• Things We've Read: Week of Aug. 22nd, 2016

    Eye-Opening Video Will Make Adults Reconsider The Way They Talk To Children (Huff Post): Small changes in adult behavior, both inside and outside of the classroom, can enhance a child’s approach and her ability to learn.

    Why I Am Lucky To Live In A State With Strong Reproductive Rights (Scary Mommy): One mom's story and the importance of reproductive rights.

    The Problem With Parenting Books (Vogue): "To write honestly about being a parent is, even now, to invite judgment."

    Couple Didn't Have Funds For A Wheelchair, So They Built One For Their Baby (Huff Post): “Nothing can stop her.”

    Is Hayden A Boy Or Girl? Both. 'Post Gender' Baby Names Are On The Rise (NY Times): The number of unisex baby names has risen 88% over the last three decades since 1985.

    Brain Scans Of Brazilian Babies Show Array of Zika Effects (NY Times): Understanding the impact of Zika.

    Moms Of Babies Who Died In Child Care Share Their Powerful Message (Refinery29): "They came from across the country — and from both political parties — with a shared goal: no other mother should have to lose a child as they had."

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  • Extreme Baby Skills

    5 ways to take your baby’s skills to the next level.

    Articles & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

    Every so often, we hear the story of a baby (genius?) who’s potty-trained at 9 months or knows more sign language than any adult we know. The truth is, with a little bit — or sometimes a lot — of work, most babies can learn to do some pretty spectacular things at a young age. Here’s 5 few ways to get your baby on the fast track, if you’re feeling up to the task.

    What it is: Say no to diapers with this potty practice that involves teaching baby to communicate about her elimination needs. Parents get in tune with baby’s bathroom patterns, and quickly respond by holding her over a toilet or sink to get the job done. Advocates point out that elimination communication is not potty training, but rather, a method of better understanding your baby’s needs.
    Benefits for you and/or baby: You’ll save tons on diapers (and save the planet a little too). Plus when all of your friends are potty training in two years, you’ll be sitting back and relaxing, dry floor and all.
    Get ready for these challenges: Expect accidents – there will inevitably be missed cues or slow response times. For city dwellers, there may be some awkward public exposure since bathrooms are not always at the ready.
    Difficulty rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 8
    More info:

    What it is: We know: sometimes baby food looks as appetizing as cat food. So why not hand over whatever you’re eating? Baby Led Weaning means letting your child move from breast milk or formula right into big people food, at around 6 months.
    Benefits for you and/or baby: Skip the annoying — and often unhealthy — purees, and jump right into wholesome family food.
    Get ready for these challenges: Many mamas that try Baby Led Weaning say gagging is a natural reflex…but it can still be terrifying. If you’ve got a caregiver, you may be out of luck — try telling your nanny that baby can nosh on a big broccoli stalk and let us know what she says.
    Difficulty rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 2 for the actual skillset of handing your baby food as is; 10 for getting through the fear factor.
    More info:

    What it is: Before we had babies, we hoped we’d have a “Look Who’s Talking” type — you know, the one who could speak full sentences by 4 months. But in case you don’t get one (we didn’t), you can still find ways to get your little one to communicate, like sign language. As early as 6 months, you can teach baby hand gestures to tell you he’s hungry, wants more, is all done, or wants to watch another episode of Girls. Just kidding on that last one.
    Benefits for you and/or baby: You and babe will both be less frustrated when there’s more to say than just goo-goo ga-ga. Many believe there’s also cognitive benefits like earlier speech.
    Get ready for these challenges: Well first, assuming you don’t already know it, you have to learn some sign language. Also, consistency is helpful; if you’re a working mom, you’ll need to get your caregiver on board.
    Difficulty rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 7
    More info:

    4. BABY DJ-ING
    What it is: If you haven’t already heard, you can get your baby on the nightlife circuit early with Baby DJ school. Seriously, we were pretty skeptical too, but at the crux of it, the class is all about exposing your little one to new interesting sounds, textures and movements — like any other music class.
    Benefits for you and/or baby: Not only does it help develop motor skills, but the class is an early intro to technology, which — like it or not — is the way of their life. Also, the music is way more fun to listen to than the usual kiddie fare.
    Get ready for these challenges: People are going to totally roll their eyes when you tell them you signed up.
    Difficulty rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 5. Unless you’re also a DJ, this is not something you can teach at home. Thankfully, there’s now several Baby DJ locations around the city.
    More info:

    5. BABY REIKI 
    What it is: If you’ve ever been in labor, you know the term “positive energy” is no joke. So we take it pretty seriously when someone says that Reiki can help us to balance and uplift baby, while addressing discomforts like teething and gas.
    Benefits for you and/or baby: Reiki is not only safe for babies, pregnant women and according to our friends at Purple Reiki, even plants (!). It is even used in some hospitals around the country to complement traditional Western therapies. Reiki can help restore energy and calm nerves for mama, while easing and relaxing baby.
    Get ready for these challenges: “You must be open and willing to receive it.”
    Difficulty rating (on a scale of 1 to 10): 3. You can’t do it at home, and it’s not free.
    More info: Shanti Baby Yoga

    This article is by Jessica Pallay courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

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  • Things We've Read: Week of Aug. 15th, 2016

    Need A Babysitter? Don't Count On Grandma (NY Times): Today's grandparents are juggling between their own plans and helping out with grandchildren.

    Hi, I'm Boomer Phelps, The Swaggiest Person At These Olympics (Huff Post): "All I ask is that when I’m snoozing, you give me my space. That’s my me time, you know?"

    When Success Leads To Failure (The Atlantic): The pressure to achieve academically is a crime against learning.

    27 Adorable Photos Of Olympians Just Being Regular Ol' Parents (Huff Post): Hilarious and totally aww-worthy parenting moments from some of the 52 U.S. Olympians with kids.

    The Underground Breast Milk Market In America (Mic): For women who underproduce breast milk, feeding babies can be incredibly expensive.

    Have Politics Become So Ugly That Educators Are Afraid To Teach Civics? (Fast Company): Schools wary of Clinton versus Trump minefields are avoiding lessons on government—but it's to the detriment of our kids.

    Back-To-School Sales Tax Holidays May Be Skimpier This Year (NY Times): Some states are scaling back on the potential savings offered.

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  • 10 Tips for Resuming Exercise Post-Baby

    Exercise in the postpartum period can be incredibly beneficial.  Besides the obvious benefit of helping you return to your pre-pregnancy fitness level faster, it also helps you to better carry out the physical demands of early motherhood with less risk of injury.  In addition, exercise helps to improve your mood by providing an important mental break and triggering the release of endorphins – your body’s “feel-good” chemicals.  In fact, exercise is associated with mitigating instances of postpartum depression.

    In order to reap these great benefits, however, it’s important to return to exercise safely and properly.  Follow these 10 tips to ensure your return to exercise is as effective as possible:

    1. Make sure you have clearance from your doctor: You should not resume exercise until you are officially cleared by your doctor at your postpartum check-up.  The average recovery time is 4-6 weeks for a vaginal birth, and 6-8 weeks for a C-section.  If you are eager to resume exercise, you can speak with your doctor about scheduling a checkup 2-3 weeks after delivery.  If you had a relatively uncomplicated vaginal delivery, your doctor may clear you to do some forms of exercise at this early checkup.

    2. You CAN begin rebuilding your core immediately!  Pregnancy and childbirth obviously take quite the toll on your core. However, the good news is you can begin the process of rebuilding your core almost immediately after delivery (provided you feel ok) with these two great exercises for your innermost core muscles: Kegels for your pelvic floor muscles (the floor of your core) and TVA Holds for your transverse abdominis (TVA) muscle (the walls of your core, or your body’s “inner girdle”). These exercises are great to perform throughout your day, and can go a long way in helping you rebuild your core faster.

    3. Get checked for Diastasis Recti and pelvic floor problems:  Doctors are supposed to check for these common complications at your postpartum checkup, but unfortunately many doctors do not.  So, be sure to ask your doctor to check you!  

    Diastasis Recti is a separation of the rectus abdominis muscle that occurs in about 30% of pregnancies.  Pelvic floor problems can come in the form of incontinence (accidental leakage during movements like coughing, sneezing, laughing, or any sort of impact exercise) or prolapse (where the bladder or rectal organs descend down through the vaginal or rectal openings).  

    Both Diastasis Recti and Pelvic Floor problems pose significant restrictions on exercise and can lead to pain and further complications down the road if not corrected.  If you do have one of these conditions, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist.  PROnatal Fitness also offers an Ab-Rehab program focused on correcting Diastasis Recti.

    4. AVOID Sit-ups!!! Once cleared to exercise, you may be tempted to crank out those sit-ups as a way to start rebuilding your abdominal muscles, but this will actually have the OPPOSITE effect!  Crunching or twisting movements like sit-ups, crunches, bicycles, and oblique curls work the outermost layers of your abdominal muscles.   If you perform these moves with weak inner core muscles (especially a weak TVA), you risk further damaging your core.  

    Focus first on building strong inner core muscles before attempting any sort of crunch-like movement by following the exercise progression in these 7 moves for a stronger core.  Once your inner core is fully strengthened, you can progress to moves like sit-ups.  One way to test if your inner core is strong enough is to perform a sit-up and look at your belly.  Your belly should form a concave curve (like a valley) when you sit up.  If it curves the other way (and looks more like a mountain or protrusion), your inner core muscles are still too weak, and performing a sit-up will do more damage than good.  

    5. Don’t be so quick to resume those planks either: While planks can be a great way to strengthen your entire core, and avoid the damaging crunch-like action of sit-ups, planks are quite advanced moves that require a good deal of foundational core strength to perform correctly.  

    You will need to work your way up to performing a full plank by starting first with basic Kegel and TVA Hold exercises in a seated and standing position. Then progress onto exercises in the “all 4s” hands and knees position before a modified plank (with knees on the ground). Finally – once sufficient strength is built – a full plank.  This could take some time.  Follow the progression in these 7 moves for a stronger core, and make sure you can always feel your belly button engaging when performing the exercise.  If you are performing a plank, and feel it more in your back than in your abdominal muscles, this is a sign that your abdominal muscles are too weak, so dial it back to place your knees on the ground, or go into all 4s.

    6. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! This is important for every new mom, but especially nursing moms.  If you are nursing, you’ll need at least 12 glasses of water per day – more if you are exercising.  Water also helps to cleanse your system!  Drink water before, during, and after exercise.  One way to check if you are getting enough water is to monitor the color of your urine.  It should be pale yellow (straw colored) to clear.  If it is darker or yellower, this is a sign of dehydration.

    7. Wear proper breast support. Proper breast support is so important, as the breasts are larger and more sensitive after pregnancy.  Wear a supportive, and well-fitted bra. Bras that compress are better than those that lift.  However, it is also important to make sure the bra is not too small or too tight, as this can cause pain and impede milk production.  If you are nursing, put on the bra just before exercising, and change it immediately afterward to avoid discomfort or inhibition of milk production.

    8. Start back SLOWLY. While you may be eager to lose that baby weight, going back too fast and too hard will likely backfire on you – causing pain, extreme muscle soreness, or even injuries that may force you to take a temporary break from exercise.  A good rule of thumb is to think about the level you were working at during your third trimester, and take it down one more notch from there.  Then, gradually work your way back up as you feel comfortable.

    9. Remember you may still be a little unstable in your hips: After delivery, the effects of relaxin (the hormone that basically “loosens you up” in your pelvic hip area during pregnancy) remain in your body for several months, longer if you are nursing.  This means you may still be a little unstable in your pelvic hip area.  Be very careful with moves like deep lunges and quick side-to-side moves when first starting back.  Start by doing these moves, slower, more controlled, and with a smaller range of motion to rebuild stability and foundational strength.

    10. Consider taking a postpartum-specific exercise class: Taking a class specially geared toward postpartum women helps to ensure your workout is safe and effective – focusing on the things your body needs, and avoiding those moves that may cause damage.  The other benefit is that often these classes are a great way to meet other moms and find a new community of friends!  Many also offer the added benefit of allowing you to bring your baby so you don’t need a babysitter.  PROnatal Fitness offers a stroller workout that is modifiable for all stages of motherhood, and allows you to bring your baby (or toddler!).

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  • Why You Have Pregnancy Food Aversions

    Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

    Solving the great mystery of your pregnancy appetite.

    Have you ever wondered if you’re the only one who just can’t stomach a certain food during pregnancy? It’s certainly something I wondered. During my first trimester, I couldn’t handle thinking about, talking about or touching chicken – it caused an immediate gag reflex.

    While chicken seems to be common among pregnancy food aversions, there’s plenty of other foods that become total turnoffs when you’re a mom-to-be, even if you loved them before. It’s seemingly random and totally perplexing.

    But there is an explanation. It’s called Disgust. (Yep, you read it correctly!) Disgust is an emotion triggering behavioral avoidance of pathogens, and serves as a first line of defense against infections. The emotion is usually evident when immunological function is lower, which happens during pregnancy and most evidently during the first trimester because maternal immunosuppression is also the highest.

    Why? Dr. Julia Hormes, PhD and Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Albany, provides some food for thought: “Aversions seem to be adaptive and could potentially indicate a protective mechanism. It was thought that before we came into an era of food processing, food technology and food safety protocol — women were averse to foods that contained the highest amount of harmful pathogens that could hurt the fetus.”

    Additionally, this study found that the intensity of disgust felt by pregnant women could be related to the gender of the fetus. More specifically, women bearing sons had relatively high disgust sensitivity. “The elevation in disgust sensitivity during the second trimester for mothers bearing male fetus can be explained by the necessity to protect for a longer time.”

    For the most part, there’s not enough science to help understand the most popular food aversions — even the aforementioned study’s sample group was only 92 participants. But at least if you are experiencing food aversions during pregnancy, know you’re not alone. And if Disgust is in fact to blame, it’s thankfully only temporary.

    This article is by Anita Mirchandani courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

    Tags: Food

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  • Understanding Fertility: What You Can Do

    Fertility challenges are among the most stressful and disheartening challenges a woman and her partner can face. While many couples feel powerless, there are many things you can do to improve the overall health of both your eggs and your ovaries, and in so doing, better your chances of both conceiving and experiencing a successful pregnancy. The journey to a successful pregnancy starts with a focus on preconception health.

    Please note: the following are general recommendations only. Any plan to improve egg health should only be undertaken after consulting with a fertility counselor, fertility expert and or fertility coach. Every woman is different, and every woman considering fertility treatment deserves an egg health plan customized just for her taking into consideration her current health, family history, fertility challenges, pregnancy goals and unique bio-individuality.

    That said, here are five key things your fertility counselor may recommend to improve egg and ovarian health. Please note these are just some of the ways you can improve egg quality.

    1. The 90 Day Rule. The key window to improve egg health starts 90 days before ovulation. During those 90 days (the tonic growth and protein synthesis phase), the eggs are changing rapidly, and are most susceptible to lifestyle changes and choice a woman may make. It’s not just the egg’s cycle that matters here: any plan to improve egg health will need to be followed for at least 90 days to have an impact.

    2. Diet and Nutrition. How you eat during these 90 days can improve egg quality – or, unfortunately, have the opposite effect. Certain superfoods (dark leafy veggies, salmon, turmeric) can have a significant positive impact, while other things (caffeine, alcohol, sugar, trans fats) may damage egg health during this vital development phase.

    3. Exercise. Yep, you guessed it. Exercise sends fresh blood coursing through the body, and helps oxygenate the body. Exercise can energize you – and the mitochondria in your eggs as well. To be most effective, you may want to ask your fertility coach about various types of exercises known to enhance fertility as well as improve egg quality.

    4. Eliminating Toxins. Toxic substances can damage overall health as well as negatively impacting egg quality. Some toxic substances are obvious, but they bear repeating: alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other street drugs. Many toxic substances are less obvious: certain prescription drugs, of course, but also many cosmetics and household products. Toxic metals, lead, xenoestrogens (often found in plastic products): all these can directly harm egg quality in some women. Consult with a fertility expert to learn what toxins are the most important for you to eliminate, and to find out various methods for detoxifying your body and your home.

    5. Supplements. The previous tips are all important, but they’re also generally applicable to overall good health. When it comes to improving egg quality, you may need some additional help in the form of natural supplements. There are a number of supplements that have been shown to improve egg health and fertility outcomes in women, especially DHEA and Ubiquinol. DHEA is not suitable for all women. Ask your fertility coach for more information.

    A special note: the FDA provides very little regulation of supplements. A fertility coach can tell you which supplements (and which brands) have been scientifically proven to work in research settings. Not all supplements recommended improve egg quality. Some commonly used supplements promoted to help improve egg quality, actually further impairs egg quality. Hence why it’s important to know which supplements have been proven scientifically. Even more importantly, supplement dosages are dependent on each person’s unique bio-individuality as well as fertility challenges.

    Beware of anyone who offers a one-size fits all approach. Everyone metabolizes nutrients differently; one woman may need much more or less of a nutrient than another.

    One excellent way to gain insight into how much of a given nutrient you may need is to have your DNA analyzed by a fertility coach trained in DNA analysis. For example, there are specific fertility challenges linked to various ethnic groups. This reality makes DNA analysis far more relevant than simply gaining insight into one’s family tree.

    The Bottom Line

    Egg quality is a vital piece of the fertility puzzle. And despite what some may tell you, there’s more to determining egg quality than knowing a woman’s age. Most importantly, there are effective steps you can take to improve egg health. A fertility counselor, fertility expert or fertility coach can get you started on that journey.

    This article is written by Lin Weinberg, Fertility Coach at Spoken Origins and Your Fertility Guide, who specializes in helping clients conceive using an entirely new and truly personal approach to conception.

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