Archives for February 2014

Tracking Ovulation Calendars With Mobile Apps

Tracking Ovulation Calendars With Mobile AppsWant a restaurant recommendation? There’s an app for that. Looking for the best price on a pair of shoes? There are many, many apps for that. But what about your fertility cycle—do you track your monthly cycle with a mobile app? With the rise in mobile pregnancy communities, developers have released a number of mobile applications that claim to help women get pregnant.

Fertility calendar apps primarily track a woman’s ovulation cycle. By recording details about your menstrual cycle and other health-related information the app calculates optimal times a user can get pregnant. Conversely, the app can also act as a form of birth control. For women planning on getting pregnant, fertility calendar apps can be helpful for getting the hang of tracking ovulation.

Some app creators claim that fertility apps can even boost a couple’s intimacy. By demystifying a woman’s ovulation cycle, a couple can focus more on the excitement of trying to get pregnant rather than frustrated or confused by baby-less attempts. Of course, fertility awareness apps do not guarantee pregnancy for every couple, but they do provide knowledge that might make getting pregnant easier. They’ve also been known to help couples push to find fertility answers outside of what’s tracked on the app.

What do you think, moms-to-be? Did you use any fertility calendar apps? Let us know in the comments.

 

Mastitis Symptoms and Treatments for Breastfeeding Moms

I think I have mastitis.  What are the symptoms and how can I resolve it without taking medication?

 

tendernessMastitis is an inflammation in your breast tissue.  It usually occurs in the early months of breastfeeding, but may also occur after you’ve been nursing for a few months.

What are some of the symptoms you may feel before your mastitis is diagnosed? Many breastfeeding moms notice changes in their breasts, like red patches or the breasts are warm and painful to touch. Moms also may feel like areas of their breasts are burning while nursing or experience consistent burning feels throughout the day.

In addition to uncomfortable breast changes, moms report feeling flu-like symptoms that include chills, a fever, and aches and pain throughout their bodies. Mastitis will wear you down and leave you feeling exhausted.

There are two types of mastitis inflammation: infectious or non-infectious. Non-infectious mastitis is usually caused by milk staying too long in the breast.  If you have a plugged milk duct, a problem with your baby properly latching, or if your baby simply doesn’t drain the breast well while nursing, you might develop a non-infectious mastitis inflammation.

On the other hand, infectious mastitis is caused by a bacterial infection. This type of mastitis may develop if your nipples are cracked or damaged, allowing bacteria to enter your body. This infection needs immediate attention from your doctor.

If you are diagnosed with non-infectious mastitis, a session with a lactation consultant may be beneficial to you and your baby. You might have to focus on using different breastfeeding methods and positions so your baby does a better job of draining milk from your breasts while feeding.

You may also want to pump after your baby nurses to ensure that your breasts are emptying properly. Other breastfeeding tips for non-infectious mastitis include warming your breasts shortly because nursing to help with loosening milk flow, especially if you notice one breast does not empty as efficiently as the other.

If your doctor determines that you have infectious mastitis, then you will need to take an antibiotic to successfully treat the inflammation. It is very important to start taking your prescribed antibiotic within 24 hours of your diagnosis to reduce the return risk of your mastitis. Follow your doctor’s orders and take the entire prescription even if you feel better a few days into the treatment—you do not want infectious mastitis to return just as you are starting to get stronger. Talk to your doctor about your breastfeeding concerns while taking the antibiotic and what you can do for your baby while your body fights the inflammation.

While on antibiotics, you will want to incorporate some of the techniques listed before for non-infectious mastitis to ease your breast pain. Sometimes, doctors will recommend that a mother will have to wean her baby if the inflammation is serious enough. In most cases though, weaning is not necessary. Be sure to have a conversation with your doctor, your baby’s pediatrician, and even a lactation consultant so you have a full idea of your best treatment options and plans. Remember, one of the best things you can do for your baby is keep yourself healthy, especially if you’re breastfeeding.

Do Babies Develop Allergies from Playtime with Pets?

Do Babies Develop Allergies from Playtime with Pets?Sure, you’ve spent time properly introducing your pet to your newborn. Maybe you even followed some of the pet interaction guidelines we posted here, but have you ever wondered if having a baby in the same household as a pet is healthy? With allergy and disease concerns, it’s not uncommon that some parents might worry that their baby will get sick or develop allergies from a pet.

Good news! Preliminary research shows that having a pet benefits baby’s health. Rather than activating allergies, studies suggest that a pet’s household presence helps to build baby’s immune system. And you don’t have to worry if your pet enjoys the outdoors, the same study linked fewer baby respiratory issues with pets who played in the yard.

If your baby shows the classic signs of asthma or other respiratory issues, get your infant to a pediatrician who can help diagnose allergy symptoms. Also, make sure to keep up-to-date on your pet’s vaccinations so your pet and baby are as healthy as can be.

Breastfeeding is another way to strengthen your baby’s immune system. Breast milk contains valuable nutrition and antibodies, so make the choice to nurse your baby if possible. You can feel even safer about your baby’s playtime with your dog or cat knowing that your breast milk is working to keep your baby healthy.

 

Pregnancy Cravings Revealed: More than Pickles and Ice Cream

Pregnancy Cravings Revealed: More than Pickles and Ice CreamWe’ve all heard the story of a pregnant wife asking her husband to pick up pickles and ice cream to satisfy a craving, but did you know that some pregnant women have reported feeling cravings for tennis balls, rubber, and shoe polish?

In a recent survey, pregnant women shared what kinds of pregnancy cravings they felt and how often their cravings struck them. A surprising 11 percent of women admitted a craving for soap while 6 percent reported pregnancy cravings for chalk. What about these household items draws pregnant women to them? Toothpaste, tennis balls, shoe polish, and rubber were among other items moms-to-be admitted to craving during pregnancy.

Where do you fall on the pregnancy cravings reported list? The most common pregnancy craving was dessert (25 percent) and there are plenty of sweet tooth options available to help satisfy a pregnant mom’s hunger! After sweets, 18 percent of women admitted to craving red meat and 13 percent stated that they wanted more veggies than anything other food item.

It’s good to know that partners and family members are accommodating of pregnancy cravings—36 percent of women surveyed dispatched their partners out for a food item to fulfill a pregnancy craving in the middle of the night! And husbands are not the only ones helping pregnant women get what they want; 32 percent of pregnant women have called close friends and family members for help getting food they crave.

 

What have you been pulling out of the fridge at midnight, moms-to-be?

Celebrity Pregnancy Announcements – Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and Meagan Camper

pete-wentz-megan-camper-pregnancy-announcement

courtesy of Pete Wentz via Instagram

Congratulations are in order for Fall Out Boy musician Pete Wentz and model girlfriend Meagan Camper.  The pair announced yesterday that they’re expecting a baby via an adorable Instagram post on Wentz’s personal account. In the picture, the couple shares a sweet kiss while Pete rests his hand on Meagan’s future baby bump.

This will be Camper’s first child and Wentz’s second. Pete’s son Bronx Mowgli (mom is Pete’s ex-wife Ashlee Simpson) is 5 years old and undoubtedly excited about becoming an older brother later this year.

Breastfeeding Tips for Difficulty Nursing: Looking at Tongue Tie in Newborns

Breastfeeding Tips for Difficulty Nursing: Looking at Tongue Tie in NewbornsDifficulty breastfeeding? Take a look into your baby’s mouth and see if your infant is affected by “tongue-tie,” a birth condition where the tongue frenulum is shorter than average. The frenulum is the band underneath the tongue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the mouth’s floor. While many people associate tongue-tie (the technical term is ankyloglossia) with stammering and speech impediments (which a short frenulum can cause), about 3% of babies have difficulty breastfeeding with tongue-tie.

Having a shorter frenulum makes breastfeeding difficult for a baby because it impedes the sucking motion necessary for a newborn to nurse effectively. Overall tongue motion and reach is impaired by the inherited condition—chances are that if your baby has a short frenulum, someone else in the family does as well.

What steps can you take to help your baby nurse with tongue-tie? Talk to your doctor about the possibility of getting your baby’s frenulum clipped—a medical procedure that widens your baby’s tongue range and is safe, efficient, and done only in a doctor’s office. One lactation consultant compares the procedure to getting your ears pierced.

If you are having difficulty breastfeeding despite trying a range of positions, are experiencing constant nipple soreness, or hear your baby making empty sucking noises while nursing, you want to make an appointment with a lactation consultant. A trained lactation consultant will be able to help you pinpoint what issues might be complicating breastfeeding. Many mothers experience a challenging adjustment period when first breastfeeding, so talking a lactation consultant will help soothe nursing frustrations.

Avoiding the Flu While Pregnant: Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

Have you been trying your hardest to avoid the flu this winter? Pregnancy inherently brings stomach upset and nausea in most women, but the flu is especially draining for a pregnant woman. Your access to medication is restricted by pregnancy, and carrying your baby decreases your overall immunity. Want a few tips for staying healthy while pregnant? We’ve compiled a few healthy, easy-to-follow reminders that will keep you out of the flu’s way.

Keep your hands clean

Avoiding the Flu While Pregnant: Tips for a Healthy PregnancyWash your hands frequently with warm water and lots of soap. If you can’t wash your hands conveniently while you’re out, keep an antibacterial sanitizer in your purse. Because of the cold temperatures, your hands might feel drier than usual. Invest in a simple, fragrance-free moisturizer that you can apply throughout the day or as needed. Hand washing seems like such an easy task, but think about how often you touch your face, eyes, or nose throughout the day (especially if you have a sniffly nose!). Washing your hands will keep infections at bay.

Stay hydrated

During winter, the air is drier. You may feel thirstier throughout the day or like your skin is cracking without much exposure to the cold weather. You might even use a humidifier at night to combat coughing. Because you’re carrying a baby, you’re going to need to watch your hydration even more carefully. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and refill as needed. Skip soda and stick to liquids without added sugar or carbonation. Your overall health will improve if you’re well-hydrated and you are less likely to feel worn down and prone to a virus like the flu.

Pack your meals with nutrients

Citrus, veggies, whole grains—these food groups will help you stay alert and healthy through winter. There’s no miracle food for flu prevention, but sticking to a healthy, balanced diet is one easy way to avoid feeling sick. Keep in mind that your baby’s nutrition solely depends on your own, so stay motivated to eat healthy by remembering that you’re keeping your baby healthy too. If you’re preparing food, keep the counters, sink, and stove top consistently clean to avoid additional germs. Wash hands frequently while cooking.

Stay healthy, moms-to-be!

 

Heart Healthy Valentine’s Day Celebrations for the Whole Family

Heart Healthy Valentine’s Day Celebrations for the Whole Family Looking for the best way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your family? February was appropriately named National Heart Month by the American Heart Association in an effort to bring awareness to heart disease, so why not plan some heart healthy activities the whole family can share? Here are a couple of heart-friendly activities perfect for the weekend!

Try a new heart healthy recipe the whole family will enjoy
Why not try a new recipe that’s both delicious and heart healthy? Include lots of veggies and whole grains to get the most out of your meal. Choose lean meats, go light on the salt, and avoid saturated fats if possible. Try cooking together (if possible) or let your kids set the table and decorate with cut-out hearts or other sweet details. Bon appétit!

Get the whole family moving
Plan a hike, a picnic, or any other physical activity the entire family can share in. If you have a family dog, gather the family together for a trip to the park. The American Heart Association recommends exercising for at least 30 minutes five times a week, so make this Saturday your chance to get a workout in. Even if the weather is too cold for outside activity, you can always visit your local recreation center so you and the kids can play.

Spread the love
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just for couples—share a hug with each member of your family. By letting each family know how special they are to you individually you are strengthening each bond with a simple, loving gesture.

Breastfeeding for a happier heart
Did you know that breastfeeding reduces a woman’s risk of developing heart disease? Nursing is healthy for both you and your baby! During pregnancy, a woman’s risk for heart disease (as well as strokes and diabetes) goes up, but researchers have evidence that breastfeeding after delivery reduces those risks. Any breastfeeding reduces the chances of developing heart disease, but researchers agree that the longer you breastfeed, the less likely you are to develop heart disease.

We’re wishing you happy hearts for this Valentine’s Day!

Breastfeeding Advice: Baby-Led Weaning

Breastfeeding Advice: Baby-Led Weaning My baby is self-weaning at 7 months.  How can I get back on track to continue breastfeeding?

Your baby is at a common age when many moms ask me this question. There are a number of factors that could influence disinterest in breastfeeding. Ask yourself—has my baby been taking solids? Has my baby been sick recently? Or has my baby started teething? If you said yes to any of these questions, then your answer may explain your baby’s recent disinterest in breastfeeding.

There are other explanations for self-weaning, too. Babies also become very social at this age. With your baby’s social development, it is possible that your baby is more distracted than before. Shorter breastfeeding sessions (5-10 minutes) are not uncommon.  If your baby is refusing to nurse, here are a few suggestions you could try to make breastfeeding last longer and more successful:

Try to nurse when your baby is sleepy

If you time your breastfeeding sessions just before nap time, there is a better chance your baby will be less distracted and able to nurse more easily. Perhaps use pumped breast milk when you notice your baby is very alert and hungry until you both get into a smoother breastfeeding rhythm again.

Breastfeed your baby before offering solids instead of afterwards

If you have introduced solids into your baby’s diet, try nursing before feeding you baby solids. If your baby is hungrier when you latch, there is a better chance he or she will nurse more. Also, at your baby’s age, your infant should still be getting most of his or her calories from breast milk.

Nurse in a room with little distractions

Make this a time for the two of you! If your baby is side-tracked by sounds and movement, you might not breastfeed for as long as you’d like.

Remember, beginning around 7 months, babies are easily distracted.  If your infant continues to refuse the breast, remember to continue to pump so that your milk supply doesn’t dwindle.  With persistence and patience your infant should return to breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding Safety During Extreme Winter Cold

All around the country, it seems as though this cold winter weather won’t let up! With so many power outages and cold weather warnings, we want to share a few breast milk reminders so the breast milk you pump and store will always be safe for baby.

If It’s Cold, Keep It Cold Until Use

Breastfeeding Safety During Extreme Winter Cold Once you’ve frozen breast milk, keep that supply cold until you’re ready to thaw for a feeding. The Center for Disease control advises against adding warm, just collected breast milk to an already frozen supply. Instead, cool the newly-pumped breast milk and store in its own container. You should date each breast milk supply individually and try to use the oldest quantity first when you turn to your freezer supply.

Because of power outages, have a back-up plan in mind if your refrigerator and freezer should fail to work properly. Have a cooler with ice bags in your garage ready to hold your breast milk if you should have to transfer it out of your home. In an emergency situation, you could keep breast milk cold by sticking it in the snow. If you are concerned that your breast milk supply is compromised by a failing appliance, contact your doctor for guidance.

The key to keeping breast milk fresh is temperature consistency. The CDC recommends storing breast milk towards the back of your freezer because the temperature is most consistent behind your other freezer items. If you’re storing breast milk in a freezer that’s not separated from the refrigerator (in other words, not a two-door updated model), the average shelf life of you breast milk is only two weeks. Labeling your breast milk batches will help clear up confusion and streamline your feeding schedule.

Stay warm, moms! Let us know if you have other winter breastfeeding tips to share.