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The Benefits and Risks of Water Birth

water birth__1458741578_162.206.228.38With a multitude of birthing options, some women choose an alternative method known as water birth.  Although some risks are associated with water birth, those who have done it and many experienced healthcare providers taut the physical, mental and emotional benefits of water birth.

Water birth is when women labor and sometimes deliver their babies in a small pool of warm water.  A water birth may happen at home, at a birthing center or in a hospital environment.  It should always be facilitated by an experienced healthcare provider, which is usually a midwife or obstetrician.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recognizes some benefits of being in water during the first stage of labor.  But they don’t find sufficient evidence in the benefit of finishing labor and delivery in water and cite an increased potential for risk during this critical stage in childbirth.

The Benefits of Water Birth

Experts and moms who have experienced water birth alike have expressed these potential benefits of water birth:

  • Warm water is soothing and helps mothers relax during the intense process of childbirth.
  • Buoyancy in water makes mothers weightless so they have more freedom of movement to labor in various positions independently.
  • Blood circulation tends to improve in water, making contractions easier and blood flow to the baby greater.
  • Babies are accustomed to the sensation of being in water since they developed in amniotic fluid during gestation.  A water environment may be more familiar and welcoming to them during birth.
  • As blood flow increases, mothers have more energy to tackle labor.
  • Water births tend to require less drug intervention to speed up labor and to manage pain.
  • Water birth helps stabilize blood pressure that occurs when the body is under stress.
  • Mothers who labor in water have less stress hormones like cortisol, noradrenaline and catecholamines that can adversely affect the baby.
  • Water also encourages the release of natural pain relief from endorphins.
  • Newborn babies tend to do better with less traumatic and less stressful births.
  • Water makes the perineum more elastic and therefore reduces tears.
  • Mothers are more emotionally and mentally relaxed when they are physically relaxed.

The Risks of Water Birth

Water birth does pose several risks that can make it more dangerous for mothers and babies.  These include:

  • If an emergency situation arises, moving the mother out of the pool into a bed or an operating room would waste time that could make a critical difference in the outcome for mother and baby.
  • Although rare, water could enter the mother’s bloodstream and cause aspiration.
  • Water birth may cause your baby to get an infection.
  • Your baby’s temperature may become too hot or too cold during a water birth.
  • Your baby may drown.
  • If the umbilical cord is compromised while the baby is in the birth canal, he may try to take a breath and would then breathe in water.
  • Also, the umbilical cord could snap during water birth if the baby is not lifted carefully.  Water birth makes it more difficult for the provider to handle the baby.

Water birth is not recommended for anyone with a high-risk pregnancy.  This includes women who have preeclampsia, who have high blood pressure, who have a disease or infection, whose babies are large or premature, who are having multiples or whose babies are breech.

Once you’ve weighed the benefits and risks with your doctor, if you do decide to proceed with a water birth, make sure you and your baby are constantly monitored and have a back-up plan in place in case of an emergency situation.  Also, make sure your providers are helping keep the water sanitary and at the proper temperature to reduce risk of infection.

Babies and Medicine: What’s Safe and What’s Not

babies and medicine__1458691588_162.206.228.38Protecting your new little baby from sickness is one of the biggest concerns of new parents.  Because your baby’s immune system is immature, she doesn’t have a strong ability to fight off pathogens.  When your baby gets sick, your first instinct may be to head to the medicine cabinet for a solution.  But be careful about what medications you give your baby and how much you administer.  Babies and medicine are a serious topic so know what’s safe and what’s not for your little love.

It can be pretty scary when your baby gets sick.  Whether it’s a stuffy nose, bad cough or a fever, it is painful to watch your baby suffer.  Before you go into your new parent flip-out mode, remember: most of the time, getting sick is not life-threatening, even for babies.  However, being vigilant of your baby’s symptoms and taking the appropriate action is important.

While uncomfortable and alarming, a fever is a sign that your baby’s immune system is working properly.  That is, it’s trying to fight off whatever foreign substance is attacking her system.  Between the antibodies you’ve provided your baby at the end of pregnancy and those she’s getting through breast milk, your newborn will slowly begin to build her immune system.  Then after two months she will begin getting shots to further protect her from a variety of serious diseases.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says to call your pediatrician if: your baby is under 3 months and has a 100.4°F fever, is 3-6 months and has a temperature of 101°F, or if your baby is 6 months or older and has a fever of 103°F.  Also, if your baby has a fever combined with severe symptoms like vomiting, trouble breathing, extreme lethargy, refusal to eat, or constant diarrhea, call your doctor immediately.  And if fever lasts for 3 or more days consecutively, consult your pediatrician.

Newborns under 3 months should not be given any medication outside of a doctor’s care.  Typically, newborns that have a fever of 100.4°F or higher are given a urine and blood test.  Dangerous bacterial infections are more common in babies, and due to weaker immune systems, newborns can get pneumonia or kidney infections.  If your baby develops this level of fever outside of office hours, take your baby to the emergency room at the nearest hospital, preferably a children’s hospital.  Again, it is unlikely that your baby has a serious problem but it is better to be cautious at this early stage in life.

After 3 months, if your baby gets sick, consult your doctor before administering any medication.  Most pediatricians will allow babies over 3 months of age to take acetaminophen (children’s Tylenol).  However, be extremely careful with the dosage.  Overdosing your baby by giving too much medicine at one time or giving the medicine too frequently is very harmful to babies.  In a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, overdose of acetaminophen was the most common medication mistake for babies in the U.S. in the past decade.  Usually this was a caregiver error rather than babies accidentally ingesting it.  Remember that if you are giving your baby more than one type of medicine, both may contain acetaminophen and therefore your baby may exceed the recommended dosage.

With a doctor’s approval, babies over 6 months of age can take children’s ibuprofen to reduce a fever and relieve symptoms.  Babies should never take aspirin, cold & cough medications (even children’s formulas), anti-nausea drugs, adult over-the-counter medications, medications prescribed to someone else or expired medicines.  Also, never give your baby a chewable medication.  All dosages of baby-safe medicines should be administered in liquid form.

Babies and medicine can be a dangerous combination if caregivers are unaware of what’s safe and what’s not.  Make sure you and all of your baby’s caregivers know which medications she can take, how much and how often.  Also always consult your pediatrician before starting your baby on any medication.

Why Babies Like High-Pitched Voices and Other Baby Talk

It’s pretty much universal – when anyone talks to a baby, they usually raise their voice a few decibels.  It seems to be almost human nature to talk to a baby in a higher pitch.  Why?  Well, no one knows for sure but it seems that as universally as adults raise their pitch, babies like high-pitched voices and other baby talk.

You probably notice yourself doing it and everyone around you does it too.  When you engage your baby, your voice automatically goes to a higher pitch, you elongate vowel sounds, you speak slower, you repeat sounds, you use a greater pitch range, your tone is happy or soothing and you inflect more emotion into your speech.  This “baby talk” is referred to as infant-directed speech or motherese or parentese, even by experts.  Speaking to a baby in this manner is almost as natural as childbirth itself.  People who have very little experience with babies even find themselves using infant-directed speech.

high pitched voices__1458741740_162.206.228.38The reason we use infant-directed speech is not exactly clear other than babies tend to respond better to it.  And it is probably the combination of pitch, tone, emotions and inflection that babies enjoy.  After all, even men elicit positive responses from babies and their voices rarely get as high-pitched as women.

We can look to nature for some answers.  When animals call to each other, they often do it in high-pitched voices.  It’s attention grabbing and seems to provoke reactions in the wild.  The same is true in a domestic setting.  Our pets also respond to baby talk and we tend to use it on them as well.  So, the same can be said for our most precious little ones:  babies like high-pitched voices too.

Additionally, although young infants don’t know what we are saying, they are often comforted, more interested and entertained when we use infant-directed speech.  Babies may be able to make the inference that a message is happy, warm and loving by this tone, even when the words are meaningless to them.

Several studies show that babies turn towards infant-directed speech more than adult-directed speech and their electrical brain waves are more active when hearing infant-directed speech.  They may also learn words and take to their native language better when this form of baby talk is used.  Expressive language can help babies differentiate sounds, words and phrases, all of which are crucial to language development.  In fact, adults can even learn other languages better when exposed to them with greater expression.

Human contact, especially with you, is your baby’s favorite source of stimulation.  Whether it is looking at your face, smelling your scent or hearing your voice, your baby is hard-wired to like you best.  Babies like high-pitched voices and other infant-directed speech elements because they are attention-grabbing and comforting.  Next time you feel silly using this type of speech, you can rest assured that it’s good for your baby’s language development and emotional bond with you.

What is Colic + Tips for Colic Relief

Colic is a common condition that occurs in about one-fifth of all infants.  Experts believe colic comes about due to an immature nervous system. Colicky babies are not able to soothe themselves yet and therefore resort to crying spells.  Fortunately, it is not a medical problem and usually goes away by the time a baby is three to six months old.

According to the Mayo Clinic, colic in babies is defined as crying that lasts for three or more hours a day for three days a week for three weeks or longer in otherwise well-fed, healthy babies.  Because it is their only form of communication, infant crying is normal.  In fact, many new parents don’t realize their babies have colic for this reason.

colic__1457981345_162.206.228.38Although there is no known cause of colic, there are patterns that trend with colicky babies.  Colic is usually marked by inconsolable crying, often in the evening hours.  Colicky babies typically cry around the same time every day.  Often babies will express gas throughout their fussiness and have a bowel movement towards the end of their crying spell.  They will also tense up by curling their legs into their bodies and clench their fists.

Medical professionals have tried to understand more about colic but cannot seem to find a true cause.  It is unrelated to gender, breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, birth order or any other known factors.  However, babies born prematurely or whose mothers smoked, drank alcohol or did drugs during pregnancy have a higher risk of colic.

If your baby tends to be fussier than most and has the signs of colic, you should visit your pediatrician to confirm your diagnosis and ensure the crying is not due to any true medical condition.  Colic is not associated with irregular bowel movements (either diarrhea or constipation), fever, vomiting, loss of weight or lethargy.  If any of these symptoms appear, see your doctor immediately.

Once you know your baby has colic, try the following ways to soothe her and reduce fussiness:

  • Rock, bounce and otherwise move your baby around.  This calms the nervous system and may lull your baby to sleep.
  • Wear your baby in a carrier.  The closeness will keep her warm, allow her to hear your heartbeat, give her constant movement and ultimately encourage her to calm down.
  • Expose your baby to constant sound such as white noise, the hum of the dryer or a vacuum cleaner.
  • Allow your baby to suck on a pacifier.
  • Swaddle your baby, even during the day.
  • Dim lights and avoid loud noises that may stimulate or startle your baby.
  • Give your baby a massage using a gentle baby lotion or natural oil.
  • Soak your baby in a warm bath.
  • Lay your baby across your lap tummy-down to help relieve stomach pressure.
  • Burp your baby often during feedings.
  • Don’t let your baby nurse for too long at one time.  Overfeeding can cause an upset stomach.
  • Wait two to three hours between feedings.  Again, this ensures your baby is not getting too full.
  • Consider whether anything in your diet is causing your baby to be fussy such as caffeine, fiber or alcohol.
  • Ask your doctor before taking other measures such as giving gas drops, using herbal remedies or adding cereal to your baby’s bottle.

Colic can be very frustrating for new parents.  The droning sound of crying for hours can drive anyone a little bonkers.  If your baby is colicky, it’s a good idea to take breaks from the peak fussy hours every now and then.  Ask for help from your partner and other family members or hire a caregiver.  These time-outs will help keep you sane and help prevent you from resenting your baby.

Remember, colic is short-lived and will not have a lasting effect on your child.  Even with challenges like colic, new parenthood should be mostly a time of joy and love for your new little bundle of joy.

Staying Connected When You’re Away

Leaving your children at home – whether you travel often for business or pleasure, or simply work long hours – is hard for devoted parents.  Sometimes life requires this separation and it can actually be quite healthy for both you and your kids.  Many parents are concerned about the emotional and developmental effects leaving may have on their children.  Typically, kids are not scared by the fact that their parents travel as long as they are well taken care of while you or our spouse are gone.  But there are certainly ways of staying connected when you’re away to ensure your children feel your love and special bond even from a distance.

staying connected while traveling__1457981243_162.206.228.38Prepare your kids:  Springing on your kids the fact that you’re leaving for a week the morning you are flying out isn’t a great idea.  Talk about your trip for at least a few days in advance so your children know you’ll be away, who will be staying with them and what to expect during that time.  Try to plan for their schedules to be as normal as possible with day care, school, activities, etc… and add in a few special treats that your caregiver can facilitate as well.  Prepare several of their favorite dinners to have on hand while you’re gone.  Ask your children to help you pack for your trip so you can talk about where you are going, what you’ll be doing, and the weather at your destination.  This will help them feel more connected to where you will be too.  Don’t be afraid to tell your kids that leaving them makes you sad and it’s OK for them to feel sad as well.  Soon you will all be back together again and have lots to share with each other about your time apart.

Keep in touch:  While you are gone, keep in touch as much as possible, even more than you think you should.  Call at times when you know your kids will be available, such as first thing in the morning, in the car on their way home from school and bedtime.  Use texts and emails to send pictures of what you’re doing on your trip and encourage them to do the same.  Also, video conference when possible.  You can even bring along a few books and read to them at bedtime as if you were right there tucking them in as usual.

Create a loving moment:  Set a certain time when you and your children plan to think of each other and send loving thoughts.  Set an alarm for your kids so they’ll know the special time and do the same for yourself.  This is also a great time to visualize giving each other hugs.  Talk your kids through this before you leave and then practice it during your loving moment time while you’re gone.  Because you know each other so well, you may actually feel the warmth of each other’s embrace.

Write notes for each day of your trip:  Leave a short note for your child to open every day while you’re gone.  It should briefly give love and encouragement for whatever your child has going on that day.  You can draw pictures as well.  Also include what you may be doing that day on your trip so your children can think about you as well.

Arrange a long distance treasure hunt:  Hide a few items around your house.  Each day give clues to where your children can find one of the items.  This will be a fun way for them to look forward to hearing from you and stay enamored with you from afar.

Make gifts and have a welcome home party:  Ask your children to make you a special gift while you’re away.  Buy supplies for a cool art project or whatever it is your children may want to create for you.  You should also make or buy a gift to bring back for your kids.  When you return, have a welcome home party and exchange gifts.  Maybe break your own rules slightly during the party, such as not making your kids eat veggies for a night or getting to stay up late.  This helps your kids feel excited about being together again.  Be sure to do something fun with your children right away and be present while you’re with them so they know they were missed and how much you care.

Enjoy your travel time knowing that staying connected while you’re away ensures your bond with your children will be as strong as ever when you return.

10 Risk Factors of Preterm Labor

preterm labor__1456607450_162.206.228.38Among the list of worries for expectant moms is usually preterm labor.  Preterm labor is when a mother goes into labor prematurely before her 37th week of pregnancy.  Having a baby too early may mean the baby is not fully developed in several key areas and may lead to birth defects, physical abnormalities (such as heart defects, respiratory problems or underdeveloped organs), mental impairments or behavioral problems in infants and children.  Preterm labor occurs in approximately 12% of pregnancies.  Some causes of preterm labor are known, while others remain a mystery.  However, there are some factors that put moms and babies more at risk.

Today are looking at 10 risk factors of preterm labor:

1 – Pregnant with Multiples

Women giving birth to two or more babies are highly likely to deliver early.  OBs often schedule c-sections for moms of multiples but sometimes mothers go into labor on their own prior to 37 weeks.

2 – Unhealthy Weight during Pregnancy

Moms-to-be who are either underweight or overweight during pregnancy have higher rates of preterm labor.  Being underweight may mean the baby is not getting proper nutrients.  Being overweight can put added strain on the baby as well as the mother’s body.  The recommended weight gain for a single pregnancy is 25-35 lbs.

3 – Abnormalities or Infections in the Lower Abdomen

If the cervix, uterus or vagina are compromised, risk of preterm labor is increased.  Also, bladder, vaginal or kidney infections or STDs can have the same effect.  Mothers who have regular OB check-ups during pregnancy will be aware of these risk factors so they can be monitored closely.

4 – Smoking, Drinking and Drug Abuse

Expectant mothers who drink, smoke and use drugs during pregnancy are putting their babies at extreme risk, not only of preterm labor, but also many other substance abuse related birth defects.

5 – Chronic or Severe Short Term Illness

Women suffering from diabetes – even gestational diabetes – clotting disorders, high blood pressure, kidney disease or other chronic illnesses may be prone to preterm labor.  Also, if a mother gets sick and has a fever higher than 101 degrees F, she is at risk of preterm labor.

6 – Short Time Span between Pregnancies

A repeat pregnancy within six to nine months of giving birth puts moms at increased risk of preterm labor.  Pregnancy creates a great strain on the body and it needs time to recuperate after childbirth.  Having babies too close together can cause complications.

7 – Previous Preterm Labor

Mothers who have had previous preterm labor are highly more likely to go into preterm labor again.  Usually the preterm labor occurs at approximately the same week as prior preterm labors.  Additionally, preterm labor may be hereditary. A family predisposition for preterm labor, especially if the mother herself was born prematurely, should be flagged as a risk factor.

8 – Lack of Prenatal Care

Taking care of both mother and baby during pregnancy is vital to the health of both parties.  Prenatal care including proper nutrition, prenatal vitamins, a healthy living environment, emotional support and regular OB check-ups can help prevent preterm labor.

9 – Stress

Women who experience intense stress during pregnancy can go into premature labor.  Stress has a physiological impact on the body.  During pregnancy, stress hormones can trigger early labor and can be highly dangerous for babies.

10 – Physical Strain

Standing for too long, performing highly physical jobs, lifting heavy objects or over-exercising can lead to preterm labor.  While some exercise is recommended during pregnancy, too much physical strain can have harmful side-effects.

Know these causes of preterm labor to monitor inherent risk factors and avoid controllable risks.

The Benefits of Acupuncture for Fertility and Pregnancy Symptoms

acupuncture__1456607606_162.206.228.38Many women look beyond traditional medicine and standard practices when faced with challenging fertility issues or severe pregnancy symptoms.  One method that has produced sound results is acupuncture.  In fact, many fertility specialists and OBGYNs recommend acupuncture as a supplemental treatment.  For some women, the benefits of acupuncture for fertility and pregnancy symptoms are quite amazing.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice of placing very fine, sterilized needles in the body at certain points that help the body function properly.  The exact points where the needles are placed are known paths or meridians that link the interior and exterior of the human body.  When even this light pressure is placed in these areas, many bodies respond in amazing ways.  Even though acupuncture uses needles, it should not hurt and there are very little risks associated with the practice.

The Benefits of Acupuncture for Fertility

While acupuncture is not a fail-proof way to get pregnant, many hopeful women use it to help with certain fertility issues.  Acupuncture is known to help regulate the thyroid, which is an essential part of the endocrine system that releases hormones.  Infertility is sometimes a result of hormonal imbalances, especially estrogen.  Additionally, acupuncture increases blood flow throughout the body making the uterus a more sustainable environment to conceive and can correct spasmed tubes.

When using acupuncture for fertility purposes, experts recommend starting treatment several months prior to trying to conceive.  Giving the body time to regulate and improve can make getting pregnant easier, especially when attempting in-vitro fertilization or insemination.  Acupuncture can continue well into pregnancy but is recommended for at least the first trimester since most miscarriages occur during that phase.

The Benefits of Acupuncture for Pregnancy Symptoms

Moms-to-be who are experiencing adverse pregnancy symptoms often turn to acupuncture for relief.  In fact, whether or not a mom has a tough pregnancy, there are many benefits of acupuncture while pregnant.  Acupuncture increases blood flow, giving pregnant women more energy.  This also helps nourish babies by more effectively delivering nutrients through the umbilical cord, which in turn boosts the baby’s immune system.  Acupuncture helps alleviate many side-effects of pregnancy too, such as nausea, indigestion, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, edema and back pain.

In a way, acupuncture is also relaxation therapy for mothers.  Stress during pregnancy can greatly affect babies and moms-to-be.  Acupuncture calms the nervous system to ease some of the stress and anxiety that many expectant mothers experience.

The benefits of acupuncture extend to labor, delivery and postpartum care as well.  Women who receive acupuncture treatment typically have fewer miscarriages, preterm labor and tend to deliver on time.  After delivery, acupuncture can encourage a healthy milk supply, reduce incidence of postpartum depression, help mothers recover from childbirth and regulate the digestive tract after giving birth.

Acupuncture Safety

Acupuncture is a licensed profession in many states in the U.S.  When seeking treatment, it’s important to find someone who is licensed and board-certified, as well as someone who specializes in reproduction, fertility or pregnancy acupuncture.  There are certain areas to avoid when trying to conceive or when already pregnant, including the lower abdomen, gallbladder, bladder, spleen and intestines.  Most fertility experts and OBGYNs can recommend an appropriate acupuncturist to meet their patients’ needs.  Acupuncture usually works best when combined with herbal and traditional medications and treatments.

What Kids Perceive about Marriage from their Parents

You may think that your marriage is just between you and your spouse.  If you have kids, studies show that the way that you conduct your marriage is very much a family matter.  What kids perceive about marriage from their parents starts at a very young age.  Children pick up on many small details that parents may not even realize.  That’s why working hard to have a happy marriage and modeling a healthy relationship are important for children’s holistic health as well as encouraging them to have good marriages in the future.

Most of us know by now, marriage is hard and it takes work and dedication.  Two individuals forming a lifelong team, no matter how similar or different, no matter how much in love, no matter what their history may be, is difficult.  There is no doubt about it, most marriages are met by periods of strife and discord.  Some of these are irreversible and end in divorce or prolonged unhappy marriages.  Others find rocky moments to be just a bump in an otherwise happy road.  However it works out in your marriage, know that your children are keenly aware of how mommy and daddy act towards one another, from what they say, to their intimate connection, to how they spend time together.

Beautiful smiling happy family enjoy

Research shows that gender roles and how familial responsibilities are divided are far less influential on the long term psyche of children than the quality of their parents’ marriage.  That is to say, what kids perceive about marriage from their parents is based on how their moms and dads behave towards one another.  It’s known as modeling.

When children see their parents working together as a team – cooking dinner, completing a project, holding hands or showing other forms of affection, planning a vacation, or simply getting everything ready to leave the house for an outing – parents are modeling a healthy relationship.  Words matter too, of course.  Shouting, speaking unkindly and constant bickering makes an impression on children.  However it’s the actions that speak the loudest when it comes to what kids perceive about marriage from their parents.

Modeling a strong marriage also includes being present when sharing with one another, finding work/life balance, respecting each other’s thoughts and opinions, spending quality time with one another and resolving conflicts.  It’s unreasonable to think that parents won’t ever disagree in front of their children.  But problem-solving and conflict resolution are tremendous opportunities to model positive behavior for our children.

According to Psychology Today, it’s also crucial to discuss marriage with your kids.  At a young age this may just mean that you tell your kids how much mommy loves daddy and how their love together makes your family operate.  As your children get older you can talk about the advantages of having a lifelong companion to share the good and the bad.  You can also discuss the fact that everyone will have arguments, especially when you share your lives the way moms and dads do.  But with love, hard work and perseverance, you can overcome the hurdles.

Your children are constantly drawing conclusions from modeling.  If you model a healthy, positive relationship, your children have a better chance at good physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing, as well as an understanding of a strong marriage for their own future.

Prenatal Yoga vs. Regular Yoga

Exercise is usually encouraged during pregnancy and prenatal yoga is a great way to satisfy your need for physical activity while reaping many other benefits as well.  Prenatal yoga is not just a yoga class full of pregnant women, but rather the poses presented by a well-trained instructor are somewhat different and tailored to the physique and specific needs of moms-to-be.

prenatal yoga__1455555465_108.89.137.58Prenatal yoga focuses on several key areas of the body.  One of the most important is the back, particularly the lower back, which is strained as a baby gets heavier and expectant moms have to use back strength to support their growing bellies.  Pregnant women find that their center of gravity is constantly adjusting with their evolving bumps.  This is why many moms-to-be lose their balance easier or find their own movements clumsier than usual.  Building the muscles of the low back and lengthening them will help support the added weight of the baby and may also make labor easier.  Many women find that labor begins in their back and when they are already experiencing low back pain, labor can be considerably harder.  A stronger back going into labor can relieve some discomfort.

Additional areas of concentration in prenatal yoga are the hips, pelvic floor, muscles between the ribs and overall better circulation.  Stretching and opening the hips not only alleviates some of the pressure that occurs in this region during pregnancy, it also helps prepare you for labor and delivery.  If you plan to deliver vaginally, you’re going to appreciate strong hips and the ability to control your pelvic floor.  This makes pushing during contractions easier and helps regain form and muscle control postpartum.

Strengthening the muscles between the ribs can help combat the body’s natural response to heavier breasts, which is to hunch the shoulders inward.  As this happens, breathing can become labored and uncomfortable.  And yoga is an excellent form of activity to increase circulation, which is incredibly important since pregnant women have approximately 50% more blood in their bodies to support a growing baby.  Good circulation keeps the baby fed and oxygenated and helps prevent pregnancy edema.

Prenatal yoga instructors are specifically trained to teach poses that compliment, strengthen and lengthen a pregnant woman’s body.  Prenatal yoga tends to use a lot of props to support the body in performing poses, especially as women progress throughout their pregnancies.  Of course there are certain poses and positions that prenatal yoga instructors know to avoid altogether, such as twisting, lying on the back for a long period of time, bending forward or lying on the stomach.

Some women who are very experienced in yoga debate whether to continue with their regular yoga practice and modifying moves, versus taking prenatal yoga classes that may feel too easy.  This is a personal decision.  Regular yoga instructors may be willing to help serious yogis modify their practice within a regular class, especially towards the beginning of a pregnancy when expectant moms are able to do more.  However, as the pregnancy progresses, it may be wise to switch to an advanced prenatal yoga class designed for the needs of a pregnant woman’s body.

Like regular yoga, prenatal yoga is a wonderful practice that can help center your body and mind during an exciting and somewhat anxious time in your life.  Yoga helps develop pain management and coping techniques as well as breathing patterns and mantras that may be helpful during childbirth.  Prenatal yoga also gives pregnant women as sense of community and can lead to friendships with women in your area whose babies will be born around the same time as yours.

We hope you find strength, relief and peace in your prenatal yoga practice.  Namaste!

How to Stay Calm during a Child’s Tantrum

It’s inevitable: kids are going to have tantrums.  Even the best kids and the best parenting are not going to allow you to avoid this normal part of early childhood.  Some find tantrums worst during the “terrible twos,” while other kids experience them earlier or later than that stage.  Managing a tantrum may have as much to do with your own behavior as that of your child.  Today we’re looking at how to stay calm during a child’s tantrum to avoid major parenting landmines, future outbursts and scaring both you and your child.

tantrums__1455555246_108.89.137.58Here’s the scenario:  You feel your child’s tantrum coming on.  Maybe he’s not gotten enough sleep; maybe it’s been an emotional day; maybe he’s just in a bad mood.  Whatever the reason, you can’t change it at this very moment and you feel your blood start to boil over your child’s escalating outburst.  This is the time to start your “I can handle this tantrum” routine by recognizing that you are getting angry.

All too often parents don’t realize how angry they are until they say or do something they regret.  This is not the way you want to model anger management to a child who is exploding.  Rather, you need to slow yourself and rein back the aggression.  It’s not that you shouldn’t feel angry.  Anger is a natural reaction.  It’s what you do with the anger that matters.

As soon as you recognize your feelings, stop yourself.  Even if you have begun to unleash your anger, just freeze.  Use this time to re-center yourself.  Walk away for a few minutes if you can do so safely.  Take deep breaths.  Remind yourself that your child is a child and not the enemy.  Think about why your child may be acting out and why you may be agitated to the extreme.  Sometimes it has nothing to do with the actual problem at hand.  When you have collected yourself, return to your child and speak in a calm and soft tone.  Use kind words to let your child know that you are there for her and love her no matter what.  Your child may not like that you went away, which could be an incentive not to behave this way in the future.  Or it may make her even madder.  Either way, it is a good decision to ground yourself and not contribute to the storm.

Always be the bigger person in the situation because, well, you are the adult after all.  Apologize for your contribution to the tantrum and for getting angry if you did.  Your child may be stunned by your offer of an apology, which may be just enough for her to snap out of her explosive state.  Never try to reason with your child in the heat of the tantrum.  Rather, wait until you have both calmed down and then try to discuss it.  Kids are often irrational so you may never fully understand the cause of the outburst, but at least you can explain why it was unacceptable to react that way.  Hopefully a lesson sinks in for your child and the entire ordeal can be a learning experience.

It should be a learning experience for you too.  Learning how to stay calm during a child’s tantrum is hard work.  It will take practice, effort and patience.  Some parents are better able to handle tantrums than others based on their own personalities, mindsets and past experiences.  Also remember, what works with one child, may not work with another.  Parenting requires a unique set of skills for each of your children.  Be willing to find what works for your child to ensure less tantrums and happier times.

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