Archive for the 'Pregnancy' Category

Choices, Choices

Parents-to-be face many important decisions. Breast-feed or bottle feed? Cloth diapers or disposable? To go back to work after the baby is born, or not? To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

For me, many of these answers were easy. Breast-feeding, disposable diapers, and continuing to work-at-home as a freelance writer after a short maternity leave.

Before greener readers condemn me for my diaper choice, let me point out that I do not have a washer-dryer in my home. My husband is lucky when he has clean socks.

The true sticking point for me was the “great vaccination debate.? Much to-do was made over news headlines and studies discovering a link between autism and the mercury found in some vaccines. Later studies debunked these findings, but the buzz continued.

Then the premiere episode of ABC courtroom drama Eli Stone brought it back to the forefront with a compelling, albeit fictional, storyline.

I’m not one to make a decision based on prime time television viewing, so I delved further into the evidence. I turned up enough long-standing studies from what I believed to be reliable sources to convince me that vaccinations are safe—at least in terms of vaccinations not causing autism.

Many parents eschew vaccinations for a variety of other reasons, including religion, a belief in 100 percent natural living with no chemicals or medications, or fear of other side effects related to vaccinations. Some parents believe the human body’s immune system grows stronger without intervention, and don’t wish to cause undue trauma and pain for the child by putting them through a series of shots. Parents who make this choice, whatever the reason, believe they are doing the right thing for their children.

In many states, parents can get a medical, religious or philosophical exemption from vaccinations, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy path to follow. Parents who don’t vaccinate their children should be prepared to face legal and social consequences.

Some parents who won’t let their children play with unvaccinated children. In some states, parents may face charges of neglect. Of course, there is always the risk your child will contract these childhood diseases, facing discomfort, pain and possibly dangerous symptoms and long-term side effects.

The decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate your child is highly personal; what is right for one parent is wrong for another.

Should you choose to vaccinate, speak with your physician and also research potential side effects and reactions so you can make an educated decision. Insist on getting a full list of ingredients in any vaccination. Knowledge is the key to making the right choice for your child.

I should add that Julie Fletcher, chief blogger here at FR, wrote an article for the upcoming March/April issue of theWAHMmagazine, which further explores the vaccination debate, points to evidence that there is no proven link between autism and vaccines, and talks about food-related causes of autism. This Web-only, interactive publication hits cyberspace March 5, so be sure to check it out.

Posted in Uncategorized, Concerns and Expectations | No Comments »

Finding Energy During Pregnancy

The dangers of caffeine for pregnant women has been all over the news lately. The latest study was released shortly before I found out I was pregnant—because the Universe loves a good joke!

The latest study, published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, claims that even 10 ounces of coffee a day might double the risk of miscarriage in the first four months of pregnancy. I’m typically skeptical of new studies—particularly when they contradict multiple studies done in the past—but I also find myself being more cautious with a growing baby inside me.

It’s all a moot point for me, anyway, as the taste of coffee makes me nauseated. So does chocolate, tea, green tea or anything with even small amounts of caffeine. So what can a former coffee junkie do to keep her energy levels up during pregnancy?

- Go to bed earlier.
There’s no way around it—pregnancy makes you tired, especially in the first trimester. You may have to shift your sleeping schedule to go to bed earlier or wake up a bit later (if possible) to accommodate your need for extra sleep.

- Create a new morning ritual.
I have always been slow to wake up, and my morning coffee was a physiological and psychological signal that my day was beginning. I’ve replaced that ritual with a small breakfast and some VitaminWater, savored while I read my morning e-mails. After a few weeks, my body became accustomed to this new signal, and now, after breakfast, I’m ready to face the day.

- Exercise!
Regular exercise keeps your energy levels up, but there’s nothing like a walk or a workout session in the middle of the day to rejuvenate you immediately!

- Take a nap.
When all else fails, 20 minutes of shut-eye can work wonders.

- Eat a balanced diet and take your prenatal vitamins.
This is more of a long-term affect, but I do feel more alert when I eat healthy foods and remember to take my pre-natals.

There is no safe, “magic energy solution in a can? for pregnant women, unfortunately. But these coping techniques have helped me stay awake in a world without coffee.

Posted in Uncategorized, Pregnancy, Nutrition | 2 Comments »

Healthy Diet Changes

Are you trying to lose weight after the holidays? I know I am. I thought it was going to be a lot easier than it has been. Then I realized, it took more than just a few days to put it on, why do I expect it to only take a short time to come off? Silly me. It is going to dedication and some serious resolution to stick with this one.

A few changes to the diet here have been:

More vegetables.
We have always been vegetable fans, but we have really tried to up our intake with different types. An interesting way to add more and different types of vegetables into your diet is to work your way through the produce section in your grocery store each time you visit. Buy one or two new items, then find a recipe on the internet or in your cookbooks to try. You could also choose a country to try out recipes and vegetables from, find the recipes, then shop around that list. You will find many interesting ways to prepare a rainbow of vegetables.

Less soda, more natural beverages.
Carbonated, syrupy beverages are not only bad for your teeth, they can actually contribute to dehydration, albeit a small amount. High sugar and sodium content, plus chemicals most of us cannot pronounce. Substitute your normal soda, even diet soda, with green tea, black tea, or pure water. You can purchase green tea in powder form, much like the flavored ‘shots’ available from Crystal Light and other companies. Powdered green tea is very beneficial, as you are ingesting the whole leaf and gaining all of the nutritional value of the plant.

If you do not like the taste of wine, you can gain many of the same health benefits from drinking dark colored grape juice. Wine and dark colored grape juice has health benefits, mainly for the heart. As a woman, my heart health is very important and it should be to other women. Heart disease is a killer, a silent killer of women all over the world. Taking steps to ensure your heart health can increase your enjoyment of life, if only by allowing you to live longer!

What changes have you made? What changes do you plan to make?

Posted in Uncategorized, Nutrition | 5 Comments »

Postpartum Depression

After pregnancy, some women start to feel like they’re just not ‘right’. Hormonal changes, healing, and taking care of a newborn while still running a household can all attribute to this feeling. In cases, the extra tiredness and sad emotions will begin to fade. In other the symptoms can deepen and become Postpartum Depression.

The word ‘depression’ brings to mind lethargy, avoidance of others, and someone who is constantly sad. This may be true, but depression can also include anger, hallucinations, and intrusive thoughts. Women with post partum depression often do not seek treatment due to feelings of shame and inadequacy. When a woman does not seek help she may eventually lose control and harm herself and potentially others.

Luckily for those of us who have suffered from postpartum depression there are resources readily available on the internet and through understanding health care practitioners. By recognizing symptoms you or your loved one may be experiencing, you can use these resources to find an ending to the suffering brought on by this serious mental disease.

If you are suffering from PPD, you may not even know it. You might feel sad, tired, or angry, but not know why. While it is possible to beat PPD on your own, it’s not recommended. If you do not choose to use medication, there are alternatives like support groups and therapy.

My own story with PPD began in 2002. I had given birth to my second daughter and just didn’t feel ‘right’. I was sad, tired, and felt at a loss each and every day. I began to believe people were talking about me behind my back. It got so bad that I would avoid looking at people in public and if there were more than two cars in a restaurant parking lot, I would make my husband go elsewhere or through a drive through.

I found some information on postpartum depression and decided to take the first step by admitting I had a problem. I talked with my husband, then to my nurse-midwife. We all decided a plan of low level antidepressants would have the best effect on me. Sadly, it turned out that the drug I was taking did nothing for me, except to cause an apathetic outlook. I eventually gave up the medication in favor of support.

In 2004, my third daughter was born and I began to have symptoms of PPD again. This time though, the severity was much worse. Bordering on Postpartum Psychosis, I came very close to being committed several times, and to be honest, I should have been. While I did not have wishes to harm others, each and everyday suicide was a very prominent thought. I refused to admit to having a problem, luckily my husband had been with me through the entire episode of the last PPD issue and knew that this time, there was something seriously wrong.

I began a regimen of the anti depressant Zoloft, with nearly immediate effects. I also found an online support forum on the Ezboard network devoted to PPD. All people affected by PPD was welcome there. Husbands, the victim herself, and other friends and family members. I was able to keep a journal in hopes of finding a pattern in my actions and symptoms. Eventually, I did. Now I use my journal as a way to update other members and let them know there is hope at the end of the dark tunnel that is Postpartum Depression.

Today I am a (fairly) happy mother of four with a budding freelance writing career. I write for online and print media, and I do not worry so much about having a ‘trigger’ set me back into my old depression. There is an end to the PPD, you just have to hold on to your life tightly. Here is a link for those who need more information on PPD. Postpartum Depression Forums

Posted in Pregnancy, Concerns and Expectations, Mental Health | 5 Comments »

Sneak Some Vitamins Into Your Kids (and you!)

A Vitamin Packed Smoothie.

A well balanced diet is the best way to get kids full of the proper vitamins for their growth. Fish, fresh fruit and veggies, plus whole grains will help your children stay healthy. All of those foods have the right balance of nutrition when combined with other healthy choices.

But what if your child, or you, hate some or most of those foods? In that case, it is very easy to become deficient in nutrients the body needs to stay strong enough to prevent sickness and even bone breakage. Luckily there are many foods you and your kids can eat that will sneak in the vitamins and nutrients the body needs. Foods that are stuffed with the ever important calcium, vitamin A, and essential omega fatty acids.

Many people love to snack on salty or sweet crunchy foods. Pumpkin seeds can help fulfill this desire and be flavored so many different ways. With a toss of olive oil and seasoned to taste, it’s so easy to make a crunchy snack! The combinations are infinite. I use a full pumpkin’s worth of seeds that have been picked clean from the gourd, washed, then laid flat to dry. You can speed this process by using a paper towel. Then toss the seeds on a large bowl with about a tablespoon of olive oil if you have it, vegetable oil if you don’t. Once covered well with the oil, sprinkle in some good sea salt, then choose your seasoning. My kids like them sweet so I try to add a little sugar for a ‘kettle cooked’ taste. Some adults love the Cajun flavors, so just sprinkle on about a teaspoon of Cajun seasoning to start.

These are only my ratios. You can use as much or as little as you’d like to satisfy your own taste. Experiment with other spices and herbs to make your own unique pumpkin seeds recipe.

I have been known to hide veggies into dishes you wouldn’t normally find them. A few days ago I made a stir fry with very thinly sliced steak, a whole head of cabbage, a bag of spinach, onions, carrots, and a huge sweet red pepper. Oh, and mushrooms. I used an electric wok and cooked the very thinly cut steak first. After that, I just dumped in the other ingredients, turned the wok to low and let it go until everything was soft. A small dash of sugar and a few shots of soy sauce made this dish taste slightly Asian, but not too strongly. Because of the way the veggies were sliced the kids assumed they were noodles. Go figure!

If you have a juicer, you’re ahead of the game. You can add a little vegetable juice into fruit juice, or to put into a soup stock instead of chicken broth. Try it in breads instead of water for a vitamin boost to your grains. Simmer rice in a water and veggie juice mix to help replace the vitamins that were lost when white rice was milled.

If you’re creative, you can find so many ways to sneak healthy foods into your children or yourself. Maybe even into a reluctant spouse. For more ideas and information on healthy eating, check out this article Healthy Eating: Best Sources Of Fiber.

Posted in Health, Nutrition, Cooking, Healthy Eating | 1 Comment »

Lunches Kids Will Love

Big Burger

I’ve decided to pack lunches for my daughter this year. I know tons of parents have made their child’s lunch for years upon end and I figure it’s my turn to join the ranks. School lunches, while supposedly balanced and nutritious, look about as appetizing to me as those cellophane wrapped sandwiches sitting on the counter at the local gas station.

Yeah. Mm, mm good.

My husband and I are pretty health conscious and luckily, our children love their veggies. If you’re wondering how we got so lucky, it’s a matter of introducing the kids to vegetables as if they were treats when they’re still very small. Black olives are great fun to pop on the end of tiny fingers and nearly every child loves to pop sticks of carrots or celery into any type of dip. It’s like a requirement of being a kid to dip everything that’s remotely dippable.

So, in search of the perfect lunch, I married some ideas. Kids like to have something they can just pick up easily. Wraps are a great way to go if your child is like that. But, you can run out of tortillas at the wrong time. Then you’re stuck with a soggy old sandwich. Or are you? Nope! Just trim the crust off of a piece of bread and roll flat. Voila! Instant wrap. You may have to use a toothpick to hold it shut, but this does work really well. For smaller kids, don’t worry about the toothpick, just add smaller amounts of filling.

Sometimes it seems like a nice idea to make a hot sandwich or wrap, but don’t fall to that temptation. By the time lunch rolls around, the melted cheese on a hot sandwich or wrap will be gummy, the bread soggy, and the mayo…I don’t even want to go there. Try cold versions of hot foods. Chop chicken, season with taco seasoning, mix with a bit of sour cream and salsa, spread on top of a lettuce leaf that lines a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, then roll tightly. A cold chicken fajita!

You don’t have to stick to normal sandwich fillings or breads. You can also use bagels, pita bread, crackers or rolls. Ever try strawberry preserves with cream cheese? Uh huh, kids love that, too. Leftover stew? Wrap it! Just drain the excess liquid, squish the vegetables and meat together a bit, then wrap. Let your imagination run wild.

Next time, we’ll talk about easy desserts for packed lunches!

Posted in Parenting, Nutrition, Cooking, Daily Living, Healthy Eating | 1 Comment »

Mile high baby

A woman has given birth during an international flight with the assistance of a holidaying Australian doctor.  The grateful Brazillian woman, known as Aline, is reported to have been complaining of back pain during the flight.

Aline, 26, began having contractions midflight before her waters broke.  By this time cabin crew had enlisted Dr Jenny Cook, after checking boarding passes for a doctors name.  Aline it is reported was “adamant she was not pregnant”.

Complicating the situation was a breech presentation - where the baby is positioned feet first.  The pilot suggested he would have got a speeding fine had there “been cameras in the air” as he tried to make an emergency landing on Easter Island.  However mother and baby could not wait this long and the delivery took place near the toilet and food preparation area.

Baby Barbara was guided into the world without a hitch - luckily for all aboard as Dr Cook had only a basic first aid kit and an oxygen mask to help her. 

According to Dr Cook ”I didn’t know what was going to happen, if the baby was going to breathe, if the mother was going to bleed.”

“And if I had to make any cuts to get the baby out, were they going to give me a plastic knife?”

Posted in Pregnancy | No Comments »

Anticipation… Anticipa-yay-tion

Remember that weekend sans children that we got dooped out of a couple of weeks ago.  Well, this weekend, we will get our due.  The disappointment stung, yes, when we had it swiped right out from under us.  And, yes, there was the promise of another weekend, but we figured it was just too good to be true.  But, it is NOT.  This weekend, my beautiful in-laws are taking the kids on a grandkid beach party to celebrate the rebuilding of the new beach house (the old one was destroyed by a hurricane).

And, in true mother form, now that I have gotten what I want - I am totally remiss about it.  Don’t get me wrong, the idea of spending the weekend with my husband (sleeping in, going to movies, having friends over past 9pm) sounds decadently glorious BUT I will admit that now that it is a reality, the fact that they will be out of my bubble of protection for three days is kind of freaking me out.  I trust my in-laws completely and know they will be safe.  But, that irrational frame of mind that apparently comes with pregnancy can’t shake the feeling that this weekend will be the weekend that a meteor hits Earth or that aliens will invade or god knows what else.. I tried talking to my non-parental friends about it.  Big mistake.  They looked at me like I was crazy (which I may be) and all agreed that my uber-paranoia is a sign that I needed a weekend away from them a LONG time ago.  Putzes.  All of them - putzes.  I told them that when they have kids I am going to laugh at them the first time they cry when leaving a kid at a playdate or any other irrational thing that you feel after you bear children.  Because, let’s face it, you open up a whole other spectrum of emotions when you have kids.  Sure, they might be crazy emotions, but somehow, they make sense to you and to anyone else you know who has kids.

Posted in Parenting, Concerns and Expectations | No Comments »

Something In the Way She Poos

I am knee deep in other people’s poopy.  Yesterday I wiped a total of three other being’s bottoms - both kids and the dog.  Am I being too sharing???  Tough.

The most alarming of all three was my daughter, if you can believe it.  My cute, sweet, cherubic little baby girl had the most horrendous diapers these last few days.  I know what it is, I just can’t get her to change the bad habit that is producing these frightful diapers.  My daughter’s a juice junkie - and it’s creating quite a funk in her huggies. 

I am having to hide the apple juice and orange juice from her. The diapers weren’t the only indicator that we have a problem - at mealtimes (and even snack times) all she wants to do is drink her juice.  I am having to buckle down and only give her one juice drink a day now - it has caused a stir in our household. She goes to the refrigerator and screams “szhoooze,szhooze, szhooze!!!!” and when I refuse, further hell breaks loose.  Water won’t do.  Milk occassionally makes her happy, but I don’t want her to start replacing meals with milk either.  She certainly doesn’t look to be malnourished, by any means, and maybe I should just write it off as a phase in her eating style.  Whatever the case may be, it is something I never had to deal with with my firstborn.  He has always been a big eater.  I guess, like anything else, we’ll just ride this wave and work our way out of it.  In the meantime, I’ll just let my husband deal with the juice junk in her diaper… I am officially on diaper changing hiatus.

Posted in Nutrition, Child Development, Daily Living | No Comments »

Boys Will Be Boys….

I have gotten used to people (usually those without kids or those with girls only) looking at my son with great wonder - his preference to jump and run everywhere rather than to walk, his penchant for loud sound effects, his constant (albeit, articulate) banter with adults and kids, alike.  My mom has raised me to be utterly concerned with other people’s needs and opinions - or at least she tried.  It kicks in when necessary and occassionally I get bothered with it when it really doesn’t matter (my son being himself, with flourish, in the grocery store - for example).  I think when you have kids (overly-energetic boys or girls especially) you have to come to a point of agreement with yourself regarding how much you are willing to stress yourself and your kid out about how you are making strangers and those around you feel about your kids personality (notice I am saying “personality” and not “behavior” - strong personalities that can be overwhelming sometimes is what I am talking about, not bad behavior).  And, I think that the more you worry about it - putting all that negative energy into the situation - the more it becomes a problem.  When I make a big deal out of something that, in essence, really isn’t bothering me but I feel is bothering someone else - the problem becomes bigger.  Just something that I realized last night at our 4th of July picnic.  I started out overly concerned that my son, surrounded by very sweet, docile little girls, would offend someone or annoy someone.  He is pretty out there to begin with but, when surrounded by calm girls, by contrast he looks WAY out there.  Then this woman, god bless her, who - by the way- had no problem telling my son how to act, said to me “honey, boys will be boys - let him be”.  And I realized that he wasn’t doing anything wrong. He was just being himself and here I was, surrounded by people I didn’t know very well, worried more about what they thought or felt than I did about the fact that my kid was having a blast.  I relaxed and realized that I was the only one who was even concerned. Sure, everyone still made comments about his energy level and his propensity to kung-fu everything (even the cat) but, he’s a kid, and if you can’t pretend to kung-fu a cat when your six, when the hell can you? 


Posted in Concerns and Expectations, Character Development | No Comments »

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