Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Weiner's Wife Is Pregnant [NYTimes]

Making New Mommy Friends [Babble]

How to Remove Stubborn Kids' Stains [iVillage]     

The Only Baby Blanket You'll Need this Summer [Momfinds]

When a miscarriage isn't a fluke [CNN]

Big Babies Show Diabetes and Obesity Not Always To Blame [Babble

Why Dad's Parenting Technique Can Be Better [Parenting]

Olympic Swimmer Megan Jendrick Expecting First Child [CelebrityBabyScoop]

Meat Loaf Is Going To Be A Grandpa [CelebrityBabyScoop]

Hero dogs sniff out allergies to save kids [Daily Mail]

Saliva Test for Cytomegalovirus Proves Accurate [NYTimes]

Working Moms Might Have Better Marriages

Finally there is good news for working mothers from the scientific community. A recent study found that couples with moms who work at jobs they enjoy report higher levels of marital satisfaction than their stay-at-home peers. However, the reasons for the results might surprise you and the same results cannot be applied to couples that include working fathers.

The study published in the Journal of Family Psychology followed 169 couples over the course of four years, with a third of the couples entering the first few years of parenthood. The couples fit into a particular demographic: college-educated and happy with their jobs. When the couples were without children, their workload did not hurt their relationships; in fact, couples reported a higher level of satisfaction when the husband was working more. Scientists theorize that the increased satisfaction was due to the hard work being perceived as an investment in their future. However, that dynamic quickly changed when children came into the picture. Suddenly the fathers who worked more were seen as negligent parents and marital satisfaction declined. Strangely enough, the same did not hold true for the new mothers. The more the mothers worked, the better the couples viewed their relationships.

The results of the study are surprising and the researchers say there are many possible reasons for them. When mothers work more, fathers are often forced to pitch in around the house and take care of the kids. Multiple studies have shown that when the household and parenting duties are spread evenlybetween the partners, they tend to be happier with their relationship. The researchers also contend that for some women their work provides them with a sense of distinct identity. Plus, when both partners work, their lives don’t solely revolve around each other, providing them with more personal space.

Whatever the reasons are for a better relationship, it’s good to know that working mothers might be doing something that ultimately makes the whole family happier.

Are you a working mom?

Working Moms May Have Happier Marriages [ABC News]

Thursday, June 09, 2011

New Findings on Sun Safety for Babies

Babies love exploring in the nice weather but the effects of the sun beating down on their developing skin could last a lifetime. New research suggests that exposure to UV rays early in life could increase the risk of skin cancer in adulthood.

In the first 22 months of life, the skin of babies contains more water than at any other point in their lives. It’s this unique composition that makes their skin especially susceptible to the rays of the sun and more likely to just absorb sunscreens rather than retain them as a barrier. In addition, the protective layer of skin containing melanin is thinner in babies, allowing melanocytes, the producer-cells of melanin, to become easily damaged when exposed to UV rays.  Damage to melanocytes is the precursor to melanoma. The researchers noted that UV rays can also suppress the immune system, allowing further damage.

Doctors from Northwestern University in Chicago and St. Thomas Hospital of London authored the review of a number of studies revealing these crucial differences and reiterate that despite these findings, little is known about the reaction of babies’ skin to ultra-violet radiation. However, they emphasize the importance of keeping children less than two years of age protected from the sun at all times.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents keep babies younger than six months out of the sun completely. They encourage parents to dress older babies in wide-brimmed hats, UV protective clothing and apply sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher to patches of skin still exposed to the sun. They also suggest minimizing exposure during midday hours (10am-3pm). It should be noted that even on a cloudy day, a sunburn is still likely without protection.

Do you practice sun safety with your baby?

Sun's effects on babies not well understood: researchers [CBCNews]
Sun exposure in babies could mean cancer later [CNN]
Sun Safety [BabyWeekly]

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Jennifer Connelly Welcomes a Baby Girl [People]

No need to hold back on milk, nuts in babies [Reuters]

My Life as an NBA Superstar Single Dad [YahooNews]

Thoughts for scientist parents [boingboing]

5 Great Smoothies for Pregnancy [Babble

Signs of Miscarriage [parenting]

Postpartum Depression and Poor Sleep Quality [Women's mental health]

Study: BPA chemical exposure is underestimated [USAToday]

The Daddy Dozen: Father's Day Gift Guide [mnn]

The Top 50 Pregnancy Facebook Fan Pages [Babble]

Asian Postpartum Custom in America

"It takes a village..." is a common saying in regard to raising children, but modern society in America can often leave mothers to take on the task of child-rearing by themselves. In China and Taiwan, a tradition called zuo yuezi, "sitting the month" in Mandarin, and called confinement in English, provides a new mother with time after birth to rest as her network of family and friends takes care of her. The popular practice has made its way to Asian neighborhoods in America, where businesses are set up to take care of women and their newborns in a country where communal help for new mothers is often lacking.

Flora Leir Peir of the New York Times visited a confinement center in Queens, New York to discover a growing service for Asian women who’ve just given birth. The four centers in NY are unregulated and their existence was unknown to regulators until recently. However, since they provide no medical service, no licensing is required.

Some debate surrounds these centers because they resemble another type of housing for new mothers dubbed “maternity tourists.”  A house of new mothers in California was shut down under the allegation that pregnant immigrants were staying there until they gave birth in order to garner American citizenship for their children. The owner of the confinement center that Peir visited, Katy Lu, stated that she didn’t know whether or not the women were trying to get citizenship for their children, that she was just providing a necessary service to mothers and their newborns.

During confinement, the new mother spends the month focusing on staying warm, avoiding drafts, and eating a diet of nutritious foods and herbs believed to assist in postpartum healing. Reportedly, traditional confinement lasts about 45-60 days but the NY centers only provide 30 days of service. Among the more controversial practices are the expectation to forgo showering, washing hair, brushing teeth, venturing outdoors and eating cold food for a month. The food served at each center is a common marketing centerpiece, and part of the allure of the service is that the new mother is provided options of nutritional meals that are prepared for her each day. Nurses check the newborns each day and any ill babies are sent to the hospital. Li Yang, a patron of one of the NY confinement centers said of the practice: “It’s healing yourself with food. You have to heal yourself to take care of the baby, because that’s what’s the most important, right?”

What do you think of confinement after giving birth?

In Queens, New Mothers and Old Asian Custom [NYTimes]
Maternity Confinement in China [Jenny Zhu]
California ward for 'maternity tourists' shut down [WashingtonPost]

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Lauryn Hill Confirms Sixth Pregnancy

Hip hop songstress Lauryn Hill has confirmed her sixth pregnancy while on tour this past week. The former Fugees star announced at a concert in Detroit's Chene Park on Saturday night: "I'm going to be taking time off to give birth." She and boyfriend Rohan Marley are already parents to Zion (14), Selah (13), Joshua (9), John (8), and Sarah (3).

Amid speculation, Lauryn joked at a previous concert that she was “the most fertile woman in America” and has been covering her bump with baggy ensembles while on tour. No word on the gender or due date yet. Congratulations to the happy couple!

'The most fertile woman in America?' Lauryn Hill pregnant with baby number SIX [Daily Mail]

Monday, June 06, 2011

USDA Reveals New Food Plans for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women

Say goodbye to our beloved food pyramid and welcome the newest incarnation: MyPlate. The United States Department of Agriculture just unveiled its newest diet recommendations for the general public using the image of portions of food on a plate. Most of the information is pretty basic, but there was a notable upgrade in the section for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Instead of offering a one-size-fits-all nutritional chart for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, there is now a personalized diet plan that the website generates. The “Daily Food Plan” calculator first asks your age and whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you’re pregnant, you are then asked to enter your due date, height, pre-pregnancy weight and activity level. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll be asked the baby’s birth date, height, weight, whether you are supplementing, and your physical activity (the breastfeeding section only provides nutritional information if the child is under one-year-old). The results are calculated and you’re provided with the total ounces of each food group you should be consuming daily.

The nutritional information on MyPlate is much easier to understand than the food pyramid. Using ounces instead of servings clears up confusion over how much is in a serving. Plus, there are added tips such as the recommendation that at least half of your grain intake be made up of whole grains. The chart also distinguishes between types of vegetables – a list of the colors and how much of each color you should eat encourages a rainbow of vegetables consumed weekly. The new recommendations also include a wide-range of tips for each food group, including how to get the most nutrition from foods based on cooking methods, fresh vs. preserved foods and much more.

Try the food plan generator and let us know what you think of the results.

Daily Food Plan for Moms [ChooseMyPlate]

Gift Ideas for an Expectant Mom from the Hot Moms Handbook

The Hot Moms Handbook, by Jessica Denay, is an excellent resource for expectant and experienced mothers alike. Denay is a mother who has worked alongside celebrity parents planning events and creating nurseries, and was the editor of Mom and Pregnancy Magazine. In her book she offers great advice on everything from creating a maternity wardrobe to handling emotions. Here are some of her favorite gift ideas for expectant moms:

Babymoon. A trip for the expectant parents to have a last hurrah before welcoming their baby is an incredible gift. If you can afford to provide a weekend getaway, the couple will be forever grateful.

Cord Blood Banking. If you want to provide a potentially life-saving gift for the baby and family, helping to pay for cord blood banking is a great way to go. Stem cells from umbilical cord bloodhave been used to treat many life-threatening diseases, such as leukemia and other cancers, and are showing potential in research to treat conditions that have no cure today—like brain injury and juvenile diabetes. To find out more information or contribute to the gift of cord blood banking, go to

Relaxation. Whether it’s a trip to the spa or a visit with a masseuse, providing a chance for mom to relax is always appreciated and well-deserved.

Dinner. If you can’t afford something extravagant as a gift, dinner is a perfect contribution (especially if you have culinary skills).

Cleaning. For new moms, cleaning the house can quickly become impossible. Paying for a cleaning service or providing the service yourself is a great gift.

Babysitting. The gift of babysitting can be a gift for both parties – the parents get a night to themselves and you get to spend time with their young ones.

Basics. Don’t underestimate the value of a fresh pack of diapers or some wipes. Essential items will always get used.

You can purchase The Hot Moms Handbook on Amazon.

What has been your favorite gift as an expectant parent?

"The Hot Mom's Handbook" [Starpulse]
The Hot Mom's Handbook: Laugh and Feel Great from Playdate to Date Night... [Amazon]