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Researching baby related products

Posted by Alina on Thursday Mar 19, 2009 Under Baby Products, useful tips

baby-bargainsWhen you’re pregnant, you suddenly discover a whole new world of shopping that consists of baby related products. This may be a very new area to you and it can be overwhelming. If you’re anything like me, you will probably want to research categories and types of products before your baby arrives, so that you can decide what you need, what you want, and what is just unnecessary. Of course, every situation is different and that is why there are tons and tons of products on the market.

consumerreportsA couple of books that I found helpful in my research, were: Baby Bargains by Denise Fields and the Consumer Reports Best Baby Products. New editions of these books are printed every year or two, to ensure that you get the latest information. These really helped me to make decisions for some of the larger purchases. Reading through these books educated me on what is out there and helped me focus to what features to look for in particular products. Another very helpful tool was reading through people’s product reviews on Amazon.com. Although I think dissatisfied customers are more likely to want to complain and write bad reviews, there are many helpful reviewers out there. All that said, it’s a good idea to actually go to a store and see some of these products, play with them and decide if they are right for you.

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Women’s Health

Posted by Alina on Saturday Mar 14, 2009 Under health, useful tips

There are various musculoskeletal issues that may manifest in the prenatal and postpartum periods for a woman. During this time, many women suffer from pain in their back, pelvis, hips and possibly other joints. Many of these pains can be attributed to hormonal changes, muscular imbalances, and altered joint mobility.

Here is what happens. Ligaments are soft tissue structures that connect bones to other bones and provide joint stability in our bodies. During pregnancy and the postpartum period (especially when nursing), the hormonal changes cause these ligaments to become more loose, allowing increased joint motion (loss of stability) and possibly resulting in pain. As a woman gains weight in pregnancy, postural changes take place as well, causing some muscles to stretch out and others to shorten. This may result in weakening of various muscles, especially core and pelvic floor.

The good news is that many of these pains are transient and eventually resolve. However, at times it would be beneficial to seek the help of a trained physical therapist who specializes in women’s health. If your symptoms are affecting your daily function, you may benefit from such a consult. A physical therapist will perform a thorough evaluation and design an individualized program for each patient. He/she may also recommend various adaptive equipment to help you function independently through the tough time. For example, I had a period in the middle of my pregnancy where my pelvic pain rendered me unable to put on my socks. Luckily there is a special adaptive device which allowed me to dress independently once again. This may not sound like a big deal, but at a time when my hormones were affecting my emotions and my body was feeling like it wasn’t mine, suddenly being unable to dress myself in the morning was quite frustrating and depressing.

The American Physical Therapy Association has a special section on Women’s Health, and can help you find a qualified therapist in your area. These therapists go through advanced training which includes continuing education courses and hands on experience. They treat women with a variety of conditions including pelvic pain, urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, as well as issues that arise during prenatal and postpartum periods.

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Doula

Posted by Alina on Wednesday Feb 4, 2009 Under pregnancy, useful tips

For the birth of our son, having a doula with us made for a great experience. A doula is a “trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth (birth doula); or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period (postpartum doula).” (reference) Our doula met with us several times before the birth to help us come up with a birthing plan, provide educational materials, and explain to us what her role will be.

My labor was induced beccause I was past my due date, and the labor totaled 26 hours! To describe the experience as INTENSE, would be an understatement. My husband and I went through feelings of excitement, nervousness, anxiety, fatigue, hunger, frustration, pain, and many more that have since been repressed. Having a doula helped us to stay focused and at ease. She was very professional and reassuring. Our doula was quickly able to identify when a certain position was not working and coached us through different laboring positions to find which worked best to relieve the pain. She also gave me countless foot massages, because that seemed to help.

She helped us deal with the hospital staff by reminding us of questions we meant to ask them or things that we should ask about. She never spoke to the staff on our behalf, but I remember she and my husband developed some code words so that when she would say a certain word to him, he knew just what to ask of the nurse or doctor. Let’s face it, after being in labor all day and all night, not eating, and not sleeping,  the ability to think quickly on our feet seemed to disappear.

Aside from coaching us through the many hours at the hospital, our doula also shot some photos with our camera and was able to capture some amazing memories. She was able to photograph the moment when the doctor handed me my son, when my husband cut the baby’s umbilical cord, and when all three of us were cried for the first time as a family.

To learn more about doulas, how they train, and where you can find one, visit http://www.dona.org/

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529 College Savings Program

Posted by Alina on Thursday Dec 18, 2008 Under useful tips

The 529 College Savings Program is one way to save for your child’s college education. Each state has it’s own plan with various rules and benefits. One can invest in any state’s 529 program and the money can be used in any other state. If you are a New York resident and invest in the New York 529 program, the money you put in is deductible from your state income tax, up to $5,000 per parent, or $10,000 per married couple filing jointly. Withdrawals are exempt from New York State income tax when used for qualified higher-education expenses. Such expenses include tuition, fees, books, certain room- and-board expenses, and supplies at any eligible post-secondary school in the United States and abroad. If your child decides not to go to college, then the account can be transferred into another family member’s name, including the parents, to be used for higher education. If no one in the family wants to use the money for education, then it can be withdrawn, but earnings will be subject to federal income tax and an additional 10% federal income tax, as well as state and local income taxes. A 529 account can be opened with as little as $25, and can reach an aggregate maximum balance of $235,000.

For more information, check out the official site here.

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Places to visit with kids in NY during the holiday season

Posted by Alina on Saturday Dec 13, 2008 Under useful tips

Here are a few ideas for activities with the little ones in NYC during the holiday season:

Holiday Under the Stars (free)
The Time Warner building in Columbus Circle has huge stars hanging in
the atrium that light up in different colors to classical music. There
is also “snow” that falls every half hour for 15 minutes from the
atrium ceiling after 5pm.

The Station at Citigroup Center (free)
The Citigroup Building at 153 East 53rd St (Lexington Ave) has a large toy-train show exhibit every year, apparently this is going to be the last year. Here is an article about it.

Kaleidoscope Light Show (free)
Light shows choreographed to seasonal music at Grand Central Terminal’s famed ceiling constellations. Through 1/1, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, shows run every half-hour. 87 E. 42nd St., at Park Ave. (212-532-4900)

Santaland at Macy’s (free)
There is an “enchanted forest” set up on the eighth floor, with talking trees, dancing bears, skiing penguins, toy trains, Christmas trees and more.Through 12/24. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., weekend times vary. 151 W. 34th St. at Sixth Ave., eighth fl. (212-494-4495). Macy’s also has a very cool window display on Broadway, full of lights and things that move, which seems to be a hit with the little ones.

The Holiday Train Show
The Bronx Botanical Garden has a toy-train show featuring handcrafted replicas of historic landmarks made of natural materials like leaves, twigs, bark, berries, pinecones, gourds, cinnamon sticks, and other botanical
resources. Through January 11, 2009.

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Clipping baby’s nails

Posted by Alina on Saturday Dec 6, 2008 Under Baby Products, useful tips

I have been having a harder time clipping my son’s nails. I used to do it while nursing, but now that he is seven months old, he is too easily distracted and my trick has stopped working. Some of my friends do this while their babies are asleep but I’m too nervous to wake him up. Well…. I have discovered a new trick. I turn the TV on for a few minutes and he seems hypnotized. I can clip all his nails and as soon as we’re done, the TV goes off. This may work so well because I never really turn the TV on when my son is in the room and thus it is a new stimulus, but whatever the reason, it works!

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Nursing on the go, in a front infant carrier

Posted by Alina on Monday Nov 17, 2008 Under feeding, useful tips

My son was born in April, and with the nice Spring and Summer weather, I was usually out and about. At times, it was difficult to find a good place for breast feeding, so I figured out how to do it on the go.

Sling:

When the baby is very young, you can feed him/her in a sling as you sit or walk. It is very discreet. I was able to do it wearing a V-neck shirt or tank top. The sling has to fit just right, if it is too loose, it may be difficult to walk and nurse. Just pull back the inner piece of the sling material and have the baby latch on.

Baby Bjorn:

I wore a tank top with a built in bra and a t-shirt over it. When I needed to feed my son in the Bjorn, I was able to lift the front of the t-shirt and pull down the top of the tank top, thus keeping my abdomen covered. Once the baby is in, facing you, loosen the shoulder straps to align the baby’s mouth with your nipple. Placing a hat with a brim (summer hat) on the baby’s head helps block the view from above. Placing a burp cloth on the strap, helps cover the side view. My son often fell asleep while nursing this way.

Ergo Baby Carrier:

The head cover on this carrier protects the baby’s head from the sun, helps to make nursing discreet, and provides support for the baby’s head once he/she falls asleep. You can either wear a tank top with a T-shirt over as described above under Bjorn, or you can wear a V neck, a shirt with buttons, or one with a stretchy neck line, so that you can just pull it down and have the baby latch on. Snap on the head cover and a burp cloth on the side strap if necessary for complete cover. Now you can walk, have your hands free, and nurse at the same time.

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My son who is now six and a half months old, has begun pulling himself up in the crib. Three days ago he was getting to his knees, so we moved the crib mattress down a notch so that he would not tip over and fall out (our crib has 3 possible mattress positions). Today he started coming up on his feet, and we had to lower the mattress yet again. It’s now at the lowest possible setting. Although the crib has a drop side, the mattress is now too low to allow me (5’5″) to reach in and pick a baby who is lying down without injuring myself. When I come to the crib, my son is usually on all fours, waiting to get out, I first drop the side down, help him up to a kneeling position, then up on his feet (while he is supporting his own weight) and then I lift him up. This reduces the strain on my back, especially since I have to perform this motion several times a day. If the baby is too young for kneeling or standing, then sitting them up before lifting would also reduce strain. It is also important to keep your knees bent, tighten the abdominal muscles, avoid rounding your back over the crib side, and lift the baby up close to your chest/ shoulder.

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Sleep training

Posted by Alina on Saturday Oct 25, 2008 Under sleep, useful tips

I never thought that I would want to “sleep train” my child. By 5 months our son was going to bed at 8pm, waking up around 11:00pm for a feeding and then sleeping until 5:00am. Although he only fell asleep eating, I thought this was reasonable. He was sleeping in a crib in our room and at 5:00am I would take him into our bed for the early morning feeding. Everything changed when we took a one week vacation to Canada. At the hotel, our son slept in our bed, and was able to have the breast on demand throughout the night, whether for food or comfort. Once we returned home, he did not want to be in his crib, woke up every hour at night, and screamed at the top of his lungs whenever I tried to put him back down. Eventually, after a few hours, I would get too exhausted and take him into our bed, so we could all get some rest. This lasted for a week with no improvement. I felt tired, irritable, and decided that something had to change.

I did some research on the internet about various methods of sleep training. I spoke to my son’s pediatrician, who suggested we go “cold turkey”. He said “feed him, put him down in his crib, and don’t go to him until 7:00am. You will have three tough nights, and then he will sleep through the night.” I felt that this was too aggressive and because he sleeps in our room, this would be difficult to carry out.

So, in my search, I saw an interesting review for Dr. Ferber’s book, so I decided to see what it’s all about. The book is called “Solve your child’s sleep problems” by Richard Ferber, M.D. I recommend reading the book before actually performing any intervention. In the book, he gives the reader an understanding of what happens during different phases of sleep and how the patterns develop. He talks about normal patterns of deep and light sleep and says that we all have brief periods when we wake up and then return to sleep throughout the night, without remembering it in the morning. The book then identifies various common types of “sleep issues” for kids of different ages. Ours for example was associations with falling asleep. Our son associated the breast or bottle as something he needed to fall asleep, even if he was not hungry. After helping the reader establish a “diagnosis”, Dr. Ferber then offers ways of treating the problem. The book is not preachy, and he does not advocate for the “cold turkey” method.

In our case, the thing to do was to put our son down tired but awake, let him cry for 3 minutes, then go in and check on him/ talk to him (without picking him up), then 5 minutes, then 10. The first night he cried for a total of 20 minutes and then slept for 10 hours. He did not cry at night. If the baby does wake up at night, Dr. Ferber recommends following the same procedure as above (3, 5, 10). With each night, the intervals are supposed to get longer. Dr. Ferber states that it typically takes three nights, but may take up to two weeks. For the first week, our son would cry for 15-30 minutes at the start of the night and then would sleep for 9.5-10.5 hours. With each day the crying was less intense. In the second week, he would cry for 2-8 minutes. Now it has been about a month. At night, we bathe our son, feed him, and then I usually burp him, sing a song and put him down. He rolls over onto his tummy, without crying, and sleeps from 7:30-8:00pm until 6:00-7:00am.

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Breast feeding and back pain

Posted by Alina on Thursday Oct 23, 2008 Under body mechanics, feeding, useful tips

Breast feeding often results in some back, neck, and even shoulder pain for the mother. Being aware of and correcting body mechanics can have a big impact on preventing and/or relieving some of this pain.

Breastfeeding in sitting:

1. Choose a comfortable seat, with neck/head support if possible.

2. Use armrests or place pillows to support forearms/elbows.

3. A small pillow or rolled up towel at low back for lumbar support may help.

4. Bring the baby to the breast rather than leaning down to the baby. This may require placing the baby on a couple of pillows or placing an extra pillow under the Boppy or the My Breast Friend.

5. Try to have the baby’s weight resting on pillows so that your arms are relaxed.

6. It often feels good to elevate the legs and rest them on a foot stool.

7. Periodically perform a body position check: shoulders down, head/ neck in neutral (not forward), back relatively straight, abdomen slightly tucked, legs relaxed.

Breastfeeding lying down on your side:

1. Place pillow under your head.

2. Place the arm you are laying on straight out in front of you, may bend elbow to bring hand under head.

3. Make sure your head is aligned with the rest of your spine, not excessively forward.

4. Bending hips and knees and placing pillow between knees should help relieve back pain.

5. Placing a pillow behind your back, or having your partner close behind you to lean on and rolling 1/4 of a turn back may also help relax the back muscles.

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