Category Archives: From One Mother to Another

Kid and Car Saftey: A Reminder About the Dangers of Kids Playing (or Sleeping) in Cars

According to an article from last year’s Momlogic Newsletter, 23 U.S. children died by mid-summer, 2010,  in hot cars.  Many of them were incidents in which the parent/care taker forgot the child was in the car upon arriving at their destination…and the kiddo remained in the car for hours (or minutes) thereafter and perished in the heat of what can basically become an oven on wheels.

As mentioned in the Momlogic article, approximately 36 American children die every year in hot cars.  And according to a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, a car’s interior can heat up by 40 degrees within an hour–even if it’s a relatively cool day outside.  It all has to do with the size and shape of the car and whether or not the sun is out…plus the fact that the car’s windows act like a circumferential set of inward-facing magnifying glasses.

According to this article on the National Weather Service website, “Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults.”

***Follow any of the links above to learn more, especially additional hints about kids and car safety.

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Filed under family, From One Mother to Another, General Health, Kids, travelling with kids

Formula Marketed to Moms–For Moms. Really???

 

This article was recently posted on  Birthing Beautiful Ideas:

[Recently] on Twitter, @heartsandhandss alerted me to a Similac product that has me wavering between disheartened disbelief and cynical outrage:

SIMILAC MOM

That’s right.  Formula for moms.

Or as the Similac Canada site specifically states, it’s a “nutritional beverage” designed “for pregnant women and breastfeeding moms.”

Uh huh.  A formula for moms who may be planning to or who are already breastfeeding.

Not surprisingly, after glancing through the site’s information on Similac Mom, I’ve counted more than a few glaring problems with this (patently ridiculous) product.

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A badge declaring that Similac Mom is “available in the infant aisle” (or, it suggests, “ask your pharmacist.”)

Riddle me this: why would a product targeted to pregnant women and breastfeeding moms be available in the infant aisle?

It couldn’t possibly be that the proximity of Similac Mom to formula canisters would lead pregnant women to associate their own “nutritional beverage” with Similac’s baby formula!

It certainly couldn’t be that each and every time a pregnant or breastfeeding mother went to pick up her Similac Mom, the Similac brand would become further entrenched in her mind, potentially leading her to think “Similac! Formula!” every time she went for her daily “nutritional beverage.”

And goodness me, it couldn’t be that this “nutritional beverage” for “breastfeeding moms” would thereby insert a well-known infant formula brand into the breastfeeding section of a grocery or pharmacy aisle!

Canadian moms: if you’ve seen Similac Mom in your grocery or pharmacy, is it located near the formula containers or near the breastfeeding products?  Or is it somewhere else entirely?

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The product is described as “the first and only nutritional beverage for pregnant women and breastfeeding moms.”

Formula-feeding moms are, it seems, not an important demographic for this particular product.  And why might that be?

It is true that pregnant and lactating women have different nutritional needs than women who aren’t pregnant or lactating.

But I think there’s another reason why Similac Mom isn’t targeted to formula-feeding moms: They’re already purchasing formula!

Similac Mom ensures that all women can be consumers of Similac-brand formulas–even the ones who aren’t buying it for their babies!  (And hey–Similac Mom might just “help” breastfeeding moms to choose Similac infant formula too!)

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When combined with prenatal vitamins, Similac Mom could lead to potentially dangerous levels of Vitamin A.

Both pregnant and breastfeeding moms are encouraged to take prenatal vitamins in order to supplement their daily nutritional intake.  Typically, the daily dosage of these vitamins contains 5000 IU of Vitamin A.

But taking too much Vitamin A during pregnancy can lead to birth defects.

Similac Mom includes 1166 IU of Vitamin A.  When combined with a prenatal vitamin and food sources of Vitamin A–especially if one were to drink more than one serving of Similac Mom–this could lead to a potentially dangerous level of this vitamin.

(And this is why the site advises women to consult their doctors if they plan to drink more than one serving.  Yikes!)

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The site describes Similac Mom as something women can drink “rather than skipping a meal” and as a “meal replacement.”

I can make this short and sweet: Don’t. View. Similac. Mom. As. A. Meal. Replacement.

Please.  Don’t.

A supplemental snack?  Sure.  But a meal?  No.

225 calories per serving does not a meal make for a pregnant or breastfeeding mom.  (And two Similac Moms is probably not an option for most women, especially if they are also taking a prenatal vitamin with the aforementioned dosage of Vitamin A.)

If you don’t have time to prepare quick meals or snacks as you need them, try and spend one or two mornings or evenings each week making turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread, or apple slices and peanut butter, or cheese and crackers, or bran muffins, or anything that you can store in the fridge during the week and then grab “on the go” when you need them.

If you forget to eat meals (and I never understood this until I had kids), try and store baskets of healthy snacks all around the house and/or on your desk at work.

If friends and/or family members have offered you help, ask them to bring you meals.  They don’t even have to be hot meals!  A basket filled with healthy snacks (that you can combine into a makeshift “meal”) for pregnant or breastfeeding moms is a wonderful treat!

Just make sure that none of those “meals” is Similac Mom.

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As if this weren’t all bad enough, the second listed ingredient in Similac Mom is sugar.  And there’s no fiber in it to boot.

On behalf of pregnant and new mom’s bodies (and butts) everywhere, I say no thank you, Similac.

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Filed under breastfeeding, From One Mother to Another, General Health, Mommy and Motherhood, prenatal health

Reflections on Advent

From a Facebook conversation I had with our priest this week…my reflections on the Advent Season:

The idea of treating Advent like an active waiting and preparing season makes me (of course!) liken it to the late stages of pregnancy. Pregnancy is one long waiting and preparing season. I think, too, of what it must have been like for Mary in those remaining days: full of excitement, trepidation, wonder…

In maternity care, we talk about the difference between “Expectant Management” of labor and “Active Management.” (Basically, it’s the difference between the more hands-off, gentle and expectant-presence approach midwives tend to take vs. active, interventive methods employed by most OBs.) When I think of the advent season, I can apply both of these ideas: waiting to celebrate Christ’s birthday, we ought to be expectant: watching, observing, contemplating, preparing. Is it fair to say this quiet, contemplative approach is better than the “active” approach of bustling around: shopping, wrapping gifts, stressing over holiday feast preparations and begrudged family obligations?

Another thought I had today is to contemplate what must have been going through Mary’s mind during the remaining month prior to Christ’s birth (the month which we now call “Advent.”) Can you imagine the anticipation of not only waiting to meet your child for the first time, but the Child King of the World? If only we could all approach the Advent Season with the same level of anticipation and wonder Mary likely felt.

Impatience is a common problem for women in the remaining weeks of pregnancy: physical exhaustion, poor sleep, stomach upset, joint aches and pains…these can all add to a woman’s excitement for pregnancy to be over. In terms of Christmas, these aches and pains are translated into those mentioned above: tired feet from long-winded shopping sprees, exasperated emotions over creating holiday plans, financial strain from too much gift buying, sleep disturbances due to the stress of trying to wrap up end-of-year work tasks and, again we see what ought to be a peaceful, contemplative time turned frazzled and pressured.

I don’t mean to entirely romanticize Mary’s journey, nor simplify the present-day Christmas season: Mary had to travel a great distance on a donkey’s back (or some other beast of burden; or on foot) while in the remaining days of pregnancy. Most women I know can hardly stand to ride in a car over a bumpy road during the last trimester of pregnancy. I can only imagine Mary’s exhaustion, paired with trepidation about the up-coming childbirth process–one that was extremely deadly for many women in that time period. Modern day women worry over how their babies will fair during the childbirth process; I can only imagine the burden Mary must have felt at the responsibility of bringing forth God’s Son into the world, safe and sound—and amidst significant travel and poor sleeping accommodations. And, yet, what a wonderful burden. What an honor: the chosen one to bring Emanuel into the world for the benefit of all humankind.

Perhaps the penitent part of Advent is our burden: preparing ourselves through complex thought and challenging core honesty, for the transformation that Advent has the ability to bring about in each one of us. Childbirth, too, has the power to bring about immense change in a woman’ life, psyche and self knowledge (not to mention the loving support person(s) present during the birth). As we prepare to celebrate the birth of The King, can we also celebrate our own birth (transformation) into Christianity…made possible by Emanuel, the Christ child, God Is With Us?

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Filed under From One Mother to Another, holidays

Marching Forth: Africa’s Committment to Improve Safety of Moms and Babes

It’s always wonderful to come across stories like this, that highlight successes in the pursuit of improved maternal and infant outcomes revolving around pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.  Congratulations to Rwanda for making drastic changes and improvements, with the plan to meet the Millennium Development Goals of 2015 in regards to maternal and infant mortality.  For a highlight on improvements made toward maternal and fetal/infant/child health throughout many African countries, read this July 2010 article.

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Filed under breastfeeding, Childbirth Issues, family, From One Mother to Another, General Health, pregnancy, prenatal health

Back in the Saddle Again

We moved back home to Montana two months ago.  It has been an amazing home-coming after what now feels like an extended vacation in the SF Bay area.  Our kids are settled into school.  Boxes are unpacked.  Life feels normal again.

But for me, a huge part of life in Bozeman involved my role as a childbirth educator, and Director of my childbirth education program, Pregnancy to Parenthood, LLC.  Since returning home, I’ve had tons of folks ask me if I’m going to start teaching again.

Last night, I had the chance to get back in the saddle again.

My neighbor owns a chic couture baby supply store in town and she’s working on developing a program of bringing various  baby-pregnancy-postpartum classes into her store in a kind of a meet & greet fashion.  Last night’s class was to be on breastfeeding basics and guess who got to run the class?

Boy, do I miss teaching.

With well over twenty interested, motivated, expectant or new moms in the audience, we had a great two-hour class during which we covered everything from how does a new mom continue to nurture her body after baby’s birth and during the breastfeeding time period, to the physiology of breast milk production and let down, to latch-on pitfalls and proper methods…breastfeeding baby positions…products a nursing mom does and doesn’t likely need…warning signs of problems to watch out for and, yes, the legal rights of breastfeeding moms.

 

Community health education at its’ best, this was a free class delivered to people who had a vested interest in the topic during and after which they could mingle, ask extra questions, and share their thoughts/feelings about this important time in their lives.  I was happy to be apart of a fun evening, and so glad to be putting my teaching skills to use again!

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Filed under breastfeeding, Childbirth Issues, friendship, From One Mother to Another, Mommy and Motherhood

The Twelve Hour Labor: An Unfair Expectation

Check out this interesting debate, spear-headed by Henci Goer on Lamaze International’s blog, Science & Sensibility,  over what constitutes “normal” in terms of labor length.  Gone are the days when every first time mom ought to be held to the expectation that her baby should be delivered in 12-14 hours following the onset of labor.  But still, plenty of folks are holding women to that standard.  Read up on the debate (and my response)  here.

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Filed under Childbirth Issues, From One Mother to Another, Mommy and Motherhood, natural childbirth, pregnancy

Keeping Baby Close: The Importance of High-Touch Parenting

Today, at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, some intriguing (but not really startling) data will be presented at the annual Brain Development and Learning Conference: mothers who touch their babies more often can alter their offspring’s genetic expression and foster calmer babies who will grow up to be increasingly nurturing parents.  For those of us in the childbirth education arena, this is not surprising in the least.

For years, folks who promote safe, gentle birthing practices also tend to favor gentle parenting practices.  High-touch infant care falls under this category.  Famed pediatrician/author Dr. Sears calls it Attachment Parenting.  Others call it Kangaroo Mother Care (a philosophy which is often only thought of as being used with premies or newborns but can, in fact, be carried on throughout infancy).  Others, still:  Baby wearing.

The basic idea?  Keep your baby close by, offer skin-to-skin contact as a means of warming and/or comforting, bonding, teaching your child that you are there for her for the most basic of needs and that you are a tender, loving resource.

When our three kids were infants, we did the same thing I see thousands of other new parents doing:  we hauled our kids around in their detachable infant cars as if we were carrying around a utilitarian bucket of potatoes.  Because, let’s face it:  it’s easier, right?  No buckling and unbuckling the five-point harness every time we got in and out of the car.  No disturbing baby when he’s asleep in his bucket.

My friend who is an awesome mama, prenatal yoga instructor and doula, practiced baby wearing reverently with her two boys in their infancy.  As I observed her–always showing up with her little one snuggled into a wrap on her chest (or hip, as the baby grew) I pondered the realities:  doesn’t her back ever get sore?  Doesn’t she sometimes want her own space?

I imagine, the answer might have sometimes been ‘yes.’  But I also know that Gloria has a bond with her children like none other and was able to put aside the short term gains of her own comfort for the long term gains of what baby wearing likely fostered in the bond between mother and child.  And, I imagine, many “baby wearers” will tell you that they are comfortable wearing their babies–especially if fit with an appropriate sling/baby carrier.

Heres the thing:  with physical closeness comes psychological closeness, and you can bet those two boys of Gloria’s learned to trust their mama for their every need, early on.  Do kids who weren’t kept close as infants not trust their parents?  No, not necessarily.  But there are degrees of trust and psychological closeness and, where on that scale do you think a kiddo falls, who was kept close to his/her parents as an infant?  Just think of the inherent message baby wearing…attachment parenting…kangaroo care…sends:

“I am here for you.  Always.  Your well-being is so important to me that I will make sure I am close by to recognize when you need something.  You are not alone.”

I also ponder the messages being sent to a baby who spends a ton of her time in her infant car seat:

“My convenience is more important than your being comforted.  I hold you (literally) at arm’s length because it is easier for me.  I will take you with me according to my schedule (as opposed to being home for baby’s nap time–thus avoiding the concern about removing a sleeping baby from her car seat) rather than one that is more advantageous for you.”

I know I am simplifying things here.  But really, when you consider implied messages contained in our daily actions, the messages we send can be deafening, and are sometimes different from that which we’d really like to be relaying.

I recently learned about a new product hitting the markets…designed for a similar rural population as the one I wrote about, here.  In an earnest attempt to create a life-saving product for premature babies born in developing countries  a product has been developed called the Embrace–a sleeping bag-looking “portable incubator” with a pocket in the back for an inserted heat pack.

I applaud the Stanford researchers who’ve come up with this, and their aggressive goal of saving hundreds of thousands of teeny tiny lives at $25 a pop (this is an entrepreneurial effort).  But I also have to wonder, what about good-old skin-to-skin contact?  Studies have repeatedly shown that babies’ body temperatures (and heart rate, breathing rate and blood sugar levels) remain more stable when held skin-to-skin vs. when placed in an incubator.  Would the money otherwise spent in R&D, developing new and newer baby warming technology be better spent on community health education campaigns, instead?  What do you think?

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Filed under Childbirth Issues, family, From One Mother to Another, Kids, Mommy and Motherhood, pregnancy