Thursday, November 30, 2006

How to teach Babies to eat Healthy

Obesity is the number one problem in the united state today. Blame it on hectic schedules and the propensity for eating junk foods and fast food fares. The problem with obesity is not just the psycho-socio effects but it is also the leading cause of diabetes all over the world today.

There is a growing concern for obese children who are in danger of getting diabetes and other weight-related diseases. A child can already start having weight problems even before he is born. Have you not figured out yet why obstetricians advice moms-to-be to eat healthy food and to keep within their ideal weight?

Majority of pregnant women still believe that the more weight they gain during pregnancy, the better for the baby. This is a misconception because studies show that the mother eat from the wrong foods groups and who do not observe proper diet when pregnant tend to gain more weight during pregnancy and in turn they give birth to overweight children.

Old fashioned folks still believe that fat babies are cute and healthy. Cute they maybe, but definitely not healthy!

An overweight kid is more prove to weight-related illnesses like diabetes. I am not saying that you should put your kids on a diet as early as one year old but come to think of it; putting kids on a healthy diet may just he the best solution to keeping them within their ideal weights.

Keeping kids on a healthy diet does not mean depriving them of their childhood. Well if childhood means ice cream and chocolates then go ahead, let them get their sweet yearnings. However, kids should be trained to identify the good food from the bad food.

I have noticed how parents allow their kids to drink sodas even before they turn a year old. The problem is that soda has become a staple family drink so kids grow up seeing soda on the table. And since they see their parents and housemates drink soda then they think it is good for them too.

Did you know that a can of soda contains seven and a half tablespoon of sugar? Can you imagine your child drinking water with this much sugar? Of course not! But see the number of parents allowing their kids to drink soda and you will get a heart attack.

Soda or carbonated drinks are generally unhealthy and kids have to be taught not to drink them. Of course, if you drink soda in the house or in restaurants you can never expect your child to believe you when you tell him that it is unhealthy.

Parents should lead by examples so if you want your child off carbonated drinks then you must start staying away from carbonated drinks too.

Children are born with a blank slate which means they develop a taste for the kind of food and drinks that parents give them at home while they were growing up.

Some parents find it so hard to let their children eat green leafy vegetables. It will be difficult to coax children into eating green and leafy vegetables especially if they grew up without tasting such food.

To get your child interested in vegetables of any kind, they have to experience the food while they are growing up and still developing their taste buds.

Every parent should be guided by the pyramid food classification when feeding their children. Parents should start feeding their babies the right food even before they can demand what they want to eat. The pyramid food guide shows that food that has plenty of fats, oil and sweets should be eaten sparingly.

Thus, parents can feed their babies chocolates and ice creams but only sparingly. On the other hand, babies should be fed two to three servings of milk and cheese as well as food with protein content like fish and poultry.

Vegetables and fruits should be the main fare of babies who should eat food from this group in three to five servings. Babies do not really have a choice what you feed them so it is easy to just mash some potatoes or squash or carrots and feed your baby. He will be able to develop a taste for these vegetables and will find them normal fare when they grow up.

The most important food group which babies should be given more of are breads, cereals, and other carbohydrate-containing food.

Another past time for the new generation is junk food. I always fight this impulse to deliver a sermon whenever I see a mom feeding her baby junk food. Oh, I see them everywhere, babies not even a year old being fed chips just because the mother is so tired to cook good food for her baby.

The problem of obesity starts early on in life and if babies are not shown the right food to consume then they will grow up junk food addicts and soda gurglers like their moms and dads.

It is also unwise to give candies to babies just to make them stop crying. Doing such will only make the candy a comfort zone for your baby who would develop this habit of eating candy whenever he is stressed. Sad to say, your baby will carry this habit even when he grows older and becomes an adult himself.

To encourage kids to snack on healthy food, why not julienne carrots, cucumber and guava and place them on attractive cups and serve them with an attractive dip? Why not let babies munch on raw carrots? It will not only be good for his health but on his teeth as well.

Teaching babies to eat right is not expensive but it takes a lot of love, patience and creativity. Training them to eat right will pay off in the future when you see them grow up to become healthy eaters.

If you want to encourage your kids to eat right then train them to eat right. But first, you also have to train yourself to eat right so you can be a good example to them.

Knowing Where You Stand On Baby Issues

Even before your baby is born, you will find that you hear from everyone about how you should raise the child. Your grandparents, your neighbors, and even strangers will make comments to you on how you should dress, bathe, feed, or discipline the child. If you are like most first-time parents, you will find yourself overwhelmed with the advice and with the decisions you will need to make in the coming months. This barrage of advice, then, can be even more daunting.

Your best bet in dealing with the advice is to know how you feel about various issues. Some issues, such as whether the baby should wear a hat and socks everyday, seem mundane while others, including how much to hold the baby, are pivotal to who you are as a parent. The reality is that I have learned in my first two years of parenting that some of those everyday decisions, and even the big ones, are not set in stone. My son refused to wear hats. While we covered him well in the beginning, once the spring arrived, we saw no need to continue trying to force the issue. Still in the sultry July heat in our Southern town, I had several older ladies tell me condescendingly that great misery would befall my little one because he was not forced to wear a hat with strings tied around his little chin to keep it on. That seemed wrong to me, though. Obviously he would wear the hat if his head were cold. His head incidentally was typically sweating while the ladies were sharing their wisdom with me.

Over time, I have learned that my son will in fact wear a hat if his head is cold. Now, he sometimes wanders around our house wearing our hats or his own or other objects not really intended as hats. The point is that these ladies were sharing age-old advice that is not necessarily true. What I found more offensive than their comments, though, was that they often were miffed it I did not give in and whip out a hat to put on him. My Southern upbringing does not permit me rudeness to the elderly, though I had to bite my tongue to keep from breaking those beliefs on several occasions.

As my baby has grown into a toddler, I have discovered that the commenting gets worse and even becomes abstract. You can make it through those first few months with just a smile and nod and be on your way, but sooner or later you will find that others want to comment on how people raise their children. I am proud to say that my one-year-old typically behaves in public, but people still will share random comments about how more parents today need to spank their children or that they are being coddled too much.

These comments are where you have to decide how much you want to stick to your guns. Perhaps you believe spanking is acceptable; reverse the situation. Imagine sitting with someone from your church who is going on ad nauseum about the ills of spanking. Do you, as the parent of a wonderful little baby, share your beliefs? Do you simply ignore the situation? My constitution allows me only so much ignoring before I have to jump in.

We have commented on our beliefs about such issues as forcing children to go to bed without meals (a practice we despise) and permitting children to demand material possessions (another practice we cannot tolerate). At some point, I have to make my feelings known. Of course, as the parent of an infant, you will find that everyone dismisses your thoughts because your child is so little. Of course, you do not believe in harsh discipline or you do believe in the goodness of children. What do you know?

Over time, you likely will realize, as we have, that your opinions will change. A stubborn toddler may require scolding more than you had imagined, or perhaps an introverted child will need little intervention or even interaction from you. Whatever decisions you make about parenting, form them before your baby is born and be open to change as you go along.

Physical Fitness Once Baby Is Born

Getting back into shape after having a baby is a tough job for many moms. If you have never had any major medical problems or surgeries, then chances are that you cannot anticipate how your body will react to the trauma of childbirth. Although c-sections have a reputation for causing serious delays in recovery, many women who deliver vaginally report the same length and pain of recovery. In addition, many new moms are still trying to navigate life with a newborn and have little time to spend on themselves.

It is important to make plans for your physical health while you are still pregnant. Though you should have begun a healthy eating regimen during pregnancy, you always have room for improvement. As the last few weeks of your pregnancy near, begin checking on your diet. Ask yourself if you are getting too much caffeine, too few vegetables, or too many calories. Remember that pregnancy is not the time to eat everything in sight, so you still should be aware of what you are eating. Make small modifications now to your diet.

The second step is to prepare for your meals in the first two weeks after your baby is born. If you are able, you should prepare meals now and freeze them. Look up terms such as bulk cooking and once a month cooking for recipe ideas and tips. You will need to purchase inexpensive containers to go in your freezer, but you should be able to freeze several meals even in a refrigerator freezer. Planning out these meals now will make it easier when the baby is born. You will eat healthier. The family will save money. Everyone will win.

Once your baby arrives, be sure that you keep your own health in mind. You should get some form of physical activity in the first few weeks. Although you may feel poorly, mild exercise, such as walking, will help you to heal faster. Many women find that they need a mental health break, too, especially if they are up all night working out the kinks in breastfeeding. Even a five-minute walk around the block can be refreshing and will help your body to heal. Be sure that you take a cell phone with you so that you can call home if needed and walk slowly. Power walking is not important; the motions of walking are.

Stretching throughout the day is another good way to keep up your physical health. Try a few basic stretches, such as standing with your knees together and reaching for the sky. Bend a little each way if you can. These basic movements will help keep you energized and alert while keeping your body moving. After the throes of labor or not, most people find that once they get out of a workout routine they have a very hard time getting back into it, so being sure to keep your body limber will help.

Know when to rest. Though it may sound counterintuitive, knowing how to relax after having a baby will help your mental and physical health. You should plan at least 15 minutes everyday when no one is bothering you. Someone else should answer any baby cries, and your partner should leave you alone. Even if you have to use the still quiet of the morning or late evening, take this time for yourself. Relax. Read a magazine. Stare at the ceiling. Just do not do anything. Your body will get exhausted during the first months of child-rearing, and you will find that a few minutes of relaxation actually helps stimulate you to move more.

Pick up your physical activity each week. Though your doctor likely will not clear you for actual exercise, such as going to the gym, until after your six-week postpartum visit, you can begin picking up the pace before then and still be safe. If you feel great while making dinner, turn on a CD and dance around a little. Take back more of the housework. Water the plants. Spend some time getting back into your old routine so that you will be able to get back on your feet within a few weeks. Then, once you are cleared for full exercise, you will not have such a hard time getting yourself back in the groove.

Putting Baby in the Room With Older Siblings

When my husband and I purchased our house, with our newest addition a few centimeters long and not yet moving enough to feel it, we decided that she (we now know) would not need her own room. Instead we bought a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom bungalow with a nice-sized yard. Our intention then was that the baby would share a room with our one-year-old until we built the upstairs addition to the house.

I can hear you laughing now. To our credit, the upstairs actually is already there. When the house was built in 1938, families required less space. The couple who owned the house for 60 years had no children, and they left the 800-square foot attic as, well, an attic. The attic is a nice space, great for a huge family room. In our case, however, we are converting it to two bedrooms and one bathroom, which will add massive value to our home but keep it within the price range for our neighborhood.

Now, here we are a few months later, and our daughter is kicking and punching at every turn. Her mom and dad are ready for her to be here, and we have done nothing on the upstairs yet. Last weekend we finally had to deal with the whole concept of putting the kids in the same room. Putting baby in the room with an older sibling presents a couple of problems.

The first dilemma is what to do with the nursery-type stuff you will have. Our son has a transitional crib and a huge changing table. In retrospect, purchasing a huge changing table was a terrible idea, but at the time, it seemed like a sound one. We now are stuck with this 48 inch-long table (now converted to a dresser-shelf combo). Then, of course, our son will get a twin bed, which will be large as well.

That left us with little room for the baby and her things. We are getting a new changing table, not so much for the changing but for the nifty shelving unit. This unit is much smaller and will be the perfect spot to hold baskets of small baby items. The second time around, we know more of what we actually use and what just looked nice in the stores. We also are getting the baby a dresser from the get-go. With our son, we thought that we would use all of the shelves along the changing table, but we have learned that once an older baby begins getting around, those shelves are no longer sacred ground. Everything on them comes off at every turn, which means that getting a dresser for an infant is an important purchase.

Once we dealt with what to get, we had to begin to think about how to fit both the baby and the toddler in one room so that both of them will be safe. That dilemma is a bit of a challenge since the room has windows, doors, and closets that take up space as well. In the end, we determined that the kids will get our room for the next year or so (incentive to hop on the upstairs project) because the space is better suited for both children. We have opted, of course, not to put either child by the windows. A window bed is okay for adults, but for babies, it poses all types of safety hazards. That means that we had to place the beds first because there are the most safety issues involved there.

Then we had to try to place the baby items as close to the crib as possible and the same with the toddler. While it is not as imperative for a toddler who can move lightning fast anyway, it is vital for the baby. Nighttime feeding and changing is made much easier when you are able to grab everything quickly (and even when you are still half-asleep!). Putting the necessary baby items as close to the baby as possible means that you will be able to change her and go back to bed without much hassle. It also makes it easier than gathering supplies when you need them. Overall, we are pleased with our bedroom plans for the little ones, but we have learned that putting the baby in the room with older siblings can be a bit of an organizational challenge.

By Brandi Rhoades

Why Attachment Parenting Didn't Work For Us

Attachment parenting, the philosophy most often associated with Dr. William Sears, has been around for more than a decade. Sears and his wife Martha, the parents of eight children, have been writing books for children and then adults since the early 1990s. The couple believes strongly in creating bonds to show children that they are loved.

The idea of the Sears philosophy is wonderful and one that most parents would agree is important. In practice, however, attachment parenting can be more complicated than Dr. Sears assumes. For starters, under their plan, the vast majority of the childcare responsibility in any family belongs to the mother. She is expected to breastfeed on demand without ever expressing milk so that the baby can have the bonding experience of breastfeeding. While that works for some moms, some mothers find that breastfeeding is not the wonderful option they may have considered. In my situation, I found that a five-pound baby and well-endowed mom do not make for a good breastfeeding combination. We moved to formula for our son to be able to move him out of the hospital after birth. While I felt horrendous guilt about that decision for a long time, I now know that it was the best choice for us. Further, some women who opt to return to work, a scenario that is not part of attachment parenting, need rest as much as their partners. Stay-at-home moms, too, need solid nights of rest to be the best for themselves and their babies.

The other issue that we encountered with attachment parenting is that it largely limits parental movement during the day. While I adored my son and enjoyed holding him, continuing my career also is important to me. That meant that even when he was a newborn, I wrote articles for websites and magazines throughout the day. I needed time to conduct interviews, write drafts, and search for new jobs. Carrying my son in a sling constantly simply did not work with those demands on my time. While I scaled back my work considerably, it still was not feasible to hold my son continually. Further, I noticed distinct differences between my son and the children we know whose parents are full attachment parenting converts. Those children often are farther behind than my son in mechanical development and coordination, a fact that I believe I directly attributable to being held and swaddled constantly.

These children are indeed kept away from playing on the floor and experiencing life outside the cocoon their parents have created. My son has a natural intensity and curiosity that we cannot squelch, and I do not believe that spending more time in a sling would have been beneficial to him. We did carry him in a sling, and in many situation, it is a blessing. When you are in a crowded area, it works much better than a stroller. It also helps for times when he needs to be close, such as on an airplane, because he is accustomed to being held closely. On the other hand, when he wanted out of it, he wanted out right then and had little patience for us trying to keep him in the sling. In fact, by six weeks, he much preferred a front carrier to a sling because the sling kept him so tightly bound to us that he did not enjoy it.

Parenting for me should be about how to raise your child to be a great adult. That is our responsibility; we are here to prepare the kids for a time when they are on their own. Our job is to help make sure they will be prepared for that time and will be able to make excellent decisions. Part of that, then, is making what we do in the best interests of our children. With the baby we are now expecting, an attachment parenting style may work. With our son, it did not. He came out of the womb wanting more independence than attachment parenting allows for babies. Our best choice was to pick the best of AP for our own lives and then pass on the other parts that are not applicable to us. That is what I learned as a new parent, and I am hoping to make the best of that idea on the next go-round.

Doing An Inventory for Baby #2

Knowing when to do everything to prepare for the arrival of a new baby can be a daunting task. With a first baby, it often seems that you are buying items every week because the baby will need everything. You need a bathtub, a crib, furniture, and clothes galore. With a second baby, however, the items needed may not be as clear.

When you find that you are having your second baby, your first task should be to make a list of what you already have. Did you keep your baby clothes from the first time? If you are lucky, you kept most of them, and they are not gender specific. Otherwise, you may find that you are shopping for the baby all over again. You should take some time to see what you still have. Are you having the baby at roughly the same time of year? That also will impact how much you need to purchase.

Then begin to take a look at the big stuff. Do you still have your crib? Was it useful, or was it something that you will not use much again? Some parents find that co-sleeping worked better for them or that they preferred to put their baby into a bassinet or other sleeping device. What about the furniture you have? Will it be adequate for a new baby? If you bought a combo unit, you may be using the furniture as a dresser or bookshelf now for the first baby. Who will get the new furniture in that case? How much new furniture is needed for the new baby to live comfortably and what can you afford in time, money, and space for the new little one? Thinking about these issues as soon as possible will permit you to begin making purchases in the early months of your pregnancy.

Now, it is time to move on to the nursery decorations. If you had a baby very recently, you may be perfectly willing to let the new baby use the nursery decorations you already have. Otherwise, you may want to select an updated option. Even if you choose to use different stuff, you should still go through what you have. You may find that some of the rugs and other accessory items will work just as well for the new baby.

What about all of those blankets and other items you received with the first baby? If your family is like ours, you found yourself with more baby blankets than you could ever use. I think we had blankets that never saw the light of day simply because there were so many. Instead we folded them all and put them away. With baby number one, we were like many parents. We were reluctant to throw anything away for fear that we may need it again in the future. Now, though, I now that keeping things we do not really need or want for the baby only adds to the clutter in our lives. When you are expecting your second baby, then, is the time to get rid of the items you do not want or need anymore. Also toss anything that has stains or that you do not think you will find useful the second time around. Most parents get less concerned about germs with the second baby, so some of the safety equipment you got (and probably rarely used) will not seem so necessary now.

You should begin to look at bottles, pacifiers, and other items that you have leftover. Even if your first baby is only barely a toddler, you should toss anything with a nipple. Get new nipples for the new baby, even if you use the same bottles. With the bottles, however, be sure that nothing is cracked or that there were no traces of milk that remained despite a good washing. Toss anything that looks as if it may have been sitting unsanitary for a while. You do not need anything that could cause the baby to get sick. Getting rid of these items will make room for you to get stuff for the new baby that he or she will be able to use. Plus, once you complete the inventorying tasks that go along with having a second baby, chances are you will feel much more at peace with your pregnancy.

By Brandi Rhoades

The Eternal Thinness Pursuit for New Mothers

Most women have a problem with their weight after they give birth but it should never detract from the miracle of birth or how a woman feels about herself. Let us look at an example of how many women feel about their bodies after they have give birth.

She feels fat. She thinks she looks fat. Everyone that she knows tells her that she is not fat. We all tell her that she looks great. But still she does not believe us, any one of us. She feels fat and therefore she looks in the mirror and sees fat. It is a vicious cycle that seems to have no ending.

The truth is that her body is not the problem, her own perception of her body is. She sees the way her body looks now, one year after giving birth and she sneers in disgust at her reflection. She shuns at the image that refuses to go away. Her full-length mirror is not showing her what she wants to see more than anything- a slimmer body. Her mind and body connection do not match. Her mind has not caught up with the changes that have taken place in her body. She liked what she looked like then, as opposed to what she looks like now.

She weighed in at approximately one hundred twenty pounds when she got pregnant with her daughter. Most of the weight she put on around her middle. Overall we all thought she looked healthier pregnant than she did before. She was much too thin for her height and frame before she got pregnant. She took care of herself extremely well during the pregnancy. Her labor and delivery were not as bad as some women face.

She lost some of the weight very quickly after Jessica was born but a great deal remained. She was also bothered by the many stretch marks that marred her body and served as a constant reminder of the changes her body had undergone. Her mother told her that she had so many stretch marks because she had been so thin. If she had weighed more when she had first gotten pregnant then her skin would not have had to stretch quite so far. She is not convinced that her mother is completely right although this does make a certain amount of sense.

She developed a problem with bloating after Jessica came along and she was no longer able to fit into any of the size eight pants that she had worn comfortably before the baby. How discouraged this caused her to become with herself! In abject horror she realized that this might be a problem that would plague her on a long-term basis.

She wants to be young again (twentysomething young again to be exact). She earnestly buys into the media idea of what a sexy, desirable woman in modern society should look like. She is a victim of the Cosmo era and what she looks like now does not cut it in her mind. She thinks that her weight now is a crime against nature, a crime of unimaginable proportions.

Surprisingly what she fails to realize is that the average woman is not pencil thin. Just look around, it is clear to see. Indeed while model-like women may photograph very well, in the brilliant light of reality (and everyday normalcy) they stand out as looking peculiar and deeply undernourished. Most women are at least a size twelve and up. Does she know this? How can she not? Does she not read the many articles that have been written on this very topic? Everyone else that knows her seems to know this all too well.

For many women the pursuit of eternal thinness is a proverbial trip to fantasyland. Put another way, it will never happen for them, ever, no matter what they do to make it so. Regardless whether it is pregnancy, a change in lifestyle or a drop in metabolism as our body ages, most of us women will never be as thin at thirty or thirty-five, or forty and so on as we were at twenty years of age. There are some women who were never thin to begin with. Some people can never be thin, period- end of discussion. Some women battle with weight concerns their entire lives. It is tragic how much a woman lets her sense of self-worth be so greatly affected by what number happens to show up on the scale.

Her husband has no complaints about what her body looks like. In fact she was fortunate enough to marry a man who loves her unconditionally. He thinks she is as beautiful today as she was before their daughter was born. He is incredibly happy with his family- a lovely wife and a healthy, beautiful daughter.

Not all men think thin women are the height of attractiveness. One man I know referred to the thin women among us as looking like anorectic boys. Another one said to me that he wants to hold a woman with some meat on her bones. Yet another one told me that he does not want to go to bed at night with a skeleton in place of a woman. Real women have breasts and hips and a derriere. Real women fill out an evening gown; they do not get lost in it. They are not like little girls playing dress up big ladies garments. They should be able to fit into these clothes today with no problem at all.

She refuses to be consoled by any of this. Her obsession about her size rages on. She tortures herself with every new diet that comes along and spends entirely too much precious time agonizing over the fact that she did not go to the gym yesterday or she should not have had a piece of pie for dessert at suppertime. I can hardly stand her weight rants anymore. I told her that I do not want to hear about it anymore. I need a much-needed mental break from this overworked topic of conversation. She has a daughter. We have much more important things to talk about.

I am not eternally thin. I have not been my idea of thin since I was twenty- five years old. I exercise on a regular basis, I eat very well, I am toned but I will probably never fit into teensy weensy little girl sizes ever again. Does this bother me? A little. Am I consumed with this knowledge and does it occupy a lot of my thinking? Absolutely not!! I am happy with myself just the way I am. Anyone who thinks that perhaps I would look better if I was ten to fifteen pounds lighter (or thereabouts) can keep their opinion to themselves. I am just fine and I do not need to be told any different. Now if only I could convince my friend of the same.

Labor and Delivery

After spending nine months anxiously anticipating the arrival of your little one when it comes down to that "It's time!" moment all those little fears just seem to leave you and all you can feel is the excitement of knowing that before long you'll have your baby in your arms. You feel even more excited when it has been nine and a half months instead of nine months. I spent the first hour of my contractions being in denial about weather it was actually real labor and not false labor because I was afraid to become too excited and then be sent away by the hospital.

I spent three hours at home postponing the trip to the hospital because I did not want to get sent home. My husband was a nervous wreck, as the contractions became stronger he seemed quite sure that we needed to take off to the hospital because for sure I was not going to make it in time. No matter how hard I tried to explain to him that labor takes many hours especially for a first time pregnancy he was convinced I was going to give birth right there in our house.

As I am sure you could have guessed we did make it to the hospital with plenty of time to spare. Actually we had a whole ten hours to spare. When we got there and I was admitted they sent me to go walking around for an hour. That is supposed to get your contractions coming stronger and faster. It kept me distracted for a little bit and by the time I was done I was starting to feel just a little on the awful side so when the nurse came in and asked me if I was ready for my epidural I told her to go ahead and get it ready. I have to say something about epidurals, I do not care what anyone says epidurals are the greatest thing that were ever created.

I actually was really scared to have the epidural done because I have a great fear of needles and the thought of a really long needle being stuck in my spine was more scary to me than the actual delivery part of the whole thing. Everyone says you can not feel it and this that and the other. I felt absolutely sure that they all had to be full of it but I am here to tell you this, you cannot feel a thing. It was over before I even thought they had done anything. After that everything just flew by, possibly because I went to sleep for a few hours. There is just something wonderful about being able to sleep through part of the giving birth process. Plus that helps give you the energy that you are going to need to push the baby out. This is not so easy to do even when you have had an epidural much less if you have been enduring awful pain for hours and hours. I have great respect for a woman that chooses to do it but at the same time I think that they are just a little on the crazy side.

While I was sleeping that gave me some pitossin to speed up my contractions. After I woke up everything just went like clock work. Before I knew it, it was time to push. It took me about an hour to finally get my son out. I felt no pain what so ever pushing him out and I can remember the whole thing with such clarity that I feel like I really did make the right choice.

My whole pregnancy everyone kept telling how small I was to be pregnant but let me tell you this. I had to have and episiotomy because his head was so big that it wouldn't come out on its own. My son weighed eight pounds and eleven ounces and he was 21 inches long. The size you are when you're pregnant does not necessarily reflect the size that your baby will be because everyone was sure that I would have a small baby, including me.

There is nothing like the moment when you first hear your baby cries out and you get to hold him in your arms. There is nothing more beautiful. You look down at him and you just know that without a doubt that the job of being a mother will most definitely being the greatest thing that you do in your life.

By Crystal Bowden

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Vitamin C for Mothers and Their Children

If you do not have any knowledge about vitamin C then how do you expect your child to learn about it? Take the time to educate yourself about this essential vitamin and then you will be able to incorporate it into your daily life and the life of your child (or children) as well.

There are 13 types of vitamins that are required by the human body for growth and development and vitamin C is one of these. Vitamins are broken down into fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins and vitamin C happens to be a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble means that the vitamin is not stored in the body for any long span of time and therefore it must be replenished on a consistent basis.

The benefits of vitamin C for everyone

Vitamin C is one of the most important of all of the vitamins as it performs many different functions. Collagen is the most plentiful of all of the tissues in the body and vitamin C is necessary for the development of collagen which is then needed for the development of healthy bones, skin, cartilage and muscles. Vitamin C ensures that collagen remains as connective, strong and healthy as possible. Vitamin C works as a defense mechanism against any injuries, infections or diseases that threaten the collagen in any way.

Vitamin C encourages the production of red blood cells that are found in bone marrow and these cells serve to increase the healing time for wounds as well as cutting down on the possibility that hemorrhaging will take place. Vitamin C plays a role in keeping the capillaries healthy and it is required for the formation of many neurotransmitters and hormones in the body. Vitamin C is beneficial to the production of hemoglobin and it works overtime to decrease the possibility that blood clots will develop as blood clots can be deadly.

Vitamin C is closely tied in with the immune system and the adrenal glands and is well acquainted with what happens to the body when it is under a great deal of stress. When the immune system is overworked, and infection or a disease threatens the health of an individual, vitamin C plays a key role in helping the person stay healthy. The adrenal glands are given a tremendous boost by the work of this essential vitamin. Vitamin C chases away infections as soon as possible and it contributes to the development and maintenance of strong teeth and healthy gums. Periodontal disease is also believed to be decreased when a person consumes adequate amounts of vitamin C on a regular basis.

Cancer patients can be aided by the consumption of vitamin C as it serves to help with the white blood cell count. A substance known as nitrosamine is believed to be carcinogenic (in other words, cancer causing) and this essential vitamin works to block the manufacturing of this dangerous substance in the human body. Vitamin C also plays a paramount role in helping to repair wounds that occur on the inside as well as the outside of the body. Anemia is not only helped by the mineral iron by vitamin C as well.

Vitamin C is responsible for aiding in the metabolism of iron, folic acid, tyrosine and phenylalanine. The body with the help of vitamin C utilizes carbohydrates more efficiently and fats and proteins are also more successfully synthesized. Not only that but vitamin C helps to promote the absorption of the minerals iron and calcium and it works hard to decrease the production of harmful free radicals in the body. This essential vitamin also provides protection against cardiovascular disease.

The benefits of vitamin C continue

But that is not all. Vitamin C helps the human body in many other ways as well. Vitamin C decreases the level of cholesterol in the blood and it reduces the toxic effect of alcohol and other types of drugs in the system. Vitamin C is theorized to play a role in decreasing the incidence of infertility in men and it can help those who are diagnosed with the sexually transmitted disease, herpes. More and more research into vitamin C is proving that it really is comparable to a wonder vitamin or akin to a wonder drug. Vitamin C is believed to help slow the process of aging and for those confined to bed, it increases the time that it takes bed sores to heal and go away. Research has borne out the finding that allergies are prevented from gaining a foothold due to vitamin C usage. Finally research into vitamin C has also shown that it helps to decrease the sometimes debilitating symptoms that go along with arthritis and also to positively help to improve upon ulcers that develop on the skin.

How much vitamin C is enough? - Look to the RDA for help

The U.S. has RDA guidelines that specifically detail what the recommended daily intake of vitamin C is based on age and gender. For example, it is recommended that newborns who range in age from one to six months need 30 mg of vitamin C while this increases to 35 mg for infants who are six to twelve months of age. A child from the ages of one to three years needs to consume 40 mg of vitamin C every day while a child who is four to six years of age requires 45 mg on a daily basis. The recommendations for a child who is seven to ten years of age are the same as a four to six year old which is 45 mg per day while the preteen to early teenaged years of 11 to 14 necessitates that the individual requires 50 mg of vitamin C daily for health and development.

When it comes to teenaged girls and boys between the ages of 15 to 18 years the required amounts of vitamin C are different based on gender considerations. Teenaged girls from the ages of 15 to 18 require 65 mg of this essential vitamin on a day-to-day basis while teenaged boys from age 15 to 18 need even more to fulfill their daily requirements. Teenaged boys between the ages of 15 to 18 require 75 mg of vitamin C each and every day to promote health and encourage proper development.

The recommended daily allowance for men and women over the age of 18 is different according to the RDA guidelines. On a daily basis females over the age of 18 require 75 mg of vitamin C every day while males of the same age need 90 mg per day. It is women who are breastfeeding that require the greatest quantities of vitamin C on a daily basis. During the first six months of breastfeeding a woman requires 95 mg of vitamin C on a daily basis while for the second six-month period of time she requires 90 mg on a day-to-day basis. Be aware that nicotine depletes vitamin C from the human body and therefore people that smoke should take in an extra 35 mg of vitamin C per day above and beyond their regular daily quota.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Being a First Time Mother

I recently gave birth to my first child and from the moment he arrived I felt like I was on a roller coaster of emotions. I was on a ride going from complete happiness, to awe, to irritation, to anger and then back around again. You would be surprised at how complete lack of sleep will make you feel sometimes. Combine that with awful pain from vaginal stitches and having to take a lot of medication just to get it to ease up on you, those first few weeks can be pretty darn rough.

The first couple of weeks that my son was home my husband and I had him sleeping in our bedroom with us so that I would have quicker access to him when he needed me. Well, I soon discovered that babies make a lot of noise when they sleep. Well maybe just mine does. I really can not be sure. My son grunts when he is sleeping and every night when he would start making noises I would wake up thinking that he was starting to wake up but he would still be asleep. Then I would just lay there waiting for him to wake up because I was sure that he was about to at any minute and then when I felt like I was about to fall asleep I would just go ahead and wake him up to change him and feed him anyways. This method does not work out very well. After two weeks I convinced my husband to let me move him into his crib in his bedroom and ever since things have been going remarkably better in that department.

Besides trying to get a sleep schedule in order there are all kinds of other things you have to get used to. Like learning to hold a baby without feeling like you are going to break him. You become a pro diaper changer. You constantly smell faintly of spit up and you have virtually no alone time with you partner. That one can be the most difficult one of them all. After spending years of it just being the two of you it is really hard to adjust to not being able to do whatever you feel like doing when you want to. As soon as you think you have a minute and you get all cuddled up together the baby starts to cry and you have to get up and then he gets to be part of the cuddle time too.

But any of the things that could be considered an irritation are completely over powered by everything else. Like when your baby smiles at you or when he laughs. When you talk to him and he talks back with his little cooing sounds. When he is sleeping sometimes and he is dreaming about something that makes him happy and he just starts smiling and giggling in his sleep. I always tell my husband that he must be dreaming of boobie milk because eating is his favorite thing to do. Then my favorite is when he looks at me with this look like I am the greatest thing in his world.

Being a first time mom is not easy. You find yourself worrying over all different kinds of things. Worrying if someone breaks into the house. Worrying about the house catching on fire. I worry about him choking on his spit up while he's sleeping. Waking up in the middle of the night because the baby has been asleep for a long period of time and has not woke you up to eat and worrying if he is okay. I am sure most mothers worry about SIDS. It is the scariest thing that I worry about. Worrying, I guess, is one of those things that you just have to get used to because when it comes to children I will be spending the rest of my life worrying.

There is nothing more amazing than having a child and being able to call yourself a mother. So with all the ups and downs in the begininng you may begin to think that you do not have what it takes to be a good mother but I have learned that everyday it gets a little bit easier. Everyday you feel like you are a little bit more in control. Everyday you feel less like you have no time to get anything done. Everyday you feel like this day is just better than the day before it because everyday your baby smiles at you just a little bit more and you are always wondering what he might do next.

By Crystal Bowden

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Miscarriage (By 4Ernesto)

Miscarriage, also known medically as a spontaneous abortion, is defined as the early failure of pregnancy before the twenty-fourth week of gestation. After this time, the sad occasion of foetal death is classified as a stillbirth.

Between 20 per cent and 80 per cent of newly fertilized eggs (zygotes) fail to implant in the uterine wall. This is known as pre-implantation wastage and occurs before conception is medically or legally recognized.

Of those zygotes that do successfully implant and start to produce a placenta, around 30 per cent miscarry - most before the mother is even aware she is pregnant. The next period may be slightly later and slightly heavier than usual, but that is all.

Sadly, of all the pregnancies that are recognized as such by the mother, approximately 15 per cent fail to continue beyond the first five months of gestation. Twice as many will threaten to miscarry, with spotting of blood and/or period-like abdominal pains.

After a mother has had one miscarriage, her risk of another is twice that of a woman who has not previously had a miscarriage. After two consecutive miscarriages, the risk increases so that around 30 per cent of future pregnancies miscarry. This still means there is a 70 per cent chance of a pregnancy continuing to successful delivery of a child.

The risks do not continue to increase with each subsequent miscarriage, even though it may feel like it to a couple who have suffered through six or more miscarriages, one after the other. The future chance of a successful pregnancy still remains at around 50 per cent unless a specific, recurrent abnormality is diagnosed. In this case, your own physician can give you a more accurate assessment of your chances.

Genetic causes of miscarriage

- The vast majority of miscarriages are due to a one-off genetic disorder of the egg or sperm which makes the continued development of the fertilized egg impossible.
- Usually, the special cell division (meiosis) is resulting in each sperm or egg having only half the genetic information of other body cells goes wrong.
- The egg or sperm may lack some vital genetic information or, more commonly, an extra chromosome or set of chromosomes is present. This often occurs immediately after fertilization when the second polar body fails to leave the fertilized egg.
- Research shows that chromosomal abnormalities are detected in up to 60 per cent of recognized miscarriages, 5 per cent of stillbirths and 0.5 per cent of all live births. These figures suggest that around 10 per cent of all recognized pregnancies (half of spontaneous miscarriages) are identified as genetically abnormal.
- These genetic accidents are usually just that - an accident, possibly induced in a single germ cell by fee radical attack, toxins or exposure to irradiation. Only if the condition is a hereditary one will the risk of recurrent miscarriage increase.
- Chromosomal abnormalities are not always incompatible with reproduction. Several recognized syndromes exist in which parts of chromosomes are missing or present in excessive numbers.
- It is estimated that one in every 20 babies is born with a congenital malformation and that 5 per cent of the population suffer from a genetic disorder.
- Most infants with birth defects are born to women with no obvious risk factors, so detection of future problems is not always possible during the pre-conceptual care period.

Increasing maternal age

It is natural for the risk of a miscarriage to increase as you get older. Research suggests the risk of miscarriage doubles between the twenties and early thirties, then doubles again between early and late thirties. This is caused by the increasing age of maternal egg follicles which have been present in the female ovaries since birth. As well as increasing the risk of miscarriage, increasing maternal age is also linked with the risk of producing a child with a genetic disorder.

Down's syndrome, for example, occurs when an extra chromosome 21 is present in foetal cells. The following table gives the estimated risk of having a child with Down's syndrome according to maternal age:

Mother's Age (Risks of a child
with Down's Syndrome)
20 (1 in 1,000)
30 (1 in 880)
32 (1 in 720)
34 (1 in 460)
36 (1 in 280)
38 (1 in 180)
40 (1 in 100)
42 (1 in 70)
44 (1 in 40)
46 (1 in 25)
48 (1 in 15)
50 (1 in 10)

Pre-conceptual care is especially important for women over the age of 35 years. Ensuring an adequate intake of antioxidant vitamins and minerals throughout life, but especially during the pre-conceptual care period, will help keep your risks of spontaneous genetic mutations to a minimum.

Women over the age of 35 years, and those who have previously had an affected child, are offered techniques that exclude genetic abnormalities in future pregnancies. These include amniocentesis (aspiration of amniotic fluid to examine sloughed foetal cells) and chorionic villus sampling (removal of a small piece of placental tissue for analysis).

Non-genetic causes of miscarriage

Of the 40 per cent to 50 per cent of miscarriages that are not caused by a genetic abnormality, many are of uncertain origin. The foetus starts to develop normally but then, because of some physical insult or deficiency, becomes deformed or is rendered incapable of further development. Possible causes include:
- Smoking
- Nutritional deficiency of a vitamin or mineral
- Bacterial or viral infection
- Hormonal imbalance
- Pre-existing maternal disease
- Maternal disease associated with pregnancy itself
- Maternal anatomical abnormalities
- Immunological incompatibility between the foetus and the mother
- Altered blood clotting mechanisms
- Drugs, including alcohol

Some of these are discussed briefly below to show how pre-conceptual care can be important, especially if you have suffered a miscarriage in the past.

Nutritional deficiency
- Deficiency of all nutrients, but especially of the B group vitamins, folate, essential fatty acids, calcium, magnesium and zinc are associated with an increased risk of sub-fertility and early miscarriage. Lack of these nutrients interferes with cell division and DNA replication, a process occurring at a tremendous rate during foetal development.

- Women who smoke have a 27 per cent higher chance of suffering a miscarriage than non-smokers. Even passive smoking, especially where the mother lives with a smoker, has been linked with 4,000 miscarriages per year in the UK.

Bacterial or viral infections
- Diseases such as rubella, chlamydia, anaerobic vaginosis, cytomegalovirus, etc., can result in miscarriage or congenital deformity if contracted during early pregnancy. Other infections, such as influenza, pneumonia, appendicitis, etc, can also trigger miscarriage, especially during the first three months of pregnancy. This may be a mechanism to protect the mother, whose immune system is naturally depressed during pregnancy, thereby interfering with her ability to fight infection. As physical stress increases the body's needs for many vitamins and minerals, intercurrent infections also induce a relative nutrient deficiency, especially in chronic (long-term) grumbling types of infection e.g. acute cystitis, vaginal bacterial imbalance. This can also trigger miscarriage.

Hormonal imbalance
- There is less certainty regarding miscarriage and hormonal imbalance. Some researchers believe an inadequate corpus luteum (the collapsed follicle from which the egg was recently released) is at fault. Early pregnancies can only continue developing if supported by high levels of progesterone hormone secreted by the corpus luteum. Basically, progesterone is needed to prevent shedding of the endometrium (womb lining) when the next period is due. Progesterone is also needed to suppress maternal immunity so that the foreign foetal tissue is not rejected. The corpus luteum is maintained by a hormone signal (HCG-human chorionic gonadotrophin) secreted by the developing placenta. Failure of the corpus luteum may occur because of a lack of sensitivity to HCG, or an innate inability to secrete enough progesterone. In some countries, e.g. France, USA, progesterone injections or suppositories are given after ovulation and throughout early pregnancy in women suffering repeated miscarriages. This may increase their chances of a successful outcome, but is not universally accepted as an effective treatment. Another hormone imbalance linked with early miscarriage is a high level of luteinising hormone (LH). This seems to alter egg maturation before it is released from the ovary, making future miscarriage more likely. Treatment with the drug buserelin, which works by suppressing secretion of FSH and LH from the pituitary gland, may help.

Pre-existing maternal disease
- Some common medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, thyroid problems and anaemia increase the risk of miscarriage if not carefully monitored and controlled. If you suffer from any of these conditions, consult your doctor before conception so your care can be planned.

- All drugs, including alcohol, those bought over the counter, those prescribed by doctors and illicit, recreational drugs are best avoided during the pre-conceptual care period and throughout pregnancy. Many drugs are linked with early miscarriage or foetal abnormality. Only essential prescribed drugs should be continued and then only after informing the prescribing doctor that you are intending to try for a pregnancy.

By following a pre-conceptual care program, the message is very much one of hope.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Preparing for a Road Trip

By Brandi M. Seals

Whether you decide to do a road trip vacation or are otherwise just traveling across the country, it is always a good idea to be prepared. Road trips can be trying. You have to spend long hours in the car, everyone is generally on a different bathroom schedule, and stopping for food is really the only time you get to spend more than a couple of minutes outside the car until you reach the goal destination. In these conditions, it is no surprise that people's patience often gets tested. However, you can help prevent a road trip meltdown by being prepared.

The first step is to pack and to pack well. The major thing to take into consideration is trunk room. You will want to make sure that everything you bring along can fit in the trunk. Trust me; you will want as much actual car space as possible. If your trip will be long and you are worried about running out of clothes, remember you can always do a load of laundry while on the trip.

I will not advise you on what to pack because each person is different, we all have different priorities, and the items required will vary by when and where you are traveling. Just try to make sure all your clothes needs are covered.

The next thing you will want to do is pack snacks. Snacks are a lifesaver. If you have them on hand, you will not need to stop off somewhere every time someone is hungry. I like to keep chips or crackers on hand. Also make sure you have a few beverages on hand. You can bring along a small cooler and keep it in the car as you travel. You can pull out something to drink whenever you get thirsty. Snacks and beverages are the only things that do not breath, besides maps, that I allow in the car. I am all about leg room and when you hit your 7th hour in the car, you will agree.

Before leaving for the trip it is up to you to do some research. If you are going on vacation, you will want to create an itinerary. It does not have to be too elaborate, but you should lay out how many days you will be gone and where about you think you will be each day. If you care to go a bit farther, you can add it tourists' sites you want to stop at on the list. I like to do this if there are a lot of things to see on the trip. It helps me to cut out items that will end up taking to much time or are too far away to really do right.

The itinerary is your guide. It can always be changed if you suddenly decide you just have to go off track to see the world biggest ball of yarn. Better yet, the itinerary will help everyone in the car get an idea of how the trip will be laid out. This is great if you have kids in the vehicle. Now you will finally be able to answer accurately how much longer they will be in the car.

One thing I recommend having on hand is a guide book. If you plan to stay at hotels, grab one of those books with maps that list where all their affiliate hotels are located. It is much easier to find a hotel with good rates at 2 a.m. when you have book in your lap that details all the information. If you will be staying at camp grounds, grab a KOA guide. Like the hotel guide books, it will show where all the KOAs are located. Keep in mind that you will probably not want to set up camp in the dark. Give yourself time to do it during daylight hours.

As long as you plan ahead and know what you are getting yourself into, there is no reason you cannot have a fully enjoyable trip. The one thing that I recommend is to never become a dictator. One person does not get to decide when everyone else gets to use the restroom. If someone has to go, you have to stop. It will keep the peace in the car which will go a long way towards everyone having a good experience.

Preventing Skin Cancer

By Brandi M. Seals

Yesterday I had to have a mole removed from my right shoulder blade. I could not say how long it had been there. I never gave it much thought. I was worried about other moles that I have. They were all fine, except the one on my shoulder. I originally made the appointment with the dermatologist for a skin check because somewhere along the line I heard that skin cancer is more prevalent in fair skinned, dark-haired people with red hair in the family.

The mole was removed in a quick doctor's office procedure. Now it is on its way to Texas to be tested. The doctor said it probably was not cancer. It looked more like a dysplastic nevi. That is the term for moles that have irregular cells but are not cancerous.

I do everything I can to protect my skin from the sun. I do not go out without sunscreen if I will be out for more than 5 minutes. I never really thought about protecting myself from skin cancer, I was just trying to avoid burning. I wish my parents had been more protective of me while I grew up. I bet anyone my age wishes the same thing. I grew up when there was sunscreen, but no one really made a big stink about it. It was for avoiding burns, not preventing skin cancer. No one seemed to have skin cancer. It was never talked about. Now things are different.

Everyone is worried about it. People no longer go out baking in baby oil looking for the perfect tan. They slather on SPF 30 sunscreen or higher before heading to the beach. That is a far cry from the SPF 4 I used to use on occasion. Most of the time, I went without sunscreen. I always tanned easily until I turned 15, that is when everything changed. I started to burn all the time and I still do if I do not bring out the sunscreen.

Everyone should make the effort to teach their children how to protect themselves from the sun. That goes much farther than making them wear sunscreen. The age of your child will dictate how much he or she needs to know, but all should be taught to protect themselves.

Whenever you child goes outside, make sure he or she is wearing sunscreen. Try to buy the highest SPF possible. I like SPF 45 or above. The higher the number, the more protection you will receive.

Get your child sunglasses. The sun can damage eyes just as easily as it damages skin. Make sure the glasses protect against UV rays. Generally there are stickers on the lenses when you go shopping that details what the sunglasses can do.

Start skin screening once a month. Do it the same day every month. Look over your child's body. Start at the scalp and work your way down to the toes. The goal is to know when things change. If a new mole starts to grow or one suddenly starts enlarging, you will want to bring it to your doctor's attention. When your child gets old enough, he or she should take over the check. Make sure they look at their feet. It is a commonly overlooked area that can develop skin cancer.

Familiarize yourself with the ABCDs of moles.

A is for Asymmetry. Melanomas tend to be asymmetrical. If you were to draw a line through the middle of the mole both halves would not match.

B is for Border. Look for uneven or notched edges. Common moles have smoother borders.

C is for Color. A single shade of black or brown is common. Varied shades where the color changes within the mole may be the sign of a problem.

D is for Diameter. Melanomas tend to be larger than common moles. Anything larger than the size of a pencil eraser may be suspect.

Any moles that display the characteristics listed in the ABCDs should be looked at by a doctor. You can often find free skin cancer screenings during the year or find a dermatologist in your area to do the quick check. Never hesitate if something seems suspicious. If there is a problem, it is best to find it early on.

Getting the Kids to Behave this Holiday Season

By Brandi M. Seals

All kids are different. Some are need and clingy, others are free spirits. Regardless of your child's personality, you have probably noticed that he or she has an extremely short attention span. And, that often means trouble when they have to sit in waiting rooms, eat out, or spend the holidays with the relatives.

They do not do it on purpose, but all that sitting still and being good gets difficult. The older your child, the longer his attention span generally is. Anyone with a newborn knows it is going to be a rough holiday and they may have to leave early. But, everyone else can really take some measures to ensure that everyone has a good holiday.

Start by deciding how long you should stay at a party. Things to take into consideration are you child's age, how many other kids there will be, and what is expected of your child. If there are a few other kids there and they are allowed to run around and play, your child can last longer than if he were the only child there and he is not expected to make a peep. That just is not possible. Trust me, it will not last long.

In general, try to keep the visits around two hours or less until the kids are able to last for longer. You will also want to take the car ride into account. Too long in the car followed by a long period of being around others may just be too tiring for some kids which will lead to cranky moments.

When you are at someone else's house for the holidays, be sure to bring along toys for your kids. Bring something that they love to do and that they can do without too much disruption. For example, coloring books or word finds make for great items to bring along. The age of the child will dictate the appropriate toys to bring. You may also want to bring along a DVD. It can serve as the last resort for keeping the kids entertained.

Make sure to have snacks on hand. That can be hard to remember on holidays like Thanksgiving when the whole day is supposed to be about food. Always bring along some snacks, like celery sticks or string cheese. The kids will probably get hungry before dinner is ready to be served. They will want something to eat and if they are made to wait to long, they will probably get very cranky.

Remember, some kids are picky eaters. You cannot guarantee that they will want to eat what is served for dinner. Rather than have a fight about them finishing their peas in front of the host, why not let them have a snack when they are hungry and help them select items they will actually eat. If you see your child playing with his food, stop him but do not scold. Try to work out a signal in advance that you can give to let him know that he needs to stop what he is doing.

When all is said and done there is only so much you can do. Kids are young. They do not know what is expected of them and they are just trying to have a good time. Try to relieve some of their anxiety by telling them in advance what they can expect. Let them know that the people there love him or her. They will probably want a hug and that you expect them to hug the people there. Next make sure they know how long they will be at the event. Try to put it in terms that they will understand. For example, instead of saying we will be at Nana's for two hours, say you will be there for the length of 4 episodes of Dora the Explorer.

Remember to encourage the kids. When you see them behaving well, acknowledge it. And on the way home, be sure to compliment them on what they did well. If there was a bad episode, you could also discuss that then. If for some reason things go badly and your child becomes a large disruption to the event and is bothering others, it is probably best to go home. You can try again later when your child is a bit older.

Fostering Interests

By Brandi M. Seals

All children have interests, but sometimes they need a little help getting things off the ground. I always wanted to learn how to play the piano, but to this day I can do little more than crank out a bad rendition of London Bridge. Looking back I wish I would have spoken up so my parents could have arranged lessons.

Although I never learned to play the piano, I did learn how to do somersaults and walk the balance beam at gymnastics class. I had never really thought about it, but my parents told me to give it a try and I am glad they did.

All kids need is a little push when it comes to developing interests. They are so young and so inexperienced that they often do not know what all there is out in the world for them to discover. That is when parents come into play. Parents should question their children to see what they might be interested in. Ask about sports, karate classes, gymnastics, music or anything else that might be interested in.

Resist the urge to just enroll them in something because you used to like it or you think they should do it. Ask what they think first. You can make it sound exciting and chances are you can win them over. I mean who would not want to learn how to speak in a foreign language or figure skate. If you catch them at a young enough age, you will be surprised at how willing they are to get involved in something. With headlines everywhere about the expanding waistlines of children, it is important to get the kids up off the couch and get them busy doing something.

If you do not know where to start and your kids do not seem to have any distinct interests, have them choose from one of the following categories: music, dance, sports, foreign language or anything else you can think of.

Once your child has picked a category, you can narrow things down a bit. The best thing to do is contact your local community center and find out what kinds of classes they provide. If there is no community center, you may still be able to find activities for your child. Ask their teachers if they know of anywhere your children can do some extracurricular activities.

Generally speaking though, you should be able to find someone to teach your child how to read music and play an instrument even if it is on a one on one basis. If your child decides to take the music route, be sure to find out what kind of instrument he or she wants to play. Consider renting or borrowing an instrument at first until you find out if your child wants to continue with the lessons.

For those that want to dance, choose from tap dance, ballet, modern, and a number of other dance classes. Choose one class, and then try another one the next time around so your child gets a feel for the different styles. It may help him or her decide what the best route will be.

There are too many sports to list. Your child could take gymnastics, karate, or soccer. Team sports can be a great way for your child to meet new people and make some friends. Individual opportunities are great too. The goal is to find what is best for your child.

Children are little sponges. They can pick things up easily, especially foreign language. It is a great idea to introduce foreign languages at an early age. They will be leaps and bounds ahead of their peers when foreign language is finally introduced in the school system. Plus, by starting early, they have a better chance at becoming fluent. After 8 years of taking Spanish courses, I am still not as good as children I see after only a couple of years of courses.

Whatever you and your child decide to get involved with is fine. Just try to keep the experience fun and not like a chore. While it is good to not let your child quit when things get hard, you also need to know when to throw in the towel of the interest just is not there.

Creating a Big Kid Room

By Brandi M. Seals

Every parent makes an effort to create the perfect nursery for their new bundle of joy but as the child grows and gets older, he or she eventually outgrows the pastel walls and crib. While you may be able to hold of creating a big kid room until the child gets to be school aged, it cannot be left indefinitely. Sure you can make it better by getting a big kid bed, but the room still will not feel like home to your child.

When you do decide that your child is old enough and you have some funds to put towards the change, you can help create a whole new feel in the room without spending a ton of money.

If you plan ahead when you find out you are pregnant, you choose to painted the walls a neutral color (like light yellow). That way you can skip the new coat of paint each time you want to update the space. Sure you may think that is boring, but you can always spice things up with wall decals. As the child ages, simply switch out the decals for something a little more their speed. Decals can be found near the wallpaper section in stores and generally run less than $20 per pack. You will be surprised at the different options out there. You could do Dora the Explorer decals, Spiderman, or even bugs.

If you did not plan ahead or you had your heart set on a pastel pink nursery for your little girl, you may need to paint the walls to really change the feel of the room. Be sure to consult your child about what color walls he or she wants. They may not pick a color you would like and that does not mean you have to go with that color, but it will help guide your decisions.

For example, as a little girl I loved the color pink. I had it everywhere, but by the time I turned 7, I hated pink. I did not want to see it at all. I wanted purple walls. My walls were never painted purple, but my parents at least heard what I wanted and took it into consideration. They decided I would be better off with a more neutral wall color with lots of purple accents and I was plenty happy with that.

Since this is your child's room, he or she should have some say in what it looks like, even if they are young. You know what will and will not work in the long run, but you can accommodate some of your child’s wishes.

With wall color out of the way, you can focus on all those little touches that really make a room. This is where you tap into what your kid really loves. If he loves action figures, get a bed spread featuring one of his favorite figures. Use the colors in the blanket to guide you towards decorating the rest of the room. At one point my sister loved 101 Dalmatians. We had red bunk beds and white walls in the room we shared. We finished off the look with a dalmatian comforter on her bed and some red accents through out the room.

Next time you need to change the room (around the time puberty hits) you can let your child take more of a lead. At this point she really knows what she wants. Let your child taking a leading roll. Go shopping together for pieces to go in the room. Let her pick out the comforter, lamps, or anything else that will go in the room. If something is not agreeable, feel free to put a kibosh on it, but always explain why you made the decision. If there is something that your kid wants that you just do not want to buy, you could always give him or her the option of buying the item with money they have saved from their allowance. It will give them a bit of ownership in the room and help them to appreciate what they really do have.

Remember, turning a little kid room into a big kid room is a big step but it should be fun. If something does not turn out perfectly, that is okay. It is part of what gives the room its charm.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Treat Mother to a Massage- A Look at Deep Tissue Massage and Swedish Massage

Being a mother means that you are busy with many things on the go at once and sometimes finding time for yourself to relax, and unwind those tired muscles is not an easy feat. Keep in mind that in order to be the best mother you can be you need to remain in excellent health. One way to do that is to take care of yourself by treating yourself to a massage every now and again. If you can squeeze in a massage once a month then that is terrific but if not then schedule one whenever you feel you need it most. There are a multitude of types of massages you can indulge in but here we will take a look at two in particular- the deep tissue massage and the Swedish massage.

What is a deep tissue massage exactly?

Besides stretching, a deep tissue massage can help alleviate the bad effects of too much stress and tension being put on the neck, back and shoulders and the legs (calves and thighs). A deep tissue massage is a type of massage technique that focuses particular importance on the deeper layers of muscle tissue. The primary aim of deep tissue massage is to release the pent up patterns of tension in the human body by way of slow, smooth strokes and deep finger pressure on the areas that are contracted, either following or going across the muscle fibers, the fascia or the tendons.

A deep tissue massage is not the exact same as a relaxing, soothing massage as the number one aim is to decrease the amount of stiffness in the body as well as the pain that has built up in the muscles that are already showing signs of being ultra sensitive and irritated. The good news in all of this is that if the deep tissue massage is done correctly by a trained professional then you should begin to feel better than new again within a short period of time, generally a day or two.

What is the reason behind having a deep tissue massage?

The reason behind a deep tissue massage is to loosen, or if you like, unstick the fibers of the muscles of the body while at the very same time, releasing tension and stress that has built up. Deep tissue massage also serves to get rid of harmful toxins from the body and it soothes and relaxes the muscles, bringing them back to their normal state. Basically deep tissue massage has at its root two express purposes- it is corrective and it is extremely therapeutic.

What are the benefits of deep tissue massage?

Deep tissue massage is beneficial for both the health and well being of the receiver. When muscles are stressed, both oxygen and nutrients become blocked or partially blocked and this leads to inflammation, which causes toxins to start to build up in the muscle tissue. A deep tissue massage in turn helps to loosen the tissue of the muscles while at the same time it releases harmful toxins from the muscles and makes sure that the oxygen and blood begins to circulate as freely and as easily as possible. A great deal of pent up harmful toxins are released during a deep tissue massage and for that reason it is strongly recommended that the person receiving the massage drink plenty of water after the session is over. Water is the very best way to eliminate toxins effectively and safely from the human body.

What is a Swedish massage exactly?

Swedish massage is actually a blanket term that makes reference to a multitude of massage techniques that are specifically geared towards relaxing and soothing muscles by applying pressure to them against deeper muscles and bones. Swedish massage involves rubbing in the same direction as the flow of blood that is returning to the heart. Swedish massage got its name from a Swedish doctor named Per Henrik Ling who developed it as far back as the 1700s.

What is the reason or purpose behind Swedish massage?

The number one purpose or reason to have a Swedish massage is that it serves to increase the flow of oxygen in the blood and by so doing also releases toxins from the over worked muscles. Swedish massage reduces the recovery time from muscular strain due to flushing the tissues of lactic acid, uric acid as well as other types of metabolic wastes. A Swedish massage increases circulation without putting a strain on the heart. Having a Swedish massage means that the ligaments and tendons are stretched and this helps to keep them healthy, as well as pliable and supple which is a good thing.

But that is not all. A Swedish massage stimulates both the skin and the nervous system and it soothes the nerves, keeping them calm and stable. A Swedish massage reduces a heavy stress load on the system, both in terms of emotional as well as physical stress and many programs that involve stress management take into account the many therapeutic benefits of Swedish massage. More and more physicians and members of the medical community are incorporating Swedish massage into their practice for a variety of medical reasons.

What specific techniques are utilized when it comes to Swedish massage?

Swedish massage involves a number of techniques and these include effleurage, petrissage, friction, vibration, percussion, and finally, passive and active movements. There is most often a well-orchestrated sequence of techniques involved in Swedish massage. Let us briefly take a look at each of them:

Effleurage- This is gliding strokes with the palms of the hands, the thumbs and/or the fingertips.
Petrissage- This involves kneading movements with the hands, the thumbs and/or the fingers.
Friction- This technique involves circular pressures with the palms of the hands, the thumbs and/or the fingers.
Vibration- This technique involves oscillatory movements that either serve to shake or else vibrate the body.
Percussion- This technique involves a brisk tapping with the fingers, and is sometimes referred to as hacking by masseuses.
Passive and active movements- This technique involves both elements of bending and stretching.

What are the benefits of having a Swedish massage?

A Swedish massage is an all over stress reliever for the body and a delight for the senses. This kind of massage is one you will never regret having mothers and will want to revisit time and time again. A Swedish massage is relaxing, soothing, invigorating and feels extremely good to the body. A Swedish massage affects the glands, as well as the muscles and the nerves. It also helps promote excellent circulation throughout the body. Health and well being is improved ten fold after having a Swedish massage.

Do your part to ensure a successful massage

It is important to make note of the fact that a massage, whether it is deep tissue or otherwise, is not by any means a cure-all for every problem that occurs in a muscle. As a client you must do your part as well to ensure a successful massage and you must help to contribute to your own excellent state of health. You should take the time to learn particular methods for strengthening your back muscles in order to avoid developing premature fatigue of the upholding musculature. Posture plays a paramount role in muscle stress therefore when sitting or standing be aware that a shift in position is a beneficial way to relieve pressure in the spinal column.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Moms and Aromatherapy- How to Unwind After a Long Exhausting Day of Mothering

Before we can get into the ways that aromatherapy can be used and how it can be soothing to the senses it is important to first explain exactly what aromatherapy is for those that have never heard of it.

The Aromatherapy Explanation

Aromatherapy is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and is gaining more and more popularity in our society today, first in Europe and now in the western world. Americans and Canadians are becoming fonder and fonder of aromatherapy as a safe and effective way to relieve stress in the body and mind. Put in a very simple and basic way, aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils and specific scents, such as lavender, jasmine, lemon and vanilla to improve the mood of an individual as well as to improve overall health, not to mention to reduce high levels of stress. It is defined specifically as -The use of volatile plant oils, including essential oils, for physical and mental well being.

Our sense of smell is very well developed, not to mention strong. Scents have a way of working on the brain to stimulate memory, as well as to relax and energize us and make a person feel just plain happy to be alive and a part of the world around him or herself. As an example, lavender is an herb with a very calming scent often used to help people fall into a deep slumber. In days gone by lavender was sewn into pillows to help encourage restfulness and it was also sprinkled on handkerchiefs to sniff whenever a person felt nervous or tense. A number of products for babies, such as lotions, powders, and oils contain the ingredient lavender. For example the well known company Johnsons and Johnsons incorporates lavender into their products. Chamomile is another ingredient that is often added as it helps to encourage good sleeps among infants.

Whether it really is soothing to the nervous system or works because of the power of suggestion, nobody really knows for sure. But aromatherapy does do the trick and is fast becoming more and more recognized as a viable method of calming down and reducing a heavy stress load.

The Top Ten Essential Oils for Aromatherapy

Let us take a look at the ten most commonly used and most recommended essential oils for the practice of aromatherapy. These ten include chamomile, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, rose, rosemary, sandalwood, marjoram, jasmine and neroli. Chamomile (as previously mentioned) is excellent for its calming properties and is often used to treat acne, eczema, and other sensitive skin conditions, as well as premenstrual pain and indigestion. Eucalyptus is an antiseptic and is helpful for viral infections, coughs, colds and bronchitis as well as achy muscles and rheumatic conditions. Geranium is mildly astringent and is therefore useful for many purposes including fungal infections, cuts, sores and bruises. It also acts as an insect repellant, soothes skin problems (it is very good for helping eczema sufferers) and has mild diuretic and anti-depressant properties. Lavender is also very calming and is excellent for those who have problems falling asleep and also mild forms of depression.

The next most popular essential oil is rose which is used as an antiseptic and is excellent for sinus congestion, sore throat, puffiness, and insomnia and also acts as a mild sedative. Rose has other uses as well. It can be used for premenstrual tension and pain, a low sex drive and symptoms related to menopause. Rosemary is a mild form of a stimulant and comes in handy for respiratory problems, asthma, rheumatic aches and pains, as well as temporary memory loss and physical and mental fatigue. Sandalwood is an antiseptic that is helpful in treating dry, chapped or cracked skin and acne. It is also an aphrodisiac and provides calming relaxation during meditation.

We come next to the most popular essential oil, which is marjoram. Marjoram is mildly analgesic and has a variety of useful properties including its ability to relieve headaches, menstrual cramps, sore throats, insomnia and acne. Marjoram is also a mild sedative, is very warming and aids in improving blood circulation. Jasmine is an anti-depressant, which helps relieve problems related to many forms of depression, including postpartum depression. It is also an aphrodisiac and can be useful during labor to strengthen contractions. Finally, the last is neroli. Neroli is mildly sedative and is useful when it comes to backaches, premenstrual stress and pain, anxiety, bad nerves and mild forms of depression. It is also useful for insomnia, is mildly warming and helps to improve the circulation of blood in the body.

For those who find themselves confused by the variety of terms used to describe the essential oils above, here are some basic definitions:

Analgesic means it relieves pain.
An anti-depressant helps to lift both the mood and spirits of any given individual.
An antiseptic is used for cleansing (in particular when there is a break in the skin) and helps prevent the growth of bacteria.
An astringent contracts both blood vessels as well as tissues in the body and is often used for skin conditions.
A sedative calms and relaxes a person and slows down the desire for activity.
A stimulant acts on the brain to make the body feel uplifted and in top form.

How Can Aromatherapy Decrease the Amount of Stress in Life?

Pour a few drops of an essential oil of your choice in a bath and then take a long soak. Some of the best ones to try include bergamot, cedarwood and lavender. Both the enchanting scent and the luxurious soak will do your body and mind a great deal of good. Just relax your mind and feel those worries melting as far away as possible!

When you are feeling super stressed and nothing else provides relief, sniff a calming scent such as lavender, rose or sandalwood in the same way that you would breathe in a whiff of a new perfume. Here is an excellent one to try, handed down to me by my great aunt; use aromatherapy as a deodorizer for a room. Here is how to do it properly:

Pour a small amount of vanilla into a pan of water and then simmer it on the stove. Whatever you do, do not allow the pan to boil dry. The smell it gives off will delight you and make your home smell amazing!

Aromatherapy and massage were made for one another. Go ahead and make your own massage oil. It is simple to do, just add a few drops of your favorite oil to an unscented oil such as almond and then reap the benefits.

Be Cautious with Oils

A word of caution when it comes to the practice of aromatherapy- it is not a good idea to use essential oils full strength on your skin, as they can be irritating. Instead dilute them first with a carrier oil. One of the best to try is almond. For those unsure as to what a carrier oil is, let me explain in as simple a language as possible.

The Meaning of Carrier oils

Carrier oils, also referred to as base oils or vegetable oils, are used to dilute essential oils before they are applied to skin. They carry the essential oil onto the skin. Different carrier oils offer different properties and the choice of carrier oil can depend on the therapeutic benefit being sought. Carrier oils are generally cold-pressed vegetable oils taken from the fatty portions of the plant. Carrier oils do not evaporate or impart their aromas as strongly as essential oils do. There are many different kinds of carrier oils. Examples of carrier oils include sweet almond, avocado, grape seed, apricot kernel, macadamia nut, evening primrose, olive, peanut, sesame, pecan, rose hip, jojoba, kukui, hazelnut, cocoa butter, borage, shea butter, sunflower, walnut and wheat germ.

So what are you waiting for mother? Next time you have a stressful day with your baby mix up an aromatherapy pot of magic and relax your stresses away!

The Holiday Season and Kids

The Holiday season the time for joy, peace and love and it can also be the season for cranky and selfish kids. Tis the season to stay up late, fa la la la la la well you know the rest When kids stay up late, they tend to get grumpy, whiney, well it is just not a pretty site. Also it is the season for children who see what they want and want what they see. Do your kids have the gimmes? How can you change their mindset and help them focus, not only on themselves, but on others as well as the meaning of the season during this festive time? How can you, as a parent, survive the holidays and try to stay sane and make the season enjoyable for everyone?

Here are a few pointers that may help you with your quest:

1) Tell your kids it is not all about them. I suggest (if they are older) to take them to a homeless shelter or hospital and allow them to volunteer. Some entire families pitch in at a soup kitchen during Thanksgiving or over Christmas. I believe that this will help your child understand that there are less fortunate children out there and that they need to think of others as well as themselves. Why not adopt a family that you can purchase gifts or a Christmas meal for. Teach your children to count their blessings instead of always wanting more. Teach them to share with others what they have already. Why not look through their own toys and get them to help you to choose a few that they do not play with any more so that they can give them to someone that has no toys.

2) Realize that the focus that most of the world shows that Christmas is all about stuff. Keep in mind that this is mainly due to the retailers.
The yearly budget of most stores depend on this month or month and a half period of time prior to and just after Christmas, so naturally they want you to come out and spend, spend, spend! Ask your child to make a list and get them to pick their very favourite two or three gifts and go from there.

3) Create your own traditions with and for your children. Store bought stuff is fine, but why not string popcorn and decorate your tree with that? Find things that can incorporate your children. My girls usually make a few presents or they go shopping at the local dollar store with the money that they have saved. Why not make some of your presents this year? Or have your children make Christmas cards or wrapping paper. There is a lot that children can do if you let them.

4) Carry the spirit all through the year. Why not share the good things and feelings of Christmas all throughout the year? This is something you can teach your children to do as well. Think of the movie Pay It Forward. If you share the joy, peace, happiness and love of Christmas, with others, chances are that they will as well.

5) Relax and remember to take time for what is important to you and your family. If your children see you relaxed then they will be too. It is amazing how much they pick up on our moods and if we are stressed out, they will be too. Make sure your children are well rested. If you allow them to stay up late, try and let them sleep late the next day. If they are not
the type to sleep in, you can lay down with them in the afternoon or put them to bed earlier at night. If your child suffers from a lack of sleep not only will they be grumpy, they could risk picking up colds and the flu because when you are sleep deprived, your immune system is down too.

Christmas is a special time of year to spend with friends and family members. I think the key is to not get too caught up in the shopping and other things that you simply MUST do and do what is important for yourself, the rest of your family and especially your children. After all, these people are the next generation and if we go crazy at Christmas time with all the things that we have to do, imagine what they will be like in forty years?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

In Between Babies Mother? Let Us Talk About Contraception

Are you a mother or do you hope to become one in the near future? Or perhaps you are a proud mother of one or two children and hope to have more babies someday but not right now? If any of these scenarios applies to you then you know the importance of choosing a method of birth control that will work as well as you need it too. Let us take the time to look at some of the most effective ways at preventing pregnancy right now to guarantee peace of mind for the both of you!

The choices in contraception abound in our society today and new developments are always appearing on the market as the birth control market is booming. In other words, there are more options now that there has ever been before. There are birth control methods that can be swallowed, inserted, injected and attached to the body for ample protection. Not all methods are discussed here, just the ones that can be obtained through a doctor. These are also the methods that are believed to be the most effective at preventing pregnancy. Be aware that plenty of methods that can be purchased at a drugstore are very effective as well such as the tried and true condom, the sponge (Today sponge), spermicidal foam and the new female condom (called Reality). Condoms are the only method of birth control that is effective at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Take note that these methods are not presented in any particular order.

Hormonal Contraceptives

Combined oral contraceptive (estrogen and progestin). This is often referred to as simply the pill.

Brand names: Currently there are 24 different types of birth control pills available on the market, not including dosage variations within similar products. Ortho-Tricyclen is one of the most commonly prescribed.

How it works: One pill is taken every day for a period of three weeks. In the fourth week placebo pills are taken or in a lot of cases, nothing at all. The pills contain estrogen and progestin hormones that serve to black ovulation and thicken cervical mucus. In essence a pseudo pregnancy takes place whereby the brain is sent the message that the woman is pregnant and therefore no egg is released from the ovary at the scheduled time.

97-99 percent effective. (Some doctors will go as far as to say that the pill is 100 effective if taken as directed)

Progestin- only (or the mini pill)

Brand name: Micronor

How it works: One pill is taken once a day, every day. There is no pill-free week and no placebos. The mini-pill works by thickening cervical mucus and thinning the lining of the uterus. In some women it suppresses ovulation.

90-99 percent effective.

Transdermal patch

Brand name: Ortho-Evra

How it works: The patch as it is often called, is attached directly onto the body of a woman and a new one is applied once a week for a period of three weeks time. The fourth week is patch-free for the woman. This form of contraception works by slowly releasing estrogen and progestin, the same hormones as the combined oral contraceptive pill. Like the work of the pill, it serves to block ovulation and thickens cervical mucus. The patch is designed to stay on the skin during bathing, swimming and exercise.

97-99 percent effective.

Contraceptive Injection

Brand name: Depo-Provera

How it works: A doctor administers an injection once every three months. This birth control method suppresses ovulation, thickens the cervical mucus and thins the lining of the uterus.

Over 99 percent effective.

Hormonal Intrauterine Device (IUD)

Brand name: Mirena

How it works: A doctor implants the Mirena IUD directly into the uterus and it becomes effective immediately upon insertion. The device can be left in the body for up to five years before a doctor removes it. There was a lot of controversy over the use of IUDs in the past but today the newer versions are considered safe and effective for use. The IUD works by thinning the lining of the uterus, thickening cervical mucus and inhibiting sperm movement. The two latest versions of the IUD are the copper T IUD and the progestasert IUD. Speak with your doctor to learn more about these.

Over 99 percent effective.

Hormonal Vaginal Contraceptive Ring

Brand name: NuvaRing

How it works: The NuvaRing releases both the hormones estrogen and progestin into the system to help prevent pregnancy. The ring is soft and malleable and once squeezed between the thumb and index finger can quickly and easily be inserted into the vagina. The NuvaRing is worn for a period of three weeks and then it needs to come out when your period starts. Once the period is over, a new one can be inserted.

98 to 99 percent effective.

Barrier Methods of Birth Control

The diaphragm, cervical cap and cervical shield are all barrier methods of birth control that serve to prevent sperm from entering the cervix and finding their way to an egg. The diaphragm, which is the oldest method of the three is shaped much like a shallow latex cup and come in different sizes that a doctor must fit you for. The diaphragm is 84 to 94 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. The cervical cap is a latex cup that is shaped like a thimble. It comes in different sizes like the diaphragm and a doctor must fit you for the proper one. This form of contraception is 84 to 91 percent effective. The cervical shield requires a prescription from a doctor but it comes in one size only and does not require a fitting. This method is 85 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. Spermicides purchased from a pharmacy must be used with each of these three methods of birth control. Spermicides come in either foams or gel. Barrier forms of birth control such as these must be left in place for a period of six to eight hours after intercourse has taken place, however they must be removed within a period of 24 hours if you use a diaphragm and 48 for a cervical cap or shield.