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

Father’s Day Gift Ideas that Remind You of Mother’s Day

Dads deserve a special day designated to celebrate them as fathers and dudes.  Father’s Day is the perfect opportunity to shower dad with love and gratitude, while giving him some much-needed relaxation too.  In fact, much of what dads could use on Father’s Day reminds us a lot of what moms often get on Mother’s Day.

Today we’re sharing Father’s Day gift ideas that remind you of Mother’s Day…but with a manly twist.  Check these out for inspiration when selecting the perfect gift for the dads in your life:

bambooFlowers:  Real men can appreciate a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  While you may not select pinks roses for your guy, you can certainly create a vibrant and masculine bouquet using bold colors and the right flower choices.  Use a base of thick green leaves of twigs rather than baby’s breath or other more delicate stems.  Alternatively, potted cactus plants, bamboo or bonsai trees are a masculine take on the traditional floral bouquet.

Spa Pampering:  Guys can use some pampering too.  Book a deep tissue massage, luxurious facial and shave experience, or a foot massage for dad for some much needed relaxation on his special day.  He’ll surely appreciate the time to himself and feel refreshed and ready for the rest of his celebratory day.

Homemade Gifts:  Just like moms, dads love getting homemade cards and gifts from their kids.  Work with your children to make Father’s Day cards, paint pottery or make a special craft that dad can display.  This interactive experience for your kids will be fun and give them a sense of pride in giving dad something beautiful they have created from the heart.

courtesy of takepart.comBreakfast in Bed:  Usually designated for moms, breakfast in bed is a terrific treat for dad on Father’s Day.  Let dad sleep in while you and the kids whip up his favorite breakfast.  Make it fun for everyone by decorating the meal for dad.  If you’re making pancakes, cut out a big “D” for dad or make a silly face on his waffle using fruit for the facial features.  When it’s ready, everyone can hop in bed with dad to watch him enjoy the feast.

Framed Photos:  Proud dads love showing off their adorable kids and beautiful family.  Frame a few of your family’s best photos for him to display in his office or on his bedside table.  This will bring smiles to his face time and time again.

Grooming Products:  Sweet-smelling lotions, perfumes and glam products are usually associated with gifts for mom, but masculine grooming products make a great gift for dad too.  Look for a kit of products that you think the dad in your life will enjoy that may include body lotion, shave gel, cologne and hair gel.

Date Night with Mom:  Wine and dine your guy just like you’d like to be treated.  Plan a special date night as a gift from mom to dad.  He’ll certainly enjoy the adult time and it will give you time to reconnect as a couple.  After all, isn’t that how he become a father in the first place?

We hope these Father’s Day gift ideas will satisfy all the dads on your list.  Remember, dads want many of the same things as moms so when in doubt, think about what you would want.  Just add a manly spin and he’ll be thrilled on his big day.

6 Positive Discipline Tactics that Really Work

positive discipline_courtesy of thrivetofive.orgWhile there are many parenting styles that work for different families, most parents agree that some discipline is necessary to teach children right from wrong.  Starting in infancy, parents can engage in positive discipline to set their kids on the right path to good behavior.

Today we have six positive discipline tactics that really work.  Next time you’re in a behavioral pickle, try one of these to turn the situation around and get everyone back on track.

Solicit Their Help:  Kids do love to be helpful; it’s part of their tiny human nature.  Appeal to this natural instinct to help by putting some responsibility on them.  If you present the disciplinary issue as a problem they can help resolve, they may be more inclined to do the right thing.  They will feel proud and accomplished by helping you out and you’ll get your kids to actually listen.  Also, make helping fun by crafting a game out of it as a diversion.  If your kids never want to pick up toys, set a timer and see if they can complete the clean-up before the buzzer goes off.  If you need 10 minutes of quiet time for an important phone call or to relieve a pounding headache, set up a quiet activity and play the whisper game. You’ll be amazed at how much fun your kids will have helping you while correcting their behavior all at the same time.

Praise During “Time-Ins”:  Positive discipline starts by praising good behavior.  So if you employ “Time Out” in your house (or even if you don’t), you also need to praise during “Time In.”  This begins during infancy and it’s pretty innate.  It’s natural to encourage your baby to do good things and praise when he does, such as rolling over, crawling or saying a first word.  Practice this same positive discipline tactic to encourage your child when he does something right.  Sharing, cleaning-up, listening to directions and using manners are all wonderful times to offer praise.  This helps children learn which behaviors you value and develops a sense of pride in himself.  He’ll be more likely to want to continue being good because he’ll want your praise.

Fill a Bucket:  The Bucket Fillers program is a terrific way to teach babies, toddler and preschoolers positive discipline.  The philosophy is that everyone carries an invisible bucket that can be filled when someone does something nice for us or we do something nice for others.  But when someone does something mean or we act inappropriately, our bucket is dipped.  Bucket fillers have good behavior and bucket dippers do not.  It’s that simple.  You can talk about this concept in a way that your child can visualize and there is a series of books that can also help further explain it.  Introduce the concept early so even your baby will grow up learning to be a bucket filler.

Every Problem Has a Solution:  This is a great life-lesson that helps develop problem-solving skills.  Everyone will face challenges on a daily basis but the key in life is learning how to solve them quickly and effectively on your own.  In infancy your baby may want to get into things that he shouldn’t. Rather than being exasperated and saying “NO” all the time, be more solution oriented by explaining that your things aren’t toys but there are plenty of things around you that are.  Exchange your belonging with a fun toy to show him how it’s done.  For toddlers who are throwing a tantrum because something has not gone their way, wait for a moment of calmness and discuss a solution.  When you teach your kids that every problem has a solution, gradually they will not resort to tears when life throws them lemons and eventually work with you and independently to make lemonade.

Let Kids Set Consequences:  It’s pretty hard for kids to argue with punishments when they select the consequence themselves.  Of course they’ll need a little guidance from you to make sure getting an ice cream party isn’t their idea of a consequence.  Once you set the framework, hold your kids responsible for their actions and enforce the consequence they selected if they don’t behave.  It’s important to learn that there are repercussions to bad behavior.  But this engaging form of discipline gives your child more power and elicits better results.

Energy Drain Theory:  In happy homes, kids really do want to be around their parents for the most part.  And they also cherish your ability to do fun things with them.  Reframe bad behavior as a “you issue” and explain that you only have so much energy and it can be eaten up by their misbehavior.  For example, if your kids are fighting or being too loud in the house, tell them that it’s draining your energy and you won’t be able to take them to do something fun later if you don’t have any energy left.  What you’re really saying is if you don’t behave you don’t get what you want.  But changing the terms often helps kids wrap their heads around the concept better.

Positive discipline proves to be an effective way to healthy, cooperative, well-behaved children.  Use these tactics to elicit effective results throughout your child’s early years.

Siblings and New Baby: Fostering Good Sibling Relationships with a Baby

Bringing home a baby can be a shock to your entire family and older siblings may not welcome this new addition.  When attention is diverted away from older children, they may blame the new baby for taking mommy and daddy away.  Even the most patient, nurturing and sharing children may revert to misbehavior with a new baby in the mix.  But siblings are forever and teaching your older kids that you’re all growing together is an essential part of developing a sibling bond.

Fostering good sibling relationships is important and should begin even before the baby is born.  During pregnancy involve your older children and talk at length about what to expect with a new baby in the house.  Let older children help you prepare the nursery, listen to the baby’s heartbeat and feel the baby kicking inside you.  Explain how the baby is growing inside you and how it will be born in appropriate terms for your child’s age.  There are many books that can help with these explanations and encourage excitement and anticipation for the new, proud big brother or sister.  Also, talk about when your older kids were babies and show them pictures of themselves.

Once the new baby arrives, allow older siblings to visit the hospital as soon as it is safe for everyone.  Being part of this major family experience from the beginning will help establish as sense of pride and ownership in the new baby.  Many older siblings want to help care for the baby.  While it may take more time and make a bit of a mess, do allow older children to participate in diaper changes, tummy time, rocking the baby and other nurturing and infant care activities.  These moments are when bonding can truly begin.  Give your older children responsibilities that make them feel useful and involved.  When it is not possible to allow siblings to help, such as during breastfeeding, make sure you have fun activities for them to do so they don’t dread the lack of attention.

boyandbaby-300x199Additionally, try to maintain as normal of a routine for your older kids as possible.  For the first few days this may be difficult but once you settle in at home with your baby, send your older kids back to school or daycare if that is what they typically do.  Maintain regular meal times and bedtimes and be consistent with schedules and routines.  This will help siblings feel secure and comforted that their lives haven’t been destroyed by their new baby, and mommy and daddy still very much care about their happiness and wellbeing.

Try to set aside one-on-one time with older siblings with each parent to ensure they feel your love and attention.  Accept help from friends and family to spend time with siblings as well and make sure they talk about other things than just the baby.

Some older siblings are uninterested in the new baby in their home.  That’s OK too and nothing you should worry about.  They will get used to the new addition in time and show more interest when the baby is more responsive.

It’s also completely normal for older children to act out when they are struggling to express their feelings during this adjustment period.  Tantrums, accidents and baby talk are all ways older siblings may show they are feeling sad or neglected.  Encourage them to talk about their feelings and address them directly.  Never be dismissive.  Don’t let up on the rules of your home but do understand why misbehavior may occur.  Use this opportunity to talk to your older kids and spend more time with them if that is what they are craving.

As your baby becomes more alert, older children will have more opportunities to interact.  Reading to a new baby brother or sister, making silly faces to make the baby smile or cuddling with her before bedtime are great bonding activities when your kids are old enough.  Fostering sibling relationships with baby will be a process and not one without challenges.  But the joys of your family’s relationships will far outweigh these struggles and will last for a lifetime.

What is Dry Drowning and How to Avoid It

Water safety is an especially important topic during spring and summer months when everyone enjoys swimming.  Drowning is usually a parent’s primary concern when their children are around water, however dry drowning can occur up to 24 hours after your child has been swimming.  It’s a scary thought and unfortunately one that catches many parents by surprise.

Dry drowning occurs when water is inhaled into the lungs and causes the vocal chords to spasm.  This doesn’t happen during a swim session, but rather hours after a child has been in the pool, ocean, lake or bathtub.  Dry drowning has nothing to do with heat, asthma or other outdoor conditions.  It is referred to as “dry” because it happens outside of the water.  Secondary drowning is similar but the child breathes in fluid and the vocal chords close air passages before water can reach the lungs.

babyswimMany parents are less vigilant of their children after a swim session because the immediate concern of drowning in a body of water is alleviated.  However, parents should keep an eye on their children well after swim time is over to ensure they aren’t presenting symptoms of dry drowning.  These symptoms include trouble breathing, coughing, vomiting, exhaustion or other unusual behavior for your child.  Dry drowning often occurs while a child is asleep because water in the lungs causes children to vomit and then choke in a lying position.

If you suspect your child has swallowed a lot of water while at the pool or beach, ask a lifeguard for help as they can perform preliminary measures to reduce fluid build-up in the lungs.  Next you should go to the emergency room where they can x-ray your child’s lungs to see how much fluid is present and monitor your tot for signs of dry drowning.

However, most of the time parents are unaware that their kids have swallowed enough water to cause dry drowning.  It can happen accidentally to even the best swimmers.  And kids who are not very strong in the water may unintentionally swallow water as they are gasping for air or coming up for a breath.  Watching your child during and after swimming is essential and taking breaks during swim time helps avoid inhaling water from over-exertion.

As with other drowning concerns, parents should practice water safety guidelines.  Kids should always be supervised by an adult while swimming.  Pools should be fenced and gated to avoid children straying into the area without supervision.  Kids age four and older should have swim lessons and parents should be skilled in CPR in case of an emergency.  Everyone in your family should wear a life jacket while boating.

Dry drowning and secondary drowning can occur to adults too but these conditions are more likely in children whose air passages are much smaller.  Also, babies, toddlers and young children are usually not strong swimmers and are more likely to inhale water.  Don’t let your daredevil, water-fearless child fool you.  Even children who act like fish can dry drown.

Play it safe this spring and summer while swimming and afterwards.  Know the signs of dry drowning and act quickly if you have concerns.

The Importance of Establishing a Bedtime Routine for your Baby

Establishing a bedtime routine for your baby is one of the best ways to soothe your baby into independent sleep while also spending some quality time together as a family.  Believe it or not, babies enjoy routines because it offers consistency and predictability in a vast world of unknowns.  While they may not understand the pattern at first, they will come to realize that, with a bedtime routine, the end of the day is time to wind down, cuddle and drift off to sleep.

bedtime routine_courtesy of parents.comHere’s another benefit:  bedtime routines help babies learn better sleep and personal hygiene habits.  With a bath or a quick face & hand wash, a quiet activity such as a game, song or book, and some snuggly time with mom and dad, you are teaching your baby the value of keeping her body clean and calming her body before sleep.  When your child is older and more independent, you’ll be thrilled that she understands these healthy habits.

Now that you know the importance of establishing a bedtime routine for your baby, let’s chat about how to do it.  You have lots of options for your bedtime routine so you should find a few activities that suit your baby’s interests and work for your family.  Bedtime routines can be as short at 5 minutes or last longer if it is helpful to your child.  No matter where you begin your bedtime routine, always end it in your child’s room so she accepts it as a blissful place for peaceful sleep.

One great way to start a bedtime routine is by first doing something a little more active.  Kids need to relieve stress just like adults.  Allow your little one to release some built up tension and energy by doing some tummy time, silly dances, bouncing her around the room or having a crawling race.  Once your activity is done, follow-up with something calmer, such as a quiet “thinking” game or a bedtime story.

Many parents incorporate a bath into their bedtime routine.  On top of getting your little tot clean, baths can be soothing and calming to children.  Warm water, sweet soapy smells and a little splishy-splashy time can help your baby wind down for the evening.  After bath time, a nice baby massage with an all-natural lotion or baby oil can further soothe your baby while also giving her comforting feelings of love and affection from your touch.

Make sure your bedtime routine includes taking care of all of your baby’s needs so she feels safe, secure and comfortable.  This includes changing her into a fresh diaper and clean pajamas, turning on sound machines and nightlights that your baby may like, setting the temperature appropriately and brushing her teeth.  Brushing is an essential bedtime habit that you should start early.  If your baby doesn’t have teeth, you can brush her gums to get used to the nightly ritual.  Also, breastfeeding your baby is a terrific nourishing and nurturing bedtime activity that will satisfy her tummy and her heart.

Additional elements of your bedtime routine may include singing, talking and saying goodnight.  Holding your baby close to feel your vocal vibrations as you sing is especially calming.  You can also talk to your baby about what she did that day and what you’ve got planned for the next day.  Even if she doesn’t understand your words, hearing them is important to her development.  Saying goodnight to special things around your house is also great before bedtime. After all, teddy bears, dressers and fans could use your goodnight wishes too.

Establishing a bedtime routine will help your baby understand, accept and enjoy bedtime.  The rituals you initiate now will probably stick around for years to come so soak up these tender moments and help your baby develop wonderful habits for the future.

The 5 Best Things to Eat and Drink while Breastfeeding

fish and pregnancy“Eating for two” is a cutesy thing people used to say about pregnant women, but it is actually more appropriate for breastfeeding moms.  Everything a new mom eats or drinks is passed along to her baby through breast milk.  As new moms know, the health benefits of breast milk are astounding for your baby’s growth and development in every way, from her brain and blood, to her muscles and coordination.  Breastfeeding is one of the best gifts of health and wellbeing you can offer your baby.  But what you put in your breast milk, otherwise known as your own diet, can also support your baby’s development and elevate the benefits of your breast milk.

While a well-balanced and “clean” diet is wholesome during breastfeeding, some foods are just better for new moms than others.  We’ve compiled the 5 best things to eat and drink while breastfeeding to give your baby the best start in life:

  • Oatmeal: High in iron and fiber, oatmeal is a superfood for breastfeeding moms.  When you serve it with calcium-rich milk or soy milk, oatmeal has almost all the essentials for breastfeeding moms.  Plus, oatmeal is a heart-healthy food that helps lower bad cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar levels and keeps the body feeling full and satisfied for longer.  For busy breastfeeding moms, a nutrient-packed breakfast like oatmeal can help sustain you all morning long and even increase your milk supply.  Consider also adding oats as toppings for your yogurt, cereal or ground into your smoothie for a whole grain bonus to other meals and snacks.
  • Green Leafy Vegetables: These cruciferous vegetables include kale, Swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens, escarole, broccoli, cabbage, lettuces and Brussels sprouts.  They are jam-packed with almost every vitamin, mineral and antioxidant in the alphabet, especially the B complex vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium and iron. Green leafy vegetables offer a boost of energy, support strong blood flow and heart function and keep your bones strong and healthy.  While you pass along these wonderful nutrients to your baby, do be cautious about over-doing it on the greens as they may cause excess gas.
  • Low-Mercury Fish: Fish is a terrific source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are tremendous healthy fats that support cognition development and function.  Deemed one of the best brain foods, fish that are low in mercury should be part of every breastfeeding mother’s diet.  These low-mercury fish include salmon, cod halibut, tilapia, shrimp and canned chunk light tuna.  New recommendations include consuming a variety of low-mercury fish three times a week during pregnancy and while breastfeeding to support your baby’s brain development.
  • Nuts: Nuts are a great all-natural source of protein, iron, fiber, vitamins and minerals.  Like fish, nuts also contain healthy unsaturated fats and essential fatty acids.  These small but powerful foods go a long way for breastfeeding moms and their babies.  Plus they are easy to pop throughout the day for a quick pick-me-up, even during breastfeeding.  Keep in mind, nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews and pistachios give you the best bang for your buck.
  • Water: Water is an essential part of your body and your breast milk.  Breastfeeding moms need at least 10 eight-ounce glasses of water daily in order to produce milk.  Additionally, lactating women are more prone to dehydration which can lead to fatigue.  The last thing a nursing mother needs is something else making her drowsy.  Stay on top of your game and your milk by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.  Also, replace sugary drinks, caffeine and alcohol with water as these substances can greatly affect your baby, often causing babies to be fussy, hyper or have gastrointestinal distress.

We hope you enjoy these best foods to eat and drink during breastfeeding.  Cheers to your health and the health of your baby!

Coping with Sleep Deprivation

One of the universal experiences of new parenthood is sleep deprivation.  During the early months of your baby’s life, your baby may only sleep for two or three hours at a stretch.  Depending on your baby’s feeding schedule, sensitivity to wet diapers, digestion and other factors, your baby will likely be up several times during the night.  That means you’ll be up too!

Your baby can sleep off her exhaustion because the only things on her to do list for the next day are eating and sleeping.  But what are parents to do when they are sleep deprived yet have to be functional the following day.  It’s a tough issue that new parents across the globe face.  When you only sleep in short increments, you never enter deep REM sleep that is required to restore, repair and refresh yourself mentally and physically.  Fragmented sleep leads to impaired cognitive function, feelings of grogginess and less memory capacity.  All of these problems make new parents less effective and more likely to be frustrated by even minor situations.

Today we’re sharing some tips on coping with sleep deprivation.

sleepFirst, the number one rule of sleep during new parenthood is to sleep when your baby is sleeping.  You’ve probably heard this from your OB, pediatrician, nurses at the hospital, mom, sister and friends.  Everyone gives this advice because it is essential to your survival.  You may not get to catch some zzz’s every time your baby is napping, but try to make up for lost sleep during these quiet moments.  Rather than fret over the piles of laundry to fold and what’s for dinner, solicit help with some of your chores to ensure baby’s sleep time can be your sleep time too.  And when you do have the opportunity to sleep, make sure you’re set up for success.  Your room should be dark, cool and quiet.  Turn down the monitor so you’ll only wake for cries, not coos and gurgles.  And don’t eat or drink heavy meals, caffeine or spicy foods before rest times.

Often parents, especially new moms, are running on adrenaline and all sorts of other mood-elevating chemical and hormonal reactions right after their babies are born.  This gives strength and energy to power through the first few sleepless nights.  However, spending nights-upon-nights with very little sleep can really take a toll on your mental and emotional state.  Postpartum depression increases when the body is deprived of precious sleep.

One of the key strategies to coping with sleep deprivation is ensuring a better night’s sleep every few nights.  To achieve longer stretches of sleep, you’ll need help from your partner or other care givers by taking turns getting up with the baby.  You can alternate nights or develop a schedule that works for your family, but each person needs some time to recuperate from lack of sleep.  If mom is breastfeeding, consider giving a bottle of breast milk for at least one middle-of-the-night feeding or have the “on duty” parent bring the baby to mom for feedings.  That parent can do all the burping, diaper changes and fussiness calming when it is their turn, allowing mom additional sleep.

When your baby is up, bring her along on some invigorating activities to help keep both of you stimulated.  Taking a walk outdoors or doing some mommy-and-me yoga can help energize your body and get your blood flowing.  Our bodies need lots of oxygenated blood to keep us physically and mentally alert.  Doing some sort of physical activity can help get your blood pumping.  Also, be sure to drink a lot of water.  Dehydration is a huge cause of fatigue and can only exacerbate existing exhaustion.  A small amount of caffeine is OK during wakeful hours, but be careful not to over-consume as it can keep both you and your baby awake.

Also, when you are sleep deprived, adding responsibilities to your plate is not a wise decision.  Try reducing your obligations so you can focus on your family’s immediate needs, taking care of your baby and making space for sleep when the opportunity arises.  If you’re constantly involved in a project, your precious time will be consumed with things other than sleep.  Plus, stress is counter-productive to sleep.  Try to eliminate stress and anxiety and don’t put yourself in intense situations.  When you are sleep deprived, you’ll be less likely to handle them with grace and civility.

Lastly, look for help where you can get it.  If you have other children, asking friends for extra play dates, taking your turn to drive carpool or even playing with your baby for an hour so you can take a nap is OK.  Super moms aren’t the ones who do it all, they are the ones who know how to delegate effectively.  Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.  Your entire family will benefit when mom gets some sleep!

Postpartum Smoking Reduced by Breastfeeding

smoking-while-pregnantWe all know that smoking during pregnancy is extremely unhealthy for a growing baby.  After all, everything that is consumed by mom makes its way to the baby as well.  That includes substances that are inhaled, like nicotine and tobacco.  So most responsible women who smoke find the strength to quit during pregnancy.  But what happens after the baby is born?  A new study reported in April by Science Daily examines that very issue and how breastfeeding plays a major role.

Cigarettes are addictive because nicotine found in tobacco relaxes the body and reduces stress.  After inhaling, nicotine reaches the brain quickly, offering almost immediate stress relief.  Other methods of stress relief are harder to achieve and may not be as effective in the short term.  However, the “high” from a cigarette only last a short time and then the body craves it again and again, forming an addiction.

Women who work hard to break their cigarette addictions during pregnancy are making an amazing choice for the health of their babies and themselves.  But, the report originally published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research indicates that 70% of women who smoked before pregnancy return to smoking within a year of giving birth.   Of those women, over two-thirds return to smoking within three months of childbirth and 90% of them are smoking again by the time their babies are six months old.  As we all know, having a new baby can be stressful, and a quick fix for stress relief like cigarettes is an easy habit to repeat.

However, the one and only indicator of reduction in postpartum smoking is breastfeeding.

New mothers who breastfeed for at least three months are less likely to return to their pre-pregnancy smoking habits.  The study followed 168 women and looked at other indicators including use of other substances and whether or not their partners smoked.  It was only breastfeeding that showed an improvement in postpartum smoking habits. There are a number of reasons that nursing moms may steer clear of smoking.  First, nicotine does enter breast milk and is obviously not healthy for babies.  Second hand smoke is also extremely dangerous for all children, especially newborns and infants.

According to Kellymom.com, babies who are exposed to cigarette toxins and cigarette smoke have a higher risk for health problems including ear infections, asthma, sinus infections, respiratory infections, high cholesterol, croup, pneumonia and bronchitis.  Babies in a smoking home are more likely to have colic, die of SIDS, become smokers later in life and develop lung cancer.  Also, moms who smoke while breastfeeding experience less milk production, less let downs and babies tend to wean earlier.  For all of these reasons, many former smokers choose to avoid smoking while breastfeeding.  And they are greatly improving the health of their babies and themselves in doing so.

The study encourages breastfeeding education as one of the best interventions for postpartum smoking.  With the statistics overwhelmingly pointing to this one and only indicator of postpartum smoking reduction, breastfeeding may be even more powerful at ensuring a healthy life for mothers and babies than anyone ever realized.

Plan Your Own Mother’s Day

mothers dayMother’s Day is just around the corner…have you thought about what you want to do?  Depending on your partner, kids and family members, advanced planning and making a schedule full of mom-centric activities may not happen.  Some dads and kids are amazing at organizing Mother’s Day but others just aren’t.  It’s one of those times when you have to accept their short-comings and love them despite of it.

However, not having a “planny” family doesn’t mean your special day is a wash because you can plan your own Mother’s Day!  Yup, if you want it done right, do it yourself.  Don’t do it begrudgingly, do it so you can ensure your family has the best shot at a wonderful day filled with all the things you love.  If your family surprises you with flowers or gifts, that’s a great bonus.

Think about your perfect day and plan your own Mother’s Day accordingly.  Make sure you communicate your plans with your partner and family so everyone knows how you’d like to spend your day.  If you want something special from him or your kids, don’t be afraid to ask for it.  Remember, some of the best mom gifts are homemade, such as a creative card, hand-painted picture frame or macaroni necklace.  And make sure you have the supplies, reservations and anything else that may require forethought all situated before the big day.

Mother’s Day Morning

You may prefer a lazy morning with your favorite cup of coffee, breakfast in bed and some family playtime at home.  Make sure you have your coffee and breakfast items readily available.  Ask your partner and kids to make the meal or at least participate in making it as a family.

If you’re a get up and at ‘em kinda mom, wake the family early for a breakfast outing and fun activity.  Perhaps you can go to a park before it gets crowded, take a nature hike or go bike riding.  Request that your partner gets the family ready so you can take your time getting yourself ready, which is probably a rare luxury.  These moments can be more precious than any gift.

Mother’s Day Afternoon

In the afternoon, consider visiting grandmothers and aunts who may live close by or make a point to video-chat with them to wish them a warm and happy Mother’s Day.  Then, consider another family activity that is fun for all – a trip to the zoo, going to a movie or playing in your own backyard (with a glass of wine in hand) are some ideas.  If you want a few hours to yourself, ask your partner to cover the kids while you get a massage, go shopping or spend time reading a book.

Mother’s Day Evening

Dinner in or out can make for an enjoyable Mother’s Day as long as you plan ahead.  If you want your husband to grill out, make sure you have your meats and veggies marinated and ready to sizzle.  If you want a nice meal out, be sure to make reservations early as Mother’s Day can be a crowded night at restaurants.  If you have a special dessert in mind, make it the day before or ask your partner to buy it for you.  After the kids go to bed, spend some adult time with your partner or do something else for yourself, like take a bath or watch your favorite indulgent television show.

When you plan your own Mother’s Day, you’re sure to do the things you want with the people you love.  Stop being upset that your family can’t get it together and start taking control of your own special day.  You’ll be much happier and at peace on Mother’s Day, which is truly a gift to yourself.

Being a Good Patient during Pregnancy and at the Hospital

There may be a few things you don’t realize about being a good patient during pregnancy and at the hospital.  After all, you probably aren’t pregnant, giving birth or in the hospital very often in your life.  Thank goodness, right?

But the team of doctors, nurses and technicians that take care of you during pregnancy, labor & delivery and anti-partum are accustomed to dealing with people in your situation day-in and day-out.  Your medical team has probably done it all and seen it all when it comes to pregnancy, labor, delivery, newborn care and taking care of moms after childbirth.  With all of their experience, they most certainly know what they are doing to ensure you and your baby are healthy.  Your role as a patient is to support your medical team in that same goal, and there are some key components to being a good patient.

doctorFirst of all, select doctors who you feel comfortable talking to and who you feel have the right expertise to meet your needs.  Many women prefer female OBGYNs while others disregard gender and look for other qualities in their doctor.  Some practices have nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants and mid-wives who you may see during some pregnancy visits.  Know how your practice operates to ensure you are comfortable seeing others besides your primary OB.  Also, keep in mind that childbirth sometimes comes unexpectedly so a different provider in your practice may end up delivering your baby.  If you have a specific vision during labor and delivery such as a water birth or silent birth, make sure your practice will support your wishes.

It is essential that you are always honest with your doctors and nurses during pregnancy and while at the hospital.  Their job is to evaluate you not judge you, so don’t be ashamed to tell them about your lifestyle habits, diet, exercise, symptoms or mental and emotional wellbeing.  Your medical team should have a full picture of your health in order to treat you appropriately.  A small issue to you may be a sign of a larger problem to a trained professional so be forthcoming about your health.

Also, do not be embarrassed in front of the medical professional at your doctor’s office and the hospital.  Child bearing is not a time for modesty and it’s a rare situation when private parts are no longer private.  Many strange and unusual things happen to your body during pregnancy, childbirth and beyond.  You will have to quickly learn that talking about these things and even showing them off are just part of being a new mom.

You have trusted your medical team with your health so when they give you advice, you should follow it within reason.  And if you don’t follow medical advice, don’t be surprised by the results.  Doctors and nurses can only help you if you’re willing to help yourself.  If you feel you have “mushy mommy brain,” write down your doctors’ and nurses’ instructions so you can revisit it later.

All of this is not to say you should take advice blindly without fully understanding the rationale of the recommendation, however.  After all, you know yourself and what feels right even if you don’t know all of the science behind it.  Ask questions when you are unclear about your physician’s orders, especially when it comes to medication.  Medical professionals are there to answer your questions and address concerns so be vocal.  In the hospital, make your goals clear to your anti-partum nurses.  If you plan to breastfeed and have your baby sleep in your room, make sure you tell your nurses so they can honor your wishes.

When you do speak up, remember to be respectful to everyone, even the receptionist at your OBGYN office and the housekeeper at the hospital.  Being demanding and condescending will not speed up your test results, get you a better appointment time or change your health status, but it may anger and frustrate your medical team.  Treat these “teammates” with kindness and esteem – they are only there to help you and your baby.

Additionally, an important part of being a good patient is patience.  Certainly request a speedy response if you have an emergency, but otherwise, know that your team is doing their best to treat you along with their other patients.  They are dealing with hundreds of people who have similar needs as you.  If your appointment takes forever, remember that if you were having a problem or delivering your baby, you’d want your doctor to take as much time as he needed and give you undivided attention.  If you find that you are not getting a timely response to something such as test results that don’t arrive when promised, place a courteous call to your doctor’s office.

When you’re a good patient you will improve your entire pregnancy, childbirth and anti-partum experience.  Remember, being a good patient is not about being complacent, but rather respectful, trusting, honest and responsible.

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