Archives for October 2013

Thinking of Expanding Your Family? Here’s 10 Reasons You May Want to Wait

familyAfter having a baby, many people are surprised at how quickly friends and family begin asking if they will be having another child in the near future. While there is something special about welcoming another adorable newborn into the world, it is also important to carefully weigh your options when deciding whether or not you want to expand your family. Whether you are facing pressure from family members or simply are concerned that your child needs a sibling, here are some reasons why you may decide to wait before adding a new baby to your family.

Physical Recovery after Childbirth

Although some women seem to sail through labor and delivery with ease, many need some time to recover physically after having a baby. Even those who spring back to normal within only a few weeks should still take time to allow their body to build its strength back up. According to Parents Magazine, the March of Dimes recommends that women wait for 18 to 24 months before attempting to conceive again. This not only allows the new mom to have more time for her body to heal, but will also ensure that everyone has made it through that first year full of sleepless nights before a newborn takes up residence.

Reduce Household Stress

Every family goes through periods of increased stress: maybe it’s a new job, a major life event like moving or just basic family squabbles. Sometimes it’s best to wait out challenging situations before adding a newborn baby to the mix. Waiting to have a baby can allow you time to pursue counseling or practice finding new ways to relax, or to move to a career that’s more rewarding (emotionally or financially). In cases where a stressful event is only anticipated to last for a short period of time — e.g., one of the parents is finishing a degree — then it may be best to wait it out.

Take Time to Budget for a New Baby

Having a new baby can wreak havoc on a family’s finances. This is especially true for families that are already struggling to provide for one or more children. According to a recent study done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a family who has a baby in 2013 can expect to spend approximately $241,080 by the time the child turns 18. And that’s just for one kid. While this number is staggering alone, the USDA report goes on to add that this number can reach $301,970 when inflation is taken into account. Spending another year or two saving up can make a significant difference in the quality of life you can offer your child.

Give Younger Children Time to Adjust

Families that already have young children may need to take everyone’s feelings into consideration. Toddlers are notorious for reverting back to baby-like behavior once a newborn is added to the family. Older children may also have concerns that should be addressed before getting pregnant. If you know that a new baby is a certainty, then you may spend some time introducing the idea of a sibling before you conceive. Additionally, waiting can allow your child to adjust to a new sibling once he’s passed a major milestone, such as potty training or starting school.

Strategize in a Changing Economy

The changes in the economy are influencing the decisions many people make in regards to family planning. Those who are concerned about job loss or housing may choose to wait out their current struggles. Additionally, many new parents are deciding that it is better to reuse children’s furniture, clothing and toys from their first child once the new one arrives.

Develop Better Health Habits

Whether it is a woman’s first pregnancy or her fifth, it is important for her to be in excellent health before she gets pregnant. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a preconception checkup is always advisable. During this checkup, a woman can discuss any issues with diet, exercise and past health problems so she and the doctor can develop a plan for a healthier lifestyle. Those who engage in activities that are not safe for pregnancy, such as smoking or drinking alcohol, may also decide to wait while they kick their unhealthy habits.

Make Sure Your Partner is Ready

In many relationships, it is not uncommon for one person to get the urge to have another baby while the other partner is not so sure it is the right time. Although it may be hard to wait when one person feels her biological clock is ticking, it is best to be sure that everyone in the family is on board. This is especially true if one partner is facing new challenges in life (job, etc.) that would be affected by having a new baby. This way, everyone will be ready to welcome the baby upon its arrival.

Enjoy Your Youngest Child a Little Longer

There is a popular saying that reminds parents that children are only small for a little while: “The days are long, but the years are short.” Ask any mother who is juggling a newborn and a toddler and she will likely tell you that her firstborn’s first year flew by in a haze. Waiting to expand your family can give you a little extra time to enjoy with your youngest child before a newborn throws you off schedule. Read an extra bedtime story, spend another hour at the park, and think about how rushed you would be if you were exhausted from pregnancy or toting a newborn on your family outing.

Transition Through a Major Life Change

Family life includes many transitional moments during which one or several members of the family may be dealing with a significant life change. For example, caring for an aging family member may take up too much time and energy for you to expend on another pregnancy. Additionally, starting a new job, moving to a new home and completing a program to obtain a degree or diploma are all times when it may be important to focus on just the present task on hand. Although there may never be the perfect time to have another child, it is still best to ensure that you are fully stabilized as a family before you have another little one.

Bringing a new child into the world is a beautiful life event that will lead to many wonderful memories; however, it is important to keep in mind that new babies can be a lot of hard work, not to mention an extra financial burden. Although societal and family pressures may have you feeling as though you need to get started on adding to your family right away, it is always worth the wait to make sure everyone is ready. This way, you can expand your family according to your own schedule so that you, your partner, and your current children will be ready to welcome a new member to your family with open arms.

Creating a Social Network as a New Mom

momgroupBeing a new mom is overwhelming. When you get home from the hospital with your new baby, you’re focused on getting used to your new role and responsibilities and enjoying mom and baby time. At some point, though, you’re hit with the desire to get out of the house and connect with other adults. When the urge hits it may be the first time that you realize you don’t have a social network as a mom. This is especially true if you’re a first time mom. Here are some ideas for making connections and finding support and friendship as a new mom.

Check out your local Meetup groups. Meetup groups for moms are happening in large cities and small towns across the country. Simply head over to www.Meetup.com and enter your zip code and keywords. You’ll get a list of the local Meetup groups in your area. With a quick click of your mouse you can join one and sign up for a few face to face meetings. Since the groups are divided by location and interests, this free website is a wonderful way to meet other moms in your local community. You’ll find all kinds of events, from weekly play groups to field trips to the fire station or zoo. These groups also do larger gatherings with spouses and older kids on weekends. For some moms, the friends they make through their Meetup group become the biggest part of their family’s social network.

See if your church offers a mom’s group. Many churches offer an informal mom’s group for members of the church. These groups may meet in the church nursery or at a member’s home. They give you a chance to meet church members you may not have interacted with before and expand your support system, which is essential to new moms. Because all the moms share the same religion, these groups can fill a need that strictly social groups can’t. These groups also help the kids connect as they get older and help them get more involved in the congregation.

Join a community-based parenting class. Most areas offer low cost or free parenting support groups based on the age of your child. These groups help you connect with other moms who are at the same parenting stage as you are. They are led by a volunteer parenting expert and help you deal with issues covering everything from breastfeeding to getting your baby to sleep to helping your toddler adjust to being a big brother. Meeting other moms who are dealing with the same issues can be a huge support to new moms. These groups often turn into play groups once the formal program is over.

Find a new mom workout group. One of the things that lots of moms are trying to do is get back into shape after having the baby. Finding a group where you can bring your baby with you to work out is the perfect way to connect with other moms and work on your weight and exercise goals, too. For instance, an informal stroller walking group might be the right choice for you. It will get you and your baby out of the house, let you enjoy some fresh air and provide a relaxed way to get back into an exercise routine. The low impact nature of a walking group also lets you talk to other members during your walk so you can build friendships while you exercise. You may want something more challenging, so you might choose a cross training group where you can run and do strength training exercises using your body weight. Because your baby should be at least six months old before you run with him in a jogger stroller, you may have to wait a bit to take one of these classes.

Join a play group. You may not have thought about joining a play group because your baby is too young to really interact with other kids. However, these groups are just as much for you as they are for your baby. Although the babies won’t play with each other for several months, they still can enjoy parallel play and getting to know each other. Plus you’ll have the chance to get to know other moms and make new friends. Often, these play groups stay together as the kids grow and don’t break up until the kids head off to school. Both moms and kids grow close over the years. Moms often feel the other moms in the group are like extended family, and the relationship between the kids is like cousins rather than just friends.

10 Medications Pregnant Women Should Avoid

aspirinPregnancy is a joyous, exciting time in a woman’s life. It’s also an altogether uncomfortable one, especially when there are health complications or unexpected illnesses involved. The same medications that you reached for without a second thought before conception are no longer safe for you to take, something that you may not realize when you’re not feeling well and haven’t consulted a medical professional. These are 10 of the medications that pregnant women should never take, unless they’re under the close supervision of a medical professional who has prescribed them because the benefits of treatment are believed to outweigh the risks of taking the medication.

  • Aspirin – Both aspirin and ibuprofen are common pain relievers that are available over the counter, but they’re not considered safe for use by pregnant women. On occasion, low-dose aspirin therapy may be recommended for some pregnant women. As a whole, however, aspirin does interfere with the way blood clots, which can lead to both maternal and fetal bleeding in some cases.
  • Thalomid – Unless you have leprosy or a rare form of cancer, there’s almost no chance that your doctor will prescribe Thalomid. What you may not realize, however, is that Thalomid is the brand name for the drug thalidomide, which was once used to treat a variety of symptoms in pregnant women. The substance causes severe birth defects and is classified as a Category X drug, meaning it should never be prescribed to, used or handled by pregnant women.
  • Accutane – Accutane is a popular drug used to treat cystic acne, and one that doctors heavily counsel women about before prescribing due to the fact that it can cause severe brain and heart defects and a host of developmental issues. If you plan to become pregnant or are not taking precautions to prevent pregnancy, it’s extremely ill-advised to continue taking Accutane.
  • Castor Oil – One folk remedy for a long pregnancy is a large dose of castor oil, which is believed to stimulate labor. It can, in fact, cause uterine contractions and often does stimulate labor, but it’s also a powerful laxative that can cause diarrhea, dehydration and vomiting. Abdominal pain and cramping can also accompany the use of castor oil, which means that it’s just not safe to use this method of naturally inducing labor unless you’ve been advised to do so by a midwife or obstetrician that’s carefully monitoring your condition.
  • Chlorpheniramine – While chlorpheniramine, the active ingredient in many over-the-counter allergy and sinus medications, is classified as a Category B drug during pregnancy, it’s not advised for women in the third trimester to take the medication. If the medication is taken in the last two weeks of pregnancy, it can cause some eye problems and complications in newborn infants, especially those who are premature.
  • Pseudoephedrine – The Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University found that one of the most commonly used drugs during pregnancy, pseudoephedrine, has been liked to ear, heart and digestive tract birth defects when taken during the first trimester. In fact, the risk of these defects is up to eight times higher when pseudoephedrine is used, according to the supervising physician who oversaw the study, Dr. Allen Mitchell.
  • Appetite Suppressants – When you’re gaining weight rapidly and your body is expanding to accommodate the new life growing inside it, the idea of continuing to gain weight can be a terrifying one. What you shouldn’t do, however, is turn to appetite suppressants or thermogenic diet pills. In addition to the small risk of depriving the fetus of essential nutrition, these drugs can often contain high levels of caffeine, which has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage.
  • Warfarin – Because it passes through the placental barrier and can cause fetal bleeding, the drug Warfarin, also known as Coumadin, is contraindicated during pregnancy. It can also cause skeletal abnormalities, facial disfiguration and developmental disabilities. If you plan to become pregnant or are not taking active precautions to prevent becoming pregnant, you should discuss alternative treatments and possible pregnancy complications with your primary care provider.
  • Simvastatin – More and more women are becoming pregnant later in life, which can introduce a host of complications when it comes to medications for existing medical conditions. If you’re on medication for high cholesterol, especially simvastatin, you should discuss the risks involved in the event that you do become pregnant. Simvastatin is a Category X drug, and can cause abnormal fetal development.
  • Danazol – Used to treat endometriosis, danzanol is a synthetic hormone that is contraindicated during pregnancy due to the possibility of masculinization of a female fetus. If you’re taking danzanol, it’s imperative that you discuss the risks in the event of an unexpected pregnancy. You should also be sure that you don’t handle danzanol during a pregnancy, and that you consult your physician immediately if you believe that there’s a chance you could become pregnant.