The Baby Blawg

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cold Remedies and Breastfeeding

Quite often, nursing mothers will wonder if it is safe to take cold medicine while breastfeeding. Generally speaking, there is little risk to your baby from taking over-the-counter remedies for a brief period of time. However, some drugs are safer than others; and a few can have a negative impact on milk production. The InfantRisk Center of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at Amarillo has a helpful analysis of common cough and cold remedies.

On a personal note, although I try to avoid all drugs while pregnant or nursing, if I am really miserable with a cold I will take Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil). Not only does it relieve the pain of a headache, sore throat, etc., but its anti-inflammatory property will reduce swelling in mucous membranes such as your nose and sinuses, making it easier to breathe. And, according to InfantRisk, Ibuprofen is "the preferred analgesic in breastfeeding mothers as only small amounts get into milk".

Friday, June 04, 2010

Cesarian Sections

The Academic OB/Gyn has an interesting, if somewhat technical, discussion of single vs. double layer suturing to close up the uterus after a c-section. For what it's worth, my birth plan includes a request for double-layer suturing should surgery be necessary.

And speaking of surgical births, the Philadelphia Inquirer this week published Dangerous delivery shows peril of multiple C-sections:
The case points out a fundamental truth about surgical delivery: a first cesarean for most women leads to a cesarean with every pregnancy. And while a first section is quick, easy to perform, and rarely complicated, each repeat surgery carries greater risk.
A risk which, sadly, most women are not made aware of.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Homebirth Dads

Natural Papa Derek Markham has a series on his blog, 10 Questions for Homebirth Dads. One of the dads interviewed, Jorge Cuevas, is the producer of the video Homebirth Dads. Haven't seen it, but it looks neat.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sling Recall

Babywearing advocates and organizations are rejoicing today at the news of Infantino's recall of its bag-style slings. Expert babywearers have been saying for years that these types of slings are unsafe. Check Babywearing International for more safety info.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Science & Sensibility

A neat new blog from Lamaze International, Science & Sensibility, a "research blog about healthy pregnancy, birth & beyond". Looks wonderful already.

Thanks to Molly of Citizens for Midwifery for pointing it out.

The "Swine Flu" and Pregnant/Breastfeeding Women

The CDC yesterday issued some guidance for healthcare providers in treating pregnant and breastfeeding women who have or may have the swine influenza A (H1N1) virus. The CDC notes that the flu can be more severe in pregnant women, with a higher risk of complications for the baby, especially if the mom develops pneumonia.

On the subject of breastfeeding, the CDC's advice - which is applicable for pretty much any illness, not just the flu - is as follows:

Infants who are not breastfeeding are particularly vulnerable to infection and hospitalization for severe respiratory illness. Women who deliver should be encouraged to initiate breastfeeding early and feed frequently. Ideally, babies should receive most of their nutrition from breast milk. Eliminate unnecessary formula supplementation, so the infant can receive as much maternal antibodies as possible.

If a woman is ill, she should continue breastfeeding and increase feeding frequency. If maternal illness prevents safe feeding at the breast, but she can still pump, encourage her to do so. The risk for swine influenza transmission through breast milk is unknown. However, reports of viremia with seasonal influenza infection are rare.

It is important to note that by the time a woman shows symptoms of an illness, her baby has already been exposed, so she should never stop breastfeeding or be separated from the baby when sick. There are only a couple notable exceptions to this rule - tuberculosis and HIV come to mind. But for almost all diseases, a sick mother should breastfeed more, not less.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More "news" we already knew: Don't lie on your back when you are in labor

Remaining active and mobile during labor can shorten the first stage and results in less discomfort for moms:
Women who walk, sit, kneel or otherwise avoid lying in bed during early labor can shorten the first stage of labor by about an hour, according to a new Cochrane evidence review.

Women who labored out of bed during the early stages were also 17 percent less likely to seek pain relief through epidural analgesia, the review found.
This is not only for physiological reasons, such as widening the pelvis and optimizing fetal position, but "[o]ther research has found that feeling in control and able to make choices reduces pain and psychological distress in general." If fact, lying on your back during labor can be dangerous:
[l]ying flat on one's back during labor can put a great deal of pressure on the blood vessels in the abdomen. "There is widely accepted physiological evidence that the supine position may be harmful in late pregnancy and labor," [lead review author Annemarie] Lawrence said.

According to the reviewers, the supine position puts the entire weight of the pregnant uterus on the blood vessels that supply oxygen to both mother and child, which could potentially lead to problems with heart functioning in the mother and reduced oxygen to the baby. These outcomes could be serious in extreme cases. Lying on one's side has no link with such problems, however.
So why do so many women labor in bed?

[Teri] Stone-Godena[, director of midwifery at the Yale School of Nursing,] said that despite all the attention given to empowering women to have the type of birth experience they prefer, medical professionals still pressure women into lying in bed during labor, because it is more convenient this way for nurses and doctors - and makes fetal monitoring easier.

"I think this research is very vindicating of women being allowed to assume positions of comfort," she said. "Listening to their bodies is what they need to do. Most of time when we limit people's activity, it isn't for reasons that are soundly based on evidence."

She added, "This clearly shows that there are no advantages in staying in bed unless that's where you want to be."

Generally speaking, if a particular labor position causes you increased pain or discomfort, it's not a good one to be in - for you or the baby. Pain is your body's way of letting you know you need to change what you are doing.

Link to article.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Baby News - the Joy and the Sorrow

Hello everyone!

When I started this blog, it's purpose was two-fold; first, to be my pregnancy journal for my third pregnancy (now a very busy three-year-old). I posted pretty much every week during the second & third trimesters, and a couple times while in labor. Second, the blog was to be a place to post interesting and helpful links about pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant care. I do a lot of research & reading and I just needed to share it. Isn't that why anyone has a blog? To share their stuff with the world?

This summer I became pregnant with Baby #4. If you were paying attention, you would have noticed that in July I noted that I would be taking a break from blogging, and did not post again until October 15th, National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In mid-August, at 11 weeks, I began bleeding heavily and a sonogram revealed an embryo that had stopped growing about three weeks prior and had no heartbeat. Needless to say, we were sad and also a bit surprised, since I had already produced three children without incident. The actual miscarriage process went as smoothly as could be expected and so we were blessed in that. Baby #4's due date was March 7, just a month ago.

In November we discovered that we were expecting Baby #5. We were neither "trying" nor not trying, but rather were monitoring closely (BTW, if you are a woman of childbearing age and haven't yet read Toni Weschler's Taking Charge of Your Fertility, do so now, and thank me later. I'd also like to give a shout out to We kept the pregnancy a secret for 11 weeks, through Christmas and the New Year, a feat made possible due only to the fact that this was my first non-HG pregnancy (still plenty of nausea & vomiting, though). So far so good! I've passed the 20-week mark, which means there is zero chance of miscarriage (only because after 20 weeks, a fetal death is considered a stillbirth); and in another couple weeks I will have passed the viability point. Not milestones I had ever felt the need to mark with my previous pregnancies. I do not feel that I am particularly anxious or fearful with this pregnancy, only more cautious with my hopes and feelings.

So what's the plan for The Baby Blawg? I will start up regular updates, probably every couple weeks and then weekly towards the end. And expect more regular posting on birth stuff and, hopefully, a lot of book reviews. Please join me!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Shopping for Breast Pumps

Shopping for a breast pump? The US Food & Drug Administration has a whole website devoted to choosing a pump. This might be a good place to start, but the FDA does not make any recommendations as to specific brands. For even more information, check out Kellymom's list of
milk expression tips & pump information.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Are tocolytics safe & effective?

A new study questions the safety of drugs used for pre-term labor, saying some are linked to complications and not always effective:

In an accompanying editorial, the researchers said their study is a reminder that the decision to use tocolysis shouldn't be taken lightly.

"After 30 years of research, we still do not know whether tocolysis benefits the fetus, so the choice of which drug to use remains a secondary question. The real dilemma is whether or not we should treat at all," they wrote. The long-held belief that "keeping the baby inside longer must be a good thing" needs to be reevaluated, they said.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Early Caesareans Pose Risks to Newborns

Research is catching up to what we knew all along: babies born by elective c-section prior to 39 weeks are at a significantly higher risk of medical problems. Even just a week can mean a huge difference for a baby's health. Complications of being born too early include respiratory distress, infections, and hypoglycemia. This is in addition to the normal risk of being born by c-section, as the New York Times article points out,
Doctors noted that even when babies born by Caesarean are delivered at the same week of pregnancy as babies delivered vaginally, they are at higher risk of respiratory difficulties because the process of labor and delivery primes the fetal lungs for breathing air.
Although the increasing prematurity rate in the US is often blamed on women with little to no prenatal care and poor nutrition, a large chunk of the problem is inductions or c-sections scheduled too early - perhaps in combination with incorrect due dates. Read between the lines of this quotation:

But Dr. Alan Fleischman, medical director of the March of Dimes, said the findings should reinforce the message that "every week counts" in a pregnancy. The women who were more likely to deliver early were white women with private health insurance, and the medical centers were all top-notch hospitals, he noted.

"These are not preterm babies, and these are pregnancies that should have good outcomes," he said.
Keep in mind that the research deals with "elective" cesareans, meaning there was no medical indication for the surgery. The National Partnership for Women and Families' article on the same study reports:
John Thorp, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said that there are differences between infants delivered at 37 weeks vaginally and those delivered via elective c-section. He said, "We would not worry about a 37-and-a-half week baby born vaginally with the onset of labor" because in that situation, "there is some signal from a baby to his mother that says 'I'm ready'"
More discussion and links are available at the Citizens for Midwifery blog. And check out a related press release from Lamaze International, Best Practices in Maternity Care Not Widely Used in the United States.

And as for my opinion, God (or Mother Nature, if you prefer) knew what He was doing. If a 37 or 38 week baby was ready to be born, he would have been born already. Anytime you force a baby to come early, whether through drugs or surgery, you have got to expect a baby that is not completely ready to face life "on the outside".

Friday, November 28, 2008

Melamine found in US formula

FDA defends safety of U.S. infant formula:
FDA tests found "very low levels" of the industrial chemical melamine in Nestle's Good Start Supreme with Iron formula, said Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

It also found low levels of cyanuric acid in Mead Johnson's Enfamil Lipil with Iron, Sundlof said. Mead Johnson is a unit of Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Those findings "do not raise public health concerns," Sundlof told a conference call. "The domestic supply of infant formula is safe."

Representatives for Nestle and Bristol-Myers could not immediately be reached for comment.

The FDA earlier this week said it had found one brand of formula containing melamine, a chemical used widely in the production of plastics and fertilizer, but declined to name the company to Reuters.

The article goes on to say that the FDA is not yet finished testing samples.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Water Aerobics

Water Aerobics during pregnancy reduces the need for analgesia (pain meds) in labor. Seriously.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's not rocket science

I've had this bookmarked for the longest time (3 1/2 years, to be exact), but since it's NaBloPoMo and I'm looking for things to blog about quickly, thought I'd share. It's an excellent post from katiekind about mothers, babies, and attachment:
You could take it as an insult, but God does not credit us with being rocket scientists when it comes to taking care of the next generation. Instead he pre-programs caregiving behavior on the part of mothers AND he pre-programs babies to elicit caregiving from their mothers. An obvious example is how a nursing mother's breasts gush milk in response to hungry-baby sounds. Just in case she can't figure it out from the way her baby is frantically mouthing anything that gets near...her breasts start to tingle and next thing she knows, the front of her shirt is milky. It is not the most subtle of hints. But considering how tiny and vulnerable babies are, it's a hint to heed. This milk-ejection reflex subsides after the first few months of nursing. By that time a nursing mother and her baby have sync'ed up well and the mother knows her baby's subtlest signs of need for nursing.

But it doesn't stop there.
Read more.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

News Items

A couple items in the news caught my eye, regarding recent research studies:

Contaminants in human milk - not breastfeeding an infant typically poses more of a threat to the baby's health than does exposure to any of the chemicals which can be detected in breastmilk.

Depressed pregnant women have twice the risk of preterm delivery - A recent study found that pregnant women with symptoms of depression have an increased risk of preterm delivery, and that the risk grows with the severity of the depressive symptoms. Most of the women in the study were not taking medication for depression.

Caffeine intake during pregnancy - Any amount of caffeine intake by pregnant women increases the risk of low birth weight in their babies:
In light of this evidence, the UK Government's Food Standards Agency are altering their guidance on the recommended daily limit of caffeine consumption and reducing it from 300mg to 200mg.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

When doing nothing is the best course of action

Many C-Sections Can Be Avoided By Waiting Out Stalled Labor for an extra two hours, according to a new study:
"One third of all first-time cesareans are performed due to active-phase arrest during labor, which contributes to approximately 400,000 surgical births per year," said [study author Dr. Aaron] Caughey, who is affiliated with the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women's Health. "In our study, we found that just by being patient, one third of those women could have avoided the more dangerous and costly surgical approach."

The cesarean delivery rate reached an all-time high in 2006 of 31.1 percent of all deliveries, according to the UCSF study. Arrest in the active phase of labor has been previously shown to raise the risk of cesarean delivery between four- and six-fold.

"Cesarean delivery is associated with significantly increased risk of maternal hemorrhage, requiring a blood transfusion, and postpartum infection," Caughey said. "After a cesarean, women also have a higher risk in future pregnancies of experiencing abnormal placental location, surgical complications, and uterine rupture."
The study also notes that ACOG already recommends waiting at least two hours before proceeding with a cesarean when adequate contractions in active labor produce no progress , but "it is routine practice in many clinical settings to proceed with a cesarean for 'lack of progress' before those ACOG criteria have been met", according to Caughey.

HT: Unnecessarian

Monday, November 10, 2008

But what if the test is wrong?

Kathy at Woman to Woman Childbirth Education has posted several great articles recently, including What does natural birth sound like and C-sections and Mastectomies. But I really wanted to focus on "But what if the test is wrong?" which reminds women to get a second opinion,
One question to keep in mind with this sort of thing is always, “What’s the false positive rate?” Because if a recommendation is made to you to induce or perform a C-section or have some other intervention based on one thing alone, and that “thing” is wrong almost half the time, then how confident can you — and the doctor, for that matter — be in the diagnosis and subsequent intervention. If, however, there is a low false-positive rate, then you can be more confident that your diagnosis is indeed accurate.
and to be wise in evaluating the risks of their options:
It’s one thing for doctors to say that having some medical condition or refusing some intervention “doubles your risk” — which sounds very bad — but it’s another to find out that the “risk” is still only 1 in 50,000 (which is double the risk of 1/100,000). Sure, nobody wants to be that one, but that means that 99,999 mothers and babies are subjected to an intervention which also carries risk. It’s about perspective — a balance — a trade-off between two different courses of action. Nothing in life is guaranteed (except death and taxes); and there are risks and benefits for every course of action. It’s up to you to choose which risks are acceptable for the proposed benefit.
I could not have said it better myself.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Breast-Fed Babies Better Behaved

Breastfeeding has an effect on behavior during childhood, according to a recent study reported by the Washington Post and HealthDay News:

Parents of youngsters who were breast-fed as infants were less likely to report that their child had a behavior problem or psychiatric illness during the first five years of life, a new study found.

And the likelihood of mental health issues decreased in proportion to the duration of breast-feeding, meaning that a child who had been breast-fed for a year was less likely to have behavior problems than a child who had been breast-fed for just two months.

Oxytocin, anyone?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Unnecessarian

Check out this relatively new blog dedicated to avoiding an unnecessary cesarean - the Unnecesarean.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

October 15th has been designated by Congress as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, in order to remember the approximately 1 million pregnancies each year in the US which end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death. has, hands down, the best collection of information on miscarriage.

Do you wonder if miscarriages are ever misdiagnosed? Visit The Misdiagnosed Miscarriage for information and support. Primarily for early loss.

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is a network of professional photographers who provide services to families experiencing infant loss, at no cost.

The New York Times did a piece a while back on perinatal hospice, A Place to Turn When a Newborn Is Fated to Die.

"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him". - Ps. 126:6

Monday, July 21, 2008

Taking a break

Hello faithful readers,

I'm going to take a bit of a blogging break. Not surprising, since I haven't posted to this blog for over a month. But I'm still here. Expect me back in 4-6 weeks; I may pop in a bit sooner if I feel up to it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Three Years Old

Today is The Baby Blawg's third anniversary. The blog is 3 and my Andrew is almost 2 1/2.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sleeping through the night

Anthropologist Kathy Dettwyler has a neat commentary on her website on the subject of Sleeping Through the Night:

No doubt about it, the gap between what our culture teaches us to expect of the sleep patterns of a young child (read them a story, tuck them in, turn out the light, and not see them again for 8 hours) and the reality of how children actually sleep if healthy and normal, yawns widely.

But the first steps to dealing with the fact that your young child doesn't sleep through the night, or doesn't want to sleep without you is to realize that:

  • (1) Not sleeping through the night until they are 3 or 4 years of age is normal and healthy behavior for human infants.
  • (2) Your children are not being difficult or manipulative, they are being normal and healthy, and behaving in ways that are appropriate for our species.

Once you understand these simple truths, it becomes much easier to deal with parenting your child at night. Once you give up the idea that you must have 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night, and view these nighttime interactions with your child as precious and fleeting, you get used to them very quickly.