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.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Too much water raises seizure risk in babies

With summer and the hot weather coming on, it's a good time to remind parents that babies who are not eating solids should not drink water, and too much can cause seizures.

Timing Contractions

This looks handy: Contraction Master. For those of you who like to live-blog labor.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Culprit

or, "how we spent our afternoon".

Can you identify this object? (not the Penny, the white thing) If you look closely, the slight yellow at the top is actually ear wax, which it acquired while spending several hours in my two-year-old's ear. This small piece of plastic caused no physical damage, just a blow of $50 to our bank account. With only the small end visible, it was impossible to identify the object, and thus to determine how far into the ear canal it actually went. Not that far, as it turns out. In fact, we might not have even known had my unusually verbal son not said, "Mommy, take off ear!".

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

In the News

Some interesting items in the news this week about pregnancy, breastfeeding, and child care:

The rates of pregnant women with diabetes is soaring.

While the news that More Mothers Breast-Feed, in First Months at Least is exciting (especially the increase among African-American moms), the number of babies still breastfed at six months remain unchanged. And there are other questions about the collection of data:
The most recent C.D.C. survey did not report breast-feeding rates at 6 months because of a lack of data.
and further:
Dr. Barbara L. Philipp, associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University, said the C.D.C. survey had not asked mothers whether they breast-fed exclusively. “One sip was positive, so they set the bar very low,” Dr. Philipp said.
and hospitals have still not banned the bags:

Dr. Philipp said that while doctors and nurses were doing a better job of emphasizing the benefits of breast-feeding to patients, most continue to offer new mothers free diaper bags containing infant formula when mothers go home with their newborns.

“That’s a problem because at least five studies have shown that when a doctor or nurse hands the family that bag, even if they take the formula out, that mother will have less success with breast-feeding,” Dr. Philipp said.

Breast cancer risk cut by breast feeding (not if you live in Tanzania, though) although a Brittish poll found that 75% of moms are not aware of that benefit.

And while it isn't exactly "news", more studies confirm that Breastfeeding will improve children's IQ scores.

Just in case you needed something else to worry about, extra iron for infants who don't need it might delay development, arsenic in baby rice puts children at risk, children are more vulnerable to harmful effects of lead at age 6 than as toddlers, and nearly one-third of U.S. parents don't know what to expect of infants.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dark Chocolate Reduces Preeclampsia Risk

At last, the study we have all been waiting for: Chocolate May be Boon to Pregnant Women; Dark chocolate is good for pregnant women: study.

By biting into rich, dark chocolate, there is a 69 percent less chance of contracting preeclampsia, a major pregnancy complication with cardiovascular manifestations such as hypertension that affects up to eight percent of pregnancies, said Dr. Elizabeth Triche.

The associate director at the Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric & Environmental Epidemiology, at Yale University, co-authored the 1996-2000 study of 2,291 women published in the May issue of Epidemiology.

The study method measured the density of theobromine -- a chemical in chocolate -- in the arterial cord blood extracted from the umbilical cord at delivery.

The primary effects of theobromine include diuresis, myocardial stimulation and vasodilatation. Other chemicals in chocolate include magnesium, which lowers hypertension, and flavanoids, which are potent antioxidants, the study said.

"Quantifying self-reported chocolate and cocoa consumption is extremely difficult due to considerable variation in the cocoa content of chocolate products," Triche said.

"The darker (the chocolate) is, the better it is. The more highly processed, the more fat and sweet it is, the less it contains theobromine," she said, adding that theobromine concentrations in chocolate vary from 0.15 percent to 0.46 percent.

"In this prospective cohort of pregnant women, we observed that chocolate consumption, as measured by cord serum levels of the biomarker theobromine, was associated with lower risk of preeclampsia," the study concluded.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Baby Blog Turns Three

Today is the first of two anniversaries celebrated at The Baby Blawg; today is the day I actually created the blog. Later comes the anniversary of the day I commenced posting.

I wish I could think of something brilliant or witty to say about it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Trans Fats in Pregnancy

Surprised this hasn't gotten more press:
A study on rats found that babies had a higher chance of being fat if their mother ate trans fats in pregnancy or while feeding their young.

The experts at Sao Paulo university in Brazil also found they were also more likely to suffer insulin resistance, which often leads to diabetes.

Luciana Pisani, who led the study, said: "This has important implications."

Spring Baseball

Aren't they handsome? Just had to share.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

USB Pregnancy Test

I'm not going to pretend that this is anything other than an April Fool's joke.

But what a neat gadget!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cord Blood Banking

Hat tip to Giving Birth Naturally for posting ACOG Revises Opinion on Cord Blood Banking:
It is refreshing to see that ACOG can make some improvements in judgment, albeit small ones. While they still won't take a stance for or against it, their revised opinion on the scam that is private cord blood banking is a small nudge in the right direction.

I especially like the statement, "ACOG also advises physicians who recruit patients for for-profit cord blood banking to disclose their financial interests or other potential conflicts of interest to pregnant women and their families."
Read the text of the news release here.

My major concern with cord blood banking is the necessity of cutting the umbilical cord earlier than might be optimal in order to preserve the cord blood, thereby depriving the newborn of the blood. A representative from a cord blood-banking company may be speaking to our homebirth group this year; it will be interesting to see what they have say on these issues.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Hathor's been doing some neat comics lately on Oxytocin - the "Love Hormone". She just came back from the Trust Birth Conference which I really wish I could have gone to. She heard Michel Odent speak, and he really rocked her world, as he did mine when I heard him speak a couple years ago at a local conference. Hathor came across this article, over a year old and just a rat study, but still important:

The massive surge in the maternal hormone oxytocin that occurs during delivery might help protect newborns against brain damage, a new study in rats suggests.

Researchers say the findings should encourage scientists to investigate whether elective caesarean sections, which lack this oxytocin surge, disrupt normal brain development.

Also, I found Hug the Monkey, a whole blog devoted to the subject of Oxytocin; and an article entitled 5 Ways Pitocin is Different than Oxytocin which, in honor of list month, I will include here:
  1. Pitocin is released differently. Oxytocin is released into your body in a pulsing action. It comes intermittently to allow your body a break. Pitocin is given in an IV in a continuous manner. This can cause contractions to be longer and stronger than your baby or placenta can handle, depriving your baby of oxygen.
  2. Pitocin prevents your body from offering endorphins. When you are in labor naturally, your body responds to the contractions and oxytocin with the release of endorphins, a morphine like substance that helps prevent and counteract pain. When you receive Pitocin, your body does not know to release the endorphins, despite the fact that you are in pain.
  3. Pitocin isn't as effective at dilating the cervix. When the baby releases oxytocin it works really well on the uterine muscle, causing the cervix to dilate. Pitocin works much more slowly and with less effect, meaning it takes more Pitocin to work.
  4. Pitocin lacks a peak at birth. In natural labor, the body provides a spike in oxytocin at the birth, stimulating the fetal ejection reflex, allowing for a faster and easier birth. Pitocin is regulated by a pump and not able to offer this boost at the end.
  5. Pitocin can interfere with bonding. When the body releases oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, it promotes bonding with the baby after birth. Pitocin interferes with the internal release of oxytocin, which can disturb the bonding process.
I knew, like, three of those already. And for some really hair-raising stories, try Knitted in the Womb's Rant on Pitocin (with comments).

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Acupuncture may increase pregnancy chances

Acupuncture involves placing very thin needles at specific points on the body to try to control pain and reduce stress. In fertility treatment, it is thought to increase blood flow to the uterus, relax the cervix and inhibit “fight or flight” stress hormones that can make it tougher for an embryo to implant, Manheimer said.

The analysis pools results from seven studies on 1,366 women in the United States, Germany, Australia and Denmark who are having in vitro fertilization, or IVF. It involves mixing sperm and eggs in a lab dish to create embryos that are placed in the womb.

Women were randomly assigned to receive IVF alone, IVF with acupuncture within a day of embryo transfer, or IVF plus sham acupuncture, in which needles were placed too shallowly or in spots not thought to matter.

Individually, only three of the studies found acupuncture beneficial, three found a trend toward benefit and one found no benefit. When results of these smaller studies were pooled, researchers found that the odds of conceiving went up about 65 percent for women given acupuncture.

Link: Acupuncture may hike odds of pregnancy

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Six Practices for a Healthy Birth

If you haven't seen a copy of Lamaze International's new quarterly publication, Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond, I highly suggest you try to get a copy. I was mightily impressed by the inaugural issue.

Lamaze has identified six care practices that promote, support and protect normal birth. These are:
  1. Labor should begin on its own.
  2. Laboring women should be free to move throughout labor.
  3. Laboring women should have continuous support from others throughout labor.
  4. There should be no routine interventions during labor and birth.
  5. Women should not give birth on their backs.
  6. Mothers and babies should not be separated after birth and should have unlimited opportunity for breastfeeding.
Detailed information about each of these Care Practices are available here.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Top 10 Most Important Foods to Buy Organic

The Green Guide publishes the Top 10 Most Important Foods to Buy Organic, based on information from the Environmental Working Group. Here's a summary:

1. Baby Foods
2. Rice
3. Strawberries
4. Grains
5. Milk
6. Corn
7. Bananas
8. Green Beans
9. Apples, apple juice
10. Peaches

And the runners-up are: nectarines, grapes & raisins, and kiwi fruit.

Elsewhere I have read that buying organic meat and dairy, rather than fruits and vegetables, gets you the most "bang" for your grocery "buck".

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I spoke too soon (re: Perth)

From Breastfeeding123, this post (quoting The Breastfeeding Answer Book):
Ultrasound examination of the lactating breast during breastfeeding by Peter Hartmann’s research team in Perth, Australia has provided new information about what occurs within the breast during let-down.
Maybe I just like the way the word sounds. Perth.

Breast milk contains stem cells

What's the deal with Perth? First H.Pylori, then Heath Ledger, now this:

Breast milk contains stem cells.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Made for Birthing

Take a look at these neat hospital gowns made for birthing. Not only do they allow coverage for modesty while still providing access for medical procedures and breastfeeding, they also help support baby's immune system:
The risk of germs is one of the biggest risks in hospital birth. Hospitals and medical caregivers supposedly provide a "sterile field" but you and your baby are still exposed to a multitude of germs that your body has not built immunity to. Roll your gown around on your bed, couch, and hold the dog and cat before you bring it to the hospital. You'll be bringing YOUR "sterile field" from home for your baby to be born into and to be touched by first and covered by. Not harsh, potentially risky hospital towels and sheets.

Top 10 Childbirth Myths

The Journey Of An Apprentice Midwife posts a very excellent Top 10 Childbirth Myths, with references.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Breast Pump Comparisons

Need to buy a breast pump? Compare brands and styles at Breast Pump Comparisons.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How Safe Are Epidurals?

The Guardian posted a recent article, "How safe are epidurals?":

There are, however, downsides. An epidural literally paralyses you and the effects of it can be, according to the National Childbirth Trust, "an increase in assisted vaginal birth rate". There is some evidence that "sleepiness arising from the opiate may delay successful breast feeding". Some mothers also complain of having headaches and/or debilitating drowsiness for days afterwards. The natural-birth lobby will tell you that 23% of women will experience complications. The pro lobby will tell you that an epidural is one of the safest anaesthetics around.

I have to say I felt pretty cock-a-hoop straight after my epidural but, some hours later, my head felt as though someone large and heavy had been sitting on it. The next three times I gave birth, I had them all drug-free and at home. Did they hurt? Hell yes, but I felt so much better afterwards.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Ultrasound Estimates of Baby Weight Unreliable

Here's an important research study that shows what we all know to be true, that ultrasound in late pregnancy is not a reliable source of weight estimation.
Conclusion: The accuracy of ultrasound estimations of fetal weight performed at Wellington Hospital within 7 days of delivery in term singleton pregnancies was at least similar and sometimes better than that reported in other studies. For one in four women, however, the fetal weight estimation was more than 10% different from the actual birth weight of their infant. Ultrasound measurements had a tendency to overestimate the weight of small infants while underestimating the weight of both large infants and the infants of diabetic mothers. As the reliability of ultrasound estimation of fetal weight to detect larger babies was poor, the use of such an objective measurement in the management of suspected macrosomia in term singleton pregnancies should be avoided.