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

Birthing Professionals: Midwife vs. Doula

Pregnant woman talking to midwifeIn these modern birthing times, there are many options for how and where to give birth, and the people who help us through the process.  Of course the traditional way is with obstetricians and nurses in a hospital, but many women are making alternative birthing choices that satisfy the experience they want while welcoming their babies into the world.  Therefore, there are a variety of birthing professionals who are trained to help new mothers with labor, delivery and postnatal care.  Two of these categories are midwives and doulas.  Today we’re examining the roles of each.

The Role of a Midwife

Midwives are birthing professionals who are trained in delivery of standard pregnancies when the mother and baby appear to have no abnormal health or high risk issues.  There are three types of midwives:  Certified Nurse Midwives are registered nurses who have passed an accredited program and exam to be certified as birthing professionals and are permitted to practice throughout the US.  Certified Midwives are not nurses but have at least a bachelor’s degree and have also passed a program and exam.   Certified Professional Midwives are not nurses but have practical childbirth experience and have passed a national exam.  Not all 50 states recognize and allow Certified Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives to delivery babies.

Midwives typically help with hospital deliveries but may also work with patients at other birthing facilities or at-home deliveries.  They are usually affiliated with an obstetrician or OBGYN practice so that they can consult or seek help should complications arise during a delivery.  Midwives offer most of the same standard prenatal care as obstetricians including performing regular prenatal exams, advising on prenatal nutrition, ordering necessary tests, supporting mothers’ emotional needs, and making birthing recommendations.  Expectant moms may choose a midwife because they are seeking more individualized attention during pregnancy and labor  and delivery, and sometimes they are hoping for minimal medical intervention throughout their birthing process.

The Role of a Doula

A birthing doula is a support specialist and companion during labor and delivery.  Doulas do not need formal medical training but are experienced in the medical aspects of labor and delivery.   Most moms-to-be who plan to use a birthing doula begin the relationship several months before giving birth to get to know one another and so the mother can fully explain her birth plan.  The doula then works with the mother throughout the childbirth process to help her achieve her wishes.

During labor, doulas are almost exclusively caring for the mother by suggesting pain solutions, relaxation techniques, labor positions and coping strategies.  A doula may massage the patient, help partners participate in labor and provide emotional support for the family.  While a doula is not certified to deliver babies in the US, she will usually stay with the mother as a doctor or midwife delivers the baby to help advocate for her desires.  After childbirth, doulas often provide additional support for breastfeeding and basic childcare needs.  Postpartum doulas are those that only focus on postnatal support once the baby arrives and they often help new families once they return home from the hospital.

Both midwives and doulas are excellent choices if you are considering birthing professionals other than your OB.  In many cases, these birthing professionals can supplement your doctor’s care to help you achieve the birth outcome you envision.

Motivational Breastfeeding Thoughts

Mother feeding breast with nursing pillowMany new moms head into breastfeeding believing that it will be a piece of cake.  They think, how could something so natural be hard?  Well, even nature requires a bit of effort.  Breastfeeding can be challenging at times, not only physically but emotionally as well.  Even when you and your baby get into a rhythm and all the kinks have been worked out, the daily repetition of breastfeeding or pumping may become tedious.  You are not a bad mother if you feel frustrated or anxious about breastfeeding.  If you are truly dedicated to sticking with it, what you need are motivational breastfeeding thoughts.  And that’s exactly what we are providing today!

Keep your eye (or breast) on the bottom line.  The number one reason why mothers’ breastfeed is to offer their babies the incredible health benefits of breast milk.  When breastfeeding gets tough and you need a boost, think about all the wonderful ways you are supporting your baby’s health now and in the future.  From providing the very best and purest nutrition to your baby, to improving immune strength and reducing the risk of many diseases and health conditions, breast milk is the ultimate baby superfood.

Develop a breastfeeding mantra.  As with any challenge in your life, sometimes you need a catch phrase to repeat to yourself that will help you get through it.  Perhaps it is something you say to your baby such as “I love you, I cherish you, I want the world for you” or “you are my precious one, you are so special to me, you deserve the best.”  Or your mantra can be more personal like “this unique bond is once in a lifetime – celebrate it while it lasts.”  Pep yourself up through whatever repetitive chant works for you.

Focus on your baby.  At some point after giving birth, motherly instincts kick in and the most important thing will be your baby.  This is how mothers bond some beautifully with their newborns.  As you share close bonding moments while breastfeeding, soak in your baby.  Notice her expressions, her smell, her coos.  Memorize her every feature, from her crinkled forehead to her adorable chin.  Learn to read her every move.  Diverting your focus from the stress of breastfeeding to the love of your child can be highly motivational.

Use breastfeeding and pumping time productively.  After you’ve breathed in your baby as much as possible, use your breastfeeding time to do something good for you and your baby.  You can start reading about the next stage in your baby’s life, learn new lullabies or nursery rhymes or listen to soothing music.  Don’t view breastfeeding as wasted time, but rather use the time to benefit both you and your baby.

Write yourself a letter stating your goals.  Before you have your baby, write down or record your breastfeeding goals.  Having written documentation of your goals can help you stick to them.  Try to include some rationale for your goal to remind the future you who may be struggling why you feel so strongly about breastfeeding.  Also, praise and reward yourself for hitting breastfeeding milestones.  These personal incentives can really help keep you on track.

Don’t go it alone.  It may feel like breastfeeding is only a 2-person sport, but you can actually rely on others for support.  When breastfeeding gets really tough, solicit help in whatever way will offer you the most assistance.  That may mean asking your partner or a friend to sit with you while breastfeeding, or attending a breastfeeding support group of other moms who are experiencing similar feelings as you.  If you are having trouble breastfeeding, seek help from your pediatrician, nurse or a lactation consultant.

Avoid being a martyr.  Breastfeeding should come from a place of love.  Feeling enslaved to breastfeeding won’t help you remain motivated.  Instead, find ways to make breastfeeding easier, such as investing in a great dual-electric pump, a solid breastfeeding pillow and a comfy breastfeeding chair.  Also, while motherhood does require some sacrifices, your own health should not be one of them.  Take care of yourself, even if it means that someone else gives your baby a breast milk bottle every once in awhile.  In the long run, a healthy mother will empower your breastfeeding journey.

We hope you find these motivational breastfeeding thoughts inspiring!  Happy Breastfeeding!

Valentine’s Day: Fun Facts

Happy Valentine's DayIt’s almost Valentine’s Day so we thought it would be fun to explore some of the neat traditions, stories and facts surrounding this most loving holiday.  Valentine’s Day is a super exciting holiday to celebrate with the entire family.  But do you know how it started?  Or why chocolates are a valued gift?  Check out these fun facts about Valentine’s Day before the celebration begins:

The Origin of Valentine’s Day

While there is some debate about the true origins of Valentine’s Day, many people believe it stems from ancient Rome when Emperor Claudius II forbade marriage during wartime.  He felt single men made better soldiers since they were not distracted by matters of the heart.  Bishop Valentine disobeyed the emperor and married lovers anyways, which landed him in jail.  He sent a letter to the jailor’s daughter from “your Valentine,” thereby adorning the holiday with his name.  He was executed on February 14, the modern day Valentine’s date.

An Official Holiday

Valentine’s Day became official in 1537 when King Henry VII declared February 14 the holiday of St. Valentine.

Wear your Heart on your Sleeve

This famous expression began in the Middle Ages.  Men would draw the name of their Valentine from a bowl and would wear it on their sleeve for a week.  Now the expression means that you show your true feelings, just like these men showed off the names of their chosen beloved.

Signed with a Kiss

In medieval times people who were unable to write their own names would use an “X” instead and kiss it to prove they would keep their word.  That is why the “X” now symbolizes a kiss.

A Rose by any other Name

Roses are said to be the favorite flower of Venus, the goddess of love.  Red has become a symbol of romance.  Nearly 200 million roses are sold in the United States around Valentine’s Day.

Cheers Chocolateers

Valentine’s Day chocolate is over a billion dollar industry.  It is believed that the world’s greatest lover, Casanova, ate chocolate to increase his sex drive.  It was also once prescribed as a remedy for a broken heart.  Over 35 million candy heart boxes are exchanged on Valentine’s Day in the U.S.

Valentine’s Babies

Babies born in November are often known as “Valentine’s Babies” because they were likely conceived around Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Inspired Baby Names

Baby names inspired by Valentine’s Day include Valentina/Valentino, Val, Rose, Lily, Ruby, Candy, Lacey, Desiree, Teddy, Romeo, Juliette, Honey and Belle.

Gifts of Love

The biggest tangible gift of love ever given was the Taj Mahal.  The Indian Emperor Shahjahan erected it as a love memorial for his wife.

Valentine’s Proposals

It is estimated that 220,000 men propose marriage on Valentine’s Day.  This is second to only Christmas Eve.

We hope you enjoyed these fun facts about Valentine’s Day and share them with all those you love.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Adorable Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day with your Kids

cute little boy with a red heart in the handsValentine’s Day is one of those wonderful holidays to can incorporate the entire family.  Sharing your love with your family happens year-round but it’s fun to designate a special day to express your feelings, remind kids what love is really about and talk about kindness and caring.  To get in the festive spirit, we’ve come up with adorable ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your kids:

Funny Fruit Snacks:  While Valentine’s Day is usually marked with lots of not-so-healthy treats, serve up some wholesome foods with funny sayings to go with them.  Examples:  Bananas – “I’m head over peels for you!”  Oranges – “Orange you glad you’re my Valentine.”  Nuts – “I’m nuts about you, Valentine.”  Cheesy, absolutely.  But your kids will love it!

Handprint Artwork:  Nothing could be more fun than dipping your entire hand in pant to create a masterpiece.  There are tons of ways to use handprints for Valentine’s decorations.  Some include:  making hearts using your child’s thumb and pointer fingers; using handprints as wings for love birds, butterflies or cupids; or printing the sign for “I love you” on a piece of paper.  It’s messy but super fun for your kids.

Heart Wreath:  This keepsake is fairly simple to make.  Fold colorful strips of paper into 3-dementional hearts and glue, staple or tape them together.  Then line up the tips of the hearts into a circle and fasten them together.  Finally, tie a string at the top and hang it on a door as a beautiful Valentine’s Day decoration.

Have a Tea Party:  Gather up friends – real or stuffed – and host a tea party for Valentine’s Day.  Let your children set the menu and prepare the snacks.  You can use real items or pretend food, whatever suits your kids.  Then sit down for a formal tea party with lots of lively and loving conversation.

Vegetable Stamps:  Use veggies to create stamps for art projects.  You can cut potatoes into just about any shape, from a heart to a teddy bear.  Celery stalks make gorgeous roses when you cut off most of the stalks and use just the ends that are closely clustered together like the petals of a rose.  Once you have your design, dip the stamp into ink or paint and print away.  You can also use “x” and “o” potato stamps to play games of tic-tac-toe.

Friendship Bracelets:  Using pasta, cereal or beads, string friendship bracelets for your family members and friends.  They’ll love this home-made gift of love.  It’s also great for developing fine motor skills and learning patterns.

Bake and Share:  Head to the kitchen for fun cooking projects.  Try a new recipe or stick to old favorites.  Be sure to have heart-shaped cookie cutters, lots of red or pink icing and sprinkles to decorate your culinary concoctions.  When you’re done, take a few treats to friends and neighbors to spread the love.

Love Notes:  Leave your kids love notes around the house for them to discover throughout the day.  Even if they cannot read, they will be thrilled to stumble upon more and more secret messages from you.  This will brighten their day and help solidify the true meaning of Valentine’s Day – LOVE!

It’s a Baby Bash in your Womb!

Pregnant woman holding ultrasound imageIf you feel like there is a party happening inside your body and your baby is the number 1 participant, you are probably right.  Oh what fun your baby is having in your uterus as he grows and develops.  He’s learning and practicing amazing skills that he’ll need to survive on the outside world.  But for now, he’s enjoying being the life of the party in your womb.

Here are the skills your baby is working on to prepare him for life outside the womb:

Movement:  Your baby’s mobility increases daily between 15 weeks and towards the end of your third trimester when quarters get a bit tight for break-dancing.  Your baby stretches, kicks, punches, flips, wiggles, rolls and does many more acrobatics that may feel like complete shenanigans to you.  But your baby is having a blast floating and getting his exercise in your womb so enjoy the contained movement while you can.

Taste:  Amazingly, your baby can taste the food you are eating through amniotic fluid.  Certain spices and especially sweet tastes are pungent in amniotic fluid.  Your baby becomes familiar with these flavors before birth and will continue to snack on them through your breast milk once he is born.  Eating a healthy diet during pregnancy is the first step to palette training your baby.

Expression:  Somewhat like a mime, your baby is working on facial expressions in utero.  He can curl his lips into a smile and may furrow his brow as if he were angry.  Also, sonograms indicate that babies actually cry in the womb, usually when they get startled by a sound or movement.  This may make you sad, but remember, your baby’s cries are an important part of his early communication with you.  So learning to cry early is actually a good thing.

Breathe:  Another important life skill is breathing.  Your baby is practicing it now in the womb, although the umbilical cord is providing all of the oxygen he needs.  As soon as he is born, the temperature change from your body to the outside world will trigger his first real breath.  And he’ll be ready because practice makes perfect.

Listen:  By around the midpoint of your pregnancy your baby can hear your voice and those around you.  He is becoming distinctly aware of your sounds versus others, which makes him favor you after birth.  Also, exposure to certain songs or nursery rhymes in utero may be familiar to him after birth as well.

Stress:  Studies show that babies in the womb react to stress felt by their mothers.  Stress releases certain hormones in mothers that can also cause the baby to react.  Babies typically cover their faces with their left hand when they feel stressed.  So when your doctor says you need to relax, heed the advice and take a chill pill for the sake of your baby.

Suck:  Your baby is learning to suck in the womb as well.  You may even catch a glimpse of your baby sucking his thumb during an ultrasound.  This self-soothing motion is vital to your baby’s growth and independence.  It will help him suck milk from your breast and calm himself when he gets upset.  He may not be able to suck his fingers immediately after birth, but he will soon rediscover this passion.

Hiccup:  If you feel you’ve swallowed a jumping bean, chances are, your baby is just hiccupping.  Hiccups are marked by a regularly timing beat and may make you feel your entire body is bouncing.  It is completely normal for babies to get hiccups in the womb and they will continue throughout infancy.

We hope you and your baby enjoy the party that is happening in your womb.  It’s only a short 9-month bash before life completely changes for both of you.

Sweet and Sexy Nursing Bra Guide for Valentine’s Day

New moms, we have great news:  You can look and feel sexy on Valentine’s Day!  Forget the baby weight you’re working on dropping.  So what if your breasts are super-duper milk-making machines.  Who cares if you haven’t showered this week?  You can still be the sassy hot mama you were before having your baby when you wear nursing bras that give you a boost of confidence, support and sexy style.  Luckily Leading Lady has it all.  Here’s a look at our Sweet and Sexy Nursing Bra Guide for Valentine’s Day:

sexy and sweet_lace_cup_wirefree_nursing_bra_407_Naughty and Nice in Lacey Nursing Bras

Soft, sensual lace is more than appropriate on the holiday of love.  Whether you’re going for sugar or spice, naughty or nice, lace is a great choice for Valentine’s Day.  Leading Lady has the perfect selection of lace nursing bras that will make your lover’s jaw drop without even missing a feeding.  Our lace nursing bras are delicate on you and your baby’s sensitive skin without the itchiness or irritation of many lace bra fabrics.  With choices like our Lace-Cup Nursing Bra in underwire or wirefree, Underwire Allover Lace Nursing Bra or Molded Seamless Lace Frame Nursing Bra, you have a range of options to meet your laciest desires.  And we bet these stunning nursing bras will be reminiscent of your favorite pre-baby Valentine’s Bras.


Sexy and sweet_black underwire nursing braSeductive Black Nursing Bra

Classically sexy, black bras never go out of style.  Black is the color of seduction, mystery and intrigue, everything you want to portray to your lover this Valentine’s Day.  With a black nursing bra, you can feed your baby before and after your hot Valentine’s date with your husband without needing to change your clothes.  Leading Lady offers many versatile black nursing bras including our most popular Molded Seamless Nursing Bra in underwire or wirefree.  For a twist on the classic black bra, check out our Nursing Bralette, that can be worn as a lace-trimmed mock cami beneath any Valentine’s Day top or dress.  Or try our Hybrid Padded Seamless Nursing Bra, a black Nursing Cami or our Modal Wirefree Nursing Bra Cami.  Keep the black magic alive this Valentine’s Day with a tempting black nursing bra.

sexy and sweet_cotton_wirefree_nursing_bra_2_pack_4001_


Peek-a-Boo Romance in Red

Red is the color of romance and we’ve got just the right red surprise for you, your baby and your Valentine.  Leading Lady’s Cotton Wirefree Nursing Bra and Modern Square Neck Nursing Cami both offer drop down nursing cups that feature a luscious red inner lining.  The stimulating shade is festive for Valentine’s Day and adds a pop of color to the striped design of these super comfortable nursing items.  The nursing bra version also features an adorable rosette for an added Valentine’s treat.  Both of these styles are fun and flirty for your Valentine’s Day attire and beyond.

sexy and sweet_silky_lace_nursing_bra_style_4006_


Sweet as an Angel

If you’re going for a sweeter look this Valentine’s Day, Leading Lady still has you covered.  Our soft white, nude and light pink hues are pure and sweet, while remaining comfortable and supportive for your breastfeeding needs.  Our Silky Lace Nursing Bra in Nude, Wirefree Cotton Nursing Bra in white and white with black dots and several of our Sport Nursing Bras are available in muted tones for a more subtly sexy Valentine’s appeal.  These colors are versatile for your year round nursing wardrobe while keeping you looking and feeling as sweet as an angel on this special holiday of love.

We hope our nursing bras help you lift, support, nourish, entice and engage all that you love this Valentine’s Day!

How to Select a Pediatrician

Paediatrics medical conceptBefore your baby arrives, it’s a good idea to select a pediatrician who can start helping you care for your baby immediately after birth.  Choosing the right pediatrician for your family is an important childcare decision and should be based on several critical factors.  Today we’re reviewing things you’ll want to consider when you select a pediatrician.

Start Early

It’s wise to start your pediatrician search at some point in your second trimester.  This will give you plenty of time to scope out the best choice for you before your little one arrives, even if the baby is a tad early.

Do Your Research

Ask friends and family in the area which practices and pediatricians they use and ask their personal opinions including any drawbacks or negative experiences they may have had.  You can also get referrals from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ website.  You’ll want to make sure the practices you are targeting take your insurance too.


Most pediatrician practices offer informational sessions to new parents.  This is a time when they meet with prospective newbies like you to discuss the philosophies and procedures of their practice as we well as answer any questions you may have about how they care for their little patients.  Usually one or two doctors from the practice will be at each informational session.  If you have a certain doctor in mind, be sure to find out when that doctor will be facilitating a session.

Ask Questions

When you meet with doctors, come prepared with questions so you can really compare practices apples-to-apples.  Common questions for potential pediatricians include their vaccination schedule and policies, where they have hospital privileges (including the one where you deliver and the closest children’s hospital to you), certifications, and what their standard recommendations and support for breastfeeding, sleep schedules and other infant care issues are.  You can usually get a sense of how you will click with a doctor by getting the answers to these questions.

Appointment, Office and Call-in Procedures

It may seem trivial, but office hours are important when it comes to your pediatrician.  If you need to schedule well check-ups in the morning before heading to work, you’ll need a practice that opens early.  Also, find out what their nurse line and call-in procedures are for questions as it’s very common for first-time parents to have lots of those!  And be sure that if your child does have a problem that requires a medical referral, your pediatrician is well-connected within the medical community to make such recommendations and values coordinated care between multiple specialists.


You’ll probably want to select a pediatrician that is not terribly far from where you live, work or where your child will be in daycare, if that applies.  While location should not be the make-or-break factor, getting to your doctor quickly for unexpected sick visits is something you should consider for convenience and safety purposes.

Switching Pediatricians

If you find that you are unhappy with the pediatrician you initially selected, try to pinpoint what it is about the doctor that is bothering you.  Before switching practices completely, talk to a few nurses to get their recommendations of doctors within the practice that might be a better fit.  Larger practices offer many options and it might be easier to simply see a different doctor within the same practice, if that is allowed.  Otherwise, ask for your records to be transferred to a new practice and move forward with a new doctor.  There is usually no need to confront your old pediatrician if you just didn’t click.

We wish you the best of luck as you select a pediatrician and welcome your new baby!

How to Donate Breast Milk

Breastfeeding your baby may be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.  Did you know you can also help nurture other babies by donating your breast milk?  This selfless donation is often a life-saving measure for babies who would not otherwise receive the wholesome and healing nourishment of breast milk.  Today we’re exploring how to donate breast milk.

breast pump and bags of frozen breastmilkBabies across the globe are in desperate need of breast milk.  What seems so natural and simple to you – breastfeeding your baby – is not possible in many cases.  Some mothers are unable to produce milk or enough milk to sustain their babies, especially if their babies were born prematurely or with severe complications.  Other than extreme illness or due to the medical circumstances of the mother, babies who were adopted or born via surrogacy are in need of breast milk too.  As you probably already know, breast milk is one of the best preventative healthcare measures a baby can receive, especially those who begin their lives with critical health conditions.  When you donate breast milk, you can give these babies a chance at the best start to life, just like you are giving your own baby.

Becoming a breast milk donor is fairly simple if you are committed to the process.  Essentially you will pump excess milk and store it in your freezer until you have enough to ship to a breast milk bank where it can be distributed to babies in need.  Breast milk banks are all adamant that the needs of your own baby should come first, and any excess milk your baby will not use can be donated.

There are some basic medical background requests of mothers that most breast milk banks require before approving moms as breast milk donors.  The expenses for these procedures are usually covered by the breast milk bank.  Mothers will need to:

  • Retrieve written consent from her own physician confirming that she is in good health.
  • Retrieve written consent from her pediatrician that she is meeting the nutritional needs of her baby before donating breast milk.
  • Take a blood test to check for diseases.
  • Offer a cheek cell sample to check for disease and record DNA.

Most breast milk banks also have requirements for collecting and storing milk:

  • Breast milk should be pumped using a sanitized breast pump.
  • Milk should be collected and immediately placed into human milk storage containers only housing milk from one single pumping session.
  • Milk should be frozen immediately after collection.
  • Milk cannot be thawed and refrozen.
  • All milk should be labeled with the date/time of collection.
  • Freezers must be kept at an appropriate temperature as gauged by a thermometer.
  • Breast milk should be sent to milk banks within a set period of time after collection (usually not older than 10 months).

Breast milk banks offer sanitation guidelines similar to those you would use with milk you serve to your own baby.  These include:

  • Always washing your hands before handling your pump or breast milk containers.
  • Frequently washing the parts of your pump that touch your body or your breast milk.
  • Using sponges and brushes only designed and designated to clean bottles and breast milk storage containers.  Run them through the dishwasher if appropriate.
  • Allow your cleaning supplies to fully dry and replace them often.
  • Keep your breasts clean by showering daily.

There are many online resources to help you find a local or national breast milk bank.  Typically, mothers will select a breast milk bank and qualify as an exclusive donor for that facility.  Once approved, breast milk banks often offer free storage containers and shipping supplies and reimbursement to transport donated breast milk.  Local breast milk banks likely supply your breast milk to babies at hospitals around your community, whereas national breast milk banks may ship milk to wherever it is needed most.

Giving the gift of breast milk is an act of kindness that can save the lives of countless innocent babies.  Many mothers feel extremely rewarded by offering this anonymous gift to babies in need.  After meeting the nutritional needs of your own baby, consider becoming a breast milk donor.

First Birthday Party Ideas

Portrait of happy mom and baby eating birthday cake

It may seem like just yesterday you were headed to the hospital to give birth.  Now here you are with an almost one-year-old!  My how time flies!  A first birthday party is a monumental and memorable occasion to celebrate your baby and congratulate yourself on making it through the first year in one piece.

A first birthday party is a special time for your entire family, but do remember that it is for your one-year-old.  Keep things short, sweet and simple by not planning too many activities, limiting the party to 90 minutes or less and not inviting too many guests.  Food options should be appropriate for the guest of honor, such as fruit, crackers and a smashable birthday dessert, of course.  Here are some first birthday party ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

Circus Party:  Having a one-year-old may feel a bit like a 3-ring circus.  Make a party out of this happy chaos by creating different activity stations for your baby and guests to enjoy.  At one station fill a blow-up pool with water for the kids to splash around or fill it with plastic balls to create a ball pit.  Another station can have dress up items such as masks, wigs, hats and glasses.  Be sure to include a clown wig and nose.  Set up an obstacle course for a third station.  Use hula-hoops, tunnels, balls, tents and whatever else you have on hand that will make a fun set-up for tots.

Racecar Party:  Babies, start your engines!  This party idea will be a wild ride for all the kiddos.  Scatter various large vehicular toys along your driveway or throughout your basement or playroom.  Let the babes take turns riding or pushing the toys to their heart’s content.  Because your baby’s one-year-old guests may be at different skill levels between walking, pulling up and crawling, offer options where they can be pushed by parents, walk themselves or scoot along merrily.  If necessary, borrow toys from friends to ensure lots of options.

Music Party:  Babies love to boogie.  Invite a music teacher or local musician to lead or play live music for the little ones.  Or, you can create your own dance party with a great baby classics mix.  Be sure to have lots of small instruments on hand for babies to shake, rattle and roll.

Scavenger Hunt Party:  You may have noticed by now that your baby likes to put things in buckets, baskets and other containers.  It is fascinating for babies to take everything out of a container and then put it back in again.  Use this preoccupation as a scavenger hunt party theme.  Hide objects throughout your yard or house and have all of your baby guests crawl or walk around collecting them in a bag or basket.  Plastic eggs, rubber duckies or palm-sized balls all make good items for babies to discover.

Book-Inspired Party:  If your baby has a favorite book – such as Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See, The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar or Curious George – use this as a theme for your party.  Plan activities and food selections that match your child’s literary fantasy and spend about 10-15 minutes reading some of your baby’s favorite books to your guests.

Animal Lover Party:  Many babies are fond of animals.  If seasonably appropriate, throw your party at a barn that has a petting zoo component.  Otherwise, hire a small petting zoo to come to your home with easily portable animals like chicks, bunnies and small pigs.  The babies will enjoy petting and imitating the animals throughout the party.

Nautical Party:  Babies love soothing motions so set sail on a magical boat ride at a nearby lake or river.  Hire a boat for a short adventure ride for your party guests and then spend time along the bank splashing about.  Serve snacks and cake at a nearly picnic pavilion.

Happy first birthday to your little tot and your entire family!

Rh Factor and Pregnancy

At your early OB appointments during pregnancy, you may have heard mumblings about your Rh factor or Rh status.  Rh (short for Rhesus) is a protein that is usually present in red blood cells.  Most women have it and are considered Rh positive.  However, if you are Rh negative, you’ll need to take some extra steps during your pregnancy for the safety of your baby and future children.

Pregnant woman and doctor.Early in your pregnancy you will likely take a blood test to verify your blood type and determine if you are Rh positive or Rh negative.  There are four human blood types – A, B, AB and O – which are determined by antigens or proteins found in your blood.  Rh factor is yet another type of antigen or protein.  The majority of women are Rh positive.  Asian and African-American women as groups are 90% Rh positive or higher, while around 85% of Caucasian women are Rh positive.

Complications due to Rh factor only arise during pregnancy and childbirth if a mother and baby have opposite Rh factors.  It is unlikely that you will know your baby’s Rh factor prior to birth so it is safest to assume that your baby is Rh positive.  Therefore, if you test Rh negative, you will need to take precautions during pregnancy.

During a first pregnancy, incompatible Rh factors may not make a difference during pregnancy; however it can cause problems in future pregnancies.  In the unlikely event that your first baby’s Rh positive blood seeps into your Rh negative blood stream during pregnancy, your immune system may build up antibodies against it.  The next time you become pregnant with a Rh positive baby, your body could attack your baby’s blood and cause major problems.

The most likely time for your blood to mix with your babies is during childbirth.  Because this is such a short time, your body may not even have a chance to develop antibodies, but it is important to know your status and take precautions in advance anyways.  If you are Rh negative, you will be given a shot of Rh immune globulin at some point during your second trimester.  This will prevent your body from creating antibodies against your baby’s Rh positive blood and combat any contamination that your baby’s blood may cause in your system.

If your first or subsequent babies are exposed to the antibodies that your immune system produces against their blood, it could lead to Rh disease or hemolytic disease.  This disease causes your baby to have anemia and your baby may be jaundice or have other birth defects.  In some cases if it happens during pregnancy, it can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.

You will probably know your Rh factor from your first pregnancy.  If you are unsure, you can have a simple blood test to re-check your status.  Also, blood work can show if your body ever developed antibodies to a previous baby’s incompatible blood.  Additionally, you can determine the likelihood of your baby’s Rh factor by knowing the father’s Rh factor.  If you and the father are negative, your baby will surely be Rh negative as well and then no shot or risk of complications are present.

Fortunately, with proper and consistent prenatal care, not knowing and acting on incompatible Rh factors is highly unlikely.  The most important step is being aware and take proper precautions to keep you and your baby safe.

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