Archive for the ‘Mommy’ Category

Stop. Rest. Relax…Repeat.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

things to do I am not one who can easily relax. Usually, I need a brick wall in front of me to make me stop (or a cliff will do fine, too). Adrenaline runs through my veins. I am continually creating and updating my to-do lists (or as I call them, my must-do lists) and the I-don’t-have-time-to-relax attitude often overtakes me.

Now, I KNOW, that I need to relax, for the sake of good health and a clear mind. I KNOW I need sleep, a healthy diet and exercise. But, when the list of all that needs to be done is before my eyes, or in my hand, or on my phone, I have a very hard time turning away from it and shutting down my mind. Does this happen to anyone else out there?

As parents, we have the responsibility of providing for our children – financially, physically, emotionally and in every other way that they need. Parents of children with special needs face additional tasks to conquer, from appointments with specialists, to IEP meetings, to figuring out a system with continual twists, turns and dead ends. For pregnant women, stress related hormones may play a role in causing certain pregnancy complications. Unless we purposefully have a method or a way to shut off the engine and refuel it, we risk burn-out and ill health.

But, easier said than done.

A few years ago, I took up yoga, as I knew that it offered health benefits. Among the benefits is a curious thing called “mindfulness.” Now, I am a science geek at heart, so the touchy-feely aspect was not really something I gravitated toward. But, I gave it a try anyway. What is this thing called “mindfulness?”

Well, it is a way to help shut out the noise of everything around you (and even your own busy mind), and just…be. At first I was not able to just sit and “be.” Be what? I am a do-er. Not a be-er. But, I kept going to yoga class thinking that there must be something to this, and to just give it time.

relaxing at workEventually, (after about a year!) I got comfortable and even good at sitting down on my mat, crossing my legs, uttering OOOOOOOMMMMMMM a few times, and becoming “present in the moment.” My yoga instructor would say “you have nowhere to be, nothing to do, but to be here, present.” I would concentrate on my breathing (never did that before!), and work on blocking everything out of my mind (much harder than it sounds).

During class, I give myself permission to put the world on hold for an hour. My must-do list will be there when I am done, and my noisy world will return, but for this one hour I honor myself, I rest my mind, I invigorate my body, and I …..relax. What a concept!

When my son was in first grade, he received a writing assignment; the topic was “my favorite thing to do.” He wrote “My favorite thing to do….is to relax. I like to go home, lie on the couch, put my feet up and just watch a movie.” (His teacher was not too happy, as she expected to hear he liked to play a sport or build a Lego creation, but I found it enlightening.) His favorite thing, was letting go, relaxing….just “be”ing. Hmmmm. Kids GET this.

April is Stress Awareness Month, so, as you rush around, going from appointment to appointment, crossing off items on your must-do list, remember that you can only go so far without re-fueling. The stop-rest-relax portion of your day is as important as the go-go-go part. It does not have to be through yoga, but find something that helps you relax your body AND mind. Then, when you pick up and go again, you will be refreshed and able to handle whatever comes your way. Believe me, if I can do it, you can, too.

So, try this as your new mantra for today:  stop – rest – relax.

And tomorrow?

Repeat.

 

For more posts on how to help your child with a delay or disability, view our Table of Contents.

 

Drive safely, without distractions

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Safe drivingMost parents have mastered the ability to multitask. But, an estimated 1 in 4 car crashes involve a cell phone distraction on a handheld cell phone or hands-free device. You may be convinced it is easy to do two or three things while driving, but even when you think you are practicing safety precautions, such as using a hands-free device to talk on the phone, your safety is still at risk.

About 80% of American drivers believe hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone, but this is not true, according to The National Safety Council. More than 30 studies show hands-free devices are not safer because the brain is still distracted by the phone conversation. Drivers can miss seeing up to half of what’s going on around them, such as traffic lights, stop signs and pedestrians. Even hands-free features on your dashboard can still distract you from the road.

Tips to stay safe

• Let it wait. Put your phone on silent and away in your purse, trunk or glove compartment before you start driving.
• If you need to make a phone call, text or read an email on your phone, pull over.
• Set a special ring tone for important incoming calls.
• Preset your navigation system or music playlists before driving.
• Make sure your little one is strapped into his car seat correctly and has what he needs before you settle into the driver’s seat.

Parents have a lot on their minds. By changing a few habits, you can avoid getting distracted while driving and even after you have stopped driving.

To avoid a tragedy of accidentally leaving your child in his car seat when you get out of the car, put your purse or work bag in the back seat next to your child’s car seat or under his feet. Having to go into the back seat will ensure that you see your sleeping baby before you leave your car. It could save your child’s life.

Alcohol and breastfeeding

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Alcohol and BreastfeedingYou have waited many months and finally you have given birth to your beautiful baby! Now you want to celebrate with a glass of champagne, right? Don’t fill up your glass just yet. When you drink alcohol and then breastfeed your baby, she is exposed to a small amount of the alcohol you drink. Your baby eliminates the alcohol from her body at only half the rate you do. Therefore, it stays in your baby’s system, which is not good for her.

Don’t believe the myths

• It was once believed that drinking beer was a way to increase a mother’s milk supply, but that is not true. Research has shown that drinking beer does not increase your milk supply. In fact, drinking alcohol of any kind may decrease the amount of breastmilk your baby drinks. Alcohol can change the taste of your milk, which your baby may not like, and can result in your baby taking in less breastmilk.  Chronic drinking of alcohol may also reduce your milk production.

• Some people believe “pumping and dumping” (expressing breastmilk and then throwing it away instead of giving it to your baby) will get rid of the alcohol from your body quicker, but this is not true either. Pumping and dumping does not have any effect on how quickly alcohol leaves your body. However, if you miss a feeding session due to having had an alcoholic drink, then pumping and dumping will help you maintain your milk supply and avoid engorgement (when your breasts are swollen with milk to the point of hurting).

Bottom line

Avoid alcohol when you’re breastfeeding. However, if you have a drink, allow at least 2 hours per drink before your next breastfeeding or pumping session. This allows your body to have as much time as possible to process the alcohol out of your system before your baby’s next feeding. If you do drink alcohol, don’t have more than two drinks a week (one alcoholic drink is equal to a 12-ounce beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine or 1 ounce of hard liquor.)

You may also want to pump after your feedings when you have not had a drink. This way, you will have extra milk stored to feed your baby if you have been drinking when you need to breastfeed.

You also can pass street drugs, like heroin and cocaine, to your baby through breast milk. Tell your health care provider if you need help to quit using street drugs or drinking alcohol.

FASDs – what you need to know

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Alcohol Awareness MonthIt’s important to stop and think before you drink.

Many women who are pregnant or thinking about pregnancy know that heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects, but it’s important to note that even light drinking may also harm your developing baby. No level of alcohol use during pregnancy has been proven safe – none. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders or FASDs, which include a wide range of physical and mental disabilities and lasting emotional and behavioral problems in a child.

What happens to your baby when you drink?

When you drink alcohol during pregnancy, so does your baby. The same amount of alcohol that is in your blood is also in your baby’s blood. The alcohol in your blood quickly passes through the placenta and to your baby through the umbilical cord. Although your body is able to manage alcohol in your blood, your baby’s little body isn’t. Your liver works hard to break down the alcohol in your blood. But your baby’s liver is too small to do the same and alcohol can hurt your baby’s development.

That’s why alcohol is much more harmful to your baby than to you during pregnancy.

What should you do?

The good news is that FASDs can be completely avoided. If you had an occasional drink before knowing you were pregnant, chances are it probably won’t harm your baby. But it’s very important that you stop drinking alcohol as soon as you think you might be pregnant.

Also, be sure to get regular prenatal care and tell your health care provider about any concerns you may have.

Bottom line: There is no safe amount of alcohol a pregnant woman can consume. Even a small amount can harm your baby.

April is alcohol Awareness Month – help us get the word out. Stop and think before you drink.

Formula switching- what you need to know

Friday, March 27th, 2015

bottle-feedingMoms may decide to change formula brands for a variety of different reasons. My friend recently told me she bought a new formula for her baby because she had a coupon for a different brand. Her baby was not able to digest the new formula as well as the old brand; she did not anticipate that changing formula brands would be a problem for her baby.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are thinking of switching formula brands.

First of all, there are several basic types of formula in your local grocery store:

• Cow’s milk-based formulas: Made of treated cow’s milk that has been changed to make it safe for infants.
• Hydrolyzed formulas: often called “predigested” meaning the protein content has already been broken down for easier digestion.
• Soy formulas: contain a protein (soy) and carbohydrate (either glucose or sucrose), which is different from milk-based formulas. Soy formulas do not contain cow’s milk.
• Specialized formulas – for infants with specific disorders or diseases. There are also formulas made specifically for premature babies. Often babies who are allergic to lactose (found in cow’s milk) or soy protein may need a specialized formula.

Formula can also be found in three different forms: Ready-to-feed liquid (which can be fed to your baby immediately), concentrated liquid or powder (which needs to be mixed with water before feeding). Be sure to learn the do’s and don’ts of bottle preparation and feeding.

Reasons to change formula

Some reasons to switch formulas are if your baby has a food allergy or needs more iron in her diet. Switching may also help your baby if she has diarrhea, is fussy or hard to soothe. Your baby’s doctor can determine if switching the formula may help, or if there is some other medical condition going on that is causing your baby’s distress. But, before switching your baby’s formula, speak with her pediatrician.

It is possible for a baby to have an allergic reaction to a formula. Reactions include:

• vomiting
• diarrhea
• abdominal pain
• rash
• hives (itchy, red bumps on the skin)

These, and other symptoms may be a sign to change formulas, or they may also be a sign of something unrelated to your baby’s formula. If the reaction is unrelated to the formula, changing formulas could make your baby’s symptoms worse. This is why it’s important to always talk to your baby’s health care provider before making any changes.

If your doctor gives you the OK to switch formulas, he will recommend a plan of action on how to introduce the new formula so that the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

Keep in mind

All formulas made in the U.S. are regulated by the Food and Drug administration and meet strict guidelines, but always check the expiration date on the formula packaging and don’t use damaged cans or bottles.

For more information see this blog post.

Are you at increased risk for diabetes?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

pregnant women walkingDo you know that having gestational diabetes during pregnancy significantly increases a woman’s future chances of developing diabetes? About 9 out of 100 women in the U.S. have diabetes – a condition in which your body has too much sugar (called glucose) in the blood. Glucose is your body’s main source of fuel for energy. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. If your body does not produce insulin or cannot use it efficiently, then over time, high blood sugar can lead to serious problems with your heart, eyes, kidneys, and nerve cells. You can develop diabetes at any time in your life.

There are three different types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes happens most often in children and young adults but it can develop at any age. With type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes is more common. With type 2 diabetes your body does not make or use insulin well. You are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes is you are older, overweight, have a family history of diabetes, or do not exercise.
  • Gestational diabetes is a kind of diabetes that can happen during pregnancy. Seven out of every 100 pregnant women (7 percent) develop this type of diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after you give birth. But if you have it in one pregnancy, you’re more likely to have it in your next pregnancy. You’re also more likely to develop diabetes later in life.

Diabetes is a serious health concern, especially when left untreated or undiagnosed. Today is Diabetes Alert Day. It is designed to teach the public about the seriousness of diabetes especially when the disease is left undiagnosed or untreated.

You can find out if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes by taking the Diabetes Risk Test. If diabetes is not diagnosed and treated the condition can lead to serious health problems including heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, amputation, and even death.

The good news though is that research has shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed in persons with increased risk by losing a small amount of weight and getting 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, five days a week. Making a few simple changes in your lifestyle can make a big difference in your health. Learn small steps you can take here.

Steps to take if your child is accidentally poisoned

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Poison prevention weekGrowing up my brother was a sneaky toddler who was always climbing and crawling all around the house. One story I always remembered hearing was how he used a chair to climb up on the counter and into a cabinet to grab a vitamin bottle while my mom was changing my sister’s diaper. The chewable, pink candy-tasting vitamins enticed him so much, he started eating handfuls. It wasn’t until he threw them up hours later that my parents realized what had happened and rushed him to the hospital.

Even when you take precautions to keep potentially dangerous items out of your little one’s reach, accidents happen. It’s important to be prepared.

Steps to take

If your child is unconscious or has trouble breathing, call 9-1-1.

If you think your child may have been poisoned, stay calm and call the toll-free Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222, which connects you to a local poison center. Do not wait for signs of poisoning before calling the Poison Help Line. Even if you are not sure if your child has consumed chemicals, medicine or household items, make the call. A poison expert will be on the other end of the line to assist you.

More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to poison control centers across the country. More than 90 percent of these poisonings occur in the home and the majority of non-fatal poisonings occur in children younger than six years old. Put the poison help line number in your cell phone and read through this emergency checklist to be prepared if a possible poisoning ever happens.

How to keep your child safe

Medication bottles with easy-open lids can be opened by a toddler in less than a minute. It’s important that you child-proof your home and always remember to lock up medications and cleaning supply bottles.

 

Staying active during pregnancy – winter edition

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Staying active in the winterBbrrr it’s cold outside and those warm blankets on the couch are calling my name. It’s tough to get motivated to go outside and be active during these cold and snowy days of winter. I want to stay under the blankets! But for healthy pregnant women, exercise can keep your heart, body and mind healthy.

Healthy pregnant women need at least 2.5 hours of being active each week. This is about 30 minutes each day. If this sounds like a lot, don’t worry. You don’t have to do it all at once. Instead, do something active for 10 minutes three times a day.

Stay safe

The safety of any activity depends on your health and fitness level. Not all pregnant women should exercise, especially if you have a condition such as heart or lung disease. As each woman and pregnancy is different, it is essential that you check with your prenatal health care provider first before engaging in any fitness program. The information provided here is meant as a guide.

How to get started

Pick things you like, such as walking, swimming, hiking or dancing. Brisk walking for 30 minutes or more is an excellent way to get the aerobic benefits of exercise, and you don’t need to join a health club or buy any special equipment. There are a variety of activities that you can participate in throughout your pregnancy.

Try an indoor class such as a low-impact aerobics class taught by a certified aerobics instructor. You can also try a yoga class designed for pregnant women. If you have a gym membership already, walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I usually go to the gym when my favorite TV show is on so I can walk and watch at the same time. Swimming is also a great way to get your heart rate up, and the water feels great, especially as your belly grows. See if a YM/YWCA or other community club near you has a pool.  If the weather outside is moderate and the sidewalks are clear, bundle up and head out for a walk in the fresh air. Staying home, though, may be the only way to avoid all the snow and freezing temperatures, so go ahead and turn on your favorite music and dance around your house or get moving to a DVD from the library. You can even add light resistance bands to help you maintain strength and flexibility. With any activity, remember to drink water to stay hydrated.

What to avoid

You should avoid any activities that put you at high risk for injury, such as downhill skiing. Stay away from sports in which you could get hit in the belly, such as kickboxing or soccer and any sport that has a lot of jerky, bouncing movements. After the third month of pregnancy, avoid exercises that make you lie flat on your back as it can limit the flow of blood to your baby. Also, avoid sit-ups or crunches.

Be aware

When you exercise, pay attention to how you feel. If you suddenly start feeling out of breath or overly tired, listen to your body and slow down or stop your activity. If you have any serious problems, such as vaginal bleeding, dizziness, headaches or chest pain, stop exercising and contact your health care provider right away.

Final tips

Exercise is cumulative – meaning every little bit of activity in a day adds up to the total that you need. Being active in small chunks of time, several times a day is a great way to get your activity quota in. Use tricks such as parking farther away in a parking lot and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Pretty soon you will meet your optimal daily activity level and you will feel more energized.

For more information on exercise during pregnancy, visit our website.

Caring for your baby’s teeth

Friday, February 27th, 2015

teethTooth decay is the most common preventable chronic disease among children in the United States. If left untreated, it can negatively affect a child’s physical and social development, as well as his school performance.

Did you know you can start to clean your baby’s teeth and gums as soon as he is born? Here are some tips from the American Dental Association (ADA):

• Before your baby has teeth, wipe the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth.
• Most babies get their first tooth at around 6 months. It is important to remember that as soon as teeth appear, decay can occur. So once your baby has teeth, start brushing them.
• Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and ask your baby’s dentist if you should be using a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
• Teeth should be brushed twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or health care provider. Once your child is old enough to brush on his own (or wants to give it a try) make sure you watch him closely.
• As soon as he has two teeth that touch, you can begin flossing daily.

Once your baby’s first tooth comes in, it is time to schedule a trip to the dentist. The ADA recommends that the first dental visit take place within six months after the first tooth appears, but no later than a child’s first birthday. Although the dentist will check your baby’s mouth, teeth, and gums, this visit is really more about getting your child comfortable with the dentist.

When it is time to schedule your child’s first dental appointment, you can ask your dentist if she sees children. If not, you can find a pediatric dentist who specializes in treating babies, children and teens. Also, all children enrolled in Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have coverage for dental services – including check-ups, x-rays, fluoride treatments, dental sealants, fillings, and more. Check out your state’s complete list of dental benefits for children in Medicaid and CHIP.

You can read more about your baby’s dental health on our website. Starting healthy dental habits early will help protect your baby’s teeth for a lifetime.

Passing the time while your baby is in the NICU

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Passing the time while your baby is in the NICUIt may be difficult to know what to do with your time when your baby is in the NICU. Going home to an empty house may seem impossible. All you can think about is how your little one is doing. However, there are all kinds of productive things you can do, to pass the time until your baby is ready to come home.

While at the hospital

• Learn about your baby’s condition as well as what to expect on the NICU journey.
• Get to know your baby. As soon as your baby’s condition allows, take an active role in his care. Feed, hold, bathe, diaper and dress your baby. Learn about preemie cues to help you understand your baby’s behaviors.
• Room-in with your baby. Some hospitals (depending on your baby’s condition) will allow you to spend the night caring for baby. Ask your nurse if this is an option.
• Read to your baby
• Learn how to take care of your other children while your baby is in the NICU. See if they can visit your baby in the NICU.
• Is a holiday coming up? Read our blog on spending the holidays in the NICU for tips.

While at home

• Get the right car seat for your child.
• Prepare your home for your preemie.
• Make sure you have food in the house or ask a friend or relative to get some groceries for you. Eating healthy foods will help you maintain your energy.
• Keep up with your chores; ask a relative or friend to help if you need it.
• Visit our website for information on managing the NICU experience.

Relax and rejuvenate

• Put your feet up. You need to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of your baby.
• Take a nap: Getting enough rest is important during this time.
• Be active.  A short 10 minute walk once or twice a day will be more beneficial to you than you can imagine. If you can manage a longer walk, go for it. Or, join a class (like Zumba) where you can dance off your frustrations as you have fun.
• Take a yoga, meditation or a stretch and tone class or use a DVD. You can take them out of a library for free. These classes combine getting in shape with learning to calm down. Believe it or not, most people need to learn how to relax.

While at home or by your baby’s side, seek support by visiting Share Your Story®, the March of Dimes online community for NICU families. You will be welcomed and comforted by other NICU moms who are or have been in your situation and know how you are feeling.

Do you have a baby in the NICU? Email us at Askus@marchofdimes.org with your questions. We are here to help.