Amy's Corner. our lactation consultant answers your questions about nursing.

New Nursing Positions

Since the dawn of time, mothers have been perfecting the art of breastfeeding.  And beautiful art it is!  At its core, breastfeeding is about a relationship between mother and baby, and each relationship is unique.  That includes your nursing positions.

Happy mother breast feeding her sonFinding the best way to breastfeed will be very specific to you and your baby.  Hopefully you’re taking advantage of breastfeeding classes, books and online resources that explain the ins-and-outs of breastfeeding.  You can also seek help from a lactation consultant or many breastfeeding support organizations in your area.  Logistically, breastfeeding may take a bit of work as you and your baby discover the best ways to position yourselves for great latch, good suck and swallow reflexes and to avoid reflux and spitting up as much as possible.

There are many standard nursing positions that most lactation consultants and books recommend, such as the cradle, cross-cradle, football hold and side-laying.  These are a great place to start but they don’t work for every mother and baby pair.  Today we’re recommending a few new nursing positions that may be the perfect fit for you and your baby:

 

Laid Back:  Rather than lying completely on your sides facing one another, in the Laid Back position, mother is reclining with baby lying across her torso.  The Laid Back position works well in a reclining chair, cushioned couch or a rocking chair when mom can keep her foot pressed against a stool.  This is also a great position to try if you are nursing in your car and can recline the drivers or passengers seat. Laid Back allows baby straight-on access to the breast and keeps her at a propped position for easy flow and digestion.

Side Sling:  Moms are on-the-go more than ever so wearing your baby in a sling is convenient for the mobile mom.  Baby wearing is often comforting to baby because she can enjoy being close to mom and the rocking rhythm of your motions.  Breastfeeding in a sling is a great way to multi-task and offers some discretion in public.  The Side Sling position is similar to the cradle, except your sling is holding baby in place rather than your arms.  This is perfect for over an over-the-shoulder style sling.

Carrier Forward:  This is another convenient position for baby wearing moms. Carrier Forward works best for front pack style carriers (think back pack, but worn on the front) where baby is facing mom.  You are probably used to wearing your carrier high enough for your baby’s head to prop against your chest, just under your chin.  When it’s time to nurse, try lowering the straps so your baby’s face meets your breasts.  You may have to adjust baby’s position slightly from one side to the other.  Many carriers come with an inner shell that offers head support for newborns and smaller infants, which can be helpful for Carrier Forward nursing.

Saddle:  This nursing position entails mama sitting upright in a chair with baby facing forward straddling your legs.  Again, baby is able to sit up to prevent reflux, spit-ups and excess gas.  This is often a better position for older babies who are able to hold up their own heads.  You may need to tilt your baby’s head sideways to ensure good latch.

Upside-down Mama:  Unusual as this position may sound, it can be very effective.  Lie baby down on the ground and hover over her on your elbows and knees.  Then lower your breast to baby’s mouth.  Your baby may enjoy this new perspective and even get a chuckle out of it.  And she may feed better too.  By leaning down, your milk can drain more efficiently and is easier for your baby to suckle out.  If you’re feeling like your baby is having trouble getting enough milk or you are not fully expelling the milk from each breast, give this position a go.

Switch up your nursing positions to see which ones your baby responds to best.  You never know, one of these new nursing positions may become your favorite one!

Is it Time to Baby Proof? Baby Proofing 101

As your little tot becomes more mobile, its time to consider baby proofing your home.  Baby proofing will keep your baby safe from potential dangerous situations – getting into cleaning supplies, falling down stairs or getting cut with broken glass – and also protects your belongings.  While it may not be the most convenient for you, baby proofing is necessary for a safe and healthy home.

Many parents dread baby proofing because it can be time consuming and make life a little frustrating when you want to get into cabinets, drawers and down the stairs.  But the inconvenience is well-worth the safety of your baby.  One of the best ways to ensure baby proofing is not overwhelming is to do it gradually as your baby becomes more mobile and curious.  Each baby requires different levels of security.  Some are more cautious and are not all that interested in exploring new spaces.  Others are dare devils and will climb and jump on anything in sight.  Progressively baby proof to your child’s level step-by-step, but be observant to predict what your little one may start getting into next.  For example, if he’s working on opening kitchen drawers but can’t quite grasp the knobs yet, you know it will soon be time to lock them.

Start baby proofing from the ground up.  If you have flower pots, decorative items and low shelves and drawers, secure those items first.  You may need to remove them or raise them higher temporarily until your baby is mature enough to listen and follow directions.  It’s a good idea to cover all outlets with secure covers that your baby cannot remove.  If your baby tends to pull out plugs, get plug protectors, which are like small boxes that you fit over the entire outlet plate.

Baby-Proofing-Checklist-8-size-3Regardless of your baby’s level of adventure, you will want to lock cabinets that contain cleaning supplies, chemicals, medications or any other harmful substances.  There is no reason to risk your baby getting into these items, even if he has never tried before.  Close off any stairs or spaces that are absolutely off limits to babies with baby proof gates.  Keep in mind that anything with small parts can be a choking hazard and anything with a long cord or string (electronics, blinds, curtains, etc…) puts your baby at risk of strangulation.  Sharp corners on furniture can be dangerous so add cushioned tape or plastic corner covers.  Also, keep matches and lighters out of reach and never leave your baby around standing water.

As your baby learns to pull up on furniture and grows taller, you’ll need to do another round of baby proofing for his new line of view and reach.  Consider the fact that your baby or toddler may eventually be able to climb up to new heights too.  This means you should not leave dangerous items on countertops, such as knives, hot irons or heavy objects that can be pulled down.  Be particularly careful with stoves and ovens.  For minimal cost, you can get an oven lock and stove knob covers.  For very curious children, you may need a plastic guard to protect hot pots and pans on your stovetop.  Also be aware of which burners you use when your tot is home.  Try only using back burners to avoid burns or spills from inquisitive little hands.

c26-Safety-1st-proofing-4-lBeyond the obvious areas like ovens and stairs, some parents are not sure what exactly needs baby proofing in their home.  Browse the child proofing aisles of a baby superstore or go online to see what products are offered.  That will give you a sense of what many children tend to get into.  But keep in mind, many baby proofing solutions do not require expensive gear.  You can often create homemade versions with supplies you have on hand.

A natural part of infancy and toddlerhood is exploring so keep some spaces open to your child, even outside of his room or playroom.  If you spend family time together in your living room, keep a basket of toys there for your baby.  If your baby is usually at your feet while you are cooking in the kitchen, create a baby safe bottom drawer for him.  Fill it with plastic items, old pots and pans and a few wooden or metal spoons.  He’ll be delighted with “mommy’s toys” while you’ll get a few extra minutes to get dinner ready.

Baby proofing does not give you permission to let your baby go unsupervised, especially around doors, stairs and appliances.  The idea is to minimize risk but you still need to keep a watchful eye on your little one.  As you see he’s interested in getting into things he should not, use these times as teaching moments.  The more you reinforce safety, the more your child will learn to avoid hazards on his own in the future.  And keep your gadgets and nicer items out of baby’s reach too.  You both may learn the hard way, but it will sink in pretty quickly.

Remember, baby proofing is only a temporary situation.  Your house may not look like a picture in Better Homes and Gardens for a few years but you’ll be happy that you protected your baby and created a safe and healthy home environment.  Good luck!

Breastfeeding and Medications: How Do I Know what is Safe to Take?

As you focus on the health of your new baby, it’s important to stay healthy yourself.  Sometimes ensuring your own health – from managing minor aches and pains to maintaining emotional balance – requires medication.  Breastfeeding adds a layer of scrutiny to the pills you pop because a small dose of your medications will transfer into your breast milk.  It is essential to know where to find information about medication safety while breastfeeding.

The first source you should consult regarding medications that may affect your baby is your pediatrician.  She will be most knowledgeable about what is acceptable for your baby to consume based on the age and health condition of your child.  Premature babies, newborns or any infant with an existing condition may be at greater risk of adverse Happy mother breast feeding her sonreactions to adult medication.  Also, if your baby is older and breastfeeding less because you have introduced solids, your pediatrician may be less concerned about potential issues.

Once you select a pediatrician during pregnancy, make her aware of any medications you are taking.  Consult her again before introducing new medications as well, and remind her of all drugs you are taking.  Sometimes a drug interaction that does not affect adults can cause problems for babies.  Additionally, some medications may be given to infants and therefore the small dose a baby receives through breast milk is acceptable.  If you want to do some research on your own, there are reference books about breastfeeding and medications as well as dedicated hotlines for this topic.

When you are prescribed a new drug, you may want to let your physician know that you are breastfeeding.  Your doctor might know off-hand if the medication could be dangerous to your baby and may be able to suggest an alternative.  However, many doctors use the Physicians Desk Reference to look up potential risks and almost every drug shows a warning for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.  This does not necessarily mean it is unsafe so still consult your pediatrician.  Also note that the same rules for medication safety do not apply during pregnancy as with breastfeeding so do not use pregnancy warnings as a guide.

If you cannot find a safe alternative to a drug you are prescribed, ask yourself if it is absolutely necessary to treat your condition immediately.  You may be able to postpone the medication until you wean your baby.  However that is not always possible.  You may need to temporarily discontinue breastfeeding while you undergo your course of medicine.  During this time, pump as much as possible to keep your milk supply available and set a goal to return to breastfeeding as soon as the medication is out of your body.

Be sure to consider how a medication will affect your milk supply and nursing schedule too.  Drugs that are dehydrating or cause drowsiness can be particularly disruptive to breastfeeding.  If you know these side effects in advance, you can work to counteract them by drinking more throughout the day or planning for your partner to give a bottle of breast milk while you catch a nap.

If you do proceed with a course of medicine, be sure to watch your baby closely for any signs of reactions.  The most common negative responses to adult medications in babies are fussiness, gassiness, refusal to eat, lethargy and rashes.  Keep a watchful eye for these symptoms and contact your pediatrician immediately if any emerge.

Most over-the-counter medications are generally safe while breastfeeding.  But don’t take any chances with your baby’s health.  Pediatricians and help lines are happy to answer your questions and address concerns so don’t be afraid to use them as a resource.

My Mom-Mobile is a Mess! How Can I Keep My Car Clean with a Baby?

You’re a mom now and moms are constantly on-the-go.  You may have had to ditch the convertible or two-door sports coup for a more practical mom-mobile.  What was once a joy ride to your office has become your mobile office of sorts.  And in your office you carry all the things that you and your kids may need for your daily excursions.   But between mashed-up goldfish, a pile of “keep the baby occupied” toys, and all of the emergency supplies you just might need when you’re out-and-about, a mom’s car gets messy, fast.

We’ve discovered that the key to keeping your mom-mobile tidy is having an organizational plan and a cleaning routine.  The first step is to create a baseline.  Clean your car to the core to get a fresh start.  Take everything out – including car seats – and vacuum, scrub and throw away all the trash that your car has collected.  Then you can re-construct your car in an organized fashion.

clean carWe recommend investing in some supplies:  all-weather mats to protect your car’s carpeting; a car trash bag in a central location; and several large bins or an over-the-seat car organizer for each person who regularly rides in your car.  Also, lay some ground rules such as all food and drinks must be in lidded containers.  Or all trash must be thrown away before you exit the car.  Make a habit of dumping out the trash bag each time you fill up the car with gas.

Keep the bins or car organizer in a position that is reachable to each child.  Allow them to select toys, books and games that they want to keep in the car, but discourage things with small pieces that can scatter everywhere.  Don’t allow them to keep food items that spoil or melt in their bins.

Make sure mom has a bin too.  You can keep yours in the passenger seat floor or in the trunk.  In fact, you may need several – one for cleaning supplies like wipes, hand sanitizer, paper towels, tissues, etc…, another for emergency supplies such as sunscreen, bug spray, pool towels and bottles of water.  If you are breastfeeding, have a separate bag or bin for these supplies including your pump, extra bottles, cooler, nursing cover and a snack.  The last thing you want to be doing when your baby is hungry or it’s time to pump is digging through your diaper bag for this stuff.

Have a routine of bringing everything in from the car that you no longer need each time you return home.  Otherwise, items will pile-up quickly.  Also have a regular cleaning schedule.  Maybe it’s once or twice a month you spend 20 minutes vacuuming out the crumbs, sand and dirt.  Try to get to stainable spills quickly to avoid permanent damage.   While you’re at it, use a natural fresh scent fabric spray to eliminate nasty odors and allow everyone to enjoy a more pleasant ride.

If your kids are old enough, hold them responsible for keeping the car clean and set a good example.  Explain to them that this is a new era and you need their help.  Kids are naturally helpful and will most likely want to please you.  And they probably spend as much time in the car as you do so they have a vested interest in making it an organized and fun space too.

Good luck keeping that mom-mobile clean and tidy!

The Importance of Mom Friends

Being a new mom is a lot of things: wonderful, daunting, exhilarating and exhausting. Often mom’s partner goes back to work after the first few weeks, so it can also be isolating. While husbands, parents and friends can be a great support system, no one understands what a new mom is going through like another new mom.  Enter, the new mom friends.

It’s important to find other moms that you can talk to. It’s both fun and cathartic to swap stories about the joy of first smiles, the challenges and triumphs of breastfeeding, trade diaper change war stories and of course, talk about sleep.

mom friendsWhether you and your BFF planned your pregnancies together or you don’t know a single other mama on the block, as a new mom you may be in search of more likeminded friends after your little one arrives. New mom seeking can be almost as awkward as dating, but it doesn’t have to be.

Do you take your babe on frequent walks? Strike up a conversation with the stroller next to you. See another bump in your Facebook newsfeed? Send her a message and grab coffee.  Not sure where else to find other new mamas? Here are a few places to look:

Breastfeeding Support Groups: Check out your local La Leche League or join the “We’ve Got Your Back Babe Fitness Challenge” (benefitting Best for Babes Foundation, Breastfeeding USA and United States Lactation Consultants Association) to find likeminded nursing mamas.  They may have great tips on new nursing positions and the hottest nursing wear from Leading Lady of course, but more importantly they can relate to your fantastic choice to breastfeed.

Meet Up: Mamas looking for coffee dates and playgroups may want to check out MeetUp, an online hub for activities divided by areas and interests. Especially if none of your other friends have babes the same age as yours, this is a great place to seek out local mommies.

Facebook: Can’t always make it to a weekly group, but still want to find mamas who can tell you which restaurants have the best changing stations and stroller parking? Search on Facebook for local moms groups by city or even neighborhood. Engage in a discussion online, post a question and get instantaneous feedback. The best part is that you can do it during those 3 a.m. nursing sessions.

Mommy networking: Everyone has a friend of a friend (or a friend of a friend of a friend) who is also new mom. Introduce yourself or ask your friends to set you up on mom dates. While it may be uncomfortable at first, you’ll soon be keeping an eye on each other’s babies so one of you can go to the bathroom with the door closed.

No matter where you find the other ladies with new babies, you’ll soon find yourself laughing and venting with someone who understands almost exactly what you’re going through.  And your babies may be making friends for life too!

 

 

Breastfeeding and the Working Mom

Returning to work after having a baby is a double-edged sword for many moms who intend to breastfeed for the AAP’s recommendation of one year.  On the one hand, moms want to provide their babies with the best possible nutrition that protects them from many illnesses and diseases, improves their cognition and creates a lasting bond between mother and child.  But working moms also want to be productive in the workplace and not seen as “absent” during critical times during the work day.

Maintaining breast milk for babies when mom returns to work is tough, but it absolutely can be done.  And the good news is, the law is on mom’s side.  The “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” Law passed in 2010 is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  It requires employers to provide break time and a private space for mothers to feed their babies or pump during work hours until the baby reaches one year of age.

breastfeeding and the working momBut even with this law, many mothers struggle to reach their breastfeeding goals.  A recent study published in the Journal of Human Lactation showed that less than 30% of full-time working moms who intended to breastfeed for three months were able to meet that goal.  It also indicated that when a mother returns to work effects how long she will be able to provide breast milk.  Moms who resumed full time work before six weeks were 2.25 times less likely to make it to three months, and those who returned between six weeks and three months were 1.82 times less likely to meet the goal.  Part-time working moms fared better.

Laws protect working mothers’ right to breastfeed because it is important to individual and public health for babies to get proper nutrition from birth.  And breastfeeding rates in the U.S. have increased over the past decade.  Yet most moms still do not meet the recommended six months of exclusive breastfeeding and one year of continued breastfeeding.

Many women face barriers to breastfeeding including not being educated on the benefits to mom and baby, not having proper support to navigate the logistics and challenges of breastfeeding and being subjected to misconceptions about breastfeeding.  Working mothers face additional challenges due to time constraints, pressure to perform at work, additional responsibilities at home, and physical separation from their babies for long periods of time, which can affect milk supply and a baby’s desire to breastfeed.  Even when employers cooperate, which they do not all do despite the laws protecting mothers, many mothers feel unspoken tension from supervisors or put pressure on themselves.

Working moms who are committed to breastfeeding can take some preliminary steps to ensure they meet their goals.  First, take as much maternity leave as your company will allow to lay the foundation for a great breastfeeding relationship with your baby.  Before you return, speak to your employer about your intentions to pump during the work day and establish expectations on both sides.

When you return to work, invest in a quality breast pump, ideally one that pumps both breasts at the same time and is hands free.  Pump as much as possible during the day and make sure you have easy access to a refrigerator or freeze to store your milk.

Prepare your baby for your transition back to work too.  Start offering occasional bottles of breast milk weeks before you head back to the office so your baby can get used to the difference between your nipple and a bottle nipple.  Find the ideal child care situation, whether it is on-site day care where you can pop in for feedings as time permits, or a care giver who is supportive and knowledgeable about your intention to provide your baby breast milk.  Train your care giver on how and when you want your baby to be fed.

We champion all moms who want to provide breast milk to their babies.  Working mothers face additional challenges but we support them 100%.  If you are planning to go back to work soon, be sure to take good care of yourself too.  Happy babies start with happy mommies.  We wish you much breastfeeding success at home and at work!

Breastfeeding and Babywearing

In these modern mobile times, we can do almost anything on the go, and that includes breastfeeding.  You’re probably used to multi-tasking your lunch or a quick snack and so can your baby, especially when you are wearing her.  It’s called babywearing and we highly recommend it.

Using a sling during breastfeeding is actually not a modern concept at all.  But it certainly helps out the modern mom who is active and busy.  Breastfeeding can be time consuming, a true labor of love.  So when you’re in a time crunch to get chores done around the house or need to be out-and-about, babywearing can be an excellent way to multi-task.  Your hands are free to eat, take care of another child, do some housework or jump on your computer for a few minutes.  You can’t beat that convenience!

breastfeeding and babywearingBabies love to snuggle up with mom and a sling offers closeness, warmth and a little discretion if you’re out in public.  Slings can also organize a baby into a better nursing position to encourage suck and latch.  Because it is similar to skin-to-skin contact, babywearing can improve your babies desire to breastfeed and encourage let downs.  Plus babies carried in slings are typically calmer and cry less because they are warm, can feel and hear mother’s heartbeat and enjoy natural, soothing rocking while mom moves around.  It’s actually much like the womb so it helps transition newborns into this big bright world of ours.

Another advantage of babywearing is the developmental benefits it offers your little one.  Your faces are close together, which will help your baby get to know you and your expressions as her vision becomes more acute.  You can make eye contact and googly eyes at one another!  She’ll also hear your voice constantly as you do your daily tasks, which helps her understand language and cadence from a young age.  The vibration of your voice has a soothing effect as well.

There are many versions of baby slings that make terrific choices for babywearing.  Some look like a loop that you toss over one shoulder and place your baby on one side.  Others are longer strips of cloth that you wrap around your waist and shoulders for extra support and can completely cover your baby during breastfeeding or while she’s sleeping.  These are better when you plan to be more active.

There are yet more choices for babywearing if you are using it at not feeding times, like front or back carriers.  These are similar to bookbags for your chest or back.  While not ideally situated for breastfeeding, these allow you to be mobile and have use of your hands.  Plus they are great for dads as well!  Some pack-type carriers come with an inner wrap that offers more support for newborns, and also cover pads for the shoulder harnesses that your baby may use for sucking or teething.

We hope you’ll give babywearing a go.  We bet your baby will love being wrapped up warmly next to you while you are being super productive throughout your day.  Seriously, what could be better than giving your baby her most wholesome meal while checking off your to-do list at the same time?  We thought you’d agree!

World Breastfeeding Week: The State of Breastfeeding

Hooray!  It’s World Breastfeeding Week!  We love to celebrate breastfeeding all year long, but during this time of year, the world celebrates with us.

Breastfeeding with Leading LadySo what are we celebrating during World Breastfeeding Week?  First of all, the health of our babies, of course.  Breast milk is quite possibly the perfect combination of nutrients – protein, fat and vitamins – for your baby designed by nature to be easy to digest.  The antibodies in breast milk help babies fend off infections that would otherwise be difficult for their immature immune systems.  Breastfed babies are at lower risk for certain types of cancer, obesity, diabetes, asthma, allergies, ear infections and respiratory problems.  Breastfeeding also supports greater cognitive function and emotional balance from a young age.  But believe it or not, it goes deeper than that.

Breastfeeding improves the health of mothers too, and as well all know, when mama is healthy and strong, a family can thrive.  Breastfeeding is also an economic issue.  In poverty-stricken countries, breastfeeding may be the only stable and sanitary source of nutrition for babies.  In the U.S., breastfeeding itself saves money – no formula, less bottles – but more importantly, when families get sick less, they save in health care costs and parents don’t have to take time off work.  And that makes a huge difference in a family’s finances.

This year, the theme of World Breastfeeding Week is “Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life!”  The goals are to protect, promote and support breastfeeding globally.  Worldwide, poverty rates are decreasing, but still, 1 in 8 people lack daily nutrition.  Child mortality rates have improved in the last two decades but 7 million children under the age of five die, mainly from preventable diseases.  Many of them are preventable when mother’s are educated and given the opportunity to provide their babies the best start in life, with breast milk.

How is the U.S. progressing towards our “winning goal?”  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a baby’s life and continued breastfeeding (along with feeding solids) until babies are at least 1-year-old.  Research indicates that there are many benefits of extended breastfeeding beyond the first year as well.  According to the CDC’s breastfeeding report card for 2013, over 75% of U.S. mothers begin breastfeeding at birth.  However, less than 50% are still breastfeeding when their babies are 6-months old and only 27% are breastfeeding by the time their babies are one.  That means nearly 75% of women in the U.S. are not meeting the recommendation.  Exclusive breastfeeding rates are even lower.  At three months, exclusive breastfeeding is less than 40% and by six months, it sinks to around 16%.

The CDC sites several factors that influence breastfeeding success.  These include: skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible after birth and continued skin-to-skin time throughout the newborn stage; rooming in with babies in the hospital to quickly get into a breastfeeding rhythm; hospitals not making formula a “quick fix” when babies struggle to latch immediately; and support from nurses, lactation consultants, peer counselors and family members.  Statistics show that when breastfeeding is encouraged in the hospital through professional support, skin-to-skin contact and rooming-in, longer term breastfeeding rates increase significantly.

As this report card indicates, there is room for improvement in the U.S. that will make a difference in the health of our families, and allow us to act as a role model for the world.  World Breastfeeding Week is important to women and children, but also our communities 8.1_wbw2014-logo3as a whole.  That’s why this is a week for everyone to celebrate and join hands in promoting breastfeeding by educating new moms about the benefits of breastfeeding, working to remove barriers that many women face in breastfeeding even from healthcare professionals, and encourage a cultural advocacy and social acceptance of the most natural way for mothers to nurture their babies.

Please join us in making a change.  We’re supporting several big initiatives during World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month.  Through a partnership with WIC, we’re donating $15,000 in nursing bras to deserving moms nationwide.  We’re also a Presenting Sponsor in the second annual “We’ve Got Your Back Babe” fitness challenge benefiting the Best for Babes® Foundation, Breastfeeding USA and the United Stations Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA.)  Find out how you can get involved on Facebook.

 

 

Baby Talk and Talking to Your Baby

From the moment they are born, babies are soaking up every sensory experience around them.  While words usually don’t hit their tongues until around one year of age, new research indicates that babies are working on speech as early as seven months.  It’s just all happening in their heads.

Similar to physical movement, speech requires the coordination of brain messages that not only pair sounds with meanings, but also signal mouth movements that will produce words.  Forming sounds takes a lot of work for an infant but it’s made easier by the inner dialogue that’s been taking place for months before the words come out.

Amazingly, researchers discovered that infants as young as six months old can understand words, but by seven months, areas of the brain that correspond to motor planning light up when they hear sounds.  Researchers suspect that this area of the brain is involved in identifying their native language.  When a baby does spit out her exciting first word, it is usually one she has heard most often.  Her brain has been working on forming the sounds for months and finally she has the coordination to verbalize it.

This research highlights the importance of talking to babies, even if they are no where near blurting their first words.  Hearing speech is exercising their cognition, not only to discover the meanings of words, but also how they will eventually say them.  Talking to your baby has many benefits:

Talking to your baby strengthens your bond.  While she may not follow your every word, she will quickly learn your tone and cadence, which is comforting to your little one.  Your words are powerful and are the foundation of a trusting relationship between you and your child.  Plus, talking is fun and can certainly spur a smile if not a complete giggle fest.

If you feel silly talking to your baby, remember that it’s good for her health, just like giving her baths, taking her to the doctor and breastfeeding.  And constant chatter is simpler than you may think.  Try having a conversation with your little one’s baby talk.  Repeat her words, complement them, encourage more and respond as if she’s said something that completely makes sense to you.  This game of speech volley will teach your infant the dynamics of conversation.

Use every opportunity to repeat words and teach new words.  Repetition is easy when you have a routine.  Describe your actions when changing her diaper, snuggling up to breastfeed or driving to grandma’s house.  Take time during bathes or meals to talk about body parts, foods, people in your lives, colors, shapes and more.  Try to incorporate multiple senses as you use words to create a stronger association to meanings.  Nursery rhymes or even rhymes you make up yourself are other repetitive ways to talk to your baby.

baby-mom-reading_courtesy of pregnancyandbaby.comReading to your baby is imperative.  Picture books are ideal to connect sights with the sound of words.  Research shows that low-income children who were not read to regularly in their early years of life are at a great disadvantage as they enter school. Reading not only increases vocabulary that may not be part of your daily routines, but also other communication skills and eventually your child’s own literacy.  Plus reading is another bonding activity and instills a passion for books and lifelong learning.

The new philosophy is: baby talk equals brain talk.  Take every opportunity to boost your baby’s brain by indulging in a little baby talk.

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Why You Should Stick to Pregnancy Workouts from First Trimester to Last

Olympian Alysia Montano competing at 8 months pregnantWhen it comes to your new pregnancy lifestyle, where do pregnancy workouts fit in? It might seem as though pregnancy restrictions limit many of the routine actions that made up your day pre bun in the oven. While you get used to meals without goat cheese and red wine, how should you effectively change your workout plan? Working out while pregnant provides many health benefits to both mom and baby, so using pregnancy as a time to lay off all exercise is not advised by many healthcare professionals. But it also important to note that pregnancy is not the time to push yourself harder and work out past your established threshold. It is crucial that you stay at your current exercise level and concentrate on maintaining that level of fitness (with adjustments as your pregnancy progresses).

Women who regularly compete at a high fitness level will be able to maintain their strenuous workouts with modification throughout pregnancy. Runners, weight lifters, and even surfers are able to maintain their daily workouts as long as they take safety precautions and pay special attention to their breathing and cardio rates. Exercising and carrying a pregnancy impose similar physiological changes on a woman’s body. The cardiovascular and respiratory systems are the most heavily impacted by pregnancy (aside from the body’s transformation during pregnancy) because of how crucial these systems are to a baby’s development in the womb.

If you plan on continuing the work out while pregnant, be prepared for your first trimester to pose the most strain on your heart and breathing. In your first months of pregnancy, your body’s blood flow is more restricted compared to your last months spent expecting. By your third trimester, your body will have maximized cardiac output with minimal effort working out, but your growing baby bump will have put the brakes on more extreme workouts. So if you were a runner before you became pregnant, use your first and second trimesters to continue your typical workout schedule. You should transition into a gentler workout plan in your third trimester to minimize pain and accidents; swimming, yoga, and walking are all safer pregnancy workouts women close to their due dates.

Staying fit is a great way to boost your chances of conception, so make working out a regular habit before you’re pregnant. If you establish a healthy exercise pattern before you start a family, chances are that you’ll be able to keep up with your workout routine while expecting. Not only will you feel better and have an easier delivery, but your baby also benefits from your dedicated exercise regimen. If you’re unsure about what exercise limits you should establish while pregnant, consult your doctor about safe options that keep you active and healthy.

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