Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

 Tina Fey Talks Creepy Ultrasounds on Conan [TeamCoco]

Parenting Tips From ‘The Most Hated Girl on the Internet’ [Forbes]

When your body breaks your heart [USA Today]

B.C. parents eye Guinness record for simultaneous cloth diapering [Vancouver Sun]

Heart disease drugs could treat pregnant women [The Telegraph]

Radioactive iodine found in breast milk of Japanese mothers [The Telegraph]

Winter may be linked to postpartum depression [Reuters]

Babies' Developing Brains Fed By Placenta, Not Mom [NPR]

Legal Help for Mothers Who Took Antiepileptic Meds During Pregnancy [SFGate]

Study Finds Thirdhand Smoke Poses Danger To Unborn Babies' Lungs [MedicalNewsToday]

9 Eco-Friendly Toys Worth Buying Today [lilsugar]

10 Tips for Homebirth in the Hospital

Homebirth in recent years has become more popular, in part due to the spiritual experience and as a respite from a rising C-section rate in hospitals. However, homebirth is not for everyone. First time moms don't know what to expect and women who've had previous difficult or traumatic birth experiences are likely to opt out of having a homebirth. Plus, any kind of condition that puts your pregnancy in the high risk category would dash any hopes of giving birth at home. Nevertheless, for women who want the spiritual experience of a homebirth without the risks, there are many ways you can heighten the birthing experience in the hospital.

  1. Stay at home when labor starts. Most expectant mothers, particularly first time moms, will labor for hours before they give birth. If you’re nervous about staying home too long, the on-call nurse at the hospital,a doula, midwife, or experienced mother can help you to determine when it is the right time to head to the hospital. In general, once contractions are 3- 5 minutes apart then it’s time to head in. Staying at home allows you the comfort and freedom to labor in any position, eat, drink, take a bath and relax with your family. Plus, many hospitals will only allow you to labor for so long before they press for a C-section.
  2. Use equipment as backup. Fetal monitoring, IV drips, epidurals, and other gadgets commonly used during labor will prevent you from changing positions and walking around. While all of these devices may make you feel safer, many studies have shown that they do not reduce risks to the mother and baby. Use the hospital as a safe place to labor and should anything go wrong, these devices are there for you.
  3. Cope with the pain naturally. There are many effective ways to cope with pain without drugs (although you shouldn’t feel bad if you decide to use pain relief). Breathing exercises are the most common and can be very effective. Music, massage, hypnosis, acupressure, and vocalizing are just a few methods commonly used by natural birth advocates.
  4. Use a midwife and/or doula. Midwives and doulas are excellent at helping a woman get the birth experience she desires. Many hospitals and birth centers partner with midwives so that they can oversee your birth in the facility. Doulas act as your advocate while you are in the throes of labor. They help to encourage you in whatever your goals are and have been shown to reduce labor times and C-section rates.
  5. Learn about birth. This tip might seem obvious, but learning about the feeling of birth can help you understand what to anticipate and how to overcome tough periods. Reading anything by Ina May Gaskin is a good place to start as well as reading birth stories of other women on the web. Videos can also be helpful. The more you know about things like what’s commonly referred to as “the ring of fire,” the better you will understand how to summon the strength to get through it. Also, learning about the reasons for a C-section, as well as common but unnecessary scenarios where they are used will prepare you for complications that might arise.
  6. Use a birthing tub. Many hospitals and birth centers provide birthing tubs. Birthing in water relieves pain, takes the load off your pregnant body and is perfectly safe for the newborn who won’t take his first breath until he is exposed to the air.
  7. Create a mood. The hospital might seem like the last place to have atmosphere, but you’d be surprised how much dimming the lights and putting on some music can create a relaxing sanctuary as you labor.
  8. Change positions. Lying on your back is probably the most unhelpful position to give birth in. The baby is making a corkscrew dive down the birth canal, so moving around helps his journey. Also, use the laws of gravity to your favor with squats and other upright positions.
  9. Stay nourished. If you don’t use drugs for pain relief, then there is no reason to forgo food and drink while you labor. Keep the snacks healthy and nourishing. Sometimes a little bit of energy is all you need in order to stay strong.
  10. Breastfeed immediately. Most hospitals will whisk away the newborn to allow the mother to recover and record the baby’s first stats. Let the hospital staff know that you would like the baby to breastfeed within the first hour after birth, which is the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Sometimes, this first interaction can lay the foundation for successful breastfeeding down the road.

No matter what the outcome of your birth, it’s important to do what’s right for you. In some situations, a doctor or nurse might try to persuade you to do something you don’t want to do or maybe a natural birth no longer feels right. The most important thing is a healthy mother and baby; don’t fall prey to the judgments people sometimes make about a person’s individual labor choices.

What are some elements of your birth plan?

10 Homebirth Lessons for the Hospital [Babble]
Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk [Journal of AAP]
Descriptive study of electronic fetal monitoring in a rural community: does it make a difference? [University of Utah]
ACOG Issues Guidance for Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring [MedpageToday]

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pregnancy and the Thyroid Gland

Pregnancy is a veritable soup of hormones, causing major changes in the body that can last for a lifetime. One of the most drastic changes occurs within the thyroid gland, which dictates metabolism.

Increased estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) during pregnancy trigger releases of thyroid hormones. The thyroid can increase in size causing a goiter to form, which is a growth that appears on the neck. Usually, a goiter will only appear if you are deficient in iodine, a nutrient found in eggs, milk, iodized salt and prenatal vitamins. The developing baby is dependent on the mother for thyroid hormones, especially during the first trimester, to ensure proper brain development. The World Health Organization recommends 200 micrograms of iodine a day during pregnancy.

Approximately 1 in 1500 pregnant women will develop hyperthyroidism (an abundance of thyroid hormones); however, it may go undiagnosed because the symptoms are very similar to typical pregnancy symptoms. Unfortunately, undiagnosed hyperthyroidism can lead to preterm labor, preeclampsia and other complications. In many cases, women with hyperthyroidism will experience relief during the third trimester only to see a resurgence of the condition postpartum and their babies may experience developmental problems. Mild cases of hyperthyroidism will require regular monitoring and more severe cases will call for medication.

Three to six months postpartum, one in 20 women will experience a bout of thyroiditis, where a period of hyperthyroidism is followed by hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormone) and then a return to normal thyroid functioning. Symptoms of this condition are often confused with common issues new mothers’ experience; such as fatigue, depression, insomnia, nervousness, irritability and trouble losing weight. This condition naturally goes away between one and four months after its onset. However, once a woman has experienced this type of thyroiditis, it is likely to occur after subsequent pregnancies and in rare cases women may develop a permanent underactive thyroid.

A recent study found that women with low levels of thyroid hormones prior to giving birth were more likely to experience postpartum depression. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels should be between 0.24-2.99 in the first trimester, 0.46-2.95 in the second and 0.43-2.78 in the third.

Currently, prenatal thyroid testing is not routine except in women who have a history of thyroid disease or diabetes. If you want to have your thyroid hormone levels tested, you will need to request it from your doctor and it may not be covered by insurance. Many medical professionals have called for routine testing but no clinical data is available to show whether testing would reduce the number of mothers and babies adversely affected by thyroid disease.

Have you experienced any thyroid issues?

Thyroid Disease and Pregnancy [American Thyroid Association]
Thyroid Problems [emedicinehealth]
AACE: Thyroid Hormones May Trigger Baby Blues [medpage Today]
What Are The Normal TSH Ranges During Each Trimester of Pregnancy? []
Thyroid Problems and Pregnancy [endocrineweb]
Routine Thyroid Screening Not Recommended for Pregnant Women [ACOG]

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy Links

Jewel Dishes on Pregnancy and Motherhood [CelebrityBabyScoop]

How to Give Birth During a War [Aol News]

Inside Mariah Carey's Posh Nursery [Daily Mail]

Evolution Points to Genes Involved in Birth Timing [ScienceDaily]

Fellas: 5 Reasons to Avoid the Royal "We" During Pregnancy [Babble]

10 Affordably Chic Dresses For Pregnant Brides [lilsugar]

Support the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 [HealthyStuff]

5 Tips For Breastfeeding Longer [Babble]

Depression Meds during Pregnancy? [MSNBC]

Who Really Cares How Yuppies Raise Their Kids? [NYTimes]

Johnny Knoxville and Wife Expecting Second Child [CelebrityBabyScoop]

Cord Blood Banking Legislation Introduced to the Senate

As more families are finding it necessary to use stem cell treatments for a wide variety of diseases, proponents of cord blood banking are calling for the process to be considered a medical expense under tax law. Changing the classification of cord blood banking would provide families the ability to bank their baby's cord blood with tax-free dollars, bringing down the expense of a potentially life-saving treatment.

Enabling families to bank their cord blood with tax-free dollars is one thing that Republicans and Democrats can agree on. United States Representatives Wally Herger (R-CA) and Ron Kind (D-WI) have introduced legislation to the Senate that would amend the tax code to enable expectant parents to use their flexible spending accounts (FSA), health savings accounts (HAS), health reimbursement arrangements (HRA) or  the medical expense tax deduction to pay for umbilical cord blood banking.

Many organizations have come together to back the legislation including Cord Blood Registry and the Coalition for Regenerative Stem Cell Medicine, which is composed of the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), the Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health (NPWH), the Parents Guide to Cord Blood Foundation and many other research and disease advocacy groups.

Congressman Herger, chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, said of the legislation: “This common sense legislation will allow families and individuals to use their tax-free health dollars for a medical expense that can truly save lives.”  

Would you bank your baby’s cord blood if it was tax-free?

Family Cord Blood Banking Act Introduced in 112th Congress [The Stem Cell Source]

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lost's Evangeline Lilly is Pregnant!

Recent photos of Evangeline Lilly (31) from the hit TV show Lost reveal that the actress is in her third trimester of pregnancy. The brunette beauty is notoriously shy of fame and no announcement was made. Nevertheless, she appeared radiantly pregnant in a long maxi dress last week. Evangeline is expecting her first child with boyfriend Norman Kali, a production assistant that worked on the set of Lost.

Congratulations to the lovely couple!

Lost Alum Evangeline Lilly Is Pregnant! [US Magazine]

Monday, April 18, 2011

Babies Interested When Parents Don't Know the Answer

Any public speaking course will tell a speaker to simply pause when they are unsure of something rather than use "uh" or "um" to fill the air. An interesting study of babies discovered that these public speaking flubs are actually cues for babies trying to learn language to listen more closely.

Researchers at the University of Rochester had three groups of babies between the ages of 18 and 30 months sit on their parent’s laps as they named objects on a screen. The objects were sometimes obvious, such as a ball or sometimes made-up like a “gorp.” When parents reached these unknown objects, they predictably used sounds like “uh” or “um.” The babies began to pay particular attention to the objects when parents uttered these phrases, as if they were more important objects.  "Toddlers have learned that when adults have disfluencies it is usually followed by an unusual word," said Richard Aslin, one of the researchers.

The study is interesting because it denotes that those moments of not knowing what to say are being communicated to the child. The study also could be shedding light on why children who watch educational videos pick up fewer language skills than children who don’t watch the videos. Are children not interested in learning language when there are no inquiries from the teacher?

Does your baby seem more interested when you’re confused?

'Umming' and 'ahhing' parents help their babies learn to speak, scientists claim [Daily Mail]
Mom's Ums And Uhs Can Help Toddlers Learn Language [Vermont Public Radio]

Prevent and Treat New Mom Injuries

Even for young mothers, postpartum injuries are common. Pregnancy has dramatically altered the shape of your body; loosening the joints and decreasing core stability. Though mentally, you are ready to get back to your normal routine, your body may not be. Plus, picking up your baby constantly can be an significant strain on your back. It’s heartbreaking when a new mother can’t pick up her baby because she’s injured. That’s why it’s important to prevent these injuries as best you can. Here are few tips:

Keep a straight wrist. Many mothers hold their babies by bending their elbow and their wrist to cradle their little one. Although this may seem like the most intuitive way to do it, continually bending your wrist pinches nerves that can lead to chronic wrist pain. When holding your baby, make a conscious effort to keep your wrist straight in line with your forearm.

If you’re too late and wrist pain has already started, put your wrist in a splint until the pain is completely gone. Massaging towards the elbow can help too.

Keep a straight back. During the postpartum period, your back is very vulnerable to injury. One minute everything will seem fine and the next you will stoop to pickup a toy and end up needing to spend days in bed. The first thing to keep in mind is the proper way to pick things up. Bend at the knee if picking up things off the floor. If picking up your baby off the floor, hold her to your belly button as you raise up from the knees. Keep your spine straight and avoid twisting. A common action that leads to injury is loading the car seat and baby into and out of the car. Put the car seat in the car without holding your baby at the same time. Squat or sit next to the seat while facing it directly when buckling in the baby.

If you do get a back injury, give it a rest. Avoid lifting until the muscles heal. How long it will take to heal depends on many factors. For some it will only be a few days, but for others it could be weeks. It’s important to let the back completely heal before continuing to use those muscles. If the pain radiates down your legs, you may have a herniated disc, in which case you should see a doctor.

Shoulders back and chin up. A very common habit among parents is to slouch while feeding the baby. Soon, the habit becomes a part of your stature and invites neck and shoulder injuries. When you feed the baby, look up every so often and gently roll your neck to provide some relief to the muscles. Switch sides regularly and use pillows to prop the baby up towards you so that your arms are in a resting position.

If your neck and shoulder muscles are giving you a problem there are many stretches you can try. Clasp hands behind your back and lift gently until you feel a stretch between the shoulder blades. Also, clasp your hands in front of you and extend your arms out until you feel a stretch in the upper back. Lastly, gently tip your head towards each shoulder until you feel a light stretch in your neck.

Keep your weight evenly displaced. Pelvis injuries usually occur due to misalignment of the pelvis or tailbone. Holding your baby on the hip with one arm is a common stressor on the pelvis. Try to hold your baby with both hands or use a sling. If you need to put your baby on your hip, switch sides regularly. Avoid slouching and thrusting your pelvis forward. Place a stiff cushion behind your lower back in the car, at work and while feeding the baby.

If you’re already experiencing pelvic pain, visit your doctor.

All of these injuries are also preventable by strengthening the core. Exercises for core strength range from the plank exercise to a superman lift. If you’ve already been injured, a hot bath with Epsom salts will help provide some relief. Alternating between a heating pad and ice will help reduce inflammation and relieve taut muscles.

Have you experienced any of these injuries?

Avoid and Treat New-Mom Injuries [Parents]