Mommy and Me and Daddy Makes Three!

December 2, 2010 at 5:20 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments
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So a lot of my blog posts have focused on mothers and their influence on their growing fetus but where does dad fit in? He obviously played a role in this whole development but now what? How can dad bond with his newborn? It can be intimidating trying to compete with mom who is with the baby 24-7 feeding and caring for it. So don’t compete. Just be the dad you know you can be. Don’t be shy.

I have been scoping the web and scouring my brain for some of the best tips on how dads can bond with their baby. Here’s what I got:

  • Cuddle. Babies love skin to skin contact so take off your shirt and put your baby to your chest. Holding your baby and gently massaging her can help you develop a close (literally) bond.
  • Make eye contact. When moms breastfeed, they are at the perfect angle to make continually eye contact with their baby. Looking at you is one  of the few ways that baby can communicate with you.
  • Involve yourself with your baby through music. Babies respond to music so try singing or dancing with your little one to connect with them. Your voice is comforting to your child which is why singing can calm him or her.
  • Don’t be self-conscious. Sometimes you may feel nervous about doing it “right” or “wrong.” Here’s a secret: there is not right or wrong way to connect with your child! Just be yourself and be around your child. Your child will love you for it.
  • Be involved in the everyday routines. Fathers who establish a routine, such as feeding the baby a bottle or singing to him every night will result in consistent bonding time and therefore, closer relationships.
  • Celebrate your baby’s milestones! Be excited and share that excitement with your spouse. Have an ice cream party. Snap a million pictures. Come on- your baby only learns to crawl once.
  • Roughhouse. This is something dads are naturally good at. You will rarely see a mom on the ground playing with her baby but dad’s seem to enjoy this activity beyond all reason. And it’s funny- you wouldn’t think that guys could be so gentle- until you see them with their newborn.
  • Take time to be alone with your baby. One-on-one time is special and should be treasured. Enjoy your baby’s presence and take a moment to see how you have been blessed.

Gestational Diabetes

December 1, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Posted in Mother Category | 5 Comments
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Gestational diabetes occurs in women who have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy but have not experienced diabetes prior to pregnancy. This condition affects 4% of all pregnant women in the US or 135,000 people every year.

There is not one main known cause of gestational diabetes but there are some theories. Insulin resistance exists because the hormones from the placenta help the baby to develop. These hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin in her body. Insulin is not being produced and used by the body as it should, and as a result, sugar levels rise (since insulin is not available to counteract it). This video explains it better than I can.

Treatment includes diet and exercise. If not treated, the baby can be harmed. When you have gestational diabetes, your pancreas works overtime to produce insulin but the insulin doesn’t do it’s job of reducing blood insulin levels. The insulin then crosses the placenta and gives the baby high blood glucose levels. As a result, the baby gets high blood sugar and it produces extra insulin as well. This extra insulin is stored as fat, which can lead to macrosomia or a “fat” baby. This can result in shoulder damage during birth, difficulty breathing and low blood glucose levels. The babies are also at a higher risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes as adults.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

December 1, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Posted in Parent Category | 8 Comments
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Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is an umbrella term describing the range of effects that can occur in an individual who was prenatally exposed to alcohol. It is the most common known cause of mental retardation  as well as the only known preventable disorder. The problem with this disorder is that many women who become pregnant do not know so they do not take the precaution of not drinking. Organs form in babies in the first 8 weeks of life- often before women realize they are pregnant.

This can lead to many negative outcomes:

  • central nervous system damage
  • brain damage
  • mental retardation
  • organ and skeletal defects
  • vision and hearing problems
  • learning disabilities
  • impaired judgment
  • impaired behavior
  • facial features are different

As well as these physical and mental effects, studies have shown that those affected have mental health problems, trouble with the law, difficulty living independently and are often expelled, suspended or drop out of school. As well as these problems, babies can be born experiencing alcohol withdrawals.

I attended the American Public Health Conference in Denver this past November and they told me a little bit more about FASD in Denver.

Here are some interesting statistics regarding Colorado and the US:

  • 54% of Colorado women drank within three months prior to pregnancy
  • 50% of Colorado women have unintended pregnancy
  • Of the women with an abuse or dependence problem in the past year, 47% had also been pregnant during that time.
  • 40,000 babies in the US are born with FASD

Currently, 20 other states have alcohol signage laws. This means that signs are posted on bottles or packages which inform women about the potential harms of alcohol on a developing fetus. Here is an example: “Warning: drinking alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, wine coolers and distilled spirits or smoking cigarettes during pregnancy can cause birth defects.” This was a signage used in Alaska.

Colorado is proposing a call to action with community based funding for FASD specific projects, including diagnostic services, prevention, intervention and treatment services for those affected. Their proposal plan includes 5 steps:

  1. Multi-disciplinary diagnostic clinics
  2. Expanded funding to educate:
    -Health care professionals
    -Law enforcement
    -Education
    -Social services
    -Mental health
    -Substance abuse
  3. Signage laws
  4. Brochures
  5. Public service announcements

Half the battle is getting the information out and educating and the second half is trying to convince people that it will be beneficial for them to change their behavior, even when inconvenient.

I think that Colorado has some good ideas. I think the most efficient thing to do would be to hand out a brochure and talk about FASD at prenatal doctor visits. But that might already be late. What about including it in health education classes in high school? How can we stop this condition from affecting unborn babies?

A Sad Truth

November 30, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Posted in Parent Category | 19 Comments
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Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a form of abusive head trauma and traumatic brain injury. This happens when parents or caregivers violently shake an infant by the shoulders, arms or legs. Shaking and impact if the baby lands wrong can cause SBS. Whip flash can cause bleeding within the brain or eyes.

  • SBS is a leading cause of child abuse deaths in the U.S.
  • Babies newborn to 4 months are at the greatest risk of injury from shaking.
  • Crying that doesn’t stop is the primary trigger for baby shaking.

This can lead to seizures, further crying, death, mental retardation, blindness and negative emotional responses.

“Purple crying” is often the cause of frustration that caregivers have with babies. “Purple crying” is said to have uncontrollable crying from ages 2 weeks- 3/4 months.

P- peak of crying at 2 weeks or 4 weeks and decrease the next few months

U- unexpected crying; there is no reason for their crying

R- resistant to soothing

P-pain; they look like they are in pain but that’s not necessarily true

L- long-lasting; about 35 minutes or 2-3 hours

E- evening hours; more likely to occur in late afternoon or evening

How do you tell if your baby is just crying or if he or she is sick? You should look for other signs or symptoms that could indicate disease and then see a physician if you are worried.

Colic is said to be different than “purple crying” because purple crying is a characteristic among all babies while colic is only among a few.
What can we do as public health professionals to stop Shaken Baby Syndrome? Is education the best way? What advice do you have on how to deal with a fussy and crying baby?

To learn more, visit The National Center for Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Saving the World- One Bag at a Time

November 26, 2010 at 1:50 am | Posted in Environment Category | 11 Comments
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I don’t consider myself terribly concerned about the environment, but when my roommate and I saw the massive heap of plastic bags growing under the kitchen sink, we decided to make a change for the better.

We started bringing fabric bags to the grocery store instead of using the plastic bags provided. I used to think that people who did this were kind of ridiculous and perhaps, I’ll admit it, self-righteous, flaunting their environmental cause in front of everyone in line.

I think what changed my mind was when I went to Denver for the American Public Health Conference. Seeing how environmentally concerned Denver is made me want to be better. It didn’t hurt that I collected a stack of free fabric bags from the conference to get me started.

My roommate and I have made a few grocery store trips and although it’s a simple act to ditch the plastic and embrace the fabric, it feels SO GOOD. We went to Sunflower Market first, where fabric bags are the norm for customers coming in. Next we went to Smith’s but I realized I need to collect more reusable bags because I came up short at check-out and had to resort to plastic bags.  Call it far-fetched but I feel like I am making a difference, like the future myself and my future family will be living in will be better because of the little changes I am making today.

My challenge to you: Reconsider your usual habit of bringing home bundles of plastic bags after your next Walmart trip. Go green! It will make all the difference- in the world.

Breastfeeding Tips for the Working Mother

November 16, 2010 at 12:30 am | Posted in Mother Category, Parent Category | 13 Comments
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If you want a healthy baby, breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for it. Not only does your baby benefit, but it can help you lose the extra “baby fat” you have been storing since your pregnancy.

But what is a mom to do if she is working or going to school?
There are many barriers women face when it comes to breastfeeding. When I am away from my baby, where will I breastfeed? Where will I store my milk? How will I be able to take enough breaks to pump?

With a little preparation, breastfeeding can continue to be a part of you and your baby’s routine, even when you return to work or school.

Some tips to consider:

  • Talk with your employer and see if you can have your pregnancy leave for at least 4-6 weeks after you give birth. This will help you to establish your milk supply.
  • Talk to your employer and other mother’s who have breastfed at work and see what worked for them. Do they have a room you could pump in? Is there a refrigerator you could place the milk in? Could you change your lunch break to a time when you need to pump also?
  • If there is not a refrigerator, you can bring a cooler with ice to keep it cool until you can get it to your baby.

It may be difficult but it is worth it! Your baby will thank you later.

Cavity-free Baby to Be!

November 10, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Posted in Mother Category | 18 Comments
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Ever wonder how brushing your pearly whites can have a positive effect on your baby? A mother’s health during pregnancy determines much of the baby’s health. The importance of dental hygiene is often overlooked during pregnancy. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that increase the risk of developing gum disease. Morning sickness also boasts a problem, as the acid from throwing up can make expecting mothers particularly vulnerable to cavities.

Brush, brush, brush!

Here are some simple tips to improve your dental health during pregnancy:

  • Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily.
  • Drink water throughout the day and go easy on the soda and other sugary drinks.
  • Eat a healthy diet (especially high in calcium- see? What did I say?). These nutrients will help keep your teeth strong as well as your baby’s.
  • Mix a tsp. of baking soda in a cup of water to rinse your mouth after vomiting and make sure to brush your teeth also. This will neutralize the acid in your mouth.

Remember, these healthy habits will help keep your teeth strong and healthy as well as your baby’s.

So remember what your mom always said and don’t forget to brush and floss!

Got milk? Getting Enough Calcium is Good for your Health

September 22, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Posted in Mother Category | 19 Comments
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Everybody knows that unborn and breastfeeding babies rely on their mothers for vitamins and minerals. But how much is enough? When it comes to calcium, it is recommended that all women 19+ (not just those pregnant or breastfeeding), get at least 1000 mg a day. Women ages 18 and younger should get 1300 mg. This is especially important when you are pregnant (especially in the last two trimesters) or breastfeeding because babies get all of the calcium they need to build healthy bones and teeth from you. If you are not taking in enough calcium, the baby will still take what  it needs but your body will be the one left without enough.

Although supplements are beneficial, it’s important to have a diet rich in calcium as well. This means stocking up on milk, cheeses, yogurt, broccoli and tofu. Some orange juice, cereals and crackers are fortified with this stuff as well. For other ideas of calcium filled foods check out the Best Bones Forever! website.

Getting enough calcium now will help prevent against osteoporosis later- you know, that disease that causes hip fractures and other nasty problems.

So do yourself and your baby a favorite- drink that milk!

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