Archive for June, 2008

Home pregnancy tests

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

A home pregnancy test works by detecting a hormone in urine called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This pregnancy hormone is produced by the cells that make up the placenta. The amount of hCG increases quickly during early pregnancy. In many pregnancies hCG will double every few days and peak at about eight to twelve weeks.

hCG levels can be detected in urine approximately 12-14 days after conception. A blood test may detect hCG levels sooner at approximately 11 days after conception. Medications (prescription and over-the-counter) should not interfere with a pregnancy test result. The exception would be medications containing synthetic hCG that are sometimes used in fertility treatments.

If you’re sexually active and you have missed your period it’s wise to take a pregnancy test as soon as possible. You can buy one at your local pharmacy. Tests vary so make sure you read the directions very carefully including where it should be stored, when to take it and how to interpret test results. Also, hCG levels vary from woman to woman. Therefore the accuracy of a home pregnancy test might, too depending on when you take it.

If your test comes back positive, please call your doctor’s office. The receptionist may ask you for the first day of your last period and will tell you when to come in for your first prenatal visit. At that appointment you may have another test to measure how much hCG is present in your blood.

If your home pregnancy test comes back negative, wait a few days and take another one. If the test is still negative and you still haven’t had your period call your health care provider for advice.


Date night with your husband

Monday, June 16th, 2008

For those of us with children, we know life can be hectic and full, very full.  And if you add an outside job to the mix, it gets fuller – at least the time planning and coordinating everything seems to grow exponentially.  It’s no wonder both moms and dads often feel exhausted, neglected, worn out and frayed around the edges.  And their personal relationship can feel like, “What relationship?”

My daughters and their husbands have taught me something wonderful, something that never occurred to my generation when we were raising kids – date night.  It’s a very good way to carve out adult time, to be alone with the person you love, to do something the two of you used to do before the kids arrived.  It has given them time to talk, and not talk, and keep the bond between them strong because they haven’t gotten lost in the shuffle.

There are all sorts of ways to carve out time, but committing yourselves to doing this on a regular basis is the key – and start when the kids are babies so they’ll know the routine.  One of my girls has a date with her husband every other Thursday evening.  Sometimes they go to a nice restaurant, sometimes they pack a picnic and go for a walk in their neighborhood park. In the winter, they’ll go to a movie. Other times in the summer, after dinner at home, they go out for a long bicycle ride and end up at the ice cream parlor.  Occasionally, they’ll walk into town and have a beer at the pub.  Remember what that was like?  It’s selfish in the good sense – taking care of yourselves.

To make it affordable, they use grandparents and aunts and uncles as sitters.  They also belong to a date night group that they have formed with a few other couples.  Their friends also appreciate some quality time out, so they take turns watching each other’s children once every couple of months.  It’s a great idea that works for them.  Would it work for you?


Temper tantrums – ugh!

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Has your lovely little Lydia just had a meltdown on the floor of aisle six in your local supermarket? Has your charming Charlie chewed you out for not giving in to his demands for “cookie now!” Or, my current personal favorite, has sweet señorita Sofía deafened your eardrums with, “No! I want the pink socks!” only to then throw herself on the floor kicking and screaming?

The “terrible twos” (which for some unlucky parents can last until four) are normal periods of growth for kids.  It’s part of separating from their parents, establishing their own autonomy and learning limits and some of the ground rules for interacting with others.  It’s part of their job description, so try not to take it personally.  They can’t express their feelings well with words yet, so out of frustration they act out their anger by screaming, crying and even throwing themselves on the floor.  (I just knew my son was destined for the drama club when he pitched his first tantrum.)  Some children actually hold their breath until they turn blue or faint.  As frightening as that is to watch, as soon as they faint they start breathing normally again and recover quickly and completely.  If your child does this though, mention it to his doctor.

The good (well sort of) news is that most children act up like this mostly when around their parents or other close family members.  The fact is, children feel safe with their parents, so you can look at these outbursts as demonstrations of their trust in you.  As she is stretching her wings, she is testing your limits and, in a way, asking for guidance. Next week:  How to deal with tantrums.


Body conditioning exercises, Part I

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Body conditioning exercises will help increase your energy level, improve posture and muscle tone and make recovery after the baby is born faster and easier. During pregnancy you’re encouraged you to do them daily. But, before you get started follow these guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):
• get clearance from your health care provider
• drink plenty of water before exercise
• eat a high protein snack before exercise (Grain foods, rice, nuts, beans or tofu)
• do a 5 to 10 minute warm-up
• drink water during exercise if exercising for more than 20 minutes
• do not exercise outdoors if the temperature is above 80 degrees


1. Sit on your “sitz” bones. These are the bony parts that you feel under you when you sit up straight on a firm surface. Your legs should be shoulder width apart and your feet supported.
2. Slowly squeeze and raise the muscles of your pelvic floor as you inhale.
3. Hold these muscles for a count of three and slowly release as you exhale allowing the muscles of your pelvic floor to relax and open.
4. Work up to 10 to 15 sets each time you exercise. Do your pelvic exercises at least three times a day.

1. Stand with your feet comfortably apart and turned slightly outward for support. You can use a chair or table for support.
2. Lower your bottom toward the floor making sure that your knees don’t go past your toes and that the soles of your feet stay flat on the ground.
3. Press your feet into the floor and return to the starting position.

Pelvic Rock/Tilt
1. Assume the all fours position on your hands and knees. Your wrists should align with your shoulders. Your knees should align with the hips. Don’t lift your chin or tuck it under. Look straight down.
2. Tuck the pelvis under by tightening the buttocks and arching the upper backup toward the ceiling.
3. Relax the pelvis allowing the back to return to a flat position, never let the lower back hyper-extend or sag toward the floor.

IMPORTANT: Don’t put yourself at risk for injury — if you’re not sure if you’re using the correct muscles or positions, ask your health care provider or your childbirth educator for assistance.



Wordless Wednesday – Father’s Day edition

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Dad & Daughter

Hazardous substances

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

I’ve been to the Home Depot three times this week. It’s official. I’m a suburbanite. Living in an apartment building was so easy. Any time a repair was needed we called the maintenance guy and the problem was resolved. Now we have to do everything ourselves. I don’t mean to complain, but up until last week I’ve never lived in an actual house and don’t know a hammer from a hair dryer.

The previous owners allowed their little daughter to place stickers all over the back of her bedroom door. Mental note to self: a kid needs supervision and a sticker album. I did some research online and got some tips for removing this mess and refinishing the door. I purchased all the necessary supplies including a mask and gloves just to be on the safe side. This is just one of the many projects on the list. There’s also an ant problem in the bathroom and the oven needs to be scoured.

I have just about every product you can think of  to spruce the place up from the windows to the hard wood floors. But, before I buy anything I read the labels first to identity any hazardous substances. Whenever I start a new project I keep the windows open and a fan going. I’m also in the process of educating myself about natural cleaning products like baking soda, lemon, and vinegar. These are not only safe, but good for the environment and less expensive.



Mastitis – ouch!

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Mastitis is an infection in the breast that can really hurt. It occurs when a milk duct becomes inflamed from germs that enter the breast, usually during breastfeeding. Nipples sometimes become cracked or sore, especially if the baby isn’t latching on properly, and germs take advantage of the opportunity to set up house.

When a breast becomes infected, it’s often very sore, swollen and hard to the touch and sometimes feels hot. The area may redden and you might come down with a fever.  If you develop any signs of mastitis in one or both breasts, call your doc.  She can prescribe antibiotics to tackle the infection before it gets worse.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, etc.) can help reduce your fever and take the edge off the pain. So can applying warm compresses several times a day. While you might be tempted to stop breastfeeding, it’s actually better if you continue to nurse or pump your milk. Emptying your breast will relieve the pressure and make you feel better.  And don’t worry about the infection reaching the baby.  It won’t cross over into your milk.  The antibiotics you take won’t harm your baby either, but his poop might change color a bit.

Make sure your breasts are clean and dry between feedings.  Be sure your baby is latching on correctly when he nurses (putting his lips and gums around the areola, not just the nipple).  Call your doc if you come down with any symptoms of mastitis.  Left untreated, an abscess could form that might require surgical drainage under local anesthesia. The sooner you nip it in the bud, the more comfortable you will be.


FDA warning on fresh tomatoes

Monday, June 9th, 2008

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned consumers to avoid certain types of fresh tomatoes because of an oubreak of Salmonella infection. Tomatoes that may be risky include Roma, round and plum. Tomatoes that are considered safe to eat are cherry, grape and any that have the vine attached to them.

Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and pain in the belly. If you have eaten fresh tomatoes recently and have any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider. Salmonella Infection can be serious in young children, frail or elderly people, or people with weak immune systems. 

To learn more, read the FDA warning. If you are pregnant and want more information on food-borne illness, read the March of Dimes fact sheet.  

Eat safely, everyone!



Can food allergies be prevented?

Friday, June 6th, 2008

My nephew was allergic to all sorts of foods when he was small and my sister went through several terrifying years while she introduced new things to his diet.  Fortunately, over time, he outgrew many of them, but he is still deathly allergic to peanuts and a couple of other things and carries an EpiPen in his backpack.  Interstingly, his little sister isn’t allergic to a thing.

Medical research on prevention of food allergies is limited and incomplete. After reviewing a wide range of medical research, the American Academy of Pediatrics has made these recommendations about food allergies in children:
• Avoiding certain foods in pregnancy does not appear to prevent food allergies in children.
• We don’t know for certain if breastfeeding can prevent or delay food allergies. For infants who have a parent, brother or sister with a food allergy, drinking only breastmilk for at least four months may reduce the risk of allergy to cow’s milk. Certain formulas that do not contain cow’s milk may also reduce the risk.
• Soy-based infant formula does not appear to prevent food allergy.
• Doctors recommend that most babies start eating solid foods between 4-6 months of age. Some people have thought that food allergies might be prevented if parents delayed giving their babies certain solid foods (for instance, fish, eggs, peanut butter). But current medical research does not support this idea.

Medical research about food allergies is continuing. If you have any questions about food and your baby, ask your child’s health care provider.


Elective C-sections and premature babies

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

During the third trimester of pregnancy there are numerous changes occurring to help the body prepare for labor and delivery. Some mother’s may have conflicting emotional feelings about their pregnancy during this time, too. It is not uncommon to hear women say that they are done being pregnant. This doesn’t mean that they do not want or love their baby. The combination of physical discomfort, exhaustion and concerns about labor and delivery are real and can be overwhelming — sometimes to the point where they’ll consider a Cesarean delivery for relief. 

Pregnancy is a stressful time for many women and coping isn’t always easy, but opting for an elective C-section is definitely not the answer. An elective C-section is done before labor begins, whether or not it is medically indicated. Preterm birth is on the rise and experts agree that the increased rate of elective C-sections may be responsible. Preterm babies are more likely to have medical problems than those born full term.

If your healthcare provider is the one recommending a Cesarean delivery make sure you ask why and what will happen if you choose not to. You want to be sure that surgical procedures are performed out of necessity and not convenience.  

If you are feeling overwhelmed about your pregnancy reach out to your health care provider, family and friends for advice and support. Explore creative ways of managing discomfort and stress through meditation, yoga, counseling, swimming, writing in a journal, listening to music, gardening, napping or visiting with loved ones. Have you registered for your childbirth education course yet? If not, this is a wonderful opportunity to socialize with other expecting women who are most likely experiencing similar changes and emotions.

Hang in there as best you can. After all, nine months is the best gift you can give your baby.

Posted by Anne