Archive for May, 2009

Are you financially ready for a baby? Set a budget

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

baby-moneyThere’s no getting around it. Having a baby is expensive. For many couples, having a baby is an economic as well as an emotional decision. Now is the time to assess what you have and what you’ll need so you’ll be ready when the time comes. Since there is a lot to think about, we’ve broken it all down into seven easy steps.  I’ll cover one each week.

This week we’re focusing on setting a budget for yourself.  Take a look at your budget in black and white. Whether you’re using a computer or a pad and pencil, you need to see the numbers. Make a list of all of your monthly expenses, including mortgage/rent, food, student loans, clothing, entertainment, transportation, insurance, incidentals and other things you regularly spend money on. Then, put down how much you have coming in each month and compare them. Note how much is left over. You may find that you need to cut down on your expenses and start putting money aside for your baby. If you’re going to stop working after your baby arrives, now ‘s the time to start “practicing” living on less. The same goes if you’re going to take an unpaid maternity leave, even though it’s only temporary.  Serious “practicing” will help give you a better perspective on what the future holds.

Need help paying for food for you and your family?

Monday, May 18th, 2009

foodTimes are hard and if you need help, you’re not alone.  Find out about food assistance programs in your area.  And check out these programs that can help you get the foods you need for your family:

WIC – WIC stands for Women, Infants and Children.  The program works through your state government to help provide food for pregnant women, breastfeeding women and women who have had a baby within the last 6 months.  It also provides food for infants and children up to age five.  For more information, click on this WIC link.  

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – This program used to be called the Food Stamp Program.  For more information and to locate contact information for your state, click on this SNAP link.

Dog bites and kids

Friday, May 15th, 2009

sleeping-dogOnce when I was a kid, I was riding my bike, and a neighbor’s dog ran out and bit me on the leg. I cried all the way home. I love dogs, but I also respect them.

Next week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Thanks to dog vaccinations  and other public health efforts, rabies is rare in the United States. But it’s still a serious concern. And dog bites can also cause infection and serious injury.

Here’s what you and you family can do to protect yourselves from dog bites:

   * Don’t approach an unfamiliar dog.

   * Don’t run from a dog or scream when you’re around a dog.

   * Be “still like a tree” if an unfamiliar dog approaches.

   * If a dog knocks you down, roll into a ball and lie “still like a log.” 

   * Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.

   * Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.

   * Before petting a dog, let it see and sniff you.

   * Report stray dogs or dogs acting strangely to your local animal control agency.

For more information, read Dog Bite Prevention on the Web site of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When to start brushing your baby’s teeth

Friday, May 15th, 2009

brush-teeth_thmAs soon as you little one’s first tooth appears, start a brushing routine with water. Later, when she is old enough to spit it out, introduce toothpaste.  The American Dental Association recommends that parents start a brushing routine when teeth first start to appear.  When you use toothpaste, make it a small (pea-sized) amount of a non-fluoride brand.  Toothpaste containing fluoride should not be used until your child is two years old, unless recommended by her dentist.  Fluoride mouth rinses should not be given to children under the age of six.  Flossing?  Start flossing as soon as two teeth start to touch each other.

So when should you actually take her to the dentist?  The ADA recommends that your baby be seen for her first dental visit within six months of the eruption of her first tooth and no later than her first birthday.  Sound early to you?  Well, the dentist will check the shape of your baby’s mouth, her teeth and gums, but also look for signs of damage caused by thumb sucking, decide if your tot might need fluoride supplementation earlier than age two, and then he’ll set a schedule for regular dental care and visits.  Starting healthy habits early will help protect her teeth for a lifetime.

Warning signs to stop exercise and call your doc

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

pregnant-exerciseSpring is here, it’s getting warmer so I’m wearing less.  After a winter of couch potatohood, I’m not really liking what I see in the mirror.  So I’m getting back into exercise in hopes of retrieving the real me, or a reasonable facsimile. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy pregnant women get at least 2 1/2 hours of aerobic exercise every week. This means that most pregnant women should try to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most, if not all, days. Examples of aerobic exercise are walking, swimming and dancing. Be sure to read up on exercise during pregnancy and double check with your health care provider before starting a routine.

Go for it and stay fit.  But, if you experience any of the following symptoms stop exercising and call you doctor right away.
• Bleeding from your vagina
• Difficult or labored breathing before you exercise
• Dizziness
• Headache
• Chest pains
• Muscle weakness
• Calf pain or swelling
• Preterm labor 
• Decreased movement of the fetus
• Leakage of fluid from your vagina

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

sleepingbabygirl

Recall: Face paints from Oriental Trading

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

face-paintingFun Express, a subsidiary of Oriental Trading Company of Omaha, Nebraska, has voluntarily recalled some water-based face paints, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Some children have had skin reactions where the paint was applied. Examples: swelling, itching, rashes, burning.

The FDA has found microorganisms in paint samples that were tested.

For a list of the recalled products, go to the FDA news release.

Photo credit: Princess Shari, Flickr

When is your body ready to get pregnant?

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

You’ve thought carefully about having a baby and decided you’re ready. You stopped smoking and drinking alcohol. You’re eating a healthy diet and taking a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. You’ve visited your health care provider, and you’re putting money in your savings account each month. You’re ready to start trying to get pregnant.

A woman’s egg is fertile for only 12 to 24 hours after its release, ovulation.  Ovaries release an egg every month, about 14 days before the first day of a woman’s period.  A man’s sperm can live up to 72 hours after intercourse. So the best time to have sex if you’re trying to conceive is:
• A few days before ovulation
• The day of ovulation

The closer intercourse is to ovulation, the more likely it is you’ll get pregnant. You can track your ovulation using different methods.  And the more often you have sex, the more likely you are to get pregnant. But don’t get too anxious if it doesn’t happen right away.  On average, there is a 15-25% chance of conceiving each month.  Studies have shown that roughly half of couples trying to get pregnant conceive within four months, 75% of couples by six months, and 85% within a year.

Breastfeeding and pacifier usage – better than you think

Monday, May 11th, 2009

baby-with-pacifierFor many years there has been concern by some moms that using a pacifier would interfere with optimal breastfeedingA recent study by researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine found that using a pacifier is just fine for breastfed infants.  There is no link to any interference with the best possibe breastfeeding experience, as long as breastfeeding is well established (three to four weeks) before a pacifier is introduced. 

The researchers reviewed 29 studies from 12 countries that looked at pacifiers and breastfeeding.  There was no difference in the quality of the breastfeeding experience for the infant.  They did find that women whose babies used a pacifier seemed to stop breastfeeding earlier than other women, but it did not appear that the pacifiers were the reason.

An added benefit to pacifiers:   Over the past few years researchers have found evidence that babies who use pacifiers when they sleep may be less susceptible to sudden infant death syndrome, SIDS. Because of this finding, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that pacifiers be used when babies are put down to sleep.  Regardless of the protection against SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend weaning children from pacifiers in the second six months of life to help prevent otitis media, an inflammation of the middle ear.

Speak Now for Kids: Medical care for children

Monday, May 11th, 2009

child-playing-doctorMedical care. Health insurance. We all worry about them.

Will we have the medical care and the insurance we need when someone in the family gets sick?

What about routine checkups? Can I afford the copay?

My kids deserve reliable, quality medical care. What can  I do to be sure they get it?

The March of Dimes is a national partner in the campaign “Speak Now for Kids in Health Reform.” More than 120 other organizations have also signed on.

As Congress debates health care reform, Speak Now for Kids will be there. We want to be sure kids get the the medical care they need. 

You can help. Go to the Speak Now for Kids Web site. Tell us about your experiences with children’s health insurance and medical care.

Add your voice to this important national discussion.