Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

We told Dads they're going to be Grandpas [YouTube]

Toy Story: Motherhood and Sexual Healing [HuffPo]

Families cling to hope of autism 'recovery' [LATimes]

Hormone Treatment May Drastically Reduce Preterm Births [WebMD]

Baby born at 24 weeks becomes world's third smallest to survive [DailyMail]

The Procedure That Helps Babies Who Have Trouble Breastfeeding [theAtlantic]

The New Parents' Guide to Managing Money [FreeMoneyFinance]

Love hormone may buffer kids from mom's depression [health24]

The Duggars and Expressing Grief after Losing a Child

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of TLC's show "19 and Counting" recently lost their 20th child while Michelle was in her second trimester. The family has been very open about their loss and held a memorial service for the baby, whom they named Jubilee Shalom. During the service, they displayed and distributed images of the 19-week-old baby's hands and feet. Many people have reacted in shock and disgust at the display, which has effectively opened up a dialogue about the way that people express their grief after losing a child.

Many thought it was strange that the couple named the baby and shared photos publicly. However, it's not uncommon for parents who have experienced a loss during pregnancy to find that naming and sharing photos of their "angel" is a helpful way to deal with their grief. Parents who have spent months and in many cases years preparing to welcome a child into their world should not be expected to move right along simply because the child died before birth. Any expectant parents can speak about how the child they are expecting is a large part of their lives, sometimes even before conception. The Duggars spread a beautiful message along with the photos of Jubilee: "There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world." 

Say what you will about the Duggars, but judging the way they grieve their loss is uncalled for. Their 19th child Josie was born at 25 weeks, perhaps making it even more palpable to them that they lost what would've been a real, viable baby if she had lived for a few more weeks. 

Have you ever experienced a loss?

Duggar family shares pics at miscarried baby’s memorial showing her tiny hands & feet [Celebitchy]

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Latest on Children's Vaccines in the US

Nothing gets parents arguing as quickly as the subject of vaccines and this year's news merely added more fuel to the fire. More parents are opting not to vaccinate their children in the United States, which many health officials fear will disrupt decades of what's referred to as "pack immunity," where a large population of vaccinated people ward off a harmful disease from an area. Despite several studies that have proven that vaccines do not cause autism, parents cite fears of side effects from vaccines as their reasoning for not vaccinating their children or at least putting them on a delayed schedule. Physicians are typically willing to put children on a delayed vaccination schedule but have been increasingly turning away patients who refuse to vaccinate their children altogether. The issue is complicated and biased on many sides.

Why aren't parents vaccinating?
States with laws that allow for vaccine exemptions in schools have growing rates of unvaccinated children. The percentage of unvaccinated children in Alaska is the highest at 9%, in Colorado it's at 7%, Minnesota has 6.5%, and Washington and Vermont have a rate of 6% and states such as Oregon, Michigan and Illinois are not far behind. Many officials will blame parent's ignorance or media figures that have spread misinformation about the side effects of vaccines, but that doesn't give parents much credit.

The number of shots given to a child during infancy has risen dramatically since the 1950s, when children were routinely given five shots before the age of two. Now, children can expect to receive, on average, 24 shots before reaching their second birthday. While each vaccine has been tested for safety, vaccines have not been tested thoroughly in combination with each other.

In addition, some of the diseases being vaccinated against are eradicated in the United States, can only be transmitted through sexual relations or intravenous drug use or carry a fairly low risk of infection for babies not regularly exposed to older children (e.g. chicken pox).

Another reason parents are weary about vaccinating is because they don't trust the pharmaceutical industry to tell the truth about side effects and the necessity of vaccines when they make so much money off of vaccinating children. Many parents are fearful of possible ingredients in vaccines, such as thermisol (an antibacterial compound containing mercury), even though it has been phased out of the majority of vaccines today. Lastly, the theory that vaccines cause autism lives on, despite the fact that the only medical professional to ever show a correlation had his study discredited and his medical license revoked.

So, why vaccinate?
Although many of the diseases that children are vaccinated against in the United States appear to no longer be prevalent, they still are in many parts of the world. If many children are unvaccinated against polio, for example, and someone comes into the country and infects one child, that child can spread the disease to the many unvaccinated peers and cause lifelong paralysis in those children or even death.

Other diseases that are vaccinated against, such as whooping cough, have not been eradicated in the United States and due to low vaccination rates in California, over 5,000 people were infected with the disease in the past two years. Many children under the age of three months died as a result. These outbreaks aren't limited to California. Similar whooping cough outbreaks have occurred in New York, Illinois, and New Hampshire.

In addition, choosing not to vaccinate can put infants too young to be vaccinated and children who are vaccinated at risk because there is a small chance that a vaccinated child can contract certain diseases if surrounded by those who have it.

Is there a middle ground?
If you are wary of your child receiving so many vaccinations at one time, many doctors accept a parent's wishes to spread them out. Dr. Sears provides a delayed schedule that is not approved by many health officials but provides a well thought-out alternative. If you decide to delay certain vaccinations or skip them completely, it is very important to regularly check the news for any outbreaks and to make sure day care and school officials know that your child isn't vaccinated. Some vaccines will transfer immunity to the fetus if given during a woman's pregnancy, such as the flu vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant about which vaccines can safely transfer immunity.

Will you fully vaccinate your child, put them on a delayed schedule or skip them completely?

10 infants dead in California whooping cough outbreak [CNN]
More parents nixing school shots for kids [NYDailyNews]
Number of unvaccinated kids rising [DaytonDailyNews]
Parents continue to question the health risks of vaccines [myfoxspokane]
What Is the Alternative Vaccine Schedule? [WebMD]

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

I Gave My Kids a Terrible Present [YouTube]

Fantasia Barrino Welcomes a Baby Boy [People]

Misperceptions Parents Have When Treating Their Child's Fever [MarketWatch]

How to unspoil your kids... and the holidays [Today]

The Importance Of C-Section Birth Photography [Babble]

Military Children Stay a Step Ahead of Public School Students [NYTimes]

New fathers attend daddy boot camp [CNN]

Years later, tiniest U.S. babies mature into typical kids [ChicagoTrib]

5 Ways to Winter-Proof Your Baby's Skin [People]

When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids [WashPo]

Does my baby have food allergies? [ChicagoParent]

Working Mothers Report Better Health

Going back to work can be difficult when your newborn is cooing and crying for you each day you're gone, but working during the baby years could give your health a boost. A recent study questioned mothers on their overall health and found that working moms reported better health and less depression than their stay-at-home peers.

Over a thousand mothers from a variety of states in the US were asked to complete periodic interviews beginning in 1991 that followed them through their child's infancy, preschool years, and up to the elementary school years. Mothers reported on any feelings of depression and rated their overall health on a scale of "poor," "fair," "good," or "excellent." In addition, they were asked about conflicts between their family life and work, and how involved they were in their child's education. All the working mothers were more likely to rate their overall health as "excellent" and reported lower levels of depression, however the mothers who worked part-time had fewer conflicts between work and family life. The mothers who worked part-time also reported as much involvement in their child's schooling as the stay-at-home moms. Romantically, the mothers all reported the same level of contentedness in their relationships, revealing that work had little to no effect on intimacy with their partners. The differences in health and depression completely disappeared by the time the children were in school.

The findings should come as reassurance for mothers concerned about going back to work and it suggests that working part-time might be an optimal situation for mom and baby. It's believed that stay-at-home moms might have higher levels of depression due to a feeling of isolation. Even if you decide to stay-at-home full time, taking a class or meeting up with other moms on a regular basis could help relieve feelings of being alone.

Do you plan to stay-at-home, work part-time, or work full-time once your baby arrives?

Working Mothers Are Healthier, Study Finds [LiveScience]

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top Ten Earliest Symptoms of Pregnancy

Deciding to try to conceive a child will put you constantly on the look out for pregnancy symptoms. The tiniest feeling of nauseousness, or even just a gassy evening can tempt you to take a pregnancy test right away. If you are timing intercourse for your most fertile days, then you still have to wait at least two weeks before a pregnancy test will give you an accurate result. Unfortunately, the earliest symptoms of pregnancy are almost identical to pre-menstrual symptoms. Nevertheless, you might want to look out for these common early pregnancy symptoms:

Fatigue. One of the most common signs of early pregnancy is extreme, unexplained fatigue. Even though you may usually head for the coffee shop when you're feeling this tired, a nap would be a better solution. 

Sensitivity to Smells. Another early sign of pregnancy is a sudden sensitivity to smells. If you find that you're the only one that smells a certain scent in the air, it could be a sign of pregnancy.

Aversion to Foods. Even before women commonly experience morning sickness, they often find certain foods or beverages suddenly unappealing. If you find yourself gagging at the thought of what was once your favorite restaurant, maybe you're pregnant. 

Breast Tenderness. It's common for women to experience tender, swollen or even painful breasts very early in their pregnancy. Unfortunately, this sensation is also very common before menstruating too. 

Frequent Urination. Another common side effect of elevated pregnancy hormones is a more active bladder. You may find yourself unable to get through the night without heading to the bathroom. 

Dizziness. Due to the increasing size of the blood vessels making room for an extra person's circulatory system, a pregnant woman's blood pressure can initially experience a drop, leading to dizziness or even fainting.

Mood Swings. Feeling irritable is a common symptom of pregnancy, although it's a well known symptom of pre-menstrual syndrome as well. 

Heartburn or Constipation. During pregnancy, digestion becomes slowed to allow for the maximum absorption of nutrients, which can lead to heartburn or constipation. 

Consistently High Basal Body Temperature. If you've been charting your temperature before getting out of bed each morning (a common method for charting fertility), then a consistently high temperature is a very good indicator that you're pregnant. It's usually only by a degree or two, but the temperature will remain consistently higher. 

Missing a Period. Usually, the most sure-fire way that a woman can tell that she's pregnant is if she misses her period. However, be aware that implantation bleeding can occur around the same time as a menstrual period, although it causes significantly less bleeding than menstruation. 

What first tipped you off that you were pregnant?

Early Pregnancy Symptoms [PreconceptionWeekly]
8 Early Signs of Pregnancy [WebMD]

Monday, December 12, 2011

New Moms Quickly Become Financial Overseers

If you're pregnant and terrible with money, it might be a good time to develop some better financial habits. A recent survey found that becoming a mother quickly puts a woman in charge of the family's finances. Budgeting, saving and prioritizing are at the top of the list of skills that a new mother needs to quickly master.

BabyCenter discovered in a nationwide survey that 6 out of 10 mothers are making the majority of the financial decisions for their family and 3 out of 10 share the decisions equally with their partner. Once a baby is in the picture, mothers often become responsible for finding new financial products and accounts for the family, spending, budgeting, and long-term planning of finances. It was found, unsurprisingly, that new mothers began spending much less on themselves, used more coupons or other discount opportunities, changed their minds about spending money, consulted their spouse more often about money and saved. In fact, saving money was the most often cited advice that mothers would give to new moms.

For those of us who aren't great with finances, there are a few tips that can help:

1. Take an overview. Write out a list of the family income and all the expenses. See where all the money goes and how much is left over for savings.

2. Have short-term and long-term goals. Think about short-term expenses and expenses in the future and create savings plans for them. Have a short-term savings plan for things such as home repairs. Create long-term savings plans for things like college. Think about where your family will be one year from now, five years from now, 20 years from now, and so on.

3. Create an "emergency fund." Every month, put away a chunk of money to create a stockpile of money in case anything happens. You should have living expenses for approximately six months in savings for a situation such as a natural disaster, lost job or other unforeseeable event.

4. Get advice. Although talking about income is generally considered taboo in America, when you know someone is great at saving money or making investments, it's a good idea to pick their brain for any tips they might have.

In what ways have your financial habits changed since becoming pregnant or welcoming a baby?

Motherhood and Money: How Baby Changes Everything [MarketWatch]

A Happy Relationship after Baby?

Even the most solid relationship can take a blow when a baby comes on the scene. The constant work, shifting attention and often diminished sex drive can put anyone under an emotional (and physical) strain. Researchers recently surveyed over a thousand married couples to learn more about the connection between parenting and marital joy. The answer to a happy relationship proved to be relatively simple: be nice to each other.

Approximately 35 percent of the couples interviewed for the new report, "When Baby Makes Three: How Parenthood Makes Life Meaningful and How Marriage Makes Parenthood Bearable," did not find parenthood to be an obstacle to a happy relationship. It was discovered that the key to their happiness is quite simple - they put their spouse's welfare before their own. Of course, it needs to be reciprocal to work, but a shoulder rub after a long day at work, or making your spouse a cup of coffee in the morning are small examples of daily gestures that demonstrate care for a person's well-being. Forgiving mistakes and listening respectfully to opinions are other ways that send a clear message of concern. Researchers also found that happy couples reported sexual satisfaction, a sense of commitment and shared housework. However, the most fundamental principle of generosity towards a spouse can clearly underwrite these other signs of a happy relationship.

How do you show your partner that you care for them?

How to Keep Parenthood From Making Your Marriage Miserable [theAtlantic]
To Keep Marriage Healthy When Baby Comes, Share Housework [NPR]