Friday, June 08, 2012

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Drew Barrymore: My Wedding Day Was 'Perfect' [People]

Stem cells may help LaBelle toddler hear []

Prozac in Drinking Water May Be Link to Autism, Study Suggests [SFGate]

Spoiled Rotten Kids: Cities Home To America's Biggest Brats [ibtimes]

Blood Test May Spot Genetic Disease in Fetuses [WebMD]

Baby's Cells Mix and Mingle with Pregnant Mom's [LiveScience]

Graham Elliot Is Looking Forward to Fatherhood - Times Three! [People]

Shocked: The doctor declared my child obese [BabyCenter]

6 Steps to the Perfect Baby Name [Parents]

Umbilical Cord Blood Saves Lives

Many people are aware of stem cell research but few know about the possibility of using their child's umbilical cord blood, a substance rich in stem cells, to treat terminal illnesses. This infographic created by serves as a unique learning tool for anyone who wants to learn more about a simple way to save lives:

Cord Blood Stem Cells Save Lives [TheStemCellSource]

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Gold-medalist Kerri Strug is a Mom

Olympic gold medalist, Kerri Strug (34), and her husband Robert welcomed their first child to the world. The famous gymnast gave birth to Tyler William on March1st. Tyler weighed in at 7 lbs and 1 oz, of which the 4'10" gymnast says, "For me, he was large!" She says of motherhood:

"Everyone tells you, ‘When you have a child, you’ll understand. It’s kind of like my gymnastics training when people said, ‘Dreams do come true, anything’s possible.’ You hear these things and you really want to believe them, but you don’t quite get it until you go through it. And it’s the same with Tyler. I understand it now, the immediate love."

Strug won't be competing in the 2012 Olympic Games, but she'll be working there with Hilton HHonors Support the Dream, an organization that donates money to help improve Olympic training facilities each time a good luck message is posted on their website.

Congratulations to the happy parents!

Kerri Strug Is a New Mom [People]

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Babies Eating Lemons [YouTube]

50 of the Best Kids' Birthday Party Themes [lilsugar]

Equal Parenting: Why We Need to Rethink a 50-50 Split [Time]

The Best 100 Baby Names on the Map [theStir]

10 Personalized Presents Just For Dad [lilsugar]

Most new moms don't meet own breastfeeding goals [Yahoo]

Low-Birth-Weight Teens Report Health Similar to Peers [Physician'sBriefing]

Natasha Gregson Wagner and Barry Watson Welcome a Daughter

Natasha Gregson Wagner (41) and Barry Watson (38) have welcomed their first child together. Clover Clementyne was born on May 30th, weighing 7 lbs, 2 oz and measuring 19 1/2 inches long. The couple shared their joy with People: "We are overwhelmed with love and joy at the birth of our daughter Clover Clementyne Watson."

Clover's name comes from the 1965 film Daisy Clover, which starred Wagner's late mother Natalie Wood.

Watson has two sons from his previous marriage to Tracy Hutson - Oliver (7) and Felix (4).

Congratulations to the happy couple!

What do you think of the name Clover Clementyne?

Natasha Gregson Wagner and Barry Watson Welcome Daughter Clover Clementyne [People]

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A Holistic Approach to Postpartum Depression and the "Baby Blues"

During the first year of your child's life it's important to take stock of your emotions and decide if you need any adjustments to your new lifestyle or if you need help with depression. It's widely believed that postpartum depression is caused by a variety of factors. Here we'll provide a natural approach to those factors. 

Hopelessness, worthlessness, crying frequently, insomnia, lack of energy, no longer happy with things you used to do, difficulty doing typical chores, loss of appetite, lack of interest in sex, withdrawal from the family, seeking to or having daydreams of getting away, extreme mood swings, memory loss, fear of losing control, sadness, guilt, panic, confusion; all these emotions could be normal but when they last for days at a time or are extreme it’s time to look into treating depression. If you are truly afraid of what will happen if you let loose or are thinking about hurting yourself then you should talk to a medical professional right away. If you have mild symptoms of depression then you might be able to find a natural solution to get you through the rough patch.

Be aware that there is a phenomenon where women develop post-traumatic stress syndrome from a traumatic birthing experience. Sometimes it just takes feelings of confusion or a lack of support during the process that can bring on PTSD. PTSD can often be mistaken for postpartum depression by health professionals. The disorder is characterized as a high state of anxiety. Avoidance of stimuli that might trigger memories of the experience, an inability to relax and emotional detachment are all signs of PTSD. Particular symptoms for women who have the disorder following childbirth are sexual avoidance, fear of childbirth, flashbacks of giving birth and parenting problems. PTSD may need to be treated by a therapist.

Emotions know no logic, they just cause us to feel a certain way and there might not be a real obvious reason. Sometimes we even lie to ourselves about what is making us feel sad or angry. Whatever those repeating thoughts are in your head…you need to acknowledge the way you feel. Once you’ve fully accepted your feelings you need to communicate them to someone. If you have no one to communicate to or don’t want to, write all your feelings and thoughts down in a journal. When you feel in the throes of strong emotion just remember that those emotions are not you, they are passing through you. Once you’ve accepted your emotions you will be ready to face them through your own healthy devices or with a therapist. When facing strong emotions, it’s hard to look objectively at the thoughts that are circling around them. Often when emotional we create negative mantras like “I am alone,” “no one understands,” “I’m going crazy,” “I’m so pathetic/ugly/stupid,” “why do I always do this,” etc. These are effective mantras and to reverse the effect of them you need to replace them with positive ones. Try to replace those negative mantras with things like, “I can do this,” “I’ll get the hang of this,” “I’ve got a lot to be thankful for,” “I am beautiful,” “I take my time,” or you can make up your own. Another option is to use an uplifting song and sing it in your mind or listen to one such as, “I Will Survive,” “Don’t Worry be Happy,” “I Can See Clearly Now,” “What a Wonderful World,” or a song of your choice that has a positive message.

Time alone can be a welcome relief from the stress of taking care of a family. However, if time alone leaves you in an emotional downward spiral, talk to someone immediately that you know cares. Otherwise, take time to yourself to do what makes you happy: read a book, take a walk, nap, write in your journal, draw a picture, do some scrap-booking, or any other activity that you enjoy.

Aromatherapy can be helpful with depression. Try using certain scents in a bath such as a perfume, a potpourri, a scented candle or some type of diffuser like a clay light bulb ring. Scents that can be helpful with depression are: clary sage, basil, rose, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, lavender, jasmine, rosemary, patchouli, chamomile, bergamot, peppermint and geranium.

Sleep, exercise and a nutritious diet are essential in fighting depression. It’s theorized that many women who seem to be experiencing depression are often suffering from sleep deprivation. Take a nap whenever you can. Exercise increases the release of endorphins in the brain, causing a feeling of well-being, plus exercise will leave you feeling more confident about your post-pregnancy body.

There are certain vitamins and supplements that you can take to help elevate your moods. B-vitamins, Omega 3’s, L-theanine, iron, selenium and calcium can all help to raise your spirits. Calcium can be found in dairy products, broccoli, basil, spinach, tofu, fortified orange juice and supplements. Selenium can be found in seafood, poultry, mushrooms, sea vegetables, brazil nuts, eggs and wheat. B vitamins are available through spinach, sweet potatoes, asparagus, avocados, navy beans, bananas, whole wheat breads, black beans, watermelon, beets, fish, chicken, liver and other meats. Vitamins that are labeled B-vitamin complexes are an easy way to get the most B-vitamins. Omega-3 oils can be found in flax seed, fish, walnuts and canola oil. Fish oil supplements are high in omega-3’s and can be a great help when you’re feeling down, for vegetarians flax seed oil can help just as well. L-theanine can be found in green tea and some mushrooms. Despite the caffeine content of green tea, the L-theanine actually raises levels of dopamine and regulates serotonin in the brain causing feelings of relaxation. Don’t drink too much green tea though because caffeine blocks the absorption of iron. Women who have just given birth are usually low in iron due to the blood loss during and after delivery. Low iron can cause feelings of fatigue and even depression and eventually leads to a condition called anemia. Iron can be found in red meats, thyme, cumin, basil, cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, quinoa and dark leafy greens. Iron supplements can also be taken but consult your doctor first, they can cause constipation.

If you’re feeling down about the way your body has changed, shifting your perspective could help your mood. The “battle scars” (stretch marks) of pregnancy are a record of your achievement. Give yourself time to lose the weight and don’t expect to instantly go back to your pre-pregnancy body. Remember that your amazing body is equipped to bring life into this world and sustain it after it’s here, what could be more beautiful?

Relationships can sometimes drag you down lower than you thought you could go. Really look at your relationship and evaluate how it affects you. If you are being called names or feel alone in a relationship, then it may be time for a real conversation with your partner, perhaps in the presence of a couple’s therapist.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Other mothers can sympathize, make suggestions and might even be able to swap babysitting duty to help out. Those who don’t know other mothers in person can find great connections online, just be careful who you give private information to. Try talking to your spouse or family members. Let them know what’s going on and that you are aware of it but that you need their assistance. Ask them to baby-sit, clean, make meals, or help pay for therapy. Lastly, if you have exhausted your personal resources or don’t have any and you still need help, talk to a medical professional. Set up a payment plan, do whatever you need to do to get the help you need.

Other tips for alleviating feelings of depression:

o Get informed about parenting through books or the web to increase feelings of parental awareness
o Don’t overload yourself with unnecessary tasks
o Don’t make huge changes in your life until you are used to having a baby
o Don’t worry so much about appearances
o Don’t offer to help others as much.

Postpartum depression is a serious illness and too many women suffer in silence. Do not be afraid to get the help you need, for your own sake and your family’s. For those suffering from the baby blues - try to keep your chin up. Explore ways to lift your mood and don’t be afraid to ask others for help. New mothers have one of the most demanding jobs on earth, so please be nice to yourself, you deserve it!

Have you experienced feelings of depression?

Postpartum support [PSI]
Postpartum Depression (PPD) and the Baby Blues [tree]
Natural Supplements to Fight Depression - 5 Supplements to Try [eZine]
Nutritional Blockbusters That Fight Depression [FC&A]
Vitamins help treat depression [bio-medicine]
L-Theanine - A Unique Anxiety Reducer and Mood Enhancer [naturdoctor]
Theanine [LifeExtension]
Green tea [WHF]
Aromatherapy for depression [depression-guide]
Using Aromatherapy for Depression [WavelengthsNaturalHealth]

Monday, June 04, 2012

Featured Babies of the Week

Every week we feature the best baby photos sent to us through our Babies of the Week contest. We receive photos from parents from all over the world. Here are a few of our favorites:

Nikolas Gregory was born on March 8th, 2011. Dad says, "We call him Niko for short and love his easy going and happy nature. He wakes up with the biggest gummy smile and always reaches out to touch our faces."

Andrew is three months old. He says, "I love to play with my toys and especially with my brothers.... They sure are silly and make me laugh :)!!"

Payton Elise was born on October 28th, 2011. Mom says, "Payton loves to smile, and watch the saints games with mommy and daddy. She also enjoys bathtime and playing with her older sister Aliyah. When I told Payton the saints scored a touchdown this is the response I got back from her. It made our day!!"

Tanner was born on February 8th, 2011. Mom says, "He is such a happy baby and makes us smile with all his expressions. He is always in a good mood and no matter what kind of day we have had or how bad we may feel, when we pick him up he makes all of that just melt away."

\Khloe Brielle is seven months old. Mom says, "Khloe is the youngest of 3 and the only girl. As such she has everyone wrapped around her finger with her easy smile and overall happiness. She has such an inquisitive, easy-going personality and is always game for a little peek-a-boo with anyone that will play with her."

Thanks to all the parents who sent us their pictures. You can see the rest of the featured photos on the front page of BabyWeekly. To enter your baby picture for the Baby of the Week contest, please click here. Due to the high volume of submissions we receive, it may take many months before your baby's photo is featured.

Repairing after Giving Birth

The joy of having a new baby can often overshadow the needs of the mother who just gave birth. There are many common ailments that follow giving birth that can be at best, a constant irritation and at worst life-threatening. These problems require constant care to heal quickly. Here are some easy ways to tend to them.

Of all the “battle scars” that come with having a baby, perineal tears and episiotomies are among the trickiest. Sitting becomes a painful chore in itself. Find a donut or half-moon shaped pillow to sit on and sit less often or sit on one side of your bottom. You can also try sitting with the cheeks together and squeeze them together as you sit. Another method to prevent pain when sitting is to practice kegel exercises when getting up or sitting down. For the first 24 hours after giving birth, ice the wounds (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off). After the first 24 hours prepare a sitz bath; sitz baths are plastic basins that can be placed over the toilet and only cover your bottom area with water. They can be acquired from the hospital or at a drugstore. Fill with warm or cool water and add 3 drops of lavender oil or add calendula flowers and lavender flowers to soothe the area. You can try ginger to relieve itching by boiling a 1-2 inch piece in hot water for 20 minutes first, then diluting in the water of the sitz bath. After soaking for 20 minutes, let the perineum dry and expose to sunlight or open air. Expose the wounds to the air as much as possible to speed healing. After bathing or as needed, apply witch hazel or aloe vera gel but avoid oils until the wound has closed. Honey can be used topically on the wound; it seals the wound, wards off infection, is anti-inflammatory, a natural pain killer and prevents bandages from sticking. For swelling, use an icepack or a cooled witch hazel compress. When wiping, you might want to drip dry, rinse with water or dab lightly. You can put water in a squeezy bottle and rinse with that. Hospitals often provide a “peri-bottle,” which is just a squeezy bottle and can be used while you urinate to dilute the urine with warm water and make it less painful. Avoid steps or climb them sideways. Get lots of rest. Keep the area clean. Change pads often and wash hands before and after changing. Any pus or foul-smelling discharge or excessive pain could be a sign of infection and will need treatment by a doctor. Call the doctor if you bleed through more than one sanitary napkin an hour, or if bleeding volume increases. If the incision becomes more swollen, red or drains pus, or if you develop a fever call the doctor.

An extreme perineal tear combined with pain killers and iron supplements can often cause constipation. To relieve constipation drink lots of water and fruit juice, particularly prune juice. Eat a healthy diet with lots of fiber. You can ingest fiber from high fiber grains like whole-grain cereals, breads, brown rice, and bran. Dried fruits and nuts are good, especially prunes (dried plums). Fresh fruits and vegetables that crunch and still have the skin on are high fiber foods. Cooked lentils or black beans help loosen bowels. Use olive oil to cook with, it can provide lubrication for bowel movements. Warm liquid in the morning is a great way to try to loosen the bowels. Avoid bananas, chocolate and refined foods like white rice and white bread. See your doctor about a stool softener. Never ignore the need to release your bowels. The stools become harder if you wait. Take walks.

Unfortunately, a common cousin of constipation is hemorrhoids. Soak a caffeinated tea bag (like Lipton) in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, squeeze excess water from the bag and apply to the affected area (tea stains so wear a pad). Apply witch hazel to the area. Apply ice or cold compresses several times a day. Try a warm sitz bath. Use your peri-bottle or squeezy bottle to clean the area after a bowel movement. You can try moistened wipes made especially for hemorrhoids, or find a soft, white, unscented toilet tissue. Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. Get regular exercise. Avoid straining during bowel movements and don’t sit on the toilet too long. Do kegel exercises. Let the area air out when you can.

On the other side of the postpartum spectrum is urinary or fecal incontinence. Both of these conditions will usually resolve gradually. It’s very important to do kegel exercises as often as possible to strengthen the pelvic muscles. If you release a little something when coughing or sneezing: try crossing your legs and tightening the muscles down there while you sneeze or cough. Urinate often so the bladder is not as full. Cut out caffeine, carbonated beverages, cigarettes and alcohol. Avoid spicy foods, sugary foods, citrus fruits and tomato-based foods. When you feel the urge, try breathing deeply, do 3 quick pelvic floor contractions until the urge passes and then move to the bathroom. Liquid reaches the bladder in 2-3 hours, so time your drinking when you know you’ll be near a bathroom. Wear absorbent underwear. Call the doctor if you feel pain during urination, which could be a sign of a urinary tract infection.

All mothers will experience the pain of engorgement at one point or another, where their breasts ache and are swollen. Try expressing milk as much as possible if you plan to breastfeed. You can express by hand, have the baby feed often or pump and freeze milk for later. A hot shower can help or a warm compress and some gentle massage. A cold compress can help too. Take cabbage leaves and bruise by rolling with a rolling pin, then apply for about 20 minutes 2-3 times a day. You can apply a cold compress over the leaves too. If you are trying to dry up your milk quickly, drink sage tea a couple times daily (1-2 tsp sage leaves in boiling water). Don’t express milk if you are not going to breastfeed, this will cause more milk to come in and take ibuprofen for the pain. Breastfeeding women might want to forego the medication if they can.

First time moms might not experience afterpains as much as veteran mothers do. These pains are a result of the uterus shrinking back to its regular size and only last a few days. Breastfeeding intensifies the pain but speeds up the process. When you experience afterpains, ibuprofen works well for them but you should try to avoid medications if you are breastfeeding. You can try lying on your belly with a pillow underneath or gently massage the area, massaging over the toilet can help pass any clots. Empty your bladder often so that it doesn’t displace the uterus and interfere with the contractions, which can make them more painful. Use a support garment or ace bandage to put pressure on the area. Try deep breathing exercises, focusing on relaxing the area. If the pain becomes unbearable or it doesn’t ease up in a few days, call your doctor.

Back pain is a common postpartum problem. The looser abdominal muscles, changes in the body, and strain of pushing the baby out can all contribute to back pain. Take walks often to start strengthening the muscles. Stand and sit up straight, especially when feeding the baby, when you’re prone to slouch. Bend your knees and lift objects from a crouching position, using your leg muscles to pick things up. Get a massage from a professional, your partner or a friend if you can. Take a warm bath with Epsom salts after the first 24 hours to help relax and relieve muscle soreness. Use a heating pad or hot pack on the area. When you can exercise again strengthen the abdominals by doing pelvic tilts or yoga. Limit carrying the carseat, the awkward shape puts stress on the back. If the pain becomes severe or you lose feeling in certain areas of the body call the doctor. 

It can be difficult to take care of yourself with a new baby in the house. Suddenly, there is so much to do! Take good care healing your postpartum wounds to avoid a much longer recovery time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. 

Have you experienced any issues recovering from childbirth?

How to Heal Birth Tears Naturally [Yahoo]
More Ways to Heal Birth Tears Naturally [Yahoo]
“Postpartum Perineal Healing” [MidwiferyToday]
Conquering Postpartum Constipation [WhatoExpect]
Recovering from Delivery[KidsHealth]
How can I speed the healing process? [babycenter]
Incontinence [NativeRemedies]
Assessment and Management of Urinary Incontinence [NursingCenter]
Postpartum anal incontinence [babycenter]
Postpartum: Cramps (afterpains) [babycenter]