Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Wrap-up: Parenting and Pregnancy News

Noah's first Root Beer! [YouTube]

Book Bash! How to Throw a Reading Party [iVillage]

To Heck With the House, Baby Proof Your Marriage! [circleofmoms]

Should We Stop Telling Our Kids That They're Special? [Time]

Best Pets for Families with Babies and Toddlers [babyzone]

Rob and Amber Mariano Welcome Daughter Isabetta Rose [People]

Umbilical Cord Blood Collection [TheStemCellSource]

Fun Ways to Celebrate Father's Day

The handmade gifts and sweet words from little children are enough to warm any father's heart, but once the kids have done their duties the adults take the reigns. Figuring out what to do on Father's Day can be tricky.

However, for the outdoorsy kind of guy, the options are limitless. Hiking, biking, boating, fishing and camping are just a few of your options and these activities can be fun even with a bambino in tow. Take him to his favorite hiking/biking/camping/boating/fishing spot, or bring him somewhere he’s always wanted to go.
Fathers of newborns need extra special care on Father’s Day. These guys are usually sleep-deprived and often working hard to support the new addition. A trip to the beach where he can lounge about is a great option for him. You could also send him to the spa for some pampering (who doesn’t love a foot massage?) or take him to that movie he really wants to see.

The sports dad is ready to hit the field. A great way to honor this dad is by planning a game with the whole family. Kickball, baseball, football, soccer, and frisbee don’t require a lot of equipment and can be played with a limited number of people. If dad’s not feeling too active or you run into other limitations, take him to a sports game. Check your local baseball, soccer or tennis teams for tickets.

Most fathers just enjoy spending quality time with their kids on Father’s Day. Miniature golf, bowling, and flying kites are activities the whole family can enjoy. If you haven’t gotten him a gift, you could take him out shopping. Outdoor concerts, festivals and block parties are easy summer hits.

Whatever you decide to do, let dad take it easy for the day and don’t forget about food! Make sure you have bacon on hand for breakfast in bed. Cook up his favorite meal or take him to his favorite restaurant. Bacon burgers, pizza and barbecue are usually pretty safe bets. A satisfying meal is the indisputable path to a happy father.

What are your Father's Day plans?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hope for LaBelle Toddler with Hearing Loss

For Stephanie Conner of LaBelle, Florida, banking her child's cord blood has offered her hope that she never expected to possess. After contracting a common virus during her pregnancy, she had been told by her doctors that her baby could be born with brain damage, blindness, deafness and problems with her heart and liver. Madeleine entered the world with only hearing loss, which allowed her parents to breathe a sigh of relief but presented a unique set of problems that she would encounter throughout her life. Now, Madeleine is the first participant in a revolutionary study that uses her own umbilical cord blood in an effort to restore her hearing.

At two years old and after an infusion of her own cord blood, Madeleine is showing signs of improvement. By banking her cord blood at birth, her parents may have taken steps that allow her to someday be able to speak. "Hearing loss is a neurological emergency in an infant, if you want to develop spoken language," says Linda Baumgartner, an auditory-verbal therapist and co-researcher in the study. She points out that without being able to hear before the age of four, a child gradually loses the chance to ever develop the ability to speak.

The study's authors aren't releasing any early data and Madeleine is the first of 10 infants with hearing loss that will be provided with stem cell treatments free of charge. The only catch is that families considered for the study must have banked their child's cord blood with Cord Blood Registry in order to take part.  Animal studies have shown vast improvements in hearing through the use of cord blood and researchers are optimistic about the outcome in humans. 

Have you been warned of any possible problems to expect in your newborn?

Stem cells may help LaBelle toddler hear [news-press]

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Best of the Web: Parenting and Pregnancy News

MODEL FILES | Episode 4: I Made That Baby  [YouTube]

Anthony Hamilton Welcomes Baby No. 6: Princeton Harris [CelebrityBabyScoop]

Should Parents Be Allowed to Murder Child Molesters? [Jezebel]

Stop the madness: Avoid Good Cop, Bad Cop parenting [Today]

Children with older fathers and grandfathers 'live longer' [BBC]

Feminists are More Likely to be 'Attachment Parents' [Jezebel]

I Can't Believe I'm Doing This [HuffPo]

The Best Baby Toys-That Won't Break the Bank [BabyZone]

Naturally Relieving Fatigue and Stress - Tips for New Parents

Parenting comes with its fair share of stress and fatigue but that doesn't mean you have to suffer in silence or use drugs to provide relief. Stress and fatigue are hosts to many ailments because they weaken the immune system. Not to mention, a stressed parent can lead to a stressed baby, compounding the issue for all parties involved. However, there are natural ways that you can increase the quality of your sleep and relieve stress.

Babies eat every 1-4 hours even in the night so it’s no mystery that as a new parent you are lacking sleep. Napping becomes essential, even if it’s for 15 minutes at a time while the baby naps too. Going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time, allows your body to adapt and get the most out of the few hours of sleep you do get. The whole family can benefit from a consistent to-bed and waking schedule.

The quality of sleep you get is important. Sleeping with external noises and lights going like a TV can disrupt sleep. If you have a mattress that is too small or causes aches and pains then it might be time to get a new mattress. If there are pets in the bedroom scratching in the middle of the night or walking over your legs, it might be wise to let them sleep in another space. Sleeping on a full stomach can disrupt sleep and caffeine, alcohol or smoking cigarettes can all contribute to a lower quality of sleep. Raising your blood pressure right before bed can keep you up for hours to come, which is why you shouldn’t stress out or exercise right before bed.

A great tool for enhancing your energy and reducing stress is deep breathing. Deep breathing has a long-lasting energizing effect when it is practiced regularly. Spending five minutes each morning closing your eyes and breathing as deeply and slowly as possible will also make you more immune to stress. The great thing about deep breathing is you can do it anywhere; lying in bed, feeding the baby, stuck in traffic, waiting for an appointment, etc.

Light exercise has an energizing effect on the body and can help reduce stress as well. Stretching your muscles and getting the blood pumping excites the nervous system. Exercise lowers blood pressure and releases endorphins that help to relieve stress. Taking the baby for a stroll early in the morning, practicing yoga or a light fitness routine are all beneficial forms of exercise. For people who have limited time to exercise try walking the steps instead of using the elevator at work and find ways to exercise in your daily to-do, like walking to the corner store for that cup of milk you don’t have in the fridge.

A healthy diet is essential for energy and can ward off stress. Eating sugar and nutrient-deficient foods like white flour is bound to make you crash soon after eating it. Cut out the processed foods and plan your meals with whole foods. Need a snack? Grab a carrot, celery, nuts, seeds or yogurt. Don’t be unrealistic in changing your diet though; a little dessert after you’re done with the work for the day is better than processed foods all day, just avoid the caffeine-laden chocolate late in the evening. Herbs that can help relieve stress are chamomile, passionflower, skullcap, and hops, although not enough studies on these herbs can confirm their safety while pregnant or breastfeeding (consult your doctor before taking any supplements). Vitamins that can help reduce stress are calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, and zinc.

Water provides extra stress-relieving assistance. Drinking water thins the blood so your body doesn’t have to work as hard. A hot shower can be the respite of your day and leave you feeling a million times better. Studies have found that just looking at bodies of water relieves stress and increases positive emotions.

Need a pick-me-up? Caffeine might work for a couple hours but it will leave you in the lurch later, plus it can cause stress and anxiety. If you must drink caffeine, try cutting the amount by drinking less caffeinated beverages. Black tea has 1/2 the caffeine of coffee and a cup of Chai can easily mimic the coffee-like taste that you’ve come to love. A cup of white or green tea has less than ¼ of the caffeine that coffee has and offers a host of health benefits as well. Some energizing supplements you can take include: carnitine, coenzyme Q10, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids (consult your doctor before taking any supplements).

Massage can be an amazing experience for a stressed out parent. If you have the money, take a trip to the spa. Otherwise, find some scented oil and rotate giving each other a massage. Even baby can get a massage! Acupuncture and acupressure can be very effective for stress. A great stress-relief hold involves using a hand on the forehead and a hand on the base of the skull. There is an acupressure point between the eyebrows and one in the center of the breastbone. Measure two thumb-widths from the base of your hand up towards the elbow and make a fist to find a point between the two tendons. Relax the hand as you make circles on that point. Another point on the wrist can be found just below the base of the hand near the pinky side. If you give each other foot massages there is a point about three finger-widths down from the toes, near the middle of the foot. Ear rubbing is also an effective way to massage away stress.

Aromatherapy’s effects are subtle for some but nonetheless effective. Oil in a clay ring on a light bulb, a couple drops of oil on a pillow, natural scented candles or some fresh or dried flowers in the house can relax the whole family. Scents that relieve stress: bergamot, patchouli, ylang ylang, jasmine, juniper berry, geranium, hyssop, lavender, sage, orange, lemon, grapefruit, chamomile, rose, sandalwood, and frankincense.

Learn to say “no” to extra responsibilities and find ways to decrease the pressure on your schedule. Relationship issues need to be addressed and including some time for sex can help relieve stress. Avoid watching TV or listening to radio that stresses you out, which could be the news or action films. Watching a comedy might be best for the whole family because laughing reduces stress and lowers blood pressure.

If you are stressing take some slow breaths. Mantras that you mentally repeat like; “so in love”, “life is amazing”, “sweet harmony”, “peace”, or “take it easy” can effectively lift your mood. You can make up your own positive mantra too. Make a list of what you are thankful for in your mind when you feel like things couldn’t get any worse.

Legions of parents suffer from fatigue and stress, so don’t feel alone. It’s basically a right of parenthood to live through these feelings and find the best way for you to face them. The coping tools that you find now will help you face whatever life has in store for the future.

How do you relieve stress?

Sleep [MedicineNet]
Power Napping for Increased Productivity, Stress Relief & Health [About]
 Want a Good Night's Sleep? Then Never Do These Things Before Bed [Mercola]
The Negative Effects of Stress [InsightJournal]
Breathe Some Life Into Your Life [TheHappyGuy]
Best Aromatherapy Practices To Relieve Stress [SolveYourProblem]
Acupressure and Reflexology for Anxiety: It's Easy and It Works! [ChineseHolisticHealthExercises]
The Effects of Stress on Your Body [WebMD]

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Science of Family

There is so much more to bonding with your baby and your partner than meets the eye. Closeness, touching, and relating to your baby all help to develop a smart, well-adjusted child. Plus, these endearing moments help to relieve stress in parents and strengthen their relationship. The science of family is a fascinating look at how affection brings a family together.
The science of familial closeness predominantly revolves around a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is mostly released in the brain from skin-to-skin contact and through people, places and events that we’ve had positive experiences with. It is actually quite addictive and people who elicit the release of oxytocin in our brains are the people we find ourselves drawn to. A pregnant woman multiplies her oxytocin receptors during pregnancy, making her highly sensitive to the release of the hormone. The receptors increase in the area of the brain that control maternal behaviors. The onset of labor is actually caused by a rush of oxytocin and vaginal delivery causes a release of even more. The baby has also had a rush of oxytocin during birth, which causes both baby and mother to feel calm, less pain and connected. The odor of the mother’s nipples is similar to the odor of the amniotic fluid, the place where the baby had most of its oxytocin releases, which is how the baby is naturally attracted to them. The baby right after birth finds the closeness of mother to be reminiscent of the womb. The heartbeat, warmth and gurgles of mother’s digestion all send calming signals to the baby. Nursing after birth causes another surge of oxytocin and this chemical is responsible for the “let-down” response that causes the breasts to release milk. During breastfeeding, the release of oxytocin causes uterine contractions that help dispel clots and blood and bring the uterus back to its original size. Each nursing session or any subsequent contact between mother and baby produces a release of oxytocin in the brain for both parties, strengthening their bond. The baby not only produces oxytocin in response to closeness, but also receives it from the mother through breast milk. The mother’s brain slowly becomes hardwired with maternal behaviors as a result of the constant stream. It causes the mother to become more caring, eager to please, and intuitive to the needs and emotions of others. Her priorities no longer surround attracting a mate. During surges of oxytocin the mother will find a preference towards the male that is present. Fathers too get the benefits of oxytocin towards the end of the mate’s pregnancy and from interactions with the baby. The increased oxytocin levels cause him to be more caring of the baby and more affectionate with his mate.

Vasopressin is another hormone that affects the father and more significantly so than the mother. Vasopressin has been called “the monogamy hormone” because animal studies have shown that it encourages the father to stay with one mate and to be more affectionate with the baby.

It’s also been shown that estrogen and prolactin levels rise in fathers and are accompanied with a drop in testosterone (the hormone responsible for aggression and sexual prowess). These changes soften the man’s demeanor and serve to keep him closer to home.

Prolactin is released in the mother as a response to suckling and promotes milk production. It normally comes out when healthy people sleep and appears to maintain reproductive organs and the immune system. Prolactin has the ability to make the mother feel relaxed. Levels of this hormone rise in the father from spending time with the infant and also during his mate’s pregnancy. Eventually, parenthood causes prolactin to be released in the male as a response to intruders or threats. The hormone is usually accompanied with stress in non-parents and becomes a dominant chemical during parenthood. The increased release of prolactin in parents causes a drop in testosterone and sexual motivation as a result. It forces the parents to bond with each other in different ways and focus more attention on their infant. 

The elevation of prolactin in parents stimulates the opioid system, further enhancing the family bonds. Opioids are pleasure hormones that resemble morphine by reducing sensations of pain. Positive touches and interactions cause the release of opioids, which leads the infant or parent to become drawn to particular people, tastes, odors and even objects. The mere sight of a person who has elicited an opioid response causes a surge after some time. When a child is hurt, the touches of a parent can help release opioids that reduce pain. We do develop a natural threshold for opioids over time but high levels of oxytocin actually inhibit opioid tolerance. A drop in opioids can cause a baby or a parent to become upset or crave affection from the family.
Right after birth, a baby’s brain is developing considerably. Interactions with people help to determine which parts of the brain are encouraged to grow and which parts are unnecessary and to be discarded. Unfortunately, the baby’s brain is strongly affected by trauma. High cortisol levels during the ages of 0-3 can cause the brain to be on a hair-trigger response so that any reminder of past stressful events causes a wave of stress hormones. Studies have found that stress impairs optimal brain development and can cause damage to the nerves in the hippocampus, leading to intellectual deficits and bad memory. Stress causes a hyper-metabolic state in the brain which can lead to nausea and vomiting. It can also cause a numb, compliant or avoiding nature. Children and babies who do not get physically close with their parents are more likely to develop anti-social behaviors, aggression, difficulty forming bonds, mental illness and are less likely to handle stress effectively. The release of cortisol during infancy in response to stress can lead to elevated responses to stress throughout life as well as higher blood pressure and heart rate. For these reasons, prolonging crying or feelings of insecurity in a baby could be detrimental.

Bonding and affection give your baby the closeness she/he needs to feel secure. Family closeness ultimately allows a family to branch out and interact with the world without fear. Reduced stress, a more positive state of mind, and strong family relationships are all great reasons to be close with the people that make up your family. 

How does your family bond?

The Chemistry of Attachment [TheBabyBond]
What is Attachment Parenting? [NaturalFamilyOnline]
Stress in Infancy [TheBabyBond]
About Oxytocin [PsychCentral]
The two faces of oxytocin [APA]
Stretch Marks for Dads [Slate]
Postnatal Brain Development [BrainHealthandPuzzles]
How To Build A Baby's Brain [TheDailyBeast]
Effects of Stress on Brain Development [BetterBrainsforBabies]
Smell: The Sense Responsible for the Miracle of Life [serendip]
The Making of a Modern Dad [PsychologyToday]

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ben Roethlisberger to Become a Dad!

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger (30), is expecting his first child with his wife Ashley! He announced the news on his official website over the weekend: "Ashley and I are proud to let you all know that we are expecting a baby boy later this year! It is truly a blessing and we are so excited!"

The couple were married in July 2011.

Congratulations to the happy couple!

Ben Roethlisberger & Wife Expecting First Child [CelebrityBabyScoop]

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:

Delaney was born on June 20th, 2011. Mom says, "She is the happiest baby! She brings so much joy to our family! We love her so much!"

Leilani Gisele was born on September 24th, 2011. Mom says, "She absolutely loves to take pictures she's been the most photogenic baby since the day she was born. She loves being around people. She laughs and tries to talk all of the time especially during her favorite show "Bubble Guppies" it's as if she is trying to talk back to them. My fiance always makes jokes saying she is going to be a chatter box at a very young age."

Mckenzie was born on December 18th, 2010. Mom says, "Mckenzie loves her Meme and dogs. She rides the Great Dane like a pony. When he barks too much she points her finger at him and says get dog get. Her favorite thing to do is eat."

Jayden was born on July 24th, 2011. He is four weeks old in this picture. Mom says, "What's special is watching him sleep so peaceful. So calm. So precious."

Amilia Celina was born on August 12th, 2010. Dad says, "Amilia is always smiling, she has a great personality. She adores her big sister and follows her all around the house. She loves the swing and when you sing to her. In this picture she is 11 months."

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.