Birth & Beginnings: childbirth conversations

Hello mothers and mothers-to-be! This blog focuses on pregnancy, childbirth, children, and parenting. Along with providing helpful information and resources, it is also a place to discuss choices and trends in these areas. The blog will inform and encourage mothers as we share and learn from each other. It is not a place to say that one opinion is better than another; instead it is a forum for camaraderie and for sharing personal experiences. So feel free to read, respond, and absorb information on a daily basis as together we traverse this world of motherhood.

A New Year - 12/31/2009 9:58 pm

The First step is Resignation - 10/12/2009 11:06 pm

Take the Risk! - 7/16/2009 8:02 pm

So you’re Pregnant, Now What? - 6/27/2009 12:49 am

Kid Event - 6/1/2009 10:56 pm

Traveling - 5/30/2009 10:21 pm

mommy blog - 5/18/2009 12:37 am

Events - 5/2/2009 10:28 am

Dogs and Babies

Man’s best friend they may be, but how will they relate to a baby? Canine temperaments vary greatly and are often swayed by factors such as breed and social history. It is common for couples to own a dog well before they ever decide to have children, which can lead to problems with the arrival of a new family member. It is important to do your research and prepare your dog for the changes which will inevitably occur with this transition.

When our three year old dog passed away just 5 months prior to our baby’s due date, we were devastated. Although we knew that it would have been hard on our dog to share us with the baby, we had been looking forward to them eventually becoming friends and growing up together. Having already decided that we needed a dog in our family, we began to search for that special puppy that would make a good baby companion.

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Heartburn Horrors

Many a pregnant woman has walked around with a gremlin in their chest named heartburn. There is even an old wives tale that mothers who experience extreme pregnancy heartburn, will birth babies with lots of hair on their heads. Regardless of how the heartburn may be affecting your baby, you are the one guaranteed to be feeling the sensations.

Why is this pregnancy discomfort so prevalent? Because of physical and chemical changes that occur during the course of pregnancy, your body will begin to internally shift and relax. This directly impacts your digestive track and esophagus. Hormones will cause the lower esophageal sphincter (the muscular valve between the stomach and esophagus) to relax to the point that stomach acids actually splash back up into the esophagus. Increases in gastric acid production, only serve to compound this problem. As if that’s not enough, the enlarged uterus can crowd the abdomen and create the same effect.

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Is your baby sick?

A sudden case of a runny nose in a child can leave you pondering your options. The following link provides an article on babies and the common cold However, I also suggest some natural remedies that you can do at home. For a cold, you may want to try steaming a room and holding your baby while in the steamy room. If your child is having a difficult time breathing, you can also elevate their head while they rest. Most cold medications have not been proven safe for children under two, so try the natural methods instead.

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Income Options for Parents

After the birth of a baby, comes the big decision of whether you should return to work. Economic conditions generally dictate how much income a family needs, thus raising some crucial considerations. Such as whether a parent should work outside of the home, work home-based, or not work at all. Many mothers feel like they do not have a choice, except to return to work after the birth of their baby. However, others have the opinion that after they pay the extravagant costs of full-time child care, they will not be bringing home enough income to validate the expense.

It’s an undeniable fact that two incomes are usually necessary in most households. However, moms and dads are seeking alternatives to traditional work situations and getting creative with how they manage their homes, children, and finances. To avoid paying for childcare, many parents are finding ways to stagger their work shifts, so that, one parent is always with the children. They still reap the benefits of two incomes, their children enjoy always being with a parent, and they don’t pay for child care. The downside is that spouses may not see each other often and the family may rarely be all together at once, but many people view these as temporary disadvantages.

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Exercising with your Toddler

It is vital that you get out and exercise and interact with your toddler. Not only will you both be healthier, but you will also be happier. In Anchorage there are toddler gyms and recreational programs, water/swimming programs, and even yoga programs for parents and toddlers. See the following link for exercise ideas that you can do in your own home with your toddlers.

If you have tips or ideas on exercising with a toddler, please share them.

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Kudos to Those who Parent Alone

Recently, I had a crazy and stressful day without a single break in it that just seemed to escalate as it went on. This is not so unusual or out of the ordinary in many ways for a mom, but it was especially awkward since we did not see my husband all day long. I didn’t realize how much it would affect us. My toddler and I went about our normal day to day routines, but at some point patience wore thin. Even the dog seemed out of sorts. By the end of the day, my stress level had reached its zenith and I was missing my husband and the help that he provides.

I didn’t realize how much we act as a team daily, until he was suddenly unavailable for an extended period of time. We look out for each other’s well being by ensuring that the other gets a nap, a walk, a break, or food when needed. We do all this without consciously thinking about it because it’s what works and it prevents either parent from burning out. Taking turns and evenly dispersing responsibilities, makes for a happy family in our case. Of course we do what we have to do and if I were a single parent, I would certainly buck up and move forward, but I just want to take a moment to recognize those who are in this situation right now.

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The Right to Choose a VBAC

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (pronounced Vee-back) draws a lot of controversy in the field of birthing professionals. Many mothers are being told that because they had a prior cesarean delivery, they can not or should not attempt a vaginal delivery. However, it stands to reason that the mother should have the right to be educated and to choose if she would like to have her subsequent children vaginally.

The main concern with VBAC is that a uterine rupture will occur during the process of labor and birth. This is a valid concern as a uterine rupture can constitute an emergency situation. However, recent research proves that in many instances it is in fact, safer for the mother and the baby alike to experience a vaginal birth instead of a cesarean. There are less medical and surgical risks, a shorter recovery, it is more cost effective, and there are numerous positive psychological factors that result from a VBAC as well.

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Wardrobe Woes of a Mom

Every mom will undergo body changes in shape, size, and form as she goes through pregnancies and raises children. The question is, how much of that clothing should she retain for future use?

I have found that I need three wardrobes to keep me functional during these different stages: normal every day wear, business wear, and maternity wear. Then there are the various sub categories of “winter clothes and summer clothes”, “nursing-a-baby clothes”, “fat clothes and skinny clothes”, and “clothes that need to be hemmed, tailored, or dry-cleaned”.

Organizing a wardrobe in the midst of mommy hood can be a challenge. I often find myself swapping the clothing in the closet for a different set or pulling out the clothes I don’t wear anymore and need to donate. The goal is to find as many multi-functional pieces of clothing that you can and to load your closet up with pieces that will work on many levels.

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Just a reminder for those in the Anchorage area that the Women's show is at the Sullivan Arena this weekend. Also, the Baby Fair is at the Eagan Convention Center May 3rd only. These are great ways to connect to different local businesses and you will usually find booths relating to pregnancy, babies, and children of all ages, as well as mom and family.

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Who Will Deliver This Baby?

This question is a weighted one for most moms-to-be. There are several matters to consider when selecting a primary care provider for the birth of your baby. Start by doing some soul searching. What values and priorities do you hold and what kind of birth experience are you looking for? Time and time again I have heard the sad stories of someone staying with a care provider who they really weren’t comfortable with or of feeling like they were pressured by the provider’s personal feelings on the subject of birth. So please select carefully. This person is more than just a “baby catcher” they will have an impact on the whole birthing experience.

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Not Feeling Well?

If you have ever been pregnant or nursing a baby and taken ill, you quickly realize that your options for medicine are limited. There are many medications that are simply not safe to take in pregnancy or when lactating. Since I have been in one of these two states continuously since February 2006, you would think that I would have adjusted to this fact. I have done well with certain lifestyle shifts such as limiting my caffeine intake, exercising, and nutrition. But every time I come down with an awful case of the flu or a bad cold, I begin to wish for the days when I could simply take a strong medicine that would miraculously make be feel better or at least help me to get through the day.

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Diapering Dilemma

The use of the cloth diaper is among one of the most rapidly accelerating parenting trends that are making a comeback today. Now with greater improvements in availability, style, and ease of use, mothers of all ages are re-thinking the idea of alternative diapering. There is a definite pattern emerging in society that lends itself toward a more natural childrearing approach. However, it does not mean that all parents will see eye-to-eye on these matters. Parents are learning that they have options and that it is good to ask questions and seek out their own values as they make decisions on behalf of their little ones.

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American Pregnancy Association

If you are pregnant or recently had a baby, you may want to visit the American Pregnancy Association for information and articles. They also provide a great checklist on what to take to the hospital when you go into labor.

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Managing Stretch Marks

What causes stretch marks is not as important to pregnant women as what can be done to manage them. Causes range from rapid weight gain to genetics to hormones. What we as pregnant women usually wish for is a miracle. Some women truly do not have stretch marks appear throughout their pregnancy or they are very minimal. While others, have a body that they do not recognize afterwards.

Certain women develop a sense of low self-esteem and body image. While other mothers proudly show off their stretch marks and state that they are warrior wounds of motherhood! A spouse’s opinion of her post-pregnancy body can make or break a woman in many cases. My husband took one look at my stretch marks and exclaimed that it looked like a cool tattoo of an eagle on my stomach. Although this wasn’t exactly the compliment I was looking for, it was nice to know that they were not as big a deal to him as they were to me and they did eventually fade.

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Flying and Small Children

In my son’s short 16 month life, we have flown out of state three times already. We took trips when he was 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months and flew to places like Florida and Maine. Let me tell you that from Alaska to Florida or Maine is a very long way to begin with, but with an infant…it’s monumental.

We have planned one last “kids-under-two-fly-free” trip and he will be 18 months. However, it doesn’t get easier as they get older. In fact, it seems to get more difficult. One trick that I adopted right away was to buy a new toy, food item, or book for your child and hide it away until desperation strikes while on the airplane. Sometimes this has worked better than other times. You really have to anticipate what your child will want in advance and you can’t test the toy out to see if it’s something they will be drawn to for hours or not.

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The Dad’s Pre-Conception Role

This is an excerpt from an article on that I found interesting.

“When it comes to fertility and diet, men don't get off scott-free. Lisa Mazzullo, an ob-gyn and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, recommends that fathers-to-be take a daily multivitamin that contains zinc and selenium for at least three months before conception. Studies suggest these minerals aid in healthy sperm development. Why the three-month lag time? It takes that long to develop healthy sperm. The sperm your partner ejaculates today was actually created 90 days ago, says Amy Ogle, a registered dietician in San Diego, California, and co-author of Before Your Pregnancy: A 90-Day Guide for Couples on How to Prepare for a Healthy Conception. "Genetic preparation is going on during sperm development, so that's pretty heavy stuff."

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Moms Must Laugh!

It’s easy to say “learn to see the humor in life”, but it’s essential advice for a mom. Between the mistakes you, your spouse, and the grandparents will make and the crazy predicaments that your children will get into, you must laugh. Why do I insist on the necessity of humor as a mom? Because I have seen many mothers take themselves and their children too seriously and inevitably they seem to be more stressed out and unable to let go of past events.

In some of my pre-parenting spare moments my husband and I would occasionally watch America’s Funniest Home Videos. Okay, sometimes the kid mistakes were cute, but I always wondered how any sane parent could stand there with a video camera watching the chaos ensue. I watched everything from a toddler trying to pour milk onto her cereal and the whole gallon ending up on the floor, to the child trying to get rid of his soup by dumping it in the VCR. Then there were the parenting goof ups where diaper changes and how-to lessons turned bad in a matter of moments. It just made me swear to myself that I would not stand by and video tape this kind of behavior.

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Boy or Girl?

The question is “to find out, or not to find out?” I am curious about other people’s opinion on this matter as it is a real and present dilemma in my life at the moment. I know several women who said that on principal they don’t want to know until the baby is born whether it is a boy or girl. I never fully understood that decision and so we found out at 20 weeks with my first son.

This time however, I am considering waiting until that important day. Of course I will say that I knew someone who didn’t find out her baby’s gender, but still had her baby shower prior to the birth. She wound up with the most horrid neon green and neon orange gifts and baby clothing. When she had her baby girl, the poor child was always dressed in neon! That’s when I suddenly understood why people want to know before the baby arrives.

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Congratulations Governor Palin

It’s admirable that our governor waited as long as she did to announce her pregnancy; and even more so that she did not let her symptoms get in the way of her responsibilities. I know what a toll pregnancy can take on your mind, body, and emotions and how a demanding job will often amplify this predicament. Some pregnancy discomforts are fairly tolerable such as heartburn, sensitivity to scents, and weight gain. However, other symptoms may be more severe such as morning sickness and fatigue. What I can’t imagine is dealing with any combination of these symptoms while in office as governor.

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Blessed Second Trimester

They call it the “Golden Trimester” for a reason. The second trimester is often referenced as being between the 14th and the 28th week of pregnancy. Most women are over the majority of their morning sickness/nausea and extreme fatigue by the end of the first trimester. Not to mention the need to always be near a restroom greatly diminishes at this point. As a woman enters the second trimester, she may even begin to feel human again and to really focus on the fact that her body is growing a baby. It is in the second trimester that moms usually feel the first “quickening” flutters of a baby inside.

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