Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Common Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy

We love babies!!! It seems like there are more babies being born in the next few weeks than we had all summer.  Needless to say, being pregnant is an adventure and can bring with it many questions and concerns.  Your medical provider is a great resource, but below we listed some common signs of pregnancy and some things to watch for. 

Some common early signs of pregnancy are:
· Slightly enlarged and tender breasts (even with growing pains)
· Weight gain or loss of up to 5 pounds
· Fullness or ache in pelvis
· Increased vaginal discharge
· Frequent urination
· Morning sickness
· Mood swings
· Fatigue

Morning Sickness
Morning sickness is believed to be caused by the hormonal changes taking place in your body during pregnancy. It is characterized by feeling nauseated in the morning, or at the sight or smell of food. Some women experience morning sickness at other times of the day.  Morning sickness usually begins between the second and sixth week of pregnancy. It will run its course   during the first trimester, and by the beginning of the  second trimester you should start feeling better. To help ease morning sickness try to:
· Avoid going for long periods of time without eating. A snack may make you feel better. Eat a snack at least every two hours
· Eat a high protein snack before going to bed at night.
· Stay in bed about ten minutes longer in the morning. Try eating a few soda crackers and get up gradually.
· Eat small meals that are high in carbohydrates.
· Avoid fatty and greasy foods.
· Drink fluids between meals, but avoid drinking large amounts of fluids when you are feeling   nauseated.
· Get plenty of exercise, rest and fresh air.
*If morning sickness is severe and accompanied by persistent vomiting, call your health care provider.*

Growing Pains
You may feel an occasional sudden sharp pain in your abdomen or groin when you laugh or move too quickly. The pain is most likely caused by the stretching of the ligaments that support your uterus. The pain will probably subside as quickly as it occurs, If you have persistent abdominal pain, call your medical provider.

Bladder Matters
Frequent urination is common throughout pregnancy. It is caused by pressure on the bladder from your expanding uterus and by an increase in the hormone progesterone. Unfortunately, frequent urination is something that pregnant women have to contend with because cutting down on fluids will result in dehydration. Dehydration can bring on preterm labor.  Although urinating frequently is common, burning when you urinate is not, and may be a sign of infection. Let your medical provider know if you are having any discomfort.

As your mammary glands develop, you will find that your breasts are sensitive and tender. You may also  experience a tingling sensation in the brown area around your nipple, the areola, and notice the veins in your breasts are becoming more prominent. For comfort and support, wear a good bra that fits you well.  Colostrum, a yellow-colored fluid, begins to form and may leak from your breasts at any time during pregnancy. This fluid is rich in nutrients and will be replaced by breast milk two to six days after the delivery of your  baby.

Infrequent headaches can be common throughout   pregnancy, but if a headache persists or is accompanied by blurred vision, dizziness or fainting, report it to your medical provider immediately.

Heartburn – Dyspepsia
Heartburn is characterized by a burning sensation in your chest or upper stomach and is sometimes accompanied by burping. Try to eat small meals and avoid foods that produce gas. Avoid foods that are fried, high in fat or highly processed, including lunch meats, hot dogs, salami, sausage and bacon. Also avoid certain marbled cuts of beef and pork (rib steak, spare ribs). Stay away from heavy creams, alcohol, carbonated drinks and coffee. Relax. Wear clothes that have room at the waist. Sleep propped up. Ask your medical provider for  advice on antacids.

Leg Cramps
When you are sleeping or resting you may be bothered by leg cramps. Leg cramps occur more frequently later in pregnancy because your enlarged uterus is slowing down the flow of blood. The cramps can be caused by fatigue or not enough calcium in your diet. A slow   gentle leg stretch before going to bed may help. Be sure to stretch through the heel, pointing your toes towards your nose. If you are having problems with leg cramps, let your medical provider know.

Wobbly Hips
 It is not unusual for women to feel like they have    wobbly hips during pregnancy. Hormones cause the      ligaments and cartilage in the pelvis to relax and the bones of the pelvis to spread. This relaxation will make it easier for the baby to move through the pelvis during labor and delivery. If your hips feel wobbly, you may want to take it easy for awhile and watch your step. Warm baths may help relieve discomfort.

Linea Nigra
 Around the beginning of the third trimester, you may discover a dark line that runs downward from your navel to your pubic bone. It is called Linea Nigra and is caused by hormonal changes. It should disappear six months to a year after the baby is born.

The Mask of Pregnancy
You may notice brown blotches of dark skin around your eyes and nose. This is called Chloasma or the mask of pregnancy. Chloasma is caused by increased levels of the hormone estrogen and possibly too much sun. It will most likely disappear after the birth of your baby.

Trouble Sleeping
Many women begin to have difficulty sleeping during the third trimester because they have trouble getting into a comfortable position lying down. Your stomach may feel large and awkward and you may be making frequent trips to the bathroom. Try taking a warm bath before going to bed and sleeping on your left side with a pillow between your bent knees and under your stomach.

During pregnancy the hormone progesterone slows down the movement of food through the intestine,    allowing more water and nutrients to be absorbed. This can cause constipation and contribute to hemorrhoids. To prevent constipation, it is important to drink plenty of fluids (eight to ten glasses a day) and eat foods high in fiber such as bran, fruits and vegetables. Exercise will help too. If you continue to have discomfort, your medical provider may be able to recommend something for you. Do not take a laxative or enema unless it has been prescribed.

Anemia is a common problem in pregnancy characterized by feeling tired all the time. It is usually related to not having enough iron in your diet. Iron is needed to form red blood cells that carry oxygen. Anemia can be prevented by eating foods rich in iron and taking an iron supplement prescribed by your medical provider. Some foods that are excellent sources of iron are: egg yolks, red meat, liver, shrimp, whole or enriched grains, and dark green leafy vegetables.

Stretch Marks
Stretch marks may appear on your breasts, stomach, buttocks and thighs. The marks are dark purple in color and may itch. They will eventually fade to a silver-gray color after the baby is born. You cannot prevent stretch marks, but applying oils and/or moisturizing lotion may help ease the itching.

Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is common later in pregnancy because your uterus is expanding and applying pressure on the diaphragm. You may feel more comfortable  sleeping with an extra pillow behind your head. Avoid lying flat on your back. As the baby moves lower, this condition should improve.

One of the most common complaints of pregnancy is the backache. Backaches are caused by an increased sway in your lower back from the weight of your baby. Wear shoes with a low heel and try to be aware of your posture. To help relieve stress in your lower back try sitting with your legs propped up so that your knees are higher than your hips. A warm bath and a back rub may also help.

Aching Legs, Feet, and Swelling
Swollen feet, ankles and varicose veins are caused by the weight of your expanding uterus slowing down the flow of blood back from your legs. Varicose veins are enlarged and swollen veins in the calves and thighs. If you had varicose veins before pregnancy, they may   become worse as your pregnancy progresses. To help ease the pain of aching legs and feet try the following:
· Take plenty of walks and avoid standing for long periods of time.
· Wear support hose or elastic stockings if your medical provider orders them.
· Elevate your feet whenever possible.
· Try not to cross your legs at the knees or ankles.
· Drink plenty of fluids–you cannot prevent swelling by decreasing your fluid intake.
· If swelling is severe and your face, fingers and feet are swollen, call your medical provider.
· Avoid tight fitting socks.

Healthy Teeth and Gums
You may notice your gums becoming slightly swollen and bleeding more easily as your pregnancy progresses. This is a result of an increase in the hormone levels of progesterone and estrogen. If bleeding persists for more than a few days, call your dentist. It is important to brush your teeth at least two to three times a day while you are pregnant, and floss daily. Visit your dentist at least once   during your pregnancy and again after your baby is born. Be sure to let your dentist know that you are pregnant.

 *Information provided from Healthy Mother, Healthy Baby booklet from the Utah County Health Department*

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Healthy Eating!

With school starting, mom's are busy getting school supplies, new cloths for their kids, and new schedules.  However, another important thing to consider are new healthy meals!  For years, the reference has been my pyramid, but as of this year a new logo and guideline has been created.  It's always good to review the new eating guidelines and incorporated them into your daily lifestyle.

Below are the new suggestions.  Stay tune for some fun kid meal ideas!  Remember, a positive attitude about health is important to show your children.  Eating healthy and being active should be viewed as fun and enjoyable.   Check out choosemyplate for more information!

Eating Right
1- Make half your grains whole. Choose whole-grain foods, such
as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, and low-fat popcorn, more often.

2- Vary your veggies. Go dark green and orange with your
vegetables—eat spinach, broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
3- Focus on fruits. Eat them at meals, and at snack time, too.
Choose fresh, frozen, canned, or dried, and go easy on the fruit juice.
4- Get your calcium-rich foods. To build strong bones serve
lowfat and fat-free milk and other milk products several times a day.
5- Go lean with protein. Eat lean or lowfat meat, chicken, turkey,
and fish. Also, change your tune with more dry beans and peas. Add
chick peas, nuts, or seeds to a salad; pinto beans to a burrito; or kidney beans to soup.
6- Change your oil. We all need oil. Get yours from fish, nuts, and liquid oils such as corn, soybean, canola, and olive oil.
7- Don’t sugarcoat it. Choose foods and beverages that do not have sugar and caloric sweeteners as one of the first ingredients. Added sugars contribute calories with few, if any, nutrients.

Getting active

1- Set a good example. Be active and get your family to join you.
Have fun together. Play with the kids or pets. Go for a walk, tumble in the leaves, or play catch. 

2- Take the President’s Challenge as a family. Track your
individual physical activities together and earn awards for active lifestyles at www.presidentschallenge.org.

3- Establish a routine. Set aside time each day as activity time—
walk, jog, skate, cycle, or swim. Adults need at least 30 minutes of
physical activity most days of the week; children 60 minutes everyday or most days.

4- Have an activity party. Make the next birthday party centered
on physical activity. Try backyard Olympics, or relay races. Have a bowling or skating party.

5- Set up a home gym. Use household items, such as canned foods, as weights. Stairs can substitute for stair machines.

6- Move it! Instead of sitting through TV commercials, get up and
move. When you talk on the phone, lift weights or walk around. Remember to limit TV watching and computer time.

7-Give gifts that encourage physical activity—active games or sporting equipment.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The value of alone time

Since the 1990’s ‘Decade of the Brain’, parents are frequently reminded of the importance of stimulating a baby’s developing mind. There are toys, classes, and activities that all profess to help build a baby’s brain. We hear of studies that link cognitive development with activities we can do with our children, such as reading, listening to classical music, or infant massage. However, “allowing babies the time and space to do nothing—or a quiet activity of their choosing—is crucial to their development,” says Katherine Lee in her article Why Babies Need Downtime.

Quiet Time Is A Solution To Over Stimulation

What counts as quiet time? Just about anything that allows a baby to slow down and reflect—at his or her own pace:
·         Sitting in the high chair, watching you make dinner
·         Lying in the crib and babbling to herself
·         Looking at a picture book (alone)
·         Studying the textures on a set of blocks
·         Riding in a front carrier while you go about your routine
·         Staring into space

Children Can Learn Independence

Another important benefit from time alone is that babies will gradually start to understand that they’re independent from you.  It’s only in solitude that a child really gets a chance to think, reflect, and discover; to renew and replenish her energies; and to have time and space for creative work. A child’s emotional well-being lies in achieving a healthful balance between attached time and alone time—a balance that permits her to enjoy her own company as much as she enjoys that of others.

Providing Solitude For Your Child

It’s so exciting to have a newborn that it can be hard to keep your hands off him. And no one will deny that babies flourish with lots of love and attention. But even the tiniest infant needs some time to himself—time to watch his mobile move in the sunlight or listen to the sounds in the street—so that his growing brain can learn to make sense of what he sees and hears.

Leaving your little one to his own devices for a few minutes at a time encourages him to become more curious about the world and helps build his self-reliance. After all, a baby who can amuse himself is a baby who is learning to build and rely on his own intelligence. If you fill your child’s every waking moment with stimulation, he will come to depend on your resources to keep him occupied.

Does My Infant Really Want To Be Alone?

Take your cues from your child. Some babies have an independent temperament and are happy to watch the world from their infant seat. Other babies need your constant presence to feel comfortable and have a harder time being left alone.

Remember, a parent who interrupts a happy baby is discouraging rather than encouraging his sense of independence.

Sources for this article:
Age by Age: The Importance of Time Alone by Ava L. Siegler, Ph.D.
Why Babies Need Downtime by Katherine Lee, March 2003 Parenting magazine
(The above articles are available in our article library. If you are interested in reading more, ask your home visitor for a copy.)
Quite Time and Transitions for Children by Nancy Monson, www.runningriver.sprout.org

Monday, August 15, 2011

Preschool Booklist

With summer coming to a close and school starting again, it's time to switch our focus to helping our children becoming ready for that big step. One of the best things parents can do for their children is to read to them daily.  This will help your child in so many ways, mentally, physically, and socially.  Below is a small list complied from the Provo City Library of the best books to read to your preschoolers.

  • Who Sank the Boat?-Pamela Allen
  • Very Hungry Caterpillar-Eric Carle
  • Freight Train-Donald Crew
  • Llama, Llama, Red Pajama-Anna Dewdney
  • Color Zoo- Louis Ehlert
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster-Ed Emberley
  • The Daddy Mountain-Jules Feiffer
  • Buster- Denise Fleming
  • Let's Count Goats-Mem Fox
  • Orange Pear Apple Bear-Emily Gravett
  • Little White Rabbit- Kevin Henkes
  • The Snowy Day- Ezra Jack Keats
  • Swimmy-Leo Lionni
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear-Bill Martin
  • Martha Speaks-Susan Meddaugh
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie-Laura Numeroff
  • The Little Red Hen- Jerry Pinkey
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit- Beatrix Potter
  • Curious Geroge- H.A. Rey
  • We're Going on a Bear Hunt- Michael Rosen
  • Duck! Rabbit!-Amy Rosenthal
  • First the Egg- Laura Vaccaro Seeger
  • Where the Wild Thins Are-Maurice Sendak
  • Horton Hears a Who-Dr. Seuss
  • Duck on a Bike- David Shannon
  • Sheep in a Jeep- Nancy Shaw
  • The Stray Dog- Marc Simont
  • Lyle Lyle Crocodile-Bernard Waber
  • Max and Ruby- Rosemary Wells
  • Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus- Mo Willems
  • Silly Sally- Audrey Wood
  • How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?- Jane Yolen
Get a good book and enjoy some one-on-one time with your child.  It's a great bonding time and will become a tradition your children will love!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Community Donations

This has been a great summer!  We've had some great family events, lots of fun free community events, and many great blog posts.  In addition, we've had many great success stories from our volunteers about the many families visited in Utah County.

Although we like to focus on educational resources for parents, fun craft ideas, and local events on this blog, we'd like to take a minute and let you know what goes behind the scenes of our program and thank the many people who make this program run.

Welcome Baby is a home visitation program that focuses on parent education, community support, and early childhood literacy.  Our trained volunteers go into the homes of many first time families in Utah County and bring packets containing a receiving blanket, baby book, hat, and socks.  In addition, the family receives a wonderful reference book called "Keeping Your Baby Healthy" and other great information.

All of the materials that go in our packets are generously donated by local religious groups, through community drives, and from our Welcome Baby volunteers.  Without your donations, we could not put together these amazing packets to give to our families.  Recently, a local LDS ward had an activity and put together 85 new packets for us.  Each packet had a cute blanket and a brand new baby book.  When these packets were delivered to our office, we were overwhelmed by the love these ladies put into each packet.  It is easy to get into the daily mundane office tasks, but this surprise donation made us all stop and look at the bigger pictures of what Welcome Baby is truly about. Our goal is to help the many new mothers in our community feel the love and support of their neighbors, community, and other mothers.  Through these social connections, they can be given the resources to help them with basic questions or help them handle more difficult concerns.   As we looked through these packets, we were reminded of our goal and the love for all the families and new babies we visit.  Welcome Baby would like to thank this wonderful group of women who took time and resources to make these beautiful packets! We couldn't do it without your support.

Other surprise donations have come in as well.  Each time a donation is made, we are overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of our community members. Not only do we receive donated blankets and burp cloths, but many times there are hours of hand stitched work and a little love put into the items donated.  Thank you!

Last but not least, we had a sweet lady donate to our early childhood literacy program and from her donation we were able to purchase 40 NEW books!  Welcome Baby encourages mothers and fathers to read to their children from the start.  Not only does that encourage parent/child bonding, but it instills a love for reading and learning from a young age!

We are so grateful for the many people who have donated to our program and for the continued support we receive.  Thank you!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Child Photography

We all have those photos of our childhood that we hide (naked in the bath tub, bad hair do's, horrible outfits, etc).  But truth be told, we're glad we have those photos!

Photo Credit
Photographing your children is very important and can be a fun tradition in your family.  It is easy however, to take a million pictures with your first child, a thousand with your next child, until your last child only has a few pictures.  It's easy to do with so many responsibilities, but perhaps a little advanced planning will help you capture the important moments and major developmental stages.

Below are some suggestions to help you plan ahead.  Many times after one or two children, you've finally gotten in a routine but by then you've already missed those stages with your other children.  So take a few minutes and make a plan to help you document those precious moments of your child's life!

First, think of the major developmental changes in your child.  Important pictures might include sitting, crawling, walking, first tooth, and first hair cut.  There are many suggestions and ideas for taking pictures of your children.  One idea is to take a picture once a month for the first year of the baby's life.  This can be done at home, but is a fun way to see your child change over the course of the year.  Another easy way would be to follow a calendar time frame.  Some of the major development areas could include:
  • Newborn
  • 3 months
  • 6 months
  • 9 months
  • 1 year
  • 18 months
Next, think of possible outfits you might want to use.  It could be a fun tradition if all your girls wore the same dress at 3 months and all your boys wore the same outfit as well.

 Besides the more formal pictures at specific stages, it's also fun to catch the candid moments.  A good habit to start, is to always have your camera in your diaper bag or in an easy to reach location.  Candid moments are the times you are able to capture your child's true personality, the trademark faces, and the silly things they do at that time.

Last of all, make sure you have a system to organize your photos.  In the digital age we live in, most people use digital cameras and organizing photos can be quite easy.  Simply make a folder for each child and list specific months or years in their folder.  Get in the routine of weekly or monthly downloading the pictures from your camera to your computer and labeling the events.  As a busy mom, it may be difficult to stay on top of scrapbooks, but look at other ways such as online scrapbooks, photo books you can create online, or personal family blogs.  Such programs allow you to store your pictures, but print them whenever you want. 

Above all, remember that documenting your child's life is important.  Don't stress!  Find a system that works for you and your family.  You will be grateful to have pictures to reminisce through and fun stories to tell your children and grandchildren as you look through photo albums.  And don't worry, your children will be grateful as well!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Easy On-The-Go Breakfast Ideas for Busy Families

With school right around the corner again, it is a great idea to start practicing crazy morning routines. We hope that breakfast is on the agenda because it has been said to be the most important meal of the day; especially for little ones who are constantly growing and learning!
*Here are a few quick breakfast ideas to keep your mornings moving smoothly while also keeping your family properly fueled for their day. 

 1. Fruit Smoothie
*blend the following together:
            • 1 banana 
            • 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen fruit (any kind of berries work great!) 
            • 2 large spoon fulls of plain or flavored yogurt
            • 1 Tbs. honey (for flavor)
These are wonderful for breakfast because you can experiment with so many different flavors and choices! To make things even easier, blend these in advance and put them in the freezer until you are ready for them.

2. Breakfast Pizza
  •  1 whole wheat english muffin 
  • 1 large slice of tomato 
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 
  • 1 small slice of green bell pepper cut into small bite size pieces 
  • 1 piece of ham or whatever lunch meat you have
*Place the tomato slice, green bell pepper pieces, mozzarella cheese and slice of ham on half of the english muffin. Then plop them face up onto a cookie tray and broil in the oven until cheese melts. You can substitute any of the ingredients for things your family will like.
3. Yogurt with Fruit or Granola
*Although tart, plain yogurt contains more protein, potassium, calcium, zinc, and vitamins B-6 and B-12 than sweetened yogurt. In order to flavor things up a bit just add some of your favorite fruit or healthy granola (just make sure whatever you choose to add in is low in sugar!). 


Healthy Body Image in Children

Sometimes it seems overwhelming to try and compete with media that displays distorted images of beauty. However, research supports that mothers actually make a huge impact on their daughters' body image. The key is to make sure that that impact is positive rather than negative. This post contains some pointers on both what to avoid, and tips how to boost your daughter's self-esteem.

You are the strongest influencer your daughter has! Here's a great explanation by womenshealth.gov:

“Your children pay attention to what you say and do — even if it doesn't seem like it sometimes. If you are always complaining about your weight or feel pressure to change your body shape, your children may learn that these are important concerns. If you are attracted to new "miracle" diets, they may learn that restrictive dieting is better than making healthy lifestyle choices. If you tell your daughter that she would be prettier if she lost weight, she will learn that the goals of weight loss are to be attractive and accepted by others.

“Parents are role models and should try to follow the healthy eating and physical activity patterns that you would like your children to follow — for your health and theirs. Extreme weight concerns and eating disorders, as well as obesity, are hard to treat. Yet, you can play an important role in preventing these problems for your children.”

Some things that spark weight/dieting concerns:
  • Having mothers concerned about their own weight
  • Having mothers who are overly concerned about their daughters' weight and looks
  • Natural weight gain and other body changes during puberty
  • Peer pressure to look a certain way
  • Struggles with self-esteem
  • Media images showing the ideal female body as thin
Some things to help with body image:
  • Make sure your child understands that weight gain is a normal part of development, especially during puberty
  • Avoid negative statements about food, weight, and body size and shape
  • Allow your child to make decisions about food, while making sure that plenty of healthy and nutritious meals and snacks are available
  • Compliment your child on her or his efforts, talents, accomplishments, and personal values
  • Restrict television viewing, and watch television with your child and discuss the media images you see
  • Encourage your school to enact policies against size and sexual discrimination, harassment, teasing, and name-calling; support the elimination of public weigh-ins and fat measurements
  • Keep the communication lines with your child open
Finally- and possibly most importantly- make sure to develop a relationship with your daughter. Even as a teen when she seems like she doesn’t need a parent, she still cares. Love her constantly and be a good example, even when she makes poor choices. Here are some suggestions from girlshealth.gov:
  • Spend time with your daughter and make sure she knows you care
  • Be a good role model for your daughter: Eat right, exercise, deal with stress in healthy ways, and don’t use harmful substances
  • Try to find a good balance between work and fun in your own life - this will show your daughter that she can have balance in her life
  • Teach her good values and a sense of responsibility, then trust her to make good choices
  • Set rules and stick with them, because this provides an understanding of expectation and keeps her out of high-risk situations with too much peer pressure
We can be our daughters' greatest assets!
    References and other resources:

    Ten things parents can do to help prevent eating disorders: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/nedaDir/files/documents/handouts/10Parent.pdf