Archive for April, 2014

3 Toxic Chemicals Lurking in Baby Products

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

3 Toxic Chemicals in Baby ProductsWhen we buy baby products and see labels claiming safety for our loved ones, we want to believe that they really are safe. Unfortunately there are many ingredients in common baby products, even those labeled natural or organic, which may actually be hazardous.

Just last year Johnson & Johnson, one of the most trusted companies when it comes to baby products, announced that it would be removing many toxic chemicals but would continue to use some of them, even though they have been found to cause cancer. Here are three to avoid:

Phthalates are a man-made chemical typically used to make plastics flexible. They are also used in many fragrance oils since they prolong the scent and are commonly found in lotions, powders and shampoos. They have been linked to hormonal changes, birth defects, reproductive abnormalities in baby boys, and damage to the lungs, liver and kidneys. A study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that even young infants frequently exposed to phthalates are vulnerable to these adverse effects.

Parabens are often used as a preservative that prevents the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast in cosmetics, foods and pharmaceutical products. They can be found most commonly in deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, lotions and shower cleansers. Parabens mimic the hormone estrogen and, according to the Breast Cancer Fund, have been linked to breast cancer after being absorbed through the skin.

Perfumes give many products their lovely baby smell but it’s really nothing more than a mix of chemicals trying to cover up the smell of even more chemicals. Artificial fragrances are known for being one of the top five allergens and a frequent trigger for asthma. Unfortunately the fragrance industry is allowed to regulate itself so they are allowed to determine what is safe without an outside agency to test for safety.

Always be sure to read labels and avoid these ingredients whenever you can. Since there are so many other chemicals being used in baby care products your best bet is to choose products with an ingredient list you can pronounce. Your next best option is to search the Environmental Working Groups website Skin Deep which lets you search for safe products or type in a product and find out how it ranks for safety against toxic chemicals.

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.

Learning to Love Your Post-baby Body

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
Learning to Love Your Post-baby Body

The Fourth Trimester Bodies project celebrates post-baby bodies.

Some days it’s hard to accept our post-baby bodies. Wherever you look there are images of moms with perfect post-baby bodies, but no one talks openly about the struggles of losing baby weight. Many of us are embarrassed that we haven’t lost it as fast as we thought we would.

Although it may be different, the post-baby body is a beautiful thing and here are some tips to help you embrace it.

Never compare yourself to others. Your best friend may have lost all her baby weight after the first month and here you are, months later and still struggling. We all have different things going on inside our bodies, there’s a dance of hormones, stress, and so many other things that play a part in our weight. Focus on yourself, on the beautiful gift that your body gave you, and never try to push yourself to meet someone else’s goals.

Love your new body. Remove all unloving words about your body from your vocabulary. Remind yourself of all the positive things, and be thankful for them. Focus on a different body part every day and tell it how much you love it, thank it for doing such a wonderful job. It may sound silly but I promise once you start, it will help you erase the negative view and help you fall in love with your new body.

Toss the scale. That little number can have such a haunting affect on us if it doesn’t say what we want it to. Why let an insignificant number dictate your mood and self-esteem? Instead focus on how you feel, how your clothes fit, and your energy levels.

Change your look. Instead of focusing all your energy into fitting into those pre-baby clothes, treat yourself to a new look. Things shift during pregnancy and what better excuse to revamp your wardrobe than having given birth to a perfect little human? You’ll feel much better in a new dress that’s a size bigger than wearing the same pair of yoga pants day in and day out waiting for your pre-baby clothes to fit. Trust me, I speak from experience.

Be kind to yourself. Don’t take drastic measures. Remember that your body has undergone enormous changes during pregnancy, breastfeeding and getting used to a new life. Settle into your new life, find comfort in your new body and all of the amazing things it was able to do.

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.

Pregnancy Week 23: Traveling While Pregnant

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Traveling while pregnantFrequent stops to use the bathroom. Getting out to stretch. Back discomfort. Stopping to get snacks. These are the first things I think of when I think about traveling during pregnancy. With both of my pregnancies, I lived 6 to 12 hours away from family and made long car trips both times.

Here are some tips I would suggest to anyone embarking on a journey while expecting:

Be Smart:

Most doctors and midwives have restrictions they suggest as far as travel is concerned with pregnancy. Many will suggest that you travel during your second trimester. This is a time when most of your morning sickness has passed and you feel the best. If you are traveling a considerable distance, be sure to get your records and charts from your provider, just in case. If something was to happen while you are away, you want to have the paperwork to show an unfamiliar doctor.

Follow Guidelines:

Most airlines allow air travel through your eighth month, while you can travel during your ninth month on some airlines if you have permission from your provider. Traveling by car is a little trickier. You may think you are fine to travel, but remember you may need to take extra precautions. Get out to stretch and walk every few hours. International travel is something you’ll really have to plan out. You will need to make sure it is safe for you and baby, check on any food precautions you should take, and be sure you are vaccinated for the area you are traveling to if needed. If you decide you want to go on a cruise while pregnant, remember that you will need to ensure there is a doctor or midwife on board who could help you in time of an emergency. Also, sea travel may increase your nausea.

General Tips:

I will be making at least two 6-hour trips this spring by car alone with my toddler. I plan on wearing comfy clothes and bringing a pillow, just in case I feel discomfort. Obviously, you need to follow safety guidelines and wear your seatbelt below your tummy. Bringing extra snacks and extra water bottles is on my to-do list. If you are still feeling nauseated, I suggest bringing few bags to have in the car, just in case. If you’re not driving, use the travel time to write a sweet note to your little one or work on catching up on a pregnancy journal. Remember that sitting for long periods of time in a car, plane, or train could cause swelling or leg cramps.

Wherever you go and however you get there while pregnant, be safe and smart and remember to plan, plan, plan. Enjoy your trip!

Karyn Meyerhoff lives and writes in Northeast Indiana. She loves to go on trips, but isn’t a big fan of driving.

Working From Home With a Mobile Baby

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Working from Home with a Mobile BabyAs I type this blog post, my 16-month-old is in my lap nursing; not the easiest way to work, but I can get the job done. I am blessed to be able to stay at home with my babies in addition to having a full time job. I would not change my situation for the world, but it can be challenging at times.

Here are a few tips for working at home with a mobile baby:

  • Take advantage of naps. This would be my number one tip. I can get so much done during nap time. I make sure I do everything I can do to prep my work area while the babies are awake so that I can go straight to work once I put them down.
  • Have office-only toys for baby to play with. This is a no brainer, but I always have a few toys ready for my babies to play with in my office while I am working. They can entertain themselves while seeing me and I can get work done. I love that I can interact with them while working. You can keep these toys separate from their regular toys, or rotate them out so whatever is in the office is always new and exciting.
  • Nurse your baby. I have gotten pretty adept at typing with one hand while nursing. If my baby is fussy and I must get some work done I will nurse. I also nurse to keep my baby quiet while I am on conference calls just in case I need to un-mute my phone and speak.
  • Have snacks ready to go. I prepare bite-sized fruit ahead of time to give my babies for their morning and afternoon snacks. I move the high chair into my office, and they get to snack while I am working. This way I do not have to take a break to get them snacks.
  • Be flexible. I think this is a must for all moms. You never know what your baby will do or need; sometimes I have to work in the afternoons or weekends when my husband is home in order to get the job done. Thankfully, my employer understands my need to be flexible and we have both benefited from me working from home.

How do you get work done with kids at home? What is your secret?

Kristen Beggs works from home while keeping up with a three-year-old and a sixteen-month old.

Keeping Up Your Supply After 6 Months

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Long nights. Painful nipples. Pumping wherever you can. Nursing sessions that lasted forever. You’ve made it to 6 months of nursing! First of all, this is a great accomplishment. You are truly doing your best to give your baby the best start.

But now that baby is older, how do you keep up your supply?

Easy Ways to Increase Your Supply On Your Own:

There are several easy ways to keep your supply up as baby grows. The first way is to take good care of yourself. Get plenty of rest. Drink plenty of water. Eat a healthy diet. Give your baby plenty of chances to nurse. Nurse frequently. It’s okay if baby seems to nurse like a newborn. Offer both sides at each feeding to empty breasts efficiently. Consider pumping after feedings. This can help build up your freezer stash and increase your supply.

Products that Help:

I was a big fan of lactation cookies. Just be warned, these things work. Don’t eat too many at once. They are incredibly tasty. Another product that works well is drinking mother’s milk tea. Try drinking a cup before bedtime and in the morning. Taking a supplement regularly like fenugreek can also keep your supply strong.

Keeping Your Supply Up After 6 MonthsBe Careful With Solids:

As a new mom, I was unsure on how to integrate solids into my daughter’s diet along with nursing. It’s important to remember that as your baby starts solids, these do not replace the need for breast milk. Nursing is still a priority. Nurse before or after meal times. My pediatrician recommended nursing after I fed Johanna solids because she was not gaining weight. recommends nursing before solids. Whatever you choose, you want to keep your supply going strong. Remember, food before age 1 is just for fun.

General Tips:

As baby grows, she is going to become much more active. (Crawling is coming soon, momma!) With this in mind, remember that your body knows exactly how much milk to make for your baby. While your baby does need more calories as he grows, he still needs your breast milk. Don’t feel like your baby should be on a certain schedule. Nurse often. Nurse in the night. It’s okay if baby isn’t sleeping through the night at 6 months. Nursing an older baby is a new adventure! Take care to make it a lasting, loving experience by keeping your supply going strong.

Karyn Meyerhoff lives and writes in Northeast Indiana. She nursed her daughter, Johanna, for 13 months and misses it dearly. She can’t wait to start another nursing journey with baby #2!