Tag Archive for 'maternity health'

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The Mommy Guilt Syndrome – Good or Bad?

According to many polls, it is surveyed that as many as 94% of moms feel guilty about some aspect of their parenting. This guilt ranges from the amount of time they spend with their kids, the way they feed their kids (breast milk or formula, nutritious or junk food), to the type of diapers they use on their kids (environmentally friendly), yelling at kids, leaving kids at daycare of with another caregiver, the list goes on. There is always something to feel guilty about.

My advice as a Mom of 3 to new and first time parents is that there are no perfect parents and no perfect kids. No matter how perfectly you try to parent your kids they will not be perfect and neither will you. You can try to do your best most of the time. However, there are days when those standards will have to slip.

Today I was home with my sick 4 year old and I am recovering from minor leg surgery from a few days ago. Although I can hobble around a bit, I am supposed to sit still and let the wound heal. My son has plenty of other plans as his fever seemed to have cleared as soon as the School Bus drove past our front door. After a few games of Hedbanz and Lincoln Logs in addition to me hobbling about to fetch snacks, feed the cat and make lunch, I decided to call it a day. My son was treated to his favorite Ninjago Snake Attack Movie that I only very sparingly let him see, not only because these Ninjas are excessively violent at times but mainly because my off the charts snake phobia. But after feeling the twinge or two of pain in my leg and the even more pronounced twinge or two of excessive boredom in my brain from hours of mind numbing games (that I felt guilty I should not be feeling), I threw in the towel and allowed him to indulge in several hours of these movie festivities while I retreated to another room, well away from the attacking snakes video.

Did I feel guilty about this? Not a lot, maybe a little. Am I a bad parent? I don’t think so. If I did this every day, then yes I think that would be detrimental to my child’s development and show a serious lack of effort on my part. But once in a while, when we both really deserve it, sure, no harm done. However, if you were to ask me this question 6 years ago when my oldest son was this age, you would have gotten a very different answer. Yes, I would have felt incredibly guilty if I did anything like this, but this scenario would never have occurred. First we would not have had any movies of this type in our house, nor would we have access to NetFlix and not in a million years could he watch anything other than educational TV, Bob the Builder or The Wiggles (now I am burnt out on all of the above). Second I would have used this time as an opportunity for him to work on his coloring, or for me to home school him on adding and subtracting with string and pegs (yes, I was one of those “Tiger-like” Moms), although he would not learn these skills in school for another year or so. But I am a different parent at 44 and with my third child, who also has a very different temperament than my first child and does not find hours of adding games all that fun after a few minutes, nor do I at this stage. So in this case I think my degree of guilt has subsided with age, experience and number of children.

Many people might mistake me as a deadbeat parent to my youngest child on certain days of the week or hours during the day. I disagree. I actually believe my less stressed out and more laissez faire approach (or less present approach as I am parenting two other children with their own plates full of activities, homework and playdates), has encouraged my son to do more for himself. He knows that Mommy is not hopping around the house to anticipate his every need. So yes, he has a few more sugar snacks than the other two would have at his age (they had none other than fruit!). He has a little more TV time that usually is not educational and I do not drill him on reading and math all the time (although his siblings like to try their hand at homeschooling him from time to time with varying levels of success or dispute, depending on the day). I do however make sure he is safe, cared for, loved and feed every day which I think is the primary responsibility of any parent.

On the flip side my youngest is remarkably helpful and self-sufficient. He helps me with many chores, loves to help with cooking/mixing and baking things, he helps with the dishes, cleans his room, vacuums and dusts, dresses himself, makes his bed and is overall a very confident kid, proud of what he can do like his big brother and sister (and sometimes better). Maybe he has a few more scrapped knees and maybe his outfits don’t always coordinate perfectly, but I am pretty sure he will be able to do his own laundry and cook for himself by the time he goes off to college as he’s well on his way to mastering those skills now. Plus I can daydream that one day his future wife, my future daughter in law, will profusely thank me for raising such a self-sufficient guy while I nod knowingly.

On the other hand, guilt is not always a bad thing if it is used wisely and in proper context. Guilt is an internal alert system our body has to tell us that something is potentially wrong and we need to address it. It is a sign our body uses to encourage us to get on the right track and change a behavior, or make a different choice. Maybe we shouldn’t trust a particular caregiver. Maybe Johnny does need to eat healthier and cut back on the junk food. Yes we should watch what we put into our bodies when we are pregnant and stop dangerous habits like smoking or drinking too much. But we also have our common sense to override that guilt and cut ourselves some slack from time to time (not in smoking), but in most of our parenting decisions. Overall parents who apply love, consistency, their best instincts and joy to the job are on the right track any day of the week. We all need our cheat days every now and then to recharge. As long as our baby/child is safe and well cared for, I think we can cut ourselves some slack from time to time.

More Dangers To Smoking During Pregnancy

If you were looking for new inspiration for better health habits during pregnancy, the latest research on smoking during pregnancy should give you plenty of motivation to quit that habit fast. A new study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry Oct 1st suggests there is an association between tobacco smoke exposure in the womb and bipolor disorder in those offspring once they are young adults.

Researchers looked at 79 people with bipolor disorder and 654 people without the condition who were born between 1959 and 1966. People born to mothers who smoked while pregnant had twice the risk of developing bipolor disorder as young adults. Bipolor disorder is a mental illness which causes extreme mood swings. It’s symptoms are not usually noticeable until late teens to early adulthood.

This is the first study to show this connection between smoking and mental illness. Earlier studies did show that smoking contributed to other health concerns in newborns and children including low birth weight and attention problems.

We all know that smoking is bad for our health and bad for our babies health both inside and outside of the womb. We now know that it is also a concern for a child’s mental health as they mature into adulthood and beyond.

Breastfeeding Can Extend Your Life (New Research!)

If you are wondering where to stand on the breastfeeding v. formula debate, some new research may make that decision a little clearer.

A mass study published that past Wednesday in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that exclusively breastfeeding your baby for at least six months could cut your chance of dying from cancer and all other diseases by 17%. This includes an 8% reduction in dying by heart disease alone.

Previous studies on breastfeeding have primarily looked at the affect on the baby or the short term health benefits to the mother, such as weight loss.

“No previous study has investigated the association between breastfeeding and mortality in the mother,” lead researcher Anne-Claire Vergnaud said. She added that “failure to breastfeed” related to an increase in premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer and diabetes.

The study also confirmed previous findings on health benefits to the baby from breastfeeding including less likelihood of adult obesity or even being overweight, which reduces risk for seven different types of cancer as well as diabetes.

AICR Director of Research, Susan Higginbotham explains the connection between breastfeeding and longevity, “Physical changes in breast tissue that accompany milk production provide some protection as well.” Since breast tissue cells are shed during lactation, the cancer risk is decreased. She adds, “Because cells have potential DNA damage get shed before they can spark the cancer process.” Also, longer breastfeeding helps by reducing menstrual cycles and the lifetime exposure to hormones such as estrogen that can increase the risk of breast cancer.

Only 16% of US women exclusively breastfeed their babies for six months and 36% breastfeed exclusively for three months, so many American women are clearly missing the health benefits for themselves and their babies that exclusive breastfeeding has to offer. 47% of women in the U.S. breastfeed the first six months while also supplementing with formula.

Clearly the breast is best not only for your baby and for helping with your pregnancy weight loss, but also for your long-term health, reduced chance of cancer and overall longevity. That’s a powerful reason to breastfeed your baby!

Eat Your Protein When You Are Pregnant Or Nursing!

We all know that foods Salmon that are packed with Omega 3s fatty Acids are a go-to for women of all ages. Salmon has the added benefit of mood stabilizing your hormones by boosting your serotonin levels in your brain which helps you to feel-good. Higher levels of this naturally occurring feel-good chemical can help ward off depression or baby blues. Salmon is easy to make and throw on a salad for a great and healthy left-over meal. Health experts recommend having salmon at least once a week for optimal benefits.

What you might not know is that high protein foods like eggs and spinach are really important for you if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. The Institute of Medicine recommends eating 425 mg of choline for all women, 450 mg if you are pregnant and 550 if you are breastfeeding. Both spinach and eggs with the yolk contain choline which is a nutrient that helps your baby’s brain develop.

Spinach has the added nutritional benefit of folate which helps prevent birth defects. The National Institute of Health recommends women eat 600 mcg of folate when pregnant and 500 mcg when nursing. One half cup of spinach, or similar green, provides about 130 mcg of folate, so about one-third of what you need. You can make up the difference by taking a supplement recommended by your doctor. However, just cooking a daily spinach omelet can give you and your baby the nutritional boost you need each morning.

Antidepressants Are Safe During Pregnancy, New Study Results

We have all heard about the Baby Blues and the more serious Post Partum Depression, but many times depression during pregnancy goes untreated and under the radar. Depression anytime can be serious matter, but new research now shows that it is very important, and not harmful, for depressed expecting mothers to get treatment.

Previous research showed that pregnant women who took SSRI antidepressants gave birth to smaller babies with hindered physical development. New research at Northwestern University showed that babies born to mothers who took SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy were the same height, weight and head circumference by the first year. The only different was infants were slightly shorter at birth, but the babies usually caught up to normal size in a few weeks.

Untreated depressed mothers are at risk for their appetite, nutrition, prenatal care and increased alcohol and drug use. Depression in mothers is also associated with premature birth and low infant birth rate, which increases the baby’s risk of heart disease.

The good news from this study is that pregnant women should not hesitate in seeking healthcare professionals to treat their depression and that antidepressants do not appear to pose the health risks once believed on developing infants.

Looking For A Satisfying And Healthy Pregnancy Snack? Try An Avocado!

Avocados are one of those foods that everyone in my house can enjoy without complaining. Avocados are available and tasty year round thanks to growing in various regions including California, Florida, Mexico and Chile. My finicky 8 year old daughter will eat them sliced up any day of the week and positively gleams when she sees them on her plate, as if I slaved in the kitchen to prepare something extra special for her. As a toddler she would stuff them to her mouth so quickly that they would end up smeared all over her face and hands while perched in her highchair. We joked that her creamy smooth complexion was result of her daily avocado facial masks during mealtime.

Avocados are one of those foods that don’t take a lot of preparation to taste good. You can slice them up for sandwiches are salads. You can puree them for a healthy smoothie or throw them in cooked dishes. Avocados are so versatile with a mild flavor and smooth texture that they compliment just about anything from chips, salad, poultry, fish or beef. Whether you are a meat-eater, fish veggie or a vegan, avocados are usually allowed on the menu.

Odd fact – although you will usually find avocados stacked next to the vegetables in the grocery store, they are actually a fruit. Avocados are native to South and Central America. The two most common varieties are Hass and Fuerte and over 90 percent of the nation’s avocados are the Hass variety from California. Florida produces the Fuerte varieties that are larger and have more water and less fat than the Hasses.

Avocados are a suburb healthy treat for anyone and especially good for curbing that afternoon snack attack that many pregnant women often feel in even greater force than the rest of humanity and that a carrot or celery stick just won’t satisfy (although maybe when dipped in some salty guacamole). Although a medium avocado has about 30 grams of fat, it’s mostly the monounsaturated “good fat” that boosts good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol. A typical serving of avocados is about 1 ounce, which is approximately 3 slices and only 5 grams of “good” fat. Avocados are also a good source of lutein, an antioxidant that is good for the eyes.

Popular Super Bowl Treat:

The Hass Avocado Board estimates that over 71 million pounds of the purple-black Hass avocados will be consumed during this year’s Super Bowl parties. That equates to more than 27 feel of avocados, enough to cover an entire football field “end zone to end zone.” We can assume that most of those avocados will be consumed in the form of guacamole dip.

The most important element in making really good guacamole is using very good, ripe avocados. To find just the right ripeness, press the outside of the avocado gently. If there is a little bit of give, then the avocado is perfectly ripe. If it is hard, it is not ready and if there is too much give, then the avocado is probably too ripe and will not taste good. If you have your “perfect” ripe avocados, all you really need is salt and lime juice (lemon juice is also good if you don’t have a lime). The other good ingredients to add are cilantro, chiles, onion and tomato. However if you are prone to morning sickness, simpler is better, just use the ingredients that don’t make you avert your ever powerful nose during pregnancy (although many pregnant women swear that spicier is better when they are expecting).

Here’s a good recipe I found with these very ingredients which serves 2-4. Double or triple for larger servings and adjust the chiles portion of the recipe for your level of preferred spiciness.

Prep time: 10 minutes,

INGREDIENTS

2 ripe avocados

1/2 red onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)

1-2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, minced

2 tablespoons cilantro (leaves and tender stems), finely chopped

1 tablespoon of fresh lime or lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

A dash of freshly grated black pepper

1/2 ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped

Garnish with red radishes or jicama. Serve with tortilla chips.

METHOD

1 Cut avocados in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avocado from the peel, put in a mixing bowl.

2 Using a fork, roughly mash the avocado. (Don’t overdo it! The guacamole should be a little chunky.) Add the chopped onion, cilantro, lime or lemon, salt and pepper and mash some more. Chili peppers vary individually in their hotness. So, start with a half of one chili pepper and add to the guacamole to your desired degree of hotness. Be careful handling the peppers; wash your hands thoroughly after handling and do not touch your eyes or the area near your eyes with your hands for several hours.

Chilling tomatoes hurts their flavor, so don’t chop the tomatoes or add to the guacamole until ready to serve.

Remember that much of this is done to taste because of the variability in the fresh ingredients. Start with this recipe and adjust to your taste.

3 Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent oxidation from the air reaching it. Refrigerate until ready.

4 Just before serving chop the tomato; add to the guacamole and mix.

Refrigeration Tips:

Only refrigerate ripe avocados as unripe ones will not ripen in the cold. You can store ripe avocados in the refrigerator up to 5 days. If you store too long, the flesh will darken and turn into flavorless mush.

Pureed avocados can be stored in the freezer up to 4 months for use in dips, sauces and spreads. Make sure you place pureed avocados in an airtight container leaving about an inch of head space. Also, for better flavor add a tablespoon of lime or lemon for each avocado you blend in your blender.

So go for that guacamole dip without guilt this Super Bowl Sunday, it’s good for you and your baby and yummy to boot!

Light During Pregnancy Is Important For Fetal Eye Development

A fascinating new study of mice during pregnancy, leads evidence that pregnant humans also need light during pregnancy to aid in proper fetal eye development.

A new study conducted by scientists from Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and recently published in the journal Nature, reveals information about the importance of sunlight during pregnancy for the eyesight of babies that are born prematurely. The study concluded that the eye, which requires light in order to see, also needs light to develop normally during pregnancy.

Co-author Richard Lang, PhD, a researcher in the Division of Pediatric Ophthalmology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center said:

“This fundamentally changes our understanding of how the retina develops. We have identified a light-response pathway that controls the number of retinal neurons. This has downstream effects on developing vasculature in the eye and is important because several major eye diseases are vascular diseases.”

Lang collaborated with David Copenhagen, PhD, a scientist in the departments of Opthalmology and Physiology at UCSF. Mouse models were used in their study which produced surprising outcomes:

Copenhagen commented, “Several stages of mouse eye development occur after birth. Because of this, we had always assumed that if light played a role in the development of the eye, it would also happen only after birth.”

The researchers in the current study revealed that the activation of the newly labeled light-response pathway must occur during pregnancy in order to achieve the precisely planned program that creates a normal eye. They point out that it is crucial for the right number of photons to reach the mother’s body by late term pregnancy.

The team of scientists completed several experiments using laboratory mouse models that let them look at the light-response pathway’s purpose and parts. Mice were raised in darkness, and in a regular day-night cycle starting at late term pregnancy to examine the comparative outcomes on vascular progression of the eye.

The scientists confirmed the purpose of the light response pathway by changing an opsin gene in mice known as Opn4 that creates melanopsin which stops the initiation of the photo pigment.

The melanopsin protein is there in both humans and mice during pregnancy. The authors say they will continue to examine how the light-response pathway might impact the probability of pre-term babies developing retinopathy of prematurity and its relatedness to other eye conditions.

So get outside and into the sunlight during your pregnancy as much as possible on a regular basis. The natural light not only helps your mood but is essential for your baby’s healthy eye development!

National Breastfeeding Week in Ghana

National Breastfeeding Week was launched in Koforidu as a part of the campaign for exclusive breastfeeding in Ghana. The Theme is “Understanding the Past, Planning, the Future, Celebrating 10 years of the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding; Reviving Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative In Ghana.”

Research has shown that children who were not exclusively breastfed the first six months of life had increased risk of asthma, allergy, acute respiratory infections, nutrient deficiencies, cancers, obesity, and diarrhea and reduced cognitive development.

This campaign is also aiming at educating parents in the importance of not giving a baby water for the six months since in the past babies in this culture were traditionally given all types of drinks as infants including water, cod liver oil, gripe water and other liquids which is detrimental to their development and health.

The few mothers who attempt to practice exclusive breastfeeding in Ghana often find the social support system challenging as their mothers, grandmothers and in-laws and even pharmacy shops have sabotaged their efforts by encouraging them to supplement their babies with cod liver oil and gripe water to boost their babies’ systems.

Dr Iyabode Olusanmi, the country representative of UNICEF, who performed the launching, said the reduction in the exclusive breastfeeding meant that thousands of children had a lesser chance of surviving childhood just because they were not breast-fed early and exclusively, several children were being exposed to the risk of diarrhea and other infections and malnutrition and stunting growth would continue to plague children.

She called on the GHS to focus their attention on achieving the set goals for exclusive breastfeeding in the communities to reach mothers, fathers and husbands, older women, mothers-in-law and all those who played critical roles in influencing feeding practices in young families.

The World Breastfeeding Week campaign was launched globally about 20 years ago to raise awareness of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding in reducing infant mortality.

Pregnant Woman Struck By Lightening

A pregnant woman and her unborn baby were struck by lightening a few days ago.

The woman, Kelly Lough, was getting into her husband’s car during a storm while holding her umbrella.

There was a large flash and big boom, she stated, and she felt a jolt of electricity flow down her right arm and out the left as well as her toes.

The doctors think that maybe her old pair of rubber soled shoes that she had intended to throw away were what might have saved her life by providing a bit more insulation than the pair of high heels she had intended to wear.

Ms Lough was rushed to the hospital and she, as well as her unborn baby, were found to be both perfectly healthy. The weather officials believe that Ms Lough was probably struck by one of the minor side bolt and not the main branch.

The National Weather Service puts the odds of being struck by lightening are 1 out of 775,000. Our own TummyStyle statistician places the odds of a pregnant woman being struck by lightening at 1 in 100 million!

Selma Blair Breastfeeds Her Baby Anytime Anywhere

Actress Slema Blair has been talking about when she will breastfeed her baby and we are proud to say that it is anytime anywhere. She’s been heard to say that she doesn’t care whom she offends.

Additionally, she’s been ensuring that her diet and nutrition is done correctly so that her son can receive the best nutrition possible.

TummyStyle suggests the Maternal America Mesh Nursing Top as a good option for Selma for her on the demand breastfeeding needs. This nursing top has pull to the side access. Its sleeves are down to the elbow and has a stylish stripe pattern. It’s a great deal at only $78.