Friday, September 10, 2010

Danica McKellar Welcomes a Son!

Congratulations to Danica McKellar and her husband Mike Verta!

The Wonder Years alum and bestselling author gave birth to her first child September 7, a boy named Draco Verta. He weighed in at 7 lbs., 2 oz.

"We are humbled, overjoyed and so grateful for this miraculous gift," the happy couple told PEOPLE in a statement. "It's like we've only now just learned the true meaning of love."

McKellar, 35 – now a mathematician and best-selling author of three books on the subject, including HOT X: Algebra Exposed – wed composer Verta in March 2009. Source

Pregnant Ali Larter on Jimmy Fallon

Ali Larter is stunning in this appearance on Jimmy Fallon, where she reveals the baby's sex and defends her home state of New Jersey.

If you have issues watching the video here, you can also see it directly on Hulu:

Tips for Baby Supply Shopping

First-time moms and dads can expect to spend slightly more than $7,000 on supplies for their new child, according to Alan Fields, co-author of the Baby Bargains shopping guide.

Pricey items like cribs and car seats are a necessity. Diapers and formula will appear on shopping lists for at least the first year of the baby's life. Then there's simply the act of walking into a Babies R Us store and seeing hundreds of extremely cute and quite clever things you could buy.

Don't let this daunting shopping load overwhelm you. Attack it with some clear strategies in mind.

  • Don't rush to buy it all at once

    You won't need everything before the baby arrives.

    A highchair will stay in its box for a few months until the baby is old enough to use it. Likewise, most people don't use a crib right away, opting instead for a smaller bassinet that sits conveniently near the parent's bed.

    Think basics. You'll need a car seat before the baby arrives. You'll also want to buy a stroller and something safe for the baby to sleep in.

    Once you have those core items, you can save up for some other purchases and adjust your shopping list based on your baby's specific needs. For instance, you may blow through burp cloths faster than you thought if the infant spits up a lot.

  • Enlist a shopping guide

    Another parent — a friend, family member or co-worker — can be helpful when you register for supplies.

    "An experienced mom or dad can kind of help you cut through the clutter," Fields said.

    They can tell you what you really do need. For instance, a mom who's already nursed a baby may know that the more expensive breast pumps can also be more comfortable and easier to use.

  • Consider what you really need

    Parents can change a baby's diapers on the floor, on a bed, any place they can safely spread a changing mat. Changing tables are not essential.

    Fancy crib bedding with matching comforters and bumpers can cost a few hundred dollars. But, for safety's sake, cribs really should have nothing except a mattress, mattress protector and fitted sheet, said Dr. Ari Brown, an author and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    Fields also takes a dim view of many gadgets. He said an audio monitor in the baby's room may be helpful. But a video camera isn't necessary, especially with newborns, who tend to not move much.

    Baby bottle sterilizers? Not necessary if you have a working dishwasher.

    "They don't have to be sterilized because your baby isn't sterile," Fields said.

    Baby clothes are also one of the most popular shower gifts. Don't spend a lot of money on clothes that you might otherwise get for free.

    Infants spend most of their first month sleeping, and they can outgrow newborn sizes quickly depending on their birth weight. What they need most are good baby pajamas, plenty of those one-piece undershirts known as "onesies," and maybe an outfit for pictures.

  • Be open to gifts

    Veteran parents love to clear space in their homes by unloading used baby equipment on first-timers. Accommodate them, because that can lead to big savings.

  • Three things to splurge on

    Breast pumps that are comfortable and easy to use can be worth the investment.

    "That's an important body part that we're talking about, and you want to make sure moms are comfortable when they're pumping," Brown said.

    But before you drop more than $300 on the slickest model you can find, consider a test drive. Hospitals and lactation consultants can tell you how to rent one. Doing this gives you a better sense for what's comfortable while you figure out whether you want to continue breastfeeding.

    Renting, however, also can cost $25 a week or $70 a month.

    Other splurge-worthy items include a good, lightweight stroller, which can cost between $200 and $300, and a car seat. More expensive models may be easier to use and adjust, and they might offer additional safety elements, such as side-impact protection.


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Reebok unveils NFL-themed maternity line

The NFL season officially starts today and with it comes the release of Reebok's NFL Maternity collection.

Reebok has partnered with A Pea in the Pod to offer moms-to-be some official football fanfare.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck, co-host of ABC's The View and the wife of former NFL player Tim Hasselbeck is the face of the line.

The collection will be available to consumers at A Pea in the Pod and Destination Maternity stores across the country. The new line includes "figure-flattering" cotton T-shirts featuring "catchy sayings and vintage NFL team logos." Reebok said.

"Expectant moms can now watch their favorite NFL team with the family in comfort and style in the new Reebok maternity tee," Elisabeth Hasselbeck said in a statement.

Will any of you be watching football during your pregnancy?


Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day

Every year on September 9th, International FASD Awareness Day is observed. Proclamations are issued in countries, states, provinces, and towns all around the world. Bells are rung at 9:09 a.m. in every time zone. People all around the world gather for events to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy and the plight of individuals and families who struggle with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). The first FASDay was celebrated on 9/9/99. This day was chosen so that on the ninth day of the ninth month of the year, the world will remember that during the nine months of pregnancy a woman should not drink alcohol.

Why Alcohol is Dangerous

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her unborn baby. Alcohol in the mother’s blood passes through the placenta to the baby through the umbilical cord. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause a range of lifelong disorders, known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Children with FASDs might have the following characteristics and behaviors:

  • Abnormal facial features, such as a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip (this ridge is called the philtrum)
  • Small head size
  • Shorter-than-average height
  • Low body weight
  • Poor coordination
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Poor memory
  • Difficulty in school (especially with math)
  • Learning disabilities
  • Speech and language delays
  • Intellectual disability or low IQ
  • Poor reasoning and judgment skills
  • Sleep and sucking problems as a baby
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Problems with the heart, kidney, or bones

How Much Alcohol is Dangerous?

There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant.

When Alcohol is Dangerous

There is no known safe time to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

Source Source

Certain Baby Names Mean More Tantrums?

Toddlers named Rose and Corey are the hardest to handle, according to a study of parents.

Children bearing these monikers are more likely to throw tantrums, kick up a fuss and argue with their parents.

Other big handfuls include girls named Sophia, Victoria, Faith and Isabel.

Boys responsible for giving their parents a bigger headache than most are Jay, Bailey, Kyle and Kian.

However, there is hope for mothers and fathers with girls called Connie, Maddison and Rachel or boys named Finn, Christopher and Ewan as these are the best behaved.

The names emerged in a study of 3,000 parents of children aged one to four by Bounty Parenting Club.

Spokesman Faye Mingo said: 'It's certainly surprising to think that a child's name may influence their temperament although the majority of parents we surveyed don't think you can judge the way a child behaves by their name.

'However, it does look like the spelling parents choose can make all the difference when it comes to determining their child's behavior.'

The names emerged in a study which asked parents to reveal the name of their youngsters and rate their behavior.

The study also showed girls are marginally more difficult to handle than boys - with 58 per cent of often throwing tantrums compared to 56 per cent of boys.

The average child, boy or girl, has up to three major strops a day - with the most popular time being mid-afternoon, the report found.

Bedtime is the hardest time for parents with 30 per cent of children throwing a tantrum before lights out.

While most outbreaks take place at home, the supermarket is the second.

Only one in 20 parents feel able to laugh at the state their child is getting themselves into.

But a weary four per cent of mothers have even cried themselves when their little one has had an outburst.

Ms Mingo added: 'With all the extra pressures of modern life that parents face today it's not surprising that many parents are feeling the strain when it comes to their children's tantrums.'

Six out of ten parents say they realize their children already know exactly how to get their own way.


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Nothing much works for morning sickness, study finds

Morning sickness can be one of the most miserable parts of pregnancy. Unfortunately, new research suggests that there is little women can do other than grin and bear it, since there appear to be no effective treatments.

The pharmaceutical industry once weighed in on the issue heavily, with the result being the introduction of the now-notorious thalidomide, which caused severe birth defects in a large number of infants. That episode led to increased requirements for safety screening of drugs before they are marketed and led to the still-prevalent consensus that it is generally not safe for women to take drugs during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester when morning sickness is at its worst. That has led many women to try alternative treatments, including sugar solutions, ginger, vitamin B6, acupressure and acupuncture. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that any of them are effective, Dr. Anne Matthews of the School of Nursing at Ireland's Dublin City University reported Wednesday in the Cochrane Library, a prestigious source of research on the effectiveness of medical treatments.

As many as 85% of pregnant women experience nausea, and half of those endure actual vomiting. The cause is unknown, but researchers suspect hormonal imbalances. About 1 in 200 suffer so severely that they cannot keep any food or liquids down, a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum. It requires medical treatment and can cause blood clots and damage to the infant. On the plus side, a 2007 study found that women who suffer morning sickness are less likely to develop breast cancer.

Matthews and her colleagues reviewed 27 clinical trials involving 4,041 pregnant women who were as much as 20 weeks pregnant. In six studies of acupuncture and two of acupressure - in which pressure is applied to acupuncture sites rather than needles - they found no benefit. One study of acustimulation, in which a small electric current is applied through the needles, found some benefit over three weeks. There was also very little evidence to support the benefits of ginger (which actually made many women sick), vitamin B6, antihistamines and anti-vomiting drugs. The anti-vomiting drugs induced sleepiness in recipients.

"A number of the studies we looked at appeared to show benefits, but in general the results were inconsistent and it was difficult to draw firm conclusions about any one treatment in particular," Matthews said in a statement. "We were also unable to obtain much information about whether these treatments are actually making a difference in women's quality of life."

Your best bet, according to most experts: Get plenty of rest, drink a little at a time but often to prevent dehydration, and eat small servings of bland food such as toast and crackers. Also, avoid strong smells; eating food cold rather than hot can minimize odors that cause nausea.


Rachel Dratch Welcomes a Son!

Rachele Dratch of Saturday Night Live has given birth! Eli was born on August 24th in New York City.

The comedian has been very quiet about her pregnancy, but her rep told People: "She's doing great and the baby's doing great. She's healthy and really happy!"

No further details have been released.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Boy or Girl? Change Your Diet, Micromanage Sex - and Other Pregnancy Myths

After I had my son, I desperately wanted a girl. When I got pregnant again, I was so convinced another XY was on the way that when the doctor delivered our daughter (XX, that is) and announced as much, I asked my husband: "Is he kidding?"

Had I only followed a strict meal plan of nuts and hard cheese, I presumably needn't have waited on pins and needles - at least according to a study by Maastricht University in The Netherlands. The authors say a mother's diet can determine whether her nursery ends up being swathed in pink or blue. So to boost the odds of having a girl, mothers should say, yes, to calcium and magnesium (think yogurt, spinach, tofu, almonds, cashews, beans, oatmeal, broccoli and oranges) and, no, to salt and potassium (anchovies, olives, bacon, salami, smoked salmon, shrimp, potatoes, processed meats, bread and pastries). Combine a strict diet with some carefully orchestrated sex — to increase the likelihood of having a girl, the researchers recommend avoiding sex immediately before and after ovulation — and apparently it can make all the difference.

News reports about the study, including one in the U.K.'s Daily Mail, have crowed about the nearly 80% success rate of the baby-girl diet. But the fine print — and common sense — call into question just how realistic this recipe for baby-making actually is. Of the 172 women who participated in the five-year study, only 21 ended up adhering to the stringent guidelines about what to eat (at least a pound of dairy each day) and precisely when — and when not — to rendezvous with their lovers. Of those 21, 16 ended up bearing daughters: voila, 77%.

The study further concluded that what the women ate was more important than when they had sex. “The results show that both diet and timing methods increase the probability of 
a girl — the impact of the diet being the most pronounced,” said a spokesman for the researchers.

But don't start stuffing the fridge with Stonyfield Farms just yet. “There is no physiological probability to any of this,” says Dr. Richard Paulson, director of the fertility program at the University of Southern California. “This is a great example of what we call non-science.”

This is probably not the first time you've heard about diet influencing gender. Researchers at the University of Exeter in England surveyed 740 first-time mothers and announced in 2008 that those who ate more calories — particularly those who ate breakfast cereal — had more sons. Nor is the advice new to avoid sex right before and after ovulation in order to birth a girl. When I was new to baby-making, a girlfriend told me about the Billings Method, a natural family planning method that involves timing of ovulation, which some rely upon to help select the baby's sex. Twice it let me down. (But a Nigerian study cited in Billings Method: Controlling Fertility Without Drugs or Devices reports that 310 couples who tried to conceive a boy were successful, while only four were not. Similarly, of 92 couples who tried to conceive a girl, only two failed. Daughters are apparently not so beloved in Nigeria.)

The timing factor was also famously espoused by Landrum Shettles, a Columbia professor who wrote How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby, which has sold over a million copies since coming out in 1970. Shettles postulated that male sperm are speedier swimmers, while female sperm are hardier and tend to outlast the guys. Hence, sex at ovulation should result in a boy, since male sperm should reach the elusive egg quicker, while sex a few days before or after ovulation should yield a daughter owing to the tenacity of the female sperm.

True or not, many have been persuaded. When Paulson addresses medical students and asks who believes it's possible to alter the probability of conceiving a boy versus a girl, half of would-be doctors raise their hands.

Here are nine other tried (but not likely true) ways to select the sex of your baby:

Go Blue:

  • Have sex on the day of ovulation
  • Avoid sex for several days before ovulation in order to concentrate the male's sperm count
  • Don't spare the salt; eat meat and fish but steer clear of dairy
  • Drink multiple cups of green tea daily

Pick Pink:

  • Have sex several days before or after ovulation
  • Have sex — lots of it — to decrease sperm count
  • Stash a pink ribbon beneath your pillow
  • Men, take a hot bath prior to intercourse because male sperm may be heat-averse
  • Eat chocolate!

Have you tried any of these methods? Have they worked for you?


5 Breastfeeding Myths Debunked

  1. Preemies require formula instead of breastmilk.

    While it's true that preemies require special formula if you're not breastfeeding, it is not accurate to claim that preemies need to be formula fed instead of being breastfed. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Not only does breastmilk tailor itself to even premature babies (including making lots of extra phosphorus), but studies show that while special-formula-fed preemies may gain weight more quickly, that breastfed preemies do better in physical, cognitive and motor skills and are released from the NICU an average of two weeks sooner than formula fed counterparts, and escape the risk of deadly necrotizing enterocolitis as preemies, whereas that risk continues for formula-fed infants.

    Of course, babies who are only getting IV sustenance are totally another story, and preemie moms have their own issues with making enough milk, but as long as mom is making enough -- either feeding from the breast or pumping, there is absolutely no reason to not give the breastmilk -- formula is unnecessary. For moms who are struggling with supply, breastmilk banks and milkshare programs give special priority to NICU babies, who have the most to gain from breastmilk. Call up or attend meetings of the Le Leche League as well to get the best help with upping your supply, such as an Supplemental Nursing System (SNS).

  2. "No matter how long I waited until feeding, my breasts didn't fill up."

    Somewhere, people got the idea that your breasts have to feel engorged or there's no milk, and that they need time to fill before you can feed again. Thank god this one isn't true, because feeling really full can be very uncomfortable! Fortunately you only feel engorged when your milk first comes in because you body is overproducing initially (what if you had triplets to feed?) and then will begin to level off to a comfortable amount once it sees how much your baby needs. If you wait until your breasts feel full, you've waited too long and they're over-full and will signal to your body to make less milk, therefore damaging your breastmilk supply -- and resulting in a really hungry baby. After breastfeeding is established and your supply is as well (done by nursing ON DEMAND!), the only time you're likely to ever feel full is if you've missed a feeding.

  3. "Unless you want to eat really healthy, your breastmilk is no better than formula."

    Also extremely untrue. In fact, just like in pregnancy, malnourishment actually does more harm to you than the baby because you're designed to reproduce and continue the species, therefore your body is made to care more about the baby than you! If you don't eat properly, your milk is still fabulous -- but it's sucking nutrients away from you that you need to be healthy instead.

    The only risk to a breastfed baby from a poor diet is that the mother will not be able to produce enough milk, and that's often more linked to hydration than nutrition.

  4. "My baby was allergic to my breastmilk."

    Now, before I outright say this isn't true, it can be -- but the chances of a baby having the only true allergy to human breastmilk or lactose in any form, called galactosemia, is 0.000005%. Only about 6 babies in the entire world are born with this each year... however, 150 people die annually from a falling coconut hitting them on the head. It's safe to say that this condition is insanely rare. Also, this allergy is discovered within the first couple days or at the most, the first week of life and the diet is changed immediately or the baby dies. In fact, 75% of babies with galactosemia die because their allergy isn't discovered in time. So figure only 2 babies a year survive the newborn stage with this condition.

    So while this allergy really, honestly does exist and the newborn has no choice but to go immediately onto a soy or meat-based formula, the myth I'm addressing is people saying their baby was allergic to their breastmilk so they had to wean at 2 weeks, 5 weeks, etc. While it may present itself like an allergy to your milk, it's actually an allergy to a protein you are passing through your milk (almost always milk and/or soy) and you do not have to wean your baby -- you just have to take a break from eating or drinking things containing milk or soy for a bit. It's certainly not a reason to wean -- it just takes the tiniest bit of effort from the mother.

  5. "I had to supplement until my milk came in since it took five days."

    Your breasts already produce colostrum before your baby is even born, and it is all you need! Here's a little lesson in the newborn's stomach, via the Le Leche League:

    When mothers hear that colostrum is measurable in teaspoons rather than ounces, they often wonder if that can really be enough for their babies. The short answer is that colostrum is the only food healthy, full-term babies need. The following is an explanation:

    A 1 day old baby's stomach capacity is about 5-7 ml, or about the size of a marble. Interestingly, researchers have found that the day-old newborn's stomach does not stretch to hold more. Since the walls of the newborn's stomach stays firm, extra milk is most often expelled (spit up). Your colostrum is just the right amount for your baby's first feedings!

    By day 3, the newborn's stomach capacity has grown to about 0.75-1 oz, or about the size of a "shooter" marble. Small, frequent feedings assure that your baby takes in all the milk he needs.

    Around day 7, the newborn's stomach capacity is now about 1.5-2 oz, or about the size of a ping-pong ball. Continued frequent feeding will assure that your baby takes in all the milk he needs, and your milk production meets his demands.

    Breastfeeding is supply and demand -- if you supplement in the first days of life, you're already telling your breasts to make less milk so when your milk DOES come in (which takes an average of 3-5 days!), you will have less because you supplemented. Trust that your body can make enough milk in the first week of life, and plan on keeping your baby on you pretty much all day and the majority of the night -- it's perfectly normal for a newborn to nurse for 12 times in one day, sometimes 40-50 minutes apart -- that is not a sign of a lack of milk.

    If you received an epidural, there's some evidence that it can make initial breastfeeding a little more difficult as well, though no differences were noted even at 6 weeks... as long as the mom didn't give up or supplement.