Friday, July 01, 2005

Brooke Shields Fights Back

Sorry, Tom. Brooke's got one up on you. Again we ask, Tom? When have YOU ever given birth? I'm posting Brooke's Op/Ed piece from today's NYTimes. * I WAS hoping it wouldn't come to this, but after Tom Cruise's interview with Matt Lauer on the NBC show "Today" last week, I feel compelled to speak not just for myself but also for the hundreds of thousands of women who have suffered from postpartum depression. While Mr. Cruise says that Mr. Lauer and I do not "understand the history of psychiatry," I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Cruise has never suffered from postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is caused by the hormonal shifts that occur after childbirth. During pregnancy, a woman's level of estrogen and progesterone greatly increases; then, in the first 24 hours after childbirth, the amount of these hormones rapidly drops to normal, nonpregnant levels. This change in hormone levels can lead to reactions that range from restlessness and irritability to feelings of sadness and hopelessness. I never thought I would have postpartum depression. After two years of trying to conceive and several attempts at in vitro fertilization, I thought I would be overjoyed when my daughter, Rowan Francis, was born in the spring of 2003. But instead I felt completely overwhelmed. This baby was a stranger to me. I didn't know what to do with her. I didn't feel at all joyful. I attributed feelings of doom to simple fatigue and figured that they would eventually go away. But they didn't; in fact, they got worse. I couldn't bear the sound of Rowan crying, and I dreaded the moments my husband would bring her to me. I wanted her to disappear. I wanted to disappear. At my lowest points, I thought of swallowing a bottle of pills or jumping out the window of my apartment. I couldn't believe it when my doctor told me that I was suffering from postpartum depression and gave me a prescription for the antidepressant Paxil. I wasn't thrilled to be taking drugs. In fact, I prematurely stopped taking them and had a relapse that almost led me to drive my car into a wall with Rowan in the backseat. But the drugs, along with weekly therapy sessions, are what saved me - and my family. Since writing about my experiences with the disease, I have been approached by many women who have told me their stories and thanked me for opening up about a topic that is often not discussed because of fear, shame or lack of support and information. Experts estimate that one in 10 women suffer, usually in silence, with this treatable disease. We are living in an era of so-called family values, yet because almost all of the postnatal focus is on the baby, mothers are overlooked and left behind to endure what can be very dark times. And comments like those made by Tom Cruise are a disservice to mothers everywhere. To suggest that I was wrong to take drugs to deal with my depression, and that instead I should have taken vitamins and exercised shows an utter lack of understanding about postpartum depression and childbirth in general. If any good can come of Mr. Cruise's ridiculous rant, let's hope that it gives much-needed attention to a serious disease. Perhaps now is the time to call on doctors, particularly obstetricians and pediatricians, to screen for postpartum depression. After all, during the first three months after childbirth, you see a pediatrician at least three times. While pediatricians are trained to take care of children, it would make sense for them to talk with new mothers, ask questions and inform them of the symptoms and treatment should they show signs of postpartum depression. In a strange way, it was comforting to me when my obstetrician told me that my feelings of extreme despair and my suicidal thoughts were directly tied to a biochemical shift in my body. Once we admit that postpartum is a serious medical condition, then the treatment becomes more available and socially acceptable. With a doctor's care, I have since tapered off the medication, but without it, I wouldn't have become the loving parent I am today. So, there you have it. It's not the history of psychiatry, but it is my history, personal and real. Brooke Shields, the author of "Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression," is starring in the musical "Chicago" in London.

Hair Care

Fuller, thicker hair is one benefit of pregnancy for some women and a myth for others. Pregnancy hormones can affect every woman's hair differently; for some, the increased estrogen causes their hair to grow thick and fast, while others find that their hair goes limp and even falls out. To encourage healthy hair, make sure you eat well and get all the essential nutrients. Your hair is part of your skin system, so the healthier you are, the healthier and more beautiful your hair will be. Even if you are one of the lucky ones who experiences increased hair growth, it may behave differently than your pre-pregnancy hair. Dry hair may become oilier, oily hair may become dry, curly hair may become straight or vice versa. Your hair will take perms and coloring differently, and may also grow in areas where you may wish it didn't, such as your face, abdomen, back, and legs. Hair loss during pregnancy may be the result of iron, iodine, or protein deficiencies, which can also cause your hair to become dry and brittle, and grow in lighter than your normal color. Many pregnant women don't get enough iron, especially women who are experiencing severe morning sickness and are not getting proper nutrition. Foods that are particularly good for your hair include yogurt; fresh fruit and vegetables; cold pressed oils; pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds; whole grains like brown rice and oats; and almonds, figs, and dates. To combat undernourished hair, massage your scalp for five or ten minutes every day to stimulate circulation. Every few weeks, turn this into an aromatherapy massage by adding a few drops of essential oils (such as lavender, neroli, patchouli, sandalwood, or ylang ylang) to a half-cup of warm vegetable oil. Massage the oil onto your scalp and hair ends, then wrap your hair in a warm towel and relax for ten minutes. If your hair is dry, wash it less frequently; your natural oils are good for your hair and scalp and washing it twice or three times a week is more than enough. When you do shampoo, use a mild low-detergent shampoo and a moisturizing conditioner. Whenever possible, let your hair air dry since blow drying and curling irons increase dryness and damage. Many pregnant women want to try a new hairstyle that is easy to manage, which often means they decide to cut their hair short. But short hair may actually be harder and more time-consuming to style than long hair, which can be pulled back into a clip or ponytail. Also, a drastic change may not look as good with your face shape as you had imagined. Remember that your face shape may change as your pregnancy progresses and you put on weight. Long, straight hair can create the illusion of a slender face. If you usually color your hair, talk to your obstetrician about any color treatment you are planning during your pregnancy. Some animal studies have shown that a few of the chemical compounds in hair dyes can cause birth defects. However, in many of these studies the animals were exposed to extremely high doses of the chemicals, more than a woman would ever come in contact with while coloring her hair every month or two. The Organization of Teratology Information Services, which provides information on potential reproductive risks, says that coloring your hair during pregnancy is probably safe. Most experts agree, however, that it's best to wait to color your hair until after your first trimester - and you may not be able to stomach the smell of the chemicals during your first few weeks anyway. To limit the absorption of any chemicals into your bloodstream, avoid processes that touch the skin and scalp, such as single-process coloring. Highlights are a good alternative since they involve painting sections of your hair with permanent color, which does not come into contact with your scalp or skin. When styling your hair during pregnancy, make the most of however your hair has decided to behave. If it is straight and limp, work a volumizing product through hair at the roots and blow dry upside down to increase volume. If you have curls, tame any frizzies by working in a curl-defining product and letting it dry naturally. If you're not sure what to do, consult with your stylist on how to maximize your new pregnancy hair. Once you have given birth, don't be alarmed if your hair - be it limp or full - begins falling out in handfuls. Most women experience increased hair loss between 3 and 6 months after giving birth. Your hormones are simply returning to normal and it may take a couple of growth cycles (several years) before your hair completely returns to normal.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Exercise for the Physically Fit

Regular exercise? No sweat! If you're into weight lifting, aerobics, even spinning, don't think that you have to give it up because you're pregnant! In fact, keeping your regular fitness routine intact will be the best thing you can do for you and your baby. You may have to make some adjustments to the length and intensity of your workouts, but all in all, you'll be able to stay in tip-top shape throughout your pregnancy. Some exercises and sports may pose too big of a risk during pregnancy so you may have to substitute with more pregnancy-friendly ones for the next nine months.During your pregnancy, you will have to keep your exercise regimen at a mild to moderate level. Best plans are to try to get in your exercise three days a week, preferably with a day between workouts, for about 30 minutes at a time. However, being pregnant may leave you too tired or uncomfortable to stick to that routine. Here are some pointers for keeping your fitness program safe set forth by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG): -Don't exercise in the supine position (flat on your back) after the first trimester. This position decreases the blood flow to the uterus. -You should be able to exercise and carry on a conversation. If you can't, slow down. You will have less oxygen available for aerobic exercise during pregnancy, so modify the intensity of your routine accordingly. -You will need an additional 300 calories a day during pregnancy, so if you're exercising, pay close attention to your nutrition and replace those calories you are burning. -Especially during the first trimester and throughout our pregnancy, stay cool when exercising. Drink plenty of water, wear loose fitting cool clothing and don't work out in a gym or any environment that is too warm. -After you give birth, resume your pre-pregnancy exercise routine gradually, based on your doctor or midwife's advice. -Don't do anything that involves standing motionless for long periods as it can decrease blood flow to the uterus. Weight lifting is fine, but incorporate movement into your routine by changing positions, stepping back and forth, etc. You may be able to continue doing weight bearing exercises at close to your usual intensity throughout pregnancy, but keep in mind, non weight bearing exercises such as swimming or yoga are easier to continue and carry less risk of injury. -b. Stop exercising when you become fatigued, and don't work out to exhaustion. Reduce the intensity of your exercise routine so you'll have more oxygen available. -Monitor your heart rate. During pregnancy, your heart rate should not exceed 140 beats per minute or 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. Since your heart beats faster during pregnancy, you won't have to exercise as vigorously to reach your target rate. Avoid exercises and sports that could throw you off balance, especially during the third trimester. Keep in mind that even if you're normally quite graceful, that Relaxin, the pregnancy hormone that relaxes the pelvic joints in preparation for childbirth, also loosens all ligaments and joints making you more susceptible to sprains and potential falls. Avoid any exercise that risks even mild abdominal trauma. Some exercises and sports are completely safe during pregnancy, while others like horseback riding, water skiing and kick-boxing are considered too dangerous. You will reap benefits just the same, so err on the side of caution and consider picking up one of the exercises listed below. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) offers these pregnancy recommendations: -Brisk walking, about a 12-15 minute mile, is great before, during, and after pregnancy. If you're new to the joys of exercise, this is a good starter. As your fitness level improves you'll probably want to pick up the pace. -Swimming is excellent because it uses both large muscle groups (arms and legs); it's cardiovascular and low impact; it tones the body; and the water supports your weight. No diving during the last months of your pregnancy! -Jogging is fine in moderation if you did so before you became pregnant. Since there is greater risk of falling down, you should do it cautiously. -A moderately paced game of tennis is acceptable if you played tennis before you became pregnant. A better choice would be a doubles match (not so much running). You may have problems with balance and sudden stops, so watch your step. Even if you're in great shape before you get pregnant, sometimes exercise during pregnancy may be strictly forbidden to protect the mother's health, baby's health, or both. Check with your doctor or midwife before continuing or changing an exercise regimen. If you have any of the following conditions, you'll probably be advised not to exercise during your pregnancy: -Pregnancy induced hypertension (high blood pressure) -Pre-term rupture of membranes -Pre-term labor, now or during a prior pregnancy -Incompetent cervix -Persistent second or third trimester bleeding -Intrauterine growth retardation -Heart disease If your doctor or midwife has given you the green light to continue your current routine - great! If you have any of the following symptoms while exercising, however, stop immediately and contact your doctor or midwife: -Pain -Dizziness -Shortness of breath -Feeling faint -Vaginal bleeding -Difficulty walking -Back or pelvic pain -Contractions -Unusual absence of fetal movements. (But bear in mind that the baby is often most quiet when you're exercising.) -You should also discontinue your exercise program and contact your healthcare provider if you have a rapid heartbeat while resting.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

If You Think I'm Cute, You Should See My Mommy

Someone linked a great website with really cute creeper/onesies. They also have some great bibs, tees for kids. Here are some of the more funnier ones. "I only cry when ugly people hold me." "For Sale by Owner." "Boob Man" "Spit Happens." "Playground Pimp" "Worth the Wait" "Diaper Diva" "I TCP/IP but mostly IP" "Tax Deduction" Those are just some of the funnier ones. Be sure to check out GabbyTees.

Big Enchilada Baby

The post I had yesterday about the 13 lb baby? Well here's another story about it. Seems as if, her parents have dubbed her, Big Enchilada. Apparently the BE's siblings were also big births. Her older sisters were 11 lbs and 10 lbs at birth. Big Enchilada weighs at least double of what the average weight of a newborn weighs. I only hope that they don't continue to call her Big Enchilada because what a sad nickname to grow up with!

Placentas Defined

From conception to delivery, your placenta is your baby's scuba gear and food source, and your command central. It provides for your baby's every need while guiding you through your first months of being a mom. About three days after conception, cells within your placenta begin producing a hormone that ensures that the endometrium will provide a warm welcome for the implanting embryo. These same cells, called trophoblasts, burrow their way into the lining of your uterus, beginning the process of pregnancy. The placenta begins to produce hormones that direct your physiology to meet the needs of your baby. In all, your placenta provides your baby with six services. -It breathes for your baby, getting the oxygen in your blood into your baby's. -It feeds your baby, transferring water, food, vitamins, and inorganic salts from your blood into your baby's. -It makes sure that you are providing it with enough blood from which to derive these supplies, and it stores carbohydrates, proteins, calcium, and iron until they're needed by your baby. -It carries your baby's waste products into your blood and out through your kidneys. -It protects your baby from colds, flus, and anything else in your body that might threaten your baby's health. -It produces hormones just in time for delivery that prepare your baby's organs for life on the outside. If you're sick or your environment or eating habits are less than perfect, your placenta does its best to make up for it functioning more efficiently and doing everything it can to get your baby's needs met no matter what. There are limits to your placenta's power to overcome adverse conditions, but not to its dedication to the job.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Shopping for a Diaper Bag?

While looking for db’s pacifier in the diaper bag amidst the spilled Cheerio’s, wipes, and old bottles, I decided that it is time to get a new bag. Not that I don’t love my tote bag, but I need some pockets so that my stuff will stay organized longer! I have been looking online for some diaper bags and have set some guidelines: no Winnie the Pooh or other cutesy characters, no pastels, and lots of pockets. Here are some that I love: Skip Hop has three styles of diaper bags in colors ranging from pink to camo and materials from denim to corduroy to canvas. If you don’t want to carry around a big bulky bag, try this Quick Trip Clutch, which includes a changing pad, translucent wipes box, and has lots of storage. This Johanna La Fleur bag is really two bags in one. The clutch is detachable from the backpack. My favorite part of this bag is that the straps can be made into a backpack or a shoulder bag. If your husband doesn’t like carrying anything that resembles a man purse and/or has pastels on it, check out all of the new “manly” bags. The Diaper Dude is a man-friendly bag with compartments for everything from pacifier to bottle to his cell phone. For those of you who want a more chic bag, try this Kate Spade bag from Neiman Marcus. It includes a folding changing pad and lots of pockets. For high end dads, try the Dad Backpack from Jack Spade. Anyone have a great diaper bag that I didn't list here and want to share what it is? Leave a comment and let me know!

Smoking? Pregnant? Here's Why You Shouldn't.

Some Facts you should know about from The National Partnership to Help Pregnant Smokers Quit: - Between 12 and 20 percent of all pregnant women smoke. - Smoking during pregnancy has been linked to 10 percent of all infant deaths. - Smoking during pregnancy may impair normal fetal brain and nervous system development. - The direct medical costs of a complicated birth are 66 percent higher for smokers than for non-smokers, reflecting the greater severity of complications and the more intensive care that is required. - Reducing smoking prevalence by one percentage point would prevent 1,300 low birth-weight babies and save $21 million in direct medical costs in the first year. Over a seven year period, this means the prevention of 57,200 low birth-weight babies and savings of $572 million in direct medical costs. - Babies whose mothers smoked during their pregnancy are more likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome than those whose mothers did not smoke. - Women who smoke can have a difficult time becoming pregnant. - Parents who smoke make their children more vulnerable to respiratory illness, middle ear infections, and impaired lung function. So in other words: Less Oxygen to baby, Low Birth Weight, Pregnancy Complications, Preterm Labor.

First Name, Middle Name, Last Name

If you're like me, you buy baby name books and pore over all the different names. Jane, Claire, Alice, Emma, Avery, Moon Cloud. Not only are there first names, but middle names. And you have to make sure they roll off the tongue well and go together with the last name. And you have to make sure you can yell the name out loud, write the name legibly. It's a lot to consider. Here's one tool that might make things a little simpler. The Name-A-Baby tool helps put together combinations of all the names you're considering. Just type in all the names you are thinking about for the first name and middle name along with your last name and it will come up with all combinations. That saves you time and leaves you with more time to figure which name is right!

Giving Birth to 13 Pounds

Did you hear about the woman who gave birth a 13 lb girl? True story. 13 pounds, 12 ounces and 22 inches, Delaney Jessica Buzzell was born last Thursday. At four days old, Delaney skipped the first stage clothing for infants and is already wearing 3 to 6 month clothing. I read this in another story, "During her last week of pregnancy, Robin and her husband Paul became increasingly worried, as her stomach grew to 47 centimeters, bigger than most mothers expecting twins or even triplets. Paul Buzzell says, 'I was very worried. This is the most pain she's ever been in.'" Well of course. Giving birth, carrying a baby -- it's not like carrying a sack of potatoes!

Blogger Has Seen the Light

Can I just say how HAPPY I am how easy Blogger has made it to post pictures on blogs? No more Hello. Just plain and simple uploading and voila. Photo courtesy of

Feeling Stressed?

During pregnancy the obstetrician really has two patients the expecting mother and her baby. So often the expectant mother is viewed as the sole patient. Usually family and friends will always ask, "So how are YOU doing?" Your doctor will ask and seek to answer how your baby is doing. The best way to determine how well a baby is faring in the uterus is by performing a non-stress test. This type of test can be performed at anytime in pregnancy when your doctor or midwife has some concerns, or at 41-42 weeks when the baby is presumed to be overdue. The non-stress test is done on the baby by measuring the fetal heart rate in response to the baby's movements during a given time frame. The non-stress test is usually performed by your doctor's or midwife's office and it's free of pain and risk to both mother and baby. During the test an external fetal monitor is attached to the mother's belly to record the baby's heart rate. While the baby's heart rate is being recorded, the mother is asked to signal the doctor or monitor when she feels the baby move. The heart rate of a healthy baby accelerates by about 15 beats per minute with movement. If a baby's heart rate does not increase during a 40 minute test period, this suggests that the baby's health may be in jeopardy. While a reactive (baby moving with accelerated heart rate) non-stress test tells the doctor a baby is in all likelihood healthy, a nonreactive (no acceleration of heart rate with baby's movement) non-stress test may be a false alarm more than 75% of the time. The baby may be sleeping or just not in the mood to kick around during the testing time period. Rest assured, if there is no activity during the test, as soon as you leave the doctor's office and head home your baby will probably start kicking in every direction and putting on a show (this is known as the Murphy's Law of Pregnancy). Another type of non-stress test is the Fetal Acoustical Stimulation or Vibroacoustic Stimulation Test.This non-stress test evaluates the reaction of the baby to sound or vibrations. This test has been found to be more accurate than the traditional non-stress test. Finally, many doctors and midwives will rely on the oldest test of a baby's well-being known to man, the good old-fashioned at home fetal movement assessment, better known as the 'how many kicks an hour test.' Though this method is not foolproof, it can furnish some indication of the baby's condition and can be used to screen for possible problems. If the mother fails to notice adequate activity, the doctor will usually perform one of the more scientific non-stress tests.

Ella Drinks Ensure

My good friend Ella, another pregnant friend, recently sent away for the Ensure drinks. She called me to tell me that they had arrived ("By 2 day Fedex - That's a lot of money!") and she will be sure to follow up to let me know how they taste. She received 4 bottles of each flavor, Chocolate and Vanilla. Yummy - drink up Ella!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Telling Your Boss That You are Officially Bun in the Oven

Have you checked out Hannah yet at PregnancyWeekly? Hannah is into her 8th week and wondering about telling her boss and people at work that she is expecting. I wonder, what happened with you when you told your boss/manager or coworkers that you were pregnant?

A Pencil, Some String and a Needle will Tell You if it's a Girl or Boy

No, not really. But it is a Old Wive's Tale and much like the necklace one. So if you happen to have these items, give it a go! Stick a needle through the eraser of a pencil, and thread a piece of string through the eye of the needle. Then someone dangles the pencil above a pregnant woman's wrist. If the pencil sways back and forth, the baby is a boy. If it moves in a circle, it's a girl. Let me know how it goes for you!

For the DH...

There are so many pregnancy websites catered toward women and their pregnancy and their role as an expectant mother that you have to wonder, what about the dear husband? Where does he fall into this category? Some websites have sections for the men but let's face it. The market of the expectant father is pretty small. That's why I enjoy the website, Mr. Dad. This website has articles and questions and answers all from a male perspective. For example, under the Expectant Fathers section there are Q & A such as "Excluded by the OB" or "Why You Should Go to her OB Appointments." The other sections range from the Toddler Father to Single Father. I like how it celebrates almost every kind of father. Let me know what your Dh thinks of Mr.Dad.