Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Awesome Maternity Costumes

There are very few times that dressing up while pregnant can be fun.  Halloween, however, can be a blast!  Here are just a few ideas for costumes that moms-to-be can easily throw together:

1. Bun in the Oven
This costume will elicit laughs from everyone that sees you!  Simply take a large box, flip it over, and cut the flaps off.  This will serve as the bottom of the costume.  Cut a hole in the top for your head, holes in the sides for your arms.  Paint the box your desired color, but leave a spot in the middle front for the window of the oven. Draw coils on the top that look like a stovetop.  Paint or affix knobs.  Some moms will also use one of the pieces or cut-off cardboard, glue it to the top, and paint a knob panel on it.  On the front of the box, paint a window, and paint a bun inside.  Some will cut out the window, tie a string around a real bun, and glue the end of the string to the underside top of the box, letting the bun hang in the window.  Top this costume off with a chef’s hat and a few kitchen tools such as a whisk and spoon and you’re ready to go!

2. Peas in the Pod
Having a pea in the pod is a fun metaphor to play on while pregnant. Purchase a green shirt, hoodie, and leggings.  Go to the local craft store and purchase Styrofoam balls that vary in size, like two small (The smallest being the size of a grapefruit, two medium, and two large.  Also, purchase green craft paint or spray paint that is a few shades lighter than the color of the outfit.  Paint the Styrofoam balls and affix them to the front of the leggings and the hoodie via Velcro or hot glue, leaving room in the middle for your belly to be the largest pea.   You can also purchase a yard of green fabric, and cut it into two long strips.  Cut a hole in one end for your head.  Mark on the strip where your belly is at its largest, and glue the Styrofoam balls to the long strip, leaving room for your belly to be the largest pea.  You can also cut a hole in the strip to stick your belly through.

3. Paint Your Belly

Moms-to-be are embracing their inner artist by painting their bellies.  Some pare painting baby skeletons, jack-o-lanterns, or even baby witches onto their mid-sections.  You can go simple or elaborate with this-one mom dressed as mother earth, creating a costume full of leaves and furry creatures, and painted a beautiful globe onto her belly.  Another mom dressed in all black, painted the sides of her belly black, and then painted a neon yellow “Bump” sign onto her tummy.  The opportunities are endless!

Monday, September 30, 2013

New Toxins to Avoid While Pregnant

It’s well known that you should avoid harmful chemicals and substances such as paints and BPA’s while pregnant, but now there are even more products that are proving to do more damage than good when it comes to keeping you and your baby safe while pregnant.  Here’s a few things you may not have on your “Avoid” list that you probably should:

1. Beauty Salon Products
Every woman loves to get a little pampering; unfortunately, however, that pampering may be costing you and your precious baby. Salon products contain a laundry list of chemicals such as formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, and toluene-all of which are known to cause reproductive harm.   These products are found in many common salon products such as artificial nails, hair extensions, and hair treatments.

2. Non-stick cookware
We all fell for the fad of non-stick cookware like Teflon.  Unfortunately, this product starts to chip and peel off after a few years of use.  The Teflon itself contains perfluorooctanoic acid, which is linked to cancer and developmental problems.  When your stove heats up, the Teflon releases this acid into the food you eat.  If throwing away your pans is not an option, make a commitment to keep your burners on medium or low to decrease the chances of this acid leaking into your food.

3. Synthetic Fragrances
Air fresheners may seem like a staple on the household shopping list, however any product that contains synthetic fragrance can have mysterious-and dangerous-ingredients.  Fake fragrances contain literally hundreds of cancer-causing chemicals, so always be sure to check labels, even for products that say fragrance free.

4. Triclosan
Originally used as an antibacterial product, Triclosan is slowly being phased out of products due to its questionable nature.  When mixed with water-especially tap water containing chloride, Triclosan emits chloroform.  This chemical can be found in everything from toothpastes to clothes and kitchen items.  Not only is it a danger to you, but Triclosan can also be absorbed by the body and transferred via breast milk and blood, so even an unborn child is at risk.

5. Questionable Plastic
Research is showing that typical polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is a hormone disrupter, and can cause reproductive and developmental harm.  Always check to see if plastics you are using have the recycle sign with the number 4 or 5.  These plastics are PVC free.  PVC can be found in everything from your trash cans to your shower curtains-so do a thorough check!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Introducing Foods to Your Infant

Many parents of newborns struggle to figure out when the right time is to introduce foods to their baby.  Studies are beginning to show that the longer parents put off introducing foods, the lower the chances of allergic reactions can be-especially with dairy.  Also, starting baby foods too early may leave the infant lacking in nutrition and vitamins.

Most guidelines say to wait 6 months to a year before starting foods.  A popular saying is, “Foods before one are just for fun.”  Some children may show an interest in foods before the one year mark.
Many times interest is indicated by watching an adult eat, reaching for a spoon, or making “want” noises during mealtime.

Always ask your pediatrician before introducing foods-including cereal.

When beginning to introduce foods into your baby’s diet, always choose baby foods-either homemade or commercially available.  Start with vegetables and fruits.  While it may be tempting to give your baby a variety of foods, it’s important to give your child one food for 5-7 days so you can watch for allergic reactions.  An allergic reaction can include a rash, upset stomach, wheezing, diarrhea, or trouble breathing.

Many parents make their own baby foods.  Most vegetables and fruits must be cooked before feeding, except for bananas.  If you decide to make your own baby food, choose organic fruits and vegetables.  Use a reputable site to find baby food recipes.  Never add salt, sugar, or other seasonings to baby food.  Also, dispense the baby food into a container before feeding.  Never feed a baby directly from the jar (Unless the whole jar will be consumed), as germs and bacteria will begin to develop.

Always wait until the child is one year old before introducing the following foods: egg whites, peanut butter, other nut butters, oranges, grapefruit, other citrus fruits, shrimp, lobster, and other shellfish.  Also, never feed a child under one year old honey, as it can cause severe food poisoning.

Use common sense when it comes to feeding your baby.  Never give a child under three years old foods that can cause choking, including carrots, grapes, raisins, jelly beans, hot dogs, hard candies, or nuts.

When beginning foods, make it easy on yourself by putting a bib or food-catching bib on the child.  Also, putting a drop cloth down or high chair mat will also help ease the clean-up process.  Always have washcloths or burp-rags close by.

Try to make feeding fun.  Play games, tell stories, and make funny faces and sounds while the child eats.   Encourage eating by cheering when the child successfully eats a mouthful.  After eating, make sure to encourage the child and give plenty of hugs and kisses to communicate a job well done.  Having a stressful, difficult mealtime may lead to harder feeding times down the road.

Remember, before one year old, foods should be a fun time to include the child in mealtime.  It is a time for the child to experience different textures and tastes.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer Pregnancy Tips!

While summer may seem like a wonderful time to become or be pregnant, it also comes with certain drawbacks that expectant mothers might not foresee.  During the hot summer months, your body quickly overheats, and disastrous complications may follow.  Here are a few tips to keep you and your baby belly healthy this summer:

(via http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4139/4925358935_accdb0db5e.jpg)

1. Wear Sunscreen
We’ve all been hearing this for years, but it is incredibly important to remember to slather on the sunscreen (At least SPF 15) before heading outside.  Sunburns raise your body temperature even after being outside, which can cause overheating and exhaustion.

2. Stay Out (Of the Sun!)
The sun’s most dangerous rays beat down between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  Try to avoid being in direct sunlight during these times.  The heat can quickly raise your body temperature, taking essential blood away from the growing baby to keep your body cool.  If at any point you start sweating profusely, feel dizzy, or faint, go inside immediately.  Always have a plan for heat exhaustion, including an air conditioned area to retreat to, light snacks, and plenty of water.

3. Keep Hydrated
With hormone fluctuations and a growing body can increase dehydration occurrence.  It’s important to keep hydrated during the summer, so take a water bottle with you where-ever you go.  If you dislike the taste of water, add in organic flavorings or opt for water with mint leaves and cucumbers in it.

4. Air Travel
If there a plans for air travel during summer, nausea and cramped quarters may be unavoidable.  When booking an airline ticket, make sure to book an aisle seat, or ask the stewardess at the boarding gate if there are any aisle seats available.  Having an aisle seat enables you to make quick trips to the bathroom when needed. When in the airplane, be sure to take frequent walks-every two hours is optimal.  Many times, sitting with your feet on the floor can caused swollen ankles; if you are pregnant, the chances of uncomfortable, dangerous swelling, along with painful cramps, is much higher.  Be sure to walk as much as possible during flight.  If there are empty seats available, try to lay down and put your feet up. 

If you easily become nauseous.  Ask your doctor about nausea preventatives, or over the counter options like nausea lollipops, mints, or wristbands.  Be sure to look up hospitals near the airports and destinations.

5. Car Travel
Before setting off on a car trip, make sure to be prepared in case of emergency.  Along with extra drinking water, keep some snacks with you.  Always have your cell phone charged, as well as clear directions to the destination.  If the trip will be to a new area, be sure to have the location and phone numbers of hospitals at your destination and along the route.  While driving, stop the car every 3-4 hours for walking breaks.  Try to lay the seat down when possible and lift your feet off the floor. Doing ankle and foot exercises is also advised, to keep fluid moving.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Childbirth as a Single Mother

Being a single mother by choice is a brave decision. Many Choice Moms face judgment and criticism from others. The challenging part is that the journey simply begins with the pregnancy! Giving birth and transitioning into motherhood are two huge challenges that Choice Moms must face; but with some preparation and good friends, you can make the process as easy as possible.

A key factor in giving birth as a single mother is to make your wishes abundantly clear to the nursing team. Also, letting them know you are a single mother up front is important, and will clear up any confusion during the birthing process. Create a birth plan that explains any important details, including people to allow in the room, umbilical cord cutting, breastfeeding as soon as possible, etc. Share your birthing plan with those you want to have in the room during the birth so they can be advocates on your behalf. Before birth, take birthing classes with the individual(s) you’d like in attendance, so they can be prepared and ready to assist you.

Join online forums for other single mothers, so you have a place to share your concerns and thoughts in a non-judgmental environment. Community support groups are also recommended. There are many groups geared toward play dates and community interaction for single mothers. Join these before giving birth so you can make connections with other mothers who’ve been through childbirth before. Get recommendations for pediatricians, daycares, and even hand-me-downs.

Having the nursery set up before the birth is important as well. Having meals pre-prepared and sitting in your freezer will make fixing meals easy. Choose foods like casseroles and soups that are quickly reheated.

Ask friends to stay with you at home after the birth to help you with household chores and baby care. Choosing friends that have children, or know how to care for newborns, is a wonderful idea. These friends can teach you how to bathe your baby, when to feed, etc. They can also assist with keeping the house clean and preparing meals. This time should be spent bonding with your new baby, and taking care of yourself.

Create a routine as soon as possible upon arriving home with your newborn. This routine should include getting both of you dressed, any after-care procedures from your doctor, napping, playing, feeding, and bathing. A routine will help you keep motivated and ensure that you and your child are getting the care both of you need. Keep a close eye on your emotions. If you feel depressed or angry, call your doctor. Post-partum depression affects over 60% of new mothers, and there are medications that can be prescribed to alleviate it. Another important thing to have on hand is phone numbers for friends to call in case you need a break. A baby’s crying, especially yours, can be extremely disturbing and frustrating. Have phone numbers of friends ready so you can call them and have them come over to help or give you a break.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Being a Single Mother By Choice

In the fast paced modern world, many women are finding themselves in prime child-conceiving years, without a mate.  While some may see this is an unfortunate circumstance, there is a new trend emerging: single motherhood by choice.

Gone are the days of stigma surrounding single motherhood.  Many women are changing their outlook on the typical family of three, and starting on a journey to birth on their own.  Deep in their hearts they know that they are ready for motherhood without the help from a partner.  This process takes time, money, and planning; not to mention emotional strength.   Being a single mother by choice comes with a definite stigma.  Dealing with critical reactions and questioning attitudes will be the new normal.  Being confident in your decision, and having financial and emotional fortitude will help you overcome the nay-sayers.  Doctors may turn you away, and friends may drop off the radar.  Be prepared.  The friends that are supportive and loving despite their personal views on your decisions are friends you should keep.

Finding a sperm donor may be one of the toughest decisions to make on your road to becoming a single mother.  Check with local banks and online resources to find a sperm donor that fits your criteria.  IVF and other fertility procedures can be involved and painful; but this is a small price to pay for the reward of holding your child in your arms.  Talk with your doctor about the best options available for you based on your age, health, and lifestyle.

When planning your future, make sure to have back-up plans in place.  This includes saving up enough money to survive for at least 3 months in case of employment issues.    This emergency fund should include every expense: from insurance to groceries.

Another important aspect of being a single mother is having support efforts in place.  There are many community groups for single mothers.  Search local online group listings along with community calendars to find some play groups and single mother support efforts.  There are many internet forums as well that offer mothers a private, judgement-free environment to seek support and advice.
Being a single mother is difficult; make sure to have time for yourself.  This time can be for reading a book, getting pampered at a local spa, or taking a well deserved nap.  Single mothers need time to unwind just as much as married mothers.

A male role model is important in a child’s life; this is undisputable.  If you don’t have a male role model suitable in your life, ask friends and family to introduce you.  Always get background checks on anyone you leave your children alone with; babysitters or friends.  Let your children grow close to these male influences; encourage them to emulate their role models.

Above all, be proud of yourself and your child.  Foster an environment of love and learning.  No matter how difficult situations may become, be confident in your decision to become a single mother, and share your love and strength with your new family.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Baby Proofing Your Home

When your baby arrives, your days are spent changing diapers, pacifying cries, and hands-on play.  Many parents overlook the baby-proofing stage until the child is already able to pull up or grab grandma’s heirloom china off of the bookshelf.  This is quite understandable, as the first months will literally fly by, but this is the best time to take a few hours each week to overhaul your house into a baby friendly haven.  When first tackling baby proofing, go room by room and make a list of what you need to get.  Go online to find products that aren’t available in stores.  Always make sure to buy extra, as little items like outlet covers tend to get lost.  Here are a few tips when baby proofing your home, listed by area:

Entire Home:
  • Move all items you do not want pulled onto the floor.  This can include lamps, knick knacks, or computers.  Moving these items to unreachable areas is an important part of avoiding injuries.
  • Secure all cords so your child cannot chew or pull on them.
  • Install drawer locks.  There are drawer locks available for every type of drawer.  Put locks on all drawers and cabinets to ensure your child doesn’t open the cupboard to dangerous chemicals or sharp objects.
  • Use doorknob covers.  While doorknob covers may seem inconvenient, having your toddler lock themselves in a room is terrifying.  Install child-proof door knobs or dead bolts onto all doors that lead outside.  You can also purchase doorframe shields to help protect your child’s fingers from swiftly closing doors.
  • Install outlet covers over each outlet to prevent your child from attempting to shove items into the outlets.
  • Put gates at the bottom and top of each staircase.  If your handrails have gaps larger than 3 inches, install a transparent handrail guard.  
  • Anchor all of baby’s furniture to the wall.  Over 19,000 children are admitted to the emergency room after a tip-over accident; some tragically ending in death.  Even a 5 year old can mistakenly pull too hard on a dresser drawer, or try to retrieve something from the top of the furniture and become trapped underneath.  Purchase furniture anchors or straps that secure the furniture to the wall.
Living Room:
  • Install edge cushioning around sharp corners found on coffee tables, end tables, or entertainment centers.
  • If you have a fireplace, install a fireplace guard or gate to keep curious children away from ashes and smoke inhalation.  
  • Use furniture straps or wall-anchors to secure furniture to the wall.
  • Always keep recliners in the closed position when not in use.
  • Make sure all cutlery, silverware, chemicals, and alcohol are out of reach.  Lock them in cabinets using the aforementioned cabinet locks
  • Install a stove guard to prevent your child from burning themselves; and install knob guards to keep your child from turning the stove on.  Try to use the back burners to cook as often as possible.  
  • Remove all swinging lids from trash cans and replace them with solid lids to prevent your child from getting into the garbage.
  • Install a toilet lock.  Children can drown in unsecured toilets.
  • Turn your water heater down to 120 or below to avoid scalding.  Always test the water in the bathtub before bathing your child.
  • If needed, install faucet and knob covers.
  • As with the kitchen, always make sure that medicines, chemicals, and electrical items are in a locked drawer/cabinet and inaccessible to your child.
  • Purchase non-slip mats and bathroom rugs to avoid slips and falls.
  • A garage should be off-limits to children, as most garages contain chemicals, sharp objects, and electrical appliances-not to mention vehicles.  But just in case, install a sensor on your garage door that enables it to sense when something is in its path when closing or opening.
  • Install a child-proof doorknob to keep children out of the garage.

Many parents will believe that these tips are extreme.  But investing in these safeguards now will help keep your child safe from dangers that you may not be aware of before it’s too late.