problems,” notes Steinhardt. “For those boys, I would recommend that a circumcision be done. It protects against the possibility of an infection.”  In particular, when his patients are diagnosed with fetal hydronephrosis, or dilated kidneys (which is more common in boys than girls) he almost always believes that circumcision is necessary to alleviate the risk of infection and other complications.

Sexually Transmitted Disease: Steinhardt believes that circumcision may have other serious benefits. “There’s valid scientific evidence that HIV is more likely in a man with foreskin than in a man without foreskin.” Steinhardt also says that you rarely see cancer of the penis in a man who has been circumcised.  However, other experts say there is not evidence that circumcision prevents any STD’s or cancers.

Appearance
Chin notes that circumcisions are basically for cosmetic purposes now, saying that sometimes an uncircumcised child decides to have the procedure done later in life.  In the US, women seem to prefer a circumcized penis, and there are plenty of teenagers who get  circumcised for cosmetic reasons.

Ease
A 5-minute procedure as an infant is easier than the same procedure on an adolescent or adult.  Barbara Dehn, RN, MS, NP, a practicing nurse who teaches at Stanford University, says if you opt to circumcise, do it soon after birth. “The key with circumcision,” she says, “is that if you decide to do it, don’t wait too long. Even when they’re 3, that’s probably too late, since the experience will be too traumatic for them.”

Pain Control
Those who oppose circumcision often call it as a barbaric procedure that leaves infants in terrible pain.  The issue of pain and cruelty is often one of parents’ biggest concerns. Will he feel the incision? Will there be a long, difficult recovery? Will there be complications?

The claim that circumcision causes tremendous pain is simply not true, says Steinhardt. “In general, it’s a pretty harmless procedure. It’s well tolerated, it’s done with great care, and complications are rare and few and far between.”  Plus, with proper pain control, many babies just sleep right through the procedure. “You can have confidence that it can be done safely.” If you are concerned, have a conversation with whoever will be doing the procedure, whether the pediatrician, OB/GYN, or mohel, about what measures can be taken for pain control. A local anesthetic can be used to ensure a painless circumcision.

For more info:

TheCradle: Circumcision: What you need to know

Dr. Sears: Frequently Asked Questions about Circumcision

Setting up an Eco-Friendly Nursery

There are lots of great ways you can create a safe, healthy and non-toxic haven for your precious little baby. Most baby products are completely safe, but it’s worth being aware that some choices of furniture, carpeting and even bedding could expose their child to a variety of chemicals that they’re better off without!

Paint: Paint the nursery walls with environmentally friendly paint that doesn’t release poisonous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Ingredients such as turpentine, formaldehyde, any animal products should also be avoided. Look for VOC-free paint made from all-natural ingredients such as mineral pigments, beeswax, plant oils, crushed limestone, soy resins and buttermilk.

Also, paint the nursery in far in advance and keep windows open to air out the fumes!

Flooring: Carpeting can trap mold, dust mites, and other allergens. Instead, choose wood flooring made from wood from sustainably managed forests such as bamboo or lyptus. Finish them with a nontoxic or natural sealant.

Linoleum, made of all-natural materials (sawdust, linseed oils, pigments and a jute backing) is soft underfoot, and easy to clean. Consider cork, too. It’s a natural insulator of both heat and sound, and soft enough to cushion those inevitable tumbles.

Rugs: To cozy up the room, select nontoxic carpets and area rugs made from natural, untreated fibers such as wool, organic cotton, hemp and jute. Synthetic carpeting can harbor over 100 toxic and carcinogenic chemicals.

Tranquil Nursery Collection by CoCaLo via Babble

Furnishing: Look for furnishing with a water-based aluminum oxide with no volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions. Avoid furniture made with plywood, particle board, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) because they often contain formaldehyde in their glues. Used furniture that’s already a few years old is also a good choice, as it is likely to have released all the harmful chemical fumes by now. (Recycling furniture is also a more affordable options compared with buying new, solid wood furniture!)

Mattress: Pick a baby mattress made with wool casings or organic cotton filling. Regular mattresses that are treated with fire retardants, stain- and moisture-resistant formulas contain harmful and potentially cancer-causing chemicals. You can also find pillows stuffed with natural stuffing such as kapok, buckwheat hulls, untreated wool, organic cotton or synthetic-free latex.

If you do purchase a regular mattress, air it out for a couple of moths before use. you can also cover it with an organic mattress pad protector.

Bedding: Look for organic all-cotton bedding for the crib. Conventional cotton is one of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed crops, and the chemicals could irritate your baby’s sensitive skin. Permanent-press sheets are treated with formaldehyde, a known carcinogenic.

Window Treatments: Organic cotton curtains are a safe and pretty option. Mini blinds, made of PVC, have been shown to give off gas when heated by the sun.

Toys: Safe toys are especially important because most of your baby’s playthings will end up in her mouth! Choose toys made with wood or natural fibers, and decorated with nontoxic paints.  Steer clear of plastic toys made with PVC (polyvinyl chloride).  This material releases toxins into the environment throughout its lifecycle.

Cloth Diapers: Although they require more of a time investment than disposable diapers, cloth diapers pollute less. Because they are chemical-free they may also be less irritating on your baby’s skin.

Fresh Air: You may decide to invest in an air purifier to clear the room of chemicals, gases, and household allergens.  Open the windows daily to bring in fresh air and circulate out stale air.

Recycle: Ask friends and relatives for their old baby gear, shop at secondhand stores, and check out recycling/sharing websites (such as Zwaggle, where you can find used stuff and give away your own used gear — no money required!)

For more info, visit:

BabyZone: Eco Friendly Nursery Basics

eHow: How to Create an Eco-Friendly Baby Nursery

TheBump: Creating an Eco-Friendly Nursery

TheCradle: The Eco Friendly Nursery

Pregnant? Think Twice about H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine

U.S. health authorities have made pregnant women one of the highest priority groups for getting the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, but is it actually safe for pregnant women and their babies? This is the question asked by Organic Health Adviser, and the answer may shock you. Miscarriage reports from pregnant women who have taken the H1N1 swine flu vaccine are starting to pour in from all over the nation.  Although many doctors, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, are urging their pregnant patients to be vaccinated, the package insert for the swine flu vaccines actually says that the safety of these vaccines for pregnant women has not been established.

If you want to read the stories of real women who got the H1N1 swine flu vaccine and then miscarried shortly afterward, click on this Baby Center June 2010 birth club message board. You can also read the article on the About.com Miscarriage/Pregnancy Loss blog, “Some Pregnant Women Fearful of H1N1 Vaccine.” See the comments that follow. Also, see the article and comments in the Organic Health Adviser.

Vaccines have been linked to other disorders and diseases, such as autism, multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders, although the research is often inconclusive. So the big question is, is there really a link between the vaccine and miscarriage, or are these stories mere coincidences? I am not able to pass judgement, but the fact that the vaccine is closely followed by miscarriage time after time makes the situation very frightening. Dr. Mercola agrees: “Perhaps some of the 20 women on one of the blogs would have miscarried anyway, but when a number of women have healthy, uneventful pregnancies up until they’re injected with a vaccine, and then suddenly miscarry, it most certainly warrants investigation!”

On the flip side, the Star Tribune points out that scientists have noticed a pattern: A disproportionate number of expectant mothers have been hospitalized with the flu. So far, pregnant women, who make up 1 percent of the population, have accounted for 6 percent of H1N1 deaths, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.  According to doctors, pregnant women have weaker immune systems and the flu not only endangers their lives, but increases the risks of miscarriage and birth defects as well.  A counter-argument is examined at Swine Flu Alert — Shocking Vaccine Miscarriage Horror Stories, from Mercola.com.

For those who choose not to be vaccinated, there are ways of building your immune system naturally, to ward off the possibility of catching the swine flu (or any other type of flu).  This includes getting adequate levels of Vitamin D (whether through sunlight or supplements), exercise regularly, get enough sleep, address emotional stress, wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your mouth and nose with unclean hands.

Whether or not to be vaccinated is a decision that no one can or should make for you.  However, we hope that you will make an educated decision on this topic, for yourself and your family, after weighing all the risks and benefits. Whatever your decision, the public should be aware that any time you take a pharmaceutical drug or vaccine of any kind, you need to report any and all side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). You can do this through your doctor– you should ask to get a copy of the report to make sure it was done– or you can report it yourself via the VAERS web site.

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