Wednesday, October 31, 2012

5 Ways to salvage Halloween if Hurricane Sandy has canceled trick-or-treating

An Old Navy employee  hands out candy to Trick-or-treaters at the Danbury Fair mall Carol Kaliff / CT

Today, many on the Northeast coast of the United States are digging out from some of the destruction and loss that occurred after Hurricane Sandy and accompanying storm systems hit land and flooded out much of the city that never sleeps, and neighboring cities and states. 

In many  affected areas of that region, millions of people are without power and digging through rumble. Understandably, Halloween has been canceled in many neighborhoods, much to the chagrin of anxious kids who were looking forward to going out and trick-or-treating in their towns today.

Halloween can be saved - to a certain extent. Here are five ways to salvage the holiday for those who have had plans to trick-or-treat or attend official events that have been canceled because of Hurricane Sandy. 

1. Have a Halloween Candy hunt in your home. Similar to Easter, hide some of the candy you've already purchased to pass out to trick-or-treaters around the home and have the kids move about the home and outside looking for the treats. They can fill up their baskets in less time that it would take to canvass a 10 block radius. This alternative actually would save parent chaperones that cold trek around town.

2. Throw an impromptu Halloween Party. - Call up some of the parents of the kids' friends and get someone to volunteer to host a last-minute party at their home.  The others could all decide to whip up something or pick up a dish from the store and bring some of the treats they've already purchased. Others can bring drinks. To recreate the trick-or-treat part of the night, have a parent stationed at different rooms in the house and have the kids go to each room for a treat.

3. Host a Halloween Block Party - If your neighborhood block hasn't had too much road obstruction and can be transversed, hosting an impromptu block party would be a great way for those living in homes without electricity to get out, get some fresh air and socialize in a festive atmosphere. Similar to the Halloween party idea, various neighbors can bring a dish and treats. 

4. Watch Halloween themed movies and host a movie night - Pop some popcorn, make candy apples and have a little movie marathon until bedtime.  

5. Go to the local mall. Some malls have stores that pass out treats on Halloween and sponsor trick-or-treating. If the mall is still hosting the event, that would also make a great alternative to the usual plans. 

Have fun but be safe!

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How to pick a pediatrician

 Bellyitch Rewind

Most parents chose a pediatrician for their child before the baby is even born. For first time parents this decision can be confusing. The majority of parents end up switching pediatricians a couple times at least before they find one that they are comfortable with. Prepare yourself before making your first decision and you may avoid having to switch which can be a hassle and also upsetting to your child.

 The first aspect you have to consider is the pediatrician’s demeanor and bedside manner. A good pediatrician will be warm and friendly – it’s difficult to get a child to cooperate or settle down when they don’t feel comfortable with the person examining them. It’s important that your pediatrician shares similar views as you on the things that you find most important. Additionally, they should have an open mind towards differing opinions and respect your thoughts and opinions.

 The office and staff is just as important to consider when making your decision. Since you will be dealing with the receptionists, nurses, and medical assistants it is imperative that you consider them in your decision. Talk to the staff to see if they are accommodating and warm. Inquire about how long it takes to get an 
appointment for a sick child. Some offices have a difficult time getting kids in quickly which will become very important for you if your baby is sick. Ask who you talk to when you call with a question – in some offices you can talk immediately with a nurse and in some you leave a message for someone to call you back later. Deciding which system you feel most comfortable with will save frustration later.

Many parents find it important for the office to have two separate waiting rooms – one for kids who are sick and one for kids who are not. Since illnesses are passed so easily from child to child it is nice to avoid these germs when coming in for a well-child checkup.

Set up an interview, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and make the best decision you can with the information you have. Your child’s pediatrician will be a big part of those early years so it is important that you and your child feel comfortable with them.

Some sample questions are:
  • What is your philosophy about child rearing?
  • Who covers the practice when you are out of town?
  • Do you have a 24 hour hotline and a nurse practitioner on call for emergency advice?
  • What is your policy on minor emergency visits without an appointment?
  • What vaccinations do they recommend and what is the schedule?
  • How do they feel about listening to parents about their children’s condition?  Mommy knows best or they are the professionals?
  • Cost and what insurance coverage is accepted?
  • If you wanting to use holistic solutions, how does the pediatrician view this?  How do they feel about breastfeeding?

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Leah Messer of MTV Teen Mom2 is pregnant with 3rd child

After suffering a miscarriage early this year, MTV Teen Mom 2 star Leah Messer is pregnant again and is expecting her third child. She announced the news on her Facebook page on behalf of herself and  husband Jeremy Calvert.  

She also told US Weekly:

Jeremy and I are excited to be adding a new addition to our family. Being a teen mom was difficult, but I'm older and in a different place now — married to Jeremy and excited for our family to grow. 
We feel incredibly blessed and look forward to this next chapter in our lives.

This weekend, Messer was photographed taking her twin girls Ali and Aleeah to a park near their West Virginia home. The twins' dad is Messer's ex Corey Simms.

Congrats and Good Luck!

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52 Tips for Natural Newborn Care

Bellyitch Rewind

Parents, especially those with a brand new baby, understandably want to take whatever measures possible to ensure the health and safety of their brand new bundle of leaky body fluids. Some find that a natural or organic route suits their ideological and lifestyle needs the most, and this list seeks to provide a few tips and tricks on how to care for a newborn without fear of chemical irritation or contamination. Please note that none of these are intended to take the place of professional medical advice, nor does it discourage the use of medications or vaccinations that may save an infant’s life. All it seeks to do is look at a few different ideas and opinions out there regarding natural newborn care that never overstep boundaries and attempt to serve as a replacement for a visit to a nurse or doctor.

WebMD advises parents to keep their newborns away from harsh powders and shampoos to protect their delicate skin and immune systems.
Gagazine’s article on infant massage explains how the time just after a bath or diaper change is perfect for a little touch therapy. Try to avoid touch therapy when the baby appears hungry or cranky.
When breastfeeding an infant, Medline Plus recommends that mothers prevent drying and cracking nipples by avoiding soaps and drying with harsh cloths or motions. Uncomfortable nipples negatively affect both mother and child.
As a residual of connecting with his or her mother’s hormones, some newborns break out into small acne patches. Avoid using oils or lotions that can irritate it further, but very mild, all-natural soaps may work in more severe cases.
Avoid using harsh detergents when cleaning cloth diapers, even those without artificial dyes or fragrances. A wash in baking soda and a rinse in vinegar should suffice.
Elimination communication is a rather controversial practice that will not work for everyone, but this article seeks to cover a variety of viewpoints to allow parents to decide what they feel is best for their children. This tip from suggests one way to transition a newborn to the EC routine.
Normal tear duct issues need to be discussed with a pediatrician, but parents needing to clean their newborn’s eyes can do so by simply wetting a soft cotton ball and gently scrubbing the gunk away.
Newborns and babies who struggle with constipation issues can have their systems unlocked with glycerin laxatives, either as a solid or a liquid. Those made with artificial chemicals may prove too harsh for their bodies to handle.
While professional medical care may be needed in instances of severe illness, parents can alleviate some cold symptoms at home. Congestion, for example, can be cleared up using the steam from a hot shower.
One preventative measure against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) involves having newborns sleep on their backs rather than their stomachs. They may feel less comfortable, but it helps bolster their chances of surviving the night.
Another WebMD tip, this time touting the importance of washing baby clothes in dye- and fragrance-free detergent before dressing infants.
As with adult massages, Gagazine believes that the infant version of the ritual is best executed in a calm, warm atmosphere. Place the baby on a soft blanket or towel in a draftless room away from a television or cell phone, perhaps encouraging relaxation with soft music or speech.
To prevent painful cracking, Medline Plus recommends leaving a little bit of milk on the nipple after feeding to keep the area moist. Alternately, cracking can also be avoided by applying 100% lanolin to the nipple. Never use any artificial chemicals near the area where an infant feeds.
When not exacted correctly, EC can lead to disgusting, unsanitary messes - and a newborns’ inability to verbally communicate only makes things more complicated. Fortunately, parents wanting to stick with the diaper-free movement can learn how to read their child’s body language and know how to properly react to the incoming flow.
For added protection against contact with harsh chemicals that can make a newborn ill, take advantage of the disinfectant properties of natural substances such as vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda.
A multitude of newborn- and infant-friendly products exists to keep babies from suffering dry, irritated skin without the use of artificial chemicals.
Outside of a religious context, the decision to circumcise or not stands as a heavy issue with natural parents. Be sure to understand all of the advantages and disadvantages of the procedure before making the choice.
Be sure to use a Q-Tip wetted with clean - even sterile - water to keep the umbilical cord free of bacteria. Alcohol, honey, and goldenseal powder work as well.
Combine saline and water together for nose drops suitable for safe cleaning of a newborn’s clogged nasal passages.
As an alternative to glycerin laxatives, consider feeding a newborn a little extra water to unbind the constipation.
WebMD recommends that newborns receive a gentle sponge bath 2 to 3 times a week, as washing them too much compromises the health of their skin. Use either no soap or extremely mild, natural soap to prevent any dermal irritations.
According to Gagazine, parents should leave at least one hand on their child at all times in order to maximize the effectiveness of touch therapy.
Breast milk makes for one of the healthiest, most natural ways to keep a newborn healthy and strong, but blending it with foods and drinks pumped full of refined sugar actually expatiates the process of tooth decay.
Become familiar with the wet pail and dry pail methods of containing the odor and bacteria associated with cloth diapers. Wet pails must be contentiously kept covered in order to prevent drowning.
Parents wanting to take the elimination communication route should know that practicing such things on a newborn does not have to be an all-or-nothing venture. It can be practiced in intervals to get the child acquainted with the feeling for later training.
The American SIDS Institute recommends parents allow their newborn’s crib to remain in their room for the first 6 months of life, as dong so greatly reduces the risk of suffering the condition.
A little extra bilirubin is normal in newborn infants, and a bit of time in the sunlight - no more than 10 minutes, with 5 minutes each in the front and the back - can clear up any jaundice that may crop up. Of course, a physician should be consulted if it doesn’t clear.
While ingrown nails may grow severe enough to warrant medical attention, mild cases may be relieved using very warm compresses that alleviate a newborn’s pain.
Safety should be the number-one concern for all parents, regardless of whether or not they follow a natural lifestyle. Numerous consumer websites abound to help them pick the best toys to suit their child’s needs as well as their ideological leanings.
Cloth diapers may be the most eco-friendly option, but chlorine-free, flushable disposable varieties can easily fill in for instances such as meconium excretion or diarrhea when they may not always hold up.
According to WebMD, dressing children in clothes cut from coarser materials heightens the risk of eczema, rashes, and other uncomfortable skin conditions. Organic cotton, bamboo, ore hemp are all extremely appropriate choices.
Due to the sensitivity of infants’ skin, it may be a good idea to only use natural lubricants with a pediatrician’s permission. If they give the go-ahead, do not use any oils or lotions on the baby’s head.
Medline Plus recommends that women whose breast milk supplies start to run low fight the temptation to supplement a baby’s diet with formula. Doing so, especially when the newborn begins to experience a growth spurt, only forces the body to think that it is producing enough milk and will cease to bolster the supply.
Making gentle wipes at home with a combination of water, tea tree oil, and Dr. Bronner’s organic, natural soap (or similar substitutesaves money and leaves baby’s skin feeling smooth and clean. However, avoid using oils and soaps on especially sensitive, acne-prone newborns.
Likewise, parents should not sleep with their newborn infants, either. Beds intended for adults are not properly equipped with the safety features needed to prevent injuries or death.
Get the others HERE at the site.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bump Watch: Lily Allen heads back to the studio in London

A very pregnant Lily Allen was seen on her way to a recording studio in London, England this week. She bubundled up her growing belly in a warm fur  lined collar wool overcoat. Allen and husband Sam Cooper are expecting their second child. They already have a daughter, Ethel, who is 1-year old.

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How to deal with fatique during pregnancy

Pregnancy is sort of like climbing a mountain or running a marathon (without having trained), while carrying a backpack that weighs a little more every day — in other words, it’s hard work! During the first trimester of pregnancy, a huge amount of energy goes into building a life-support system for your baby (namely the placenta). In the third trimester of pregnancy, fatigue returns as your growing fetus puts more demands on your body — and as sleep becomes more elusive. Also to blame, all that mood upheaval — riding the emotional roller coaster of pregnancy can be exhausting. It’s no wonder you’re pooped!

By the end of the first trimester, your body will have completed the Herculean task of manufacturing the placenta and grown a bit more used to the hormonal and emotional changes that have occurred. The second trimester is usually a time of renewed energy, but beware: Fatigue could return with a vengeance in the last trimester.

Pregnancy Fatigue — What You Can Do About It

 Listen to your body. If you’re tired, rest. Pace yourself, keeping your body’s message in mind — and don’t try to be super (expectant) mom. Let the dishes wait until later, and turn the other way as the dust bunnies breed under your dining table. Don’t book activities — or take care of chores — that aren’t essential. Never been a napper — or a slacker? There’s never been a better time to try those on for size.

Ask for help. Don’t play the mother-to-be martyr. Let your partner know exactly how sapped you are, so he can do his fair share (and then some). If your friends or family ask if they can give you a hand, say yes — always! Having a pal pick up some groceries for you can mean you might actually have enough energy left to drag yourself out for a walk (before you drag yourself into bed).

 Get more sleep. If you’re perpetually sleepy, make a point of getting more sleep (yes, that might be a “duh” — but that doesn’t mean you’ve been complying). If at all possible, go to bed earlier, or stay in bed later — or both.

  Eat right. To keep your energy up, you need a steady supply of premium fuel. Follow the Pregnancy Diet, focusing on long-lasting energy boosters, such as protein and complex carbohydrates. Also make sure you’re getting enough calories (which may be easier said than done if morning sickness has you down — but is definitely worth the effort). Caffeine or sugar (or both) may seem like the perfect quick fix for an energy slump, but don’t be fooled into reaching for that chocolate bar or Caramel Frap — the jolt they’ll give you will be followed by a free-falling crash, making you feel more tired than ever.

Continue reading

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Happy Due Date to Tamera Mowry-Housley!

Happy Due Date to one of our favorite Bellyitch Bumpwatch subjects, Tamera Mowry-Housely.

In her latest blog post hosted on People magazine's Celebrity Babies site, she talks about "Googling" various natural remedies to induce labor.

"So far I have tried pineapple juice, evening primrose oil, drinking a glass of wine, dancing, squatting and finally, spicy food," she wrote on the post which published on October 23.

Interestingly, it looks like she may have missed one sure fire method that, unshamefully has worked for me: Sex.  I swear by this method Tamera! It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.

Want baby out or not? Time to get busy, mama!  And if it works, please give Bellyitch a shout out, please! ha!

Good luck!

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New Mom Dilemma: To "Room In" with baby or not

After I gave birth to my first child, I was one of those moms who would read every childbirth, infant care, motherhood preparation book around. I was a typical neurotic over educated first time mom in America. I joined online communities of mothers having babies the same month as I was to and it was during the various discussions that once in a while a controversial topic would crop up. There were many: To circumcise or Not. To Breastfeed or Not and how long is too long? To succumb to in utero genetic defect testing or Not. It never ceased to amaze me how passionate women could be. Yes the issues were complex and multidimensional, but Geez Louise!

Seemingly nice and sensible women would get all crazed and judgmental when they’d discover that some in their comfortable circle were choosing a path different from their own. Women would label others, call names, banish and shame folks out from the communities; some would self-exile themselves or break out and form other boards. Imagine, all this stress from a bunch of women who never ever met each other most times!! Things would seriously get heated and passionate many times. It’s interesting because though that was nearly 8 years ago, I have seen and heard of similar instances since then among the dozens, might I say hundreds of similar online communities that have emerged since those days. Besides the occasional melo- and sometimes over-dramatic rift every now and again, those communities were the best places to get educated, share resources and knowledge and go through the overall experience with others in their same shoes.

Anyway, at some point, the topic of “rooming in” cropped up.

rooming-in /room·ing-in/ (rldbomacm´ing-in″) the practice of keeping a newborn infant in a crib near the mother’s bed instead of in a nursery during the hospital stay.

On one side of the argument was that right after birth, an infant needed to have constant access to his/her mother to encourage bonding and ease the baby’s assimilation into the outside world. The advocates for rooming in were usually the same ones who would admonish a mother for even thinking about allowing a newborn to be nursed by formula or even breastmilk through a bottle. To the women in the “au naturale” corner, I will call it, the mom had to be in a coma for it to be okay for the baby to receive nourishment through a latex nipple. So naturally, according to the moms in this corner, it would not even make sense to have the child stay in the nursery. You had to be there in an instant to hear her stirring from hunger so you could pick her up and immediately stick a breast in its mouth. No matter if you are struggling to produce milk, that your milk hadn’t come in yet or you were suffering from extreme fatigue and other effects of having had a c-section for example. They’d point to articles like this one from the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health claiming that rooming in mothers had higher instances of maternal attachment to her child

Monday, October 29, 2012

Top 10 Things your Mother will NEVER tell you about childbirth

Bellyitch Rewind

I was talking with a friend the other day and stopped short of going into all the gory details of what she can expect during labor and delivery. She asked me how come I wouldn't finish my thought and I told her plain that there are certain “secrets” or rites of passage that you just have to go through and experience.

 After you are done, you join the sisterhood of “having given birthhood”.

In fact, it’s not hard to explain, just uncomfortable and that is why these things are best left unsaid and out of pleasant conversation.

Lucky for you again, you follow this blog and you don’t have to go into it all un-warned. Below, I list the top 10 things your mom would never tell you, pregnant woman, about what you’re in for… that is if your friends haven’t already spilled the beans or you haven’t already gotten into in reading the endless amount of stuff I know you are reading right now.

10. At some point you will be on all fours or on your back, with your butt in the air and there will be a small team of people staring at your vagina, massaging it, and sticking their hands in and around your punany…no. Stop and strip down from waist down and spread out and imagine how uncomfortable that feels. Yes, at the point when you’re pushing you may not care about that, but at some moment, you’re gonna be like “oh wow, never imagined it would be like this.”

9. After you have the baby, you’re gonna have to push out the placenta and deliver it. It’s not like an extra baby or anything, but just when you’re all done, they’re gonna be like, whoa Nelly, there’s something else in there we need. EEk!

8. At some point, you may want to shave your nether regions, but you won’t be able to see that area at all, let alone your feet when standing up. So, hopefully no one will notice and you don’t plan romping in a bikini anyway.

7. You may have lots of flatulence and find yourself passing gas all randomly and uncontrollably and there is no way to be pretty about it. Your family will understand and they’re the ones that matter the most, after all eh?

6. During the pushing stage, you may poop and if you get an epidural, you may not even know it. The nurses will just clean it up and may not even tell you. Bless their hearts. Your husband may see it and throw up a little in his mouth when he sees it, however. This is why many women try not to eat large meals when they know they are close to giving birth. In the past, women would take enemas to try to empty their bowels. Well, enemas aren’t recommended anymore and sometimes you go into labor when you least expect it and have no control over what leftover digestible matter is sitting at the base of your colon just as you need to start pushing that baby out! oh well!

5. After delivery, you may have to double up on your nursing pads because you may start to leak at the most inopportune time. The sound of someone else’s baby crying from afar may cause your boobs to ache and you to spontaneously leak milk. Imagine that happening in the middle of your presentation at work. Eek!

Don't care what that new study about organic food says, here's to Organic eating!

    Bellyitch Rewind

A new study said that eating organic food isn't necessarily good for you. Well I say, Bunk! I'm going to stick with avoiding foods that contain excessive pesticides, herbicides and hormonal fillers for my kids. 

Whether you are into making your own baby food or just feeding the family wholesome home grown fruits and vegetables from a local source, your best bet is to hit the local farmer's market near you to stock up on goodies. Even in urban areas, cooperatives of farmers make arrangement to bring their wares into the city. Most of the time, even if the foods are  not "certified" organic by the USDA, you can rest assured that many of the produce are often grown with little pesticides and other chemicals because the farmers eat the food they sell as produce. In many markets, you can also find small businesses that sell homemade baked goods and breads or fresh picked flowers. 

When my little one as in swim class at a local pool, we made it a weekend adventure to hit the farmer's market that started shortly before swim class was over and stock up for the week!

Check out Local Harvest for a listing, map and other resources taking you to the nearest farmer's market to you. The website helps you find farmer's markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats and many other goodies.

photo: Source: Michelle Obama visits a DC farmer's market two blocks from the White House.

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Tamera Mowry-Housley trends #1 on Yahoo! as fans await her baby's birth

Tamera Mowry-Housley at her baby shower in Los Angeles hosted by her best friend Andrea Regalado

I woke up not expecting electricity but heard my husband exclaim that Tamera Mowry-Housley was trending number 1 on Yahoo! even ahead of Hurricane Sandy. He was sure she had her baby! She and her husband, Adam Housley, a Fox News Correspondent, are expecting their first baby is due tomorrow, October 30.

Me, being the consummate bumpwatcher for five years running this blog just knew that was not the case.

I told him, "nah, her fans and some celebrity press know that her due date is around the corner."' The outwardly and expressive Christian mom-to-be is next on the baby watch list. 

The Associated Press released a piece about Mowry-Housley being due any day now and it has been picked up by quite a few news outlets. 

I have a feeling her soon-to-be born son will come after his due date as has been the case with several of our bumpwatch subjects this year! 

And I may be right. 

But then again, I have also been quite wrong many times about these things so as far as I know, she's in labor right now and about to deliver. 

We'll see. 

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How to raise a child who loves to read

It’s never too early to steer your child toward books. But for toddlers, the goal is not to make sure they can read the classics before they’re out of preschool. “The phrase to remember is ‘developmentally appropriate,’” says Roni Leiderman, associate dean of the Family Center at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Parents often come to me wanting to push academics too much, too fast, too soon. In fact, children learn best through play. Make reading a joyous event for them.”

There are many developmentally appropriate — and fun — ways to help your little one learn to love books and stories. And, surprisingly, not all of them involve sitting down with an actual book.

Use books to bond
“It’s not about reading the words,” says Leiderman. “At this age it’s about learning to love the interaction with Mom, Dad, or a caretaker.” When your child sits in your lap as you read aloud, she doesn’t just enjoy books, she also enjoys the security of your undivided attention.

Set up a ritual
A regular reading time establishes a calming routine young children love — that’s why the bedtime story is a time-honored tradition. But don’t forget that many other daily events also provide good reading opportunities. Once in a while try establishing a new ritual with a breakfast story, a bathtub story, a just-home-from-daycare story. Some toddlers (and older children) who are heavy sleepers are much better able to face the day when their parents “read them awake” rather than hustle them out of bed.

Choose appropriate books
Toddlers love board books, bathtub books, and pop-up books — any type they can hold easily and manipulate themselves. They love stories accompanied by bright, clear, realistic pictures. And of course they love rhymes. That’s not to say your 2-year-old won’t appreciate the stories her big brother chooses — who knows, Rocks and Minerals may end up being her favorite book. Just make sure she has access to simpler books as well.

Repeat, repeat, repeat
Stifle your yawns if you’ve read The Very Hungry Caterpillar every night for the past month and your child still asks to hear it again. Repetition is a hallmark of the toddler years. “The reason children love to read the same stories over and over and over again is that they’re so thirsty to learn,” says Leiderman. You’ll soon find that your toddler has memorized her favorite passages and is eager to supply key phrases herself — both signs of increasing reading readiness.
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