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Daily Dose

What New Babies Need

1:30 to read

I have many friends whose own children are now having babies and they always ask, “what all do we need to have/buy for a new baby these days?”  While many things have changed since I had my own children, many have not,  and I still think “less is more” is a good adage to follow, especially for a newborn.  We all have a tendency to buy too much, or the “latest and greatest” only to find out that it is not necessary.

Carseat - a rear facing car seat is a must for your newborn!!!  Look at all of the reviews on line and pick which seat works best for you.  Do you want one with a base that you can also clip on to a stroller?  Remember your baby will sit in a rear facing car seat until 2 years. This is one item I would spend my money on!!

The baby needs a place to sleep so buy a crib and a good mattress.  If you are going to have more than one baby I would buy something that will last through several children. I like having a crib (rather than a toddler bed), as your baby will be in the crib for several years and then can move to a regular bed…no need for an “in between”.  Do not use an “old” crib that has drop sides, due to safety concerns. So that means the one that I had kept in the garage (from my kids) was a throw away! I usually move the first child to a bed when I need the crib for the next baby…no specific age. Bumpers are no longer recommended, so that saves money too!

Changing table or dresser for the millions of diaper changes.  It is so helpful to not have to bend over each time. I would also buy a diaper cream (Dr. Smiths, Destin or Butt paste) to have on hand….your baby will probably get a diaper rash at some time during their time in a diaper.

Baby bath tub: while you can bathe your baby in the sink, the newer bathtubs do make it easier for a newborn and you can use it in the tub as well until your baby can sit up alone. Remember, you will NEVER leave your child in the tub alone…even with all of the seats, rings and things  that they sell to support your baby!!  For bathing I like gentle bath wash like Cetaphil, Cerave, and Eucerin products….good for all skin types.  Pick one!

Swaddle blankets: WOW there are a million on the market and they all “claim” to help your baby to sleep better. I don’t think any of the products say “it will also takes weeks to months for your baby to sleep through the night” , no matter what you use.  I do like the thin swaddle blankets as they are useful for a number of things besides swaddling. Once you have your baby have the nurses show you how to swaddle (quick and easy).  The Miracle Blanket, Woombie and Halo also make it easy to swaddle as well. Pick one (or two) and stick with that.  Remember, your baby is going to be put in their crib on their back whether swaddled or not!! NO TUMMY SLEEPING.  

Diaper Bag: again their are a million out there in all shapes, sizes and price points. In the beginning you need to have a pad for changing (you will end up changing that baby all sorts of weird places), diapers, burp clothes, wipes…as your baby gets bigger you will have bottles, cups, toys all shoved in there too. All of my patients seem to have a travel size Purell strapped to the side of the bag as well. I would get a bag that you can wipe out as there will be spills of all sorts of stuff in that bag I assure you!  Somehow, over time you go back to “less is more” and the diapers end up in your purse!!  

So…that is a start. Will do another post on some other products in the future. 

 

 

Your Teen

Overweight Girls Start Periods At Earlier Age

1.45 to read

Early-onset menstruation is linked to later health problems such as breast cancer, said Sarah Keim, a researcher at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, who wasn't involved in the new study. Girls who get their period early in life are also more likely to have sex sooner than their peers, Keim added, which increases the risk of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.It's nothing new that girls are getting younger and younger when they have their first period, but experts worry that the current obesity epidemic could be fueling that trend.

Overweight or obese girls get their first period months earlier than their normal-weight peers, according to a Danish study. Early-onset menstruation is linked to later health problems such as breast cancer, said Sarah Keim, a researcher at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, who wasn't involved in the new study. Girls who get their period early in life are also more likely to have sex sooner than their peers, Keim added, which increases the risk of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. About 17 percent of American kids and teens are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the study, researchers used information on body mass index (BMI) -- a measure of weight in relation to height -- and age at first period from about 3,200 Danish girls born between 1984 and 1987. The girls started their period just after they had turned 13, on average, which is about half a year later than in the U.S. Keim said part of the reason for this difference may be that African-Americans tend to start their periods before white girls. On average, a girl got her period about 25 days earlier for every point her BMI increased. For a female of about average height and weight, a one-point change in BMI is equivalent to about six pounds. Overweight and obese girls, for example, got their period three to five months before normal-weight girls, said Anshu Shrestha, a graduate student at UCLA School of Public Health, who worked on the study. There has been past research showing a link between BMI and when girls start menstruating. However, since this study was done more recently, it shows that the link is holding up in today's generation, Keim said. The researchers also found that a girl's mother's weight was related to when her daughter started menstruating, but less so than earlier work had hinted. For every point her mother's BMI when pregnant went up, the girl's period came about a week earlier, according to the new study, which was published in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Keim said the Danish findings reinforce the importance of keeping a healthy weight. "It's important for your entire life, starting from very early on," she told Reuters Health. "And it can even affect your children's health." Talking to your daughter about Menstruation. Most girls begin to menstruate when they're about 12, but periods are possible as early as age 8. That's why explaining menstruation early is so important. But menstruation is an awkward subject to talk about, especially with preteen girls, who are often embarrassed by this discussion. So what's the best way to approach this ticklish topic? If your daughter asks questions about menstruation, answer them openly and honestly. Provide as many details as you think she needs at the time. It's OK to let your daughter set the pace, but don't let her avoid the topic entirely. If she's not asking questions as she approaches the preteen years, it's up to you to start talking about menstruation. Don't plan a single tell-all discussion. Instead, talk about the various issues - from basic hygiene to fear of the unknown - in a series of short conversations. Consider it part of a continuing conversation on how the human body works. Remember, your daughter needs good information about the menstrual cycle and all the other changes that puberty brings. If her friends are her only source of information, she may hear some nonsense and take it for fact. To introduce the subject of menstruation, you might ask your daughter what she knows about puberty. Clarify any misinformation and ask what questions she might have. It may be helpful to time your conversations with the health lessons and sex education your daughter is receiving in school, or you could broach the subject before a routine doctor's appointment. You can tell your daughter that the doctor may ask her whether she's gotten her period yet. Then ask if she has any questions or concerns about menstruation. Girls might prefer to learn about menstruation from a female family member, but sometimes that's not possible. If you're a single father and you're not comfortable talking about menstruation, you might delegate these conversations to a female relative or friend. The key is to make sure the information is relayed somehow. The biology of menstruation is important, but most girls are more interested in practical information about periods. Your daughter may want to know when it's going to happen, what it's going to feel like and what she'll need to do when the time comes. - What is menstruation? Menstruation means a girl's body is physically capable of becoming pregnant. Each month, one of the ovaries releases an egg. This is called ovulation. At the same time, hormonal changes prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If ovulation takes place and the egg isn't fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds through the vagina. This is a period. - Does it hurt? Many girls have cramps, typically in the lower abdomen, when their periods begin. Cramps can be dull and achy or sharp and intense. Exercise, a heating pad or an over-the-counter pain reliever may help ease any discomfort. - When will it happen? No one can tell exactly when a girl will get her first period. Typically, however, girls begin menstruating about two years after their breasts begin to develop. Many girls experience a thin, white vaginal discharge about one year before menstruation begins. - What should I do? Explain how to use sanitary pads or tampons. Many girls are more comfortable starting with pads, but it's OK to use tampons right away. Remind your daughter that it may take some practice to get used to inserting tampons. Stock the bathroom with various types of sanitary products ahead of time. Encourage your daughter to experiment until she finds the product that works best for her. - What if I'm at school? Encourage your daughter to carry a few pads or tampons in her backpack or purse, just in case. Many school bathrooms have coin-operated dispensers for these products. The school nurse also may have supplies. - Will everyone know that I have my period? Assure your daughter that pads and tampons aren't visible through clothing. No one needs to know that she has her period. - What if blood leaks onto my pants? Offer your daughter practical suggestions for covering up stains until she's able to change clothes, such as tying a sweatshirt around her waist. You might also encourage your daughter to wear dark pants or shorts when she has her period, just in case. Your daughter may worry that she's not normal if she starts having periods before, or after, friends her age do, or if her periods aren't like those of her friends. But menstruation varies with the individual. Some girls have periods that last two days, while others have periods that last more than a week. It can even vary this drastically from month to month in the same girl. The amount of blood lost each month can vary, too, usually from 4 to 12 teaspoons (about 20 to 60 milliliters). It's also common for girls to have irregular periods for the first year or two. Some months might even go by without a period. Once your daughter's cycle settles down, teach her how to track her periods on a calendar. Eventually she may be able to predict when her periods will begin. Schedule a medical checkup for your daughter if: - Her periods last more than seven days - She has menstrual cramps that aren't relieved by over-the-counter medications - She's soaking more pads or tampons than usual - She's missing school or other activities because of painful or heavy periods - She goes three months without a period or suspects she may be pregnant - She hasn't started menstruating by age 15 The changes associated with puberty can be a little scary. Reassure your daughter that it's normal to feel apprehensive about menstruating, but it's nothing to be too worried about and you're there to answer any questions she may have.

Daily Dose

Digital Technology & Your Children

1:30 to read

I somehow stumbled upon a recent article in the UK Mirror in which Bill Gates was being interviewed. It caught my eye as it began with “As you wrestle the tablets from your square-eyed kids for the 10th time today, it might be reassuring to hear the king of Silicon Valley shares your worries”.

 

The discussion surrounding our children and the use of cell phones and the appropriate age to give a child a phone always brings up various opinions. Some parents feel that their 6 -8 year old elementary school child “needs a cell phone for safety reasons”. Other parents think that their child “doesn’t need a phone until they drive.” Lastly, there are parents who think their child gets a cell phone when “they can pay for it”.  These are only a few of the various responses I have heard from my own patient’s parents….I am sure there are a million more. 

 

Well, it seems Bill Gates, one of the greatest technology innovators of all time, “banned his kids from having mobile phones until they were 14 years old”.  During the interview he also stated that he “forbids cell phones at the dinner table”.  It sounds like Bill Gates runs a pretty tight ship in his own home..with some well founded rules,  while weighing the pros and cons of the use of electronics with his children.

 

Many parents tell me that all of these electronics are necessary for homework and social media also allows their child to stay in touch with their friends…which again is quite true. At the same time Bill Gates commented that he and his wife “often set a time after which there is no screen time…which also helps his children (now ages, 20, 17 and 14) get to sleep at a reasonable hour”. It sounds as if Bill Gates has been reading the studies about screen time and sleep…and how the two may actually affect one another and is a believer!

 

So I now think that I will quote Bill Gates and “suggest” to parents that they not rush to buy their child a cell phone until they are around 14. It also makes a great deal of sense to monitor their usage and to continue to make sure that family time, including dinner time is a “cell free zone”. He emphasizes that using it to an excess, for any reason, is just not a good idea.

 

He is also a big believer in vaccines!!! Go Bill Go!

 

 

 

Daily Dose

Read To Your Kids

1:30 to read

I know that there seems to be a “national” day for almost everything these days…we just celebrated National Dog Day! (who doesn’t love a dog…but not all families want, have space or  extra income to care for a dog). But there is one thing all parents can do and celebrate very day regardless of socioeconomic background, ethnicity, or geographic location…they can read to their child in the first 5 years of life (and maybe even longer!) 

Try reading to your child 15 minutes a day. The benefits are endless!  Seems like an easy enough “to do” and something that all parents can start from the time their baby is an infant. Newborns need to hear their parents voices and  language early on as a baby’s brain grows exponentially and will actually double in size in the first year of life alone.

A recent study conducted by You.Gov for the Read Aloud Campaign found that only about 46% of parents read aloud with their child every day and only 34% do so for the recommended 15 minutes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also recommended that all children, beginning at birth, are read to every day. In another survey while six in 10 ( 62%) of parents admit to receiving advice to read aloud to their child only 8% actually followed through.  When asked why they have not read to their child parents site “I can’t find the time in the day”, while over half of the parents surveyed say “their child watches TV or uses a tablet at home rather than being read to”. Some parents say, “their child won’t sit still” to be read aloud to.  But if you realized the head start you are giving your child….could you find the time?

Scientists know that a baby’s and toddler’s brain is making huge connections among the 100 billion neurons they are born with.  By the age 3 there will be about 1,000 trillion connections between those neurons.  These are also the critical years in the development of a child’s language skills.   A child will quadruple the number of words they know between the ages of 1 and 2 years.  Yes, they will mimic everything….even words you wished they had not heard so be careful.

Reading aloud is one of the single most important things a parent or caregiver can do to help a child prepare for learning.  Children who have been exposed to books while listening and reading daily with a parent get a head start in language and literacy skills.  Unfortunately,  more than one in three children begin kindergarten without the necessary skills of listening and learning.  Some are at such a disadvantage that they may not be able to “catch up”.

So, I find myself giving books as baby gifts more and more these days - as who doesn’t have a favorite book or two that make timeless gifts (that may even be passed on to the next generation).  Nursery rhymes, Good Night Moon, Pat the Bunny are a few of my favorites as well as all books by Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle. 

So make it a new habit whether your child is 1 day, 1 month, 1 year or older….read aloud 15 minutes a day and before you know it your child will be reading to you!!!

Daily Dose

Ear Infections

1:30 to read

Musings from the very busy pediatric office:  with all of the advances in technology over the last 30 years why is it that examining a child’s ears and visualizing their eardrum continues to be challenging?  I started thinking about this while examining a very unhappy, strong and febrile toddler….probably the 20th patient of the day. 

 

During the “sick season” many of the patients who come to my office are young children whose parents are worried that they may have an ear infection.  This concern is one of the most frequent reasons for pediatric office visits. While I realize that many of my colleagues are in the operating room operating on brains or doing open heart surgery (truly saving lives) the one advantage that they have is that their patient is under anesthesia while they are doing complicated procedures. Which only means that they are not trying to wrestle, cajole, or coax a child into letting them look into their ear canal, and then only to find that you can’t see a thing as the canal is full of wax (cerumen).  

 

At times examining ears can be fairly simple and straight forward, but some days it seems that it may be easier to attempt to fly than to look at a 16 month old child’s ears. Today was one of those days. It seemed that every child I saw had a temperature over 102 degrees, and they all had “waxy” ears. While there are several ways to remove wax from the ear canal, none of them is easily done in a toddler, especially when the wax is hard and difficult to remove. Having 3 children myself and one who had recurrent ear infections and tympanostomy tubes, I know what it is like to have to hold your child on the pediatrician’s exam table while they irrigate or “dig” wax out of the ears.  Not fun….!!!  But, at the same time I realize that this is the only means to see if the ear is infected and if there is the need for an antibiotic. 

 

With the advent of the HIB and Pneumococcal vaccines the incidence of ear infections has dropped significantly, as these bacteria were common causes of otitis. But, ear infections are still the #1 reason that a child receives an antibiotic, especially in the first 2 years of life.  Therefore, a good ear exam is one of the most important things your pediatrician does, as I know you don’t want your child to receive an unnecessary antibiotic!

 

Please know that pediatricians do not enjoy making a child uncomfortable, but somehow that ear drum needs to be seen…especially in a sick child.   

 

So…why has some brilliant medical device inventor not found a way to wave a magic wand over a child’s ear to “tell me” if their ear is infected?  To date, I have not seen any “new” ways to accurately examine an ear other than with the otoscope…and a clean ear canal…which means unhappy children (and parents ) while I try to clean their ears.  

 

Remember, don’t use q-tips in your child’s ears and if your pediatrician has to struggle a bit to clean out  your child’s ears, it is only because they are doing a good job!!  I am waiting for the “easy” button.

   

Your Teen

Parenting Tweens & Teens

2.15 to read

As a mother or father, who hasn’t wished that their child came with a “How To Be The Perfect Parent” handbook? It would be nice if for every stage of emotional and physical growth there was a clear –one size fits all- plan that would take the stress and confusion out of developing good parenting skills. Alas though, there’s no such thing, but there are experts who can help guide you. 

With children come different personalities that respond uniquely to his or her situations. It’s part of the challenge of raising a mature, thoughtful and self-sufficient adult.

The tween and teen years can be some of the most challenging times for child and parent relationships.

What is a “tween?” The tween years are approximately 9-14. It is less an age category than a developmental stage when your son or daughter is no longer a child and not yet a teen. Today puberty is statistically happening at younger ages on the average and that could be confusing to parents who think that their kids will be childlike until they’re 12.

More focus is placed on tween behaviors now than just 2 or 3 generations ago. Society has changed dramatically during the last decade.  Media images that encourage “grown-up” looks and behaviors as well exposure to sexualized fashion, music, and even dolls has had an enormous impact on this generation of youngsters.  The tween years aren’t what they used to be.

Everything is in flux as your little one strives for more independence, and you try your best to help them avoid making mistakes that can last a lifetime. And then there is the “generational gap” that puts a strain on being able to even have a civil conversation. Fashion, music, drugs, alcohol, sex, movies, cars, celebrities, school and peers begin to play a larger role in their life than you can possibly imagine.

And then there are teenagers, the adolescent years between 13 and 19. 

There may not be a one size fits all easy-peasy guide to parenting available, but there are tips from experts that can help parents navigate the rough waters of the tween and teen years.

WebMD.com delves into 5 common mistakes parents make as their children hit the unpredictable tween and teen years. Let’s take a look at some recommendations.

Parenting Mistake # 1- Expecting the worse from your child.

Although the tween and teen years can be difficult, expecting the worse from your child can lead to self-fulfilling behaviors. 

Teenagers get a bad rap, says Richard Lerner, PhD, director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. Many parents approach raising teenagers as an ordeal, believing they can only watch helplessly as their lovable children transform into unpredictable monsters. Expecting the worst sets parents and teens up for several unhappy, unsatisfying years together.

“The message we give teenagers is that they’re only ‘good’ if they’re not doing ‘bad’ things, such as doing drugs, hanging around with the wrong crowd, or having sex,” Lerner tells WebMD. Raising teenagers with negative expectations can actually promote the behavior you fear most. According to a recent study conducted at Wake Forest University, teens whose parents expected them to get involved in risky behaviors reported higher levels of these behaviors one year later.

Lerner urges parents to focus on their teenagers’ interests and hobbies, even if you don’t understand them. You could open a new path of communication, reconnect with the child you love, and learn something new.

Parenting Mistake # 2 – Reading too many parenting books.

What was I just saying about wanting a book to provide all the parenting answers? It appears that is not only impossible, but it’s not even a good idea.

Rather than trusting their instincts, many parents turn to outside experts for advice on how to raise teens. “Parents can tie themselves into knots trying to follow the advice they read in books,” says Robert Evans, EdD, executive director of the Human Relations Service, Wellesley, Mass., and author of Family Matters: How Schools Can Cope with the Crisis in Child Rearing.

“Books become a problem when parents use them to replace their own innate skills,” Evans tells WebMD. “If the recommendations and their personal style don’t fit, parents wind up more anxious and less confident with their own children.”

Use books (and articles like this) to get perspective on confusing behavior and then put them down. Spend the extra time talking with your spouse and children, getting clear about what matters most to you and your family.

Parenting Mistake #3 - Sweat the Small Stuff 

Too often, we all sweat the small stuff, and sometimes ignore the big stuff. It’s certainly much easier to focus in on a behavior that we don’t like instead of trying to deal with a behavior that is frightening or dangerous.

Maybe you don’t like your daughter’s haircut or choice of clothes. Or perhaps she didn’t get the part in the play you know she deserves. Before you intervene, look at the big picture. If a certain mode of self-expression or set of events does not put your child at risk, give her the leeway to make age-appropriate decisions and live with the results.

“A lot of parents don’t want growing up to involve any pain, disappointment, or failure,” Evans says. But protecting your child from the realities of life robs her of the opportunity to take chances and learn from her mistakes while she’s still under your roof. Step back and let your child know you’re there when she needs you.

Parenting Mistake # 4 - Ignore the Big Stuff 

The big stuff is where things get dicey.

If you suspect your child is using alcohol or drugs, do not look the other way. Parents should address suspected drug or alcohol use right away, before it escalates into a bigger problem, says Amelia M. Arria, PhD, director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

“The years when kids are between 13 and 18 years old are an essential time for parents to stay involved,” Arria tells WebMD. Parents might consider teen drinking a rite of passage because they drank when they were that age. “But the stakes are higher now,” she says.

More drugs are available today, illegal drugs and legal medications. For example, cough remedies with DXM (dextromethorphan) have become a new drug of choice for some teens. DXM is easy to get and teens and parents alike underrate its potential dangers. Studies show that between 7% and 10% of U.S. teens have reported abusing cough medicine to get high. Although safe when used as directed, DXM can cause hallucinations and disassociations similar to PCP or ketamine (Special K) when used in excessive amounts, as well as rapid heartbeat, unconsciousness, stomach pain, and vomiting.

Watch for unexplained changes in your teen’s behavior, appearance, academic performance, and friends. If you find empty cough medicine packaging in your child’s trash or backpack, if bottles of medicine go missing from your cabinet, or if you find unfamiliar pills, pipes, rolling papers, or matches, your child could be abusing drugs. Take these signs seriously and get involved. Safeguard all the medicines you have: Know which products are in your home and how much medication is in each package or bottle.

Drugs are not the only “Big stuff” to keep an eye on; too much time on the computer or texting, sexual activities and interests, distracted driving habits are just a few other categories that require more attention from parents.

Tweens and teens make mistakes and get themselves in over their head with drugs and alcohol, sexual behaviors, poor school grades and more. These risk behaviors can become real problems in your teen's life and be hurdles in the way of their success. While it's important for a parent of a teenager to allow privacy, we also have to be monitoring what our teens are into so we can help guide them away from risk taking behaviors. Your teen needs to have limits in your home. When you allow your teen to do anything they want, they will begin to take control and you are no longer the parent.

Parenting Mistake #5 - Rule With an Iron Fist, or Kid Gloves

Some parents, sensing a loss of control over their teens’ behavior, crack down every time their child steps out of line. Every day brings a new punishment. The home becomes a war zone. By contrast, other parents avoid all conflict for fear their teens will push them away. They put being a cool parent ahead of setting limits and enforcing rules. For these parents, discipline is a dirty word.

This style of parenting focuses on obedience above all else. Although the house may run like a tight ship, teens raised in rigid environments don’t have the opportunity to develop problem-solving or leadership skills.

Yet too little discipline does a disservice to teens as well. Teenagers need clear structure and rules to live by as they start to explore the world outside. It is up to parents to establish their household’s core values and communicate these to their children through words and consistent actions. Lerner calls this being an authoritative parent, an approach that “helps children develop the skills they need to govern themselves in appropriate ways.”

 

One key thing to remember about the tween and teen years is .. it’s not personal. It may feel very personal when your child yells that they hate you, can’t stand you, or never wants to see you again, but in most cases, it’s an angry outburst driven by not getting their way.  Remember your teen years?  We’ve all said things we regret later, learning to communicate effectively with your teen or tween smoothes a lot of bumpy roads.

Keep in mind that your influence runs deeper than you think. Most teens say they want to spend more time with their parents. And teens choose friends that have their parents’ core values. Keep making time for your child throughout the tween and teen years. Even when it doesn’t show, you provide the solid ground they know they can always come home to.

 

Daily Dose

Maternity Leave & Breastfeeding

1:15 to read

When Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla, his pediatrician wife, had their baby last year he announced that he would be taking off 2 months to be at home with his wife and baby. For those fortunate enough to work for Facebook or Google or another company with a generous maternity/paternity leave policy they too may get anywhere from 2-6 months of paid leave after the birth of their baby. But for most workers, it is more the “norm” that a mother receives anywhere from 4-6 weeks of maternity leave, and in many cases it is not paid.   The first several months of being a new parent are often overwhelming, but knowing that you have 4-6 months of paid leave which allows you time to “become a family” certainly makes the adjustment to parent hood a bit easier.

Unfortunately, physicians (including pediatricians) are faced with returning to their practice often “as quickly as possible”.  I found that going back to work after 12 weeks (which I had to beg for) and trying to juggle a full load of patients, answering phone calls, taking night call and making hospital rounds really did impact my mood as well as my breastfeeding. Although I enjoyed breastfeeding,  I could not figure out how to find any time to pump between patients (talk about running late) to keep my milk supply up. So….I eventually made the decision that in order to keep working I would need to stop breast feeding, which was a bit traumatic for me…..in retrospect I was tougher on myself than I needed to be, but 30 years ago I didn’t realize the numerous other difficult parenting decisions that lay ahead.

Interestingly, a new study just published in Pediatrics is what made me ponder all of this.  Many studies have shown that mothers may have trouble continuing to breast feed after returning to work. This latest study from Australia actually found that the amount of time to return to employment was actually “far less significant than the number of hours a woman worked”.  The study found that working 19 hours or less per week was associated with a higher likelihood to continue breastfeeding.  Those women who returned to a work week of 19 hours or less “experienced no decline in the likelihood that they were breastfeeding regardless of when they returned to work and they were more likely to sustain breastfeeding as well”.  In other words longer breastfeeding, a win win for mother and child. 

As more and more women are employed during their child bearing years, the ongoing debate surrounding the appropriate length of time for maternity leave continues. While there have been many studies to show the importance of family leave after the birth of a baby ( better bonding, less post partum depression) this study is one of the first to show the benefit of a reduction of hours worked upon re-entry to the workplace.  It is my hope that this research may open the door for discussions examining the feasibility of reduced work hours for women who return to work after giving birth.  This new data may be pivotal in improving longer breastfeeding rates in the U.S.  

I am sure many women, although not included in the study,  who have juggled a career and breast feeding would agree.

Daily Dose

Breast Feeding Woes

1:30 to read

I recently read an editorial in The New York Times entitled “Overselling Breast Feeding”. It was written by Courtney Jung who is a professor of political science at the University of Toronto.  It was quite interesting to me as she stated “the moral fervor surrounding breast feeding continues unabated, with a steady stream of advocacy and education campaigns”.  The WHO (World Health Organization) developed “ten steps to successful breast feeding” in hopes of increasing breast feeding initiation and duration around the world. Hospitals have been designated “Baby-Friendly”  (aren’t they all supposed to be?)  if they adhere to these steps as well. But the United States has done well with breast feeding rates as 79% of mothers initiate breast feeding.

Most, if not all of the new mothers I make rounds on are proponents of breast feeding. They have read the books, gone to classes and are determined to be successful at breast feeding. But, in my experience over the last several years, I have actually seen more and more new mothers becoming over-wrought and wary of breast feeding fueled by the “rules” that they are being required to follow. With that being said, having someone “tell you that you must breast feed your baby in the first hour after birth”, and that “your baby must remain in your room 24 hours a day“, and that they “may not have a pacifier”, “and should “breast feed on demand” is actually anxiety promoting and leaves many a new mother exhausted and tearful within a day or two of having a baby. 

While breast feeding is “natural” it also requires some practice and the only practice is really “on the job” training.  Some babies just latch on quickly and are pros immediately, but not all babies will become proficient at breast feeding in the first day or two. The mothers are told to “let the baby nurse on demand” and some mothers have had their babies at the breast for hours on end and are exhausted, with sore and bleeding nipples. I have walked in to too many hospital rooms with a mother in tears and a fretful baby, and a “helpless” new father.  Some feel as if “they are failures” as mothers before they even are discharged, and at the same time are having serious doubts about continuing to breast feed.  They are sure that their baby will catch serious illnesses and have a lower IQ if they don’t breast feed, but how can they maintain this constant breast feeding and no sleep and never put a pacifier in their baby’s mouth??? Is there only one way to be successful at breast feeding?

I loved breast feeding but it was a long time ago and we were instructed by caring nurses “to just go home and put the baby to the breast every 2-3 hours”. While that may not have been the best education has the pendulum swung too far?  Will giving the baby one bottle when a mother is having postpartum anxiety and sleeplessness really harm the baby?  Should a mother have to sign an order allowing her baby to have a pacifier??   While guidelines for breast feeding are helpful should they be so rigid that a mother “gives up” on breast-feeding because she can’t follow 10 steps in the first 24-48 hours?   

The New York Times article was quite interesting and I had to agree with many of the author’s  points. Supporting a woman’s choice to breast feed is admirable and “policy changes promoting maternity leave, and flexibility” are definitely needed to encourage women to continue to breast feed. But as she states “is all of this breast feeding advocacy crossing the line?”   A mother should choose to breast feed because she wants to, and that does not mean if her baby does not breast feed in the first hour that she will never bond with her baby or be successful at breast feeding.  Some woman are unable to breast feed for a multitude of reasons and that decision should not label her as a “bad mother”.  Again, breast feeding, like a woman’s breast, is not “one size fits all”. 

 

Daily Dose

Happy Mother's Day!

1.00 to read

So, what if you were given a second chance as a mom? I know this is supposed to be a short blog, but I may need several pages to get this all out. 

As a mom, I know I have made many mistakes over the years while raising our three sons. They are adults now, but will always be “my baby boys”.

If I could re-play anything, I would advise moms to enjoy and embrace every stage of parenting as it all goes by too quickly. I always remember looking at other families and thinking, “when will I get to that stage?” as it always looked like the next milestone would be easier or more rewarding or more anything. But in reality, every single stage of parenting has its ups and downs and you can only realize that in retrospect. I was guilty of looking ahead too much rather than enjoying whatever present situation we were in. The old adage of “live in the moment” is never so true as while you are a parent. I say enjoy playing blocks with your baby, reading to your children every night, playing games in the yard, trips to the pool or long chats with your teens about their friends and making good choices. For each of these things goes by so quickly and cannot be replayed except as special memories in your mind. I would also remind you to take more pictures, and videos, as these are the things that will jog your memory later in life.

All of the memories that are hidden away in some remote spot in a mom's aging brain become clearer when you see a picture of an event. This was evident when I was trying to pull together our family pictures for our oldest son’s wedding. Why is it that I took pictures of everything when our oldest son was little, and by the third child, the pictures are fewer and farther between? He was no less important for sure, but the time issue just didn’t seem to allow it to happen. I should have made the time!! How long could it have taken to take a picture of kids playing together in the yard, or eating dinner at the table together or doing homework? Those are the memories I long to have, the “normal” family times. Most family pictures are of “events”, which is fine, but documenting the simple things too, for they are the most special memories.

Lastly, I asked “my boys” about a re-do, and they all said, “You should have let us wrestle more!” How funny is that! Seems like such a simple thing, but I was always breaking up those boys for fear of them hurting one another. The louder it got, the more I was sure it would only lead to trouble, so I was the “girl” in the middle pulling them off of one another. My advice to young parents, enjoy the ride and try to live in the moment that you are given. You never know what lies ahead, and some of the hardest times in parenting may actually help you appreciate the wonderful times even more. I am continuing to give myself that advice as I am learning about parenting grown sons and now a grandmother! Thankfully, parenting never ends! 

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