Archive for January, 2014

Postpartum Hair Loss

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Postpartum hair lossDuring pregnancy, many women receive the blessing of thick, long, luscious hair, only to find out, it’s short-lived. So, why do we get beautiful hair, just to lose it to postpartum hair loss? One word: hormones. More specifically, estrogen.

We have two stages in our hair: the growing stage and the resting stage. Normally, 85 to 95 percent of our hair is in growing stage and 5 to 15 percent is in the resting stage. After the resting stage, our hair falls out. But, during pregnancy, increased levels of estrogen extend the growing stage, thus fewer hair falls out, leaving your hair full and luscious. However, after baby is born, the increased estrogen levels begin to decrease and more hair goes into resting stage, resulting in the shedding of hair. Shedding usually begins around three months, and you should have your normal hair back between six and twelve months.

In the meantime, you can try a fun, new, short haircut. Spend less time styling and more time bonding with your beautiful baby. If you’re not ready for such a drastic move, you can use a thickener or mousse for a fuller look. A good, healthy diet will also help your hair during the shedding period. Be gentle on your postpartum hair to prevent excess hair loss. Breastfeeding can help you keep your locks intact a bit longer, until you start weaning or feeding solids–another awesome benefit of breastfeeding.
If you have longer hair during this period, be careful of hair tourniquet syndrome, which happens when a strand of hair can get tightly wrapped around baby’s appendages.
Julie McLelland is a breastfeeding, baby wearing, cloth diapering, mom of two wonderful babies, writing from south Texas.

Baby Proofing 101

Thursday, January 30th, 2014
Always keep your purse out of reach!

Always keep your purse out of reach!

As a first-time mom, I was showered with many gifts, including some baby proofing items. I put them in the back of the closet since I thought there was plenty of time before I would need to use them. But the day your baby discovers the outlet, learns how to open the drawer, goes fishing in the toilet, or opens your kitchen cabinet will come before you know it, and by then it’s too late.

The only baby proofing I did early was put outlet plug covers in all the outlets in my house–one package did not go very far. I had to load my baby up to go buy more. These were a great investment for me as both of my kids are drawn to electrical outlets.

Before I knew it my first was in my kitchen opening drawers and cabinets. I had not installed child locks on these yet, so I had a mess on my hands. Thankfully I had already moved all sharp or dangerous utensils out of reach and made sure all household cleaners or chemicals were in a safe place. I like the cabinet locks for doors that have knobs; we use one of these on our fireplace and even I can’t get it open. Unfortunately, the cabinet locks that we used for our kitchen cabinets did not work that well. They slowed her down, but eventually she was able to still get into the cabinets by pulling the door or drawer hard. I then designated an area just for kid stuff that she can play in while in the kitchen–this has helped keep her out of other areas.

Both of my kids have been curious about the toilet. I have always been scared of them falling in or disgusted of the thought of them playing in the toilet. Thankfully, all of our toilets are in separate rooms so I am able to shut the door to keep them out. This has proven to be more difficult with my second as my first sometimes forgets to shut the door. They also make toilet locks if you are not able to keep a door shut.

Some additional baby proofing tips:

  • Secure the plastic ends on doorstoppers with superglue
  • Keep your purse out of reach
  • Clear all surfaces at or below chest level
  • Use hotel-style chain locks up high once your toddler learns how to open doors
  • Use slip-proof mats under rugs
  • A cloth diaper over the top of a door can prevent baby from getting fingers pinched in a door
  • Research your houseplants and learn which ones aren’t safe

Baby proof early! Most baby proofing items can be found at a grocery store, discount store, or online.

Kristen Beggs is a cloth-diapering mom of two that lives in Midland, TX.

An Elimination Diet can Help Colic Symptoms

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
An Elimination Diet can Help Colic Symptoms

Many colicky babies like the “football” hold.

The cries of a colicky baby are enough to bring any new mother to tears, but what exactly is colic, and what can you do about it? A baby is said to have colic if he or she cries vigorously and cannot be consoled around the same time each day or night–usually after feedings–for at least three weeks. You may notice signs of abdominal discomfort or gas such as pulling their knees to their chest, an arched back, or clenched fists.

There are many different explanations for colic, but most believe that the baby’s digestive system isn’t mature enough to function properly and certain foods may be causing irritation. While colic usually resolves by about sixteen weeks, making some dietary changes may make a difference in your baby’s pain. An elimination diet can help you pinpoint if there is a particular food or foods that may be the cause.

First, eliminate foods that are known to be common culprits of colic, including: caffeine, onion, garlic, pasteurized dairy, chocolate, soy, wheat, eggs, nuts, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. It can take as long as two weeks to get these foods out of your and your baby’s systems, so be very strict on avoiding these foods. Always read labels carefully since these ingredients may be lurking in places you don’t expect them, such as wheat in soy sauce and corn syrup in ketchup.

After two weeks you should notice a difference in colic symptoms. If there is no difference you may need to eliminate more foods, take a close look at your diet and look for less common allergens such as coffee, carrots, beets, oats and peaches. As soon as there’s an improvement in symptoms you can start adding foods back in one at a time.

The easiest way to make an association with what could be causing colic is to keep a detailed journal. When you begin adding foods back, only add one at a time and wait at least four days before between re-introducing foods. Keep a food/mood journal in where you record everything you eat and any behavior changes you notice. Having a record to look back at can help you pinpoint the culprit and you’ll know which foods to stay away from. Always discuss any concerns with your pediatrician and get their approval to begin a colic elimination diet so they can rule out any other health problems that may be causing your baby’s discomfort.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.

Always Kiss Me Goodnight: An Explanation of the Enteromammary Pathway

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

IMG_0710Many times new moms will ask if it’s OK to breastfeed when they are sick. Since germs are passed through mucus and spit, people tend to think they will be passed by breast milk as well. However, the body is fascinating in that breastfeeding mothers actually protect their babies—not infect them—by breastfeeding when they are ill.

I remember when my doula came over for my postpartum checkup with my second child, Alice. We were talking about avoiding illness with a 3-year-old and a newborn in the house, and laughing at the varied advice I had received.

“Kiss everyone in your house, every day,” the doula told me. “It will help your body defend against all the germs everyone brings home.” It was sweet, but I couldn’t imagine how that could possibly work.

You can imagine my amazement when I ran across research on the enteromammary pathway. It’s the system by which the mother’s body acts and reacts to stimuli such as germs and viruses by building up immunity that gets passed directly to the baby via breast milk. It’s why my doula told me I could keep my baby well by kissing the other people in my home.

The enteromammary pathway begins with mom’s nose and mouth. Germs or viruses come in contact with her there, which alerts the body to their presence. The Mucosa-associated lymphatic tissue, or MALT, includes the gut, lungs, mammary glands, salivary glands and the genital tract. These areas communicate through via plasma cells that travel throughout the body. So when plasma cells encounter a virus or germ on mom’s body, she begins making antibodies that appear in her breast milk. This is before any illness has ever even occurred.

Now, when we say “ill” we are talking flu, viruses, the common cold. Not life-threatening diseases. However, a recent study did show that even HIV-positive mothers can reduce the mother-to-infant risk of HIV through exclusive, extended (past one year of age) breastfeeding.

It’s amazing what the body can do. It’s even more amazing, but not surprising, that after spending nine months building this little person inside us, our bodies continue to be able to protect and nurture them Earthside as well.

Erin Burt is a breastfeeding, babywearing mother of three. She lives and writes in Fort Worth, Texas.




Pregnancy Week 10: The Pregnancy Announcement

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Math problem pregnancy announcementWith my first, getting pregnant was a struggle that included fertility treatments. So, when we found out we were expecting twins…there was no waiting to tell family. Sadly, after losing a baby, we told everyone else around 12 weeks. This time around, I was ready to shout it from the rooftops by week 7, and I did.

But, how do you tell everyone? You have to think about when you want to tell people, who is important to get a call/visit/text, and then these days, when to put it online with a pregnancy announcement. Here are some of the cutest ideas I’ve seen lately.

Scrabble Tile Announcement

My cousin did this announcement with the news of her fifth baby. Take a scrabble board and put everyone’s names on it. Or, use the tiles to spell something creative and cute. You could include your due date, baby’s last name, etc. Too cute for words!

Math Problem Announcement

This has been a new, trendy announcement I’ve seen. Make a few signs for you, hubby, and any children you have, and create an equation that tells people you are adding to your family’s number. Problem solved for your family and friends!Johanna Pregnancy Announcement

Big Brother/Big Sister Chalkboard Announcement

We did this for our new baby. I’ve also seen using the chalkboard to make a check off list for your current children. Maybe include things like learn to walk, steal hearts, become a big sister.

Seasonal Announcement

If you are planning on announcing in the fall, use a pumpkin theme, like a photo of you and your family smiling, holding a pumpkin that says, “Our Little Pumpkin, Due April 2014.” If you are announcing your pregnancy in the winter, try a Christmas theme. With my daughter, we made special Christmas books to give our parents.

Big Brother/Big Sister Shirt Announcement

I still love this idea. We bought my daughter a shirt that says “best sister ever.” She wore it to dinner with my family, and it was hilarious to see their reactions as they figured it out. It was tricky to find a shirt on short notice, however.

I hope I’ve given you some fun ideas for how to announce the next one. However you do it, remember that the most important part of it is that you are taking part in a miracle!

Karyn is 10 weeks pregnant with baby number 2. She loves being pregnant and is all about being creative when it’s time to tell.