Twitter Facebook RSS Feed Print
Your Child

Sleep: New Recommendations for Different Ages


We all know how important a good night’s sleep is to being able to function well the next day. But how much sleep is really enough? How much we prefer is a personal choice, but how much we really need is now more concrete. 

After web analytics showed the vast popularity of the category, How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? on the National Sleep Foundation's (NSF) website, a panel of experts set about to reassure that the information provided there was the most accurate and up to date.

"Sleep duration was basically one of the most visited pages on the NSF website, and it wasn't really clear how those recommendations for the ranges had been arrived at," Max Hirshkowitz, Ph.D., chair of the National Sleep Foundation Scientific Advisory Council, told The Huffington Post.

The National Sleep Foundation decided to look at its recommendations and see if they should make any adjustments. After analyzing more recent literature on the subject, they came to the conclusion that an updating was due.

The panel of six sleep-experts and 12 medical experts conducted a formal literature review. The panel focused on the body of research surrounding sleep duration in healthy human subjects that had been published in peer-reviewed journals between 2004 and 2014. From the 312 articles reviewed, the experts were able to fine-tune existing sleep duration recommendations as detailed below:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours (range narrowed from 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours (range widened from 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours (range widened from 12-14)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours (range widened from 11-13)
  • School-Age Children (6-13): 9-11 hours (range widened from 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours (range widened from 8.5-9.5)
  • Young Adults (18-25): 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours (no change)
  • Older Adults (65+): 7-8 hours (new age category)

“This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a rigorous, systematic review of the world scientific literature relating sleep duration to health, performance and safety,” Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School and chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation, said in a statement.

During sleep, your brain and body recharge. Lack of sleep can have short-term and long-term effects. Studies have shown that children and teens that do not get enough sleep have trouble concentrating in school, are more prone to drinking and drug use and are more likely to have behavioral issues. They are also more likely to suffer from depression.

Too little sleep can also affect growth and your child’s immune system – making it harder to fight off an illness.

For adults, if you’re able to function well on the amount of sleep you typically get, then that’s probably the right amount for you. However, for children, the NSF’s recommendations are a good resource for making sure your kids are getting enough sleep. If you find that your child is getting the recommended amount of sleep but is still groggy or lacks energy or focus during the day, talk to your pediatrician or family doctor to see if there may be something else that is causing these symptoms.

Sources: Sarah Klein,

Your Child

Make It a Safe Summer!


Summer is a time when lots of family create life-long memories. Vacations offer a chance for everyone to get away from the daily grind and explore someplace new. Some families choose to spend the summer closer to home with a “staycation.” You can still relax, have fun and spend time together without the added expense of travel.

One experience a family doesn’t want to have is when someone is injured or worse or falls ill during the summer break. To help make summer is a little safer remember these common sense safety tips.

Water Safety: Probably the number one danger to children in the summer is drowning.

·      Make sure your child learns how to swim.

·      Never leave your child unattended around water. We know it sounds strict, but there is no room for compromise on this one. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.

·      Drowning is silent. Always watch your child when they are in a pool, lake, ocean or pond.

·      Have a flotation device nearby to toss into the water for a child to grab if they are tired or in danger.

·      If you cannot swim, make sure that there is an adult who can swim with you when your children are in the water.

·      Put the cell phone away, forget about all the other things you have to do and give young children 100 percent of your attention when they are near or around water.

·      Keep pool areas fenced and locked when no one is in the pool.

·      Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach.

·      Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning. It’s also a good idea to keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed. 

·      Parents have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better.

Hot Cars: Another danger for small children is hot cars. When a child dies or is injured in a hot car, it’s one of the most preventable tragedies. Parents and caregivers can forget they have a small child in the back seat of a car, or they can leave them in the car not realizing how fast the temperature will rise in a very short time. Occasionally, a child will enter a parked car and accidently lock themselves in. 

·      Always look before you lock your car.

•       Always check the back seats of your vehicle before your lock it and walk away.

•       Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Put something you’ll need in the back seat- like a briefcase or purse.

•       If someone else is driving your child, or your daily routine has been altered, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.

•       Never leave a child unattended in a car. Opening windows will not prevent heatstroke. Heatstroke can happen on cloudy days and when the temperature outside is below 70 degrees.

•       If your traveling with several children, do a head count – see each child- before locking or leaving the car.

•       If your child is missing, check your car first thing.

If you see an unattended child alone in a car, take action!. Don’t wait more than a couple of minutes for the driver to return. If you see a child is unresponsive or in distress; call 911. Get the child out of the car then spray the him or her with cool water (not an ice bath). If the child is responsive, stay with them until help arrives. Send someone else to find the driver.

Food Safety: Who doesn’t love a good picnic or grilled meal? However, food borne illnesses are not something you’ll enjoy.

•       Keep cold foods cold.

•       Don’t keep any foods at room temperature longer than 2 hours -- or 1 hour if it’s warmer than 90 degrees.

•       Don’t reuse platters that have held raw meat until you wash them thoroughly.

•       Keep your grill away from buildings and branches.

•       Don’t let grease build up.

•       Never leave your grill unattended.

•       Keep kids and pets away.

•       Does yours use propane? Test for leaks before the season starts. If you ever smell gas while you’re cooking, get away from the grill and call the fire department.

Bug Bites: Summer brings bugs, ticks, bees, mosquitoes, fire ants, chiggers, spiders and other pests.

Mosquitoes are more than a bother. They can spread West Nile virus. Most people who get the virus have no symptoms at all. But very serious and sometimes fatal illness can happen in less than 1% of those infected.

The only way to avoid West Nile is to avoid mosquito bites. Wear mosquito repellent and, if weather permits, long pants and long sleeves outside from dusk to dawn.

At home, get rid of standing water in birdbaths, buckets, and tire swings. They’re breeding grounds for mosquitos.

A bite from a tick is not usually a big deal, but the wrong type of tick can cause real problems. Ticks can cause diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection that occurs mostly in the South Atlantic region in the U.S. If the family is trekking in wooded areas. Make sure that everyone is: 

•       Wearing light-colored long pants, so it’s easier to spot ticks.

•       Tucks their pants into socks or high-top boots or tape them to boots.

•       Wearing a hat and long-sleeved shirt, tucked in.

•       Sprays or rubs insect repellent on the tops of boots, exposed area of socks, and pants openings (inside cuffs, waistband, and fly).

•       Using insect repellant with DEET on your exposed skin.  For children, choose a repellent with no more than 10% to 30% concentration of DEET. If your pets go outside, check them regularly for ticks so they don't bring them in the house.

Fire ants have a painful bite and some children are allergic to them. Check your yard for fire ant mounds and if you find any, have them removed professionally.

If you’ve ever had chigger bites, you know how miserable they are. Keep your grass cut short and use bug repellent. Shoes and socks also offer some protection.

During bug season, a good repellent is going to be your best bet to protect your child and yourself from many of these pesky critters.

Shark Attacks: If you’re headed to the ocean, sunburn is more likely to be a problem for your child than a shark bite, however, this year is quickly on the way to setting a record for shark attacks. Here are some ways to lessen the risks.

•       Avoid being in the water at twilight, when sharks are most active.

•       Don’t go in the water if you’re bleeding.

•       Don’t wear shiny jewelry when you swim. It could look like fish scales to a shark.

•       Know that sharks are sometimes near the shore. Sandbars can trap them close to the beach at low tide.

•       Skip swimming after heavy rains, which may move some freshwater fish, including sharks, into areas they would not otherwise frequent.

Sunburn: Summertime can mean sunburn time as well. Not only are they painful; but sunburns can do more damage to the skin long after it has healed. Children are more prone to sunburn because of their delicate skin.

Try to keep your child out of the sun when the peak ultraviolet rays occur (between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.).

In addition, follow these guidelines:

•       Always use a sunscreen to block the damaging ultraviolet rays. Choose a sunscreen made for children with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. (Check the label.) Apply the protection 15 to 30 minutes before going out. Keep in mind that no sunscreens are truly waterproof, and thus they need to be reapplied every one and a half to two hours, particularly if your child spends a lot of time in the water. Consult the instructions on the bottle. 

•       Dress your child in lightweight cotton clothing with long sleeves and long pants. 

•       Use a beach umbrella or similar object to keep her in the shade as much as possible. 

•       Have her wear a hat with a wide brim. 

•       Babies under six months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight. If adequate clothing and shade are not available, sunscreen may be used on small areas of the body, such as the face and the backs of the hands.

Heat Exhaustion: Too much heat can make you or your child very sick. Take special care with children and the elderly, because their bodies don’t cool as well. Kids are particularly at risk for heat cramps when they aren't drinking enough fluids.

Although painful, heat cramps on their own aren't serious. Cramps can be the first sign of more serious heat illness, so they should be treated right away to help avoid any problems.

Don’t let your child play outside during the hottest part of the day. Make sure they have plenty of fluids and a cool place to rest. If you suspect your child is suffering from heat exhaustion, call 911. Symptoms can include:

•       Increased thirst

•       Weakness

•       Fainting

•       Muscle cramps

•       Nausea and/or vomiting

•       Irritability

•       Headache

•       Increase sweating

•       Cool, clammy skin

•       Elevation of body temperature, but less than 104°F (40°C)

Protect Your Feet!

One minute you’re strolling barefoot. The next, you’re in pain. Puncture wounds happen more often in summer, when bare feet meet nails, glass, toothpicks, and seashells. 

The biggest problem is infection. Heat, swelling, and drainage are signs that need quick medical attention. You may also need to update your tetanus shot. 

These are just a few tips to help prevent some serious summertime injuries. Sometimes the problems are just an annoyance, other times they can be fatal. Summer is about fun and family time together. Just use common sense and follow these simple rules for a safer summer.




Holiday Decorating Safety Tips


Millions of American families will enjoy the beauty and fun of decorating a Christmas tree and hanging lights this Holiday season.  Whether you choose an artificial tree or a fresh tree, there are steps you can follow to make sure that your tree and decoration space are safe.

Many house fires occur during November and December when Christmas lights and candles are pulled out and used. Not only are fires a hazard, but plenty of people end up in an emergency room due to injuries from falls, lacerations, back strains and children ingesting foreign objects.

The Consumer Protection Safety Commission has a great list of tips to help you make safety a priority.

1. Take special care with sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Lacerations were among the top reported decoration–related injuries last year.

2. Avoid trimmings that resemble food or candy that may tempt a child to mouth or swallow them.

3. Place decorations with small removable parts that can pose a choking hazard to young children out of reach.

4. Purchase only holiday light sets that bear the marking of a safety-testing laboratory. Fires sparked by holiday lights caused 10 deaths last year.

5. Examine new and old light sets for damage. Discard sets with cracked or broken sockets, frayed or exposed wires, and loose connections.

6. Keep burning candles in sight and away from places where kids and pets can knock them over. Between 2010 and 2012, candles were the source of an estimated 6,500 residential fires annually, causing 80 deaths, 650 injuries, and $237 million in property loss per year.

7. Place lighted candles away from items that can catch fire, such as trees, other evergreens, decorations, curtains and furniture.

8. Look for a label that reads “fire resistant” when purchasing an artificial tree. Check live trees for freshness. If the tree is fresh, the needles should stay in place and not break. It should be hard to pull them off the branches. Check the trunk to see if it is sticky. If so, it's definitely fresh. Check for loose needles by banging the tree up and down on the ground. Expect some needles to fall off but if a lot fall off, move to another tree. One that loses a lot of needles is no longer fresh and could be dry enough to be a fire hazard.

9. Place live Christmas trees away from heat sources, and keep trees well watered.

10. Read “Ladder Safety 101” for tips to prevent ladder falls this season. You may think you know everything there is to know about using a ladder, but even the “experts” can make mistakes and wind up in the ER.

It’s easy to get complacent when decorating for the holidays; it’s something a lot of families do year after year often using the same decorations. After a certain amount of time, these decorations can become worn and damaged. Make sure your holiday doesn’t turn into a visit to the emergency room or worse by brushing up on some simple safety tips.



Daily Dose

Being a Dad

1:30 to read

Seeing that this is the week of Father’s Day (have you made your card or shopped yet?), I thought this was a good time to discuss some recent data that might be of interest to men….especially those who may be planning a family in the near future. 

For years research has shown that maternal age may contribute to birth defects and chromosomal abnormalities, including Down’s syndrome.. It has also been known that a pregnant woman’s health and habits may also affect their unborn baby’s health, therefore  woman are instructed to stop smoking and drinking alcohol while trying to get pregnant as well as throughout their pregnancy.

Dr. Joanna Kitlinska a researcher from Georgetown University has been studying how men’s age as well as their habits might also impact a child.  Her findings have shown a link between men who are over 40 years- “advanced paternal age”  and the incidence of autism as compared to fathers under 30 years of age.  Studies have also found that older fathers are more  likely to have children who develop schizophrenia.  Researchers wonder if this link may be due to changes in a father’s genes as they age….but to date this is unclear. “Biological clocks” and a woman’s decision to delay a pregnancy until their career is established (or for a myriad of reasons) may now be a decision that men will face as well.  Could both aging eggs and sperm play a role in genetic abnormalities? 

Smoking seems to be another habit that may somehow affect a man’s sperm and could potentially lead to genetic abnormalities in a child. 

While fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are known to be found in women who have consumed alcohol throughout their pregnancy,  researchers have also noted that 3 out of 4 children diagnosed with FAS also have alcoholic fathers.   Could their father’s excessive use of alcohol have also played a role in their developing brain?  This association has been found even if the mother did not drink alcohol during her pregnancy. Again, did the alcohol affect a father’s sperm and genes which was passed on to their child?

So…bottom line, it is important that “fathers to be” are equally invested in a healthy lifestyle when they are planning on having children.  It goes without saying that smoking, drinking, and even obesity and stress are not good choices for anyone …..but the fact that these choices may affect a future child are good reasons for both fathers, and mothers to be aware of this research when they are planning a family. 


Your Teen

Preventing ACL injuries in Young Athletes

2.00 to read

A new report states that young athletes are more susceptible to serious and potentially debilitating knee injuries. 

An increasing number of American children and teens are tearing up their knees, particularly kids who are involved in sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball and gymnastics.  The most dangerous injury is a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which provides stability to the knee.

Specific types of training can reduce the risk of an ACL tear by as much as 72 percent, the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says.

"Neuromuscular training programs strengthen lower-extremity muscles, improve core stability and teach athletes how to avoid unsafe knee positions," lead author Dr. Cynthia LaBella, medical director and associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and a member of the academy's council on sports medicine and fitness, said in an academy news release.

The AAP recommends that coaches who run these types of sports programs should learn more about the exercises that can help athletes strengthen their muscles and encourage their athletes to use them.

The risk of ACL injury among young athletes increases at age 12 for girls and age 14 for boys. The largest numbers of ACL injuries occur in female athletes ages 15 to 20. After an ACL tear, girls are much more likely to have surgery and less likely to return to sports than boys, experts said.

"After puberty, girls have a 'machine motor mismatch,'" report co-author Timothy Hewett, professor and director of research at Ohio State University's sports medicine department, said in the news release. "In contrast, boys get even more powerful relative to their body size after their growth spurt. The good news is that we've shown that with neuromuscular training, we can boost the power of girls' neuromuscular engine, and reduce their risk of ACL injuries."

Before some of the newer less-invasive surgical treatments were available, surgery was often delayed until the child’s skeletal structure was fully mature. Now though, improved treatment can avoid impact to the developing growth plates, which means that they can have surgery to stabilize the knee.

Overall, ACL surgery is about 90 percent successful in restoring knee stability, according to the report published online April 28 and in the May print issue of Pediatrics.

"In many cases, surgery plus rehabilitation can safely return the athlete back to sports in about nine months," report co-author Dr. William Hennrikus, professor of pediatric orthopedic surgery at Penn State Hershey Bone and Joint Institute, said in the news release. "Parents who are considering surgery for their child should seek out a pediatric orthopedic surgeon with sports medicine training."

ACL tears can have long-lasting effects. People who suffer an ACL tear are up to 10 times more likely to develop early-onset degenerative knee osteoarthritis, which can lead to chronic pain and disability, the report said. "This is important, because it means athletes who suffer an ACL tear at age 13 are likely to face chronic pain in their 20s and 30s," LaBella said.

If your child participates in any of these sports, check with your child’s coach to see if they are providing the appropriate amount of muscle strengthening exercises to fortify your child’s knee support system.

If you feel they are not getting any or enough of these needed exercises, consider enrolling your child in a muscle strengthening exercise program or begin doing them together at home.

Source: Robert Preidt,

Your Child

Household Bleach Causing Flu and Infections in Kids?


One of the most popular disinfectants used in household cleaning is bleach. From cleaning wipes to straight out of the bottle, bleach is used to clean surfaces, remove mold and brighten clothes.

As far back as 3000 B.C. a form of bleach was used to brighten white clothes. Shakespeare even made reference to bleaching in 1598. But it was around 1913 that bleach was touted as a disinfectant. In many of today’s households, products containing bleach are used as a surface sanitizer to kill bacteria.

A new study from the Netherlands says the cleaning agent may increase children’s risk for flu, tonsillitis and other infections. The study did not prove cause and effect, but suggested that bleach and other similar cleaning products may be contributors to these types of illnesses.

The study was led by Lidia Casas, of the Center for Environment and Health at KU Leuven in Leuven, the Netherlands. Her team looked at more than 9,000 children, aged 6 to 12, in the Netherlands, Finland and Spain.

Those whose parents used bleach to clean their homes at least once a week had higher rates of respiratory and other types of infections. Specifically, Casas and colleagues found that these children had a 20 percent higher risk of having the flu at least once in the previous year, a 35 percent higher risk of recurrent tonsillitis and an 18 percent higher risk for any recurrent infection.

According to the study’s authors, airborne components of bleach and similar products may irritate the lining of children's lungs, triggering inflammation and making it easier for infections to take hold. Or, bleach may somehow suppress the immune system, making infections more likely, the team said.

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI), which represents makers of bleach and bleach products, responded quickly to the study.

"Since there was no data presented on the children's actual exposure to bleach -- nor any diagnoses of actual diseases -- the authors are merely speculating," the ACI said in a statement. The group also said that disinfecting household surfaces with bleach can protect people from bacterial infection.

Responses to the study from medical specialists have been mixed.

"While this study observes higher respiratory effects of bleach on children, it is not a cause-and-effect study, and other factors or household cleaners may be involved," said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"There is evidence that high concentrations of bleach can cause asthmatic reactions when ventilation is not adequate, but the leap to increased incidence of infections is less clear," he said.

Dr. Jacqueline Moline, vice president of population health at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y., noted, "These results are in line with other studies that show the impact of cleaning products on the health of young children."

Moline also said that parents might want to consider using a different product for household cleaning, "the take-home message from this study is that one should be prudent in the use of harsh household cleaners with bleach or other chemicals, especially in homes with young children, and seek out less toxic or harsh products to clean the home."

The study was published online in the April edition of the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Source: Robert Preidt,

Your Child

Pre-teen Football Linked to Brain Changes in NFL Players


The start of a new school year also brings after-school sports programs. Late summer and fall is prime football season for many middle and high schools. In some states, it’s a hallowed tradition that boys and girls look forward to participating in whether it’s running down the field or cheering on the team.

While school football doesn’t typically offer the same ferocious body beating and brain –rattling that are seen in the National Football League (NFL), a new study shows that brain development can still be affected by playing football at a young age.

The study looked at the possible connection between a greater risk of altered brain development in NFL players who started playing football before the age of twelve as opposed to those players who began playing later in life.  The study is the first to show a link between early repetitive head trauma and future structural brain variations.

The study was small but interesting. It included a review of 40 former NFL players between the ages of 40 and 65 who played over 12 years of structured football with a minimum of 2 years at the NFL level.

One half of the players took up football prior to the age of 12 and half started at age 12 or later. The number of concussions suffered was very similar between the two groups. All of these players had a minimum of six months of memory and cognitive issues.

"To examine brain development in these players, we used an advanced technique called diffusor tensor imaging (DTI), a type of magnetic resonance imaging that specifically looks at the movement of water molecules along white matter tracts, which are the super-highways within the brain for relaying commands and information," study author Dr. Inga Koerte, professor of neurobiological research at the University of Munich and visiting professor at Harvard University, said in a press release.

The researches believe their findings add to the growing amount of scientific evidence that shows the brain may be especially vulnerable to injury between the ages of 10 and 12.

"Therefore, this development process may be disrupted by repeated head impacts in childhood possibly leading to lasting changes in brain structure," said study author Julie Stamm, currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Despite finding a link to the brain development window where kids are more likely to suffer brain injury by repeated head impacts, the small size of the study means the results may not necessarily apply to non-professionals.

"The results of this study do not confirm a cause and effect relationship, only that there is an association between younger age of first exposure to tackle football and abnormal brain imaging patterns later in life," said study author Martha Shenton, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Because of the intense publicity about and the findings of many studies on the short and long-term dangers of concussions, many school sports programs are looking at changing how they allow students to play in games associated with head injuries.  Where it was once common for coaches to let players continue playing after a particularly rough tackle or head butting, they are more likely now to insist that a field medical professional examine the child. Some schools are also implementing no tackle policies to protect very young players.

While traditional football isn’t likely to become extinct, parents and coaches can educate themselves about brain injuries and learn how to best protect young players from the chances of long and short-term disabilities.

Source: Brett Smith,




Why Moms-To-Be Might Want to Hire a Doula


Ever heard of a doula?  You’re not alone if the answer is no.  The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “ a woman who serves.”

According to DONA International, a doula is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

A recent study found that women with doula care had 22% lower odds of giving birth prematurely, and were less likely to have a C-section. (Among the women with doulas, 20.4% gave birth via cesarean, compared to 34.2% of women without doulas.)

For pregnant women, doulas can offer emotional and physical support throughout the pregnancy and labor; either in a hospital setting or at home.  There are also doulas that are certified to help mothers postpartum.

While many people may not have heard of doulas, they are beginning to gain some recognition.  TIME Magazine recently published an article on the 4 reasons why moms-to-be should consider hiring one.  The author spoke with Jada Shapiro, founder of the doula referral service, Birth Day Presence, in New York City.

1. They provide extra care and support:

Although every doula has a unique approach, their main role is to care for the mom-to-be. 

“Doulas offer continuous support to women both during pregnancy and after childbirth,” Shapiro explains.

“In a way, we are trying to recreate what was typical in old-world communities when women were surrounded by a vast support system of female friends and relatives during pregnancy.”

And while doulas are not medical professionals, they possess a wealth of knowledge about pregnancy and childbirth that can be extremely helpful for expectant moms.

“We work closely with our clients to de-mystify pregnancy terminology and help women interpret their options,” says Shapiro. 

That said, one of the most common misconceptions about doulas is that they interfere with a woman’s obstetrician. Shapiro says it’s important to note that this is not the case. “Doulas complement the care a woman receives from her doctor,” she says. “We don’t get in the way of medical decisions.”

She also adds that while many people believe you can only work with a doula if you want a medicine-free birth, this is also untrue: Women with all kinds of birth plans can find it helpful to consult a doula during their pregnancy.

2. They can assist with pain management:

Moms-to-be are well aware of the stories of pain during labor and delivery as well as the growing physical un-comfortableness that comes with being pregnant.

“Doulas are well-trained in physical comfort and can offer a wide range of pain relief techniques and tools,” says Shapiro, including acupressure, hydrotherapy, birthing balls, massage, and suggesting position changes during labor. Doulas can also help moms relax with soothing imagery, music, and breathing exercises.

This individualized level of care can help moms feel a little calmer during one of the most physically and emotionally challenging days of their lives. “I believe that many mothers just feel generally more cared for and less alone during the experience of childbirth with the help of a doula,” Shapiro says.


3.They provide support to both moms and their partners:

“Something I hear from many of my clients is that they can’t believe how intimate their childbirth experience was, even with a doula there,” says Shapiro.

She adds that because childbirth can be such an overwhelming experience for families, having the support of a third party can be just as useful for partners as it is for moms-to-be: 

“Doulas can help recall important information from midwife or doctor appointments, lend a helping hand if mom needs a massage, or just generally absorb some of the stress from the partner,” she says. “In this way, a doula can allow partners to be fully present in the experience.”

4. They’re there for you on the big day:

“Doulas are typically on-call 24/7 during a client’s ‘due window’ of 36 to 42 weeks,” says Shapiro.

When a woman goes into labor, her doula will be available for physical and emotional support both while she’s laboring at home as well as accompanying her to the hospital.

And in addition to the aforementioned relaxation and pain relief techniques, doulas know a lot about childbirth (Shapiro, for example, has attended “more than 350” births in her 13 years as a professional doula).

“During labor, doulas might suggest alternate positions; encourage different non-medical techniques to potentially help speed up dilation, such as walking around; and just generally act as a sounding board for difficult medical decisions,” she says.

If you’re interested in learning more about doulas, you can check out the DONA International website at It has information on where you can find a certified doula and how the process works.

Sources: Kathleen Mulpeter,

Your Child

Different Ways for Kids to Handle Stress


If you’re alive (and of course, you are) then you’ve experienced some form of stress.

Stress can be minor, more like annoyances that add up. There’s mid-level stress that can give you a bad day, but doesn’t hang around much after that. Then there is chronic stress; the kind that can affect your health and wellbeing.  There’s also varying degrees of stress between those three layers.

Experiencing stress begins early in life and for some kids can be devastating, depending on the circumstances.

However, stress isn’t always a bad thing. It can also be a motivator or make you aware of your surroundings. It can help you find solutions to difficult problems. It is normal and even healthy for children to experience some stress, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). How well kids handle stress depends on how much support they have from others and strength inside them.

Stress cannot be totally eliminated, but it can be managed.

Sometimes medications are given to kids and adults to help reduce stress – but there are other methods that are definitely worth looking into.

Exercise:  Physical activity is a great stress reducer. The body not only benefits from exercise, but so does the brain. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted yours or your child’s energy or ability to concentrate.

Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

Yoga: Many children do yoga to get rid of stress, pain and health problems. Yoga uses breathing and body postures to connect the mind and the body. It also helps kids manage feelings and how they act, and yoga is good for kids with anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other mental health conditions, according to the AAP.

Yoga is actually good for the whole family. It’s a good way to connect with the body, mind and emotions while sharing some peaceful time together.

Clinical hypnosis: Hypnosis can help children with irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, and anxiety before surgery and cancer. Not to be confused with the act that entertainers use to put people into a trance-like state; trained specialists help children through hypnosis in a medical setting. Kids are asked to tune out their surroundings to change their feelings about something.

Sometimes doctors use clinical hypnosis along with guided imagery. This therapy uses all of the senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch and movement.

Meditation: Children can improve their attention span and learn how to focus better with mediation.  Some schools have found that meditation helps reduce absences and negative behaviors and improves kids’ self-esteem. One study found that students in an urban school were less stressed out after participating in a school mindfulness meditation program.

The AAP has a 10-point “Personal Stress Plan” form that can be downloaded at ( It is a series of questions with options for personal development. The questions are a good way for parents and kids to talk about the impact stress is having and what they can do to manage it.

Most of the methods mentioned above for reducing stress, were once tagged as “alternative” medicine. Today, they are much more mainstream and are providing families with good options for reducing the stress in their lives.

Story sources: Trisha Korioth,



Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.



Are antibiotics being overprescribed?

Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.


Please fill in your e-mail address to be included in our newsletter.
You may opt out at any time.