Monday, January 31, 2011

Bump Watch: Toni Collette at Australian Open Finals

 An eight months pregnant Toni Collette enjoyed the Australian Open finals Sunday looking so calm and ready for baby. The day before ex Bellyitch Bumpwatch Mom Kim Clijsters beat China’s Li Na to win the women’s title. I love an underdog, so I admit I was rooting for Li Na, I'm sure as well as all of Asia.

Collette and other celebrities watched Scottish Andy Murray take home the runner’s up plate for the second year a row, as he was defeated  by Novak Djokovic  in straight sets to claim his second grand slam victory (his first was at the Australian Open in 2008). Because neither Nadal or Federer were in the finals, I admit not caring so much. Tough luck for the Brits who haven't had a native son or daughter bring home a grand slam title since Fred Perry took the US Open title in 1936!! EEk!




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A Parent's Sputnik Moment: Fixing our broken education system


Last week, an Akron Ohio woman spent ten days in jail and was sentenced with two felonies for using her father’s address in order to allow her daughter to attend a high performing school in a predominantly white neighborhood.  The public school where Kelley Williams-Bolar’s daughter was supposed to attend has below average scores across the board in all subjects. Also, the crime-ridden neighborhood where the school is located can be described as sketchy, at best.  William-Bolar’s case resonated with many parents nationwide because there are several thousands, if not millions, of them who have or who are presently in a similar situation, perhaps falsifying their addresses for the sake of giving their child a shot at the best education possible.

The case sparked some serious inquiry into the equity of the US education system.

During the president’s State of the Union address last Tuesday, he spoke about how the United States is average compared to the rest of the world when it comes to our children’s test scores in reading, math and science. I would think that a country which prides itself on being the best worldwide would look to statistics as such and yearn for those numbers to change so that we can rise in the ranks.  Indeed, when international comparative test takers come to assess the skills of American kids, I am not certain we will have the option of just sending those who were educated in the best schools with the best resources. 

Similarly, in one of my posts last week about how American and Chinese parenting compare, one person commented how a parent taxpayer should only be required to raise money to educate his or her own child.  That took me a back a bit because I did not think that there is any place in the United States that allows a parent to have an individual say as to who gets the benefit of his tax dollars.  Even in many private schools, tuition dollars are usually pooled into an operating fund that goes to educate all the children in the school, including those on scholarship, who pay reduced tuition and who get financial aid.  Truly, the only way a “taxpayer” can ensure that her money is spent on her child alone is if she elects to home school her child, and even then, her taxes will still be likely pooled to help sustain the nearest public school in her neighborhood.

 Read the rest at Politics of Raising Children
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Celebrity Baby Boom full of "Baby Mamas"

Jane Kracowski and Natalie Portman at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last night.

I found a recent Yahoo! News article, Celebrity Baby Boom Affects Traditional and Nontraditional Parents" to be quite interesting. It summarizes the celebrity pregnancy boom in terms of the unconventional and nontraditional ways that celebrities are bringing babies into the world. Let me start with the caveat that this is a pro-pregnancy, pro-baby blog so it doesn't matter to Bellyitch how the precious bundles and gifts are brought into the world. I just found the author's spin on the story amusing, especially her take on the traditional ways babies are born, you know with a mother, father, within wedded bliss.

Check out the PC terms the article framed the story:

"Not only have babies already arrived or are on their way to celebrities everywhere, these babies are among the most diverse group of landing in some very nontraditional homes." (emphasis added) 
Indeed, many of the recent celebrity pregnancy announcements (Kate Hudson, Jane Kracowski, Natalie Portmant, Kim Zolciak, Selma Blair, Marion Cotillard, Devon Aoki)  are of women who are girlfriends or fiances to their respective unborn child's father or are recently engaged (called "Baby Mamas" in impolite conversation).  The author even takes on gay celebrity births such as  Elton John's and his partner's new baby. ( I also think of Neil Patrick Harris's new baby and Ricky Martin's twins via surrogate too).

The gentle way media is referencing these "non-conventional" baby making  has not gone unnoticed to many in the general public.  When Natalie Portman had announced her engagement and pregnancy, one of Bellyitch's Twitter followers responded to the post's headline "Natalie Portman is Engaged and Pregnant!" that it may have been more accurate if reversed, as in she got pregnant and then to make an honest woman out of her in the "traditional" sense, her baby daddy proposed. 

The person making the comment was trying to make the point that when certain women from certain socio-economic status have babies out of wedlock, they are given a stigma and looked down upon, but when celebrities do it, it is celebrated and everyone saves their judgment. Edited to add: The term "baby mama" when used to describe non-celebrity connotes that the woman would never ever be married to her child's father. That is a precise distinction Dr. Goddess, the blog follower in question wanted me to clarify.

Will these new "nontraditional" parents change the way those non celebrity parents are referenced? I doubt it, but it is interesting to note the dynamic. Thoughts?
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Sunday, January 30, 2011

International Bump Watch: Ugandan & South African Models pregnant



Every once in awhile, I like to scour the web for news of international bump watch candidates as I've done with Mexican, Korean and Chinese stars.


Here is a first from Africa. South African-based Ugandan model Deppy Sempaka is rumored to be 3-months pregnant as alleged by a source claiming to have seen her eating raw mangoes in a maternity clinic waiting room. Okay, there's a sure sign! LOL! 


And Former Miss South Africa Cindy Nell Roberts (above) and her husband are expecting their first bouncing baby. 


Cindy and husband Clive Roberts are expecting their baby in May, and the couple are adamant that they don’t want to know the gender of the baby. The couple have been married for nearly two years.
Congratulations to the happy couple!
Bump watch is global and not skipping any continent, I see.




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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bump Watch: Alicia Silverstone random casual pics


Just sharing random pics of Alicia Silverstone and her bump. She's rocking the frumpy preggers look I see, and is showing she's a regular around the way girl. Nice because sometimes you don't want to have to be glammed up while pregnant just because you are a celebrity.

January 16 leaving Il Pastaio restaurant in Beverly Hills

On the on the set of a Vogue photo-shoot at the Animal Acres animal sanctuary in California this week


Last week Alicia was spotted taking a walk with a female friend dressed comfortably and having a laugh

Alicia left the shoot in some casual maternity wear that showed off her growing baby bump

Daily Mail source
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Board member won't resign after pregnancy comment

Sarah Palin at 3 or 4 months pregnant speaking to a board meeting on February 2008

A member of the Oklahoma education board said Friday he would not resign amid criticism he was insensitive to a pregnant woman the panel hired to represent the state's 660,000 public school children at the Capitol.

Herb Rozell, a former state senator, told The Associated Press he made a "mental mistake" when he said at a board meeting on Thursday that the new legislative liaison would be worthless if she took maternity leave during this spring's legislative session.

"It wasn't to criticize anybody," said Rozell, of Tahlequah. "I know it was made at the wrong time. I understand that.

"I'm sorry I offended the lady. Heaven forbid, that's not what you're supposed to do. I had no intention of belittling the woman," he added.

The seven-member state panel approved hiring Jessica Russell to push its agenda during the 2011 legislative session, which runs from Feb. 7 to May 27. After her hiring, Rozell noted she was pregnant and questioned whether she would be available for the whole term.

"If she has that child in April and takes off six weeks, she's worthless to us," Rozell said on Thursday. "She won't be able to keep up."

State Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi chided Rozell immediately while Russell left the room in tears. Another board member, Tim Gilpin of Tulsa, made a motion, as a joke, asking that Russell not have the child in April or May.

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Bump Watch: Rachel Zoe on the red carpet

Huffpost has a slide show of Rachel Zoe and her husband Roger at Elle's inaugural Women in Television Celebratory Dinner in West Hollywood in Thursday night.

Check out the rest at HuffPo!



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Friday, January 28, 2011

Bump Watch: Natalie Portman on the Red Carpet



Natalie Portman showed off her baby bump on Saturday, January 8 at the 2011 Palm Springs International Film Festival, in Palm Springs, CA. 
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Baby Bump: Kate Hudson shows off bump on British TV



UK Mail shared a pic of Kate Hudson showing off her baby bump for the first time on UK show, The Graham Norton Show. She looked very cute!

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CNN on Celebrity Pregnancy: Sometimes, it's just TMI


Check out CNN's recent story about all of the obsession and oversharing involved with celebrity pregnancies:
(CNN) -- After years of tabloid photos of celebrities buying coffee, going to the gym and occasionally flashing the camera as they step out of cars, there's not a whole lot that is private in Hollywood anymore -- including childbirth.
Within the last week, we learned all about what happened as Miranda Kerr gave birth to little Flynn -- "it was a long, arduous and difficult labour," she wrote on her blog, "without any pain medication" -- and how Kelly Preston gave birth in November to baby Benjamin using the "silent birth" technique.
"Silent birth is basically just no words, as much as possible," she explained on the "Today" show when asked what exactly it is. "If you need to moan, if you cry out, you know, all of that, of course that's normal."
Meanwhile, in reality-TV-land, Kimora Lee Simmons, Kendra Wilkinson and, perhaps most memorably, Kourtney Kardashianhave all brought cameras along for the ride in the delivery room. Who can forget that moment last February when Kourtney gamely reached down and assisted in her own delivery, pulling her child up from between her legs on the season finale of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians"?
Any celeb news junkie can name many, many more. There was the time when Erykah Badu's 2009 delivery was live-tweeted -- she kicked off the festivities by tweeting, "Morning, I'm in labor" -- andthe Vogue magazine interview in which Gisele Bundchen described meditating her way through labor at home in a water-filled tub overlooking the Charles River in Boston. Reality TV star Bethenny Franklin, meanwhile, has recalled the intense bagel craving that preceded a nearly 30-hour labor to deliver her daughter last May.


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Ali Larter out with baby Theodore


So I didn't even know Ali Larter had her baby boy last December. Papps caught the new mom taking baby out. Belated Congrats to new mom.
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Review: Preggers compression tights


Your girlfriends never tell you about the leg aches and pains associated with pregnancy until you’re actually pregnant and going through it yourself! That was my experience anyway. I had so much water build-up that it would pool at my ankles and it got so bad that you’d  hear the fluid swooshing when I walked around. Very icky. I eventually discovered I had a condition called Edema which involves the retention of water.  It is common in pregnant women. Usually drinking a lot of water can help, keeping your legs elevated and wearing compression tights.

Years past, compression tights looked like any other sterile non-cute medical hosiery in the standard nude color and styles.  But because brands are always coming up with new and innovative products for pregnant stylish women, there are more options these days.

Preggers  is a brand that sells compression footless maternity tights and traditional tights. They improve circulation, prevent swelling and energize tired legs and feet, the makers say. But unlike the old compression tights of the past, these come in cool colors and nice styles. The review pairs I looked at for this review were sturdy without a seam which would look great under a top, worn with a dress or even a mini skirt. They were strong and thick and looked like they would last through several washes.

Preggers is a great buy and I couldn’t find too much wrong with them. I wear compression sleeves for running and notice the difference when I don’t wear them so I am a believer in compression products. Preggers are made of a  nylon/lycra combination, breathable materials that grow with your bell. Overall, a very good product.

Win a pair of Preggers tights in the tradition and footless variety in your own favorite color.  Simply enter below and “Like” the blog on Facebook. You get 1 additional entry for Tweeting the Contest; and 3 additional entries for drafting a blog post about the contest on your own blog. Good LUCK

Contest ends February 14, 2011. Open to USA and Canada.  


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Eco Friday: Study shows which pregnant women eat organic?


Who eats organic food when they are pregnant? Is it just certain groups? What kind of organic foods are most popular? A recent study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health provides some answers. The study includes nearly 65,000 women in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study.
Almost one in ten pregnant women consumes organic food regularly, and organic eggs and vegetables were most often selected. Compared to those who did not consume organic food, the women who did had the following characteristics:
  • They were either in the group with more than 4 years of higher education, or in the group with under 12 years of education in total
  • Most were either under 25 or over 40 years old
  • There were many with low family incomes (below 300,000 Norwegian kroner per year)
  • Many were students or had a partner who was a student
  • They had normal or low weight (body mass index)
  • They exercised frequently – at least 3 times a week
  • Overall, there were very few who were vegetarians (0.2 %), and a minority drank alcohol (11.6 %) or smoked (8.4 %) during pregnancy. However, the use of organic food is more widespread in these three groups.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Study: Obese mothers more likely to be induced



NHS UK reports: 
“Obese pregnant women have more complicated births,” The Daily Telegraph reported. It said that a study has found that obese women are more likely to have a longer pregnancy, need their labour artificially induced and then to need a caesarean section.
This study found that as women’s body mass index (BMI) increased, so did their risk of a prolonged pregnancy and need to be induced. Obese women also had a higher rate of caesarean section following induction compared with normal-weight women. However, most obese women who were induced (more than 70%) still managed a successful vaginal delivery. Rates of other delivery or neonatal complications were also comparable between obese women and normal-weight women. The authors say that induced labour for prolonged pregnancy appears to be a “reasonable and safe management option” for obese women.

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Product Review: Sound Beginnings Prenatal Sound Delivery


Innovative moms and dads continue to help those 40 weeks of pregnancy be more enjoyable. I am a big advocate and believer in the power and value of outside music stimulating a growing baby in utero. The story I tell over and over again is about playing The Nutcracker's "Dance of a Sugarplum Fairy" to my pregnant tummy in the car as I drove about doing my usual errands. When my son was born, whenever he would be fussy and couldn't be consoled, we learned playing that song immediately calmed him down. We noticed that he would cock his head and ears upward and apparently was soothed by a familiar song that he remembered when he lived in a comfortable warm dark place, the womb.

Creative Baby has created Sound Beginnings sound delivery system which takes off on this concept. Essentially, it is a belt warn around the belly that comes equipped with a small compartment to store small mp3 device. Also, moms can record the sounds of caregivers and spouses voices so the baby can hear and get used to their voices too.  I recall seeing a video of a newborn baby being called by a researcher on his right and his mom, then dad on his left.  The baby naturally turned his head towards his parents. It proved a preference. It's the type of thing that builds early bonding. Wouldn't that be great for the pregnant mom whose husband is fighting over in Afghanistan? The baby can listen to his dad even when dad can't be around all the time. 

Sound beginnings makes it convenient for the mom to play soothing sounds to her baby on the go. It is worn under her clothes and she can be comforted by the knowledge that she is doing something good for the baby without even thinking about it.  I reviewed another company's device but which required a CD player inserted inside and wasn't as mobile as Sound beginnigns. It was not so convenient and for some busy moms-to-be on the go, in this day and age, finding time to sit still is not always easy. Sound beginnings eliminates that problem because it is extra convenient. You simply put in your favorite mp3 (phones with music aren't recommended)

From my examination of my complimentary review copy (retail value 49.95), I could tell the device is made out of a breathable, stretchable lycra material, perfect for the growing belly. The music is streamed at a decibel level no higher than 85. Don't want to have the baby loose her brand new sense of hearing right out the bat. There's a place mom can plug in her earphones and listen along too if she wanted. Another plus is that it is machine washable, including the speakers. 

Overall, if it is a worthwhile investment especially if you think about the heartache it may save you having to console an  irate newborn. 

It is priced at a modest $49.95, but you can win your very own right here on Bellyitch!!

Simply enter below. All you have to do is "Like" Bellyitch on Facebook (see upper right corner of blog) to enter. If you do a blog post about the contest, you get 3 additional points. If you tweet the contest, you get can earn one additional entry, but it must be to your main account and NOT an account you created for the purpose of entering Twitter contests.  Those entries will not count. Deadline February 10.

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Mike Tyson's wife Kiki gave birth to a baby boy, Morocco



Congrats to Mike Tyson and his wife Kiki on the birth of their second child, a boy this past Tuesday, January 25. They named him Morocco Elijah. Looks like the couple likes naming their kids after countries and cities. Their 2 year old daughter is named Milan -after the city in Italy perhaps.

Anyway, mom and baby are doing well according to reports.  The name is sparking all sorts of chatter in the blogsphere. I think it's interesting, but to each its own, right?


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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bump Watch: Victoria Beckham suffers Sushi Sickness


Morning sickness is causing the usually stylish and posh Victoria Beckham to avoid the papp lately, but she couldn't escape their lens after coming out of a sushi restaurant, Park Lane a few weeks back. Hopefully, she noshed on the cooked stuff or the California rolls.  Poor baby. Diners said she looked pale and had bloodshot eyes...which are hidden behind those oh so fab sunglasses though! 




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Penelope Cruz gives birth to boy!


Penelope Cruz gave birth to a baby boy and delivered the baby at Hollywood's Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, according to reports. No further details were released.
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Are Chinese parents better than American parents?

Amy Chua and her daughers
Here is an excerpt from The Washington Times Communities blog, Politics of Raising Children, that I author:


Much talk has been circulating about whether American parents need to be more like the Chinese.

That is the sentiment of author and Yale professor Amy Chua’s recently released controversial and already infamously notorious book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The book is part memoir, part parenting instruction manual and in it Chen relays her upbringing in a strict Chinese immigrant household which limited fun and leisure and focused on academics and discipline.  As an adult, Chua married a Jewish man, also a Yale professor, who let her raise their two girls using that old World Chinese mother supercompetitive model. Chua describes herself publicly shaming and insulting her children for their shortcomings, calling them lazy, stupid and fat, withholding food, rest and water from them so they could focus on hours of piano practice given while she would stand over them noting their errors and faults.  She did all of that not so they would become concert pianists but because she thought it would prepare them better for Ivy League school acceptance. Some readers of the book were horrified of what they said were Chua’s condescending attitude towards others. Amazon.com reviewers called her mean, obsessive, relentless, horrible, narrow minded, and judgmental for disparaging janitors, actors, bowling, crafts, and anything else she deemed as mediocre.


Amy Chua and her Two Daughters

She is unapologetic and openly referred to White Westerners as lax and complacent for over indulging their children, being too permissive and raising their kids with a soft and gentle hand.  

It is quite true that, for the most part, most American parents do not push their children so hard to succeed, though some do. Americans place an emphasis on creativity, the arts, literature and reading over hard sciences. Indeed, many Americans believe in play and letting children evolve to whatever skill they naturally are best at, not  putting too much undue pressure on them. 

However, are we paying a price by not being more like Chinese parents, especially when you consider, for example that on a 2010 comparative international test, United States students placed 31st in math, 17th in reading and 23rd in Science? The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group administers that test, the Program for International Student Assessment, which was given to 500 15-year-old students in 65 countries. Asian countries (plus Hong Kong) dominated the top 10 in all three subjects, particularly China (Shanghai), Singapore, Japan and Korea.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bump Watch: Kate Hudson in London

Pittman JFX/XPOSURE

The paps caught Kate with her boyfriend Muse frontman Matthew Bellamy at London's Heathrow airport yesterday. You can barely see her 4month bump over the sweater but I like the look. Cute. source

The commenters over at Celebritybabies are going in on her about her many boyfriends. Ouch!

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Study: Babies from Rich and Poor homes start out with the same chances to be succesful


Wall Street journal did an article on a recent paper in Psychological Science by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Virginia. It was a pretty complex read but for the most part it says that by age 10 months, a child's socioeconomic status does not necessarily impact his ability to do well and be successful. The paper relayed that based on a study of 750 pairs of American twins from different socioeconomic backgrounds who were given a test of mental ability at the age of 10 months,  there were no variances in intelligence across economic groups. Great news! 

However, by age 2, when the tests are repeated, variations start to show up based on socioeconomic class.

Wall Street Journal's Jonah Lerher wrote:

Children from wealthy households get all the advantages that money can buy, from music lessons to SAT tutors. Although parents might fret over the details of such advantages—is it better to play the piano or the violin?—these details are mostly insignificant, subject to the law of diminishing returns. As the science blogger Razib Kahn notes, "When you remove the environmental variance, the genetic variance remains."
These results capture the stunning developmental inequalities that set in almost immediately, so that even the mental ability of 2-year-olds can be profoundly affected by the socio-economic status of their parents. As a result, their genetic potential is held back...

Though this latest study doesn't speculate about the causes of these class differences, previous research has focused on a panoply of factors, such as the variety of words directed toward the child (more variety leads to higher test scores), the number of books in the home and even the ratio of encouraging remarks to discouraging warnings. By the age of 3, children from wealthier households hear, on average, about 500,000 encouragements and 80,000 discouragements. The ratio is reversed in households on welfare. Read more
In sum, the researchers highlighted the importance of increased investment in preschool education to eliminate "inequalities in early years of life" so they can live up to their mental potential "unconstrained by the mistakes or impoverishment of their parents."

Those with parents with poor schooling  or education can't help the fact that they have a limited vocabulary and means of stimulate their children well enough therefore early education has to step up to fill that void.

But put bluntly, in the meantime, SOME parents need to have more books in their home  and stop yelling and fussing at their kids for inconsequential stuff all the time. Yeah, I said it! What?
 

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Meet Bellyitch's Newest Sponsor: ScrubShopper.com


Just wanted to give a  shout out and welcome a new Bellyitch sponsor, ScrubShopper.com.

Because I am quite certain that many readers are nursing, medical or science students and professionals, they'd be very happy to learn about this online resource for scrubs, lab coats, and other medical uniforms.

Scrubshopper.com is actually a  family owned business located in Fayetteville, Arkansas that carries all major medical uniforms brands including Urbane Scrubs, Landau Scrubs, Cherokee Scrubs, and others. It promises to be able to meet any specialty item needs as well such as Kid's Scrubs, Maternity Scrubs, and NFL Scrubs.

But wait...there's more!!

In addition to medical uniforms, Scrubshopper.com also operates Toughweld.com, a specialty Workwear retailer. Toughweld brands include Dickies Workwear, Carhartt, Black Stallion Welding, Carolina Work Boots, and many more. Whether you need Work Boots, Overalls, or High Visibility Apparel, Toughweld Scrubshopper.com has got you!!

And, I scrubbed this image (pardon the pun) off of its website showing the various brands of scubs it carries. Check out the brand in the upper right corner ...


I didn't even know the ABC show Grey's Anatomy had its own brand of scrubs! You learn something new everyday. ha.

Now get out there and go order some scrubs!!





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