Archives for April 2014

Oxytocin Teaches Babies How to Smile From Breastfeeding New Research Suggests

Oxytocin Teaches Babies How to Smile From Breastfeeding New Research SuggestsTurns out that breast milk does make baby smile—new research suggests that oxytocin, a hormone pregnant moms produce, helps babies mimic facial expressions and starts the socialization process while breastfeeding. Oxytocin, aptly named the “cuddle chemical” because of the serene, lovey feelings it inspires, is produced by women throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. Researchers believe that a baby’s time spent breastfeeding and ingesting breast milk contributes to how well they can learn facial expressions through repetition. Lip smacking, sticking out their tongues, even smiling—babies that don’t breastfeed learn these expressions as well, but researchers are using oxytocin’s role in learning to suggest that breastfeeding teaches babies social interaction at a faster pace.

These preliminary results are most important to doctors whose patients deal with learning social interaction skills later in life. If oxytocin continues to cultivate social interaction skills and facial expression recognition, doctors could potentially use the chemical to treat social disorders, including autistic patients. There is additional research that suggests that oxytocin helps individuals develop trust in others, which is another positive reason why the chemical could be helpful to those with anxiety or social issues.

Not breastfeeding? Cuddle and spend time teaching your baby different facial expressions through games like peek-a-boo. All babies are exposed to oxytocin during pregnancy and birth, so continue to inspire smiles in your baby by teaching social cues from an early age.

 

Smoothie Starters and Other Fridge Essentials for Healthy Smoothie Recipes

Smoothie Starters and Other Fridge Essentials for Healthy Smoothie RecipesWhat’s a quick, easy to make breakfast (or snack) that won’t leave a stack of dirty dishes in your sink? Smoothies are nutritious, filling, and portable—which is perfect for an on-the-go mom. There are an endless amount of smoothie recipes available online that cater to a range of tastes (sweet, salty, savory) and feature healthy ingredients. How do you start your smoothie-making habit though, if you’ve never concocted one yourself? Glad you asked—here are a few fridge essentials and basics that will serve as your smoothie-making foundation:

It’s all in the blender

If you do not already own a blender, you’ll want to get one for making smoothies at home. Luckily, you don’t have to buy the top of the line model to make great smoothies. Also take into consideration how many people you’ll be making smoothies for at one time, because if it includes the entire family then you might want a larger model. Easy to clean, powerful enough to crush ice or frozen fruit—those are two key components that make a good blender for smoothies.

The basics – what kind of liquids make a good foundation

Water, milk, almond milk, coconut water, fruit juice—these are all healthy, viable liquid options that make good bases for your smoothies. Since you’re in charge of what to use and how much, you can switch between different bases depending on flavor and thickness preferences. Yogurt and Greek yogurt also make good smoothies if you like a thicker consistency and will keep you full longer. Try to stay away from liquids or yogurts that have additional sugars added to them; you’ll add your own smoothie sweeteners for healthier, tastier results.

Tackling all five food groups in your smoothie

Here’s where experimenting gets fun: you can add all kinds of fruits, veggies, and supplements until you’ve created the perfect smoothie for you. It’s good to keep frozen fruit on hand in the freezer just in case you’ve run out of bananas or it’s winter—berries, peaches, pineapple, and mango slices are found in most grocery stores. Again, pick brands that don’t add sugar to fruit before freezing for healthier results. You can add spinach to get more choline and healthy vitamins without having your smoothie taste too much like a salad. Adding flaxseed oil or ground flaxseed to your smoothie will boost your Omega-3 intake, as well as reduce your risk for breast cancer. Peanut butter makes a great protein source if you’re making a smoothie on your way to work, and will help you stay full longer.

Where’s the sweet stuff?

To replace high fructose corn syrup, try one of these sweeteners that has a lower glycemic index and less calories: honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, or even stevia. With all of the fruit you’re bound to include in your smoothie, follow the “less is more” rule for adding your sweetener of choice.

Getting Pregnant in Your 30s: What to Expect

Getting Pregnant in Your 30s: What to Expect

Since the 1990s, the number of women who start families in their 30s has steadily risen according to data from the CDC. But between ages 30-39 there are large differences in the rates at which women are getting pregnant for the first time. This data, combined with later marriages and more focus on careers, helps to explain why more women are choosing to have children in their 30s than before. But what can you expect from your body when you’re trying to conceive after 29? We have some family planning and health statistics that give a realistic view of what getting pregnant in your 30s will be like if you’re ready to have a baby.

If you’re in your 30s when you try to conceive, your body is not as response as it was in your 20s. Experts report that fertility begins to decline at age 30, but don’t fear—this is a gradual change, not a sudden one. We’ve all heard the phrase “your biological clock is ticking” but that does not mean that a healthy, full-term pregnancy is out of the question in your 30s. Once pregnant, you will have a higher risk for hypertension and high blood pressure, and developing gestational diabetes is more common for women in your age range than younger moms-to-be. Taking supplements, focusing on healthy eating, and regular exercise are lifestyle habits that will keep you and your baby healthy throughout your pregnancy.

Some couples will seek a doctor’s help for infertility treatment if they do not have success getting pregnant. Doctors will usually recommend that a couple have unprotected sex for a full year before seeking In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment if the woman is under 35; after 35, your doctor might send you to a specialist after 6 months of consistent unprotected sex. At the tail end of your 30s, your eggs have aged to the point where fertilization is more difficult than before. Again, being open and honest with your doctor about your family planning experience will help you find more success getting pregnant. If you feel as though you need to seek infertility treatment, don’t delay—some clinics do not accept patients after 40.

Having a baby in your 30s will most likely not cause the same kinds of emotional or financial stress on you or your relationship the way it might on a younger couple. You and your partner are probably entrenched in a job and enjoy financial security that many younger couples do not have right out of school. Also, a woman in her 30s is less likely to feel body-conscious while gaining pregnancy weight than a younger woman. If you’ve been married for a number of years, you might feel more prepared to start a family because you’ve had the luxury of unhindered alone time with your partner. Talk to your partner, begin to talk about whether or not you’ll return to work and if so when that may happen (especially if financials are concerned), and enjoy the process of starting a family.

Even though you’ve passed your most fertile years, many older couples have found success with treatments and you should not let your fears about getting pregnant eclipse the family planning journey. Doctors are much more knowledgeable about infertility options than past years and will help you find the right method if you should need some help. Pregnancy at any age is a beautiful experience, and focusing on creating a happy, healthy baby is the first priority for parents-to-be.

Nursing Pads: Best Breast Care Practices for Nursing Moms

Loving Moments Washable Nursing PadsWorried that using nursing pads will cause discomfort or leaks in public? It can be very uncomfortable when your nipples stick to nursing pads or your bra cups. Breast milk contains a high amount of lactose, which can be sticky. Once the breast milk dries in the pad, it may cause your nipples to stick to the nursing pads. Applying a thin layer of lanolin-based nipple cream will help you avoid any discomfort in your early breastfeeding weeks.

If you have an overabundant milk supply, you must pay special attention to changing your nursing pads frequently.  Don’t despair, an overabundant milk supply usually only lasts the first few weeks after your baby is born. Regardless if you use reusable or disposable nursing pads, you may find absorbency to be an issue with each type. My recommendation would be to change the pads frequently and avoid waiting until the nursing pads are soaked through. If you are going to be out and about, you may want to throw a few sets of Loving Moments nursing pads in the diaper bag and change the ones you’re wearing as soon as they get too damp.

Hope this advice helps, new moms! Have breastfeeding questions? Leave us a comment and we’ll help you get the answers you need.

The Best Easter Eggs We Could Find for Your Inspiration Next Year

Did you and your kids dye Easter eggs this past weekend? Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, dyeing eggs is a fun, affordable activity that kids of all ages enjoy. We scoured high and low for some of the beautiful, innovative Easter egg varieties that popped up over the internet amid Sunday celebrations. Whether you take an artistic approach or favor traditional dye patterns, these Easter eggs are some of the finest examples of fun the whole family can partake in. Even if you missed the fun this year, there’s no reason you can’t decorate eggs throughout the summer just for fun.

The Best Easter Eggs We Could Find for Your Inspiration Next Year

 

Hop, hop, hop—here comes Peter Rabbit! No dye necessary with this clever group of bunny-themed Easter eggs. With a black permanent marker and construction paper, one family created a family of bunnies featuring cute, distinctive personalities. To recreate these decorative eggs, first hard boil every egg before uncapping your markers—you don’t want to end up with broken eggs!

Drip, swirl, and splatter eggs to you and your kids’ delight with these artistic, whimsical eggs. We love how abstract and vibrant each egg is, and together, what a lovely picture they make in a simple, wooden bowl. Best for young children, encourage messy dyeing for maximum fun. Just be sure to hold this craft in an area of your house without carpet or anything else that can potentially be stained.

If you have a love for portraits and a steady hand, these action hero eggs might be right up your alley. With a combination of dye and markers, these Easter eggs are true masterpieces nestled together. Better suited for older kids, but let your young ones in on the fun by helping them applying dye with a paintbrush to fill in larger areas. Pick your favorite cast of characters and try your best to recreate the famous faces you and your family love to watch.

These decorative Easter eggs honor the traditional look with simple, continuous patterns and muted colors. Skillfully done, these eggs represent spring with ornate details that just look simple. Patience and a soft touch are key factors in recreating this style of Easter egg. Want to try a similar pattern but can’t decide on one? Take inspiration from your China cabinet or a set of decorative plates that you love. With this style, you should make small changes first and build your dots and lines off of one another for the most successful, clean look.

 

Happy decorating! Have a crop of Easter eggs that you’re proud of? Share a picture on our Facebook or Google Plus pages!

Pregnant Celebrities: Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas Marriage and Pregnancy Update

Pregnant Celebrities: Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas Marriage and Pregnancy Update

Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Every woman hopes to marry her own Prince Charming, and after this past weekend actress Ginnifer Goodwin can say that dreams really do come true. Goodwin married fellow actor Josh Dallas in an intimate ceremony surrounded only by close friends and family. Ginnifer and Josh met on the set of ABC’s Once Upon a Time and play popular fairytale characters Snow White and Prince Charming. Ginnifer is currently pregnant with the couple’s first child and set to deliver soon.

Ginnifer and Josh have been secretive about the baby’s gender and due date in the press. Goodwin’s pregnancy style has been laid-back and comfortably stylish in public. Skinny maternity pants, casual sweaters, and structured coats have been her go-to items as of late. In a post-wedding photo, Ginnifer and Josh look sweet while walking arm-in-arm in long, button down winter coats. No heels in sight for Ginnifer; she’s been wearing motorcycle boots and other flat shoe styles. Comfort comes first!

Congratulations on your first child and new marriage, Ginnifer and Josh! We’re wishing for a fairytale ending for the happy celebrity couple.

Breastfeeding Report Card Update and New Mom Nursing Concerns

Breastfeeding Report Card Update and New Mom Nursing ConcernsAccording to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only 37.7% of new moms are exclusively breastfeeding 3 months after giving birth. At 6 months after birth, the percentage drops to 16.4. What drives so many first time mothers to supplement with formula or abandon breastfeeding altogether? Even though the CDC’s 2013 Breastfeeding Report Card shows marked improvement in on-site hospital support systems, women are continuing to not breastfeeding for a full year.

A September 2013 Time article notes that women who worry about their breastfeeding abilities (including issues like proper latch and sufficient breast milk production) before their baby is born are more likely to switch to formula sooner than women who did not express similar concerns. Even though lactation and breastfeeding are often touted as “natural” actions a mother instinctively knows, there are facets about latching and breastfeeding that so often a new mom is not taught while in the hospital. Small, correctible issues might seem like larger deficiencies when a new mom is struggling with feeding her baby. If a new mom’s anxieties are not addressed by a medical professional (especially if there is no lactation consultant available) it is unsurprising that she would feel as though breastfeeding were a task too difficult to handle.

What can you do to help a new mom struggling to nurse? Volunteer your own experiences and any breastfeeding information that you picked up along the way. Anxiety grows in the absence of information, so by sharing your take on breastfeeding, you are helping to foster another mom’s confidence. Sore nipples, frequent feedings—these elements of the breastfeeding routine are draining on a first-time mom, so any advice and encouragement will go a long way in boosting her confidence!

Do you have any important breastfeeding advice you’d like to share? Leave us a note in the comments!

Getting Pregnant in Your 20s: What to Expect

Getting Pregnant in Your 20s: What to ExpectThere’s no magic age at which it’s most beneficial for you and your partner to start a family, but there are noticeable health and emotional differences between pregnancy in your 20s versus in your 30s or 40s. What can you expect from a pregnancy in your 20s? We’re looking at the pros and cons today and bringing you the best family planning information if you’re in your second decade.

Your 20s will most likely be the decade in which you accumulate most of your life experiences. There are a lot of firsts in your 20s: first home, first job, marriage, etc. Amid the changes, many couples find themselves adding children to the mix. According to data from the Center for Disease Control, pregnancy rates are highest among women in their 20s. Even though you may not be settled into a career or long-term relationship, you are energetic and the most fertile you’ll ever be. If you have regular, ovulatory periods, there is a 20 percent chance you will get pregnant if you have sex without protection. You are in peak biological and physical condition to carry a baby with the least chance of complication.

There are psychological factors to consider about getting pregnant in your 20s that do not generate the same kind of concern later in life. Without the feeling of financial and emotional stability, pregnancy can seem daunting in your 20s. Even though you have a low risk of hypertension and your risk of developing gestational diabetes is half that in your 40s, you do not have the luxury of feeling set in lifestyle like a woman in her 30s or 40s might. A woman in her later 20s will have more stability compared to her younger self, so some of these external issues like job advancement and body image will not seem as important. Being prepared to do the most you can for your baby is a great indicator of feeling ready to get pregnant.

More good health news for getting pregnant in your 20s: your miscarriage risk is the lowest it will ever be. If you’re properly exercising and have good nutritional habits, getting back to your normal body weight after birth will be easier than at any other age. Of course, breastfeeding your baby will help burn extra calories after delivery as well as lower your risk for developing breast or ovarian cancer later in life. Nursing is also the most cost-effective way to ensure that your baby is getting the best nutrition. Take into consideration how having a baby will change your routine, job, and relationship before getting pregnant—welcoming a baby into your family is a special time and should be enjoyed more so than not.

What do you think, moms? Did you experience any of the above if you gave birth in your 20s? Be sure to share and offer support to women you know that are trying to get pregnant in their 20s. More moms feel confident about breastfeeding and raising a baby when they have a strong, active community to turn to for advice!

Nursing Pads 101: Tips for Breastfeeding Moms

iStock_000008243777SmallWe’ve shared plenty of nursing bra tips and style suggestions for new breastfeeding moms, but now we’re going to talk about nursing pads and how to best use them to protect against breast milk leaks. It might take you a few days to figure out what your specific needs will be, because every mom does not experience breast milk leaks. Leaking issues are not necessarily tied to having a healthy milk supply; some moms experience leaks early on while others consistently need protection. If this is your first baby, you might want to have a pack of nursing pads on hand in the beginning just to be safe until you know how your body reacts to your breast milk supply.

Nursing pads are easy to use and their primary function is to protect you from leaking through your bra or shirt. Wearing these pads make many women feel more confident about going out in public while breastfeeding. Moms with tender nipples also benefit from wearing soft nursing pads if their bras or tanks chafe uncomfortably. You can purchase either reusable nursing pads or disposable nursing pads depending on your preference. Keep in mind that washable nursing pads will be less expensive, are environmentally friendly, and generally more durable than reusable nursing pads. They are easy to launder at home and are sold in sets of 6 or 12 pads for convenience.

When you’re wearing a nursing pad, the most important thing to remember is that you want to change your nursing pads as soon as they become damp. Waiting until they are soaked or wearing damp pads for an extended period of time can cause nipple infections including yeast issues or thrush. Also, pads might stick to your nipples if left on too long. If you’re going out for the day and worry about changing your nursing pads while in public, plan ahead and bring a plastic bag that you can use to carry damp pads until you get home. Immediately throw them into the wash when you get home so no bacteria or yeast builds up in your pads.

Pregnant and shopping around for nursing pads? Loving Moments offers a washable nursing pad 12-pack that features soft, absorbent nursing pads that are contoured for better breast fit. With six sets of nursing pads to use, you won’t have to worry about running out before you’ve had a chance to do laundry. Click to read more about our affordable and easy-to-use washable nursing pads.