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

7 Easy Ways to Burn Calories with a Baby

Finding time to exercise while tending to an infant can be challenging.  But burning calories to lose some of your pregnancy weight and re-tone your body is still possible nonetheless.  It just takes some creative thinking to incorporate an unconventional workout into your day.  We’ve come up with 7 easy ways to burn calories with a baby that will help you drop the pregnancy pounds ands get fit without hitting the gym.

1)      Baby-wearing:  There are many benefits of baby-wearing including bonding with your baby and calming her with closeness and constant movement.  A huge bonus is that carrying around extra weight makes your body work harder and burn calories.  Baby-wearing only lasts for a short window so try wearing your baby throughout your daily activities before she gets too big.  Switch up wearing your baby in the front and back (when she’s old enough) to work different muscles.  Strong muscles burn calories!  The stronger your muscles, the more calories you’ll be burning.

tenderness2)      Breastfeeding:  Nourishing your baby through breastfeeding should be rewarding enough on its own, but an added advantage is that your body has to use a ton of energy to do it.  In fact, your body requires 25% of its energy to breastfeed which means you can burn between 300 and 500 calories per day just breastfeeding.  That’s major burn for not even moving!

3)      Strenuous Strolling:  Walking is great medium-impact exercise and pushing a stroller while walking makes it an even more rigorous physical activity.  Look for parks and neighborhoods with lots of hills that will require extra strength to push your little one uphill and muscle control to go downhill.  If the weather is cold, rainy or too hot, try mall walking.  Many mom groups organize stroller walks if you’re looking for some company on your strolls.  And don’t forget to wear your sport nursing bras for easy breastfeeding wherever you go.

4)      Mommy & Me Yoga:  Striking a yoga pose can be hard enough but what if you add your baby to the mix?  Enroll in a mommy & me yoga class or buy a video that you can do at home.  You’ll be using your baby’s weight as resistance to make your poses even more challenging.

baby wearing5)      Housecleaning:  Vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, scrubbing and dusting can all be done with baby in tow.  Housecleaning is a great time to wear your baby to increase the physical workload.  Babies often love the repetitive motions and may even enjoy the sound of the vacuum.  If you don’t have time to get in your workout because you have so much housework to do, make a workout out of housework with a little help from your baby.

6)      Baby-lifting:  If you need to incorporate some strength exercises into your baby workouts, use your baby as an increasing source of resistance.  Test all of your favorite weight-lifting moves – bicep curls, tricep dips, chest pulls, overhead presses – using your baby as your weight.  She’ll probably love the movement and watching her face light up in delight will make the time fly.

7)      Steps & Stairs:  Intentionally keep your changing table and other supplies you need regularly away from your main play spaces so you’ll have to walk further every time you need them.  For example, if your baby’s bedroom is upstairs, don’t set up a separate changing station downstairs.  Rather, take the time to walk upstairs to change diapers.  Climbing the stairs more often will increase your caloric burn.

Your little one will give new meaning to the phrase, “burn baby, burn.”  Enjoy your time together with these easy ways to burn calories with a baby.

Babies and Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is the most common chronic health condition among children.  An estimated 15,000 children are diagnosed with the disease each year in the U.S. alone.  The cause of type 1 diabetes or juvenile diabetes is unknown but if managed correctly, children can lead normal productive lives.

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that affects how a child processes sugar.  Normally the body produces insulin to break down and digest sugars.  Those with diabetes do not produce insulin or not enough insulin leaving blood glucose levels too high for the body to function baby photoproperly.  If left unmanaged, prolonged elevated blood sugar levels can be harmful to organs and may lead to heart disease, kidney damage, vision impairment, skin conditions, nerve damage and low bone density.

Type 1 diabetes can occur during infancy, childhood, adolescence and young adulthood.  The medical community does not know exactly what causes type 1 diabetes, making it impossible to prevent. It is believed to be an auto-immune disorder where the immune system attacks cells that produce insulin for no reason.  Those with genetic predisposition to diabetes are at greater risk but most babies diagnosed with juvenile diabetes do not have a family history of the disease.  But here’s some good news for breastfeeding moms:  breastfeeding is linked to lowered risk of type 1 diabetes.

Most parents are unaware that their babies have diabetes at birth as it cannot be determined in utero.  However, parents should be vigilant of common symptoms of the disease including extreme thirst and hunger, increased urination, weight loss, fatigue, fussiness, vomiting or vision impairment.  Parents should notify their pediatrician as soon as they noticed these symptoms.  An official diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is determined through a blood test.

Babies with type 1 diabetes will have to be closely monitored all of their lives.  Because their bodies do not produce insulin on their own, they will have to take insulin, either by injection or through an insulin pump.  Their diet and exercise will have to be regulated to ensure blood glucose stability and prevention of further complications.

While there is no way of preventing babies from getting type 1 diabetes, knowing the symptoms and diagnosing the disease early will help ensure the baby is getting treatment before organ damage or other health problems occur.  With modern medical and technological advances, living with type 1 diabetes is manageable.  With vigilance, attentive care and love, families with babies with type 1 diabetes can persevere.

Preparing to be a Stay at Home Mom

iStock_000008954862SmallA baby changes a lot about your life.  The decision to go back to work or stay home with your kids can be tough for many families.  Even if you always planned to stay home once you had kids, making the transition could be harder than you think on several levels.  There are three important elements to preparing to be a stay at home mom:  the first is financial, the second is family dynamics and the third is your personal adjustment.

Budgeting to be a Stay-at-Home Mom

Reducing your family’s income could cause some major changes in your household.  One way to adjust to the change is to begin living on one income before you leave your job.  It may take a lot of discipline, but put aside your income for six months before your baby is born to get a real feel for being a one-income family.  At this point you can create a new family budget to see what expenses can be cut and where you can begin to save more money.  Sometimes entire luxuries may have to go for a few years, such as travel, morning lattes and trips to the spa.

Make sure that becoming a stay-at-home mom won’t put your family in debt.  Be smart about using credit cards and accumulating major bills.  Having a new baby can be expensive so budget accordingly.  Also, account for changes in your insurance and contributions to your retirement due to leaving your job.

Shifting Family Dynamics

You and your partner may agree that staying-at-home is the best choice for raising your children, but not about the new roles you will each play in your new situation.  Whereas you may have eaten out, had a cleaning service and paid for lawn care in the past, your partner may expect you to take on these responsibilities now that you’re staying at home.  And while your husband typically works long hours, you may assume he’ll be home more now that you have a baby.  Discuss these changes on a specific level to set expectations that satisfy both of you.  Your marriage is an essential part of raising a happy family and the tone you set forth will be reflected on your children.  Keep an open dialogue so you can readdress issues and challenges as they arise.  The truth is, even if this is a mutual decision, neither of you know exactly how it will turn out so be open to adjustments as necessary.

Not Losing Yourself in Stay-at-Home Motherhood

Happy mothers are better at being mothers.  Making the decision to stay at home with your kids does not mean you have to change who you are completely.  Make it a priority to stay in touch with old friends and co-workers to keep a pulse on your old life.  You’ll also want to make new friends whose lifestyle is similar to yours – people with kids around the same age and who share your values.  And be sure to do some things for yourself away from your kids.  You need an occasional break from motherhood.  This can be in the form of a book club, mom’s night out or simply going to a movie by yourself when your partner can be home to watch your children.

If you are worried about becoming irrelevant in your career field, consider keeping a foot in the door by working part-time or picking up contract work.  This may alleviate some of your budget issues while also eliminating the gap in your resume should you want to return to work in the future.  Many stay-at-home moms put their skills to use in ways that support and benefit their families, such as chairing committees at your children’s school, doing volunteer work in the community or sitting on the board of your home owner’s association.  These productive roles will keep you involved in adult activities that improve your life on many levels and give you a sense of accomplishment.

Preparing to be a stay-at-home mom is a multi-dimensional task.  Be aware of the changes that lie ahead so you can navigate the road smoothly.

Rules of Babysitters: How to Keep Your Babysitter Happy

babysitter-hidesy-istockReliable and nurturing caregivers can be hard to come by.  Finding the right babysitter for your kids and your family may take some effort and there will probably be trial and error involved the process.  So once you do find that perfect babysitter, you’re going to want her to stick around.  Today we’re going over rules of babysitters so you’ll know how to keep your babysitter happy.

Treat Your Babysitter Like Family.  You trust this person with the most precious thing in your life so you should treat them with the upmost respect.  You’ve most likely vetted your sitter already and have determined her a fit caregiver.  Although she is working for you, this type of childcare should not feel like a sterile corporation, but rather a loving mutual experience.  Just as you would any family member watching your child, show kindness, compassion and interest in her.  Periodically ask if she needs any advice or supplies to make her job easier.  Also, be sure you have plenty of food for her, especially if she is feeding your kids.

Be Clear about Expectations.  Make sure your babysitter knows the rules of your home, including what your child can eat, when your child should go to bed and which areas of your house are off-limits.  Write down basic important information such as your pediatrician’s phone number and an emergency contact besides yourself.  Outline a schedule and routines without giving too many overwhelming details. While children are creatures of habit, they can also go-with-the-flow under new circumstances.  It is good for your kids to learn that it’s OK for people do things differently than you.

Teach Your Babysitter about Breast Milk.  If you are leaving a bottle of expressed breast milk for your babysitter to feed your baby, giver her a tutorial on breast milk.  You may need to explain how to thaw frozen milk and that you should never keep leftover milk if your baby has not finished her bottle.  If you are concerned about wasting breast milk, have your babysitter only pour in a few ounces at a time into a bottle.

Have Your Babysitters Back.
  If your children have misbehaved or you get conflicting stories from your sitter vs. your kids, trust the adult or at last do not undermine her in front of your children.  Sometimes kids test img-guide-babysitterboundaries with new caregivers and may try to get away with some inappropriate behavior.  Your children should respect your babysitter’s authority from the get go or the relationship could be doomed from the start.  Arm your sitter with acceptable ways to discipline your children.

Be On Time.  Let your babysitter know when you expect to be home.  If you find that you’re going to be late, call her to let her know and make sure she’s able to stay.  You should also pay extra for the time.  Additionally, if you have to cancel on short notice, pay her some of her fee since she may have been counting on the income or turned down another babysitting opportunity.  Respecting her time is an important part of keeping your sitter happy.

Pay Your Babysitter a Fair Price.  Whether you have an occasional nighttime sitter or a long-term nanny, if you pay a fair price you ensure she’ll want to continue working with your family.  Babysitting poaching is completely possible when you pay less than the going rate and your sitter can find a more lucrative gig.  Think of it this way, you are paying for your child’s care and well-being, which you should consider quite valuable.  Also, if you are asking your babysitter to do extra work – watch multiple children, take your kids on an intricate outing or do chores around your house – you should consider paying more.  Tips are also a great way to show your sitter that you think she’s doing a great job.

Give Your Babysitter a Good Recommendation.  If you no longer need your nanny or are not filling enough of your babysitter’s time, she may need to find other work.  Give her a good recommendation so she can get another job.  Many families fear they will not be able to use their sitter if her time is committed elsewhere so they don’t give glowing reviews.  But that could backfire if your sitter feels slighted.

When you keep your sitter happy with respect, fair pay and clear expectations, you and your entire family will benefit from the relationship.

Raising Happy Kids

Happy and healthy are the two most desired traits parents wish for in their children.  It’s pretty obvious that the role of health care falls on parents starting as early as in the womb.  But happiness is also a parenting responsibility.  Scientific research offers some eye-opening tips on raising happy kids that we can all employ.

The first step is being a true role model for happiness.  Children are keenly aware of the emotions and mental state their parents exude.  Negativity in the home, especially within a marriage, can result in children who have tantrums, misbehave and are aggressive towards others.  Aggression is usually solidified by the age of 5 and leads to hostile behavior later in life.  We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine and when it comes to happiness, a happy childrendose of laughter is exactly what children need.  Laughter is truly contagious and can change a child’s mood almost instantly.  Lighten up and act silly with your kids to let the laughter and joy flow.  Also use this time for creativity and make believe to expand your child’s imagination.

Play is an important part of a child’s development from infancy to teenage years.  Make sure your child has plenty of time to play everyday. While you don’t need rooms filled with expensive toys, do make sure you provide a colorful and warm environment with different types of sensory, manipulative and thought-provoking toys.  Often items you find in your kitchen, in nature or around your house make the best toys.  Happiness should be a habit, not a chore.  Find activities that make everyone in your household happy together.  Also, ditch the technology.  More screen time is associated with less happiness.

Emotional intelligence is another large part of happiness.  Being able to identify, express and redirect feelings is a learned skill that parents should work on starting in the toddler years and continue to discuss throughout your child’s life.  In the early years it starts with sharing, using manners, curbing frustrations and acting kindly towards others.  As children develop more verbal skills you can talk through anger issues and role play the proper response to intense situations.  This requires active listening and labeling feelings – sad, scared, mad – on the part of parents.  Learning to apologize is another piece to emotional intelligence.  Also, teaching optimism in the face of adversity will help encourage and control emotions.  Explain the bright side of negative situations and assure your child that nothing is ever as bad as it may initially appear.  This develops self-compassion and problem-solving too.

Strong relationships also help in raising happy kids.  This starts within the family as parents, grandparents and extended family spend time together, respect one another and support each other.  Eating dinner together is one of the best things you can do to strengthen familial relationships and be an active part of your child’s life.  From there, you can teach your child how to make friends by setting a good example as a caring friend to adults and other children.  Encourage your children to play with other kids and to work out minor tussles during playdates themselves.  Teach empathy and love through acts of kindness, such as creating a card for a sick friend or letting others take their turn first.

Lastly, do not expect your kids to be perfect.  No one is!  Sometimes you have to let things go, which is a good lesson for you kids to learn too.  Not everything in life will go your way and dwelling on the negative will only bring you down.  Not sweating the small stuff will help eliminate stress.  This includes minor indiscretions on the part of your kids.  Testing boundaries is a normal part of childhood development.

Raising happy kids is a lifelong process.  When you set the right tone, spend quality time together and teach some important life lessons, you’ll be on the right path to a happy family.

Eating Fish During Pregnancy and While Breastfeeding

Nutrition is a huge consideration when it comes to the health during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.  Good nutrition sustains mothers and helps the growth and development of fetuses and babies.

There has been much debate about whether, how much and what type of fish pregnant and breastfeeding women eat.  The U.S. Food & Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency advise pregnant and breastfeeding moms to consume 8 to 12 ounces of low-mercury fish, or two to three servings, per week.  The new recommendations set forth in 2014 indicate that the benefits of fish outweigh the risks from methyl mercury.

pregnant-women-fish-intakeFish and shellfish offer incredible nutrients for mothers and babies.  In fact, neither should go without these rich, diverse nutrients including lots of protein and essential fatty acids.  Fish is an excellent source of lean protein, along with chicken and turkey, and good fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3s give cells a terrific boost and help brain development.  While omega-3 supplements are available, the best sources are those from nature, such as fish.

However, while moms are increasing fish intake, they should be very picky about which fish to eat.  Moms should choose fish low in mercury content.  Methyl mercury is the neurotoxin byproduct of mercury and can cause damage to a developing baby’s nervous system and autoimmune disorders in mothers. Fish high in mercury include mackerel, swordfish, tilefish, albacore tuna and shark, all of which should be avoided during pregnancy.  Low mercury fish include salmon, trout, pollock, shrimp, cod, flounder, herring, sardines, light tuna and tilapia.

Also, where fish come from may alter mercury and other chemical contamination levels as some local and foreign waters are more prone to pollution.  The Gulf of Mexico is one such area of concern.  Moms should be picky and ask questions about where their fresh fish has swam from to get to her plate.  Ask butchers at your local market or chefs at restaurants if you are unsure about the origin of your fish.  There are several apps that can calculate mercury content based on the type and location of fish and also keep track of your weekly dietary mercury intake.

Diversifying your fish diet is important too.  Different types of fish offer a variety of nutrients and will also balance your mercury consumption.  Don’t eat the same type of fish more than two or three times a month.  Never eat raw or undercooked fish.  That means no sushi or sashimi, moms!  If you do happen to eat fish high in mercury one time, there is no need to panic.  Chances are it will not affect your health or your baby’s.

Many new moms are confused about fish recommendations during pregnancy.  The new guidelines are clear: fish should be an essential part of every pregnant and breastfeeding mother’s diet.  With two or three servings of low mercury fish per week, moms can provide crucial protein and essential fatty acids for themselves and their growing babies.

Perinatal Mental Health: Prenatal & Post-Partum Mental Health

Most new moms are aware of two things:  first, being pregnant brings on a new set of worries and stressors.  Secondly, post-partum depression is a serious issue that many new moms face.  What many women don’t know is that these two mental health issues are interconnected as part of a perinatal mental health continuum.

Women usually experience a variety of symptoms during pregnancy.  Some are less-than-pleasant physical side-effects like swollen feet, an aching back and nausea.  Others are emotional responses that affect mental health.  You may know these as “what ifs;” essentially these are worries that consume your mind.  Sometimes they are rational and grounded, other times they are highly unlikely and unfounded.  But either way, they are very real in the eyes of a pregnant woman and should not be overlooked.  In fact, this prenatal anxiety may be the beginning of post-partum depression, according to The Lancet Psychiatry.

iStock_000008954862SmallPrenatal and post-partum anxiety and depression can be caused by a variety of factors including a mother’s pre-existing mental health condition, genetic mental health risk and health concerns that arise during pregnancy.  Often a health concern during pregnancy, such as little to no movement from the baby, gestational diabetes, or preeclampsia, becomes a major stressor and can lead to excessive worrying and anxiety.  After the baby is born and hormone levels take a nose dive, up to 20% of new moms experience some level of depression.  Plus, the stress of learning to take care of a newborn and fatigue can further exacerbate any new moms’ mental state.

It’s important for new moms to realize that prenatal and post-partum depression is not their fault.  These mental health conditions are a natural response and should not be dismissed by mothers, partners or care-givers.  Sharing negative feelings and extreme emotional responses is crucial to the health of moms and their babies.  During pregnancy, stress hormones can greatly affect the development of babies in utero.  Post-partum depression can lead to unhealthy habits for mothers including poor diet, drinking, smoking or other risky behaviors, and can affect how mothers care for their babies.  Babies need lots of love and attention immediately after birth, which is why breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact and responding to cries is so important for the wellbeing of a newborn.  Depression can severely impede maternal instinct to protect and nurture her baby.

The good news is that most perinatal mental health issues can be addressed and resolved fairly easily and quickly.  Through support groups, individual therapy, a change of environment or leaning on a strong social network can greatly improve a mother’s tendency to worry and fall into anxious habits or depression.  Also, remaining physically active, finding ways to relax and engaging in activities the mother enjoys all support mental health.  If these solutions don’t help, some anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications are safe during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.  Mothers should discuss and weigh their mental health concerns with the side-effects of medication with their medical team – including the mother’s OBGYN and the baby’s pediatrician – to make the best choice for both mother and child.

Studies of perinatal mental health show the connection between prenatal and post-partum conditions.  Therefore, stress, anxiety and depression should be managed early during pregnancy to avoid potential long-term risks for the mother and baby.  In most cases, perinatal mental health conditions are easily manageable when recognized early and treated properly.

Spring Nursing Wear: Nursing Tank Tops

Happy Spring, Leading Ladies!  If you’re like us, you’re excited to put away your winter clothes and bust out your spring wardrobe.  When you’re a nursing mama, simple access for easy breastfeeding is one of the most important aspects of every outfit.  Layering is a great way to effortlessly dress for spring weather while breastfeeding.  And the must-have items to layer your spring nursing wear are nursing tank tops. Leading Lady has four trendy and comfortable styles that make breastfeeding a snap and keep you looking like the fashionable mom that you are.

720greyClassic Nursing Cami

This basic nursing cami is as essential as your nursing bras themselves.  With the comfort of cotton and the subtle stretch of a spandex blend, this tank top is extremely versatile.  As the winter temperatures are replaced with a spring breeze, our nursing top is ideal under light sweaters or cardigans.  It sits smoothly under wrap dresses or thin tops as a cami, or can be worn alone as the spring sun strengthens throughout the season.  Our nursing cami is also a fantastic night shirt when paired with pajama pants or shorts and makes midnight feedings a cinch.  Leading Lady offers this tank in five colors including classic white, grey and black, and seasonally festive berry pink and turquoise.  We suggest one in every color as a staple of your spring wardrobe.

Nursing CamiSquare Neck Nursing Cami

The unique design of our modern square neck nursing cami is both sassy and functional.  The empire waist is flattering for new moms; the top offers a fitted inner sling to support and accommodate breasts as milk fluctuates, while the bottom portion drapes breezily beneath the bustline.  The whimsical striped pattern comes in either denim blue and heather grey stripes with a denim inner sling, or black and heather grey stripes with an inner sling that brings a fun pop of red to your outfit and will stimulate your baby’s budding optical nerves.  The square neck and racer back design make this a stand-out addition to your nursing wardrobe.  When paired with jeans and a cardigan, you’ll be dressed to impress this spring.

4049_black_withbackinsetNursing Top

Sleek and sliming, cute and comfortable, and versatile to boot.  This black nursing top is a fabulous addition to your spring nursing wardrobe.  Everyone needs a black cami to layer under light sweaters, blouses or dresses.  Our nursing top features a posh racer back cut with a sheer lace design in back.  The one-handed nursing clasps and drop-down inner sling make breastfeeding super simple, and the adjustable straps ensure a perfect fit every day, even as milk fluctuates.  This nursing top is a great length to cover a shrinking post-partum belly and breathable cotton spandex blend could not be more comfy for warm spring days.  When you’re looking for a twist on the classic black nursing tank, look no further than this nursing top.

4031_BlackDotShirred Front Comfort Nursing Cami

Nothing says spring like polka dots!  Our playful shirred front nursing cami meets all of your needs for style, function and comfort this spring.  The adorable print, shirred top and sweetheart neckline keep you looking as fashionable as ever.  The empire waist cut is flattering on all body types.  Plus the lightweight fabric will keep you cool as the weather warms.  The nursing clasps and inner sling are easy-to-use for breastfeeding and keep you supported day and night.

This spring, new moms can and should wear their nursing tank tops with pride.  Our fun, fashionable, function designs make breastfeeding a pleasure and keep your spring wardrobe as cute and sassy as ever.  Happy breastfeeding this spring!

Outdoor Safety: Precautions for Babies While Playing Outside

7221273-babies-playing-with-ball-in-the-outdoorAs the weather warms up, we’re all excited to head outdoors for some fun in the sun.  Fresh air, the sights and sounds of nature and new activities are all great for babies.  But outdoor safety must be an important part of your plans this spring and summer.  Along with all of the enjoyment of the season comes a few dangers that every parent should keep in mind.  Today we’re discussing outdoor safety and precautions for babies while playing outside.

The Sun

Babies should avoid sun exposure until at least 6 months old.  That doesn’t mean your baby can never go outside, but he should remain in the shade as much as possible.  Be sure to find covered areas at the park and playground and bring an umbrella or tent to the beach.  Always dress your baby in sun-protective clothing and a broad-brimmed hat to cover his face and neck.  Babies over two months old should wear a baby-specific sunscreen of SPF 30 to 50.  These formulas are gentler for a baby’s skin.  Remember to reapply every 90 minutes to 2 hours.

Beyond sunburn, heat stroke and rashes can occur in hot weather as babies and toddlers are not able to regulate their own body temperature like adults. This makes it even more important to avoid the prime hours of direct sun (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and to remain in the shade as much as possible.  Ensure your baby is well-hydrated by breastfeeding before, during and after periods of time outdoors.  If your baby does show signs of over-heating, remove him from the sun immediately, remove his clothes and sponge him down with cool water.  Rashes occur when sweat glands are blocked causing bumps to pop up in moist folds of skin.  A cold bath with cornstarch powder usually relieves rashes quickly.  Call your doctor if heat stroke or rashes do not clear up rapidly or if your child’s fever is extremely high.

Water Safety

Babies and toddlers are highly attracted to water.  Many of them have not developed a sense of caution around water yet and their fearlessness can be a big problem.  Parents should be extremely vigilant of their babies around water.  If you have a particularly rambunctious child, require him to wear a floating safety vest that buckles at the chest and around the legs.  If you own a pool, make sure it is gated and locked at all times.

Playground Safety

courtesy of kafamilessentials.comYou know your child best but usually children up to three years old should be shadowed by an adult on the playground.  Check the safety of playground equipment before your child starts to use it to ensure it is not too hot, it is stable and it is age-appropriate for your child.  Playgrounds are a great place to challenge your baby’s physical abilities, but within reason.  Abide by the age guidelines marked on the equipment.  Also look out for older children who may play too rough around your little one.  Never take your eyes off your baby on the playground as accidents can happen in an instant.  It’s a good idea to find playgrounds with soft turfs for these early years of playing outdoors.

Bites and Stings

Not only are bites annoying to babies and toddlers, they can be dangerous too as many mosquitoes, flies and other insects carry disease.  Babies over 2 months can wear a low DEET insect repellent to avoid bites.  Treat bites topically to reduce painfulness and further irritation from itching.  If bites look unusual, see the pediatrician immediately.  Remove bee stingers by scraping the area with a credit card until you are able to push it out in the direction it came.

With these precautions and awareness for outdoor safety, you and your little ones can enjoy a season full of fun outside.  Happy Spring!

Prenatal Dental Care

Many moms-to-be are not aware that prenatal dental care is an important part of your holistic prenatal health.  Beyond wanting to maintain your pearly whites, good dental practices are especially essential during pregnancy to prevent long term oral issues for you and to ensure harmful bacteria that may build up in your mouth does not transfer to your baby.

Oral care in pregnancyDuring pregnancy hormones are surging.  These additional hormones increase plaque and bacteria in the mouth and can lead to pregnancy gingivitis or periodontal gum disease.  Gingivitis is the build-up of plaque that inflames the gums.  It is sometimes a precursor for gum disease, but not always.  Periodontal gum disease or periodontitis is a more serious condition in which bacteria from plaque infects the inner gum and bone, causing them to form pockets that collect and spread more bacteria and debris.  Eventually, the bacteria itself and enzymes produced by the immune system to help break down bacterial toxins move deeper into gum tissue and bone and disrupt tooth stabilization.  Tooth decay and loss can occur in severe cases of gum disease.

Women with gingivitis and periodontal gum disease have a higher risk of premature births and having a baby with a low birth weight.  Due to this heightened risk, sensitivity and potential for extra bacteria-filled plaque, pregnant women should be very attentive to prenatal dental care.  If you already practice good oral hygiene, you probably don’t have to do much more than you are already doing.  Here are the best tips for keeping you and your baby safe from oral bacteria during pregnancy:

  • Brush twice daily with toothpaste, preferably after meals.
  • Floss your teeth once a day to avoid bacteria build-up between teeth.
  • Use a sugar-free and alcohol-free mouth rinse daily.
  • Ensure your teeth get fluoride from toothpaste, mouth wash and water.  You may also need to apply fluoride gel occasionally.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of protein, vitamins and minerals, especially calcium.
  • While you may be eating a bit more and have some unusual cravings, do not consume excess sugar that can linger on your teeth and cause decay.
  • Chewing gum with xylitol after meals helps eliminate plaque and strengthen teeth.
  • If you experience pregnancy nausea that causes you to vomit, brush, rinse or coat your teeth with baking soda to neutralize acids afterwards.

It is important to maintain regular dental visits during pregnancy.  Ideally you would have seen your dentist prior to getting pregnant and then again between your fourth and sixth month of pregnancy.  Because the first trimester is the most critical stage of child development, exposure to x-rays, antibiotics and other potential dental procedures is not ideal early in pregnancy.  Later in the third trimester, your bump will make it uncomfortable and unsafe to lie back in a dental chair for long periods of time.  Therefore, the second trimester is the best time to see your dentist, if possible.  However, never leave a dental issue unseen.  While you may opt not to proceed with the recommended treatment until after your baby is born, you should always see a dentist to discuss your symptoms if you experience oral pain.

Be sure to let you dentist and dental hygienist know that you are pregnant prior to beginning any work during your visit.  If you are having any sensitivity, irritation, bleeding or other issues, discuss them with your dentist.  Prevention of gingivitis and gum disease is best, but early detection is second best.  If you do have either of these problems, your dentist may want you to come in every three months for cleanings during pregnancy.

Make prenatal dental care part of your regular health routine during pregnancy.  With just a few preventative measures, you can keep dangerous bacteria at bay and show off a gleaming smile to your bundle of joy when she arrives.

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