Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News


Martha Stewart celebrates birth of first grandchild [Daily Mail]

Strong Painkiller OK While Breastfeeding [Fox News]

Can You Run Faster After Having A Baby? [National Post]

Preemie birth preventive spikes from $10 to $1,500 [Washington Times]

Twin sisters give birth to daughters 2 hours apart [Washington Post]

New technology connects parents to infants in ICU [kare11]

Mike Huckabee: Wrong on Single Moms  [The Nation]

Secondhand Smoke Risk Penetrates Womb [MedPage Today]

Animal Study May Explain Low Birth Weight-Obesity Link [US News]

30 percent off on all patemm pads, use CRIBSIE at checkout [Patemm]

The First Few Years, All on Tape

How much of your child's life do you have on tape? His first steps? His first word? Chances are you don't have nearly the amount of footage as one MIT professor. In an attempt to learn more about the affect caregivers have on a baby's first words, Deb Roy set up 11 cameras and 14 microphones in his home. He collected a whopping 90,000 hours of video and 140,000 hours of audio. The practice may prove to be a perfect way to study the development of language in babies.

One discovery made from the hours of footage was a similar pattern of teaching words among three caregivers. The mother, father and nanny all tried to teach the baby new words by simplifying their sentences until the baby could pick up a word or two, at which point they began to use the word in more sophisticated speech patterns. The finding brings up the question of whether it is better to use simplified baby talk to encourage language development or to use adult speech patterns from the beginning.

Researchers are continuing to study the data by creating landscapes of words to see the progression of learned words and which words lead to others. They’re also tracking the transition from such sounds as ‘ga-ga’ to the word ‘water,’ which was this baby’s first word.

The researchers have been awarded funds to apply the study techniques to learning more about language development in children with autism. They are preparing to monitor six households for several months or more.

What was your baby’s first word?

‘Ga-Ga’ for Daddy’s Data [Wall Street Journal]

Thursday, March 10, 2011

'Parenting is a Long-Term Investment in Happiness'

Two reports out this month attempt to correlate having kids with happiness. The first states that parents exaggerate the rewards of parenting in order to justify the costs of raising children, while the second found that worldwide, parents become happier with age. Combined, these studies reveal some interesting concepts.

A study released last week is putting lots of parents on the defensive, and rightly so. Two groups of parents were given a survey, in which they had to answer a set of questions that gauged their overall satisfaction and happiness from becoming a parent. The survey asked questions such as, would they rather spend time with their kids, friends, spouse, or alone? Group one was asked to review the average costs of raising a child (about $190,000 from birth to age 18), and other financial facts of raising children prior to taking the happiness survey. The group of 80 parents, who were exposed to the financial information before taking the happiness survey, exaggerated the joys of parenting, whereas the group who did not see the financial information beforehand gave more moderate answers. Scientists concluded that parents exaggerate the joy of parenting in order to justify the high costs.

Perhaps a serendipitous answer response to the first study is another released this week which found that the joys of parenting increase with age. "Children may be a long-term investment in happiness," says Mikko Myrskyl√§, who published the study in Population and Development in Review. The results are based on data from interviews conducted with more than 200,000 people over the age of 15 from 1981-2005. A few trends were found in reviewing the data, but the main message was that young parents often feel unhappy due to sleeplessness, financial strain and anxiety over their child’s wellbeing. As parents get older, the trend begins to reverse and the pressure gradually decreases. Parents under the age of 30 became unhappier with each child. Parents between the ages of 30 and 39 with young children were happiest if they had less than four children. Once children reach adulthood, parents between the ages of 40 and 60 seem to reap rewards financially and emotionally with each child, especially in countries that have no social services available for aging populations. In fact, parents over the age of 50 were happier than childless couples no matter how many children they had. The study also revealed that the happiness of parents was directly related to government support of families. In countries like Switzerland, where support is optimal, the level of happiness between parents and their childless peers was the same.

Together, these studies reveal some interesting ideas. Clearly, another case is being made for better government support for new parents. It would be interesting to see the same study of new parents that was completed in the United States done in a country like Switzerland, to see just how much the lack of government support is contributing to parents “exaggerating” the joys of parenting. Overall though, the studies also send a good message to young parents – you might be struggling now, but things will only get better.

How would you gauge your overall happiness since having kids?

Mom & Dad Kid Themselves over the Joy of Parenting [Live Science]

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News



Mary Stuart Masterson Expecting Twins! [CelebrityBabyScoop]

Dido is Pregnant [CelebrityBabyScoop]

Top 100 Food Mom Blogs [Babble]

Consumer Reports: “Don’t Buy” Zooper Stroller [Fox 59]

Scientists find link between maternal diet and diabetes [BBC News]

Mildew-Free Bath Toys [LilSugar]

Skippy Peanut Butter Recall [MomLogic]

Bereaved Fathers Petition Congress to Expand Family Medical Leave Act [Digital Journal]

When to Report Another Parent [NY Times]

Simple blood test for Down's syndrome is on its way, say scientists [Guardian]

Woman, 23, Becomes World's Youngest Grandmother [Fox News]

Men Need More Support During and After Childbirth

Many fathers-to-be take their newfound role to heart and work hard to make sure their pregnant partner is well taken care of on all fronts. He may even ignore his own well-being in favor of his expecting partner. A new study suggests that while men may embrace these traditional roles, many aren't getting the support they need during and after pregnancy.

The study, conducted at University of Gothenburg in Sweden and composed of a series of interviews, answers some questions but raises many more about the role of fathers and how their treatment during pregnancy could be affecting their approach to fatherhood. Typically, the men interviewed believed their role during childbirth was to support their partner and keep their own conflicting emotions to themselves. Some fathers found creating a bond with their new child to be hard work, most likely due to a lack of information about child care. The many details of labor and delivery, breastfeeding and other important topics are new to many expectant parents, but pregnant women are bombarded by the information they need whereas fathers are not. Overall, the Swedish men questioned felt ignored during birth classes, even when they asked questions. “Some dads said that they'd ask the midwife questions only for the midwife to direct her answers to the mum," Asa Premberg, the midwife leading the study said in a news release. Most men who were interviewed said they primarily received information from friends and family.

The findings are important considering past studies that revealed the influence of partners during breastfeeding and the baby blues. Better informing fathers about key issues that the mother may experience will help the family as a whole. Plus, the more knowledge the father has of his baby, the more comfortable he will feel caring for her.  

How much information has the father-to-be in your family received about childbirth and taking care of the baby?

Study Finds Men Need More Support Before, After Child Birth [US News]
First-time fathers' experiences during childbirth education, labour and delivery, and during their first year as fathers. [University of Gothenburg]

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Mother of All Ideas Contest

Are you a writer, entrepreneur, inventor or otherwise innovative mom? Then you should enter the Mother of All Ideas contest, hosted by The Mommy MD Guides. The grand prize is $2500.

The contest endeavors to find a great idea created for moms by other moms. The product doesn't have to be on the marketplace; it can just be a concept. It can also be a better version of something that is on the marketplace, like a more efficient bottle-warmer.

The deadline for entry is 5pm on July 15th, 2011. Ten finalists will be chosen by The Mommy MD Guides and will be posted for the final vote by the website’s readers. The winner will be announced on Sept. 15th. In addition to the $2500 cash prize, the winner will also receive free business coaching, branding and messaging, logo design, press release, public relations and marketing advice, a feature story on MommyMDGuides.com, with a link to your website and free advertising on MommyMDGuides.com for one year, on their Recommended Products page.

To enter, email jenniferreich@mommymdguides.com with your name, city and state, kids‘ names and ages, the idea and its current status (is it in development?), and your plans for the prize. The contest is only open to mothers in the United States.

Read more on the MommyMDGuides website

Monday, March 07, 2011

Maternity Leave When You're a Freelance Worker or Business Owner

First things first, don't freak out! It can be scary to know that not working equals no income, but relax. There are ways that you can afford some leave and still be provided for. Here are some tips for setting yourself up to have a decent amount of maternity leave.

1. Calculate what you have. If you haven't been closely watching your budget, then it's more than a great time to start. You’re probably already putting away money for your taxes, so you might as well begin putting a little extra away too (also, remember that your taxes will be a little less since you’ll be listing a dependent). Realistically assessing how much you make a year and anticipating slow periods is essential. Then look at your expenditures. Where can you re-allocate funds into savings? Do you have a subscription to a paid service that you never use? Are you paying a lot in interest on a credit card? Consider canceling subscriptions, finding lower interest rates, and maybe skipping the latte every morning at Starbucks.

2. Calculate what you will need. Assess how much money you need to live on for as many months as you would like to take leave for. The first three months don’t have to be expensive. If you’re breastfeeding, the only new expenses will be diapers, health insurance for baby, and a decent stockpile of clothing. You will probably overestimate how much you need, because things like going out to dinner, trips to the salon and other luxuries will just naturally fall to the wayside. Equipment costs before you take leave are where the highest expenses will be. You’ll want a stroller and/or a baby carrier, a crib or bassinet, car seat and any other equipment you want to have for your baby. Hopefully, friends and family will help out with these things, but don’t underestimate the value of used items (except in the case of the car seat). Equipment can cost anywhere from $2,000-$6,000 for the first year.

3. Contact your customers. Make sure you let your customers know well ahead of time what your plans are. Providing exact times and dates will reassure them of your commitment to their needs. Touch on the projects you may have in the works with them and make a game plan that assures that everything gets finished in a timely manner. Also, leave a note of your future or present absence on your voicemail, email auto-reply and website with the date of your return.

4. Hire someone. For those jobs that you know you won’t be able to finish in time, hire another person in your field to complete them. Make sure it’s someone you trust and that their quality of work is at least as good as yours. In some cases, you can train another person and make a small stipend on the other person’s work in exchange for the use of your established business. If you’re nervous about leaving someone responsible for your jobs, then you might consider signing a Restraint of Trade agreement with the person. Don’t be surprised if a customer decides to solely use the new person going forward. A clause can be added to your contract so that you receive a small fee should the customer decide they prefer your replacement.

5. Work it. You’ve got less than 9 months to get your house in order, so don’t drop the ball. Stay motivated by keeping your eye on the prize. The more you can get done before the baby is born, the more freedom and flexibility you will have during your time off.

6. Don’t disappear. When you do go on leave, don’t just leave all your emails unchecked for three months. Seriously, you will regret it the moment you do check it. Stay current and respond to the most important inquiries. Contact your customers weeks before you plan to work again and give them a solid date of availability. Let them know that you’re enthusiastic to help out with anything they might throw your way when the time comes.

7. Lastly, enjoy it! You’ve got the flexibility that many people don’t, so enjoy what you have. It may seem like you never get a break, but you really are setting your own breaks. Be thankful for the opportunities you do have working from home or owning your own business.

How are you preparing for maternity leave?

Maternity leave for freelancers? [BizCommunity]
Baby Costs [Pregnancy Weekly]
Restraint of Trade Law & Legal Definition [USLegal]

Why One Mother is Advocating for Blood Oxygen Testing in Newborns

Jessica Hatcher has a message that she wants every mom to hear: make sure your baby receives a pulse oximetry measurement before he leaves the hospital. The test is not invasive - it requires putting a simple device over the baby's foot for about 3-5 minutes while light and a sensor detect oxygen levels in the blood. The test can detect even the most minor of heart defects, which might not normally be found but could be life-threatening. Early detection is the key to better treatment.

Jessica knows how devastating it can be to learn your child has a heart defect, because her son Wyatt was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome in the womb. The doctors offered her limited choices: she could let Wyatt live as long as possible, which might’ve only been a couple days; they could perform surgeries immediately after birth and look for a heart transplant once he was a teenager; or he could receive an immediate heart transplant. She and her husband opted for the surgeries, but Wyatt’s condition worsened and he needed a donor to live. The family waited for about six months before a donor became available and Wyatt was given a new heart before he reached the age of 2. The donor heart is expected to last about 13 years.

As a result of her experience, Jessica is hoping to give back. The mother of three is a mentor to families facing similar heart problems. She is also co-chair of Heart Friends, a group that raises funds for Sibley Heart Center in Georgia.

For more information about the most common birth defect and its detection visit 1in100.org.

Newton mother advocates blood oxygen testing for babies [Rockdale Citizen]

Screening [1in100]