Did you know that the whole “you’re eating for two and therefore you can eat twice as much” while you’re pregnant philosophy is a complete myth? Well it is. While it is true that you are technically providing sustenance for 2 people, yourself and your baby, it is not true that that means you can or should eat twice as much. In fact during pregnancy you only need 300 extra calories a day (that’s like an apple and a yogurt cup). So when people try to add food to your plate or tell you to eat more because you’re “eating for two”, just smile polity and go about your business OR you can give them a lesson on caloric intake during pregnancy, however I have found that this isn’t always received very warmly. I generally recommend that pregnant women eat when they’re truly hungry. I say ‘truly’ hungry because I find that a lot of women give themselves a free-pass to eat as much and as often as they want during pregnancy and that doesn’t always translate into eating because they’re hungry. It could mean eating because they feel like indulging, or are bored and they justify it by telling themselves that they are eating for two. Also what you eat matters, but I’ll be doing a separate post about nutrition in pregnancy so check back for that.
Seeing as I was the first and only girl in my family and the first born grand daughter on both sides on my family I had a lot of pink when I was little and I mean A LOT. Admittedly, in those early years it was my favorite color, but how could it not be, everything I owned and everything anyone gave me was pink. I soon became so sick of the color that it was relegated to my most hated color, not to mention I was a tom boy and pink was just way to girly girl for me. Since that experience I have always been drawn to non-conventional girl clothing. Whenever I find out a friend is having a baby girl I always opt for baby girl outfits that are blue, brown, green, etc. but never pink and rarely purple. Just because I hate the notion of a certain set of colors being girl colors or boy colors.
When I found out I was having a boy I was totally disappointed at the lack of variety in color when it comes to baby boy clothes. Everything was red, navy, baby blue, burnt orange, brown olive green or grey. Where were all the vibrate colors such as turquoise, sunny yellow, lime green, purple and dare I say it…pink? Well they were all over on the baby girl side of the store and I found this to be really upsetting. Not to mention I didn’t want to put my son in clothing with trucks, motorcycles or skulls and bones on them, I don’t want to pigeon hole him like that. So I set out to find him something pink. Now admittedly, I don’t love the color but I felt strongly about my son growing up knowing that there is no such thing as “boy” colors and “girl” colors, but that there were only ‘colors.’
With the help of my mom and mother-in law we were able to find these two shirts (don’t mind the wrinkles). One fushia pink and the other lilac! It may be a small thing but it felt like a huge victory. We weren’t going to be constrained by societal gender stereotypes!! In any case it’s all so subjective anyway and totally subject to change, did you know that pink used to be considered a baby boy color and blue was designated for baby girls? True story. Not to mention both my husband and I look best in bright, vibrant colors, so there’s a strong chance those colors will suite our son too. And you know what? If he decides that pink isn’t his favorite color, then that’s totally his choice but he won’t ever get the message from Rafaan and I that pink is only for girls or that trucks and bland colors are only for boys.
In March 2011 Rafaan and I decided that we were ready to start a family and much to our surprise I got pregnant after only 1 month of trying. Sadly that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage in June 2011 and after waiting the two months that were recommended by my care provider we decided to start trying again in August 2011. Well things did not happen as quickly the second time around, it took us 7 months to get pregnant, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t very long, but after having a miscarriage it felt like an eternity and I began to worry that something was wrong. So this is our journey with trying to conceive (TTC), what worked for us and some general preconception health information.
First off let me say that ANY and ALL women who are sexually active should be taking a daily prenatal vitamin, even if you are not intending to get pregnant and even if you are actively trying to prevent pregnancy. The reason for this being that accidents happen. In fact in the US nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended. Prenatal vitamins specifically contain folic acid which helps prevent neural tube defects and in the 2 weeks between fertilization and a missed period those neural tubes have already begun to form, so it’s important that folic acid already be in the mother’s system. Just take a prenatal vitamin in place of a daily women’s multi-vitamin and go about your merry way.
The first thing you should do when you begin thinking about having a baby is to go see your doctor for some pre-conception counseling. You want to make sure you are in the best health possible when you get pregnant and going to pre-conception counseling can help get you there if you aren’t already.
Back to my story: In August we started trying again and at first we decided that we wouldn’t actively try but that we would just stop using contraception and see what happens. Well that plan went out the window really fast after I realized that I was still consciously trying to get pregnant regardless of us wanting to just “go with the flow.” So that’s when I decided to buy a bunch of ovulation predictor kits (OPks) and started peeing on them every day, well despite getting positive reading from the OPKs and timing our baby making sessions around them, I still wasn’t getting pregnant and I started to feel like I didn’t have a clue about my body, and being that my chosen field was maternal and child health, this kind of made me feel a bit lost. A friend of mine recommended the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which is an AMAZING resource. I seriously can’t say enough about how great this book is. I believe all women should own a copy of this book because it’s about so much more than just pregnancy. Seriously, take a look! Through using this book I learnt how to chart my fertility cycles and to become in tuned with my body so that I could recognize when I was nearing ovulation. It only took 3 months of charting my cycles for me to get pregnant and during the process I felt really empowered and that I finally understood my body again. For those of you who don’t know what charting your cycles entails, you basically take your waking temperature every morning using a basal body thermometer and you also keep track of your cervical mucus. It sounds complicated, but it really is SUPER simple and easy. If anyone wants more details about how exactly to do it or you have been charting and are confused by what you’re seeing please just leave a comment or send me an email and I’d be happy to help.
I also went to see a fertility acupuncturist, who again came highly recommended by a friend AND did fertility acupuncture work at Johns Hopkins. She put me on 2 herbal supplements; Fertile Garden and Astra Essence and told me that I needed to take 6 pills of each a day. Now I can’t say whether or not these pills actually had an effect on me getting pregnant, but I can say that I got pregnant the first full month I was taking them. The friend who recommended me also got pregnant using these pills not once but twice! The first time it was after 10 months of TTC and she got pregnant the first month she was on the pills and then again the same thing happened with her third child. I have since recommended these pills to a cousin of mine and she got pregnant the first month she used them too. Maybe this is all a coincidence, I can’t say for sure, but what I can say is that you should talk to a medical professional before taking any and all supplements. Don’t self medicate!
Once I got a confirmed pregnancy test reading on April 1st, 2012, I stopped taking the herbal supplements and then tried to be as positive as possible, but actually being pregnant is a whole other story all together, so stay tuned.
Here are some articles for anyone interested in learning more about folic acid as prevention for neural tube defects:
Laurence, K. M., James, N., Miller, M. H., Tennant, G. B., & Campbell, H. (1981 ). Double-blind randomised controlled trial of folate treatment before conception to prevent recurrence of neural-tube defects. British Medical Journal , 1509-1511.
Werler, M. M., Shapiro, S., & Mitchell, A. A. (1993). Periconceptional Folic Acid Exposure and Risk of Occurrent Neural Tube Defects. JAMA , 1257-1261. *Sorry I couldn’t find a free link to the full text of this one*
I get a lot of questions about co-sleeping. Is it really dangerous? Is there a way to do it safely? What are the risks? Etc.
First off let me say that I know this can be a very heated topic, especially with all the public health media campaigns out there condemning co-sleeping (I’m talking specifically about the ones with the baby sleeping with a huge knife). These campaigns can and do leave a lot of parents who choose to co-sleep feeling judged. There is a lot of misinformation out there (I even had one discussion with a mom who was telling me that bed-sharing is universally safer for babies) and highly charged opinions about this topic so I thought I’d set the record straight and shed some light on this complex issue.
The first thing that I would like to state, is that when it comes to a public health campaign on co-sleeping or any health issue really, you have to keep in mind that these ads are targeted at a whole population of people, so to react with outrage is probably a bit extreme.
The fact is, that while lots of parents choose to co-sleep and have zero problems whatsoever, it has still been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Now if you educate yourself about it, there are lots of things you can do to greatly reduce this risk. Many cultures co-sleep as a way of life, but there are many factors that may go into that and they may not be co-sleeping the way we do in this country.
Co-sleeping is a highly complex issue and there are so many factors that go into determining whether or not it is safe to bed-share with an infant, so in general making a blanket statement that co-sleeping is always more dangerous, is simply not accurate, however one must keep in mind that many such messages are meant to protect against situations where bed-sharing is dangerous. If you’re a parent who co-sleeps and you’ve done your research and you feel that you are doing the best thing for your baby and your family, then more power to you. Don’t let the negative view of bed-sharing bother you and don’t let anyone make you feel judged for the choices you’ve made for your family, but also keep in mind that due to its complexity bed-sharing can never be universally recommended. The truth is, there could be a lot more effort and resources put into educating people about the safe ways to bed-share or co-sleep rather than just making blanketing statements against it, but when it comes to educating people about prevention, the approach chosen will usually be the one with the least amount of risk involved.
Room-sharing is something that I will and do universally recommend. Room-sharing means having infants sleep in the same room as their caregivers but not in the same bed. There are SO many benefits to room-sharing and interestingly enough a lot of them are the same benefits that are seen when bed-sharing is done is a safe way.
Now, back to the questions:
Is co-sleeping really dangerous? Well, on a population level and taking into account the wide range of variation and circumstances within that population, the answer is yes, co-sleeping or rather bed-sharing as distinguished from room-sharing, has been found to be linked to an increased risk for SIDS.
Is there a way to bed-share safely? Absolutely! However no one answer or method will be right for every family or household (which is why it’s easier just to recommend that people not do it). If you have specific questions for me about ways that you can make bed-sharing safer please leave a comment or send me an email and I’ll be happy to answer them for you on an individual basis.
Here are two articles that are great resources for anybody wanting to educate themselves further about co-sleeping. I tried to find articles that wouldn’t be too biased in one way or the other. I strongly urge everyone to educate themselves about this issue as much as they can, because increased knowledge will help you make informed decisions and when it comes to the lives of our children, who doesn’t want to be as informed as possible?
McGarvey, C., McDonnell, M., Hamilton, K., O’Regan, M., & Matthews, T. (2005). An 8 year study of risk factors for SIDS: bed-sharing versus non-bed-sharing. Archives of Disease in Childhood , 318-323.
McKenna, J. J., & McDade, T. (2005). Why babies should never sleep alone: A review of the co-sleeping controversy in relation to SIDS, bedsharing and breast feeding. Paediatric Respiratory Reviews , 6 (2), 134-52.
*Disclaimer: This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive post on the topic, but rather a basic overview.*
I am currently 37 weeks pregnant with our first child and have been doing a LOT of reading and researching in these past 8.5 months. I have mainly been reading mommy blogs, because I’m fascinated by how other women are navigating this parenting role, and what choices they are making when it comes to their children. In all my reading I felt like something was missing. Moms would state their preferences or their view points on important topics but there was rarely any evidence based research to back their claims or opinions up, which may be perfectly fine for some people, but for me and I imagine a lot of other people out there, I wanted more. So I decided to start this blog, which I hope will be 1 part mommy blog and 1 part informative resource. My plan is for this blog to cover everything, from my personal journey into parenthood, to product reviews, to health information and beyond.