Monday, December 8, 2008

Is Your Pregnancy High Risk?

Your pregnancy may be treated as high risk if :

  1. you are over 35 years old and are therefore at increased risk of giving birth to a child with a chromosomal anomaly;
  2. you are under 17 and are therefore at increased risk of experiencing intrauterine growth restriction;
  3. you are carrying more than one baby and are therefore at risk of experiencing a number of pregnancy-related complications, including preterm labor;
  4. you have a chronic health condition such as diabetes, heart problems, or a blood-clotting disorder that has the potential to affect your pregnancy;
  5. you have a history of gynecological problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, or large symptomatic fibroids;
  6. you have a history of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or premature birth;
  7. you have an STD, including HIV, that could be transmitted to your baby during pregnancy or at the time of birth;
  8. you are pregnant as a result of assisted reproductive technologies (something that may put you at increased risk of having a multiple pregnancy);
  9. you have had two or more second-trimester abortions (which may increase your chances of having problems with an incompetent cervix);
  10. your mother took DES during her pregnancy (which may increase your odds of having difficulty carrying a pregnancy to term);
  11. you conceived while using an IUD (something that increases your chances of experiencing a miscarriage);
  12. you have a child with a genetic disorder or are a carrier for a genetic disorder (something that may increase your risk of giving birth to a child with that particular genetic disorder).

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Friday, December 5, 2008

Preterm birth

Preterm birth is the leading cause of neonatal death in multiples. Although the mere fact that you are carrying multiples puts you at increased risk of experiencing a pre-term birth, there are other factors that add to your risk. You’re at increased risk if

you have had abdominal surgery during the current pregnancy (for example, an appendectomy);

you have an abnormal uterine structure;

you have fibroids (benign uterine tumors);

you are experiencing emotional or physical stress;

you have high blood pressure;

you develop a high fever during pregnancy;

you have a kidney infection;

you are outside of the optimal age range (that is, if you are under 16 or over 35);

you are a DES daughter (your mother took diethylstilbestrol — DES — when she was pregnant with you);

you have been diagnosed with placenta pre-via;

you have been diagnosed with poly hydramnios;

you haven’t gained enough weight;

you have previously experienced premature labor or delivery;

you have been experiencing unexplained vaginal bleeding;

you are a smoker.

Although cerclage (a surgical procedure in which the cervix is stitched shut to prevent it from dilating prematurely) was once considered to be an effective means of preventing premature labor, most doctors no longer agree with its routine use in women carrying multiples. These days, cerclage is performed only on women with weak cervixes — a condition that the medical profession charmingly refers to as cervical incompetence. (As you probably realize, this is just a less-than-diplomatic way of saying that the cervix is unable to withstand the weight of the developing fetus, or fetuses, and opens prematurely.)

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What causes a multiple birth

Twin pregnancies result from either the fertilization of two separate eggs by two separate sperm (a process that results in dizygotic, or fraternal, twins) or the separation of a single fertilized egg into two fetuses (a process that results in monozygotic, or identical, twins). Higher-order multiple pregnancies involve fraternal twins, identical twins, or a combination of both types of twins.

Here are some basic facts about multiples:

Twins occur naturally in 1 out of every 90 births; triplets in 1 out of every 10,000 births; and quadruplets in 1 out of every 650,000 births.

Fraternal twins occur more often in certain families and in certain ethnic groups (the rates are 1 in 70 in African Americans and 1 in 300 for women of Chinese descent with whites falling in between). The incidence of fraternal twins also increases with maternal age, weight, height, and parity (that is, the number of pregnancies a woman has had).

Identical twins occur in approximately 4 out of every 1,000 births and are unrelated to maternal age, race, or parity.

Fraternal twins typically look no more alike than any other pair of siblings. They can be either of the same sex or one of each sex.

Identical twins have identical features: hair, eye color, blood type, and so on. If, however, one twin developed more rapidly in uterus than the other one, they may not look identical at birth.

Identical twins have similar handprints and footprints, but they do not share the same fingerprints. (This was good news to one family of identical twins who had to rush their babies off to FBI headquarters to get them re-fingerprinted so that they could figure out who was who!)

Some identical twins are known as “mirror twins” because one is virtually a mirror image of the other (for example, a birthmark that appears on the left arm of one appears on the right arm of the other, one is left-handed and the other is right-handed, and so on).

Identical triplets can also occur, but they are extremely rare.

It is possible for fraternal twins to be conceived by two different fathers, a process known as super fecundation.

Scientists believe that approximately one in eight natural pregnancies starts out as a twin pregnancy — even though only 1 out of every 90 births results in the birth of twins. This is one reason why many caregivers routinely do ultrasounds to confirm that there are no other viable fetuses left in the uterus when they suspect that a patient is miscarrying.

It is possible to miscarry one multiple and go on to carry the others to term. It is also possible to have a combination ectopic and uterine pregnancy (that is, one or more babies implant in the fallopian tubes and the others in the uterus). Fortunately, this is rare.

Although most twins are born within minutes of one another, sometimes days — even months — can elapse between the births of twins.

Often, it isn’t immediately obvious at birth whether same sex twins are identical or fraternal. If the parents want to know for medical reasons, blood from the umbilical cord is drawn and analyzed for type, Rh factor, and so on. If the results are still inconclusive, parents can choose to opt for DNA testing — highly accurate.

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Saturday, November 29, 2008

How a multiple pregnancy is diagnosed

The increased use of ultrasound has made it possible for the vast majority of parents to find out in advance whether there’s more than one baby on the way. This wasn’t the case a decade or two ago, when it wasn’t unusual for as many as 40 percent of multiple pregnancies to be undiagnosed prior to labor and delivery.

Even if you haven’t had an ultrasound, certain red flags may alert you and your caregiver to the possibility that you may be carrying twins. These are the warning signals:

Fraternal twins tend to run in your family.

You have been taking fertility drugs.

You experienced excessive nausea and vomiting during the first trimester.

Your uterus is growing more quickly or is larger than what would be expected at a particular point in your pregnancy.

You notice more fetal movement in this pregnancy than in previous pregnancies (assuming, of course, that this is your second or subsequent pregnancy).

More than one fetal heartbeat is heard.

If your caregiver suspects that you may be carrying multiples, he will likely send you for an ultrasound. Early ultrasound can detect more than 95 percent of multiple pregnancies.

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How will I know when my baby is sick?

A lot of first-time parents worry that they will fail to pick up on the warning signs that their baby is seriously ill. Fortunately, most quickly discover that their “parent radar” is more finely tuned than they thought and that they are able to zero in on the following symptoms of illness with relatively little difficulty:

Runny nose (usually caused by a viral infection such as the common cold, but can also be triggered by allergies or chemical sensitivities);

Coughing (can be caused by the common cold, allergies, exposure to cigarette smoke and other irritants, or chronic lung diseases);

Wheezing (caused by the narrowing of the air passages in the lungs and the presence of excess mucus in the major airways);

Croup (a noisy, seal-like bark that is caused by an inflammation of the windpipe below the vocal cords);

Diarrhea and/or abdominal cramps (can be triggered by a gastrointestinal problem, a food sensitivity, or other illnesses);

Vomiting (caused by a related illness and generally only cause for concern if your child is becoming dehydrated);

Changes to your baby’s skin color (e.g., extreme paleness or extreme flushedness; can be the result of a systemic or localized infection);

Rashes (caused by a viral or bacterial infection or an allergic reaction to a food, medication, or other substances);

Behavioral changes such as extreme fussiness or lethargy (caused by an illness or infection);

Fever (caused by an infection, a reaction to an immunization, or overdressing your baby).

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How to shop for your babies without going broke

Equipping a nursery for one baby is expensive enough. Equipping one for two or more babies can be enough to bankrupt a family — or so you might think. “A lot of parents have to get past the idea that everything has to be new for the babies,” says childbirth educator and mother of twins Joyce MacKenzie. “It’s safety and practicality you’re after, not the most beautiful crib in the store window.”

Although there’s a real temptation to run out and buy your babies matching brand-name gear, there are cheaper ways to acquire what your babies need. Here are some tips from parents who’ve been there:

Borrow as much baby gear as you can.

Just make sure that whatever you borrow meets current safety standards.

Shop secondhand.

You can find nearly new brand-name baby products at most consignment stores for half their original price or less. Although the better secondhand stores go out of their way to avoid carrying cribs or car seats that don’t comply with current safety standards, mistakes can and do happen. Therefore, the onus is still on you to make sure that the items you’re purchasing are up to snuff.

Don’t scrimp on the double (or triple or quadruple) stroller.

It’s the one thing that will keep you mobile. Note to parents expecting quadruplets: You might want to consider purchasing two doubles rather than one quadruple stroller if someone else will always be with you when you’re out with the babies. They’re easier to maneuver and easier to pick up secondhand.

Get by with a little help from your friends.

If your friends are planning to have a baby shower for you and they ask what you want, suggest a car seat or other big-ticket item. Your friends can pool their funds and buy you something you really need, rather than a lot of cutesy frilly dresses or sailor suits!

Go bargain hunting.

See if a local baby store or department store would be willing to give you a break if you bought all of your baby gear through them. If you’re purchasing two or more cribs, car seats, high chairs, and so on, you represent a lot of purchasing power. Don’t be afraid to bargain a little.

See if you can solicit some outright donations.

One family was able to convince the owner of a local pharmacy to let them have every seventh bag of diapers free.

Eliminate the frills.

Save money on baby wipes either by making your own (fill a squirt bottle with a mixture of liquid

baby soap and plain water, and then buy some inexpensive washcloths) or by making a box of wipes go further by cutting the wipes in half (one family swears that an electric knife works like magic).

Cut corners where you can.

You can save on disposable diapers by using high-quality brand names during the night (when you really want the babies to stay dry!) and lower-quality generic brands during the day. Another good strategy is to start buying diapers when you’re pregnant: one couple expecting triplets had 1,600 diapers stockpiled by the time their babies came home.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Save items such as used baby bottles, nipples, caps, lids, and acetaminophen samples from the hospital if your children spend some time in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). Otherwise, these items are thrown away by hospital staff.

Don’t overspend in the clothing department.

As a rule of thumb, twins need 1 1⁄2 times rather than 2 times as much clothing as a single baby.

Ask your baby’s doctor for a deal.

See if your children’s pediatrician will reduce the co-pay per visit given that you’re buying his services in bulk! Also, don’t be embarrassed to ask for any free coupons and baby-product samples that he may be able to pass your way.

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Coping with grief during pregnancy

Pregnancy is an emotional time, so it’s hardly surprising that it can trigger painful feelings of grief about the deaths of loved ones. If, for example, you recently lost a parent or a grandparent, or your partner died during your pregnancy, you may regret the fact that this special person in your life didn’t live long enough to meet your new baby. And, of course, the breakup of a marriage can trigger waves of grief that are not unlike the grief that many people experience following the death of a loved one. So if you find yourself unexpectedly single midway through your pregnancy, you may find yourself grieving the loss of your marriage and your hopes and dreams of co-parenting along with your ex.

A loved one’s death doesn’t have to be recent to trigger waves of emotion, incidentally. Some women who lost their mothers during childhood or their early teens find that they experience a period of “re-grieving” when they find themselves motherless during pregnancy. “I found myself with so many questions that a woman would normally ask her mother,” says Kelly, a 35-year-old mother of one. “It was the loneliest feeling in the world to realize that I didn’t have a mother to share my own journey to motherhood with.”

If you find that grief is affecting your ability to enjoy your pregnancy, you may want to talk to a friend who has been through a similar loss, find out if there is a grief support group operating in your community, or set up an appointment with a grief counselor who has experience with your particular type of loss.

Regardless of what type of support you line up for yourself, it’s important to find a healthy way to vent your feelings of loss so that you can break free from the tidal wave of grief that may threaten to drag you down and give yourself permission to look forward to the wonderful future that awaits you and your new baby.

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Monday, November 17, 2008

Styles of Parenting

Diana Baumrind, a psychology professor at the University of California at Berkeley, extensively studied parenting styles by observing families firsthand. She identified three different styles of parenting and also determined that one is more effective in raising confident children.

  • Permissive. You dish out a lot of affection, but you make few demands on your kid and wouldn’t consider yourself a strong disciplinarian. You’d rather be your kid’s best friend than her parent.
  • Authoritarian. You use a lot of commands and threats based on an absolute standard of conduct and higher authority. You rarely ask your child what he thinks or consider compromising or negotiating. You believe in indoctrinating your child with respect for work, authority, and tradition. There’s no give-and-take.
  • Authoritative. Your parenting combines confident authority with reasoning, fairness, and love. You encourage your child’s input and acknowledge your own responsibility as an adult but also your child’s individual needs and desires.

If you think you’re too permissive, see if any of these statements reflect your attitude:

  • I want to raise my child differently from how I was raised. My parents were too strict, and I don’t have a good relationship with them.
  • My schedule takes me away from my family a lot. This is my way of making up for not being there for my kids.
  • Everyone gives their kids things. Why should I be any different?
  • I’m trying to be a friend to my kids. I think that’s a big part of raising children and being a good parent.
  • I want my child to be happy and have a happy childhood. Always being on his case for his behavior isn’t going to help develop that outcome.
  • I’m afraid to say no to my child. He might not love or approve of me.
  • My child has had some tough breaks, and I’m just trying to make things easier.
  • I don’t believe in punishment.
  • I’m afraid that if I say no I might crush my child’s self esteem or spirit.
  • Bad behaviors just go away on their own. They’re really just a phase.

If you think you’re too authoritarian, see if any of these statements fit you:

  • I’m exhausted. I really don’t have time to listen to my kid’s opinions.
  • I believe kids should be seen, not heard.
  • This is how I was raised, and it’s how I plan to raise my kids.
  • Deep down this isn’t my philosophy, but my spouse is authoritarian. I’m copying my parenting partner’s style of discipline.
  • I think kids today are spoiled and need a firm hand, or they will never respect authority.
  • I don’t know another way to discipline my kids.
  • I’m afraid to lose control.
  • I believe in a family culture where you respect your elders and there is a clear hierarchy.

Which parenting style do you think produces kids who are more confident as well as more respectful? You’re right if you guessed “authoritative.” Consistently using this style of parenting greatly improves the chances that you will raise a more respectful, confident, happier child who also has a healthy relationship with you. What will make you decide to change your current style of discipline? What is the first step you need to take to make that change happen?

Source : 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. GETTING BACK TO BASICS AND RAISING HAPPY KIDS . Michele Borba, Ed.D. 2006

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Being pregnant and in an abusive relationship

According to a study reported in Obstetrics and Gynecology, one in five pregnant teens and one in six pregnant women can expect to experience physical or sexual abuse during her pregnancy — abuse that puts her at increased risk of experiencing miscarriage or giving birth to a low-birth weight baby.

Some pregnant women report an escalation of abuse during pregnancy, whereas others indicate that they only feel safe while they are carrying a child because they feel confident that their partner wouldn’t do anything to hurt the baby — something that can lead to repeated pregnancies as a way of escaping abuse.

Many women who have been putting up with abuse decide to make the break during pregnancy or shortly after the birth, fearing that the abuser may harm the baby. (Their concern about their baby’s well-being is justified, by the way: studies have shown that more than 50 percent of men who abuse their female partners also abuse their children and many others threaten to abuse their children.)

“It took me nine months after my son was born to finally leave an abusive relationship,” says Janna, a 35-year-old mother of two. “When I realized that my partner would be abusing my son, I realized I’d had enough.”

If you are in an abusive relationship and have made the decision to leave, here are some steps that can help you and your children get out as safely as possible:

Pack a suitcase and leave it in the care of a trusted friend or neighbor. Include clothing for yourself and your children, prescription medicines, toiletries, and an extra set of car keys.

Set up your own bank account and leave the passbook in the care of a friend.

Make sure that all of the important records you might need are in a place where you can find them quickly. These include birth certificates, Social Security cards, your voter registration card, your driver’s license, medical records, financial records, and documents proving ownership of the house and car.

Know exactly where you’re going and how to get there. If you will be staying with a friend or family member, make sure that person is prepared for the fact that you could show up at their doorstep at any time.

Call the police if you need help leaving or if you wish to press charges against your partner.

Arrange for counseling for yourself and any children you may already have. You may need some support in breaking free of the cycle of abuse and preparing for a happier future with your new baby.

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Monday, November 10, 2008

Real Mom’s Secret : A Mother who Loves Teaches Worth. Is This Part of Your Parenting?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. How well do you really know your child?

  • What are your child’s real passions, the things he loves to do? What are his interests, his hobbies? What does he tune in to or seem fascinated about?
  • What are her true talents? For instance, does she draw well? Does she have great rhythm, incredible grace, endurance, a kind heart? Does she think in numbers, have an amazing vocabulary?
  • What are his academic abilities? For instance, does he remember things quickly, enjoy reading or listening, like to write, have a knack for numbers, have a long attention span?
  • How does she handle social settings? Is she more of a watcher or a joiner? Does she lead or follow? Does she buckle to peer pressure or stand up to it? Does she prefer to be around lots of people, a few, or none at all? Does she make friends easily or need guidance? Is she more of an extrovert or an introvert?
  • How well does he handle pressure or criticism? Do deadlines stimulate or paralyze him? Does he need reminders, or is he self-motivated? When he fails, does he need encouragement, or does he pick himself right back up? Does criticism shrivel him or help him? Does he welcome competition or wither? Is he laid back or intense? Does he have positive or negative self-esteem?

2. Thinking now about the profile you’ve just created for your child, you need to ask yourself whether your hopes and dreams for her are based on who she really is or on who you want her to be. Are your current expectations—the ones you’ve more recently crafted for your child’s life—matching your kid so that they enhance his self-esteem? Are your dreams in line with your kid? What would need altering? Here are some things to consider: Would you say for the most part that your child is thriving or barely surviving? Loving the competitive pace or dreading it? Jumping out of bed each morning with an “I can’t wait” attitude for practice or playgroup or violin, or using excuses to get out of it? Is she talking excitedly about gymnastics or that new chess

club you’ve enrolled her in, or is she feigning headaches? Is your kid really capable of taking the accelerated class, doing the chore, participating in soccer or the playgroup? Are some of the tasks above his level of ability? Is he mature enough? Is this something he really wants to do, or is this your dream? Does he have the skills needed to succeed? Write a list of your concerns. Doing so will help you develop a plan to deal with them.

3. Has your kid or someone else ever wondered out loud if you’re being sensitive to who your kid really is?

4. If you’re sitting in a room and your child walks in unexpectedly, do your eyes light up with joy no matter what’s the latest mishap?

5. If there is one thing you could do to be more sensitive to your child and show your unconditional love, what would it be?

Source : 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. GETTING BACK TO BASICS AND RAISING HAPPY KIDS . Michele Borba, Ed.D. 2006

Friday, November 7, 2008

What’s up, doc? Things to talk about with your doctor

Fifteen years ago, women didn’t show up on their doctors’ doorsteps until they had missed their second period and were 99 percent sure they were pregnant. Today, most doctors recommend that their patients come in for a checkup before they start trying to conceive.

The reason for the change in thinking is obvious. Recent studies about the benefits of preconception health have served to hammer home an important message: It’s not enough to quit smoking, improve your eating habits, and start popping prenatal vitamins the moment the pregnancy test comes back positive. To give your baby the best possible start in life, you need to ensure that you are in the best possible health before you start trying to conceive.

Here’s why.

Even though today’s pregnancy tests are highly sensitive and allow women to test for pregnancy sooner than ever before, you probably won’t know for sure that you’re pregnant until at least four weeks after the date of your last menstrual period — perhaps even longer if your cycles are particularly lengthy or irregular. During this time when you’re wondering whether you’re pregnant, your baby’s major organs are being formed — a process that medical science refers to as either organogenesis or embryogenesis. That’s why it’s so important to be as healthy as possible before you start trying to conceive. This means setting up an appointment to see your doctor for a preconception checkup.

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Twelve Qualities Your Child Needs for a Life That’s Happily Ever After

Look at your child and try to picture him or her in twenty-five years as a grown-up. What do you see? Does your son or daughter have these twelve essential qualities:

1. Is he happy, optimistic, and secure? Does he have authentic self-esteem?

2. Is she in a healthy, loving relationship? Does she have good friends and loyal allies?

3. Does he have a strong moral compass? Does he have good values and strong character?

4. Does she have empathy and compassion for all people? Is she kind, unselfish, and humane?

5. Does he have self-control and patience? Can he delay gratification?

6. Is she able to make good decisions on her own?

7. Is he self-reliant?

8. Is she responsible and internally motivated? Does she have a good work ethic?

9. Is he practical and resourceful in handling day-to-day living?

10. Is she resilient? If life throws her a curve, can she bounce back?

11. Is he confident and positive about his identity and strengths?

12. Does she have fun? Does she laugh? Is her life balanced between work and love, self and others?

Yes, each of our kids is born with a certain temperament and genetic predisposition. Certainly there are some things about our kids’ development that are not under our control— but many are.

Source : 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. GETTING BACK TO BASICS AND RAISING HAPPY KIDS . Michele Borba, Ed.D. 2006

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Getting ready to get pregnant : Have you been diagnosed with endometriosis?

Endometriosis is the name given to a medical condition in which tissue similar to the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus, typically on the surfaces of organs in the pelvic and abdominal regions. Endometriosis is one of the top three causes of female infertility. Approximately 30 percent to 40 percent of women with the condition experience fertility problems.

Researchers are unsure why endometriosis affects fertility, but they think that the condition may interfere with the uterus’s ability to accept an embryo, change the egg in some way, or prevent the fertilized egg from making its way to the uterus in its normal fashion.

Because endometriosis often goes undiagnosed, it’s important to be aware of the key symptoms of this medical condition so that you can seek treatment sooner rather than later if you suspect you may be affected:

extremely painful (even disabling) menstrual cramps

heavy menstrual periods

premenstrual spotting

bleeding between periods

chronic pelvic pain (including pain in the lower back and pelvic region)

pain in the intestinal region

painful bowel movements or painful urination during menstruation

gastrointestinal symptoms (especially the urge to evacuate or pain with bowel movements)


difficulty becoming pregnant.

Note: In vitro fertilization (IVF) has proven to be quite effective in treating infertility in women with endometriosis.

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Real Mom’s Resource Guide

College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do About It, by Richard D. Kadison and Theresa Foy Di-Geronimo (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004). Sure, your kids may still be toddlers, but every parent should be aware of this book, and the sooner you read it the better. Written by the chief of the Mental Health Service at Harvard University Health Services, the book warns us of a mental health crisis in college students today. With the rising numbers of stressedout, depressed, suicidal students who cannot cope with failure (that is, their first B grade), parents need to understand the crisis now to better prepare their kids for life later.

The Heart of Parenting: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, by John Gottman, with Joan deClaire (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997). A renowned psychologist teaches you the five steps of Emotion Coaching not only to help you tune in to your children’s emotional needs but also to help kids become better at soothing themselves when they are upset.

“Help Me, I’m Sad,” by David G. Fassler and Lynne S. Dumas (New York: Viking, 1997). This book is full of solid advice for parents on recognizing, treating, and preventing childhood and adolescent depression.

The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon, by David Elkind (New York: Perseus, 2001). The title says it all. Now in its third edition, this classic is still pertinent today.

KidStress, by Georgia Witkin (New York: Viking, 1999). This book talks about what causes kids’ stress and offers practical ideas to alleviate it.

The Over-Scheduled Child, by Alvin Rosenfeld and Nicole Wise (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2001). The authors make a compelling argument against what they consider “hyperparenting” and the impact it has on kids. Put this book on your “mustread” list, Mom.

Parenting by Heart: How to Stay Connected to Your Child in a Disconnected World, by Ron Taffel, with Melinda Blau (Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus, 2002). In this book based around a long-standing series of parenting workshops, Taffel aims to debunk the most damaging myths of parenthood and replace them with a flexible set of solutions that can be easily adapted to different situations. This book presents a variety of innovative ideas that can boost our sensitivity to our children’s needs. Taffel, as always, is practical and affirming.

Positive Pushing: How to Raise a Successful and Happy Child, by Jim Taylor (New York: Hyperion, 2005). Dr. Taylor shows that achievement and happiness can be mutually inclusive. By providing active guidance and positive support, parents free their children to seek out and pursue true success and happiness in life.

The Pressured Child: Helping Your Child Find Success in School and Life, by Michael Thompson, with Teresa Barker (New York: Ballantine, 2004). This book helps sensitize parents to the real pressures that new cultural norms impose on kids at school these days and offers advice to parents and educators on how to help children cope. It is based on interviews with children, parents, and teachers and—most revealing—shadowing students at school.

What Do You Really Want for Your Children? by Wayne W. Dyer (New York: Avon, 1985). This book offers straightforward advice about raising children and increasing their self-esteem.

Your Anxious Child: How Parents and Teachers Can Relieve Anxiety inChildren, by John S. Dacey and Lisa B. Fiore (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000). This book describes proven ways to help kids handle stress and cope with difficulties more confidently.

Source : 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. GETTING BACK TO BASICS AND RAISING HAPPY KIDS . Michele Borba, Ed.D. 2006

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Getting ready to get pregnant : Are you anemic?

If you are anemic, the hemoglobin in your blood is insufficient to carry the amount of oxygen required to reach all of the cells in your body. This can cause serious problems during pregnancy by reducing the amount of oxygen your baby receives. If your anemia is significant, there is an increased risk for intrauterine growth restriction and also fetal hypoxia during labor. In addition, the mother will be less able to handle the blood loss associated with delivery (vaginal or cesarean) if she’s already significantly short on blood. Also, anemia that hasn’t been adequately evaluated may turn out to be a symptom of a more serious genetic or systemic disease.

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Urge to Be Super-mom

The result is that many moms today are suffering from what can only be described as a kind of frenzy—an abnormally high level of busyness, tension, stress, speediness, anxiety, heightened awareness, and even panic. Many moms can’t get enough sleep; they can never keep up or do enough for their kids and are feeling guilty and inadequate about it. They’re overwhelmed

trying to be Super-mom, to fulfill the expectations placed on them. They overcompensate by taking on more and more until you might as well admit that they’re in a state of Motherhood Mania. Of course, we accept those expectations. Isn’t that what a good mother does?

We know it’s not for a lack of love and good intentions. Yet it’s painfully obvious that things are bad, and we’ve got to find the reason. There’s no one easy answer, but here are eleven issues to consider:

1. New knowledge about child development.

We know a lot more about child development than we used to, and everyone agrees that parents do make a difference. What we say and do and how we behave with our children have a huge impact on their development. It’s not just nature, its nurture.

2. Competition.

Parents today want their children to excel— to do better than they did. There’s a feeling that kids have to win and do better than other kids, and there’s a big fear of failure, as if only the strong or successful can flourish in this age of anxiety. Moms find themselves fighting ruthlessly with other moms for slots in nursery schools or ice time on the hockey team.

3. More options.

Entrepreneurs have created so many attractive choices and opportunities for kids today. Parents find themselves bombarded with seductive appeals for everything from music, athletic, and academic training to adventure camps in foreign locales that are guaranteed to enrich their children’s lives or teach them a second language.

4. More media.

Here is just a one-week sampling of some of the cover stories in national magazines: Atlantic Monthly: “Stop Being a Slacker Mom”; New York Times Magazine: “Mommy Madness”; U.S. News & World Report: “Mysteries of the Teen Years”; Newsweek: “Babies and Autism”; Time: “What Teachers Hate About Parents: Pushy Dads. Hovering Moms. Parents Who Don’t Show Up at All. Are Kids Paying the Price?” During that same week, many TV and radio talk shows focused on parent-child crisis issues. Over eight hundred books on the concept of motherhood were published between 1970 and 2000; of those, only twenty-seven were published between 1970 and 1980. My mom had just one parenting “guru”: Benjamin Spock. These days it’s as though a new study comes out almost daily advising parents how to optimize their children’s potential.

5. Financial pressures.

It’s more and more expensive to be a parent. School materials, sports equipment and tournament travel, special lessons, tutoring, computer equipment—the demand for cash seems never ending. Then there’s just the “normal” stuff—clothing, food, books. With downsizing and layoffs in our roller coaster economy, parents are also concerned that their kids won’t be able to find a job unless they go to the very best schools and have better skills than anyone else. It all adds to the stress and mania.

6. Guilt.

We’re working. We’re striving. We’re often away from home more than we’d like. We’re trying to do the best for our kids, but it also means that sometimes we’re tired and cranky and don’t do everything we think we ought to be doing for our families. So we’re wracked with guilt, shame, remorse, and more guilt.

7. Wanting to be liked.

Many moms want to be their children’s best friend. They can’t stand the idea of making an unpopular decision, saying no, or (heaven forbid) disciplining their kids if doing so might cause their kids to resent them or say, “You’re mean, Mom.”

8. Outdoing their own moms.

And then there are some moms who are still dealing with unresolved conflicts from their own childhood. The last thing they want to do is repeat the same mistakes their mother made. “I’m going to be a much better mom than she was and show her how it really should be done.”

9. Lack of confidence.

Some mothers feel as though they’re being graded every day and may be flunking the Motherhood Test. They lack confidence in their judgment and are constantly second-guessing themselves.

10. Wanting a trophy child.

Have you ever seen a mother whose child is just her favorite possession—a living representation of her own worth, an accessory? Her kid’s achievements give this mom “bragging rights.” This type of mother is so self-centered that she thinks of her child only as a reflection of her own achievements.

11. The test craze.

These days there is no child left untested. Standardized tests. Achievement tests. Aptitude tests. PSATs. SATs. A child’s current worth and potential for success are coming to be dictated by a portfolio of numbers. From the preschool admission tests to LSATs— they’re making us crazy worrying that our kids aren’t going to be good enough.

And is Motherhood Mania worth it? Is it worth all the time and energy and money we’re spending? Do our kids really benefit from all these splendid extracurricular activities and stimulating experiences?

Source : 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. GETTING BACK TO BASICS AND RAISING HAPPY KIDS . Michele Borba, Ed.D. 2006

Monday, October 20, 2008

Getting ready to get pregnant : Do you have any chronic health conditions?

Women who suffer from serious medical conditions — such as epilepsy, lupus, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, PKU (phenylketonuria), or kidney disease — require special care during pregnancy. Here are some examples of the types of issues that women with these types of conditions must confront during pregnancy:

Women with poorly controlled insulin-dependent diabetes are four to six times more likely to give birth to a baby with birth defects than non diabetic women. That’s why it’s so important for diabetic women to ensure that their blood sugar is well controlled both prior to and during pregnancy.

Women who are epileptic need to carefully consider the risks of taking anti seizure medications during pregnancy. Although some medications increase the chances of birth defects, seizures can themselves be harmful to the developing fetus.

Women with lupus — an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own tissues — are at increased risk of experiencing miscarriage or preterm labor. As a rule of thumb, women who have been symptom free for six months prior to conceiving are likely to have a healthy pregnancy.

Women with chronic high blood pressure are at increased risk of developing pregnancy complications, including placental problems and fetal growth restriction. A change in medications may make it possible for a pregnant woman with chronic high blood pressure to manage her condition without harming her baby.

Women with heart disease or kidney problems may require a change of medications as well as careful monitoring throughout their pregnancies.

Women with phenylketonuria (PKU) — an inherited body-chemistry disorder in which the body is unable to process a particular type of amino acid (a building block of protein) — must follow a special diet in order to prevent mental retardation and birth defects in their babies.

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004

Friday, October 17, 2008

Four Simple Strategies for Firm Discipline

1. Use the rewind method. To be absolutely sure your child knows what you want, state your request and then ask her to “rewind” (repeat) what you just said back to you. It takes only a few seconds and eliminates any chance of misunderstanding.

2. Try the “Ten-Second Rule.” Limit your words to exactly what you want your child to do. If you can’t state your request in ten seconds, you’re saying too much.

3. Lower your voice. Sometimes the fastest way to get kids to comply is by lowering your voice tone. Nothing turns a kid off faster than yelling. Teachers have used this strategy for years because it works.

4. Keep it short. Kids are more receptive when they know they don’t have to hear a lecture, so keep your request short and to the point: “Please make your bed before you go outside.” Sometimes saying one word does the trick: “Homework!” “Chores!” Or just write the word on a Post-it and stick it on the TV while your kid is still watching: “BED!” “GARBAGE!” He’ll get the hint. (If not, push the power button off.)

Source : 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. GETTING BACK TO BASICS AND RAISING HAPPY KIDS . Michele Borba, Ed.D. 2006

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Real Mom : Are You Ready to Make a Change?

Here are a few more questions to help you realize it’s time to get your family out of the fast lane—to slow down and make a few different parenting choices so that your kids will be happier and more confident, develop stronger values, and become self-reliant. Do any of these ring true for you or your family?

  • Do you feel guilty about not living up to your own image of the perfect mom? Do you second-guess your mothering or think you’re not doing a good-enough job?
  • Do you worry about your child—about whether the workload and schedule is too much?
  • At your parent-teacher conference, do you find yourself asking more about your kid’s grade and how he’s competing with the rest of the class than about whether he is happy and how he gets along?
  • Are you frequently stressed or exhausted or impatient with your family? Does the littlest, tiniest thing get under your skin? Are you quick to anger? Are you yelling more?
  • Are you on the coach’s case complaining that your child isn’t getting enough game time or respect on the team?
  • Has success become such a huge commodity in your family that your kids are afraid to let you down or disappoint you with a poor grade?
  • Do you worry that your kid seems really anxious or depressed? That she’s not having any fun?
  • Do you worry when your kid seems to have nothing to do, and feel as though you have to educate or entertain him every second of the day?
  • Do you always compare yourself frequently to other mothers and worry that they’re doing a better job than you are?

If you answered yes to any of the questions, it’s time to you make some changes for your kids, yourself, and your family.

We’ll work on simple changes so that you stop trying to do it all and instead focus on what really matters in giving your kid what she needs to be happy and successful on her own.

Yes, it will involve a little work—but we’re talking about simple changes. I’ll show you how to make easy adjustments that can have a dramatic impact on your family. And if you stick to your commitment and do make those changes, you will be happier and more content in your mothering, and your children will have a much better chance of being successful not only in school but also in life. And that’s because you’ll be raising your kids so they can survive and thrive without you.

Source : 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know. GETTING BACK TO BASICS AND RAISING HAPPY KIDS . Michele Borba, Ed.D. 2006

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fifteen Reasons to Quit Smoking Before You Start Trying to Conceive

1. Smoking makes you less fertile.

Women who smoke are 30 percent less fertile than other women.

2. Smoking increases the odds that you will experience a miscarriage.

Smokers are almost twice as likely to miscarry as nonsmokers.

3. Smoking increases the likelihood that your baby will be stillborn.

Babies of smokers are twice as likely to be stillborn as babies of nonsmokers.

4. Smoking causes birth defects.

Smoking 10 cigarettes per day increases the odds that you will give birth to a baby with cleft palate and cleft lip by 50 percent.

5. Smoking disrupts the flow of oxygen to the baby.

Your baby receives less oxygen because nicotine restricts the flow of blood through the blood vessels in the placenta.

6. Smoking can harm the lungs of your developing baby.

Exposure to secondhand smoke while in the womb can leave your baby more susceptible to respiratory disorders and infections during early childhood.

7. Smoking increases the odds that you will give birth prematurely.

Babies who are born prematurely tend to experience more health problems than those who are carried to term.

8. Smoking increases the odds that you will experience certain types of pregnancy-related complications.

Women who smoke during pregnancy are also more likely to experience placental abnormalities and bleeding.

9. Smoking reduces the likelihood that you will eat properly during pregnancy.

Smoking acts as an appetite supressant, and if you’re less hungry, you’re less likely to seek out the nutrient-rich foods that your body needs to grow a healthy baby.

10. Smoking interferes with the absorption of vitamin C.

Because vitamin C plays an important role in iron absorption, smoking can indirectly contribute to iron-deficiency anemia.

11. Smoking can interfere with breastfeeding.

Because smoking can decrease the quantity and quality of breast milk, smoking can lead to early weaning.

12. Smoking is linked to a number of childhood health problems.

Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma, bronchitis, and ear infections. And, according to some brand-new research, they are also more likely to be obese.

13. Smoking increases the odds that your baby will experience serious, even fatal, health problems during infancy.

Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to die of SIDS and to develop certain types of childhood brain cancers.

14. Smoking is linked to childhood behavioral problems.

A recent study found that the toddlers of mothers who smoked during pregnancy were four times as likely to be diagnosed with behavioral problems as the toddlers of nonsmokers.

15. Smoking increases the odds that your baby will develop lung cancer later in life. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at greater risk of developing lung cancer than children who are not exposed to secondhand smoke.

Source : The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. Second Edition . Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D. 2004