Pregnancy Dreams Part 2

Pregnancy Dreams Part 2If you’re having strange dreams during pregnancy, you’re in good company. Many moms-to-be report bizarre dreams and nightmares during their 9+ months of pregnancy. As we discussed earlier this week, the imaginative scenarios that arise in your dreams are thanks to a combination of hormones and emotions that are swirling around in your body and psyche. Questions about your labor and delivery process, ability to be a parent and even characteristics of your baby may rear their head in your pregnancy dreams. Today we’re helping you interpret some common themes in your pregnancy dreams.

Pregnancy Dreams about Childbirth

Although your birthing dreams may be traumatic or have you giving birth to non-human animals or inanimate objects, dreaming about childbirth actually means you’re excited about the arrival of your baby. It is normal to have anxiety over the labor and delivery process because there are many unknowns and some of it may be out of your control. Pregnancy dreams about giving birth to anything other than a human baby are just representative of your baby and your feelings of nurture toward your little bundle of joy.

Pregnancy Dreams about Harming or Forgetting your Baby

It seems horrible that you would even dream about harming or forgetting your baby but these dreams are actually quite common and normal. Becoming a parent is a huge responsibility – probably the biggest role of your life. You may not feel prepared for the job and that can be reflected in dreams about leaving your baby somewhere or not being able to protect your baby from danger. Recognizing these fears may help you come to terms with feelings of not being ready for motherhood and may even up your game in preparing for the arrival of your baby.

Pregnancy Dreams about your Baby’s Gender

Your baby’s gender is probably top-of-mind for you during pregnancy. Even if you opt to find out the sex of your baby, the weeks leading up to the gender reveal can provoke pregnancy dreams about your baby boy or girl. As much as you may wish you could dream up your baby’s sex, it’s just not possible. You’ll have to wait for your blood work, ultrasound or delivery to know for sure.

Pregnancy Dreams about Conception

Metaphorical and realistic dreams about conception are common during pregnancy. Sometimes these dreams manifest as planting or burrowing in the earth or they may become sexual in nature. This is your subconscious helping you connect to your baby and form an early bond as she grows and develops in your womb.

Pregnancy Dreams about Water

Whether you’re pregnant or not, dreams about water are usually a reflection your own feelings. If the water is pure and clear, you’re feeling optimistic and confident about your life. Murky water may represent feelings of uncertainty and doubt. Water dreams during pregnancy often occur in the first trimester as the amniotic sac fills with fluids.

Pregnancy Dreams about Being Trapped

Dreams of entrapment may have dual meaning. First, it can help a mom-to-be emphasize with her baby who is “trapped” in the womb. Also, it may represent an expectant mom’s feelings of losing freedom as she enters this new phase in her life.

Pregnancy dreams are fascinating and can help you acknowledge and manage feelings of fear, anxiety, inadequacy and doubt. If you experience pregnancy dreams, take some time to understand the emotions behind them. It may help clear your mind and enter motherhood with excitement and fresh perspective.

Sources: Huffington Post and Fox News

Pregnancy Dreams Part 1

Whether we remember them or not, we all dream. When you’re pregnant, your dreams may feel like they are on overdrive, thanks to the whirlwind of hormones and emotions that being a new parent conjures up. Pregnancy dreams – and often nightmares – can paint a picture of how new moms are feeling, even if she isn’t outwardly expressing herself during waking hours. Today we’re examining the meaning behind common pregnancy dreams.

When you’re expecting you may feel like you’re having more dreams than usual. That’s probably not true, but because pregnancy dreams are so vivid and sometimes troublesome, you may be more likely to remember them. Plus, when your dreams are scary, you may wake up more frequently, which also helps you remember your most recent dreams.

Pregnancy Dreams Part 1Hormones, stress and a range of emotions are probably the culprit of your strange pregnancy dreams. As with any dreams, they are provoked by something in your subconscious. Moms-to-be certainly have a lot of mixed feelings floating around and many of them debut in the form of pregnancy dreams. When you dream about turmoil and conflict, it is most likely representative of the internal and external changes you’re feeling as you enter a new stage in your life. After all, having a baby truly changes everything, from your relationship with your spouse and friends, to your job and your own identity.

Psychologist Alan Slegel studied pregnancy dreams in the 1970s and concluded that the seemingly bizarre imaginative dreams of moms-to-be were helpful in preparing them for motherhood. Not only do pregnancy dreams help expectant mothers release their fears, they also help mothers accept their new role as parents. More recent studies showed there may be a strong correlation between pregnancy dreams and shorter labor and less postpartum depression. Perhaps coping with feelings in dreams eases anxiety in the long run.

Many pregnant women question their ability to be a mother after experiencing pregnancy dreams. They wonder if the horrible things their imagination dreamed up are a sign of things to come. Fortunately, that’s not true at all so you can rest assured your mothering skills are not based on your subconscious dreams.

Many pregnant women claim to have dreams pertaining to similar in topics.  These are often about the labor and delivery process or taking care of a new baby. Later this week we’re sharing what the experts say these pregnancy dreams are all about.

Sources: Huffington Post and Fox News

Poison Prevention Tips for Parents

Poison Prevention Tips for ParentsThis week is National Poison Prevention Week so we’re sharing poison prevention tips for parents to help keep your little ones safe. These vital reminders may make the difference between life and death for your children. Take this time to reevaluate your home and safety habits so your kids don’t become part of the startling statistics:

According to Poison Control, children under the age of 6 make up half of the poison exposures in the U.S. Infants and toddlers were the most likely to be affected. The most common poison exposure may surprise you: it is personal care items and cosmetics. Cleaning supplies and medications followed closely behind.

Take precautions to keep your kids safe with these poison prevention tips for parents:

Poison Prevention Tip #1: Be Vigilant with Medications

Whether it’s storing or administering, many poison exposures are related to medications. It’s essential that prescription and over-the-counter medications are only given according to dosage instructions. Read the directions, measure carefully and take note of the timing when giving your kids medication. Only give your children prescription medications meant for them and prescribed by a healthcare provider. Always keep medications in their original bottles with safety caps and locked out of reach of small children. Never set a dose of medication on the table when children are around as they may grab it when you’re not looking. Also, dispose of medications when you’re done with them or when they expire.

Poison Prevention Tip #2: Store Household Cleaners Out of Reach

The best storage places for dangerous chemicals are out of the sight and reach of young children. A high cabinet that locks is ideal. If your storage cabinets are not high, secure locks should be mandatory. Always keep products in their original containers so you can read the directions with each use. Never store cleaning products or chemicals in food containers as children may be confused about their contents. Use products when children are not around and never leave them out with your kids unattended. Never mix chemicals or cleaners and turn on fans or open windows after use to prevent toxic fumes.

Poison Prevention Tip #3: Keep Cosmetics and Personal Care Items Away from Kids

You may not realize it but your lipstick and deodorant are dangerous to your kids. They may see you using these items often and feel it is safe to give them a try but this category is the leading cause of poison exposure among young children. Beyond what you keep in your bathroom, consider items that may be in your purse or lying around your house. Put them away to avoid a potential hazard for your little ones.

Poison Prevention Tip #4: Check your Home

Homes built before 1978 may have lead-based paint. You may need to remove lead sources and take actions to prevent lead dust from being near your children. In addition to smoke detectors, homes need carbon monoxide detectors. And if you live in an area where radon is common you may want to have your house tested for that substance as well.

Poison Prevention Tip #5: Be Prepared

Should your child have a poison exposure, take action quickly. Keep emergency numbers for poison control, your pediatrician and the nearest hospital by your phone. Call 911 immediately if you fear your child has ingested poison or is showing signs of respiratory distress.

Sources: Poison Control, Safe Kids and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Breast Milk Nutrition Part 2

Breast Milk Nutrition Part 2It’s National Nutrition Month so we’re exploring the nutrition in your baby’s breast milk. As your baby’s best first food, breast milk contains a wealth of nutrients that not only help her grow and develop now, but also support her health for a lifetime. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 4-6 months of your baby’s life, and continuing to one year or beyond. Today we’re rounding out our discussion of breast milk nutrition by breaking down the most potent categories and explaining their nutritive value.

Water: H2O is essential hydration for your baby since water is a large part of her body composition and she is not getting water from any other source.

Protein: The two types of protein found in breast milk are whey and caseins. Breast milk protein typically contains 60-80% whey, which is much easier for babies to digest than caseins. In comparison, cow’s milk and formula have a higher concentration of caseins that may cause more gastrointestinal problems for babies. Protein helps build muscles and bones and is vital to a strong immune system.

Fat: Fat is crucial to your baby’s growth and development. The fat content in your breast milk changes during each feeding. The foremilk that comes first is rich in carbohydrates (mainly lactose) and water while the hind milk that follows has more fat and therefore calories. That is why feeding on one side until your baby reaches the hind milk is important. Fatty acids and cholesterol help your baby’s brain develop (as well as nervous system and eyes) and are linked to improved cognition among breastfed babies. Fats also aid the absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

Carbohydrates: Lactose or milk sugar is the main carbohydrate found in breast milk. Carbohydrates are used to energize the body for all metabolic functions including growth. Lactose promotes healthy flora in your baby’s gut and can fight off harmful bacteria there as well.  It also helps your baby absorb essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Oligosaccharides are another carbohydrate that supports a healthy immune system in the gut as well.

Antibodies: Many of the other categories of breast milk nutrition have protective properties for your baby. Additionally, antibodies help prevent your baby, who has little-to-no immune system at birth, from getting sick. Secretory Immunoglobulin A is the main antibody found in breast milk. It forms a protective barrier in your baby’s intestines and lungs to keep pathogens away from these critical organs and out of the bloodstream.

Enzymes: Enzymes help your baby break down breast milk during digestion so it can be metabolized and put to good use throughout her body. There are around 40 different types of enzymes that have been identified in breast milk including lactoferrin, lipase, amylase and protease.

Vitamins and Minerals: Breast milk is rich in vitamins and minerals that help your baby with nearly every function of her tiny little body. The alphabet of vitamins including A, B, C, D, E and K are swimming around in your breast milk. Minerals include calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium, zinc and chloride, among others.

Hormones: Scientists are not positive about the purpose of hormones in breast milk but there are many of them including prolactin, relaxin, endorphins and thyroid hormones, among others. Some of these are required for milk production, while others are a natural part of a woman’s body or may have helped during the reproductive and childbirth stages.

Sources: Parenting Science, Very Well, Baby Center, American Pregnancy and Rehydrate

Breast Milk Nutrition Part 1

You already know breast milk is the most nutritious food on the planet for your baby. That’s why you pour so much of your heart and soul into breastfeeding. But do you know exactly what is in your breast milk? We’re breaking down breast milk nutrition in honor of National Nutrition Month.

Breast Milk Nutrition Part 1Breast milk contains over 200 powerful elements that help your baby thrive. And it’s not just the individual ingredients but rather then combination of them that makes breast milk such an extraordinary superfood. Plus, your breast milk is constantly changing to meet the needs of your baby so you’re always providing what your baby needs when she needs it.

Because your breast milk evolves, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact quantity of certain nutrients. Not only will your milk evolve as your baby grows and ages, your breast milk also changes based on the time of day, frequency of feedings, duration of feedings and your diet. However, there are some constants when it comes to breast milk.

All mature breast milk (milk produced 21 days after initiating lactation) contains water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, hormones antibodies and white cells. Breast milk is made of just over 88% water. Proteins make up 1% of breast milk, fats are just under 4%, carbohydrates are around 7% and everything else is less than 1%. If that less than 1% seems insignificant, think again. That’s a category with a ton of really important nutrients for your baby. In general, 100 mL (approximately 3.5 oz) of breast milk contains 70 calories.

Colostrum, the early seedy substance that feeds your baby in the first few days of life, differs in composition to meet the immediate needs of your newborn baby. Colostrum is more potent in protein but contains less fat and calories. This is why your newborn is hungry often, in addition to her small stomach. Colostrum also has more beta-carotene, Vitamin E and zinc than mature breast milk.

From a biological and evolutionary perspective, breast milk nutrition and composition makes a lot of sense. Human babies develop slowly, which is why breast milk protein is low. We also keep our babies with us rather than leaving them for long periods of time to say, hunt for food, so they need less fat in their diets because they are fed frequently.

Stick around: later this week we’re breaking down breast milk nutrition further and taking a deep dive into each nutritious category.

Sources: Parenting Science, Very Well, Baby Center, American Pregnancy and Rehydrate

Signs of a Baby Growth Spurt

Signs of a Baby Growth SpurtWhen your baby’s behavior seems out of the ordinary, you may wonder if she’s getting sick, teething or needs a schedule change. If none of the usual check list applies, your little one may be going through a baby growth spurt. You may not notice the growth at first, but when signs of a baby growth spurt are paired with sudden weight gain or sizing out of clothes, that’s probably what’s happening.

Although babies don’t all follow the same growth schedule, typically growth spurts occur around the same time for most babies. These include: 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months. You may noticed that baby clothing sizes start to sync up with these traditional growth spurts, as do your baby’s check-ups. Growth spurts may last just a couple of days or up to a week.

If you suspect your baby is growing, keep an eye out for the most common sigs of a baby growth spurt:

Extreme Hunger

If your baby wants to nurse around the clock, a growth spurt is the likely culprit. As you can imagine, growing takes a lot of energy so your baby needs extra food to fuel her mission. Breast milk is the best nutrition for a growing baby because it contains everything her body needs to power growth and development. Don’t worry that your milk supply won’t be enough for her – your body will adjust to keep up with your baby’s nutritional needs.

Hibernation

Growth hormones are secreted during sleep so your baby may hunker down for some deep sleeping sessions during a baby growth spurt. Unless your pediatrician recommends otherwise, don’t wake your baby for feedings during a growth spurt. She’ll make up for the lack of milk during her natural waking hours. Also, be careful not to be too rigid with your schedule during a growth spurt. If your baby needs more sleep, don’t keep her up just because her normal schedule dictates it.

Fussiness

Your baby may be crankier than usual during a baby growth spurt. This may be because she’s hungry or tired or perhaps she’s tired because she was up eating all night. It’s hard to know for sure what is causing the fussiness during a growth spurt but do your best to meet your baby’s needs and keep her comfortable. Luckily it won’t last long!

If you’re unsure that your little one is going through a baby growth spurt, her signs are combined with other symptoms such as a fever, or she doesn’t come out of it within a week, consult your pediatrician as it may be something other than a growth spurt. Remember, growth spurts are a normal part of infancy and childhood. Your baby will be having them all the way through her teenage years.

Sources: KellyMom, Parents and Today’s Parent

Breastfeeding Positions for your Baby’s Style

Breastfeeding Positions for your Baby’s StyleFinding the most comfortable way to breastfeed may be mostly dependent on how your baby likes to feed. Once you and your baby find your breastfeeding rhythm, you’ll learn your baby’s style. Chances are she’ll have a favorite position and will let you know it pretty quickly. Here are some tips on figuring out the breastfeeding positions for your baby’s style.

Cradle

The traditional cradle position lays your baby across your lap while her head is supported by the arm on the same breast side she is nursing. This breastfeeding position maximizes your skin to skin contact because your baby’s body intersects with yours length-wise. It also frees one hand to caress your baby so it’s ideal for babies who like a lot of touch and sensation during nursing. Cradle is often better for babies one month or older who are experts at latching quickly and efficiently.

Cross-Cradle

Similar to cradle, your baby lies across your lap. But in cross-cradle you hold your baby with the opposite arm as the breast she is nursing and support her head with the hand on the same side breast. Again, you get lots of opportunity for skin-to-skin contact with cross-cradle. Newborns and smaller babies often enjoy cross-cradle because of the added support and help with positioning for a proper latch.

Football

In the football hold you position your baby to the side of the nursing breast. She will lie face up under your upper arm while your lower arm supports her body. Your hand tips her head towards your nipple for latching. The football hold is great for moms who have had a c-section as it does not lay your baby across your incision site. Also, if your baby needs more direction in finding the nipple and remaining latched, the football hold gives you extra control.

Dangle

The dangle position allows your baby to lie on a flat surface while you hover over her and dangle your breast into her mouth. This breastfeeding position helps if you have slow let-downs or if you have a plugged duct as gravity will be on your side. Also, babies who prefer to lie independently rather than in mom’s arms enjoy this position.

Reclining

Side-lying or reclining allows you and your baby to lie side-by-side on a bed, couch or the floor. As your baby faces you, you can align your breast to her mouth for nursing. This is great for relaxation, feeding in bed or for nursing before or after cuddling. If you and your baby are co-sleeping, reclining is a wonderful way to nurse to help both of you get the most sleep. Often babies nurse in the reclining position without waking up.

Which breastfeeding positions match your baby’s style?

Sources: BabyCenter and Parents

3 Reasons to Join a Baby Play Group

3 Reasons to Join a Baby Play GroupWhen you need baby-friendly stimulation outside your own home, a baby play group can be beneficial for both moms and babies. While your baby may not be interacting with others at first, being in a new environment and observing other babies and mothers can be a great learning experience. Here are our top three reasons to join a baby play group:

Reason #1: Social Interaction

Children usually don’t play together in the traditional sense until well into their 2s or 3s. Up until that point they usually participate in parallel play, which is playing by themselves in the same room as other babies and toddlers. But for swiping a toy or two from a neighboring baby, your baby is probably content exploring alone. However, at a baby play group your child has the opportunity to observe other little ones around his size, which is a wonderful learning tool. He may watch another baby play and even learn how to use a toy or get motivated to develop fine and gross motor skills by watching other babies. When conflict does arise over toys, hair pulling or whatever else your baby may decide to try, it’s an early opportunity to explain sharing and playing gently. Although your baby won’t understand the concept for some time, it’s good to start talking about it early.

Socialization is a critical part of schooling. Participating in a baby play group during your child’s early years can help prepare him for preschool. Shy and sensitive children may not enjoy too much stimulation so find a baby play group that jives with your baby’s personality.

Moms also benefit from social interaction. A baby play group is a fantastic way to make new friends. These friendships may last throughout your baby’s childhood and beyond. Plus, while the babies are happily playing, moms can discuss topics outside of parenting for some much-need adult conversation.

Reason #2: New Environment

Getting out of your home play space can be refreshing for you and your baby. Whether your baby play group meets at a central location or rotates homes, you will both benefit from being in a new environment and playing with new toys. In fact, play groups are a terrific way to try out new toys to see what interests your baby without buying up the toy store.

Be sure you select a baby play group that makes sense for you geographically and logistically. Going to a baby play group during your baby’s regular nap time could be a disaster. Also, driving long distances to play may not be wise. Plus, making friendships closer to home means you can get together more often and you may have more opportunity for interaction throughout the years if your kids go to the same schools and do the same local activities.

Reason #3: Advice and Support

Moms are super networkers and baby play groups offer the ultimate opportunity to get the scoop on a variety of parenting topics. From sleep troubles to breastfeeding triumphs, moms can support each other and provide advice based on their experiences in motherhood. Or, sometimes a mom just needs someone else to commiserate with when things get tough. Veteran moms and first time moms alike are great for information and ideas to improve your parenting.

Sources: BabyCenter, Parenting, More4Kids and The Baby Corner

The Extraordinary Benefit of Breast Milk for Preemies

Breast milk is the best first food for all babies due to its phenomenal nutrients and protective antibodies. For preemies, the need for breast milk is even greater to help rapidly progress their development and set the stage for good health throughout their childhood. Today we’re looking at the extraordinary benefit of breast milk for preemies.

Preemies – babies born before 37 weeks of gestation – need an extra boost to help them continue their development outside of the womb. And there is no better substance on earth to assist in their growth than breast milk. As it does for all babies, breast milk offers preemies the best nutrition possible as well as antibodies that prevent potential illness and infection. For babies who are often struggling for survival, breast milk may be critical.

The Extraordinary Benefit of Breast Milk for PreemiesAmazingly, a mom’s breast milk changes throughout breastfeeding to meet the needs of her baby. This is no exception for preemies. The breast milk from a mom of a preemie contains more protein and minerals, as well as the right combination of fats that will improve the baby’s growth and development. This subtle yet important difference in breast milk produced for preemies also makes it easier for preemies to digest. Formula made with cow’s milk, even formula designed for preemies, can lead to intestinal infections in premature babies.

A recent study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that preemies who received more breast milk in their first 28 days of life had greater brain development at their intended due date and were more cognitively advanced at age seven than babies who did not receive as much or any breast milk. The study was completed on babies born prior to 30 weeks of gestation and who were in the NICU during at least their first 28 days of life. While many studies support the mental health benefits of breast milk, this study showed not only the short term but also the long term extraordinary benefit of breast milk for preemies.

A major hurdle in providing breast milk to preemies is that mothers are often separated from their babies and premature babies have a much harder time breastfeeding at birth. Babies usually don’t develop the skills required for latching until the 35th week of pregnancy or later. A preemie may not have the strength to form a proper latch for breastfeeding. Additionally, when babies are incubated in the NICU, mothers don’t have the opportunity to try breastfeeding right away.

When babies are unable to breastfeed, new moms can pump milk that can be fed to their premature baby through a tube or bottle. Producing milk can be more challenging when moms and babies are separated but looking at a picture of the baby, hearing a baby’s cry, and massaging the breasts can encourage milk flow. Early production may be limited to a few drops of colostrum but newborns don’t need much to sustain themselves due to their very small stomachs. The key to successful pumping for preemies is doing it often.

Parents of premature babies should discuss the extraordinary benefit of breast milk for preemies with their doctor, pediatrician and hospital nurses to ensure everyone is aware of the intent to provide breast milk as the best first food choice for the baby. The medical team can help facilitate a hospital-grade breast pump and transferring and feeding the milk to babies in the NICU. If a mom is not able to provide enough breast milk to sustain her preemie, parents often purchase donor breast milk until the mom can pump enough or the baby is better able to breastfeed.

The extraordinary benefit of breast milk for preemies is nothing short of miraculous. It’s nature’s health solution to helping the tiniest humans survive and thrive in life!

Sources: CBS News, Healthy Children, and Breast Milk Counts

 

Ear Infections in Babies Part 3

Ear Infections in Babies Part 3Ear infections are an unfortunate part of the territory with young ears. Sometimes ear infections in babies are unavoidable and some babies are more prone to them than others. However, there are some ways to help prevent ear infections in babies.

Breastfeeding: Breastfed babies have fewer incidences of ear infections. According to the CDC, breastfeeding reduces the risk of ear infections in babies by up to 70%. Breastfeeding provides babies with essential antibodies that help boost their immature immune systems to prevent illness. Also, the more frequent act of sucking may assist in clearing pressure and fluid buildup in the ear.

Immunizations: It may seem like the recommended vaccines for your baby in the first few years of life are endless, but they are all for good cause. Several of them, including the Hib vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine and the flu shot, all aim to prevent illnesses that can lead to ear infections. Stay current on your baby’s immunizations to help prevent ear infections.

No Smoking: Exposure to tobacco smoke significantly increases your baby’s risk of sickness including ear infections. If someone smokes in your house, your baby is 37-62% more likely to have ear infections and many children in smoking homes wind up needing middle ear surgeries. Even being around smoke casually can affect your baby.

Eliminate the Pacifier: Studies link prolonged use of pacifiers (after 6 months of age) to more frequent ear infections. If your baby needs a pacifier for comfort, limit it to sleep times only.

Eat Healthy: Like breastfeeding, a nutritious diet of immune-boosting fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help prevent ear infections in babies. Go for antioxidant-rich foods and skip the excess fats, sugar and salt. Babies have no need for them anyways.

Drink Upright: When your baby drinks breast milk or water from a bottle or sippy cup, ensure she is sitting upright. This ensures all fluids go down the right channels and fluids don’t build up in the middle ear.

Beware of Allergens: Because your baby is so new to the world, you may not know what allergens will affect her. Additionally, she may be more sensitive to certain allergens because she is so young. Avoid sleeping with stuffed animals that may carry germs and wash your carpets and pets often.

Ear infections in babies are only an issue for the first two or three years. After that point the Eustachian tubes elongate and curve to prevent fluid from remaining in the ear and becoming infected.

We hope you’ve learned the causes, symptoms, treatments, risks and prevention methods for ear infections in babies from our series. Wishing your baby much health!

Sources: WebMD, BabyCenter and Parenting