Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Getting Ready for Another Baby

After many years of deciding whether to have a second baby or not we have decided that we want to bring joy back into our lives again. Because the truth of the fact is that a baby always brings joy to a couple and to a family. After five and a half years, we have decided that it is time to bring in a new family member. The first reason for this decision is that our only son sometimes gets lonely and we know that if he had a brother or sister it would make him very happy. The second reason is because I am reaching an age where it will soon be too risky to even think about having another baby. That's why we have decided that this year we will be conceiving our second child if we don't encounter any last minute issues.

Believe me this is not an easy decision. First of all because the economy is not on our side and second because after so many years we will have to get used to everything that a baby implies. With this I mean not getting any sleep during the first few weeks of their lives, having to carry a car seat and stroller everywhere you go, and having to carry a diaper bag and milk everywhere you go is not easy. But this is somehow gratefully rewarded by the baby itself, because a baby always brings love and joy to any couple and family. This is why even though we know that it will be a rocky ride, we are ready to take this step and have a second baby.

I'm going to take this experience and embrace it, because this time around there will be a huge difference that will make my experience a much better one, and its the fact that I no longer work. That means that I will be able to have a calm and peaceful pregnancy and for the first time in my life I will be able to share all of the great moments a mother would want to share with their baby, instead of being at work and receiving a call saying that your baby said their first word or gave its first step. Or even worse, not being able to breastfeed because you don't have time for that. This time around I am looking forward to having all of these experiences and enjoying motherhood to the fullest because this is probably going to be my last chance to do so.

I will be keeping you posted on the preparation and outcome of this whole experience and I look forward to giving hope to all of the working moms out there that are not able to experience and enjoy motherhood so that they can realize that it's not impossible and that maybe someday they can also be able to quit work and enjoy their family being a stay at home mom.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Low Breast Milk Supply

Potential causes of low milk supply

These things can cause or contribute to a low milk supply:

  • Supplementing. Nursing is a supply & demand process. Milk is produced as your baby nurses, and the amount that she nurses lets your body know how much milk is required. Every bottle (of formula, juice or water) that your baby gets means that your body gets the signal to produce that much less milk.
  • Nipple confusion. A bottle requires a different type of sucking than nursing, and it is easier for your baby to extract milk from a bottle. As a result, giving a bottle can either cause your baby to have problems sucking properly at the breast, or can result in baby preferring the constant faster flow of the bottle.
  • Pacifiers. Pacifiers can cause nipple confusion. They can also significantly reduce the amount of time your baby spends at the breast, which may cause your milk supply to drop.
  • Nipple shields can lead to nipple confusion. They can also reduce the stimulation to your nipple or interfere with milk transfer, which can interfere with the supply-demand cycle.
  • Scheduled feedings interfere with the supply & demand cycle of milk production and can lead to a reduced supply, sometimes several months later rather than immediately. Nurse your baby whenever she is hungry.
  • Sleepy baby. For the first few weeks, some babies are very sleepy and only demand to nurse infrequently and for short periods. Until baby wakes up and begins to demand regular nursing, nurse baby at least every two hours during the day and at least every 4 hours at night to establish your milk supply.
  • Cutting short the length of nursings. Stopping a feeding before your baby ends the feeding herself can interfere with the supply-demand cycle. Also, your milk increases in fat content later into a feeding, which helps baby gain weight and last longer between feedings.
  • Offering only one breast per feeding. This is fine if your milk supply is well-established and your baby is gaining weight well. If you're trying to increase your milk supply, let baby finish the first side, then offer the second side.
  • Health or anatomical problems with baby can prevent baby from removing milk adequately from the breast, thus decreasing milk supply.

Increasing your milk supply

Milk production is a demand & supply process. If you need to increase milk supply, it's important to understand how milk is made - understanding this will help you to do the right things to increase production.

To speed milk production and increase overall milk supply, the key is to remove more milk from the breast and to do this frequently, so that less milk accumulates in the breast between feedings.

OK, now on to things that can help increase your milk supply:

  • Make sure that baby is nursing efficiently. This is the "remove more milk" part of increasing milk production. If milk is not effectively removed from the breast, then mom's milk supply decreases. If positioning and latch are "off" then baby is probably not transferring milk efficiently. A sleepy baby, use of nipple shields or various health or anatomical problems in baby can also interfere with baby's ability to transfer milk. For a baby who is not nursing efficiently, trying to adequately empty milk from the breast is like trying to empty a swimming pool through a drinking straw - it can take forever. Inefficient milk transfer can lead to baby not getting enough milk or needing to nurse almost constantly to get enough milk. If baby is not transferring milk well, then it is important for mom to express milk after and/or between nursings to maintain milk supply while the breastfeeding problems are being addressed.
  • Nurse frequently, and for as long as your baby is actively nursing. Remember - you want to remove more milk from the breasts and do this frequently. If baby is having weight gain problems, aim to nurse at least every 1.5-2 hours during the day and at least every 3 hours at night.
  • Take a nursing vacation. Take baby to bed with you for 2-3 days, and do nothing but nurse (frequently!) and rest (well, you can eat too!).
  • Offer both sides at each feeding. Let baby finish the first side, then offer the second side.
  • Switch nurse. Switch sides 3 or more times during each feeding, every time that baby falls asleep, switches to "comfort" sucking, or loses interest. Use each side at least twice per feeding. Use breast compression to keep baby feeding longer. For good instructions on how to do this, see Dr. Jack Newman's Protocol to increase intake of breastmilk by the baby. This can be particularly helpful for sleepy or distractible babies.
  • Avoid pacifiers and bottles. All of baby's sucking needs should be met at the breast (see above). If a temporary supplement is medically required, it can be given with a nursing supplementer or by spoon, cup or dropper (see Alternative Feeding Methods).
  • Give baby only breastmilk. Avoid all solids, water, and formula if baby is younger than six months, and consider decreasing solids if baby is older. If you are using more than a few ounces of formula per day, wean from the supplements gradually to "challenge" your breasts to produce more milk.
  • Take care of mom. Rest. Sleep when baby sleeps. Relax. Drink liquids to thirst (don't force liquids - drinking extra water does not increase supply), and eat a reasonably well-balanced diet.
  • Consider pumping. Adding pumping sessions after or between nursing sessions can be very helpful - pumping is very important when baby is not nursing efficiently or frequently enough, and can speed things up in all situations. Your aim in pumping is to remove more milk from the breasts and/or to increase frequency of breast emptying. When pumping to increase milk supply, to ensure that the pump removes an optimum amount of milk from the breast, keep pumping for 2-5 minutes after the last drops of milk. However, adding even a short pumping session (increasing frequency but perhaps not removing milk thoroughly) is helpful.
  • Consider a galactagogue. A substance (herb, prescription medication, etc.) that increases milk supply is called a galactagogue.

Breast-Feeding

What is breast-feeding, and what are its benefits?

Breast-feeding is feeding your baby breast milk directly from your breast or from a bottle after expressing the milk with a pump.

Breast milk is the ideal food for your baby.1 It is the most complete and only nutrition source needed for babies up to 6 months of age.

Breast-feeding also reduces your child's risk for developing:

  • Many types of infections.
  • Eczema and asthma.2, 3
  • Obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
  • High cholesterol later in life.4

Breast-feeding helps you:

  • Recover from the stresses of pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
  • Bond with your baby.
  • Lower your risk for breast cancer.5
  • Respond to your baby's hunger quickly and conveniently.

How long should I breast-feed my baby?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP), and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) strongly endorse breast-feeding. The AAP recommends breast-feeding infants for at least a year.1, 6, 7 Infants and toddlers can still receive many nutrients from breast-feeding should you want to continue past the first year. Beginning at about 6 months of age, start introducing other foods to your baby as you continue breast-feeding.

How is breast milk produced?

Hormones in your body prepare for and trigger the production of breast milk. Toward the end of pregnancy and during the first few days after delivery, glands in the breast produce colostrum. Once the placenta is delivered after the baby's birth, your body releases prolactin, a hormone that stimulates milk production. Your breasts produce more milk as you begin breast-feeding your baby. The more frequently you breast-feed, the more milk you will produce.

Transitional milk, which starts 3 to 6 days after delivery, is similar to mature breast milk but contains more protein. When this transitional milk comes in, your breasts will become firmer and fuller.

Mature milk production usually begins 10 to 15 days after delivery. Mature milk contains about 50% fat calories, 45% carbohydrate calories, and 5% protein calories. Most of the carbohydrate is milk sugar (lactose), which helps babies absorb calcium.

How do I plan for breast-feeding?

Create a breast-feeding strategy during your pregnancy.

  • Talk to your doctor early in your prenatal care about your plans to breast-feed. During your first visit, you will have a breast exam. If any lumps or irregularities are detected, you and your doctor can decide how to address them. Also tell your doctor if you have had any breast surgery, such as a reduction, implants, or biopsy.
  • Write down any questions or concerns that you have about breast-feeding and discuss them with your doctor.
  • If this is your first time breast-feeding, arrange to attend a breast-feeding class and consider joining a breast-feeding support group. Many hospitals and birthing centers have nurses, nurse-midwives, or breast-feeding (lactation) consultants, who can assist you. Classes and support groups can help you anticipate and manage breast-feeding difficulties, should they arise.
  • Purchase breast-feeding items, such as breast pads, nipple cream, breast-feeding pillows, and burping pads. In addition, having a breast pump available after you give birth may be helpful when your milk comes in.
  • Talk to friends and family members about your decision to breast-feed. Discuss how important it is for you to have them support your efforts.
  • Buy a breast-feeding book for quick reference. Ask your doctor for recommendations, or visit your local library or bookstore.

Is breast-feeding difficult?

Breast-feeding is a learned technique—you will get better at it with practice. Almost all breast-feeding difficulties, such as sore nipples, can be remedied by using proper technique and by talking to your doctor or a lactation consultant. The first weeks of breast-feeding are usually the most challenging.

Ectopic Pregnancy

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

Normally, at the beginning of a pregnancy, the fertilized egg travels from the fallopian tube to the uterus, where it implants and grows. In nearly 2% of diagnosed pregnancies, however, the fertilized egg attaches to an area outside of the uterus, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy (also known as tubal pregnancy or extrauterine pregnancy).1

Nearly all ectopic pregnancies develop in a fallopian tube; the remainder occur in an ovary, the cervix, or the abdomen.2 Generally none of these areas are capable of holding or sustaining a growing fetus.

What are the risks of ectopic pregnancy?

The most common risk associated with ectopic pregnancy is impaired fertility. Ectopic pregnancy can damage the fallopian tube, reducing your chances of conceiving and increasing the risk that a future pregnancy will be ectopic.

Ectopic pregnancy is a potentially life-threatening condition. Although death from this condition is rare, ectopic pregnancy is the leading cause of maternal death in the first trimester of pregnancy.1 A ruptured ectopic pregnancy requires emergency surgical treatment.

What causes an ectopic pregnancy?

Fallopian tube damage is a common cause of ectopic pregnancy. A damaged fallopian tube can block the fertilized egg's path to the uterus, causing it to implant and grow in the tube. Fallopian tube damage is typically the result of pelvic infection, fallopian tube surgery, or endometriosis.

What increases my risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy?

You have an increased risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy if you have had a previous ectopic pregnancy or a pelvic infection such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, have endometriosis, were exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before you were born, or smoke.

Medical treatments that increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy include fallopian tube surgery, superovulation medication to increase egg production, assisted reproductive techniques, and pelvic or abdominal surgery.

How can I tell whether I have an ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancies can be difficult to identify because they usually trigger the same hormonal changes that a normal pregnancy does. A missed menstrual period, fatigue, breast tenderness, nausea, and other early pregnancy symptoms usually accompany an ectopic pregnancy. The most obvious signs of an ectopic pregnancy are pelvic or abdominal pain and bleeding. If you have these symptoms, see your health professional immediately.

A health professional can usually detect an early ectopic pregnancy with a series of blood tests for pregnancy hormone (hCG) levels, an ultrasound, or both.

Early diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy allows time for treatment options that can preserve your fertility and reduce your chance of serious complications. If you are considered at risk for ectopic pregnancy, you will be closely monitored during your first trimester.

How is an ectopic pregnancy treated?

A fertilized egg implanted outside the uterus is very unlikely to survive to full term. Medication, surgery, or a combination of the two are usually used to end an ectopic pregnancy before it endangers the mother. Some very early ectopic pregnancies can be watched closely to see whether the embryo will miscarry on its own.

Preeclampsia and High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

What is high blood pressure? What is preeclampsia? How are they related?

When you have high blood pressure (hypertension), the force of blood against your artery walls is stronger than normal. If you have high blood pressure during a pregnancy, you must have more frequent checkups.

High blood pressure can remain mild during pregnancy, or it can become dangerously high and need treatment. It can also turn out to be a sign of preeclampsia, a pregnancy-related problem that can become life-threatening for you and/or your fetus.

High blood pressure

Normally, a pregnant woman's blood pressure drops during the second trimester and then returns to normal levels by the end of the third trimester. However, in 10% of pregnant women, blood pressure begins to increase to abnormally high levels in the second or third trimester.1 This is sometimes called pregnancy-induced hypertension.

  • Mild high blood pressure during pregnancy is not necessarily dangerous by itself. However, it is closely monitored because it can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as preeclampsia. After delivery, mild high blood pressure that has not worsened during the pregnancy and has returned to normal within 12 weeks can be termed "transient hypertension of pregnancy."
  • Severe high blood pressure limits the blood oxygen supply to your fetus, increasing the risk for poor fetal growth, early separation of the placenta from the uterine wall (placenta abruptio), and stillbirth. For this reason, you are likely to be treated with medication to lower your blood pressure if your diastolic blood pressure reading is 100 or higher (this is the second, or lower, number).

Long-term (chronic) high blood pressure is a lifelong yet treatable condition. The greatest risk for pregnant women with chronic high blood pressure is their 1-in-4 chance of developing preeclampsia.2 (When the two conditions occur together, your risk of complications from high blood pressure increases, as does your risk of complications from preeclampsia.)

Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is defined as the new onset of high blood pressure over 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) after 20 weeks of pregnancy, usually with higher-than-normal levels of protein found in a urine sample.

In its most severe form, preeclampsia is a life-threatening pregnancy problem. Although it is not well understood, preeclampsia seems to start with a placenta that doesn't grow the usual network of blood vessels deep into the uterine wall. This leads to poor blood circulation through the placenta.3 In addition to causing mild to severe high blood pressure, preeclampsia can also cause problems with blood supply to the fetus and sometimes with the woman's liver, kidney, and brain functions. Women with severe preeclampsia can develop life-threatening seizures (eclampsia).

Preeclampsia only occurs during or just after pregnancy. It affects about 5% of all pregnancies, most commonly first-time pregnancies.4 Although preeclampsia typically lasts for up to 2 weeks after delivery, it always goes away after a pregnancy.

Preeclampsia probably does not cause future high blood pressure. Instead, experts think that women who have preeclampsia also have a higher-than-normal risk of chronic high blood pressure after pregnancy or later in life.5

Both high blood pressure and preeclampsia can develop gradually or occur suddenly and can range from mild to severe. If you develop high blood pressure during pregnancy, there is no way of knowing whether it is a first sign of preeclampsia. This is why you are closely monitored for signs of preeclampsia throughout your pregnancy.

What causes high blood pressure during pregnancy? What causes preeclampsia?

Both preeclampsia and high blood pressure during pregnancy are caused by complex events in the body. Researchers are still studying these conditions.

Preeclampsia appears to have a genetic component. If your mother had preeclampsia while pregnant with you, you have an increased risk of developing preeclampsia during pregnancy. Similarly, if your partner in the pregnancy was born from a pregnancy affected by preeclampsia, your risk of developing preeclampsia is also higher than normal.

Experts also suspect that some women develop preeclampsia as a type of immune system reaction to the father's sperm, the placenta, or the fetus.6

Preeclampsia has been linked to placenta problems (such as a twin pregnancy with a larger placenta and poorer blood circulation than normal), high blood pressure, conditions that can lead to high blood pressure (such as obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome), and diabetes.5

What are the symptoms of high blood pressure and preeclampsia?

High blood pressure usually doesn't cause noticeable symptoms. However, severely high blood pressure sometimes causes headaches and shortness of breath or changes in vision.

Mild preeclampsia also doesn't typically cause noticeable symptoms. Preeclampsia can, however, cause rapid weight gain, problems with blood clotting, and sudden, persistent swelling of the hands and face. Severe preeclampsia causes signs of brain or organ trouble, including a severe headache, vision problems, breathing problems, abdominal pain, and decreased urination.

How are high blood pressure and preeclampsia diagnosed?

Because low-to-moderate high blood pressure and preeclampsia typically develop without causing symptoms, it is important to have a blood pressure check and a urine screen for higher-than-normal protein levels (a sign of preeclampsia) at each prenatal visit.

Your blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff during every prenatal checkup. A sudden increase in blood pressure is typically the first sign of a possible problem.

Preeclampsia is diagnosed when blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg. Many women also have increased levels of protein in their urine. However, if your blood pressure has recently gone up and you now have a headache or abdominal pain, tell your health professional right away. Preeclampsia can sometimes cause these signs and symptoms before protein shows up in a urine screen.3

How is high blood pressure treated during pregnancy? How is preeclampsia treated?

Mild-to-moderate long-term (chronic) high blood pressure during pregnancy is closely monitored, and blood pressure levels of 140/100 mm Hg and above may be treated with medication. Severe high blood pressure during pregnancy is typically treated with medication to prevent harm to the mother and fetus.

Depending on severity, preeclampsia may be treated with a medication to prevent seizures (eclampsia), blood pressure medication, or both.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Women Are Missing the Folic Acid Message

Health News: Too few women consume the B vitamin, which helps prevent birth defects

SUNDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Too many women of child-bearing age just don't get it -- folic acid, that is.

Despite years of public health campaigns telling women who are capable of getting pregnant to take in enough folic acid every day to prevent birth defects, the message isn't getting through.

Fewer women are getting enough of the B vitamin, according to a recent report from the March of Dimes. The number of women in the United States taking folic acid supplements to prevent birth defects dropped from 40 percent in 2004 to 33 percent this year, the report stated.

Other than repeating the message about the importance of folic acid, most public health officials can't decide what else might persuade women to follow the advice. But at least one expert says that, perhaps, the focus should shift to just a simple message to take your vitamins daily, since most supplements contain adequate folate.

"I think it's basic education," said Dr. Tsunenobu Tamura, a professor of nutrition science at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who has focused on folic acid in his research. "If we are aware that it is important then we tend to take it. It's awareness."

Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid, a vitamin crucial for proper cell growth, every day can dramatically reduce birth defects such as spina bifida and other problems of the brain and spine. About 3,000 pregnancies a year are afflicted with these problems, called neural tube defects, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To get that much folic acid isn't difficult -- you can take a single vitamin pill or you can get it from folate-rich foods, such as leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits, or from folate-fortified foods like enriched breads and cereals. Fortification of foods such as breads with folic acid has been mandated since 1998 in the United States, in an effort to boost folate intake.

Perhaps the message should emphasize how important it is to take a daily multivitamin, said another expert, Kathleen Yadrick, a professor of nutrition and food systems at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. She and her colleagues studied 100 black, female college students to determine what would convince them to take vitamins daily, since most vitamins contain the recommended amount of folate.

"The essence of this research is that women are more likely to pay attention to things that encourage them to take supplements in general rather than just folic acid," Yadrick said. She concluded that future campaigns should stress taking vitamins, instead of focusing solely on folate.

More information on this topic.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Chinesse Pregnancy Calendar

Can this centuries-old lunar chart predict your baby's gender?

Will your baby be a boy or a girl? This ancient chart is supposed to predict your child's gender, based upon your age and the month of conception!

More about the chart
The chart was supposedly discovered in a tomb and is rumored to be over seven centuries old. (The original is said to be on display at the Beijing Institute of Science in China.) How accurate is it? Reports vary -- so don't repaint the nursery based on the results -- but it's still fun to see what is predicted for you! To make it easier to read, we have separated the chart into two. You should also base your age on your lunar age. Lunar months are about 29 days long.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Calculating Your Pregnancy Dates: Gestation, Conception & Due Date

Gestational age, or the age of the baby, is calculated from the first day of the mother's last menstrual period. Since the exact date of conception is almost never known, the first day of the last menstrual period is used to measure how old the baby is.

Use our Pregnancy Calculator to calculate these dates for you.

Calculating Gestational Age:

Last Menstrual Period: If the mother has a regular period and knows the first day of her last menstrual period, gestational age can be calculated from this date. Gestational age is calculated from the first day of the mother's last menstrual period and not from the date of conception.

Ultrasound: The baby can be measured as early as 5 or 6 weeks after the mother's last menstrual period. Measuring the baby using ultrasound is most accurate in early pregnancy. It becomes less accurate later in pregnancy. The best time to estimate gestational age using ultrasound is between the 8th and 18th weeks of pregnancy. The most accurate way to determine gestational age is using the first day of the woman's last menstrual period and confirming this gestational age with the measurement from an ultrasound exam.

Calculating Conception Date:

In a Typical Pregnancy: In a woman with a regular period, conception typically occurs about 2 weeks after the first day of the last period. Most women do not know the exact date of conception, and their conception date is merely an estimate based on the first day of their last period.

Special Cases: Women who undergo special procedures such as artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization typically know the exact date of conception.

Calculating Due Date:

Estimated Due Date: Based on the last menstrual period, the estimated due date is 40 weeks from the first day of the period. This is just an estimate since only about 5% of babies are born on their estimated due date.

Difficulties in Determining Gestational Age:

Last Menstrual Period: For women who have irregular menstrual periods or women who cannot remember the first day of their last menstrual period, it can be difficult to determine gestational age using this method. In these cases, an ultrasound exam is often required to determine gestational age.

Baby's Growth: It is difficult to determine the gestational age in some cases because the baby is unusually large or small. Also in some cases the size of the uterus in early pregnancy or the height of the uterus in later pregnancy does not match the first day of the last menstrual period. In these cases as well, it is difficult to obtain an accurate gestational age.

Ways To Chart Your Fertility Pattern

Fertility Pattern Charting Methods

Here are brief descriptions of the charting methods you can use to predict when you ovulate in order to plan or prevent pregnancy. More complete descriptions follow.

* For the temperature method: Take your temperature every morning before getting out of bed. Your temperature rises between 0.4°F and 0.8°F on the day of ovulation. It remains at that level until your next period.

* For the cervical mucus method: Observe the changes in your cervical mucus. You must do so all through the first part of your menstrual cycle, until you are sure you have ovulated. Normally cloudy, tacky mucus will become clear and slippery in the few days before ovulation. It also will stretch between the fingers. When this happens you are in your most fertile phase. You must abstain from vaginal intercourse or use a barrier contraceptive during this time to avoid pregnancy.

* For the calendar method: Chart your menstrual cycles on a calendar. You may be able to predict ovulation if your periods are the same every month. You must abstain or use a barrier method during your "unsafe days." It will be more difficult to predict the day of ovulation if the length of your cycle varies from month to month. In that case, you will have more "unsafe days." It is best not to rely on this method alone.
It is best to combine the temperature method, the cervical mucus method, and the calendar method. The combination of two or more of these methods is called the symptothermal method.

How Well These Methods Work

Of 100 couples who use any of these methods for one year, 20 women will become pregnant with use. The failure rate is higher for single women. Combining the various methods with careful and consistent use and having no unprotected vaginal intercourse during the fertile phase can give better results.
Of 100 couples who use the temperature method for one year with perfect use, two women will become pregnant.

Of 100 couples who use the cervical mucus method for one year with perfect use, three women will become pregnant.

Of 100 couples who use the calendar method for one year with perfect use, nine women will become pregnant.

Few couples, however, are able to use these methods perfectly. These methods require keeping consistent and accurate records. Some skill is required in figuring, and the margin for error depends on how accurately signs and records are interpreted and followed. It is most important that original explanations, early coaching, and frequent follow-up be done by a professional instructor or successful users. These methods work better for women whose cycles are always the same length.

Some couples chart the woman's fertility pattern to prevent pregnancy because it is economical, safe, and can be discontinued easily when pregnancy is desired. Little equipment is needed, and calendars, thermometers, and charts are widely available. No medication is involved, which is especially appealing to women who have physical or health conditions that might make other forms of birth control less desirable or unsuitable. Medical checkups are not required, although professional instruction is important. Periodic abstinence is acceptable to most religious groups. However, if a couple decides to have vaginal intercourse during the fertile period, pregnancy is likely to occur unless they use barrier methods such as a combination of condom and foam.

Charting fertility patterns requires dedication, education, and practice. It is most effective when both partners are mature, responsible, and committed to making them work. That's why it is very important for both partners to learn the fundamentals and support each other in observing the abstinence or contraceptive use that is required.

Women who are breast-feeding or approaching menopause may find it more difficult to chart their fertility. Their fertile signs may vary in unpredictable ways due to irregular hormonal fluctuations.

If you are taking the Pill or any other hormonal method, you'll have to stop taking it and use another method of contraception that has no hormones, such as a barrier method (condoms, female condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps), while learning to chart your fertility. Hormones in the Pill alter the natural menstruation and fertility cycle.


Friday, November 25, 2005

Working Mother - 100 Best Companies

HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES
Allstate Insurance Company
American Express Company
Bank of America
Citigroup
DuPont
Hewlett-Packard Company
IBM Corporation
Johnson & Johnson
Lincoln Financial Group
Marriott International, Inc.
Merck & Co., Inc.
Patagonia, Inc.
The Procter & Gamble Company
Prudential Financial
S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc.

It’s quite an honor roll. To qualify as a Hall of Fame inductee, a company must have been named to the 100 Best for 15 years or more and appear on the 2005 Working Mother 100 Best. This year, ten of the 15 firms we honor have won recognition 16 or more times. And IBM and Johnson & Johnson have made the 100 Best every year since its launch 20 years ago. We salute the 15 men and women spotlighted here and their companies for creating—and often championing—policies that make it possible for working moms to achieve success at work and at home.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Pregnancy Books - Hot List

The Mother of All Pregnancy Books: The Ultimate Guide to Conception, Birth, and Everything In Between

A book that lives up to its name, author Ann Douglas has packed a remarkable amount of text, charts and tables into this 500-plus page volume that covers nearly every aspect of pregnancy, from considering pregnancy (is there ever a "good" time to do it?) to nutrition, exercise, breast-feeding and the top 10 worries for each trimester. Incredibly comprehensive yet easy to follow… (Copyright 2002 Chicago Tribune, June 16, 2002 Sunday)

What to Expect When You're Expecting

Eighteen years after it first hit the shelves and having sold more than 10 million copies, What to Expect When You're Expecting is still on nearly every mother-to-be's reading list. This completely revised and updated edition is packed with answers to hundreds of questions and worries expectant parents may have. The information is presented in a month-by-month format starting with planning a pregnancy and choosing a practitioner, and follows through to six weeks after delivery… --Jennifer Lindsay

The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy

Beginning with the "10 Greatest Lies About Pregnancy" (number 10: Lamaze works), and ending with postpartum dementia, Vicki Iovine's Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy has fast become the laywoman's mouthpiece for the American pregnancy experience. Iovine is irreverent, sassy, and incredibly reassuring as she exposes the "truths" of pregnancy and childbirth, from sex to cellulite to cesareans...--Ericka Lutz

What to Expect When You're Expecting Pregnancy Organizer

Marrying the friendly authority of What to Expect When You're Expecting with the ease-of-use of a daily planner, here is a companion for every stage of pregnancy. It's a complete planner, and includes forms to track medical expenses, checklists to help achieve a healthy diet, easy-to-fill-in personal and family medical history pages, suggested shopping lists...

Butterflies & Hiccups: A Guided Pregnancy Journal

This 180 page journal, beautifully illustrates the miracle of pregnancy with grace and charm. Each month contains thought-provoking questions that prompt the new mother-to-be (and father!) to capture the most important moments of pregnancy. There is plenty of room to record practitioner visits, baby’s development, the physical changes and symptoms, special circumstances during pregnancy and room for pictures, if desired!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Preparing for Your Baby's Arrival

The following list provides a few suggestions to help you prepare for your baby's arrival at home:
Ø Prepare a place in your home for the baby
Ø Purchase essential nursery equipment
Suggestions for essential nursery equipment are:
• Bottles (ounce) and nipples
• Brush for cleaning bottles
• Large tote or diaper bag packed with: Several diapers, Receiving blanket, Change of clothes, Plastic bag for soiled diapers, Washcloth or baby wipe, Diaper pail for cloth diapers, Plastic lined garbage pail for disposable diapers, Nursing Bras (2 cotton), changing table or place to change diapers.
Ø
Purchase a crib
Ø Purchase and learn how to use a federally approved car seat
Ø Select a physician to be your baby's doctor
Ø Attend a newborn care class
Ø Attend a breastfeeding class
Ø Prepare a basic layette of essential clothing and equipment for the baby
Ø Wash baby clothes before using

Extra advice to parents of newborns boosts babies' health and parents' skills

Baby Gear...What I recommend you buy...

There are all types of baby gear you can buy for your baby, but there are some essential things that you should consider buying and that will make your life easier. When I first started to look for the baby gear that I would buy for my baby, there was something that was very clear in my head and it was that I wanted to get the best I could get for my money. I looked into many different manufacturers looking for the one that I considered the most innovative and at the same time conservative. Graco was the manufacturer that I found to be offering not only the items that I was searching for, but also with the characteristics that I wanted. I had a list of things that I wanted to buy: stroller, car seat, playard, 6-speed swing, bouncer & highchair. I went to a couple of stores and searched the internet to compare prices. At the end it was cheaper and more convenient to order everything online and have it shipped to my home. Again, I found the best prices in Wal-Mart and so that’s where I decided to purchase all of the gear that I had planned to buy. The other thing is that some of the baby gear that I saw on the Wal-Mart website was not even found in stores or I wouldn’t find all of the articles that I wanted with the pattern I had chosen for my baby. I drove around for weeks and I would go into every baby store that I saw just to see if I could find what I was looking for, but no such luck. I was surprised to see how ordering online suddenly became my only choice when it came to buying things for my baby, because even Wal-Mart had some of these items available exclusively online and not in their stores. Finally, I placed the order online and had no trouble at all with the items. My baby loves the 6-speed swing, it seems to sooth him when he’s fussy and he’ll even take long naps in it. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t bought that swing because it’s not easy carrying a baby all day, sometimes you just need the rest and that’s exactly what the swing provides. The playard I pretty much only use because of the changing station, because the model that I bought brings an elevated changing table with convenient height for diaper changes. The rest of the items I use occasionally but not as often as the swing and the playard.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Nursery Decor & Baby Furniture

We were expecting a baby boy, and so we decided to paint the room blue. After applying the blue paint, the room looked a bit dull and that’s when we decided to apply a glazing technique to it called ragging on. We found the instructions for the technique at Behr. After applying this technique we put up the animal wallpaper border we had bought. The room was looking much better, but there was still much more work to be done. We went out and bought oak wooden blinds for the windows, which gave the room a touch of sophistication, and we thought it would be easier to keep the room dust free if we didn’t use fabric curtains. Since we went with the oak wooden blinds, we decided to decorate the room with oak finished drawer chests, crib, rocking chair and wooden framed art. At first we went to a couple of furniture stores to see if we could find nice baby furniture to compliment the room, but everything was very expensive and I didn’t want to waste my son’s college tuition on this. I went online and searched to see if there was anything that I liked at a reasonable price, and that’s when I came across the Storkcraft baby line of furniture. It was exactly what I was looking for, but I wasn’t sure where I could buy it at a good price and that would deliver the items in good condition. I finally ended up purchasing the Storkcraft Aspen Stages Crib with Drawer (turns into a Full size bed), the Storkcraft Beatrice 3-drawer chest, and the Storkcraft Beatrice 5-drawer chest at Wal-Mart. The prices were the best I could find online, the items were delivered via UPS to my doorstep in perfect condition and they delivered the items sooner than I expected and much earlier than the delivery date they specified on their site when I placed the order. The furniture arrived unassembled, but the instructions were very easy to follow and we were able to put everything together in no time. The only thing I was missing was the rocking chair which I also purchased in Wal-Mart because the price was unbeatable; I bought the Glider Rocker with matching Ottoman for less than $80 dollars. Next step was buying baby gear, but that’s a whole new other story.

Nursery Theme

One of the most difficult things for me when I was pregnant was getting the nursery ready. There are many reasons for this, but the most important was that I wanted to take my time to make sure that the nursery was all I ever dreamed it would be. I started to search for nursery tips and nursery ideas in the internet but that was not helpful at all. I would find nursery pictures with the most horrible nursery decoration you could ever imagine. Searching for a nursery theme was another pain in the neck. I had to make sure that whatever I decided to choose as a theme offered me everything I needed to decorate the nursery completely, but there was always something missing, everything from not being able to find the matching lamp, up to not being able to find the matching crib bedding set. At the end I was where I first started, with no idea what I would do to decorate the nursery. One day I was shopping for a few things when I came across a wallpaper border with many different animals on it. I really liked the border and the animals were nicely painted cartoons. What I liked the most was that I was able to find all the accessories I needed with all these animals on them, especially from Kids Line Inc. at Babies‘R’Us (crib bedding set, wall art, lamp, musical mobile, etc.). I would recommend giving it some thought before you decide on any particular theme, because sometimes finding some of the nursery accessories could turn into mission impossible.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Sleepless Baby, Cranky Parents

This has been the story of my life since my son was born. When I was pregnant many people would tell me the same thing “sleep all that you can, now, while you have the chance.” I would listen but I didn’t really take the advice seriously. Today I can say that I should have taken their advice. When the baby was first born, he would wake up every two hours for milk. After a few weeks, he started to wake up every three hours for milk. When he turned two months, he would sometimes sleep until 6:00 a.m., but other times he would wake up several times during the night. Sometimes you just feel like you haven’t slept at all, and obviously you tend to get very cranky. The hardest part for me was having to go back to work, knowing that I would not be able to wake up rested in the morning, but luckily it hasn’t been that bad. Many people advised me to let the baby cry during the whole night for a couple of nights until he got used to not waking up, but I read that the baby would grow out of it on his own and I really couldn’t get myself to do it. When he turned four months he stopped waking up all on his own, which means that they do in fact grow out of it even though it does requiere some sacrifice on your behalf.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Should you go for the epidural (spinal anesthesia)?

I asked myself this same question many times when I was pregnant. I had read that it was much better not to take the epidural (spinal anesthesia) because it was best to let your body respond naturally to what was happening, but I don’t know what I would’ve done if I wouldn’t have had the option. When I went into labor, my water broke and I wasn’t having any contractions at all, but when my contractions began they were so close together that I didn’t know when one ended and the next one began. I felt much better when I would squeeze my husbands’ hands but I don’t know how I didn’t break his arm off from squeezing so hard. After a while I gave up and asked for the epidural but I was informed that the anesthesiologist was not in yet and that I would have to wait about 15 to 20 minutes for him to arrive. I remember like it was yesterday, looking at the clock on the wall and hoping time would somehow just fly by. Finally the anesthesiologist came into the room and proceeded to read to me all of the terms and effects of the epidural, he was reading very calmly and I felt as he was reading a 500 page book. Truth is that under any other circumstance I would probably not even consider having a needle injected into my spine, but to tell you the truth I think that the contractions were so strong that I wouldn’t have felt it if someone would have shot me with a gun in that moment. After getting the epidural all I could feel when I got the contractions was a slight pressure in my stomach, but no pain at all. In my experience, next time I decide to have a baby I will definitely request the epidural without giving it a second thought. You will know what to do when your moment comes.
Find more information about this topic in:
Medications in Labor

Monday, October 31, 2005

Cesarean (C-Section) or Natural (Vaginal) Birth?

This was a very important question for me when I was pregnant. At first I thought that the best option would be vaginal without epidural, because this is the natural way of having a baby and you do recover quicker. As the months passed by I started to get a bit nervous because I wasn’t sure if I would be strong enough to handle labor without epidural. I started looking for information and asking around and found out that many women preferred cesarean (c-section) over vaginal birth, although many other women said that they preferred the vaginal birth. Some women also stated that they would prefer the vaginal only if they were to be given epidural (spinal anesthesia). When I went into labor the doctors were prepared for a vaginal birth, but the baby had his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and was having a lot of difficulty breathing every time I would get a contraction. This had the nurses and doctors a bit worried. The other issue was that I was not dilating, not even after being injected with pitossin (most common drug used to induce labor). After several hours of waiting for me to dilate the doctors finally decided it was best for the baby if they proceeded with the cesarean (even though I had decided on the vaginal birth, I wasn't really given a choice). Many people tell me that they don't like the cesarean because it takes a lot longer for you to recover, but I didn't have any problem recovering. The next morning I was up from the bed and that same afternoon I could move around with no trouble at all, although it is a bit uncomfortable, but that is to be expected after giving birth. As with everything else in pregnancy, every woman is different and you won’t know what's going to happen until you’re actually in labor.

Number of U.S. Pregnant Women Choosing Voluntary C-Section Increased 36.6% From 2001 to 2003, Report Says

How will you know when your water breaks?

It is hard to know what you will feel when your water breaks if this is your first baby. I would say that you will hear a cracking sound (similar to the sound you hear when you crack your knuckle) inside yourself, something very subtle that could even go unnoticed. The next thing you feel is water coming out of you, like when you are urinating but the water flows a little bit quicker and it’s something you can’t control. Sometimes it doesn’t all come out right away; instead it could flow out in small portions. It is good to know what to expect because your water could break even if you’re not having contractions. For my first pregnancy, my water broke while I was sleeping. I remember hearing that sound in my sleep and feeling a liquid coming out of me. I woke up and thought to myself “Is this urine?”, but I stayed in bed for a while longer to make sure before taking any action. I felt more liquid flowing out of me and that’s when I knew that my water did break. I hurried to the hospital and about an hour later I started to get contractions.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Morning Sickness Facts

Morning sickness is one of the most unpleasant aspects of pregnancy. The worst part about it is trying to find morning sickness remedies or morning sickness relief that in most cases never seem to work. You can even find yourself accepting the fact that there's nothing you can do to get rid of it. You may find some tips in books, magazines, online articles and newsletters, but the truth is that not everything may work for you because no two pregnancies are alike. Everyone is different, some women never get morning sickness but others suffer throughout the full pregnancy term. The reason why women get morning sickness during their pregnancy is because their bodies are going through many changes, including the rapid increase of estrogen level, the increase of the hCG hormone and the excess stomach acids. Morning sickness doesn't necessarily strike in the morning, it could strike anytime of the day. What seems to work best is eating frequent small meals and avoid an empty stomach. You can also try talking to your healthcare professional, because he can prescribe a safe and effective medication that can give you some relief.

Pregnancy Morning Sickness - Ginger as Effective as Vitamin B6

Confirming that you're pregnant

There are two ways you can confirm if you're pregnant. The most reliable way of confirming a pregnancy is through a quantitative (Beta hCG) blood test because it can pick up very small amounts of hCG, which makes it a very accurate test. The results can confirm you're pregnant as soon as 6 to 8 days after you ovulate. The qualitative blood test can determine pregnancy around 2 weeks after ovulation. The urine test is similar to the qualitative, although some more sensitive urine tests can determine pregnancy as soon as 6 days after conception. If you decide to use a home pregnancy test, make sure you follow the instructions and that you verify the expiration date, because these are two things that you could make it less accurate. There are some situations that can alter pregnancy test results. Performing the home pregnancy test too early in the pregnancy could give you an inaccurate result due to the fact that you don't have enough pregnancy hormone in your urine. The best time to test yourself is around when your period is due, if the result is negative you could try testing yourself again 1 week after this initial test. Another factor that could alter the test results is if you're taking any type of drug that contains the pregnancy hormone in them. This could lead to a false positive result.

Initial Pregnancy Symptoms

There are many early signs that will alert you when you first become pregnant. Sometimes these signs will be very obvious, but other times they could pass unnoticed. I can mention a few of the signs that I experienced and that made me suspect that I was pregnant, but the truth is that everyone is different and the symptoms can vary from one person to the other. A few of the common pregnancy symptoms are: swelling or enlargement of your breasts, intolerance to certain types of food, changes in appetite, tiredness, sleepiness, mood swings, lower back pain, heightened sense of smell, nausea, and a very essential indication would be a missed period.