Mothering http://www.mothering.com/articles The Home for Natural Family Living Fri, 12 Feb 2016 21:56:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Home for Natural Family Living no The Home for Natural Family Living Mothering http://www.mothering.com/articles/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://www.mothering.com/articles When Kids Won’t Eat: What We Can Do About Pediatric Feeding Struggles http://www.mothering.com/articles/kids-wont-eat-bringing-awareness-pediatric-feeding-struggles/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/kids-wont-eat-bringing-awareness-pediatric-feeding-struggles/#comments Fri, 12 Feb 2016 20:52:39 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=121770 The New York Times Magazine recently published an informative and powerful piece “When Your Baby Won’t Eat” written by Virginia Sole-Smith that exposes her family’s experience with their daughter’s intense pediatric feeding struggles. In the piece, Sole-Smith shares her experiences caring for her daughter Violet, who was born with congenital heart defects that required multiple … Continue reading When Kids Won’t Eat: What We Can Do About Pediatric Feeding Struggles

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boy_spoonThe New York Times Magazine recently published an informative and powerful piece “When Your Baby Won’t Eat” written by Virginia Sole-Smith that exposes her family’s experience with their daughter’s intense pediatric feeding struggles.

In the piece, Sole-Smith shares her experiences caring for her daughter Violet, who was born with congenital heart defects that required multiple surgeries over the first few years of her life, including two open heart surgeries in her first year. Sole-Smith articulates how Violet developed and overcame a severe and life altering form of oral defensiveness (where she refused to eat) as a complicated and unforeseen side-effect associated with her medical trauma her first few weeks of life. Sole-Smith shares her struggles and triumphs finding a child-centered, developmental approach that worked to help to wean Violet off of her feeding tube and to help her regain her instinct to eat.

If you are experiencing feeding struggles with your child, know that you are not alone.  Feeding issues with children are common, and can be both complicated (including medical, sensory, oral motor and behavioral issues) and stressful.  A child’s resistance to food can be as can be as extreme as in Violet’s situation, or as typical as a three-year-old picky eater.  

Here is a list of helpful resources that Virginia Sole-Smith created to support families struggling with a wide range of feeding issues with their child:

The following is reprinted with permission from Virginia Sole-Smith – read more at virginiasolesmith.com

Advice for Feeding Any Kid:

  • Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding is now gospel in my house. It’s both brilliantly simple and sometimes, very hard to execute. (Can you really trust your child to self-regulate when they’re ignoring their entire dinner, or conversely, eating their body weight in grapes?) But whenever I start to waver on something related to feeding, I come back here and find clarity.
  • Dinner: A Love Story; more awesome recipes and realistic guidance for how to actually make dinner happen on a regular basis.
  • Fat Nutritionist; actually, this one is advice for feeding any person; Michelle Allison primarily focuses on adults, who, for one reason or another, need to learn to eat again.

Advice for When Your Kid Won’t Eat:

  • Feeding Matters is a phenomenal parent-founded nonprofit devoted to raising awareness about all pediatric feeding problems. Their Feeding Questionnaire is where to start if you can’t tell whether your child is truly struggling or “just a picky eater.”
  • Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating, by Katja Rowell, MD and Jenny Hyatt McGlothlin, SLP. An incredible guide to overcoming selective eating, food aversions, and feeding disorders, written by two brilliant child-centered therapists.
  • Mealtime Notions, the website of Marsha Dunn Klein, is a tremendous resource for articles, advice from other parents, and products to help with specific feeding issues. (Violet personally endorses the Num Num Dippers.)
  • The article stash on Suzanne Evans Morris’ site is also a bottomless well of inspiration and guidance.
  • For folks in the Hudson Valley: Our rockstar therapist was Lynne Westgate, senior speech pathologist with MidHudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Advice for When Your Kid is on a Feeding Tube:

See all of the above, plus…

Note:  These resources are only meant to provide information; you should check with your doctor before pursuing any type of therapy for your child.

Image: Insights Unspoken 


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Should I Detox or Not Before Trying to Conceive? http://www.mothering.com/articles/should-i-detox-or-not-before-trying-to-conceive/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/should-i-detox-or-not-before-trying-to-conceive/#comments Fri, 12 Feb 2016 20:32:10 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=123082 This is a sponsored post from Fairhaven Health. There is no getting around the fact that we live in a toxic chemical soup. Agrochemical corporations are fighting tooth and nail to inhibit legislation that would force them to test chemicals before putting them in the environment and in our food. We are unwitting participants in … Continue reading Should I Detox or Not Before Trying to Conceive?

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Couple hiking through the countryside

This is a sponsored post from Fairhaven Health.

There is no getting around the fact that we live in a toxic chemical soup. Agrochemical corporations are fighting tooth and nail to inhibit legislation that would force them to test chemicals before putting them in the environment and in our food. We are unwitting participants in the largest uncontrolled experiment in history.

Even worse is the fact that consumers are left to do their own label research and determine which hazardous chemicals are lurking in their everyday products. Scents can be considered trade secrets and consequently hundreds of ingredients can be lumped together under the heading of “fragrance.” Companies must disclose certain active ingredients, or substances that the government considers “chemicals of known concern,” but they aren’t required to list everything in the product. Consumers can easily avoid products with a “danger” or “warning” label, but, unfortunately, those labels aren’t nearly as widespread as they should be.

Toxic_Overload_EDCs

The Sneaky Things that Endocrine Disrupters Do

Chemicals known specifically as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are the most egregious when it comes to negative effects on fertility and fetuses. Because they are capable of mimicking hormones, endocrine disrupters can wreak havoc on systems that rely on our real hormones. EDCs are capable of increasing or decreasing production of certain hormones, converting one hormone into another, blocking the signaling between hormones, telling cells to die prematurely, and clogging the organs that produce hormones.

How EDCs Affect Your Fertility and Your Baby

The human reproductive system relies heavily on sex hormones to let nature do its work. It’s not hard to imagine that exposure to hormone-altering chemicals can greatly extend the time it takes to get pregnant. Irregular cycles and poor sperm health take a heavy toll on trying to conceive efforts.

Samples of fetal cord blood and bowel movements in newborns show shocking numbers of endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as dioxins, phthalates, pesticides, Teflon byproducts, flame retardants, mercury, lead, and even DDT, a pesticide that has been banned in the US for many years. These chemicals are known to impact IQ, neurodevelopment, and genitalia-related birth defects. Hypospadias, a condition in which the urethra is located on the underside of the penis, now affects about one in every 250 male children in the US. EDCs are blamed for increasing these kinds of birth defects.

EDC Table

Avoidance is a Great First Step

We don’t often pay attention to problems until they affect us directly, but chemical exposure is one problem that should certainly be dealt with as proactively as possible before trying to conceive. If pregnancy is on the horizon for you, take steps now to reduce your exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals, as these toxins not only impact your chances of getting pregnant, but also have long-term health consequences for your offspring. Admittedly, avoiding EDCs is easier said than done, given these chemicals are found everywhere in our daily life, and are not always easy to spot on product labels. To help you get started, read on for 7 practical steps you can take now to start reducing your exposure to EDCs:

  1. Become familiar with the names of the most common EDCs. Chemical names tend to a mouthful, and this is definitely true when it comes to EDCs. Here is a list of some of the most common offenders: BPA, Phthalates, Parabens, Dioxins, Atrazine, Lead, Mercury, Arsenic, Organophsophates, Perchlorates, Perflourinated chemicals, and Glycol ethers. See chart for more info.
  2. Eat organic foods. Buy organic produce, dairy products, and meats whenever possible. If you do eat conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, make sure you wash and peel them first.
  3. Drink and bathe in filtered water. Sounds extreme, right? Especially the bathing part. Unfiltered water is a source of many toxins, and your skin is your largest organ. The good news is that whole-house water filters are becoming much more affordable with a fully installed price point starting at around $600.
  4. Avoid eating seafood contaminated with mercury. Our oceans are contaminated with mercury due to burning coal, which means that much of the seafood we eat is also contaminated with mercury. Eat fish at home where you can be confident of what you have purchased. Stick with wild salmon, sardines, trout and shrimp and especially avoid farm-raised fish and any type of swordfish.
  5. Buy non-toxic shampoos, soaps, lotions and cosmetics. Choose products that are labeled as paraben- and phthalate-free. If you have a product that you love to use, and want to learn more about its ingredients, search the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.
  6. Avoid water bottles and food packaging that contain BPA, and never microwave food in a plastic container. Oh, and say no to that cash register receipt – a surprising source of BPA.
  7. Go “green” with your cleaning products. Look for products that are advertised as VOc-free and USDA Certified Biobased.

Make Detox Part of Your Preconception Plans

In addition to reducing your exposure, you can set the stage for optimal fertility and pregnancy wellness by supporting your body’s natural detoxification systems through a dedicated “detox.” A detox of any kind focuses on boosting the performance of the body’s own detoxification systems, namely the liver and intestines. Your liver is the hardest working organ in your body, performing over 450 essential functions each day. In what turns out to be a vicious cycle, the toxins that the liver works so hard to excrete take a toll on the liver itself. Exposure to pesticides, heavy metals, chemicals, and air pollution cause your liver to age faster, making it impossible for the liver to keep up with its heavy workload. It can’t heal itself and regenerate liver cells, so it starts to deteriorate and shrink.

Your intestinal tract, known affectionately as your “gut”, also plays a fundamental role in your immune system, acting as a first line of defense against toxins and disease-causing agents. Your gut is tasked with the dirty job of processing and eliminating waste and chemicals from food, as well as serving as a drain for toxins you absorb through your skin and lungs. To do its job well, the gut enlists the help of millions of little workers, in the form of “friendly bacteria.” A healthy, efficient gut is lined with friendly bacteria that aid in digestion and support the immune system by preventing disease-causing agents from penetrating the intestinal wall and producing nutrients your immune system needs to work properly. But, like the liver, your gut can become overworked and tired by the daily onslaught of chemicals, and, often, the gut’s little helpers are in short supply, creating a perfect storm of toxic burden.

Simply reducing your exposure to toxins can give your liver and intestines a bit of a break from the hard work of detoxification. But, if you are planning to conceive, reducing exposure isn’t enough. Consider giving your detoxification systems some extra support by supplementing with natural products that help your liver and gut do their job more efficiently – before your body begins the intense and miraculous work of developing a human. Lots of research exists on natural detox products – here’s a list of areas to get you started: liver support herbs such as milk thistle and dandelion root, prebiotics and probiotics for restoring friendly bacteria in your gut, specialty nutrients like calcium-d-glucarate for better liver metabolism, and antioxidants to mitigate free radical damage caused when toxins are broken down by the body. Remember to let your healthcare provider know about any supplements you are taking and to stop using detox supplements once you become pregnant.

If parenthood is in your future, give your baby the best start in life by detoxing before you see that positive on a pregnancy test.


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Well-Meaning Parenting Advice: The Good and the Bad http://www.mothering.com/articles/well-meaning-advice-becomes-crippling/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/well-meaning-advice-becomes-crippling/#comments Fri, 12 Feb 2016 18:48:34 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=122458 It starts early, unsolicited parenting advice. Probably before you ever got pregnant. Maybe even before you started dating. Usually the floodgates open when you announce your pregnancy. Anyone who ever had a baby thinks you should use the same doctor they did, put the same absolute must-haves on your registry as they had, knows what … Continue reading Well-Meaning Parenting Advice: The Good and the Bad

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Bree maternity

It starts early, unsolicited parenting advice. Probably before you ever got pregnant. Maybe even before you started dating. Usually the floodgates open when you announce your pregnancy. Anyone who ever had a baby thinks you should use the same doctor they did, put the same absolute must-haves on your registry as they had, knows what you should never do, knows what you should always do, etc. Once you join the motherhood club, there are plenty of veterans waiting to provide guidance.

Those first few weeks with a baby can be like the first day of 7th grade for a lot of moms, even if you feel confident when you leave the house and you know you’re going to the right place, you start to question yourself if you don’t do what most of the people you know are doing or if they look at you funny. Throw in postpartum hormones and breastfeeding struggles and a mama may be willing to take advice from anyone!

But as with any group, the principles and methods of each member are going to vary greatly. So how is a mama to know what advice to take?

I’ve seen this scenario play out a few times. A new mama opens up to a more seasoned mother about a struggle, just looking for support. Or Seasoned Mom may witness something that prompts her to believe she has advice that can help New Mama. Here is an example: New Mama is visiting with Seasoned Mom about how often her new baby nurses and how he cries in the night for milk. Seasoned Mom thinks back to her early days with her babies and ways she worked through that short, but trying time.

One of two things will happen next.

1. Seasoned Mom will present her opinion as fact and take control of New Mama’s situation.

Seasoned Mom remembers that things seemed much better after she got her babies to sleep through the night. She tells New Mama she is spoiling her baby and she needs to break that tie of dependence now. In fact, she offers to immediately start the process by taking baby away from mom to a back room to cry to sleep. New Mama is dazed and confused about what just happened. She really thought all was going okay, she knew this phase would soon pass, but now she is doubting her judgement. She does not want her baby to grow up to be spoiled and she wonders who else thinks she is spoiling her baby. She leaves feeling lost and unqualified to make the best decisions for her baby. The next time her baby cries, New Mama calls Seasoned Mom, who gives her step-by-step instructions for breaking these “bad habits.”

I think Seasoned Moms feel obligated to step in when New Mama is going through the same trials they’ve experienced and really intends to be helpful. Maybe some of us pride ourselves on being fountains of wisdom and we get a dose of confidence by passing that on. But as someone who has eaten plenty of crow, helping someone else really isn’t about “me.”

Am I offering help because I can see they need it or because I need an ego boost? Or is it because I am threatened by people who do things differently than I did and I feel the need to prove I did it in the best way? What does this advice really do for New Mama?

It’s the classic “give a man a fish” situation. Even if New Mama needed someone to feed her that day, it doesn’t help her feed herself. And that is the glory of motherhood, really. That we do things we didn’t think possible. We work harder, sleep less, become master problem-solvers, grow and stretch our emotional limits… And the oddest part is that we actually WANT to do all of it. We have fallen so completely in love with these little ones that we happily take it all on, lay aside our wants for theirs and accept that one of the greatest benefits we receive in return is the confidence that we are capable. Every loving mama deserves that reward.

This may sound odd coming from a childbirth educator. Maybe with that title comes the assumption that my mission is to make sure everyone I know hears my opinions and adopt them as their own. But my goal is actually to help moms make informed decisions for themselves. Yes, some of those decisions seem really obvious to me, but honestly, it is not my call. And what I believe matters most in the end is that a mama made the decision herself, because then, mistake or no, she is prepared in some way to make the decision the next time without feeling overcome with inadequacy or self-doubt.

Ideally, this second scenario is the one that plays out.

2. Seasoned Mom asks New Mama questions to know how she feels about her situation, shares her similar experiences and then encourages New Mama to follow her motherly instincts.

I’ve noticed in my years as a mother, some advice I’ve received builds me up and some tears me down. I know the difference when I walk away feeling like, “That was helpful and I can use what she said to figure this out. I’m interested in how she handles this other situation, too,” and other times when I feel like, “Man, I feel overwhelmed, I’m not even sure where to start. I guess I need to call and update her on my progress, but I’m kind of dreading that.” Earmarks of the positive advice-sharing include the starting the conversation with one of these precursors:

“Not every one does it this way, but this is what worked for us…”

“Our situation is different from yours so not all of this will apply…”

“You know your baby better than anyone so I know you can make the best decision.”

“I read these books that kind of helped me figure out how I wanted to handle this situation…”

These all point New Mama to various resources, including her own intuition, which should not be discounted, rather than pointing her ONLY back to source of the comment.  I am so thankful to have some mama role models who do this for me.

I am not at all proposing we should just keep our thoughts and experiences to ourselves and never share for fear of passing judgement. On the contrary, we NEED to continue the oral tradition of motherhood by gleaning from those who have gone before us. We all need to know we’re not alone and the more we share, the more supported we can feel as we explore new ideas and form bonds with other mamas. But with all that gleaning, some boundaries need to be set.

If you are a new mother, before you take advice to heart, think of the person offering it. Do they have the same parenting goals you have? Are their circumstances similar? Do they enjoy motherhood? The decisions I’ve made as a parent that were made solely from the fear of what someone else might think are the ones I regret. On the other hand, I look back confidently at the decisions that I made that were based on advice from others, but lined up with my principles, my personal goals and ethical code.

If you are a more seasoned mama thinking of offering advice to a new recruit, listen to her needs first. What an valuable gift for a New Mama to know you hear and care. Then let your words be seasoned with grace and the humility to instill confidence in her. The goal is to not to keep her coming back for fish, but to watch her fish on her own.


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Breastmilk Could Help Fight Drug-Resistant Bacteria http://www.mothering.com/articles/breastmilk-help-fight-drug-resistant-bacteria/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/breastmilk-help-fight-drug-resistant-bacteria/#comments Fri, 12 Feb 2016 02:15:56 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=121746 On top of being the gold standard for nutrition in a child’s first few months or years of life, researchers have discovered a protein found in breastmilk could help fight drug-resistant bacteria. This comes as scientists continue to sound the alarm against the overprescribing and overuse of antibiotics. Historically hailed as a panacea for bacterial … Continue reading Breastmilk Could Help Fight Drug-Resistant Bacteria

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On top of being the gold standard for nutrition in a child’s first few months or years of life, researchers have discovered a protein found in breastmilk could help fight drug-resistant bacteria.

This comes as scientists continue to sound the alarm against the overprescribing and overuse of antibiotics. Historically hailed as a panacea for bacterial infections, the rampant overuse of these drugs has lead to adaptive and stronger strains of bacteria that do not respond to standard treatments. This has left researchers scrambling to find a new and effective way to combat these bugs. Thankfully, breastmilk may be part of the solution.

Science has long known breastmilk contains lactoferrin, a protein that provides newborns with some antibacterial, antiviral and even antifungal protection. Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory and University College London are modifying this protein to make it even more effective. They claim lactoferrin kills bacterial so quickly that it would be hard for the bugs to reengineer themselves to fight against it.

These findings likely come as no surprise to those who understand the composition of breastmilk and its many uses. In some parts of the world, breastmilk is recognized as an effective treatment for conjunctivitis and other common ailments.

Still, it’s encouraging to see mainstream science continuing to recognize the benefits of breastmilk beyond its nutrition value.

For more on this story, see the article at IFLScience.com.

Image credit: geralt via pixabay.com


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Enter to Win a $1000 Amazon Gift Card by Taking Our Quick Reader Survey http://www.mothering.com/articles/enter-to-win-a-1000-amazon-gift-card-by-taking-our-quick-reader-survey/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/enter-to-win-a-1000-amazon-gift-card-by-taking-our-quick-reader-survey/#comments Thu, 11 Feb 2016 00:05:14 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=122514 For nearly 40 years Mothering has worked to inform and inspire parents in an ever-changing world. During that time, our foremost goal has always been to put our readers and community members first by providing a wide variety of resources to help you make the best decisions for your family. That’s why we’ve launched a brand new reader survey to get … Continue reading Enter to Win a $1000 Amazon Gift Card by Taking Our Quick Reader Survey

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reader_survey_mothering_com_blog_imageFor nearly 40 years Mothering has worked to inform and inspire parents in an ever-changing world. During that time, our foremost goal has always been to put our readers and community members first by providing a wide variety of resources to help you make the best decisions for your family.

That’s why we’ve launched a brand new reader survey to get to know you and better understand what you expect and want from Mothering.com.

Our reader survey will take just a few minutes to complete, and to thank you for your time you will be entered for a chance to win a $1000 gift card to Amazon.com! One lucky participant will be awarded the gift card after the survey period ends on March 15th, and can start shopping right away!

For a chance to win, please take a moment to share your thoughts with us by taking the quick survey right here

We appreciate your help!

Important Rules and Restrictions: While we welcome feedback from readers located anywhere in the world, only US and Canadian residents (except where prohibited) are eligible to win the gift card. Please review all rules and restrictions right here before taking the survey.


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12 Unique, Printable Valentine’s Day Cards http://www.mothering.com/articles/12-truly-unique-printable-valentines-day-cards/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/12-truly-unique-printable-valentines-day-cards/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2016 00:30:45 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=122130 Not into licensed cartoon characters or sappy sentiments? Don’t feel like fighting the crowded aisles of a big box store’s holiday smorgasbord? Or maybe you’re looking for something a little more unique for your kids to hand out at a party or to friends and loved ones? Maybe you just forgot haven’t had a chance … Continue reading 12 Unique, Printable Valentine’s Day Cards

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sweet

Not into licensed cartoon characters or sappy sentiments? Don’t feel like fighting the crowded aisles of a big box store’s holiday smorgasbord? Or maybe you’re looking for something a little more unique for your kids to hand out at a party or to friends and loved ones? Maybe you just forgot haven’t had a chance to get to the store and now the only thing left is *shudder* Minions? No problem, here are a bunch of super cute downloadable Valentine’s Day cards for easy at-home printing. Some of them are even free. Gotta love that.

1. SweetDownload those adorable smiling treats above for a super sweet Valentine’s Day.

supergirls

2. SupergirlsThese Supergals are ready to fight crime and wish you a happy Valentine’s Day. Because girls can do anything.

trucks

3. Construction TrucksValentines for your dirt and truck obsessed kid who has bulldozed their way into your heart. 

alice

4. Alice in WonderlandFor the literature lover, a whimsical take on Valentine’s cards.

color

5. DIY Coloring ValentinesYour little artists can add their own pizzazz with these black and white cards ready to be colored in, or handed out with some crayons attached for a truly do-it-yourself valentine.

scards-preschool

6. Printing PracticeBeginning writers can trace simple Valentine’s Day sentiments like “hugs” and “love.” Then practice writing their names, and cut along the dotted lines all by themselves. Perfect for the I can do it myself! crowd.

emoji

7. EmojisSometimes words just won’t cut it, and only a winking smiley face or heart eyes emoji will do.

dinos

8. DinosaursWhat says “be mine” more than a T-Rex wearing a rainbow cape and superhero mask? Nothing, that’s what.

space

9. Outer SpaceFor a love that’s out of this— Well, you know.

Valentine-Jokes-2

10. Very Punny: Show everyone how much you care with terrible puns.

pairs

11. Perfect Pairs: We go together like… Bacon and eggs? Definitely.

math

12. Math CardsFor those times when only a complex mathematics equation can adequately express your feelings.


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Good News for Valentine’s Day: Study Shows Chocolate May Be Beneficial for Pregnant Mamas http://www.mothering.com/articles/pregnant-mamas-indulge-chocolate-valentines-day/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/pregnant-mamas-indulge-chocolate-valentines-day/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2016 00:05:49 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=121690 Preliminary findings from a study authored by Dr. Emmanuel Bujold found that women who indulged regularly in small amounts of dark chocolate during their pregnancies had improved blood circulation, which may in turn improve placental function. The reason for the potential benefit is believed to be linked to the flavonol content of the cocoa in chocolate. … Continue reading Good News for Valentine’s Day: Study Shows Chocolate May Be Beneficial for Pregnant Mamas

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Preliminary findings from a study authored by Dr. Emmanuel Bujold found that women who indulged regularly in small amounts of dark chocolate during their pregnancies had improved blood circulation, which may in turn improve placental function.

The reason for the potential benefit is believed to be linked to the flavonol content of the cocoa in chocolate. Flavonols, a type of antioxidant, are lost during the processing of chocolate. Typically the less processed a chocolate is, the higher the flavonol content will be.

While this is certainly wonderful news to my ears as a chocolate lover, there are certain things to keep in mind.

Chocolate also contains caffeine, a stimulant pregnant mothers are encouraged to limit as researchers are not entirely sure of its overall effect on pregnancy. Pregnant women are advised to limit caffeine intake to 200 mg per day from all sources, and dark chocolate counts at approximately 30 mg of caffeine per 1.45 ounces. The darker the chocolate, the higher the caffeine content will be.

In addition, for the best health outcomes, pregnant mamas have several important nutrients to pack into their diets. Pregnancy requires approximately only 300 extra calories per day during the second and third trimesters and the extra calories should be saved for nutrient-dense foods, not an entire box of Valentine chocolates (sorry!).

Overall, it appears that a small delicious square of dark chocolate (ideally >60% cocoa content or more) during pregnancy may provide some health benefits, but will not be advised as a true and tested health recommendation anytime soon.

Editor’s Note: Making a mostly healthy version of dark chocolate at home is quite easy. Check out this tasty recipe from Wellness Mama and another that uses coconut oil from Coconut Mama. Making your own chocolate at home is a great way to get creative with the kids in the kitchen since the chocolate can be poured into molds and you can easily add toppings such as nuts and sprinkles – just right for Valentine’s Day!

Photo Credit: Korona Lacasse


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Baby Boxes: A Safer Way to Surrender a Child http://www.mothering.com/articles/baby-boxes-safer-way-surrender-child/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/baby-boxes-safer-way-surrender-child/#comments Tue, 09 Feb 2016 03:04:08 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=121450 A woman walks towards a building, carefully carrying what looks like a bundle of blankets. She opens a hatch on the side of the building, revealing a clean, warm cot. She looks down at the bundle in her arms and tearfully kisses it before placing it in the cot and closing the hatch. As the … Continue reading Baby Boxes: A Safer Way to Surrender a Child

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A woman walks towards a building, carefully carrying what looks like a bundle of blankets. She opens a hatch on the side of the building, revealing a clean, warm cot.

She looks down at the bundle in her arms and tearfully kisses it before placing it in the cot and closing the hatch.

As the woman walks away, a silent alarm goes off inside the building. Within minutes, someone will come for the child she just surrendered.

They’re called “baby boxes” in South Korea and “baby hatches” in Switzerland. There are different names for them and slightly different methods used in various countries, but the intent is always the same: to provide parents with a safe way to surrender a child they cannot care for. Nearly all children given up in this way will enter the foster care and adoption system without ever knowing their biological parents.

But controversy swirls around this emotionally charged topic. Do these methods save lives, or create additional hardship? Rather than facilitating easier abandonment, should we be focusing solely on reducing the number of abandoned children?

It depends on who you ask.

All over the world, there is a rising trend of governments and non-profit agencies aiming to reduce the amount of infant and child deaths due to abandonment. Over 400 million abandoned children live on the streets worldwide. Historically, many desperate parents have left newborns they do not want, or are unable to care for, in unsafe places, where they are often not found until it’s too late.

The reasons for abandonment vary widely. In some cases, a family is simply too poor to care for the child, especially one with special needs. In certain countries, boys are the favored gender due to their future earning potential and other factors, and infant girls, seen more as a financial burden, are abandoned at a disproportionately high rate. Teen mothers might hide a pregnancy and abandon the child to avoid societal shame or family reprimand. A drug addicted or severely ill mother may not have the capacity to look after her baby.

This is an issue without borders, affecting every country around the world.

All 50 U.S. states have safe-haven laws, making the anonymous surrendering of infants a legal practice.

Over 100 babies are abandoned in the Russian city of Sochi each year.

In China, an orphanage had to shut down their anonymous child drop-off when they were flooded with 262 infants and children in the first two months.

A common practice in Korea is to leave abandoned babies or young children on another family’s doorstep, in the hopes that family will be able to care for the child.

Clearly, something needs to be done to support abandoned kids and their families of origin. But are these anonymous drop-off sites the answer? Critics are quick to voice concerns.

The implementation of baby hatches in socially conservative Japan caused a sizeable debate over family values.

In Germany, baby boxes have operated in a legal grey area.

Even the United Nations has spoken out against the idea, stating baby hatches violate the rights of a child to know his or her origins.

Swiss Mother and Child, a pro-life group in Switzerland, has funded the installation of several hatches and provides financial assistance for babies left within them. Meanwhile, some pro-rights groups caution these hatches are not the entire answer, claiming better access to birth control and sex education would reduce unwanted pregnancies, and consequently, lower abandonment rates.

There are concerns baby boxes could encourage women to abandon their infants more easily, putting financial pressure on community organizations and governments to provide for those children. And what about the rights of fathers and other family members, who may not know the fate of the child, or that he or she even exists?

But supporters of baby boxes say this no-questions-asked method is the safest way to surrender a child anonymously. Guaranteed anonymity, they claim, is sometimes the only way a parent will decide to surrender their child safely, rather than leaving them on the street or hiding them out of sight. It may not be ideal, but it could spare an innocent life.

Like many issues, the question of safe abandonment is perhaps not black or white. Yes, sex education and access to birth control methods have been shown to help immensely, but they are not the entire answer. Despite our best efforts, babies can still arrive in less-than-ideal circumstances or have needs that are beyond a parent’s abilities.

Until society finds a perfect solution, perhaps a little hatch and a warm cot should remain a part of our imperfect one, providing a tiny human being a second chance at life.

Image credit: By Chmee2 – Own work, CC BY 3.0


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Can Science Help Cesarean Born Babies Get Needed Microbes from Mom? http://www.mothering.com/articles/can-science-help-cesarean-born-babies-microbe/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/can-science-help-cesarean-born-babies-microbe/#comments Tue, 09 Feb 2016 02:59:13 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=121514 A recent study published in Nature Medicine seeks to answer the question, can science help cesarean born babies with their microbiome? It is known that cesarean born babies are not exposed to all the microbes that vaginally born babies are. Obviously, they enter the world without passing through the entire birth canal and out through … Continue reading Can Science Help Cesarean Born Babies Get Needed Microbes from Mom?

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Can Science Help Cesarean Born Babies With Their Microbe?

A recent study published in Nature Medicine seeks to answer the question, can science help cesarean born babies with their microbiome?

It is known that cesarean born babies are not exposed to all the microbes that vaginally born babies are. Obviously, they enter the world without passing through the entire birth canal and out through the vagina. While we tend to think of the vagina and “vaginal secretions” as being somewhat…icky, the opposite is actually true. There is great benefit to the baby to passing through the vagina and being exposed to the mother’s microbiome.

In fact, research has shown that babies born via cesarean have higher rates of obesity, allergies, and other issues that could possibly be caused by this lack of exposure.

Naturally, scientists have approached this problem and are seeking to correct it in a scientific way.

Researchers compared three groups: babies born vaginally, babies born via cesarean, and babies born via cesarean who were then wiped with a gauze pad that had been soaked in the vaginal fluid of their mother, to see if the cesarean babies’ microbe could be brought to a normal level by exposing them post-birth to their mother’s vaginal flora.

The level of certain known bacteria were then measured in all three groups of babies on different parts of their bodies. Samples were taken periodically through the first month of life. The sample size in this study was small, only a total of 18 infants, 7 of which were born vaginally, 11 born via cesarean section.

Can Science Help Cesarean Born Babies With Their Microbe?

Other data noted included mode of feeding (breastfeeding or breastfeeding + formula), group B strep status of the mother, and antibiotic administration in the mother as well as type of an antibiotic administered.

The researchers found that, “results suggest that by exposing the infant to the maternal vaginal microbiota, the bacterial communities of newborns delivered by cesarean section can be partially restored to resemble those of vaginally delivered babies.”

Interestingly, the researchers also found that vaginal microbiota was not significantly different in women who were exposed to antibiotics at the time of delivery and those that weren’t. They also recommend that more studies that are longer in duration and larger in sample size should be done.

This research obviously matters, especially considering the stakes: the health of our children and the sheer number of babies that are born via cesarean section.

While I always appreciate the phrase, “maternal vaginal contents” in writing, and I appreciate that this research is being done, I can’t help but think we have missed the mark at some point and have gone far afield of what birth is intended to be because we simply distrust it and those that accomplish it.

Can Science Help Cesarean Born Babies With Their Microbe?

Research on the vaginal microbiome and its impact on the baby must be done because cesareans are being performed at an alarming rate in the US – over 30%. Of course, we should strive to make cesarean birth more family-centered. We should strive to ensure that more women are breastfeeding after cesarean birth.

We should strive to recognize the sacred nature of birth as well as its physical benefits for both mom and baby. We should, of course, strive to normalize the microbiome of the cesarean born infant, especially with emerging research on the importance of this aspect of our health.

First though, I would like to see a concerted effort to reduce the cesarean rate so that the masculine art of science has less need to reproduce with gauze pads what vaginal secretions have been doing naturally for millions of years. With sadness, I must admit that a simple respect for how well the female body already works does not appear to be on the horizon.

We are loathe to admit it, but birth is actually an incredibly well designed process that sometimes goes haywire, not an incredibly dangerous process that occasionally goes right. We are still finding benefits to a more physiological approach to childbearing.

In truth, science can’t even keep up with all the benefits of normal birth.

Until we change our mindset, the treatment of women and babies, the birth culture, and lower the cesarean section rate, I am glad we now know of another way to help cesarean born infants be as healthy as possible.

Every baby deserves the best start possible.

Photo credits: ResoluteSupportMedia via Foter.com/ CC BY,  a4gpa via Foter.com / CC BY-SAResoluteSupportMedia via Foter.com/ CC BY


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Some Days, You Just Get By (And That’s OK) http://www.mothering.com/articles/days-just-get-thats-ok/ http://www.mothering.com/articles/days-just-get-thats-ok/#comments Mon, 08 Feb 2016 23:37:15 +0000 http://www.mothering.com/articles/?p=121530 Hey, friend. Come on in. Can we talk for a minute? Here, sit down. Move that laundry pile over if you need to. And don’t worry about messing it up. I’m not even sure what’s clean and what’s dirty in there right now. I’m also fairly certain my son just came by and wiped his … Continue reading Some Days, You Just Get By (And That’s OK)

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Hey, friend. Come on in. Can we talk for a minute?

Here, sit down. Move that laundry pile over if you need to. And don’t worry about messing it up. I’m not even sure what’s clean and what’s dirty in there right now. I’m also fairly certain my son just came by and wiped his nose on one of the bras. Whatever.

I’d make you a tea, but I can’t get out from under his little sister. She’s finally napping, and I dare not move a muscle if I value my sanity. This is the first time today she’s not getting into something. Also I think they stole the tea kettle earlier to double as a spaceship for dolls. You know, in between arguments.

Sorry about the wild hair and even wilder look in my eye. If I seem as dishevelled as that pile of laundry you had to contort your body around, it’s simply a testament to the kind of day I’ve been having.

You know this day. You’ve had this day. It involves the best of intentions, and yet absolutely nothing going according to plan. It involves deep breathing exercises, and counting down the minutes until bedtime.

And apparently, it also involves rewashing all your bras.

I’m not always like this, you know. I’m the one who brings really creative snacks to playgroup and puts together cool scavenger hunts for the neighbourhood kids. Those are the magical days; the days I really shine as a parent.

But the thing about magic is that it’s only magical when it doesn’t happen all the time.  That’s what makes it, well, magical. Every other day operates on a scale from “pretty good” to “there is snot on my bra and I can’t find the kettle.”

Some days are great.

Some days are okay.

And some days, like today, you just get by.

And when these days happen, we shouldn’t get down on ourselves about it. They aren’t a reflection of bad parenting or poor time management skills or terrible housekeeping. They’re a reflection of life being lived on life’s terms, not ours.

We operate under this assumption that we have far more control over things than we really do. But when you think about it, we only have control over our reactions to what life throws at us. Everything else is out of our hands. Some days things fall into the place more easily than others, that’s all. On the days that they don’t, we just get by.

What lessons can we pull from the “just getting by” days? Some good ones, actually.

We learn perspective.  Like I said before, if all days were magical, no days would be magical. Some days have less sparkle so we have something to compare the good ones to.

We learn to trust ourselves more. “Just getting by” days are hard. But we get through them, often by having employed a great deal of skill and resourcefulness. Parenting is a tough job (that we often do on top of other jobs). It’s also one of the most dynamic situations we’ll ever put ourselves in, constantly changing and requiring us to do the same—especially on the tough days.

We learn resiliency. On the days when we feel knocked down, we still manage to get back up, dust ourselves off, and keep going. The longer we parent, the more we trust that tomorrow is a new, and, hopefully, better day. Resiliency empowers us to push through whatever obstacles we’re facing. This skill is something we can pass down to our children.

Oh, look! The kettle is under the laundry. Well, that seems like a perfectly reasonable place to leave it. But, uh, it seems to have liquid in it. And I don’t think it’s water.

We’ll just put it back under the laundry pile for now.

Today, I’m just getting by – without tea.

Image credit: Public domain, Pixabay.com


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