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

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, 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.

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.

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